The two mortal men viewed the apparition through the barred window of the crypt as she approached, but too late Van Helsing realised that he still held the key - a duplicate of the one about her throat! The door was still agape and closing it would certainly alert one of her kind!
The Lady Fay's form was silhouetted in the doorway now, her own key visible around her neck which had been wrested from the nerveless (and soon bloodless) fingers of the caretaker of the cemetary grounds. It hung redundant as she stepped hesitantly into the gloom of her family's mausoleum.
Wilson took a chance and then, banishing all thought of the stricken child from his mind, he clumsily lunged at her chest with his sharpened stake. Her hand snapped out like a cobra and the transformed female exhibited otherworldly strength as she gripped his wrist and began to crush.
The young man's scream invoked a pleasurable hissing from the Vampire as his makeshift stake fell from numb fingers into her own. She sneered at the item before tossing it over the tomb of an ancestor into the far darkness where it clattered to the floor. Francis Wilson gasped as as he was hoisted to the ceiling by his jacket's lapels.
"Wilson! You!" she hissed, removing one of her hands and placing it at his throat. "How dare you trespass on the property of my family!" She eased her remaining grip on his clothing and his throat now bore all his weight.
"But Francis," she cooed, "Why would you wish me any harm?" The young man tried to kick her but to no avail, as his consciousness began to ebb through lack of oxygen.
"Am I not a favourite of yours? You should be happy; I was a pallid, fragile slug! Am I not the essence of what you have fantasized me to be?" she queried with an arched eyebrow. With futility, he tried to grip her arm to ease the weight on his throat, but his muscles wouldn't respond.
"BEHIND YOU, SHE-CREATURE!"
Wilson crashed to the floor as she spun to face her new attacker, the limber figure of Van Helsing as he brandished a silver crucifix. The moonlight glinted off the icon and his own prominent cheekbones as he thrust it at her face. She, in turn leaped back, hiding her face from the blasted holiness of the thing in a fit of hissing. Still grasping it, the older man hoisted Wilson to his feet, but the vampire flung off her cloak and lashed it at his arm. The crucifix fell to the floor and bounced into the doorway.
"You cannot escape now, creature of the night! The exit is blocked for you now!" Van Helsing grinned savagely.
Lady Fay smirked at the two men. "You think I am trapped in here with you? YOU ARE TRAPPED IN HERE WITH ME!"
She snatched the man from his feet, throwing him fifteen feet through the air into the darkness beyond, where he landed with a thump. Van Helsing's charge now backed away against the wall, sure now of the truth of his mentor's words and beliefs.
"You know, Francis," she considered, "you might not be such a paltry consort . . ." Her mouth opened impossibly wide, revealing hideously elongated canines.
"Who am I kidding?" she snorted, as she gripped his head and twisted it savagely to one side, eliciting an audible CRACK! The dead man slumped to the floor.
"You were always far too wet! I need something higher up the food chain . . ." She soared up, over the central tomb to where she had tossed his mentor, her fangs exposed. Van Helsing rolled over, revealing Wilson's stake which he jabbed upward deep into her chest.
She let loose a piercing scream that became a sigh as her features began to sag and she slumped on the stake till the man shoved her to one side. Van Helsing righted himself, staring down at her, her limbs withering and flesh losing its glow. Her tightly laced corset sagged on the dwindling frame around the spike and she uttered her last words.
"Oh Peter, how could you? . . . and I always fancied you as well!
Fay groaned and experimentally rolled her head from one side to the other. What was the time? Her alarm hadn't gone off so she couldn't be late for work. She sneezed and groaned again.
"Must've kicked the duvet off." She ventured and tried to roll over but her arms wouldn't respond.
"Oh no . . ." She hated waking up with "dead" arms. She tried to move them but they refused to budge and she experienced that minor dread of the pins and needles to come. To her surprise, there was no pain forthcoming and this drew a frown from her. Here was something else too: her arms were crossed, but she was lying on her back - they wouldn't BE circulatorily-challenged. Also, why would her top half be warm whilst her legs cold? If she was wearing her old-fashioned cotton pajamas, she would normally have the bottoms on too, unless she had company and wanted to look like "an old fashioned girl" whilst still alluring . . .
Fay opened one eye but could detect no company. The top felt wrong too - stiff and unyielding, not like her old jim jams at all! Now she blinked both gooey eyes open and stared at the ceiling.
Where was the artfully textured white one of her own bedroom? The brunette turned her head but couldn't see her radio alarm, phone or lamp either. The light was all wrong - this wasn't her room, it wasn't her bed! Where was she?
Fay Perrin's eyes became accustomed to the gloom and she peered at the wall. What was wrong with it? It wasn't flat and looked lumpy, malformed - like the faux rustic plastering of many a fake "Coaching Inn". Then it hit her. She wasn't lying in a bed but on the floor! She could see where the floor met the weird wall to her right! What sort of place had a floor that was padded? She looked again at the wall.
"What sort of place has walls that are padded? OH NO! NOOOOO!" she wailed, as it dawned on her. Fay tried to jerk herself upright without the use of her arms. She could now make out the evenly-spaced buttons deep in the padding of the wall and floor and with horror she looked down at herself to have her suspicions confirmed - SHE'D BEEN PUT IN A STRAITJACKET!
"HEY! Hey, get me out of here! I'm not supposed to be in here!"
Where was she? How had she got here? The nurse! The nurse on the train! Why her though? What had happened?
"Was my Travel-Card out of date?" she pondered as she rolled over onto her knees and staggered to her feet. "I must say this is pretty draconian treatment . . ." she grunted as she righted herself, "...of the customer!"
The young woman staggered into a shaft of light coming through the single, high window and looked down at herself.
"Oh, Brilliant! Brilliant!" She spat, seeing she'd been stripped of her clothing apart from her Janet Reger black stockings, straitjacket and five inch heels.
"I look like a Benny Hill madwoman!"
Susie Bremmer whirled her Mazda around the bend into Treetops Drive, her blonde hair flying in the wind. It was now nearly ten, but she had an urge to check with Fay that she'd be ready for their tennis match tomorrow and had slipped into her freshly starched and pressed whites for the visit.
Susie was feeling a little smug, as she knew that there was no way at this late hour Fay could match her preparation, but they should still at least try to synchronise their "look" as there was a fair bit of talent at the clubhouse these days.
"Besides, I've got to show her the standard she has to meet!" She'd even managed to get hold of some of those fifties frilly Wimbledon pants that seemed to drive men cuckoo!
Most of the houses were still lit up, but but as she approached Fay's she was disappointed to see the lights out on hers. There was Fay's funny little Mini still in the drive though. Had she gone out to the local? If so, who with?
Drawing up outside, Susie thought she saw someone moving behind the dash of the shiny Clubman and wondered if she'd just caught her friend heading off to the twenty four hour Tesco. She flung open her door and skipped towards it just as the Mini's engine roared into life. With a screech the little red car shot forward like a bullet and the blonde had to dive to one side to avoid being hit, swinging around the gatepost as the car shot up the road with its lights off.
"Hey no! HANG ON! NO YOU DON'T!" Susie exclaimed, certain that the bulky silhouette she'd glimpsed wasn't the owner. She jumped back into her silver sports to give chase. The MX5 revved and spun back and around as she threw it after the errant Clubman.
Out on the open road the Mini weaved haphazardly in and out of the traffic with its lights still off which made its progress hard to follow.
"As long as you don't go down any sewer pipes!"
Having long been a devotee of detective fiction, Susie Bremmer kept a respectful distance as the small car eventually lit up. She eased her Mazda through the traffic after it.
"It can't be Fay - unless she's trying to single-handedly bring back shoulder pads!" she observed, glimpsing the bulky figure through the rear window.
Suddenly, a thought occurred to her - what would she do if the car stopped? She wasn't Wonder Woman!
"Just call the cops, schweetheart," she answered herself in an appalling imitation of Humphrey Bogart.
Night and the cold began to set in in earnest and Bremmer began to bitterly regret her choice of outfit, the thin tennis-skirt flapping around like a galvanised Manta Ray. Strangely, the thief hadn't headed deeper into the city as she'd expected him to. Susie had imagined they would have proceeded to a run-down housing estate or a lock-up garage but the night grew cooler as the headed-out of the bright lights and into the sticks.
A blaring klaxon shook her out of her reverie as a huge Scania drew up alongside, its wheelnuts spinning around alongside her face. Looking up, she saw a greasy trucker leering down at her, deliberately keeping pace with her so he could stare at her legs. Susie gritted her teeth and glared at the road ahead only to see the Mini turn off to the right, a direction she couldn't take, boxed in by the truck as she was. She jabbed her white sneaker at the brakes and pulled her sports back despite the curses and hooting of the other road users and swung in behind the truck.
Susie was now well past the turn-off, but flung the Mazda across the oncoming traffic onto a shell station's forecourt. She roared around the pumps and back out onto the road to continue her pursuit, the rear end fishtailing wildly. As the Mx5 took the same turning the Mini had, the road dropped away from beneath it and what light there was was blotted out by tree cover overhead. It was like descending into the underworld . . .
Fay yelled at the door again and again, screaming for someone, anyone to help her or at least explain why she was trussed-up in a cell. Eventually, she gave up and tried once more to test the limits of her restraints. She bent over, twisted and arched backward, even pressing herself back up against the walls to try and feel the arrangement of straps holding the garment closed and her arms behind her.
In darkness a figure watched her desperate exertions from different angles on four monitors. He took pleasure from the fact that she didn't know she was being observed and also how supple the woman was showing herself to be.
"Oh Fay, Fay," he crooned as he zoomed in on her rear as she folded at the waist, "You're so bendy . . ."
The silver Mazda blasted out of the lane like a Nipponese cannon ball and Susie twisted the wheel to avoid the duck pond, sliding sideways and nearly clouting the sign bearing the legend "Wendlebury". She flashed past the picture postcard village and its few inhabitants (most of which were sitting outside the local pub enjoying beers and the night air) and tore around the village green and squawking ducks to confront a choice of three identical green lanes heading out of the place.
"Which one? Which one?" she hissed. Noticing the locals, Susie clicked the box into reverse and wheel-spinned back to them showering gravel aside.
"A red Mini!" she begged. "Where did it go?"
A liverish-looking local with cap and mutton chops grunted, "Eh?"
Unclipping her belt Susie climbed out. "Have you seen a red Mini?" Once again she was the subject of some unwholesome looks.
"Oi seen a whoite one Miss, and Oi loikes what Oi sees . . ."
She bristled. "Its not a Mini, its a tennis-skirt," she spelt-out. "A Mini car! A RED MINI CAR - remember them? Which way did it go?" She frantically flapped her wrist at the three exits from the sedate place.
"Oi don't roightly recall miss . . ."
Susan now, not Susie began grinding her teeth. "You want a drink, is that it? I'll get you a drink!"
"Not so much a drink, luv," he oozed, " . . .but if you'd care to come over 'ere and sit on moi lap furra whoile . . ."
Not for the first time tonight, Susie Bremmer regretted getting into her tennis gear and jumped back into her MX5, slamming the door. "Great! I've wandered into an episode of The Avengers without my catsuit!"
The wheels spun, showering the road behind with gravel and she shot off, giving the locals the Vees as she headed for the central of the three.
At a back table, a dark figure rose to his feet unsteadily and made for the sole telephone box in the village to make an urgent call.
"Only one thing wrong with them legs..."
"They ain't wrapped around moi neck!"
The other patrons howled.
Fay's struggles had become half-hearted as tiredness overcame her and she eventually had succumbed to sleep. She lay curled in a foetal position on the padding in the corner of the room. Her watcher exhaled and viewed her with increasingly less interest. He liked her mobile - she struggled so sweetly . . .
"A little freedom, a 'carrot on a stick' - thats what's needed!" he declared. The phone warbled and he glanced at it with irritation. What now? He snatched the reciever off its cradle and barked, "Yes?"
"A'right boy? I mean BOSS!" He recognised his employee's Welsh accent instantly and was immediately needled.
"NOT 'BOY', NOT 'BOSS'! HOW MANY MORE TIMES, IGOR!?"
There was silence from the other end of the line. He had to have been drinking.
"Sorry," the man obviously tried to shuffle his thoughts into some semblance of order," . . . mathter."
"What is it?"
This time the man concentrated as hard as he could despite the amount he'd had to drink and clung to the manufactured lisp.
"The young lady'th car just pathed through the village thir!"
Now this was something he approved of - being kept updated. "I see. Well done, Igor!"
"But," the Welshman continued, " . . . there wath thomething elthe thir . . . "
"What? Speak up, man!"
"It was followed." As he said this, he winced, having skipped the lisp that was a condition of his employment, but no admonishment was received. There was a lull on the line, then:
"No thir. Another young lady in a sports car, sir!"
"Thorry thir!" The caller took a deep breath. "She cauthed quite a commotion at The Drowned Fox, thir!"
"I see." His employer contemplated this information. "And is she coming here?"
"No mathter. Thee took the wrong lane from Wendlebury, thir."
"Thank you, Igor."
He placed the phone down and pondered this new occurence.
The shadowy figure crossed to one of the windows and looked out at the countryside.
"I sense a presence... one I have not felt in some time..."
The silver Mazda was parked, its top up and headlights glaring at a dead tree. The tree was uprooted and lying across the road and, realising that there was next to no chance of her retracing her steps, rejoining the chase and catching up now, its driver glared along the bonnet with her lights at the deadfall.
Susie Bremmer had put the heater on full blow to defrost her extremities but was now warm enough and exited the car, shutting the door behind her to trap the heat. She shivered as she approached the obstruction and tried to cheer herself up by doing Poirot.
"As you can see Hastings," she managed in an approximation of a Belgian accent, " . . . this tree has 'ow you say, fallen 'ere many years since. Note the dead leaves under it that have become as-you-say 'mulch'?"
Everything was pretty obvious and doing his funny accent and penguin-walk didn't cheer her up. She retreated to her Mazda and its balmy interior. Reversing-up, Susie swung the little sports around and headed back, crunching over the many twigs and branches that had originally given her cause for concern. This road hadn't been used in a long while.
Though she felt like one she decided against a drink at the pub, seeing the smirking locals, and made for Treetops Drive. The MX5 bumped-up onto Fay's drive, its front wheels cutting deep gouges in the gravel and the blonde dashed to the door but couldn't raise her friend no matter how much she rung the bell or banged the door.
Suddenly, she remembered the spare key that Fay had issued her and darted back to the Mazda wresting it from the deritus in her handbag. The hall was empty, the house silent as Susie climbed the stairs to find the bedroom similarly so.
"Where is she?" she enquired of the forsaken domicile, but checked every room nonetheless - no wonder she hadn't heard her car being stolen!
"But she was supposed to be playing a match with me tomorrow..." She frowned, "I suppose she could still make it even if she got lucky tonight?"
Before she left, Susie Bremmer called the Police about the stolen car.
Fay didn't know how long she'd slept, but woke into her nightmare.
"Oh no . . . " she croaked, tugging at her arms that were firmly ensconced in the straitjacket. Daylight no longer streamed through the high, barred window and her cell was doused in gloom.
Why had she awoken? Obviously her conditions weren't conducive to a good night's sleep, but waking up at night was so pointless. Perhaps it was the thought of what would happen to her in the morning? She cursed and looked around. Something must have changed to wake her. What was it?
Suddenly she spotted it, a crack of light at the edge of the cell door! Fay managed to right herself, wobbling across to it on her heels that stabbed into the padded floor.
"Hello, hello?" she whispered, "Is there anyone out there?"
Did she have an ally? She daren't raise her voice although there was no answer forthcoming. What should she do?
Determinedly, she jammed her nose in the crack and tried to pry it open. The door creaked open toward her to her relief and she jammed her toe into the gap to drag it open further . . .
<- Part 1