This story is fast becoming a serial! Help! I can't stop it!
Anyway, this is part 5 and the other 4 are here.
Part 2: The Lodger
Part 3: Breakfast Invite
Part 4: Deal with the Devil
Andrew awoke at the sound of a loud shout. It sounded more frustrated than angry or upset. It was followed by a loud crash and series of decidedly modern curse words. On a normal day Andrew would have slept through all this, but he had been rather jumpy since yesterday due to Jeremy. Andrew had encountered many hungry vampires before and knew what they were capable of. Jeremy had never caused Andrew any concern because he’d kicked the habit 40 years ago. Now that Jeremy had fallen off the wagon, altruistic motives aside, Andrew had been in a constant state of anxiety. For the past 18 hours, he’d been jumping at shadows and starting at small noises. To top it off, a newly-acquired neck-brace was impairing his ability to keep a proper watch on his surroundings.
So far Jeremy had demonstrated an impressive show of willpower after a patchy start. Granted he had a tendency to snarl if you startled him and he kept watching Andrew like he was a gazelle on the veldt; but he had saved Frank’s life, and had ridden in the ambulance with him and Andrew. After Andrew had been given his neck brace and Jeremy had given the hospital staff Frank’s passport and ID, the vampire had stomped back into the house and holed himself up in the kitchen. Andrew was too nervous to hang about and so had beaten a strategic retreat to his room. For the rest of the afternoon, he’d sat on his bed with his back pressed hard against the wall while he read back issues of The Beano. He could hardly concentrate on the antics of Dennis the Menace as he heard the loud crashes coming from downstairs and his eyes kept flitting between his comic, the door and the loaded gun next to him.
After a few hours the crashes died down and Andrew, gun in hand, decided to brave the unknown. He found a fantastic mess in the dining room. Every mug in the house was piled on the table in a state of ceramic carnage. Mugs were chipped, cracked, missing handles and several sported large gaps where chunks had been bitten out of the rim. The lucky mugs had simply been reduced to brightly-coloured chalk. The kitchen wasn’t much better. The counters and floors were littered with pots and pans. They were warped out of shape especially the handles, which were all sporting deep handprints. The kettle hadn’t survived. Amidst the cookware were dozens of boxes. Andrew hadn’t expected this though. He’d figured that the boxes and pans would be for sausages or tinned ham or something similarly meaty. He hadn’t expected 8 boxes of PG Tips to be torn open and ravaged. Nor had he foreseen the empty wrappers from twenty packages of McVities digestive biscuits.
He heard the noise of the telly in the sitting room and after cautiously poking his head in, saw Jeremy watching Tomorrow’s World. Andrew gasped. If Jeremy was actually watching the device he’d shunned as the “seizure box,” something was seriously wrong. Andrew took it as an evil portent and ran full tilt back to his room. He’d spent a very fitful night in which his few minutes of sleep were haunted by visions of predatory jaws attacking his throat in a red-tinged gloom. The last night he’d spent like that, he’d been ten years old. Jeremy was the one to help him conquer that walking nightmare. Now Jeremy was the nightmare.
As Andrew awoke in the dim grey light, he jumped to the mirror and examined his body for bites. Nope, he was clean. The neck brace was getting in the way, so Andrew ripped it off and chucked it in the corner. His neck wasn’t feeling much better, but he could turn his head now —besides, he’d dealt with much worse before. The filthy language was still coming from Jeremy’s room and Andrew broke into a cold sweat. Mopping his brow, he took the gun out from under his pillow and methodically scooted the dresser away from the door where it was acting as barricade. With utmost caution, Andrew inched through the door and across the carpeted hall to the master bedroom.
“Jer?” he asked in a dry timid voice.
“Yeah, what,” came the snappish answer. Andrew flinched. It still didn’t sound like Jeremy. Jeremy’s voice had always been melodious and soft, like someone who worked with very small children. This new voice was deep and commanding and (it seemed to Andrew) very tetchy.
“Everything alright in there? Can I come in?” Andrew asked.
“You can if you promise not to do anything bone-headed with that gun,” was the short reply.
Andrew took a deep breath and steeled his courage, then he reached for the door handle. It wouldn’t budge. Looking more closely at it, Andrew saw that the knob had been squished into a lump of compressed brass. He then noticed the door was ajar and (after putting the Gun down his jeans) he nudged it open with his trainer.
“I’m not going to hurt you, you silly man,” grumbled Jeremy.
Andrew breathed again. That sounded more like the real Jeremy. Walking into the room, however, Andrew abruptly changed his mind. Jeremy looked terrifying. He was clad only in his bathrobe, and its seams were in danger of popping. The reason was obvious; Jeremy’s usually frail frame was now covered in taught muscles and sinew. His skin was flushed and sweating, like he’d been jogging. He wasn’t huge like Arnie, or some other body-builder, but he looked athletic, strong… lethal. His snowy hair was still jet black and shiny, his face still focused and predatory. The vampire’s head swiveled towards him with uncanny swiftness. Dark predatory eyes considered the frightened Andrew.
“Still pretty scary, eh?” he asked Andrew, his sharp face softening a little.
Andrew knew that lying was pretty pointless. He only managed a nod.
“Are the eyes better at least?”
Andrew shrugged. “They don’t look quite so… evil,” he admitted. “You just look like you’ve been up all night.”
“I could say the same for you,” said Jeremy. The words were kindly, but in his strong forceful voice, their warmth was lost.
“I…” Andrew began but he abandoned the topic, “…heard swearing and shouting,” he finished, hoping to change the subject.
“Oh,” said Jeremy absently. He pointed to his dresser which was now a pile of splinters. “I keep smashing things,” he grumbled. “Controlling my strength was always difficult in the old days, but after forty years I’m out of practice... That and my clothes don’t fit now.”
Andrew noticed the pile of shredded cloth next to the mutilated dresser.
“You do look a little… bigger,” said Andrew carefully. “Want to borrow some of my clothes for now?”
“I wouldn’t want to impose. Besides, the way I’m buggering up everything, they’ll probably come back as dust rags.”
Jeremy’s powerful shoulders hunched as he sighed, looking thoroughly embarrassed. It gave Andrew enough courage to approach him. He strode up to his friend and put a hand on his shoulder. Jeremy’s body tensed when the hammy hand touched his body and he dove out of its reach.
“Sorry, just a reflex,” Jeremy said, trying to collect himself.
“No problem.” Andrew had been reaching for his gun, but he played it off like he was only trying to scratch his bum. He didn’t want to hurt Jeremy’s feelings. “How long are you going to be like this?”
“I dunno. A week or two perhaps,” answered Jeremy. “I tried to calm myself down with some tea yesterday. You probably saw how well that went.”
“Did you eventually get a cuppa?” asked Andrew.
“I drank 48 cups,” said Jeremy. “When we ran out of sugar I used golden syrup...and then jam. I also ate all the biscuits, including your secret stash of Penguins. Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Andrew with a smile. “Not the worst that could happen, considering. Well, we’ll have to get you some more clothes in the meantime.”
“I suppose it was time to get new clothes anyway,” Jeremy grumbled.
“I’ll say. The fact that you held on to those Victorian togs for so long is astounding.”
“They weren’t Victorian!” said Jeremy defensively.
“Oh c’mon? Where else would you have gotten braces and a frilly shirt?”
“’kay . Y’got me there,” said Andrew finally relaxing a little. “I’ll get you some of my old shirts, jeans, socks, underpants...”
“Thanks,” said Jeremy. “Never mind about the knickers though. I’ll manage.”
“Oh grow up— they’re clean!” said Andrew.
“Only because I do your laundry. I’ve seen what you do to them first,” said Jeremy, wrinkling his nose. “I’ll manage without. At least enough to go to Marks & Spencer and get some more… and a new kettle. I get the feeling I’ll be wanting a LOT more tea.”