Photo courtesy of morgueFile.
Original story written by S. Copperstone, circa 2004.
A random chapter is below, just because I feel like sharing today :-). It’s a little vampire-like story about an alien hiding amongst humans and is an early draft. This story is the predecessor of my current work-in-progress, The High King’s Embalmer. The original idea was developed in the mid-1980s and has morphed into a different directions several times.
WARNING: there’s some violence:
THE RAW END OF LIFE
Shouts followed muffled curses. Each footstep and sneeze penetrated the thin apartment walls. Somewhere a dog barked. Always barked. Its owner ignored it. Always.
He rose from bed and stretched his arms, his back. That was when the pain came on, starting with a faint cramp in the pit of his stomach and mutated into a deep, sharp gnawing.
With a hand against his stomach, he stepped closer to the bed next to the window and leaned over. His face within inches of best friend’s cheek, staring at the gentle rise and fall of each breath she took.
Her facial muscles relaxed with none of the worry she held when awake. He stroked her long, dark hair as it spread out on the pillow, until the pain in his stomach erupted into a burning fire. His other hand covered his mouth, his teeth clamped down in his fingers. After a quick gasp of breath, he backed away. He grabbed blindly at the door knob to steady himself.
No! He wouldn’t jeopardize their relationship. He loved Malina.
He backed away from her sleeping form to dress in the dark and inserted the small knife he carried between his skin and the waist band of his skirt.
After slipping into the hall, he silently descended the worn carpeted stairs, pausing a moment on the landing to listen to the other occupants. The neighbor’s third bash that week, but on that night, the music’s volume was lower night than previously. He tip-toed passed their door. They frequently dabbled in drugs and wouldn’t notice or care what he was up to in the middle of the night. As he suspected, no one cared about his nocturnal wanderings. Most of the occupants danced on the shady side.
He slipped outside the door of the modest, stark building into the night.
A cool breeze smacked his face. He inhaled deeply and stopped just outside the dingy, beat-up door. He tilted his head slightly to the side, listening. Someone snored from the alleyway, accompanied by the sound of shuffling feet.
He walked unsteady in his heels, pretending to be an exhausted, drunk girl.
His prey: another homeless person. Same as last night. Same as the week before. This one though, a man and elderly, although it wasn’t always easy to determine their true age in such a condition. The man may have been not yet middle-aged. He kept up his charade, following the over-ripe smelling man. Stumbling occasionally and stopping to lean against a wall or street lamp post, while the man stopped at a dumpster and lifted the lid. The instant the man leaned into the dumpster, he attacked from behind. With a single stroke of his knife, he nearly decapitated the man, all the while trying to make it look sensual. Any passer-by may think they were nothing more than a couple making out. In that neighborhood, people turned a blind eye to most nocturnal activities.
He squatted with his back against a brick wall of the dilapidated building next to the dumpster. His eyes closed. Savored the remains of the blood in his stomach. It wasn’t his favorite. A strong after-taste lingered with the man’s blood. This man had a serious disease and probably wouldn’t have lived long if he hadn’t came along to speed up the process. Maybe he had saved the sickly man from suffering.
But, he didn’t have much compassion for most human life. But, he did have a strong sense of preservation for them. He preferred to save their lives so he might feed at another time. That was his true nature.
Except Malina. He would do anything for her.
He leaned his head back, closed his eyes and listened to the sounds of the city. A siren screamed in the distance, soon followed by another, growing quieter by the second. They headed away from his location. No one in this city cared about the homeless. No one paid much attention to that part of town. One more death was a relief for the overburdened taxpayers who paid for the shelters.
The homeless man’s blood sat heavy in his stomach. Even his body rejected it. He rested his head in his hands. The vibes he received from the man’s blood depressed him. He knew everything about the man, and didn’t want to know.
He took a breath and came up on his feet. After a quick survey of the surroundings, he easily hoisted the lifeless body into a dumpster and covered it with trash, then hid all visible traces of blood.
He returned to the small, run-down apartment he shared with Malina and their roommate, the blind and elderly Amarilla. With each step, he was mindful of the creaks and cracks in the wood, and the third step and its dead-waking squeak.
He removed his clothes and silently climbed into bed. He rolled over onto his back, staring at the cracks in the ceiling, at the shadowed area where the plaster buckled from the leaky roof. Paint peeled away from the plaster or rippled from the trapped water.
He turned his head, watched Malina, still asleep. He closed his eyes, willing the homeless man’s life away from his thoughts while blocking out the headache. He didn’t need sleep, but again, it was part of the disguise.
The city was killing him, mentally. He needed to convince Malina there were other places and ways to live. He would leave money to help Amarilla with the rent. They couldn’t take her with them. She would only slow them down and he couldn’t chance that.