William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Sixty

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“It smells like dead things in here,” Carson observed, then apologized in deference to Billy’s body, which they had laid out on the tile floor near the ballroom fireplace.

“It’s just musty.”  Julia tried to make sense of the situation.  They found Lundt Castle without a hitch, their directions being adequate and a castle being a castle.  No electricity.  But when she opened the blinds in the ballroom, she almost gasped.  The setting sun hung over Lake Berryessa like a party lantern.

Alice stood beside her and watched as more ducks than she thought possible took flight at once.  “I could totally live here.”  She turned to take in the massive room.  Powder blue wallpaper peeled everywhere, and the sagging pine floor was spotted with white paint chips that had exfoliated from the ceiling eleven feet above.

“It’s a fixer-upper.” Carson looked around.  “A little spackle, a couple of beanbag chairs, this could feel like home.”

Condor Nyle stood staring out the window.

“Are the ropes too tight?” Alice asked.

He said nothing, kept staring until she asked again.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “No.  Thank you, but no, and just so we’re on the same page here, I think technically it was a bungee cord you tied my hands with, and it was quite flexible.”  He tossed it to Alice and rubbed his wrists.  “I’m not going to run away while the young man still has his gun on me.  Can we just have scouts honor here or something?”

“What do you think, Julia?”

“What?” She turned from the window but said nothing.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Condor Nyle said.  “I was here the night Grace Lundt died.  Many of us were.  Errol, of course.  Ethel Barrymore was here.  Charles Chaplin, and a young bandleader from New Orleans named Louis Armstrong.  Maybe two hundred people.  Nobody knew Grace had taken the pills.  Poor Arthur never believed she had done it intentionally, but she had, you see.  She hadn’t made a film in more than two years, not since A Bride for Count Yorga.”

“I don’t think I saw that one,” Alice said.

“Almost nobody went to see it.”  He opened the French doors and stepped out onto the terrace.  “And it’s a shame really, because it was a wonderful film.”

“Could you please back away from the edge?” Carson said.  “I’m not sure I trust that railing, and there’s quite a drop to the lake.”

Condor Nyle ignored him and walked to the edge.  “In the final scene, Yorga stands on the balcony of his castle,” he stepped up onto the crumbling cement railing.  “Silvie, that’s Grace’s character in the film.  Silvie has just told him that she could never love a vampire, which seems judgmental if you ask me.  So Sylvie runs from the castle.  The camera pans from the castle to her feet and then holds on her face.  Now cut to Count Yorga, standing alone on his balcony, his cape fluttering behind him.  He holds up his hands and cries out to the only friends he has left.  ‘Creatures of the cold night,’ he cries out, ‘I command you.  Wake from your slumber and give chase.’”

Alice clapped.

Condor Nyle bowed and hopped down from the ledge.

“So what happened then?” she asked.

“Then the zombies came.”

“The vampires you mean.”

He nodded.  “Yes in the film they were indeed vampires.  But sometimes in life you have to work with what’s at hand.  Sometimes in death too.”

Carson screamed.

Julia and Alice swung around to see Billy St. Clair lifting him from the chair.  The shotgun fell to the floor.

“Get the gun,” Carson yelled.

Alice ran but Condor Nyle proved surprisingly quick.  He dove at her and caught her legs, bringing her to the ground.

Julia lunged and grabbed his hair with both hands, pulling off a wig and falling back in the process.

Alice punched him in the face.  Condor Nyle roared.  Crouched on his hands and knees, he tried to regain his balance.

“Do what he says,” Julia shouted as Alice prepared to kick him.

“He didn’t say anything.”

“Do it.  Leave him alone.”

“Do what?”  She followed Julia’s gaze and saw Billy St. Clair squeezing Carson’s neck.

“He said he’d tell Billy to kill him,” Julia said, the fear evident in her voice.  She heard his words crystal clearly though he hadn’t opened his mouth.

“When did he say that?” Alice demanded, more angry than afraid.  She kicked him hard in the face.  “Tell him to put him down or I’ll kick you to death right now.  And no more fucking telepathy.”

Condor Nyle stared angrily, blood dripping from the corner of his mouth, the last of the sunlight reflecting off his bald head.  He grinned and Billy St. Clair squeezed tighter.

Alice kicked him two more times as Julia dove for the shotgun.

Billy dropped Carson, who fell like a beanbag onto the floor, wheezing as he tried to catch his breath.

Julia pointed the gun at Billy who was coming straight for her.  “Tell him to stop or I’ll shoot him,” she told Condor Nyle.

“So shoot him,” he said, wiping blood onto his sleeve.  “He’s just an extra.”

“If I have to shoot him,” Julia yelled, “I’ll shoot you next.”

“When my friends come for me, they’ll bring an army,” Condor Nyle said, but he nodded, and Billy stood still.


Written by williamdoonan

August 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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