Friday morning Sally and her two companions rented a van and drove to the western pavilion of a former city gate where they could enter the catacombs. Nagy carried a large black bag that rattled. They descended a narrow spiral stone stairwell almost sixty feet deep into darkness and silence broken only by the gurgling of a hidden aqueduct. One of the items Nagy had in the black bag was a powerful flashlight to light the way. Once he turned this on, they continued through a long and twisting hallway of mortared stone. At the end of the passageway was a model of a fortress carved out of rock. Lucille explained, "Originally these passages were part of stone quarry. This sculpture is the work of one of the quarry inspectors. What we will see next was created after the mine closed during the late eighteenth century."
The tunnel was damp and had a peculiar odor. After a few steps more, they came upon an archway. Above it were the words, "Arręte, c'est ici l'empire de la Mort."
"What does that mean?" Sally asked, shivering from the damp cold and trepidation of what may lay beyond.
Nagy replied, "Stop, this is the empire of Death." He chuckled as Sally's eyes went wide, and she took a step backwards.
Nagy, who had the only light source, stepped through, followed by Lucille. Sally had no choice but go with them or be left in total darkness. After she entered, she gazed around in horror. The walls were covered with human bones and skulls. The musty odor of the ancient dead struck her nostrils. But the worst was the quiet whispering of hundreds of voices almost so low that they were just on the edge of hearing. Sally covered her ears with her hands and screamed, "Stop it. I can't stand it."
Lucille put a comforting arm around her. "Dear, dear, Sally. They're only the bones of people long dead."
Sally felt the blood drain out of her head. "It-it's not the bones, but the whispering."
Lucille looked at her with a quizzical expression. "What whispering? I hear nothing except the gurgling of water running somewhere."
"Then I must be going mad. Hundreds of voices are speaking, trying to get my attention."
Nagy said, "It's because you're a sensitive. There must be many spirits here that have not passed on to wherever spirits finally go. What are they saying?"
Sally listened more carefully. "Some are welcoming us to the land of the dead. Others are begging to be freed." She began to shiver uncontrollably.
Lucille hugged her. "Do not be afraid. They can't harm you. They're incorporate."
Sally realized that she was right. Nonetheless, the whispers were disconcerting. Being a sensitive is a curse, she thought. I must be brave. We're here to rescue Karl. "I think I'll be all right."
"Let us continue then," said Nagy. "The sooner we find what we're looking for the sooner we can leave this place."
There were several exits to the chamber they were in. "How do we which way to go?"
Nagy pointed to his nose. "You're lover is a vampire. I can smell the presence of the undead."
"Wh-what if you're sensing other vampires?"
"Makes no difference. This is daytime. They'll all be asleep in their coffins."
In the next chamber Sally peered around and noticed the bones were carefully arranged, sometimes in an artistic manner. One wall had a heart-shaped outline formed with skulls embedded in surrounding tibias. They past into a round room that had a central pillar created by a bone arrangement similar to a wooden keg. As they passed through several rooms there were other constructs such as a fountain of bones that gathered water dripping from the ceiling.
After a while their way was blocked by a rusty gate. "We are nearing the place of the undead," said Nagy, his nose twitching like a rabbit's.
The gate was so rusty that it was easily removed by all three tugging on it.
Sally asked, "Why do you think this gate was placed here?"
Lucille said, "The passage beyond may not be safe. There are places where the ceiling has collapsed."
"Nice!" Sally thought, Lucille's prophesy about us going into danger was certainly correct. After they went down another short passageway, they came to a large room in which many coffins were scattered about.
"They're full of vampires," Nagy said. "This must
be headquarters of the
Sally said, "But which one contains Karl?"
Lucille said, "It will be of some material that he cannot break out of and tightly sealed."
They wandered around examining all the coffins. Finally, Lucille cried, "This must be it." She pointed to an oblong metal box bound by silver straps.
"What do we do now?" Sally asked. She could not imagine how they could maneuver the heavy thing out of the catacombs. Before she received a reply, she happened to glance back at the rest of the coffins and screamed.
The coffins spread around were opening up, and the corpses were climbing out of their resting places. Hundreds of vampires had risen.
She cried, "How can this be? You said that they could not rise during the daylight hours."
"It must be because it's dark down here," said Lucille. "Somehow they sensed our presence." She removed a charm of some sort from her purse and hung it be a chain around her neck.
When Nagy saw the horde of menacing vampires coming toward them, he quickly withdrew a large crucifix from his jacket pocket. He handed another one to Sally.
The nearest vampire laughed. "When I was alive, I too thought that a crucifix would stop a vampire. What nonsense. Many vampires are Christians. Garlic and other foodstuffs that were supposed to ward us off won't deter us either. Nothing you can do will stop us from killing you."
The vampires continued to advance toward them.
"What about this?" shouted Nagy. He withdrew a seventeen round Glock semiautomatic from his belt and menaced the vampires with it. "I took the precaution of loading it with silver bullets." He fired at the vampire closest to him.
The vampire gazed at the round hole in his chest, sighed and crumpled.
The other vampires hesitated. After a moment or two, they continued to advance.
"How many bullets in the clip?" asked Lucille.
"Seventeen. Only sixteen left."
Sally counted vampires. There were at least thirty. Even if Nagy could destroy sixteen, there were several more. They did not seem afraid of death and kept advancing. Nagy fired his pistol, killing several of them, but also missed a few times. When he was out of silver bullets, he reloaded with ordinary bullets, which were ineffective.
Sally screamed and screamed as a vampires were upon them.