Willie, where are you?

Don't go there, Barnabas; it's not safe. Come home.

Willie was in the parlor, barefoot, wearing sweatpants and hoodie. A bottle of disinfectant and cotton balls were on the floor.

"What has happened?" Barnabas entered and hung up his cloak and cane. "Why are you burning your breeches?"

Willie sat in front of the fireplace poking his denim pants into the flames. "They got dogs now at the Tanner Farm—three of 'em—and there was a cop car in the driveway that turned on its headlights." He shuddered and jabbed harder at the timber. "Dunno if they gotta good look at the pickup, but I think maybe they did, and they'll come here. When they see my ripped jeans with blood on 'em, they'll know it was me."

"Were you injured?"

"Not too bad." Willie showed him the bite marks on his ankle and lower leg. The wounds stung a little but had, for the most part, stopped bleeding. "Mostly got my pants. Gotta scrub my sneakers next; they're fulla mud."

The servant was perplexed when Barnabas knelt on the floor beside him to give the injuries closer examination. He lifted Willie's leg slightly and drew it to his mouth.

"Hey, what the fuck—don't do that!" He pulled back, scooting across the floor and grabbed at his sweatpants which caught on the rug. The vampire clamped his hands around Willie's leg and ran his tongue along the young man's abrasions.

"Oh, shit—stop it!" He writhed and kicked until Barnabas grasped the boy's ankle and pulled sharply, intensifying the pain. Willie yelped.

"Hold still, you fool. When the authorities arrive tomorrow, you will have no marks, and there will be no evidence."

The servant sighed, "Okay." He collapsed onto the floor and squeezed his eyes shut. It still felt creepy.

Later, in the privacy of his room, Willie lit the oil lamp and checked out his damaged ankle. If he looked very carefully, he could have sworn he could see it healing, like a time-lapse sequence in a movie. Okay, that was cool, but Barnabas was just weird. You don't go around licking people's legs like that. That was not cool.

His energy spent, Willie threw some wood in the fireplace, exchanged his hoodie for a tee shirt, and crawled beneath the covers. Reaching to the small table next to his bed, he lowered the lamp's flame to provide a little night light. What a chicken shit he had become. The young thug had been to prison, gone up against pirates and gangsters, but now, after being holed up in a mausoleum for just a few days, all of a sudden he was terrified of the dark. He shuddered at the sounds of floorboards which creaked when there was no footfall, the rustling of wings in the attic, window panes that rattled against the hilltop wind, and unearthly moans that haunted the chimneys.

Just old house noises, Willie reassured himself as he drifted off to sleep. He was secretly relieved their farmyard adventures had come to an end. Perhaps the nightmares would stop now—the frantic, struggling cow, screaming for mercy, a makeshift leash tethering both the beast and the man as she ambled away, trampling Willie, or dragging him through the mud. Even death would bring no peace to the animal, as she would rise again to seek revenge. Beside her was another cow, and another—all staring at their assailant with hatred and accusation.

No more cows. No more cows—but what would the alternative be? Gotta think about that… tomorrow…

The fire must have gone out—and the lamp. But, as the room came into focus, the servant realized Barnabas' silhouette hovering over his bed, eclipsing the light. Startled into a state somewhere between nightmare and consciousness, Willie yelled, scrambled back and became tangled in the bedcovers when he hit the wall.

"No!" he hollered as Barnabas seemed to fly towards him and, grasping his forearms, pinned him to the wall, where he struggled fiercely at the injustice. "Sanctuary! Sanctu—ary!"

Willie drew up his knees to push him away with violent thrusts but, undaunted, Barnabas drew him close and twisted the young man's wrists to fling him back onto the mattress, securing his arms at either side. Willie's cry of desperation echoed through the empty house.

"Wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?" The vampire referred to their earlier encounter in the parlor. "I have not fed this evening."

"I don't care! This is MY room—!"

Barnabas continued to restrain his victim. "And you thought what? That here you would be safe from me?" He smiled and licked his lips.

"It—it's mine; you can't—come in here!"

He bucked and kicked harder, like a wild animal, and with a fury that even knocked Barnabas off balance. The vampire grew tired of this game, and his initial expression of bloodlust changed to that of irritation. He lifted Willie up and flipped him over, sending him face down on the bed. Barnabas held him still and spoke softly in the boy's ear.

"You are my slave, to use as I will. You have no rights. You own nothing." The vampire sank his fangs into Willie's neck.

The young man wanted to pass out afterwards, but he didn't. That gray, fuzzy feeling was there, but not enough to overcome conscious thought. The vampire stood across the room fingering his servant's possessions—what he had thought were his possessions. His master smiled and spoke genteelly, but Willie couldn't decipher most of what was being said. His hands were bound to the rails of the brass headboard and, as he struggled to turn onto his back, tangled his oversized sweat pants and twisted the rope so that they dug painfully into his wrists.

"What are you doing? There's nothing to bind you there." Willie brought down his arms, staring at them, unfocused. It had been an illusion. The vampire smiled, almost apologetically. "Calm yourself; that's just one of my little amusements."

Barnabas continued to chat as he perused the letters in the desk, recounting various incidents from Willie's past, some of which the young thief didn't remember, and none of which he wished to share.

"What a confidence artist you were, but we change, don't we? We all change." Willie nodded as his eyelids drooped and he started to slip from consciousness.

"I asked you a question." Barnabas had returned to the servant's bedside. "Where did you learn the word sanctuary?"

"I dunno," he mumbled, "from a movie—comic book, maybe. Ugly guy lives in a hunchback. I mean old church."

"I'm not familiar with it, I'm afraid. Yes, churches are known to provide sanctuary but, you see, you do not live in a church."

He patted Willie's arm with what looked like affection, and closed the door gently as he left.

No, I live in hell.