Haplessly Ever After

Hitting the Fan

Willie entered the diner and spotted his friend sitting alone, surrounded by a mountain of food: Hamburgers, French fries, lobster rolls, chicken legs, stuffed cabbage and a gigantic ice cream sundae.

"Adam, no. You know you can't eat that stuff. You don't have the digestion parts."

But the monster continued to munch away, smiling up at Willie with a full mouth.

"Taste good. Sit with Adam and share." He patted the empty chair next to him.

"I just came to look for Maggie, 'cause she works here." The young man took a seat, and a French fry. "You're gonna get awful sick; Julia said you can't eat food like a regular person."

"Julia lie, you know that; just to be mean. Like Barnabas." Adam gestured to his friend. "Eat, eat."

Willie shrugged and took a chomp out of the lobster roll as a gorilla-sized security guard in sunglasses approached and spoke softly in his ear.

"Sir, your name isn't on the list, so you're going to have to leave."

"I want to see Maggie Evans. It's important."

"But she don't want to see you, so get out."

The bouncer proceeded to escort Willie to the door but was prevented by the giant guest. Adam picked up the man, shaking him fiercely.

"Bad!" The creature cried as he snapped the man's neck. "Go away!"

"Shit, Adam, you killed him!" Willie stared in horror at the heap on the floor as he tugged on monster boy's arm. "We gotta get out of here!"

"After ice cream." Adam returned to his seat.

Willie ran out the door onto the empty sidewalk, searching for his pickup truck. Wind stirred a tumbleweed down the abandoned street as twilight fell on Collinsport.

A silhouetted couple appeared in the distance. As they approached, the figures revealed themselves as Maggie and Joe Haskell, pushing a baby carriage down the center of the street. Willie ran towards them, but Joe stepped forward and shoved him away.

"Leave my wife alone, you psycho!"

"No, that's my wife, and th-that's my baby." The woman walked by without a glance. "Maggie, wait, please don't leave me!"

Joe tackled him to the ground and Willie found himself in a street brawl. Fueled with fury, Haskell rammed his fist into his opponent's gut as Willie fumbled for the switchblade in his pocket. The knife was knocked away but Willie used the distraction to roll to one side and leap to his feet. He kicked Joe in his pretty boy face, swung back and kicked him again in the balls.

Maggie continued on her path, even as a car came speeding towards her. It was Julia Hoffman in her tan sedan, about to run down mother and child as a large, black bat hovered overhead. "NO!" Willie tore down the street, yanking Maggie and the carriage out of harm's way just the vehicle sped by. It ran over Joe Haskell instead.

"Maggie, I want to take care of you, you and the baby. I've learned how to do that now. Can I see him please? Does he look like me—or you?"

"He looks like Pop."

Willie pulled back the blue baby blanket to reveal a pudgy, miniature Sam Evans, complete with gray hair, beard and pipe.

"Give me a light, Loomis," the baby growled.

Julie screeched to a stop before putting the car into reverse, backing up over Joe, who was starting to look like road kill, as the bat descended and transformed into Barnabas. The vampire struck Willie aside and took Miss Evans into the folds of his long cape. Julia braked a few yards away and alit from the automobile. She opened the truck and released two silver wolves, his familiar adversaries. Willie turned to run, but slammed headlong into Adam, who was crying. The monster's gut had burst open and he clutched at his dangling entrails.

"Willie, help Adam! Adam hurt! Wake up, Willie!"

"I told you not to eat that food."

The young man led his friend to a nearby gurney but two orderlies forced Willie into a straightjacket and strapped him to the transport instead. He struggled and screamed as they wheeled him away, helplessly watching the wolves bring down Adam and devour him.

"Wake up, Willie!"


Willie awoke, covered in sweat, curled into a corner of Aunt Abigail's bed, clutching the bedpost in terror. Gripping his storybook, Adam gawked at him from across the room, wide eyed with fear and confusion.

"Willie sad," the monster ventured. "Why Willie cry with sleep?"

"I never cry," the servant said automatically as he scanned the room, still trembling. "W-what did I say?"

"Maggie. Baby. No, No, you yell. Cry. You tell Adam, don't cry; I don't cry—but you do."

"Nobody else heard, did they?"

"Nobody come." Adam shook his head.

"I just have bad dreams sometimes." Willie shrugged it off. "Do you—ever dream?" The monster was confused. "See things when you sleep."

The creature smiled. "Yes, Adam see beach. Walk with ghost friends and dance. Eat chicken."

Willie, in the days following their adventure, had been called upon to explain what exactly ghosts were and, subsequently, to the best of his ability, dead people. He declined to mention how many of the Collinsport spirit coalition had been sent to their fates by the creation's surrogate father, Barnabas.

Having lost interest in his picture book, the creature put it aside. "Why Adam no go away again to beach?"

Willie put on his sneakers and returned to his chores.

"Because Barnabas and Julia are watching me like a couple of hawks, and I'm afraid of what that witch doctor's going to do when she finds out you're all walking and talking. What's the big deal anyway? She gets so freaked that something bad might happen to her precious blood-making machine."

"Why Barnabas need blood?" The monster began to play with the one-legged G.I. Joe and his souvenir clam shells from the beach.

"That's just what he drinks. I drink beer, you drink green stuff and he drinks blood," his caregiver replied dismissively.

"Why?"

Willie figured there was no harm in telling him, as Adam wouldn't know what the word meant.

"Barnabas is a big ole vampire, that's why. It's no big deal; that's his job. I was one too, you know, for a while."

"There are many vam-pires?"

"How should I know? Probably more than folks realize."

Adam carefully considered the warden's words.

"There is more like Adam to make blood for the vam-pires?"

"I don't think so. You see, Julia invented you because she's a doctor or scientist, something."

Hoping for a kindred spirit, Adam deflated at the news. "How—" the monster puzzled, "how do vampires get blood without Adams?"

"Look, I got work to do. I can't be—"

But Adam grabbed his sleeve, almost pulling Willie off his feet. "Talk now. I wish to know where vampires get blood and doctor make Adam how."

"First off, keep your paws to yourself, buster. If you were a better student and read more, you wouldn't have such a hard time putting them words together to ask questions."

"If you were better teacher, you wouldn't have such hard time answer them questions."

Adam and Willie glared at each other. Both were going stir crazy cooped up in that laboratory, and no immediate opportunities for adventures presented themselves. Their owners seldom left the house and never for long. A couple of times Willie discovered Dr. Hoffman listening outside the lab door.

"Where vampires get blood?" Adam repeated.

"Fine." Willie threw down his dust cloth. "You know, for someone who can barely talk, you're pretty mouthy." He sat next to Adam. "Vampires have long teeth and bite folks to suck their blood, but Julia thinks that's rude or something, 'cause Barnabas told me she won't let him bite her. So she came up with the idea of you."

"How Julia make me, Willie?" He was getting frustrated. "From egg in nest?"

"People don't lay eggs in nests, you dim bulb." Adam threw G.I. Joe to the floor. "Look, she found you in a fucking cabbage patch, okay? I'm not sure you're old enough for this conversation."

Adam began to sulk once more. "Willie is one friend, but hate Adam. I wish for new friend."

"Shut up, I don't hate you," the teacher replied, picking up the doll and regarding it sadly. "And…you're my only friend, too. Shit. Ain't we a pathetic couple of losers."

The monster pulled on Willie's sleeve. "Talk to Adam." He looked pleadingly at his caregiver.

"Alright," Willie sighed. "You were made out of…dead people. Kind of cool in a way—like recycling. Julia said it would make medical history and help lots of people. Of course, the only people I think it helped was her and Barnabas."

"Dead people." Adam was still unclear of the concept. "From the beach?"

"Hospitals mostly. She made me drive her all around in the middle of the night making pickups. Then she stuck all the parts together."

"Adam is a ghost?"

"No! Look, it's complicated."

"Willie don't know because stupid."

"Not as stupid as you, jackass."

"Willie bad!"

Willie shushed the creature when he heard a soft knock at the door and Dr. Hoffman stepped in.

"Excuse me, Willie, may I speak to you?"

"Sure." The lab assistant picked up his dust cloth.

"In private, if you please. Come to my room." Julia left as Willie glanced sideways at the creature.

"Willie!" A baritone voice bellowed from down the hall.

"Oh, crap." The servant recognized the tone of voice. What did he do this time? Willie turned on the television and angled it for the monster. "Now just sit still and keep your big mouth shut. I'll be back in a minute…I hope."

Willie joined Julia and Barnabas in the master bedroom, casually wiping his hands on his jeans. "Sorry, I was busy cleaning. What's up?"

"To whom were you speaking just now?" Julia began, folding her arms.

"N-Nobody. I mean, just Adam. Same as nobody."

"Julia tells me she overheard the two of you," Barnabas interjected. "Quite a heated conversation." They stood on either side of Willie.

"Nah, I was talking to myself," the servant laughed. "You probably heard the TV. Adam can't do nothing; he's a moron."

Julia sat the young man down and the couple hovered over him. "I don't know what you think you're accomplishing with this charade." Willie shrugged as she continued. "Just how functional is that thing? We know he speaks to you, so don't deny it."

"Look, I-I just read to him sometimes because I'm bored. I even do different voices, but Adam don't understand." His left leg started to bounce. "He just babbles like a little baby."

Barnabas gripped his wolf-head cane. "I am losing my patience with you!"

"Please, dear, don't frighten the boy," Julia interceded. She sat next to the servant and spoke gently. "It's very important that you be honest with us, Willie. If this experiment derails, it could easily spiral out of control, which would be disastrous; do you understand?"

Willie looked at the couple incredulously. Were they seriously playing good cop/bad cop with him?

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about. I didn't teach him nothing, why should I? I got enough work taking care of Frankenbaby as it is."

He jumped to his feet and was attempting a hasty exit when Barnabas caught his arm.

"If you are lying, I promise you will regret it. Is there anything of which we should be aware? Anything at all?" the vampire demanded.

"No!" Willie shouted. "Why do you two always pick on me? You blame me for everything." The servant backed away as Mr. and Mrs. Collins looked at each other. "What? What do you want me to say?"

"You've said quite enough. Now I'm going to examine the body, and we'll see what Adam has to say." Julia announced. "Come with me, Barnabas. You are dismissed for now, Willie."

"That's okay, I got nothing else to do." He attempted to intercept their advance to the door and, failing that, followed the couple to the lab. "It's kind of messy in there right now, I was just about—"

There was a roar of laughter from inside the room. Julia abruptly swung open the door to discover Adam kicked back on the exam table watching a romantic comedy on TV. He gave a startled yell as the doctor approached him, but she flashed a kind smile and warmly took his hand.

"There's no need to be frightened, Adam. I'm here to help. How are you feeling this evening?" Adam shot a wary look to his caregiver who sidestepped the vampire in the doorway, made his way across the room and turned off the TV before retreating to a far corner to watch shit hit the fan. "It's alright, I know you can speak. Did Willie tell you not to talk to us? That wasn't nice of him. I bet there's a lot of things you'd like to do." Adam nodded hesitantly. "Were you watching a funny television show?"

"Yes," the monster replied with uncertainty but seemed to relax a little.

"Please tell me all about it," she prodded him gently.

"The man and woman in bed. They laugh and…" He gestured to his mouth.

"Kissed. Did you like that, Adam?"

"Yes." The monster was encouraged by the doctor's friendly tone. "The woman is his friend. I wish to have woman friend." He sneered slightly. "I have only Willie."

"But Willie is your good friend, isn't he? He takes excellent care of you."

"Some time Willie bad," the creature tattled. "Willie dumb ass shithead fuck off."

Barnabas and Julia glared at their duplicitous servant.

"I don't know where he gets it," he shrugged innocently.

Adam continued his grievance. "Willie no talk to Adam or walk again outside to beach." He roughly patted Julia's arm with a hearty laugh. "Doctor make new friend for Adam. Woman friend from dead bodies."

The doctor smiled in a condescending manner.

"Well, that sounds like a lovely idea but it would take a very long time. Years to assemble the necessary—"

"Now! Adam wish for friend now!" Julia jumped out of harm's way when the monster attempted to grab at her. "Doctor make Adam, now make friend or…or…" He started to tug at the IV tubes in frustration.

"Don't do that. Stop immediately." The doctor spoke with authority but did not raise her voice.

"Doctor do not make new friend, Adam make no more blood for vampires. No!" He reached for her again, swiping his arm in the air.

"As you wish, Adam. I'll visit the hospital right away to see if they have any dead bodies lying around, but you must behave yourself until I return. Do you understand?"

"No! No! No!"

"It's okay, buddy," Willie interrupted from the sidelines. "Julia has to go away to get the parts before she can build anything. She'll come right back."

"Julia go away only for a little time," Adam demanded, staring her down like an animal poised to attack.

"Yes, of course." Dr. Hoffman walked out of the room. The vampire followed, scowling.

"Nice going," Willie muttered to monster boy. "I am so fucked right now."

"Willie!" Barnabas bellowed from the corridor.

Willie trudged out the door as the creature regarded him smugly. On the other side, Barnabas seized the back of the man's neck and hauled him down the hall where he landed against a wall.

"You've done it this time," Julia hissed. "You really have. Why on earth would you try to hide this from us? What were you thinking? That's the trouble, you don't think. That thing is dangerous."

"He'll be okay, Julia," Willie replied, wincing. "He just has these tantrums sometimes, you know, like a little kid. Then he's fine."

"You betrayed our trust!" the vampire roared, raising his cane in the air.

"For goodness sake, Barnabas, not now," Julia interceded. "We have a potential crisis on our hands."

Her husband withdrew from habit, then, remembering himself, struck the servant anyway on the shoulder. He was the master around there, after all, not Julia.

"You never said not to teach him stuff," Willie whimpered. "You never said that."

"I also didn't say, don't take the deranged giant for a stroll on a public beach. Do you know why? Because I assumed you were not a complete idiot."

"Deranged? He just gets a little grumpy."

"The brain was damaged. Violent outbursts are not uncommon under the circumstances. As he becomes more functional, they will increase and you will not be able to control him."

The young man stared at her, disbelieving. "Why would you put a damaged brain in a seven-foot monster?"

"There was not a large selection from which to choose," she retorted. "And it wouldn't have been a problem if he had stayed in the coma. Well, Adam is going back to sleep permanently and this time you had better report any change, or I will pull the plug on this whole project."

"You're going to kill him!"

"Quiet, you fool!" Barnabas growled.

"But, Julia, you can't. He's a person with feelings."

"It's a monstrosity, and I created it," Julia stated. "Don't get emotional, Willie, we have to get this under control before someone gets hurt. He already resents you. Who do you think he'll attack first?" Willie looked away sadly. "Adam will go to sleep and never know what happened. It won't hurt him."

"You don't know that, not for sure."

"We have two choices. Adam will be asleep or dead, and I don't want to hear any more argument." She led Willie back to the lab. "Now get in there and stand guard until Barnabas and I return. Say whatever you must to keep the thing calm." The doctor descended the staircase. Her husband grunted and followed.

Willie's hand paused on the doorknob. How could he face Adam, and tell his only friend that he was about to be turned into a vegetable, or maybe even murdered? The creature would never hurt anyone, not really. He was just like a petulant child, a bit spoiled maybe, but not dangerous. There was always some way to distract the thing's attention and restore his humor. Willie sat despondently on the floor outside the laboratory door.

How long would Julia and Barnabas be at the hospital? Was it possible to just walk into the joint and order a batch of morphine or whatever she used to make zombie juice? Willie surmised that doctors and vampires could do pretty much anything they chose to. With great power comes great responsibility, Spiderman once said, although Willie felt neither Dr. Hoffman nor Barnabas would be familiar with the philosophical musings of Peter Parker.

In the laboratory there was a crash. Then another. Something metal hit the wall and glass exploded and shattered. Willie jumped in fear, unsure of whether he should investigate or run like hell.

The lab door was pulled off its hinges, and Adam stood there clutching a ripped piece of the table straps. Blood, green liquid and glucose flowed from the severed intravenous tubes which dangled from his arms. The monster roared as he lurched from the room toward Willie. The young man scrambled across the floor but Adam grabbed him up, shaking him like a rag doll.

"Adam will not be dead, Willie will be dead!"

"Knock it off, nobody's—stop—put me down!"

"You want to hurt Adam!"

"You're hurting yourself, look at your tubes!"

Adam flung his caregiver into the nearest wall. Willie collapsed and tumbled down the stairs with his adversary in pursuit as the creature missed several steps and fell the rest of the way. He sat momentarily stunned, then lunged at Willie with an anguished cry as the young man fled out the front door. Slamming it behind him, Willie fumbled for his keys to lock it. On the other side, Adam pounded and yanked on the knob, still unsure of how such mechanisms functioned. Willie raced for his truck and tore off down the driveway. He had to find Barnabas and Dr. Hoffman before anything else hit the fan.


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