“Oy! You there! Hands off them morsels.” Figures emerged from the valley mist; Gertrude thought they might be rescuers until she could make out their features with clarity: pale, bruised, and rotten.

The living dead of another sort.

“Look, I understand that you need them, but we do too,” the lead bloodsucker said, diplomatic if only because he and his buddies were outnumbered. “Not a lot of blood left after you’ve dismembered one of the poor sods.”

“And there’s not any bleeding flavor left in them morsels after you berks suck it dry,” the living dead leader croaked, maggots writhing in his gums. “Or worse, make it one of you. D’you know what happens when we try to eat one of you wankers?”

Gertrude had heard that the living dead would swell up and explode like liver sausages if they tried to snack on a bloodsucker, but she’d never seen it.

“Oh, you’re one to talk about spreading the love,” the bloodsucker retorted. “How many of your bosom buddies over there started off as a meal?”

“You’d best use your loaf, berk,” the living dead leader said. “You’ve bloody near run out the lot of morsels in the valley, and unless there’s an understanding betwixt us we’ll be having a butcher at bleedin’ starvation.”

As the creatures argued, Gertrude struggled to loosen her bonds.

“So we’re to just give up our meal to you, which we ourselves caught after a fortnight of sucking on field mice? If anyone’s got to go on a blinking diet for the cause of undead harmony, by rights it ought to be you!”