Charleston · Writing

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

And the weekend is almost here. That means plenty of free time for writing. I’m not going to lie; the story is finished and saved on my computer, on my flash drive, in my email Inbox…you get the idea. However, I’m not giving it to you yet. I’m giving you section IX today. I’m giving you X tomorrow, and (drum roll) the final post of “I See Monsters” goes live Monday morning. So check back this weekend. Most importantly, check back Monday for the big finish. Thanks for following along. Vampires SUCK. (Heh heh, I’m sooooo funny.)

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

He sat in the middle of his couch. Caleb was at his feet, heavy head rested on crossed white paws, but Joshua did not seem to see the dog anymore. Joshua was staring with unseeing eyes straight into the darkness of his kitchen. He resembled a man who had not slept in days, yet I knew Joshua had been sleeping. I’d been privy to the occasion several times. He wore the same jeans and black shirt from the night before, and he held a glass of what, from my place on his porch, smelled like Kentucky bourbon. I remembered the way he had been the night before with Jen. I could picture the smile he had given her when he had made jokes. I could picture the way brown eyes had turned gold when the woman had been around. But that man was gone. Like Nathan’s transformation from man to monster, Joshua had gone from intact to in pieces. And I knew why. I had felt a similar tearing of self when I had watched my own mother perish.

A cellular phone rang, and Joshua did not move. I doubted he even heard the sound, but on the third ring, he reached out a heavy hand. “I’m sorry I hung up,” he said. “I wasn’t ready.”

I could hear who I assumed was his sister, and she was screaming. Without the luxury of discernible words, I could not tell if she was screaming at Joshua or in mourning.

“I wish I’d been there.”

More screaming, but Joshua did not have a “F@$& you” in his repertoire. Through my fingertips, I could feel he had nothing left but regret and resignation.

“I’m sorry, Susan.”

The voice was momentarily silenced.

“I’ll book my flight. I have an exam tomorrow afternoon, and I will fly out tomorrow night. I’ll be with you. Soon.”

Quiet muttering on the line.

“I love you, too, sis,” he said, and he barely had a chance to end the call before his face contracted into unrecognizable wrinkles. He covered his eyes before I saw the tears, but there was that smell again—the saltwater smell, not of ocean but of humanity.

I could not be so far from him. Blindly, I stumbled closer to the living room. I leaned my hands against his front door and listened to the sound of his pain. I could feel his pain. I did not dare move, for fear of losing this emotion. How long since I’d felt pain? How long since I’d felt anything beyond hunger? Who was this man? And how had he made me feel human?

Caleb spun on me. He felt me on the front porch, and he started growling through the door. “Caleb!”Joshua shouted, but the barking did not cease, and I could not move. “Caleb, what the hell?” I sensed Joshua. He stood up. He moved to Caleb. “Who’s out there?” he said, and then, sweet success. He was coming towards me. He had his hand on the door knob, and I heard the ancient metal creak. I leapt from the balcony. The entrance opened wide, and light akin to sun dripped down through the floorboards, where I stood below. Above me, Joshua stepped outside the safety of his home. “Hello?” he said. He took three steps forward and put his hands on the balcony as he looked into the darkness of his yard. “Is someone there?”

He was outside. I stood there, cowering against the wall below his balcony, and why? Had I not been waiting for this moment? The man who did not take smoke breaks. The man who never went outside with his dog. The man whose blood I thirsted for and whose home I could not enter without an invitation. And I had him. I could have had him, so what was the matter with me? Why was I frozen when the opportunity for immaculate warmth stood above my head?

I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed because I had blood on my hands. I was crying, and with each blood tear that escaped my blue eyes, I grew angrier with Joshua. Because in my ninety years undead, I had never cried.

It would happen the following night, I decided, as Joshua backed into his home and locked the front door. He had to get to the airport, and I would make sure he never reached his mother’s funeral. He would die. Like my family. Like my Nathan. Blood on my hands, but the following night, it would not be from my shameful tears.

* * *

Here’s some Ray LaMontagne for you, singing “I Still Care for You:” (This one’s for Angela.) Sit back, relax, enjoy Friday, and await the story’s conclusion.

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