01 Plague Season for Web

Bats: Chapter 6:

Plague Season 

Two very old granite gargoyles greeted young guitar-slinger Jonathan Tepes as he approached the drawbridge of Poenari Castle, Prince Vlad’s home.

“Vait!” said Wichtoria, the gargoyle on the right.

Opri!” said Wichtor, the gargoyle on the left.

“You should always say ‘vait,’ Wichtor,” said Wichtoria as she strained her long granite neck over the battlement to get a better view of the pale young man in the rapid strobe of the lightning. Jonathan was standing beneath the drawbridge, shielding himself from the cold rain with his guitar case.

“You, down there!” shouted Wichtoria. “Are you here to entertain us? Young vippersnapper, are you…are you the singer James Taylor?”

“What?! Noooo!” said Jonathan.

Rain pummeled the blood-soaked soil and ran in red rivulets toward the moat.

“Maybe you are Jackson Browne then?” asked Wichtoria.

“Yes! You do look very familiar,” said Wichtor. “Are you a wisitor?”

“Wisitor? You mean, visitor? Yes, I am a wisitor!” said Jonathan, looking up at the gargoyles as the rain tapered off.

“I’ve dabbled in songwriting too!” said Wichtoria. “I could sing you some of my songs. Maybe, if you like them, I vill let you record them, Mr. Taylor.”

“Sorry! I only LOOK like James Taylor…before he lost his hair,” said Jonathan. “I’m also mellower!” he shouted while shooing away clouds of gnats, flies, and all manner of pestilence.

“I can’t play guitar with my talons and stony wings,” said Wichtoria. “But I can play a mean blues harp. Maybe we can jam later?”

Wichtor turned toward her sharply. “Enough, Wici!” Then he looked back down on the shivering human. “Young man! Did you park your wehicle in the wisitor parking?”

“Wehicle? Wisitor parking? Why, no!”

Wichtoria said, “If you’re only wisiting, you should never park in the wesidential parking. Parking is wimited. If you need to unload your band equipment, you can—”

“I am a wisitor, I have no wehicle, annnnnd I DO NOT have a band!”

“I am Wichtoria. You can call me Wici. This is Wichtor. He is a ‘sir.’”

“Maybe after your show we can have a drink,” said Wici. The gargoyle winked at young Jonathan. Wichtor shook his stony head in shame.

 “This is not funny,” he said. “It’s freezing and raining!”

“Did you hear that, my little angel? I’m shocked! Did you know that our veather stinks, Wici?”

Poison arrow frogs dropped from the sky onto Jonathan’s shoulders.

“The Prince had me brought here in the taxi. Please!” said Jonathan.

“Oh! So Mr. Big Shot sent for you! Vell then, velcome!” they both said.

“Is it safe here? Everyone down in the village at Poenari seems frightened,” shouted Jonathan. “A woman dressed in black warned me about vampires.”

“Ha! She must have been an oldt vife!” said Wichtor. “Cause that is an oldt vife’s tale! There are no such things as w-w-w-w-wampires!”

“Maybe we should tell our young wisitor about the wampires,” Wichtor whispered into Wici’s ear. “Hey, you! Young man! We do have wampires!”

“What?”

“Only a few,” said Wici trying to calm him.

“No. Don’t make him worry, Wici,” said Wichtor.

“What happened to your accents? The Vs and Ws?”

“Busted! The Vs and Ws were just a setup for the wampire joke,” Wici said. “Actually, we are from Paris, monsieur.”

Something black landed on Jonathan’s collar. “Ow! What the hell just bit me?” he asked, flinging his hands around.

“That was either Cherubino or Angioletto,” said Wici.

“Damn! That was a bat!” screamed Jonathan.

“Transylvanian Mosquitos,” said Wichtor, trying not to drive away his employer’s prospective dinner. “The woods are rotten with…creepies undt crawlies.”

“Can you please lower the bridge?” yelled Jonathan.

Wichtor looked over to Wici and gestured with his talon. “Look at that, Wichtoria! The boy didn’t bring a jacket. Kids these days, I tell ya.”

“Before we can open the bridge, we are required to ask you three questions,” said Wici. “National security. Do you understand?”

“Okay! Please!” Jonathan sneezed loudly.

“Did you hear that, Wichtor? Mr. Taylor, does your mother know that you’re dressed like that? You could catch your life of cold out here. Where’s your sweater?”

“Look! He’s catching pneumonia,” said Wichtor. “Ask him already!”

“Are you listening?” she yelled. “Question number one: Tell me which movie this quote came from: ‘Come…on! Move into the slow lane, you stupid bastard!’”

“The Day of the Driving Dead!”

“Not bad, kid,” said Wichtor, framed by a cloud of descending locusts. “Number two,” Wici continued. “‘Hisssssss…ski.’”

“The Polish Bride of Frankenstein. Too easy,” said Jonathan, teeth chattering.

Lightning struck behind him, pushing him toward the red water of the moat. A hundred pairs of green eyes lit up as the crocodiles waited for him to slip.

“The kid’s good!” Wichtor said to Wici. “For one hundred dolari! Are you listening, young man?”

“Yes, I’m listening! Brrrrrrrr……”

“Well, then you should have listened to your mother!” interrupted Wici. “If you had any brains, the Good Humerus Man would be selling them frozen on a stick. Not even a hat! What they teach you in college? Okay, smarty pants, Wichtor will ask you question number three! Hurry, Wichtor, I think he’s becoming a frozen entrée.”

“Okay! For one hundred dolari,” said Wichtor while the clock from the highest tower clicked. “Identify this famous quote: ‘The bwud is the wife, Mr. Wenfield!’”

“Elmer Fudd as Dwacuwa, 1964! So, where’s my money?”

The two gargoyles looked at each other and shrugged.

“Do you have any cash on you, Wichtor?” asked Wici.

“Do you see pockets here, Wichtoria? The sculptor carved us naked. I have nothing! Nothing! Not even a sock for my schmekel!”