The July Selected Writer is David Golightly
Please feel free to email David at: email@example.com
Rain lazily dribbled onto the cobblestone streets, audibly marking the night as a solemn one. Decades ago carriages would have strolled up and down those streets, replaced in present day by the sporty automobiles that the rich community had come to recognize as a status symbol.
The small town of Willow, a few miles northwest of the English Channel, was a quiet place reserved for the crème de la crème of society. Retirees and Old Money kept to themselves, untouched by the dregs of the general populace.
A tall man stood under an expansive tree, masked from the moonlight. The sun had gone down almost an hour ago, yet nothing had yet stirred from within the mansion he carefully watched. Droplets of precipitation made their way through the maze of branches, every so often falling on his shaven head. He ignored the dampness, focusing his entire faculty on the doors and windows of the sprawling house.
There was something inside the house. Something old and strong. Something that needed to be killed.
Willow rarely received transients, and even rarer still did it play host to tourists. So when reports started circulating online of people disappearing from the secluded English town, the attention of certain circles was thus caught.
Upon investigating, he found all the telltale signs that he suspected he would: a missing woman, unexplained discrepancies in hospital records, and dug up graves.
It seemed that Willow was the budding home of a new vampire.
For the bald man, it was business as usual. He didn’t like to travel so far, but there was something about this particular case that made him go the extra mile. Maybe it was the missing woman. Maybe it was something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Whatever the reason, there was no arguing the fact that his skill was needed.
Only a handful of people actually knew his full name. These days the bloodsuckers he hunted down like dogs rarely survived long enough to learn his moniker.
Still ignoring the drizzle, the man checked his cache of weapons hidden throughout his person. He finally stepped out from under the tree and crossed the cobblestone street. He unlatched the small white gate that bordered the mansion’s grounds, granting access to the stone walkway. His eyes remained fixed on the windows.
The tip of his sword slipped out of its sheath on his back with a small metallic noise. He would enter prepared for the worst. With minimal effort his boot connected between the two thick doors, splitting the lock and cracking the wood. They crashed open loudly, bidding him to enter. But the inside was still unlit and appeared vacant. Letting his sword pierce the dark shroud of shadows before him, the man took his first step into the mansion.
Beyond the foyer was a dark hallway, encompassed by a large mural of what he assumed was a family tree. Going back generations he saw that the diverse bloodline had a prolonged history, and that the elderly couple who had been presumably slain were the last of their kin.
To his right came a pungent odor, prompting him to take that route. The man turned toward and approached a swinging door, pushing it open with one hand. The stench billowed out of the room, a kitchen, and overtook him.
While the rest of the house seemed exquisitely clean and well-kept, the kitchen was a horrific mess of mutilated flesh and blood. If he wasn’t already accustomed to such things he may have gagged from the sight. Blood had been splashed on the walls and counters, dripped in a path from the refrigerator to the small table in the corner.
Strips of flesh were strewn about the floor. He spied a lump in the corner that resembled a human liver, but couldn’t be sure. Large teeth marks resembling X’s were bitten into the pieces of human meat, marking them as the meal of something more terrifying than a vampire.
Was there something else lurking in the house?
The blood was streaked across the tiled floor, leading him to another door on the other side of the kitchen. Leaving the disgusting room behind him, the man entered another hallway that spilled into a spiral staircase that took up the entire side of the house. The blood trailed down, leaving the higher levels of the mansion untouched by its odor. Pulling in a deep breath, he stalked down the staircase toward the unknown.
He yanked out a handful of glow sticks from his overcoat, cracking them over his knee to activate the chemicals that would provide him with light. The green ambience bathed him in its eerie touch. He threw a couple behind him to mark where he had been and then threw the rest down the center of the spiraling staircase. Their light dimmed as they fell deeper into the bowels of the house, finally hitting the ground with a soft thump. He was shocked to see just how far down the stairs went, but it wasn’t so outrageous a depth that he couldn’t make it down in a few minutes.
After a few more steps he heard a scraping sound bellow up from beneath him. He peered over the edge to see the shadow of some four-legged creature hunched over the glow sticks he had dropped, sniffing them. It circled the sticks, its claws scraping the cement floor. It suddenly turned its attention up toward him, sniffing the air above it. It shrieked in defiance of his presence and leapt up onto the side of the stairs.
It burrowed its claws into the side of the staircase, climbing up the center of the spiraling column. He didn’t recognize it, and since he had seen many creatures in his journeys, he was surprised.
It looked pale and its haunches were higher than its head. Its ears stuck straight out horizontally from its face with skin that was pale and wrinkled. Its mouth was soaked in blood, which wielded a set of fangs that jetted out under its jaw into sharp points, criss-crossing at the ends.
It growled a much lower tone than any animal found in nature. The man jumped back as the four-legged creature reached his height on the stairs, pulling itself over the edge in one final effort. It swiped a claw at him as it hit the thin steps, tagging the fringes of his overcoat.
Its powerful legs catapulted itself at him, diving on top. He dropped his sword and collapsed back, barely managing to grab its throat in time to hold it at arm’s length. It weighed considerably more than he did, giving it the added momentum to knock him on his back. The man wrestled with it, holding it tautly by the thick hide around its neck, trying to keep its snapping teeth from closing around his face.
Gobs of drool dribbled onto his shoulders, white and stringy. Its breath was pungent, reeking of the consumed muscle, blood, tendons, and internal organs. His strength held out, but the beast was clamoring too much for him to keep it at bay for much longer.
He angled one arm under it to hold it back while he grabbed a curved, twin-bladed metal instrument from his vest. The custom weapon had been a gift to him from an old mentor, something he cherished. Grasping it by the handle in the center, a curved edge extended from each side, made of silver.
The beast snarled again and snapped at his head, nearly chomping away a good portion of his face. Quickly he stabbed the curved weapon into the creature’s stomach and pulled to the side. He stuck the beast with the blade against its curve, and as he pulled back, he tore into its underbelly viciously. Black fluid oozed out of it, coating his chest and the steps beneath him.
The creature shrieked and pulled itself off of him. It swayed from the pain, but continued to growl and keep the man in its glare. He leaned forward to stand back up, but halfway through the movement the creature leapt at him again, intent to finish the kill. This time he rolled with the lunge, sweeping his arm under its haunches and spinning it onto its back. He pinned it with his left arm while his right brought the curved weapon down into its neck.
After several stabs the four-legged creature finally died with a whimper and it stopped struggling. Whatever it was, it would no longer feed on the scraps its masters threw it.
The presence of the beast lying at his feet worried him. Only a powerful vampire, ancient and experienced, would be able to command a creature that was of other brethren.
Grabbing his sword, he ran down the rest of the staircase. The wooden walls soon gave way to brick and crumbling mortar, making him wonder just how old the mansion was. He must have descended nearly a dozen floors before reaching the bottom, catching sight of his glow sticks that he had dropped.
There was only a single door at the base of the stairwell. Embedded in the wall and covered in shadow, the man withdrew his sword once more as he kicked in the warped wood of the door. Orange and yellow light hit his face as he looked into the single room that the doorway opened into.
Decorations of woven gold and silver silk adorned the walls, draping like tapestries every few meters. Torches were lit in the corners to light the room, and candles sat on the long slender table that ran down the middle of the chamber. Shadows danced along the edges of the wall, gleefully watching the display of grotesque ancient practices.
The three occupants of the room looked to the man as the door was knocked open. An old man stood high over the table, a slender golden knife clutched tightly in both his hands, raised over his head. Beside him stood a young and attractive woman, wearing little more than the see-through pieces of gold and silver cloth that similarly hung on the walls. The third was unrecognizable, standing in the shadows.
He recognized them instantly for what they were.
The man had been wrong. Willow wasn’t home to just a single vampire. Apparently it had been overtaken by a family of vampires.
The remaining occupant, the missing woman, was strapped to a table beneath the elder man. He saw the look of pure terror burning deeply within her. The golden knife hovered above her like a buzzard, waiting to swoop down and steal away the last trace of life from her.
“Defiler!” the old man screamed. “Kill the interloper! Keep him away from the girl. I must slay her to regain the lost life!”
The young vampire woman beside the man pounced through the air at the hunter. Her teeth were bared and her claws were extended, viciously swiping at the air between them. The tethered silk clinging to her body fluttered in her wake, nearly tearing away from the force of her leap.
The vampire female hit him full in the chest, knocking the wind out of his lungs and making him stumble back. He quickly regained his balance, but she was already off of hers. She threw herself right into his sword, and he pushed it the whole way through her gut until it poked out her back, barely missing her spine.
He had pierced her heart.
She squelched a scream as her innards began to burn away into nothingness. Her blood red eyes met with the man’s as they rolled into the back of her head and then blew away with the rest of the cinders.
He quickly flicked his wrist, sending his curved weapon that he had used to kill the four-legged beast flying at the old man. It sliced into the man’s forearms, severing both of them from the rest of his body. The blessed silver of the curved blades easily burned away the separated arms, the ash spreading over the tear-filled face of the little girl underneath the elder vampire. The custom-created weapon clanged against the far wall, falling to the dirty floor.
“No!” the vampire screamed. “No! I will not be denied!”
The old man stumbled back, staring at the blackened stumps that used to be his appendages. The hunter hopped onto the table and yanked away the restraints from the woman, scooping her up in one arm and placing her down on the far side of the table. He turned his gaze, a gaze that had held captive many of his prey, back to the old vampire that now seemed so weak.
“My eternal night cannot end,” the vampire said, muttering the words beneath his lifeless breath. “The spell…the spell taught to me can still be cast.”
The hunter grasped the crazed vampire by the throat, holding him against the wall at arm’s length. He picked him up, holding him nearly a meter in the air. “Quit babbling,” he told the elder. “What is this place? Who are you?”
The dark eyes of the elder vampire blazed to life. He smacked the hunter in the head with one of his stumps, but without a fist to accompany it the strike did little to sway the more youthful man. The hunter looked at him with disdain, irritated from the feeble strike. He held up his sword to drive through the heart of the vampire, which promptly caused the creature of the night to start talking.
“Hold!” the vampire exclaimed. “This house has but one owner. Myself. It is as old as the town itself.”
“Bullshit. I looked into the history of this place. The pattern doesn’t fit. You’re lying. If you’ve been here for years then why are the attacks only being reported now?”
“You saw the mural?” the vampire questioned. “It is a mere illusion, created to sustain that my family has owned this property. In truth this poisoned ground is a collective place of evil magic that I have spun to my own ends for generations. My youth is restored once a generation thanks to the sacrifice I was about to make. By spilling the blood of the young in this place, my darling bride and I would forever remain youthful. The attacks were only reported recently thanks in part to the new age of information.”
“And the beast in the stairwell?”
The vampire smirked. “A bauble I picked up in my travels, for protection. Now kill me, hunter. Send me to Hell with my bride and the rest of our kin.”
The man gripped the handle of his sword tightly. “Gladly,” he said as he thrust the tip directly into the vampire’s heart. His already brittle skin burned away, leaving nothing behind as evidence of his unlife.
A small, almost inaudible whimper reached the hunter’s ears. He turned to see that the woman had yet to flee and was cowering in the corner. Her clothing was torn and her cheeks were red. Her eyes dribbled tears in a steady stream down the sides of her face. She shook slightly from the horror of all she had witnessed. There was no telling what revolting acts she had seen before her captors were ready to take her life as part of an ancient ritual.
The man returned his sword to its resting place in an attempt to look less intimidating. She watched him intently, appearing to be unsure of whether he was a savior or another creature that would take advantage of her. He offered his hand, bending down on one knee.
After a log moment she placed her hand in his. She quivered, but at least she was alive.
“What is your name?” he asked her.
She hesitated, possibly too frightened to even talk. The words bubbled up from her stomach, finally parting her lips in a burst. “Elaina,” she answered.
The man picked her up and held her closely, making sure her head was buried in his shoulder to keep her from seeing any more of the filth in the house. Elaina, whimpering, buried her face into the man’s neck. He was surprised at how cold she felt and wondered just how long she had been held captive.
Then he felt her fangs stab into his throat.
Her jaw latched on and he was powerless to stop her from draining his lifeblood. He gurgled an objection, but could not fight back. So was the sting of the vampire’s venom.
He slumped to the floor with her still clutched to him, sucking away passionately. His eyes rolled back into his head as she finally pulled away, crimson staining her mouth and clothing.
“Their ritual didn’t require a human sacrifice,” the young woman said. “I thank you for rescuing me, and again for your own sacrifice. Truly, you are a noble hero.”
The girl giggled as she bent down to satiate herself on him again. Her quivering lessened as the man realized that she had been shaking not from terror, but from hunger.
His last thoughts were of the treachery of this breed, and how he would enjoy hunting them in the pits of Hell before long.
The young woman fed, and everything went black.
D. C. Golightly is a professional corporate proposal writer who dabbles in fiction. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and his other fiction can be found in How the West Was Weird, Vol 2; All Access; The WiFiles; Freedom Fiction Journal; Emby Press; and Rainfall.