Excerpt from Nocs – Rumors & Beer
There was a train schedule mounted on the outside wall of the old station in Hibonville, the small town below Pinecrest. Nocsville lay hidden in the opposite direction.
“Oh look!” Miranda noted sarcastically, “Their busy train schedule accommodates two trains per day!”
“Just enough to arrive and leave and experience the entire town in-between,” a voice responded from inside the station. Daniel and Miranda gave each other quizzical looks and stepped inside. There he was, in full uniform behind the ticket booth, his boots up on the desk, leaning back in a squeaky chair with his hands behind his neck, smiling. He had a really shiny name tag that ironically read Rusty.
“I didn’t see you arrive, but when would you like to leave?” Rusty didn’t really think they were going anywhere that day.
“Actually, we walked here to admire this beautiful station,” Daniel quickly responded. Then he turned to Miranda and whispered, “Rusty,” in case she didn’t put two and two together.
“Rusty, we just heard your name mentioned earlier today!” Miranda said bluntly. She didn’t understand why Daniel felt a need to be discreet about it.
“Elmer told us you’re a real authority when it comes to vampires.”
Now it was Daniel’s turn to worry about Miranda’s performance, but Rusty’s eyes lit up.
“Oh yeah, I’ve had my encounters,” Rusty said proudly. “Are you here to inquire about vampires?” he added with a look of suspicion on his face.
“No, not really,” Daniel assured him. “We just thought we’d take a day off and enjoy seeing the town. We’re attending a seminar at Pinecrest.”
“You’re from the professor’s camp?” Rusty straightened himself. “Tell me, have you seen anything suspicious up there? Do you know what to look for?”
“No,” Miranda responded. “We just heard about the vampires this morning. We’re curious where these rumors come from.”
“Rumors? They’re no rumors! I’ve seen them myself and I’ve got a picture to prove it!”
“Why yes, it’s right there on the wall!” Rusty motioned to the announcement board behind them. They had not paid attention to it on their way in. Now Daniel and Miranda both turned around and stared at the wall. It was cluttered with local newspaper clippings, advertisements, lost cats, post cards and Rusty’s photograph. They both bent forward, squinted their eyes, and zoomed in on the photo. There were people in the foreground attending a small festival, but where was the vampire?
“Is this the photo of the vampire?” Miranda asked, just to make sure.
“Oh yes, just focus on the background. You see there, behind the dumpster?”
Daniel and Miranda repeated their forward bend, squinting at the old faded photo again. Alright, there it was: a dark shadowed entity was standing against the brick wall in the alley behind the dumpster.
“But how do you know this is a vampire?” Miranda asked.
“Because that wasn’t the only time I saw him that evening. That was the only time I managed to catch him on film. This is a small town Miss, and the rest of us were all accounted for. I’m gonna catch that bastard one of these days.”
“You’ve seen him more than once?” Daniel blurted out.
“I sure have!”
“Has he done anything bad?” Miranda asked, concerned, because if Rusty really had seen a vampire, he had seen a noc.
“Nothing yet besides spying, but you can be sure it’s for some abominable purpose.”
“Ah, of course, he’s a vampire, so what else could he be up to? Say, are there girl vampires around here as well?” Miranda threw Rusty a curve ball.
“I haven’t thought about that. I’ve never seen any of them around.” Rusty scratched his head through his station master hat, making it tip back and forth.
“I wonder what they would look like,” Daniel continued dreamingly. “Girl vampires with their pale skin shining in the moonlight, red lips against white fangs, and hungry eyes.”
“Alright,” Miranda giggled. “You’ve seen too many movies.”
“That’s no joke, son,” Rusty interfered. “I’m sure female vampires are three times as deadly. But that boy in the photo, he’s real!”
“So how do you know he’s a vampire?” Miranda asked again. “Why not an asylum escapee, a serial killer, a burglar, or a foreign spy?” She figured the options were plenty in the company of a vivid imagination.
“Have the two of you never heard of the stories about our local vampires? I mean, how they came about, and the crazy scientist that used to live here, the one who was obsessed with vampires?”
“No!” they both answered.
“Dr. Rugenn,” Rusty said slowly while his eyes refocused into some unoccupied space. Miranda felt the onset of a childhood flashback, where a trill from a harp would sound an audio cue for the page to be turned in her story book. Daniel and Miranda sat down and adjusted into more comfortable positions, ready for story time.