The Sanguine Engine

After searching around his workbench six times, Nicholas came to the conclusion that his supply of #9 gears had escaped somewhere. Perhaps it was house spirits, or the work of a team of dedicated mice with plans for building a watch that would be, in comparison to their size, gigantic, but the box was assuredly empty. This left him with two equally dire options: either he had to go out and buy more, or venture into the basement to see if he had any stashed away down there. He took the option that involved him not putting on his coat, and headed down the stairs.

He’d never had the basement wired up for electric light, and he regretted that decision every time he went teetering down the staircase with a lantern in his hand. The pale yellow light it cast lit up the whole galaxies of dust swirls that danced up every time he moved so much as an inch. Nicholas kept the place reasonably organized, at least, which meant his #9’s would be in a box on one of the shelves on the left wall; when he looked, though, he noticed that his system of storage had been put into something of disarray. Boxes were shifted, crates moved. His mind wandered to an image of truly industrious mice who wanted to abscond with a suit from his crate of winter clothes, but that idea left quickly when he cast the lantern to the right and found a collection of dead rats piled up in a little heap on the floor.

“Ah, more strays,” he said, nose wrinkling a little. He frequently had problems with cats getting into his basement and his workshop, but as long as they were killing pests, he supposed he didn’t mind, and whichever ones had been romping through his storage seemed to be doing good work of that. He looked a little closer at the bale of rodents on the floor. It was odd; they didn’t seem to have been gnawed on or eaten at all, but they were most certainly dead. He poked at the pile with his shoe, knocking one dessicated corpse off of the top, and when it hit the ground there was a clatter from the back end of the basement. Nicholas lifted his light just in time to see the pale figure coming at him, fangs bared.

Hell’s bells, he had a vampire in his basement. Well, at least something was taking care of the rats.