by Ronald Kelly
Curiosity pulled at Dud Craven, whispering like a woman in the night, as he stared at the ancient casket that his plow had unearthed in the mountain pasture. Open it up, it said. Just pry up the lid and take a peek inside. It won’t hurt none just to look.
Dud placed the flat end of a jack handle between lid and box, then gently pried. One by one, the rusty nails popped free until, eventually, the lid was completely loose.
Open it up, suggested that voice in his head again. Just lift it up and look inside. Don’t be scared.
When he opened the lid, he found exactly what he expected to find. It was the skeleton of a man—a tall man—the bones bare and bleached a dull yellowish white. The body was clad in a dusty black suit and vest and a brittle white shirt yellow with age. >From the looks of it, the remains had lain beneath that field for a very long time. Maybe a hundred years or more.
Dud then turned his eyes to the one thing about the body he didn’t expect to find. There, jutting from the center of the ribcage was a length of wood; like a broken piece of bean pole or a tent stake.
Go on… pull it out. It wouldn’t take but one tug, two at the most.
It took some doing, but Dud finally yanked the stake free and tossed it away into the night. Abruptly, something began to drift from the hole in the skeleton’s vest. Sort of like smoke, but more like a vapor. It resembled the fog that hung thick among the Smokies early on a frosty winter’s morning.
Startled, Dud watched as the vapor rippled from out of the empty rib cage, growing thick and strangely luminescent. It curled around the skeleton, filling the bottom of the casket. Soon the mist had rolled completely over the body, obscuring it from view. It swirled gently, giving off an eerie blue glow, and from the depths rose a being; powerful and seductive… yet no longer alive by the standards of mortal man.
Thus began the vampiric reign of Grandpappy Josiah Craven.
Supercell, 100 copy hardcover edition