by Mark Allan Gunnells

He moved through the night like a shadow. Unseen, unheard. His black clothing helped him blend in with the darkness. The night had a voice,and he listened to it whispering all of its sinister secrets.

The monsters were on the prowl tonight, stalking the unsuspecting, feasting on the weak and vulnerable. Hunters in search of prey. Only tonight the hunters were being hunted, even if they didn’t yet know it.

He had a name, but his name wasn’t important. He was a Warrior, dedicated to battling the monsters and sending them back to whatever hell they had crawled out of. It was his duty, and he would not fail.

The night was the dominion of the monsters. By necessity, he had become a creature of the night as well. He slept through the daylight hours,rising at nightfall to hunt the monsters and destroy them. As long as they haunted the night in search of innocent blood, he would never rest.

He came armed with all the weapons he would need. Crosses, garlic, holy water, stakes whittled to lethal points. The tools of his trade, the accoutrements of a true Warrior. He nightly put his own life in jeopardy for the sake of others, but he considered himself no hero. He was merely doing what had to be done. He had to take a stand to stave off the wave of darkness that threatened to overtake the world.

Even now, as he crouched behind a copse of shrubbery, scanning the deserted park, one of the monsters approached, shambling down the bicycle path. It did not notice him, the blood-lust in its eyes blinding it to his presence. Saliva dripped from its glistening fangs, and its eyes burned the dull red of smoldering coals. It was an abomination, an animated corpse driven by unholy fury, its only instinct to maim and kill. But he was ready for it.

He waited until the monster was only a foot away, its ghostly pale skin highlighted by a nearby street lamp, then he pounced. He moved quickly, his movements fluid and graceful. Grabbing the monster around the neck, he pulled it to the ground and straddled it, pinning it down with his body. The monster had once been female, perhaps even beautiful, but its features had been twisted and deformed into an inhuman mask of rage and hatred. It hissed and clawed at him, trying to dislodge him and attempting to squirm free. At one point, he thought he was going to lose the struggle and be toppled, leaving himself vulnerable to attack,but then he kneed the monster in the pelvis, temporarily subduing it,and made his move. He pulled his stake, a baseball bat carved into a wicked spike, and went in for the kill.

It wasn’t as effortless as it was in the movies and on silly television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The stake didn’t slide in smoothly like a knife through butter, easily finding the heart. The breastbone was a tough shell to penetrate, but he had spent years developing his arm muscles,accumulating the necessary upper-body strength to get the job done. Still, it took more than one strike. He had to thrust the stake repeatedly into the monster’s chest before finally breaching the bone and plunging the wood into its heart. The monster stopped moving, the smoldering-ember glow dying from its eyes. Another victory, another monster destroyed before it could harm anyone else.

An unearthly screaming filled the air, and he looked up to find several monsters rushing him. Had he allowed himself to be led into a trap? They were encircling him, spitting curses at him, cutting off all means of escape. He took a vial of holy water and tossed it at a few of them,hoping to open enough of a gap to slip through, but the water had no effect on them. Was this a new, stronger breed?

His stake was still embedded in the dead monster’s chest. He grabbed it, placing afoot on the monster’s head, and yanked the weapon free. He lunged for the nearest of his attackers, but several hands grabbed him. He tried to reach the cross he wore around his neck, but they shackled his hands behind him, dragging him toward one of their hellish chariots, all screaming sirens and flashing lights. He struggled valiantly, but there were too many of them, and he was afraid his fight had finally come to an end.


“Who is this guy?” Officer Timmons asked, looking at the man in the back of the squad car. He was dressed all in black, and he was thrashing around, banging his head against the window. Timmons avoided looking at the corpse a few feet away.

Lieutenant Richards took a final drag on his cigarette then dropped it to the ground, crushing it out with his boot. “Don’t know. He has no identification on him, and he won’t give his name. Just keeps ranting about being some kind of warrior.”

“So you think this is the Van Helsing Killer?”

“Judging by what he did to that poor woman over there, I’d say he certainly fits the M.O.”

“So why do you think he did it? Killed all those people?”

“Who knows why these nut-jobs do the shit they do,” Richards said, shaking another cigarette out of the pack and lighting up. This case had made him into a chain-smoker. “Judging by how he killed his victims and the stuff we found on him, I’d say he really believes himself to be some kind of vampire slayer.”

Timmons risked a quick glance at the corpse then looked away. “So he really thinks his victims were vampires?”

“Would appear so. Like I said, a real nut-job.”

Timmons and Richards stood in silence, shaking their heads, while in the back of the squad car, the Warrior looked out at them and bided his time.


BIO: Mark Allan Gunnells is thirty-two years old and holds a degree in English and psychology. He has sold over fifty of his short stories to various markets. A small town boy at heart, he still lives in his hometown of Gaffney, SC, with his lover of five years.

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