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by Gordon Rowlinson

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I Was a Teenage Monster Mangler


Gordon Rowlinson

Some people don't believe in love at first sight. I do now. Some people don't believe that pure evil exists. I do now. What a lesson I learned.

My name is John. I'm from Euless, Texas—some call it Useless, Texas and that tends to be true. It’s a boring place, but every so often something wild and crazy happens—like last month. My descent into this horror started when I was in my first year of college and desperately needed some bucks. You don’t need an accounting degree or a detailed cash flow analysis when you have numerous expenses and no revenue coming in. I knew I had money problems. After delaying as long as I could, and ignoring the realities of the high cost of education, I sucked up my pride and asked for my old job back at Safe Self Storage. It's not easy to crawl back to Safe Self Storage when you know what a hellhole it is.

The storage facility is in a lonely area at the southern end of town. Folks stash their things in rented storage rooms and tend to forget about them. Some of the things people store in the locked rooms are valuable antiques and family heirlooms. However most of the stuff people stash there is useless junk that looks like it was rejected from a yard sale. I've often wondered what deep secrets and hidden treasures were behind the locked doors of the endless rows and rows of individual rooms.

On my first day back on the job, I met Brenda. I will remember that day for the rest of my life. It was love at first sight and don't tell me it was teenage hormones, because it wasn't. She was perfect. She was pretty, intelligent and very easy to get along with. It was a Saturday and we were the only ones manning the place. Business was dead as there were a ton of football games that day. We spent hours and hours and hours talking. As the shift came to a close, I dreaded going home. I got a break on Sunday when I saw her in the shopping mall. She talked to me for 20 minutes, but had to leave as she had to work that night. When I got home, I couldn't wait until Tuesday afternoon—which was the next time we'd share shifts together. I couldn't believe my luck. For the first time in a long time, things were going well. It all seemed too good to be true...and it was.

When Tuesday came, I rolled into work ten minutes early. As soon as I saw Brenda, I could tell something was wrong. Instead of being healthy and perky, she seemed pale and weak. I assumed she had the flu. When it came time to do a walk around—which is a simple walk around the property checking for odd occurrences—she asked if I could do it alone. She said that she felt a little sensitive to sunlight.

Towards the end of the day, she said something weird that, at the time, didn't make sense. She told me she had a blackout at work Sunday night. The last thing she remembered before blacking out was she was walking towards the back of the facility. It was around 8 PM. Then she woke up feeling weak and confused at 3 in the morning on the pavement of the alley in the back row.

"Why were you walking to the back of the facility?” I asked.

"Something I can't explain was…calling to me and drawing me to the back of the place."

"What was it?"

"I don't know and I'm scared," she said. "I have to leave early tonight. You should leave this place too." She suddenly grabbed for her purse and jacket. Then she gave me an unexpected kiss and ran out the door.

I was so surprised at the kiss that I didn't think of the warning. I assumed that she kissed me because she liked me. I realize now that that it was her way of saying goodbye.

I covered for her until closing time at 9:00 and closed up the place. On Thursday, Brenda didn't show up for work and didn't call in sick. I looked up her phone number from the company computer records and called her home. She seemed happy to hear from me, but her voice was weak. I asked her if she was quitting her job.

"I'm just too scared to come to work. I’ll have to quit."

"What are you scared of?" I said.

"Just stay away from Storage Room 1313," she said. Then she made an excuse and got off the phone.

During a lull, I punched number 1313 into the computer and looked up the odd history of the room owner. One month ago, the renter made a special arrangement with the owners and paid an extravagant sum to move in at midnight. Since that crazy midnight move in, the eccentric midnight renter has not visited the storage facility.

That night while walking to my car, I got an eerie feeling of being watched. When I locked the main gate, I thought I saw a wolf or dog prowling around in the darkness between the storage buildings. I told myself that it was too dark to see clearly. There was no way a dog could get into the fenced facility. For reasons I didn't want to think about, I ran to the car.

The next morning while eating breakfast, I overheard something incredible from the TV in next room. Spilling a glass of tomato juice on the floor, I ran into the next room in time to hear the horrific details on the TV news.

Last night, there was a break in at a residence next to Safe Self Storage. The young couple that lived in that house was brutally murdered. The ratings hungry TV reporter made a point of mentioning that there were bite marks on the bodies and some of the body parts, such as one of the heads, were missing.

The news of the murder became a dark cloud that hung over me for the rest of the day. I couldn't shake my depressed mood. I was beginning to see the big picture and somehow sensed the dark evil had descended on my hometown.

On Friday, after being bored out of my mind during cost accounting class, I tried to call Brenda on my cell phone. Her frantic mother came on and wouldn’t let me get a word in. Between sobs, she said that Brenda had run away from home and wanted to know if I had a clue where she was. After calming the deranged woman down—all people over 40 are deranged anyway aren't they?—I assured her that I would call her if I found out anything about where she was.

I was really worried about Brenda when I left school and headed to work. As I eased my beat up Ford onto the Texas highway, the idiot light for temperature came on. I pulled over and a mushroom cloud of steam exploded from under the hood. The radiator had sprung a leak. I limped into a gas station and filled up the radiator with water. I knew it would all leak out again, but it would be enough to get to work. When I was done with my shift, I could fill it up again so I could limp home.

While I was wondering where I was going to get the money for a new radiator or preferably a new car, the radio news came on. Last night, a rabid dog or a wild coyote had attacked a jogger and killed her. The radio warned to be on the lookout for any rabid or wild animals.

The radio news was the final straw. I knew that it wasn't a dog that killed the jogger. I knew the heavy burden that had fallen upon my young teenage shoulders. Fate, or maybe just bad luck, had chosen me for the tough, tortuous task of saving Brenda, Euless and maybe the entire state of Texas. The problem was a bloodsucker and I knew I had to kill it. Sometimes you can’t ignore what is hiding behind closed doors. Tonight the time had come to face my fears and stand up to the evil that was hiding behind closed doors at Safe Self Storage.

I was in a grim but determined mood when I pulled into the Safe Storage parking lot. Because Brenda had quit, I had to work the night shift alone. I knew tonight it really would be the graveyard shift.

Instead of preparing to help any customers, I locked all the facility doors and shut off the overhead sign. I hung a small sign on the outside fence that said, "Closed due to death in the family."

Jogging over to the lawnmower shed, I got some tools. I had seen a ton a "B" movies and was well versed in how to slay the monster. I nailed two pieces of wood into a cross shape. Finding a saw under the tool box, I sawed off a broomstick and sharpened one end into a point for a stake. I grabbed a large hammer on the way out the door.

With my knees suddenly feeling weaker, I headed to the back of the complex. I opened the large overhanging door of room 1313 and a musty smell like from a tomb drifted out. The room was empty except for some beat up boxes and a large coffin. This was going to be harder than I thought. I took a deep breath, gripped the stake tighter and boldly stepped into the room.

In the boxes were dusty posters of classic vampire movies: Salem’s Lot; Fright Night; Dracula; Dracula Meets the Wolfman; and many others that were so old I didn’t recognize them. Apparently the owner of the room was a fan of vampire movies. Even though my heart was pounding, I suddenly heard a crazy, creaking sound like the fingernails on a blackboard. Turning around, I was amazed and horrified to see the coffin lid began to open. An old man dressed in a black suit slowly rose from the coffin. He turned to me, and with eyes that seemed to look through me, looked directly at me.

"Good evening, John," he said in a thick Eastern European accent. "I've been expecting you. I roam this area at night and probe the minds of the locals. You are the only one in town that knows about me."

Like a deer caught in a car's headlights, I was too frightened to move. The vampire slowly stepped out of his coffin.

"After I take care of you, the whole town including your little friend, Brenda, will be mine."

The crazy creep was trying to freeze me to the spot with his hypnotic eyes. I summoned up all my inner strength within me and looked away from his eyes. I stumbled out of the room and fell onto my knees into the twilight lit alley. The crude wooden cross I was holding snapped in two. Out of breath, I looked up and saw the vampire standing at the edge of the room several feet away. He was looking at me with hungry eyes.

"I'll be out soon," he said quietly. “Then I will rip your head off.”

I then realized that the vampire was afraid of the dimming sunlight in the alley and wouldn’t come out of the dark storage room. However my safety was only temporary. The sun was almost down and I only had about 10 minutes before the vampire came out of the room and tore me to pieces.

I started to run to my car. Then it dawned on me. I was trapped! With no coolant in my radiator, I could only drive about 5 miles before the engine overheated. The vampire could fly and catch me. I had no choice but to stay and fight the vampire and I had about 10 minutes to figure how to kill him. With only the very mundane things in the storage facility, I had to somehow craft into a weapon to slay the monster.

Fighting back the panic within me—or was it acid reflux from the sandwich I had for lunch—I knew I had to defeat the monster to save myself, Brenda, and the town. The sinister thing that was coming after me was thousands of years old and an experienced predator. I was only an scared, skinny 18 year old accounting student. No contest. I could take this creep. After all, I watch a lot of “B” monster movies.

I desperately started to think of all the office equipment and extra useless junk we have at Safe Self Storage and a strange light came into my eyes. I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I had a lot to do and I only had 10 minutes. If I planned it just right, I could defeat the monster.

Outside room 1313, there is a paved alley that allows you to drive your car up to the storage room. I decided to make my preparations in this lane and face him gunfighter style in a showdown. As soon as the twilight faded to night, the vampire confidently stepped out of his room. I faced him 30 yards away at the end of the alley. Separating us on both sides of the lane were several piles of large office supply cardboard boxes.

The monster eyed the boxes curiously, then looked directly at me and snarled baring his sharp teeth. This was it! Only one of us would come out of the alley alive. Time stood still.

"I'm the prince of darkness and I’ve been alive for thousands of years and you plan to defeat me with ordinary office supplies?"

“Brenda is mine and this town isn’t big enough for both of us!” I said as I stood my ground.

“How cliché,” he mocked.

“This is my storage facility and you’re fired,” I said as I tossed a match at a trail of gasoline. I immediately hit the ground and a crazy wumping sound of the explosion deafened my ears. The trail of gas led behind the boxes and the contents of the boxes shot like a cannon at the surprised monster. I covered my face with my hands and hoped I was far enough way from the inferno.

Whether it was 20 seconds or 20 minutes I couldn’t say, but I uncovered my face and managed to get to my feet. The flames were just beginning to die down. Lying dead—impaled by hundreds of wooden number 2 pencils—was the body of the vampire. I had been successful. Reasoning that a stake through the heart will kill a vampire, I had positioned the boxes so they would shoot the pencils at the monster. With the gas explosion behind the boxes, the pencils were like hundreds of little spears. One pencil would not kill a vampire, but a hundred were enough to put him away and end the vampire’s reign of terror.

I heard sirens in the distance and soon several fire trucks and a ton of cops descended upon Safe Self Storage. They took me away in the back seat of a cop car. I thought they were going to throw the book at me for murder and arson, but after sitting alone in an interrogation room for an hour, they suddenly let me go. They never asked me any questions.

Since that fateful night, my life has become more than a little strange. I’ve become an underground hero in my home town. Sometimes when I walk down the street, I see people whispering. Two weeks ago I got stopped by a cop for speeding. When he saw my name on the license, he let me go with a warning. Last month, while walking down Main Street, some little old lady came up to me and gave me a big hug.

The thing is, I don’t think I’m a big hero. I just think that sometimes you have to pay attention to the unknown and what is hidden behind closed doors. I quit my job at Safe Self Storage and vowed never to return. After killing a vampire with a writing instrument, I am convinced that the pen is mightier than the sword and that I should continue studying accounting. My folks are thinking about selling their house and moving to Dallas, but I’m determined to stay in Euless. A buddy of mine bugged me to join him in Austin, but I turned him down. I’ve decided to wait in my home town for Brenda to come home.

Against all logic, I’m holding out hope for Brenda. I have a theory that evil is a subconscious thing. I think she ran away because she was terrified of the evil undead at Safe Self Storage. Now that I single-handedly destroyed the vampire and saved the town, maybe she can somehow sense that it’s safe to come home. I hope so.

Sometimes girls at school talk to me, but I’m not interested. Brenda is a dream and worth waiting for. I’ll stay in this crappy one horse Texas town and wait for her to come home. I’ll wait as long as it takes. I’m living for a dream.

The End?

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2011-10-01 07:59:13
That was funny. I liked the hero's unique method of vampire slaying! Good one.

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Time Wars & other SciFi Tales

by Gordon Rowlinson