Old Times’ Stake – A short story

Over at Flash! Friday they are having a bonus writing contest with a larger limit, a whopping 1000 words! We still had to incorporate a theme, which was Mischief and we had to base our take around the following prompt:

Doffer boys, Jan 1989. Public domain photo by Lewis Hine.

Doffer boys, Jan 1909. Public domain photo by Lewis Hine

Old Times’ Stake

Old man Jenkins heard a thump at his front door. About time! He moved slowly, visibly wincing with every step. The door creaked in protest as he opened it to reveal his daughter, looking concerned. He peered around cautiously and ushered her inside. He whispered, “Elsie, what are you doing here?”
“Nice to see you too Dad. I was in the neighbourhood.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a silver cross, “This was on your doorstep. Care to explain?”
Jenkins thought fast, “I joined a new church. Guess that’s the welcome gift.”
Elsie nodded, “Oh I see, well I guess they’re not so welcoming because this was on top of it.” She pulled out a long wooden stake and pointed it accusingly at her Father, “It’s started again hasn’t it. How long?”
Jenkins mumbled, “About a week.”
Elsie gave him a stern look, “A week! Why didn’t you say anything?”
“You’ve got your own problems. It’s nothing to worry about.”
“This has been going on long enough. I’m calling the police!”
He let out a chuckle, “And tell them what, that kids are leaving camping equipment and religious items on my doorstep? I’m sure they’ll have their top detectives down here pronto.”
“It’s harassment, plain and simple. It was funny thirty years ago, but now you’re a helpless old man. How many times do we have to squash this rumour that you’re a vampire?”
“I guess at least once more.”
Elsie shook her head, “Just because you enjoy midnight strolls, doesn’t give them the right to treat you like this. I won’t have you living in fear. Come stay with me and the kids until all of this dies down.”
Jenkins expression immediately soured, “Absolutely not! I won’t be a burden to you and your family. Speaking of which, you should be getting back.”
He nudged her towards the door but she stepped around him, “I know you keep avoiding the subject but you can’t live alone forever. What if you fell?”
She moved into the living room, “It’s freezing in here Dad, why don’t you light the fireplace?”
Jenkins smiled and bent down to retrieve something from a drawer, but he suddenly clutched at his back. Elsie gently directed him to the sofa. The arthritis had come on so quickly. Just a month ago he was a sprightly old man, fitter than men half his age. Now here he was, hobbling around, frail and vulnerable.
“What have I told you about overdoing it? You’re not exactly a spring chicken.”
“In my day…”
She cut him off, “I know, you walked twenty miles to school barefoot in the snow, wrestling grizzly bears all the way.”
“You forgot the Werewolves…”
She punched him playfully in the arm. He reached out and handed her what he’d retrieved. She recognized it as her Mothers favourite hand knit scarf. He said, “If you won’t leave at least put this on. It will keep you warm.”
She wrapped the scarf around her neck. It smelled old and musty, with distinct undertones of something pungent. She reminded herself to have a long bath when she got home.

Elsie noticed a pile of photographs strewn across the coffee table. She picked one up and admired the young men staring back at her. Her Dad was instantly recognizable, a freckly youth with some stylish suspenders and a twinkle in his eye, “What’s this picture Dad, I’ve never seen it before.”
Jenkins squinted, “Oh that’s just me and my old school buddies. We got up to all sorts of mischief, the kind kids just don’t understand these days.” He gazed off into the distance.
Elsie joined him on the sofa, “Did I ever meet them?”
“I’m afraid I stopped hanging out with them as soon as you were born. Couldn’t get into trouble with a family at home.”
“Where are they now?”
“All dead except Simmons, that tall kid at the back.”
“That’s terrible, what happened?”
“Wild wolf killed Peters. Smith lost his mind and died suddenly.”

There was a loud thump at the door which made Elsie jump.
“Are you expecting someone?”
The fear was back in her Dad’s eyes. Before he could stop her she jumped out of her seat, “It better not be those damn kids!” She swung the door open to find a young man dressed all in black. He smiled, “Good evening miss, I am looking for Mr. Jenkins.”
Elsie said, “You’re in the right place. Please come in.” There was a niggle at the back of her mind, “Do I know you?”
Her Dad was the one to reply, “Elsie dear, this is the old friend I was just telling you about, Mr. Simmons. Please come over here.”
Before she could escape Simmons grabbed her arm. She struggled as he smiled a wicked grin, revealing prominent fangs, “Nice to see you old friend. I see the years haven’t been kind. I will kill your daughter quickly, for old times’ sake, but I’m afraid you won’t get that same courtesy.”
He lunged for Elsie’s neck. She screamed and waited for the sharp pain, but none came. Instead there was an intense rasping. The grip loosened and she turned to see Simmons grasping his throat.

Jenkins moved with amazing speed, cartwheeling over the couch and picking the stake up off the floor in one smooth motion. He flung it with enough force to pin Simmons to the wall, where he squirmed and shrieked before dissolving into a pile of ashes.
Elsie stared, dumbfounded. She could only manage, “How?”
Jenkins took a deep breath, “The short version is, the arthritis was a ruse, the scarf is garlic infused and the stake was a gift from the neighbourhood priest to help me do my job one last time. The long story is quite something else, and really requires at least a cup of tea and possibly something stronger. It’s about time I filled you in, so pop the kettle on and pass the biscuits.”


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