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Vampire a Go-Go

By:VICTOR GISCHLER

Vampire a Go-Go





VICTOR GISCHLER





HORROR AT ITS SIDE-SPLITTING BEST!

Victor Gischler is a master of the class-act literary spoof, and his work has drawn comparison to that of Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, and Thomas Pynchon. Now, Gischler turns his attention to werewolves, alchemists, ghosts, witches, and gun-toting Jesuit priests in Vampire a Go-Go, a hilarious romp of spooky, Gothic entertainment. Narrated by a ghost whose spirit is chained to a mysterious castle in Prague, Gischler's latest is full of twists and surprises that will have readers screaming — and laughing — for more.





VICTOR GISCHLER


Vampire a Go-Go





For Jackie





PROLOGUE




I’m not the hero of this story.

There are a number of important things you need to know up front. Pay attention.

I’m not the hero of this story, but I am the guy telling it. It has to be me. I’m in a unique position. I know all the players, know how they mix and match and come together to make everything happen.

About me. Look, the thing is, I’ll just confuse you if I get too much into me right now. You’ll learn all about me later, how I fit into this. The important thing is that I know what’s going on, and the plan is for me to dish it out a bit at a time so you can understand. I’ll fade out from time to time, and you’ll forget I’m even involved. But I’m there. Don’t worry about that. I’m always there. Can’t go anyplace, really. I’ll explain all that at the appropriate time. I’ll explain everything. You’re going to have to trust me.

Let’s see. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Never mind. We’ll catch up as we go along.

The story begins like so many others. A fairly decent sort of guy, totally unaware of what he’s getting himself into.





GOTHIC STATE


ONE




The sudden shrill chirp of a hundred birds froze Allen in place, his hand poised to knock on the department head’s door. Probably it was his imagination, but then he heard it again. Maybe Dr. Carpenter had one of those soothing rain-forest-sounds CDs.

It didn’t matter. He’d been summoned.

He knocked, heard somebody mumble something. He entered.

The birds went crazy, flapping between bookshelves.

“Shut the damn door,” she yelled at him.

Allen hastily shut the door, stood cringing amid the bird storm, feathers brushing his face, the room alive with the swirling racket of wings and beaks.

“Sit down.” Professor Cathy Carpenter gestured at the hard, wooden chair across her desk.

He sat.

She sat too, took a small wooden box from her top desk drawer, and began to unpack the contents. A plastic baggy, paper.

“You didn’t have a very good semester, did you, Allen?” She unfolded a small square of thin paper, pinched the herb from a plastic baggy, and rolled it into the paper. The joint was on the small side.

Birds flapped, hopped between shelves.

“There were some distractions,” Allen told her.

“Uh-huh. What’s your last name? Cabbot?”

“Yes.”

“Any relation to the Salem Cabbots? Good family.”

“No, ma’am.” He flinched as a bird swooped within an inch of his nose. The rest of the birds screeched and danced.

“The mayor’s an old student of mine. Winston Cabbot of Salem. Hmmm. Winston of Salem. Winston Salem. That’s odd. Isn’t that a cigarette or something?”

Allen ducked another bird on a strafing run.

“So Winston is what? Your uncle or something?” Carpenter raised an eyebrow.

“We’re not related, ma’am. I’m from Portland.”

“Do you have any matches?” She fished around in the other drawers.

“Professor Carpenter, there are like a hundred birds in your office. Maybe more.”

“One hundred and twenty-two. They’re budgies. Ah!”

She found matches, struck one, lit the joint, and puffed smoke.

She stood, sucked deep on the joint, then went around the room, puffing smoke into the budgies’ faces. After three minutes of this, the birds settled into sedate lines along the bookshelves.

Professor Carpenter returned to her seat. “You earned straight Cs in your classes.”

“I’ll do better.”

“What happened?”

Allen didn’t feel he could tell Professor Carpenter about Brenda Cole. The entire episode had been juvenile and ill advised. Allen had known from the start that Brenda had been too much girl for him, a senior in Warner’s poetry workshop, a rebellious girl in a black dress and combat boots and a nose ring and all those great tattoos in interesting places. They’d had three great weeks before she’d dumped him flat on his ass, and Allen had spent the rest of the semester embarrassing himself with pathetic phone calls and bleeding-heart emails, trying to win her back.

“There was a lot going on, Professor Carpenter. I fixed it.”

Above him, the birds sat in a long line, looking down, hunched together like old men, some absurd jury listing to his feeble story.

“Why did you choose Gothic State University, Allen?”

The small university perched atop a rocky precipice overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The institute was undistinguished in every way. The English Department’s one claim to fame had been a nationally renowned Brontë scholar named Thornton Hardwood. It was Hardwood who’d lured Allen to Gothic State. Allen loved the Brontës, wanted to write his dissertation on gender coding in Wuthering Heights.

Hardwood had died suddenly of a stroke six days into Allen’s first semester. Allen had stayed through the second semester because he hadn’t applied to any other schools and hadn’t known what else to do. Brenda had happened the third semester, and Allen’s scholarly ambitions had dropped straight into the crapper.

“I just like it here, ma’am.”

“Uh-huh.” A budgie landed on Dr. Carpenter’s coffee mug. The mug had a novelty message that read, “I earned tenure, and all I got was this lousy coffee mug.” Carpenter rubbed the budgie’s head with her pinky finger. “Hello, Admiral Snodgrass.”

“You can tell all the birds apart?”

“All the budgies are named Admiral Snodgrass.”

Ah.

“I’m going to give you a chance, Allen. You’ll have to bring your grades up, but I’m willing to keep your name off the academic probation list.”

“I appreciate that, ma’am.”

“Wait and hear the rest,” she said. “It’s well known around the department you have a gift for research.”

Allen nodded. During his first semester, he had taken Professor Mapplethorpe’s research methods class and had immediately become teacher’s pet. Mapplethorpe had spread it among the faculty that “the boy can dig anything out of a library.” Allen constantly endured harsh comments on his papers for sloppy writing, but his research skills were impeccable.

“I’m going to assign you as Dr. Evergreen’s grad assistant.”

Allen squirmed in his seat, opened his mouth to object, closed it again. What choice did he have?

Dr. Evergreen was known campuswide as a cranky hard-ass. He stank of bad cigars and gin. He was an unpleasant and demanding man, and most students only took his classes when forced to complete degree requirements.

Budgies cooed in a ganja stupor.

“I understand,” Allen said.

“He’s writing a chapter for a new monograph on Kafka.” Carpenter stubbed out the joint in a ceramic ashtray. “You’re to go with him to Prague this summer and help him with research. It’s not a vacation. He’ll work you hard.”

“Prague? The Czech Republic? That Prague?”

“Yes.”

“I was going to visit my folks this summer.”

“Not anymore. Unless you’d like to drop out.”

“I’ll go to Prague.”

“Good. Go to the party at Evergreen’s house tonight. Grad students are invited, so you won’t feel out of place. Tell him you’re on board.”

Allen stopped himself from sighing. “Okay.”

“Go away now, please.” Carpenter relit the joint, sat back in her chair, and closed her eyes.

I didn’t like Allen at first. With instantaneous knowledge of his entire life, I figured I knew all I needed to make this judgment. He’s a little weak, lets people push him around. He’s apologetic when he hasn’t done anything. He means well in a way somehow more annoying than if he meant harm. You know the type. Always hanging at the edge of a conversation, waiting to be invited to talk.

Allen has a bad habit of ignoring nice, bookish sorts of girls right under his nose. They like him. He’s good-looking and well mannered, with brown hair, wavy and thick, a medium-square jaw and shoulders. Tallish. An open face given to a shy, reluctant grin full of straight white teeth. But Allen ignores the plain Janes in favor of exotic, fast women who ignore him, or worse, chew him up.

Perhaps I despise him for this, since I used to chase the same sort of woman. Ages and ages ago.

But having the sum total of a man’s life inserted into your head like a computer memory stick isn’t the same as experiencing the man or seeing him in action-or often, unfortunately, inaction. Walk a mile in his shoes-or his skin-well, sympathies develop. So I suppose I ended up rooting for Allen, hoping he’d get through all this in one piece.

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