Vampire Dreams (Bloodscreams #1) (36 page)

BOOK: Vampire Dreams (Bloodscreams #1)
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“It's you and me Banaker,” said Stroud, who was still very much a sitting duck, or rather a hanging one. Still, he taunted Oliver Banaker to come and get him. “Come on, can't you do your own dirty work, Oliver? Or are you afraid? What about Dolph, Oliver? Aren't you going to avenge the boy? Come on, Oliver ... come and get me.”

Banaker rose up high, higher, completely to the ceiling. He moved in circles, closer and closer, narrowing his margin, keeping his trapped prey in sight, biding his time.

“You don't have all day, Oliver. I think I hear the others coming for me. They've got bullets and darts that can kill you, Oliver, instantly. Come on, you're stronger than I am, and I'm hanging by my fucking heels. What more advantage could you want?”

Banaker drew in like a falcon that has spotted its prey and came straight at him, his talons alone capable of tearing Stroud in two. Stroud got a mental picture of half his torso torn away by the time Ashyer and the others found him. But he hadn't time for negative thinking. He again sought his grandfather's assistance, throwing up an image of the old man before the creature, and again temporarily distracting him, just long enough to straight-arm him with the knife. It sunk home, but not at the heart. Banaker was hit, but not mortally wounded. Stroud held firmly to the knife, but it had almost been pulled away by the speed of the pendulum pass the creature had made. Stroud rose up at the waist, trying desperately to again clear his head of the dizzying, pounding, pooling blood at what had become his bottom-most extremity, his brain. The creature made a second pass, slicing out at exactly the spot where his neck would have been had he not chosen that instant to lift.

Banaker was infuriated at his own inability to lop off Stroud's head. Driving at his top speed, he turned and locked on his target with his radar. Stroud sensed this was it. He held firm to the knife as Banaker closed the gap between them. Banaker slammed into him, sending Stroud into the ceiling above, tearing away one ankle from the glue, but his body swung back down and held. He felt like a rubber chicken, the pain of the impact shooting through him, blood rising from a wound to his arm, his hand that had held the knife numb now; he thought he heard a ping against a rock below where the knife fell.

Banaker was coming in for the kill. Stroud dangled, twirled, sent up a cry of pain from the unendurable slice of him the talons had removed.

“The vial,” he heard Ananias's voice say.

“Vile, yeah ... real vile,” he answered either himself or the ghost. He really no longer knew if he had ever spoken to Ananias, or simply to himself and the steel in his own head.

“Not vile! Damn it, vial, the vial in your pocket!”


“Of S-choline!” said Magaffey's voice in his head.

“S-choline?” He'd forgotten the suicide vial. He'd placed it there in the event he was caught by the creatures. He meant to swallow the stuff. It would anesthetize him from the pain, and it would kill any of them that chose to feed on his blood. “I ... I should take it ... now,” he told himself. The situation was hopeless. The cavalry was not coming. This wasn't the goddamned movies and his hunch that he and Banaker must die together appeared fated.

He pulled at his pockets in search of the vial. He poked and searched as Banaker bore down on him. Then his hands located the vial, a mere capsule of the vampire killing substance. He was still swinging when Banaker, seeing now he was harmless, the knife far from his reach, lighted on him and cackled in a kind of bat keening that meant something akin to victory to him. Stroud realized that the cross had no effect on Banaker who ripped it and the tape holding it from Stroud's chest hair. He poked it in Stroud's face and tossed it downward, still keening. Stroud saw the blind eyes up close and the puckering mouth with the worms crawling there, preparing to take Stroud's last blood. Stroud must either swallow the suicide capsule now or...

Stroud's fist opened and he shoved the capsule instead into the creature's puckering mouth moments before its teeth sank into Stroud's shoulder. It was as if the thing did not even feel the capsule as it swallowed Stroud's blood, sending Stroud into a swoon as he dangled there by one ankle. With both hands, Stroud pushed at the hairy, clinging thing on him and as he pushed the thing's chest made a soft, 
 sound, and the chest heaved open, spilling blood and intestines to the cavern floor as the bones turned soft and dispersed in the death flight to the ground.

Stroud mercifully blacked out. Moments later the vampire that had run from the cavern came screaming through, followed by several others. They were followed by Ashyer, Wilson, Cage, and the others who fired the last of their darts into these creatures who splatted against one another where they died.

“It's Abe!” shouted Cage, unable to take his eyes from the gruesome sight of Stroud's bleeding, torn body, dangling some six or eight feet off the ground by one leg.

“We've got to get him down!” shouted Wilson.

“Every man present, lend a hand!” Ashyer ordered the others who were made to form a pyramid to the top where Ashyer sliced and sliced at the tough, resilient, hemplike material of the vampires.

Stroud was unconscious when they got him down, and was to remain so for days after. Dr. Cage stayed on long after other officials and notables from the EPA, the FBI, and the CIA had left the area. He'd taken samples of the vampire matter, both that of the dissolving bodies and the ropey substance used to create the cocoons. No full cocoon was ever regained--that of the Bradley woman's having been destroyed by Banaker along with the body. All that they had to show for the presence of the vampire colony in Andover, Illinois, was a handful of slides, a jar with a collection of blind white worms, and the unknown, inert matter the vampires created as they regurgitated. The marrowless bones were of little value or importance. The story Stroud and his people told was unacceptable to the federal authorities and the state did not wish to be held up to ridicule. Thus far, all they had was a mass disappearance and a mass hysteria case out at the Andover Cemetery where some madmen had blown away parts of the mausoleum and destroyed all the bodies at rest there.

The worst case of graveyard vandalism anyone in the history of Andover could recall.

Even many of the men who'd joined Cage, Ashyer, and Wilson that night to save Stroud, refused to talk about the incident. Those who did, denied any knowledge of it.

Meanwhile, Stroud slept the sleep of a comatose patient, but doctors assured his friends that it was not a coma, but healing sleep.


Two days later...

When Stroud did awake, he was surprised to be alive, hungry and anxious to leave the hospital. He was pleased to find his friend Cage had stayed on, and that the pathologist actually believed his story of the vampires. Cage, in fact, had done a great deal of reading in Stroud's circular chamber during his stay, and he had gotten to know a lot more about Ananias Stroud in this time.

Andover itself had cleaned its wounds and cleaned up the debris, and had carried on with life. Stroud could look out the hospital window and see that Banaker Institute was the only visible symbol of the former unholy situation allowed to flourish here for so long. The Institute still remained an object of curiosity and investigation. Representatives from various agencies worked in consort to determine what Banaker's elixir meant, and why it was being distilled there like liquor in Scotland.

Despite officials being shy to sanction anything at this point, according to Cage it had become apparent that Dr. Abraham Stroud, if not a hero of the people, was now looked upon in the highest circles of Washington as a legitimate occult-crime detector and fighter. Cage informed him of this.

“So, what does that mean, Cage?”

“It means you're going to the Soviet Union.”

“The Soviet Union?”

“Yeah, part of glasnost. Seems they have some strange goings-on over there, too, and the President of the United States is asking for you. Seems he read one of my reports on the Andover affair and--”

“What kind of goings-on are you talking about in the Soviet Union?”

“Seems there's some sort of mass murderer and the Ruskies think he, or it, could be more than human.”

“Hey, buddy, I'm not a cop any longer. I'm an archeologist, remember?”

“Sure, sure ... that's why the Russian's are giving us permission to dig in the USSR!”

“Really? Where?”

“Valdai Hills, the highest point in the USSR.”

“The Vodlaniski Site? Abandoned in 1917?” This was one of world archeology's saddest developments. Due to the Russian Revolution, all scientific endeavor funded and encouraged by the czar had halted, and many of the scientists had been brutally slain. The Vodlaniski Site, rumor had it, was eons old, a site where Neanderthal man had taken up residence in the area of Valdai, not to mention countless extinct creatures. Information lying in the earth there for mankind to learn from was like a book on a shelf locked away in a forbidden library. Talk about curses on archeological dig sites.

“Some great opportunity, huh?”

“I'll say. But let me get this straight.”


Stroud paced the hospital room. “In return, they want our help with this murderer?”

“Russians don't know much about serial killers, pal. That's strictly a modern American phenomenon, although there've been historical cases elsewhere, lately--”

“Yeah, I know all that. Where are the killings taking place?”

“Not far from Valdai Hills and the dig site.

“I see. Moscow?”

“You got it.”

“Red Square?”

“Right under their noses.”

“Sounds bizarre.”

“Wait till you hear the details.”

“Mangled bodies?”

“Eaten bodies.”

“Good Christ.”

“Can I give the State Department the go-ahead? They want us as a team, pal,” Cage told him matter-of-factly, as if he'd already vouched for Stroud. No doubt people in high places had gone over his record.

“They know about my ... my stay at the VA, of course?”

“They do.” Cage was chomping at the bit.

“How soon?” Abe asked him.


“Set it up. I'll make arrangements here, if I can get my damned pants.”

Cage laughed at this. “You know, Abe, you may've saved the whole damned country from these vampires.”

“Don't you for a moment believe that we got them all, Cage ... not for a moment. All we know, this killer in the Soviet Union is one of them.”

Cage looked thoughtfully into Stroud's eyes and he saw something strange and foreboding there, something he'd never seen there before. The man's eyes seemed to have changed with his experience in Andover, they looked, for all the world, like the gray eyes of his grandfather.

“Get us booked, have everything first class. What the State Department won't foot, put on my tab,” he told Cage decisively. “Imagine--
my first dig,
 and it’s my show, right? On Soviet soil!”




Robert W. Walker is the author of more than forty published novels, beginning with SUB-ZERO in 1979. He has millions of books in print. You can visit him at 




THE INSTINCT THRILLERS featuring FBI forensic pathologist Dr. Jessica Coran

Killer Instinct

Fatal Instinct

Primal Instinct

Pure Instinct

Darkest Instinct

Extreme Instinct

Blind Instinct

Bitter Instinct

Unnatural Instinct

Grave Instinct

Absolute Instinct


THE EDGE THRILLERS featuring Detective Lucas Stonecoat

Cold Edge

Double Edge

Cutting Edge

Final Edge


THE GRANT THRILLERS featuring Medical Examiner Dean Grant



Front Burners

Dying Breath


THE RANSOM MYSTERIES featuring 19th century detective Alastair Ransom

City for Ransom

Shadows in the White City

City of the Absent


THE DECOY THRILLERS featuring Chicago cop Ryne Lanarck

Hunting Lure

Blood Seers

Wind Slayers



THE BLOODSCREAMS SERIES featuring archeologist Abraham Stroud

Vampire Dreams

Werewolf’s Grief

Zombie Eyes



Dr. O



Brain Stem


The Serpent Fire

Flesh Wars (the sequel to The Serpent Fire)

Children of Salem




PSI: Blue

Deja Blue

Cuba Blue (with Lyn Polkabla)

Dead On

Thrice Told Tales (short stories)



Daniel Webster Jackson & the Wrong Way Railroad

Gideon Tell & the Siege of Vicksburg



Dead On Writing – Thirty Years of Writerly Advice


BOOK: Vampire Dreams (Bloodscreams #1)
8.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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