The young man murmured and groggily opened his eyes.
“Hey mate,” Mossy said to him, “take it easy, okay? You’ve had a knock to the head, but you’re going to be all right. Just sit still and try to relax.”
The young man began to mumble, but we couldn’t make out what he was saying.
“Do you speak English?” I asked him.
“What’s your name?” said Mossy.
“All right Vlad,” said Mossy, “we’re going to get you some help, okay?”
Vlad shook his head. “No help,” he said. “Women… where are the women?”
“There are no women here, Vlad,” I told him. “It’s just us. You came into our room.”
“Forget it, man,” Mossy said to me. “This guy’s hammered.”
I looked at Mossy and noticed he had a small cut on his neck, like a puncture mark. “Jeez man,” I said, “you’re bleeding. It’s all over your shirt.”
Mossy felt his neck, and then examined the blood on his fingers. “I told you he tried to bite me. Look what you’ve done, Vlad.”
Mossy held his bloodied hand in front of the semi-conscious intruder, who wearily raised his head. Vlad noticed the tiny, glistening red pools on Mossy’s fingertips. His eyes instantly widened, and he sat up straight. “Yes!” he hissed. “Of course, the sweet blood!”
Vlad snarled and bared his fangs, rising to his feet as if lifted by some invisible force. He was as skinny as a rake, but his Georgian-era clothing and cape, with its high, stand-up collar made him intimidating. He gave a low, sadistic laugh as he slicked back his shiny, bluish-black hair. Malevolent shadows began darting across the ceiling, and beneath our feet the floor vibrated with a heavy scratching sound. The room seemed to darken. There was now no white at all in Vlad’s eyes; they were entirely black. He set a foul, ravenous glare upon Mossy and then inhaled deeply, intoxicated by the occasion. He gave Mossy a wicked grin, then lunged at him.
Mossy planted his right fist firmly into Vlad’s face, and Vlad dropped to the floor with his hands cupped over his spectacularly broken nose. For a good minute he rolled around shrieking like a banshee.m, before the rolling ceased and the shrieking diminished to a pathetic whimper. We sat Vlad up again against the wall again, and he covered his blood-drenched face with his hands.
“I don’t understand,” he finally said in a soft voice. “There were supposed to be two women here. I said I only wanted females. I was told they were women—athletes preparing for a competition.”
“Oh, that’s us, Vlad,” said Mossy. “We’re the female athletes.”
Vlad looked up in confusion. “You are not women,” he said, and sunk his face back into his hands.
“Well, technically that’s true,” said Mossy. “We’re not actually women. But we say we are so we can win sporting events.”
Vlad shook his head. “I don’t know what that means,” he moaned.
“Well,” Mossy elaborated, “what we do is, we tell some people that we feel like women, and they believe we really are women even though we’re obviously not. Then we run against real women, and try to run faster than them because if we do we get paid money.”
“And sometimes I throw a javelin,” I added.
Vlad vented a few Romanian obscenities then sat in silence. After some time to let him gather his thoughts, I spoke to him again. “Are you okay, Vlad?”
He sighed and looked up at us. “For a hundred years have I slept,” he said, “and now I wake to a different world. I don’t know what I shall do.”
“I tell you what,” I said, “for starters, wipe that blood off your face, ya poor bugger. Get cleaned up a bit and then you might feel better.”
© 2019 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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