Tales From The Crypt #36: "Fare Tonight, Followed By Increasing Clottyness"

Tales From The Crypt #36
"Fare Tonight, Followed By Increasing Clottyness"
June - July, 1953

Creators: Al Feldstein (Script).  Jack Davis (Pencils and Inks).

The cabbie slams the trunk of his taxi and takes a look at the night
ahead.  It's a wet one and the fog has begun to roll in from the bay.  He
stands there in the chilled air, then reaches for a cigarette.  Its glow
dances on the tip against the gathering fog.

After getting into the driver's seat, the cabbie pauses only to enjoy his
cigarette, then turns on the engine.  The windshield wipers clear the
water and there's a clear image of the deserted streets ahead.  The rain
begins and the wipers now have their work cut out for them.  The taxi
continues on its way, with no sign of a fare, and the cabbie parks his
hack at a nearby stand.  The engine's off and another cigarette has been
lit.  The roar of another subway train is heard and soon, several people
make their exit.  The subway riders head off into the storm, with the
news vendor trying to get them to pick up a paper.  The subway is soon
deserted and the cabbie decides to pick up a paper.  Beneath the
overhang, he reads about the latest murder.

Back in the cab, he lights up another cigarette, and reads about the
thirteenth victim.  Each of them had been drained of their blood and a
noted mythologist named Dr. Egbert Muller has suggested that this was the
work of a vampire.  The authorities have denied the doctor's findings and
the cabbie can only shrug in disbelief.  The rain continues into the
night, with the drops splattering down on the taxi.  Suddenly, a man in a
dark overcoat and hat peers down towards the seated cab driver.  He
mentions the address and takes his place in the back seat.  The man
carries a briefcase and has it seated in his lap.  The cabbie changes
gears, then smiles at finally having a fare.  When asked about the
weather, the man prefers to keep silent, and speaks only when they've
arrived at the destination.  The place is located in a rough
neighborhood, more of an alley than a street.  The man steps out into the
rain and asks for the cabbie to wait.

He enters one of the buildings and vanishes.  The cabbie sits and watches
the meter.  As the rain starts to lift, he realizes that the fare has
left his briefcase in the back seat.  Glancing at the initials on the
briefcase, he wonders what the initials "E.M., PH.D." mean.  The rolled
up newspaper provides the cabbie with the name of his fare.  Egbert
Muller, the mythologist who has been telling police that the murders are
the handiwork of a vampire.  The cabbie reaches for another cigarette,
only to find an empty pack.  At the end of the street, there's a bar with
a cigarette machine.  The cabbie exits the taxi and walks down the long
street.  He watches the stream of rainwater make its way into the waiting
sewers.  The clouds have cleared and stars can be seen in the night sky.
At the corner, the cabbie sees that the light has gone off in the bar and
a closed sign now hangs in the doorway.  It is then that he notices the
stillness in the surrounding tenements.

He wonders why there would be a bar on a street with empty tenements.
The cabbie starts to walk back to his taxi, then hears something behind
him.  He picks up his pace, hearing the footsteps behind him, and begins
to run.  The cabbie enters an open hallway and braces against the
shadows.  A man in a back overcoat and hat races past him.  He sees
Muller walking up the block, then stop.  The cabbie backs away as the
footsteps come nearer, and his fare now stands in the hallway.  Muller's
eyes root him to the spot, seeing him in the dark as surely as a bat's or
a vampire's would.  The cabbie screams, then runs down the hallway, and
stumbles in the darkness.

He finds the cellar door, then lunges down the stairs.  The steps give
way beneath the cabbie's weight and he falls into darkness.  As he tries
to get to his feet,  the fare appears at the top of the steps, and his
laughter is heard throughout the cellar.  There are other sounds to be
heard in the cellar and the cabbie finds that his hiding place has been
stocked with coffins.  The lids drop off the coffins, as gaunt figures
with gleaming eyes and fanged teeth emerge from their rest.  The vampires
stalk towards the cabbie, reaching out towards their latest victim.
Their hands find him, their fangs rending the flesh, and their mouths
seeking the red liquid escaping from the cabbie's wounds.  All he can do
is scream... and scream.

The screams die, as the cabbie's fingers claw the front seat, and his
eyes open.  The rain continues to fall onto the taxi, the subway riders
have emerged from the exit, and the news vendor seeks to pass on the
latest newspaper.  The cabbie realizes that he's still parked outside the
subway exit and he had been dreaming.  The newspaper on his lap has the
name of Doctor Egbert Muller on the front page.  The man in the dark hat
and overcoat appears by his window.  The cabbie knows his fare and
doesn't have to check the initials on the briefcase to know his identity.
Suddenly, he realizes the significance of his dream, and he knows what
must be done.  When his fare asks why they are going in a completely
different direction, the cabbie tells him that it's a shortcut.

The taxi stops in a deserted neighborhood, the one seen in the cabbie's
dream.  He pulls the startled doctor out of the taxi and pulls him down
the street.  Muller has left his briefcase in the back seat, but the
cabbie assure him that he won't be needing it.  He pulls the man down the
dark hallway and it is only then that Doctor Egbert Muller realizes what
has happened.  The cabbie sinks his fang into Muller's neck and drains
him of his life's blood.  The dead body is thrown down into the cellar
with the rest.  There had been more than thirteen victims and the police
will be in for a surprise when they find the rest.  As the sun begins to
rise, the trunk of the taxi is opened, and the cabbie crawls in against
the soil, and yawns.  He must rest until it is night once more.

I have a love for puns and by the looks of the story title, so does Al

I love the third person narration of the story and the surprise ending
which was a hallmark of many an E.C. story.

I've been a fan of Jack Davis' art since seeing his work on sports
advertisements which appeared on the back covers of comic books in the

The cabbie took unfair advantage of his fare and put the bite on him.

Smoking is bad for your health, but being a vampire, the cabbie still
needs his nicotine fix.

An E.C. vampire has a paying job and must work the night shift.

Another example of another hardworking vampire with a sense of value
towards trunk space would be Nick Knight (Geraint Wyn Davies) of "Forever

My mother refers to comic book long boxes as "coffins."  (Holy Tombstone,
Arizona, Batman!)

This story was reprinted in Tales From The Crypt #6 (May, 1992).