by Michael McGlasson


Of all the creations of human perversity, the vurdylak is beyond doubt the most horrible. Imagine yourself lying in bed at three oíclock in the morning, thinking of nothing but the dreams of reverie that soon will be easing your brain into solemnity, when suddenly, by the cold rays of the full moon angling into your bedroom, you see a figure gliding towards you as if held by the invisible fingers of death. Despite a feeling of utter terror, you lie very still as the phantom slowly floats closer to your bed. As it comes within a few feet, you see its eyes, fixed and glassy, the mirrors of utter desecration.

When you awake in the bright morning light, a sense of insufferable gloom pervades your entire being. You then notice a small red spot on your chest near the heart, and the truth flashes in your mind--the face of the dreaded figure was that of your father, dead for several months, who loved you passionately and devotedly and has now mingled his depraved blood with yours--the blood of a vurdylak.

Such was my experience until a benevolent gentleman, rather tall, quite slim and dressed in a Macintosh overcoat which projected an air of knowledge and dominance similar to that of Sherlock Holmes, walked into my bedroom. His eyes, pale blue and full of compassion, surveyed the interior and fell upon a silver crucifix hanging from the stylized acorn of a Victorian dresser. With silent footsteps after closing the bedroom door behind him, he came to my bed, for I was in a state of exhaustion due to waking up and seeing that red spot of death near my heart. He smiled conservatively and reached out to examine the hideous wound near the center of my being with the fingers of someone who had seen similar marks on the victims of the vurdylak.

"Do you remember," he said, with much softness, "how this mark came upon your body?"

I motioned for a drink of cool water and my benefactor poured a glass and put it to my parched lips. I drank heartily until the glass was empty, then placed my quivering hand on his arm.

"Iíll tell you the strangest story youíve ever heard," I replied, still quivering like laced curtains at a billowing window.

"Thatís why Iím here, only to help you. Iíve seen some very strange things in my journeys about the world. "

"What. . . whatís your name?"

"Iím a friend of the family. Just go on."

"Do. . . do you know what a. . . a vurdylak is?"

"I donít want to alarm you, but yes. Theyíre risen corpses who in life were wicked beyond belief and put across a very pleasant demeanor when surrounded by the ones they loved the best."

"Yes!. . . yes!" I replied, now shaking like a starving child. "That. . . that was my father!"

"Go on. . . with your story."

I then took another drink of the cool water and proceeded to relate the tale of a depraved ancestor who lived in the small village of Kenley, Surrey, some thirty miles from the burgeoning city of London.

"My uncle," I began, "was known for his savage temper which embroiled him in a number of arguments with his neighbors. One evening, after being absent for a long time in the moors of Dulwich, he returned home to find his wife Helen completely enraged over his mysterious absence and the disappearance of her only grandchild, a sweet girl of five with golden locks."

My benefactor leaned in close and his blue eyes examined mine with an intensity I had never experienced.

"Did you ever meet this uncle?"

"Not that I can remember."

"I see. What did your uncle do once he returned home?"

"Well," I continued, " from what Iíve been told, he sat down at his regular seat at the dining table and just stared into the fire for the rest of the night. He never moved nor made a single sound."

The kind stranger then pulled a chair up to my bed and adjusted the blanket which covered me as to instill complete comfort and trustworthiness on his part.

"Then what happened?"

"In the bright morning light, Helen came down the stairs and saw my uncle still seated at the table. She walked up to him and noticed that the table was covered with blood. My uncle smiled at her, took his last breath and died."

"How odd," said my benefactor as he lit a cigarette and relaxed in his chair. "Your story reminds me of another I heard some time ago."

"Please. . . please tell me."

"There was a terrible infection which had seized the good people of Wilton, killing hundreds of them. The source was discovered to be a vampire whose body, after being exhumed from his grave, was found to be filled with blood."

"That. . . that sounds like my uncle!"

"Yes, but the monsterís hands were clutching the remains of a small child who had been missing from her home for several weeks."

"A child?" I asked, incredulously, for the image of my aunt Helenís grandchild with the golden locks flashed across my fevered brain.

"It seems," replied my benefactor, "that the monster had been feeding on her for many days in his grave."

He then stood up and strolled to the open window of the bedroom and gazed at the verdant hills which made up much of the landscape surrounding my home. "Go on with your story," he said.

"My aunt Helen and some servants started to take my uncleís body outside, but they soon heard a low moan and my uncleís eyes flashed open. He. . . he stared at them with blood dripping from his mouth."

"Horrible. . . quite horrible," replied my benefactor as he came back to his chair at my bedside and sat down.

"Yes, but then he screamed and collapsed dead on the stone floor. Some months later, my aunt went to his tomb and opened it. She. . . she found the decayed body of. . . of a small child lying in the funeral flowers--it was her missing grandchild!"

"Did you know," asked my benefactor, "that the vurdylak only drinks the blood of those whom he loves the best? His victims grow paler and more languid with each passing day and night. The face becomes livid, the eyes leaden, and an air of utter melancholia overcomes the soul as the final day approaches--the day the victim dies and becomes a vurdylak!"

My eyes then grew wild with terror and I sat bolt upright in my bed and clutched the rough fabric of my benefactorís greatcoat.

"Please! Please donít let that happen to me! I. . .I donít want to be a vurdylak!! Youíve got to help me. . . youíve just got to help me!!"

With this, the kindly gentleman stood up and went to the bedroom door. As he extended his arm and wrapped his fingers around the doorknob, he smiled at me, but this time the smile had that almost imperceptible touch of menace. "Someoneís here to help you, my boy," he said, and as the door pivoted open, I saw a figure lurking in the shadowed threshold. It slowly walked into the bedroom and to my horror I saw it was my father, all emaciated with gore, grinning and salivating like some hungry demon unleashed from the bowels of Hell. My breathing turned extremely rapid and I could feel the blood in my veins flowing hot like molten iron. I tried to scream but could not and I pulled the heavy blanket up to my sweat- drenched face in an effort to shield myself from the terrors I knew were coming.

"Iím only here to help you, my son," said my father, now standing beside the once-benevolent stranger. "Why donít you thank. . . your uncle for being so kind? Heís come a very long ways."

"Yes. . . all the way from Wilton," and with these words, my bedroom changed from the grayness of the late afternoon to the blackness of the tomb, for I was to join my father and uncle in the sacrilege of blood--the blood of the vurdylak!