The next afternoon, the final piece for the forge showed up on my doorstep, and I called Tony to come give me a hand. I shrugged off the thought that I was running out of vacation days from work. This was more important anyway.
Once we got up to the cabin, it was an hour more of cursing and sweating before we had the whole thing set up outside Josh’s cabin. While Tony filled the forge with charcoal, I went to check on the CNC machine, which had been running continuously for the last 24, cutting molds out of steel blanks. I picked one up and admired it. Josh had had it cut 3 molds of six .45 ACP bullets each, three molds of eight 9×19 bullets each, two molds of two 12 gauge hollowpoint slugs, three molds of four .308 bullets each, and five of four 7.62 bullets each. For all the bullets, there was at least one additional mold with hollowpoints in it as opposed to solids. Ryan had also made one mold of crossbow bolt tips. Dang, we could make our own army here.
“When can you start, Tony?” I asked as I heard him come in.
“Umm . . . I’ve already got a block heating, so, two, three hours? I was thinking, I haven’t taken a vacation from work for about a year, so I’ve got three weeks of vacation. I’ll just hang out up here and cast bullets until we’ve got enough.”
“That’s a good idea. I’ll bring you some food and all your reloading stuff.”
“Great. And a DVD player!”
I headed to a grocery store to get food and then to Tony’s to get his truckload of reloading stuff. By the time I got back, it was nearly five o’clock, and Tony was hunched over one of the molds.
“What’s up?” I asked as I approached. He turned and tossed me something. I reflexively caught it.
“What do you think?” he asked. I examined it. It seemed a perfect .45 hollowpoint bullet. All it needed was to be loaded into a case with powder and primer and it would be ready.
“Dude . . . it’s perfect. It’s amazing! We can totally kill that sucker with these! You’re a genius!”
I high-fived him. He grinned. “There are some setbacks, though,” he said, “Out of every mold I get at least one short shot, where the silver doesn’t fill the cavity all the way. Looks like this when it does it.”
He handed what seemed to be a .308 or 7.62 with a seeming scoop out of the side. “When that happens, I just toss it back in to remelt and be reused,” Tony explained, “Other than that, everything’s going perfect.”
“Sweet. Keep working, man, great job.”
“Sure thing. By the way, I’m not sleeping out here anymore, not with a freaking vampire around. I’ll sleep in a motel in that town about a mile from here. I can ride Josh’s bike to and from.”
“Okay, that makes sense.”
I hung around, watching Tony cast more bullets and reload them into their casings. By the time I left an hour later, we had 8 rounds of .45, 17 of 9mm, 4 hollowpoint slugs, and 11 of .308. I had a newfound sense of determination. We were going to come down hard on that vampire. We were going to make him pay. We’d send him back to hell, and then . . . I didn’t know what we’d do next. Would it be possible to return to normal life after this? Could I go back to being an insurance salesman after battling the undead? I pushed the nagging thought away as I drove down the same state road where we had met the first vampire. We’d worry about that later.
A week passed slowly. In that time, Tony cast and reloaded dozens and dozens of bullets, Phil’s G3 came in and he obtained all the guns we had asked for, and I received the PUFF paperwork from Gene. The box it arrived in stated it was from “Gene Smith, IRS” and contained a sheaf of paperwork and a sticky note. Good luck was written on it, but other than that, nothing was out of the ordinary. The boxes to fill in were rather interesting though. I chuckled as I skimmed through:
“Monster type terminated?”
“Method of termination?”
And my personal favorite, “Reason for termination?”
Finally, though, that Friday, pretty much everything was in place, and we all trooped up to the cabin for another meeting. Tony held court this time; this was his turf.
“The bullets are pretty much all done,” he announced, “I’ve got too much of everything, so we should be all set. Phil, we’re going to need quite a few magazines, though. How many do you have?”
“Enough,” Phil responded, “I know what weapons everyone has, so I went ahead and bought five for each one. You can add those to what you already have. By the way, the total magazines were about $1,000.”
“Thanks,” Tony responded. “Now, the downside. These bullets suck.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, startled, “Dude, we’ve dumped 50k into this, how can the bullets suck?”
“They just do. I think it’s that they’re too hard to engage the rifling on any of the barrels. We’ll just have to live with it, though.”
“What about the shotguns?” Ryan asked, “How do the slugs and buckshot work?”
“Surprisingly well,” was Tony’s response, “They’re quite accurate and fairly deadly. I shot a deer with one and it blew half his head off.
“Now, Ryan’s crossbow. I cast enough head for all his shafts and they should work just fine, provided they don’t pass right through the darn vampire.”
“Also, what I said earlier about the bullets sucking. This is most noticeable on the long range rifles. The bullets are completely unpredictable; pretty much the only thing you can guarantee is that you are going to miss. If I could, I’d take those rifles out of the equation all together and just add in another flamethrower.
“Also, speaking of flamethrowers, I bought two, not one. Just in case, you know? They don’t require much training or practice; the one thing you have to remember is that that flame goes on forever. Make sure you watch where you’re pointing the nozzle! Other than that, I’m done. I’m ready to kill this thing.” He sat down and I took his place.
“Thanks, Tony. Right, another thing I bought is night vision systems for each of us. They’re monoculars, they strap to your head, and they work pretty well. They set us back 6k, so we’re down to about 2k now. I also bought two high-quality night vision rifle scopes, and we’re down to about $500. Hope no one else needs anything!” I ended my little speech on that joking note that hid my unease. What if we had forgotten something?
As I sat down, Phil stood up. “It sounds like we’re 100% prepared now. Great. We just have to decide tactics. Any ideas? I talked to Tony and his deer stand idea sounds good; we just have to figure out how to get the vampire to walk into a trap. I think that dragging a bloody corpse of some sort would work. Have the trail end about ten yards from our stands or something. Any objections?”
There were none. “Okay, we’ll do that,” he said, sitting down. “But when?”
“Saturday night?” Tony suggested, “Any longer and we’re just going to get antsy. We can set up the deer stands that afternoon and hit him that night.”
“I’m good with that,” I said. “Everyone else good with that?” Everyone was.
“One more thing,” Tony said, “We need to do this right. We cannot let this thing escape. We have to kill it and we have to kill it yesterday. This thing is responsible for Josh’s death and who even knows how many others. So let’s end this.”
We all nodded solemnly. “Right, Tony,” I said slowly. “It ends tomorrow.”