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A Torch's Tale

Anyvun for Dustification?

I actually had the idea for a wampire in mid-2002, but I started the story and couldn't get any further than a paragraph. I went back to it in 2004 and finished it for entry into a competition, where it made the shortlist.

Story and characters © 2004

Waskikif the wily wampire pushed the lid off his coffin and checked his watch in the dim light that flowed into the crypt. He wasn't a vampire. Rather, he was a vampire with a speech impediment: he could pronounce his "w"s, which made him a wampire. Unfortunately, this meant that holy symbols, running water and sunlight didn't recognise him, and he couldn't be killed by these things. He was rather unpopular with the "in"-crowd, who went out on weekends in broad daylight to be dustified.

Waskikif the wily wampire just couldn't be turned into dust. He had a sneaking suspicion that he was becoming - shock, horror - mortal.

Which meant, of course, that there wasn't much point in him sleeping in a coffin. But it was worth a try.

So on this day, Waskikif checked his watch. It read "36:71". Waskikif had a feeling that there was something wrong with his watch. He ventured out of his coffin anyway, conjecturing with no logic at all that if it really was 36:71 it'd be broad daylight and he'd be dustified.

He was right about one thing, anyway. He was dustified.

Suddenly, with a "whoomp" sound, he turned back into himself again, intact but a little confused. Shaking his head vigorously, he glanced swiftly around, and turned back into dust with a "sloosh". Another whoomp - this time he had almost had enough time to complete the swift glance he had started on his last whoomp, before being dustified again. One more whoomp. He finished the glance.

There was a boy standing beside him. It was a bit dark, so Waskikif couldn't see the boy very clearly. He looked about thirteen.
"Hello," said the boy.
"Hell - aargh!" said Waskikif, turning back into dust in the middle of the word.


Jek looked at his torch, then at the man-shaped figure in front of him. He turned it on again, experimentally. The figure disappeared. When he turned the torch off, the figure reappeared.
"Hello," said Jek.
"Hell -" said the figure, breaking off as Jek flicked the switch on his torch. Jek bent down and shone the torch on the place where the other person had been, poking at a small pile of dust. He straightened and turned the torch off. The man - for want of a better word - reassembled, but with a slight difference.

There was a head in Jek's hand.

The eyes on the head blinked.
"-llo," said the head, with a slightly nervous smile.

Jek looked at the head thoughtfully, and decided to try the blustering I-am-more-powerful-than-you technique.
"What manner of being are you, that you dare trespass on property owned by the great magician Rand Omnumber?" he blustered in his best I-am-more-powerful-than-you voice.

The head looked at Jek thoughtfully, and decided to try the blustering I-am-bigger-and-scarier-than-you technique.
"I am a wampire! I am bigger and scarier than you!" he blustered in his best I-am-bigger-and-scarier-than-you voice.

Jek shook his own head, then shook the wampire's, if that was what it was.
"I don't think so. You don't look very big. I must be at least a head - I mean, a body - taller than you."
The head sighed. "Well, I would be bigger than you, if… could you please put me next to my body?"
Jek laid the head down and winced as he heard a squelch. A dark shadow rose up to tower above him.
"Well, now you see. I am bigger than you." Jek looked at the wampire and shrugged.
"Only by a centimetre…"
The wampire glared. "My shadow is longer than yours."
Jek realised he was imagining things.
"Uh… there are no such things as wampires, are there? You're not talking about vampires? Vampires don't cast shadows, you know," he said slowly. The wampire glared darkly. This was mainly because it was quite dark, so Jek couldn't see the glare anyway.
"There are now. I'm a wampire," he said. "Waskikif the wily wampire. Not Vaskikif the vily vampire. That's vhy - I mean, why - I don't get dustified in bright light and daylight." Waskikif looked at Jek thoughtfully. At least, he looked at where Jek would be if it was light and he could see him.
"For that matter, why did I get dustified when you used that torch?"

Jek felt for the button on his torch.
"Oh, you mean this torch?" He turned it on. Waskikif turned into another small pile of dust. Jek bent over the pile and sighed, switching off the torch.

This was a bad idea.

The reason for this being a bad idea was that his head was still bent over the immortal remains of Waskikif. As Waskikif rebodied himself, he knocked Jek on the chin. It hurt quite a bit.
"Ouch!" said Jek. (Well, actually, he didn't say "ouch", but we can't repeat what he said here.) "You made me bite my tongue!"
Waskikif continued the previous conversation.
"Yes, that torch." He held out his hand. "Give me a look." Jek handed over the torch, but due to the darkness Waskikif couldn't see it anyway. Jek puffed up proudly.
"This is our prototype model of the brand-new UltraWiolet Light™ torch! It makes white things glow, while not exposing people to harmful ultraviolet rays. Created by and copyright to Rand Om Enterprises; all rights reserved. Patent pending."
"Hm," said Waskikif, holding the torch about two centimetres from his nose in order to see what was written on it. He almost dropped it, fumbled to catch it and accidentally hit the button. The torch fell onto a pile of dust. Jek picked up the torch and shone it so that the dust was half-lit, half in darkness.

Half of Waskikif's body reappeared. It was the left half.

Waskikif was not particularly pleased with this development.

"Ple- tu- i- of-," he said. Jek correctly interpreted this as "please turn it off". He did. Waskikif glared balefully at him. This had no effect, as it was still dark.
"Didn't you mean ultraviolet light?" he asked.
"No, I said UltraWiolet Light™. Patent pending. Specially developed by Rand Om Enterprises."
"That explains it," muttered Waskikif under his breath. Jek was somewhat curious.
"Explains what?" he asked somewhat curiously.
"I never managed to get dustified before," explained Waskikif.
"Dustified? Oh, you mean that turning-into-dust thing you keep doing? Like this?" He turned the torch back on.
"YE -" Waskikif started, before disappearing into a pile of dust again. Jek turned the torch off and he reappeared. "Would you stop doing that! And I take it that since your torch appears to have a similar speech impediment to mine, it can dustify me."
"Uh… my torch doesn't talk. Torches can't, you know," said Jek.

"That's what you know," said a voice.

It was coming from the torch.

"Oh dear," said Jek thoughtfully. "I guess we did too many experiments on this prototype. It appears to have developed a mind of its own."
The torch was incensed. It burst into flames.
"Developed a mind of my own?" it fumed. "My mind is much more powerful and advanced than yours! I created your mind randomly!"
Jek looked towards Waskikif.
"It's delusional," he whispered.
"And I heard that!"

Waskikif reached out for the torch and weighed it carefully in one hand.
"Look, can I borrow this? If I can get dustified, I can be cool!"
"I'm not a this! I'm a thinking, feeling, person thingy!" said the torch. Jek and Waskikif ignored it.
"Borrow the prototype model of the brand-new UltraWiolet Light™ torch? You must be crazy!"
"Come on… just for a few days? I'm sure your powerful magician guy wouldn't even notice," wheedled Waskikif. He could sense Jek relenting.
"Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt. But you have to return it, okay?"
Waskikif agreed with a grin, and rushed off into the darkness, accidentally smashing his head into the nearest wall.

Vladimir the vampire looked at Waskikif and snorted.
"Look, gang, it's Mr. Speech Impediment uncool!"
Waskikif looked desperately at the vampire gang leader.
"Look, I can do this now! Shine this torch at me, then turn it off!"
Vladimir took the torch and turned it on. After dustifying and rebodying, Waskikif looked at Vladimir.
"Well, what do you think?" he asked anxiously. Vladimir sniggered.
"You are so uncool. Dustification is, like, so two days ago. Come on, gang, let's get avay from this loser."

The vampires walked away, leaving Waskikif staring after them, a torch clutched in one hand.