Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Fate Can Steal From Us


New author's note: As I feared this story did become a comedy of ridiculous errors on my part requiring a bunch of hours just to correct my mistakes, and produce new one while trying to correct the old ones. I still would greatly appreciate all honest input. But I warn you this monster is now nearly 4000 words long.

For days my only connection with reality were the cheap nylon ropes that bound my hands to a hook above my head and that were steadily cutting into the flesh of my wrists. Broken strands that had flared out from the main weave of the rope felt like needles puncturing the raw flesh of my wrists. With my continued struggling the rope itself slowly cut deeper keeping the wounds raw and blood oozing down my arms. I preferred the alternating pain and numbness that expanded into unconsciousness compared to the nightmare I found myself unable to escape.
Dealing with the nightmare I was trapped in was one thing but worse was seeing my wife, tied up the same way on another post, changing before my eyes. The nature of those horrific changes lent a surreal aspect to my current reality that in my more lucid moments bound to the post had me questioning my sanity. The worse thing about all this was the guilt; I was the one that had put us in this position and as the memories incessantly looped through my delirious mind I found myself praying that the creatures would just kill me.
The beginning of all this was on the other side of the world during a patrol through an Afghan village on a hot June morning. The Special Forces A-Team I was a member of had been assured by the military intelligence types that our sector was secure and that our new mission would be more winning the hearts and minds of the villagers by working with and guarding the civilian aid staff bringing basic medical care for the people in our area. Since I was one of the team’s medics I especially got off on the idea of saving lives instead of taking them although I was more than able to do the latter when called on.
The big boys at headquarters had scheduled my team and the aid workers for a series of villages whose elders had been more reliable in supporting our efforts in the countryside. Our days traveling from village to village were fairly uneventful providing medical care to the people until they almost became routine. With the welcomes we were receiving as we entered a new village it became all too easy to believe everyone appreciated our efforts. The trouble was that while those we were helping could be depended on, others who felt they were not getting the same level of assistance became a danger our teams did not see.
The chieftain from a neighboring village was jealous with the amount of aid his old enemy was receiving and worked with the Taliban to setup and ambush to kill my Special Forces team and the civilian aid workers. Various intelligence sources knew about the animosity between the two village leaders and the relatives the chieftain had in the Taliban but the big brass was eager for a feel good story about our progress and ignored the danger.
The result was a brutal attack that killed or maimed everyone on my team, the aid workers, and killed half of the village we were trying to help. However it was as the last RPGs were fired I saw a little boy running towards me his dirty robes restricting his movements and in the distance a Taliban sniper taking aim on him that ruined me. I tried my best to get into a position to fire at the sniper but another Taliban fighter opened up forcing back under cover. While moving under fire I crawled behind the wheel of a burning humvee just in time to see the bullet explode from the boy’s chest and the sick grin on the fighter as he dove for cover once I opened up on him. What saved us all was the son of the village chieftain who was able to rally the surviving men and repel the Taliban. Somehow he saw fit to tell my superiors of my actions saving those I could, which earned me a big fat, bronze star and equally meaningless slaps on the back by scheming politicians. After the battle was over sitting in the dust and smelling the burning flesh of my dead teammates and the people we were trying to help I felt fate had somehow stolen my purpose in life leaving me only the burning desire to go home.
Initially the incompetence that allowed the disaster to happen was exposed with promises from the usual suspects that heads would roll because of it. However, weeks later after all the misjudgments were hidden and senior careers protected I arrived home a free man looking to restart my life. Since the powerful wanted to keep me silent after I learned the truth I asked for and received an immediate honorable discharge along with recommendations to several medical schools that would allow me to do what I really wanted with my life. After out-processing in Germany I flew directly home to North Carolina and into the arms of my wife, Jillian.
With the numerous recommendations from my superiors the medical school I wanted accepted me and were even allowing me to start classes as early as September. Before school began, Jillian and I desperately wanted to spend some time in a place that had been a source of so many happy memories for us growing up. As silly as it sounded our destination was Disney World with a full week and plenty of money to enjoy the parks. After that we had planned to return home where I was suppose to get ready for school but I convinced her to spend another week cruising the back roads of Florida. Jillian wanted to go home but the traveling allowed me to forget the face of that scared young boy and we continued to drive every back country road I could find and stopping at every seedy diner or country store that we came across.
It was at a run-down fish shack diner somewhere on the edge of the Everglades Jillian and I encountered Simon, his wife Alice, and the rest of his strange entourage. Simon and his entire group seemed completely out of place dressed in the finest designer clothes and carried themselves with an old world air that was sophisticated but friendly. Not long after we began talking I asked the man why they were traveling seemingly lost among the back roads of the Everglades but he assured me they were only exploring like Jillian and I were doing. The group of belligerent and filthy rednecks Jillian and I had encountered hours before at the last gas station before turning on this particular road were far closer to what we expected to met so far out in the wilderness.
As evening fell and a rare cool breeze blew through screened-in windows everyone ate and relaxed to the stories Simon told of his travels around the world. He seemed friendly enough but I could not place his accent, which was something I should have been able since part of my army training had been becoming fluent in three languages with exposure to many more. He showed a respectful amount of gentlemanly attention to Jillian leading me to guess he was of European origin and old money. Hours later after night had completely fallen Simon, his wife, and his six friends drove away in their SUV and I figured we would never see them again.
Jillian and I left the old diner not long after them and continued driving further into the Everglades. This part of the trip had taken so deep into the Everglades that the only hint of civilization was the ruins of an abandoned gas station. It was there we saw Simon’s vehicle on the side of the road, the hood raised and the doors open but no one around.
“Todd, we need to stop and find out what happened.” Jillian said clearly worried, while she had told me after leaving the diner that while some of the friends traveling with Simon and Alice had troubled her she had really enjoyed meeting the married couple.
My instincts were screaming for me to floor it and get the Hell away from the place but the way Jillian smiled at me eased my suspicions and I pulled up behind the SUV. Within seconds our windows were busted, I was pulled from the car like a rag doll and beaten by people I recognized as members of Simon's group. As I struggled to fight and stay conscious I caught a glimpse of Simon and Alice holding Jillian and laughing while three others of his group tied her up.
"Todd, help me!" I heard my wife scream still struggling against her captors. Jillian's scream diverted my attention enough for one of the people attacking me to land a major blow to my head that put me on the ground.
“Are you happy with the addition I picked for the clan my love?” I thought I heard Simon ask as I lay on the old gravel of the gas station parking lot. By the light of a full moon I had time enough to see Alice unbuttoning the blouse of my unconscious wife with Simon standing close by. After that, another blow to the head finally knocked me out and I did not wake up until I was in the old house tied to the post. My mind was full of questions and Simon was sitting in a chair nearby waiting to supply the answers.
“Good to see you back among the living Mr. Briggs” Simon said gleefully but with a manic glint in his eye that scared me more than anything ever had. “I suppose you want to know why we attacked you after such a friendly encounter back at the old diner. Well your wife has been picked for a rare honor but for her to receive it I’m afraid she will have to kill you.”
Simon went on to tell me and demonstrate that he was the leader of a small clan of vampires in search of a second wife for him. Despite being injured I had enough of my senses to think the man and his group were stark raving mad. That is until Alice and one of the junior members of his vampire clan, a creature named Lewis, dragged in a terrified college girl from another room in the old house. Much to my stunned disbelief I watched first Alice then Lewis expose their fangs and the rest of their barracuda-like teeth from hidden pockets in their gums, which were used to tear gaping wounds in the girl for them to feed. All that time Simon just sat and watched the life drain out the girl who was then cut up and the pieces tossed outside for the alligators to fed on.
I could tell that Jillian had been bitten the night we were attacked and drained of some of her blood. She was conscious but incoherent and deathly pale, her only acknowledgment of my presence was a weak smile that sent me into a fit of rage struggling against the ropes that held me. Simon in his sickly gleeful voice would explain to me that for her to be turned she would have to willingly accept blood from him or Alice since it was his intention for the three to life-bond.
Despite what Simon told me about the intended subject willingly choosing to be turned Jillian’s first exposure about a day later took the form of Alice cutting Simon’s arm and sucking his blood into her mouth. With the blood still in her mouth Alice approached Jillian tied to the post with her arms strung above her like me but sitting in a small chair. Alice took on this gaze much like that of a snake and straddled Jillian legs gently stroking her face and looking into her eyes. Jillian looked even worse than from the day before and offered little resistance as Alice continued to stare at her and now speak softly into her ears. It wasn't long before Jillian seemed lost and in some sort of trance and began to respond to Alice's touches.
“Jillian,” I screamed, “look at me, break away; don’t let her do this to you.” Jillian never even looked at me once. All I got was a sick laugh from Alice who looked at me with soulless, blood-red eyes and then turned back to Jillian and began kissing her passionately pushing Simon’s blood from her mouth into Jillian’s.
Over the course of three more days Alice fed Jillian the same way each day and the changes in her seemed too escalated as each hour passed. At times I could see Jillian sweating heavily and unconscious but she always had at least two members of Simon's clan attending her who would wipe her face with a wet cloth and force her to drink water. The vampire named Lewis was my attendant and he would hold a bottle of water up to my mouth for me to drink. During those times as I greedily gulped down all the water he would allow Lewis whispered in my ears about how Jillian would soon rip my throat open and drink my blood then pass it around to all the clan members. I developed a special hatred for Lewis during those times and I promised myself that if I ever got loose I would make sure the creature suffered severely before I finally put him down.
The last time I looked into Jillian's eyes and not only saw my wife but a fellow human being was when her fangs and the rest of her barracuda-like teeth first extended. It was clearly painful and her eyes were beseeching me to do something. Once they were exposed Jillian seemed to go limp and almost pass out, it was then I saw her blues eyes mutated into the blood-red kind I had seen Alice and Lewis have when they fed on the college girl. She quickly recovered and from the way she now stared at me I knew the human Jillian was gone, replaced with a creature that for my entire life I had believed was something only found in horror movies and comic books.
Simon stood in front of Jillian and untying her hands, she slowly rose from her seat and seemed deeply enchanted by Simon and saying it was a look of love would not be far off the mark. Alice moved beside both of them and unbuttoned the shirt Simon was wearing.
“Jillian, do you now willingly accept the gift of eternal life we so humbly offer to you?” Alice asked placing one of her hands on Jillian’s shoulder and the other on Simon's. “And more importantly do you willingly become part of our clan and second wife to Simon forsaking all aspects of your human life?”
I have often debated in my mind whether or not at that moment Jillian actually had any choice in the matter and sometimes even now I can convince myself she was under the influence of both Simon and Alice. But when she turned her head and looked at me again standing in front of Simon I knew Jillian was still somewhere inside that body and that when she nodded her head in acceptance it was my Jillian, not the creature she had become.
Somewhere deep down I knew this would happen just as Simon had first told me no matter how much I did not want to believe it. My army survival and escape training had kicked in days before when I noticed that attached to the post my hands were bound to was a worn piece of metal that probably had been used to brace up the wood. It offered enough of an edge to slowly cut the nylon ropes that had bound my arms to the hook above it. As Simon offered his chest to Jillian to seal their relationship I could feel the last few strands of the rope start to pop.
With everyone in Simon’s clan engrossed watching Jillian sucking on his chest no one noticed when the rope that held my bound my wrists finally popped. The final act in this vampire drama was still for Jillian to kill me and suck my blood, which would then be passed around the group. I had lost count of the days my arms had been tied above my head and the pain was intense as I crouched in shadows trying to shake the blood and feeling back into them.
I had barely a minute to recover before the the creature that had been my wife came my way with her fangs still extended, her eyes a brilliant red, and an utterly inhuman expression on her face. Running strictly on fear, anger, and more than a little madness I had my plan ready and my weapon picked out. With her less than a foot away I ignore the screaming pain in my arms, picked up a flat piece of metal that had been laying on the dirty floor and with a speed and strength I did not think I could possess I struck her in the head as hard as I could. As a human the blow would have killed her instantly but as a vampire I had my doubts. Still, she was unprepared for my attacked and I sent what Jillian had become flying across the room.
Simon had been more than a little careless imparting way to much information to someone trained to do a lot with very little letting it slip that everyone would enter a stupor during the ceremony giving me a small but real chance to escape after breaking loose of my ropes. Alice, clearly affected by whatever pulled the clan into a daze, came at me by off balance and slow that allowed me to strike her at the neck breaking bones and despite my rush I saw her fall to the floor with her head at a right angle to the rest of her body. Simon came next, also not at full strength, and instead of striking him like Jillian and Alice I changed my grip and plunged the thin but very hard piece of metal into his chest.
As seconds rolled by the creatures became more alert and were moving to stop me. Their mistake had been using old fashion gas lamps through the old house and after knocking a few over Simon’s talk about how vampires fear fire more than anything else was proven.
My final escape was provided by my crashing through the nearest loosely boarded up window and falling into the murky waters of the Everglades. This was the biggest guess of my entire escape, I knew we were still in the Everglades and had heard the water lapping against the pillars the old house rested upon but I had no idea how deep or how far out and away from the house the water went. God seems to have finally showed up in this mess because once I surfaced; standing up in the four-foot water right in front of me was a small boat with a rather large outboard motor with the entire Everglades stretching out before me.
Two other boats were tied to the rickety old pier attached to the house but figuring my escape would be short if I did not disable the other boats I quick yanked out the exposed spark plug wires on their motors. My motor started on the first pull and while listening to the inhuman screams still coming from the burning house I raced away into the darkness.
Someone had spotted me lying on the shoreline of the small mangrove island that my boat had finally come to rest upon after running out of gas. After escaping my captors and living on that island for several days fighting off bugs, snakes and alligators the grief in losing my wife and the likelihood that she had willingly chose Simon over me had driven me past the point of caring whether I lived or died. Despite my mental and physical state I was still surprised to recognize the belligerent rednecks that Jillian and I had last seen at a gas station right before our encounter with Simon and his clan which now seemed a lifetime ago.
I pleaded with the people to leave me alone and let some alligator make a meal out of me. They refused and it was then I began telling them my tale, which I figured they would take as the product of a hopelessly deranged mind. Even in my near death condition the stony and silent glances the group gave each other was something I noticed, apparently my insane tale was not as crazy to them as I might have thought.
After drinking the first fresh water I had for days, I passed out and awoke in a safe house somewhere in the Seminole reservation days later. It was there that I learned the truth about my rescuers. They were vampire hunters and had been looking for Simon’s clan for weeks only to lose track of them the night Jillian and I made the mistake of finding them ourselves. The group leader of the hunters, a man named Robby McBride, told me that his people had found the house Simon’s clan held us but they had long since fled the area.
A heavy dose of sedative added to the IV bottle hanging next my bed ended my immediate demands that they take me back to the house. As sleep took me though, I did hear Robby promise me they would after I had recuperated.
Weeks later, as promised, Robby’s truck pulled up to the edge of the burnt remains of the house that had been the place of such unbelievable terror. In the light of day the River of Grass, stretching off in the distance seemed tranquil and safe while the burnt shell of the structure still seemed sinister and foreboding like an uncooperative accomplice to a crime.
The fire from the lamps I had knocked over had brought down the roof and one of the walls but left the floor largely intact. Walking through the charred shell, I asked the question to the group if they found any bodies among the burnt remains hoping that I had at least brought one of the creatures in the clan down. Again, the stony and silent faces of the people I was coming to know answered for me. Robby then confirmed another piece of information Simon had bragged about when he explained to me their regenerative powers. Simon, Alice, and Jillian were all more than likely long recovered from the injuries I gave them.
After Robby finished I noticed a small metal box next the wooden post Jillian had been tied, something drew me to it and when I pried the top off inside was the gold wedding ring I had given Jillian on our wedding day. I knew this ring was a message from her confirming that she had willingly abandoned her humanity and me.
We drove away from that house soon after and while sitting in Robby’s truck with Jillian's wedding ring in my hand I realized fate had robbed me again but on a far more massive scale, this time taking my love and the life I had planned to make with her. All I had left now was my will for revenge and the desire to put down the monster my wife had become.


Holte Ender said...

My wife and I are heading down to south Florida in July, think we'll give the Everglades a miss.

A very well painted picture.

Utah Savage said...

Despite the face that I'm a not a fan of anything supernatural or scifi-ish I read this with a lot of interest. Turns out, whatever you're writing you write very well.

I'm working on a new novel about the very very bad behavior of a bunch of aging models.

Randal Graves said...

Good stuff, BB. A couple places you have the same word towards the end of a sentence and the beginning of the subsequent one. Perhaps change that up, but I dig the atmosphere.

Four Dinners said...

Creepy! Great descriptive piece throughout. I enjoyed that old bean. Very much. Thank you.

rainboy said...

I loved reading it man
Write a Novel bro.. :D

Doc said...

Beach, ol' buddy, you tell a fine tale from beginning to end, but a good edit would really give this strength.

There a commas missing and some tenses that need seeing to but it isn't enough to detract from a well told piece. I've found that the best way to edit something is to have someone else read it to you aloud. To hear your words in someone else's voice brings a lot of clarity.

You are a fine writer and have inspired me on more than one occasion. I regret that I don't stop by more often but life has a way of intruding on my reading. Keep up the good work!


goatman said...

Too bad your girl Jillian could not have been saved! Some sort of blood replacement therapy or something. Bummer
Thanks alot for your words at my blog. They brought a tear, and of course you are too right.
Stay safe my friend.

Marja said...

I was captivated by this well written horror story of bloodsuckers but At times it made me feel a bit more unwell than I am already at the moment.
You are definitely a great writer bringing everything alive

Oso said...

Very good Beach.Held my interest throughout.I liked the detail, such as his taking out their boats before he fled.

Beach Bum said...

Holte: Thanks got to admit I was getting tired of the usual trash I write and wanted to try something new. This idea had been hovering in my head for a while and I luckily had the time and the proper mental state to start it.

For the longest time I have wanted to do a Florida road trip and see sites off the usual tourist trails. Decided to turn that desire around into a nightmare.

Utah: Thank you, but like Randal and Doc point out I will be trouble shooting this one for a while. I hope you put parts of your new novel on your blog.

Randal: Thanks my friend and I will be working on this one for a good while. Any further pointers you have will be extremely appreciated.

Four Dinners: Thank you for reading the thing. I had an entirely different ending for the as yet unnamed hero and Jillian but the story was just getting too damn long so I had to cut it. But I will be writing a sequel.

Rainboy: Thanks my friend, and as for a novel that is something that may take some time for me. After spending several hours away from this story I came back and with the help of Randal and Doc saw far more stupid typos and other errors.

Doc: My friend you are always welcome here and thank you for the help. Got to admit again one of your stories got me to write a couple of my own. As for stopping by I completely understand, time seems always in short supply and more than once I have read someone's post only to have someone in the house begin to scream my name and pull me away.

Goatman: I have several more ideas about these characters and Jillian may yet be saved in some fashion.

Marja: I generally stay away from horror stories given how I have issues with what happens to people in them but this was an experiment in something new.

Oso: Got the idea about ripping out the spark plug wires from what me and a friend did one time. I won't go into detail about that.

Teresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teresa said...

Good vampire story. Having read the Twilight series it was good to read a story where the girl isn't so sappy and the guy is a real manly Man! I'm ready for the next chapter.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

I've had to come back to this (keep getting interrupted by work) a few times and now I've completed it. Enjoyed...it held me, Beach. You should make it 'an adventure'... the longer version.

so! how long you been havin' evening cocktails with Anne Rice?

Utah Savage said...

BtW, I forgot to tell you how much I love you new avatar. You're a handsome man.

Utah Savage said...

Beach, I'd be the last person to point out anybody else's editing problems. I can't even write a clean comment. My two previous comments had sloppy typos or misspellings in them, so...

But MRMacrumb is a great editor. Vig is too, but he won't.

Beach Bum said...

Teresa: Jillian ain't done yet, she and her husband, who I named "Todd" after a rewrite, I figure will become mortal enemies. Then I have an idea about a story about making her a good-guy while keeping her a vampire.

Gwen: If time allows I will start the second story this weekend while rewriting this one.

Utah: Thank you but that is just one of three good pictures of me, one of them being my driver's license photo.

As for this story I was changing things at work last night and more than a few times becoming embarrassed over some major typo that I had missed.

You may not know but I recently took an online writing course from the local community college and while I did learn a lot I still failed to find a writing group to join.

Middle Ditch said...

Doc is giving some solid advise. We always read the scripts out loud after writing and there are always changes to be made. Even on recording sessions someone might still have a problem with a sentence and we change it.

Otherwise, yes, creepy. Good story, great reading. Continue please.

MadMike said...

I have spent countless hours in South Florida and in the Everglades and you did indeed paint a fairly accurate picture Beach. As a fan of horror/scifi I loved your story man...good points made about structure however. Then again it is all about time and I understand it completely. Again keep up the good work my friend. Practice makes perfect...

sunshine said...

Oooo! This was awesome Beach!
I really enjoyed it. :)

I can't wait for Todd and Jillian to meet up again. I'm kind of rooting for her to be a "good vamp". Perhaps they can forge some kind of new relationship!


Teeluck said...

Beach, it is awesome, captivating to the last drop...be careful of Laura's suggestions though, it sounds like she will have them making halfbreed kids and stuff... just kidding Laura :) lol.

goatman said...

Some more (maybe) constructive comment:
I like the way it held my attention. Usually, with long posts, I scan for interesting wording then go on to something else. But with your story I needed to find out what happened to Jillian and you kept me dangling until the last -- or at least the last up until now. (perhaps you have learned this technique in the writing class?) I still wish she could be reconstituted with something like a blood transfusion -- or soul transplant, with tales to tell only to you?

But then I am a sucker for happy endings!

goatman said...

Oh, btw, screw the punctuation and trim -- that's for editors, just crank out the words and a good story as it flows. It will flow also for the reader; does for me!

Teeluck said...

Beach, one more thing, I think I have seen enough to advise you to go with the flow, write the book. A compilation of short stories, maybe. I have formed a publishing company for my own book release so I can help you to get it published. It's easy from start to finish...so just get to work 'cause it takes a while (as you know), you got what it takes so don't hold back bro.

Beach Bum said...

Middle Ditch: I really need to find someone dependable who on a regular basis could read my stuff and point out my mistakes. As it stands now I write and over the course of a couple of weeks find, then correct my crap, makes things painfully long.

Madmike: Had to takes some guess on what the 'Glades looks like now, have not been down in that area since I was nine years-old.

Sunshine: Well, let me tell you now Simon will die a pretty grusome death and Jillian will suffer as well only to be "reborn" in a fashion although she will remain a vampire. May throw in elements of Supernatural just to elevate the conflict I have in mind.

Teeluck: One idea is that Jillian will have to save Todd's new love interest but don't quote me on that.

Goatman: Believe it or not I really did not want this longer than two pages when I started. Failed big time on that one.

Teeluck: Thank you my friend and I will keep punching it out.

Rhiannon said...

Wow that was some imaginative writing BB. I am really getting into the CW channel "Vampire Diaries" as it's a very well written show and all of the characters are quite interesting. The "Good brother" and the "Bad brother" both vampires is very interesting, as the bad brother "Damien" is so multi-demensional, handsome as can be, evil looking at times, yet at times, a little bit of good comes out of him and he looks adorable. I see this show is going places, and the storyline and writing is amazing. I don't go for the violence much and yet I've got to say that this Vampire tv show is better than any of the vampires movies of late. It's got such an intriguing storyline and I am quite impressed with the bad and good of everyone on the show.

You might want to check it out and tell me what you think BB? Its on the CW channel every thursday at 8 or 9 pm. I don't watch much tv but must admit to getting hooked on this show the first time it aired. Alena is my fav character. Well, Damien the "bad brother" does some incredible acting..sigh I could go on forever...not into vampires so this must have good writing and interesting characters for me to watch. It's got substance to it. Have you seen it yet?

Sorry, your story really got me thinking about the "Vampire Diaries" and how much I like it..apparently a lot of people do..as its gotten the highest ratings for any CW show in eons!

Beach Bum said...

Rhia: I got into Vampire Diaries for several weeks while Flash Forward on ABC showing at the same times was on a break. When Flash Forward goes into reruns I will switch back over.

VD is a great show and I got into the characters really quick I'm just a sucker for time travel and quantum mechanics on Flash Forward.

David Barber said...

Beach, just catching up now I have a bit of time. A great story with some super imagery. There are a few minor errors but nothing that took you away from the story. A bit of "polishing up" time and a tighten up here and there and you're onto something. But hey, who am I to give advice. I'm just a scribbler with a smile!! :-)

Hope you had a great Christmas.!!