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"You can feel it, can't you?"

"Feel what, Mr. White?"

"That's not my name, Jeffery. You know it's not. It's... Van Helsing."

Jeffery sighed as he pushed Mr. White along in his wheelchair. "Mr. White," he tried to change the subject, "there's somebody here to visit you. Somebody who really wants to see you."

"Why should I take that risk?" Mr. White questioned. "It's All Hallow's Eve, Jeffery. The veil between our world and... theirs... is at its thinnest. And as long as I'm locked up here, the creatures of the night are out there running amok! Perhaps this 'visitor' is an envoy of Hell, here to make sure I don't foil their evil plans for this night of terror."

"I'm not so sure about that, Mr. White." Jeffery did his best to reassure Mr. White as he wheeled him into the visiting center. A young woman was sitting on one of the several couches scattered throughout the spacious room; as other patients met with their loved ones, she stood to meet Jeffery.

"Is he...?" she asked nervously as Jeffery wheeled Mr. White closer.

"He's a bit rattled," Jeffery answered, "but the medication seems to have calmed him down a great deal. He's still adamant in his delusions, but then again, it is Halloween after all."

The woman knelt before Mr. White, taking his hands in hers.

"Stephen," she whispered, "how... how do you feel?"

"Samantha? Have you come to take me home?"

Samantha fought back tears as she stared into Stephen's eyes. "I came to see you," she whispered, "the doctors, they... well, they get worried about you, Stephen. Especially at this time of-"

"It's because they know!" Stephen exclaimed, standing up from his wheelchair. "They know that I've got a duty to be out there protecting the innocent, and yet they refuse to let me leave! Samantha, you have to believe me; you saw firsthand what the spirits have done... what they've taken from us."

Samantha couldn't contain herself, and began to weep softly as Jeffery calmly guided Stephen back to his seat.

"Stephen," Samantha said quietly, "I came to tell you that they found him. They found the bastard that killed Mom and Dad, okay? I came to tell you that it wasn't some ghost or vampire or whatever you're so obsessed with. It was a man, Stephen, a sick, sick man who's going to rot in prison for what he did. Do you understand? After all these years, we can finally get the closure we deserve."

Stephen shook his head. "You're wrong," he mumbled, "it wasn't a man that did it. You weren't there when it happened, Samantha; you didn't see what I saw."

"You're right, I didn't. But I saw the man who did it, and I just wanted to tell you that all our pain is over. Think about what I've told you, and internalize it. Stop with this Van Helsing revenge fantasy, because we don't have to be vengeful anymore. We can be a family again, if you would just make peace with it all. When you do, I'll come take you home."

Samantha stood, and slowly backed away from Stephen, eventually turning her back and leaving the visitor center. Jeffery sighed, wheeling Stephen back to his cell for the night.

"Ready for your medicine?" Jeffery asked as Stephen began to settle into his bed.

"It's not right, Jeffery," he murmured, "I should be out there protecting people. Making sure what happened to my parents never happens again."

Jeffery nodded, slowly approaching Stephen with the syringe full of sleep medication. "It won't, Mr. White. I promise. Now, please try and get some r-"

In an instant, Stephen sprang to his feet, taking Jeffery by surprise. He wrestled the syringe from his hands, injecting its contents into Jeffery's arm. It was only a sedative, so he knew Jeffery would be fine; Jeffery was a human, and humans weren't his enemies.

As Jeffery slumped to the floor, Stephen emerged from his cell, slowly shutting it behind him. He shambled back towards the visitor center, retracing his sister's steps as he approached the exit. He walked straight past the sleeping security guard, paying no mind to the cameras that tracked his every move; he didn't care if they came looking for him, as long as he had this one night to do what needed to be done.

He pushed the door to the outside world open, the cool October air hitting him like a freight train. He stumbled down the steps and out towards the hospital's parking lot. No sign of Samantha's car which meant he would have to walk. It was about a mile to Maple Shade, his hometown; it was a deterrent, but he could not allow himself to be distracted from his task. Not tonight.

****

The streets of Maple Shade were nearly empty when Stephen arrived; it was close to 11:30, and all the younger children had been pulled back home by their cautious parents. Halloween was a touchy subject after what had happened to Stephen's family all those years ago, but soon it would all be ok. Soon he would make sure that his fellow townsfolk had nothing to fear when the veil was at its thinnest.

He stalked the dark streets, searching through trash cans for any kind of makeshift weapon to defend himself with. This was the day when evil spirits were at their most powerful, and even the most simplistic of worldly weapons could mean the difference between life and death. At last, he found a shard of broken glass when patrolling the house at the end of 4th and Garden Street; not much, but it would do.

Just as soon as his luck perked up, it began to drop once more. Stephen's attention was diverted by a sudden rustling in a set of nearby bushes. Something was stalking him in the night, watching his progress as he combed through Maple Shade, no doubt reporting back to its wicked master that Stephen Van Helsing was finally free.

Stephen approached the bushes slowly, keeping his newfound weapon at his side. When he got within earshot of the bush, it erupted in a rustle of leaves as something darted out onto the street.

Whatever it was, it was a monster; it was a tall, spindly creature shrouded in darkness. It skittered onto the streets of Maple Shade, tearing away as Stephen began to give chase. For far too long, the creatures of the other side had been given free reign to terrorize the living. Tonight, Stephen was going to do his part to stop it; even if it meant killing only a single monster, he was proud to send his message to the creatures of the night.

When he caught up close enough to the monster, he lunged forward, driving the shard of glass into its back. It howled in pain, dropping to the ground with Stephen on top of it. He broke the glass off in its back, digging into the creature's exposed neck with the tiny fragment that remained. Black blood spurted all over his hands as he screamed in victory. He was so caught up in his celebration that the red and blue flashing lights in the distance didn't register in his brain. The lights turned off, and two officers emerged from the squad car.

"Oh, Jesus..." one of them muttered.

"Freeze, asshole!" the other shouted, drawing his gun. "Hands where I can see em!"

Stephen stood, dropping the shard of glass as he raised his hands over his head.

"You can take me back now, officers," he said proudly, "I did what I had to do to keep us all safe. I slayed a monster, I drove them back for one more year."

The officers grabbed hold of Stephen, quickly restraining him with a pair of cuffs. They shoved him into the back of the squad car, quickly taking off for the Maple Shade police station.

Shortly thereafter, an ambulance arrived to carry away the bloody corpse of the teenage trick or treater, his hand still firmly clenched onto a pillowcase full of spoils from a night full of innocent fun.



Written by Parlour
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