Perhaps the best way to tell this odd story of betrayal and bitter defeat would be to start at the end. It started like this:
The day was dark, covered with abnormally large clouds, and thunder could be heard in the distance. The single neon light in the tall building flickered and went out. The lone man looked up and smiled, his story complete, his life drawn out. The man laughed a hideous, rotting, obnoxious laugh. The neon light flickered once more, more brilliantly than before, but the man could not be seen. His laugh seemed to whisper away in the wind, but no one was outside to hear it. No one was outside to hear the final laugh of a dead man.
Truthfully, its not actually the end, just the end of an untold story, one of the million floating in the wind, one of the story's of the unfortunate few to be forgotten, because only the wind was there to hear it. However, this case was different because it is an ending that became a beginning of a new story, of this story:
Bill Tunaman stuck his arm out the window and felt the wind tickle his fingers and the cool sting of a light-drizzle about to begin. He sighed and pulled his arm back in before a bird mistook his arm for a branch. He shut the window and slid back in his chair. He tipped his cap's bill over his eyes in a useless gesture to avoid the light of the single candle. A loud snoring could be heard coming from the unfinished wall to Bill's back, and Bill ignored it, sighing once more, hoping that someone would get him a sleeping pill.
The morning broke little joy to Bill. The lone phone in the corner of the room rang, jerking Bill from a sleepless sleep. Bill grumbled and picked it up.
"Yes? What do you want?"
The voice on the other end hesitated and the spoke out, "Good morning Bill, this is your Contractor... we've ... er... we are... well, do you know what Chapter 11 is?"
Bill hung his head, "Let me just hope you are talking about a decent novel."
There was a distinct click as Bill replaced the receiver without even hearing the reply.
A yawn could be heard as the aging man in the next room woke up. Bill walked over to the unfinished wall, avoiding the loose floorboard and knocked on the finished portion of the wall, "Good morning Professor. The Contractor called this morning with good news, they're broke."
Professor von Carpworth looked like a goat with a dead fish stuck on his head when he awoke in the mornings. Of course, a real dead fish would have been an improvement smell-wise after an all-nighter spent with the highly noxious fumes of the innocently named Chromajuice.
"Dang, what happened? When did that happen? And when was this wall started?"
Bill sighed, he enjoyed his field of Chromatology, he enjoyed working with the odd assortment of cases that his field brought in, and he even enjoyed working as the assistant of the ever-odd Professor. The only problem is that the more he worked with the Professor, the more he felt like a human tape recorder.
"You've been tanked on Chromajuice for the past month. The Contractor just called, as I said, and the wall was started last week, but hasn't been completed because of union problems..."
The Professor's eyes focused and settled on a remaining glass of Chromajuice.
"No you don't, I need your help Professor," and with that Bill snatched the glass and through it out the hole that Bill thought idly of as the Window.
Bill sighed, "Union problems."
"Union... I'm not a member of the student union anymore, I'm not a student anymore, I am a Professor... well, there was that one instance with the library book, the Gorilla-Gram and the Dean... er... he can't still be made at that can he?"
Bill sighed, he was tired of sighing, and he made a mental note to invent a new sigh just for the Professor, "Professor, PROFESSOR!"
"What? Eh? Get on with it, I'm an old man, I only have a couple more years of true life ahead of me to enjoy, boy."
"Not the Student Union, the VLU."
"Hmm... V-L-U... the Vixen Laugh Union?"
Bill walked to the fridge and got himself some hard alcohol-free pink beverage and downed it before returning to where the Professor was sitting still struggling to figure out what VLU stood for. Bill sat down.
"The Very Lame Union?"
Bill sighed, "No, the Vampire Labor Union."
"Oh, yes, I knew that... I was just... testing you."
Just in time to spare Bill from more misery, the lone phone rang. Bill picked in himself up, hopped over the unfinished wall, avoided the loose plank and picked up the phone.
"Hello, you've reached the unfinished offices of Carpworth & Associates, how can we help you?"
The voice on the other end seemed even more tired than Bill... if that was possible, "We could use you and the Professor, Bill, here at the..." whispering could be heard in the background, "Filmore Building. It's probably on a map."
When they got there, Inspector Second Class J. Wellen, a chromasilver-challenged individual (read: werewolf1), who was also the man who had called the unfinished office, was waiting for them.
"Professor, Bill, we've got quite a quandary here. Allow me to introduce the supernat-er... chromatologically challenged experts we have put together on such a short notice..."
They walked up a short flight of steps to room 225. "Professor, this is Dr. Gutenburg van Troutman, Vampire expert from Pennsylvania State," the Inspector whispered confidentially to the Professor, "The guy from Transylvania U. was busy, he was the next best thing we could find."
Dr. Gutenburg's smile was even annoying; "It's a pleasure to finally meet the man who practically invented the field of Psychoptrics."
The Professor bowed and the Inspector turned to the next gentleman, "This is Señor Guatemala, Private Eye, from Mexico."
"Ah, Professor, a pleasure."
Bill interjected, "Uh... Señor Guatemala, aren't you the one who worked on the case with the crazy Border supernat-er... chromatologically challenged?"
"Sí, you followed that?"
Bill smiled, "Yes, it was great work. How did you figure out that the Vampire Hunter was the one who was lying?"
"That, my friend, is a long story..."
The Investigator growled, "For another time. Now Professor, I don't have to introduce you to Dr. Dracule, who is the last member of our group."
The Professor smiled, "Dracule is a great friend of mine... He's a computer programmer, though, what can he do?"
The good Doctor stepped out of the shadows, "I can explain that. All the other vampires from here to the Mexican border are either sick, dead, or watching loved ones. Which is why we are here. Inspector Wellen felt we'd need a true-vampire helping, so here I am."
Dr. Gutenburg spoke up, "I think that we have fairly surmised that there is no more evidence here at this er... fatality location. Let us convene to another location."
Señor Guatemala look stricken, "What? I do not normally speak English."
The Professor chuckled, "Neither, it seems, does Dr. Gutenburg," Bill and the Inspector choked back down some chuckles and Dr. Gutenburg look like he could bore a hole to China with his eyes alone, "Anyway, Dr. Gutenburg suggested we go somewhere else. I agree, I say we go to the Hospital."
Señor Guatemala looked perplexed, "Why, are we sick?"
"No, but there are lots of people who are. We can check out the Psychoptrics Ward for leads."
The so-called Psychoptrics Ward was actually just a single room on the third floor staffed part-time by many of the students of the Professor. On hand that evening was Leif Floating, a Junior who was one of the Professor's particular favorites.
"Leif, any Vampires in?"
Leif looked up from the terminal he was typing a research paper2 on. "Ah, Professor, good to see you, well, the nights been quiet... however, we've got a Vampire with a bad case of depression in bed 2-C... we found him wandering around the Diseased Nervous System Ward muttering 'Hey, where's the cream filling?3'"
The Professor began walking to 2-C, "That bad? Wow!"
The Vampire was pale in bed 2-C... well, all Vampires are usually pale, but this one was paler than pale. The Professor looked the Vampire over and then spoke, "What's happening to the Vampires?"
The Vampire looked up at the Professor, "Depression... nothing to fear, nowhere to hide, no reason to hide, no more chase... Suicide..." and with that the Vampire slumped back.
Inspector Wellon spoke up, "How can a vampire suicide?"
Dr. Gutenburg all-haughty-taughty-like voiced, "Everyone knows that you can drive a wooden stake through a Vampire's heart."
The Professor stepped up to Dr. Gutenburg, leaning his face into Gutenburg's and practically stepping on his toes, "Moron, driving a stake through a Vampire's heart is like sticking a pin-prick in a fat man's stomach... he may lose some food, but once he's got it bandaged up he goes right ahead and keeps eating."
Dr. Dracule nodded. Bill jumped, "Eureka!"
Guatemala jumped higher, "What? What happened?"
Bill smiled, "The fat man reference, think about... What is the difference between a Zombie and a Vampire?"
Dr. Gutenburg frowned, "Now is not the time for silly riddles."
The Professor however took the bait, "I think I know what my assistant is getting at... Okay, let's think logically. Vampires and Zombies are both recreations of the undead held together by unknown magical forces..."
Bill interrupted the Professor, "Let's call them Magentalogical Forces."
"Okay... held together by magentalogical forces. The first difference that I can think of is that the magentalogical forces of a Vampire account for body degradation by allowing a vampire to use the Red Blood Cells and Hemoglobins as subsistence."
Bill nodded, "Exactly. The original legends are correct, its just years of typo that have confused us."
The Professor laughed, "Aha, so they do drive a stake through their hearts!"
Dr. Gutenburg look confused, "But you said that driving a stake would be like putting a pin-prick..."
"Yes, a wooden stake, S-T-A-K-E, would have that effect, however, a steak, S-T-E-A-K figuratively driven through the heart, their only stomach would cause a huge build-up of cholesterol..."
Bill, excited, finished the statement; "Thus clogging the one thing that helped the magentalogical forces keep the body from decomposing!"
Dr. Gutenburg's jaws dropped. The Professor pulled Bill to the corner, "What's with all the magentalogical talk?"
"Well, it was my discovery, and I needed a name... I figured it was either 'Magic' or Genes so I combined them and named it so that we could study and keep it away from that moron from Penn State."
The Professor smiled, "Good thinking. Good thinking. Now why didn't I think of it?"
Bill smirked, "Well actually, you did, sir... it was in one of your notes while you were tanked on Chromajuice."
"Ah." The Professor and Bill rejoined the group.
The Inspector and Señor Guatemala spoke up, almost at once, as the Professor and Bill walked back over, "But what can we do to stop the depression?"
The Professor smiled, "Why didn't you ask earlier, that is simple," the Professor dug through his pockets, "Tell every Vampire to take two of these and call... Bill in the morning."
The Inspector took the bottle from the Professor, "What are these?"
"Aunt Marple's Miracle Mix-Great for late night Coffin Depression."
The Professor shrugged, "Aunt Marple von Carpworth may not have known how to spell well, but she sure did make a mean brew... They always came in handy for many uses... just be ready with the puns!"
The rest of the group moaned. The Professor walked away humming.
2 'The Applied Study of the Color Neon Pink and its Relations to the Mentality of the Average Person when under Stress or Abnormal Chromatological Pressures including, but not limited to: Blue Deprivation, Blue Inferiority Complex, Silver Morphological Condition, and the Cyanocold Virus'; the Professor was grading on amount of content this grading period. Back