Last entry goes up Monday. Until then, Part X. Just for you.
* * *
“I See Monsters”
By Sara Dobie
Sometimes I still heard my mother’s scream. The sound would sneak into the part of my brain I kept tucked away, never to return. Yet, the sound of her screams somehow snuck through, usually in the early hours of evening before the sun had set—before I could lose myself in the living and their blood. Her scream would wake me, and I would be back in the midst of that night.
“Nathan, my boy. Come in, come in,” my father had said, and it might as well have been engraved on his tomb.
Nathan had taken my brother first. The boys had gone to the back of the house to smoke the cigars my brother had purchased at the market that morning. I had suspected nothing when Nathan had returned, saying something about my brother being sick from his expensive cigar. We had laughed at that. We had all laughed, even though my brother had been dead and face down in the dark.
The rest of it blurs around the edges. Nathan did not take time with Father. As we laughed, Nathan took a steak knife and ran it across my father’s throat. My mother had started to scream, but I had yet to understand that my father was dying—that the ruby covering his three-piece suit was not spilled wine but blood. My poor mother, still cradling her crucifix, had tried to run to me, to save me, but she had only gone a couple steps before Nathan had scooped her into his immortal arms. Then, he’d smiled at me. He’d sunk fangs into her throat, and she had screamed and screamed. When the screaming had stopped, she had been dead, and I’d had yet to move from my seat.
When Nathan had touched me, he had been cold. Perhaps, I had been in shock, because I never tried to run. I never screamed like my poor mother. I had allowed my Nathan to take me into his arms. “Now, you’ll be with me forever,” he had said, and I do not recall pain. I remember waking up with Nathan in an underground tomb, knowing things were different. I was different. And when I had asked about my family, Nathan had laughed.
Joshua was upstairs. Caleb was nowhere nearby, surely dropped off with a friend while Joshua traveled home to bury mommy in the ground. So I would not have to kill the animal after all. I sat in the wet grass in the backyard, pulling at pieces that itched my ankles, between the boot line and my jeans. There was no need for my tree or the porch. Joshua would come to me; I waited for my meal. I could sense a flurry of motion upstairs. He scrambled about, from the closet to the bed to the bathroom, packing last minute items into what I concluded was an open suitcase. I heard the sound of a printer—probably preparing his boarding passes. I plucked green grass until I felt him nearing the front door. When I felt him set foot into the cool evening air, I returned to my site of paralysis from the night before. Poetic justice, I thought—a second chance following my failure.
He dropped his keys and cursed once before locking the front door. Heavy feet hit the metal fire escape, and when he rounded the corner, his arms were full. In one hand, he held his suitcase. In the other, he held a to-go mug of coffee, and it smelled like a smoky roast I had once smelled in the villages of Africa. He looked nineteen again, wearing a dark Polo shirt, brown jacket, jeans, and a crooked baseball cap. In the dim light, he was more my Nathan than he ever had been, because he was my Nathan before Nathan had become a monster. He was my Nathan before that vampire woman had turned him at a prohibition party. And in that dim light, I loved him for it.
I stepped away from the house, and Joshua dropped his coffee. “Shit,” he said, looking down at the pool of black on pavement. Then, he looked up. For the first time, his eyes took in the sight of me. “You,” he said, as if he recognized me. Had he known I’d been watching? Had he been aware of me, just like Caleb? Had he known something bad had been outside his window, and had that been why he was so careful to not leave the house at night?
When I moved closer, Joshua dropped the suitcase, too. Yes, he knew I was something bad, but I could see—even in the darkness—that his brown eyes did not recognize the truth. Humans do not want to believe in vampires, even when they stare one in the face. It was true of my previous victims; it was true of my Joshua.
I latched onto him by the fabric of his shirt and pushed him back against a thick, white column that supported the balcony above. I stared up into his face, mere inches away, and although he was afraid, he was also resigned. Nothing about his expression made me believe he would cry out. His hands did not push me away; he did not struggle or cower beneath my immortal strength. He stared at me, and I would swear on my mother’s grave that this young man had seen me coming. He’d been waiting for me as the elderly await an angel of death. Maybe I had waited for Nathan, too.
* * *
Again, the concluding scene goes LIVE Monday morning. Thanks for hanging with me, Angela, Joshua, and Caleb.