He stepped alongside the wall to his right, turning his head every few steps to check the painting. Once he reached the mirror, he crouched down on his hands and feet and scurried monkey style past the fireplace, beneath the mirror. The chair leg clunked against the floor each time he set down his right hand. On the other side of the fireplace, Victor spun around in his crouched position, with his back against the wall. He faced the painting and held the chair leg in front of him, like a dagger, toward the possessed artwork. A full minute he waited, watching the other wall, but the officer in the painting was unaware of his presence. Victor backed up, remaining low, past the chairs and into the corner. He crawled up against the adjacent wall, toward the door that led to the entry of the mansion. As he crept, he repeatedly checked if he could yet see the reflection of the painting; he passed the door and the frame of the painting came into view in the immaculate glass above the fireplace. Victor stopped and watched the threatening art piece facing him on the opposite wall. To his right, the door to the dining room lay just a few metres away. He stood up, adjusted his grip on the pointed chair leg and breathed out slowly. With a sidestep toward the door, the painting came full into view in the mirror—and Victor came into view of the officer in the painting. Life filled the officer’s eyes, which narrowed with ravening evil, and he twisted his gaze in Victor’s direction. Victor stood frozen and stared. The officer’s narrow lips stretched into a wicked smile, while his upper canine teeth lengthened to inch-long fangs. He turned his body and stepped out of the painting into the room, and glided across the floor toward Victor, who came to his senses and made a run for the door.
He grabbed the door knob, turned it and heaved, but the door would not open.
“You have to be kidding me,” he said.
While he dropped the chair leg and used both hands to try and force the door, he looked over his shoulder and saw the vampire that had emerged from the painting was now already halfway across the room and closing fast.
“Come on, damn it!”
The door shook as Victor engaged it in a full-force tug-of-war, but it refused to yield. A glance behind him showed the vampire was almost upon him. He yelled and struck the door as hard as he could with the heel of his palm; the latch rattled in the door frame.
“Of course,” he gasped.
He turned the door knob and pushed; the door swung effortlessly open and he tumbled through behind it. As he turned to slam the door shut he saw the vampire there on the threshold. The monster now barely resembled the old officer in the painting: its face was pale and ghastly, its eyes wide and black, and its mouth gaped like a lion’s to reveal drooling fangs ready for the feast. Victor gave an involuntary yelp and flung the door shut, before scrambling and falling backwards. He got to his hands and knees and waited, listening, sweat rolling down his cheeks and his heart beating double time.
After a few moments his arms began trembling and his breathing became erratic. He put his head down and squeezed his eyes shut; his fists clenched.
“Get it together,” he whispered. “Come on, get it together. A Furbank never quits.”
With several long, deliberate breaths, Victor calmed himself. He nodded then crawled to the door, noticing the soft sponginess beneath his hands and knees. Lying face down on the carpet, he peered under the door: no feet waited on the other side. He stood up silently and listened for a few seconds, before turning the door knob one degree at a time, until he was able to inch the door ajar. Through the open sliver Victor observed the vast room, the fireplace and mirror on the far side, and the vampire returned to his canvas, resuming his painted form as the cavalry officer. Victor eased the door shut and exhaled a gentle laugh.
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