at all creeped out by this.” Starsky’s voice, crackling over the
walkie-talkie, was heavy with disapproval.
Hutch, cheerfully. He settled himself comfortably beneath his bush and sent silent
thanks, to whomever it was who arranged such things, that the evening was both warm and dry.
His walkie-talkie came
to life. “Hutch, it’s Halloween night, and we’re on stakeout
in a graveyard!”
Hutch pressed the transmit
The sound that came back
to him might have been interference, or it might have been a snort of disgust. “Okay,
smart guy. What do you think of ghosts?”
Hutch chuckled. “Even if ghosts were real, which they aren’t, why should I be afraid of something that’s
incorporeal? What’s it going to do?
Starsky didn’t respond
immediately, something which made Hutch chuckle even more. Got him, he thought smugly.
Then the radio sputtered
and he thought he heard an indistinct, but decidedly uncomplimentary, mutter.
“What was that?”
said Starsky sullenly. “Okay, but what about the living undead?”
asked Hutch, distracted by a branch digging into his back. Odd, he hadn’t
noticed it there before. He shuffled to one side, trying to find a better spot.
said Starsky, in what Hutch could only assume was intended to be a dreadful imitation of Bela Lugosi.
Hutch forgot about the
stick. He snickered. “Tell
me you’re not wearing garlic right now.”
There was a long pause. “I’m not wearing garlic right now,” recited Starsky, obediently.
“Okay, now tell me
the truth.” Hutch decided he might have to thank Huggy for the tip that
had led them to staking out this graveyard. He hadn’t been this entertained
“Well, so what if
I am! Better safe than sorry,” said Starsky indignantly. “Besides, you shouldn’t talk. You believe in Collandra.”
Hutch treated Starsky to
his most patronizing sigh. “Psychics are all about the untapped potential
of the human mind. Not the same thing at all.
And I thought we settled the debate about vampires last year.”
“No, what we settled
was that Rene Nadasy was a nutbar,” said Starsky in tones that had Hutch immediately visualizing his partner standing
very erect upon giant block letters spelling out the word ‘dignity’. “We
never established that real vampires don’t exist.”
“Vampires can’t exist,” said Hutch.
“Because-!” Hutch cut himself off. Arguing wasn’t
going to get him anywhere, but maybe if he tried logic…? Even Starsky couldn’t
dispute hard logic. “What happens when you get bit by a vampire?”
“You turn into a
vampire, obviously!” Starsky said, scornfully.
“Right, and how often
do you figure vampires need to feed? Every night?
Once a week? Let’s say once a month just to be on the conservative
said Starsky, dubiously.
Hutch resisted the urge
to rub his hands together in gleeful satisfaction. Starsky was walking right
into his trap.
God, he loved logic.
“And to make the
math a little easier,” Hutch said. “We’ll say that vampires don’t start eating until January 1st
of the year they’re born... or made, or whatever you want to call it.”
“Just go with it,”
Another pause. Finally Starsky said, “Okay.”
“So we’ll say
in year one, the first vampire gets busy munching on humans. By the beginning
of year two, we have thirteen vampires - the original one and his twelve offspring.”
“Well, each of those
thirteen chows down, and by New Year’s Eve, we’re up to...” Hutch
did some rapid calculations in his head. “One hundred and fifty six vampires.”
“From one to one
hundred and fifty six in three years?”
“Yeah.” Hutch began patting his jacket pockets, trying to remember where he’d left his
notebook. “Hang on, I’m getting some paper and a pencil.” He put the walkie-talkie down on the ground.
The graveyard was silent,
except for the sound of distant traffic. It wasn’t particularly dark. Between the full moon, the city lights, and the pollution, the sky was a muddy yellowish
grey. Hutch didn’t try to count the visible stars. He knew it would only depress him, and besides he’d just located a pen in the lining of his jacket.
The walkie-talkie remained
silent while Hutch worked out his sums.
Hutch. “Year four has one thousand eight hundred and seventy two vampires,
and year five has twenty-two thousand four hundred and sixty four.”
Starsky groaned. “I see where this is going.”
“Year six... Two hundred and sixty nine thousand five hundred and sixty eight.”
“We’ll be up
to our necks in vampires,” said Starsky, acknowledging his inevitable defeat with good humor. “Coffin makers will become millionaires.”
“Within a decade
they’ll have wiped out the human race. Everyone will have become a vampire. And then we’ll all starve to death,” said Hutch.
Starsky sighed. “Basically, vampires can’t exist.”
“And neither can
zombies or ghouls or anything else like that.”
“Hey, wait a sec! I’ll give you zombies - maybe. But
ghouls just eat dead people. And dead animals.
Ghouls can definitely exist! Remember Monty and his chicken heads?”
Hutch rolled his eyes. “I thought he was a geek.”
“Geek, ghoul... it’s
all splitting hairs.”
not supernatural hairs, Starsk. Monty was human.” Hutch shook off a moment of doubt. Of course Monty was human. A creepy, disgusting excuse for a human being, true, but there was no way he could
have been anything else.
“Well, if we’re
talking humans, what about witches?” asked Starsky.
“Just an excuse for
the Puritans to persecute intelligent older women, and keep them downtrodden and ignorant of their intrinsic human empowerment.”
“Uh... Abby been
reading those books on feminism again?”
“I’m all for
empowering women, Starsky.”
“Right. In bed.”
Hutch wasn’t sure
he’d heard Starsky right. “What did you say?”
said Starsky, quickly. “So, a graveyard...?”
“Is just a place
to store dead bodies,” said Hutch, confidently. “Dead, meaning not
alive, meaning most definitely not standing up and walking around scaring people.”
suddenly crackled urgently. “Heads up!” whispered Starsky. “Someone’s coming!”
^v^ ^v^ ^v^
The tiny, blonde - and
extremely perky - cheerleader gave the two of them a friendly wave before running off down the road, clutching her sharpened
There was silence in the
graveyard. The two detectives stared at the small pile of ashes rapidly dispersing
in the wind.
said Starsky, tentatively. “Did you see...?”
Hutch flatly. “No, we didn’t see anything!”
Starsky turned to look
at him then, his expression troubled. “But, Hutch...”
“No!” Hutch was emphatic. The graveyard was
empty. There was nothing but moonlight on the gravestones.
Beside him, he heard Starsky
swallow. Then he said, “I think this was a bad tip.”
bet Huggy’s laughing at us right now.” Hutch felt a surge of
relief. Obviously they couldn’t have seen what they thought they’d
just seen. It was nothing more than a momentary delusion, brought on by too much
discussion of spooky things. And Huggy was a big fat jive turkey.
Starsky, uncertainly. “Staked out in a graveyard on Halloween night. It’s all just one of Huggy’s jokes, right?”
“I know,” said
Starsky, brightening. “Let’s go T.P. his bar!”
They ran. But only because they were eager to get their revenge on Huggy. Not
because they were anxious to leave the graveyard and its dubiously dead occupants behind.
Definitely not because
^v^ ~the end~ ^v^