Murlough's knives swished through the air, through the space where Debbie's neck should have been, and through the soft fabric of the pillows and the mattress.

But not through Debbie.

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Because she wasn't there.

Murlough stared down at the creature tied to the bed, its hooves and snout bound as tightly as I was.

"It's... a..." His jaws quivered. He couldn't bring himself to say the word.

"It's a goat," I finished for him, smiling grimly.

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Murlough turned slowly, his face a mask of confusion. "But... but... but..."

While he was spluttering, trying to figure out what was happening, the door of one of the closets opened and Mr. Crepsley sprung out.

The vampire looked even more sinister than the vampaneze, with his blood-red clothes and cape, his orange crop of hair and ugly scar.

Murlough froze when he saw Mr. Crepsley. His red eyes bulged out of his head and his purple skin lightened a couple of shades as blood rushed from his face.

From the movies I'd seen, I was expecting a long, exciting fight. I thought the two would trade insults first, then Mr. Crepsley would draw a knife or a sword and they'd lunge at and evade one another, battling their way around the room, nicking each other in the early stages, gradually working up to the more serious wounds.

But it wasn't like that. This was a fight between superfast predators of the night who were only interested in killing, not impressing action-hungry audiences. There were just four moves in the conflict, and it was over in the space of two blurred and furious seconds.

Mr. Crepsley made the first move. His right hand zipped out and sent a short knife flying through the air. It struck Murlough in the upper left of his chest, a few inches higher than its target - his heart. The vampaneze recoiled and drew in air to scream.

While Murlough's mouth was opening, Mr. Crepsley sprang forward. One huge leap was all it took, then he was at the side of the bed, in position to go hand-to-hand with the vampaneze.

That was the second move of the fight.

The third move was Murlough's - his only one. In a panic, he lashed out at Mr. Crepsley with his left-handed knife. The blade glittered through the air at a frightening speed and would have been the end of the vampire had it been on target. But it wasn't. It soared a good three inches above the vampire's head.

As Murlough's left arm followed through on the swing, it left a gap that Mr. Crepsley exploited. Using only his bare right hand, he delivered the killer blow. Keeping the hand flat, rough nails jutting out like five sharp blades, he drove it into Murlough's stomach.

And when I say into, I mean into!

Murlough gasped and went deathly still. The knife dropped from his hand and he gazed down. Mr. Crepsley's hand had disappeared into the flesh of the vampaneze's belly, all the way up to his forearm.

He left the hand there a second, then yanked back sharply, bringing guts and a torrent of dark blood with it.

Murlough groaned and collapsed to his knees, almost squashing the goat in the process, then toppled to the floor, where he rolled over onto his back and tried closing the hole in his stomach with spit he'd quickly licked onto the palms of his hands.

But the hole was too wide. The vampaneze's healing spit was useless. There was nothing he could do to seal the flesh or stop his precious blood from pumping out. He was finished.

Mr. Crepsley stepped back from the dying vampaneze, picked up one of the bedsheets, and wiped his hand on it. His face was expressionless. He appeared neither pleased nor saddened by what he had done.

After a couple of seconds, Murlough realized his situation was hopeless. Flopping over onto his belly, his eyes settled on me, and he began crawling toward me, gritting his teeth against the pain.

"Mr. Crepsley?" I said shakily.

Mr. Crepsley studied the crawling vampaneze, then shook his head. "Do not worry. He can do you no harm." But, taking no chances, he walked over, freed me, and stood by my side, ready to strike again if needed.

It was a long, agonized crawl for the vampaneze. I almost felt sorry for him, but had only to think of Evra strung up and what he'd planned to do to Debbie to remind myself that he deserved everything he'd gotten.

He paused more than once, and I thought he was going to die midway, but he was determined to have his final say. He fought on, even though he must have known he was accelerating the moment of his death.

He collapsed on his face at my feet and breathed heavily into the carpet. Blood was gushing out of his mouth, and I knew the end was almost upon him. He raised a trembling finger and crooked it, beckoning me to lean down.

I glanced questioningly at Mr. Crepsley.

The vampire shrugged. "He is harmless now. It is up to you."

I decided to see what the dying vampaneze had to say. I bent down and leaned close to his mouth. He had only seconds left.

His red eyes rolled directionlessly in their sockets. Then, with a huge effort, they fixed on me, and his lips split into one last leer. He raised his head as high as he could and whispered something that I couldn't hear.

"I didn't catch that," I told him. "You'll have to speak up." I jammed my ear closer to his mouth.

Murlough licked his lips, clearing some blood and making space for air. Then, with his final breath, he got out the words that seemed so important to him.

"Cluh-cluh-clever buh-buh-buh-boy, hmmm?" He gurgled, then smiled blankly and fell forward.

He was dead.

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