A letter from Richard Rictor, as provided by Brodie Lowe
Art provided by Luke Spooner
Preparation is key. Especially when going up against Iredell County’s newest monsters in those woods behind your house. Given the fact that none of us know what caused the research facility’s outbreak, we can assume that city hall was telling us big ol’ fibs when it came to the great Talon, Inc., having been closed down. It appears that the place was still open for business–only the type of commerce that’s open in the dead of night–you know: cloak-and-dagger style.
I get that you’re only in middle school, but tough times call for tougher people. And you’re our future. I know you’ve only got a limited amount of time before those things come around in your neck of the woods. But please, whether you’re reading this by candlelight on the farm or come across this article in an abandoned gas station ten years down the road with a much smaller population in the world, heed this advice. It just might save your life.
First, you must raid the bookstores. Forego all the kooky bookmarks and fantasy novels that have you believing in magic. There’s no more magic in these parts. This county’s seen better days, that’s for sure. The only thing that can get you through the night and eradicate these monsters is your bravery and wit. When you browse, pick up copies that go into detail about hunting these things. Fiction can be prophetic. And in our current case, that idea has been shown to be true. Zombie apocalypse books can be beneficial here. Instructional tomes on survival in the wilderness will also prove worthy of your attention. Pick up a few historical books about Vlad Dracula. Learn the tactics and deceit that he employed, and be ready for the same to be thrown your way.
Now, let’s talk about tools. If you’ve never seen Monster Squad or Silver Bullet or even The Lost Boys, listen up. Stakes (pieces of wood sharpened at the end), cloves of garlic or garlic powder, pure-grade silver bullets, and crucifixes are your best friends. There are a few outliers in the realm of offensive and defensive protection that are embedded in folklore that may work. Don’t quote me on this, but the following extra measures may also do the job. If all else fails, that is.
If you have stacks of leftover newspaper (it’d be very ironic if my sports articles are in these), stash them in your book bags and satchels and trash bags before you leave your residence. When you come across a vampire who’s asleep, and you’re out of stakes and can’t wait forever for the sun to go down, put out several pieces of newspaper around the bloodsucker’s sleeping place. When it wakes up, it’ll want to tally every letter. The urge for this is too great, and it will count until the sun rises again and burn to ash like Leslie Nielsen in Dracula: Dead and Loving It. This is supposedly the reason for the vampire’s previous name of Count Dracula. If such an obsession with numbers is true, then you’re in luck.
Use your surroundings. If you encounter one of these monsters on West Lincoln’s baseball field, use the pitching machine (it’s within the netted batting cage) and pummel your opponent with some extra baseballs around the area to buy you extra time to get to a safer place. If you’re on the run from one of those monsters, make your bicycle faster by lowering its front end (this makes it more aerodynamic) and adjusting your pedal tension. Get rid of those spades, hearts, and diamonds tacked on your spokes. You need to be silent in the night.
Overall, stay strong. If you work together, you can stop the spread of this evil from Iredell to the rest of the world. This could be my last article, which could also mean that my last story, the one on Iredell’s football dynasty sadly waning, could be my last reporting on a sporting event. Always wanted to write an article where the team was back on top, but guess it never happened. Screw it. I’ve got to finish this novel that I’m working on. So long, humanity. This is Richard Rictor, signing off.
Richard is a sports reporter for Iredell County and came in second at the North Carolina Press awards for sports feature writing in 2017. He lives on a farm with his wife and three dogs affectionately named Ernest, Pea, and Worrell.
Brodie has a B.A. in English with a concentration in professional writing from Western Carolina University. He teamed up with his brother to write a film named Three Count that was picked up by executive producers of One Media Productions in 2016. He’s been published in Strange Stories Magazine and Cultured Vultures and has forthcoming stories in Story and Grit, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Mystery Tribune, The Bark Magazine, The Coffin Bell Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, and Antithesis Journal. One of his stories was shortlisted for a folk horror anthology with Nosetouch Press.
Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.
“A Last Minute Message for the Youth” is © 2018 Brodie Lowe
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Luke Spooner