Carl isn't mine, but I'm borrowing him for this story. Chapter one is from Mark Dawidziak's Interview with a Vampire? Great story. Do not miss that one. (Kolchak: The Night Stalker Chronicles put out by Moonstone, ISBN 1-933076-04-6)

CONNECTING THE DOTS

By SpunSilk

Part One


Those with the greatest awareness have the greatest nightmares.

Mahatma Gandhi


If I lived through this, I promised myself, I was coming back with a hammer and take out the clock, too. The ticking had almost driven me batty in my tense state. I clutched the hand-made stake with the fervor of a man drowning. No place to hide. I stood in the living room in the Collinsport "Old House" knowing full well what was coming for me. Doors and windows were locked, and I was stuck like a pig in a poke. A prisoner–– but I didn't have to be a passive prisoner. I had my level head, I had my stake – honed to a lethal point after hours of whittling.

I pressed myself against the wall next to the bookshelf and concentrated on slow, even breaths even as I heard the front door unlock and creak wide. Sure. Of course. Of course his door would creak. I almost smiled. Night air whipped through the antique room, then stopped dead again as the door closed, tight as a tomb.

He was here.

I had no cross. I had no mallet. But I had my stake behind my back and the will and the strength to drive it home. One shot. Cool head. Breathe...

He stepped calmly around the corner and stopped when he saw me. He wasn't large, but I knew that hardly mattered. His smile was slow and cold. He removed his cloak silently and hung it together with the silver-headed walking stick on the hat tree, unhurried. I knew he could hear my heart beating frantically. Cool head. Focus. You have it in you, Carl. You have no option but to succeed...

"Mr. Kolchak, a pleasure to finally meet you." His fangs peaked out when he smiled. "I trust you have been kept comfortable through the day?"

I did not reply. I knew what he was, and he knew I knew. For that, he had to kill me. And for that I had to kill him. Cool head. All in the timing...

His eyes narrowed and he approached me like a predator, cat-like in his movement, confident. My mutinous heart beat wildly even as I called for calm. I moved cautiously out past the polished book table; clear path now. Build momentum. I raised the stake over my shoulder. Go!

Before I got two strides in, strong arms wrestled my arms behind my back and something kicked my feet out from under me. I went down onto the floor with a flash of a feeling that this happened every time, just this way. My face landed hard on knotted wool. My jailer, Loomis, had appeared out of nowhere. He pulled me up as far as my knees, squeezing my elbows together painfully, but my stake never left my fist.

"That's enough, mister" he hissed through clenched teeth. He knelt down on my calves with one knee and I was suddenly as helpless as a trussed chicken.

Damn.

tick-tick-tick.

Collins approached slowly, his fangs showing only as subtile indentations in his lower lip. His face showed long years of emotion, plus regret for what he had to do now, but he approached me none the less. His purpose was clear, his manner unhurried. It was... inevitable...

My mind whirled. No. No. This was not what I had signed up for. Natural death was one thing, I figured I could handle that. But death by vampire was quite another. I grasped for straws.

"I have a request!" I blurted in blind panic. "Wait! A request! As a guest in your house, you owe me one request, sir!"

"What could he owe you? You just tried to take him down, you oaf." Loomis sneered.

"Surely you're big enough to grant a dying man one request!" I yelled.

"I am. Speak your request." Collins spoke calmly.

I was taken aback. Silence hung between us for a number of beats as I tried to get the words to come out. I was scared of what was about to happen, but even more terrified of what would happen after that. I took two deep breaths. The air seemed thicker than normal. He had to listen. He had to.

"Afterwards..." I pulled in thick air again, breathless with the effort of speaking these words. "Afterwards...I request that you...stake me. I have no desire to become... one of your putrid kind." I spat that last bit. "You can use this one here. I made it."

Yeah, I know. You could have cut the irony with a knife.

"Ah." he said, and then said nothing more.

I stared at the floor, specifically choosing not to look at him. "If you aren't allowed to do it for some reason, tell Loomis to. I need to know it will be done! Grant me this one thing and... I won't fight you."

"He doesn't need your co-operation."

"Willie, that's enough. Calm yourself, Mr. Kolchak. I agree to your request."

"Your word!" I looked him hard in the eye then and raised up, in spite of the sharp leg across my calves. "I want your word, sir! With Loomis as witness!"

"You have it, sir. You will not walk as the undead."

He had given his word. I collapsed back against Loomis' restraint, almost drunk with relief. It was over, then. The fight was over. I was almost okay with it. How much terror can one poor body handle, anyway?

"All right." I breathed. "All right." My death-grip on the stake loosened and it clattered to the wooden floor. The clock continued its infernal ticking, but now I panted for each second it marked. I steeled myself for the final task: raising my chin. It had never felt heavier, like all of Niagara Falls were rushing down on it to keep it from raising. I strained, and only managed an inch. Breathe. Work. This was always the hardest part. Two inches; almost there. The scene took on a surreal feeling, like I were watching it from some where else. Raise. Expose... Well done, Carl, now just...hold it there...

I closed my eyes tight.

"Make it fast." I said simply.

I heard him approach and felt cool breath nearby. A cold hand cradled the back of my neck, and he leaned close and inhaled deeply. I whimpered, but held the pose. Just force your way through this part, I told myself. Relief is close now...

For as long as it was in coming, the bite itself was incredibly swift. The cradling hand became a vice of amazing strength. I yelled and writhed involuntarily, but Loomis held me tight. I was almost grateful for his restraint –it removed me from the process– as I had to listen to the sounds of greedy swallows so close to my ear. My heart, in full treason, frantically pumped more blood toward the bite. It burned like Hades under his mouth and sharp pain reported from all around my body as arteries started to collapse––

I sat up with a cry, drenched in sweat, eyes wide in the light of my lamp. Familiar drab walls stood around me. I grabbed for my neck in panic. It was whole. My frazzled mind cleared enough for me to groan "Oh. That one." while groping for the crucifix I keep under my pillow, just to hold it. I wrapped my arms around my chest and fell over onto the bed in the fetal position, laying there shivering until my heart rate finally slowed to normal and the only pounding was in my head.