John Ferguson couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten so much, and considering he wasn’t what you’d call a light eater that was really saying a lot.
Ferguson was a gluttonous man in virtually all aspects of his life. Food, wine, women and especially wealth. He was notorious for his meanness and firing his employees for the most trivial issues.
Ferguson was hated by all his employees and the local community alike, but he didn’t care. All Ferguson cared about was maintaining his own selfish, hedonistic lifestyle. Sadly for John Ferguson however, a lifetime of selfishness was about to catch up to him.
Ferguson often walked home alone and tonight was no exception. He hated having to waste money on a carriage, and he felt assured that due to his influence, no one would dare try and attack him in the dark.
This night would be different.
Ferguson spotted what looked like a shambling figure in the very distance, headed in his direction. “Probably a begger” he thought to himself and instinctively turned away. It soon became apparent to the miser however that the “begger” was following him.
“Oh great” he thought “I’ll have to actually push him away with my cane again. Why don’t these people learn?”
Ferguson approached the begger confidently. “Look sir, I don’t know who you are, and you clearly don’t know who I am or else you wouldn’t be bothering me. I’ve just had a big meal, I’d like to get home and”
The begger who still did his best to conceal his face behind a ragged hood interrupted Ferguson “Don’t worry I wouldn’t expect any show of humanity from you. Unfortunately for you” the figure said as he raised his head, pulled his rags back, and revealed his hideous, monstrous face to a petrified Ferguson. “You can now expect the same from me.”
The figures skin was bright white and rock hard. Its features were long and pointed, whilst its mouth was filled with razor sharp teeth. Like all Vampires, its upper canines however were the longest. Its claws were tar black and long, whilst its hair was thinning and scraggly looking.
As John slowly backed away from the monster in terror, he thought that he could actually recognise the beast for a moment before his fear overcame him. Ferguson raised his cane to the stranger in a pitiful attempt to defend himself. The monster however quickly batted the cane from his hand.
“Listen, whatever you are. If you harm me there will be consequences I can assure you. I’m not some useless beggar, or jumped up harlet. I’m.”
The monster interrupted Ferguson’s egocentric pleas. It spoke in a hideous, screeching hissing voice.
“Oh they’ll notice you’re gone, but only out of relief you’re finally gone. Come now, look closely at this face. The last you will ever see. Don’t you recognise me? Or do all the people whose lives you destroy just blur together as one inconsequential mess.”
Ferguson looked more closely at the aberration. There was indeed a creeping sense of familiarity in the Demonic visage.
It finally hit John when the monster raised its right arm from out of the robes it was wearing. John could clearly see that it had a stump where its right hand should be. “Of course! You’re that Richards bastard aren’t you? Is this your latest pathetic little prank to try and get back at me for your failure of a life?” Even in the face of certain death, Ferguson’s arrogance knew no bounds.
Richards had once worked in Ferguson’s mill. Due to his constant cutting corners however, Richards had lost an arm in one of Ferguson’s filthy machines. After the accident he was deemed unfit for work, and unable to get another job. Tragically Richard’s daughter later died of rickets whilst his wife drank herself to death in grief.
Richards had always blamed Ferguson for what happened and eventually he even tried to attack him in the street. Even with one hand Richards had managed to overpower Ferguson, but the police had quickly apprehended him. Ferguson through his connections was able to make sure that Richards would be in prison for life, but now he had seemingly escaped. Ferguson started to think that he wasn’t really a monster, and that Richards was just trying to scare him and remained defiant.
“It’s not my fault you were so incompetent you had an accident, or that you were unable to provide for your own family. It’s tragic what became of them, but that is your concern. This pathetic little attempt to scare me with that clown make up is not going to work. Now either you let me pass, or I’ll make sure they bloody well hang you this time.”
Richards was still unscared however, and simply let out a devilish smile before slashing the man he hated more than any other across the face.
Ferguson wasn’t used to pain, and the sudden shock alone was enough to bring him to his knees.
As he stared down at the pavement and saw his own blood drip onto it, Ferguson had a sudden realisation of the danger he was in and shouted out for help as he darted down the street as fast he could. There was no one around however, and even if there was no one could save him from the fury of the undead monster that wanted his blood.
Just when Ferguson thought he had escaped his undead tormentor, Richards suddenly jumped down in front of him. He hadn’t been chasing Ferguson at all. Richards had simply waited until the Mill owner was a good distance away, and then leaped in front of him. The Vampire must have jumped over 40 feet in the air, and could clearly see through the fog no problem.
Ferguson knew that didn’t have a chance of escape and so he now tried to bargain with the monster.
“Look Richards maybe we can come to some kind of arrangement. I can pull some strings, get you a lighter sentence.”
Richards wasn’t listening however. Instead he grabbed Ferguson’s right arm and bit right through his skin, veins, muscle and even bone. With his teeth alone he ripped Ferguson’s hand clean off. Ferguson passed out from the pain and blood loss within seconds, but the Vampire wasn’t through torturing the miser yet.
Richards dug its claws into Ferguson’s back and lifted him up off the ground with one hand in a fantastic demonstration of superior Vampire strength.
Ferguson was a massive man. Richards in comparison looked tiny, yet here he was, balancing Ferguson above his head on one finger. If anyone else had been around it would have looked both a horrifying and comical sight.
Richards threw Ferguson about 6 feet through the air to the other side of the road. Ferguson landed head first, and for a second Richards was scared that he had finished his enemy too soon. When the Vampire went to examine him however he saw that unfortunately for Ferguson, he was still breathing!
The monster ran one of its massive claws along the bottom of Ferguson’s stomach and started to disembowel him slowly. Ferguson awoke from the pain only to see his former, Demonic employee holding his intestines in its clawed hands as it started to lick them. The last sight Ferguson saw was Richards bearing down on him, hissing his blood soaked fangs, and spitting Ferguson’s own blood over his face.
“Come on love, any longer and we’ll be late” Carlene shouted to Brian as she stood by the door with Ashlei, Tom and Daniel. She heard no response for a few minutes and started to worry before Brian came staggering out of the bathroom, looking like a badly made up bed.
“Sorry Miss Vampire, I, I don’t know what came over me.”
“Love, call me Carlene remember. Oh dear you look a right state darling. Here let me help you get ready.”
Ashlei sighed. “I don’t see why we’re bothering going to this Circus. You said you saw the blue woman in the sewers? So tell the authorities and they’ll arrest her. Problem solved.”
Carlene frowned. “I told you the authorities often aren’t able to deal with this sort of thing love. Besides all she did in the sewers was help me. Your little brother might not even be ere if it wasn’t for that blue siren. I need answers and I’m going to find them myself. I would have thought you’d have wanted to go to the Circus. It’s a day out.”
“I hate it. Big bright, flashy colours to distract idiots from how horrible their lives are” Ashlei said bitterly.
“Well if it makes you feel any better it’s not exactly my scene either, but like I said there’s something odd with this Circus and I want to find out.” Carlene replied firmly.
Whilst the two were talking, Daniel sat absorbed in the morning paper. He had noticed that there was one more reported disappearance from last night, that of the local mill owner and tycoon, John Ferguson.
Ashlei smirked when she heard John had vanished. “Miserable old bastard” she said. “You wouldn’t have to be a Vampire to want to tear his neck out.”
“Ashlei” Carlene said sharply. “I don’t care who this man was, don’t ever talk that way about someone. Trust me when I say this. No deserves to die at the hands of a Vampire.”
Ashlei bowed her head somewhat. “I’m sorry, but he was the most mean spirited man I’ve ever come across. He kicked me one time when I tried to ask to him for some food.”
“Ashlei’s right” Daniel interrupted. “There’s no shortage of ordinary people that would want to see John dead, but according to this” he handed the paper to Carlene. “William Richards, who had previously been arrested for an attempt on Ferguson’s life was broken out of prison the other day. The police don’t know how, but one witness, a drunken beggar claims to have seen a giant bat like creature rip the walls off of the prison.”
“It seems someone is using the book of to create new Vampire breeds after all. If only I knew where that bloody fool had kept it? I never fitted in with that lot. Van Helsing, and his cronies. I mean to be fair I am kind of a monster, but still. Working with them was a nightmare.” Carlene said as she went to check on Brian.
Brian came out of the bathroom dressed in a small penguin suit, looking a lot more energetic than before. Carlene had made sure they all had a good meal, a couple of hours rest and clean clothes to change into before going to the Circus. Naturally they had to look presentable to go to the Circus, but she couldn’t stand to see the children in those filthy rags for another second.
When the four arrived in the audience many heads turned towards Carlene. They often did, but this time the fact that she arrived with 4 children/teenagers shocked people all the more.
One gentleman in the audience felt so appalled that these children were with a Vampire of all creatures, that he had to interject.
“Please I don’t know what you want, but those are children.” He said in a scared, but still somewhat confident tone. Just then Brian surprisingly came to Carlene’s defense before any of the others could. “Get away you stupid sod. This woman here saved our lives whilst you were sitting on your arse, moaning about too many children playing across the road!”
The man backed down. Carlene patted Brian on the back, whilst Ashlei looked on in concern. She had never seen Brian react that way. He was normally such a calm, gentle, quiet little boy. It seemed the experience in the sewers had changed him somewhat.
The Circus of Tzas opened with the usual parade of animals doing tricks. The Circus Master was a huge colourful character on stage. He must have been roughly 6 foot 5 inches tall, with an enormous build, though he was still incredibly thin overall. His frock coat was bright red with gold decorations running down the lapels, whilst his hair was long, jet black and curly. Atop his head sat a tiny, but very long bright blue top hat. He had thick, bright green gloves and yellow, stripped trousers. His face was very long and deathly pale. His eyes looked as though they were locked into a permanent scowl, whilst there was a constant, somewhat unsettling smile on his face. His voice was incredibly deep and booming, At times it didn’t even sound human. Many children in the audience appeared to find him quite scary at times, particularly those in the front row. Carlene took an instant disliking to the Circus Master. Why, she couldn’t quite put her finger on. He didn’t seem evil, but she just didn’t like him. Despite his unsettling nature he was a very upbeat and energetic performer all around.
Everyone seemed entertained by the Circus various antics. Even Ashlei, despite her dour, persona began to warm to some of the animal tricks. Right from the start Carlene however could see something was amiss about the whole thing. The Circus animals weren’t real. They were magical illusions. Carlene could only tell thanks to her heightened Vampire senses.
She could smell the magic off of them. The Circus Master himself didn’t seem human either. There was something about him that didn’t seem right. Carlene had been around enough Vampires, Demons and other unnatural creatures in her long life to know when one was trying to pass as a human.
She felt the same way about one of the later acts, a small Chinese child called The Strange Boy. The Strange Boy was deathly pale in appearance. He didn’t say a word, and his expressions also seemed completely blank.
Nevertheless the boy didn’t have to say anything. He amazed the crowd through displays of almost impossible strength. He crushed several large blocks of stone with his bare hands, and he lifted another performer, a 7 foot tall, bear of a man called Keptis (who dressed in strange armour) above his head no problem.
A young black woman (already a most unusual sight in Victorian England) named Denika also performed various tricks which were clearly the work of magic. She conjured up images of the most fantastic creatures and beasts that both terrified and amazed the crowd.
Finally the blue Siren, who Carlene had seen the night before performed a closing song. The Circus Master introduced her as Florence Faith. Just as in the Underground, Carlene was the only one not completely enchanted by the strange blue skinned, flame haired songstress. Even Ashlei was utterly mesmerised.
Carlene knew the Siren’s song was magic, and that it could entrance anyone (according to the legends) but she still couldn’t help but feel a little bit jealous. In all her years as a singer, she had never won over a crowd to that extent.
When the Circus was finished, Carlene waited behind. She wanted to speak with the performers herself. The three children waited with her. Ashlei meanwhile had calmed down a little after hearing the Sirens song and was a bit more laid back than before.
Carlene assured them that they would be safe. In spite of the fact that they weren’t human, Carlene did not think that the Circus folk whoever they were, were actually evil.
She waited just outside the main tent, having managed to sneak her way in there without making a sound.
Keeping hidden behind two barrels, Carlene saw the Circus Master standing outside the tent holding what looked like a strange sphere. All round him where the various animals and performers. One by one the performers walked past him into the tent. Denika, The Strange Boy, Keptis, and finally, Florence Faith.
The Circus Master then uttered a strange sounding chant and the Circus animals vanished into nothing but a puff of smoke, before the Circus Master joined the others.
“By god you were right” said Daniel in an exasperated tone. “These fellows aren’t human.”
“Neither am I” said Carlene as she moved closer to the tent to inspect it.
Before Carlene could get a good look at it, Denika suddenly emerged from the Tent.
“Well, well looks like the Vampires know we’re here.” She said.
Before Carlene could reach for any magic repellent’s in her beehive, Denika ensnared her in a magical tractor beam and pulled Carlene into the tent.
The inside of the tent looked nothing like a Circus. Its floor, walls and ceiling were all made of solid grey stone. At the far end of the Tent looked like a small living area. There were 3 recliner chairs, and a massive couch perched in front of what looked like a massive television set, and a 21st century video game system above the television. Behind the living quarters were several bunk beds.
“How can they possibly have all this in the 19th century” Carlene thought.
As she looked around the room she saw on the far right side what looked like a work area where there was a strange glowing device. In the centre of the room, just behind where Carlene had been placed meanwhile was a massive fountain, with green water.
All of the walls were decorated with various paintings from what looked like different eras, whilst on the left side of the room was a massive book case over 20 feet tall.
“Well done Denika, I’ll just get a truth spell ready.” The Circus Master who emerged from behind the fountain alongside the Strange Boy, Keptis and Florence said.
Carlene turned around to defend herself, but she couldn’t move to fight or even run away.
“Relax we’re not going to hurt you” The Circus Master said. “I just want to know why and how you were trying to tamper with my ship.”
“Ship?” Carlene said in confusion?
“It’s okay” Florence interrupted. “This is the woman I met in the sewers yesterday. She helped save those children. At least I think.”
“She’s a Vampire.” Denika said.
“And so am I, and so is the Strange Boy? Is there something wrong with that?” Florence replied.
Just then, Daniel, Tom, Brian and Ashlei came charging in through the tent doors, which still looked like cloth on the inside rather than stone.
“Get away from her you freaks” Ashlei who was ahead of the three boys and wielding a pipe shouted.
“Relax young lady. We’re not here to hurt any of you, I just need to know why you’re here.” The Circus Master said to the four urchins.
Carlene spoke up. “I’m here about the book of Khastran.”
All of the Circus Folk gave Carlene a look, except for the Strange Boy who continued to stare into space.
“Someone has found it from wherever Van Helsing left it and is using it to create new Vampire species around London. I had a run in with one, as did your friend here in the underground.
The Circus Master was quick to correct Carlene. ” We’ve only been here for a few days, but at my last count there’s about 15 new breeds created in the last few months or so.
“Fifteen? But that’s not possible?” Carlene gasped. “I would have known.”
“Whoever is doing this has a clear plan. They want to create an army of Vampires. They’re keeping them hidden until the time is right, only turning the best people into Vampires. Or should I say the worst.”
“How did you track them down” Carlene asked.
“Well we knew they were here from the start. We were told to track them down.”
“It would take too long to explain, and besides I have some questions I would like to ask of you young lady.” The Circus Master said. “How did you come to know about the Book of Khastran?”
“It would take too long to explain” Carlene said sarcastically.
“From the looks of things it seems neither of us belongs to this time.” Carlene continued as she glanced round at the television set in the corner.
Just then a strange look of surprise and delight came over the Circus Masters face and he went to consult his books.
“What do you mean” Denika asked.
“Well I’m just saying I know that technology at the back won’t be around for about 100 years at least.”
Before Denika could respond, Carlene suddenly felt herself able to move again. The Circus Master had disabled Denika’s spell.
“Sorry, I now know who you are. You’re Carlene aren’t you?” The Circus Master said as put a book he just skimmed through back on the shelf.
“Who?” Denika said in response?
“She’s a Vampire, but don’t worry she’s one of the few nice ones alongside our friend Florence. She was thrust through time by powerful magics and now fights evil on the streets of London. Am I right?”
“Pretty much, how do you know all that?”
“Well let’s just say you’re right. We’re not of this time either. Unlike you however we’re not trapped. We can move freely through time and space, though everywhere we go, we have a mission to complete.”
“A mission from who?” Carlene said with interest.
“Time itself. Let’s just say you can travel through time, and you can make your own history, but you can’t change it in any way. Once you do, you become an anomaly. You also can’t fail to make your own history either, which is what we are doing now. We are creating the future you come from Carlene, a future where Vampires didn’t overrun the earth in the 19th century.
Carlene took a minute or so to take this all in. Even for the type of life she had led, a time travelling magic circus seemed a bit much. She wondered what it must have been like for the children!
“So what’s your stories then. I mean you seem to know everything about me, it’s only polite I know a bit more about you.” Carlene said somewhat nervously to the Circus Folk.
“I quite agree” the Circus Master responded in a somewhat chipper tone. “Well we are all going to be working together.”
“Working together” Denika interrupted?
“Yes” The Circus Master said as he looked round at the rest of the Circus Folk who were somewhat confused at first but soon realised what he meant.
“My name is Ron Baker.” The Circus Master said. “You can call me Circus Master though, everybody does.”
“Why? that not a little bit pretentious?” Carlene asked.
“Well yes, but I prefer not to think about my past as a human. I am a Vandal.
“Oh I get it, now I know why I didn’t like you. No offence.” Carlene said.
“None taken, it’s instinctive.”
“What on earth is a Vandal.” Tom asked.
“Vandals are the cousins of Vampires love.” Carlene said. “They are undead Demons who can turn people into members of their own kind just like Vampires, and there are also hundreds of different breeds too. The Vandals however feed on souls using their claws.”
The Circus Master unsheathed his claws which each were about 6 inches long to show the children.
“We stab them into our victim’s chests and slowly drain their lives away. And that’s if they’re lucky.” The Circus Master said before retracting his claws.
“We were created by a Demon of the same race as Khastran, but our father was a sworn enemy of Khastran, so Vampires and Vandals have always hated each other, even just on instinct.”
“I don’t get it though” Carlene asked. “If you were such a bad bloke before you became a Vandal, how come you’re ere helping people?”
“Well its a long story, but all you need to know now is that I’m one of the nice Vandals, same way you’re one of the nice Vampires.”
“So” Carlene continued after a few seconds of awkward silence. “What about the rest of you, eh.”
The rest of the Circus Folk didn’t seem eager to share much with Carlene. It wasn’t that they distrusted her specifically, but they clearly weren’t used to sharing much about their lives.
“My name is Florence Faith.” The Siren said in an extremely posh, refined voice. It was literally the polar opposite to Carlene’s accent.
“I was born, not far from here actually. I was the last survivor of the Titanic. The Sirens who sunk the vessel, turned me just before I went down with the ship. Like you and the Circus Master, it took a long time for me to come to terms with what I am, and I still don’t think I have, but at least I’m not a danger to anyone anymore. Well anyone who doesn’t deserve it.”
Denika was the next to speak, but she was very cagey about her past. She simply told Carlene that when she was from the 21st century originally, but that she had been abducted by creatures from another realm of existence where she had learned her magic. She didn’t seem to trust Carlene, and the Vampire didn’t blame her. She didn’t really trust any of them much either.
Keptis was the next to talk.
“I come from Mars, the red planet.”
“Amazing.” Daniel said.
“A real life Martian. I always thought there was something in those stories about Martian canals.”
“There are no canals on Mars, at least not anymore.” Keptis said with regret.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean too.
“It’s okay. I’d just rather not talk too much about it. All you need to know is I’m not of this earth, but I’ve come to appreciate some of its people.” The Martian said whilst looking at Florence, who seemed to almost blush.
“So… what about im.” Carlene said whilst pointing at the Strange Boy who stood motionless at the side.
“None of us are quite sure.” The Circus Master said.
“He is a Jiang Shi, one of the most powerful breed of Vampire.”
“I’ve fought with the Jiang Shi myself. They’re strong buggers.”
“Yes they are, and that’s why we’re lucky to have one on the team.”
“Why’s he not killing you though? Jiang Shi are Savage Vampires. They’re among the most bloodthirsty?”
“Like I said we don’t know. There were many legends and stories about the Strange Boy when we first found him prowling the Chinese countryside. Some say he was a prince who had been infected by the Jiang Shi virus, but a Wizard was able to preserve his human soul. Another stated that he was the soul of a boy who was placed into the body of the Jiang Shi that killed him. Others stated he was cursed to help people. We don’t know, but like I said, we’re glad he’s on our side.”
Carlene looked at the Strange Boy for a few more seconds. There didn’t seem to be anything under the boy’s face, not even a hint of sadness despite the awful state he was in.
“Anyway” The Circus Master interrupted. That’s enough about us. Carlene I think we have some work to do. Tell us all you know about Van Helsing and where he might have placed the book.”
“Alright darling, but first I just need to get these kids home.”
“Good idea, apart from the Strange Boy, this is no place for children.” The Circus Master said as he returned to the strange, glowing device at the corner.
Carlene took the children to the side.
“You don’t trust these weirdo’s do you” Ashlei said quietly.
“I don’t know love. They are definitely not of this time, I know that, but whether they’re working towards a better future for us who knows. I don’t like that this guy knows so much about me. He must have met me in the future or something. Maybe he even killed me? Either way though they seem to be the best bet for finding out who created these Vampires. It’s important that whatever happens you lot stay out of it.”
“How can you expect us to do that? Those things took my brother.” Ashlei said.
“Suddenly you care.” Brian said under his breath, though Ashlei still heard him.
“Brian!” Tom shouted. “How can you speak to her like that.”
“It’s okay.” Ashlei who was still feeling guilty at having left the boy said.
“Now, now you lot I don’t want any squabbling. I want you to stay back in my mansion until this is over. If you really want to prove you care about each other, that’s what you’ll do.” Carlene said firmly.
“All right fine” Ashlei said reluctantly.
“I’m going to walk you all home too. No point in taking chances with these Vampires running around.”
The Circus Folk meanwhile had gathered in the workshop area of the Tent.
“I don’t know why you trust this Vampire so much. No offence Florence.” Denika, who was working on some device said.
“You know why. Time says I have too, though I’m afraid I can’t reveal too much, but this is one of those rare instances where we know our own future. We have to play this very safe.”
“Well I don’t have the best experience with Vampires, apart from a few exceptions.” Keptis said, again looking at Florence. “But I trust your judgement, Ro, I mean Circus Master.”
“It’s not my judgement remember. We are going to need Carlene’s help to stop the vision we saw of London being overrun by those bloodsuckers.”
To Be Continued.