‘You are holding up well, Mal,’ said Polly.
‘Maybe those acorns did the trick? You haven’t mentioned coffee at all—’
Maladict stopped, and turned slowly. To Polly’s horror, his face was suddenly shiny with sweat.
‘You had to bring it up, didn’t you?’ he said hoarsely. ‘Oh, please, no! I was holding on so tight! I was doing so well!’
He fell forward, but managed to get on to his hands and knees. Then he raised his head, and his eyes were glowing red.
‘Fetch . . . Igorina,’ he muttered, gasping. ‘I know she’s ready for this . . .’ . . . whopwhopwhop . . .
Wazzer was praying furiously. Maladict tried to stand up again, fell back on to his knees, and raised his arms imploringly to the sky.
‘Get out of here while you can,’ he mumbled, as his teeth visibly lengthened. ‘I’ll—’
There was a shadow, a sense of movement, and the vampire slumped forward, stunned by an eight-ounce sack of coffee beans that had dropped out of a clear sky.
Polly arrived at the farmhouse carrying Maladict on her shoulder. She made him as comfortable as possible on some ancient straw, and the squad consulted.
‘Do you think we ought to try to take the sack out of his mouth?’ said Shufti nervously.
‘I tried, but he fights,’ said Polly.
‘But he’s unconscious!’
‘He still won’t let go of it! He’s sucking it. I’d swear he was out cold, but he just sort of reached out and grabbed it and bit! It dropped out of a clear sky!’
I sympathise with Maladict. If it weren’t for coffee, many horrible things would happen.