Previous parts are here.
The Right Technology
"I think I've got it," Xander said later that evening, as he and Giles were making a late meal.
"Is it contagious?" asked Giles.
"Har de har. I've figured out something important about that Wallace guy."
"Really?" Giles said sceptically. "Do tell."
"We were warned about him, that time the First Slayer tried to kill us in our dreams."
"Don't you remember? The one weird thing that kept happening that we couldn't explain?"
"He's the cheese guy."
"Good God!' said Giles. "'I wear the cheese, the cheese does not wear me.' Since Sunnydale fell I've assumed that it was a metaphor for the creation of Slayers, possibly a premonition of Willow's spell. The cheese slices, one becoming many."
"I assumed we all dreamed about cheese because Buffy likes cheese," said Xander, slightly boggled, "but maybe it was more important than that."
"Cheese guy?" asked Vi, coming in with a struggling chicken in her hands. "I've dreamed about him too. Everyone does."
"Weird..." said Xander. "Umm... why are you carrying a chicken?"
"Not an ordinary chicken," said Robin, coming in after her and hanging a crossbow on a coat peg. He was bleeding from a dozen deep scratches, and was holding a bloody hankerchief to a wound on his neck. "Hold it up to the mirror, Vi." Vi lifted it to the mirror; reflected, her hands were empty.
"Okay," said Xander. "You can officially count me as creeped out. What the hell is that?"
"It's a vampire chicken, of course," said Giles, as though it were the most natural thing in the world. He got the first aid kit and soaked some cotton wool in hydrogen peroxide, then started to clean Robin's wound.
"How the hell can it be a vampire chicken?" asked Xander.
"The same way you could be a vampire Xander. A vampire drained most of its blood, and somehow it drank some of the vampire's blood. It could happen if an unusually incompetent vampire was pecked by a chicken it was draining, I suppose. Not entirely unprecedented; I've heard of vampire cats and dogs, used in certain voodoo rituals. Making them doesn't involve any special magic, just a cooperative vampire. Usually they die within a few days, but they have been known to infect other animals first."
"We were jumped by five of them," said Robin. "Fortunately the little bastards don't seem to be able to drain much blood. Oh, I think they're a bit smarter than a normal chicken, they pulled off a pretty good ambush. And they can fly a little, must be vampiric strength gives them a high enough power-weight ratio to get airborne."
"That's not good," said Xander. "Remember The Birds? We'll need safety glasses if we run into more of them, they might try to peck at eyes. I'll pick up a few more pairs tomorrow. How do you kill them?".
"Looks like the usual. Stake, crossbow bolt, slice and dice."
"Poor little thing," said Vi. "Bet it didn't ask to be a vampire." It made another savage attempt to peck her fingers, its eyes suddenly yellow and beak elongated. Vi hastily twisted its neck, forgetting her strength for a moment. Instantly its severed head was in her hand, and blood spurted from between her fingers, then it crumbled to dust. She paled and ran for the door leading to the nearest lavatory.
"No way am I eating that," said Robin, watching the cloud of dust swirl towards the cooker and the pots of spaghetti and bolognese sauce Xander had been stirring when they came in.
"Me neither," said Xander. "Pizza everyone? Vi's paying."
"I really think that we have other priorities," said Giles, "such as finding out if there are more of them. But..
"They stop taking orders at ten thirty," Xander interrupted, "we'd better phone first. I'll get the usual mix," he said, turning off the cooker and moving to the telephone, "except I think we'll leave out the chicken tikka topping tonight."
"Definitely," said Robin. "Make it pepperoni instead."
"Cod and chips for me," said Giles, "and make sure they put some salt and vinegar on the chips."
"We've got some in the cupboard," said Xander.
"It isn't the same. The vinegar needs to go on the second they're fried, when they're still almost too hot to touch."
"I bow to your gourmet knowledge."
"And a couple of pickled onions and a gherkin."
"Looks like the town isn't as dead as we thought," said Vi, coming back into the kitchen, dabbing her lips with a tissue. "First your cheese guy, then vampire chickens. Must mean that there's a real vamp somewhere in the neighbourhood."
"What kinda vampire would want to live here?" asked Xander. Nobody had a good reply.
* * * * *
"Hold still you idiot," said Harmony, dabbing at her henchman's cuts with a tissue soaked in antiseptic. "I said 'go out and get me some animal blood', not 'go out and vanish for three days and come back pecked to pieces.'"
"I'm sorry, mistress," said the unhappy vampire. "They ganged up on me."
"They ganged up on you. Riiiight..." She prodded viciously at one of the cuts until he howled with anguish. "Other vampires get smart henchmen. I end up with the village idiot."
"But they were organised, mistress," said the henchman.
"Sure they were. Okay, you're fixed. Now go out and get me some real blood. A dog or something."
* * * * *
"What's up, lad?" asked Wallace, as Grommit came into the house at high speed and bolted the door behind him. "You're back from your walkies early."
Grommit mimed a mouth with fangs, and Wallace said "Toothache lad?"
Grommit shook his head. "Oh dear," said Wallace. "Maybe it's time the vet scaled them again."
Grommit tried to mime a vampire rising from the grave, and Wallace said "Rabbits?"
Grommit tried once more, this time imitating a stake through the heart, and Wallace looked at him blankly then said "Is it heartburn, lad?"
Grommit sighed, flopped into his chair, and opened the evening paper. Sometimes explaining things really wasn't worth the effort...
* * * * *
"Hello, Wallace and Gromit's Wash 'N' Go, Wallace speaking."
"This is Robin Wood at the Old School. One of my colleagues gave me your business card."
"The lad with the eye patch?"
"That's right. I was hoping that you might be able to give me an estimate for cleaning our windows."
"Hmmm... I used to clean it in the old days. Have you made many changes to the place? Any new windows added?"
"No, all the changes are internal."
"Let's see, the school's been closed four years now.... must be a fair amount of grime on the windows... say ninety pounds for an extra thorough clean to begin with, after that fifty-five pounds for a quarterly clean, thirty-five if we do it every two months, twenty-five if we do it monthly."
"Which would you recommend?"
"Well... we don't get quite as much smoke as we used to when the school was last open, what with the wool factory closing, but there's still a fair bit of pollution. Go for the two month service if you're not too bothered about the look of things, but monthly will give you windows you can be proud of."
"Hmm...." said Wood. It was a surprisingly low estimate.
"Tell you what," said Wallace, "we'd have to start with the thorough clean anyway, and I've no bookings on Thursday afternoon, what with it being early closing. I could come over and take care of it then, then once you've seen the quality of our work we can talk about a long-term contract."
"You think that you can do the whole school in an afternoon?"
"I'll guarantee it if you can give us a clear run. Make sure that the window-sills are clear, and that there's nothing too big in front of the windows, nothing slows us down more than having to shift cupboards and flower pots and stuff. But we've the latest technology," said Wallace, pride in his voice. "Innovative. There's patents applied for."
"Okay," said Wood, "What time should we expect you?"
"Okay, see you then."
Robin put down the 'phone and said "Thursday afternoon. Remember that we need to get everything under cover before he gets here. Swords, crossbows, that sort of thing."
"No problem," said Vi, "I don't go leaving swords and axes around the place like some people I could mention."
"You leave one axe where someone stubs their toe..." began Xander.
"Okay... so who's gonna play burglar?" asked Vi.
"I'm probably the best with lock picks," said Giles, "and he'll be expecting to see Xander and Robin. It'd better be us."
"You know," said Robin, "we really don't have anything against this guy except he likes cheese and looks a little strange, and there's a vampire out there somewhere. Is this really a good idea?"
"When did a bad idea ever stop us?" asked Xander.
"We might as well take a look," said Vi, "After all, there won't be any vampires around in the afternoon, then if he's clean we can concentrate on the vamps in the evening."
"It's a plan," said Robin. "I guess..." he added doubtfully.
Comments please before it goes to archives.
Icon by speakr2customrs