THE VAMPIRE STORIES
by Andrew J. Müller
Father Jonathan Penrose closed the door to the old Norman church of St. Just in Roseland which creaked noisily in the early evening quiet. A few late gulls squawked in reply as they wheeled around the granite coloured sky above the Carrick Roads. Father Jonathan walked through the old graveyard down towards the creek by which the old handsome church had been built, he always marvelled at the Church he was fortunate enough to be assigned to, even now in late September the grounds were full of exotic palms and brightly coloured flowers which it was always his pleasure to tend during the summer months when visitors flocked to this little bit of old Cornwall eager for a break from the commercialism of Polperro or the tattiness of Truro.
On warm evenings like this Father Jonathan liked to walk the 22 and a bit miles back to his home in St. Mawes, rather than take the sporadic and rather boring bus. A smile played across his aquiline features, how ironic that people should always warn him - a priest after all - about the strange tales associated with the Carrick Roads; tales of mythical beings from the superstitious past. Although here in Cornwall the superstitious past was never very far away. Still, Father Jonathan was pretty confident no mythical beings were going to bother him. The Penrose family had been around St. Just since the Middle Ages, and Father Jonathan knew all there was to know about St. Justs so-called "Colony of Devils".
He cast a glimpse back at the church and thought for a second he saw someone standing by the base of the bell tower. Then he shook his head and decided that the local storytellers had obviously been playing on his mind too much of late.
Down by the waters edge it was a few degrees cooler than in the churchyard, in the distance the lights of Falmouth were just flickering on, and a few boats bobbed out in the harbour, moored up for the night. The last of the gulls were heading for their clifftop homes and silence was descending, aside from the gentle lapping of the waves, the tide was coming in, carrying with it a cool sea breeze even this far up the Carrick Roads. There was a rustle in the trees from behind him which made Father Jonathan turn suddenly; a few early Autumn leaves tumbled to the path behind him, and a few bushes moved in the breeze but there seemed to be nothing there. A squirrel, said the rational part of Father Jonathans mind. He turned around again and continued walking.
After a while the little creek on which the church stood opened up into the Roads proper and the tree cover slowly got thinner and scrubbier. This time when Father Jonathan turned at a noise in the bushes he saw a figure standing about thirty feet behind him. It was rather indistinct as the light was fading with the rapidity of the end of summer, but was tall and thin, a somehow seemed male rather than female. The figure seemed blurry, perhaps it was just mist coming down. Father Jonathan blinked and tried to focus and then the figure wasnt there anymore.
Why had the temperature dropped?
Just as Father Jonathan opened the stile-gate onto the National Trusts land it started to rain slightly. Father Jonathan turned up the collar on his jacket and quickened his pace, he had no wish to catch a chill this close to Harvest Festival - it would be inconvenient to say the least. Consequently, with his head down walking fast, Father Jonathan almost walked straight into the tall figure which he had seen earlier in the copse. He pulled up short and took in the mans features. He was certainly tall, but not as thin as he had seemed earlier, he was much more muscular, and any grace seemed to have vanished too. This man had short cropped blond hair and a rough, thuggish face.
"Good evening, Father." The man said with a non-Cornish accent. "You seem in a hurry."
Father Jonathan decided to try to avoid a confrontation, he simply wasnt in the mood right at this moment - he so hated getting too wet. "Indeed, my son, I am in a hurry to avoid the rain so perhaps ?" He left the question hanging unsaid, in the hope that this dullard might understand the hint.
"Ah, sorry about that Father, but I think Id like a word." A flick-knife was produced from the mans coat and pointed at Father Jonathan.
Father Jonathan smiled at the man, attempting to avoid any bloodshed, "Really, there isnt a great deal of point in robbing me. I have very little."
"Well, a little is better than nuffink." The man moved closer and waved the knife a little nervously.
"And if I refuse?"
"Then youll get this." The knife was waved even more nervously.
Father Jonathan blinked slowly at the man and looked him straight in the eye. He could see the man was nervous, not without good reason. "Im afraid," he said slowly and deliberately, "Youre just going to have to use that thing."
For a moment the man stared at Father Jonathan waiting for his bluff to be called, and then he shrugged and thrust forward with the knife. It buried itself up to the hilt in the Priests chest and should have punctured a lung. Father Jonathan kept smiling and reached down to pluck the knife out of his chest. He looked at it disdainfully for a few moments and then dropped it onto the ground.
The mugger started to panic, and turned to run, but hadnt got very far when something heavy hit him hard in the back and he crashed onto the damp grass. He looked up nervously and saw some kind of dog walking very slowly back across the field toward him. He hadnt realised the Priest had had a dog with him. He turned to ask the Priest to call the dog off, but there was no sign of him.
"Are you looking for someone?" It was Father Jonathans voice, from where the dog had been a second ago. The mugger was pulled to his feet by two strong hands on his shoulders and turned around to stare into Father Jonathans face at almost point blank range. There was no sign of the dog, but two long canine teeth protruded from Father Jonathans mouth. He opened his mouth wider, and the mugger could see sharp pointy, dog-like teeth where Father Jonathans normal teeth should be - had been even.
"Really, my son, you should listen to the local stories in these parts. You should be so careful who you decide to rob - they might just be better at it than you are." Then Father Jonathan leant forward and began to feed.
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