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Rated: 18+ · Fiction · Action/Adventure · #1846202
A mans destiny comes upon him after a life that showed him a dream and no future

It was cold as a witch’s tit outside; I’m turning 30 and daydreaming of being a vampire devouring his Sire. ‘An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop ‘, my step mother use to say. After working eleven years for Kilgrove and Son Grocers, they decided to move to Pennsylvania. No pink slip, no severance package, just a padlocked door. My unemployment check wasn’t going to be enough to keep the roof over my head. Luckily Erin, my girlfriend of 5 months, let me move in. Over the next 12 months, I applied for over 115 jobs and had a total of two interviews. There weren’t many warehouse jobs left in Jersey and living up in the northwest part of the state only made it harder. My life took on the routine of waking up at 10 a.m., doing the laundry twice a week, cleaning the apartment, watching mind numbing amounts of TV, and taking care of our dog, Brandy.

Putting words to paper was always a passion of mine so I registered for an online Writers Workshop to keep my sanity. The final assignment was to conduct an interview with someone local, giving examples of a town’s history and heritage. I knew maybe two people in town and neither of them were around long enough to know much about Thorns history.

It took about 20 minutes to walk around our building with Brandy. After letting her back in the apartment, I grabbed my keys. Andy’s Diner was having a leap year lunch special.

As the key was turned to unlock the driver side door I noticed a folded note under the windshield wiper. It refused to surrender the note, freezing temperatures stiffened the mechanism. One hand had to pry it back from the glass, while the other slid the note out.

‘Zeke, meet me at the park around 9. I’ve got an idea for that school thing you mentioned the other night. A.,’ the ‘A’ was for Augustus. During the last month when I felt shitty and Erin was working late I would take a short drive with Brandy to the park across the lake. I’d seen him there a few times walking or sitting in the park enjoying the weather. He was single, owned a house a block away, had some family in the area from what he’s told me, a nice guy, a good dresser but a little older than me. We’d talk for an hour or so while Brandy got her energy out, and then go about our lives.

On the way to the Andy’s, all I could think about was the assignment, what he had in mind and that it was due twelve o’clock the next day. The Blackburn, or ‘The Castle’ as it’s fondly known, was the local community theatre. I had some time to kill after lunch so I went to do some research on it at the library.

The town of Thorn and the Thorn Apartments were in the lower half of Hull Valley, mountains and trees surrounded us. The only 2 outlets were privately owned roads; the one going south brought you to the highway and the lake. The northbound road followed the Chapwick River for four miles, ending with a fork in the road and hundreds of acres of farmland, either way you went.

Like every other town in N.J., the economy hit it hard; the south side consisted of an empty strip mall, Andy’s Diner and Charlie’s Coffee Shop. The main road, Route 46, divided the shops and modern homes from the lake and the small, older bungalows. Except for a library, The Newton and Carter Family Farms, each of which had their own roadside vegetable stand, were the only signs of civilization for miles to the north.

Every sound was kept within the twenty mile long valley by centuries old oak trees. It was one of those bone chilling days in February; no one went out. If they heard a gunshot, which wasn’t uncommon this time of year, you’d be lucky if they peaked through the blinds. A lifeless quiet wrapped around the town, a blanket of snow was arriving that night from the northwest that sent everyone to the store for bread, eggs, milk, and then barricade themselves indoors.

I went right to the Thorn Public Library’s lone Librarian, Mrs. Gladys Brown; perhaps she could help me find out what I needed to know about The Blackburn without fingering through dozens of books. Gladys looked the part; she was easily in her eighties, wearing a new gray pant suit and comfortable black Velcro sneakers. Her short gray hair was properly kept. She was quite stylish for her generation, even with a pair of vintage cat’s eye glasses that hung around her neck by a string of home-made beads.

“That park is older than me young man”, she chuckled at her attempt of a joke. “Hope died in her teens, drowned in Aeternam Lake, she had an older brother, August, who disappeared a few months later, but that was back in 18…….something. The family owned Blackburn Mansion; it was a summer resort for the rich and famous back in my day.” I followed and listened as she returned some books to their appropriate shelf.

“It was destroyed by a fire in 1962. I remember that like it was yesterday, Henry and I had just purchased our first home on the other side of the lake. He was a volunteer fireman at the time, took them 2 days to put it out. Henry was so handsome in his uniform,” she just happened to be putting away a child’s book on fire engines. Gladys proudly ran her fingers over the cover while reminiscing.

Thorn’s and Cole County’s records only went back to 1902. The building was bought and sold 3 times. It was donated to a church, then left abandoned, converted into a halfway house, then abandon again. The county eventually took possession of the property. After the fire, the land was purchased and the theatre built on top of it, by an ‘A. Blackburn.’

By the time I had gotten home, my hands were filled with copies of newspaper clippings. It took me a few hours to sort through them all, and then another hour of compiling notes before I met up with Augustus. Erin had to go to a marketing convention in Florida until Sunday night, so the weekend was mine but I’d be celebrating my birthday alone.

After 10 minutes of looking for my keys, I wound up finding them under all the papers on my desk. Brandy, our Doberman/Pit bull mix who was adopted from a no-kill shelter, was sitting on my jacket next to the door. She was making sure I wasn’t going anywhere without her. We brought her home 2 months after I moved in, she went from 25 to 60 lbs, of nothing but pure love and muscle. Sitting beside me in my F-150, her nose took in the scents and her brown eyes looked over the road as we turned onto Route 46, making a right onto the Thorn Bridge, allowing us to cross the lake I made another right onto Mason Drive. Going down the dark one lane road, up a steep hill, making a hard right, and then back down the hill until a single street light brought the theatre’s parking lot into view. I parked on the gravel drive and from the looks of it we were alone. My phone read 8:45.

“Come on lets go.”

Brandy looked at me and gave a small huff before getting out of the truck. Putting my hand out to calm her, my fingers could feel the thick chocolate brown hair rise, making a perfect line from the top of her head all the way down to her tail. Dogs have a keener sense of people and their surroundings then we give them credit for and her instincts were vigilant. She high tailed it for the grass while I took a more detailed look around.

The castle wasn’t huge, about the size of a two story home, having the required turrets in each corner, with stone lions at the top of rounded concrete stairs. Between the lake and The Blackburn was the park, lit by strategically placed solar powered lights. It was a memorial, two tall scantily clad sea maidens welcomed you to ‘Eva’s Garden’, a hip high stone wall marked the rectangular territory.

I entered the space by walking down three brick steps. A twelve foot statue of Neptune rested in the center; the plaque at his feet was etched with, ‘Dedicated to Ezra by his two sons’. I saw two other statues, one of a woman in tattered clothes carrying her two children, it was dedicated to ‘Evangeline,’ another of a man sitting with his legs crossed, and his head in his hands, there was no name or date. Aeternam Lake is completely soundless; a few yards walk along the edge of the frozen water, brought me to a bench, across its back was engraved, ‘Hope Blackburn May 1, 1803 – October 31, 1815.’

“I admire your promptness,” a deep voice came from behind me.

“As do I,” was immediately replied. He did scare the shit out of me, but I did my best not to show it.

The combination of the moon’s glow and the lights gradually exposed Augustus; he was about six foot one, heavily built. I’d guess about 280 pounds, maybe more. Once the figure is a few feet away, a massive hand extends from the shadows, reaching out for mine.

“It’s going to snow you know,” I shook his hand, a nice firm grip.

“I know. It won’t take long.”

“So what’s on your mind? I went to the library, some interesting history to this place.” I took a seat on the bench, Hopes Bench.

“What did you find out?”

“That it was owned by the Blackburn’s, Ezra and Evangeline in 1802. They had two kids, one drowned in the lake, this is her bench,” combing through my notes. “They had a son Augustus, he left after she died, he was about 14.”

“You’ve done your homework it seems.”

“Some, there wasn’t much activity after that, the county only had records of the three times it was bought and sold after a fire, then in 1962, an A. Blackburn bought it and put the theatre right on top of the same property.”


Brandy ran around, smelling and playing with anything she could find, paying little attention to us.

“So what’s on your mind?”

”I am Augustus,” solid brown eyes looked over the flattened water. A weathered hand helped his right foot over his left knee. The process revealed black wingtip shoes under his dark dress pants. On his right wrist was a Movado watch, but with a thick leather strap, certainly not company issue. August squirmed in his seat, unsettled by something.

“What? I don’t understand”, I sat on the opposite edge of the bench. “So, you’re father was this Augustus Blackburn?”

“No Zeke, my father was Ezra Blackburn.”

“Ok so your ‘the’ Augustus Blackburn,” looking at my notes once more. “So you’re telling me your 212 years old. You look damn good,” I laughed; there was no way I believed this, he wasn’t getting the joke.

“Look at me,” he said, while I checked and rechecked the dates. His tone summoned my attention.

“My name is Augustus Theodore Blackburn, born April 30th, 1799. My parents, Ezra and Evangeline Blackburn bought the land then built the mansion in May of 1802. Hope drowned on Halloween of 1815.” He stops to think about that day. “She was playing, climbing the trees that overhung the lake.” Augustus looked to his right; vivid glimpses of recollection could be seen in his gaze. “I had a first edition of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, I couldn’t stop reading it. Next thing I know the limb she is sitting on breaks, she fell into the shallow part of the lake, broke her neck. My parents never forgave me, so when I turned 16 I left, headed south, As far as my legs could take me.”

“You do realize that it’s impossible, you can’t be 200 years old August, your fucking with me. I have to go. Come on Brandy!” I got up quickly and headed for the steps.


“Excuse me? Remember your way older than me, I could probably kick your ass,” was followed with a snicker.

“Listen to me,” he rose to follow.

“I don’t have to do any….,” the sound of scuffling leaves came from behind me. “What the hell is that? Brandy? Brandy!” She barked from the bed of my truck.

“You must trust me Ezekiel,” he spoke into my ear.

“I have to what? Trust you?” I turned around to face him,”We’re out here in the middle of the night, you’re telling me this story and I’m NOT suppose to think you’re nuts? What are you?”

“Do you think I’m here to play a game Cr…, Ezekiel? I could rip your throat out and leave it on Erin’s doorstep.” Blackburn’s now irritated brow and sturdy chin focused on me. Each word rang of truth. The hidden frustration was building as he became more and more distracted.

The predicted snow began to fall. I pulled my phone out of my jacket pocket, it said 9:15.

“Alright so let me think. What doesn’t age for two centuries? Let me think, oh let me take a wild guess, you’re a vampire. A fucking, sleep in a coffin kind of vampire?” I flipped my hood over my head. Augustus removed his jacket, folded it properly and placed it over the back of the bench, then unbuttoned his sleeves to roll them up to his elbows. The man’s forearms were huge.

“Yes.” Even though he wasn’t amused he continued with, “I don’t sleep in coffins, too claustrophobic.”

“August, what the hell is going on? You can’t be a vampire, this is the real world. They don’t exist, just, just like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Jesus.” I now sat on the concrete bench, “why are you telling me this?”

Getting to his feet, he looked around 360 degrees, there were still sounds coming from the woods and now the faint of echo of cracking ice came from the lake. Blackburn was changing. Two fangs protruded from his upper jaw, his cheekbones and chin became more defined as he stretched his facial muscles. Blue eyes were now a complete and perfect black. A strong bark came from Brandy as the cracking of ice continued to get louder and closer.

“Because we exist. Crosses are harmless; we are not descendants of Lilith, Lucifer or Judas Iscariot. A stake to the heart will not kill us, only severing the spinal cord or decapitation will accomplish that.Vampires interact with humans for what we need and ‘only’ when we need it: shelter, nourishment and finances; otherwise we’d be poked, prodded, drawn and quartered. Humans know us as humans, not as vampires. We can disguise what makes us….complicated.”

It took a few seconds to absorb it all and then uttered, “So I’m dinner.”

“Remember the dreams of an eight year old.”


A streak of sunlight snuck through the clouds to reflect off the icy road. Along the edge of the lake, the fishing boats are stored for the winter. A few birds pecked at the ice to gather breakfast.

The heavy snow weighed down on the bare trees, breaking off branches. A hard crack woke Raines to the uncomfortable feeling of wet clothes. Three inches of snow and three plots of ash covered the grass, while the monuments stood tall through the evening’s storm.

Thankfully there were no signs of blood or broken bones. Raines’ chest started to ache as the sunlight got closer, the brilliant beam now pierced through the morning dew onto the water.

The northern winds were pushing the clouds across Route 46, towards the ‘Castle’, towards him. Zeke got to his knees but failed to stand because a gut-wrenching cramp engulfed his stomach; heaving whatever food was left in his stomach. The writer’s eyesight became hazy at best, yet he could hear every bird, every foraging squirrel, and every drop of melting snow, the precise ebb and flow of the lake.

‘Where is it?’ Taking in slow breaths to calm down, pendulum of cramps would fade and return, while he rummaged through the elbow deep drifts. The sun is getting closer.

“Where are you?” Crawling like a babe to the bench, the tips of his fingers feel the leather. All the pages were accounted for, but the book is soaked.

Stationed by his side the entire night, Brandy easily pushed Raines’ to the ground. She sniffed his chest, licked the snow off his face and neck, finally letting out a large two-toned howl towards the theatre.

Atop the Blackburn rested a gargoyle, a creature with stoic gothic wings, the fierce head of a dog, a muscular body, and talons for feet and hands. Once hearing Brandy, the creature shattered its granite tomb, stood erect, and then knelt for but a second to launch himself from the roof. Fully extended wings allowed it to descend gradually and hover over Raines and his pet. The sea maidens’ pedestals shatter with ease allowing them to saunter with poise towards them. The gothic beast nods to the maidens and they reply in turn with a grin. Their angelic frames disband into bits of stone dust; a frosty northern draft came down from the sky, flowed through the trees to sweep them up, tossing their remains over the lake. With a swift flurry of its limbs the gargoyle rises above the trees, and then bolts to the East, vanishing like a ghost.{/right}
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