Part 266 – Mark Caten Breaks Ambrose

Mark Caten watched the security video on his phone.

The one intruder was clearly a man and the other was a woman. But that was all he could make out.

Maybe it was Elsie.

Maybe it wasn’t.

He couldn’t say for certain.

He pressed some buttons on his phone to capture and save the video for replay later.

“What do you want me to do, sir?” asked a man’s voice on the phone.

Mark put the phone to his ear. “Give me a few minutes. I’ll call you with further instructions. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

He ended the call and turned his attention back to the monitor.

Ambrose went through endless cycles of sleeping and startling awake.

Mark tapped the hunter’s number on his phone.

She answered on the third ring.

“Hello, my darling little hunter. I need you to break the cycle. I need to talk to him.” He rolled his eyes. “I realize that. Quit bellyaching and get it done. Now. I don’t care. Speed. Break the sound barrier if you must. Get over here now or I will tell certain friends I have in the media about your…Oh, shall we call them extracurricular activities? It may only be vampires you’re playing your little games on, hunter,  but I’m sure the media can blow it into interesting proportions. Especially since you are a hunter. The pro-vampire crowd will LOVE staking you in effigy.”

He smiled. “There. I knew you’d see it my way. Because, you know, everyone eventually does.”


Ambrose’s skin turned from fire to ice to slime to dirt. Loose caked dirt that broke and crumbled and fell apart.

He jolted awake.

The cruel hunter sat beside him. She transformed into a giant spider and injected a gritty venom into his mouth.

He jolted awake and lay still with open eyes.

His breath came out in a rattle that sounded like something between a growl and a velociraptor’s purr.

I’m hungry.

It’s ten thirty at night.

I’m hungry.

I need to get out of here.

I need.

The sharp scent of garlic whifted past his face.

He raised his head and saw Mark Caten on the other side of the cage. “You.”

“Hello, Ambrosia. Are you comfy in there?”

“Are you real? Or are you going to transform into someone else, something else?”

“Oh, I’m real.” He smiled. “I’m disappointed in you, Ambrosia.”

He shifted up into a sit. “Quit calling me that.”

Mark Caten breezed on as if Ambrose hadn’t said a word. “You haven’t even noticed that you aren’t in your usual exhibit.”

Ambrose crawled to the front of the cage and peered through the bars. His exhibit’s usual paraphernalia were all gone. The cage sat on a concrete floor surrounded by an unreasonably high cement wall.

“What is this place?”

“This is where I take my more troublesome acquisitions to smooth out their edges, to make them more audience ready.” His smile grew obnoxious. “To break them down into whatever I expect them to be.”

“You won’t break me.”

Mark Caten laughed. “I won’t break you? Hahahahahahahaha. Oh, Ambrose. You don’t see it the way I do. Right now, I have complete control over you. You can’t escape. You can’t feed. I broke you before, Ambrosia,  and I will do it again.”

Ambrose bashed his fists on the bars.

“Oh! You know what? That reminds me.” Mark Caten pulled out his cell phone and went into his Saved Videos file. “Someone broke into my amusement park tonight. Two someones, actually. A man and a woman.” He scrolled through his long line-up of videos.

“Am I supposed to care about that? Some people will break into anything.”

“Yes. Yes. That is true. But these were two very specific people. Here we are.” He slipped the phone through the bars and quickly whisked his hand away.

Ambrose looked at the grainy still image. “What exactly am I looking at?”

“It’s a few minute snippet of my security video.”

“Some video. It isn’t even playing.”

“Idiot! You have to press the Play button.”

“You’re the one who’s an idiot. There aren’t any play buttons on this worthless piece of—”

“My phone is not worthless! Press the triangle.”

“Triangle? What?”

“Idiot. Idiot. Dolt! The big triangle surrounded by the big circle.”

“It doesn’t say play.”

“It doesn’t have to. It’s common knowledge.”

Ambrose insulted him in French and pressed Play. He watched the two figures as they went their separate ways in the darkness. “Oh, that’s just so impressive.” He glared at Mark Caten. “So freaking what?”

“Play it again. Look at her.”

Ambrose did as he was told.

“Doesn’t she remind you of someone?”

He played it again. “It isn’t Elsie, if that’s what you’re driving at. It’s just a man and a woman breaking into your place of horrors.”

“That could be so, but I know it’s her. She’s come to rescue you.” He chortled. “And you aren’t even there to be rescued.” His chortle escalated into full-blown laughter. “Oh! And the precious thing is when she gets to your exhibit, I will give my man the word and he will release the vampire in there.”

“It isn’t her. Elsie won’t rescue me. She doesn’t care what happens to me. She left me for the police to capture. She never came to see me when I was in jail. I would have known if she had. Only Barbara…”

His eyes widened.


He played the video one more time. The man clearly wasn’t Hildreth. The woman was not Elsie.

But something in her movement spoke to him and betrayed her.

He felt as if he’d been staked. “Barbara.” He pressed the screen and the video stopped. He pressed it again and the video restarted.

He pressed buttons along the side of the video’s image. Menu after menu popped up and none of them had anything to do with making a call.

Ambrose snarled. “How do I get back to the phone part of your stupid phone?”

“My phone is not stupid. My phone is—”

Ambrose reached through the bars and grabbed him by the front of his suit coat. He pulled him towards the cage. “How. Do. I. Make. A. Call?”

“You think I’m going to let you bully me into—”

“If you don’t tell me, I will thoroughly test your phone’s durability. Is that what you want?”

Mark closed his mouth into a tight, uncommunicative line.

Ambrose pressed his thumb’s claw against the screen.

“All right! Fine! Give it to me.”

Ambrose pressed it a little harder.

“I’ll get you to the right screen. Just give it to me.”

Ambrose considered it for a moment. He handed Mark Caten the phone.

Mark smiled and put the phone back into his pocket.


“Oh, you’re right! I almost forgot.” He pulled the phone out and pressed a mysterious combination of buttons to return to his contact list.

“Give it to me. Let me call her.”

Mark smirked and pressed a name on the list.

“Mark. Let me call her.”

He put the phone to his ear. “Hello? Caten. Where is she now? Already at the vampire exhibit?” He chuckled. “Well, she sure isn’t wasting any time.”



“Give me the phone.”

“The word is—”

“Please. Please! Let me talk to her. Let me—”

“—now. Let that wench get what she deserves.”

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