Saturday, September 20, 2014


She sits, in the darkness, haunting the corner of the room where the shadows dance. The fire flickers and illuminates her pale face. She is beautiful, as ever; timeless, forever young, but her large dark eyes appear increasingly fuller of a silent sorrow, which she carries around upon her strained shoulders.


I call her name, but my love does not reply, or indeed acknowledge that she heard me, perhaps she didn’t, as her eyes gaze forward, in another intense daydream.


I call again, but I am interrupted by the domineering chimes of the grandfather clock. It breaks the spell; Martha has returned to the room and her sweet face turns to face me.

‘It is time, my love,’ I tell her gently.

She nods, her eyes are now void of emotion and it is difficult to tell what she is thinking. I don’t understand her disinterest, my body yearns for the blood of another. The tips of my sharp fangs can almost taste the scarlet nectar, I crave the metallic red, the pierced skin of a slender human neck. But, not her. It’s as though she is giving up, surrendering and collecting dust. It seems as though she doesn’t enjoy it any longer. I hope this isn’t true.

I race out into the liberating, cold night, the chill of the wind is exhilarating as it runs through my hair. I tightly clasp hold of Martha’s hand, taking her with me, showing her that this is us, what we do, and what we love. She seems to remember, at least for a short while, as her eyes twinkle with that irresistible glimpse of danger and thirst, and her fangs are visible underneath that luscious, soft top lip of hers.

A pretty maiden takes a wrong turn, though the right one for me as I grab her and take away her being. I hadn’t fed for a few days, and I was ravenous, I quite drained the young lady, finally satisfying my appetite.

‘Your turn, my love,’ I say.

I hold her hand again and we head, quietly and furtively, towards the town, full of sleeping residents and the odd intoxicated reveller, clumsily snaking their way back home, smelling of beer, which infiltrates our sensitive nostrils.

Martha peers into the windows of the tiny slum houses, she counts the people, so crowded into the small, oppressive rooms. Then, she stops, suddenly, and I don’t recognise her facial expression.

‘What is it, my dear?’ I ask, rushing to her side at once.

She points to a child; a little girl, she is fast asleep, her hair is a mass of ginger ringlets, spread out, over the pillow which rests her head.

‘I want her,’ cries Martha, in a whisper containing so much longing and pain that I am speechless to her request.

‘A child, I yearn for a child, Alistair. Please?’

She begs me as blood-red tears soak her perfect face.

‘Martha, no, not a child, you cannot think to change a child, this would be no life for her.’

I attempt to pull Martha away from the window, but I see that she is bewitched by the sleeping infant; her rosebud mouth twitches slightly as she dreams and Martha cannot take her eyes off her.

‘I could be her mother,’ Martha pleads.

‘No, my love, no.’

But Martha doesn’t hear my words, she opens the window and she begins to step inside.

‘Martha, don’t,’ I say, to her back.

She turns around, one last time, and looks right into my eyes.

‘Forgive me,’ she asks, and then she is gone.

Always the bridesmaid.

He didn’t want to go out on such a night but he’d stopped having a choice long ago. Instinctively, he put on his shoes, sitting on the cold doorstep. It was a beast of a night, he threw on his coat, but he was soaked as soon as he’d reached his garden gate. The heavens had opened, the sky leaked the sort of rain that whipped your face with a ferocity. He could see the town up ahead, as that was illuminated by the amber blur of streetlights. Further on, he could see the lighthouses, one for each pier, flashing, reassuring, and guiding the late night boats to safety through the hungry harbour mouth. But he couldn’t see here, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded my rolling hills, long fields, rocky paths and dense woodland. Here, he could scarcely see in front of his own feet.

He slid the torch out of his pocket. He was okay for now, on the level ground, every bump in the road was etched into his memory, but when he needed to ascend the steep, winding stairs, leading up to the cliff-top church, he would need it then.

It was a dangerous route, particularly at this time of night and in this sort of relentless, heavy downfall. Mist began to follow him, to chase him up those rickety stairs. People had died here; walkers, climbers, depressed individuals who had chosen their own sorrowful fate. Every couple of weeks, the bright yellow helicopter growled over the pretty coastal town, bringing the residents down, as they knew nobody ever survived. He had to be careful, he couldn’t risk falling, she needed him.

She was all he ever thought about, night and day he pictured that cherubic face, the large pale blue eyes, the dimpled cheeks, the honey blonde curls and the smile which portrayed equal amounts of innocence and mischief. He hurried now, clinging to the side of the cliff as he made his way up. It would have been a beautiful view in the daylight, as heather became sand and sand became sea. But it was almost midnight now, and all his eyes could make out was the vast, shimmering blackness of the sea, like a billowing, gigantic dark blanket.

Almost there, he switched on the torch and tried to keep a steady pace, despite the biting ache in his calves now as he began the sharp incline. He saw the looming silhouette of the old church and the sprawl of ancient, broken and wonky gravestones which appeared as though they had been randomly dropped from above, scattering and stabbing into the grass.

There. He’d done it. He shoved the torch back into his pocket and strode up the gravel path and around the side of the building to the small door at the back, which was always left open, a tiny crack, but he slipped inside with ease. It was cold and dark, the same as every other night. He lit a few candles and seated himself on the front pew, and waited for her. He counted the seconds in a whisper.

‘One, two …’

There she was, walking down the aisle of the church in her, now dated, bridesmaid dress, posy of flowers in hand. She looked so content, so thrilled and utterly proud of herself. He smiled at her earnest little walk and he wept into his palms. She would have been twenty-eight this year, yet she remains six years old, haunting this place by night, playing out her favourite and most treasured memory, over and over again. He tries to pretend that he can’t see through her, his ghostly daughter, but he can. Until she fades with the morning sun, and he starts the walk back home.
Just a drop.

At 9.05pm, he tentatively opens the bottle of whisky. It’s fine, he’ll just have a drop or two.

By 11.32pm, the bottle is half empty and he’s started smoking again.

‘Just one more glass before bed,’ he says to himself loudly.

Just gone midnight, he sobs into the cushion on the tattered sofa, missing his dead wife, desperate to have one last embrace.

1.04am, his crystal tumbler is smashed into hundreds of pieces, against the wall. Tears blur his vision. The drink heats his temper. The bottle taunts him, blames him, and chastises him.

1.48am, the whisky has gone, his legs won’t move and he wets his trousers. He stares at the empty bottle, ashamed, but far too drunk to feel it properly. It is the last thing he sees as he drifts into sleep on the living room floor, to dream jumbled dreams of life and death, of wedding days and funerals.

When he saw his wife running around the farm, chasing the animals, and eating them, the raw meat, as they dropped to the ground, he couldn’t move or speak. It had been a frantic, sickening hour of bleating, squawking; pained animal cries. It had rained feathers and bloody insides. His feet had refused to budge, all he could do was watch, in pure horror, as his normally timid and demure wife had gone completely mad. When she’d turned on the kids, he’d leaped into action then, desperately attempting to shield them and keep her away, as her newfound lust for violence exploded, and their shrill cries echoed around the farmyard, their eyes wide with a cruel mixture of terror and confusion, fear and a rapidly failing sense of maternal love. She’d been too ferocious, even for him. She’d got to them in the end, all four of them. That’s why he was holding the blood-splattered teddy bear; some kind of shitty memento of his dead family.

He’d fetched the gun, last used on an unfortunate, deformed new-born calf. He’d shot his wife in the head, he’d had to. After that, the silence suffocated him and he couldn’t stand to view the horrific scene any longer, but his hands trembled too much to drive, and his head couldn’t remember where he’d left the keys for the truck. And, so, he waited, by the roadside, hoping for someone to come along and take him away from the massacre and the madness. He’d brought the gun, the radio had blared alarming words at him as he’d left: infection, brain, epidemic, attacks, shoot them in the head, shoot them in the head, shoot them in the head. The broadcasted words fired out and were loaded with panic. They had quickly turned into screams, and then the muffled, choking sounds of death, and then the frenzied sound of a most disturbing hunger; ripping, chewing and swallowing. Finally, the fuzzy off-air sound reigned as the radio show abruptly ended.

But, here came a truck tearing up the sandy path, a blessed familiar red one, belonging to Hank from the next farm up. He felt intense relief as it screeched to a halt beside him.

‘Thank God,’ he whispered as Hank opened the door.

He was about to get in, but there was a definite look of crazy in Hank’s old eyes, and blood dripped from the corner of his emotionless lips. There was part of someone’s leg on his lap, it still had a shoe on the end of it. Slowly, cautiously, with twitching fingers, he reached for his gun.