As promised, I am presenting for your reading pleasure part one of my foray into vampire fiction. I've gone old school with my vampires... really old school.
Tune in next week for the conclusion!
The sound of rending wood woke everyone in the camp. It was a cold sound, the sound that a healthy tree makes when it is torn apart in a storm, but here in the garrigue there were no trees. There was something inherently wrong with hearing a sound like that.
Everyone hurried from their tents to find the source of the ear-splitting clamor. It was just after midnight and most of the archaeologists were slightly hung-over from earlier celebrations. They had made a startling and unprecedented discovery; a medieval burial ground and several well-preserved graves. Most had yielded small finds, odds and ends that had been buried with the bodies, but one grave contained a perfectly intact corpse. There had been no damage at all to the mummified body from its years underneath the rugged, Provence soil.
However, the pristine condition of the remains was not the only oddity. The person, a man, had been buried with iron spikes through his neck, groin, and legs, pinning him to the ground. Dr. Gilbert could hardly believe her luck at finding such a perfect example of a long forgotten folk superstition. It had not been easy, but she and the dig team had managed to pull him from the ground without disturbing the integrity of the body or the spikes. He had been carefully crated to be shipped to the lab and then the party had begun.
Dr. Gilbert froze. The crates! There were many pieces of flimsy wooden furniture in the site camp, but the sturdiest pieces were the heavy artifact crates. She ran toward the storage building, several interns at her heels, only to stop dead at the sight before them.
The locked door of the storage building was torn of its hinges. Inside, great shards of jagged wood littered the ground around what had been the largest shipping crate, the crate that the body had been in. Dr. Gilbert moved closer to inspect it, all apprehension replaced with fear of foul play. A gaping hole had been pushed through the thick wooden lid; leaving a rough and splintered edge. The body was missing. Dr. Gilbert kneeled and leaned against the shattered crate and silently cursed the thieves, whoever they were.
“Why would anyone take him?” an intern asked.
“To claim the discovery as their own,” another intern chimed in, “or to sell it.”
“Maybe the gypsies want it back!” The intern received several incredulous glances.
Dr. Gilbert heaved a sigh when she thought of the insight to medieval culture that they had so abruptly lost. Something was gnawing at the back of her mind, however, and when she opened her eyes and studied the scene, normal theft suddenly seemed a little less likely. A scientist’s mind rebels at certain ideas, but given the evidence before her, Dr. Gilbert was now unsure. The lid and part of the side of the crate had been broken open from the inside; the splinters and edges all pointing outward. That was suspicious enough, but could be easily explained given time. Try as she liked, though, she couldn’t find a logical reason for the next surprise. The iron spikes were still in the crate. Why remove them before taking the body?
“Either someone is pulling an elaborate joke or…”
A high pitched scream cut through the night and was abruptly ended. Everyone rushed out of the storage building. The hired laborers were huddled in a group and were fervently crossing themselves. Dr. Gilbert ran toward them to ask who had been screaming when something in the bushes behind them caught in the firelight and took her eye.
Her breath caught painfully in her throat as she made out the features of a ghastly and terrible face.