“Damn it, what was the number of the police hotline again?” Uncle fiddles with his phone as I remember that he’s not very good at remembering phone numbers.
That punch he gave me was enough to bring me down to the ground, but I could still move. I attempt to squirm my way towards the staircase while he’s occupied on his phone, but he keeps putting his foot down on my back as I crawl.
“You ain’t going anywhere, boy.” Uncle says as he dials another number. “This time I’ve got the right number for sure.”
“Thank you for calling Simino’s Pizza, may I take your order?” Looks like Uncle set it to speaker.
“Damn it, it’s the wrong number again! Was it five zeroes or six zeroes? Why doesn’t this goddamn town have an emergency hotline like 119 in San Myshuno?” Uncle complains as he dials another number.
And that’s when I see my opportunity just up the staircase.
Presto, coming down from the top turns invisible as my Uncle is too occupied with dialing the right number. He puts a finger on his visor, signaling me to keep quiet and stay put. I nod and wait for what will happen next.
Clink clink clink
“Huh? What the hell was that noise?” Uncle looks around and he stops stepping on me. “You stay put, boy.”
Clink clink clink clink
“HAE-WON! ARE YOU REARRANGING THE CUTLERY AT THIS HOUR? HAE-WON!” Uncle shouts, blaming my aunt who’s probably upstairs.
“Who’s there? Sh-sh-show yourself…!” Uncle now looks around looking nervous, not realizing that he dropped his phone in fear.
And then complete silence.
For a minute or so.
Uncle then breathes a sigh of relief.
“Well that was a relief, if that were a ghost…”
“AUGH! A GHOST! AUUUGGGHHHHHH!” Uncle, upon seeing Presto appear, flees up the staircase, leaving his phone behind.
As I lose sight of Uncle, Presto helps me up and smashes the phone with his foot.
“I hid the ginseng in the alleyway for now. You go send a message to Tony using my phone.”
“That give Uncle good scare, Presto.” I tell him.
“Haha, that’s nothing, Park. The worst ones usually piss themselves, so I think your Uncle took it pretty well. Now let’s get outta here and meet up with Tony.” Presto heads up the stairs and opens the back door, showing me the jar of ginseng that he hid there.
With this ginseng, we can now save the Doc and turn him back to normal!
“What were you calling me for, Man-shik?” my wife comes down the stairs in her night clothes as I meet her on the shop floor. “I was sleeping soundly until you were making that racket downstairs!”
“A g-g-ghost, Hae-won! In the basement, there was a ghost!” I tell her and describe that it looked like a suit of armor.
“There’s no such thing as ghosts, you old fool!”
“But there was one, I swear! And I ain’t old yet!”
“You’ve got a bald spot, white hair, and a demeanor that perfectly matches an old man. Yeah, you’re old.”
I growl in frustration and in my fear and fit of rage earlier, I lost track of my good-for-nothing nephew and my phone.
“My phone! It’s not with me! That Shin-jae must have stolen it from me!”
“Now Shin-jae was here? Did you really see a ghost or did you think Shin-jae was a ghost?”
“Listen to me, woman–”
“No, you listen to me. You’re obviously becoming senile. Go upstairs and rest. It’s almost dawn.”
“NO BUTS, MAN-SHIK. GO TO BED.” Hae-won screams as I reel from that hit from her slipper.
“Y-Yes, ma’am. Good night.” I resign myself and head for the stairs.
“And why are your pants wet?”
“GOOD NIGHT, HAE-WON.”
The next morning I found my phone in the basement, shattered into pieces. And I never saw my good-for-nothing nephew again.
After receiving the text from Preston and Park, I also send Gran a message to meet us all at one of Archon Malefica’s assets nearby called the Dead End Motel. A bit run-down like most vampire establishments, but it’s the perfect place for us to discuss what to do next with the Doc. It was almost dawn, so we hurried inside.
Underneath the motel is a trendy bar called Maleficarum, which Archon Malefica also owns. It caters to all kinds of patrons, whether they be vampire or human, and we have the place all to ourselves. Malefica orders her henchmen to stand guard outside while I enter with her and Miggy. Moments later, Gran arrives, and soon followed by Preston and Park, bringing in a jar of what appears to be ginseng.
“Looks like we’re all finally here.” Malefica comments as she looks around the nook we sat in. “Miggy, Antonio, Domingo’s two other lackeys, and Gran.” Malefica says Gran’s name with disdain.
“I never expected us to meet again, Malefica.” Gran antagonizes her, raising a brow.
“I was already half-expecting it since you work for that idiot doctor.” Malefica retorts.
“The Doctor is not an idiot, honey.”
“Do you want to hear what he did to me, old hag?”
I shout at the two to stop them from bickering.
“Whatever happened between you two needs to be put under the bridge for now. We’ve got a more important concern here!” I gesture towards Miggy who seems to be oblivious to what’s happening, like many children.
“But I’m boooored.” Miggy complains as Park lends him his phone to let him play some Blic-Bloc.
“Since you called me over, this probably means that you boys have the King’s Ginseng.” Gran looks at me and Preston.
“Yup, we got it right here.” Preston then shows us the jar of ginseng which probably took some effort to obtain. “It wasn’t easy, but here it is.”
“This means I can get to work on returning the Doc back to normal!” Gran says with glee, but Malefica interrupts her.
“Hold up, hold up. I thought I was going to turn the Doc back to normal?” Malefica looks at me.
I explain to both Gran and the others what happened when I met Malefica, who kidnapped Miggy, which took almost fifteen minutes.
“You kidnapped the poor child, not knowing it was the Doctor?” Gran snaps at Malefica.
“How should I have known it was him? I thought it was his nephew or something.” Malefica replies.
“This is a very difficult situation, Tony.” Preston tells me as I look at the two elder vampires bickering.
I never really knew that Gran and Malefica were not on good terms, so this is my fault.
“Oh, I have an idea!” Malefica stops bickering with Gran and everyone pays attention to her.
“Here’s what we’ll do. Tony, since you’re the protege, you get to pick which one of us gets to cure the Doctor.” Malefica suggests as I think about it. “Is that fine with you, old hag?”
Gran looks at her with disdain. “Fine by me, harlot. We’ll let Tony pick.”
“First, I’ll need to hear exactly how you’ll cure the Doc’s condition.” I let Malefica explain.
Malefica smirks and brings out her phone, which has her notes.
“This is what I’ve planned. Using my superior prowess in magic and alchemy, I’ll create a potion to counter the effects of the youthening serum on him. It should be able to restore him back to his adult self. However…”
“However, what?” Gran raises an eyebrow.
“There will be a side effect. The side effect is usually something random, but it shouldn’t be harmful or life-threatening. I’ll also be needing that ginseng you have as a catalyst. King’s Ginseng is incredibly hard to come by these days.”
“Hey, I need that ginseng. And the last time you lifted a curse off Archon Archibald, it turned him into a hamster.” Gran comments. “You also ended up giving Archon Pixie a third ear, and you turned Archon Amadeus into a cat and Archon Ludwig into a rebellious teenager.”
“It’s out of my control, okay? At least they all turned back to normal after a week or two. Now I’d love to see what you have planned for Domingo, you old hag.”
Everyone looks at Gran this time as she describes her plan.
“The Don’s potions are powerful, so I’ll create an equally strong reversal potion. I already have all the other ingredients, and with the King’s Ginseng, the Doc will turn back to normal. However…”
We all await for the downside to her plan.
“It will put the Doc into a coma. I guarantee that it’ll return him back to normal, but it’ll put him out of action for days, weeks, or even a month. I’m hoping that it’ll only be a few days. But believe me, this is the safest way.”
“That’s what you pharmacists are good for. Putting people into comas after curing them.” Malefica quips.
“At least it doesn’t come with any grave side effects like your methods!” Gran thumbs down Malefica’s proposal then looks at me. “My dear, you’ll have to decide which of our plans is better.”
This is a tough decision. If we go with Malefica’s plan, the Doc will turn back to normal, but it’ll have a side effect that we don’t know of yet. If we go with Gran’s way, it’ll turn the Doc back to normal but put him into a coma for Doug knows how long. I look at Preston to see if he has anything to say.
“We need the Doc to get back at Antares ASAP, right? I’m actually leaning towards Malefica’s plan. The Don might come for the Doc again if we’re not careful.” he adjusts his visor.
“Even if it took you and Park that much effort to get the ginseng?” I ask him.
“She’ll be using it for her magic stuff anyway. So I think that this is still worth our effort.” Preston finishes his explanation.
“And let me add, if you’re getting back at the Don, we should finish it quickly. This is the fastest way, believe me.” Malefica butts in.
“What do you think, Park?” I look at Park, who seemed to be watching Miggy play Blic-Bloc.
Park thinks for a moment and looks at Miggy, Malefica, and Gran.
“Maybe Granny plan is safer. I know Doctor will be in coma, but everyone can keep Doctor safe.”
“It might take too long though, Park. We don’t know how long the Doc will be out if we do that.” Preston argues.
“But at least there won’t be any harmful side-effects.” Gran adds to the discussion.
“It’s not harmful, geez! If he turns back to normal, he’ll probably only grow a third ear at the very least.” Malefica defends her position.
I look at both Gran and Malefica, thinking about them as people and weigh in the pros and cons.
Gran has been a trusted ally of the Doc for centuries. She has assisted him in his medical practice ever since he was starting out as a vampire physician. Surely she knows what she’s doing, but I don’t know her that well yet. Only the Doc and Preston do. Her way might be the safest, but it’ll take too long, and we need to get back to stopping the Don.
As for Malefica, she has a dubious reputation, as far as I know. She kidnapped Miggy and has questionable practices, but she has kept her word after losing to me so far. I don’t trust her that much, but what she’s offering is probably the fastest way to get the Doc back to normal. The side effect and trusting her will be a huge gamble, however.
“I’ll need to think about it for a while. Hopefully, I’ll reach a decision by dusk.” I tell everyone.
“We should all retire for the day. I could already feel the sunlight outside.” Gran says as she gets up from the chaise.
“Let me get you the keys to your rooms.” Malefica snaps her finger and in comes a motel worker with a tray full of keys, handing one to each of us.
“The motel’s got a lot of vacancies, so you all get a room each.” Malefica explains as she heads for the door. “I’ll see y’all here by dusk.”
I leave Miggy with Gran and head for my room along with the others who got their keys.
The room assigned to me was in the basement, perfect as vampire lodgings. The old wallpaper, outdated furnishings, and cobwebs make me feel at home. I used to be wary of such things, but I guess it comes with being a vampire. Looking at the coffin in front of me, I ponder over which plan is better before I retire to the coffin.
Should I go for the slow but sure way from Gran? Or should I go with the fast but risky way from Malefica?
What should I do?
Please vote! What do you think Tony should do now? The result may or may not influence Tony’s decision because it’ll still be up to him in the end.
Update: Poll closed. Thank you for voting! Stay tuned for the next chapter for the result.