by Scott Cooper
The beginning of a story of a Vampire, and those who hunt her.
|They pulled up to the house in the dead of night, in a small black car. A half moon shone faintly overhead, a pallid, almost sickly shade of yellow. It was an unremarkable house. Chipped white clapboard siding, walls that sagged with the weight of so many years. The yard was strewn with leaves, still wet from evening rain. The car stopped, and the engine and lights abruptly cut off. They waited there for an hour. It had started to drizzle lightly when the front driver’s side door opened, and the Hunter emerged. He was a tall, looming man, with skin dark as charcoal, and eyes darker still. He gazed at the house and exhaled, his breath a fleeting wisp of vapor in front of him. Faster than a flickering shadow in lamplight, he drew his long coat around him, and moved to the door of the house, where he stood for five long minutes, listening. Silence. And more silence. He turned the doorknob. The house was unlocked.
In the basement was a table, and sat around it were thirteen corpses. The Hunter could smell them before he even reached the bottom of the creaking stairs. The walls were sallow and streaked with outgrowths of black mold. Strands of multicolored Christmas lights hung from the ceiling, illuminating the room in a psychedelic assortment of reds, blues, and greens that made the Hunter feel as if he were peering through some sort of perverse stained-glass window. He let them slide across his coat as he approached the table. Ran a gloved finger across the finished wood. Their places had been set. Plates, silverware wrapped in fine napkins, empty wine glasses. The corpses stared at him, cold and unblinking, and he stared right back. Men, all of them. Naked. Their flesh was white, and they hadn’t started to rot yet. A bad sign. He stood and thought for a minute, and then pulled a cell phone from inside of his coat. Typed briefly, then slid it back into his pocket. After a minute, the stairs started to creak again, and a Boy emerged from between the Christmas lights hanging down over the entryway. He was tall and thin, with blonde hair that fell in his face, and dark, piercing gray eyes. He looked to the Hunter.
The Hunter nodded. The boy nodded back, and quickly moved to his side at the head of the table, looking down at the corpse that occupied the first seat.
“Where?” the boy asked. The Hunter grasped the dead man’s wrist and pulled it up, so the boy could see.
“It’s very faint now, but a trained eye can still see it, even days after.”
“I see it.”
“Good. You’re getting better. Eventually your eyes will be keener than mine.” He let the pale wrist fall back down at its owner’s side. “It’ll be at the same place on all of them. Our quarry is nothing if not deliberate.”
The Hunter took the first man’s arms, and the boy took the legs, and together they lifted him out of his seat and laid him down on the floor. Then they moved to the next man, and laid him beside the first. Then they moved the next, until all thirteen lay together in a line on the cold basement floor. Each time, the boy examined the wrist, and each time, gave a slight nod to the Hunter.
“I can do it on my own this time,” said the boy.
The Boy reached into his coat pocket and removed a small leather drawstring bag. His hand slid inside it, and emerged grasping a handful of thick metal spikes. From his belt, he removed a serrated knife, about five inches in length, with a slightly curved blade. He knelt, and after laying the spikes at his side, dug the knife into the first man’s chest, almost nonchalantly, in the same way a cook might take a knife to a slab of meat. He sawed through skin, then muscle, and then bone, making his way with care to the chest cavity. There was no blood, no spurting of crimson, no leaking mess, just a quiet tearing and the occasional crunch or snap. After a period of time, he placed the knife aside. The man’s now unprotected heart lay before him, completely still. The Boy looked to the Hunter, and the Hunter simply looked back, expressionless, like a cat observing a shadow on the wall. The Boy picked up one of the spikes at his side, and grasping it with both hands, plunged it into the man’s heart. Almost silent. He examined his work for a moment, then picked up the knife and moved over to the next corpse. The Hunter turned to go back up the stairs.
“I’ll be in the car.” He went up one step, then paused. “We’re close I think.”
The boy suddenly looked up.
The Hunter was already half way up the stairs, but his voice carried, and the boy’s hearing was trained enough to pick up the words.
“It’s the Last Supper.”
That night the boy dreamed that he stood in a white pine grove, and that a pale sun peered down at him from a gray sky. The tree branches were blanketed with glistening snow, and all was quiet, save for the whisper of pine needles in the winter wind. He wore no clothes, but the vulnerability that accompanied nakedness in the waking world was absent from him. He did not feel the bite of the cold on his skin, nor the chill of the snow on his bare feet as he walked forward among the trees. He slipped through the wood quietly, pausing every so often to take in his surroundings, for he did not know exactly why he was here. He had the impression that he was looking for something, but he did not know what it might be, and so there was a wandering aimlessness to his step. The world around him seemed pristine and untouched, and something told him that to pierce its silence with a searching cry or even too loud of a breath might shatter its perfection and usher in something dark and sinister.
After what might have been several long hours, or maybe only mere minutes, he came to a stream coursing through the forest. The water seemed clearer than glass, and yet had not frozen over. He suddenly realized that his throat was parched, and he knelt in the snow and lowered his head to drink. He took several gulps, and was surprised to find the water warm and sweet. It tasted wonderful, like the purest spring-water, and his sense of being lost faded away. His cares and stresses, his aches and pains, all vanished. His heart beat stronger, his muscles felt warm and lithe, and he felt a deep pulsing, in his neck and in his wrists and between his legs. He was no longer frightened and vulnerable, but a creature of pure sensation and instinct. He drank more, more, and knew that he had found what he was looking for, this liquid bliss that soothed his mind and quenched his thirst. It took some time before he was finally able to tear himself away, with a hot breath that was more animal than human. He stayed kneeling there in the snow for several long moments, inhaling and exhaling heavily, pale shoulders heaving up and down. When he finally opened his eyes, he was greeted by someone else staring into them. Her irises were a deep and startling shade of scarlet, like honeyed wine or red velvet.
“Welcome home” she murmured, and her voice lilted and quivered with warmth. He blinked several times, drawing her entire form into focus. Her hair was red like her eyes, and fell down to her shoulders in fiery tresses. A regal face, high cheekbones and somewhat arched eyebrows. She too was without clothing and he was struck by her beauty, and by her skin, which was as white and smooth as alabaster.
“What did you say?” asked the Boy, as she stood up and walked closer to him. She reached out a hand to stroke his hair, and he felt a pit of icy dread beginning to grow in his stomach.
“This is your home isn’t it? This is who you are.”
“I don’t even know where I am.”
“Don’t you?” Her hand slid down to his bare shoulder, and her palm was cold. With her other hand, she pointed. His eyes followed beyond her extended finger, to the stream from which he had been drinking moments before. His next breath caught in his throat, for the stream was not clear like it was when he had first laid eyes upon it. Instead, it was crimson, thick with hot blood. The woman laughed at his expression. “Why so surprised? Did you not drink from them just minutes ago?”
The Boy felt the hair on the nape of his neck begin to rise, and for the first time since being out in the snow he felt a chill.
She laughed again, and it was a beautiful, melodic laugh. She pointed again. The Boy looked, and moaned as a wave of revulsion crashed over him. Only a few dozen yards downstream, a pile of mangled and mutilated corpses lay amidst the rushing waters, the blood from their wounds flowing swiftly with the current. One was a woman with her neck ripped open, her head hanging loosely from a flap of tattered flesh. Another, a man, his belly slashed, intestines floating out into the water and draped over a river rock. Still another was just a child, no more than six years old, her arms torn off. There were more, many more, but the boy couldn’t look any longer and turned his eyes back to the woman.
“My name is Corinth” she said, and she knelt down beside him and pressed her lips to his neck. The boy tried to pull back, felt the taste of bile rising in his throat, but suddenly found his body weak and non-compliant with his will. She kissed him again, and he looked away. A horrid image had formed in his mind of her open mouth, fangs bared at him and dripping with blood, and he knew if he turned to look at her it would be a reality.
“Where am I?” he whispered weakly.
“Don’t you know?” she asked again between kisses. “This is eternity.” And the Boy looked around at the endless white snow, the stream rushing with the blood of the dead, and felt her wet lips on his neck, her cold body pressing against his, and knew that she was telling the truth. Then he felt something sharp pierce his throat.
The Hunter awoke that night to the sound of the boy whimpering and writhing in bed. It was not the first time.