The Circus of the Golden Circle

“Ladies and Gentleman!” The echoing, dulcet tones of a man billowed across the damp cobbles stones of an obscure London side street. Gas lamps flickered in the slight drizzle that ran down their glass defence like fat tears; casting an eerie orange glow across the wet surface of the world.

The man’s long Stockman coat flapped about the mind like the wings of a giant bat, his white face the only thing that shone in the darkness; his wide grin framed by long black hair and a towering top hat.

“Ladies and Gentleman, your attention!” the few people who were out at this late hour slid past him like a group of eels trying to avoid the hungry gaze of a predator. Not to be dissuaded from his mission he slinked forward, his suit and tie wet from his hours in the rain and approached a gentleman who had been minding his own business, smoking a cigarette against the window of a shop.

“Good sir. You have the mark of a Gentleman who enjoys the thrill of the fantastical.” The man took a long drag on his cigarette and blew out a long, thoughtful puff of black smoke. He didn’t say a word.

“Illuminate your mind Sir with tales of old evils from dark times long forgotten. I can promise you an evening that is unparalleled with delights and thrills the like of which you have never seen before! Magic and mystery await.” The street seller poured over his hands, moving them in ways that looked mystical and foreign to his uninterested one man audience.

The door behind them pinged open, the bell above the wooden frame announcing the exit of a petite lady. Her brown hair was pulled tight and covered with a light blue bonnet, lace decorating the delicate edges and exaggerating her large green eyes. She hitched her black, full length skirt up as she stepped delicately over the threshold, showing over her brown patent shoes for the world to see. The man offered her his jacketed arm and the street seller sensed that he was loosing his grip on the situation.

“Lady! A beauty such as you must be interested in adventures? A woman of such rapture, and yet I sense, one of great intellect as well.” He moved swiftly, almost too swiftly and stood before the couple.

“What’s this?” She asked, tugging on her leather gloves as she spoke and offering the curious man before her a baffled smile.

“Nothing Lilly, just a street vagabond attempting to lure us in with pretty words. We’d best be back before the weather turns for the worst.” Her surly partner interjected. He rapped his cane on the cobbles in impatience, feeling the rim of his bowler hat beginning to wet his slicked back hair.

“No Madame! I simply aim to entertain and delight. Our little travelling company of theatre hands is in London for one night only. We promise to dazzle, entertain and enthral in ways you have never experienced.” He kissed her hand with a flourish.

“Oh Jeremy, lets!” She exclaimed, clasping her companion’s arm. “It sounds like such a lark. Oh please lets!”

Jeremy’s eyes moved from his eager young wife to the sly street seller, he didn’t like the way his eyes twinkled with the promise of mischief but he never had been able to deny his girl anything she’d asked for.

“How much?” He sighed, putting his hand in the inner pocket of his dinner jacket.

“For you Sir, not a penny’s charge. I insist.” The seller grinned a sickly smile and ushered them a couple of steps down the road and into a creaking wooden door that sat a little crooked on its ancient hinges.

“Well would you look at that? Isn’t it marvellous Jeremy?” Lilly gasped, full of delight and wonder as they shuffled into their seats. The room was rounded, like a giant lecture hall filled with uncomfortable wooden benches that stacked up and up the great tall walls. Dim light from candles and the odd gas light flickered in the darkness making the round clearing in the centre of the room just visible. It was unexpectedly busy.

“I can’t see a damn thing in here.” Jeremy muttered, straining into the gloom to pick out the odd face in the crowd.

“Hush dear!” His wife, tapped him on the arm, embarrassed by his harsh language. “It’s probably for dramatic effect.” Jeremy huffed in disgruntled annoyance.

“Ladies and Gentlemen of London Town. I bid you welcome, to the greatest show you shall ever have the pleasure to witness!” It was the street seller again, standing on an old wooden crate in the centre of the room. His tall, black top hat stood imposingly on top of his head as he swirled a great black cape about his skinny, pale frame. No one had seen him come onto the stage; it was like he’d just dropped out of the sky. “A world of mystery, wonder and a little fear awaits you. Come, join us, follow us on our journey. Welcome, to the Circus of the Golden Circle!”

A mass of bodies spread out onto the stage, glittering costumes of all manner swirled around in the half light, winking at the audience. From somewhere towards the back of the room the whining, pitiful sound of a violin being badly played echoed across the vast space. Lily shuddered a little at the sound.

The characters on stage swirled around, contortionists crammed themselves into tiny jars, their crooked limbs bowing and bending like broken branches behind the glass. The fire eater, swallowed mouthful after mouthful of scorching flames, barely blinking an eye as he set his enormous beard on fire; his endless smile forever grinning out at the audience. One tall, willowy woman, towered over the crowd on giant stilts, balancing on one precarious leg.

There didn’t seem to be much plot, nothing amazing or exciting. The frozen grins on each and every pale, white face serving as the only chilling element to the whole charade. Something was not quite right.

Jeremy scanned the scene, and thanked God that he hadn’t paid for this tirade of drivel until something caught his eye. The chandelier winked at him from the ceiling, catching the light as it gently swung to and fro from its chain. Its gilt design was battered and worn, half the diamonds missing and not a single candle alight in any of its holders. He peered and leaned forward. There was something, some shape sitting atop the fixture. A figure, someone up there, holding onto the chain and watching the crowd below, shrouded in darkness where no one could see them.

He sat up, suddenly a little alarmed. He went to tap his wife and thought better of it, no good in worrying her just yet; it may be part of the show. Glancing around into the crowd he watched as dark, hooded figures streaked behind the back rows, weaving past each other as silently as the wind across a field. They were everywhere, they were surrounded.

Turning slightly he made to grab his wife’s hand; he didn’t like where this was going, the sooner they could leave the better. As he turned  his feet squelched with the movement. He balked and looked down, turning his once shiny shoes into the light. Something was splattered across the dark surface, reaching down he swiped one finger across the shoe and brought it close to his face. He leapt back in surprise at the blood that dripped from his finger tip and pooled under his nail.

“What is it darling?” His wife’s worried face floated into vision, he could see some of the other audience members starting to crane round to look at him too. They all had that same, sickening grin.

“We need to leave.” He hissed. “Now.”

“The show hasn’t finished yet.” She pouted, oblivious to the many faces now trained on them. Their deathly white skin reflecting light like death himself had visited them.

“Trust me.” He dragged her to her feet roughly, suddenly painfully aware that the music had stopped. Putting a hand protectively around Lilly’s waist he pulled her to him and glared around at the sea of faces. Every single one in the room was turned to face them, staring, sizing them up like wild dogs about to leap in for the kill.

“Jeremy?” Lilly’s voice was shaky; suddenly frightened as she began to grasp the gravity of the situation.

Something hit him on the head, only lightly but enough to get his attention. He looked down as a droplet of glass from the chandelier fell onto the floor with a tiny thump as loud as the explosion of a gun in the silence. With a racing heart and a stomach full of dread he looked up, slowly. The chandelier had stopped swinging, the man upon it leaned into the light displaying his taught, ancient face. Unhuman and ungodly, wild with delight and anticipation. He craned forward and tilted his head to one side, his long, black hair falling over his face a little and exposing sharp, pointed ears. He barred his teeth and in that moment both Lilly and Jeremy realised, the chase was up.

War Machine

It appears that we’ve sprung a leak. The water sloshing around my feet is cold, seeping through the worn and splitting soles of my commission boots.  I wriggle my toes, trying to stimulate a little sensation back into them as I whip the hefty flashlight in my hand across the hole that now gapes in the belly of our beast.

The water floods in. In the half light it almost looks like the jagged mouth of a great demon, pouring destruction and black, foul smelling fluid across the floor. It’s mesmerising and unsettling; my stomach churns a little at the rushing, roaring noise as it swells throughout the bowels of the ship.

“Sir!” One of the privates is floundering his way towards me, staggering against the list that I had barely noticed take hold. He grabs hold of one of the nearby crates and heaves a little with the excretion of moving against the swirling current. I forget his name.

“The Captain’s requesting a report Sir.” He’s shouting over the roaring rush of the water. I know there isn’t a way back from the brink we’re now teetering on. I glance around me at the explosives and ammunition in the many boxes surrounding me. Just one spark from the buckling hull and we’d be nothing more than food for the creatures that haunt the bottom of the ocean.

“Sir?!” My brain stutters back into life and I reach out and grab the young man’s arm pulling myself away from the gaping wound.

“Tell them we must evacuate, immediately. She’s lost, I want everyone off as soon as it can be done.”

He plunges back through the water, his pace quickened; fear biting at the back of his heels. I drag myself back through the yawning expanse of hull after him. It takes nearly all of my upper body strength to heave myself and my saturated clothing up the stairs and out of the swirling, misty waters below.

Thumping up the stairs, two steps at a time I emerge onto the deck. The cold night air is chilling my already frozen face to the point of pain; above my head the stars twinkle and laugh at our misfortune.

I can see the ship that hit us, out to the North East, circling back around, guns at the ready preparing for a second attack. Bodies are flying past me at an extraordinary rate, eager hands grabbing at life jackets and spare bullets, a few manning the guns readying us for the last battle. It’s the easy way out really, we’re all going to die in these waters.

The ship is listing dangerously to the right, the water we’re taking on weighing her down with a super human hand, pushing us under. The boys are starting to panic, the water is chomping at the right hand side; over three quarters of the ship already under water. We all know what’s going to happen.

I make a bolt for my cabin, pulling myself along the ship with all the strength I have, my feet sliding away from underneath me, trying to pull me overboard. I reach the open door and fling it wide, heaving myself over the threshold and into the room. Stumbling over to the great desk at the far side I throw myself into the chair, fixed into the floor thank God.

I reach for the second shelf down and give it a tug and a little pull upwards. used to the way it gets stuck in the thick, expanding wood. Throwing a few papers onto the floor I put my little finger into the tiny hole on the right hand side of the bottom of the draw and pull up the secret compartment. Lifting out the Webley  No.I Mk.I issue pistol I pause for a moment to feel the weight of it in my hand. It’s loaded, I always keep it loaded, you can’t be too careful on these ships, months cooped up with nothing to do and no new faces can turn a man real quick.

I pull back the pin. I can still hear someone screaming orders, the rumble of engines in the background; I don’t know if they’re ours or theirs. Everything outside this little room is dizzy and sick with chaos and fear. This sanctuary, this blessed place. It could be my last.

Lifting the gun with heavy shaking hands I place the barrel to my temples. The feel of cold metal against my skin is more shocking than I imagined  and I suddenly feel the weight of what I am about to do. The fear grapples at my throat like a giant clawing hand until my breath is coming in short, sharp gasps. I suddenly realise that I’m sobbing now.

Throwing the gun down I grasp at the edges of the table. Tears still wet on my face; using one roughly sleeved arm I wipe them away. Got to be a man, got to stand up, got to make this right. On unsteady legs I stand and move my way across the listing, groaning ship; its death wail reaching fever pitch, mingling with the yells of my crew mates. Grasping the door handles with sweaty, uncertain hands I wrench them open and step forward into the hellish hysteria of war.

The Littlest Vampire and The Kellyfish

The Littlest Vampire had gone for a swim in the sea. In the darkness that surrounded him the reflection of the moon on the soft, rippling waves shone like rays through the murky water. A slight breeze ruffled his hair and grabbed playfully at the edges of the cape he was still wearing.

He swayed in time with the gentle hum of the sea lapping up against the sands and kicked his feet back and forth, curling his toes in the wooshing waves.

Until, suddenly, something brushed past his leg. Something wet and slippery and soft. His eyes widened with surprise and he bent his head to look down into the dark, deep waters.

For a long time nothing stirred, the top of the water undisturbed until something caught his keen little vampire eyes. A little blur of white, and a pair of big round eyes blinked up at him with sparling curiosity.

The little vampire, stared in amazement.

“Hullo.” He mumbled. The creature smiled and bobbed further up out the water.

The Littlest Vampire’s eyes grew round as saucers; she was the most beautiful jellyfish he had ever seen. Stripes of bright purple streaked the top of her perfectly white head, her green eyes shone as bright as the deep seaweed. Her little tentacles, swirled delicately in the currents, glowing with a slight hint of blue.

“I’m The Littlest Vampire.” He said pointing to his chest with one white finger. The jellyfish seemed to smile and jumped a little in excitement.

“My name is Kellyfish!” She said, delightedly, bobbing up and down and twirling in the water.

The little vampire giggled as flecks of water splashed up into his face. “Will you be my friend, Kellyfish?” he asked, desperate to have a little friend to play with.

“Kellyfish loves vampires!” She exclaimed, doing a little back flip for good measure.

The Little Vampire grinned as wide as he could, showing off his little pointy teeth. For what seemed like hours they raced each through the waves, practiced their best underwater handstands and competed to see who could hold their breath the longest; being dead of course the little vampire always won.

After some time the Kellyfish seemed keen to be getting on her way; the freedom of the ocean enticing. The little vampire wanted to come too, he’d been having such fun he couldn’t stand for it to end. It wasn’t even nearing dawn yet and she didn’t seem to mind as he swam behind her, Further and further out into the sea they went until the shore just seemed to be a white spec on the horizon.

The Littlest Vampire dipped his head under the waves, taking in the sight of the fish and the coral waving about in the current. He bobbed along in time to their gentle sway. He followed the Kellyfish down and down and down and down into the blackness until the only thing he could see was her bright blue glow lighting the way. Until suddenly, a light shone out into the gloom.

As he swam closer and closer the shape of a giant castle appeared before him, all the windows were lit with a soft, golden light and gentle singing could be heard echoing across the chasm. Colourful fish swam around the structure and in and out of its little windows and doors. The Littlest Vampire gazed up at it in awe.

The castle was grand, but nothing compared to the mermaids that lived inside. Theirlong tails sparkled and shone in greens, blues, reds, pinks and yellows. His eyes, round as saucers could barely keep up with all the swirling colour as they all swam up to say hello.

They took his hands and swam with him through the great, green tangle of seaweed at the bottom of the ocean. The light from the moon poured in in great streaming strips that glowed through the foggy abyss. In front of him the Kellyfish wiggled and waved in the current, leading the way with her little blue glow.

They sang songs together and the mermaids showed him all the sights of the ocean. They taught him how to weave shells into their hair and how to tickle a bream until he sung.

As the moon began to wane in the sky the mermaids and the Kellyfish took the Little Vampire back to the beach. He hugged the little jellyfish tight and promised he’d return soon for more underwater adventures.

They waved goodbye to each other happy and contented. He watched as her little blue glow bobbed in the distance before disappearing quietly under the waves.

An Unusual Lady

Lilth’s feet pounded the soggy ground as sparkling green grass slipping around underneath her, making her tumble with every other step. Her breathing came fast and labored; her right leg was starting to scream with the cramping muscles. It seemed as though she’d been running forever.

Somewhere behind her a tree crashed to the ground, groaning its death rattle on the way down. Twigs and rocks alike snapped in the way of the great thundering footsteps that traipsed after her through the dense forest.

Her skinny framed dived over one huge tree trunk, her heeled boots making little grooves in the bark; she cursed her choice of inappropriate footwear. Scuttling under another low hanging branch her waist length, blood red hair caught itself around one of its many fingers. She tugged, pulling on it until her head hurt. The footsteps got closer; she watched as the birds flew in a crazed panic, squawking as the trees around them swayed and bent into unnatural shapes.

With one last wrench she pulled herself free and stumbled into a clearing. Everything shone with life, bright pink and purple blossoms carpeted the floor and huge, expanding trees enveloped the sky above her in brilliant blue leaves. The sun just peaked through the odd gap in the branches, punctuating the half light with streams of glowing strips.

She whirled on her heel, the thundering footsteps made her whole body leap into the air as each giant foot smashed into the poor, forgiving ground. She had no where else to run, it had inevitably caught up with her.

“Fuck.” She muttered under her breath. Throwing off the heavy satchel, she hitched up her under bust corset and popped the buttons on the sleeves of her long white shirt. As she crouched to the floor she screwed her left knee into the ground, feeling the water from the earth creeping up the fabric of her maroon colored, tatty jeans.

She fumbled with her gun, ripping it from the holster and stabbing at the safety switch on the left hand side as the creature came thundering into the clearing. The Bluntersnitch snarled, its dog like face set in a look of pure anger and rage. A couple of sharp twigs stuck out of its bleeding hind quarters; a tree held in its mouth like a stick. Seven feet tall and full to the brim with unrelenting, animalistic hatred.

Lilth aimed for the middle of its three eyes, trying to ignore the spittle dribbling down its dirty white fur. She felt the pistol power up in her hands, the vibrating, whirring sensation familiar and comforting in her palm. She let a shot fly, bolting forwards just as the Bluntersnitch charged forward throwing her aim off balance and catching him just at the tip if his left ear.

The monster screamed and picked up the pace. Reaching her in under three seconds it made a fell swoop at her with its mouth, all yellow teeth and bad breath. She jumped, forcing one small foot into the jaw of its mouth and the other found itself on the animals nose. Before she knew it she was swinging through the air, clinging to a clump of fur to land on the Bluntersnitch’s back.

It roared and bucked, tossing her left and right. The gun flew from her gloved hands as she grappled with the creature. With one smooth motion she brought a devastating punch down onto the back of its head, stunning it just long enough for her to leap up and grab one of the low hanging branches that swayed above her. Using all her upper body strength she pulled herself out of reach, just as the creature turned and snapped its jaws at her dangling legs.

She was fumbling with the knife that she kept down the back of her left boot when a piercing whistle rang out across the forest. Both Lilth and the Bluntersnitch turned to stare in bewilderment at the man who stood in the center of the clearing, looking cocky and self important. Lilth rolled her eyes.

“Nice Bluntersnitch you’ve got there!” He shouted across the yawning expanse of space.

“Yep, it’s under control. One hundred percent. I don’t need any help, thank you very much, have a nice day.” She called back staggering with uncertainty across the outstretched branch.

“Oh yeah, looks like it.” The man mumbled to himself. He kicked Lilth’s gun about in the grass and caught it under his toe, flipping it up into the air with the panache of a man who’d long been practicing the move in front of the bedroom mirror. The Bluntersnitch’s eyes flickered from one human to the next, unsure of where it should strike first.

He took a pot shot, aiming it squarely at the giant dog’s behind and hitting his target. He guffawed as blood and a little flesh spurted out from the new wound enticing a pained howl from its owner. It twirled on its feet, churning up mud and grass as it went and lolloped towards him, a bit slower now then it was before.

Lilth let out an a exasperated sigh and watched as the man dodged his quarry, thick brown hair floating dreamily about in the breeze. He had all the trappings of a man with station, nice fancy clothes, a shiny looking blade at his waist and a cape. Who even had a cape these days?

“Aren’t, you going to ask my name?” The man panted as he artfully jumped over a swiping paw and dived underneath the animal’s belly.

“Nope!” She called out, summersaulting backwards off the branch to land in the grass next to him. “Not interested.” Racing forwards, she landed a swift kick to the Achilles heel and skidded to the side as the monster came crashing down next to her.

“It’s Ezrel.” He paused a moment to let her digest this new information. “You are?”

“I’m busy!” Lilth screamed as she ran up the side of the Bluntersnitch’s squishy exposed stomach and wobbled a little as it huffed and panted in pain underneath her feet. She lost her footing and fell, sliding down the belly of the beast until she landed on its throat. Before the animal even had time to think she whipped out her huge hunting knife and buried it into the creature, feeling it breath its last under her feet.

She hopped down from the still warm body, ignoring Ezrel’s outstretched hand and strode over to her satchel.

“You’re quite an unusual lady aren’t you?” Her unwanted companion asked, craning over her shoulder to see what she was rooting around for in her bag. “How did you get tangled up with our furry friend over there?”

“I stole something from him, not that it’s any of your business. Now if you will excuse me I have things to steal, places to get drunk in and bad life decisions to make.”

“Can’t I at least get you something to drink. You must be thirsty after all that … killing.” Lilth hoisted her bag onto her shoulder and gave him one withering look, eyebrow raised.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. Right?” Ezrel grinned at her expectantly.

“Out of my way short stack! I really don’t want to have to break your face.”

“Has anyone ever told you, you have a real anger problem. I could help you work on that you know. I’m a …” He never got to finish his sentence.

Lilth’s fist connected hard and fast with his chin, sending him flying backwards into a bramble bush. She shook off her fist and tugged her hair out from underneath the leather bag strap it had caught under.

These men, where do they even come from. Did she look like a damsel in distress? She looked herself over, the smears of blood and mud didn’t scream save me to her. Shrugging she retrieved her gun from where Ezrel had flung it onto the ground with the force of her punch and slapped his upturned, unconscious ass on the way past.

“See you around, scumbag.”

The Nobodies

Vampires everywhere. Check it out.

Alarura's Blog

We are the nobodies
Want to be somebody
We’re dead
We know just who we are
-Marilyn Manson, The Nobodies

Our final moments as the band known as Bloodstained passed by with an odd sobriety. Bloodstained, a name we’d earned because of the amount of bodies we left by the way side on our climb to power, should give you an idea of how crazy the last few years had been. Now we sat in a mansion in the rich part of London, surrounded by crazy comforts. Comforts I could never have dreamed of when I was alive.

This office belonged to Liz and she sad directly opposite myself, framed by a massive silver moon filling out the window to her back. Her elbows rested on the desk and her eyes were closed; she looked dangerously serene, but all of us in the group had seen first-hand how dangerous it…

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Incoming Message

I started getting the texts last month. At first I just got the odd one here and there, maybe once a week or something like that. The flickering of the blue light of my phone forced its way into my life like some great, terrible beacon that I couldn’t ignore.

It’s cold in here.

I was pretty sure someone had the wrong number. I tossed my phone to one side and forgot about it.

A few days later my phone bleeped again.

When did it get so dark?

Where am I? 

I decided to text back, maybe it was a stupid idea but it seemed like the most logical thing to do at the time.

Who is this? 

I waited exaclty one minute before the screen lit up with an eager, sickly glow.

Did you forget about me?

My stomach flipped over.

Who is this? How are you using this number? 

I got no reply to that. I sat up nearly half the night next to the phone waiting for something; nothing happened.

It must have been about a week before I got the next one. I must say I was starting to miss the interaction, the flutter of exciement and fear in the pit of my stomach has grown into a stimulus I craved.

I miss you.

I felt the keen prick of tears at the back of my eyes, sharp, vivious little needles digging into my retina.

I miss you too. 

I’ll be home soon. 

I sucked in my breath, tears propelling themselves down my face now.

When?

Soon, Jack. 

How would they know my name? How would they know if it wasn’t her? Maybe It could be true. I waited. I sat, crossed legged on my bed until I lost all feeling in my feet, pins and needles giving way to a fat, nothing sensation.

I was excited, the messages had given me new hope. I wanted to believe it. It had been a comfort to me, receiving all these messages. It was just a shame that Grandma had been burried with her mobile phone.

Demon Housemate

Usually I don’t post this kind of thing. I’m strictly a straight up, fiction only sort of girl so putting up a true story is a bit out of the ordinary for me. It’s just that, I don’t know how to handle this situation. I’m hoping all you good folk out there can give me a bit of advice.

I’ve experienced the supernatural before, the odd tap on the shoulder here and there; probably the product of an overactive imagination and a healthy appetite for the weird. This is something else though and it’s not just me that’s experiencing it. I know I’m not crazy, and I know this is real.

A few weeks ago I moved into a shared house with a bunch of friends. Stuff hadn’t been going well at home and the prospect of a change of scenery was too enticing. I brought the bare necessities and set up camp in the spare room, living out of my suitcase. It was pretty blissful I can tell you.

Before I moved in I’d been jokingly warned of “The Demon” that was supposed to be haunting the place. Like anyone else I laughed it off; what’s a demon going to be doing hanging around a two up two down in a small English town? People had heard weird banging, whistling that kind of thing. I chalked it up to one too many late nights and alcohol messing with their heads.

So, I’d been there about a week when I get a text from one of my housemates asking me if I was in the house. I’d been bored out of my mind at work for the past few hours and told him so. I glanced over at the incoming message as the screen lit up.

I was just in the shower and I’m almost sure I heard someone cough. It sounded close, like just behind me. 

Picking up the phone I glanced around to make sure there was no manager lurking behind the cheap, grey shelving and quickly hashed out a reply.

It’s probably just one of the girls messing about or something. Why don’t you go check? 

There’s no one else here … 

I sat up in my chair a little and frowned. I was pretty sure he’d just heard the grumbling of the water pipes; the boiler or something and told him so. He seemed so sure of it and when I got home he did seem a little on edge. It shook my resolve a bit and I made double sure to check all the dark corners of the bathroom for a few days after that.

I forget exactly how long after that it was but sometime later we hosted a house party. Nothing major just small gathering with a few friends and some good alcohol. I’d brought my DSLR along and we took a bunch of pictures to remember the night by. I’m a huge Facebook addict so, naturally I had to upload them to my page. Sitting crossed legged on my bed in a comfy pair of jammies I went through the picture happily tagging away until something smacked me right in the gut. I lurched forward and grabbed the screen in both hands. Amidst all the smiling faces of my friends was a different face, a black and white face in a sea of colour images. It was the fifth row down, two in from the right. A woman stared out at me with whited out eyes and a sly looking grin on her face. Her curly hair rolled around her cheeks and down her shoulders; I’d never seen her before in my life.

“Shit.” I mumbled. I scrolled back rapidly through all the pictures, there were no other images in the background, nothing the tagging application could have accidentally picked up. I was stumped, I’ve still got no explanation for it. I studied it carefully as the hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end; it was sinister as hell.

Fumbling across the bed covers I snatched up my phone and opened up Whatsapp. The screen flashed as I snapped a picture. I dithered for a moment; I didn’t want everyone to freak out, I mean, we all still had to live there. Fuck it, I need a second opinion. I pushed send and waited for a response. I didn’t have to wait long.

What the hell is that?! 

I re-told the whole saga in detail.

What do you mean that came from the party pictures? I took those … 

I know, I can’t explain it either. There are no pictures on the wall, nothing on anyone’s clothing and we sure as hell don’t know anyone who looks like that. 

…. Great, just what I wanted, a demonic room mate. 

Needless to say, everyone was freaked. I showed the girls who lived with us what we had found and they were suitably bothered by it. Being close friends they often shared a bed in their moment of fear. I envied them, all I had to ward off what ever was lurking around was a stuffed toy that I clung to life a life jacket.

After our “sighting” things only got worse. Stuff started moving about, I lost keys, chargers, my phone, pens, paperwork all to find it in some obscure location a few hours later. The doors to cupboards stood ajar and doors creaked open. I know, there are a million explanations for this stuff; the wind, people leaving the door open, forgetfulness but it always felt wrong you know? Like something was messing with me.

I was left with no doubts at all when I was sitting in the living room enjoying a cup of tea and a chat with one of my house mates. It was casual, we’d had a good day and nothing horribly weird had happened for a couple of days. I could hear a little bit of thumping going on upstairs, someone being a bit heavy footed in one of the bedrooms, the girls were known for their heard of elephants impersonations. I was in mid sentence when one of them barrelled headlong down the stairs, cutting my conversation short.

“Jesus, can they get any louder?” I sighed aloud, frowning. “One day someone is going to go straight through the stairs.” My friend grinned at me and reached behind him to open the door for our companion. The room was silent.

We looked at each other confused. He stood and stuck his head around the door frame.

“What the …” I heard him mutter under his breath; he climbed the stairs two at a time.

I scrambled up off the sofa, heart hammering and stood at the bottom of the dark flight, arms crossed over my chest, my back to the wall. He reappeared after a few seconds, and slowly, almost thoughtfully made his way back down the stairs. He stood at the bottom for a  moment before looking me in the face.

“There’s no one there.”

“We definitely just heard someone coming down those stairs. There has to be someone there.”

“Go check for yourself if you want. I’m telling you there is no one in this house but us.” I wanted to speak but my brain just chewed the cogs. I gazed back up the stairs to the landing that now looked imposing and terrifying, I had to sleep up there, I had to go up there in the dark on my own.  Just as my brain was starting to catch up with what had happened when a bolt of light streaked across the top of the landing. I stuttered and took a step back, I could feel the blood drain from my face. There was no where a light like that could have come from, nothing to reflect off. I noped right out at that point and made up my mind to sleep on the sofa that night.

Whatever we were sharing our living space with was really upping the anti now. Growling, gurgling noises could be heard in some of the rooms, light coughing, prodding and the occasional shove were experienced by everyone, especially if you stayed here alone. Often, I’d stop people mid-flow in a conversation to ask if they had heard the creepy noises issuing from the gloomy upstairs.

I was starting to freak out, I could feel it, like a little knotted ball in the pit of my stomach. We’d had a few friends over the night before, just for a chat, nothing too heavy and we’d got to talking about our demonic friend.

“I’ve seen it.” One of the guys said. I was pretty sure he was winding me up, having a reputation for that kind of humour.

“What does it look like?” I quizzed, no one had seen the picture but my flatmate and I so I was totally expecting him to concoct something out of thin air.

“It’s a woman, young looking. She’s got curly hair to her shoulders, maybe blonde. Her clothes looked kind’a period. I’ve seen her a few times when I’ve slept over here, I can see her reflection in the mirror.” He pointed to the big wall mirror we had hanging in the living room. If you sat on the sofa you could see the doorway and out into the corridor. I imagined this ghostly woman standing in the doorway watching us and shuddered.

The silence was shattered by a sudden crash from the front bedroom. I jumped and my room mate leapt to his feet; it was his room the sound had come from. We all crept slowly forward, hoping that a cat or something had got in through an open window and made that noise. Nothing stirred, the room sat silently, perfectly in tact; all the windows remained fast shut.

It’s been unnervingly quiet for the last few days, we’ve had a few cupboard doors left open and lights spontaneously turning on and off but I guess things might be on the up. I’m still pretty nervous though, writing this up alone and in the dark probably isn’t helping me any. The blue glow of the screen is the only illumination in the claustrophobic darkness.

The front door has just opened and closed. The time on the laptop display says: 2:08 am. It must be one of the girls coming back from a night out, I can’t hear any footsteps on the stairs; nothing, Those stairs are always so loud I should be able to hear her, maybe she went to get a drink.

Fuck, the bedroom door just slammed itself shut, not mine one of the bedrooms down the corridor. I’m pretty sure mine’s locked … did I lock it? I think I did. Something it scuffling, rummaging around on the corridor, it’s fairly loud. I don’t know what to do.

I’ve just text everyone, just to make sure I’m alone.

I’m still out, why? 

Lol, I’m miles away, it’s not me! 

I’m still at work 0.o 

The door handle is moving, I swear to God the door handle is moving. I’ve got that tingling sensation, you know like when blood starts draining from your face? The doors on this floor are opening, I can hear them opening and shutting. Those doors I watched the girls lock are opening and shutting.

I’m one floor up, there’s no way out, no where to go. I’m here, alone in the dark, with it. It wants to come in.

Show and Tell

Andy had never been a popular kid. His big, thick glasses and the two freckles on his upper lip made him an easy target; not to mention the hand my down clothes he’d got from his older cousin.

Life wasn’t easy at ten. Just that morning he’d been given two super wedgies, a Chinese burn on his left arm, kicked in the shin and had his chocolate biscuit stolen. It should have been a bad day, but today was show and tell and Andy had something amazing to demonstrate. His presentation would be so fabulous, so gloriously mind blowing that before third break every kid in the playground would be begging to be his friend.

He’d been hiding out in the library for a good twenty minutes of lunch break before they found him. Kicking the book out of his hand Brian and his trio of thugs grabbed him under the arm pits and wrenched him out of his chair.

They carried him out, his little feet kicking their backs and podgy, soft arms. The fat hand clamped over his mouth stopped him from calling out for help and the librarian was too busy chatting over her tea to the tutor from room 105 to notice. He spent the rest of his lunch break sitting in the bin outside the main office.

When the bell finally rang and he could clamber out of his dank and smelly prison, he dusted himself off and pulled the last sticky bits of banana and old chewing gum off his sweater before heading to the bathroom to wash his hands.

The last straggling, giggling girls scattered as he clumped his way down the corridor, howling with laughter and disgust at the slight smell coming from his damp clothes. He’d show them, he’d show all of them what he was worth; how special he really was. He had hated his life and everyone in it for so long he couldn’t bare it anymore, but today it was all going to change.

Class 3A filed in two by two  and sat in their neat little rows in eager anticipation of this weeks show and tell. The teacher chugged down her last cup of coffee, her black hair in a slightly skewed bun that had a few loose hairs flying from it like little spiders. The bags under here eyes indicated a heavy night and she was wearing one of her less professional jumpers today. She looked like what every teacher dreading becoming, washed out.

“So.” She began in a thin, worn out voice. “Who wants to go first this week?”

A sea of quivering, eager hands fluttered in the air, high pitched muttering of earnest desire bounced around the space. The teacher scanned them with uninterested eyes, the usual eager beavers catching her gaze, until she saw a shinning little face she’d not really noticed before.

“Andy? You have something you’d like to share with us?” She asked, a hint of disbelief in her voice.

Andy swallowed, this was his big moment. Taking a deep breath and pulling up his huge trousers he clambered up to the front of the class. Walking over to the teacher’s desk he helped himself to her favorite mug from it’s usual place on the top of the paper stack. World’ Best Teacher it proudly declared to anyone paying attention.

The interested muttering gave way to toxic giggling. He looked so ridiculous standing there with his bowl cut hair, over sized clothes and eyes magnified 10 times by his thick specs. Until, he dropped the mug.

A collective gasp went up from his crowd. Stunned silence fell for a few, short seconds until a tidal wave of excitement crashed in on them. Screaming, stunned children rushed to the front, chairs scraping and falling over in the scrum. The teacher craned over her desk, neck stretching out like an ostrich, mouth wide.

“That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!”

“How do you do it, Andy?”

“Can you teach me?!”

“Andy, Andy, can I come over to your house after school?”

Andy smiled wide over the brim of the mug as it spun gently in the empty space in front of him. He knew these telekinetic powers  would come in handy one day.

The Shopping List

I’ve still got her last note. Stupid really, keeping it all this time, it’s nothing more than a glorified shopping list but I can’t bring myself to let it go.

Don’t forget to pick up some milk and bread! You know what happens when I don’t get my morning cup of tea! 

xxx

I don’t know how I managed to hold onto it in all the confusion but somehow it survived, tucked out of sight in my old, beaten up leather wallet. I hate the fact that I can remember snatching the note up from the kitchen sideboard, the morning winter sun bouncing off the cold marble surface, but I can’t remember the sound of her voice anymore.

I shift underneath my blanket, it’s so full of holes I can feel a draft coming through it like wispy fingers; it’s a good thing it’s a warm night. My wallet is open in my lap, limply hanging across my thighs, bedraggled and worn out as if it’s run a marathon. I know how that feels. My wife’s face stares up at me, grubby around the edges and fading slightly with age and exposure to the elements. She’s got a brown tint that she never had before, marring her perfect pale skin and wavy blonde hair. Only her green eyes remained solid, colourful and piercing through the grime. Alysa, always perfect.

Our last day was so extraordinary, dull and average. Our screaming bundle of terror had woken us up at least 5 times that night, teething. I’d got a deep, gnawing pit of irritation starting up in the pit of my stomach as I sat at the breakfast bar watching Alysa shake a formula bottle agonisingly slowly, fatigue making her weak.

I spooned slow mouthful after mouthful of soggy, tasteless cereal into my mouth. The mush of bran squealching and wriggling across my tongue like a hoard of slugs. I swallowed the last bite with difficulty and offered my girl a watery smile.

“You don’t suppose they do refunds on these things, do they?” She said, jiggling the whimpering lump of snot and dribble on her hip.

“I think we’re way past the 30 day trial period.” I run a hand across my face and pull at my beard in frustration. My daughter’s chewing on Alysa’s hair, extra gummy, extra dribbly, making little snuffling noises whilst she does it. I should have got a dog instead.

“Damn. I guess we’re stuck with it now then.” She teases, kissing our girl on her sticky forehead. My smile reaches my tired eyes and the fatigue lifts from me a little, they look so perfect standing in the morning light; they were made this way, just for me.

Before I can lay a hand on my car keys and work file the TV blurts out a warning that demands my attention.

We are interrupting your scheduled programing to bring you this special news bulletin. An outbreak of a new virus has caused chaos across the north of the UK this afternoon. The highly contagious disease has symptoms similar to the norovirus and is spread in much the same way. 

Alysa isn’t really listening, still cooing over our girl; I lean over and turn up the volume. My wife comes over to stand next to me, even the baby is quiet as a pretty, young newsreader steps into view, her chocolate hair running helter, skelter under the bright red umbrella she was holding up against the wind and rain.

The Sheffield Teaching Hospital has been the hardest hit. Huge numbers of patients have been coming through thick and fast since the early hours of this morning. Staff here are overwhelmed. It’s been suggested that they currently have no working cure for this violent strain of the virus.

Alysa and I glanced at each other; a tiny frown appeared between her eyes. A haggard looking male nurse slid in from the side, he had dark circles under his eyes and something I couldn’t quite make out splattered across his scrubs.

We urge the public to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. The norovirus is highly contagious and we want to minimise the infection field as much as possible. Symptoms you should be on the look out for are: a raised temperature, headaches, stomach cramps, aching limbs, sickness and seizure. If you feel unwell or think you may have contracted the virus, please, please do not leave the house and call the emergency services immediately. 

Within two weeks, 1.75 billion were dead worldwide. The dehydration hit thick and fast and no matter what the doctors seemed to do they just couldn’t replace the fluids the sick lost before they succumbed to death.  Before long bodies were pilling up in the abandoned streets, sunken eyes, staring out of gaping sockets, fingers clenched on cold hands as if they were still trying to grip to their weak, lost lives.

Naturally, we bolted like everyone else; loaded up the car with a few precious essentials and made for the coast. The boarder had been shut down long before we got there, it was just a seething, hot mass of desperate bodies wriggling and shrieking towards the military personnel charged with keeping the peace. After the first panic stricken shots began to ring out into the fray we decided it would be safer to hold up somewhere close by and wait for the hysteria to die down and the boarder to open up again. It never did.

“Dad.” The urgent whisper hits my cold ears like a jet of steam forcing unwanted reality down my throat. “Dad, there’s a noise. Something’s outside.” My daughter stands in the door way of the next room, the boarded up window behind her cracking a little moonlight across the floor. She’s the picture of my dead wife, even at twelve; the same yellow hair.

I reach for my gun with shaking fingers and stagger to my feet with all the stability of a drunk. I take a moment, just half a second to reflect on what our lives have become. My poor daughter, born into this now harsh reality. I’m sorry for that.

Suddenly I hear it; that banging on the door. Someone wants to come in.

A Story of a Small Vampire, cont from Bar Brawl

Continuation of Bar Brawl by a reader of the original fiction. Check out their profile for more awesome things!

Alarura's Blog

EDIT: Adding a link here to the original Fiction that inspired this piece which is worth the few minutes it takes to read, although as a pre-warning the pieces are written in two different styles.

https://alexigrainewade.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/bar-brawl/

“Sloppy.”

Silky tones of an olive skin woman came from the darkness of a nearby ally, she stepped deliberately out on the pavement, high heels clipping against the floor loudly. She wore a pencil skirt with matching blazer and a loose fitting blouse underneath. Her eyes were darkened even against her tan skin with heavy black eyeliner; her hair tied loosely into a ponytail with a single curl falling over her face.

Fear coursed through Mary’s body as she stood like a deer in the headlights, daughter soaked head to toe in the blood of a man twitching his last movements on the floor in front of her. Her bain stalled as this new…

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