Conrad Achenleck did not consider himself to be a particularly interesting person. His mother used to insist he was "different" during the lectures he'd received in numerous psychiatric waiting rooms as a kid, but apart from a collection of tediously tended personality flaws and neuroses, he fit snugly in the category of upper middle class mediocrity. That is, until the night that damned vampire showed up.

He never did figure out exactly how the little monster got in. However, splayed out on the couch with a book dangling limp from one hand, he probably hadn't been hard to sneak past that evening. Sometime around eight his hand drifted close enough to the panel flooring for the book to graze its glossy surface and tip out of his grasp. He sat up with a faint grunt, nudging his glasses up to rub one eye tiredly. He scooped up his book from the floor, frowning at it before tossing it on the coffee table.

"Great, now I lost my page," he muttered to the vacant room. With all the time he spent alone in his condo, it came as no surprise that he resorted to talking to himself on occasion.

But as it turned out the room he was addressing wasn't quite as vacant as he thought. "You'll live... perhaps."

Conrad cringed, searching the darkness for a source. "W-who's there?"

Something small and roughly kitten sized shot past his head on fluttering wings. In the near-darkness lit only by his laptop's screen saver he couldn't tell what had just taken a dive past his face, but instinct told him it was a bat so he reacted accordingly.


He dove into a closet, clutching his head protectively with one hand and yanking the door shut with the other. The tight space grew more uncomfortable by the second as his quickened breathing steamed up the tiny compartment's atmosphere. He reached around until his hand found a broom handle, only then cautiously stepping out of hiding. A voice laughed cruelly somewhere in the darkness.

Conrad gripped the broom tighter and backed toward the kitchen. As he neared the light switch, the bat launched a fly-by attack, raking his arm painfully.

"Don't touch that!" The small voice scolded.

"Okay, okay! Y- just call off the pet bat already-"

"I am the bat, you twat."

Conrad just blinked at that. Then he narrowed his eyes suspiciously and flipped the light switch with the broom handle. Not the best move, but it did reveal that the room was empty- all but for a little purplish fuzzball now launching toward him from a ceiling fixture. This time, though, he could see what he was hitting and managed to sideswipe the thing, sending it skidding across his counter top.

Thinking fast, Conrad slammed a bowl down over the creature before it could get back up. Its claws scrabbled against the plastic for a moment, then stopped.

"Damn it..." The small voice spat, slightly muffled beneath the kitchenware. "Release me!"

Conrad stayed where he was, putting all his weight into leaning on the bowl. "No way," he said firmly. After catching his breath, he laughed a bit. "I must've finally snapped. This is... just... what kind of madness is this, huh? What the hell are you?"

"I'm disappointed you have to ask. Let me out and maybe I'll tell you."

"No. I don't care what you are- what are you doing in my house?" Conrad demanded.

"Getting chased around by a moron who is handy with a broom and a popcorn bowl, apparently."

"Rrgh... fine, if you won't tell me what's going on then you can tell it to the pol-" He hesitated, realizing the police didn't seem like who you'd call to take care of a smart mouthed bat. "To, um... the exterminators."

The bat just laughed, unimpressed.

Conrad growled a bit. "Have it your way, then." He looked around for something to set on top of the bowl, settling on his toaster. Then he proceeded to search the room for his cellphone. He'd last seen it near his desk in its usual place, and sure enough it was there. He browsed through a list of local exterminators as he shuffled quickly back to the kitchen, calling up the nearest one. No luck- they had closed their office at six. He dialed the next on the list, glancing back at the bowl. He did a double take, nearly dropping his phone. The bowl had moved.

"Shit!" He ran over, but it was clearly too late. The frustrating little rodent had pushed it just far enough over the edge of the counter to squeeze out. He heard a telltale scrabble and looked down just in time to see the bat disappear into one of the cupboards. He dropped to the floor and yanked open the cupboard, pulling out pans haphazardly to get at the stowaway.

Suddenly the drawer above flew open, catching him in the head. The bat snickered and hopped out of it, winging over to the light switch as Conrad scrambled noisily to his feet amidst the mess he'd just created. The lights went off, but only for a moment as Conrad reached the switch close behind.

He took up the broom again in mid-pursuit and, over the next thirty seconds, effectively trashed the living room trying to hit his target. He might've kept going, too, if the bat hadn't suddenly turned the offensive against him.

The miniscule monster dodged another would-be blow from the broom and wheeled around, shrieking furiously with its fangs bared and evilly slitted eyes aglow. The sight was so unsettling, Conrad stumbled backwards over his coffee table and crashed to the floor with the enraged critter right on top of him.

He managed to escape the scuffle and make a dash for his front door, though he was bruised from colliding with furniture and shredded by the little beast's surprisingly effective claws. He didn't dare look back, slamming the door shut behind him and continuing his escape down the hall. He had absolutely no intention of returning without backup. The glaring problem with that plan, of course, was figuring out who was going to believe him.

It took him a while, but after sitting on the steps outside the complex and browsing through several hundred Google search results on his phone he'd managed to narrow it down to one. Through all that googling he'd also been able to attach a fitting label to his pest problem- vampire. He was impressed a place that dealt with that sort of thing existed, or at least seemed to exist. He could only hope.

That hope faded when he pulled up outside the specialist's listed address. The look of the neighborhood left him hesitant to park his car, much less set foot outside of it at this time of night, but desperate situations called for a little risk. He already looked like he'd been mugged; maybe that would help.

He hurried up to the entryway. There wasn't the usual list of residences or a number pad like at his own building- just a single buzzer reminiscent of a cheap doorbell that had been painted over to match the brick work. He glanced nervously over his shoulder one last time before venturing to press it. While waiting, he hastily attempted to clear up some of the blood on his face with the tattered remains of his shirt... for what it was worth.

And then someone pulled open the door. Conrad blinked and took in the train wreck of a woman that now stood in the doorway. She was clad in a godawful blue nightgown that showed off far more mole dotted, leathery skin than he'd hoped never to see in his life. "Guhh- good evening," he choked out weakly to the nightmarish apparition.

"Well hiya, studmuffin." She lifted a cigarette from her thin lips to grin at him. "You lost?"

"Uh, n-no, not exactly. I'm... I'm here to see Hanna Cross." He silently prayed to whatever merciful deity might be listening that this woman was not the owner of that name.

"Another one? Well, okay- get in here." She held the door open wider and stepped back, letting him into the hall. "He is expectin' you, right?"

He? 'Hanna' wasn't a boy's name... Conrad relaxed nonetheless. "No, I'm here on some last minute business."

"Hmm." The hag frowned, looking him over. "Rough business."

"Huh? Oh. Yes."

"If you need to clean yourself up first, you can use my shower," she offered.

Conrad glanced back at the door, briefly considering escape. "No thanks, I'm good. If you just show me which door-"

"Sure thing." The woman wrapped her bony fingers around his arm and pulled him towards the stairs. Conrad protested loudly, but she just chuckled, cigarette bobbing in her mouth as they climbed to the second floor.

She stopped outside apartment 306, whose tarnished numbers looked in desperate need of re-application. Her captive squirmed out of her grasp to try to edge down the hall but was quickly nabbed by the collar. "Don't be shy, now," she mused, raising her other hand to rap on the door. The action sent the precariously attached number six clattering to the floor, but she was as unmoved by it as by Conrad trying to pull his shirt out of her grasp. "Falk? You in there?"