" 'Who is this knocking at my door?' "I cried out. "You never can be too sure these days, especially at night." Yorgi Vasic wiped his beard with a broad, peasant hand, and clinked the tiny cup on the saucer to signal he was ready for another cup of coffee. And that his companion, the infidel Zultan Mergy, should pay for it. "You know what walks the night, Zultan, my friend. Demons. Vampires. Ghouls." Yorgi crossed himself.

 

            "Let's not overlook the human fiends," said Zultan. "Cattle thieves are my worry. And barn burners. Why, they hit the Cerciks just the other week. Five prime dairy cows. Vanished. I bought two new guard dogs myself."

 

            "Dogs can't turn the devil," said Yorgi, signaling the waiter. "I hear they slaughtered one of the cows. And it was drained of blood. You know what that means."

 

            "Wives' tales," scoffed his friend. "Old man Cercik said nothing about that." He turned his attention to the empty square. It was market day and many of the farmers had loaded up their carts and been off to the city by dawn. Most of the shops were closed because of the holiday. Seems some Vienna bigwig was coming town. Zultan couldn't remember his name. "Besides, you were telling me about your night visitor."

 

            "So I held the lantern up." Yorgi held up his hand and squinted with his one good eye. "For a second my heart froze. I thought it was Gregor. I thought it was Gregor back from the dead. Perhaps that was why I let him in."

 

            Zultan started to say something, then checked himself. It had been less than a year Yorgi's only son had run off and died fighting for the Slavs in Montenegro. Yorgi still wore a black arm band.

                                                                   

           Devil at the Door

       by

            Frederick Highland