Tales of a Night Walker

By Bert McKenzie

Copyright 2010

 

Chapter 1

 

I knew it was wrong.  I was engaged to the most beautiful girl in the

county, but I didn't want her.  I wanted her brother.  The Church said it

was a sin.  I made the mistake of confessing my secret desire in the

confessional and trusted the priest to maintain his unbreakable vows.  No

one should ever know I was secretly in love with my fiance's brother

Armand.  Everyone who had ever committed such a sin was surely burning in

the eternal fires of hell and damnation.  But I would gladly risk eternal

damnation to be with Armand; to touch his smooth skin; to brush our lips

together.  What a fool I was.

 

I'm Jefferson Wesley Smythe, III and I was young then, only 23.  I was a

tall, lanky boy standing 6'3" with thin blond hair hanging over my ears and

down to my collar.  My most noticeable feature was my piercing green eyes

something I inherited from my mother's Irish ancestry.  My family had

wealth and position.  We owned a large plantation just south of Richmond,

Virginia.  The eldest of two brothers and three sisters, I was destined to

inherit a ready-made station in life.  But I was a disappointment to my

father.  He wanted a strong businessman for a son, someone who would help

run the family estates and eventually take over for him.  Instead, I was

interested in the arts.  I painted and played music.  I even acted in plays

in Sunday school and when home between terms, I had my brothers and sisters

involved in my little dramas that we put on for the servants.  Jefferson

Smythe, II abhorred this sort of foolery and waste of time.  And the final,

crushing disappointment came when the old priest spoke with him about his

eldest son.  For all I know the priest may have only been trying to save my

soul, but in the end it was my damnation.

 

 I had met Felicity Dubois at a party thrown by her cousins.  She was a

stunning beauty, but my eye was caught and my heart ensnared by her brother

Armand.  Armand was shorter than me, thick set, and carried himself with a

noble bearing.  His face was remarkably handsome with dark brown eyes deep

set beneath his low brow.  His mouth was small, a cupid bow with thick

lips.  How I longed to kiss those lips.  While Felicity was a beautiful

woman, Armand was my idea of the perfect male form.  I often dreamed of

what the young man's body must look like beneath his clothing.

 

Armand had a love of horses, and so I was able to talk with him at length

about them.  Our family owned a fine stable and I invited Armand to go

riding.  Armand insisted on bringing along his sister.  I couldn't very

well admit my disappointment.  She was all girl, needing to be the center

of attention, needing help onto her horse and so on.  She couldn't ride as

fast as the two of us, so I was the gentleman and held back to stay with

her although I longed to be galloping ahead with Armand.  Still, soon the

three of us became fast friends, although I have to admit I wanted more

from Armand.  I began to court Felicity just to be near Armand.  It was

wrong, but I thought it would serve my purpose.  After all, I needed a

bride; it was the expected thing of young men in my station.  And if she

brought me closer to my secret lust, so much the better.

 

Little did I know the scrutiny I was under.  The old priest knew my voice

and broke the sacred vows of silence.  He carried a tale to my father

before I had even acted on my impure thoughts.  I had never been

particularly close to my father, nor had the older man to me.  In fact, the

elder Smythe had never been close to anyone in our family.  He was the

patriarch and consummate land owner, but a loving man, he was not.  Our

mother had passed on with the birth of my youngest sister and we children

were raised by our father's colored slaves.  As children it was to our best

favor to stay well clear of father.  Only later in our teenage years did he

seem to take any real interest in us, and then only when he thought he

could use us to his advantage.  I was well aware of the midnight visits

father paid to my sisters.  I had heard the screams and cries, and had held

the girls and comforted them after the older man had gone back to his

bedroom.  It was degrading to have to live with such a secret and not be

able to do anything to help the children.  Perhaps it was this perversion

that helped me to realize my own forbidden interest in men couldn't be

quite so bad.  After all, I would never hurt an innocent child.  But my

supposed secret longings only added to my father's dislike of me and gave

the older man an excuse to spy on me through his servants.  They covertly

followed my every move, noting when I would visit with Armand, what I would

say or how I would act.  They often colored their reports to their master.

They enjoyed making my meetings with Armand more frequent and my time with

Felicity much less arduous.

 

We three friends planned a grand party so Felicity and I could announce our

engagement.  Granted I had not spoken with Felicity's father yet, but I was

sure he would grant me his daughter's hand when he returned from his

business trip to England.  Everyone in the county would be there.  The

anticipation I felt was surely due to the knowledge that I would be able to

spend time in a party setting with Armand.  The young man was quite

delightful in his attentions to me as a perspective brother-in-law.  If

only Armand would see me as something more.  I so longed to confess my

secret affection to him as more than just his brother-in-law but feared the

inevitable rejection.  My dreams would be fulfilled if I could but share

with Armand an intimacy that should be saved only for husband and wife.  I

longed to kiss those full lips and crush Armand's warm flesh to me in a

passionate embrace.

 

The day of the party arrived and I dressed in my best blue velvet.  My

friends met me in the ballroom and I welcomed my bride to be and my love,

my Armand as they came in all excited.  The three of us then stood in the

hall and greeted our guests as they arrived.  The musicians played and I

danced with Felicity.  When not paying attention to my fiance, I spent time

visiting with her brother, all under the watchful gaze of my father.  Had I

but known the man's evil plans, I would have found a horse and fled as

though Satan himself were chasing me.  But I was naive to the darkness that

had grown and possessed my father's heart.

 

Part way through the evening, my father called me aside to introduce me to

a visitor from a foreign country.  The tall man with the dark visage was

dressed peculiarly in a long frock coat and black opera cape.  He was from

Europe and I assumed that he was a business associate of my father.  I was

polite but aloof, not wanting to waste my time with strangers or business

acquaintances when I could be with my friends.  As the evening wore on, the

ladies retired to refresh themselves and no doubt visit about the men.  The

men folk likewise repaired to the solarium where they would smoke cigars

and tell ribald stories.  This was my chance to steal away with Armand.

Although I might not be able to be with him as I wanted, I was determined

to have a few moments in private, if only to look with affection on my

would be lover's countenance.  I took Armand by the hand and led him

through the glass doors and into the garden.

 

When we were alone and hidden from the rest of the party by the high growth

of roses and hyacinth, I asked his advice.  I concocted a story that I was

nervous about his sister.  Armand asked me why my consternation.  I

explained to him that I feared my kisses were not suitable.  I told my

secret love that I feared Felicity would not welcome my physical advances.

I asked Armand's advice on kissing.  How did he approach a woman?  Could he

explain his method of kissing?  Armand giggled at the questions and told me

that he thought my worries baseless, but I assured him of my honest

concern.  I asked him if he could but demonstrate his technique in kissing

a maiden.  Armand looked about in surprise.  "Surely, my friend, Jefferson,

how can I possibly show you how to kiss a maid when there are nary about?"

 

"Well," I prevaricated, "I supposed, just for the sake of an educational

experience, you could pretend that I was the maid.  You could kiss me and

thus show me how you correctly perform this, whilst learning how inferior I

am at the process."

 

Again Armand giggled, as a youth would.  "I kiss you?  Oh Jefferson, surely

you jest!" he laughed.  But I assured him of my earnestness.  I begged him

to demonstrate his kiss.  Finally with several more giggles and chuckles he

agreed for the sake of helping his sister achieve true happiness from her

future husband.  Armand drew me to him as he would a lass of years younger,

and placed his hand against the back of my head.  Then he pulled me so

willingly to him and pressed his warm, sensuous lips to mine.  It would

have ended there, but that I opened my mouth and forced my tongue between

what I thought to be the unwilling lips of my friend.  My kiss became one

of passion and in surprise I felt my pretend lover respond in kind.

Armand's arms held me firmly rather than pushing me away.  His tongue

battled with mine for supremacy of our mouths.  Our passions rose and we

kissed not as student and teacher, but as one lover will with another.  Our

bodies were entwined, pressed together as were our lips.  My heart nearly

burst with happiness as I finally achieved my desire.  I could feel the

heat of my blood throughout my loins and I knew I would be able to press my

claim further.  One day, perhaps even later this evening we would enjoy

more physical passion.

 

But my father's agents took that moment to act.  They brought the older man

with them into the garden to witness our passionate embrace and kiss.  My

father and his men acted swiftly.  They grabbed both of us and pulled us

violently apart separating me from my erstwhile lover.  Armand looked

shocked at first and then realized the position we were in and quickly

wiped his mouth with the back of his hand while denouncing me.  Armand cast

me to be the aggressor and the beast who would attack a young and innocent

boy in such a manner.  My father's men dragged me struggling from the

garden and out to the stables.  They held me as my father and his strange

companion from overseas came into the lamplight.  My father told his

strange associate that he was welcome to me and then turned away.  He left

me alone in the stable with his two henchmen and this mysterious foreigner.

The servants bound me to one of the support beams so that I was unable to

escape.  They then tore open my jacket and shirt, exposing my bare chest.

The servants laughed as they left me alone with the stranger.

 

"Fear not, my sweet boy" he said in a thickly accented voice.  "I will

simply grant you the rest you deserve, and one to which all mortal men must

one day succumb."  He leaned forward and smiled.  "I realize that you enjoy

the kiss of a man."  He pressed his lips to my mouth.  His breath smelled

rank, as of the charnel house, and I struggled, turning my head from side

to side.  But the stranger only pulled back and laughed.  As he smiled, I

noticed his unusually long canine teeth.  "This will hurt but a little," he

said, "but pain is the doorway to the afterlife, is it not?"  I knew then

that the foreigner planned to kill me and I knew with the same conviction

that this plan was approved by my loving father.  To my surprise, the

stranger made a quick move with his head, and began to kiss me on the side

of the face, sliding down, kissing my neck.  I then felt a sharp pain as

the man bit me, piercing the flesh of my shoulder, just above the collar

bone.  I was surprised and amazed expecting the man to murder me instead of

biting me.  It wasn't a mortal wound, but it was deep enough to bleed

profusely.  Then the strange man leaned forward and placed his lips over

the wound and sucked with all his might.  I could feel the strange man

pulling the blood from my body.

 

The stranger continued to feast on me and then leaned back to smile again

at me, his mouth and chin red with my life's blood.  He laughed and leaned

back to the wound and sucked again.  The bite had not done mortal damage,

but he apparently nicked a vein and was draining and drinking the life from

me, his victim.  I felt cold and dizzy and began to swoon but the man

stopped and slapped my face to gain my attention.  He then took a thin

knife and opening his own coat and shirt, he made a cut on his breast.  It

began to bleed.  The man pulled my face to his chest and my lips to the

wound.  "Suck," he commanded.  "Taste my life giving blood."  The thought

revolted me but the foreigner held my face to his chest and his blood

smeared onto my lips.  To my incredulous surprise, I found it did not taste

like blood.  There was a strange stinging flavor, almost as of mint, and

although I was disgusted at the thought, it seemed to incite some kind of

odd need in me.  I tasted it and then despite my revulsion sucked again,

more deeply, filling my mouth with it.  "Yes, my little one," the foreigner

laughed.  "Taste and be one with me."  He pulled away from me and leaned

forward to suck more from the wound he had inflicted on my shoulder.  As I

became dizzy again, the strange man pressed my face against his chest,

forcing more of his blood into my mouth.  The cold and dizziness seemed to

sweep over me again.  My head fell down onto my chest and I felt as though

I were falling into a dream world.  It was a world colored red with blood

and fire.  I cried out for help, and then knew no more.

 

Some time later, I awakened to great pain.  It felt as though my whole body

was on fire.  I wanted to scream, but had no voice.  I thought I had indeed

died and was now suffering the damnation I thought I deserved in hell.  I

tried to open my eyes, but was unable to do so.  It was as if my mind were

cut off from my body, unable to affect it.  But I could still feel.  My one

sensation was the excruciating pain.  After what seemed like an eternity of

torment, very gradually the pain began to subside.  It was a great relief

to feel it slowly ebb away.  With the pain's surcease I could begin to feel

sensations.  I could feel the surface beneath me.  It seemed as though I

had awakened on a hard bed, but I was still paralyzed, unable to move or

even open my eyes.  There was a loud roaring in my ears which slowly seemed

to resolve itself.  I was gaining back my faculties very slowly, one by

one.  The first had been feeling, and now it was hearing.  The roar

gradually modified to become a murmur of voices.  They were hushed as if

speaking in reverence, but I couldn't quite make out the words.  I could

however, hear soft sobbing in the background behind the voices.  Perhaps

this wasn't hell, but purgatory, a place of sadness, heaven's waiting room.

 

I felt a sting in my nasal passages and realized my sense of smell must

also be returning.  The scent was almost overpowering and I thought to hold

my breath.  That was when I suddenly realized I wasn't even breathing in

the first place.  How was that possible?  Somehow I knew the paralysis was

keeping my chest immobile, no air moving in my throat.  I tried to gasp,

but was unable.  This was certainly an odd sensation.  It only confirmed my

thought that I must be dead, for if I were not breathing, then this must

truly be the afterlife.  Yet I could still feel the sting of the scent in

my nose.  It resolved itself into a floral aroma.  There was an

overwhelming scent of flowers.  But there was more.  It was as if there

were body aromas mixed in, the scent of people and cologne and mold.  It

wasn't pleasant.

 

Eventually the sounds changed and the sobbing grew more distant.  The space

around me grew very quiet.  It was at that time that I found I was able to

open my eyes.  I was gaining control over my body again.  Although I could

see I was still unable to move.  I could plainly see that I was lying in a

coffin, the pink satin lining of the open box surrounded me and I could see

the tops of the sprays of flowers nearby.  Again I heard murmured voices

and tried to understand their words.  This time I was successful.

 

"You were to kill him.  That was our agreement."  It was my father's voice.

Then perhaps I wasn't in the afterlife.  Perhaps I wasn't even dead.

 

"I apologize, my lord, but he was too beautiful to treat thus."  The second

speaker had a thick accent.  "I had tasted his life's blood and could tell

his life was strong.  I could not waste it thus.  I have sired him to an

eternal life as I and my kind have known."

 

"You mean to tell me, he will rise from his coffin?  He will be a foul

creature of the night like you?"  I could tell that this condition,

whatever it was, offended my father even more than my sinful lust for my

future brother-in-law.  "I will not have it, sir!"

 

"There is nothing you can do, save burn the body before he gains full use

of his abilities," the other replied.  "See, even now his eyes open."

 

I could not understand how I could hear and see yet not move or even

breathe.  But as I laid there, my father's face leaned into view.  He had

an abhorrent scowl and for a moment I feared he would spit on me.  Then he

stood back out of the field of vision.  "The only way to kill your kind is

to burn you?" he asked.

 

"Yes," the accented voice said.

 

"Seize him!" the man ordered.  I could hear a scuffle and protests, but

those sounds grew faint.  Next my father's voice gave more orders.  "Nail

the lid on and let's get on with this."  The lid of the coffin suddenly

came into view.  Several hands lowered it over my face.  I was plunged into

darkness and could feel the confining air of the tiny box in which I was

trapped.  Then there was a loud pounding as the lid was nailed into place.

After that I could hear only indistinct muffled voices.

 

In a short time my body began to tingle, as if pricked with thousands of

needles.  The tingling continued in intensity until I feared my father had

indeed set me on fire.  But there were no flames, only the intense pain.

Eventually that too subsided and at last I found I could move again.  My

legs and feet moved.  My arms reached out, but I was confined in a tiny

box.  There was an extreme limit to what movement I could make.  The lid

above me was immobile, fastened securely in place with nails.  I opened my

mouth and was able to gasp.  I could again feel the air flow into my lungs,

but it was stale in the confines of the tiny box.  I tried to make a sound,

but had not yet received the power to use my vocal cords again.

 

Some time later I felt movement.  Someone or perhaps several people had

lifted my coffin and I was being carried.  I could feel the swinging step

as it gently rocked from side to side.  Then I felt a sharp drop as my box

was placed somewhere else.  A vibration began.  I could only think that I

was being transported by wagon to another location, perhaps the cemetery.

This lasted quite a long time.  Where ever I was being taken must be quite

far from where they held my viewing.  The vibrations stopped, followed by a

scraping noise.  Once again I was in the same rocking motion, carried

somewhere.  Then I felt my box drop with a bang onto a solid surface.  I

could vaguely hear voices outside, muttering.  Then after a time a new

movement began, another wagon ride.  I wondered where they could be sending

me.  Time passed and I was jostled and bumped quite a bit as we must have

gone over rough country.  Finally, I was lifted and carried.  I was tipped

head down and felt myself sliding to the end of the box, the top of my head

against the thin satin covering the wood.  And then another firm drop.

Next I heard a clanking scrape, as of chains on the outside of the wood.

My casket was being chained to something, but what.  And then silence.

Some time after this I found my voice.  I screamed and screamed, but the

sound only bounced back in my face.  There was no answering sound from

without.  All sound had stopped.  I was able to move my arms so I could

push against the lid and I did so with all my might, but it would not

budge.  I was too weak to have any effect on the nailed lid.  I kicked and

pushed and screamed but the unyielding wood of the box allowed no quarter.

 

I eventually exhausted myself.  I didn't know what to do but await death.

I knew eventually I would run out of air in the tiny confines of my coffin.

And when I did, I would die, forgetting about the earlier time I spent not

breathing..  I lay back and relaxed and thought to pray, but to whom would

I pray?  Would God accept me, the one who brought this upon myself by my

damned lust?  I wondered what had happened to my lover.  Was Armand allowed

to live his life unfettered?  Did his betrayal of me and his categorizing

remarks as to the aggressor buy his freedom from castigation?  What became

of my fiance?  Would she be surprised by my sudden disappearance?  Or was

she the one I had heard sobbing in the background?  What story did my

father tell?  Did they all think me dead and buried?  I wondered what

became of the evil foreigner?  The strange man had betrayed my father and

had not killed me.  No one ever betrayed Jefferson Smythe the second.

Surely my father would not have allowed the stranger to live either.  I

recalled he said something about being burned.  Had my father actually set

him aflame?

 

My mind whirled around these and many other questions.  I thought of my

life and regretted how short it had been.  Now I lay in my tomb and waited

for death to creep in slowly.  As I did so, I began to feel drowsy.  This

must be the lack of air.  I knew I was about to die and welcomed the

surcease.  I relaxed and fell into a deep slumber from which I thought

never to awaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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