Walkers

Keep Moving, People. (Image by By Jaurès_-_Histoire_socialiste,_I.djvu: Jean Jaurès, sous la direction de derivative work: YSpirine [Jaurès_-_Histoire_socialiste,_I.djvu] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Keep Moving, People. (Image by By Jaurès_-_Histoire_socialiste,_I.djvu: Jean Jaurès, sous la direction de derivative work: YSpirine [Jaurès_-_Histoire_socialiste,_I.djvu] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

I remember writing this short story quite well!

What I remember (I checked my writing records) most was that it was accepted for publication in a letter to me, March 13, 1992 (Friday the 13th), by Thin Ice…but Thin Ice went under before it could be published! I was even told that it would be the lead story in that issue of the magazine…but it wouldn’t be published until Summer 1994 (two years later!). But then it was delayed yet another year.  Yeah—so, I waited three years for publication, only to have the rug pulled out from under me in 1995. The editor (whose name I realized I’ve since forgotten—I’d remembered her name for years and years…) even said I could submit elsewhere if I wanted to have it published earlier….

So, now…24 years later…I am finally giving it that life!

I am and have always been fascinated by walking…that by walking you can literally get anywhere on this planet. Okay, you might have to take a plane or a ship or two, but still…it’s by walking that would get you there to take that plane or ship. Or that swim. And I love walking…the physical (and metaphysical) locomotion through time and space. Yes, you probably never gave the “time and space” part much though, did you? One is moving through both TIME and SPACE when one locomotes. And if you let your mind wander…run free…you’re also wandering the universe when you walk. So, there’s really a whole lot more going on when you take those physical steps than perhaps is initially imagined….

And what if there existed a race that that did everything while in constant motion?

That was my inspiration all those years ago, and I just love this story! It has intrigue and sex (well, okay, an “honorable mention,” since sex is mentioned…) and mystery! Horror! Metaphysics! It’s a quest—and so much more I can’t get into without giving away the twists and turns that this 6,000-word story takes! It’s one of my favorites. I wasn’t sure if I would post it here, because of its length…I think it might be the longest on this blog. I have a couple longer short stories I’ve been holding off posting because of their length…but decided to go with “Walkers.” I might include one or two of the others, as well, later….

So, yes, “Walkers” is also unpublished…returned to me by Thin Ice, on May 11, 1995 (delayed a year from its original publication), because the magazine had gone under, but it was intended for publication (as the lead story!) in that Summer 1994 (1995) issue….

 

Walkers

© F. P. Dorchak, 1992

 

Severen’s feet mindlessly shuffled on with bland reiteration, as he opened sandied eyes. The sky was clear and there was a chill in the air, as early morning reds and oranges splashed across the horizon. The terrain was dusty and desolate.

Severen lifted his head and stretched.

He’d dreamed of being confined to something called a “chair”…with wheels on it…unable to use his legs. He remembered it’d been a good dream.

“Another day,” he said, and rubbed his eyes, cracking open his mouth into a wide, morning yawn. Severen look around and saw Techen, immediately to his left, who also began to stir.

“Mor-ning, Tech,” Severen greeted, mouth full of sand. He spit out the silicate granules.

“Yeah, right.”

Severen smiled back and shook dust from his hair, then looked around to the faces immediately behind him, several rows back. Most were still asleep. Then there were the faces behind those, and still more behind those…the unfathomable mass of Walkers that filled in all the way to the rear horizon. And all of them walked…all of them trudged aimlessly across desiccated terrain. They were a people of many ages and varieties, and the sound of their incessant plodding unmercifully assaulted Severen’s morning grogginess, bringing him back to a reality he’d much rather preferred to have escaped. It was an ancient march. A tiresome one. At its best, it was

 

“…time to send one of us to investigate. Agreed?” It was Strutter, an Old Walker, who had finally came out and said it. “With that having been said, we must send one of us.” His voice was weary with age, but he was the wisest of the Walkers. All of the Council nodded, including Severen.

“We’re sorry to drop this upon you, Severen, my friend, but it is the will of the Council that you should go. You are the healthiest of us to withstand the rigors of the journey.”

Severen flinched, but remained strong—Council-bound—and accepting of the challenge. Somehow, he had come to expect this, despite the fact that he knew of two others who were supposedly younger than him. Smoothing out his Council uniform, he straightened up and addressed Strutter.

“I agree and accept.”

“Good. We wish you our best.”

There was something about Strutter’s look that sent a chill through Severen.

Those not of the Council, but closest to them, turned to each other and began to spread the word, and with a bow of his head, and eyes closed, Severen immediately slowed his pace and began the rearward journey. He shifted his shoulders and twisted his body, as he allowed the peopled interior to swallow him up. It seemed

 

Colder back here. Emotionally colder.

He had never been back more than a half-a-generation or so before, and had labored long and hard to get to his present position on the Forward Council. People in the interior were less friendly, less open (how well he remembered that), and now he had to go back in—deeper—to investigate rumored trouble at the rear.

The Rear.

He’d heard of only one other walker who’d gone as far back as one generation, and now he was to go all the way back.

To the end.

As far as he could physically reach—and to make matters worse, he was to come all the way back.

If possible.

It was a quest that bred mixed feelings among the Council, a quest that Severen felt severely hindered by, for further progression on his part, at least for the time of the journey, anyway, but he was duty-bound and the rumors had to be laid to rest. The killings (if there truly were any killings) had to be investigated…stopped.

Feet on autopilot and still facing to the front of the March, Severen retreated deeper into the interior. Uncountable bodies, both familiar and unfamiliar, brushed and flowed past.

If there really were any killings going on, it would probably do the horde well, he thought. Everyone knew there were far too many Walkers, and that, no matter how heretical the thought, they really could stand to use a thinning.

Facts were facts.

As Severen continued backward, he noticed something no one had ever mentioned. This feeling of going backward was almost an erotic, stimulating affair…and he wondered why it was so outlawed to the common masses. He noticed that going back just two or three rows had no real effect, but once you got the momentum going and traveled through at least a quarter of a generation, the sensation suddenly overcame you. It was a heady, whole-body phenomenon that was very much like sex. Everybody, except the aging and dying, went forward, and he had not known anyone who had gone this far rearward before—except in childhood tales, of course.

(forward)

But it was a good feeling.

Severen also noticed how some began to regard him with suspicion. Or fear. Many turned to those beside them and whispered, all the while keeping a watchful eye upon him. He couldn’t hear them all, but occasionally did catch something like: It is not often one from the Council travels rearward. They must surely imagine something dire. Or: What becomes us that one of them dares invade our privacy? But, overall, Severen found the people most accommodating, actually somewhat more talkative than he’d expected. He would have quite an enlightening report to pass on—if he ever made it back—or passed it on to a Communicator.

 

Although he had probably been doing it for the past few rows, Severen became aware that he was slowing down. He had come across a tightly knit group at one point and found that he was growing increasingly bogged down. Twisting about, Severen glanced behind. He saw that the jam-up seemed to go on for quite some distance. He faced forward. Just enjoy the ride, Sevvy, he told himself. He looked around to the people beside him and attempted conversation, but as usual, only ended up in passing people by. Until he spotted a particularly quiet and hulking figure of curious intensity, off to his left. Temporarily delaying his rearward passage, Severen redirected himself laterally toward the man. People moved, respectfully, out of his way.

“Good day, citizen!” Severen hailed, “perhaps you can assist me? My name is Severen, of the Forward Council.”

The man wheezed once, then gave him a quick, non-interested glance. “Yeah, so?”

“I’ve been sent by the Council to investigate goings-on at the rear. There have been recent rumors surfacing—”

“Surfacing? Where’ve you been, mate? Them’s rumors been around fer generations.”

“Excuse me?”

“I means, yer frigging behind the times, mate—an why would the Council send back one-ah its own? Why not someone more expendable?”

Severen bit his tongue. He needed to regain control of this conversation.

“Okay, so we’re a bit behind the times, can you assist me or not?”

“What do you want?”

“Information.”

“What’s in it fer me?”

“A better position in the March—”

“Oh, sure, an where would that get someone like me? It’s not like we’re getting anywhere with all this drudgery.”

“I can see about making you a Communicator.”

“Oh, a Communicator, huh?”

“Yes. It’d be low level to start, but it’d be a beginning.”

“Well, I can’t tell you much, y’see, I’ze only heard the rumors, like you, but there’s somethin nasty going on back there. I only heard a one guy who made it back, and he went mad. Was sent back to the rear. You ain’t gonna like what you find—if it don’t find you first.”

“Please, elucidate.”

The man looked back disapprovingly at the Councilman’s choice of words.

“It’s dark back there, people…disappear…an…an there’s somethin else.”

“What else?”

“Don’t know. The man went n got all unscrewed before he could tell—but he was about to say somethin, I could see it in his eyes. It was like he couldn’t quite bring himself to say it.”

“That’s all you got?”

“Told you it weren’t much.”

“What was his name, this fellow?”

“Chim, or Jorg—no, Chjort, that was it. Chjort.”

“Thank you. Want the position?”

“Whatever.”

Severen allowed the crowd to advance past, as he continued rearward.

“Sev’ren!” the man yelled back.

“What?”

“Take it easy, mate. It turned Chjort nutty. Killed the others.”

Killed others?

(expendable?)

“Thank

 

You never really knew just how large the whole damn thing was from the front. Never really knew until you got inside it. All you saw were rows upon rows of bodies, and bodies going back as far as the eye could see. Way back. But as Severen ventured in, he got a true feeling for just how large this exodus was, more so than any of the Communicators (those who ran messages within assigned districts and kept the masses informed), the Forward Council, or any other mythical hero he’d ever heard about. Communicators came close to getting a truer feel for the size of the March, but they never ventured beyond their own boundaries. Each generation had several districts, but the number depended on how large a generation was. Lately, generations had been growing.

Council members…they really knew nothing.

Anybody could be a Council member, though there had to be a proving to see whether that person was truly worthy of the position. Everyone wanted to be up front, to make laws and institute changes, but not many were willing to work for it. To pay the price. To see something other than the backs of their contemporaries. That was what had initially driven Severen. That, and the love of a woman, or, more to the point, the scorn of one.

Severen had fallen in love with a woman named Thea. She had been strong, and the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on. He’d first seen her when she was only two hops over from him, magically having appeared out of nowhere. They’d flirted, and when Severen finally made his move, he found her more than interested. They were soon marching side by side. Copulating. Inseparable. Then he began to tell her of his ambition, that he wanted to start a family of his own and become one of the Forward Council. That was where things began to deteriorate. It seemed she had no ambition to go to the front, a place where you couldn’t hide.

Hide.

She had something to hide. She didn’t like being put up for display. She liked where she was, free to drift about…to see others. And Thea had no intention of starting a family. She liked being able to see whom she wanted, and do what she willed. Severen had been nothing more than a passing encounter for her. Sure, she liked him…even the sex and good times they’d had together…but that was all. Severen had awoken one morning to find her gone. Just as he’d found her…he’d lost her.

He never did find out what it was she had to hide, but figured she was probably trafficking in the powerful sleep drug, Utopa, the most common offense in the March. The drug gave the power to dream while awake, for as long as three days, after which subjects usually became hooked and zombie-like. Some, those of stronger constitution, lasted longer and became junkies, but most withered away and died. Either way, all were eventually sent back to the rear. In the end, Severen’s break with Thea had been for the better. Associating with pushers wasn’t conducive to a Council position.

Severen found himself again eavesdropping.

“…Celila and Trax were doing pretty good until Celila’s Communicatorship,” a pair of Walkers discussed.

“Took her away, didn’t they.”

“Yep—but they’re still seeing each other, wouldn’t’cha know it. It’s been a hard road since she’s the youngest Communicator and gets all the rotten routes—she’s gone nearly all the time.”

The other gave a knowing nod and wrinkled his face disapprovingly. Severen remembered that name. Celila. She was new. Swift. She was also a good Mediator for the Council, which wasn’t good for her man, since she’d most probably get promoted and see even less of him. It wouldn’t be until her next promotion, a supervisory position, that she’d have any time for a relationship—and who’d want to wait that long?

Severen angled off into a different direction, and looked up to the sky. It had darkened noticeably since he’d last checked. He realized he was now into the very heart of the March, sand almost completely obscuring the sky. And don’t even talk about the noise. It was also decidedly colder…not just emotionally, but physically…and he didn’t like that. It should have gotten warmer, from all that body heat. But it

 

Wasn’t life a bitch? It seemed that all one had to look forward to was to live long enough to get to the front lines. Then what? Severen had gotten there, and where had it gotten him? He was back where he’d started—hell, he was further back than where he’d started. He’d actually regressed….

And he had just blindly accepted this task. How easy it had been to plod along aimlessly in life and be the yes-man.

(easy)

This whole thing was entirely overrated. What was he supposed to do once he found what he was looking for? The gruff-one had mentioned that others had been killed.

What others, and why; what had killed whom?

Severen had no knowledge of anyone else being sent that far back, let alone being killed off.

But what if others had been sent back?

Was there something the Forward Council wasn’t telling him? What was that look in Strutter’s face all about?

Was he even supposed to make it back?

That last thought rocked him like an earthquake.

Maybe he was an offering. An offering.

“No, no—that can’t be. The Council isn’t like that. They’re Law-givers. Elders.”

So why choose him? The only ones on the Council who had any real power were the old ones. The ones who’d been around a while. So where did that leave the younger members? If the elders didn’t die, then the younger went nowhere.

(except on journeys like this)

But he knew of no one—

Then it hit him.

There was something about a journey!

He remembered…as a child…that his parents had told him about a Council member they’d met who’d gone back on a similar trek. Severen didn’t remember the purpose of the trek, but did remember the look on his parents’ faces when they talked about it. They were scared.

Why?

Because little Sevvy had already made up his mind that he was going to join the Council when he grew up.

Millions of tiny switches clicked on and off inside his head.

Spark.

And there were always bogeyman stories from childhood about what went on back there…way back there. Stories of the dead coming to life and ripping the aged from their generations, never to be seen again. Of screams and howls in the dead of night. Maybe there were more to the legends and myths than people cared to believe.

Spark.

Spark.

Or tell.

Contact.

A conspiracy within the Council!

Severen was suddenly slammed into.

It wasn’t the normal hiking-through-the-lands-trip-and-tap—no, this was a full-on grind that lifted him up off one foot and had him tottering for a moment as he skipped across the terrain, trying to regain his balance. When he did regain his footing, he whipped around hard to see the face in the crowd that must have started the upset. It was a face that sent a chill up his spine. It was an evil, twisted face that didn’t look real…but continued to hold his gaze.

Severen maneuvered out of the face’s path to see if it would follow.

It did.

No sooner had he repositioned himself, then the face again followed him…but had also gained in row. Severen looked around. Found that the generation of people around him suddenly seemed to have aged a great deal. Many were white-haired and bent over…more shuffle than walk to their strides. Many had only half-opened eyes, or failing eyesight.

This meant the dead were even closer than he’d imagined. Maybe a lot closer.

Severen maneuvered toward a stout individual and there held his position. The old man looked to him.

Why do you come to me? his gaze begged, I am old and not long for the March. Go away.

I am sorry, old man, but I have no choice, Severen’s eyes replied, I am on a mission. From the Forward Council.

So you would have me killed for the Council?

Before Severen could make his reply, the stalking face was upon the old man. Severen had been so hypnotized by the ancient one’s gaze that he’d forgotten to keep track of his pursuer. He looked on in horror as he saw its face—and what was left of its body. It was dead and stank of carrion. Powerful, clawed arms raked out from underneath powerful, shredded shoulders…arms that hopped and grappled from shoulder to shoulder and supported a smoldering torso. It tore asunder those it touched. It was a torso that supported a head and shoulders—and nothing more. There was nothing below its gaping and dangling chest cavity.

Severen watched as the old man was torn apart by the corpse; he backed away with weak, flaccid knees…and noticed that those alongside the old man had also moved away…silently and without question.

As if this was accepted routine.

No!” Severen shouted.

But still his feet took him away.

No!” he shouted, but still his gaze was upon the old man.

No!” he shouted, but still the corpse crawled and rended. Rended the ancient one to pieces….

NO!

Severen watched as the old man’s eyes were separated from their sockets….

His words had no effect on the killing. No effect on the dismemberment that went on (as he watched). Words that could not stop the direction his feet were taking him. Away. Severen saw the old man crumple soundlessly, wordlessly, to the ground.

Accepting.

Why do you come to me, the ancient man had pleaded.

Because I am on a mission, he had replied.

A mission.

He was on a mission to find out what was going on at the rear. Well, he’d just found out—and now he was running away.

This is the real reason I was sent back. I’m no investigatorI’m a sacrifice.

Looking to a cripple beside him, Severen saw the walking stick he possessed and grabbed it without thinking. The cripple looked to him and smiled, then allowed himself to fall to the ground, quickly trodden asunder by those that flowed over from behind. Severen was shocked to discover he felt no emotion one way or the other. Turning, he looked back for the clawed corpse and hefted his newly acquired weapon. He was lucky, the wood felt solid and sturdy. It was dense and would wield well.

Severen backed up and readied the staff; glanced behind himself several times, but still could not see his attacker. It was getting darker. Colder. Out of the corner of his eyes he thought he saw something, and turned slowly, not sure there was really anything there. Yes, three positions over…a face glared back at him with a mouth full of teeth and decayed flesh.

Grinned hideously.

Severen followed that smile down to its neck, then down to its chest.

Down to its waist.

There was now more body to this corpse than when Severen had first encountered it!

Severen looked to the newly acquired legs…legs that had not originally belonged to that creature. Legs, he recognized, that had belonged to the ancient man

(why do you come to me?)

with the penetrating gaze.

The creature had stolen the ancient one’s body.

The very thought made Severen’s stomach heave, and, indeed, he nearly did. He tried not to imagine the horrors the ancient man had been put through to give up those legs.

The monster approached, and the crowd widened.

Good, Severen thought, more room to swing this thing.

“Come on!”

The corpse lunged awkwardly, but Severen managed to hold his ground as he lifted the staff in a backward arc and quickly snapped it forward. It connected, and the corpse took the full force of it in its waist, easily splitting in two. The top half flew forward and the bottom half crumpled to the dirt. Severen then watched as the creature latched onto another walker. Not allowing it time to gain another claw hold, Severen again rushed it. He rose his weapon high over his head and brought it crashing down onto the center of the corpse’s cranium, splitting it open. It emitted a rancor that made Severn gag. The thing writhed in pain, but uttered no sound, and the walker it was attached to hardly seemed cognizant of the attack. Severen finished off the creature by hammering it free with the staff, and it went tumbling bulkily to the ground—and to the rear of the March.

Great, that’s the last place I wanted this thing to go, he thought.

The March then folded back in around Severen as if nothing had happened, and as he wiped the sweat and fear from his brow, one of the walkers adjacent to him turned and smiled. Severen regarded him blankly.

Then vomited.

 

What was going on back here?

Severen no longer knew just how far back he was, and it didn’t really matter, he guessed, because things weren’t right. He could no longer see the sky, and it was almost always dark, now. And there were times he had actually thought he’d heard screams—and laughter, hideous, hideous, laughter—from the rear. Every time he would look back, fear would grip him and give him a good throttling. He didn’t want to go back there. It was a No Man’s Land. A festering graveyard. Nothing good was back there….

He had given up on the quest long ago—blew it all off. His sojourn had now become more of a matter of principle. Of what was right. He recalled how it had bothered him to accept the quest…at why he should have been chosen…but found he didn’t feel this way about this new revelation. Some things just felt right, even if they were wrong….

But who would know of his intent?

There were no longer any Communicators this far from the Council, so information of his whereabouts wouldn’t exactly be known, and to the masses he would just be remembered as the “one from the Front” performing his duty in the defense of his people. He would fade away into the annals of history as just another soul lost to the rear.

Or sacrificed.

His blood boiled.

He had his pride and no one was going to sacrifice him.

As unfortunate as his present situation was, he had to make the best of it. He was too far back to just turn around (so to speak) and return home. If not for the Council, then he had to do this for the others. His fellow walkers.

But, by the gods, the more he thought about it, the more it made sense! Send the young! The virile! Those who could better challenge the Old Ones. Send them to the rear to appease whatever was there—just keep it from coming forward. Keep it away from the front…from the Forward Council.

Severen looked to the staff. To those around him. If they weren’t dead, they were very near. Their shuffling was pained and slow, their bodies decayed. It wouldn’t be long now.

He was scared as hell.

 

Severen’s pace had slowed quite a bit, either from fear or uncertainty, but slowed down it had.

The air now had a distinctly different feel to it, and it stunk. Rotted flesh. Nervously he glanced behind himself (as he tore off a piece of fabric from his uniform and tied it around his mouth and nose), but could no longer see beyond two or three rows. It was as dark as night and there was a thick haze, one that he’d walked right into.

Like he had any choice.

Rotted, moldy flesh, he thought, so much particulates in the air.

His mind began to drift back to the conspiracy. As right as he knew he was, he tried to coax some sense out of the activities that had led him to his present situation. Of course the Elders wouldn’t have taken this journey themselves, they probably wouldn’t have survived it, and sure he wasn’t the youngest—not by far—so why was he picked above all others?

Maybe because you’d risen from within the March, Sevvy, old boy.

Of course.

He hadn’t been born into the Forward Council, like the others. Strutter had always been there, had been there even before his parents had grown, and Techen—Techen was born into it, he knew that. But what about Quix? Se-Er? Yes, they, too, all claimed birthright. In fact, Severen now saw, he couldn’t think of one of the Forward Council who wasn’t of direct bloodline (except Strutter, but he was the Elder, the Rule-Maker), so why would the two younger members be any different?

They wouldn’t beunless another insider was being cultivated as he had been….

This wasn’t exactly the feeling he needed just now.

An unexpected rocking from the row directly behind him caught him off-guard and sent him into an adjacent walker as he tripped across a particularly deep rut. The man he hit crumpled to the dirt and had, in fact, actually disintegrated.

“Oh, no—no…I can’t be there yet!”

Another walker near to him opened a hardened, white eye and winked weakly.

“Y-yer not…there yet….” he said.

But you’ll wish ya were.

The words put Severen temporarily at ease. If one was dead, then others were sure to follow, and soon. The graveyard

(answers)

was not far away.

Destiny.

Ah, the hell with it.

Spinning around on his heels and actually facing toward the rear, Severen hefted his staff before him and marched forward.

Into the pitch blackness of the unknown.

 

It wasn’t long before he found that all those surrounding him were, indeed, dead.

None moved out of his path as he approached, so he came to wielding his staff and smashing them out of his way. Their bodies crumbled into dust as did the first. Or as near as he could tell, in this darkness, to which his eyes had grown exceedingly well accustomed. He also saw that the ranks had thinned out considerably, and this bothered him.

What was beyond? Was there a beyond?

Would he fall off some edge that rolled up after the March’s passage?

Old wives tales told to disobedient children.

Yet tales that still scratched at his troubled, adult psyche.

Movement. There was movement ahead.

Severen felt the fear again seize him, but fought it off and cocked his head. There was a figure that ran behind the few bodies that still shuffled past. He squinted, but the figure had darted back into the darkness. It was an upright figure, to be sure, like him—but quick. All this time, he thought he was alone. The fear returned.

There’s nothing good back here.

He tightened his grip on the staff.

What had he gotten himself into?

He continued forward and heard noise…this time behind him.

Then the noise moved somewhere to his left.

Then back again, behind him.

Spinning around, Severen brought up the staff just in time to deflect the brunt of an attack. A dark figure had bounced off him and run back into the dark, but not before leaving tears in his clothes and stinging gouges in his flesh. Severen thought of the similarities between this attack and the earlier one—but that this one had legs.

Severen spun around several more times, making sure that the thing was gone. At least temporarily. His temples throbbed with his quickened pulse, and his chest heaved with shortened breaths. Adrenaline surged throughout his body. There was more movement…more of them.

Terrific.

“Who’s there! By the power of the Forw—”

A black thing lunged, and this time Severen wasn’t as lucky, his staff slammed up hard into his forehead. Warmth spread down and over his eyes. At the same time, something ripped deeply into his right arm and there was another liberating splash of warmth upon his face. Blinding pain quickly followed…then the thing was off him.

By the time Severen managed to reopen his eyes, another was upon him.

Pain or no pain he cocked back the staff, and, twisting around with it, slammed it hard into what he surmised was the torso of the creature. It took all the spring out of the thing’s attack and Severen watched it crumple into a heap. Quickly recovering, Severen barely had time to react to another one, so he ducked…only netting a gash to his forehead…and followed the shape around. He brought his weapon down square on the thing’s back and there was a more-than-satisfying crunch. The thing didn’t get back up. Severen backed away, whirled his stick about him, and peered into the darkness for more.

But none came.

 

The ache of his body grew more painful as the shock wore off, and his gait turned into more of a labored shuffle. He’d managed to stem the flow of blood from his wounds, but the pain that racked his body had to be more than just from cuts and bruises.

Infection.

Infection that spread rapidly. If Severen didn’t miss his guess, he probably wouldn’t make it til sunrise, if there was a sunrise anymore….

 

Severen dreamed as he dozed. Dreamed of a dark and thick blackness…a blackness from which nothing returned. He saw eyes…two large…all-seeing orbs that emerged from the darkness, only to return back to it. And he saw claws…lots and lots of claws…that all tore and ripped into him. Ripped him into big, chunky pieces—

He awoke with a start. Couldn’t believe he had

(been allowed to survive)

dozed. He was alone. Except for the occasioned walking dead he passed. He no longer swung at them.

Severen had never really given much thought to what was actually at the rear, the ultimate rear. To what it might actually look like. He just wished he wasn’t there, now. On the surface, he tried to convince himself that he didn’t care to know, but deep down he did feel a sense of duty. A yearning for more.

Must know.

Must.

Bring back information…crush the conspiracy….

Back—back to whom?

The people.

The Council could no longer be trusted. They were all suspect. All in on it. Had been since the dawn of eternity. All those sent back in the legends and myths had been sent back as fodder for some evil god. Sent to keep whatever was there from coming forward and destroying the rest of the March.

Was sure of it.

Dead sure.

Never had there been any mention of the dead coming back to life from the graveyard. Never. Had always been left as a black void of nothingness. A place not spoken of during the light of day, barely even whispered of during nightfall.

It was a lair.

But a lair to what?

What evil force made its home there, and to where did its power extend?

Severen checked his arm’s dressing. It was a mass of dried blood and torn material…and there was a gangrenous pus that festered around the wound. Severen touched it with the end of his staff and it burst, splattering onto his face a smelly spore-like substance that got inside his mouth. He didn’t bother to check his other wounds. He felt the infection as it ate away at him. He didn’t need any further confirmation.

Heavily, Severen lifted his throbbing head.

“What…are you?” he coughed into the darkness.

Two blazing red eyes opened their lids from the darkness before him.

“What do you want from me. From us?”

The eyes floated. He was sure they were amused with him.

Gathering all his effort, Severen hefted his staff and swung it out before him. The eyes remained untouched…were now filled with a mass of scrolling stars.

Not much further to go. Care. No longer cared. Never make it back….

Eyes.

Disappeared.

Severen plodded forward, used his staff as a crutch. Lost all feeling in his left side. Numb on his right. Vision grew cloudy….

DO. YOU. KNOW. WHO. I. AM?

Came the voice.

DO. YOU. KNOW. WHO. I…AM?

It was a voice. Inside his head. This was it. Had finally gone delirious. Alone; seeing ghosts. Hearing voices. What difference did it make if he answered? Was dying anyway….

No, I do not knowwho you arebut I’m sure thispoisonhas invented something goodfor me.

I AMTHE…UNNAMED.

Severen looked into the blackness and laughed.

Well, aren’t you a grand delusion!

IAM…ALL.

Pleeeased to meet you….

Silence.

Severen felt the uneasiness that accompanied that silence. Felt, for the first time since his last attack, that maybe, maybe he wasn’t all that alone…maybe it wasn’t delirium he was talking to….

YOU HAVE COMEFOR MEYOU ARE TO BE MY…COMMUNION.

PREPARE YOURSELF.

“Who are you?”

I AM ALL.

“…said that, but…what are you?”

No immediate response.

I AMTHAT WHICH KEEPS THE MARCH…FORWARD.

That which keeps the March forward. Severen shook his head. “Don’t…understand.”

IT IS NOT YOUR PLACETO UNDERSTAND.

PREPARE YOURSELF.

That which keeps the March forward. Could it be possible that the March was evoked by this thing? Controlled by it? That the March was nothing without it? But the March had been going on since time immemorial….

Forever.

I AM BEYOND THAT.

Eternal.

Severen’s head hurt. He stumbled. I’m going to die, I’m really going to die….

Severen placed the staff out before him for support, bore the majority of his weight on it…but only managed to continue forward in short…shuffling…movements. Movements that brought immense pain. Severen jerked; felt something burrow into his brain.

ENOUGHTIME.

A gigantic claw shot out from the darkness, and with it, a deafening clap of thunder. It smashed through Severen’s stick and grasped him mid-body, lifting Severen up off the ground. Severen went limp and expelled a loud huh! as his staff clattered in pieces about him. He had a sudden flashback of helplessness as a child…the time he was caught first-time masturbating…and felt like that child again. But there was also an unexpected ease with who he was…what he had become.

He felt small and puny…yet complete. He retreated inward.

There was warmth there.

 

The two large, red eyes again formed in the darkness before him and Severen was pulled in. Severen looked directly into the eyes and spoke:

Go onI’m prepared….

 

Severen floated. Drifted within nothingness. There he found the thing he had come for. The quest. The reason. It was fear, plain and simple. Fear from the Walkers as they had built it up over their generations; over eons.

FEAR.

From turning back. Fear…from looking behind—and forward. Fear that they were being followed…devoured from that which was behind them. Darkness. And it had caught them. Exacted its toll. Its price for existence.

PAY HOMAGE TO THAT WHICH CONTROLS THEE….

 

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This Happens Sometimes

It's OK. No It's Not. Yes, It Is. No. It's Not. (Image by By Tanya Little Flickr: 9 of 365 ~ Frustration [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia

It’s OK. No It’s Not. Yes, It Is. No. It’s Not. (Image by By Tanya Little Flickr: 9 of 365 ~ Frustration [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

As I’ve been [re]working on my short stories the past year, there was one I was really trying hard to make workable. Publishable. But…in the end…I just couldn’t make work. It was titled “A Taste of Eden,” and it was kinda nasty. In a part or two, actually, downright disgusting. But the rest of the somewhat disjointed story was kinda cool—had some time-shifting Titanic imagery in there…scary, horror scenes inside an abandoned building during a gnarly thunderstorm…self-mutilation…and a perverted bovine-headed-and-hoofed demon—I really wanted it to work…but…I just couldn’t. And I really didn’t like the “perverted” part. Seriously—I’d written that? Grossed me out. Ick.

(…daisies and kitties…daisies and kitties….)

Maybe in another 20 years.

So I sent it to the Not Used Folder.

I never totally trash/delete anything…no matter how bad.

Then there was another story—a partial of maybe 1,000 words—that I’d expanded into 5,000 words. But can’t publish it because of certain reasons…and having a lawyer review it…well, it’s not worth the cost…but beyond that, I have to be considerate for the people “involved.” You see, I’d written about events from real life…changed them up a little…but they would still be obvious to those these events had happened to.  And they might not take too kindly to me writing about them.

So, into the Not Used Folder that went. Hopefully, after we’re all dead, someone will find it and publish it. It’s a really powerful story. It keeps bringing me to tears every time I read the damned thing.

Wasted time. One could say I’ve wasted time on these efforts…but one could also say, no time and effort is ever, really wasted. It all counts toward growth…improved writing. And I believe this. I’ve written 10 100K novel manuscripts…each has taken 2-3 years of my life. Some longer. I’ve only published half of them. As to short stories, I still haven’t counted them all up, but I’m coming up on about 52 published ones, if I make it through to November 27th, when I published my first on this blog, “Tail Gunner.” Right now I have stories scheduled for release through October 28th. And I still have a couple left.

And then there was my little misfire yesterday.

Oh, for cryin’ out loud.

I’d been so damned careful for weeks on where I was placing that cursor of mine…then—after updating a bunch of my short story blog posts with the cleaner hyperlink to my Short Stories page—it happened: “premature publishing.”

I spazzed out and mistakenly hit Publish instead of Save Draft. Classic rookie mistake.

(Yeah, there’s a double entendre in all this. And, by the way, I’m not writing this post in response to yesterday’s mishap—I’d actually started writing it two days ago.)

So, I sent out another “post” announcing my error, then promptly went looking for all copies on social media and deleting them (though the e-mailed versions still exist…). I think I was successful. But, yeah, it took some of the wind out of my sails, dammit….

I’ve had all this “weird energy” lately…different issues I’m not going to get into…but a “minor maelstrom of transitional energy,” I’m calling it. Aggravating old injuries, new issues kicking my ass, “interpersonal issues,” tons of work on short stories not going anywhere. We all go through these periods of time. And then there’s the weather…still acting like it’s winter in May. This is Colorado, not….

But you know…it’s all okay…it is.

This happens sometimes.

Short Story Links

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A Conversation With Hell

Don't Answer It. (Image by Holger.Ellgaard [CC BY-SA 3.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons).

Don’t Answer It. (Image by Holger.Ellgaard [CC BY-SA 3.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0%5D, via Wikimedia Commons).

This story appears to be the first (or among the first) story I’d written as an adult and began recording, as I got full time into writing as a business. As an ongoing intent. From my earliest records, it appears I’d written this in May or June of 1987. I was 26 years old. It is my first writing entry into my writing log, which I’ve kept ever since. On May 6, 1987, I sent a letter to the Library of Congress for copyright forms. On June 1, 1987, I’d sent this story out to Writer’s Gazette, TheMind’s Eye, 2AM Magazine, Pleiades Magazine, and SCIFANT (I don’t know if this is the “SCIFANT” from all those years ago, but there’s the link).

My very first entry into my writing log, however, is the following:

Contacted Dr. Clifford Bennett about publishing “Hope,” “Conversation,” “Love”. He died May 4, 1987 (82 years old).

You can see there were other stories I was working on.

Dr. Bennett was in the publishing/writing world, and I no longer remember how I discovered him (maybe it was a referral from some critique group I was in at the time). For some reason, I also remember Dr. Bennett performing hypnosis, and we’d worked a couple times with some hypnosis sessions. Anyway, I’d met with him a couple times, then I remember he was “hard to get hold of,” and soon afterward I’d learned that he’d died. His obituary is posted after this story. Dr. Bennett was my first contact with “the publishing industry” and the first “professional” to help me with my writing. I wish I remembered more about him.

Anyway, this story harkens back to my straight horror writing days. It’s not one of my best, but it’s short and sweet. It needed some clean-up.

Inspiration? Aside from today’s telemarketers, we’ve all gotten wrong numbers. In today’s world there’s the “butt dialing” phenomenon. But back when I wrote this, in 1987, we just had plain old wrong numbers.

This story had been published in SCIFANT #8, May 5, 1988.

 

A Conversation With Hell

© F. P. Dorchak, 1987

Ring!

Ring!

“Hello? Hello!”

It was the same thing. The same thing for the past month. Will Garret had made a brief jaunt back to his house to pick up some papers he had forgotten. No sooner had he stepped into the hallway, when the phone rang.

A crackling sound over the phone with no answer.

Who was it? Was there a problem with the phone?

He’d already had it checked.

A bad line?

Nope, had that checked too.

A prankster?

Definite possibility.

Whatever it was, it had gotten annoying a long time ago. These calls came at all hours of the day, none of them consistent in time. Some would come at two in the afternoon, while others would come at three in the morning.

He hung up; no use prolonging the agony.

Will stepped back from the phone and watched it. Then to his surprise (and then again, maybe not), it rang again. He let it ring a few more times, he couldn’t not answer it.

He just had to know who wa—

Hello?

“Hello,” came the smooth as silk reply. It was a masculine voice.

“Who is this?” Will asked, more than a little irritated.

“Uh…Fred Tarpenton…of Tarpenton Buick,” came the reply.

“Oh—I’m sorry. I’m a little on edge…I’ve been getting these crank calls, and—”

“Not to worry, apology accepted.”

A promotional call from a car dealer. Not interested, but figured he might as well listen for a while, considering the way he’d answered the phone.

After hanging up the phone, he went back to work. A corporate executive is a busy guy.

At his office, Will slaved over extensive paperwork on the merging of a new client. His huge oak desk was filled with reams of paper, a coffee cup was buried underneath the piles, somewhere. His phone rang and he absentmindedly fumbled for it.

“Yes,” he said, his reply neutral, distracted.

Over the receiver came that familiar crackling sound.

He shot up from his desk, hurtling the phone across his office. He moved behind his chair and gripped it in tightly.

It had been bad enough that he had been getting these calls for the past three and a half weeks…but they’d been confined to his home. This is the first time he had ever gotten one at work.

Miriam!

He was already on his way into reception, where his administrator worked. “Miriam, did you just forward me a call?”

“No, Mr. Garret, why?”

Will forced himself to calm down, no use letting his charges think he’s losing his grip on reality.

“Oh, nothing…nothing.” He turned and returned to his office. He told Miriam to hold all calls.

Back in his office he sat back down. This was getting out of hand. He looked to the mess over by the wall. Guess hadn’t really needed to have Miriam hold his calls. Have to get a new phone now.

It was nearing nine o’clock as he entered his driveway. It had been a tough but profitable day. He exited his car and entered the house. He’d just opened the front door, when the phone rang. Will slowly closed the door behind him and cautiously approached the ringing instrument.

It continued to ring as he put his briefcase down. Reached for the receiver.

“Hello?”

Crackle.

“Who is this?”

Crackle.

“What do you want from me? Money? I’ll give you anything you want, just—”

Crackle.

Crackle.

Fuck.” Will slammed the receiver down and reached for the wall jack, unplugged the phone and the other two he owned. If nothing else, he was determined to get some sleep tonight.

The next day was bright and sunny and Garret awoke in an excellent mood. There had been no phone calls to wake him. He ate a well prepared breakfast, read the paper and began to leave for work.

He felt as though he could take on the world!

Standing in the doorway, he thought it better to reconnect at least one phone, and backtracked in, reconnecting the living room extension. As soon as the contacts connected, the instrument rang.

Answer this, buddy!” he said, and flipped off the phone.

The phone continued ringing.

It was a busy day, as usual. Business calls, meetings, paperwork and more paperwork. It was 4:05 p.m. and he thought it best to leave a little early today. He began clearing off his desk—

Ring!

Ring! Ring!

“Oh come on, Miriam, where the hell are you?”

After several rings, he grabbed the phone.

“Yes?”

Crackle.

FOOOOOOOSH!

A bright yellow-orange bolt of flame shot out of the receiver, searing straight through Garret’s skull. Not stopping there the flame wrapped itself several times around his head, burning flesh dripping like wax from his charring skull.

Will did get a chance to utter a shriek, but that was about all.

He dropped the receiver as he tried to stand up, his hands going up to his incinerated head. Tiny flames sputtered around what had been his nose and left ear.

Miriam burst in just in time to see him sink back down into the plush executive’s chair. The dying flames and smoke continued to issue from the blackened remains of what had been his head. The carnage was total.

Miriam stood, frozen, at the entrance unable to move.

Garret’s body from the neck down was untouched. It twitched a few times then lay still, arms hanging to their sides, his head cocked to one side and smoldering. A few feet from Will’s body on the floor lay the still flaming receiver. Several defiant flames still licked at the handset. Had Miriam her sanity, she would have heard the faint echoes of a demonic chuckle.

Out in reception, a phone rang….

 

Dr. Clifford Bennett Obituary, 1987

Dr. Clifford Bennett Obituary, 1987

 

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

Contamination

I will corrupt all that is light. (Image by Louis Le Breton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

I will corrupt all that is light. (Image by Louis Le Breton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

This vile little ditty originally appeared in Aberations #11 (yes, that’s how it was spelled), but I never received payment…or a copy, though I’d repeatedly contacted the original owner and publisher…who had long-ago sold the business.

This story is the only other vampyre  story I’d written (as far as I’ve found to date)…and it is nasty. I’d come quite a long way from my original and tame 1978 vampyre story. This one is a mash-up of the metaphysical (“The only limits are those we choose to accept!“), horror (appropriate vampyre violence), sex (yup), and religion (pretty much bet it’s not what you’re expecting). But it was the metaphysical considerations (“The only limits are those we choose to accept“) I applied to the horror genre that are typically only applied to pleasant, everyday life. Safe, pleasant everyday life. So, I applied the consideration to two standard horror and religious tropes. I’m sure it will upset a certain few. That’s the way it goes…can’t please everybody. At the time…the story begged to be written. So, I wrote it.

The crucifix written about in this story is based on one our family owned when I was a kid (not I’m not sure where it is now)—it was an absolutely beautiful piece of art, just as described, with the black-topped glass vial secreted away in the back inside it. With the sturdy thin metal Jesus on the front. Had a beautiful heft to it. I’ve never seen another cross like this…but, you know, I’m not a religious guy. And as nonreligious as I was even as a kid, I loved to hold it and look at it…purely for its aesthetics. It was cool looking!

This story is not.

This story was published February 8, 1993.

 

Contamination

© F. P. Dorchak, 1992

 

Rosary dangling about her neck, Sister Mary Solicity eased the boy’s legs under the blankets.

“Thank you, Sister,” the youngster said.

The Sister smiled back. “You’re quite welcome, young Benjamin. Now close your eyes and get some sleep. You did good today.”

The child’s eyes lit up. “I did?

“Yes, you certainly did. Now good night, and the Lord be with you.”

“Good night, Sister Mary. Good night!”

Sister Mary Solicity withdrew from the boy’s bed and turned off the light, but ensured that his nightlight remained on. Benjamin closed his eyes and dreamed about the parents who would one day be his. Parents who would love him this time, never abandon him.

Sister Solicity closed the door and continued on down the hall, checking the other rooms.

 

The night blazed past cold and alert eyes. The darkness was alive and intoxicating, but new blood was needed. New blood, but not just any new blood. This one required more, required a challenge. This one wanted to rock reality and send the world into a new form of corruption and defilement, one that had never been known before. The old ways, the old rules—they were outdated and stifling. This one knew they could be broken; knew they could be changed. Rules were meant to be destroyed and he would be their destroyer.

And he hated.

As unfeeling as his race was deemed to be that was one thing that was incorrect—they did possess hatred. They hated all that was opposite to them…they hated with such intensity that all of life had shunned their very existence…banishing them into an eternal darkness and damnation that came to consume their blackened souls.

They were condemned to die—yet not even death would embrace them.

Instead they instigated a profound mockery, which polluted all that was called good. All that was called life. It was a discovery that was to keep the race alive…a discovery so vindictive that a new race was forced into existence. The undead. Nosferatu. Their names were many, but they all meant the same thing.

Vampyre.

The creature blazed on through the darkness, his consciousness alive and vibrant. He would bring his race into the new order. Take them out from under the ragged legends that had kept them at bay all these centuries—and a lot would have to be atoned for that lost time.

And he would lead them out.

He would inject new venom into the terror that was theirs…and tonight it would begin.

He grew weary of those of his kind that were merely content to live the legends. New legends were needed. New myths.

And this was the night.

 

Sister Mary Solicity closed the last door behind her and held her rosary out before her, loosely but reverently. She felt so much pain for the children, yet so much love. They were the lost sheep in need of a shepherd, and she was relieved that she had been chosen as their guide.

She knew of a Shepherd. The Shepherd.

Sister Mary Solicity could only vaguely understand what brought parents to abandon or abuse children—their children. She tried not to dwell on the subject, for when she did she found a rage build within that tore her apart.

Unchristian thoughts.

Thoughts that assailed her and sent her to the confessionals.

Thoughts that would cause her to accept penance—a penance upon which she would then add her own.

Always, it was the same cycle.

Sister Solicity entered her darkened chamber and immediately went to the pulpit, which squatted beneath a softly illuminated cross.

But, there was something else…something she didn’t want to admit that also ate away at her.

Her dreams.

Dreams that had always been peaceful and soothing had turned hideous and disturbing. She found herself constantly battling impure thoughts that grew there…in the darkness of her mind…and, again, found herself doing more penance. It was taking its toll.

Solicity stepped to the pulpit, kneeled, bowed her head, and began to pray. She prayed with the fervid intensity of a martyr, and it brought perspiration to her skin. She’d never before been forced to pray so hard—and it startled her—but the more she toiled, the more engulfed she became.

Evil sought her…evil thoughts ate away at her soul…threatening to crush her very existence, if not, her faith….

Please, Lord, save me! I’m scared. Something is happening and I don’t know what to do. I feel it so very near tonight!

 

There was no longer any need for stealth. The vampyre wanted the world to know of its impending demise…wanted to taunt…to watch the world squirm—to know just who it was that was bringing about The Reformation of Ways.

It leaned against a building and waited. Someone approached, several someones, and he sensed the anger they wore. Their fear. This promised to be an exquisite feeding, and it would be a good way to begin the New World Order.

 

The group of six noisily rounded the corner, laughter and curses filling the air like crackling fire. The streets were as deserted as they were dull, and the boys craved action.

“Man, what a fuckin morgue! I think we’re doin too good a job, Ice Man, nobody’s comin out!”

“No problem, Ace, my man—we’ll just go in after em, know what I mean?” The entire gang erupted into more laughter.

“Hey, Ice, look over there, man. See him?”

Ice Man turned.

“Sure do. Maybe this night ain’t a total bust—come on!”

The rest of the gang fell into the shadows and spread out, but Ice Man strode confidently out into the street, fishing through his pockets for a cigarette. He approached the shadow.

“Hey, man, got a light?”

The stranger’s face remained cloaked in darkness. Without a word, a tiny flame sprang to life.

“Thanks man. Hey, you know it’s not too cool bein out here by yourself. You could get mugged or sumthin.”

The stranger remained silent.

“Hey’d’you hear me, man? Said it—”

“What would you like me to say?” the figure asked. It was a voice that unnerved Ice Man, who found himself unexpectedly fumbling with his cigarette. It wasn’t the confidence in the voice that scared him, he’d dealt with confidence before…it was the edge. There was an edge to this man’s words that he’d never before experienced.

Ice Man’s confidence quickly eroded and he suddenly wondered if he had made a mistake. He wondered if he had been deserted by his gang.

Nervously, his eyes shot back and forth, looking for his crew. His tongue darted between parched lips.

It was so dark…

“Nothin, man, nothin—just give me your fuckin wallet—now!

Ice Man couldn’t believe he’d blurted it out. Just like that. Like a wet-behind-the-ears amateur. But he had. He wasn’t ready, and he wasn’t even sure his crew was set up, but the words had just come tumbling out like someone else was inside him, forcing his hand.

Intentions known, there was nothing left to do but go with it—and out from the shadows came the others and Ice Man felt, once again, in control.

“Bout time, man, I was wonderin where you all been.” Ice Man shifted nervously on his feet.

“We was waitin on your signal, is all,” another said.

The stranger remained quiet.

“Come on, man, your wallet. Now!” Ice commanded.

Quiet, subtle laughter came from the dark corner.

“Come and get it, you little bastards.”

 

Sister Mary Solicity pulled the blankets up over her. She didn’t like how her praying session had gone. No sooner had she begun her intense concentration when she’d exploded up and away from her pew, her mind reeling as if punched by a room-sized fist. There was something very evil out there and it was coming for her. She was sure of it. Seeking her.

Her specifically.

Buried beneath her blankets, Sister Mary Solicity again held up her rosary and nervously began to run the beads. But as she traveled down them, the beads fell from her hands. Uttering a mild curse, she began a Hail Mary and chaotically grasped for them beneath the blankets. Her hands found her legs instead. Nestled naively between them lay her rosary.

She closed her eyes…reached for the beads…but found flesh instead.

No—

(unclean)

But couldn’t resist…

(unclean)

…felt exhilarated…

(un–)

She dropped a hand to a leg and followed the soft flesh upward.

So supple.

Struggling against the urge, Solicity bit her lips every inch of the way.

Felt muscle. Pelvis.

(so firm)

(so warm)

Then all went limp as her caresses grew stronger, more meaningful…

(unclean!)

Hail Mary, full of grace…

 

The vampyre released the boy and allowed him to drop. His face had been rubbed down to bone, just for the pure enjoyment of it, and the brick wall behind them streaked with his remains. Except for one boy, no one was left standing. One young, eyes-frozen-wide child. The vampyre went directly to him, callously kicking his way through the body parts that littered the space between them.

This is going to be better than the rest; this one is utterly saturated with fear.

The boy had been spared to watch, held there under the monster’s control to experience new, heightened levels of fear as few mortals ever had.

Taking the boy gently into his grasp, the vampyre inhaled the scent of his fear like a fine bouquet. Then he gently brushed his nose alongside a small strip of the boy’s neck—

And lowered his reddened fangs.

 

Sister Mary Solicity leaped up from her bed and into the washroom, collapsing to the floor by her tub. Sobbing, she turned on the water and waited for it to reach a scalding temperature. She removed her hands from the folds of her gown and thrust them underneath the faucet, muffling her screams. Tears poured down her cheeks. She used soap under the burning water to speed the burnishing, then removed her clothing and entered the water. She kept the pain to herself as she ran the bar of soap between her soiled

(unclean!)

(vile!)

legs.

Wash the sins.

 

The boy collapsed in the vampyre’s hands, as the vampyre ripped his fangs away from the neck. The creature inspected the wound, and satisfied cast aside the body. It had been an exemplary feeding…almost too good…and he felt that he could have easily returned to his brood with what he had gotten from tonight’s kill—but that would be too easy.

He was determined to meet destiny.

To topple the pillars of the past. He was going to do it—had to—but had fed too much. The hunger for the kill was quickly diminishing and this he would not allow. He needed to hunger.

I will have my destiny. I will lead us forward.

Extending an arm, and baring a portion of it, he ripped a gash across the length of his forearm. He watched as the boy’s blood flowed out from his artery and onto the ground. He felt the bloating of his body give way and drain. There was an inner longing, an inner fear that balked and revolted at this act…but the creature remained firm and whipped the arm around him until he began to feel faint, weakened.

Yes….

 

Sister Mary Solicity went back to bed, cowered painfully as her seared skin scraped the underside of the blankets. Her rosary lay on the bedside table and she looked to it, daring not to touch it. Sister Mary Solicity gritted her teeth. Her body burned in places she dared not think about. She had hoped shock would set in and deliver her from her misery, but that would have been too easy.

Too easy, indeed.

(penance for my sins)

(penance)

The past few months had been increasingly difficult for Sister Mary as the unclean, unchristian thoughts assailed her. She was as lost as a stray lamb. Already she had sought the advice and counsel of her Lord, Mary, and all their counterparts, but no one seemed able to stem the rising tide. She was being tested, that much was for certain, and she was determined not to fail—this she must have told herself a hundred or more times—and she’d be damned if she couldn’t prove herself worthy of her Namesake, or her Lord. The other Sisters had warned her about this in the convent, but they had said it could be overcome if only one was pure enough of thought and deed—but had it been this tough for the others? Surely if they could weather such a storm, then she, too, could weather it as well. She was sure of it….

Sister Solicity fell into troubled sleep.

 

The vampyre arrived at his destination.

He felt her there…felt her delicious torment…her fear….

He rubbed his self-inflicted wound and recalled her discovery. Months ago he had found her…and bit by bit had begun planting his seeds of corruption. She had sown them well…and now it was time for the harvest—but vampyres were repugnant of religion and all that was Holy.

Or so he had been told.

Yet…what if religion wasn’t as powerful as it was made out to be?

What if it had all been a mental thing—a lie, an artificial barrier cleverly erected by humankind to trick the darker forces from their true heritage? And what if…in this supposed New Age of thought…this barrier could be removed and destroyed—proving to all that nothing was impossible and that a New Age was indeed dawning…but for the darker forces as well?

Then there would truly be no escape for man…and the boundaries of fear would be forever and unimaginably open and unfettered. The repercussions, infinite!

The creature stood before Sister Mary Solicity’s balcony casement. He no longer needed her admittance for entry. Never had. All he had need of was her fear…and the new blood she would supply him.

Summoning his power, he confidently glided through the windows and lighted down upon Sister Solicity’s wooden floor.

He was in!

Had not required anyone else’s permission save his own!

Excitement flooded his every sense as he realized that he had already broken one of the most cardinal of all tenets.

Here was one suspicion proved false—how many others were equally false?

The vampyre approached Sister Solicity’s bed, but found himself restrained by an unexpected barrier. Quickly he searched the room. Looking above the nun’s bed, he found the source of the obstacle.

A crucifix.

Nonsense! I will not limit himself! I must transcend the legends and myths of old…must create a New Order. I must.

Retreating a step, the vampyre closed his eyes.

Lies.

Lies, all lies!

Lies to be overcome! To be pushed aside!

Untruths, falsehoods….

The vampyre opened his eyes and continued forward…but still there was the opposition. Angrily he again closed his eyes and concentrated harder.

The only limits are those we choose to accept!

Astonishingly swift the vampyre bolted forward and yanked the crucifix from the wall, his fist bashing a hole through the wall as he took it. He cocked an arm back to throw the crucifix…when he hesitated.

The cross did not burn.

It did not sear.

It was just as lifeless and dense as anything else in the material world and caused no harm.

He brought in the cross closer and sneered at its deep mahogany finish. The metallic image of Jesus on the front. In its grooved backing was a small vial of water with a black cap. Holy water.

Chuckling, he opened his hand and allowed the crucifix to drop to his feet.

Come to me, my children.

I will corrupt all that is light.

All that is right.

You are mine.

Passing a hand over Sister Mary Solicity, her blankets rolled back.

There was one sure way to violate all that was pure and righteous. One sure way, which was feared by all who wore the Cloth. His grin exposed his teeth.

Come to me, Sister….

 

Solicity floated through her dream world awaiting her lover.

Their wedding had been a most blissful affair…and tonight was the consummation. They had both only barely been able to contain themselves…but that would be necessary no longer.

Solicity wore a sheer nightgown that barely covered her secrets, secrets no man had yet known—but something wasn’t right. There was something niggling at the back of her mind—

Her husband appeared.

He wore a black robe. His face was strangely obscured, but that was okay. Dropping the robe he slid in beside her, and Solicity’s excitement grew, especially as caresses were showered upon her…touching every part of her flesh…every part of her soul…

Solicity spread apart her legs to allow her husband’s entry and her mind wheeled with a dizzied passion!

It was unsettling…she couldn’t think straight…couldn’t retain her mental balance. All she knew was that her body was screaming to her of passions undreamed of and they were feelings with which she had nothing to compare to (continuing to deny her secret masturbations…). They rivaled the grace of her faith…and still…still there was this nagging voice inside her, growing louder, louder with each moment….

 

Unclean.

 

The vampyre spread apart Sister Mary Solicity’s lily-white legs and inhaled her scent. He longed for the kill…but had labored long and hard for the harvest. He was not about to waste the moment by taking huge gulps when controlled, delicate sips would suffice.

Welcome to the New Order, Sister Mary Solicity. You should be so honored to become the Mother of the Newly Damned. The Anti-Mary.

Laughing, he shed his clothes, entered the air above her…and entered her with demonic precision…

The more blood the better…and none of it would be wasted….

 

Solicity felt the hunger of her husband’s powerful intercourse…felt the exalted stimulation of all her senses into one oblivious experience. Felt the itchiness that accompanied the organ’s internal abrading

Pain? Was it supposed to be painful

The nagging, unquantifiable specter was no longer at the back of her mind. The knowing had finally made its way through to the surface.

Solicity, you’re a nun. A Sister of Mary, Bride of Christwhat are you doing?

Sister Mary Solicity tried to throw off the body atop her, yet the man gleefully continued his violation. Sister Mary Solicity sucked in air as the man lifted his head—revealed his face.

Hello, Sister Solicity. Are you enjoying our consummation?

She saw a face pallid and evil…eyes red and blazing without pupils.

Teeth…elongated and razored.

Breath that came from the grave.

I’m so glad we could finally meet, Sister, I’ve been so looking forward to our rendezvous.

Sister Mary Solicity tried to fight, but was pinned. There was more to the attack then the body above. There was the body within.

Sister Mary Solicity screamed.

 

She had hoped that the nightmare would be over upon awakening, but this, again, would have been much too easy.

She awoke groggily to his continued defilement and disjointedly looked about herself. The pain was unimaginable…blood everywhere…her gown was torn and the scent of their sex permeated everything like an unholy death-stink.

She screamed uncontrollably, but nothing seemed to come out of her mouth. But as she continued to look about the familiar aspects of her life, she was struck by…by the pleasure her rape now seemed to afford her…of the fullness and erotica that split her open to the meat of her soul. Arms outstretched above her, she brought them down to her face.

There was blood there, too.

More around her neck.

This feels good, she realized…real good.

Continuing down with her arms, Solicity wrapped them around the body atop her.

I want more. Give me more. Give it to me!

Solicity wrapped her legs around the vampyre and pulled him in deeper.

It’s not so bad, is it Sister? There’s so much more to lifemore to deaththen either of us ever realized, isn’t there? Whoever thought the Anti-Christ would be a nun!

Sister Mary Solicity heard nothing of his words, her senses immersed in the mounting explosion within, and her screams were no longer of pain, but of passion.

She clawed the vampyre in her orgasmic rage.

Consider our new relationship consummated, Sister.

The vampyre rose from her and allowed Solicity’s legs to collapse wide.

Ah, how I love that smell, Sister. You are now mine and our New Age has dawned! There are no limitations, as I suspected!

Ecstatic, the vampyre rose to his full height, hovering in the air above the defiled nun.

But something unexpectedly hit him.

Hammered him.

Hammered him hard and without mercy…continued to grow…

Yes, something else dawned.

The sun.

The monster whipped around and looked out the casement windows, and what he saw was the topmost edge of a golden disk.

His eyes bulged.

But there are no limitationsI have proven it! I have proven it!

The vampyre watched as the sun grew in size…watched as the rays painted the landscape in hellish shades of reds and oranges.

Sister Mary Solicity lay in bed and brought her hands down to her thighs. Looked over to the vampyre, who, naked, stood transfixed before the opened window. She watched…quietly moaning to herself…watched as the sun’s morning rays broke above the windowsill and traveled up the length of the vampyre’s dark body…puffs of smoke spontaneously rising from him.

This is my New Age! Mine! There are no limitations, only legendslegends and chains!

Solicity watched as the vampyre turned to her…watched as the sun now hit him full on.

I am the Lord of

And watched as he blew up in an explosion of graveyard rot. Clumps of his corpse splattered the walls, the ceiling, and her face—

Sister Mary Solicity masturbated.

 

The Sister readjusted her habit.

She grimaced at the memories she relived, at the inquisition she had been made to endure. She had been heavily counseled and later deemed fit to resume her duties. The rape had been a test of her will by the Lord (she had been told) and she had handled it with all the strength and grace worthy of any in the Sisterhood. In fact, her status among the others had actually been elevated. She was proud to have been allowed to stay on and that she was much the better for her experiences.

She was told.

The incident had changed her for the better in ways unimaginable…everyone could see. And no longer had she any problems with

(unclean)

unchristian thoughts.

She was finally able to sleep. Her performance was better…better that anybody else’s. She possessed incredible, renewed energy.

She grinned.

Her entire body bucked. Her arms supported her at the attic windowsill. Enough was enough.

“Okay, that will be all. You may go, now,” she said flatly, and righted herself, smoothing her habit back down over her hips and legs.

The groundskeeper reeled back, exhausted, and wiped away his excess as he pulled up his pants.

“I don’t know how—”

“Silence! I bid you no conversation—you know the rules. Begone!”

The groundskeeper cinched his belt and a lustful grin formed on his face. Nodding, he picked up his tools and left. Adjusted his pants.

Sister Mary Solicity listened to his clumsy descent down the stairs and watched as he exited the building. He looked back once, over his shoulder. She’d have to punish him for that. She came closer to the window and readjusted her attire. It kept sliding off and was growing more annoying with each day. Reaching to the habit’s guimpe, she ripped it off, revealing the two small, healing puncture wounds on her neck.

Yes, there would be a New Order all right—but first, first there were going to be some changes around here…some new legends born….

 

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

The Chain Letter

Pass it Foreword! It Work! (Image by F. P. Dorchak, © 2015)

Pass it Foreword! It Work! (Image by F. P. Dorchak, © 2015)

Back before e-mail and the Internet, there were these things called “chain letters.” Actual letters that randomly circulated to the “unlucky” for immediate global dissemination and unheralded good luck upon the recipient. I received the exact chain letter in this story, and—except for the rest of this story—did exactly what Tyler Stevens did in the beginning of the story: dissected it for shits-and-grins. I had time on my hands back then.

Had these things started out as gags or bullying tactics?

Who knows.

I don’t believe in them. Chucked it or shredded it all those many years ago.

But then again…I am still waiting for my publishing career to take off….

I’m also changing up my short story links to my Short Story page. It’s much easier to manage all the links than putting them all down at the bottom of each post, which I have to constantly update and approve—individually—each time I post a story.

This story has never been published. Or copied. Or propagated. Or….

 

The Chain Letter

© F. P. Dorchak, 1994

 

“This paper has been sent to you for good luck. The original copy is in New England: It has been around the world nine times. The luck has now been sent to you, providing you act on it. You will receive good luck within four days of recieving this letter provided you sent it back out. THIS IS NO JOKE. You will receive it in the mail.

“Send copies to people you know. Don’t send money, as Fatehas no price. Do not keep this letter. It must leave your hands within 96 hours. An R.A.F. officer received $70,000.00. Jim Teller recieved $40,000.00 and lost it because he broke the chain. While in the Phillipines, George Weh lost his wife six days after recieving the letter. He failed to circulate the letter, however, before her death she won $50,000.00 in a lottery. The money was transferred to him four days after he decided to mail out this letter.

“Send 20 copies of htis letter and see what happens in four days. The chain comes from Venezuela and was written by Samir de Tressoint, a missionary from South America. Since the copy must have a tour of hte world, you must maske 20 copies and send them out or suffer possibly dire consequences. This is true, even if you are not superstitious.

“Beware: Cervantes Diego received the chain in 1943. He asked his secretary to make 20 copies and send them out. A few days later he won a lottery of two million dollars. Arian Dardamaix, an office employee, received the letter and forgot it had to leave his hands within 96 hours. He lost his job. Later, after finding the letter again, he mailed out 20 copies. A few days later he got a better job. Darian Fairfax received the letter and not believing threw it away. Nine days later he died. Be fair warned!

“Don’t ignore this!

“IT WORK!”

 

“What the hell is this?” Tyler Stevens asked himself, turning over the letter. The quality of the lettering was poor, no doubt because of repeated copying, and there were stains on its tri-folded and crinkled paper.

“Shit, this guy can’t even spell ‘receive.’ And what’s with this have-good-luck-or-die business?”

Tyler had just returned home from a game of tennis with his girlfriend, Dyanne Foster, and he was tired, sweaty, and hungry. He was in no mood for stupid human tricks. On his way to the hot, comforting, spray of a shower, he cast aside the letter.

The chain letter quietly smoldered under the table.

 

Tyler sat in front of his television, spaced out to some documentary that droned on about middle America and the construction industry. Getting up, he went over to where he last remembered tossing the letter, found it, and picked it up. It seemed somewhat more wrinkled than he recalled.

Fucking chain letters.

He wondered how much time he had before death or dismemberment.

Four days. 96 hours.

He took the letter back with him to the couch and Reread it. Several things immediately stood out.

First, beyond the obvious imperfections in English and punctuation (and he was no expert), why would somebody who claimed to be a missionary send out a threatening letter? Good luck!—but disregard this and you die! Just what kind of missionary would this person be? And wouldn’t de Tressoint himself (or whoever possessed the original letter) himself die? The letter did say not to retain it, so who could be in possession of an original?

And next, how does this person know that the letter made one let alone nine trips around the world? If its sole purpose was to make that trip—which it had apparently already had—then why was it necessary to continue?

And just what did the original look like? Assuming that the letter actually brought about money and employment, it had to exist prior to the deeds themselves. So, this being the case, the incidents cited had to be added after the fact—which meant that the letter had to have been tampered with.

Provided, of course, all of this was for real. Which it wasn’t.

So who did the tampering?

And who the hell were Jim Elliot, George Weh, Arian Dardamaix, and Darren Fairfax, anyway? Made-up names, no doubt. And how do we know that their specific “luck” was directly attributable to this particular piece of paper and not something else? How do we also know that some prim and proper English Royal Air Force Officer would even remotely admit to such a humiliating act as this? Officers, let alone British officers were bastions of strength and logic—not prone to silly superstitions and patronizing threats.

Tyler set the letter aside and went into the kitchen. He grabbed a wine cooler from the refrigerator, returned to the couch, and continued to pick apart the letter.

It was really no big deal that a husband inherited money from a deceased wife. Sure, it was a bummer his wife kicked after winning all that money, but wasn’t something like that a legal given? And how do we know that the woman who kicked wasn’t already well on her way to begin with?

Same with the others who’d died.

And the man who asked his secretary to make copies for him—how many businessmen (like those British officers) do you know who’d admit to being superstitious even if they were? Citing names didn’t lend any more credibility to a piece of fraud then the paper it was written on.

But back to the “original.”

What might it look like?

Tyler fumbled through a coffee-table drawer and came up with a number-three pencil. He hated being threatened, which was exactly what this letter was doing. He began lining out everything that couldn’t possibly have been in an original, and corrected any misspellings. The end result turned out something like this:

 

“This paper has been sent to you for good luck! The original copy is in New England. The luck has now been sent to you, providing you act on it. You will receive good luck within four days of receiving this letter provided you send it back out. THIS IS NO JOKE. You will receive it in the mail.

“Send copies to people you know. Don’t send money, as Fate has no price. Do not keep this letter. It must leave your hands within 96 hours.

“Send out 20 copies of this letter and see what happens in four days. The chain comes from Venezuela. Since the copy must have a tour of the world, you must make 20 copies and send them out. This is true, even if you are not superstitious. Be fair warned!

“Don’t ignore this!

IT WORKS!

 

Aside from the suffering “…possibly dire consequences,” and “Be fair warned,” which didn’t fit the overall tone of the letter, there was no mention of death or destruction—just that it had to leave the hands of the recipient and make a tour of the world if good luck was to be had.

Now that sounded more like something a missionary might send.

Next question: who would add to the letter (okay, so this one wasn’t all that difficult—any Tom, Dick, or Harriet who felt so inclined over the years)? But who could possibly even know what had happened to these people, and (more importantly) what had happened as a direct result of this letter?

Not possible. It was all fiction.

Tyler looked for the envelope, a torn and crumpled ball in the brown Albertson’s shopping bag he used as a trash receptacle. Who would have sent this to him? Of course there was no return address…and his address (which was a qualified correct with its missing apartment number and typoed street address) wasn’t even centered on the envelope. Instead, it sat skewed high and to the envelope’s left of center. His last name was typed first. The zip code was correct only after a wrong digit had been over-typed. This couldn’t have been anyone who knew him. On a hunch he went to the phone book. Sure enough, the address used was the one listed in the white pages, which had no mention of his apartment number, or zip code.

Clearly a class act.

There was just no way that certain things could possibly have been known in this letter. It was either that the letter—the original—was real and subsequently altered, thereby making the one he had no longer valid, or that it was written up as-is and sent out—definitely a hoax. Or—

There were other means involved.

Supernatural means.

“Bullshit.”

Tyler again trashed it.

 

The remainder of the week continued uneventfully and Tyler all but forgot about his chain letter—except for the rare moment or two when he found himself inexplicably making twenty copies of a magazine article…or the phone bill. Or buying that box of Mead 100 (twenty-times-five), white, 4 1/8 by 9 1/2-inch envelopes.

After finishing a later than usual work-out session at the gym, Tyler came home and showered. Afterward he soon fell into a deep sleep and slept soundly until three in the morning, when an uneasiness invaded his dreams. It was as if he dreamed of nothing but blackness…a deep, evil blackness that never ended. He tossed about in bed, unable to awaken…unable to break the dream’s hold.

The dream-darkness expanded within him like icicles of terror were actually invading his body. He dreamed of a beautiful woman who came to him from afar…a woman who seductively pressed herself against him…taunted and seduced him. They entwined…consummated. The scent of their lovemaking cloying, rich. The woman lay beside him, face down. He couldn’t look to her without becoming again instantly, painfully aroused. Slowly, he reached out to her. She rolled over to his touch…

Come fuck me again,” she hissed.

The woman’s once-beautiful face was now misshapen and hideous. Punctuated with open sores and something running just beneath the surface of her odious, discolored skin. Her eyes were black and pupil-less and ran freely with a discolored puss. She cackled at Tyler, and he vomited. A wicked tongue shot out of the hag’s black, distorted mouth-that-looked-more-like-a-gash and licked up the vomit. Tyler tried to run…to break the hag’s dominance, but the hag’s tongue split apart and wrapped around his face, his torso, and down around his

 

Tyler shot up in bed and screamed, frantically running his hands all over his body.

A river of sweat ran off him.

He fell over in bed—then uttered another shriek as he fell onto the side of the bed where the hag was and whipped his body over to the other side of the bed.

His screams slowly died in his throat as he buried his face into the bedsheets and clawed them from their tucks and folds….

Opening his eyes he stared into the red glow of his alarm clock.

Three-ten, no, -eleven.

Stop. Regroup.

Closed his eyes, still clawing at the bedsheets

The room smelled differently….

A nightmare.

Sweating, he slowed his breathing to a more normal rate and rolled back over. Cast a quick look to where the hag had ben—in his dream.

Empty. That side of the bed was empty…no vomit, no pus, no….

He reached down to himself. He uttered a sound of disgust. Wet dream, alright.

His stomach revolted.

He rolled over onto his side…and came face to face with the puss-leaking, diseased face from his nightmare. She lay in bed beside him, tongue flicking in and out of her knotted gash-of-a-mouth.

Come fuck with me,” she croaked.

Her noxious and grating words blasted through Tyler like a pair of cranked, thousand-watt speakers.

Tyler squealed like a stuck pig and exploded out of bed, blankets and sheets still wrapped around him. He tripped over himself and the attached sheets and smashed over one of his dressers’ lamps as he vacated the room in one gigantic bound. In the darkness he ran into a wall and

come fuck with me I love a good fuck

laid himself out—

come fuck with me I love a good fuck

—but just as he was blacking out, Tyler saw the hag descend upon and straddle his….

come fuck with me I love a good fuck….

 

Tyler awoke groggily and leaned up against the bedroom doorjamb. Felt the painful bump and dried blood on his forehead. The bathroom lights were still on, but were now paled against the early morning sunlight. His mouth felt like an empty tree trunk with moss growing inside it and his neck was as stiff as a two-by-four. He slowly picked himself up and twisted the kinks out of his body. Looked to the blankets tangled in his legs.

How had he gotten here?

Tyler looked back to his bedroom. One of his lamps missing.

He shuffled out from the tangled sheets and returned to the bedroom. Found the lamp scattered about the carpet like a murder victim, its bulb smashed and lampshade torn.

His bed was deserted.

All his sheets were in a pile that lead into the hallway, where he had awoken. He threw himself down on the bed.

What the hell’d happened?

Clammy and shaking, Tyler didn’t feel at all well. Pushing himself up off the bed, his hand narrowly missed a dried, discolored stain on the sheets.

And there was just a hint of pungency to the air….

Nothing a good shower couldn’t fix.

 

After buying new, 60-watt light bulbs and a lampshade, Tyler hurriedly rushed home to clean up and meet Dyanne for their one p.m. tennis date. Showers were great, but when the hot water ran out it was time to get moving. It wasn’t that Tyler had a shower fetish, but there did seem to be nothing a warm shower couldn’t remedy and that’s what he loved about them.

Changing quickly, he made it out to the courts. Dyanne stood by the fence, waiting impatiently.

“What took you so long?” she asked, her words laced more than a little with annoyed attitude. Her racket swung casually from her two-fingered, I’m-not-at-all-happy-with-you-right-now grip. “These courts are severely booked—”

“I’m sorry, honey, but I had a rough night—”

“Oh?” she said, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow.

Oh, that accusatory eyebrow.

“No-no-no, that’s not what I meant—I mean, I did have a rough night—but not from—look, I had a nightmare and ended up sleeping on the hallway floor, okay? Had to replace a broken lamp.”

Dyanne’s I’m-pissed look took on a softer look. “Excuse me?

“The funny thing is, I can’t remember a damned thing about it, just that it scared the crap out of me.”

Embarrassed, Dyanne lowered her voice and uncrossed her arms.

“I’m sorry. Are you all right?”

“Yeah. I just had to pick up some new light bulbs and a new shade. I broke a lamp.”

“God, what happened? Can’t you remember any of it?” She moved in closer, brushing away some of Tyler’s bangs.

“Nope. Just that something literally scared the piss out of me. But, it was just a dream—now, let’s play some tennis!”

 

Dyanne and Tyler were deep into their second match, the score 30-40. Dyanne served the ball. Fault. Her next serve made it, but drew Tyler to the far end of the court. He barely snagged the shot before his own return forced Dyanne up to the net. Her return forced Tyler back to the rear and caused him to miss. Deuce.

Dyanne retrieved the ball and again served, spiking this one just inside the white rectangle. It whizzed past Tyler, who missed the most perfect serve he’d ever see.

“Ha, lover, my game! Oww….”

Dyanne was so cute in her pink shorts as she pirouetted about the court.

“Nother game, hon-ey?”

“Sure, but this time I win!”

Tyler set up and served. Dyanne picked it up easily enough and her return sent Tyler scurrying back across court. She was giving him a good workout, but his quick backhand sliced it to a sharp left. Dyanne rushed to meet it…and missed it by a hair.

The next scene suddenly slowed down.

Like a person unsure of what it was he was witnessing, Tyler watched as Dyanne performed a neatly executed forward spin from the momentum of her missed swing…her racket slowing left her hands and flew into the chain-link fence. She spun around for a second turn, moving backwards and towards the chain-link fence that enclosed the courts…her hands going up before her face.

She smiled just as she clenched the galvanized, crisscrossed wires of the fence.

Something’s wrong here, Tyler sensed, terrible wrong….

He couldn’t have known that a section of the fence’s wire had raised itself into tiny little barbs just where Dyanne’s hands were now planting themselves…but that’s exactly what happened.

As Dyanne made contact, she screamed…

And life returned to normal play.

Tyler sprinted across the court to Dyanne, who was now cupping her hands into her chest. Tyler leapt over the net and quickly came to her, her a tight grimace of pain.

“What’s the matter—what’s the matter—are you all right? Dyanne?

Tyler crouched down on the court. She was in a heap, leaning back against the fence. “Dyanne—let me see!

Tyler pulled her hands away from her chest and saw the blood that remained on her shirt and exposed skin of her upper chest. Lots of it.

Taking her bloody hand into his, Tyler felt his stomach

(come fuck with me I love a good fuck)

knot.

Her hand was torn to pieces.

Most of the flesh on the underside of her palm and fingers had been brutally torn away.

“Oh my…God. We’ve got to get you to a doctor!”

The other players on the court had now all stopped their games and looked on. Some turned away in disgust.

“Someone, please,” Tyler pleaded, “call an ambulance—please!” One man broke free from his daze and ran off in search of the payphone.

Tyler looked up to the fence where Dyanne’s hand had landed only seconds before and found it stood as nonchalant as ever—and there were indeed raised barbs on it. There were also droplets of blood…and what looked exactly like bits of Dyanne’s skin clinging to those barbs.

Come fuck with meI love a good fuck….

 

Tyler took Dyanne home to her apartment and stayed with her. She looked so vulnerable…so helpless…and reminded him of a puppy, named Sheena, he’d once had as a kid. Sheena had been running loose one day, as did most dogs out in the country, when she finally met the front-end bumper of a ’67 Ford truck. She’d managed to limp off to the roadside, but could go no further and collapsed in the tall grasses, her left rear leg broken. The driver, a farmer from down the road, felt terrible and took her to the local vet, footing her bill. Sheena was back on her feet in no time, her rear leg bandaged in white and her tail wagging, but whenever it rained the family had to wrap her leg in plastic bags until she healed. Needless to say, she never ran free again.

So there rested Dyanne, her right hand bandaged white and lying on her chest, which rose and fell to her (finally) relaxed breathing. They had watched television all night and it was quite clear that Dyanne had plans that evening that totally involved a quiet night’s rest. As she fell asleep on her couch, Tyler picked her up and carried her into her bedroom. He gently lay her down in bed, took off her bathrobe, and eased her beneath the crisp bedsheets. Once she was properly situated, Tyler also disrobed and slid in beside her. He loved the feel of her warm skin against his and wrapped his arms around her. He fell asleep thinking about how much he loved her and hoped she’d be okay.

 

The alarm clock had gone off several minutes before either had noticed it, but Dyanne was the first to stir. She slammed it off with her bandaged hand and winced from the impact. She turned to Tyler, who still lay with his arms around her. Very mindful of her injury, Dyanne repositioned herself and kissed Tyler on the forehead.

“Time to get up, sleepyhead.”

Tyler stirred, eyes still closed. Dyanne gave him another kiss, then nudged him slightly.

“C’mon, honey, time to get up. I’ve got to get to work.”

This time Tyler responded with a soft smile.

“Hi.”

“Hello, morning breath.” She smiled back. “What do you want to eat?”

Tyler said nothing, but instead rolled in closer to her.

“Fine, be that way, I’m taking a shower.”

Dyanne climbed out of bed and went into the bathroom, starting the shower.

“Don’t let that bandage get wet,” Tyler shouted from the other room. “Wrap it in a

(Sheena)

bag or something—”

“Don’t worry, I heard the doctor too!” Dyanne said. Poking her head back into the bedroom, she added, “But thanks for caring.”

“Any…time.”

Dyanne felt silly doing it, but she got out a used Oroweat bread bag from the kitchen and wrapped it around her bandage. Using a large rubber band saved from many paper deliveries she secured it and returned to the shower. She tested the water before entering by inserting her good hand. By this time Tyler was ready for movement and slowly crawled out of bed. He took in the sounds of running water and Dyanne’s periodic splashing sounds from the shower.

Smiled. Got out of bed.

“May I join you?” Tyler asked, entering the shower stall.

“Anytime, stranger.”

“May I soap that gorgeous body of yours?”

“It depends on what else you have in mind.”

“Watch the hand—”

Riiight,” she said, and came in closer.

 

Come fuck with me, I love a good fuck.

 

As the next few days progressed, Tyler found himself accumulating scars and bruises of all kinds…just little ones here and there, and in themselves they wouldn’t have been any big deal—except that Tyler collected them for no apparent reason. He’d wake up with a new one (or two) each morning. Dyanne, of course, also detected them and Tyler explained them away as one of those periods in life when you seemed to be the world’s klutziest person and there was nothing you could do about it.

But everywhere he turned things went wrong.

Checks bounced…a twenty-hour bug found a home…and yesterday he scraped the side of a car as he parallel parked—and he prided himself on how good a parallel-parker he was.

Tyler and Dyanne went for a walk after a late lunch at la Petite Conchon. Early evening rapidly approached and traffic was a bit on the heavy side as people headed home for an early weekend.

“Thanks for lunch, hon,” Tyler said.

“It was the least I could do after all you seemed to be going through this week. I wanted to do something special. Maybe it’ll break the

(twenty copies)

(raised barbs)

“spell, or whatever.”

“Yeah, well, we’ll see. Let’s cross here,” Tyler said, checking traffic. “I’ve got to get going. There’s something I need to do.”

“Okay,” Dyanne said, smiling, “but first, this—” She pulled Tyler into her arms and planted him with a deep, lengthy kiss. “I love you!”

Tyler held her with a penetrating look.

“And I love you—more than anything else in the world—now, come on!”

Grabbing her good hand, Tyler led her out into the street, a section of the traffic now clear, but as Dyanne followed, her pocketbook bumped against her side and out fell her checkbook. Halfway across the road.

“Wait!”

“Wait what? We’re in the middle of traffic!” Tyler came to a halt three-quarters of the way across the street.

“I dropped something!” Dyanne broke his grip and went back for her checkbook.

Tyler searched the road for what Dyanne had dropped.

Everything slowed down….and came the whispers…

come fuck with me, I love a good fuck…

come fuck with me, I love a good fuck…

comefuckwithmeIloveagoodfuckcomefuckwithmecomefuck

Tyler turned to see a large, black car moving towards them. He opened his mouth to scream—but nothing came out.

Dyanne bent down to pick up the book

(come fuck with me I love a good fuck)

and looked up to him, a smile across her face as she triumphantly waved the errant checkbook at him.

Come fuck with me I love a good fuck!

He saw her look around for traffic.

comefuckwithmeagoodfuckIlove

Saw her spot the car.

a good fuck a really good fuck

Saw her arms go up.

I love it I love it

Her hips connected first.

The sound of her bones breaking against the metal reverberated hollowly in a universe gone lag.

A good fuck I love

Tyler saw her head and face unite with the windshield in a spurt of gore and glass…her teeth and gums gnashed horribly together.

One of Dyanne’s hands flopped off to one side of the car as she molded to the hood.

And that was not all Tyler had seen.

He saw the face of the driver…the face of the hag from his nightmare.

The lightbulb.

The stained bedsheets.

The nightmare.

Dyanne’s body rolled off the vehicle and landed with a thump. Bumped about once or twice more before coming to a rest.

For what seemed an eternity, her head lolled limply from side to side.

The car continued on in its course.

Tyler was unable to move. Forced to watch. He realized what kind of car had hit her.

A hearse.

 

Tyler was still shaking when he got home. He’d spent the rest of the day and half the night at the police station and related matters and could barely hold himself up. He was sick to his stomach.

But he had found the paper.

Did what had to be done.

Was spent…had no more will. Collapsed to the living-room floor, tears streaking his face. He lay still. Thought about George Weh’s wife and Darian Fairfax. About twenty-times-five and four-and-one-eighth-by-nine-and-one-half-inch envelopes.

Felt an unexpected urge for a shower.

(wash the sins)

Needed to.

Sobbing, he looked to the bathroom.

The light was on.

He didn’t remember turning it on…but that didn’t matter.

Nothing mattered. He’d lost Dyanne. Lost everything.

He dragged himself to his feet and made his way to the bathroom. Kicked off his shoes and removed his clothes.

Found the shower running.

Nice and

(it didn’t matter)

hot.

Steam filled the bathroom.

It just didn’t

(nothing did)

matter.

Naked and trembling, Tyler stepped into the shower and felt the warmth penetrate his skin. He collapsed into the bottom of the tub.

Whispers came from the spray.

(nothing mattered)

Did you have a good fuck?

“Fuck you!” Tyler yelled.

Did you have a good fuck? I did.

“Fuck you,” he sobbed and closed his eyes. The whispers chuckled.

The hag’s face formed in the mist above.

I had a great fuck, Tyler, now it’s your turn.

On ran the whispers. The face disappeared.

Tyler lay in the bottom of the tub, adrift in his misery. He ignored the fact that the shower had grown hotter (it didn’t matter); spikier (nothing mattered)….

It just didn’t matter one goddamned bit.

Tyler tried to right himself when he noticed that the water had become downright painful. Not hot painful, but spiked painful. He looked down to his body and saw the red.

Was it something in the water?

Felt disjointed. Resigned. He collapsed back inside the tub and let the warmth flow over him.

Through him.

Around him.

His last thoughts were of Dyanne.

Tiny daggers…no larger than short pins…screamed down from the thundering shower head and tore and ripped and penetrated into his body.

Ripped through his nerves and burst open his organs.

Razored blades that clattered down along the plastic surface towards the drain like iron filings to a magnet.

It wasn’t long before his heart had ruptured into an explosion of red that filled the tub and spattered the walls.

Tyler floated….

The water rained down upon him…washing away the filth….

The sins.

Tyler’s body lay empty.

It just didn’t matter anymore.

It never did.

 

At a rickety and battered table sat an ancient, diseased woman. Her hair was greasy and gray and her veins filled with bile and hate. Her life reeked of a different kind of cancer not of cigarettes or cells.

But she liked writing letters. Got real good at it, in fact.

Having no friends, she wrote them to no one in particular. She just wrote—not that many would willingly read what it was she had to say. She didn’t much like people, and that was okay, because people, it turned out, didn’t much care for her. She didn’t have a name, didn’t need one. People used names for identity. To be proud. She had no need of either.

She just wrote.

But this time she received a letter.

One that found its way to her doorstep.

She had no mailbox.

She found the letter while on the way to the woods with an eviscerated cat. She liked gutting cats, they were fun. Dogs were too big. She liked cats.

Collecting the letter in her rickety hands, which had no return address, she sat down at her table and inspected it.

Who would write her?

How did it get here? No matter, maybe she could return the favor.

She opened the splotched and unevenly sealed envelope and removed the contents. Unfolded the paper. She read the few, hastily scrawled words beneath the poorly typewritten paragraphs first. It was then that her yellowed orbs screamed wide. She heaved the letter away, which smoldered and disintegrated before it hit the floor.

Tried to outdistance what was to come.

The old lady tumbled furniture as she fled.

Heard noises in pursuit.

Ran into the living room. A wide, spacious living room. She used to be rich once. Had a big house.

The whispers grew, filled the building.

Words that became audible and loud.

You know what they whispered.

 

Pass it on. IT WORKS!

 

Short Story Links

Links to all my posted short stories are here.

 

Pikes Peak Library’s Mountain Of Authors 2016

Anne Hillerman at MOA 2016

Anne Hillerman at MOA 2016

If something is holding you back…something is also pulling you forward.” Mario Acevedo.

This past Saturday I attended the Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD’s) annual Mountain of Authors (MOAs) event, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This was my second year in attendance, and I continued to have a blast meeting and talking with others interested in books! It was held at the north end’s Library 21C.

There were two panels and one Keynote Speaker—who was Anne Hillerman, Tony Hillerman’s daughter and an author in her own right. People were allowed to mingle with the authors throughout the day’s events. We had full tables to ourselves, as authors, and I got to share the neighborhood with Kevin Ikenberry, who I’d met and been on panels with at last year’s MileHiCon. Good to see you again, Kevin!

It’s A Mystery!

This was the first panel, moderated by K. D. Huxman, and its panelists were Nancy Atherton, Robert Greer, and Manuel Ramos. All manner of questions were asked of our panelists, about writing, being a writer, being a mystery writer. A couple of responses from the panelists grabbed me, so I wrote them down:

I’m surprised at the sheer volume of writing out there.” Robert Greer. Mr. Greer also went on to say how he misses the old days, when editors really edited material and there was better quality being published. I have to agree with him!

I still think being a writer is a big deal.” Manuel Ramos.

“Good writers steal from other good writers.” Manuel Ramos. The context was that all good writers learn from other good writers…so we’re not talking about plagiarism, here!

Read as broadly as you can.” Nancy Atherton. I do agree!

It’s more important to read than to write.” Robert Greer. I don’t know that I agree with him, here, but the point is well-made!

You never become really good at anything unless you do it over and over and over.” Robert Greer. I’d been in conversation at my table with a person who was having difficulty finishing a book he’d been working on, and that was one of the things I’d told him: persistence.

Write the book you need to write…don’t set out to ‘write a genre.'” Nancy Atherton. She was talking about don’t worry what genre your book is, just write it…don’t worry about it…and let the book be what it will be. I liked that.

Be an observer of life.” Robert Greer. Definitely. I always find myself observing life, nature, people, situations….

10th Anniversary!

The next panel was in celebration of the 10th anniversary of MOA. This panel was moderated by Shannon Miller and consisted of Mario Acevedo, Sandra Bond, and Kristen Heitzmann. I thought it was also cool that it also marked Mario Acevedo’s 10th year of being published, with his Felix Gomez vampire series. Congratulations, Mario!

While there was a lot said during this panel, I didn’t seem to write down much, perhaps because I was too drawn into the conversations and humor (Mario used to be an Army pilot and had sign in his chopper’s cockpit with an arrow pointing up)! I kept trying to write quotes down—when another one was ripped off, and I’d lose the thread of the previous one! With a couple of exceptions, I just stopped taking notes and listened. Guess I wouldn’t make a very good journalist.

Here is what I did manage to snag:

Paperback books are making it too easy to read!” Mario Acevedo paraphrasing old tyme publishing. Mario was talking about how at the turn of the previous century, publishing was whining about the advent of paperback books! That—much like ebooks today—publishers were crying the sky was falling with the advent of paperbacks! I’d also read some early descriptions of publishing and the issues-of-the-times, and found that there was always something being touted as the “End of the World” for publishing…absolutely no different than today. People are people…and we love to whine and cry about how bad things are gonna be…then we buck up and move forward.

Be in love with the story…the characters…don’t be thinking about selling.” I believe Kristen Heitzmann said this. I love this advice! You need to be in love with the world, the characters, the story you’re writing! If you’re not, it will show in your work, and no one will be moved/driven to tears/fascinated by your work.

There was talk about the resurgence of short stories. Apparently between 2004 – 2010 nothing was being bought in terms of short stories…but now…since around 2012…some short stories are being bought. This might have come from Sandra Bond. I find this kind of thinking so damned parochial. That “no one is buying anything” mindset in publishing. No matter how stellar an editor, a publishing executive, they are all prone to prejudices and bad decisions. Readers will read anything that’s good! And to “just discover” that today’s readers “have a half-hour there, and hour there” as they go about their lives utterly astounds me….

If something is holding you back…something is also pulling you forward.” Mario Acevedo. I found this to be perhaps the most profound statement all day! Not only does it fit in perfectly Newton’s Third Law of Motion, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,“…but it’s a terrific way to look at and deal with one’s publishing angst! Beautiful, Mario, simply beautiful!

Anne Hillerman

Anne’s Keynote speech detailed anecdotes about her father and her time with him, as well as the benefits of reading fiction. Reading fiction improves brain connectivity and function. One of the benefits-of-fiction discoveries was that reading fiction makes one more sympathetic with others. That people who read fiction were better able to look at pictures of people’s eyes and better determine how the person behind those eyes was feeling. Fascinating. It does kinda disturb me that there are people out there who just will not read fiction. For more information about this research, click here. Anne also took questions from the audience.

In Conclusion

While at MOA, I also met back up with several writer-friends I haven’t seen since the last MOA outing, Denver’s MileHiCon…or longer (one—Chris Goff—my God, it has to have been almost 30 years since we last saw each other). It was so great to see and talk to you all! And, yes, I am looking into this year’s RMFW Colorado Gold…which happened to have been the first-ever writer’s conference I’d ever attended some 30 years ago. I also have not attended it since that first time.

And a special thanks goes out to Darlene B., who is my wife’s client. It was so neat to finally meet her! She stopped by and began by saying that she’d known of my work for some 19 years. Thanks, Darlene, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to finally meet and talk with you!

And a tremendous Thank You! to all of the Pikes Peak Library District and all those who took part in putting this together! And thank you, Bryan Matthews, for again having me! I hope to be back for next year’s!

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Red Hands

Reaching Out Can Be A Scary Thing. (Image by mjchael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Reaching Out Can Be A Scary Thing. (Image by mjchael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

October 28, 2004 I was interviewed on a local radio station about things-paranormal. I’d met the station’s News Director and had noticed that she seemed, well…leery…of me (it was a “weird” handshake—she didn’t want to shake my hand!). Her name was Kina. After my interview I asked the DJs to show me to Kina’s office. They did and Kina and I had talked and had a great time joking around. She said that I didn’t seem so “scary” in and of myself! She told me part of “something” that is detailed in the excerpt, below.

As I left, I told her and the DJs I was going to write up a short story in honor of them about what Kina had told me. Below is an excerpt from my December 1, 2004 query letter to George Seithers, of Weird Tales (no, it didn’t get picked up) that details what Kina had told me:

Enclosed is “Red Hands,” a ghost story inspired by real events. I was interviewed on a local radio station, 95.1 The Peak, and the News Director had told a ghost story about seeing huge red hands come out of her bedroom walls (now I know why she gave me such a hard time about shaking my hand!) above her bed when she was a child in South Central Los Angeles. It apparently happened nearly every night, she says, so she used to sleep with her mother. Her grandmother felt that there was “something else” living there with them, but her mother never thought anything of it.

I wrote this fictional adult story using the real names of all involved (they’re all public figures, in radio, and I set it around my real interview with them). I didn’t know the whole story until after I’d written this.

The on-air staff said I could use their names, so, I’ve left their names in the story. But, while most of the names are real, some are not. I’ve tried to make contact with them “today,” but so far no luck.

This story has never been published.

Red Hands

© F. P. Dorchak, 2004

1

Kina Foster awoke screaming out her lungs as she leapt out of bed, blundered through her bed sheets and blankets, bounced off her bedroom wall, clipped her left elbow along the edge of her upright dresser, and flung herself out into the hallway, where she broke a nail madly scrambling for the light switch. She spun around as she began her collapse to the floor, several feet farther down the hallway at the top of the stairs. The only thing that kept her from tumbling headlong down those stairs was having whacked her head a good one on the edge of the stair’s handrail.

Dazed, she sat on the floor. Opened her eyes wide…and shook her head.

Kina sat back against the wall, inhaling huge gulps of air and groaning. She cradled her hurt elbow into her body and examined the broken and bleeding nail. She then winced as she closed her eyes and leaned her head all the way back to the wall. Reaching for the head wound, she grimaced. A tear trickled down her cheek and she began to sob.

But her throat was sore…

As if she’d been screaming.

Sniffling loudly, she opened her eyes and stared at the entrance into her bedroom.

Whathad just…happened?

What had just caused her to leap out of bed in a blind rage and end up a puddle of mush in her hallway?

She grabbed the handrail. Using it like an anchor, she tried—desperately—to recall…

Dreams. Blinding, horrific imagery she found hard to decipher. Screams, oh, God, the screams! Kina let go of the rail and slammed both hands to her ears.

She could still hear the screams!

And something had come to her…for her…followed her….

If something had followed her…would it stood to reason that it might still be in there?

Kina cautiously pushed herself up off the floor. She scanned the hallway for a weapon. She was across from the bathroom and looked in to the shower. The shower curtain hung part way open on its shower rod. One of those removable wooden poles that pressed against the walls with spring-loaded friction.

Kina shot to her feet and grabbed the shower-curtain pole, tearing it from the walls. Frantically, she knocked off the rubber cup on one end, and hastily pushed off the shower curtain. The pole was strong and solid. Stuck for years in its position, it didn’t compress or come apart. The longer the better.

Did she really believe something had followed her back from a dream? No. But she had to go back in there sometime…and to be forearmed was forewarned. Composing herself…and her new lance held forcibly out before her…Kina left the bathroom for the bedroom.

She flicked on the light switch as she entered it.

Images continued to fly through her mind, but she still couldn’t make out anything. The only thing she could grab and hold onto was an intense and acute sense of fear, pain, and dread that still had a hold over her. She coughed—her throat indeed sore—and glanced at her clock, which read just a little after two in the morning. And the late October winds were howling it up outside her windows. Pole tentatively held out before her, she slowly advanced toward her bed. She whipped to the right as she passed the door.

Nothing there.

Turning back to her bed, she examined the rumpled and pulled-back blankets and bed sheet. Poked at them with her lance.

More nothing.

Crouched and looked under the bed.

Additional nothings…but, just to make sure, she swiped the pole back and forth under the bed. Just dust bunnies, loose change, and a lost black sock she’d been looking for for almost six months. Back to her feet, Kina went to her closet and pushed open its folding accordion doors with the stick. Jabbed in and about her clothes.

Sweet nothings.

Kina stepped back and lowered her pole. Let out a strained chuckle.

“Good, Lord, it was only a dream.”

She went back out into the hallway and turned off the hallway light, still uttering the occasional nervous chuckle. When she reentered her bedroom, she stood in the middle of it listening to the high winds outside.

Late October…high winds…two-thirteen in the morning…and Hallowe’en in a couple days.

Yeah, no issues there.

Kina went to turn off the bedroom lights, when—quick as lightening—two hands thrust out at her from the wall…two red hands attached to red forearms.

Kina jerked backward, tripping over her feet, and slammed into the upright dresser, knocking it back against the wall with a load crack!

The red hands again thrust out after her, this time up from the floor at her feet.

Screaming and scrambling her feet under her in that pathetically cartoon-like manner, she finally gripped the hardwood floors and swung her pole wildly about her, smashing an antique picture up on the wall behind the upright dresser (that her mother had given her), her jewelry armoire to her left, and totaling her hanging bedroom light fixture above. This, unfortunately, popped her lance apart, shortening it by half, and sending the years-compressed spring ricocheting off a wall and onto the hardwood floor out of view.

Kina backed up against another wall—but the hands again found her, shooting out of the wall around her.

Once again crazy with fear, Kina swung what remained of the bathroom lance-now-baton directly at the spot on the wall from which the red hands had emerged. They were now gone, but that didn’t stop her from gouging out a good-sized chunk of wallpaper and wallboard.

She backed up to her doorway, when the hands again jut out for her. Kina swung her weapon and this time connected with her other dresser’s mirror, obliterating.

“Come on, you son-of-a-bitch! Show yourself, whatever you are! Come on!

She got back to her feet and angrily swung at walls and the bedroom, which was one of those cheap, hollow things. Her stick stuck in the door , and unable to pull free, she viciously kicked—slipped—and knocked herself out as she connected with the floor….

 

Kina entered her office at KRDO’s 95.1 (“The Peak”) radio station. She dropped her purse and bags on the floor, then dropped herself into her chair. Sucking on a throat lozenge, she coughed. Her throat was still raw. Shawnee, one of the D.J.s, poked her head into her office.

“You okay, hon?”

Kina barely looked up. Her back was to the door, but she glanced into the review mirror to the left of her computer.

“No…,” she said, her voice squeaking.

“What happened to your voice?” Shawnee asked, entering her office. “We heard you’d had some kind of accident.”

Kina again coughed.

“I had a really, really, really bad dream last night and screamed my head off. Ended up banging my elbow, breaking a nail,” she said in a half-whisper, displaying her wounds, “then smacked my head up real good.”

Kina lightly touched the bump on her noggin.

“Damn, girl, must’ve been some dream,” Shawnee said, trying not to laugh, but smiling broadly.

“Doctor said I’ll live…but I wondered if she’d been the right one for me….”

Shawnee let out a good laugh. She came in farther and leaned against the edge of Kina’s L-shaped desk, right up alongside her as she intently eyed her. She placed a concerned hand to Kina’s back, and said, “Anything you wanna talk about?”

Kina shook her head. “No…just wanna forget about it all. Get back into my every day routine, you know? I don’t really remember anything about it, anyway,” Kina said, lying.

Nothing? With all those war wounds?” Shawnee said, casually picking away at a stray piece of Kina’s hair.

Kina shook her head.

“Okay. Well…if you need anything, just let me know.” Shawnee again placed a concerned hand to Kina, then left.

Kina stared out her window.

What the hell had happened?

It had to have been a dream, right? Things like this just didn’t happen in real life. That’s Freddy Kruger talk and Freddy’s only a dream—a nightmare—a movie, damn it, a movie. She got herself so worked up and spooked she didn’t know which way was up.

Kina logged in on her computer and began to immerse herself into her work day. Jan Carter had already stood in for her while she’d been to the Emergency Room. Time to get back into her everyday routine….

 

“…seven-fifty-seven, Steve Ryan, Dave Moore—and Kina, we’re sorry to say that we have some scary news for ya. We have author F. P. Dorchak, here in the studio with us,” Steve Ryan, of the Peak Morning Show said on-air to Kina.

“My door is closed,” Kina roughly replied back into her mike from her office, “and it’s barricaded!

Steve and Dave chuckled.

“We’re going to talk about the paranormal and ghosts,” Steve Ryan continued, “and, ah, how they interrupt our daily life and the whole deal, so, ah, I don’t know—you better just, ah, keep that door shut—”

“You know, I work with you two, so I just don’t know how much stranger normal life can get…,” Kina said, laughing.

Oh, but she did.

She hadn’t been able to not think about the events of the early morning. And now add to it that the station was doing a whole week of “weird stuff” …ghost stories…astrologers…psychics.

Now, who was this new guy? An author who wrote paranormal fiction? What was the attraction to this stuff?

She’d never been big on it…well, perhaps more to the point was that she had never been big on it, because she’d always been afraid of it. Ever since she’d been a little girl and her parents had told her about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and that darned headless horseman, she’d never been able to get into anything spooky. Now, she had no choice…she’d awoken this morning to her own personal Freddy Kruger reaching out to her—her—and this wasn’t a movie and it hadn’t been a dream—but it had to of been, right?

Crap like this just didn’t happen outside the movies and books! It just didn’t…it’s like what that guy in there right now does, it’s all made up—fiction.

What had happened to her had to have been a delayed hypnagogic reaction or something…a delayed dream thing…still groggy with one foot in dreamland.

She needed to use the ladies room.

Kina got up, then realized she had to walk past Mr. Paranormal in there talking with Steve and Dave. Maybe she’d just take a quick peek in at the guy….

Kina quietly came up to the studio doorway, and looked in at him. He looked normal enough…short cut, brown hair, even sported an Hawai’ian shirt. A black Hawai’ian shirt, but still. He didn’t look like she’d imagined him to be at all.

He turned to her.

Crap!

Smiling, Mr. Paranormal got up and made his way toward her, hand held out…and that was when she lost it.

All Kina could see was a red hand.

Those red hands.

Kina barely made it into the bathroom stalls before she lost her Danish and tea….

 

Kina did about all she could to stay as late at work as possible, but when Jan Carter left it was time to go. Jan showed up at Kina’s doorway, with her ever-present cheery tone.

“Hey-ah, girl, how ya doin?”

“I don’t want to go home.”

“Well, let’s talk about it, huh?”

“I don’t want to. I’ve decided I’m never going to sleep again.”

Jan laughed. “Oh, come on, be a big girl. It can’t have been that bad. Everyone’s been talking about it, but no one seems to know—what happened?”

Kina sighed and cleared her throat. Her voice was feeling decidedly better, but was still rough.

“I had a really bad dream is all—and it’s embarrassing. I kinda…um…messed up my bedroom, I was so scared.”

“How do you mean ‘messed up your bedroom’—you didn’t —”

“Nooo…I, cmm, kinda, um…beat up the walls.”

“No way!” Jan said, laughing.

Kina shrugged her shoulders, giving Jan an “oops” look.

“What brought that on?”

“I had some kind of a nightmare I can’t remember any more. But I do remember how I felt…I was extremely terrified. More terrified than I could have ever imagined. I was so scared it hurt. I felt sure I was going to have an aneurism. I’m not exaggerating.”

Jan went serious. “Anything else?”

“You’re gonna laugh.”

“Am not.”

“I saw…in my bedroom, I saw…cmmm…red hands.”

Red hands? Just hands?”

Kina nodded. “They shot out of the wall at me like this—” she said, and thrust her arms toward Jan—who took a step back.

“Oh, my gosh—that’d scared the bejesus out of me!”

“Well, I woke up screaming—I mean I was screaming my lungs out. My throat’s still sore, as you can tell. I didn’t—and still don’t—remember the dream…just that I was terrified. Once I calmed down I went and got a pole—you know, that bathroom rod that holds up shower curtains?”

Jan nodded.

“I got that, went back in…checked under and around everything, but didn’t find anything.”

“Of course. That’s how it always works in horror movies—”

“Jan—you’re not helping!”

“Sorry.”

“I checked everything out and found nothing. So, I go to turn off the light switch and go to bed—when…when they jump out at me. The hands—glowing red hands—from the walls. Shoot right out of the wall in front of me! Scared the you-know-what out of me!”

“Kina, darling are you sure—”

“Was it a figment of my imagination? I’m not sure of anything, anymore. When that guy, that-that author—Mr. Paranormal, or whatever his name was—was in earlier, I took a look at him. He looked normal enough, but when he got up to shake my hand…I saw them, again. Those red hands coming at me—”

“Oh, now, honey, you know that all that is is all this Hallowe’en hooey going on this month. That’s all it is. It’s that time of the year when we all get just a little more spooked than normal—”

“This was different, Jan, I tell you. Whether or not that guy’s hands really were red, what I saw in my bedroom last night was real—in some way. In some way, I can’t yet figure out. There’s just something about it. A feeling I got.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, toward the end, I got angry. I mean, really pissed. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t scared any more, and I wasn’t…wasn’t angry at the hands, I realized later, once I thought about it…I was mad at something else…something about the hands.”

“Any idea what?”

Kina vigorously shook her head. “No idea. I just know I don’t want to go back in there. Alone, anyway.”

“I’ll go with ya, girlfren.”

Kina looked up. “Would you?”

“Yeah-ah. And I tell ya what, we’ll just go back there to face whatever it was that happened, then you can stay at my place tonight—or for as long as you need—how’s that?”

Kina smiled, choking back tears.

 

Kina entered her home first, Jan right behind her.

“Well, things certainly look normal enough,” Jan said, unzipping her jacket.

“But isn’t what you really want to say is that that’s how it always is on Elm Street?” Kina said, removing her jacket.

“Well….”

“My bedroom’s up that landing, then to the rear of the hallway, on the right.”

Jan walked ahead of Kina, then stopped. “Well, time’s awastin’. No time like the present,” she said, turning back to Kina and removing her jacket. “You ready to do this?”

Kina nodded.

“Then, let’s do it.”

The two walked up the handful of stairs onto the upper landing.

“Nice hardwood floors,” Jan said.

“Thanks.”

Jan stopped before the bathroom, peeking in. “And that must be where you found your lance-a-lot,” she said, smiling.

“Yeah…was kinda in a hurry, you know.”

“Sounded like a good choice, if you ask me!” she said, smiling.

They approached the bedroom.

“Holy cripes!” Jan exclaimed, entering it. “I guess you weren’t kidding when you said you messed up the place!”

It was worse than Kina remembered.

There was s stick impaling the bedroom door and the now-exposed light switch by the door was reduced to one tiny plastic shard that held on to the screw holding it onto the wall, the rest of it scattered on the floor. Large portions of wallboard and wallpaper hung off the wall and were also all over the floor. Her bedroom mirror was also gone, shards of glass everywhere, mixed in with the hanging light fixture she had also ripped from the ceiling.

“Must’ve been what I slipped on when I knocked myself cold,” Kina said, pointing to the glass all over the floor and rubbing her head. “Glad I didn’t cut myself up.”

“Yea-ah!” Jan said. “Man! Will ya look at this place!”

Two other walls were also torn up and had wallpaper hanging out like gaping war wounds. The broken antique picture frame and picture were also on the floor behind the upright dresser, which had gouged the hardwood floor and was tipped toward the wall, its two rear pine-wood legs neatly snapped off. As for the bathroom shower curtain rod, now popped apart into two pieces, one lay on the floor partially under the bed, the internal spring nearby, while the other part was still wedged into the hollow bedroom door.

Jan chuckled as she fingered but didn’t remove the stick in the door. “Well, I see you’re going to need some serious redecoration action, my friend.”

Kina shrugged embarrassed, coughing a couple rounds.

“And remind me never to wake you from a sound sleep!” Jan added. “Okay, so what happened here? Be specific.”

Kina went over to her bedside nightstand. As she began to relate the events, she found the dream images coming back.

“Well, I awoke, stark raving mad—as in crazy—and was screaming my lungs out. I jumped out of bed, here,” she said pointing, “and rammed my elbow into the edge of the dresser, here.” She suddenly remembered the wound and rubbed it. “Then I went out into the hallway, broke a nail, and collapsed. Grabbed the shower curtain rod and reentered.”

Kina walked past Jan, who turned to follow her narration.

“I came back in, searched the place, and found nothing —that’s always how it happens on The Nightmare on Elm Street. Then—also just like on Elm Street—the red hands thrust out at me—here—from the wall, just under the light switch,” Kina said, showing her.

She was initially reluctant to touch the wall, but she found new confidence coursing through her (confidence always strongest with others around). Though the memories and images no longer scared her, she did feel something strange about them. Like they were still out there. Still…needing?…her.

Needing her?

“That’s when I opened fire. Took out my room. The rest is history.”

“You’d said earlier that they followed you? Is that right?”

“Yeah,” Kina said, hedging, again walking past Jan for the broken upright dresser. “Over here, they came up out of the floor at me.” Renewed confidence or not, she avoided the spot on the floor where the hands had materialized up out of the floor. “Then, over there, out of the wall. Then back out over there,” she said, pointing back to the wall near the light switch. “Then the mirror.”

“Well, do you feel anything now? Any, I don’t know—tingling sensations, or whatever it is you’re supposed to feel in real-life horror movie situations like this?”

“No…well, I do kinda feel like they’re still…‘out there,’ in some way, but perhaps the strangest thing is that I no longer feel scared. Can’t explain it.”

“Did you catch much of that paranormal author’s show today?”

Kina chuckled. “I know what you’re gonna say. That he feels that many ghosts out there aren’t really out to get us; that they’re actually just caught in-between worlds or something…what did he call them?”

“‘Lingering anxiety ghosts,’ or something,” Jan said.

“Right. Or could be—”

Kina stopped dead in her tracks.

“Oh, my God.”

Jan came to her. “What? What is it?”

“It just hit me.”

Kina pulled away from Jan but turned back to her, a look of surprise on her face.

“Jan….”

“Yes?”

Then Kina changed her mind and said nothing, and turned back to the wall, lifting her arms before her, palms up, as if mesmerized. She stared at the light switch wall by the door then slowly turned back to Jan, her arms and palms still upraised, a look of horror on her face and approached her. Jan backed up as Kina approached.

“Kina, honey, are you okay?”

Kina stopped just before her.

“Jan…it was something Steve and Paranormal Guy said…about how in the movies they always make the ghosts out to be bad or evil, always out to get everyone.”

“Yeah…honey, now you’re scaring me….”

“Well, they felt—Paranormal Guy felt—that they—ghosts—weren’t so much out to get us, as they were just trapped maybe, or confused. Maybe even dreaming back about their just-departed lives…”

“Dreaming? Do the dead dream?”

Kina just looked at her.

Jan continued, “Okay…and?

“Jan, look at me. Look at me! What do I look like? What do I look like I need?”

Jan looked to Kina…really looked to her…how her arms—her hands—were held out before her.

“Oh, my G—”

Help. I look like I need help, Jan, that’s what they look like.”

“Well, now, then, that would put a different spin on things, wouldn’t it? Good Lord, I have chicken skin all over me….”

“And I’d turned it away! I turned it away, Jan! Don’t you get it? I may have turned someone away who needed my help—reached out to me….”

“Yeah, but reached out to you from where, honey?” Jan said.

“Does it matter?”

“Uh, yeah!

Jan came to Kina and grabbed her by the arms. “Oh, honey, don’t worry about it—”

“But I have to! What have I done—because I was afraid? Had I hurt someone—ghost or not?”

“But you don’t know that? And it was just a dream.”

“But I feel this…something…right now. Right this minute. It’s still out there, he/she/it is…is still out there….”

The images did continue to fly around in her head…still screaming through her mind at light speed. Still, she was unable to make anything out. But she felt the red hands were still out there…still needing….

“Oh, my God, Jan…I think I might have done something very, very wrong…I’ve never felt this way before…I suddenly feel a little sick…”
“But what if…what if, I don’t know, you bring something evil here, into our world? Paranormal Guy didn’t talk about that—”

“No, not on-air, but I snuck up beside the door when they were talking off-air, him and Steve and Dave, and he said that he feels a lot of the evil stuff is actually confused energy coming from us…that there really isn’t any such thing as…how did he put it, ‘an inherent Devil’—”

“Well, that may be, but what kind of an expert is he? He writes fiction, for God’s sake…he’s no expert. And, really, who among us knows? What human has the be-all, end-all knowledge about the afterlife and is a hundred percent correct? What if—I don’t know—what if these confused spirits really can get nasty, like The Exorcist nasty, or something, and kick our asses? What then?”

Kina dropped her arms, a look of exhaustion falling over her face.

“Thanks for doing this, Jan,” Kina said, reaching for one of Jan’s hand. “I’m fine, now. Really.”

Jan cocked her head, skeptical. “Don’t you want to come with me, stay the night?”

Kina shook her head, confident in her decision. “No…I’m going to stay here, in my own bed. I’ll be fine.”

“You’re not planning on pulling in those hands, are you?”

“Another thing Paranormal Guy said was that ghosts are not physical…so I can’t very well do that, now can I? He said he didn’t believe what we saw were so much physical images as mental images we translate into a physical-like image. No—you go home, now, Jan, I really appreciate all you’ve done, you’re a good friend. I’m just mentally and spiritually exhausted. Thanks.”

“If I was a really good friend I wouldn’t leave you here and would protect you from your own bad self—”

“Fine. Then I’ll make us some dinner and you can sleep in my guest room….”

 

Kina was absolutely exhausted by the time they’d both cleaned up the bedroom’s mess. She made dinner, Jan made her calls, Kina put Jan up in the guest room and then made her way to her own bed. She looked forward to sleep….

 

Kina again awoke just a little after two a.m. to use the bathroom. The full moon shown in through her bathroom window and the wind still howled for a second night in a row. She stared at the moon and smiled as she sat on the toilet; closed her eyes.

If you’re out there and you need help, Kina thought, reaching out to the red hands, come back. I’m ready for you, now.

This time I’ll help you….

 

Kina washed her hands, then dried them…but as she turned to return to bed, she again had that weird feeling. She paused; felt a little bit of fear rising within, but just told herself to get over it—that there was no need to be afraid.

She knew—in her bones—there was nothing to be afraid of.

At least not in this instance. She told herself.

Yeah, Nightmare on Elm Street….

She knew what she would find before fully turning around.

She didn’t bother flicking on a light.

She saw them. Dark, glowing red hands, reaching down and out from above her bed…hands spaced about two feet apart, just short of the union of the wall and ceiling crease.

They just silently hung there. Not motionless, per se, but still…as if a person really were on the other side of them, reaching out to her.

And she wasn’t scared. Not in the least.

Cautiously, Kina approached them and came to stand beside her bed and the nightstand.

She looked up to them…then placed one foot onto her bed, and, grabbing the frame of the bed in support, pulled herself up. She faced the wall and looked up to the red hands. Spreading apart her feet on the bed…she lifted her hands…but stopped short of actually grabbing them.

They really were hands—and they really were red.

And it was really two-fifteen in the morning.

Kina looked toward her closed bedroom door, thinking about Jan Carter, snoring soundly away in the guest room. She smiled.

Then looked back to the hands. She closed her eyes then reopened them.

Still there.

Bracing herself, Kina went for it and reached out to them.

She didn’t grab them—at least not physically, anyway—but did grab onto…something…because she was suddenly flooded with emotion that was like drinking though a raging fire hose. She tried to slow it down, but couldn’t. It wasn’t intentional, she didn’t think, by way of the emotion of the link she was now attached to overloaded her, but felt it was more like this ghost had so needed her…so needed her help—and yesterday—that it was like the opening of emotional flood gates and there was no turning it off. This…creature, this ghost…had a lot to download, and needed to do it as soon as possible. Needed her to be there…to help open those flood gates and let the emotion flow.

And there was something else….

Kina felt as if she was going to explode…her entire body felt as if it was spiritually and physically expanding…out to the ends of the universe—yet was simultaneously face-to-face with some invisible entity right before her face.

It was a feeling of expansive contraction…of swirling and spinning…of being there…standing on her bed yet also simultaneously being flung to the farthest reaches of the universe. And through all this, she was crying…unabashedly sobbing. Her entire being quaked with sorrow…pain!…there was intense pain in this spirit…anguish. Anguish she had never experienced before. Every synonym for pain and hurt filled her soul…and there was no shutting it off. Now, she was starting to get scared, but told herself to shut the hell up…there was so much more at stake here than her being a fraidy cat of the unknown….

Kina cried out…screamed in loving rage at where all this pain in this ghost was coming from. She reached out to it with intense, powerful thoughts of hope and peace and that this ghost needed to release itself from whatever horror it was experiencing.

It needed to move on!

That it was dead and there was nothing that need hold it to wherever it was. Whatever pain it was experiencing. It had to leave.

As if the emotion couldn’t get any stronger, it did…but this time Kina felt a difference to it…felt a change in conviction…a focusing. Kina poured more of herself into her link with the ghost…leave, she commanded, you can do it! I’m here to help…focus on me… explode away from wherever you are! Whatever is holding you back! Do it NOW!

There was a mentally bruising explosion of light in her mind and Kina experienced a singular burst of energy that felt like a supernova—

And it was over.

Done.

She collapsed to the bed, emotionally and spiritually spent. She looked up to where the red hands had been…but they were gone.

Kina closed her eyes and swallowed hard. Her mouth was really dry.

Thank you….”

Kina shot upright. Looked around.

She leapt off the bed and turned on the bedside lamp.

No one. There was no one in the room with her—yet she’d distinctly heard the words “Thank you” spoken out loud.

To her.

She rushed to Jan’s room, but she was still sound asleep, snoring loudly though peacefully.

Who’d said that?

Kina chuckled, then returned to her bedroom.

She knew there was no one else in the house with them. Knew it hadn’t been Jan talking in her sleep, nor had it just been all in her head. She’d heard those two words clear as day, as loud as if someone had been standing shoulder to shoulder with her.

She had heard someone thank her, and she knew who that was, even if she didn’t know who it was.

She’d helped save a life. Ghost or otherwise.

Kina brushed off the bed sheets from where she’d been standing and got back into bed. The wind had even died down. She smiled and turned off the light.

“Good night,” she said, aloud, and rolled over and fell asleep.

She could have sworn she felt a light kiss brush her cheek….

2

December 13, 1967

A Siberian Gulag

A nameless, faceless prisoner lay strapped onto a rough-hewn board, various tubes and wires attached to numerous places on his scared, broken, tortured, and burned body. Both his legs had recently been broken, but he didn’t know what “recently” meant anymore. On all his limbs were open, infinitely painful, raw wounds from having been methodically and carefully burned. To his head were attached electrodes, and in his arms more tubes. His tongue had been removed. He hadn’t been allowed to sleep, hadn’t been allowed to dream, and had been kept as barely alive as possible through science and chemicals and ever-present torture.

But as totally controlled as his captors thought they were over him, there was one thing they couldn’t get under control with all their methods…

His will.

His ability to think what he wanted to think.

He was fine with losing his body—and if he could get free he had no qualms with slitting his own throat, or putting a couple well-placed bullets to his brain. But that was never going to be. He was their experiment and would die of old age, if they had their way.

So he had decided to reach out…reach out to whatever might be “out there”…whatever might have mercy on him and help him free himself from this hellish nightmare. What else had he? What had he to lose?

So he had.

And he had found someone.

A ghost? A figment of his imagination? He didn’t know and didn’t care. All he knew…was that he had—finally—put an end to his suffering and had willed his own freedom. Willed his own death. Freed himself with the help of someone or something, he didn’t know. All he knew, was that he was free…free to move on….

And he did.

But not before he thanked the woman who had braved her own fears and had helped set him free.

Thank you….”

 

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Mountain of Authors 2016!

Mountain of Authors 2016! Pikes Peak Library 21C, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Mountain of Authors 2016! Pikes Peak Library 21C, Colorado Springs, Colorado

I am, once again, attending the Pikes Peak Library District’s Mountain of Authors (MOA), at Library 21C (a just-a-couple-of-years-old beautiful new library) in Colorado Springs, Colorado! It will be held this Saturday, April 23, 11 a.m. MT – 5 p.m. MT. The keynote speaker is Anne Hillerman, the writer/journalist daughter of author Tony Hillerman.

I attended last year and had a blast, so I’m really looking forward to this year! Here is the schedule for this year:

  • 11 – 11:30 a.m. – Doors open!
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Panel 1: It’s a Mystery!
  • 12:30 – 1 p.m. – Showcase Spotlight
  • 1 – 1:30 p.m. – Break
  • 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. – Panel 2: Tenth Anniversary Retrospective
  • 2:30 – 3 p.m. – Break
  • 3 – 4 p.m. – Keynote Speaker: Anne Hillerman
  • 4 – 5 p.m. – Reception and Book Signing

I will have copies of all my novels there, so, please drop on by and say “Hello!”

Related Article

 

Nightborders

There Are No Monsters. (Image by Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons)

There Are No Monsters. (Image by Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons)

There is truth to the saying that those who piss off a writer may well end up in said writer’s story…and not in a good way (like, “Ewww, hurt me!”).

I knew a girl once…back in ’89…who said a spiteful thing to me one night. Fine. Be that way, I thought. And that was the end of our on-again-off-again relationship. Then I’d had a story idea…a really nasty horror-story idea…and I put it together with the aforementioned Miss Nasty’s comment in mind. It’s funny how things materialize into stories when you write them. Yeah, this is not my best work (a bit over the top in several ways)…but it is amusing-in-concept. The idea behind the story, the whole “night borders” thing. Ever had the same crazy idea in the middle of the night? No? Nothing you’ll admit to? Well, I bet you can’t say “Candyman” five times while looking at yourself in the mirror, either….

I’m not at all a spiteful, tit-for-tat kinda guy in any way…but the irony in the putting of the two events together was not lost on me and had in itself a certain…well, psychic…poetic justice to it. I didn’t—nor do I to this day—wish her ill. I hope she lived and lives a fine life, wherever she is.

But in this story….

This story has never been published…and probably for good reason. It will probably give you night terrors and insomnia…and that’s good thing, in—

 

Nightborders

© F. P. Dorchak, 1989

 

Quentin Strangefellow was possessed. Not by demons, but by a strange and unreasoning fear. Perhaps consumed was a better word.

This fear had followed him since his childhood, and now as an adult it had grown completely out of proportion. When you’re young it’s easy to take things at face value, but once face value has been passed on, things start taking on different weight.

This fear had no basis—no real basis, anyway—for coming into being, and definitely no basis for any furthered continuation. What’s more, Quentin had no past experience with which to draw upon for this fatuous phobia. It all began (as far as he could remember) one lonely night in a childhood bedroom. No rhyme, no reason. Like so many other childhood afflictions it just came into being on its own. A spontaneous conception.

His fear was of borders.

Nightborders. Borders of the nighttime bed (of course it was at night, things like this didn’t happen during the light of day). That imaginary perimeter between protection and annihilation, physically manned by the edges of the mattress that extended up to the ceiling.

It was an anxiety that no one ever put much stock in…yet some continued to live with in quiet-to-utter terror of their entire lives…quietly and unobtrusively following their hidden and unorthodoxed rules…their wives and girlfriends, husbands and boyfriends never coming into The Knowing.

So Quentin lay there, alone, eyes open and staring.

Once again, he hadn’t been able to get back to sleep and it was now three-twenty in the morning. His body had become rigid—it had never been this bad before—and lately he had found himself dwelling more and more on the borders. It wasn’t so much the borders themselves as it was what lay beyond…

Of what was to happen to those who trespassed.

Still quite awake, Quentin really didn’t feel like getting up and doing anything (like going through the piles of correspondence that kept collecting on the table, or watching TV), but he couldn’t get back to sleep, either. Restless and uneasy, he twisted in his sheets. Even if he had wanted to leave the confines of the bed the sheets would not have allowed it. Sheets were meant to keep you in bed, all of you, safe from the perils of the Nightborders.

Yet the heat was too much and he had thrown off the top blanket. But he was too afraid to turn on the bed-side radio for fear of attracting the attention of whatever there was just beyond the mattress’s edges…any motions he did make outside of these imaginary lines were quick and jerky—as if he were trying to beat the grip of some waiting demon….

Looking down the length of his bed into the darkened interior of his apartment, Quentin half expected to see a shadow rush past. He tried projecting his mind into the other rooms, to see where every piece of his furniture was…every little odd scrap of paper…to feel the familiarity he needed right now.

He saw the dirty dish with the half consumed pizza slice, which was probably quite hard by now…tipped over some dirty silverware and a washcloth covered glass. Saw the bundle of newspapers lying about his floor and couch…his plants quietly sleeping….

Lying there, his arms and legs neatly confined to the interior of his bed, he gave his fear more detailed consideration.

How had all this come about, anyway? And why?

Well the why wasn’t too difficult, he decided, childish imaginations were always quite active, active and somewhat unchecked. Quentin felt—and felt quite strongly—that his imagination was still every bit as active now as it ever had been as a kid. It was just more firmly under control now.

For instance, he no longer believed in monsters under his bed, or in his closet (quickly flashing an embarrassed glance to his closet), or in Tooth Fairies. His closet door was open, and there were clearly no monsters in there. And he wasn’t about to check beneath the bed just now.

He didn’t feel like getting out of bed, that’s all.

In fact all of this morbid indulgence brought back to him a poem he had once read, and for some strange reason remembered. It went something like this:

“It was the Devil’s own pitch

A darkness utterly corrupt and vile.

 

“I couldn’t see a thing, couldn’t hear a thing

The silence absolute—except of that internal ringing sound.

 

“I turned, slowly.

The only way I could know this

Was by the steps my feet made over each other.

 

“That’s when I came face to face with it—

Teeth ripping my face apart…. ”

The poem’s title was “Fear.” He’d always remembered that because it totally described how he felt being in the dark, and it pretty much described how he felt about his damned Nightborders.

Something was going to rip his face off, and his arms, and his legs

But, he wondered, what would happen should he decide to tempt Fate?

To put to the test his old unreasoning horrors. Looking up to the ceiling, Quentin traced the image of his bed onto its stuccoed facing.

See, nothing there!

Hand reaching for the wall at the head of the bed, he quickly felt that out too.

Nothing. Nothing at all.

But to…to…

No, he still couldn’t quite bring himself to dangle an arm over the side.

What was the cause for all this sudden preoccupation? Shit, what a sissy!

What of reason?

How could dangling your limbs off the side of the bed bring about anything other than sleep? What is there in here that was going to harm you? You’re alone in the room (you checked that before the lights were all turned off), and there’s no such things as monsters.

Quentin had slowly become quietly neurotic.

It had gotten into his head way back that…for some strange reason…if you slept with any of your legs or arms outside the borders of your bed you would wake up more or less dead…

That your limbs would get sliced off by invisible guillotines from hell.

Or that some beast from the netherworld would come and rip them off if the guillotines missed them. It was all childish…totally unreasonable.

It was all just plain stupid and he bloody well knew it.

Now all he had to do was prove it.

Right.

Another night.

The next night was much the same as the previous, insomnia and neurosis reigning as King and Queen…but it was getting worse. And this time he was not alone. He’d met an old girlfriend in the supermarket, and, well, one thing led to another and before he knew it she’d come home with him. Quentin was not too fond of this girl, hence the reason for the “ex” before “girlfriend,” but he had been rather lonely lately and was growing tired of sleeping alone. Besides being rather bitchy most of the time, Tammy was attractive and her good points at night sometimes outranked her bad points.

Today her bad points seemed non-existent.

But he still couldn’t get the satisfying sleep he wanted, even after romping in the sack with Tammy, who was now contently snoring away at his side. He stroked her arm.

Why do you have to be such a bitch?” he quietly whispered to himself. She just snuggled in closer. She’d gotten what she wanted and so had he.

Quentin lay on his back, feeling her warm body next to him. It had been so long, feeling the warmth of another beside him in bed….

Sleep, goddamn it!

Frustrated and cranky, he flipped on the bed-side radio at low volume, an AM station merrily chattering to itself. Quentin lie there, a leg dangling off the edge of the bed, Tammy’s body still positioned beside him. The queen-sized mattress was perfect for two, heaven for one (more room in which to avoid the borders…).

Unconsciously he drew his leg back in. Recalled how he had told Tammy about his fear of the borders and how she had just laughed at him.

One night he had awoken in the middle of the night to muffled giggling, only to find Tammy crouched beside the bed, holding out one of his legs over the edge of the bed. She’d looked like an evil troll there in the darkness. Lightening wasn’t fast enough to catch his actions as he pushed her off him and snatched his leg back in. That had been the start of their problems. The beginning of the end for their relationship. She continued to nag him (sometimes in public) that he was becoming a whimpering wimp.

Putting his hands behind his head, he brought that same leg that had been out up in a bend, knee pointing ceilingward. Thinking about nothing in particular, he started swaying the knee back and forth to the music. Tammy moved away from him slightly, murmuring something in her sleep, something that involved someone by the name of “Jack.”

“Hope it was good,” he whispered back to her.

Suddenly changing position, she arranged herself nearly diagonal to the bed’s length, feet over one edge, head against his body again. It was a decidedly uncomfortable position, he soon found, so he moved his body to allow her her room.

He finally began to drift off….

Quentin’s dreams were troubled and he tossed and turned, groaning.

Our hero was being chased by monsters and demons…was just able to outrun them….

Sweat poured off him in tidal waves. He’d all but forgotten he was in bed with Tammy, who now had a different leg hanging over the bed-side.

In his dream, he was on his back—when his leg was grabbed.

He looked down to find an iron shackle cinched around an ankle.

Frantically getting up, he tried undoing the binding.

His demons had finally caught up with him!

Time to wake up now…time to wake up—now.

He did.

He felt the bed jerk.

Tammy!

He noticed she too must have been having troubled dreams, her mumblings no longer light and airy, but troubled and near sobbing. There was periodic moaning, which got him excited, but at the same time horrified.

Where was that movement coming from?

He felt around her naked body…the tugging intensified, and to his horror he realized it wasn’t originating from her

Tammy’s eyes flashed open and a scream came from her mouth.

AM music continued to play from the radio.

Tammy twisted and thrashed about violently in bed, and shot a hand to her ankle. She’d tossed Quentin away from her and slammed his head into the wall at the head of the bed. He saw all manner of stars and white light as he tried to regain mental stability and looked back to Tammy. She was bolt upright, shouting and screaming and there was something about something about her leg….

Quentin squinted, wincing at the pain in his head. Directed his gaze down the length of the beautiful naked from of his ex-girlfriend to…to what?

There was…there was—

A rusty iron shackle was attached to Tammy’s ankle.

Was that right?

Was he still dreaming?

No this was too real…this was no dream.

Tammy had reached down to her ankle and he’d seen something sticky had came off in her hand.

Quentin immediately curled his legs up about him.

His throat had frozen up. Was unable to move.

He watched as Tammy had now reached out for him, her face a grimace of horror. He looked back to the shackle. The shackle held her tight. She grabbed at him.

He lent no help.

Help me! Goddamn it, Quentin, help me!

Quentin tried to say something, but nothing came out. He just stared at her…wide eyed and opened-mouthed. He balled himself up into a tighter ball, pushed himself farther away from her and her pleading, from her outstretched hands.

Finally he found his voice.

Found his anger.

“You laughed at me, Tammy…laughed and ridiculed me! I told you about the Nightborders and you laughed! Made fun of me to our friends! You’ve always laughed at me and taken advantage of me! No more! This time you pay!

“What are you talking about? Goddamn it, Quent, this is real—I’m dying here! Help me—I’ll never laugh at you again! Please!

“I know you won’t.”

The words came out thick as ice.

Tammy froze in mid-plea.

Quentin watched as she was jerked several times—hard and rough—the fear in her eyes…her mouth an open, silent “O.” He couldn’t see her eyes, but knew how they must look.

He actually felt sorry for her.

Tammy reached back over to the other side of the bed. Quentin heard the sounds of chains and things rattling…saw several things suddenly whipping through the air, but carefully remained within their border…outside the mattress edge.

Tammy was jerked about again, her screams renewed when she saw that her wrists had now been grappled with harsh, rusty shackles like those on her ankles.

“Quentin! Please, please help me!

Quentin closed his eyes and covered his ears. Shouted back at her.

“I tried to tell you but you wouldn’t listen! I…I can’t help you now! You trespassed! You broke the rules!

Tammy clawed at the mattress. From her shackles blood flowed out and onto the bed.

Her body was yanked perpendicular to the bed…then yanked and drawn up a foot from the bed…her arms and legs outstretched by the chains that held her. Her painful screams to Quentin were now so mixed with her tears, it brought Quentin to tears as well.

He couldn’t let her die this way.

He broke from his huddle and went to her. Bitch or no bitch, she was still a person…a human…not a piece of raw meat to be so drawn and quartered.

He grabbed her writhing body at the waist, trying to pull her down.

“I’m sorry, Tammy, so sorry, but I tried to warn you! Forgive me!”

She looked to him, her stringy hair swinging in the air as the chains that held her rattled and pulled. Chains that came from above and below.

Quentin!” The pain in her voice sounded unhuman.

Then a shadow emerged from the floor in front of them.

It followed the contours of the furniture and walls as it rose. It was manlike, arms to its sides.

Straining her head up to see it at its full height of seven or so feet, the shadow stood before them for a second before taking quick powerful strides to the other side of the bed. It checked the shackles. In a flash the figure was back in front of Tammy, who writhed in pain.

The night creature chuckled, filling the room with a contemptuous laughter.

You shouldn’t have tempted the Fates, Miss Fowler. You should have listened to your boyfriend. Now you have to listen to me and my words are fatal.

Numbed by her blood loss, Tammy was frozen by the demon’s voice.

It had spoken her name—her name—and that can mean only one thing: there was a spot in hell just for her.

“Let her go!” Quentin shouted, still pulling at her waist.

I cannot. I am compelled to perform my duty. She has crossed borders that were not meant to be crossed. Illegally trespassed. For that she must pay.

Good-bye, Tammy.”

In stereo Quentin heard sheathing sounds—just like a guillotine—that came in unison from both ends of the bed. One set had come from the ceiling, down…and the other came from the floor up. It deafened his senses, not from the sounds they made but from the effect he now held within his arms.

Tammy no longer screamed and no longer twisted.

No longer did she call out his name.

No longer would she ever sleep with him…or belittle him.

Quentin sank to his knees.

Nooo! Why couldn’t you have listened to me—why!” he sobbed. “Damn you, Tammy!”

Quentin sobbed over the draining torso of Tammy Fowler in his arms.

The chains and shackles retreated back to wherever they had come from. Something wet and warm…smelling sickeningly pungent…unloaded onto his bed sheets and pooled about his knees.

The night creature picked up the separated remains of Tammy on the bedroom floor, holding them by their still-attached chains as he went to the quarters of the bed she’d over hung. He collected his due.

It again spoke.

Obey the rules, my friend, and we can have a long and profitable relationship. But trespass and meet your reaper.

It held up the limbs and head of Tammy Fowler and chuckled darkly…slowly disappearing the way it had come.

Quentin heaved the body over the borders…and cried….

 

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Crypt of Vampyres

Never, Ever Enter Alone. At Night. (Image by Richard apple [CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Never, Ever Enter Alone. At Night. (Image by Richard apple [CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

This (I believe) is the first vampyre (yes, this is my preferred spelling) story I’d ever written. I’d written it for my fifth period 11th grade High School English class. Mr. Jeff Spence was my teacher. A tall (as I remember him) curly haired, affable guy! Always quick with a smile and a laugh.

And he gushed over this story! I can still see and hear him doing so!

He read this up in front of the entire class…emphasizing phrases and words here and there—pointing out cool imagery—and I was positively stunned.

Wow, he’d really liked this story that much?!

Man, here was a professional English teacher absolutely taken by something I’d written. He was beside himself even questioning the class’s non-responsiveness to things he found amazing. The atmosphere I’d created. I’d never seen that kind of enthusiasm for anything I’d written before or since in the professional world and often think back to that fine April day (April 6th, as a matter of fact! Note today’s date!). Yes…that was 38 years ago. Well, plus-or-minus. That paper was due April 6, 1978, but I’m not sure he read it the same day—I doubt it—but I couldn’t resist posting this blog on the same date, 38 years later! This was not planned!I had originally planned on posting this last week, but moved it for the “Snow Paper” post…then had this set for Friday, the 8th…but as I reread it, readying it for posting, the date just hit me. So, instead of posting this this Friday, I moved it up to today’s date. Weird energy…I think it all moves in “mysterious ways”….

Anyway, all I can imagine is that Mr. Spence was impressed with the potential he saw in me. Sure, even through all the incredibly poor and purple prose he saw promise…and some cool imagery…how I had an eye for creating atmosphere…my early employment of irony and even messing around with time and perspectives and points-of-view. It was very cool of him.

So, how are you these days, Mr. Spence? What are you up to? I can’t thank you enough for your unbridled enthusiasm…it’s still out there and I’m still tuning into it. I hope life has been good to you….

I have not done any editing to it (and believe me, it severely needs it…)…no comma clean up…no word choice re-selection…no nothing, absolutely nothing. I even found my severely marked-up copy that my mom edited (I’m amazed I still have it!), and she had hacked it up pretty good. Had I taken any of her advice?! Dunno. Haven’t compared the two. Maybe someday I will.

So, here is the story in all its adolescent glory and error! My Adult Me is, however, kinda embarrassed at the incredibly poor copy I’d turned in for an English assignment. Wow. Geeze.

But Mr. Spence loved it!

Read it to the entire class!

This story has never been published, never seen the light of day (pardon the pun), or been seen anywhere outside of Saranac Lake Central High School’s 1978 5th period, 11th Grade English class, taught by one legendary Mr. Spence. It has been transcribed word for word—no changes.

Try to get through it! I dare ya! :-]

 

Crypt of Vampyres

© F. P. Dorchak, April 6, 1978

 

The night was cool, the pallid moonlight bathed the area in an eerie, ghastly fog. The country road was deserted except for a lone nocturnal figure stalking down the illuminated roadway. There was s light breeze that blew what clouds there were to and fro.

An ordinary person would call the white stuff fog, but this individual saw figures…ghosts, demons, ghouls…all under his control.

This individual Alan Slovik, was an American-slovak holding on to the old fireside tales his ancient grandmother related to him. He fancied himself a “gothic-romanticist.” To others it seemed he was always dreaming, yet to himself, Alan, it was all very real.

Alan was about fifty feet from the only street lamp on the road when the clouds hid the moon. His shadow arrived at the post first and leaned up against it.

Alan, walking with no shadow, soon reached the post and he too, leaned up against it. As he rested there, peering through the eerie mist, he became suddenly aware that he was observing himself. As he watched, he became fascinated rather than frightened.

Slovik noticed a little later that his shadow walked off by itself. He then saw himself look down at his feet then walk off.

After that he stood there. Then looked down and saw no shadow. He too walked off.

 

In the cemetery, the wind whipped through with the eternal sound of lost souls as though it were being chased by something unspeakable. The skeleton -like trees were constantly striking at the foul air with their long boney extremities. The lost souls kept rising in pitch as the fierce wind roared on. In this most unholy of places, evil prevailed.

At the far end of the slumbering corpses lay a vault of unknown age. Few people ever venture near it because legend has it that an unspeakable horror is buried in the crypt below.

Inside lie bodies of an ancient family long decayed by Times’ cold hand. The family was reputed to possess special powers. The story goes that they emmigrated from Rumania for unknown reasons and died out just as mysteriously generations later, yet some people still believe there lurks, in the nights fiendish pall, a horror of the undead.

Inside the crumbling vault of horror a blanket of fetid stench envelopes all present. So thick is it that one can it and must slice a way through it–providing they are able to penetrate it. Dust is everywhere, leaving nothing untouched. Bones of hapless victims lie about.

In the back of the cold, dead chamber there lies a heavy granite door embedded in the lifeless floor. A large iron ring is attached to the door midway from the top and bottom, near the edge. The last person pulling that ring had found what she had been looking for without wanting it to find her.

Below there lay a large cryupt, smelling even more rancid than the floor above. There were old forgotten coffin-boxes strewn about, with clumps of earth cast around. The crypt also had an earthen floor. In the center of this crypt there rested a jet black coffin of some exotic wood. The top was closed.

Down in this crypt there was a mist of death, decayed flesh, and other rancidity. All was still, and utterly devoid of life.

The upper part of the coffin slowly opened with no appearent aid. Inside lie the ancient decaying body of a once-woman. Before the top part opened completely, the lower part slowly opened in the same manner. When the upper part completely opened, the lower part was half-opened.

The decrepit body inside was more pale than virgin white. The lips looked as if they were slightly darker due to some sort of tint.

Then the eyes opened, making the face more sinister still. The eyes were an evil black, blaker than the blackest void ever imagined by any mortal. The dead body slowly lifted up from the waist to a sitting position. It sat there staring straight ahead.

Then, in the next instant, it was standing in front of its coffin. The form of the once-woman stood there loosely clad in an ancient white robe that seemed to float in the muck called an atmosphere. The white hair was just sitting ther on her boney skull-head. Its figure scarely resembled the figure of a woman so dearly kept in every mans mind.

As she stood there, a white fog stood there and she was no more. The eerie mistmoved at a pace of death, slowly creeping toward the old granite door leading to the upper chamber of the ancient sepulcher.

The dead fog covered the cemetery outside. In the cold air, a large bat flapped away from this House of the Dead.

 

Alan Slovik stalked down the eerie road into the thickening fog. He stopped, and his shadow continued. Alan slowly his head,and peered into the wall of whiteness ahead.

He saw himself walking around ina fetid chamber full of empty boxes, upturned and stacked, with one prominant black box in the center, seemingly commanding all present. This box was the blackest he could imagine. In one of Sloviks hands he carried a rather large ax, and in another, a long wooden stake, tempered at he point to charcoal, and a wooden mallet.

The figure approached the box and peered inside at a beautiful body of a woman in her early or mid thirties. He leaned the ax up against the commanding coffin. He then carefully placed the sharp stake between the two full breasts of the ceature before him, and slowly raised the wooden mallet. It stopped. He peered at the seductive body in the sheer white robe lying there. Its eyes suddenly opened and stared directly at him. They burned into his brain. They seemed to implore him. He stared back, arm still poised above the lethal stake. He looked back at the body, then back to the coal black piercing eyes. He lowered his arm, dropped the stake and lowered his lips to the vampyres open, but deadly succulent lips. He and the hell-spawn embraced.

The man’s mind was swirling in confusion, fighting something it didn’t want to fight. The vampyre’s full lips parted even more now, revealing two sharp, lethal fangs. The man went down, as the vampyre’s sharp teeth punctured two neat holes into the side of the victim’s neck.

It sucked in deeply for the hot, crimson blood.

Alan slowly turned himsel around to find another thick wall of fog revealing still another image.

Slovik held his ax in one hand and the charcoal tipped stake and wooden mallet in the other. He walked over to the black coffin slowly but surely, and peered inside. The beautiful woman-thing lay there, its soft seductive body neatly revealed through its shear white robe. Slovik leaned his ax against the coffin, placed the sharp stake between her full breasts and raised the mallet…. The vampyre’s eyes suddenly opened, revealing coal black jewels, but rthis time he did not pay attention to the piercing, hypnotic temptation before him.

Slovik lifted the hand with the mallet slightly higher. The vampyre opened its succulent lips, revealing the teeth of death, and hissed. Then, with one powerful blow, he plunged the sharp stake deep into the creature’s breast, releasing a gushing flow of dark crimson spurting into the air, and onto his face. The figure writhed violently in its bed. Blood ran down the corners of the vampyre’s mouth, nose and eyes. The face twisted into hideous contortions.

Slovik pounded again until he hit the coffins bottom. He then reached for the ax, and raising it above his head, brought it down in one powerful stroke, severing the hideous head from it’s bloody body.

Alan looked at the other image in front of him, and back to the one behind him. He then looked at another form of himself between the two. The figure looked at the latter image.

Alan then turned to come face to face with a beautiful woman’s face in front of him.

He stared at her and she stared back. Her eyes were the deepest jet black he had ever known. She stared, piercing steadily into his very heart. Her jet black hair floated about her head.

As he began to come to focus, it was as if he were viewing the figure through a fine gauze help up before her. Her white robe drifted upon her lithe body which was the colour of deep autumn.

“Who are you?” Alan asked ina trance-lilke state, “What is your name?”

“I don’t have a name,” she answered in a steady, soft voice.

“Please tell me, you must have a name.”

“Vulna,” she replied forceably.

“Vulna? That’s an odd name. Where did you get that name? For that matter, where did you come from?”

“What is your name?” asked the soft voice, avoiding the last question but continuing to stare into his eyes.

“Alan,” he replied obediently.

“Do you come out at night often?” she pressed.

“I walk at night often; yes.”

“Do you live near-by?” Vulna inquired.

“Yes Alan replied, still in a trance-like state.

“Are there other people near by?”

“Yes, down the road.”. Vulna nodded and proceded to drift past him. Alan continued to stare foreward. As she passed him, she seemed to merge as one with the ghastly fog.

Alan slowly turned and came face to face with himself again. This time, he was holding a large crucifix in his right hand at waist level. As Alan completed the turn, Slovik raised the silver crucifix to shoulder height, simultaneoisly moving it out towards Alan.

He turned back around, and saw the same woman again, this time baring her sharp fangs, with fresh blood dripping from the corners of her bloated, crimson lips. He turned back to his other self witht he crucifix. Both images melted into the fog, and Ala,’s shadow returned to him.

He walked on.

 

That morning, Alan got up and had his breakfast while reading the paper. As he began flipping through it, his eyes caught on an article about a strange murder:

“George Burnholser died sometime this morning between the hours

of 1 and 3 A.M. His lifeless body was found at 6 AM. in an

alleyway. The odd thing about his death is that there were

puncture wounds on the left side of his neck, and he was found

to be drained of all his blood. Some are already speculating

that this was the work of a vampire.”

Alan sat there staring at the article. He wanted to see the body…to actually see this corpse. The idea fascinated him.

Alan was good friends witht he undertaker, and told him that he was investigating this bizarre murder. The undertaker took him down into the morgue and pulled out the appropriate slab.

He sttod there staring at the body, then began examining it. The two holes were jagged, and about 1/4 inch in diameter. The body was a pale white.

As Alan stood there, he began staring again. Then, as if seeing through a gauze, he saw himself in a dark coffin, with eyes open and a strange expression on his face. The undertaker was still speaking while he was in the daze. He later broke out of it when his friend nudged him.

The undertaker asked, “What do you think it was, Al? Most others say a vampire did it.”

“I couldn’t tell you,” Alan said, walking off.

 

Later that day, Alan went to a library and got all the information on vampyres he could. Once he got what he wanted, he went home and studied the rest of the day.

When he was done, it was about the end of the afternoon and he thought that he’d go over to the nearest cemetery and take a peek at what was there.

As Alan was walking along, his eyes caught sight of a large, odd-looking vault, undated, at the rear of the cemetery. He started towards it. As he approached, he noticed a large, ancient lock on the door. He remembered seeing a lock similar to that one around his home. His train of thought was broken–

“Hey! Who goes there–you’re not supposed to be there! Besides–we’re closing up now!” The voice was that of a worker.

“Sorry,” replied Alan, and he left promptly.

On his way back he didn’t encounter anyone, including the mysterious woman, and it was getting darker.

Once home, Alan made a mantal note to find that lock and key. He was fatigued from reading all that material and went to sleep early.

 

Next morning while reading the paper, his eye caught on another item. This time two people were attacked. A couple was strolling home when, according to this reporter, the male was attacked by a vampire and drained of his blood, and the female savagely killed. The scene was about a mile from his home, so he finished breakfast and proceded to the dreadful site.

Since he was in a hurry, he didn’t notice a subarticle below it which stated that the previous drained body had since disappeared.

Alan got there in no time at all, and immediately felt the presence of the damned souls.

As he stood there, he saw two people walking down the empty sidewalk at night. A distant, slow flapping can be heard. As the couple nears a grove of trees, a dark figure approaches them. There is a full moon waning. The three figures stop and look at each other.

Then the vampyre puts the man in a trance and approaches him. She wraps her arms around his neck and lowers her hungry mouth. The cold, dead breath cringes his flesh as she opens her thin lips revealing her two sharp eye teeth.

She clamps them snuggly on his warm flesh, making a slight sound, and then sucks lustfully at the warm crimson fluid that will fill her cold, frigid body. A nauseating gargling sound is heard, and the blood runs down his neck. The vampyre, now bloated, lets the lilmp body drop and procedes to walk off.

The tranced girl comes out of it. Realising what happened, she pick ups a hefty rock, and hurls it at the she-devil, catching her in her lower back. The vampyre stops, turns, and approaches her once more. the gril goes into shocj and cannot move. The vampyre picks up her body and throws her a a “V”-shaped tree. Her writhing body hits the tree but as she falls, her neck gets wedged, at the base of the “V”.

She dangles there, just above the saving ground.

Then it’s not there.

 

Alan winks and realizes the extensive similarities of the vampyre and the mysterious woman he had encountered on the street.

Alan quickly returned home and began searching for the lock. He foundit just as the sun was setting. He didn’t have much time but wanted to search the vault. He knew that if she did inhabit the vault, she wouldn’t be htere tonight.

He got his large silver crucifix, an old lamp and the lock and key. He left in a hurry.

When Alan got there, he busted the lock and entered the fetid smelling chamber which ranked at his nostrils. He couldn’t stand it, but would get used to it. As he lifted the lantern up high, he noticed the skeletons lying around. He began to examine one and noticed that they were, indeed, human. There were more strewn about.

“What could they being doing here?” he asked himself, “What would human skeletons be doing out here?”

As he ventured on, he noticed a large granite door in the floor beyond.

Alan endeavored to pull up on the ancient iron ring. The door was heavy, yet he managed to get it open. When he did, he wished he had left it shut. The even more putrid stink ranked harder than ever athis tortured nostrils.

He entered cautiously, with cross up front. Alan coughed at the cloud of decayedness that enveloped him. Once under, in the crypt, he noticed the several man-sized boxes strewn about with earth inside of them. Then he remembered that when Vampyres leave their native country, they must take some of the native soil with them. He walked furthur, and then it hit him why there were skeletons above. They were the movers of the vampyres body from Rumania, handsomely paid, but killed off by the vampyre, one by one, as it needed them in the end.

Their final payment.

As he lifted the lantern higher and stood there in the cloud of decay, he noticed the commanding coffin ahead…coal black and opened. Alan observed it carefully, then drew a cross in the dirt a third of the way down. There was nothing else he could do.

He examined the crypt once more, then decided to leave.

 

The passed quickly for Alan Slovik as he waited for the sun to set. There had been another similar murder this morning and he was fairly sure who was the attacker.

As the sun died, Alan entered the darkening street. While walking, he hoped to meet the mysterious, beautiful lady once more.

A few minutes later he saw the dark silhoutte ahead and knew it was her. Crucifix ready, he approached. She seemed to be in a hurry and he was wondering why she didn’t turn into a bat–if indeed she was a vampyre.

As she got within recognizing distance, she spoke.

“I’m in a bit of a hurry tonight to get to a friends house, so I can’t talk now.” Then she said ina strange tone, “Maybe tomorrow night? Nice seeing you again.” It sounded slightly European.

When she passed, he quickly glanced to see if the mark of a cross was on her back. Through the thick fog, he made out the faint lines.

When he first met her, her had often wondered why she wore such a flimsy garment. His questions had just been answered.

 

He spent the next day readying items to take with him to the crypt. He didn’t have much kerosene left, so he had to go to town to buy it.

It was late afternoon as he proceeded to the cemetery–hoping not to be seen. It was getting dark, so he made it in with not much trouble.

Now he would need extra strength. Waiting untill it was slightly darker and everyone had gone from the cemetery, he carefully, slowly and with a fear of what he was going to find, opened the door and proceeded in.

He closed the door behind him and placed garlic and onions in all the cracks in the vault. Carrying his tools–a silver cross, an extremely sharp ax of some size, a bucket of kerosene and his mallet and charcoal-tipped stake, he entered the crypt with the light from the oil lamp.

As he got into the crypt, he closed the heavy door, placing garlic and onions around that too.

In the still silence of the putrid stench, he suddenly realized that he was all alone.

He proceeded forward, slowly.

He was afraid of what lay ahead, and what may be lurking in the shadows.

The coffin was closed.

Alan set up his lantern on the lower half of the coffin and rested his large ax beside it.

He then slowly opened the eerie coffin, revealing the horrible gruesome sight inside.

The vampyre looked as if she had already had her drink, but her eyes were closed.

Alan steadily placed the sharp stake between the voluptuous breasts, and raised his mallet. As he did so, he took one last look at he woman-demon that lay before him. Suddenly the eyes opened, and burned into his brain. He stared back, observing her imploring lips…

The sun had not yet completely set.

She continued to entice.

His defenses started falling. The stake became loose, the sun became redder. He wanted to kiss her, to emvrace her.

The sun set; the vampyre snarled, revealing her sharp lethal teeth, and proceeded to rise. Alan quickly composed himself, steadied the stake, and plunged it deeply into her chest with one powerful stroke. The vampyre shrieked a blood-curdling scream as the determined stake plunged in like a grave-diggers shovel.

The ill-gotten blood squirted about, flowing freely on her “body”, Alan gave it one more strike to force it to the bottom of the coffin.

It shrieked more. Its face contorted grotesquely, blood spurting out irs nose, ears and mouth. Her reddening eyes bulged out with the strain of screaming.

Quickly, Alan took the ax and severed the vampyre’s gruesome head.

After decapitating it, he lifted itout, threw it on the floor, then poured kerosene on it. He lighted a rag and threw that on it too. The head went up in flames. He then turned to the coffin. When he looked back, he saaw four dark figures standing around him.

His heart stopped.

They were the un-dead.

Hissing, and bearing their fangs, they approached him. He tipped the coffin over, and was backed into a corner.

The four hissing vampyres approached him from all sides.

 

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