The Jeep Cherokee tumbles through the folds of existence. Johan lets out a hoarse scream – nothing comes out. Jim is used to this by now.
. . .
They burst into mid-air, the jeep’s suspensions screaming in agony as it landed on the hard concrete floor. Johan let it idle, taking in his surroundings. He was in a vast chamber, made of what seemed to be concrete, but most likely wasn’t. There wasn’t a thing in the room, except a ramp leading up to a large doorway. “What the fuck happened!?” Johan screamed.
“I think we just switched worlds again.”
“What? We’re still in the tower.”
“I don’t think we are, but it could be that way, I’d not worry about it too much.”
Johan wiped a hand across his face. “God…” he said under his breath. Resignedly, Johan pointed to the door at the top of the ramp. “Jim, I think I can fit this thing in there.”
“Let’s try it, not like we can go anywhere else.” Jim shifted in his seat.
Johan gunned the Jeep and sent it up the rail, and the two passengers into the back of their seats. When they reached the doorway, they were forced to turn left, and Johan went a few yards into this hallway, then he stopped. There was a line down the center, and room for his Jeep on one side, and for one more on the other. Both men stared out a window that ran the entire length of the hallway. Stars lit the black night like holes in a blanket.
“How could we…we were in a tower! How could we get into outer space!? Things just don’t add up!” Johan slammed the steering wheel angrily with his palms.
“Shut up!” Johan yelled, but before he could continue, another vehicle appeared in the distance. It was reminiscent of their own Jeep, except it seemed more advanced, and had a large machine gun mounted on the back. Two uniformed men drove in the front seat. They moved within 10 yards of Johan’s vehicle, and then waved for Jim and Johan not to move when Johan started to inch forward. Finally stopped beside them, the passenger got out and moved around to Johan’s side and aimed a high-powered rifle at his head.
“In the name of Gondolus, who are you?” the rifleman said.
“Enough of that. How’d you get on our ship?” said the man in the driver’s seat, with a quip in his voice. He looked forward, then back to Johan and said “It doesn’t matter,” looking disgustedly at Johan and Jim, “We’ll take them to…”
Gunshots sounded from the entry that Johan had just taken, and then an explosion, followed by screams.
“What was that!” screamed the passenger. He looked in the direction that Jim and Johan emerged from.
“Don’t matter. Get back in; you dumb Weparay! We’ve got to check it out. If you two know what’s good for you, you’ll follow us.”
“Wait a minute…” Jim started, but Johan cut him off with a dismissive wave.
“These guys are professional. Better to listen, as we probably don’t have anywhere else to run,” whispered Johan.
“Um…okay.” Johan performed a U-Turn, and followed.
. . .
As Johan turned the corner, his worst fears came to fruition. Down the ramp, were two Jeeps, like the one who pulled him over, creating a V-like formation that one might use as a blockade. There was a man on the machine gun in each vehicle, firing away with vehement. Two riflemen were likewise on the edges of this formation, also shooting. They were all firing at what seemed to be humanoid blurs appearing from thin air. The figures that were not shot down the instant they came out of the air ran up the walls, and over the ceiling, as if attempting to overpower the blockade via dropping on them. It wasn’t working too well. The Jeep in front of them hit the emergency break and came to a shuddering stop. The rifleman got out, and the driver moved into the machine-gunner’s seat. They also started firing. Johan inched his way down the ramp, his eyes filled with anger.
“Those damn vamps! They can never leave us alone!”
“Johan, maybe this isn’t such a…”
“No, damn you! And your cowardice! I’m fighting!” Johan put the Cherokee in park and got out, rushing down to the action. The black tide was slowly etching its way across the ceiling.
One of the rifleman reached for his radio on his shoulder, and started to shout “Mayday! Mayday!” but a form landed atop of him. Johan moved to intercept, and, with a hand on the vampire’s neck, and a twist, he heard a loud pop. Hefting the lifeless form, he threw it back in the direction of its entry.
“Mother fucker. Are you alright?” Johan asked the rifleman. He was on the floor, in a heap. Johan checked his pulse. Not good. “We’ve got wounded here!” Turning to Jim, he yelled “Jim, get your ass down here and get this man into the backseat!”
“But…” Jim hesitated for a second.
“Now, soldier, now!” Johan yelled. He picked up the rifle, examined it for a moment, figured it was just a slightly more improved version of the guns he was used to. He began to fire the enormous magazine away.
Jim worked his way down to the injured soldier, and after a few unsuccessful attempts, managed to lift him over his shoulder, and take him back up the ramp to the backseat. Noticing a handgun on the man’s side, he unsheathed it.
It seemed to be ready to fire. He aimed in the general direction of the ceiling – it was impossible to miss – and fired. The shot resounded in his ears. A vampire dropped, lifeless, to the ground.
“Damn right!” Johan screamed, looking up at Jim with admiration. Just then the man’s walky-talky chirped.
“Fall back! Fall back! Secure the Cargo Hold Doors!” the voice screamed. Jim looked down at it. Looking back up, motioned to the force.
“Fall back! Fall back!” Jim yelled with abandon. One of the rifleman looked at him incredulously, and Jim pointed to his shoulder, where his companion’s walky-talky was. The rifleman nodded, and got into the driver’s seat. The other did the same. The vehicle that had pulled them over, though, was unmanned, but it had a gunner in back.
Johan screamed to the gunner, between bursts, that he had to drive. “Jim! You get down here and gun! Hurry up, damn you!”
Jim obeyed, and while Johan let out some incredible suppressive fire, managed to switch seats with the gunner. The driver started up the Jeep, and Johan ran back to his vehicle. They all began moving up the ramp, fighting a losing battle. The three machine guns managed to keep the vampires from killing any more men.
When they turned into the hallway, the last jeep in line, the one with Jim in it, stopped by a keypad. “We have to lock these doors! The driver screamed. Press 6748 on the keypad!” Jim leaned to do so, and just then a vampire lit over his head, going for the kill. Wide-eyed, with a look of death on his face, Jim waited for the killing blow. It never came. The thing landed dead beside him, with a bullet hole in his head. The smoking gun was held by the driver. “Hurry! …Now!” the man said between exasperated breaths.
“What were they again!?”
Jim punched in the numbers. The door slid shut. “Let’s move!”
“Alright!” screamed the driver into the walky-talky, “To the bridge!”
. . .
Red lights flashed along the hallway that the caravan drove down. Johan, in his Cherokee, talked to the wounded man, who had recently regained consciousness.
“You know, man, you’ve been bitten.”
The man looked gravely at his wound. “I know, within the hour I’ll be one of them. I…” he hesitated, “I…assume you know what to do.”
Johan simply nodded. He turned back to watch the Jeep ahead of him. Johan wondered how this man in this universe could know of something from his universe. Apparently, Johan figured, these people had had a run-in with vampires or something like them before. He also wondered if Jim was okay. Knowing Jim, thought Johan, he’ll be more than alright. “He’ll be having the time of his life,” he whispered to himself.
. . .
“I’m having the time of my life!” Jim shouted to the driver.
The driver looked up at him, his face a grimace. “You just nearly got your ass killed and you’re having fun?”
“Yep!” said Jim; smiling like a child. The driver shook his head, and focused on the road again.
. . .
The group parked the four vehicles outside in a small, dimly lit parking area that was now illuminated with the flashing red lights. The guards, now regaining their regal composure, ushered Jim and Johan through a sliding door at gunpoint. One of the guards took the wounded to another room. A gunshot resounded five minutes later. In the room they entered, lay many monitors manned by many men. The monitors seemed to show certain statistics of the ship. Walking along the middle of this room, was a man, who wore a simple gray uniform but with many medals emblazoned on his chest. He looked to be in his thirties and was well-kept. He had jet-black hair and a large nose, reminiscent of Italian descent.
He turned to face the convoy of people entering the room. All the guards saluted. “At ease,” the man said. His voice had a quality of leadership to it. “Who are these two?”
Jim’s driver stepped up. “We found them driving along the route.”
“And they got here, how, McCullum?”
“I don’t know, sir,” said McCullum, shifting uncomfortably where he stood, “but I think they came from wherever the vamps came from.”
“Oh, yes, our little problem in a box. How did they get here, Sergeant?”
“They came through the door we went through,” Jim blurted.
“What?” The leader turned to Jim.
“What I said – they came through the portal.”
“There is no way on or off this ship. That is statistically impossible.”
Jim shrugged. “It’s the truth.”
McCullum sighed. “Sir…”
“No, it’s alright, Sergeant, it doesn’t matter.” The man strolled over to a screen that displayed the inside of the cargo hold. What seemed to be hundreds of vampires milled about on the screen. “Oh, how rude of me,” the man said, turning, “my name is Alucard. I am captain of this ship.”
“Okay,” said Jim. Johan let out an exasperated sigh.
A familiar vampire walked into view of the camera and stared at it. Jim rushed over and jabbed a stubby finger at the screen. “That’s Cartez! The King of the Vampires!”
“Oh, is that so?” asked Alucard, a smile lighting his face. Motioning to the techie sitting down in front of him, he asked, “So, do these new cameras I installed have anti-tampering lasers?”
The techie nodded.
The techie pressed a few buttons, a “Manual Override” message came up and he typed a four-number code. Cartez grinned and stuck out his tongue. At this instant a beam of white light shot out from the upper portion of the screen. The vampire nearest Cartez was incinerated. Cartez turned to his fallen comrade, hissed, and the pointed in the direction of the camera. The screen went black.
“Well now,” said Alucard, “We’ve got quite a job on our hands.” He turned to face his men. “Men, if what you say is true, if those – those things are actually vampires we human beings eradicated eons ago, we must activate the Dracula Protocols.”
“Sir?” one man said, hesitantly.
“The what?” Johan asked.
“The Dracula Protocols. You heard me correctly, soldier. Protocol states that if any contagion breaks out on a ship it must be…contained.”
McCullum swallowed hard. “I am not familiar with this protocol,” he said.
“It’s okay, it is very old and most don’t even know it exists anymore, from lack of need to use it. When I say contained, I mean we have to contain it from the outside by getting rid of the ship.”
“Where will we go, then, we have no lifeboats!” another soldier screamed.
“That is correct, but we must follow protocol.”
Another soldier started to back away. “No…no! I am not going to be a part of this! I am not going to commit suicide!”
Johan turned. “How about dieing a hero for saving humanity? You know that’s what you’re doing, don’t you?” Motioning to the solder, then to himself, he continued, “These things own the world where I come from, and I’d rather it not happen here, wherever here happens to be.”
The man stopped for a second, seemed to mull it over, and resignedly puffed out his chest. “Yes, a hero,” he muttered, smiling weakly.
“Okay, now that that’s settled, we need a plan,” said Alucard. He paced back and forth. “We have four able bodied vehicles. Four vehicles, which placed together are the about width of the cargo area. We have a fusion reactor that is on the other side of this area, which is now consequently on the other side of our enemy. We need to plow through, literally. Do you catch my drift, McCullum?”
“I’ll get right on it, sir!” McCullum ran out the sliding door.
“You mean we’re going to go back in there?” Jim asked, looking worried.
Johan just shook his head, and sighed.
. . .
Johan’s vehicle was first in line down the ramp, and his plow that was jerry-rigged to the front of his vehicle thumped as vampires were scraped under screaming. “Damn right!” He shouted above the din. Jim, in the side seat, was scared out of his mind. Jim wondered how it was a man could be an inch away from death and be at the height of ecstasy. It made no sense, but it was true. Jim’s adrenaline was murderous.
After the Jeeps had mowed in, they turn to the left, and formed a defensive line, machine guns shooting any vampires who were behind it. Soon not a single vampire stood behind the line.
“Alright,” Alucard yelled over a loudspeaker. “Move forward!”
They started plowing through, the machine guns now concentrating on the throng moving up the walls and to the ceiling. It was up to them to keep the line from breaking.
The cargo hold was only about four jeeps thick but a good quarter of a mile wide, and it was slow going. At one point, however, Johan hit a particularly plump vampire and Jim fell out of the vehicle. Johan called back to Jim to get back on, but it was too late. Jim stood up, brushed his pants off. A vampire staggered towards him, obviously wounded severely.
“You…” he said.
“Holy shit no!” Jim screamed, running down a corridor to his right. The vampire followed.
“I’ll rip you limb from limb you little…” The vampire coughed. Black ooze spilled from his mouth. Jim turned a corner, and stood in what seemed to be a small room. The words printed in big red letters to the side read “AIRLOCK.” Jim smiled.
. . .
Laqeer had lived a good, rich life under the service of the king. He had been well-fed, been well-treated. And now Laqeer had just been mowed down by a metallic monster and was now destined to join the others in the afterlife. Angry, he didn’t care about the rules anymore. “I don’t care who he is…he will die,” he said to himself.
Turning the corner and anticipating the kill, He savored the idea in the fleeting thoughts of his mind, and there was nothing there. Not a soul was to be seen, just the room. He couldn’t read the words printed in big red letters. Laqeer never saw the figure approach him from behind, holding a metal bar. He did, however, feel the impact. Laqeer dropped with a thud.
“I’ll…get…you…” he began to say, trying to get up, but then the sliding doors closed, and he was separated from his attacker.
With one last look up, he saw Jim’s green eyes, staring back at him. Jim’s hand punched the big button labeled “OPEN HATCH.” The last fleeting thought before the cold, dark blackness enveloped Laqeer was If only we had done him over the first time.
. . .
Jim stood alone, for the first time in awhile. He welcomed the solitude. Feeling bad for the vampire, he looked down in silent reverence. Just then, a spot of light appeared about a foot from the floor right in the center of his eye-line. In the deepest recesses of his brain, he heard a soft, lilting voice. “You are needed elsewhere. Please, do not be afraid. This will only take a second.”
. . .
And the spot of light grows and grows until Jim’s whole world is the light. And then he is the light. And then, darkness.