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Hot and Cold Running Blood

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The old house just outside the small town of Conway was exactly what Carol Deaver and her mother had been looking for. It received a lot of good northern light, so her mother could paint, and it had a pasture behind it where Carol could keep her horse.

The only problem was that a Mr. and Mrs. Wrakker had already rented it, and they had a two-year lease.

The man at the realty company could tell that Carol and her mother were very disappointed, so he thought about it for a few minutes, and then he said, "The Wrakkers really don't stay there that much. They're in and out of the house all the time. Let me see if I can work a deal with them."

He could. Within a week, Mr. and Mrs. Wrakker had accepted the real estate man's proposal.

Carol and her mother could rent the guest bedroom, which had its own bath, and have the use of the rest of the house, when the Wrakkers weren't there.

"There is just one small stipulation, however," the real estate man told them. "You are never under any circumstances to use the shower in Mr. and Mrs. Wrakker's bathroom."

"That's no big deal," Carol said.

So Carol and her mother moved into the old house and began getting their lives in order. Carol pastured her horse, and her mother began painting.

Then the Wrakkers returned.

They arrived at dawn one Friday, slept the entire day, and then roamed the house all that night. They never once said anything to either Carol or her mother.

And that was how it went. The Wrakkers would be gone for several days at a time, then they'd suddenly arrive at dawn, unannounced, and start their routine all over again. You never knew which day it would be. It was very disturbing.

One day, after Carol had gone out for an early morning ride, she came in, hot and sweaty, and felt like taking a shower, but their bathroom only had a tub in it.

This is ridiculous, she thought. There's a perfectly good bathroom with a shower in this house, and I ought to be able to use it whenever I want to.

Since the Wrakkers were gone and her mother was still asleep, Carol decided this was the time to do it. She'd take her chances on being discovered. Besides,the Wrakkers were so weird, they'd probably never even notice she'd been in there. She'd just make sure everything was back in place when she was through.

Their bathroom turned out to be quite ordinary, so Carol didn't think there would be any problem making sure it looked the same way when she left.

She opened the shower door and turned on the water.

It came out in a dark red spray.

Carol stepped back, stunned.What in the world was this? she wondered.

She reached in to turn off the water, and, as she did, she heard moaning. It sounded almost human, she thought, but it was probably just air in the pipes. For some reason, though, it made her shiver.

The tile floor of the shower stall looked like it was covered in blood, but how could you get blood out of a shower nozzle? Still,that was what it looked like.

Would the same thing come out of the wash basin faucet? she wondered. Carol reached for the handle and turned it on. A stream of dark red liquid rushed out. It was blood!

Carol watched it, horrified, for several minutes, before the flow gradually slowed to a trickle.

The coppery smell in the room was overpowering. Carol could almost taste the blood, and she felt like she was going to vomit.

Then she heard the moaning again. This time she knew it was a human sound, and it was coming from inside the closet for the water heater. Carol felt herself go cold inside. There was someone else in the bathroom with her!

She had to find out what was going on here. Carol walked slowly toward the door to the water heater closet. When she reached it, she grasped the metal handle and pulled it open.

Then she screamed.

Her mother was wedged into the small space, standing exactly where the hot water heater should have been! She was dressed in her painting clothes, an old denim shirt and blue jeans. Her eyes were closed, and her skin was the palest white.

Then Carol saw the metal pipe. It was stuck in her mother's chest. It ran straight out from her body, curved down at an angle along one wall of the closet and then up at another angle toward what Carol was sure were the connections to the shower and the wash basin.

"No! No! No!" she screamed. "This can't be happening!"

She suddenly realized that when she had turned on the faucets, she had drained every bit of blood from her mother's body.

Carol staggered blindly out of the bathroom, and ran directly into Mr. and Mrs. Wrakker!

"Oh, Carol, you are such a troublemaker," Mr, Wrakker said. "I just installed your mother in the water closet this morning, while you were out riding, and now you've drained her."

"Didn't anybody ever teach you to conserve our precious natural resources?" Mrs. Wrakker demanded. "You can't turn on a faucet like that and leave it running. It's such a wasteful thing to do!"

"Who are you?!" Carol screamed. "What are you?!

"I suppose you could say we're a new breed of vampires, Carol," Mr. Wrakker said. "No more of that silly neck biting stuff for us."

"You see, my dear, Mr. Wrakker here was a master plumber in his other life," Mrs. Wrakker explained. "It was he who came up with this ingenious and very civilized way of getting what we need."

Mr. Wrakker smiled a very satisfied smile. "Well, come along, Carol. I have to take out your mother and install you in our bathroom." He pulled a metal pipe out from behind his back. "I always like to make sure we have plenty of hot-and-cold running blood."

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