Their host ushered them into the cluttered, nineteen thirties style kitchen, complete with wood stove. The benches were littered with jars, fresh produce from the garden, unwashed pots and various appliances including an ancient mix master and what looked like a meat grinder.
A chipped wooden table was laid out for the meal, unmatching rickety wooden chairs jammed in to accommodate five places, and a cheerful collection of condiments forming the centerpiece.
“Take a seat boys, enjoy… I’m Samuel by the way. The dog is Missy.” The blood hound looked up from the mat near the door and gave a cursory wag of her tail.
The same bewildered look graced all their faces as they shakily took their seats, it was all a little too overwhelming to take in. They were welcomed to a breakfast of fried eggs with bacon, with side of home baked bread and, rather oddly, a large bowl each of steaming chicken stew.
“Figured ya’d all do with a good feedin’.”
The four sat in silence around the table, hardly able to eat. They were all clean, apparently welcomed to their first real meal for … years… and without exception, terrified that it might end at any moment… that their benefactor might turn on them… that this might be a trick and simply the courtesy of a last meal.
Finally Eddie could stand it no more… It was too perfect. Utterly panicked by his own thoughts of being sent back after but a few days of freedom, he pushed away from the table forcefully, having barely touched his meal. He fell to the ground, again prostrated himself at the feet of the old man, and began to beg, “Please, please sir… don’t send us back, please don’t…. we mean no harm… we’ve done nothing to hurt… Oh … please!!!......” The words trailed off in favor of a pathetic keening sound.
His shocked fellow escapees were jolted by the sudden act, unsure of what had happened to prompt it, but instantly terrified. They were about to vacate their own chairs and follow Eddie’s lead, when they were stilled by the simple firm command… “Don’t…. Please!!! Just don’t… and son?” A wrinkled hand reached down to touch the shoulder of the trembling form and Samuel dropped from his own chair, sat on the floor and pulled the overwhelmed small blue figure to his chest as one might a beloved young child. “Don’t know as what brought this on, I ain’t gonna hurt ya or turn ya’ll in. Now come and take yerself a hug from old Samuel here… that’s the way, never hurt no one to take a hug.” He rocked the tense figure and continued to whisper words of nonsense until the little demon relaxed and began to sob quietly, then seemed to nod off to sleep.
Spike staid Jonothon with a calming hand as they watched the scene. After Eddie calmed, Samuel nodded at the other three, and they slowly moved to surround their host and their friend on the floor.
Jonothon’s tear filled eyes and the toothless lisping “Thank you.”, garnered a gentle pat on the shoulder from their elderly host.
They remained on the floor for close to half an hour before Eddie seemed to recover and roused a little. They stood and began to return to their places, Samuel gently easing the very quiet blue individual into his chair. The others waited patiently but then reached for their utensils intent upon finishing to the now cold meal, reeling back confused when their host exclaimed “No, no, no!”. The jolt of adrenalin caused Xander’s stomach to grumble loudly but they all sat nervous, motionless and silent, none willing to risk a move.
“Oh Geez. My apologies folks… gonna have ta’ explain myself a whole bunch ain’t I…. I just mean don’t go eatin’ it cold! If y’all can wait a minute or ten I’ll have it up and pipin’ hot! Now sit yerselves down …and I tell ya what … have one or two of these whilst ya waitin’ … I know it’s too darned early but figure as you folks need it….It’s got a little more kick than yer average… but I ain’t gonna excuse that!”
Samuel quickly gathered up all the plates, and placed a large glass bottle of home brewed beer on the table along with five mismatched tumblers.
“Now, one of you will have to do the honors ‘til I’m done with yer food.”
Spike took up the bottle reverently, and tilted each glass shakily to he pour each of his fellow diners a drink of the rich amber liquid. Four groans accompanied the first draft of the beer. By the second mouthful, even the vampires had felt the effects and relaxed a little. Jonothon reached over to take Eddie’s free hand and squeezed, Xander did the same for Spike.
Sometime later, the four had struggled to do justice to the homemade hot food. Samuel noticed with horror that his lisping guest seemed unable to bite anything, simply sucking at his food. He had saw the raw cut on the blue friend’s arm and wondered.
Soon after, as the blonde reached for the brunette’s hand to squeeze it again reasurringly, their host noticed deep bite wounds on both wrists, then winced as he gazed at the horrendously rough nature of the ocular implant. He chatted amicably and after several minutes of discussing the farm and receiving taciturn, vague answers to any of his questions to the group, he decided to trust his gut instinct.
“I know you folks are from the Initiative 'Institute' that was done in a few nights back,” Mumbling under his breath, “and praise the lord for that.” Then continued, “I’m guessing you are part of our ‘glorious’ government’s ‘cleansing’ program…. and before any of you panic again…. I should also be one of the hunted…”
Spike looked at the old man hard, trying to sense a difference, but his head buzzed a little with the alcohol, and his brain simply would not compute, now that his stomach was actually full – even if only with human food. As Samuel continued with his story, all four companions could not help but wonder at the confluence of events and serendipity that had led to them to their current freedom… and survival.
Samuel’s mother had been part Maori and a practicing wiccan… borne and bred in the north island of New Zealand. She had fallen in love with a US gunner during World War Two. He survived nearly eighteen months of a Japanese POW camp in Borneo before they ‘got him out’. Samuel happily compared his guests’ current state to stories of his father’s early days after his liberation.
They had moved to the farm in the US, but his mother had kept to herself a great deal – aware of her ‘foreigner’ status, even in looks and more so in magical leanings. She did bring all her magical skills with her, however rarely practiced more than in a healer’s capacity.
He was borne eight years after their move to the USA. She died when her son was ten. His father passed on slowly after that. Samuel figured ‘they’d call it somethin’ fancy like emphasema these days’. The reality was that he was left with the farm at twenty but at thirty, still single, started to have ‘fits’ accompanied by bizarre visions.
A local doctor decided it was a form of epilepsy, and Samuel was put on to some hefty medication.
By forty, the fits gradually became accompanied by very clear visions. With no one around him, he fell into melancholy and confusion, and was treated for anxiety and depression. Eventually he admitted ‘an edited version’ of what he ‘saw’ to another doctor and was consequently diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia… By his fifties, he was a regular visitor to a private respite for those who suffered ‘mental distress’, occasionally choosing to use their live-in facilities when the visions became too overwhelming. He knew the true reason for his severe ‘attacks’, as he approached his late fifties, was the constant images of death and mayhem caused by the Initiative’s slaughter.
Fortunately as the first Initiative sweeps came through, he was deemed an invalid and non demon. In the second ‘round up’ (even though his visions were being shared with a select few), the testimony of an elderly local preacher and some sympathetic neighbors had him labeled an ‘unfortunate sufferer of mental illness’ and not of interest. And as the last purge of the area passed (taking with it several of his magically inclined contacts) fortune had it, that he was again ‘resting’ for a month in a respite for the mentally ill two counties away.
Despite it all, he had managed to survive on the farm and investigated the occult, eventually dabbling in witchcraft using his mother’s (still securely hidden) books. He slowly came to know the ‘fits’ for what they were, and when he found it possible, he passed on the messages the visions contained. He knew when he had, it made a difference. Over time he had become a very quiet member of the resistance movement working for ‘non humans’, continuing to help the persecuted quietly, whenever he could. The locals around simply seemed to think him a harmless, mentally impaired, chicken farmer, and he did not bother to correct the impression.
As he ceased speaking and rose to collect their plates, he took in the far more relaxed posture of his guests and decided it was time.
“So that’s me, and now ya know enough to have me arrested good ‘n proper. So can ya do me the honor of introducin’ yerselves.”
Despite his currently dulled senses, Spike had detected the pain, fear and anger as the man had continued his story, and felt its truth. He answered Samuel quietly, “I’m William, but go by Spike mostly. I am an ensouled vampire and a Master of the Aurelian line. This was my second time in the hands of the ‘Initiative’. This is my friend Xander, borne on the Hellmouth, a human, friend of the only Slayer at that time and White Hat warrior. He was taken for his sympathies….” He squeezed Xander’s hand and was about to continue when Eddie began to speak quietly.
“I am Edwin, I am a Parsalas demon. We are a peaceful race. I am the last of our family, we were all taken.” He paused after a hitched breath, composed himself a little then continued as he saw Samuel’s gaze fall on the other silent figure, “This is Jonothon, my dear, gentle vampire and my friend.” Then blurted out “They took all his teeth!! He is only a fledge of ten and they kept taking his teeth!”
“Yes, son I guessed ‘bout the teeth….” He returned to the table and looked at the two vampires particularly, “Now I honestly don’t reckon I have a supply of the real stuff y’all need but if ya can stand it, we can probably scrape by on a few donations from the bigger animals ‘til we come up with somethin’. Sorry ta admit that all I can offer is the old tornado shelter or the attic for sleepin’ with four of ya ‘n all, go for the shelter if I were you… Attic’s a mite cluttered….” Sighs of relief and heartfelt words of gratitude came from around the table as they all heard the ‘we’ and the indication that Samuel expected them to stay.
“Right well that’s settled. I’ll sort out some beddin’ later so long as y’all can amuse yerselves today. Fer now it’s work time so I’ll leave you ta sort the dishes.” With that he stood, collected an old plastic bucket and battered hat from the door, whistled the dog and departed out the back door of the house. He left behind four overwhelmed but deeply grateful guests to tidy up, then rest for the day.
After The Fall: 8