A restaurant in rural Ohio holds a terrible secret.
Blake Lewis belched noisily as he flicked the cap of his beer bottle at Vincent Chang’s head. Blake was slouched across the back seat of the rental car—a Chevy Malibu that Chang and Tony would have to make presentable before they returned it to Hertz. As always, Blake was unabashed about his disdain for his two subordinates. Hence the ridicule—as if the other two men could redeem themselves only by serving as objects of torment.
Chang flinched as the beer bottle twist cap ricocheted off his ear. He nevertheless managed to keep his attention on the dark rainy highway ahead of him. The cap projectile had not been entirely unexpected. It was the third such volley that Blake had launched since they left Detroit and began their southward trek into Ohio. Chang had lost count of the number of beers that Blake had consumed. Like all of them, Blake would know that drinking on a business trip was a violation of company policy. But Blake considered himself above this sort of petty regulation.
“Tony, what the hell time is it?” Blake demanded.
“A little past six o’clock,” Tony said after consulting the digital readout in the Malibu’s instrument panel. Tony was seated beside Chang in the front passenger seat.
“And how much longer till we reach Cincinnati?”
“We’re still way north of Dayton,” Chang replied. He did not remind Blake that Dayton was an hour north of Cincinnati. His boss would—or should—be able to do the math.
Blake let out a long sigh from the back seat, prompting Chang and Tony to wonder what would come next. Blake’s mercurial mood swings made his behavior difficult to predict under the best of circumstances. But he was especially irritable on business trips.
“That means we’re still hours from home. We’ve got to stop and eat,” Blake announced. He sat up, took a swig from his beer bottle and loosened his tie. “I haven’t eaten since that lunch with the Ford people. And that sucked big time. That salmon tasted like shit.”
“There will be a lot of restaurants in Dayton,” Chang proffered. He had hoped to drive straight through to Cincinnati so that he might have a late dinner at home with his wife. But he knew that Blake wouldn’t put the matter to a vote. Every word that the boss spoke was to be regarded as ex cathedra—even if the subject was dinner. Chang would be dining tonight with Tony and Blake.
“I’ll stop as soon as soon as we reach the northern suburbs of Dayton,” Chang said.
“I don’t want to wait until Dayton,” Blake said. “I’m hungry now.”
Chang furtively glanced over at Tony, who rolled his eyes in commiseration. This was just Blake being Blake again.
If Blake wanted to eat in the middle of nowhere, then so be it. But Chang couldn’t make a restaurant materialize from the surrounding farmland. They were driving down I-75, which cut through the entire north-south length of Ohio. This particular portion of the Buckeye State was mind-numbingly flat and mostly rural, the southern fringes of the decaying Great Lakes rust belt. Driving south from Detroit to Cincinnati, there were few significant towns between Toledo, on the Michigan-Ohio state line, and Dayton, in the middle of Ohio.
They passed a green and white reflectorized highway sign that read:
Exit 167: Wallachia
“What’s in Wallachia?” Blake asked.
“No idea,” said Chang. “Tony, you ever been to Wallachia?”
“Remember, I’m from Atlanta,” Tony said. “I know northern Ohio about as well as I know Mongolia.”
“Well,” Blake said. “There’s bound to be something there. A Wendy’s or a Denny’s at the very least.”
“I don’t know, Blake,” Chang said. “Wallachia is probably a two-stoplight town with nothing but a gas station or two. You sure you don’t want to wait until Dayton?”
“What did I just say?” Blake asked. “Why do you guys always make me repeat myself? Turn off when you come to the Wallachia exit.”
Chang said nothing but he knew that he would do as Blake had ordained. He silently fumed at the vagaries of corporate life. Chang had enjoyed his job as a sales representative at Digital Datamation until two months ago, when Blake Lewis was suddenly and unexpectedly promoted to sales manager. Then everything had changed and his job satisfaction had taken a nosedive.
Blake had been a mere flunky in the sales department for the better part of three years. No one would have predicted his rise in the company. He had spent most of his time at work bragging about his college football days and his weekend carnal conquests. He also spent a lot of time on the Internet.
Then one day Blake had mentioned a new carnal conquest—a twenty-five-year-old named Julie Porter. Ms. Porter wasn’t just any young woman; she was the daughter of Nick Porter—Digital Datamation’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
As the relationship progressed, so progressed the career of Blake Lewis. After the engagement was announced, Nick Porter began inviting Blake into his office for impromptu, back-slapping chats. Chang had tried to ignore the signs of the impending nepotistic coup. But after the wedding it was more or less a fait accompli. Blake returned from his honeymoon with a blustering air of assumed authority. Within six months, daddy-in-law Nick pulled the necessary strings and made it official.
And now Chang, Tony, and three other salespersons found themselves beneath Blake Lewis on the company organization chart. Blake still spent a lot of time blathering about his college football days. And if rumors could be believed, he still indulged in the occasional carnal conquest, his marriage to Julie (nee Porter) Lewis notwithstanding.
Blake noisily opened a copy of USA Today. “Did you hear about all the lamebrain stuff President Obama has been doing?” he asked. Chang glanced in the rearview mirror and noted that Blake was staring pointedly at Tony. “Man, Obama really sucks, you know that, Tony?”
Tony grunted noncommittally. He was well aware of Blake’s assumption that all African-Americans were rabid supporters of Barack Obama. He might have told his boss (not for the first time) that he hadn’t even voted for Barack Obama. Nor was he a devotee of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or similar demagogues who presumed to speak for all African-Americans.
But Tony decided not to waste the effort on Blake.
“Here we are,” Chang announced as he turned on to the exit ramp. The ramp took them around a sharp loop that descended onto a two-lane country highway.
A roadside sign told them that Wallachia was just a few miles ahead. The same sign told them that Wallachia was home to only 3,500 souls. It would be a waste of time to drive into town, unless they planned on eating in some farmer’s kitchen. Besides, eateries on rural exits were always clustered near the interstate.
“How about here?” Tony asked. He was referring to the truck stop that was coming up on their right. The truck stop was a rectangular block of lights and windows in the middle of a vast parking lot. It included a diner that hinted at chicken-fried steak, a checkerboard tiled floor, and silver-haired, chain-smoking waitresses named “Pearl” and “Louise.”
“Not on your life,” Blake said. “No way I’m eating at a greasy spoon like that. I’d sooner take my chances with road kill.”
“Well, what other choice do we have?” Chang asked. The truck stop was like a struggling outpost of civilization in this particular corner of Sticksville. There weren’t many customers: only two rigs and three cars worth.
Without answering Chang, Blake shouted out, “Hey, Chinese!”
What’s he talking about? Chang thought. He was going to ask Blake for a clarification when he saw the red neon sign that read “Mei-Hua Chinese Restaurant”. It was a little ways past the truck stop on the same side of the road.
“Are they even open?” Tony said. “I don’t see any lights inside the building.”
“They’re open,” Blake said. “You see the sign, right? Vincent, swing us on in to the ‘Mei-hua’. I’m gonna have Peking duck tonight.”
Chang drove past the truck stop as ordered and switched on the right turn signal. The unpaved gravel parking lot of the Mei-hua was empty of cars. The Malibu dipped as one of the front tires descended into a depression in the ground. It was probably a rain gully running right through the middle of the parking lot.
“They could take better care of their lot,” Tony observed.
“Yeah, well, the restaurant itself is no prize either,” Chang said. He parked the rental car and killed the engine.
The neon sign mounted near the roof of the restaurant bathed the rain-streaked windshield of the Malibu in red light. If Chang had been a betting man, he would have wagered that the building that housed the Mei-Hua had been a honky-tonk or a country barbeque restaurant in a past life.
The outer walls were covered with weathered wooden planks that were shedding old paint and splinters. In the middle of a little strip of landscaping along the front, half of an antique-style wagon wheel protruded from the soil. It had been cut to give the appearance that the missing half was submerged in the ground. This would have been a nice decorative touch, if not for the continuing theme of neglect and disrepair. Two of the spokes of the wagon wheel were missing. An overgrown but now dead rosebush formed a thorny cage around the portion that remained.
Chang saw that there was indeed light inside the Mei-Hua—though not much. The blinds covering all of the front windows were framed by a pale golden glow that escaped around the edges.
“Hey Chang, think any of your relatives work here?” Blake asked.
Chang ignored the sarcastic question. The Mei-Hua made him uneasy. It didn’t belong here: a Chinese restaurant in a run-down building in the middle of nowhere. There was no way a rural Ohio town of 3,500 could support a Chinese restaurant like this. And the owners didn’t seem to be going out of their way to flag down traffic from the interstate. No wonder the place was empty.
“Well, what are you guys waiting for, the valet parking attendant?” Blake asked, pushing open the back passenger’s side door. “Didn’t I say I was hungry? Do I need to paint you a picture?”
Chang and Tony wordlessly exited the Malibu and followed Blake. They shivered against the rain and the late September night air. The front door of the Mei-Hua bore a sign that said: “Yes, we’re open!” and then the word “Welcome” in both English and Chinese characters. A little bell tinkled overhead as they pushed the front door open and passed through the threshold.
Once inside, they all stared at the dragon.
It was a carved, jade-colored monstrosity, a green beast hewn from stone and polished to glistening perfection. The statue of the dragon dominated the vestibule. Poised on its haunches, the dragon was nearly as tall as any one of them. Its mouth hung open, revealing rows of long, sharp-looking teeth.
“Whoa,” Blake said. “Wicked! I wouldn’t mind having that in my living room.”
“The thing looks ready to pounce,” Tony said, noting the tension that the sculptor had crafted into its sinuous, glassine muscles. “But those eyes—they’re what really grabs me.”
Reflected firelight flickered and cast dancing shadows within the dragon’s hollow eye sockets. There must have been a cavity in the back of the statue’s head where a candle could be inserted. The illuminated eye sockets made Chang think of a jack-o-lantern.
They were so busy examining the dragon that they almost didn’t see the old man sitting in the corner. He was perched on a stool behind the cash register and front counter—a diminutive, withered figure with Asian features and skin like dried parchment. The old man was wearing a plain white dress shirt and dark trousers.
“Can I help you gentlemen?” he asked in heavily accented English.
“A table for three, please,” Chang said.
The old Chinese man stepped down from his stool and removed three menus from beneath the counter. He could not have been taller than five-five or five-six. He pushed his way through a curtain made of hanging beads and led them into the main dining area. It was a dimly lit room with threadbare red carpet and perhaps twenty empty tables.
They were apparently not the first customers of the evening. A kitchen worker was clearing the plates from one of the tables. Chang guessed the “busboy” to be in his early forties. Although no longer a youth, he had a flat stomach and wiry muscles. He was dressed in black trousers and a neatly pressed white shirt, just like the old man.
One thing about this fellow struck Chang as odd: his hairstyle. Tony noted it, too.
“I’ve never actually seen a Chinese man with a shaved head and braid,” Tony whispered as they walked by. “I’ve seen it in old pictures; but I’ve never actually seen it in person.”
“That’s because it’s out of date,” Chang explained. “Chinese men haven’t worn the queue since the late nineteenth century. During the Qing Dynasty. A long time ago.”
When the middle-aged busboy finished clearing away the plates onto his wheeled kitchen cart, he pulled up the tablecloth to take away as well. Chang gasped: a dark red substance was smeared into the white linen.
He turned to Tony.
“No, it couldn’t be.”
Chang considered casually asking the busboy if the last patron had cut himself on a steak knife or something—maybe make a joke of the question. But there was no way to broach the topic without sounding paranoid and suspicious, so he quickly dropped the idea.
And it couldn’t have been blood, anyway. Ridiculous!
The old man directed them to a table in the center of the dining room. He laid down their menus and informed them that their waitress would be along shortly.
Chang was still thinking about the soiled tablecloth as they took their seats and began perusing the offerings of the Mei-Hua Chinese Restaurant.
(It couldn’t have been blood!)
And then Blake made him temporarily forget all about the dark red smears.
“Vincent,” Blake said with his nose still buried in the menu. “That was kind of a weak performance on your part today.”
Chang reddened but held his voice steady. “What are you referring to, Blake?”
Blake dropped his menu on the table. “I’m talking about your sales presentation. All that engineering jargon—you kept going on about SQL this and terabyte that. You were putting them to sleep.”
Chang struggled to maintain his composure. He could not simply tell Blake that he was an over-inflated mediocrity who rose to power only by boffing and then opportunistically marrying the VP’s daughter. Chang thought about his own marriage, his young daughter, and his mortgage. He needed this job.
But he couldn’t simply roll over and accept an unjust criticism, either.
“Blake. Digital Datamation sells data mining solutions to large corporations. Our audience today at Ford was the information systems group. They wanted to hear that ‘engineering jargon.’”
Blake shook his head. “Look Vincent, do you know what we are? Do you know what we do? Do you?”
“We’re supposed to be technical sales people. We propose solutions to our clients’ problems and—”
“Wrong, Vincent. Wrong. We’re hunters. We kill things.”
“You’re saying we’re supposed to ‘kill’ the customers?”
“No. I’m saying that the customers are prey. Targets. Marks. That means you have to be more aggressive when you give a sales presentation, instead of rambling on like a university professor. ABC, man. Always be closing.”
Chang knew that Blake had picked up the acronym ABC (“always be closing!”) at an executive sales seminar only this past week. Chang decided to play a trump card, although he knew that it was a risky move.
“I wonder,” Chang said. “What Nick Porter thinks about this topic.”
There. Chang had said it. Nick Porter might be Blake’s father-in-law, but he didn’t get to be Vice President of Sales and Marketing by being a superficial dolt. Chang could not allow himself to believe that. Moreover, Nick Porter had promoted Blake with his daughter’s future in mind. Unethical as that was, it was understandable from a father’s perspective. But surely he could be trusted to rein in his son-in-law when the self-important whelp went too far.
“Actually,” said Blake. “Nick Porter and I have already discussed this. And he agrees with me. There are going to be some changes in the department.”
“What do you mean by that?”
They all paused as a scream arose from an unseen section of the restaurant. It was a long, agonized scream, likely from a masculine source.
The scream stopped suddenly, as if cut off or forcibly muffled. They waited for a second scream, or any other sound. A scream should not occur in isolation, with no context to explain it. A scream was usually connected to other events.
After they had waited in silence for the better part of a minute, Tony said in a loud whisper: “I think that came from the kitchen.”
Chang recalled the dark red smears that he had seen on the tablecloth.
“And I think we should leave,” he said. “There’s something about this restaurant that I don’t like. Something’s wrong here.”
“We’re not going anywhere,” Blake said. “Not until I’ve had my Peking duck. And how do you know something’s wrong here? You haven’t even tasted the food yet. So one of the cooks cut his finger on a butcher knife and he yelped. That’s all there is to it.”
Chang was about to protest when their waitress approached. She was a Chinese woman in late middle age. Her black hair was pulled into a tight bun behind her head. She was wearing too much blue eye shadow.
Chang started to ask her about the scream but Blake waved him silent. He was hungry, after all. They placed their orders. Chang ordered moo goo gai pan. Tony asked for the sweet-and-sour pork. And Chang wanted to strangle Blake as he ordered Peking duck.
“What do those characters mean?” Tony asked hurriedly as soon as the waitress departed. Tony had no doubt been uncomfortable during the heated exchange between his boss and his colleague, Chang figured. Tony was pointing to the brass-plated plaque on the far wall. The plaque was large and round, decorated not only with Chinese characters, but with depictions of dragons, and several creatures that defied classification.
“You can read Chinese characters, can’t you, Vincent?” Tony asked.
Chang nodded. “I’m a little rusty. But yes, I can, more or less.” Chang’s family had emigrated to the U.S. from China when he was only eight years old.
“It’s a coat-of-arms for a sanhehui,” Chang explained. Then, when Tony gave him a puzzled look, he elaborated. “A triad. A secret society.”
“You mean—like a criminal gang?” Tony asked.
“Not all triads are criminal in nature,” Chang said. “But some of them are.”
“Is that all it says?”
Chang read the remaining characters on the coat-of-arms, squinting because it was some distance away. When he grasped the full meaning of the characters, he felt his stomach lurch. He read the inscription again to make sure that he had not made a mistake.
Then he spoke quietly to Blake and Tony:
“We have to get out of here, guys.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Blake said. “What the heck could that thing say that could be so bad?”
Chang didn’t want to reveal what he had read. Blake would accuse him of being an idiot or worse. And that would give him more ammunition to use the next time he had one of his private conversations with Nick Porter. Blake hadn’t explained exactly what “changes” were in store for the sales department; but one thing was certain: the changes weren’t going to favor Chang.
Nevertheless—the risk of keeping silent was enormous, too. They could not remain here.
“Let’s just say it’s something bad,” Chang finally said.
“’Ancient Chinese secret’ huh?” Blake said with a singsong lilt. “Sounds like pure bullshit to me. Even if that thing does belong to some criminal gang, or Chinese commies, or whatever, they’re no threat to us. Not here, not now.”
“There’s more to it than you know, Blake.”
Blake appeared not to have even heard him. “Once when I was in Detroit,” he went on. “I ate at the very restaurant where Jimmy Hoffa was last seen alive. The place was a mafia hangout, I tell you. And nothing happened to me. Nothing. Which is exactly what is going to happen to us here. Nothing. We’re going to eat dinner, and then we’re going to get in that rental car and drive home to Cincinnati. That’s all there is to it.”
Blake smacked his palm against the tablecloth. Then he said to Tony:
“Tony, what the hell are you gawking at?”
Tony was gazing away from the table as if in a trance. Before he could answer, the sound of feminine laughter made Blake and Chang turn in the same direction.
On the far side of the dining room was a darkened doorway that led into another part of the restaurant, perhaps a spillover dining room or a section for private parties. Three young women stood in the wide space of the doorway. Each was wearing a traditional Chinese dress, or qipao.
“Damn!’ said Blake. “Those three are a sight better than the old bag who waited on us.”
The three women were making beckoning gestures. One of them spoke and giggled impishly at the table full of men.
“What did she say?” Blake asked Chang. “Come on, man. Translate!”
Chang shook his head. “I don’t know. She’s speaking in an old rural dialect. Nobody under the age of a hundred would understand it.”
“What are you saying?” Blake demanded. “Those women are all in their early twenties.”
Tony started to stand up from the table and Chang grabbed his arm and yanked him back down.
“No!” Chang said.
“But they’re so beautiful,” Tony protested. He had a dreamy expression on his face. Tony held a degree in electrical engineering; but at this moment he was like a child. “She told me that I should come to them. Then they could all kiss me and make me feel….so good.”
Blake snorted. “Sounds like Tony understands that ‘old rural dialect’ just fine.”
Ignoring Blake for the moment, Chang leaned across the table and slapped Tony across the cheek.
“Ouch! What did you do that for?” Tony shouted.
Tony was angry; but at least he had broken eye contact with the three women. He had also snapped out of his trance.
“To save your life. And maybe more. Listen to me: Don’t look into their eyes. That’s how they get you.”
Tony reappraised the three women, heeding Chang’s warning not to stare directly into their eyes. When the one in the center opened her mouth, Tony noted her long, canine incisors, and the thin trail of drying blood that ran from one corner of her mouth down to her chin.
She spoke to him. But this time he heard only incomprehensible Chinese.
“Oh my God,” Tony said. “When she spoke just a minute ago, she was speaking in the voice of this girl I had a crush on in high school and—“
“What’s wrong with you guys?” Blake said. “Are you afraid of girls now? Why don’t you go over and talk to them, Tony? Vincent’s got the excuse of the ball-and-chain at home; but you’re single. No reason to be shy.”
“Blake, you don’t get it, do you?” Tony said. “They’re—they’re—“
“They’re women!” Blake fairly yelled. “Now I see why neither one of you can make a sales presentation like a man. Neither of you is a hunter. And being a hunter starts with sex!”
Tony and Chang looked at each other in amazement. They both suddenly realized: Blake hadn’t yet grasped the situation. The women might have gotten through his defenses somehow. Or perhaps Blake was simply that dense.
“No, no, Blake. Vincent’s right; we need to get out of here!”
“Oh, that’s just great!” Blake shouted. “Now you want to leave, too. Admit it, you guys were pissed off about coming here in the first place, and now you’re trying to come up with any lame excuse to leave, because you don’t want old Blake to get his Peking duck. You wanted to eat at that stupid truck stop!”
“No,” Tony said. “You’ve got it all wrong.”
“Tony,” Blake said in cool, deliberate voice. “Aren’t you black guys supposed to be smooth with the ladies?”
“Blake, this hardly the time—“ Tony began.
“Is there something more I should know about you, Tony, my man? You’re not—you’re not a faggot or something, are you?”
“Go to hell, Blake.”
Blake pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. “I’ll have your job for that little remark,” he said. “You guys either don’t like girls, or you’re afraid of girls. So I’ll have to do the honors for all of us.”
“Blake, stop!” Chang shouted. “Let me tell you what that coat-of-arms really says.”
“I’ve had enough ancient Chinese secrets for one day, Vincent. Yo, ladies, the Blakeman is coming.”
Tony and Chang watched Blake stroll across the room to where the three women were waiting. As Blake closed the distance between them and stepped into their midst, they dropped their feminine postures. The three women became like wolves, crowding around him with bared teeth and grasping hands.
“Hey,” Blake said to one of them. “Your hands are ice cold.”
In the final few seconds, Blake understood everything, but by then it was too late. He screamed as the women dug their fangs into his throat, restraining him with the strength of ten men.
“We can’t help him,” Chang said to Tony.
“No,” Tony acknowledged.
“Let’s get out of here.”
When they rushed out of the restaurant they encountered the old man again. But he was not alone and he was no longer quite as old.
The old man was on the floor, leaning over a slightly overweight, fiftyish man clad in a business suit. Chang surmised that this might be the customer whose blood had been smeared on the tablecloth.
The fallen man’s white dress shirt was spattered with blood; the region around the collar was drenched in red liquid.
The old Chinese man dipped his head and placed his mouth to an open wound on the victim’s neck. He glanced up when Chang and Tony hustled by. The old man now looked thirty years younger than he had earlier. His wrinkles were all but gone. His previously patchy white hair was now thick and black.
The Chinese man bared his incisors at Chang and Tony and growled. The resulting snarl summoned thoughts of wolves and other predators that civilization had mostly eliminated. The sound could not have been produced by human vocal chords.
One of the customer’s wing-tipped feet jerked.
“Keep moving,” Chang said as he shoved Tony forward. There’s nothing more we can do here.”
On the way out they both glanced at the statue of the dragon that had earlier impressed them so much. The dragon’s blank eyes still flickered with candlelight.
“What are we going to do?” Tony asked Chang when the Wallachia exit was about thirty miles behind them. “We have to tell someone—someone in authority—what happened.”
As before, Chang was in the driver’s seat of the Chevrolet Malibu and Tony was riding shotgun.
The back seat was empty.
“We’ll need to come up with a cover story,” Chang said at length.
“But Vincent, you saw what happened to Blake. You saw the man in the front of the restaurant. They’ve been killed…”
“By vampires,” Chang finished the thought for him, uttering the word that both of them had avoided until this point. “And what do you think the state police will say when we tell them what we saw? Let alone the local yokel cops in Wallachia, Ohio.”
Since Tony did not know about the triad whose coat-of-arms had been hanging in the restaurant, Chang took some time to fill in the details. He told Tony that residents of China’s rural Anhui province had whispered about a secret society of the undead for centuries. Chang told him how the triad habitually ensnared its victims: They made deserted buildings and caves look like inns and taverns, using a combination of earthly artifice and black magic. Then, when they had taken their quota in a given location, they dismantled their temporary lairs and moved on.
“So you’re saying that really wasn’t a restaurant?” Tony asked.
Chang smiled ironically. “It was for as long as they needed it to be,” he said. “But if someone stopped by there tomorrow, they’d likely find nothing but a deserted building, or an empty warehouse, or an old barn.”
“So we’ll have to say that we stopped at the truck stop and Blake took off and we never saw him again,” Chang said. “It sounds a little farfetched, but people disappear like that all the time.”
“Just like Jimmy Hoffa,” Tony added, recalling Blake’s mention of the infamous restaurant in Detroit.
“I’m not happy about doing it this way; but we don’t have any choice, do we? And there’s nothing we can do for Blake now.”
On the subject of Blake, Chang knew that that there was more that Tony needed to hear and understand; but it could wait a day or two.
They had always regarded Blake Lewis as a nightmare of a boss; and now that metaphor would take on a more literal meaning. The victims of the undead do not sleep; they return to claim victims of their own. And the nosferatu habitually prey on those they knew in life. Chang and Tony would therefore need to take precautions. If possible, they would also need to anonymously warn Nick Porter and his daughter, Julie. This last item would be difficult, of course. The Porters would dismiss any such warning as a hoax or a cruel joke.
I’ll address those questions tomorrow, Chang thought. He tried to push away the enormity of what he had witnessed, if only for a while. Tonight he would have a late dinner at home with his wife. Then he would watch his daughter sleep for a few minutes from the doorway of her bedroom.
“The Vampires of Wallachia” is included in the collection Hay Moon and Other Stories: Sixteen Modern Tales of Horror and Suspense