The Hoax

by F. A. Dincorn

    Robbie MacBride was in his last year at Mount Allison University. He didn't have any real friends as most students considered him a 'nerd'. Each week he would receive a long newsy letter from his mother, Rose. Robbie, and Rose, and his cousin Elizabeth were all that was left of the family. His mother had been in a wheelchair for five years now, the result of Muscular Dystrophy, but she remained cheerful, and her letters were full of news of Elizabeth. Apparently she had met a man in the library, and she was crazy about him. Rob looked forward to the holidays when he could go home for a visit. Elizabeth didn't consider him a 'nerd', to her he was always prince charming, and he loved her for it.

   He read the letter again, and then went back to his studies. He was studying Business Management. Rob intended to go into business for himself one day. It would have something to do with music, but he hadn't decided on exactly which branch it would be.

    Rob's brown hair was shoulder length, and he had grey eyes. He wasn't what you would call good looking, but he was attractive. He could play a guitar, and sing reasonably well, but he wasn't going to be a musician. He enjoyed business too much for that, and that is what he would do.

    Back home in Saint John things were changing, and Robbie didn't realize that they would never be the same again. The mysterious new man in Elizabeth's life would change all their lives for ever.

    Rose MacBride smiled at her niece as she came through the door. "Elizabeth, your glowing," she said. Elizabeth's blue eyes sparkled, and she ran a hand through her thick dark hair.

    "Now, Aunt Rose," she said, "you know I'm always smiling, and happy."

    Rose was in her wheel chair. She had short brown hair, and grey eyes like Robbie. The chair didn't make her a bitter person, as she was always cheerful, and full of jokes. She teased Elizabeth about the new man in her life, one that Rose hadn't met as yet.

    "When are you going to introduce me to this mysterious guy," Rose chided. "Is there something wrong with him?" "No, Aunt Rose, he's perfect," Elizabeth said. "Just perfect."

   Elizabeth met Victor Drake in the library over a week ago. She had never seen him in the daytime, as he was out of town during the day on buying trips. Ever since they met they were attracted to one another, and Elizabeth was falling in love with him. She knew he, and his butler, Hugo, lived in the old Corbet mansion, and he was never married. victor bought the run down house two weeks before, and was planning to renovate it in the future. Elizabeth hadn't been there yet, but he was going to take her to the mansion soon.

    "Why don't you bring him over for dinner soon, so I can meet him?" Rose asked her. "I like to know who you are seeing. Are you sure you know enough about him?"

    "I know all I need to know, Aunt Rose." "He's single, and I'm crazy about him."

    "That I can see, but where does he come from?" Rose enquired.

    "He said he lived in England for awhile, and before that Germany." "His job takes him all over the country, but he's decided to settle here."

    "I see. Would you have anything to do with that? Rose asked.

    "No, he decided that before I met him. That's why he bought the Corbet mansion.

    "Have your supper now, and we'll talk later," said Rose. "Are you going out tonight?"

    "I'm meeting Victor at seven," Liz answered. "You don't mind being alone, do you?"

   "No, you have a good time, but invite him to dinner soon."

    Elizabeth hurried down the street after supper. She couldn't wait to meet Victor. She had a feeling that he would be waiting for her outside the library, and when she got there he was. Victor stepped out of the shadows, and opened his arms, and Elizabeth went into them. He held her that way for a few minutes, not speaking, just enjoying her warmth. "I knew you'd come," he finally said.

    "What shall we do tonight," she said. "Do you want to do anything special?"

    "I thought maybe you would like to see my house." Victor looked down at her, and waited.

    "I would love to see your house. Do you have a car with you, or should I get mine?"

    "I have my car over there." He pointed across the street to a black Ford Thunderbird.

    Victor took her arm and they walked across to the Thunderbird. He opened the door and got her comfortable. Then he got behind the wheel, and started the car.

    "It's only ten miles to the house," he said. "It won't take long, and I told Hugo to put a fire in the fireplace to take the chill off."

    "These fall nights get chilly," Elizabeth smiled at him to let him know that she appreciated the gesture.

    When they arrived at the Corbet mansion Hugo was at the door. He must have heard the car pull up. He came out and opened the door for Elizabeth as Victor introduced them. "This is Hugo, Victor said, a very important person around here. He looks after me, the house, and the car."

    "Hello Hugo, Elizabeth said, I'm glad Victor has someone so handy to look after him."

   Hugo just nodded, and he walked back to the house with them. "The fire has been started Sir", he told him as they entered into the spacious entrance.

   The house was very run down, and damp as it hadn't been lived in for many years. It still showed some of the splendor it once had. The ceilings were twelve feet high, and great dirty chandeliers hung in the hall, and the setting room where Victor asked her to sit down by the fire. Elizabeth sat on the old-fashioned settee, and held her hands toward the fire.

    "Hugo is making a late lunch for us tonight," Victor said, "I know you ate supper at home earlier." "In the meanwhile we could have a glass of wine - you do drink wine don't you?"

    "Yes, wine would be lovely," Elizabeth answered. "I don't think I could eat anything though."

    They sat and sipped their wine, and chatted about the house, but Elizabeth knew that there was something on Victor's mind. She suspected that it had something to do with her, and she was right.

    "Elizabeth, he said, I think I'm falling in love with you." "I'd like to know how you feel about me, is it too soon?"

    "No, it's too late, I'm already in love with you." "I was hoping you felt the same way."

    Victor took her in his arms, and kissed her lips, and eyes, and neck. He lingered at the curve of her neck and felt the warm pulse. He had to tell her now. He had to trust her.

    "There's something I have to tell you," he said, but Hugo came in just then, and asked to see Victor in the kitchen. "I'll just be a minute," he said as he got up to go with Hugo.

    In the kitchen Hugo asked Victor if it was wise to tell Elizabeth anything yet. He had only known her a week, and maybe he should wait until he was sure. Victor decided he could wait another week or so, and he went back into the room. She sat there looking into the fire. She was so beautiful to him in the firelight that he almost regretted his decision to wait, but his life was on the line and he decided it was best to wait a little longer.

    "So, Elizabeth said, what is it you were going to tell me?" "You seemed pretty mysterious."

    "It was nothing, it was just that I will be away for awhile, and won't be able to see you for a few days."

    "Oh", said Elizabeth, "I will miss you terribly." "It must be very important."

    "I have to tie up some loose ends in the business, as I won't be doing as much as I used to." Then I can devote more time to you."

    "In that case, I forgive you," she smiled. "Please don't take too long." "By the way you have to come to dinner before you go. Aunt Rose will hound me if I don't bring you home so that she can meet you."

    "In that case, I accept, but it will have to be tomorrow night after seven, okay?"

   It was after midnight when Victor and Elizabeth kissed good night. She went into the house feeling happy, but there was something in the back of her mind. She didn't think the trip was what Victor wanted to tell her about, it was something else. He would tell her in time. She went into the bedroom and found Rose sleeping peacefully in her bed. She would tell her the good news in the morning.

    Rose was very excited about Victor coming to dinner. She cooked all day, and cleaned the house with the help of Elizabeth. Rose was very capable around the house in spite of her wheelchair. The only thing she needed help with was reaching the higher shelves. They had a girl who came in once a week to help with the heavy work. Linda was just sixteen, but she was a big girl, healthy and strong. Linda came in on Fridays, and that was two days away so Rose and Elizabeth did the work themselves.

    At promptly seven o'clock, Victor knocked on the door. Elizabeth ran to open it, and greeted Victor with a smile. "I'm so glad your here, aunt Rose has been looking forward to meeting you all day." She ushered him in like royalty. "Aunt Rose meet Victor Drake." "Victor, this is my only Aunt Rose." "You now have met two-thirds of my family." Victor took Rose's offered hand, and smiled at her. "I see the family resemblance, but how is it you have the same last name?"

   "My Father and Rose are brother and sister," Elizabeth replied. "Aunt Rose never married, although she's Robbie's mother, her fiancé died in the war, and never even knew that Robbie was born."

   "What a pity," Victor said, it must be hard to bring up a boy all by yourself? How long have you been in a wheelchair, if I may ask?" I don't mind at all, and yes it was hard, but Elizebeth was always there to help me, and I had her father when he was alive." Rose looked sad for a minute, then she said, "let's go in now and eat."

   "I hear you are a buyer, what is it you buy," Rose asked Victor half way through the meal.

    "I buy antiques for a large chain, they collect antiques from all over the world, and sell them in their stores in New York, and other large centers, but that is about to stop. This is my last trip away. I'm retiring. That is why I bought the Corbet house." "You must come and see it when I get back from London." "It's a cold, dismal place right now, but maybe you and Elizabeth can give me some pointers."

    "Are you old enough to retire?" Aunt Rose laughed, "you must be older than you look."

    "Well, I'm thirty-six, but I never had to work, it was just a way to make use of my time." "I've decided there are better ways to spend time." He looked at Elizabeth, and she blushed. Rose noticed it, and knew Elizabeth would do anything for this man. He was tall, dark, and handsome, as they say, and wealthy too. Rose herself was taken with him, and even though there was an age difference of fourteen years, it didn't seem to matter. Rose would give her, and Victor her blessings when the time came.

   The rest of the evening flew by, and Victor had to leave. He was going to London early in the morning he said, so he went home at eleven, giving Rose a hug, and a long good-night kiss to Elizabeth. He told her he would be back in a week, and that he would hurry.

   When Victor got home he spent the rest of the night in front of the fire. Hugo offered him something to drink, but he declined. He felt very alone. He would have a week to plan how he would tell Elizabeth his secret, but how would she react? Would he lose her for ever? How could a young beautiful woman live a life of solitude? Maybe her love for him was strong enough, but it was a chance he knew he had to take.

    In the morning just before daybreak, Victor got up off his chair, and went to his room in the basement. A hateful place where he was condemned to spend his days. Hugo would usually take the car away each morning, and bring it back each night, but this morning he would take the car and leave it in a private garage for the week. If anyone came by, it would look like Victor had been away. Everything had to be planned ahead. It was the only safe thing to do. Victor went down the stairs, and opened his coffin. At least he didn't have to think when he was sleeping. "Good-night, Elizabeth, he thought, I hope it isn't good-bye."

   Hugo went out and climbed in the car, and started it up. He would take it two miles up the road, and store it in a garage that he had rented months before. He had been with Victor Drake for many years, and he felt sorry for the cold, lonely existence he had, but not sorry enough to let a woman come between them. Hugo had control of Victor's assets, and did everything for him. A woman would only complicate things. After all he had done too much planning to let a woman spoil it now.

    Robbie was very disappointed, he couldn't go home for Thanksgiving as he was failing an important exam, and he had to spend the time studying. He received another long letter from his mother telling him that Victor Drake came to dinner, and she was as taken with him as Elizabeth was. Rose would be disappointed also, but his studies came first. Robbie began a letter to his mother explaining his absence, and assuring her he would be home for Christmas.

    Elizabeth tried to fill the long week the best she could. She went shopping for a new dress, but ended up with a beautiful white nightgown. She blushed when she realized it was more for Victor than herself. Then she wondered if he would ever see it.

    Victor sat by the fire every night of the week he was supposed to be away. He was putting the story together in his mind. The more he thought about it, the more depressed he became. Finally he went to find Hugo. "I'm going to tell Elizabeth the truth on Monday night," he was saying to Hugo. The look on Hugo's face made him stop talking. "What is it?" he asked.

    "Sir, your making a terrible mistake, no woman would understand about you, and no woman would live like you, knowingly."

    "Your wrong, Hugo, Elizabeth is different, she loves me, and that will help her to understand it wasn't my fault that I'm the way I am."

    "Well, it was my duty to warn you, and of course I will serve her as I serve you."

    "Thank you Hugo, I'll say good-night.", Victor went back to the fire, and sat down. He felt better now that he made up his mind. Then he pictured Elizabeth beside him in the cold dark cellar, and he panicked. My God, how can I do this to her? But he knew in his heart he would.

    When Monday night came Victor sent his car for Elizabeth, but she told Hugo she would drive her own out to the house. It would be more convenient for him, as he wouldn't have to be on call all evening. Hugo figured she would probably need her car after the story she was going to hear, and he laughed out loud at the thought of it. People were really stupid he thought to himself. One born every minute. He drove back to the mansion alone. Maybe Victor would give him the night off so he could be alone with his soon to be x-girlfriend.

    Elizabeth arrived at seven-thirty, and hurried up to the door where Victor was waiting. He was so handsome she thought, and she had missed him a lot during the time he was away. "I'm so glad your back, she said as she reached him, next time take me with you."

    Victor ushered her in, and told Hugo he could have the night off. He wanted to be alone when he told Elizabeth his story. "Can I get you anything?" he asked her when she was comfortably sitting in the setting room. "No, darling, just you." "Please come and sit down with me, and tell me about your trip."

   Victor sat on a chair across from Elizabeth. He didn't want to be too close when he told her his story. "Elizabeth, he began, I have something to tell you, and I want you to listen." "There is something I've been keeping from you that could make a difference in how you feel about me."

   "Victor, there is nothing that could change my feelings for you, I love you."

   "Maybe you should hear my story first, then decide."

    "All right," Elizabeth said as she settled back on the cushion, and relaxed. "Go ahead, tell me your story."

    It all happened fourteen years ago when I first met Hugo. My father and I lived in London, England then. My mother had been dead for ten years, and father and I traveled around together a lot. One night father and I decided to see some of the colorful sights of London itself. We walked along the streets, and even entered one of the most famous bars, called the Vampire's Nest. All the people there dressed in costumes, and drank colorful drinks, such as 'Bloody Marys's', pretending it to be blood. We had one drink each, and then left. When we reached the corner of the street we realized that someone was following us. Father turned around too late, he was hit by a large man in a black cape, and flung against a wall. There were two men, and the other one did the same to me. He then bent over me and bit my neck. I passed out from hitting the wall, and never came to until four days later.

    When I woke up I was in a shack, the windows were boarded up, and a man was sitting by my bed. It was Hugo. He asked me how I was feeling, and I told him I was ill. My head ached, and I was very thirsty. He told me that was understandable, as I had been dead for three day. I thought he meant dead to the world, but he meant literally dead. He told me his name was Hugo Gruber, and be found me and my father in the alley near the Vampires Nest. My father was dead, and buried, but he saved me because he knew I would be all right in three, or four days.

    I was in shock at the news of my father's death, and I asked him for a drink. He gave me a glass of red liquid, and told me from now on I would have to drink this if I was to stay alive. I didn't understand what he meant, so he told me. The men who attacked me were real vampires, not the pretend ones. The one who attacked me made me drink his blood, and I was now one of them.

    I actually laughed at him, but he was serious. He pointed at the windows, they are boarded up to keep the daylight off of you. You must never see the sun again, or you will die. I drank the drink he gave me, and I felt much stronger. I began to wonder if he was right. He then told me that he would help me, and get me to a safe place out of the country.

   My father had holdings in Canada, and Hugo thought that was a perfect place to hide. It was necessary to be away from people who knew me, as they would become suspicious when I was no longer available in the daylight hours. So I let him take charge of my life. I no longer cared if I lived or died. Hugo made all the arrangements for me, and himself, using my father's passport, to come here to New Brunswick. The story about being a buyer is just a cover story Hugo made up. He told me I would never have to prowl for victims, as he would see to my nourishment, and my safety.

    When Victor was finished, Elizabeth sat for a minute, and then she laughed out loud, "My darling Victor, that is the worst story I have ever heard, and I don't believe a word of it. If you wanted to get rid of me, just say so."

   Victor got up off his chair, and took her hand, "come with me," he said. "Come see what's in the cellar, and maybe then you'll believe."

    Elizabeth, still smiling, went along with Victor to the cellar. They went down the darkened stairs together. There in the corner was a long black coffin. Victor pointed at it, "that's where I sleep each morning."

   She went over to the coffin and lifted the lid, there inside was earth laid along its beautiful white satin lining. "Oh my God, Victor, is it really true?

    Victor went to Elizabeth, and took her by the arm, "Let's go back upstairs where its warmer." "Are you afraid of me now?"

    "No, your still Victor, the man I love. Lets just go up and talk about this."

   Elizabeth and Victor talked for hours. He sat close to her on the settee, and she laid her head on his shoulder. I don't see how I can live without you, she told him. So I guess we'll have to work around it some how. Oh my darling, Elizabeth, I love you so much. I want to marry you. Do you think you could live with my terrible secret?

    "Yes, Victor, I will marry you, but I must become like you. What do I have to do?"

    "Oh my God, never." Victor looked at her shocked. "It doesn't have to be that way for you."

    "Not right away, but after we are married, I want to be as you are." Elizabeth put her arms around his neck. III think after fourteen years, that you have waited long enough, can we go upstairs?"

    Victor stood up and pulled her to him, "are you sure your ready?" he asked, and when she nodded he picked her up in his arms, and carried her up the wide staircase, and into the master bedroom, where he had never slept.

   The room was spacious, and it was kept clean. Victor had Hugo get it ready just in case Elizabeth stayed over. He stood in the door way with Elizabeth in his arms. "Are you sure?"

    "Yes, I'm sure, but will you get my overnight bag out of the car? I want this to be perfect."

    Victor hated to leave her even for a minute, but he went. He got the bag out of her car, a little red Golf. He couldn't believe his good fortune - she actually loved him enough to sleep with him. He carried the bag up the stairs and found her there sitting on the bed. "It's a lovely room isn't it?" she said.

   Victor gave her the bag, and bent over and kissed her, "please hurry, I can't wait much longer now that I know your mine."

    Elizabeth put on her new nightgown that she bought in anticipation of this night. She had a lot to think about, but not tonight, tonight would be for Victor, and herself. She went back into the bedroom, and Victor walked up to her, "Your so beautiful," he said, as he led her to the bed. "I love you with all my heart."

   The night was magic. They made love over, and over again, until they fell asleep.

   Elizabeth screaming, "Victor, Victor, wake up, the sun, the sun", awakened Victor.

   Victor sat bolt upright in the bed, the sun's warm rays lay on his left arm and shoulder, it was coming through the East window. He looked down at his arm in wonder. It didn't burn him. It felt wonderful. He got up out of bed, and went to the window. He stood there letting the warm sunshine lay on his body like a comforter. Then he began to cry. Elizabeth, seeing his shoulders shake, ran to him, and put her arms around him. "What does this mean?" she asked him.

   When Victor could speak he said, "I think this means I have been had." "I'm going to kill Hugo."

    "Are you sure this means your not a Vampire?" "Why would Hugo do such a thing." She looked up at him hopefully waiting for his answer.

   Victor led her back to the bed, he had to sit down as his legs felt weak. "I didn't tell you everything," he said, "Hugo was wanted by the police when I met him." "That's why he was hiding in that shack, he was wanted for murder, and he said it wasn't his fault, but the police wanted him anyway." "I didn't care after what he had told me about myself, and I needed him, so I just forgot about it." "He used my father's passport to get himself out of the country, and I was just the patsy he needed to help him. I think that was his motive, what else could it be?"

    "It is so wonderful that your not a Vampire, but that was despicable of Hugo. He should be punished, but not by you, let the authorities take him. I want you safe with me not in jail for murder."

   "I guess your right," Victor said, "It is wonderful, after fourteen years just to see the sun." He went back to the window. "Can you get me a cellular phone?" he asked, "so I can call Scotland Yard in London, they are the ones who were looking for him." "I'll send him to London on some pretext, and have them waiting at the airport." "Whatever they do won't be enough, but it will have to do."

    "I want you to leave now, Elizabeth, before Hugo gets back." "Come back this evening, and don't let him see the phone." "I'll talk to him about going to London, he won't like it, but I'll be firm about it. Then I'll call ahead and tell them when his plane gets in. That should do it."

    "I hate leaving you like this," she said to him, "Are you sure you will be okay here with him?

    "Don't worry, I'm going down into the cellar, and await his return just as if nothing has changed, but first I think I'll check and see what it is he has been giving me to drink all these years." "You had better leave now before he gets back." Victor hugged, and kissed her good-bye. He waited for her car to pull away, and then he went into the kitchen to find out what it was he had been drinking. It didn't take long as the cupboards were filled with tomato juice, and the fridge was full of bottles already made up with whatever he had been putting in it. Victor took out two bottles, and poured them down the drain rinsed the sink, and headed for the cellar.

    When Elizabeth got home she was very excited, she went to her aunt and asked to borrow her cellular phone. Rose knew that something had changed, and asked her what was going on. Elizabeth told her she would tell her everything later.

   "Victor asked me to marry him, and I said yes." "He told me quite a story about his past, but he found out that it wasn't true, and he's going to fix it." "I'll fill you in tomorrow." Elizabeth was walking around, checking the phone, and placing it in her club bag.

    Rose looked at her, "are you going to tell me why you didn't come home last night? Or should I ask?"

    Elizabeth blushed, "You shouldn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway we talked half the night then I spent the rest of it in the guest room." "With Victor." "After all we are going to be married."

    "What do you need the phone for? Doesn't Victor have aphone?

    "No, he doesn't," Elizabeth replied. "He has to make a call to London, but he will pay you for it."

    "I wasn't worried about the cost," Rose said. "I was just curious about why he needed it."

    "Like I said, I'll tell you everything tomorrow, please don't worry." Elizabeth kissed her aunt. "I'm going back to the mansion at seven, and I may not be home until tomorrow, but don't worry I'm in safe hands with Victor."

    Elizabeth helped her aunt get lunch ready, and they made small talk. She asked Rose how Robbie was getting along.

    "I received a letter from Robbie, and he isn't coming home for thanksgiving, but he will be home for Christmas." "You can't get married before he gets home."

    "I wouldn't think of it," Elizabeth said, "after all he's the one that has to give me away." "I'd wait for whatever time it took."

    "I'm going to write him right away, and tell him the news right after you tell me the rest of it."

   "That will have to wait until tomorrow, Aunt Rose, but I will tell you everyhing."

    At one o'clock Hugo arrived at the Corbet mansion. He walked in and noticed that nothing was out of place. She must have gone home. Probably scared to death if Victor told her the story. He went into the kitchen and checked the refrigerator. Two bottles of his special blend were gone. That meant that Victor was in the cellar. Hugo then went up stairs to check the bedroom. He found the bed had been slept in, probably Elizabeth stayed the night. Alone he hoped. It was puzzling that she would still stay after Victor told her his story. Maybe she didn't believe him. He then went into the cellar. Better make sure he thought. He lifted the coffin lid, and Victor was right there where he should be. Hugo signed with relief. He then went about the business of cleaning the house up, and preparing more of his famous blood.

    At nightfall Victor opened the cellar door, and asked Hugo for a drink. He said, "Hugo I have a favor to ask of you, when you bring in my tonic, I'd like to talk to you."

    "Anything you ask, Mr. Drake," Hugo smiled at Victor. He went into the kitchen to get the blood, and then returned and handed it to Victor. "Please sit down," Victor said, "I want you to take a trip for me." "Elizabeth has consented to be my wife, and I want you to get my mother's wedding dress from our house in London." "Do you think you can do that without anyone finding out?"

   Hugo was shocked, he couldn't believe she was actually going to marry Victor. He looked at Victor with his mouth open for a minute. Then he said the only thing he could. "Congratulations, Victor. Of course I would be glad to go back to London for you." "When do you want me to leave?"

    "There's a plane leaving for London tomorrow night, I hope you can make it, as I am anxious to get the dress." "I want you to go into town, and make sure there's a plane leaving, make a reservation, and come back and let me know. I'll tell you how to get into the house, and what I will need." "Very well, I'll leave first thing in the morning, and come back and pack." Hugo resigned himself to going, and then he started to look forward to it. He might have some time to spend with his friends at the Vampire's Nest. He used to hang out there with his friends when he was hiding from the law. The police never came near the place as long as nobody complained. And usually no one did.

   Victor thought everything was going smoothly, and anxiously awaited Elizabeth's return. He couldn't wait for her to arrive, and he hoped she could spend the night again. He didn't think he would ever be this happy again, but he was very careful not to show it to Hugo. He made plans in his head. He would call Scotland Yard, and alert them to his arrival time. They would pick him up, and hopefully he would get what he deserved. It was all Victor could do to keep from choking him to death, but he didn't let Hugo see his anger. He wouldn't call London until Hugo's reservation was confirmed.

    Elizabeth arrived at seven-thirty with her over night bag. She threw her arms around Victor, and whispered in his ear," I got the phone."

   Victor held her tight, and said "thank-you, I knew you could get one." "Come in and sit down." When they were settled he told her Hugo was going to London on the following evening, and he was going to get his reservation in the morning. "I hope he can get a seat on such short notice," he said, "I want everything over and done with as soon as possible."

   Hugo came into the room and congratulated Elizabeth on her upcoming marriage. He asked if he could get her anything, and would she like a fire in the master bedroom, if she was staying overnight.

   "Yes, that would be wonderful. I was a little chilly last night there by myself," she said. A glass of wine would be nice we could have a toast.', "You can have the rest of the night off," Victor said to Hugo, "after you light the fire, and get the wine, we will be fine." "Just make sure you get to the travel agency in the morning I can't wait to show Elizabeth my surprise."

    After Hugo left for the night, Elizabeth said to Victor, "I've never been to London, it must be nice there, do you suppose we could go after we are married?"

    "Oh course we can," Victor answered, "we can go anywhere you want to go." "Thanks to you I now can go out into the beautiful sunlight." "Only one more day in that dreaded coffin, and I'm free." "We could live in my London house if you want to, it's a beautiful place."

    "I'd like to see it anyway. It must be really nice." "Do you think you can trust Hugo to go to London with the police looking for him?"

   "He has my father's passport, and can travel around freely." I think the only reason he stays with me is the money." "I will have to make sure he can't touch any more of it. I'll call my lawyer tonight."

   Victor and Elizabeth went upstairs. They spent most of the night together, but Victor made sure he was in the cellar when Hugo returned. He didn't want anything to go wrong now, and if Hugo found out what was happening he may try to kill them both.

    Elizabeth came down stairs in the morning fully dressed and ready to go home. She encountered Hugo coming out of the kitchen. "Did you sleep well," he asked her.

    "Yes, the fire made it cozy, and warm, but I must get back to my aunt now. Have a nice trip to London."

    "Miss. MacBride, if I may say so, you are taking a great risk in marrying Victor. After what he told you, do you think its wise?"

    "I love Victor, Hugo, and he's worth any risk I have to take." "So, please don't worry, it will all work out."

    Elizabeth went out, and got into her car. She had given the phone to Victor, and he took it to the basement with him. By tomorrow everything would be over. She hoped.

   When Hugo got off the plane in London, he knew right away that there was something wrong. He could see men standing around looking unnatural to him. He was used to seeing men from Scotland Yard, and he was sure they were some of the Yard's idiots. He went into the men's washroom and stayed there for awhile. Then he slipped out and edged along a wall, watching carefully to see if anyone was looking in his direction. There was a woman heading for the door, and he fell into step beside her, and acted like he was with her. No one noticed him at all. He just walked out and up the street. Then he ran. He figured that Victor had set him up, and probably by now Victor knew he wasn't a vampire. He headed for the Vampire's Nest.

   Hugo sat in the back of the Vampire's Nest drinking heavily. He had been there several hours thinking of what he could do. He didn't have a safe place to hide, and he only knew a few people that hung out in the Nest. His luck was with him when a man walked up to him and said, "Well, if it isn't Hugo, my friend, where have you been hiding all this time?"

    Hugo looked up to see who was taking to him, and it was Carl, his friend for many years. He only knew Carl from the bar, but they hung out together there. Carl was usually a private person, and never met anyone outside the Vampire's Nest. He wasdressed in costume, a black cape, and his sharp teeth. It was quite ridiculous the way some of these guys dressed. Who did they think they were kidding anyway?

    Hugo said to Carl, "Just the man I wanted to see." "I'm looking for a safe place to hide, can you help me?"

    Carl sat down across from Hugo, "where have you been for the last fourteen years?

    "I've been in Canada, with a friend, but I can't go back again, as the friend got my number, if you know what I mean?"

    "Well, I guess you could stay with me for a short time, until you can find your own way." "Come along, I'll show you where I live."

   Hugo staggered along after Carl, and up the street, and into an alley. There was a basement apartment door at the foot of some steps. "This is where I live with my friends," said Carl. "Come in and join us."

    When Hugo stepped through the door he was attacked by four people. They jumped on him and bit into his neck, fighting over him. He knew his mistake, and with disbelief written on his face, he died.

    Robbie got a long letter from Rose. She told him about Elizabeth getting married at Christmas, and how she wanted him to be there to give her away. He thought how ordinary everything was at home. His life was so full of books, and classes, and teachers. He felt sorry for the humdrum existence Elizabeth would lead in the old run down house. Rose said she would tell him everything that happened after he got home, and that he wouldn't believe it. Robbie knew there was nothing that could surprise him. But he was looking forward to going home anyway.

    Rose, and Elizabeth, and Victor sat around Victor's fireplace, talking about the events that happened. Rose was really shocked to think that Victor could live like that for fourteen years. They worried about Hugo. The police called and said they lost him. Victor didn't think he would come back to Canada, as it would probably occur to Hugo that Victor set him up.

   Elizabeth asked Rose to take charge of redecorating the house while she, and Victor were on their honeymoon. They were going to hire full time help to stay with Rose, and do the running for her. Rose was happy for them.

    The phone that Victor had installed since Hugo left rang. When Victor picked it up, it was Scotland Yard. They told him Hugo had been found, he was quite dead, drained of blood, and someone had claimed the body. Victor sighed with relief. What a fitting ending for Hugo. He couldn't have thought of a better one himself.

    A week later Victor was walking around the grounds looking over his property, and enjoying the crisp evening air. He beard a rustling noise in the near by bushes.

   "Who's there?" he called. There was no answer, and Victor started to walk toward them. Suddenly, from behind, a voice said, "That wasn't very nice of you Victor, setting me up like that."

    Victor wheeled around, and there was Hugo, alive. "I thought you were dead?" Victor said, in utter surprise.

    "You can't get rid of me that easily," Hugo snarled at him. "Now your going to pay."

    Hugo jumped on Victor, and they wrestled to the ground. Hugo seemed more powerful than he ever was. He had the strength of two men. Suddenly Hugo bared fangs that were white, and sharp as razors. He tore into Victor's neck, and Victor was too overcome to stop him.

    Hugo dragged Victor's limp, lifeless body to the side entrance, and into the cellar. The black coffin hadn't been removed as yet, so he dumped Victor in, and closed the lid. "When I say your a vampire, your a vampire," he said, and he laughed quietly. "Now maybe your lady friend will join you."

   Hugo stole quietly upstairs, remembering his own demise, and miraculous recovery. Of course now he would live a life like Victor had for all those years, but he would be in good company. Victor and Elizabeth would have to do their own killing, but they wouldn't care once the thirst came over them. Hugo went to search out Elizabeth.

   Rose was in the dining room admiring the work that had been started. The room had been cleaned thoroughly, and the chandeliers were sparkling like diamonds. She didn't hear the man enter the room behind her.

    Hugo was on her in seconds, and after she was depleted of blood he dragged her into the basement, and left her on the floor beside Victor's coffin. It was getting late so he locked the cellar door, and remained inside with his two victims. Time enough tomorrow night to meet Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth retired early as she had a long day preparing for her wedding, and overseeing Aunt Rose's plans for the house. She knew Victor would be up later, and he would wake her up when he did. So she slept soundly, and in the morning when she arose, she found herself alone.

    She called out to Victor, but there was no answer. She then got dressed and went downstairs. There was nobody around. The car was gone also. So Elizabeth thought maybe Victor had gone to town. She moved about the house looking for Rose, but only discovered her wheel chair in the dining room. "That's strange," she thought, Rose must have gone with Victor.

    Elizabeth waited all day for Victor, and was getting very worried. She phoned Rose's house, and received no answer. "I'm going to shoot him," she said out loud.

    At nightfall Elizabeth was upstairs looking out the window anxiously awaiting Victor's car. A voice from behind her said, "Hello Elizabeth, waiting for your lover?"

    She turned around, and looked into the red eyes of Hugo. They were filled with hatred.

    "Hugo, it can't be you, what have you done? Where is Victor?"

    "Victor is sleeping with Rose in the basement, and soon you'll join them." Hugo moved closer as he spoke.

    Elizabeth looked for a way out, but Hugo blocked the door. She threw a lamp at him, and he just brushed it off, laughing. "Fiesty aren't we? he said, and laughed at her. When Elizabeth tried to run past him, he grabbed her and threw her across the room. "All this is your fault," he said. "All of it," Victor was in my control until you came along, now he's in my control again. We'll be a big happy family." He reached out for her. Elizabeth was dazed, and didn't struggle when he finally bit into her neck.

    Robbie knocked on Rose's door, and when no one came he looked for the spare key. He found it in a flower pot, and opened the door. The house smelled of disuse, and neglect. He went through the rooms, and found dust on everything. Where was she he thought. Then it hit him, she was out atthe Corbet mansion, staying there with Elizabeth andVictor.

    It was late when his train got in, so he decided to have a snack and go to bed. He would surprise them in the morning. Robbie hadn't heard from his mother in three weeks, and that was unusual, because Rose wrote every week faithfully.

    He opened the refrigerator, and the smell of rotting food filled the air. He stepped back, and closed the door again. This wasn't like his mother at all.

    Robbie didn't get up until ten the next morning. He had a shower and dressed in clean clothes before he left for the nearest restaurant. At one o'clock he pulled in the driveway of the mansion.

    It was big, and old, and badly in need of paint. it also looked as if no one was living there. Where was everyone? He got out of the car that Rose had used. It had special equipment built in so that Rose could drive it. That was another thing - Rose would never go anywhere without her car.

    Robbie walked up to the door and knocked. No answer. He knocked again, and called out, "anyone home?" Still no answer. The door was locked. He went around to the side and found another door, but it was locked also. He bent down and peered into the cellar window. It looked like someone was down there. He tapped on the window, but nobody answered.

    Robbie just stood there deciding what to do. This was strange. He went to the garage. Elizabeth's Golf was there, and also a large black Thunderbird. He was really concerned now, and decided to break in.

   He walked to the side door and threw a shoulder against it. It took four hard blows before it let go. When it did Robbie almost went headlong down the steps. The door led to the basement. He went down into the damp room below. When his eyes grew accustomed to the dark, he noticed that there were four coffins in a row against the wall. He crept over to one, and lifted the lid. A man was in it, sleeping. He wasn't dead, but there was blood on his face, and his eye-teeth protruded from his mouth. He closed the lid, and opened the next one. It was his mother. She had blood on her face and clothing, and she too was sleeping. He put a hand on her face, and she opened her eyes and hissed at him. He jumped back, and she went back to sleep. Robbie opened the other two coffins and found Elizabeth and Victor. He was horrified. "What the hell happened?" he said out loud. "They're all vampires."

    He ran up the cellar steps and closed the door. "What am I going to do, they're VAMPIRES," he repeated to himself.

    Robbie drove home, as he had to think. Then he decided to talk to the neighbours.

    Mrs. Billings answered the door. She was surprised to see Robbie, and invited him in right away. "Your back from Mt. Allison," she said. "How are you?"

    "I'm fine, Mrs. Billings, but I'd like to ask you a few questions."

   "Oh, is something wrong? she asked.

    "I don't know for sure, but have you noticed anything strange going on since I left?"

    "Well now that you mention it, there have been a lot of killings lately. More than usual for a city this size."

   "Who was killed?" Robbie asked her..

   "There were four people in one family murdered on the same night. The police said that they had bled a lot, but not much blood was found." "Doesn't that sound strange?"

    "Yes it does," said Robbie. "I hope you keep your doors locked at night, and don't answer if anybody knocks."

    "My, what's the world coming to?" she puckered up her fat face in concern. Mrs. Billings was seventy-five and a widow. She was short and chubby, with redish brown hair, mixed with grey. She would be defenseless against monsters like those at the mansion.

    Robbie thanked her for the information, and was about to go when she said. "How is your mother these day?" I haven't seen her for three weeks?"

    "Mom is away for awhile," Robbie answered. "Visiting friends."

    "Oh, isn't that nice, she said, tell her hello for me when you see her."

   "I will Mrs. Billings, and don't forget to lock up."

    Robbie left the Billings house and went straight home. He went down the driveway to the garage, and opened the door. He found what he was looking for. A five gallon can of gas sat in the corner under the work bench. He picked it up it was full.

   Robbie looked at his watch, and it read four-thirty. He had to hurry, as it grew dark early in the winter.

    Robbie knew all about vampires, he heard the other students talking about a girl getting bit by one, and how she became one herself. They said a stake through the heart or fire was the only way to kill a vampire, and that's what he was going to do burn the house down with them in it.

    He thought of his mother, but that thing in the coffin was no longer his mother. He had to do it.

   Robbie drove out to the old Corbet mansion. He arrived as the sun was getting quite low in the West. He got out and opened the trunk, and grabbed the gas can. Hurrying, he went to the house, unscrewing the cap as he went. He started pouring gas on the front door, and walking toward the cellar door, leaving a stream of strong smelling gas as he went. After he circled the house as far as he could, he went back to the cellar. The sun was almost down. He had to hurry, but he had to see his mother one last time.

   Robbie went down the stairs, and opened the lid of his mother's coffin. While he was looking at her, he heard the lid of the coffin next to him start to open. Too late, he thought, I'm too late.

    He ran upstairs, and reached in his pocket for a match. He didn't have any. He ran to the car. His mother kept a gun in the glove compartment, and when he opened it it wasn't there. Frantic now, he looked around, and then he found a lighter in the back of the seat. He couldn't believe his luck.

    Robbie ran back to the front door, pulling paper out of his pocket as he ran, he lit the paper with the lighter, and touched it to the gas at the front door. It burst into flames.

    "Thank God", he said out loud, and ran to the corner of the house to see if they were still inside, and he heard them shuffling around. He didn't think of them as family any more, just monsters.

    The fire took hold of the house, and roared along it's perimeter. They were trapped before they knew what was happening to them. Victor took Elizabeth in his arms. "Good-bye my love, this is for the best," he said. Robbie knelt in the grass beside his car, and covered his ears. The screams from the basement were almost more than he could bear.

   The noise of the fire engines could be heard getting closer, and closer, but Robbie didn't hear them. He was in a world of horror in his own head. He sat and rocked with his hands over his ears.

   A little later, someone said, "Take this guy to a hospital, he's not responding."

    Robbie remained in a catatonic state for days until he died of an aneurysm in his brain.

    The firemen found only the bones of four people near the cellar steps. Two had their arms wrapped around each other in a final embrace.