Authors: Bret Wellman
Tags: #Horror | Dystopian | Vampires
Joe didn’t like anything he read in the morning paper. They were saying the entire east coast was suffering the first effects of a new plague. Bodies were disappearing and the homicide rate had risen, particularly around people guarding those bodies. All of it was happening faster than authorities could keep up. Hell, it was happening faster than anyone could keep up.
With all the extra crime, the mystery of his slain dog had fallen to the wayside.
They’re sure as hell gonna remember when I kill the son of a bitch. He better pray he never steps on this property again.
Now that he’d fed and milked the cows he was able to let his frustrations simmer. Things didn’t seem nearly as bad as they were saying. Out in the fresh air of his farm, he couldn’t help but think the stories were just from the radical news doing what it did best. Most likely somebody was making a mountain out of a molehill in order to sell more papers.
Even so, he couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of unease in his gut. His instincts agreed with the paper, something was wrong. Whether there was a plague or not, that didn’t seem right either.
He thought about Charlie and Rose and decided to give them a call. It would make him feel better to check on them, considering everything that may or may not be happening.
He dialed their number twice and both times got an answering machine. Rose’s sweet voice came on the line, telling him to leave a message at the beep.
He ran his hands over his stubbly chin as he stood there and thought.
Rose never left the house much in her old age, especially if it wasn’t Sunday. She loved phone calls and would usually be waiting to talk his ear off. It wasn’t right.
His next decision took no hesitation and little thought.
He tossed his twelve gauge behind the back seat of his old F-250 and took off down the driveway.
There was a two track a little ways down his driveway that cut directly between the two farms. It was bumpy and narrow, with fields of corn reaching out from either side. Joe took it and was pulling into Charlie’s driveway in less than two minutes.
The ground was a lot smoother on the driveway. The truck stopped bouncing and he was able to go faster. When he reached the house he came to a skidding halt. The cloud of dust that was chasing him caught up a few seconds later.
Joe knew something was wrong immediately. The front door was wide open, screen and all.
He reached back and grabbed the twelve gauge before getting out of the truck. The blue sky hung over his head as he crossed the front yard. The sun was glaring and he was glad his hat was on to protect his eyes. The dog days of summer were making their first appearance and he knew he would find little escape from the heat for the next few months.
“Charlie, Rose, is everything alright?” he called as he approached the door.
The only response was a soft creaking as the screen door swayed back and forth with the breeze.
The house was two stories and taller than it was wide. The siding was a grayish white with green shutters on all of the windows. There was a time when the house looked immaculate, but the paint began cracking and fading in more recent years. Joe was waiting for the day when Charlie would come ask for help painting it. He would try and pay for the work, but Joe would refuse his money. They would probably go back and forth for weeks until Joe gave in and took it.
Joe got to the door and hesitated for only a second. There was a streak of dried blood on the welcome mat. It was a dark gray mat, but he could still make it out.
Joe furrowed his eyebrows at the sight of the blood. It wasn’t the type of thing Rose would leave without cleaning, especially at the front door.
He stepped into the house gun first, keeping his finger off the trigger. It wouldn’t do any good if Charlie came around the corner and he accidentally shot him.
The wood floor creaked under his heavy steps. It was pissing him off that he couldn’t be a little quieter. Any crook would hear him coming from a mile off.
He was praying to find Charlie and Rose okay, but a small part of him hoped to find an intruder. By the time the cops got there they would find a dead intruder.
Joe heard a noise in the living room and headed in that direction. He walked fast, knowing it would be useless to sneak on the old wood floors.
He showed no fear as he stepped into the living room, shotgun drawn.
The television was on. The screen flashed back and forth between no signal and scrambled. A glass of milk had been knocked over on the coffee table. Judging by the smell, it had been a while.
The milk was another mess Rose would never let go untouched. The milk spilling in the first place would have enraged her. This could only mean that no one had been in this room for a while.
Joe went back to the kitchen where they kept the phone and called the police.
“Nine one one, state your emergency,” said the female operator.
Joe sighed. “I think I’ve discovered a crime.”
He had to hand it to police, their response time was pretty damn good. The sheriff pulled up in just over eight minutes. It was barely enough time for Joe to take his twelve gauge home and get back.
“So the old man’s missing, is anyone inside?” asked Sheriff Brooks.
“Not that I could see.”
“Did you touch anything when you were in there?”
“Just the phone.”
The sheriff nodded. “Good. Wait out here.”
Joe did as he was told and waited while the sheriff went inside. He was in there for a good ten minutes. In that time, three more police cruisers pulled up.
“This is now a crime scene,” said the sheriff when he came back out, onto the front porch. “I think we could be looking at a possible homicide.”
“A what?” Joe asked, his eyes going wide.
“It’s standard procedure. As long as Charlie and Rose are missing we have to assume the worst.”
A couple of cops began roping off the front porch. Joe sat on his tailgate, waiting to see if they would find anything.
He glanced around at Charlie’s fields. Like Joe, he’d planted corn as well.
It’s going to be a long, hard harvest season if I have to harvest Charlie’s crops too.
After a good half hour he decided there was more productive things he should spend his time doing and climbed into the cab of his truck. As soon as he started the engine the sheriff came over waving his hands.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he asked.
“I got a farm to run, Brooks.”
“Well hang on, I have a few questions to ask.”
“Shoot,” said Joe.
“When did you notice something was wrong?” He pulled a small notepad out of his back pocket and prepared to write.
“When somebody killed my dog and stuck its head on a fence.”
“I mean today, run me through what happened.”
“I called the house around one. When nobody answered the phone I came over here to make sure everything was all right. I entered the house, saw the blood on the floor and checked that no one was home. After that I called you guys.”
“And that’s it. You didn’t do anything else?”
“Alright, thanks. I needed a statement for my report.”
“Can I go?,” asked Joe. “I got a lot of work to do.”
“Sure,” said Brooks. “But we might contact you later.”
“Do whatever you have to do officer.”
Joe pulled away, leaving the old house and the cops in his rear view mirror. He had a plan, though it wasn’t a very good one. His body was boiling with rage and he was fully prepared to shoot the first son of a bitch he didn’t recognize on his property.
Of course the chicken shit coward who broke into their house was probably in hiding.
Joe recognized that he was making a lot of assumptions. If he was being honest with himself he still had no idea what was going on.
He decided he would visit the neighboring farms once he finished with his work for the day. He would ask them all if they noticed any strangers wandering about. With any luck he could get a description.
Hell, if he was really lucky he would walk in to find Charlie and Rose sitting down for tea.
He didn’t say it out loud, but at that moment he wasn’t feeling very lucky at all.
Adam sat stunned in Barry’s living room. The news was playing on the TV, but he saw none of it. His mind was blank. The images his eyes captured were nothing more than colored shapes he ignored.
It took Carl all day to die after getting sick, his mom had gone down in hours.
The doctor’s voice still rang in his head, “She’s gone.”
He felt the same now just as he had hours earlier when he first heard the news: numb.
“If you need anything, just ask and I’ll get it,” said Barry, all traces of his usual humor gone.
“I’m fine,” said Adam.
Meanwhile the news report he was failing to see went on right before his blinded eyes.
The reporter was a red-haired woman who looked ecstatic as she reported in front of a funeral home.
The story was about a camera that was recording a dead body in the morgue. The body had disappeared overnight and the funeral home directors were sure the camera finally had the answers as to why. What they found when they played the video was astounding.
At exactly 2:06 in the morning the body fades into nothingness. One minute the body is there, the next it’s partially see through, the next it’s gone. Two minutes later the door in the corner of the screen swings open of its own accord and then shuts again.
“Phenomenon,” was the word the reporter used to describe it.
Barry was transfixed on the news report.
“Dude, this is insane!”
“Yea,” said Adam, not knowing or caring what he was talking about.
“This is real. This is happening.”
“What?” asked Adam, turning his head for the first time in ten minutes.
“It’s a fucking vampire. It’s the only thing that makes sense.”
“Whatever man,” said Adam, turning back to look at nothing.
“I’m serious. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.”
“Makes sense,” Adam mumbled. “Nothing makes sense anymore.”
Barry got up and began pacing. “This is crazy. This is so crazy.”
“She was so healthy yesterday. She went to work…”
Barry stopped. “Sorry man.”
“No,” said Adam. “One minute she’s here and the next she’s gone, just gone? Why?”
“I don’t know. It sucks.”
“It’s not fair. She never had it easy in life. To come and strip away the little bit she worked so hard for, it’s fucking bullshit.”
“I know Adam. It feels really bad right now, but it will get better.”
“Better? I don’t want it to get better. I want her back!” He threw the pillow he was clutching and it knocked over a lamp.
Barry went over and picked them both up. “Right, sorry.”
“No, it’s me. I just need sleep.” Adam was breathing heavy. He felt like he could crawl right out of his own skin. “I’m heading to bed.”
Barry had a look of concern on his face as he watched him head up stairs. There was a certain helplessness that Adam had never seen on his face before.
Welcome to the club,
Adam kept going until he reached the room he was staying in.
It was a skinny room, but long. The ceiling sloped down at an angle that matched the roof. His bed was draped in dark red blankets on the opposite wall from the window.
As he crawled into bed he had a good look at the full moon. A single dark cloud sailed its way in front of it. The room grew noticeably darker.
Adam closed his eyes, embracing the resilient numbness that was now his existence.
His lack of sleep caught up with him and he was out in less than a minute.
Three hours into the night, the room was still and quiet. A soft blue light flashed once every thirty seconds. It was his phone indicating he had a new message. A dream catcher hung from the shade above the window, swaying slightly.
Tap, Tap, Tap, came a noise from the window. Tap, Tap, Tap.
Adam stirred in his sleep.
Tap, Tap, Tap. Adam rolled over. Tap, Tap, Bang!
Adam sat up fast, his heart pounding. He had broken out into a cold sweat. His dreams seemed so distant all of a sudden, but he thought he could remember falling.
He reached for his water with a shaky hand and took a drink.
For a moment his heart stopped. He continued looking forward, refusing to so much as glance in the direction of the voice.
“Adam, it’s me.”
Her voice was soft against his ears; it was a voice he knew well. His fears began to subside and he was able to take a steady breath. Everything about that voice was comforting.
“Look at me Adam.”
He could feel the pull coming from her. It coaxed him, begged him. He turned his head.
His mom was watching him from outside the window. She must have been kneeling on the ledge of the roof, but from where he was sitting it looked as though she were floating.
She was pale white and skinnier than she had ever been in life. Her hair was spread out and wild. She carried an animalistic beauty that she had never had before.
“Come to me.”
There were new aspects to her features that he had never noticed as well. Her skin was smoother than he remembered and small ridges had appeared at the corners of her lips. Those same lips that had never looked so full before. She was pale to be sure, extremely pale, yet somehow she pulled it off. The way the moonlight fell across her, she looked like a model straight from a magazine. It was still his mother, just another version. This version was Photoshopped to perfection.
Adam rose, his gaze locked on hers. The pupils of her eyes were so red and dark. They seemed to go on forever. It was as if he could look into them and they would lead him to her soul. They were hypnotic.
He took a step towards the window. It was small, little more than a shuffle.
Deep down he knew something was wrong, he just couldn’t remember what. Part of him was gone, evaporated under the glare of those eyes.
“Let me in Adam,” his mom pleaded.
Her voice was more in his head than actually coming from outside. Her lips didn’t even move when she spoke.
He took another step, this one wider.
No, this is wrong!
Adam shook his head and closed his eyes.
She isn’t here, she’s dead.
“I’m right here Adam, open your eyes. Look at me.”
He did as she said, and was swept back into her gaze. He took another step.
He was almost to the window.
“There you are my boy.”
“Mom?” he whispered.
“Yes, let your mommy in now Adam.”
She dragged her long, sharp fingernails across the window before pressing her palm flat. The sound was shrill and seemed to echo inside his scull. It left his ears ringing after it had stopped.
Adam lifted his hand to meet hers, dropping the glass of water he’d carried from the bed.
He hadn’t even realized he was carrying it; he didn’t care either. The glass was forgotten just as fast as it was realized.
It struck an air duct on the floor. The impact spilled all of its water and created a clanging noise that echoed.
Adam took a step back, confused. He didn’t know how he’d gotten over to the window. The last thing he could remember was going to bed. Dread began to well in his chest.
He saw his mom and relaxed, his heart slowing back to normal. She was here to make everything better.
He lifted his gaze to meet hers on the opposite side of the glass.
“Let me in,” she whispered.
“Let you in,” Adam repeated.
“Say you give me permission to enter.”
The bedroom door cracked open and a beam of light fell into the room from the hallway. Barry stuck his head in.
“You alright? I heard a noise.”
Adam had yet to notice him there. “I grant you-“
“No!” Barry screamed.
He burst through the door in a full charge. Light from the hallway poured in behind him.
Adam turned. “Wha’?”
The creature at the window hissed. Adam turned back in time to see that it wasn’t his mother at all.
In the short time his head was turned she had changed completely. The ridges at the corners of her lips pulled back to reveal two long fangs. Her face contorted, creating hard lines that his mother had never had in life. The red in her eyes seemed to flare, while the rest of her eye turned darker.
And the expression on her face—perhaps that was what made it worst of all—was a desperate scowl of hatred. It looked like the intimidating roar of a lion, only at the same time it had the repulsive cynicism of a rattlesnake about to lunge.
She let out a hideous scream that was so loud he had to cup his hands over his ears.
“Let me in!” she screeched.
She placed her palm against the window. Her fingers were so long that they looked odd. Her fingernails were stained with dried blood and sharpened to a point. She scratched them against the window and he could see the ligaments under her pale skin, stretching.
Adam stared at her, completely uncomprehending.
What is this thing?
Barry grabbed him with two hands and began pulling him away from the window.
“Get the hell away from us,” he screamed.
Adam could feel himself rising out of the fog. Their lives were in danger. Something seriously wrong was happening.
Barry looked scared to death. Indeed, he could feel the man shaking as he pulled away from the window.
Adam glanced back, but there was nothing there. He saw only stars.
When they got to the hallway both of them collapsed against the wall.
Barry began to cry into his hands. “It’s real, they're real. Vampires, I can’t believe it. Fucking vampires.”
Adam was too stunned to say anything. Instead he alternated between rubbing his hands together and running his hands through his hair.
It took both of them an hour to relax and regain their heads. When they did, they debated on whether or not to call the police. In the end they decided the police would never believe them. What would they even say, “Can you send help? My dead mom is trying to break into my window.”
The only thing they could agree on after that was that they should do their best to get some rest, somewhere far away from a window. They would deal with this in the daytime when they weren't so freaked out.
How to get that rest was another story entirely. They chose to enter their bedrooms together and gather up all the blankets and pillows they could hold. They then took all of their bedroom supplies and spread them out in the hallway. Finally, without shutting off the hallway light, they lay down and went back to sleep.
It was by no means the ideal situation, but with the blanket over his head Adam thought he might get some rest.
How to shut his mind down was another problem altogether. The scene in his bedroom ran through his head on never ending repeat. He kept seeing those eyes, and the creature’s clawed hand as she brought it up to the window.
It hypnotized me. If Barry hadn’t come in I would have opened the window.
He thought about the window for a moment, wondering why she didn’t just smash her way in. The thought did little to help him back to sleep.
At the end of the next half hour Adam was beginning to think he imagined the whole thing. Maybe it was all an elaborate hoax and they would find themselves on YouTube the next morning. It would be a pretty sick joke for the person to try and make themselves look like his mom. If he found out somebody did that just for attention, he would beat the ever-living shit out of them.
It wasn’t too much longer afterwards that he was able to sleep.
The next morning Adam would get a call that he already knew was coming. His mother’s body disappeared from the morgue overnight.