Yay! Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow
(an Excerpt from Fred Barnett’s ‘Bats’)

Riding in the 1970 Dodge Challenger are Vlad and Elizabeth (bloodsuckers), young Jonathan and Mina (up & coming bloodsuckers) and everyone’s favorite aunty, Lupta Axe, the Witch.

Elizabeth paid the fee and they parked. The crew of five piled out of her Barracuda and walked toward the VSD picnic area. Vlad knelt down on the newly dead grass. “This is the very spot where I found that stone that Elizabeth is wearing now.”
Mina looked at Elizabeth’s black diamond pendant wide-eyed. “Right here? Do you have any idea what that stone is worth? We could buy back the entire …” Mina stopped and stared.
A tall black robed figure approached them from the woods. Vlad thought Ah, yes, just what the world needs another freakin’ gothy black-robed figure. It was ‘the one and only Shadow,’ as in ‘The Shadow of the Valley of Death.’
The group froze before the Shadow’s frightening specter.
The Shadow turned slowly and spoke to Elizabeth. “What’s up, bitch?”
“Bitch? I was telling my family here just what a miserable little…” The Countess paused. “Listen flushabye, we came here to tell you that a group of the Van Helsing’s mercenaries are on their way to cut down all of your precious trees.”
“No way. Why would you warn me? After you called me, like, a ‘bit of a dick.”
“I’m shocked!” said Mina. “You called Shadow of Death a dick? No way!”
“Whatever! And my last name is O’Death.” said Shadow. “You can like, eat my shorts, skank!”
“Ewww. Not Even,” said Mina.
“I see that you are familiar with the language of the Valley, lithesome one?” asked the robed dick.
“Stop that.Everyone!” demanded Elizabeth. “The Van Helsing’s soldiers will be here in a few minutes. We need to surprise them.”
Vlad stepped forward. “We will hide, but in plain sight. Mr. O’Death would you be so kind to fetch some black robes, and, maybe some cups and plates. Let’s make it look like a family picnic.”
“All right, I’ll go check out my extensive wardrobe.” said Shadow. “It will cost you!”
“He is a dick, isn’t he? ” said Jonathan. He turned to Shadow who was gliding back toward his cabin in the trees “We’re here to save your valley, you ungrateful dead pric…!” Jonathan stopped speaking when he saw that the ground was completely covered in huge black gleaming diamonds. “Unholy fute! Wow!”
Shadow soon glided back toward the picnic area with a pile of neatly folded and monogrammed robes. “These belong to my family. The ‘M’ is for Marchand O’Death. He is my brother. We call him the Merchant, Angel, my sister and my parents, Void O’Death and my mom, Abyss or Abbie. I keep clean robes here for when they visit. Put them on, and sit at the table. I also brought along a bottle of O- plasma.” Shadow set a picnic basket down on the bench. “Have a drink.”
(Two minutes later …)
“Here come the mercenaries.” said Lupta. “Just keep talking. Anti-Christ! What in the heaven are they wearing?”
The Mercenaries, were dressed in pastel colored jumpsuits, heavily armed and equipped with chainsaws. They approached the picnic bench.
Vlad’s group carried on as if the mercenaries were not even there.
As if.
“Dude,” Shadow said to Jonathan.“Your babe is totally hot.”
 “Tre. As if! As if you’ll ever get to score any, looooooser.” said Jonathan, pretending to answer his cell phone.
 “Whoa! Who’s being a pulă (dick) now?” said Shadow, pretending to dial his.
The apparent leader of the mercenaries, dressed in avocado green, rapped his knuckles on the table. “I am Arsch Hut (Ass Hat)!” he said. “We are Die Kleinen Pferde (The Little Horsies) and we are taking control of this valley. Let me introduce a few of my colleagues. This is Tasse Kuchen (Cup Cake), and Numnum Knödel (Numnum Dumpling) among a few of my other favorites.
The colorfully dressed Horsies loomed over the picnic table, above the black figures who continued chatting, drinking plasma from Dixie Cups and ignoring them.
“Who isssss in charge here?” demanded Arsch Hut (Ass Hat).
“I’m the big Kahuna around here,” said Shadow. “I like the outfits. Cute. Festive!”
“You really like them?” asked Silber Tanga (Silver Thong). “We did the rhinestones ourselves,”
“We’re also part of a men’s chorus called the Van Hell Singers,” added the multi-colored Regenbogen Zuhälter (Rainbow Pimp).
Pastie Funkeln (Pastie Sparkle) curtsied then pulled the rope on his blue chainsaw (the one that matched his eyes and outfit). He stomped on the ground when he was unable to start it.
“Gnarly Chainsaws.” said Shadow. “What are you guys planning to do?”
“Cut down all of your trees.”
“For skateboards?”
“No silly,” said Numnum Knödel. “Parking spots for the new amusement park.”
Jonathan began talking to Mina. “Janis says that she is dating Steve!” He stuck his index finger into his throat making believe he was going to, like, hurl.
“Like oh my god. For real? That’s sick!” said Elizabeth “I’d better let Ashley hear this.” She dialed her phone.
“Steve? The poser?” said Vlad, opening his phone. “He deals ecstacy.”
“Not even!.” said Lupta.
 “Even!” said Mina, who was also making believe that she was talking to her best friend Courtney.
“Not even!” said Jonathan, said Jonathan into his phone.
 “Even!”said Shadow, who was texting.
“Achtung! Excuse me!” said, Arsch Hut, the Horsie’s commander. He was becoming very angry.
Vlad was sexting Elizabeth a picture of his looooong tongue, while speaking to Mina . “I would like totally hang up on the dude. He’s no Baldwin,”
They all heard a far away rumbling was heard. Lupta Axe perked her ears up. No! It can’t be! After months away, her twenty-foot-tall wayward husband, Saturn, was stomping his way home through the forest, whistling while he whittled a load of sharpened branches, most of which he carried on his huge shoulder.
The group needed to keep talking and killing time. Vlad, the big-shot warrior, was trying to think of a plan when Elizabeth had just sexted him back a nude portrait she had posed for in the 17th century.
“Well, I’m seeing Susan Anderson now,” bragged Shadow.
“Ewwwwww. Total slutbag.” said Jonathan.
“No way.”said Shadow.
Arsch banged on the table. Elizabeth looked up calmly. “Have a seat. Take a chill pill.”
“Fick you, and your ugly Challenger,” replied the very rude and impatient Horsie commander.
“Elizabeth! Dudette!” said Lupta while looking toward the edge of the park. “These douches totally egged your wheels in the parking lot!”
Elizabeth was seething. “Noooooo fucking wayyyy!” She couldn’t attack until Vlad had a plan. She texted Vlad: “Plan, Darling??? Hurry d fk up!” He sexted her back a shot of his middle finger between his legs under his robe.
“Excuse me!” said, Arsch Hut. “What are all of these black rocks? Valuable?”
“Black diamonds, guacamole dude.” said Shadow. “Take ‘em. Just leave the trees alone. Careful, they’ll cut right through your … the assholes are wearing disco boots?
“Really? First, we have orders to cut down all…Oh, mein Gott! The ground is covered with them?!” said the wide-eyed Arsch.
“They are not man-made cheapos. They are made of Human bones stressed for a minimum of three centuries.”
“Three centuries?” asked Luftigen Brötchen (Breezy Buns). “How are they pressurized so quickly?”
“Extreme stress,” said Shadow.
“You mean pressure?” asked Arsch Hut.
“No, Stress,” said Shadow. “These diamonds come from the bones of people who’d done nothing in life. Their souls remain within the bones until they are reincarnated into something useful, like a family pet, a dildo or a pizza. The first thing that we do, every day, is wake the bones with a loud alarm clock. Then we turn on the guilt. “Dead is no excuse.” I tell them. “I’m dead, but you don’t see me laying around. Look at your dead brother. He was a millionaire doctor! Get your feet off of the couch!”
Next, we give them irrational things to worry about by playing the TV news sixteen hours a day.
When “rest period” comes, we wake them every fifteen minutes with a combination of heavy bass disco, incessant barking dogs, power tools and crying babies. Oh, and sulphuric fart gas that they cannot escape from.
Then we threaten them all day with divorce, symptoms of illness, loss of work, hair, sexual dysfunction, and finances, lawsuits, teenage acne, unwanted hair, public embarrassment …well, you get the idea.
Before you know it, their bones have become huge black diamonds.”
“Fer shur.” said Elizabeth. “You’re okay, Shadow.”
Arsch Hut and his men bent down at the waist to gather the stones, failing to look behind them.
Several sharpened tree limbs shot from the woods, impaling all of the Horsies right up their big wazoozies as they were bent over in a line. A booming voice followed. “Hi honey, I’m home!”
“Saturn!” Lupta screamed.
“Uncle Saturn!” said Elizabeth. “Let’s decorate! I also feel festive!”
Saturn got to work stabbing the skewered bodies into the soil along the path toward the trees. “They look like popsicles. Can I eat one?” he said, proud of his display.
A frog fell from the sky as a flurry of roaches ran through the woods, heralding the new Plague Season,
“Plague season, again?” asked Jonathan.
“Three times a year, Jonny. Isn’t it just lovely?” said the very happy Lupta.
“Toooh-tally tubular!” said Mina.
“Radical!” said Shadow.
Four-and-a- half-foot-tall Lupta and twenty-foot-tall Saturn walked back toward the lot hand-in-hand beside Shadow. “You’re okay, Shadow.” she said. “You’re not such a tool after all. As a reward, in my next novel, I’ll let you bone Elmira.”
“Elmira, the evil queen?”
“No. The entire town of Elmira, California, stud.”
“Awesome! I want to marry your books. Seriously!”