Donut fired his weapon. Well, it wasn’t his weapon. None of this belonged to him, though it certainly felt like it did in the moment. It felt like it was his revolver, his badass vest and cowboy hat, and his actual wiry mustache. It took significant focus to remind himself that he couldn’t even grow a mustache reliably. It was more like trying to grow chia seeds in a sink drain.
Still, he felt masculine. The bullet, garlic-infused, left the gun and struck Strusse in the chest. He was a vampire at the moment, so he was forced to recoil in agony. Steam, rather pleasant-smelling steam, shot from his wound as he tripped over one of the giant noodles and sank into the spaghetti that Donut was also entangled in.
Donut tried to clear all the cowboy thoughts from his head in order to remember how they’d gotten in that situation. It was a very complex knot indeed, with more than giant spaghetti mixed up in it. He thought back further and further. He tried to poinpoint the last normal moment in their lives.
They were interns. That was normal, right? His name was Donut… that wasn’t normal, but he remembered it as the standard sort of abnormal: part of the allowance most people were granted. It was a nick name, because he loved donuts and his legal name belonged to someone more boring. Strusse was supposed to be his best friend. He remembered Strusse went by his last name because his first was almost as boring as Donut’s.
There was another intern at the movie studio as well; her name was Lauren. It was a very normal name, but neither of them would ever say that to her face. They wanted to stand at least a ghost of a chance with her. Last they’d heard, leaning a little too close to one of her conversations, she was single. That was it. That was what started all these shenanigans. It was how they’d turned into cowboys and vampires and gotten themselves steeped in a marinara mire.
Most of the work was done for the day and everybody else had gone home. The three interns had been ordered to catalogue some of the props in order to make sure nothing got lost between days of shooting. All three of them were in the warehouse, surrounded by random objects from every kind of fiction and every time period.
Donut had put on the cowboy hat as a joke. At first he’d felt nothing as he’d put on a lousy wild west accent and tried to make Lauren laugh. She smirked, but didn’t laugh. A smirk could mean he was foolish rather than sexy. That wasn’t acceptable. He tried a little harder, but the vest couldn’t get a giggle out of her either.
That was when Strusse popped out from around a corner with fake fangs in. Donut squealed, genuinely startled. That made her laugh, and all it took was Donut getting a little red in the face. Shortly after that she excused herself to get some water. There was one fountain in the whole place, and its flow was so weak that it always took them five minutes to fill their bottles at the beginning of the day. That was a least five minutes they had to argue over who had a better chance with their fellow intern.
“Dude, you’re embarrassing me,” Donut said, slapping Strusse on his black-cloaked shoulder. The false vampire fumbled with his fangs for a moment, picking at them like a piece of asparagus between his teeth, but eventually gave up.
“You’re just an embarrassment,” he said with a shrug, though his syllables were somewhat muddled by the fangs. “I don’t think she’s into cowboys anyway.”
“More so than bat-bozos,” Donut countered weakly. Strusse picked at the fangs again. “What are you doing?”
“I can’t… I can’t ge these things out.”
“Why would a vampire take out his fangs?” a third voice asked, authoritatively, from somewhere above them. They looked to the ceiling, but saw nothing there or on the highest shelves loaded with foam blocks meant for building ancient Egyptian pyramids.
“Who said that?” Donut asked. “Come on out ye varmint!” He touched his own lips. Varmint? Where did that word come from?
“I am the director,” the incorporeal voice declared. “You are in a movie children. Surely you know how these work? Fight out your conflict. Fight for your chance to love the maiden Lauren. You have already chosen your characters. Now go. Battle. We would love to watch.”
Donut wanted to argue some more, but Strusse had a strange look on his face. His pupils were dilated in hunger, his mouth wide open, and his fangs glistening in a way plastic never could. He lunged towards Donut’s neck, hissing. Sheriff Donut was forced to pull the revolver he now had in his holster.
The director always got what the director wanted. The cowboy and vampire stumbled out of the props and onto some of the day’s sets. They started to lose sight of what they fought for; it was replaced by the certainty that they fought for something with all their heart. Strusse’s wasn’t beating anymore, but it was still there. Donut’s pumped with raging rivers of American red-blood. Surely he was a more imposing figure than the pale thing before him. There had to be more Westerns than vampire flicks.
They battled across the surface of the moon, a set being used for a scifi thriller called Alien Crater 6, and found that while they were over its gray dust gravity was reduced almost to nothing. The vampire had no need for oxygen, but Sheriff Donut certainly felt a tightening in his chest. He launched himself off the moon’s surface, spurs jingling on his boots, and tackled Count Strusse off to the side.
At first they didn’t realize where they’d landed. Perhaps it was an alien forest from the same film, or maybe they were filming the sequel at the same time. They were surrounded on all sides by cream-colored tubes, flakes of something green like roof tiles, and a thick mixture of red paste. Donut knew Hollywood was terrible at producing blood, but this stuff was nowhere near passable.
Strusse was on him once again, shrieking like a bat and trying to sink his fangs into Donut’s suddenly tan neck. The cowboy breathed deep after the barren air of the moon and got a noseful of powerful odors. Past his own musk of saddle leather and thistles he smelled garlic. Oregano. Parsley. Crusty bread and sun-dried tomatoes.
It brought Donut back to his senses some. He’d carried some of those tubes to the set that day. It was spaghetti, and it was suddenly as real as everything else. The script for this one was terrible. This whole spaghetti thing was for a hallucination scene. The protagonist was drugged, staring down into his food, and imagining chasing his missing wife around a labyrinth of pasta.
It did offer one advantage: garlic in the sauce. Donut dipped the barrel of his gun into it, aimed at Strusse, and finally defeated him. It took about five minutes to unravel the spaghetti holding him down, but when he was free he helped his friend up. The fangs popped out. It seemed the director was satisfied. Donut removed the itchy hat.
The interns laughed and clapped each other on the back. It seemed Donut had earned his shot with Lauren. He would’ve taken it too, especially with the lingering marksmanship of a sheriff, but they spotted her returning with a full water bottle and a man on her arm. They stared.
He was an adventurer, that much was clear. His teeth were perfect. His one scar was in the most attractive place possible. Whoever he was, he knew the magic of the props department and he handled it better than the interns.
“I guess we need to get actual jobs here,” Donut remarked, spitting on the floor in typical cowboy fashion.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by ShadeLady during a livestream. The prompt was: ‘Donut fired a garlic-infused bullet at the vampire, and it worked. Now he just had to figure out how to escape all the spaghetti.’ I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!