#AprilPrompts Day 22 – Night

As this is the last post in the #AprilPrompts series, I decided to base this tale on my favourite paranormal creatures. Sorry, but there’s no prizes for guessing what they are!

Night

Night

Night

The newborn crept from the cellar. As she emerged into the night for the first time since her transformation, she gazed around in awe.

The sky blended hues of deep violet, midnight blue and plum, more exquisite than any artist’s pallet could replicate. Diamonds the size of a man’s fist sparkled overhead, backlit by a huge pearlescent orb.

She became aware of her heightened senses. Sounds which were merely background noise before, now almost deafened her. Crickets sounding like buzz saws, bats flapping their wings, hooting owls competed with car horns, voices laughing and shouting, a cacophony assaulting her ears.

As she wandered down the street, she could smell discarded fast food wrappers, exhaust fumes, beer, sweat, and the sweetest fragrance of all – blood.

Thirst drove her on, further into town where her food supply would be plentiful. Instinctively keeping to the shadows, she scrutinised the area. Secreted down an alley between two shops, the immortal waited. Within minutes, a middle-aged man staggered up the alley from behind and her bloodlust rose. As soon as he drew level, she pounced; sinking her fangs into his neck, she savoured the delicious fluid which slaked her thirst. Rapidly his heart ceased and she dropped him where he stood.

The vampire returned to the street, licking her lips. The night was now her friend.

vamp

 

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The Hunger – Flash Fiction by Shaun Allan

I’m so chuffed to welcome by friend and ‘stable mate’ Shaun Allan to the blog today. He’s written a fabulous flash fiction piece and although it’s the last day of the Heart Search Blog Tour, it’s also All Hallow’s Eve. So what better way to celebrate than by having a scary story to sink your teeth into?

The Hunger

I heard the sound, loud in the still of the night.

Well, it wasn’t exactly still…  Cars went by, people huddled down against the cold, lights were on in houses and shops were closing up for the day.  Shutters were pulling down, the windows’ eyelids closing for their night-time slumber.

In winter, when your breath takes form and your hands battle your money for dominion in your pockets, the night takes over from the day at a time just when everyone actually needs it.  To walk from work or school.  To drive home.  To feel safe.

But, though that world was spinning down to rest, the cold made the air crisp and clear.

And sound travelled on it like a surfer on a wave.

It was… odd.

You know when you recognise a voice, but can’t place whose it is?  It was like that, except no-one spoke.  It was more than simply a random noise, slipped from the dark.  It had substance.  Ownership.

But… I couldn’t place it.  It was, in fact, out of place.  Unusual in that you wouldn’t and shouldn’t hear it whilst walking down a street in the evening.

It was… eating.  Crunching with a side order of slurping.

I stopped.  I was the only one.  Other pedestrians went on the way, some alone, some in couples or groups.  One or two looked at me as if I was a mad for stopping so randomly.  As if I’d insulted them by daring to waver in my walking.  They continued on their way, however.  Unheeding and unhearing.

The alleyway sucked the light from the atmosphere, hungrily devouring it, seemingly gaining sustenance from the illumination – a deeper darkness in contrast to the glow of the streetlights.  It felt heavy.  It felt, somehow, material.

The sounds of hunger were not coming from the night, however.  Thankfully.  Well, I suppose ‘thankfully’.  They were coming from further in.  Further back.

They would be, naturally.

I should leave it.  It’s a dog.  A cat.  Maybe a lion, for all I knew, escaped from a travelling circus.

No, it was none of these.  Not even the lion.  It wasn’t so random.  It didn’t feel like an animal.

Perhaps some homeless man huddled in the shadows, hiding from the cold and the world.  If so, I’d offer a few coins and be on my way.  The mist of our combined breaths would mingle, akin to a shake of the hand as I did my good deed and felt a little saintlier.

In for a few coins, in for a pound of flesh…

I pulled my hands from my pockets, where they’d been duelling with a couple of fifty pence pieces, with a two pound coin being the referee.  All the better to defend myself, my dear.  Just in case, you know?

The cold air nibbled at my fingers like tiny Piranhas and I wanted to shove them back into my jeans.  I didn’t, though.  Nor did I carry on walking.  I was being drawn in, my curiosity overpowering my reason with a face-hugging pillow.

I waded through the cloying darkness, the sounds of feasting making my own stomach grumble in sympathy.  My eyes adjusted quickly as I walked, enough that I could avoid the empty beer cans and puddles of what I assumed wasn’t simply water.

There was a big bin.  A general waste container for the businesses around.  Practically the size of a skip, with bulging black bags piled around it, the bin watched me as I approached.  I felt it judging me.

“Idiot,” it was thinking.

I tended to agree, but I couldn’t stop my feet as their steps carried me on.

Then, I saw.

On the floor, a woman.  Or what was left of one.  The darkness deemed the scene worthy of allowing some moonlight in.  I could see her long hair.  I could see the swell of a breast beneath her coat and a heel, snapped from the sole of the shoe she was wearing, hanging loosely.

I could see a pool of blood spreading, reaching towards me, beseeching me to save her.  Too late.  I could tell.  The gaping hole at her waist was proof enough.

That was the sound.  That was what was being eaten.

The figure bent over her, crouching, heard my gasp before I’d realised I’d uttered one.  It stood quickly and turned to me, blood smeared across its face.

I always thought they were just in the movies.  Along with vampires and werewolves and witches.  I always thought they were something to shoot in the games on my phone.

They’re not.

I always thought they’d have dead eyes, too.  Their brain would have rotted away taking all but the need to eat the living along with it.

That’s what I thought.

I was wrong.

They’re not just in the movies.

And their eyes aren’t dead.  They have a fire in them.  An intent.  A hunger.

The zombie lunged.

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m going to steer well clear of alleys today! Thank you so much for sharing that with us today, Shaun.

Stay safe during Samhain and don’t become monster chow or vampire fodder!

* * *

Shaun Allan

A creator of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming.

Shaun lives with his wife, daughters, cats and fish. Oh and a manic dog. Though his life might, at times, seem crazy, he is not.

Honest.

Sin is now published by Fantasy Island Book Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook!Dark Places is now published under Myrddin Publishing Group and is available as an ebook. Print version coming soon!

Free Fiction: Once Bitten, Twice Shy

In January this year our writing group, Writebulb, were set a flash fiction challenge. All we were given was the proverb ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’, and were able to interpret it however we chose.  Here is my take on it. I hope you like it.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

The full moon was low in the sky. Instead of its usual brilliance, the orb had a creamy opalescence against the ebony backdrop. She sat at the window seat and gazed out at the shadowed garden which still bore evidence of the latest winter storm. The ice encrusted snow lay thick and heavy in patches, just as it had a year ago. The fateful night that turned her world upside down. Quivers ran down her spine as her memory plunged her back into the nightmare.

Snow had fallen earlier in the day lying soft and feathery on the frozen ground. Marc was restless, pacing the floor in front of the window peering out at the grey snow-filled clouds in the early evening sky. He turned towards her, a speculative expression on his face.

“Do you fancy coming for a walk with me?”

Surprise flittered across her face – this was a first for Marc. A romantic evening stroll through the snow was far from usual for him, but the change was a welcome one.

“Yeah, sure. I’ll just grab my boots,” Rene responded with a grin. She dashed upstairs and rummaged in her wardrobe for her wellies and a hat to keep her head warm. Five minutes later she was bundled up warmly and ready to go. Marc grabbed her hand and they walked out into the cold crisp night.

As they sauntered through the clouds of fluffiness they snuggled closer. The night air nipped at their faces; Rene’s nose tingled and as she wrinkled it, Marc chuckled.

“Awww, you look so cute when you do that!” Rene stuck her tongue out at him and he laughed harder.

“Just because you look like Rudolph’s brother, doesn’t mean you can take the mickey,” she pouted, pretending to be miffed. Marc laughed again and with the speed of a cobra, scooped her up in his arms and deliberately fell into the snow immersing them in its icy softness.

They giggled like two carefree school children. Rene rolled over and scrambled away, scooped up a handful of snow, shaped it into a ball and lobbed it at Marc, catching him on the forehead. She burst out laughing and reached for another handful, but before she could launch another attack a snowball smacked into the back of her head and she heard Marc chuckling behind her. She turned and threw another one then ran, not stopping to see if it found its target. A missile caught the back of her neck and she shrieked as the icy wetness found its way down her back.

Rene bent and grabbed another handful of snow, almost falling as her momentum carried her forward. She could hear Marc gaining on her and she took off over the field, crafting another missile as she ran. This was the most fun they’d had in too long.

Her footsteps masked the sound of his and didn’t realise he was no longer behind her until she heard a terrified scream which could have churned milk into butter at fifty paces. She whirled around, startled to find she was totally alone.

“Marc?” her worried voice appeared muffled in the wide open space, as if she were in a vacuum. She started running back, retracing her steps. Icy panic gripped her heart sending shivers through her torso.

It was a couple of minutes before Rene came across Marc’s footprints. A puzzled expression etched into her features as she noticed them veer to one side and she began to follow. The imprints progressed in an arc close to trees and bushes and then stopped beside two fresh furrows that vanished into the undergrowth. She took a few steps into the bushes then paused. A trail of bright red splashes of differing sizes marred the hoary surface and a coppery odour assaulted her nostrils.

“Marc?” she yelled, the fear in her voice hung among the trees, an almost tangible thing.

Rene staggered back a few steps, gasping in horror. Her breathing accelerated and she was close to hyperventilating. Her eyes gaped in the direction of the blood as a scream began to build in her lungs. A rustling in the bushes ahead drew her attention; her eyes flicked in the direction of the noise and a pair of yellow eyes stared back at her.

Her scream erupted into the night; Rene turned and sprinted back towards home, terror flooding through her. She could hear growling behind her, but no sounds of pursuit. However, she didn’t dare slow her pace or look back. She flung herself through the door and bolted it. As she leaned back against it trying to catch her breath, she heard howling echoing around the outside of the house.

She ran into the kitchen without turning on any lights and peered out at the moonlit vista. Standing six feet from the window, a huge wolf-like creature stood on its hind legs, its head thrown back as it bayed at the sky; the voice filled with agony.

Rene was mesmerised by the creature – she’d never seen anything so strange and terrifying – and scrutinised it from her place of safety. As abruptly as the howling began, it ceased and the beast lowered its head as it dropped to stand on all four paws. It gazed directly at the window where Rene stood; a pitiful whine escaped from its throat and a pair of tormented eyes met her stare.

She inhaled sharply; there was something about the wolf-like animal that she sort of . . .  recognized, yet how could she? Her eyes were unexpectedly drawn to something glinting on one of its front paws which the beast had lifted from the ground and as she realised what it was, her legs gave way and she crumpled to the floor, moaning.

“Marc!” a tortured whisper floated from her lips. Pain flooded her chest as her heart ripped in two. The glint she saw was the engagement ring she’d given to Marc only six months previous and just before he’d disappeared from her view she’d noticed fresh wounds around his neck and shoulder. He’d been bitten.

She couldn’t bring herself to move from the house, it was the only link to Marc she had left. But she didn’t dare venture out at full moon anymore; she’d lost Marc to it, but refused to lose herself.

I really hope you enjoyed that and would love to know what you think. Please feel free to leave a comment or several. 🙂