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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-six THE THIRD INDEX

Part 3 of a Margo LePlatt Tale



argot LaPlatt was furious, humiliated, and consumed with rage. Since being brought into the world of vampires three hundred years prior, she, and her eternally eight-year-old daughter had been forced into many dangerous and unusual situations, but this one topped them all.

“Oh my goodness, Mama,” fresh blood is better than ice cream,” Shelby giggled while she drank Elena’s warm blood as it dripped from a cut the immortal child had made in the corpse’s carotid. Both had been so weak from hunger; they’d struggled to hang the succulent victim by a heel in the fork of a tree.

Shelby, a half-sized clone of her mother and equally as intelligent, saw that Margot only took enough of Alena’s blood to survive. Shelby, with her keen mind and the ability (shared with her mother) to read thoughts, quickly became aware that Margot was still tied emotionally to Baron Espot. But starvation is powerful motivation.

Margot, of necessity, suggested the ultimate vampire blasphemy – trap and consume other vampires the Gregorians had stranded in this dreadful place. “We must survive, baby,” Margot had warned.

“Yes, mama, like we always have,” Shelby had dutifully replied, her scruples nothing more than a passing fancy compared to trepidation.

Soon, forgoing the poisonous Eggex for a limited catch of vampires, color returned to both Margot and Shelby’s cheeks. They were at full strength – at least temporarily.

Shelby, initially outspoken in her quest to kill Espot, had been perceptive enough to see that her mother’s continued attraction to him required a bit of guile on her own. Unnoticed by her mother, Shelby stealthily searched for signs of Espot while going about her daily hunt. Each time she ripped a new victim from their shaded hideaway, she would stare long into the hissing, screaming face and probe the mind for a memory of Espot. Many had seen him, and most of these were under his control in some way or another, but few knew exactly where in this wretched jungle he slept. It took her weeks to glean the information, and even then it was through a sort of psychic triangulation. Having realized the general area of his nest, it was all she could do not to march directly to him and tear him to little bits and pieces. But she decided to be patient. She may not have physically needed her mother to be with her to help kill the Baron, but she needed her mother to be with her, emotionally.

It took days to orchestrate the perfect scenario. Shelby, her fine little mind well aware that Espot could move to a new location at any moment, shook with anticipation, but her mother was preoccupied, likely thinking of her past with the Baron. But was she raging....or reminiscing? They came upon Espot in the early twilight, still sleeping beneath a mound of dirt near, but not too near, a jungle trail. Shelby had originally planned a moment of shock at the ‘coincidence,’ but in a heartbeat, she threw her inbred ferocity on the Baron, tearing at his eyes and face with a strength known to only even a few vampires. Margot was stunned, staring wide-eyed at the scuffle, at first not even realizing that it was Baron Espot Shelby had yanked from slumber and attacked.

“Mother!”, Shelby shouted, “Help me. We kill this monster; we’ll be free,” she cried, turning her face away from the fight for only a moment to pierce her mother’s soul with her black, hate-filled, beautiful eyes.

Margot not only hesitated, giving Escot a chance to rise and gain advantage, but she moved slowly forward, reached out, and attempted to pull Shelby off the Baron. Shelby turned on her mother with tigress fury. The pair rolled about on the jungle floor, wailing like the big cats there were imitating. Shelby gradually gained the upper hand, pinning Margot, but refusing to inflict any further damage. “Mother!” Shelby rasped, while at the very same moment doubting if she could ever see Margot as her mother again. Perhaps she, Shelby had been the mother all along. “You know this is right. Fate has brought us across space to the one place where he is weakest. The forces that move the worlds are begging us to drink him dry and leave his corpse an empty husk!”

But Margot was not so sure. Laying there, pressed into the mud by her furious child, wild alien bugs and worms crawling through her hair and onto her skin, and the scent of the Baron’s fear permeating the air, she could feel something....else. Some other thing. Something that she had been feeling since first arriving at this hell, but only just now, as her anger and heartache split her in two, was she laid bare enough to be attuned to it. Something....

In the fury of the instant, Baron Escot slipped away into the heavy foliage. Shelby sprang to her feet and disappeared along with him. Margot did not move. She laid there and tried to reclaim that feeling, but alas, it had passed. She felt something else just then. An all too familiar presence.


Shelby could smell the Baron too. In fact, it was all she could smell. She ran at full speed, the broad, billowing greenery slapping at her face and legs as she sprinted, nearly flying, through the jungle. She let out a low growl that she was completely unaware of, but all of the strange, living creatures from the poisonous Eggex to the little red blood beetles that the Eggex feasted upon, recoiled at the sound.

She reached a clearing, and it seemed as if the Baron could have gone in any direction at that point. His smell was everywhere and nowhere. She felt her shoulders slump involuntarily. She turned and made her way slowly back to her mother.

“Margot!” she called out as she drew near to where she had left her mother, stunning herself by using her first name, something she seldom did. “We need to tal....”, but her words were cut violently short by the scene before her. Horrified, Shelby saw the Baron bent over Margot, his teeth in her neck, draining the last of her life’s nectar.

She threw herself on Escot, but in seconds he’d prevailed, now strengthened immensely by Margot’s rich blood. Shelby, on her back, felt the Baron draining at her neck as well. Weakness, total darkness. Then she reached out and found the tips of her mother’s fingers as she felt herself drifting away.


Margot and Shelly lay, side by side, drained and helpless. They sent weak and sometimes nonsensical thoughts to one another through their telepathic connection. When the sound of a Gregorian hunting spaceship blasted through the humid evening air, making the ground shake and the air swirl, they both felt the end was finally at hand. But in a way, they had made peace with each other again, and both found comfort in that.

Then, the unmistakable sound of the Baron. He roared and howled as he had done so often in days of old when he had been their vigorous and young master. A moment of silence in which they both dozed and then the screams of injured and dying Gregorians brought them back to the surface of consciousness for a moment. As the ship roared back into the atmosphere, Shelby realized that the Baron, now returned to the height of his formidability, had overpowered the crew and escaped, leaving them there to die. She was not surprised, only disappointed.

Margot had heard the Baron’s howl, but neither the battle nor the escape had registered. She was hearing something else, now. A strange, melancholy sound drifted in on the winds of her consciousness. It became louder…then louder still. Shelby heard the sound too, eventually, and when this happened, when they both connected to the force resonating from some unknown origin, a rejuvenating energy coursed through them both. Now awake and aware, they each recognized that this power had become something like sound. Like a siren, a song of immense power, calling their names.


“Mama, what…?”

Margo jolted to a sitting position. “Quiet, child,” she said, turning her head so that her ear was to the air. “Something is calling us. Something is saving us. Listen!” Margot knew. She knew more strongly than anything else she had ever known, that this thing, whatever it was, was good. It was friendly. It loved her.

“Margot…where are you?” called the distant voice. And Margot sent every ounce her psychic energy outward in answer.

“I’m here.”




Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has over sixty short fiction pieces published or pending with online sites including Bewildering Stories, Flashes in the Dark, Spinetingler, and Black Heart Mag. He's been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued and is currently retired to a dusty north Texas ranch. Clifton has an MS from Abilene Christian University. Gary’s stories can be found in the following issues of HelloHorror: Blood Passion appears in the January 2013 issue, Measure Twice, Cut Once appears in the April 2013 issue, Mother’s Nature appears in the August 2013 issue, Mind's Eye appears in the October 2013 issue, Sinning in the Rain appears in the December 2013 issue, Special Handling Required appears in the April 2014 issue, Queen Margot appears in the June 2014 issue, The Trial of Margot LePlatt appears in the Winter 2014-2015 issue, The Ace of Cooper Avenue appears in the Spring 2015 issue, Bridge Work appears in the Summer 2016 issue of HelloHorror, The Third Index, Part 1 appears in the Fall 2017 issue of HelloHorror, and The Third Index, Part 2 appears in the Halloween 2018 issue of HelloHorror. All but one of Gary’s stories appearing thus far in HelloHorror have been part of the Margot LePlatt series. Read more of Gary's work at his new blog, Bareknuckle Thoughts.

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