Miss Karina Davenport's devoted caregiver, Annie Willow, sat at her bedside and caressed her sweaty palm. She gently raised Karina's arm and tenderly rubbed her cheek with the back of her hand. After so many quiet days and nights of leaving the windows open for fresh air, the chief physician, Doctor Andrew Cortland, ordered the windows shut and locked, sealing in the stifling heat, the intense smell of garlic, and the constant bustling and chatter from the team of nurses. Annie swallowed hard while watching one of the nurses carrying a bloodstained sheet from when Karina's water broke. The nurse hastily bundled it up and used her elbow to open the bathroom door, and then tossed it on the marbled floor.
Karina groped Annie's forearm with her free hand, and whispered, "My dear Annie, I beg of you, leave this room; hide before it is too late."
Annie nodded, "I'm so frightened, Miss Davenport," she trembled.
"I know you are," Karina sobbed softly, "When everyone gets busy, use the chaos to run and hide in the master closet. I have transferred everything from the mudroom and placed it here just in case."
Staring at Karina's stomach, Annie watched the baby's movements and cried, "Just in case? How could this be? What is happening?" The Head Nurse, Mrs. Saligrass, slammed one of the windows upward and open, letting the rope of garlic fall to the floor. "I cannot take this heat any longer," she complained, "I feel nauseous with the smell of flesh, and the smell of Miss Davenport's blood. The iron in the baby's blood stays lodged in my throat like a child's wooden block. I smell the blanket she sweats upon. I feel sick to my stomach."
"Close and lock that window now!" Doctor Cortland screamed from across the room. The nurse didn't respond quickly enough, so the Doctor scurried across the room and closed the window. He placed the rope of garlic on the window latch. "I told you all windows and doors must be locked."
Nurse Saligrass respectfully bowed to the Doctor and then backed away into a corner near the window.
Doctor Cortland looked at Karina. "We should be in a clinic," he said angrily, "Or the hospital where I practice. This -- this here in your home - this is unsafe."
"The hospital is not safe," Karina lost her breath.
"Breathe, breathe," Annie instructed. "Do you remember how we practiced all those months? Now hold it, hold it, and now exhale, exhale, exhale." She squeezed her hand. "Remember how we practiced; breathe deeply and I will count to five. Hold it for five seconds; close your eyes, and then exhale, exhale, exhale."
A nurse reached around Annie, put her hand on Karina's stomach, and felt for the contractions.
"My dear Annie," Karina smiled; her eyes glassy from tears, "My faithful Annie."
"So many wonderful years," Annie smiled with closed lips.
"Yes, I know," Karina chattered impatiently, "I need to stand for a moment. I need to walk around. I cannot breathe deeply; it may harm the babies if I do not breathe properly."
Annie assisted a nurse, helping her off the bed and supporting her on either side. The moment she stood, she doubled over with a contraction, and had to return to the bed.
Nurse Saligrass gave her a glass of juice, and then returned to her corner by the window. Karina gulped it down quickly and took Annie's hand again. "Leave now. Tell the doctor you have to get something from another room," she whispered pleadingly, "Say anything, but you must hide."
"Not yet," Annie squeezed her hand, "Let me stay with you a little bit longer, please."
"I can feel the pains in my belly," Karina's breathing labored, "My breasts seem heavy, and my chest feels to be expanding." Her weak scream developed into a groan.
"She's ready," one of the nurses said while wiping Karina's forehead with a damp cloth.
Annie tried to keep Karina's hair from sticking to her forehead, but sweat saturated her face. "Breathe like we practiced."
"I want to go outside," Karina shifted in bed, "I want to go for a walk. I feel faint, as though I am about to pass out."
"Doctor Cortland," Annie cried, "There's something wrong. Why is she feeling this way? She seems mixed up."
"How are you feeling?" Doctor Cortland asked Karina.
Karina groaned again, "I need to sit up. I want to stand up. How long have you been here; minutes, hours? Are the babies okay? I am so hot, drenched in sweat."
Doctor Cortland smiled and took her hand. "Our last sonogram showed one girl and two boys; all healthy."
"I need ice. Can I get a cup of ice?" Karina licked her chapped lips. She felt disoriented but stared vacantly at Annie. "I think I am dying," she whispered, "I want to close my eyes and never wake up."
"Dim the lights;" Doctor Cortland instructed Annie, "It's time."
Annie dimmed the lights to twilight and then slowly backed away as the Doctor and staff gathered around Karina. She felt the doorknob to the master closet, slowly opened it and ducked inside. She pulled the chain to illuminate a small area, and then closed the door but left it ajar to peek inconspicuously.
Doctor Cortland bent between Karina's legs while the nurses held her limp hands.
Karina grunted as the nurses whispered, "Push, push, push. Relax and push." One of the nurses spread a towel in front of the Doctor to catch the baby. "One more push," she said.
Karina grunted drunkenly once again before her final exhale. The baby's head appeared, and then the baby slithered out; slick with fluid and large amounts of blood, into the Doctor's waiting hands. He gasped as he examined the baby. He quickly counted the hands, feet, and eyes. He could see nothing wrong with the baby other than its color - blood red; not pink, nor gray, nor blue or white, but blood red. "It's the girl," he trembled, "She is made of blood with remarkably little flesh."
"Miss Davenport isn't breathing," one of the nurses grew uneasy and cut off his thoughts.
"Karina?" Doctor Cortland whispered, "Karina?" He wrapped the baby in the towel and stared at the nurses. He looked at everything around the immediate area, and then settled on the juice glass.
"She's dead, Doctor," the nurse at Karina's head slid her hand over Karina's eyes.
"How could this be?" He shook nervously, "We must deliver the other two children." He noticed residue on the side of the juice glass sitting on the table beside the bed. "How could this happen?" He put the glass to his nostrils and sniffed. He jerked his head back and slowly turned to look at Nurse Saligrass standing in the corner. "What did you do?"
Nurse Saligrass sneered and then removed the rope of garlic from the window, and in the same motion, she flung open the window, allowing the vampire to leap into the room.
Annie lost her breath then covered her mouth to keep herself from gasping. She gently closed the door and searched the walk-in closet.
The monstrous vampire stood powerful and toned at seven foot tall with massive, muscular legs covered with the foul and tangled hair of a longhaired goat. His cloven hooves balanced him firmly and steadfast. His bare torso, defined with muscles, carried deep, festering lacerations across his chest, shoulders, and back. His jaw protruded long and skeletal, his chin an extended V, and a rancid mouth filled with jagged teeth and prehistoric fangs. His blood-red eyes stared perfectly round under a creased forehead and the same long, scraggly hair born onto the bottom half of his body.
He wrapped his hands around Nurse Saligrass' head. "Serviebatis mihi bene." He rasped in Latin, telling her that she served him well.
"And what shall be my reward, my love?" She asked.
The vampire said nothing. He twisted her head, snapped her neck with one hand, and dropped the body to the floor. He quickly grabbed another nurse and tore her throat with his aggressive fangs, and spit out the flesh before dropping the body on top of Nurse Saligrass. Feeling she'd rather jump to her death, than be torn apart, the third nurse leaped from the window, but the vampire caught her by her hair, turned her body towards his fangs, and decapitated her with a massive bite.
Doctor Cortland left the baby in the towel and stood to confront the vampire. "I am Doctor Andrew Cortland," he said, "Miss Davenport has passed away upon delivering her daughter. Please, I ask of you, have mercy. I have two more children I must deliver."
The vampire growled a guttural rasp exposing his fangs. He grabbed the Doctor by the shoulders and buried his fangs into the Doctor's neck. He pulled his head back, ripping Doctor Cortland's throat open and then tossing him across the room like a rag doll.
His massive chest heaved raucously as he quickly scanned the room. He picked up the baby and then used the long nail on his index finger to slice open Karina's belly, exposing the remaining two children.
Suddenly, the vampire's intuition brought him to stand up straight and look towards the closet. He cocked his head and studied the faint glow around the seams of the closet door. His nostrils flared and his brow pursed. He squeezed his red eyes in a deep stare, and then suddenly grinned before singing sarcastically in Latin, "egredere, quisquis es." With no response, he sang the same tune in Dutch, "komen, komen, wie je ook bent," and then said angrily, "Come out, come out, whoever you are."
Annie kicked the closet door open. She wore a rope of garlic entwined in a golden crucifix around her neck. She held a cross and a crossbow loaded with silver arrows. "Get away from those babies," she warned sternly.
The vampire laughed, exhaled noisily, and then growled slowly. His growling faded, and he glared at her. To Annie's surprise and horror, the vampire spoke using her identical voice, perfect in articulation and enunciation, using her exact expressions and mannerisms. He said "And who, or what, are you supposed to be?"
Annie quickly regained her composure and pushed the crucifix further, "Get away from those babies," she repeated.
He backed away quickly without taking his eyes off the crucifix. He placed the toweled baby girl on Karina's belly, beside her two brothers. "These are my children," he growled, "I am Raum, the last disciple, creator of legions, commander of all. I am their father. They are my heirs."
"You are not their father," Annie sneered, "You are a monster. You are nothing more than a rapist and a murderer." She pointed the crossbow at him, "Now get away from those babies."
"And what do you suppose you are going to do with those toys?" He scoffed in his usual guttural rasp.
"I'll kill you, I swear," Annie threatened.
The vampire grinned while studying her. Once again, he reverted to using Annie's voice. "Why - you are shaking, dear girl," he ridiculed her. "You seem to be trembling all over; even your voice wavers." He picked up the lifeless body of a nurse, took another giant bite out of her neck, and then tossed her across the room with one hand. He said in a deep snarl, "Am I supposed to be afraid of you?" The vampire mocked. He used his middle finger to trace a deep, hemorrhaging laceration extending from his shoulder to his stomach. The Vampire grimaced like a rabid dog. "These are lashes from the whips of Satan! The Devil himself shreds my skin; with whips made from the skins of his own serpents. Some are centuries old." His mighty chest heaved when he inhaled, and then he exhaled ferociously, "So tell me, dear girl, am I supposed to be afraid of you?" He repeated.
Annie physically shook at the terror standing in front of her. She tightened her jaw. "Not of me," she said, "But of God and the faith I have in God." She poised with the crossbow, "Now I'm telling you for the last time; get away from those babies."
The vampire snickered, "Now, now dear girl, the thought of your faith in God never entered your mind until you saw me tonight." He made a step toward her.
Annie pulled the trigger and placed a silver arrow into the vampire's shoulder, near his heart. The vampire stumbled and then screamed, "You bitch!"
Annie quickly reloaded and pulled the trigger. A second silver bolt zipped through the small space between them and pierced the vampire's neck.
The vampire pulled the arrow out of his neck. He snarled mockingly, "Missed again. You do not have the blood bolt. You cannot destroy me."
A third arrow split the air, this one finding its way to the vampire's stomach. He doubled over in pain. His body started burning, and then extinguished. He removed the arrow from his shoulder as the flames once again ignited and engulfed him. The fourth arrow cut a fine line through the flames and found its mark near his heart.
"A blood bolt?" Annie talked to herself. She looked into the vampire's eyes. Their glares travelled simultaneously to the open stomach of the dead Karina. Annie dipped the arrow into the open wounds surrounding the babies. He jerked forward, but she quickly placed the arrow into the chamber of the crossbow and aimed it at him. "I said, leave those - "
The vampire cut her off with a deafening roar, swinging chaotically and knocking the crossbow out of her hands. Annie retrieved the weapon, but the vampire clutched at the arrows in his body and exited the way he had entered.