1 Doc and Dull Machinate
“Tell me more of this idea of the theme park while I prepare my sermon, Dull.”
“It’s like this, Doc. You got the grounds and most of the staff you need. If you have a theme park you don’t need to send people out to bring them in, they’ll come to you and you can rake in the cash.”
“What? do you mean we’d charge admittance?”
“Oh no, nothing so unchristian, my brother. It would be a ministry. How could we think of charging our brothers and sisters, much less the LOST?”
“You had me worried for a moment, brother Dull, that you weren’t solid.”
“No fear of that. No, we wouldn’t charge them but we could have gaming. A Christian shouldn’t have to gamble in the world, you know, unless he’s engaging the culture. The idea of the theme park would be to have bible rides, except for Mary-go-rounds which isn’t a very solid idea.”
“Preached against them last week,”
“But with the free bible rides the people would wander around looking for a place to puke or to get more food. So we can sell bible hot dogs and bible pop corn. But they’d want to get off the rides soon, I know where we can get them that have that effect.”
“Really? They make them so that people really don’t want to ride them once they try them? Ingenious.”
“Yeah, so they come for the rides and then we have to snag them afterward. Now nobody would come for the Christian gambling at first. You have to sear their . . . um, you have to get them used to the idea . . . maybe have a picture of Jesus and the disciples playing cards or something.”
“No. I’m going to preach against cards. Don’t hold with cards myself. Can figure out what’s going on to tell you the truth.”
“Hmmm . . . so we’d have to have gambling without cards.”
“Don’t they have some kind of spinning wheel thing?”
“Yes, I have some contacts that I’m sure will be able to find adequate ways to have good, solid, Christian gambling.”
“But you were saying we’d have to get them used to the idea, brother Dull.”
“Maybe something about providence. That would be solid. Anyway, after the rides we get them to eat bible food and bring them into the . . . Providence Places.”
“I like the idea of providence . . . especially since I have direct access to how it works, being a man of the cloth and all.”
“Then parting them from their money is just a matter of telling them to cast themselves upon providence, trust the lot and the dice, you know?”
“That’s in the Bible. Just cards aren’t. And the spinning wheel thing is the same concept. In fact, I’ll just mention that in my sermon against cards tomorrow . . . I know there are a lot of deacons who play cards, they bring them in their shirt pockets. This way I’ll get them all to come to the invitation. I’m going to have a brazier set up for them to throw the cards in. And if they don’t bring theirs, we’ll pass packs out at the front. It helps them to visualize the power that is at work, you know?”
“Yeah, you should always have good dramatic things like that in at the end to help them realize all the things that take place. I think a lot of churches fail due to not having enough going on and then they just sing a song at the end. You have to help people along with things like this. Ever thought of having a laser show at the end? That would get them.”
“I’m glad I met you Dull, you really have a heart for ministry, you never stop coming up with ideas. Wish more people cared as much as you do.”
2 The Abduction of Dracula
Mr. Dracula moved restlessly through his gloomy, gothic castle in the remote mountains of Transylvania.
“I’m tired of all this effete blood sucking!” He cried.
“O La!” cries Mrs. Dracula, “You will be shouting and carrying on.”
“I need a guacamole bacon cheeseburger,” says Dracula, and then an evil look crept over his features. “Well done!”
“O La!” cries Mrs. Dracula, and wrings her hands. But there is no stopping Dracula when the fit is upon him. Madame watches at the window. The moon gleams on the hearse that conveys the venerable vampire down to the Flameburger Grill for another of his escapades.
Well done indeed, she thinks in disgust.
Dracula drove his hearse along the bad roads of Transylvania till he reached the 24 hour diner. He opened the door and stepped inside, his cape swirling. Bud, the night cook, looked up and nodded. There was no need to say anything; Bud simply turned to reach into the fridge, and Dracula looked around as he made his way to the counter. Another person sat further down the counter, also wearing a cape.
Dracula stared curiously.
The caped figure turned warily.
Bud cooked deftly.
The caped figure was wearing a green super-suit with a white “U” emblazoned on the massive chest. Dracula pretended not to be shocked. He was, after all, a Dracula, a pretty fantastic chap, and rare. But he was obviously in the presence of none other than the notorious Unk, a very fantastic chap, and . . . well, unique.
Unk had come to do some thinking. He had often come here to do some thinking because he found that if he put the problem to Bud, changing names and places and some details, he could usually get Bud to give him an opinion which turned out, most times, to be a brilliant solution. The only hitch was that Bud only seemed capable of solving the problem if one crucial detail were completely omitted or egregiously distorted, and everything depended upon this. So Unk took his time and thought. Unk recognized Dracula at once but chose to ignore him, turning back to his guacamole bacon cheeseburger. But he increased his amazing level of alertness and readiness and did some fiendishly complicated trigonometric calculations in order to keep his brain in top gear.
Suddenly, a manhole in the middle of the diner exploded from the floor and two dozen fundamentalist hit-men in dark suits and smoked glasses surged into the little diner, filling the place beyond the legal capacity. Unk dove through the window to bring the number down.
He scanned the scene quickly.
Bud protested loudly.
Dracula struggled vainly.
The fundamentalists had dracula and disappeared down the manhole before most people could have blinked. In that time Unk formulated and discarded seven entirely brilliant courses of action; he decided to watch and wait instead.
“Why do you have a manhole in the middle of your restaurant anyway, Bud? Don’t you know people can come up through it and kidnap your customers?”
“The government put it there back in the days of communism and I haven’t gotten around to getting it plugged.”
“I see. Well, you should have known the fundamentalists would use it . . . what are you going to do with that extra guacamole bacon cheeseburger there?”
“I don’t know. I can’t eat it because it will give me heartburn.”
“I’ll take care of the manhole if you give me the burger.”
“That’s fair. I’ll even throw in your first meal free, it’s on the house. Do you want fries with that?”
“How about some coleslaw? I’ve had an order of fries already.”
“Sure. . . . how are you going to take care of the manhole?”
Unk eyed the manhole while he polished off the food. “I guess I’ll just have to go down and see where it leads,” he said. And Unk leapt headfirst through the hole.
Bud put on some fresh coffee.
3 The Plot Thickens
Mr. Dracula was whisked off to a torture chamber under Doc’s complex. There he was hung by his wrists from one of the many conveniently located chains. It was dank in the chamber, and bright in a dismal way reminiscent of a morgue. They had emptied his pockets, and one of the thugs was going through the contents of his wallet.
“Norman Vincent Dracula?”
“Your name is Norman Vincent Dracula?”
“Yes, but it is Mr. Dracula to you, rouge! Stop laughing!”
When they were mostly done laughing one of them said, “Maybe you can help us think positive!” and they all started laughing again.
When they were mostly done laughing for the second time one of them asked, “I thought you were a count anyway?”
They stopped laughing altogether and some of them began perusing the instruments that lay scattered over a table. It was at that moment that Felonious Assault (also known as ‘Pastor Fel’) arrived.
“Is he ready?” Assault asked.
“We’re just establishing his identity,” the thug that had the wallet mumbled. Assault backhanded him in no light way. The man flew across the room, hit the wall, and fell to the floor like a discarded tract.
“You should have established his identity before you took him, fool.”
Unk found, as he expected (having closely observed the manner in which the hit-men emerged and disappeared again into the hole), that under the manhole was a long shaft that connected with the sewers. As he reached the floor he flipped out of his head-first dive and landed on his feet, tumbling forward with unprecedented catlike agility and at the same time scanning every inch of the passage in which he found himself. Because his super suit was waterproof, even though he rolled through some shallow puddles, he stood up unscathed. Without a moment’s hesitation he followed the trail of the hit-men through the pitch dark tunnels of the sewage system. To increase his mental alertness he calculated exactly how many sheep had gone into the making of a woolen blanket that he remembered from childhood.
Then Unk encountered a problem. The sewers and underground passages that connected with the underworld of Doc’s complex were all protected against him. They were completely unapproachable because they had hidden speakers playing gospel songs. From fifty meters away Unk could hear the sound and almost staggered. It was fiendishly clever! Now more than ever Unk needed a sidekick, but Doug was in Canada. Perhaps he could ask Bud? No, if he asked Bud then Bud would have to learn certain things that would ruin him as a short order cook, and nobody made better guacamole bacon cheeseburgers than Bud. And his coleslaw was pretty good too, although Unk suspected that was made from a mix.
Unk went back, pensive.
The coffee was ready by the time Unk returned to the Flameburger Grill. Bud sent a cup across the counter.
“Bud, I need some advice.”
“What’s the situation?”
“Well . . . if you knew of a man whose goose was cooked . . . what would you do?”
“I’d tell his family, I guess.”
Unk shook his head in amazement at the sheer brilliance of it. He finished his coffee and tossed a coin at Bud. The door slammed behind him.
“So you see, Mrs. Dracula, in order to take care of the manhole problem we have to get somebody into Doc’s compound.”
“La! Mr. Unk” cries Mrs. Dracula. “Sure, they’ve got the wrong person. They meant to get the Count and they only got my husband!”
“Your husband isn’t The Dracula?”
“Sure he is Dracula,” says she, “but I think they’ve got the wrong one. They’ll be looking for the Count, no doubt. They’ve been trying to cross the blood lines for years.”
“Why would they want to cross the blood lines? What blood lines?”
“La! Sir. Don’t you know,” asks she, eyeing Unk in a manner he found unsettling, “how vampires are made?”
Stepping back to be closer to the door Unk answered, “I understand they have to bite somebody.”
“Yes. Now the fundamentalists want to use this to swell their numbers. They’ve been trying it for years, but they have only succeeded in creating more vampires. They want to create a fundamentalist that will convert people the same way vampires do. For that they need to cross the bloodlines of a fundamentalist peer with the Count.”
“I should have known! . . . say, have they ever succeeded in making a fundamentalist out of a vampire?”
A look of horror overspread Mrs. Dracula’s pallid features. “La! No! But what if they should succeed? We have to rescue Mr. Dracula instantly!”
She swept out of the room leaving Unk to ponder over the sinister situation.
4 The Plot Coagulates
Mrs. Dracula swirled back into the room. “I’ve called her,” cries she.
“Who?” says Unk.
“Your wife, of course.”
“La, sir, yes, your wife. She’s your sidekick and will help you rescue Mr. Dracula.”
“What are you talking about? Do you mean you’ve called Doug?”
“Doug, la! no! Doug isn’t your wife is he?”
“Of course not, but he was going to be my sidekick, and not many know that Doug is actually a girl.”
“What?” cries the Little Rabbi, “Doug is a girl?”
“Where did you come from?” cries Unk.
“From the Synagogue. I’m a Rabbi . . . just a little one though.”
Turning to Mrs. Dracula Unk began, “Look, I think there is some mistake, he’s not my wife either.”
Suddenly a figure dropped from the ceiling. A dark form crouched in their midst, then stood up slowly.
“Kat-woman!” cries Mrs. Dracula, “La, madam, I’m sure I’ve never been more glad to see you. I simply can’t make your husband understand the plainest matters.”
“You’re Kat-woman?” Unk asked. “Where did you get that outfit?”
“I got it at the thrift store for forty-five cents. The boots were five dollars but they should last a long time.” Kat replied, checking her guns casually.
Unk gaped stupidly.
Mrs. Dracula sniffed disdainfully.
The Little Rabbi swivelled expectantly.
“Do you know how to shoot those guns?” Unk wondered.
“Doug taught me when I was a kid.” She holstered them rather efficiently.
They found themselves sitting in red leather armchairs. A storm raged outside; all was noir.
“What is the plan?” Mrs. Dracula said.
“We need to get into Doc’s compound,” Unk said. “The place is heavily guarded with conventional thugs. But they are not the problem. I need somebody to get in and deactivate the gospel song broadcast . . . it surrounds the place like a string of garlic,” he added, looking at Mrs. Dracula. She shuddered.
“I can’t take gospel songs anymore, Unk.” Kat said.
“Really? That’s great! Still, we need to get past it.”
“Hey!” the Little Rabbi shouted, “I’m deaf!”
“La, sir, no need to shout! The rest of us aren’t.”
“Uh,” Kat said, “how’d you know what we were saying?”
“Oh, I have cochlear implants. I meant that I can turn them off.”
“That’s great,” Unk said. “We can send The Little Rabbi unobtrusively . . . with a tank. All you have to do is take out the broadcasting center where they broadcast WDOC. Are you up to it?”
“Sure,” the Little Rabbi said. “All I need is some coffee to get me in the right frame of mind.”
“La, sir, I can get you some coffee. What blood type are you?”
“Oh, ah . . . that’s ok. I just remembered I’ve already had too much. I’m all ready to go.”
“We just have to figure out the tank,” Unk mused.
“Oh,” Kat said, “I know of a guy near here who’s been trying to get rid of a tank for a while; nobody is bidding.”
“Why am I not surprised! Let’s go.”
All three of them rose and dove through the window. Madame watched them as they climbed into a black jaguar and sped away.
“Why did Mrs. Dracula think you were my sidekick?” Unk asked Kat as he negotiated the hairpin turns without always using all four tires.
“She’s confused. She’s really old. Are you speeding?”
“No, there isn’t a speed limit in this part of Transylvania. Do you know where this place is?”
Suddenly Unk slammed on the brakes. The Little Rabbi had neglected to buckle up and slammed into the front seats.
“Why are those chickens crossing the road?!” Unk bellowed.
Kat looked at him.
The Little Rabbi looked at him.
Unk downshifted and muttered. When the chickens had mostly crossed the road the jaguar was off with a roar and a cloud of dust . . . and a couple of chicken feathers.
5 The Plot . . . What Plot?
“Ever driven a tank before Rabbi?”
The Little Rabbi was all strapped in. “No, but it looks pretty simple. I’m all set.”
“Just aim for the glowing lights and don’t stop till you’ve fired on the building that says WDOC on the front. We’ll be in the tunnel waiting.”
The Little Rabbi grinned and then battened down the hatch.
The jaguar backed up abruptly and lunged, snarling, back toward the Flameburger Grill.
“Do you think he’ll be ok?” Kat asked. “He looks like he’s just a kid.”
“In an M1A2? I think so. I know Assault has some pretty hard core weapons, but he’s not expecting a tank. Good thing that old guy had one for sale still at 3 AM. . . . Odd, actually.”
“It’s been on ebay for weeks.”
Unk steered around a stray cow. The night had turned cold and the steam rose from the sewer in front of the diner.
“Time to say goodbye to the old manhole, Bud,” Unk remarked as he strolled in. “I think it is going to go away. You might want to make sure stuff is put away, things might rattle a bit.”
Bud raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“After you,” Unk said and then jumped down the manhole after Kat.
They made their way through the tunnels till they could hear the faint music.
The Little Rabbi found that driving the tank was just like a computer game. He even figured out how to switch from the 120mm smoothbore to the machine gun and back. He passed through the tunnel. Like a school bus full of Sunday School kids, he thought. The gates of the compound were shrouded in darkness, but that did not worry him. The tank just kept going, tearing the gates right out of the wall. Like Sampson, he thought. The muzak played, but he never heard it. He went right past a speaker unscathed, like Daniel.
He had switched on the thermal viewer and now observed figures running about frantically. The thugs were onto the break-in. They started running school busses at him like rounds out of a semi-automatic. They would leap out of the bus at the last minute, driving the bus from his left where the parking lot was. The tank lumbered on. A school bus against steel encased depleted uranium armor probably made for the worst results these boys had faced in months of ministry. The buses were piled up like smashed beer cans. They lined up across the path before him now, blocking out the building he was aiming for. No matter. He fired the 120mm smoothbore straight through a fleet of buses.
Unk and Kat felt the explosion and hesitated not a moment. At the end of the passage they found a massive steel door blocking their way. It had flat pieces of steel reinforcing it which were two millimeters thick. Unk didn’t waste any time pushing on the door; he grasped the steel reinforcers with the tips of his fingers and pulled. The hinges groaned, then began to come slowly out of the concrete. All in a day’s work, Unk thought, but you can only do these things if you drink coffee.
Kat leapt inside, both guns drawn. There was nobody in the hallway. The aboveground invasion had distracted the goons. Then they heard the alarm. They moved swiftly through the warren of torture chambers. As they opened the door to the chamber where Dracula hung, Assault, with about fifty thugs, came running down the hall.
“Get Dracula,” Kat shouted. Unk hesitated a second, but by then she had fired each gun five times. He went in. Kat fired off thirty bullets from each gun before she had to reload. There was a gruesomely gory mound of thugs at the end of the passageway. She ducked inside and dropped the empty clips. Pausing to make sure Unk was working on getting Dracula out, she walked back into the hallway, shot the thug who was peering around the corner, and continued walking forward.
“Dracula, have they done anything to you?”
“They took some blood, that’s all. The key is over on that table.”
Unk rummaged around until he found the key. He let Dracula down and they rushed into the hallway.
“Kat! Come back, we got what we came for!” Unk shouted.
“I came for Assault,” she said calmly, still moving forward.
“Assault is part of something bigger! He’s part of the deal with the Spontaneous Anomalators. This is just a recovery mission. We got to get out of here and get the The Little Rabbi back out of the story. Assault has nothing. He can’t use Mr. Dracula’s blood for his purposes. Lets go!”
“Are you just going to leave this place like it is?”
“No, I’m going to blow it up. I told Bud I’d take care of the manhole for him. Are you carrying any explosives?”
“I have a dozen perforating explosives I can stick in some of the supports.”
“I’m feeling awfully peckish,” Dracula said. “Do you think Bud will mind if I just bite him?”
“If you lay a finger on Bud,” Unk replied, whirling on Dracula and glaring at him, “I’ll bite you myself. Who else can make a guacamole bacon cheeseburger like he can? Hold on till we get you home.”
The Little Rabbi had accomplished his mission. He put the tank in reverse without bothering to look. He had come straight in, he went straight out. Then he sent the tank into the lake and stood under a street lamp, looking innocuous. He waited a long while until a little after dawn the black jaguar came by.
“We had to get Dracula home before morning,” Unk explained as the Little Rabbi climbed in. “How did it go with the tank?”
“Great. Look, I got bad news for you.”
“We’re going to have to take you out of the story now, it is getting dangerous. I mean, this last episode was so violent they wanted to rate it.”
“Don’t send me to Canada. Please Unk!”
“It is where people go, Rabbi. There’s nothing I can do about it. Don’t they have a famous football team or something? You’ve done a good job, but . . . you’ve wrecked fifty school buses and if they ever find out who did it . . . I don’t know if we can protect you, and you’re probably too young for all this.”
The Little Rabbi slumped back in his seat, thinking.
“Can I live with the Draculas?”
“That’s out of the question,” Kat said. There was another long silence. They drove through a middle class neighborhood.
Then The Little Rabbi said, “I know what happened to Kameldeergard.”
Unk nearly crashed into a trash can.