The Prompt: A Vampire on Tinder.
The man sitting in front of me was probably an Eastern European in his fifties. His name was Orlok, just Orlok. Personally, I don’t like to assume where people come from, but his broad nose and thick eyebrows made me speculate, altogether despite myself. He hadn’t put his age in his tinder profile, but he had just a little bit of hair around his ears, and it wasn’t yet gray.
“So, where are you from?” I said.
“I’ve lived in Wisborg for the last… while.”
“Is that where you got your suit from?”
He wore a suit that looked as if the manufacturer thought the shoulders were the most delicate part of the human body, and decided to put a thick layer of fabric there for protection. The legs were loose, except for at the ankles. The whole thing was a bright yellow with black stripes with a yellow hat that covered the tips of his ears. His curly hair protruded from underneath. Overall he looked as if he was in a jazz band in the 1940’s. Probably a hipster.
“This suit is the item of the century,” he said.
The waiter snapped into view, startling me in the process. We were sitting in a booth in the back, one of those with curtains on the side for privacy. And it was really dimly lit too. Orlok had picked the restaurant.
“Are you guys ready to order?”
“The porterhouse steak, rare, no garlic,” my date said.
“Mmm,” the waiter started, “I don’t think the porterhouse has any garlic in it.”
“Good.” He thrust the menu at the waiter, who raised his eyebrow when he received it.
“The salad,” I said before the waiter had a chance to ask, and laid my menu on the table.
The waiter went somewhere to the front of the restaurant where there were people and life. And Orlok just stared at me. There was hunger in his eyes. The sort of hunger you read about in cheap romance novels. The sort of passion that people are too busy to entertain because of everyday life rubbish. Everyday spreadsheets and everyday conversations. But not Orlok. Maybe he had that larger than life quality that we associate with otherworldly beings like billionaires, or - I don’t know - vampires.
I waited for him to say something extraordinary, holding eye contact as he licked his upper teeth, lingering on the left canine.
“So, Ellen. What blood type are you?”
“Huh,” I said. “O negative.”
“Oh, you mean because some blood types are more compatible with each other. That must mean you’re A plus?”
“Yes.” He rubbed his hands together. “Exactly.”
I hadn’t noticed earlier, but his fingernails were exceptionally long and sharp. He must have noticed me staring because the next thing he did was to run them over down my left arm, slowly increasing the pressure as he went along. And when he reached my wrist he pricked my skin.
“Sorry,” He said. But he had a devilish smile running across his face.
“Excuse me.” I stood up and went to the bathroom.
It wasn’t a deep cut or anything, but I had to hold some paper over it for a while. I considered leaving but I’d been on too many tinder dates in the last while and honestly Orlok wasn’t even worse than most of them. When I came back to the table he was playing with a fidget spinner, his thick nails hitting the sides with each spin.
Without looking at me he said, “These human toys… uh, these toys amuse me.”
We didn’t talk until the food arrived. He wolf down his steak and afterwards he wanted to talk about “current events,” but I didn’t know anything about the Franco-Prussian wars and I got the feeling they weren’t so current. So, when we stood outside the restaurant later on I meant to say goodbye. But there was something in his eyes that made me hesitate.
“Come to my lair… I mean, come to my apartment.”
“Okay,” I said.
It was a basement apartment with blacked out windows. I assumed the windows were blacked out because it was filled to the brim with novelty items and toys. He had Game-boys and Furbies. A phonograph, and a hobby horse. Several wooden dolls. I mean I’d been to guy’s places and they had like a star wars poster or the whole Marvel movies series on dvd, but this was a bit much.
“My collection,” he said.
“I started collecting to get to know you, find ways to lure you to me.” He stood by the door, with his back to me and I heard a clicking sound.
“Did you just lock the door?”
“But that has all changed since I found out about The Tinder. It’s so efficient that I only collect for fun now.” He was walking towards me now.
“Let me out, I want to leave.” I scanned the room for something like a weapon.
When I looked at him again he was only an inch from me. I tried to scream, but couldn’t. Then he did it. He bit me right on the neck. Just like in the movies. I’ve been slouched against the wall ever since, typing this into notes on my phone. There’s no signal down here. My only hope is that this transcript reaches someone. Hey this is kind of like in the original Bram Stoker novel. But it’s in the public domain so this transcript won’t get into any copyright issues or anything. I can hear him coming back. Oh, humanity!
The Prompt: You are a ghost, you were only partially successful in possessing someone.
"But if we don't drink from the holy chalice today, it won't have an effect. The stars are aligned but once in a decade."
“Well, the stars shouldn't have aligned on Tax Day then. If I don't submit these documents today then I won't get a tax deduction for your old mansion, which I can't pay off otherwise."
That was David, the haughty fellow whose right hand I currently occupied. We had been disagreeable bedfellows since he won my mansion on something called "Utube." Apparently in modern times one could acquire ownership of properties simply by spending a night there. A property that was passed down generations of Hamilton's.
"David, surely you can see the absurdity of tending to your squabbles with a government in the absence of a gold standard, when you could be helping me bring forth the culmination of my family's alchemical quest for longevity. I, Lord Percival Otis Sheldon Hamilton, will finally make this estate great again. Not to mention that we will finally separate."
"Look, Posh -"
"Lord Percival Otis Sheldon Hamilton."
"Exactly. You do see how that interferes with me running a bed and breakfast here, right?"
I moved myself (in consequence his right hand) in front of his face. It had become understood that this meant I was indignant. He all but ignored me and kept at his work with his left hand. In fact, he had become quite proficient in using his left since we were joined together. I floated around for a while before I had the most devilish plan.
"I concede. You may do your taxes."
"Didn't need your permission."
I cracked his index finger with his thumb in frustration. "But allowed me the privilege of a book. This is dreadfully boring work you're doing, and I'm afraid I'll die a second time from the sheer boredom."
"Alright. If it means you'll stop bothering me."
"Most definitely. In fact, my favorite piece of literature is just on the shelf behind you." I pointed at the old mahogany bookshelf behind us.
He stood up and sauntered to the bookshelf. "Go ahead, do your thing."
"I most certainly will." I pulled on a book called "Panaceas Around the World." The bookcase swirled around in a violent fashion and pushed us to the other side of the wall.
"Goddamn it Posh! What did you do?" David started flinging books to the other end of the room until he found the one I had pulled on. But it had no effect.
"We can't get out the same way we came David."
"So how do we get out?!"
"We solve the trials."
He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why do you have trials in your own mansion?"
"To keep intruders from drinking from the holy chalice. Have you not been listening to me at all during these past two months?"
He exhaled slowly. "Okay, so how do we get through these trials?"
"Grab that lit torch on your left."
He turned to his lift and picked up the torch from the wall. After inspecting it, he remarked, "How is this lit? I didn't even know about this passage."
"I don't know, because of alchemy or something, it doesn't matter, just light the way."
The passage was narrow and damp. Somehow it was made up of rocks despite being in the middle of a mansion. Once again, it was probably because of alchemy or whatever, who cares. After walking for a couple of minutes we came into a lit chamber with strange symbols on stone slabs protruding slightly from the floor. In the far end was a door with the words "Annuit cæptis, Novus ordo seclorum." On the left were three heavy stone blocks.
"What do we do here?"
"I don't remember."
"What do you mean you don't remember? Didn't you make his?"
"That was almost a hundred and fifty years ago!"
He shook his head. "What about those words on the door, do they mean anything to you?"
I turned to the door and back to him. "I don't know Latin."
"Jesus Christ on a stick. Alright, I took a class once, let me give it a shot."
"Hmm, you sure are a surprising character David."
"Whatever." He peered at the door. "'Favors undertakings, new order of the ages.' That mean anything to you?"
In my astonishment I splayed David's fingers. "I know that. It's the motto of a little club I was part of. Quickly, put the stone blocks on the pyramid, eye, and the sun."
David struggled to drag the blocks into place, and I helped by flexing his fingers. The slabs on the floor sank into the floor and once the blocks were placed on the correct symbols, a mark lit up on the door between the words. A radiant pyramid with an eye in the middle.
"Dude," David said.
I patted him on the shoulder. "I know, we did it."
"That's the Illuminati symbol."
"Right, that was the club I was a part of."
"Bruh," he said as the he walked through the now open door.
In the next room was a decrepit old man sitting in a wooden chair in front of another door. He lifted his brow slightly when we entered and coughed a dry cough that sounded as if someone was rubbing sandpaper against more sandpaper.
"Finally, someone has come to claim the holy chalice." The decrepit old man said.
"Has this guy just been living in my house this whole time?" David said.
"Just ignore it." I turned to the old man. "I am Percival Otis Sheldon Hamilton, and I have indeed come to claim the chalice."
"Then answer my riddle. What is the best way of securing a fortune?"
"I know this one." I was positively shaking. "Alienate the proletariat from the means of production."
"That is correct." The decrepit old man disintegrate and the door behind him opened up.
David walked into the next room, although much too slowly for my taste. There it was, the holy chalice. The one rumored to have belonged to the one and only King Midas. It was made of gold, of course. And in just a few steps up that stone staircase it would be mine. But, for some reason, David stopped walking towards it.
"What are you doing? Keep going."
He turned to me. "You know, you're properly evil rich."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean you don't have to cheat your workers to make money, or be part of the Illuminati."
I considered this for a moment. "How else are you supposed to be rich?"
"You can do something good for the community and share your good fortune. Be a provider, give to charity."
He was right. I had been so preoccupied with wealth and power that I had forgotten why I wanted it in the first place.
"Sure, whatever. Let's just go drink from the chalice."
For some reason, the whole room started shaking. A beam of light shone from the exit further up the staircase.
"Not if it means you're going to be all evil," he said.
"I really don't want to be evil, that's just how I was raised."
"Great, now you just have to prove it."
"How do I prove to you that I'm not going to be evil."
"You can be my partner."
"In your bed and breakfast?"
"Sure, I'll be you're partner."
"But how do I know you won't go back on our agreement when we've drunk from the chalice?"
The answer occurred to me, and it made me go limp from disappointment. "We don't drink from the chalice."
"Are you sure? That's gonna really suck to be stuck together forever."
"It's the only way to make sure we make the best out of the estate. When we're done I'll just stop possessing you."
"You could have left at any moment?!"
A boulder dropped right next to us. "Just hurry out the door."
David ran up the stairs, past the chalice, as the stairs crumbled behind us. We came out of an overgrown cave in the front yard. The light was blinding, even though I didn't have any eyes. We went back upstairs and finished David's tax returns together. And then we ran the greatest bed and breakfast you ever saw.
The Prompt:You take a sip from your drink during an evening out. Just as you think to yourself that it tastes weird, everyone in the rooms falls silent and looks straight at you.
Hmm, it needs a little more sprite, I thought, as I tasted what was to be my ultra supreme soda mix. I had been working on it all night and no matter what happened I was going to get it right this time. Steve had every kind of soda out for the party.
I looked up from my project and, for some reason, everyone was looking at me.
“Are you seriously making yourself a drink right now?” Steve said.
“But the body, Mark, the body!”
“Oh yeah.” In the middle of the room lay our English teacher, Mrs. Peacock. It was only an accident. She’d come over because she heard we were going to smoke “dope,” which we were, but that didn’t mean she had to come and take care of it. If you ask me she was taking her job too seriously if she wanted to stop us from getting stoned and playing Clue.
Everyone was looking at me again. “Mark, did you zone out again?” Angela said.
“Yep, but it’s not like she’s gonna become more alive if I’m focused.” I poured a splash of sprite into my drink.
“Did you just mix sprite and coke?” Dan asked.
“You wanna taste it?”
“No you fuckhead, that’s disgusting.”
Steve yelled out as he clutched the lifeless corpse of our English teacher. “Would you guys focus?!”
“Alright, alright alright,” I said, “let’s go over the details.”
Steve repeated “It was an accident, I only meant to scare her,”in a particularly lifeless tone, to no one in particular.
“Indeed, it was an accident. But where did it happen?”
“Right here,” Angela said as she brought in towels to clean up the blood.
“In the living room. And how did it happen?”
“She was stabbed,” Mark said.
“With a knife. And by whom?”
Steve said, “I killed her, I killed her, I killed her.”
“By Steve.” I took a sip of my drink. Still a little off. “So to conclude: she was killed in the living room, with the knife, by Steve. Solved it.”
No one seemed to really care about me clearly winning Clue as they were busy dealing with Mrs. Peacock. And having done everything that this particular get together was for, i.e. get stoned and win Clue, I got back to my project.
“We have to get rid of the body,” Steve said.
Angela let go of the towel in her hand. “Steve, we can’t do that.”
It needs a little ice, I thought. The whole concoction had gotten cold after all this time. I got a bag of ice out of the freezer and counted the individual ice cubes. One, two, three. That ought to do. Can’t be much more than three or the whole thing gets all watered down. I looked up, and Steve was waving a knife at everybody.
“Whoa, Steve,” I said, “What is this, Reefer Madness or something?”
“Shut up Mark. We’re burning her in the backyard.”
“Alright, I’m just saying that usually people don’t get stoned and burn their English teacher in the backyard. You’re portraying a very harmful stereotype of weed smokers.”
We carried Mrs. Peacock into the backyard, where Mark poured gasoline over her and Steve shouted a lot and waved the knife around, and Angela cried. And that’s when it hit me. Dr Pepper. My drink needed just a little Dr Pepper. I ran into the kitchen, poured just the littlest measure of Dr Pepper into my drink and rejoined the others, stirring my drink all the while. As the flames rose into the early summer night sky, and the sirens wailed in the distance, I took a sip of my drink. Perfection.
Later, in therapy, after the police had talked to us, and after the funeral, I was told I had been in a trauma induced state of absolute denial. But at least I got a good drink out of it.
The Prompt: You see it hurtling towards you, this sprawling mass of darkness. As it comes closer you can see a myriad of human faces and limbs, twisted and contorting, trapped within the darkness yet trying to break free. You thought you had avoided this. You thought you had won.
"What do you want?!" I screamed as I ran down a seemingly endless hallway.
The mass of darkness chasing me breathed strenuously. It also coughed, and laughed shrilly. All at the same time as it spoke, sometimes many heads at the same time.
"We're a metaphor John. We want to metaphorize."
"Hahahah. Metaphorize! is that a word?"
"It's a word, I think."
The words rang in my ears. They didn't seem to come from anywhere. They just were there. My feet weakened as the muscles withered in real time, and I slowed down despite my best efforts at running.
"You're getting old john."
I could see a door at the end of a hallway. But the blob of darkness was catching up to me. It was composed of faces that I seemed to know but couldn't place (except for the ones that were me,) and limbs twisting and bending this way and that. They cracked and tore in an out of tune, out of beat parody of music.
One of the heads stretched forward next to me, pulling the darkness ahead with it, looked me in the eye and yelled like someone who forgot he had headphones on, "Look John, we're an orchestra!"
I staggered towards the door. "Leave me alone!"
The head kept staring at me as it licked its lips. "You don't recognize me John."
"Hahahaha, he doesn't recognize you."
A cold wind chipped away at my legs, piece by piece, blowing them into the wind. By the time I was a meter away from the door I was running on my bones alone. Meanwhile the rest of the blob advanced. Scratching the walls, tumbling onward, farting and leaking bile. The head next to leaned over and with its tongue stretched thirty centimeters out of its mouth, it licked the left side of my face.
"I'm that time you shit your pants in first grade John."
"Hahahahah, Shit your pants."
"Erectile dysfunction, John. Staying up late and trolling on Reddit, John. Unemployment, John."
"We're humanity, John."
I grabbed the handle and pulled myself through the doorway. The laughter echoed in my head as I shut the door and sat against it. The room was dimly lit and about the size of my studio apartment. In fact, it was exactly the same dimensions as my apartment, but without my furniture, and the windows. The only thing in the room was a mirror on the other side of where I was sitting.
My legs were back to normal now and I walked to the mirror. My reflection had a smug look on its face. It smiled wide and spoke to me.
"Welcome John," it said.
"Are you gonna tell me what's going on now?"
"We already told you John. We're a metaphor. We're all those literary terms you're so proud to know."
The same voice spoke from outside the door. "Hamartia, and personification, and cliché. A lot of cliché."
"Aren't you glad you know us? We couldn't be here if you didn't know us."
"Whatever!" A banner dropped from the ceiling with the word 'Whatever' written in bold red text, along with some confetti.
"We knew you'd say that John."
"Hahahahaha. We're you John."
Black sludge seeped from the bottom of the mirror. I turned around, but the floor behind me was covered in the stuff. It was coming from under the door. It circled around me, leaving me with only enough room to stand. It thickened and rose up to my knees.
"We're how you see yourself John."
"We're how you see others."
"And how you think others see you."
"Isn't that meta, John?"
"Is it meta?"
"It could be meta. Maybe. He doesn't know."
"Which means that we don't know. Hahahahah."
A face rose from the sludge, it was my own face with dark bags under the eyes and a pale skin-tone. It looked through me for a moment and sank back into the sludge. I leaned down to see where it had gone. The sludge boiled, and I put my hand out to touch it, when it discharged upwards into my mouth and filled me from the inside out.
That's when I woke up. I turned on my PC and started writing a short story on r/WritingPrompts.
"I do know what meta means," I thought.