by Sandra G
Gothic romance novel. Vampires, supernatural powers, love. The gist. REVISED VERSION (1)
By Sandra G
Screams. They were everywhere. Every object, every fiber, screamed his same relentless howl. I wasn’t convinced yet,that it was real. Every night I’d wake, bathed in sweat, in tangles of sheets and fear. The roar that pelted my ears night after night, was so vicious, but so beautiful, its pitch so deep, it rumbled lowly, gallantly as so easily it could have been thunder in the distance with how its strength, its presence felt so threatening ,yet alluring. He was steady, constant, always maintaining that same bellow. As if singing, but with verses of agony and a chorus of wails. It seemed he needed no breath, he took no pause for air, but what man, what creature, needs no breath? It never stalled and never repeated. The sound was the same, but its meaning held different each night. A transedence of different emotions would wave over me with the slightest changes to his screeching.
I learned though, that sometime it must stop.
For when dawn waked and the sun began its climb, there was silence. Dead silence.
Had I been dreaming or was this macabre opera escaping from some man's agape mouth, far from my conscious being, that I could not see him, but could feel his agony?
I couldn’t answer that question, not last month, yesterday, or today when I came to this forsaken town. I thought, surely his cries would continue to haunt me for as long as I remained here.
It was the year of 1812 in the brisk summer of Moscow. One of the Russian Imperial armies under General Mikhail Tolly was gathering to combat Napoleon and the French advances into the our territory. Napoleon was at the height of his power; control of the entire continental Europe. He would soon underestimate the capabilities of the Russian Empire. I, one of the young men enlisted to fight under the 2nd infantry Corps under Mikhail Tolly himself, would take oath to destroy him. My pride demanded it. For the sake of my family, my countrymen, and myself Napolean would fall.
The date, so clearly in my mind, June 24th, as it was the last memory I had. Napoleon had sent his final offers of peace to St. Petersburg. Our lack of reply gave him all the incentive he needed to begin invading Russian Poland. He met little resistance, due to our inadequate forces, but as the days passed, he marched ever closer.
The French, weak and full of their own vanity, laid siege to Moscow, my home; a home we had abandoned in hopes to leave the French high and dry; slowing them down and giving us the advance.
That’s when the fires began. As the sun made its descent, the flames licked higher to the red sky.
House after house, hour after hour, the fires spread. The city was mostly wood and it burned rapidly in the summer air. Sabotaging everything the French had hoped to loot, our plan was going perfectly.
I had hoped that I could see my childhood home one last time before it’s demise. To bid farewell to my childish ideals, cutting my ties to a past life. It was few hours before deployment and I had snuck out of encampment. Having no time I was donned in nothing, but my undershirt and trousers. The nightly wind was crisp on my pale skin and so I hurried. Weaving through the trees as fast as my legs would allow soon I would come upon an opening. So familiar to myself, two Incana trees separated revealing a meadow spotted with brush. In its center lay my home. I sprinted across the meadow, such as I had less than a year ago, before the world began to change around me. Touching its cascading white beams founding the house a sense of comfort waved over me. Far along the back lay the Moskva river, glistening in the moon’s gray shadow. The river my brothers and I had caught our first fishes from. Back then it seemed like the ocean, we were terrified of its murky depths, its unseen creatures. Now with a good sprint we all could leap over it in our way to the forest. Or we'd romp through it when the heat would glare down on our bare backs, splashing and throwing mud. My eyes then set upon the wooden door post, the brass handle. I clamored into the house, unconscious of any noise, no one had been here since the family left. I closed my eyes and breathed in through my nose, tasting the memories I should leave behind. The smell of my mothers cooking wafting from the kitchen and my fathers voice bellowing from the bottom of the stairwell. The numerous times we ignored the many steps and slide down the shaky wooden rail. Before I knew it, I was upstairs in my bedroom, sitting on its mattress, caressing the sheets, laid out like someone had just put them there. I stretched myself across the bedding. Suddenly, I was asleep.
I felt heat, all around me, sweat trickled out of my pores and down my white skin. I was soaking, soaking in sweat. I opened my mouth to breathe and nothing came in. No air was around me; my lungs screamed. I coughed while my saliva sizzled. The acrid smell of smoke was festering in my nose and trailing to my lungs. I opened my eyes, but everything was cloudy and uncertain. The walls shimmering in heat, smoke blurring every outline. Yet I could see the orange and red flames. Their tongues licking up around me.
NO! my mind screamed which my mouth could not. I began clawing around. Feeling the heat burn at the soles of my bootless feet as I jumped from the bed onto the floor. I struck my hands out wildly while I ran, feeling like a blind man for an escape. My pace began to slow until I could no longer lift my feet. My was head heavy and my lungs began collapsing. I sank to my knees. Clasping my throat I threw my head back. I gasped and gasped for air. I screamed and screamed. Collapsing to the ground with my mouth wide awake and still wailing in silence.
The only sounds were those of my skin peeling back from my flesh. The crackling of the fire. The popping and snarling of my body, my fizzling hair as it burned like a firecracker before it was to burst. My eyes closed again and I lost all control.
I stood up, gazing around the house. Its glowing memories were now engulfed in glowing flames.
How is this possible?
How could I be seeing myself lying incapacitated upon the floor? My pale skin now charcoal, flaking and turning to ash. Teeth gaping from the hole that was once my mouth. My eyes now hollow sockets. My limbs bent and cringing forever in the chaos of crashing beams and falling panels of charred wood. The whirlwind of smoke billowing from every window headed towards the even blacker sky.
Please no, I wasn’t ready to die…
My eyes began to dim, the realization slowly setting in. I would never see Napoleon fall, never see my parents, my brothers. There was so much left to do, to say. There was so much time left to live. It wasn’t fair! I clenched my hands. It wasn’t right! I clamped my teeth.
I want to be alive!
My hands and body tensed full of fury and regret, but there was nothing to hit, nothing to destroy. I was nothing. I could do nothing. This anger was to be my final thoughts.
“Wrong, young one, you are not dead,” A voice bellowed out from the heavens or perhaps the depths of hell. “Come with me.” The voice beckoned. “You will understand soon enough.” The voice was addictive, soothing and soft, deeply it rumbled. I wanted to trust it.
Glancing all around me, I tried to gauge where I was, who I was, and what was happening, but when I opened my mouth to speak, all that left was my death scream, finally escaping. My soul departed this world and I could no longer be living.