Back in May, I started a short story. I posted the first scene on my blog, not sure where it was going or what it would become. It became a weeklong obsession and a day-to-day voyage to completion. “All the Crawling Beetles” was born, and by the end of it, I felt like I’d been running the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, mid-August, 1 PM. Although it was an emotional marathon, I’ve decided to do it again.
The opening scene for “I See Monsters” was inspired by the current vampire craze. I’ve read all the Twilight books, and I catch True Blood every week. So I wondered…could I write a vampire story? Could I blow Stephenie Meyer’s teenage melodrama out of the water? Or get in the head of a vampire like psychic Sookie Stackhouse? Well. It’s worth a shot. So here you go, Part I of the work-in-progress “I See Monsters.” Now that I’ve told YOU about it, I don’t have a choice, do I? I have to finish this thing. So wish me luck—time for a personal short story obsession, Take 2.
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“I See Monsters”
By Sara Dobie
Fall in Charleston reminded me of a time I slept underground in a pinch—sticky, wet, and warm, like a sponge you should have thrown out a week ago. The sun had been coming up that morning months before, and I’d been nowhere near home. I’d been having too much fun with young fraternity blood. Time had slid away like the century mark I would hit in ten years. When the sky had turned pink along the edges, my high security apartment and onyx casket had been down by the harbor—three blocks from the College of Charleston. I had made do in a cemetery, digging into loose ground in a fresh grave. I’d survived the live burial; my black leather bomber jacket had not, and I’d stolen a new one the following night from a tourist who hadn’t known better than to walk the streets alone.
Of course, most humans didn’t know better. Charleston felt like a safe place. They didn’t want to believe otherwise. Residents heard about the shootings in North Charleston. They watched the news and saw tragedy strike in the Middle East, in Asia, and in far off Africa, but they didn’t believe it could exist in beautiful, historic Charleston. It was “too pretty” to be bad. The same had once been said of me. However, wide-sweeping generalizations are never true. There is no such thing as guaranteed safety in pretty places. There is no such thing as guaranteed safety with a pretty person, either. We could hurt you just as much as your neighborhood gang banger with gold caps on his teeth and bullet wound scars. I didn’t have any scars. I had been turned in the summer of 1920 at the age of nineteen, and back then, wealthy girls did not acquire scars. We acquired nothing at all, in fact, beyond suitors.
That particular evening, I headed up Church Street from Battery Park, where I spent many a night wandering and watching beneath the Angel Oaks and Spanish Moss. It was what I did—watch. It was why I’d been happy living alone for the past ninety years, traveling from city to city, as far away as Egypt to England, back to America and finally, on the coaxing of an old, old friend, I had returned to Charleston, where I had been made into a vampire all those years ago. That night, the weather was humid but cool. Not a breeze stirred the air, and the only sound was that of my heavy, black boots over curved cobblestones. A variety of floral odors enveloped me, but none so sweet as that of human blood, which I caught hints of through front doors and open windows of houses I passed. Flickering, gold light from the street lamps cast my slim shadow out in several directions, as if splitting me into several different but equally ghostly people. I ran my sharp fingernails against stucco siding and hummed a quiet tune I’d heard when my clock radio alarm had started playing at sunset in my light-tight apartment hours before.
I was headed to East Bay Street, where I would meet my old friend Donovan at a bar we frequented called The Griffon. The Griffon was an ideal location for vampires. It was dank and dark. The overhead lights at Griffon bled orange and cast our pale skin in a light that was half-living. It was easy to be anonymous there, partially because by eleven, the human patrons were too drunk to remember they’d met you in the first place. Anonymity was a necessary part of my life. It was why I never stayed in a city too long. It was why I never made human connections. It was why I was always alone, because if anyone got too close, they would begin to notice I never aged. I still looked nineteen, although I tried to dress the part of twenty-five, and no one had ever heard of humans who didn’t age. Because they didn’t exist.
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Okay. Like I said, now I have to finish it, because I’ve shared the first segment with YOU. So first, let me know what you think of “I See Monsters,” Part 1. Then, keep coming back this week. Let’s see if my resolve sticks. Happy Writing Week!