Music plays. It has a bit of folk and a bit of punk. The plants beside the road are green. Hopping Vampire jumps down the road. He’s clad in stately cerements. An iron rod pierces both his ankles. It goes right through the bones. That’s why he has to hop. He turns his head. He smiles whitely.
“Hi, kids!” he says.
Hopping Vampire jumps. He lands next to a bush. “It’s spring! In spring, everyone’s mind turns to the element of WOOD. That’s the element of germination, anger, and tears. If you’re crying, it’s not because you’re a crybaby. It’s not because of the cruelty of the glorious Party’s policies. It’s because it’s spring!”
A bird in the bush sings. Hopping Vampire holds out a thin, dry finger. The bird hops down onto his finger. It sings its heart out.
“The grain associated with WOOD is wheat. So I’ve brought wheat thins!”
Hopping Vampire rummages around in his cerements. He pulls out a box of thin wheat crackers. He opens it. He takes out a cracker. He offers it to the bird. The bird takes the cracker in one talon. Standing one-legged on Hopping Vampire’s finger, it crunch crunch crunches the treat.
“Some people think that wheat thins come from the West,” Hopping Vampire says. “From the laboratories of ‘Mr. Nabisco.'”
Hopping Vampire holds up a picture of Mr. Nabisco. Mr. Nabisco is made of crackers. He has bushy eyebrows and a horrible scowl. The picture is signed.
“But birds know the truth,” Hopping Vampire says. He tosses the picture away with a dismissive smile. “Wheat thins are made by special crabs who live in the sky and also make it snow. Birds don’t like snow. But they do like wheat thins. That’s because birds are the animal associated with FIRE, and WOOD promotes FIRE!”
Hopping Vampire sets the bird down on the bush. The bush begins to smoke and simmer. There’s a crackling and snapping noise.
“Fire is the element of summer, joy, and laughter. It’s the season when birds set things on fire and newborn daughters turn men’s thoughts towards infanticide. If you expose your children, remember to bury them properly! Otherwise they’ll turn into miniature hopping vampires.”
Fifty or sixty feet away, a parade of tiny little vampires hop across the road. Hopping Vampire smiles fondly. “Yes,” he says. “Summer is a wonderful time. But even summer must give way to late summer, the season of EARTH, symbolized by humanity.”
A car pulls up on the road. A young man gets out. His name is Gong. He has a shovel. He walks up to the bird. He hits the bird over the head with the shovel. It falls senseless to the ground. Gong picks up the bird. He licks his lips. “It’s cooked itself in its own inner fire!” he says. “Truly this is the rotisserie of Heaven!”
“Late summer is a time of transformation and ripening,” Hopping Vampire says. “It’s a damp season, a sweet season.”
Gong munch munch munches the treat.
“Yet EARTH,” Hopping Vampire says, “is also the element of worry.”
Gong looks around nervously.
“If you find yourself plagued by anxiety,” Hopping Vampire says, “it’s not that anything is wrong. It’s just the EARTH element coming to the fore.”
Gong sighs with relief. Then Hopping Vampire springs. Hopping Vampire messily devours Gong. Hopping Vampire wipes blood off his lip. Hopping Vampire smiles. One tooth shines. Ting!
“EARTH gives way to METAL,” Hopping Vampire says. “METAL is the element of autumn. It is the season of sorrow. Even the leaves shed blood in honor of their fallen comrades. Listen! You can hear the sounds of autumn.”
In the distance, Gong’s wife and children wail.
“It’s all part of the cycle of seasons,” Hopping Vampire says. “That’s how I exempt myself from moral responsibility.”
Hopping Vampire bounds down the road. He thinks aloud. “In due course, METAL gives way to WATER, the element of winter. Winter is a time of fear. When you’re afraid, blame winter—it’s probably all winter’s fault.”
A snowflake falls on Hopping Vampire’s head. He looks up.
“Cloud crabs,” he says. He hops faster.
In the sky above him, a pure white crab clings to a cloud. It’s big as a truck. It’s cruel as the cold. It pinches the cloud with great long talons. The cloud pours forth more snow.
“They’re not very scary,” Hopping Vampire says grimly. “Not as long as you can outrace the snow.” He hops faster.
The wind picks up. The cloud blows after him. The crab chitters a grim war song. It dives off the cloud. It plummets towards him. It lands. With one great claw it severs the vampire’s head. Then the cloud crab does a triumphant dance.
“Curse you,” says the head of Hopping Vampire. The crab eats his head. The crab struts down the road, surrounded by ever-increasing piles of snow.
The cycle of seasons turns. Something crunches on the snow. The crab looks up.
It’s Mr. Nabisco.