This will be posted in several parts.
Short Story: Horror? Psychological Vampire Thing
I hear the shifting of earth above me and think little of it. I’ve long ago quit the attempt to escape my coffin. The marks from my fingernails on the lid are old and worn, etched a million times over in the rotten wood. I once managed to fracture a board in the side of the box, splintering it and letting a small amount of dirt trickle in, but that was my greatest achievement in my fight against the grave that imprisoned me. As the centuries passed, I grew weaker, my will dissolved, and though my ravenous hunger for something I could not identify did not diminish, I learned to live with it.
The sounds above me intensify. I think perhaps I am dreaming, as I used to dream so long ago of digging through the earth with my hands to emerge into the surface. I do still have hazy memories of grass and sun and the faces of people I once knew so well, but they’re only shadows in my mind. Cold and without detail. Certainly I have not always lain in the ground. Surely.
There is a scraping against the lid above me, and I take notice of the noise now. I have not tried to move for many many years upon years, but I try to move my head now towards the sounds above me, and I find I cannot. I have been lying here too long without sustenance of any kind.
Boards are ripped away as if time is of the essence. My eyes are open – have always been open I realize – and I am blinded by light. I would close my eyes but their lids are dry and shrunken and will not move, much as the light burns them. I am ancient sheath of leathered skin wrapped over a frame of bones. I am helpless beneath whatever has found me in the ground.
Something is held above my head, twisting and turning and dripping into my mouth. Liquid touches my lips, then my tongue, and if my muscles could shiver they would. This is the thing I’ve been craving through the centuries. Blood.
I swallow somehow, reflexively to the stimulus. It’s so warm, so exquisite I can barely stand it. It’s too much. But the rabbit is bled dry into my throat and another is torn open and held over me.
When I have drunk them both, the man who held them puts his arms under my body and lifts me up. I expect to break apart, to scatter into dust, but I hold together and he carries me from the grave. The light that blinded me, that I was certain must be the sun, is only moonlight. A half-moon, glistening through the tree branches.
The blood has worked in me; I can turn my head now, but slightly. Enough to look at him, but it is indeed only moonlight above us because I can’t make out his features. He is only a dark figure, and he carries me to a dark cold thing that I don’t understand, that roars and rattles and takes me away, away from my grave.
When we stop moving he picks me up as if I were a feather, and though I am not much – because I am not much – I can feel the restrained strength in his arms. Still he carries me gently past a woman that greets him with sounds I almost don’t recognize, so long has it been since I’ve heard a voice, language.
“A new one, yes?”
“Gather everyone together, would you please?” he says, his voice soft like a breeze but like his arms a current of strength runs under it.
We enter a house, its rooms long and wide and lit by golden candlelight. My eyes move, looking about me, and I think that this is a lovely dream, this is where I am meant to be, this would perhaps be meant to be mine. I look up and I can see him now. His hair and eyes are jet-black, his skin milk-white. He is tall and perhaps I should feel intimidated by him, by his darkness and paleness and hidden power, but his expression is so gentle, and he smiles down at me.
“You should feel a bit more yourself now,” he tells me, carrying me downstairs to a candled basement. “My name is Alexander. I am a vampire, like you.”
Not like me at all, I think, but I still can’t speak.
He lays me in a bed that is so soft I’m almost uncomfortable in it, so used am I to the hard boards of my coffin. Steps sound on the stairs and men and women gather at the foot of my bed. I’m overwhelmed by the sight of them. I haven’t seen even a single person in so long, and now there is a crowd staring at me. They are all so different, of every race and color, but all so very pale. Even the African men have a deathly pallor. When Alexander turns back to me, there are seven of them before me.
“These are your brothers and sisters,” he explains. “They will not harm you, and you will not harm them. Do you agree?”
I feel I owe him everything, so I nod as much as I can, which isn’t much.
Am I truly awake? Or am I asleep in my grave, dreaming? I drift in and out of consciousness and occasionally I am back there, with cold earth on all sides of me. Alexander feeds me with fresh kills, and brings more for the others. My flesh grows back over my bones, the muscles sketch themselves back together, my fingernails begin to grow again from their roots. I find my voice again, and I ask one of the women her name. The question comes out scratchy like a rusted wheel.
“Isis,” she says. Her skin shines golden white in the fire of the candles. Her eyes are perpetually wide as if she were frightened by everything. “Though that’s merely the name Alexander gave me. I couldn’t remember my real name. Do you remember yours?”
“It’s Richard. Why don’t you know your name?”
“I was buried for a long time. I’ve forgotten much.”
“You were buried as well?”
“We all were, all too weak to rise. Alexander found us, as he found you.” She points across the basement, to a man reading a book. I always saw him reading, but very slowly, turning a page about once every twenty minutes. “Josiah could have, but for the way he was buried. They tried to cut off his head and drive a stake through his heart, but failed on both counts. Instead of killing him they immobilized him.”
I think back to faded memories from before I was buried, before my family thought me dead. I had had nightmares of a creature stealing into my room at night and sucking the blood from my neck. I had thought such nightmares the result of the fever and anemia that had been destroying me and of my thoughts of my impending death. But it had been a vampire after all.
When I can stand on my own, Alexander leaves in the vehicle and returns with a man and a woman. They follow him into the basement stiffly, their eyes frosted but framed with horror and panic that they are unable to express. Everyone gathers around them, hissing and growling, but Alexander keeps them back until we are all ringed around the pair.
“The man is for the group,” he says. “The woman is for Richard.” He looks to the man and something unseen passes between them, because the man steps forward and lays on the floor. He doesn’t even scream when they fall on him.
The woman he has kneel before me, and he asks me if I can hear her heartbeat.
I try, but all I can hear is the sucking coming from the others. I shake my head.
“Then you will have to feel for her vein.” He takes my hand and holds it to her neck. “Here.”
The woman’s eyes are glazed terror. Her pulse flutters wildly beneath my fingers.
“Bite there,” Alexander tell me.
I do, and the blood that releases is unlike that of a rabbit or goose. It is incredible, euphoric, indescribable. It sends me into a white stupor of pleasure, and before I know it I’ve sucked her dry. She’s sprawled out on the floor, her wide eyes empty, me bent over her. I straighten up and wipe my mouth with the back of my hand, and look at Alexander.
He smiles and places a hand on my back. “Good,” he says.