New Short Story: “I See Monsters,” Part III

I’d write some clever prelude, but well, I used all my words on Part III.

* * *
“I See Monsters”
By Sara Dobie
Part III

As soon as I awoke the next evening, I dressed and left my apartment on the Battery. The thrill of the hunt had taken full control, so much that I almost forgot to lock my incriminating abode. I doubted the neighbors liked the idea of a vampire next door, and the casket in the bedroom would give me away. After locking up and checking it twice, I clunked loudly in heavy black boots down the three stories to the street. The night was familiar, like so many nights before when I was prepared to feed. The normal thrill was increased by the thought of the Nathan imposter. How dare he exist? How dare he live in the city of my childhood as if nothing had ever happened? As if Nathan had never taken that childhood away.

I knew the back allies of Charleston, much as humans remember locations in dreams. Being back in the French Quarter still seemed strange at times, when I looked around with undead eyes on corners and lampposts I had known as a teenager. Too old to reminisce, I continued up Church Street. I touched the cold stucco of plantation houses, much as I had the evening prior. I snuck around corners, peeking into windows uninvited. Families roamed full foyers, and mothers made dinners in quiet kitchens. I walked on until I felt the chill of wrought iron between my fingers.

The light from the balcony was turned off, but I could make out the soon to be dead leaves and flowers suffocating the back yard. No dog barked, so I assumed the odious creature known as Caleb was inside. Was the imposter inside, too? I looked toward the second floor, and warm light fell from unshielded windowpanes. With no hesitation, I climbed the wrought iron fence. Silent as the mortal grave, I made my way toward the back of the imposter’s home, pulling the leather collar of my jacket up around my pale cheeks. I paused long enough to listen, and even from a floor below, I heard a heart beating upstairs.

To one side of the house was the rusty fire escape. On the opposite end was a tree—an ancient, spindly creature with barely a leaf to its name. However, I could see the glow of lamplight on the dry bark, directly across from the second story of the imposter’s home. I could also make out a comfortable seat.

tree-at-night-dscn3032It was not difficult for me to put myself in that comfortable seat. No, I could not read minds. I could not “glamour” people into aligning to my will. But I could move. I could move fast, and my eldest brother had taught me tree-climbing as a small child in the days of innocent weekends at Beaufort. When I arrived in my tree seat, I felt like a spectator at the Roman Coliseum, waiting for the Christians to be fed to lions. There, only five feet from me, stood the imposter in his kitchen—there was my long dead Nathan, stirring steaming vegetables in a silver skillet.

And it was still Nathan. The night light had not played tricks the evening before. The imposter had the same dark hair and eyes. He had the same slim shoulders and long legs. He had the same wide palms and lengthy fingers. He was a disturbance to my immortal life—a reminder of things past. He was no longer merely an imposter; he was my imposter, and therefore he was mine to do with as I saw fit. I saw fit to tear into his throat above the Adam’s apple and feel his warm blood between my clenched fists.

Then, there was the white Labrador, Caleb, rushing to the imposter’s side. I wondered if Caleb could sense me, even from my perch in the Angel Oak. When I stared at the dog, the dog barked, and I imagined yes, he could feel me out in the tree. He could sense something bad by his master’s home, and he would defend that home to his detriment. It was then I decided I would have to kill the dog, because Caleb would never let me get close enough to the imposter to cause harm. And harm I would.

I watched the imposter set a spatula down on the clean countertop and turn down the heat beneath the wilted stir fry. The imposter wiped his hands on a nearby towel, pet Caleb on the nose, and disappeared further into the house with the dog in toe. I stooped to see into the darkened hallway leading away from the stove, but it was not long before another light came on to the right of the lit kitchen window. Like a tennis fan, my head ping-ponged to the right, and I was looking into the imposter’s bedroom. It was messy. Clothes covered the end of an unmade bed. A couple jackets and a pair of pants hung over the back of a battered, wooden desk chair in front of an equally battered wooden desk. Books and loose leaf paper scattered across the floor like rose petals at a wedding, and yet in the midst of it all, a spotless, expensive computer sat like a beacon of hope on an antique dresser against the back wall. The imposter scooped the laptop into able hands and leaned across the edge of his bed, belly-first.

He began to type, and my conjectures of the imposter’s age proved correct with no inquiry. The imposter had to be in college. I based this on the piles of clothes, the cheap furniture, and the abundance of reading material. No man outside of college kept so many books piled in his bedroom. No man outside of college had loose leaf strewn about. No man outside of college could appear so carefree, comfortable, and unaware of evil outside his door. However, perhaps the imposter’s age would be of assistance that night. Perhaps, the imposter would receive a late night call—a summons to an afterhours soiree—and perhaps, I would taste his blood before the morning light. I had to face it. Facts were facts, and the fact was, I could not enter the imposter’s home uninvited.

* * *

More tomorrow morning.

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