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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2198680
Inspired by the August 2019 'Short Shots' pic.
Beneath The Light Of A Super Moon

"Do you like the moon?" I felt a bit stupid coming out with the question, but it was supposed to be something special tonight. A super moon is not something that happens so very often. It was just typical that it should occur when I was far from home, staying with my aunt and uncle, and of course, my cousin.

He looked at me for a moment. Perhaps he was weighing up his response for it took a while for him to answer. Even then, it wasn't that forth-coming. "Sure," is what he said.

I looked at the ground, kicked my toe gently against the wall. Was he, I wondered, enjoying making me squirm, or did he not even realize.

"It's just... it's supposed to be something special tonight and..."

"You want to see it. Yeah, me too," he broke in, with a relieved smile. "And I know just the place to do it. It's a bit of a drive, mind you, but if you're up for it I can promise it will be something spectacular."

That was a no-brainer of a question. I'd been growing antsy staying indoors so much. A chance to not only get out, but to see the moon in all its glory as well, was not an opportunity I was about to turn down. Maybe being out of the city was going to turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

"Make sure you bring something warm to put on. It might be hot now but by the time it gets to night the temperature is going to drop." He stood, stretched. "I'll just go and tell Mom that we won't be here for most of the night."

I watched as Flynn headed out of the kitchen, searching for his mother. Just as I was about to head up to my room and grab a jacket, his head poked back around the door. "You're not superstitious are you?"

A bit of a strange question, I thought, but I shook my head. "No."

"Good. Just thought I'd better check," then he disappeared.

* * *

The drive did take a while. I asked Flynn where we were headed but I got nothing more than a, "You'll see," in reply. Okay, so a mystery trip. There was no need for the secrecy. If he'd have gone ahead and named the place, it would have meant nothing to me.

When he eased the car in to a gas station he told me to go on in and get some snacks, handing me a couple of notes to pay, not only for supplies, but for the gas as well. The thing was, I'd no real idea of what he liked, what he didn't like; taking a wild guess and buying way too much for just the two of us, I grabbed a basket and loaded it with soda cans and assorted snacks.

Back at the car I went to show him my purchases, but he did nothing more than take a quick glance. "It'll be fine. I'm not picky," he reassured me.

The miles went by. It would have been uncomfortable if it had not been for the music, the songs he played to which we both sang along. We had no shared friends, and not a lot of shared interests. Flynn was a country boy, while me, I lived in the city. A couple of days had been a rest, but I was beginning to miss the constant stimulation of bright lights and busy streets.

He eased the car off the main highway and headed off to the right. It was obvious he knew exactly where he was going, that he had been wherever it was we were heading before.

Cutting the engine, he turned to me and asked, "Well, what do you think?"

* * *

There was no doubt about it; the view, even without the moon, was staggering. In front of us was a hill. It was high; steep and forrested on the side, but it was the building that stood at the top of it that really took my breath away.

"What is it? Some kind of castle?"

Flynn laughed. "Not quite. There's not a lot of royalty in these parts. I think that once upon a time it was a sanatorium..."

"Like an asylum, you mean?"

"Yeah, but maybe not. Just for people that were recovering from illnesses, I'd guess. Anyhow, that was a long time ago. It went in to private hands, but as you can guess, it made for a bit of a remote life..."

"Even more than normal," I said.

"Yep, definitely. It's empty now; has been for fifty years or more. Unless you believe the stories." He stuck his hand into the bag, pulled out a soda can, some chocolate. I did the same.

The sun was beginning to sink and the moon was starting to appear. Huge! Silver! So big I could make out all the mountains, the valleys, the cracks on the surface of that piece of rock. I stared at it, totally in awe, spellbound by the sheer size of the moment, as well as of the moon itself.

"Great, isn't it," he said, staring straight ahead. "At least if you don't believe the rumors."

"Let me guess," I tore my eyes away from the towers and the curves of that magnificently Gothic structure. "Ghosts?"

"No, not quite... Vampires!"

* * *

I frowned. With the silvery light from that giant moon behind it, I could clearly make out at least one cross, maybe two. Could this have been a church at some time? Even I knew, though, that the top of a remote hill was an unlikely place for a congregation to gather. But it did suggest some kind of religious connection and I had always thought that vampires were supposed to steer well clear of crosses, holy water, anything of that sort.

"Okay, I had you there, didn't I." Flynn grinned at me. To think I'd almost believed him. "Not vampires, but vampire! Singular. Just one. On a night like tonight he is sure to be taking flight."

I didn't know Flynn well enough to be able to tell if he was joking. He looked serious enough but... "You're kidding me, right. There wouldn't be a vampire in there. It's just too... holy," I finished lamely.

"I think someone's been watching too many horror movies," he said.

The sun had gone now, leaving the sky a deep blue like I would never have seen in the city. But it wasn't dark. The lunar light was much softer than that of the daytime, but it still kept my sight of the building completely clear and focused. I shivered, thought that my cousin would think it was in fright and would laugh. He didn't, and maybe that silence told me more than any words could have done.

Flynn, himself, didn't know whether to believe the story or not.

There was nothing to say, really. We sat there in silence. It was a fantastic setting for the moon; he had been right about that, but I could not help wishing he had picked somewhere else. I had anticipated giving this rare lunar spectacle my entire concentration. Instead my eyes were continuously drawn towards the house and a search for any tell-tale movements.

* * *

I've no idea how long we sat there before I saw them. Tiny black spots appearing in the distance that went on to move up and across the moon's surface. At least that was what they looked like, until they began to descend down from the top of the hill, heading towards the forest.

"Are they your vampires?" I asked.

"Nope. Bats! I don't suppose city girls like you get to see them very often."

I nodded. I had never seen a bat flying around and was in no hurry to get too close to one, either.

"Don't worry, they'll not come this far." Flynn kept his eyes trained on the building, watching. What was he waiting for?

"Did they come from the building? It looked like it," I said. And it was true, they seemed to have emerged from under one of the roofs.

"Most likely," Flynn answered. "It doesn't look in bad condition from down here, but I reckon were we to go nearer, it wouldn't be in such good nick. And don't forget, what we're looking at is the front; the back could be totally dilapidated, for all we know."

"You're not thinking of taking us nearer, are you?" I didn't care if he heard my worry. Let him call me frightened if he wanted to, but I did not want to go up there.

"Don't worry. You can't get up there now. It's all private property; fenced off." Flynn had turned towards me as he spoke and it was then that I saw the movement. Something was flying across the moon and whatever it was, it was so much bigger than any bat!

* * *

"Flynn, look! What's that?"

He turned, no doubt picking up on the urgency in my voice. I think he saw it, just about, but he shook his head.

"You must have seen it," I said.

"I saw something, okay, but I don't believe it was a vampire. Just a bat, that's all. It must have been some kind of visual trick caused by this light. A bat flying up from the trees; that would make it look bigger."

He wasn't sure though. I could tell that by the way his hands shook slightly when he started the car, began pulling away. We were moving fast, much quicker than we had been arriving.

I kept turning or taking a glance in the mirror. I told myself I was just looking back at the moon. Flynn didn't say a word and neither did I, at least not until we were almost back at his house.

"It was just a bat. You know that, don't you?"

What could I say? I wasn't convinced at all, but I didn't want to argue. "If you say so," I said, but that did not stop the nervous glances as we made our way inside.

(1706 words).

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