Long in the Tooth

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 21

“Visiting hours are over, I’m afraid. They have been for about seven hours.”

“Ah. But I called ahead!”

“I see.” The nurse checked her notes. “Then you must be Count…”

“Please, Count Dracula is my father! Call me Vlad.” He reached out, took her hand, and kissed it in the most vampirically dashing way imaginable.

“Nice to meet you.” She wiped it on her shirt in the least inconspicuous way imaginable.

Kids these days. The old vampire hypnosis never seemed to work on them. A shame, as he could have done with a snack after the long trip. He supposed it was all that Netflix or Snapchat or possibly some fortifying effect of a diet consisting almost entirely of avocado toast. That had never been a problem back in Transylvania. Except it probably was now. Everything flown everywhere!

“Do you know which room it is?” she asked.

“Of course! 1428, same as my birth y…I mean my bus. Ah, ah, ah.” He gave a nervous laugh. “The 14:28. They only start in the afternoon. That’s why I couldn’t get here during daylight.”

“Alright, I’ll leave you to it. I gather your visit is expected?”

“Oh, yes!” Vlad flashed her a toothy grin. “Frank just loves my stories.”

He made his way down the corridor and to the left. Then to the right. Then to the left again. Then, after a quick check nobody was around to see it, he popped on his reading glasses. Why did all the signs have to be in that feeble sans serif font? Why did nobody do a good, solid blackletter anymore?

He eventually found 1428 and knocked on the door.

There was no answer.

“Frank?” He knocked again.

Then he heard the snoring. Well, that was just fantastic. He could hardly go back and ask the nurse to help him now. It would be super awkward.

Instead, he reached out and turned the handle, letting out a quiet “Ow! Ow! Ow!” as the barrier burned his skin. He shoved the door open and gave his hand a shake. That was going to sting tomorrow.

“Frank!” he called, louder this time.

“Rrrrrrrr!” groaned Frank. He turned slightly in his armchair, and a Haynes manual slipped off his paunch.

Right. There was nothing else for it. Vlad grabbed a fire extinguisher and chucked it at his friend. He’d only meant to lob it at Frank’s stomach—it was a big target, after all—but apparently didn’t know his own strength because instead it caught him in the head.

It wasn’t clear whether it was the force of the impact or the loud, metallic “clang” that rang out as a result, but either way Frank stirred. He sat up, rubbed his forehead, then slumped back down again to sleep.

“Frank! Hey! Frank!” Vlad waved from the doorway.

“What?”

“Frank, it’s me.”

“What are you doing in my hallway?”

“I’m to visit, remember? I called you yesterday on the telephone.” Frank really was getting on a bit. Or rather, some bits of Frank were really getting on.

“No, what are you doing in my hallway? Why don’t you come in?”

“You have to invite me, remember?”

There was a pause.

“Well?” asked Vlad.

“Well what?”

“You still haven’t invited me.”

“I just said: ‘Why don’t you come in?’”

“That was really more of a question.”

“Well, any normal person would have taken it as—”

“I’m not a normal person!” snapped Vlad. “That’s the entire—”

“Would you like to come in?”

“Yes!” Vlad stomped inside. “Thank you very much!”

He slammed the door.

Another pause.

“So…” Vlad began, suddenly not sure what to say. “How are things for you?”

“Same old same old.” Frank adjusted his scarf. “Getting kind of a stiff neck these days. Trying to keep it warm. Three-in-one oil seems to help a bit too.”

Yet another pause.

“You?”

Vlad lowered himself into the chair by the door. “Ugh. Money troubles. I had to put the castle on Airbnb.”

“Ouch.”

“I’ve got a job too. At a fancy museum! Night Watchman, since—”

“Sunlight.”

“Yeah. Anyway, it’s alright. There’s this janitor there, Lew Garrew. Really nice guy. Really helped me settle in.”

“But…”

“But three weeks into the job he tries to eat my face! Turns out he’s a werewolf. Now, naturally I’m the last person to go pointing fingers about who’s trying to eat whom, but you’ve got to imagine this is a concern for me. I would have been a goner if Tamut hadn’t stepped out of her sarcophagus and given him a real talking to.”

“What?” asked Frank, blinking.

“Oh, right. I forgot to mention that at night all the exhibits come to life.”

“No, no, we’ve all seen the movie with Ben Stiller and the monkey. I mean how does that work? You’ve got a vicious werewolf, and presumably Tamut is—”

“Oh, yeah. She is not in good shape. A stiff breeze would snap her in half. But whatever she said—and I don’t know what it was because I don’t speak Egyptian—whatever it was it must have got through to Lew because he slinks off with his tail between his legs. The next day I tell him: if this happens again I’ll have no choice but to take it up with Human Resources. Naturally he’s terribly apologetic.”

“Only…”

“Only next full moon, the same thing happens again, obviously! And again he would have had my face off if Tamut hadn’t turned up to give him a scolding.”

“Bummer,” grunted Frank.

“So I do talk to Human Resources. I feel terrible about it, but at this point I’m more worried about Tamut than me. Anyway, I tell them Lew’s a werewolf.”

“And?”

“And they already know! They’re fine with it! And do you know why?”

“Why?”

“Because he always does what his mummy tells him!”

There was yet one more pause. It dragged on a very long time indeed.

“Vlad?” said Frank, at last.

“Yes?”

“Your stories suck.”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!

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