A short story
With each step the sky darkened above him. He knew that if he wasn’t home by the time the sun went to sleep and the moon awoke he would be in serious trouble. Ten years ago he would’ve been fine to walk in the dark, he used to love to take a midnight stroll through his neighborhood listening to the creatures of the night move around without fear. Now the creatures of the night were out to kill whomever was stupid enough to be outside in the dark. He frantically watched all around him as the shadows moved through the darkness with ease. Just as they licked his feet he ran as fast as he could, looking back at the daunting shadows chasing after him. With each passing step no matter how fast he ran the shadows crept towards him appearing behind him growing in numbers by the second. Their blood red eyes glowing, seemingly floating in mid air as they still chased him without slowing, and without a second thought. As he reached his destination he stopped and turned towards shadows that were at the edge of the sunlight waiting for it to reach him, waiting for the sun to finally set. He reached behind him for his flare as fast as he could knowing that it would blind them long enough for him to make his escape. Just as he lit the flare the shadows reached him ripping open his arm just as the red light burned them away. He looked down at his right arm, five gashes for each claw evenly spread out cut deep into him, and blood trickled down his arm into his hand. Prepared he brought out bandages from his bag and wrapped his arm up so he wouldn’t pass out from the blood loss and sprinkled garlic over the bandage so he wouldn’t draw anymore attention to himself than he already had. He turned, and looked once glass door that was now covered in ply wood and sheet metal. It led to an art museum, one that he had been to ten years ago when everything was normal. Now it was disgusting, windows broken and blood everywhere. The only thing was perfect was that the art is still up, hanging where it had been before everything had changed. He grabbed the iron handle that had been nailed into the wood and pulled out his silver-hunting knife that covered his uninjured forearm, then pulled his crossbow out of his bag and slid it over his shoulder for easy access. Then as he opened the door he expected to be met with force but saw none. He walked in looking around at the blood that smeared the walls and a message written in blood saying, “Turn Back, Death Is Ahead”. He took a few minutes to loosen a ply board covering a window for the way back to the exit, on his way to the basement of the museum for a little extra insurance. The sun was about to come up. He knew that the museum was too big to determine where he would be chased too, but with only one door still working to his knowledge it narrowed down the routes dramatically. Just as he was about to reach the basement door an art piece hanging from the ceiling behind him, fell to the floor as the chain holding it up had finally rusted enough to break. He took cover as the glass flew everywhere, his heart raced with fear. Yet his courage was still there, death hadn’t scared him in a long time.
The old woman jerked her head upwards towards the sound of something hitting the floor above her as she sat in front of her mirror. She closed her eyes and inhaled through her nose smelling her soon to be prey. She chuckled as the other dozen of her kind gathered around her like a herd; they as well had heard the noise. They all wore simple clothes; personal belongings were unnecessary for their kind. Zona on the other hand liked to wear the nicest clothes her herd could find her, for she deserved it. She had waited over 300 years to be put into her vessel, longer than any other, and that was over 300 years ago. But that’s how their kind were made, with patience; most were just like her. Your vessel gets bitten, they turn into an immortal with a hunger for blood. All vessels succumb to their hunger no matter if it’s a decade or 300 years after the bite and with their first taste of blood their souls are ripped out of their bodies and replaced. Replaced with a demon from below, a demon from the ranks of the Devil’s army, sent to take this world back. Her herd parted letting through a young man with a lean but muscular build that looked like he could run for miles. They all stood waiting, their coffins behind them in rows of four, ready to protect their home from the intruder knowing that it wasn’t just a wandering civilian by the smell of garlic tainting his blood.
“Zona, milady why are we waiting? We are starving down here, we want new clothes and we deserve to go out into the real world, that is why we were given the chance to become what we are, is it not,” the man said. Faster than a blink of an eye she had her hand around his throat.
“You might have taken over the body of the pretty boy Michael, Felix but that doesn’t mean you cant use your brain,” Zona said. Her nose was an inch from his. She let go and he rubbed his neck. It was pointless to strangle someone who didn’t need to breathe but it showed force and that was how you kept things like them under your command. “You are down here because if you were up there you’d be killed by the sunlight and would be overrun. Our kind may have taken over this dump of a city, but we are still outnumbered 100 to 1 in the full scheme of things.”
It was pitch black as the young man with the crossbow started to walk down the stairs, taking one stair with each step. Listening for even the slightest sound of movement, but he was still too far away from the basement to hear clearly, there were more stairs than he anticipated.
Zona waited impatiently as her hunger grew with each second, her eyes waited for her meal to come into view so she could pounce on it. She looked behind her and smirked, they blindly follow her without a second thought. “Our meal, it comes,” Zona said. Her voice was snake like, as she licked her lips and her teeth grew.
The young man with the crossbow stood on the other side of the wall with his weapons ready, to come ever closer to ridding his life of the monsters that ruined it.
Sara hadn’t heard from Max in forty-eight hours. She had been pacing up and down the stairs of their small house for the last twenty-four. Occasionally looking out the window to check if he wasn't lying dead on the street. He usually checked in every couple hours so she knew something was wrong, she could feel it in her gut. His willingness to sacrifice himself for others wasn’t her favorite thing about her big brother, she wished that he would just stay home with her and stay safe from the monsters but he just couldn’t do it, he had to help people as much as he could. She didn’t know what she would do without him, but she also didn’t want to stop him because she knew that he’d be more miserable if he had to stay coped up in this house. She knew she was. She got tired of pacing and took a rest on her lazy boy chair next to the front door and her .44. As soon as she sat down she heard a light knock on the door and got up so quick that her head got dizzy.
“Max,” She yelled. She heard heavy breathing behind the door.
“Sara,” He said. She could hear his lagged breathing.
She unlocked a handful of locks and opened the door letting in sunlight as Max stood in front of her with blood dripping from his right forearm through his make shift bandage. The blood glistened in the sun as it rolled down his arm and his crossbow hung over his good arm, with no arrows left.
“Max what happened, I thought you had it covered,” Sara said. She tried not to sound to angry.
“How about you not get mad at me while I bleed out,” Max said. He fell over.
Sara caught him just before he hit the ground headfirst. Before she moved him she turned to the door and locked all five locks just like she always did. She used all of her strength to drag him over to the other room where their makeshift first aid table/kitchen table was. Limb by limb she put him on the table as carefully as she could, and when she finally got him on the table she got the sewing kit for his wounds, along with their morphine and the whiskey Max had just for such occasions. She carefully pulled off his crossbow over his head and then took of his shirt, showing the multiple scars he had gotten over the years. One on his chest from his first encounter with the monsters, and another on his ribs from when he was ambushed while saving Sara from an old friend a few years ago. She ran her fingers across them as if it would make them go away, but Max always said they gave him character.
“Max what happened? I thought you were just going on recon,” Sara said. She reached over to his good arm and unbuckled the knife sheath.
“Just patch me up and then we can go over
“Alright.” Sara walked over to their pantry and got out there medical supplies. Then got out a warm bottle of whiskey. She cleaned his arms; with the hydrogen peroxide they had found a week earlier.
“Sara, if you need a break and are feeling thirsty let me know immediately.”
“I know the drill.”
She took the needle and jabbed it through both sides of the first cut. Max didn’t even wince; he had done this too many times though that didn’t stop him from taking huge swigs of the whiskey. With each stitch his arm bleed more and more, making his skin turn pale and harder for her to keep going. Sara stopped halfway through the second cut, which happened to be the longest one, and got him a blanket to keep him warm, then she kept going. For her each stitch hurt, she wasn’t even 20 yet and she was stitching up her brother after a fight with demons that drink blood, her life wasn’t exactly going as she had planned it. With only a few stitches to go on the last of the four cuts, blood splattered up into her face.
“Sara, look at me,” Max said. He stared up at her without blinking, and without hesitation.
She looked at him her eyes were pitch black; her heart was pounding, her brain felt fuzzy and her body began to ache in hunger. Blood dripped down her face. Max used his blanket to wipe off the blood before it got anywhere near her mouth. He hated seeing her eyes like this. Seeing the way she would be if he wasn't there to stop her urges.
“Sara don’t do it, don’t give in not now.”
“I don’t know if I can stop myself Max. It smells so good.” She looked at her hands covered in blood from her brother and almost sucked it off but Max grabbed her hands pulling her back to reality.
“Sara, keep your eyes on me. Do you want me to talk,” Max asked.
“Yes, keep talking. Keep me together,” Sara said. Her vision was red. Blood filled her thoughts.
“Do you remember the day, the day that changed everything?”
She shook her head. Her head killed, the blood filled her mind with agonizing hunger. Max felt a tear from his sister fall on his nose. “It’s okay little sister, I don’t plan on leaving you anytime soon. No matter what happens.”
It was a Tuesday during the summer ten years ago; Max and Sara were in the back yard. Max had Michael over today, not just for him but for Sara too. She loved Michael.
“Sara leave Michael alone, you’ll break his back if you keep jumping on him like that,” Max said.
“It’s alright Max,” Michael said. He lifted Sara up.
“Don’t be such a party pooper Max,” Sara said. She was on Michaels shoulders now.
“Yeah,” Michael said. He put her down and then grabbed his lower back as he straightened up.
“Ha, told you,” Max said. He shrugged.
“Shut up,” Michael said. He hit him on the chest.
Sara ran inside really quick to talk to her parents, probably to ask when dinner was going to be ready, they were making us waffles for dinner. Her favorite.
“She is a big bottle of fire,” Michael said.
“Tell me about it, the only time she shuts up is when she’s asleep,” Max said.
“You know you love her.”
“Yeah I know. She loves you more though.”
“I doubt that. Have you told her yet by the way?”
“I don’t want to talk about this right now.” Max walked away towards the porch.
Michael grabbed his hand, “Well I do, and she needs to know from us first before she finds out the wrong way.” Max turned around to him.
“I know but it’s just weird.” Michael held his hand tighter.
“Do you want me to be there?”
“That would be fantastic.” Max looked at him and his world became smaller, nothing else mattered. He leaned forward and gently kissed his hand.
“Alright, I’ll be there.”
“Ok I remember now, it’s coming back to me. I remember what happened,” Sara said.
“Good,” Max said. He continued to wipe off the blood on her face as her eyes returned to their normal green glow.
“I miss mom and dad.” Sara broke down.
Max held the back of her head while she cried on his. “I know, me too.”
Max stood at the doorway listening to the scuffing of feet. He pulled out his last flare he had brought from his other back pocket lit it just before he threw it into the room. He heard hissing and then quickly looked around the corner his crossbow in front of him as he took a shot at one of them hitting it in the throat and killing it instantly. One down.
Zona watched in slow motion as the flare flew by her. She ran to the wall her meal was leaning against before it even hit the ground. She looked over at the others and saw an arrow kill one of them instantly. She snarled and ran to her closet to get her knives and then back to the wall in the blink of an eye.
“Hey blood demons, wanna come out and play,” Max asked. He ran up the stairs hitting the wall with the hilt of his knife as he ran.
They heard him running and chased after him. Zona and Felix were the only ones that stayed.
“For immortal demons, they have the brain capacity of an infant,” Felix said.
“Just be glad that we are old enough to have a brain,” Zona said. Felix nodded.
“So we are following them though right? I’m thirsty.”
“Not yet. I have a feeling he planned that.”
Max ran to the middle of the room. They were so fast that he didn’t even see them until they stopped fifty feet in front of him. He waved at them and they hissed back. He noticed that these were definitely grunts so whoever had them down there was still down there, which meant that whoever was down there, was smart. But these ones couldn’t survive on their own, they’d get to blood thirsty and just be massacred by humans. Though they would take out a few dozen people first.
“Smell that blood hmmm smells good,” Max, said. He kneeled to the ground as he shot an arrow at the window making the plywood fall. The monsters stood there screaming unable to run away from the light that burned them to death. He watched as their skin peeled from their muscles and their muscles burst from their bones. They were nothing but skeletons in the end. Max walked into the light and soaked it in. He knew he only had a limited time, but he had a feeling he wished his time had been longer.
Zona heard the screaming and knew that it was time. She hated slaughtering them but she knew it had to be done to get her meal’s confidence up before she destroyed it. She was at the top of the stairs with Felix in a blink; she looked at her feet and saw the bones of her herd still simmering in the sunlight. She picked up a skull despite the light and looked at her prey as she crushed in with her bare hand.
Max gulped down his fear as he saw her crush the skull and then noticed who was standing beside her and almost exploded with every emotion.
“Michael,” Max said.
Zona looked in between them. “Oh, this is good. This is good. You two know each other,” She asked.
“Michael knew him, his memories fill my head with disgusting love and joy,” Felix said. He held his head, as the pain of the emotions suffocated him in pain.
Max stared at him. He sounded nothing like the Michael he knew. His voice was deeper and his language was completely different, he really was gone. After ten years, it was finally here.
“Finally, the day I get to kill the boy I used to care about more than anything,” Max said. He pulled up his crossbow and shot at Zona. She caught it just before it hit her face and broke it in two. Max reloaded.
“Such hate inside of you little one. Why do you hate him so? After all he was the one you cared for, as you say,” Zona said as she licked Felix’s neck. Felix just stood there and did nothing.
“It’s not him anymore, it hasn’t been him for ten long years. I have waited to put him down since I day I first saw your devilish kind,” Max said.
“First off. Felix, young man, young man, Felix,” Zona said.
“His name is Michael,” Max said.
“This body yes, but the mind the soul is Felix. ” Zona said.
“Enough talk, I am hungry,” Felix said.
Zona stopped him. “I see you brought the sun on your side,” she said.
Felix couldn’t wait any longer, pushing Zona out of the way and ran towards Max carefully not into the sunlight. Max was prepared; as he had hidden his knife behind his back inside another sheath he hides under his bag. He pulled it out and stabbed Felix in the side, leaving it in as the sliver burned him from the inside out. Blood flowing from his mouth and wound as he lay on the ground.
Zona screamed and had Max’s neck in her hand before Max could take another breath.
“I’ve got you now little one, how are you going to get out of this? You will be a great addition to our kind.” Zona said. Her mouth opened as her teeth grew. She leaned in for his neck.
“Go back to hell you bitch,” Max said with the last breath he had as he pulled out a grenade from his front pocket with his free hand and shoved it down her throat as she bit down on his arm. She recoiled back as he pulled the pin of the grenade.
Zona ran back and forth around the room, even hitting the sunlight in pure panic. She finally stopped in front of the basement door.
Max shot her in the heart with his last arrow just before she exploded leaving nothing but ashes were she stood. He let out a big breath and coughed as he wiped the ashes off his face.
He bent down to Felix pulling the knife out of his side. Felix was weakening, the demon was dying.
“Michael…” Max said. He held his face, like he used too. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you sooner, save you from all of this I should have been there more” Max looked down at him.
"As much as it pains me to have them, I have your dear Michaels memories. He really did love you," Felix said.
"Shut up," Max said wiping tears away.
Felix lunged up at Max but Max held him away from him before sticking him with the knife again.
Felix’s’ black eyes met his as he fell back down and Max could barely stand to look but then the demon’s eyes cleared back to baby blues. Max saw Michael in there somewhere even if for just a split second then watched as the body slowly burned from the inside out into ash. He got up, picked up his knife and walked outside. He no longer had to be afraid of the dark.