Flash Fiction: Mutter

Courtesy Flickriver, photograph by Matt Blick
Captured by Matt Blaze

For the Terribleminds challenge . Choices are listed after the story.


The catacombs beneath the Mütter Museum stretched out for miles beneath the city. Between the sewer systems and the tunnels of the capitol’s mass transit system was a subterranean world few entered of their own volition. In fact, it was only the repeated disappearances that had prompted UBI agent Kirk Levitt to look into their entrance. He did not know what to expect; his sidearm was already drawn, its light moving back and forth through the darkness as he walked.

“Remember. When I tell you, douse that light. You will need it.”

His guide was a curious person. He worked as a tour guide in Philadelphia, mostly working the area around Fort Chamberlain, the refuge of then-President Lincoln and his family when the Confederates sacked Washington at the end of the Civil War.

“How long has this been going on?”

“Nobody’s sure.” She still wore her tour guide garb, right down to the tri-corner hat and flappy overcoat, the dress of a soldier from the Revolutionary War. “Even my master was never bold enough to come down here.”

“Yet you are?”

“Not on my own. I’d be arrested if I came in without pretense or credentials.”

Levitt blinked in the semi-darkness. “You just waited around for someone like me to finally look into the kidnappings and disappearances?”

“It’s not my fault the Union authorities are so slow.”

Levitt took a breath to protest, but then let it go. He was also often frustrated with the methodical pace with which the UBI operated, especially when it came to kidnappings.

They walked on in silence for long, dark minutes. Levitt wasn’t certain how the woman knew where she was going, but as he had no clue himself, he raised no argument, keeping his focus on the shadows before him, alert for any clues.

“Douse the light.”

He hesitated for a moment, then lowered his pistol and twisted the light until it switched off. He closed his eyes, counted to five, and slowly opened them again. A strong hand with long gloved fingers touched his wrist, and he nearly jumped out of his skin.

“Be calm. I’m still next to you.”

Her voice did little to reassure him, but he let her raise his gun back to its ready position.

“Keep your off hand on the light for now. When I give the word, turn it back on.”

“You don’t need it to see?”

“No. I can see.”

Levitt was about to protest when he heard her boots on stone next to him. She was walking. He followed, keeping his ears open for the sound of her footsteps to guide him. She moved quickly, not enough to wind Levitt, but certainly faster than a casual walk. It wasn’t long before he began to hear things other than their footsteps and his breathing. Out of the darkness floated a rattle of chains, a muffled sob, something whispered.

“Quiet now, Agent. Remember, when I give the word, turn on your light.”

He nodded, even though he could not see her. He felt something moist on his face, a thickening of the air. The temperature around him had gone up. As they moved, soft glows could be seen pushing back the darkness. They closed in on the meager lights, and Levitt eventually made out that they were small candles, set back along the edges of a large circular chamber, the flickering glimmers playing off shapes in alcoves beyond his sight. Yet, his mind began to process what he was seeing and hearing, and his experiences in the UBI told him what he was seeing.

Prisoners.

“We have to help them.”

“Be silent.”

The candles also illuminated the large shape in the middle of the room. It seemed at first to be a plinth or altar of some kind. Then, as its lid slid aside, Levitt realized they were in a crypt, and this was the coffin. A figure rose from the stone sarcophagus, blocking some of the candles, two red pinpricks focusing on the intruders.

“Well, well. I was wondering when you’d find me.”

“Your evil has lasted long enough, fiend.”

“You’re one to talk. Unwilling to embrace what sets you apart from the sack of blood beside you, frightened of your own potential, lashing out at those who are more your kind than the cattle will ever be. Which is the truer evil?”

“I don’t abduct innocents.”

“Oh, they’re hardly innocent. What was it your mother did, again?”

Levitt heard a low growl next to him. “Do not speak of her again. You get one warning.”

“And what will you do if I do, child? I am centuries your elder. I’ve taken many a whore in my time, and I was told your mother was particularly special…”

“Agent Levitt.”

Levitt twisted the light as quickly as he could. Somehow, in that half-second, the figure in the coffin had climbed out of it and was an arm’s length from him. There was a touch of genuine surprise on his pale face, but his eyes were fully red, and his mouth was open, showing long sharp fangs.

Levitt emptied his pistol.

The vampire didn’t go down, but staggered, the gunshots deafening in the small space. When the gun clicked empty, the woman leapt, her long cloak flapping behind her. Levitt saw vials, blades, and pouches underneath, and she had a long wooden stake in her hand. With a savage cry, she drove it straight through the vampire’s breastbone with a sickening crunch. Her coat had not settled before she drew a short but heavy blade, and spinning, she took his head from his shoulders.

The UBI agent caught his breath, keeping his gun on the headless corpse as the woman rose, cleaning her blade with a white cloth.

“What… what…”

“That was a vampire. These are his captives. And you, Agent Levitt, have helped me hunt and slay him. This is who and what I am, and what I do. The question is: what will you do now?”


d10 of Destiny rolls: 8 (Parallel Universe), 3 (In a vampire’s subterranean lair), 7 (A mysterious stranger)

1 Comment

  1. That’s a nice scene. Some mystery, suspense, action. I’m glad you posted the rolls at the end, because I had no idea where the story was going.

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