This story was originally published in Black Candies: The Eighties – A Journal of Literary Horror, which is full of other pretty fantastic horror stories! You can buy your print copy here on Amazon.
Lester was a sucky vampire. Oh man that’s an awful pun. I mean to say he was bad at vampiring. And it was his own stupid fault that he died. And his own stupid fault that his death unleashed a terror in our town.
Lester was 205 years old, but he was pretty careless about his, ah, “sun sensitivity.” Every Saturday in summer, without fail, there was Lester on the beach playing volleyball, right in the cancer hours between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. when all the freckle-faced redheads were hiding indoors. He’d wear the strongest sunscreen on the market, of course, as well as long black sleeves and black pants, which made the rest of us sweat just from looking at him. But he always left patches uncovered and uncreamed, so you’d hear parts of him sizzling and get the faintest whiff of barbecue whenever he dove to hit the ball.
There was also the time he tried to drink Shanice’s blood. He’d stalked her through school about as gracefully as a gorilla chasing a rabbit, and then, right before gym when she was in her spandex cycle shorts and had full range of motion, he grabbed her by the neck and stuck his fangs… in her elbow. Possibly the one body part with the least amount of blood. I mention Shanice’s full range of motion because, quite unfortunately for Lester, she was Fulsom High’s reigning karate champion three years running. She’d earned her black belt (fourth degree) at the tender age of twelve and everyone knew not to mess with Shanice. Everyone except Lester, obviously. She gave Lester such a beatdown that if he hadn’t already been dead, that would have been the end of him right there.
Nobody knew where Lester had come from. He was just always there at Fulsom, repeating his senior year for the 190th time. He’d gone to school with our parents and their parents, and we figured when we left he would go to school with our kids and their kids, probably. All we knew was that whoever turned him all those centuries ago must have realized their mistake just when it was too late – that poor Lester was just too stupid to vampire. We were always surprised that he’d made it this long alive. Well, “alive”. So he was kinda the whole town’s pet project and we all banded together to take care of him.
How did we do that if he was going around biting people’s bony elbows? Truth was, that only happened when the blood lust took him over, which we long ago figured out had something to do with the phases of the moon. We don’t really know how he got along for food back in the day but nowadays Mr. Barnaby, the butcher, gave him a monthly supply of pig and ox blood so he didn’t go terrorizing us or our pets.
This arrangement started after old Mrs. Clarishon had a heart attack after Lester tried biting Precious, her Cocker Spaniel, which, to be honest, we were hoping he would kill in the most painful way possible. That yippy little dog was the physical incarnation of nails running down a chalkboard. But like I said, Lester sucked at sucking so he just bit off the end of Precious’ stupid little tail. Mrs. Clarishon had seriously overreacted.
Stuff like that happened about once a month or so, when Lester went off the rails and it’s like his hunting instinct activated and the pre-prepped blood just wouldn’t do. His eyes would go…well, I’d say they’d go blank except they were already kind of blank. Blanker? If you happened to be around him at “that time of the month,” you best have something alive and kicking to distract him with while you get to steppin’ outta there. I mean, you weren’t going to die from a Lester bite, we’ve established that. But you won’t die from a cat scratch either yet I’m pretty sure you don’t want some puss hanging from your neck by the claws.
As a result, most everyone in the town walked around with an assortment of vermin about their person, just in case you happened on Lester when he was in a hunting kind of mood. Rats and small snakes and lizards and the like. It worked best if you just flung it at his face before turning tail and running like…well, like a vampire was after you. Most times he’d be so busy trying to gnaw on whatever you’d sacrificed that he wouldn’t even notice that you’d busted out.
Of course, we kinda learned this the hard way because okay he did kill one person in my lifetime, but it was only Mr. Hersham, who was 87 years old and got around in one of those old-people-mobiles, the ones that look like a mix between a wheelchair and a shopping cart? Mr. H was zipping around in that thing after dark on one of those nights when Lester was in a biting mood and had the misfortune of bumping right into Lester’s ankles without even saying sorry. You know what assholes those shopping cart drivers can be. Well he realized his mistake right quick once Lester turned around and stared him down with those blank eyes so he backed that shit up, did a 180 and buzzed back down the street.
Lester let him get a ways on before chasing after him—even though Mr. Hersham’s wheelchair thingy was errrrr-errrrrrr-ing it down the street like Formula One—and drank all the life out of him. Which wasn’t much, given the man had one foot in the grave already. Which is why we all forgave him that one indiscretion. I asked Lester if people’s blood had different tastes, like, did Mr. Hersham’s blood taste like some old-people nutritional drink? But he said he doesn’t remember anything when the blood lust subsides.
Anyway, all that is to say that basically the same thing happened to Megan Mirkel when she was out walking her African parrot. She had a leash on the parrot’s foot and it would fly above her like a balloon so it would “feel free,” in case you’re wondering how someone walks a parrot, which you are, because it’s a stupid thing to do. So she came upon Lester on one of his blood lust nights too, but she pulled that parrot down by the leash and stuffed it right in Lester’s face before you could say booyaka! and ran her parrot-walking ass back home. And that’s how we figured out about the sacrificial vermin.
I’m pretty sure Lester must have “accidentally” eaten a few people over the centuries but nobody could remember who or when before Mr. H, or how people survived without hurling gerbils in his face. But Lester only got like that once in a while; the rest of the time he was pretty harmless, kind of nerdy and incredibly shy. Everyone felt a little sorry for him, truth be told—he was the only one of his kind in the whole town and probably the most uncool vampire on Earth. He’d lived through all these different eras so his style of clothing was all weird.
Like, he’d be wearing a 14th century ruffled peasant blouse with MC Hammer pants or something, and his hair was all “Little Lord Fauntleroy” style. But then all of a sudden vampires became in vogue and the girls who wouldn’t give Lester the time of day before were all over him then, batting their long lashes and baring their ripe-for-the-biting necks. Poor Lester would just quiver in a complete panic.
When Lilli Smith cornered him near the lockers to aggressively flirt a dinner invitation out of him, he turned into a bat and freaked her out so much with his flapping that she socked him with her chemistry textbook right into the locker doors and knocked him out cold.
When Tracy Delulla plonked herself onto his lap during recess, he was so nervous that he slowly dissipated into a vapor of black smoke and blew right through her face like the wind. She said afterwards it was like smoking a cigarette out of someone’s sweaty ass.
And when Robin Renfen winked at him in biology class, he got so flustered that he sank his teeth into Mark Tross’ shoulder because he “didn’t know what to do with himself” and “the shoulder was there.” Mark needed 12 stitches and Lester got one month’s detention, during which he had to write a personal essay on Why We Do Not Eat Our Friends.
You’d think the girls would realize that Lester would never be like that hot Canadian in Lost Boys and leave him alone, but you know girls. When something’s hot, it’s hot, until their mothers start liking it and then all of a sudden their grandparents are telling them how their walkers are “totally radical!” and the trend is instantly deeply uncool. Anyway, if it wasn’t for Fright Night and The Hunger and all the rest of it, what happened between me and Lester probably wouldn’t have happened, and I’d be telling you a different story right now.
Oh but here I’ve done told you Lester’s whole life story (as it were) and you don’t even know who I am. I’m Meray McKavoy, but my name is too weird for life so everybody calls me Mack. My parents were weed-smoking hippies around the time I was born. They thought I’d be a girl who they were going to name “Merry”—which is even dumber than Meray, in my opinion—but their “little girl” popped out with a ballsack so they had to think fast. They thought “Meray” sounded more “gender neutral” and “French.” They were obviously “lazy” and “stoned.”
Lester and I were best friends, inasmuch as you could be best friends with your food, I guess. Actually, to be more accurate, Lester was my only friend at Fulsom High. I told you that everyone called me Mack but the truth is only Lester called me that. Everyone else called me whatever iteration of loser they could think of on the spot. “Tubba wubba,” was a favourite just cuz I could stand to lose a few…okay maybe a lot of pounds. “Crater face” was another just cuz I had a little acne. Lester never called me names, never treated me like shit. We hung out after school, we helped each other study, and we commiserated about never being able to get a date. Well, until all those girls were after him.
All of a sudden, he wasn’t so nerdy anymore. All of a sudden, he was on trend. And all of a sudden, I was jealous. All the attention he was getting was making me feel…I dunno, like even the one actual freak in school was now too cool for me, or something. But Lester, he was really nice about the whole attention thing; he wanted to “share the joy.” So he came up with this bright idea that he would make me a vampire too and we could be like, blood brothers or something. Get it? Cuz we’d have to drink each other’s blood? But I wasn’t really feelin’ the whole vampire thing because I was a fat kid with acne and who the hell wants to stay stuck like that for the rest of eternity?
But once Lester sank his teeth (ha!) into an idea he just wouldn’t let it go. Now that vampires were popular, he was convinced that we could rule the school together, even though he couldn’t say two words to one of his wannabe groupies without looking like he was going to piss himself in terror. He kept at it like a dog worrying a bone: “Let me turn you, let me turn you.” But I really wasn’t into the idea. Lester was my friend but what if his stupid was contagious? That was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. So in the end I said, definitively, no.
And the dang fool bit me anyway.
I was on my way back from band practice when he ran up behind me and chomped right down on my neck.
“MOTHERFUCKER!” I yelled, pushing him off of my artery. “What the hell did you do that for?” I was standing in the middle of the main road with my clavicle torn open, bleeding like a stuck pig. I knew he wasn’t in a blood rage (you keep track of those things if your best friend sometimes looks at you like a cartoon pie cooling on the windowsill) so I was confused for all of a second before I realized why he did it. Lester wavered between looking sheepish and staring at my blood like it was the last slice of chocolate cake at a children’s party.
“I…I’m sorry!” he stuttered, over and over again, while my vision slowly began to get wavy around the edges.
“Lester, you’re a fucking asshole,” I said, starting to feel faint. “What are we going to do now? What the fuck, Lester!”
He just stood there, staring at me with his mouth open, looking like he wasn’t sure if he should call an ambulance or pack the rest of me up as leftovers.
“Lester,” I slurred, as I sank to my knees. “You cocksucker. We have to do this now. Slit your wrist and give me your hand.”
“No,” he said. “No, no, we shouldn’t…I’m sorry, Mack, I shouldn’t have done this, man. I’m sorry!”
“It’s too late for that bullshit now, Lester!” I screamed. “You’ve torn a hole in my neck, what do you propose to do now—put honey on it? Look, I’ve watched all the movies; bite your wrist and give me your goddamn hand or I’m going to die out here in the middle of the road.”
So he did as he was told and even though the idea of putting my lips on Lester was seriously weird, and even though I was afraid I would turn into a dumb-as-rocks vampire, I was more afraid to die. So I just kind of latched on to Lester’s wrist and started sucking away.
The blood was thick like syrup and tasted at first like I was sucking on pennies, a dirty copper taste. But pretty soon it started to taste sweet, like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. There was this rush in my ears, this surge through my body. It felt like when you’re horny for days and you finally get to blow your load. It felt like everything good that ever happened to me happening all at once. Like being a kid at Christmas or winning the jackpot in Vegas or getting to play with Bettany Adams’ tits. I wanted more and more and more and more.
And then Lester yanked his hand away.
We stared at each other for a second. I knew I’d gone too far; Lester looked weak and confused, totally messed up. And kind of scared. But that was too bad for Lester, because I’d had a taste and I wanted more. So I sprung on him and I wrenched his head to the side to take that sweet nectar straight from the source.
And I drank…
…and I drank…
…and I drained Lester dry.