Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 3

Again I awakened in darkness.  Angry voices argued in hushed tones nearby.
I opened my eyes to find myself lying on a soft couch in a darkened room.
The light was turned low and the voices came to me from an adjacent room.
A man was talking rapidly.  "Why did you insist on bringing him here?  Why
didn't you just drop him off at the police station or a hospital or
something if you wanted to be a do-gooder?"

"There's something about him," a girl's voice replied.  "I don't know what
it is, but somehow he seems like he really just needs a friend.  And he did
save my life."  I sat up, realizing I was only partially dressed.  My shirt
and jacket had been removed and I was half naked, clad only in my trousers.
I looked around at the odd furnishings of the darkened room.  Although I
could tell it was quite dark, I could see very well.  The door nearby was
partially closed and the angry voices were coming from a bright room on the
other side.

"Well, you'll have to call the police because you've got a dead body on
your couch," the male voice argued.  "He must be some beatnik or something.
Who dresses like that and what about the blood all over him?  It wasn't
his.  No wounds.  So help me, Sarah, you've done some crazy things, but
this takes the cake.  We call the cops and let them have him.  There's no
other choice.  I'm not spending the night in the house with you and a dead
guy."

"Just go," came an angry response.  "I've had enough of your telling me how
to run my life.  Just get out!"

A door banged in the house.  Footsteps approached and the door opened.  I
looked up to see the girl from the cemetery step into the room.  "Oh, thank
God!" she breathed to find me very much alive.  Then she said "You're
awake."

"I am sorry to be so much trouble," I replied.  "Your husband sounded quite
upset.  I fear I have brought consternation into your life."

It was the first time I ever saw Sarah laugh.  "He's not my husband, just a
boyfriend," Sh explained, and then she stepped to a table and reached
beneath a shade on a lamp.  It instantly brightened; the room suddenly
illuminated.  "You really are something," she said as she came over and sat
in a chair opposite him.  "You speak so funny.  Who uses words like
consternation?"

"I ... I don't know what to say."  I was sure my language must sound as odd
to her as hers did to me.  We were only separated in time by over a
century.  "I'm also a bit embarrassed to be without a shirt in your
presence."

"It was covered with blood," she explained.  "I thought you were hurt.  My
boyfriend Brad and I took it off and examined you, but we didn't see any
wounds.  You have a nasty scar on your shoulder, but it appears to be
healed.  I could only think the blood must have come from...from..."

"It was from the man who attacked you," I admitted.  "He ..."  How could I
tell her I ripped out the man's throat?  How could I explain the blood in a
way that wouldn't frighten her?

"I don't want to know," she admitted quickly.  "You saved me.  That's all
that matters."

"How did I get here?" I asked, still confused.

"You passed out on the bus.  The driver was very upset when he saw the
blood and didn't want to get involved in anything, so he helped me get you
off the bus and onto a bench just outside my house.  I then had Brad help
me bring you in here.  I told him the whole story and he helped remove your
shirt and jacket.  He thought you were dead.  He said you were so cold and
weren't breathing.  He couldn't find a pulse, and you are awfully pale."

I quickly tried to change the subject.  "This boy friend of yours, Brad...
he did not approve of your bringing a stranger home?"

"Well, I guess you could call him my ex-boyfriend.  He never approves of
anything I do.  I guess this was the last straw.  I don't expect to see him
come back this time."

"I am truly sorry for the trouble I have caused."  I felt guilty for
creating the situation.

"It would have come sooner or later anyway.  I knew we were going to break
up.  You were just a convenient excuse."  She didn't seem as disappointed
that her lover had left her as I would have expected.  But perhaps people
were more casual about relationships in this new era. "Would you like
something to eat?" Sarah asked.  "Come out to the kitchen and I'll see what
I can find for us."  She held out a hand to me.  I took her hand and she
jumped slightly.  "Your hand is still so cold," she exclaimed.  As I rose I
felt an odd twinge.  There was a hidden desire there.  I wanted this girl,
but not in a sexual way.  It was something else, something linked to my
hunger.  I felt a moment of fear.  It must be linked to the monster I had
become.

What she called a kitchen looked more like an operating theater in a
surgeon's medical facility.  Everything was gleaming white.  Countertops
were covered with some odd form of stone.  There were all sorts of unusual
devices and tools sitting around the perimeter of the room.  The girl
pulled open a large white metal cabinet and cold air flooded out.  She
pulled out some odd bowls with lids on them and began opening them.  She
offered me some sort of fish salad, but that sounded totally unappetizing.
We sat on high stools at one of the counters and I took a bite of bread,
but it only seemed to turn my stomach.  After a moment I asked her if she
had any rare meat and she found a steak wrapped in white paper.  She pulled
the wrappings off and offered to cook the steak, but my craving got the
best of me and I reach over, grabbing the raw meat and biting into it with
relish.  I could taste the blood in it and for a moment it tasted like
sweet nectar.

Sarah stared at me in fright and confusion as I squeezed the meat she had
offered like a sponge, lapping at the juices.  The burning sensation in the
back of my throat eased a bit and the pain in my belly began to subside.  I
suddenly felt like a savage beast caught in the act of ravishing its prey.
My behavior must certainly have appeared less than civilized.  I
immediately apologized for my lack of manners, but I could see the fear in
my host's eyes.  I wiped the blood from my mouth and chin with the piece of
soft paper she had given me as a napkin.  She looked deeply into my green
eyes and said, "Do you know how many diseases you can get from uncooked
meat?"  Then she seemed to tremble as she asked softly, "What are you?"

I turned away, my back to her.  I could not look on her face as I told her
what I thought myself to be.  "I am an evil creature, a condemned thing.
You should never have brought me to your home."

A slightly hysterical laugh came from her and she said, "Are you a
vampire?"  The word seemed as a violent slap.  I turned to her and she
gasped, clutching her throat.  "Oh my God, you...you really think you are!"

I told her my tale.  I told her that my father hated me and had set an evil
creature upon me to kill me in the spring of 1823.  I told her the creature
had not murdered me as my father wished, but had transformed me into an
evil being, the same as he.  The story of how I had slept in a coffin for
132 years came out.  The only thing I omitted was the reason for my
damnation.  I avoided all mention of Armand or of my father catching us in
forbidden lust.

When I finally finished speaking she sat quietly for a time, then it was
her turn to ask questions.  "If this is true, how were you able to walk
about before the sun set?  Shouldn't you have been in your coffin?"  I told
her this was only my second night awake and that I wasn't sure how much of
the vampire legend was true and how much was myth.  Her voice rose in pitch
with the edge of hysteria again as she asked me if I was going to kill her.

My answer came from the depths of my soul as I stared down at the counter.
"I sincerely hope not.  You have given me aid and shelter.  What sort of
fiend would I be to repay your kindness with murder?"  But I was torn with
fear and guilt.  "I know not," I admitted to her, "what madness may come
upon me yet.  It may not be safe for you to be in the same room."

After a moment I felt her hand on my shoulder.  "I'll take the chance," she
said.  "I can't believe you would hurt me.  You saved my life."  Then she
took my icy cold hand in her warm one.  "Come," she said, "and we can find
you something other than those period clothes for you to wear.  My brother
left some of his things here when he left for college.  I think they might
fit you."  I could not believe her trusting nature.

We walked back into the hallway and to another room in her home.  Her
brother had lived here before moving away to attend a university in the
north.  She found me some shirts and trousers, as well as shoes and socks
that seemed to fit.  Apparently I was much the same size as her brother.
Little did I realize how different were the fashions of this day and age,
much simpler than those of my own time.  I was particularly fascinated by a
device that fastened the trousers, called a zipper.  Sarah told me she was
soaking my shirt in the bathroom and would launder it in the morning.  She
wasn't sure if the blood stains would come out of the linen.  In the mean
time I was welcome to share her home for the time being and could stay in
her brother's room.

Sarah then led me to the parlor where we sat and had a long conversation.
She asked me a number of probing questions about my life and time.  Sarah
had a hard time comprehending this story and seemed to question its
veracity, but I answered as honestly as I could.  For a time Sarah used pen
and paper to take notes.  Even her pen fascinated me.  She didn't need to
dip it in ink for it continuously self inked the nib.  Sarah assured me she
would investigate the notes she had taken on the following day in a library
to find out what she could of my family, my home and my history.  She then
shared some of her life with me.  She and her brother were raised in this
house and had inherited it a few years earlier when their parents were
killed in a motor car accident.  She, being of age at the time was able to
care for her younger brother while completing her own education and
obtaining employment.  Being well provided for by inheritance from her
parents, they managed to live comfortably until her brother left for the
university.  He was due to graduate later in the month and she was
anxiously looking forward to his return.

Sarah told me of her romantic ties to the man who had left earlier in the
evening.  She had met him socially and he had courted her and fooled her
into thinking they shared an enduring love.  But of late she realized the
man was a philanderer and she knew it to be a matter of time before she
asked him to leave.  She actually thanked me for bringing the situation to
a close with their recent argument.  She said she feared his anger and was
glad that I would be staying with her to protect her should Brad return.

Sarah then worked some new magic, or so it seemed.  There was a wooden
cabinet sitting in the corner of the room.  It had a glass window on one
side and a number of knobs.  She reached over and turned the knobs a few
times and after a moment the window brightened with moving images and
sound.  She called this fascinating device a television.  She told me she
wanted to watch the news.  I thought this device must have replaced the old
newspapers of my time.  With the moving, black and white images in the
window, I quickly learned about the fashions, transportation, and
government of the day.  It was a wonderful educational tool to catch me up
to the 20th century.  I did have a little difficulty in following some of
the faster conversations.  Language seemed to have evolved quickly and I
had a hard time understanding what she called slang.

I had no desire to sleep, perhaps because of the years I had already spent
that way in the coffin, so while my hostess went off to bed, I sat watching
the magic box.  Eventually the images ended to be replaced by a picture of
a circle with numbers.  Then after a high pitched tone, the box turned to
hissing grey snow.  I ignored it and picked up a magazine, reading it cover
to cover.  Soon morning came, and with it the painful light of the sun.
Sarah awakened early and closed the drapes and blinds on the windows so the
room would remain in the gloom of the lamp light.  She said she had to
leave for her work.  She was a teacher at an elementary school.  She
promised to return when her pupils were discharged in the afternoon.  In
the meanwhile I sat and watched the wonderful magic box showing a window on
this brave new world until I became drowsy and finally started to doze.

Part way through the afternoon I heard a key turn in the lock.  This
instantly aroused me.  Thinking it was Sarah I went to the door to help her
in.  To my surprise a young man entered as though he owned the house.  We
spent a moment or two sizing each other up.  Then he greeted me with a
sneer upon his face.  "So you're not dead after all and you apparently have
the run of the house," he stated.  I instantly realized this was Sarah's
former paramour, the infamous Brad.

"And may I ask why you have returned?" I questioned.

"That's none of your business," he replied and tried to push past into the
house.

"On the contrary," I quickly answered, "as Ms. Kitterage does not wish you
to be here, and I am her invited guest I would say that makes it my
business."

The man tried to strike me with his fist, but it was as if I had somehow
been granted the gift of changing time.  I could see the muscles of the
man's arm moving and easily sidestepped the blow.  As if I were handling a
weak kitten, I grabbed my assailant by his collar and took the key from his
hand.  My stomach cramped and my throat burned.  I thought to tear the
man's throat as I had the brigand the night before, but instead I tossed
him through the open doorway.  I then closed it with finality, leaning
against it and tried to calm myself.  I would be the master of my fate.  I
would not live the life of a fiend to which my father had tried to condemn
me.  I then returned to the parlor to again watch the magical television.
The man pounded on the door for a few brief minutes and then apparently
gave up.

Later in the afternoon, Sarah returned home in a state of agitated
excitement.  She told me that a local news report had been released that
told of the death of a man suspected of being a known criminal.  His body
had been found not far from Mount Hope Cemetery, with severe wounds on his
throat.  He had been exsanguinated.  The police were investigating the
death as a potential homicide.  Sarah was concerned that she and I would be
implicated.  I told her not to worry and that I would find other
accommodations, but she would not hear of it.  She then excitedly told me
of her research.  She had found evidence of my family in the library
archives.  Although my history was confirmed, and this seemed to convince
her even more of the veracity of my story, my family appeared to have died
out mysteriously and the property was divided and sold after some sort
upheaval she called the Civil War.  She had found my name in the history
books with birth and death dates.  But there was no mention of the actual
deaths of my father nor my brothers, nor sisters.  It simply stated that
the county had been ravished by disease and the rest of the Smythe family
had perished along with many of their neighbors.

I felt a great sadness take me.  I was truly alone in this strange world.
I knew instinctively that all my contemporaries must have long since gone
to the grave, but hearing it confirmed in history books made it all the
more poignant.  I found myself trembling.  I was a freak of nature, some
hideous monster condemned to live on and feast on the blood of others while
my family had been granted the eternal sleep of heaven.  I could only hope
that my father was spending eternity with the devil for his part of this
crime.  I sat on the couch and a tear ran down my cheek.  Sarah sat next to
me and put her arm on my shoulder.  "What have I become?" I asked in a
hollow voice.  "I am a monster condemned to live on in this world well
beyond my own time."

She reached up and wiped the tear from my cheek.  "A monster wouldn't cry.
You are just a different kind of human," she said.

I turned to her with a frightened look on my face.  "The kind of human that
can only exist by killing others?  The kind of human that could just as
easily kill you despite your kindness?  Even now I feel the burning thirst
and must restrain myself lest the beast I have become attacks you."

She immediately stood and walked to the kitchen.  I thought I must have
frightened her enough to cause her to rethink her generosity.  But a moment
later she reappeared with two glasses.  One held a dark colored bubbling
concoction, the other a bright red liquid.  She handed me the latter.  "Try
it," she encouraged as she sat down and sipped the bubbling drink.  I
tasted the beverage.  It was cold and had a slightly gamey taste, but it
was not unpleasant.  It seemed to ease the burning in the back of my throat
and calm my nerves.  "It's pig's blood," she said.  "I stopped by a butcher
shop on the way home.  I know it isn't human, but I thought it might work
as a substitute."

I had to smile.  Even when faced with this terrible truth, a monster living
in her home, she graciously did what she could to provide me with my needs
as though she had just stopped for a bottle of wine for dinner.  "Thank
you," I said and sipped the liquid.  It wasn't as satisfying as the blood
of the man I had murdered the night before, but I could learn to survive on
this if I had to.  "Sarah, I don't know how I can every repay you for the
kindnesses you have shown me."

As if designed to interrupt us, there was a pounding on the door.  Sarah
jumped up and went to answer it.  I stood as she left the room and waited
for her return.  But I immediately was on alert.  She cried out after
opening the door, and a moment later her former boyfriend shoved her into
the room ahead of him.  "Brad, please don't do this," she gasped as he
twisted her arm behind her back.

"Stay over there super-freak or I'll snap her little arm," he warned.  "Now
we're all going to sit down and have a nice little talk."  He dragged Sarah
to the couch, but I kept looking and planning how best I could help her.

"Let her go," I demanded.  "If you don't, I'll be forced to hurt you."

"No!" Sarah shouted.  "Jeff, don't do anything."  I could tell she was
frightened, but I assumed she was more frightened that I would kill her
attacker as I had the night before.  As much as I would love to taste
Brad's hot blood, the thought of what trouble this might bring to her was
more perplexing, so I bided my time.

"That's right," Brad said as he held her tightly.  "Don't do anything,
Jeff.  You're just going to stand there and watch."  He pulled her face to
his and began to kiss her roughly, forcing his attentions despite her
struggling.  But this was just the opportunity I needed.  While Brad was
fighting with her, I was able to move to his side so rapidly that neither
of the two seemed to see me.  I reached down and easily pulled the man from
the struggling girl, but Brad was prepared.  He had a knife in his hand and
plunged it into my side.  It hurt, but this only seemed to inflame me even
more.  I grabbed the man's hand and bent it back.  The bone snapped easily
and Brad fell to the floor screaming in pain.  I then picked him up and
dragged him back to the door, tossing him out onto the street.  I then
pulled the knife from my side and tossed it out the door as well.

"You're hurt," Sarah cried as she ran to my side, pulling my shirt up.  It
was covered with blood, my blood.  She ran to the kitchen for a towel and
came back to apply it to the wound.  "We must get you to a hospital," she
said, concern on her face.

The sting of the pain had already begun to subside.  "I don't think that
will be necessary," I said as I pulled her hand away and dabbed at the
wound.  It appeared to be healing at an abnormal rate.

"How...how can this be?" she asked as I wiped the blood from my side.
Where the knife had gone in, there was a nasty looking gash, but it was no
longer bleeding.  It looked as though I had just cut myself deeply rather
than having a knife blade plunged into my body.

"I guess it's one of the benefits of my new existence," I said.  She gently
ran her hand over my bare chest and told me she would put my shirt in the
laundry.  I stood and went to her brother's room to find a new shirt to
wear.  I supposed there was no way to die.  My body was able to regenerate
from the most mortal of wounds.  This was truly a new and strange life.


 

 

 

 

                                                                    Back      Main     Next

                                                                       Discussion Forum