Darkening – #fridayflash

For this week’s #fridayflash piece of fiction I went digging around in my short story archives. I’ll often write up part of a short story, or write a short story as flash fiction, to get the ideas down and return to them later. Sometimes I’ll develop those ideas into a proper short story that I’ll try to sell somewhere, sometimes they’re better left as flash fiction (which I may also try to sell somewhere) and sometimes they’re better left alone completely (like the great ideas you jot down when your faculties are impaired (don’t make me spell it out for you!) that are embarrassingly awful by the eye-burning daylight of the morning after.)

Anyway, this is something that I originally wrote back in 1999. I remember it well. I wanted to write something in the “Anne-Rice-romantic” vein of vampire yarns, purely for the sake of it. It was an idea that I put together and forgot about. I wouldn’t try to sell this piece anywhere, or develop it more to sell, simply because it’s such a tired old trope these days. To be honest, I’m sick of vampire stories, especially ones like this. Do I know how to sell myself or what? But it was still a good exercise in writing and I think it’s a decent little tale. So, for this week’s #fridayflash, may I present:

Darkening

I used to love the darkness. Now it’s just empty. Now I abhor it, along with the darkness in my heart and soul. For so long I was a part of it, reveling in its shadowy promises, its mysterious temptations. I drank in the fear of people as they hurried through darkened streets, desperate for their glowing, fireside comforts. But the dark remained just beyond their doors, hiding horrors unknown. Horrors bloated to demonic proportions by dark induced fear. Horrors like me.

It was so good for so long as I shared that wonderful darkness with the most beautiful creature I had ever known. Estelle, so fair, so fine. It was Estelle that taught me to love the dark.

Deserted by the one that turned me, left to fight for myself, to learn the ways of my kind the hard way, I never considered where others like me might be found. Lost and wandering in that initial blackness, feeding quickly and violently, disgusted by my hunger, I searched unknowingly for a reason to be. Then she found me.

As I drank deeply from the gaping throat of some poor, nameless stranger she came to me. Dropping the food to the floor of the litter strewn alley I spun around, blood running down my chin and throat, a sick parody of the forgotten meal. As I prepared to strike her down, to protect my detested anonymity, she raised one finger to her ruby lips, silencing my threat, stilling my panic, stealing my heart. As she smiled, full red lips parting over pearlescent white, I saw that she was the same as me. Damned like me, as demonic as I, yet beautiful, regal, refined. Quite far from the wretched nightcrawler that I had become.

She stepped up to me, resting bone white hands on my shoulders, fearlessly exposing her throat. I was incapable of thought, of reason. I knew only action, hunger, and drank voraciously of the sweetest blood that had ever flooded my mouth. After an eternity she gently pushed me away, her chest rising and falling. Before I could become concerned that I had taken too much she leaned towards me, holding me firmly to her. As she pierced my throat my body was awash with pleasure, paroxysms of ecstasy pulsing through me. She drank and drank until I could bear it no longer, pushing her away. Smiling, trembling, she led me from that alley and into a life that I could never have imagined.

Together we walked the shadows of the world, from the cobbles of London to the rolling sands of Egypt, from the romantic lights of Paris to the exotic parties of New Orleans. We drank of the varied races of man and cared for no one but ourselves. Occasionally we came across others of our kind, sharing time, blood, love. Sharing everything until it became tiresome. The only things we never tired of were the hunt and each other.

One night in England, in the height of Victoria’s reign, we were approached by a council of our kind. Ancient members of our race, dedicated to controlling us all. They told us that we were a risk, too bold, too dangerous, chancing exposure, genocide. Oh, how we enjoyed killing them, scattering them, feeding till they dropped and their ideals dropped with them. And our rampage continued unchecked.

Occasionally we were approached again, asked to calm down, but we were feared by then and no more ultimatums were set. A century ago we established our superiority. A century ago we reached the pinnacle of our potential and for a hundred years we chose our own destiny. Then he came. The destroyer.

The signs of a fight were evident the moment I entered the apartment. I could feel the charge in the air, the anger and desperation. But more than that I could feel the emptiness, the lack of a presence that had been a part of me for centuries. As rage flooded my eyes I pounded up to destruction.

And there he stood, the destroyer. He was torn and bleeding, broken and breathless, yet he smiled. He smiled over the remains of my beloved Estelle as she lay on the bloodstained carpet, her spark gone. He smiled and I saw he was one of us.

‘One down, one to go,’ he said, leering. He kicked Estelle where she lay, spitting on her. ‘Bonnie is down, now Clyde has to fight.’

I saw only red, my mind seething with hatred, my dead heart bursting with grief. I flew over the body of my love, slamming into that knight of righteousness, tearing at his face and neck with teeth and nails. This one creature had taken away my love. How he would suffer now.

He cried out, shocked by the ferocity of my attack, stunned by my grief filled strength. He fought back violently, realising he was truly fighting for his life, and he was indeed strong, but he had no chance. My Estelle had put up a fight he would never have imagined, leaving him weakened, vulnerable. My rage, my hate, my emptiness gave me the power to tear him apart like a child, more like a victim than a brother, for he was no brother of mine.

‘You must be stopped!’ he cried as I tore the last of his life away. ‘You endanger us all!’

We had been endangering them all for centuries but we were no more exposed now than we ever had been.

But their aim is achieved. They wanted us killed, our threat removed, and now they have it. There is no us any more. Should anyone discover this document then perhaps they will understand, though I doubt it. It has been several hundred years since I saw a sunrise. I am actually quite looking forward to it.

END

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29 thoughts on “Darkening – #fridayflash

  1. Oh, I love very good vampire stories. And yours fits that category.

    Very well written; I really liked the poetic flow of silencing my threat, stilling my panic, stealing my heart.

  2. Cool
    I haven’t read a vampire story in years, so unlike you I do not find it “tired old trope”.
    Trope? “a phrase or verse added as an embellishment or interpolation to the sung parts of the Mass in the Middle Ages”?

    🙂

  3. Marisa – thanks very much.

    Mazzz – I know what you mean about that word. It’s a common phrase in writing circles for an idea or theme, but you can never seem to find it actually defined that way. Perhaps it’s just another example of us writers being elitist wankers?

  4. Mazzz – in fact, I think tihs defintion from dictionary.com is the root of the usage in question:

    trope

    –noun
    1. Rhetoric.
    a. any literary or rhetorical device, as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony, that consists in the use of words in other than their literal sense.

  5. I like how you’ve deliberately chosen ‘that’ instead of ‘who’ as they are not people. Nice to dust something off after ten years! Eerie foresight of an emerging trend 🙂

  6. Dianne – Thanks. Funnily enough I’ve been playing around with ideas for a werewolf story. Not flash though – more a short story of about 5 or 6 thousand words with a view to using the ideas in a novel later. Or the other way around… Who knows!

    Lily – Thanks. I think I was enjoying the Anne Rice books when I originally wrote this. Just one of those trends that goes around and around.

  7. Yeah, I can definitely see the Anne Rice influence…the solitary lonely vampire and the crazed religious ones, but you did such a GREAT job!

    To be perfectly honest, I gobbled up a lot of Rice’s vamp books, but with the current Twilight trend, etc. I was getting heartily sick of vamps. This story was so well told though, that I really enjoyed it. I loved the sunrise line at the end. 🙂

  8. I agree, very nice channeling of the Anne Rice aesthetic. The current crop of teen angst vampires doesn’t do much for me, but I was a big fan of the Rice take on them.

  9. I totally agree with Tony. I read the first Twilight book (under protest) and to my mind, it didn’t approach the quality of the Anne Rice model, which was one of my favorites as far as vampire lore goes.

    Nice use of language, and again, good channeling.

  10. Alan I abhor abhor abhor vampires. I avoid anything to do with them… It’s a childhood thing…Long story buy me a few dozen beers and I may tell it to you….but..since it was YOUR story I read it.
    And oh my gosh loved it.
    this part? “Lost and wandering in that initial blackness, feeding quickly and violently, disgusted by my hunger, I searched unknowingly for a reason to be.” made me think of all the lonelies on friday nights just trolling to find a warm body, ANY body to plunge themselves into….
    Amazing imagery, lovely wording…in short…HELL…you made me enjoy a vampire tale…do you think that means I’m cured?
    Karen :0)

  11. I agree with your assessment of the state of the vampire genre. With Twilight, True Blood and now another teen vamp show on NBC this fall it’s getting pretty cliche. But too bad, I like vampires. You knocked this out of the park.
    ~Chris

  12. ganymeder, Tony, netta – Many thanks.

    Karen – Sweet, I cured something! Do I get a prize?

    Chris – Thanks very much.

  13. Very enjoyable vampire tale. You can see the influences but the story is well drawn and I liked the ending. Has anyone written a vampire novel where the lead commits suicide at the end? Publisher would probably want to keep him/her alive in case there is demand for a series.

  14. Thanks Dan – Not sure if it’s been done before, but being undead they could always be raised again for a sequel. If we’ve learned anything from comics, it’s that no one ever has to stay dead when there’s renewed interest in the franchise.

  15. Good story. Embellished in the right places and ties it all up nicely at the end.

    Nothing wrong with doing something fun with a tried and tested genre (now or when you’re in the middle of enjoying it). I also like finding stuff I’ve written years ago and dusting it off. Did you tweak it a lot, or are we reading it as you originally left it? I’m curious because I find it hard not to tweak things when I look at them again.

  16. Oh no, this is tweaked – I can’t not tweak something, even if I’ve only just written it! To be honest, though, this one wasn’t edited all that much. It’s largely as I found it, which is encouraging for a ten year old piece of writing. Of course, the few changes I did make made a world of difference to the finished story.

  17. Oh, good, I finally found a vampire story! (No, I’m not being sarcastic, I’ve been seeing vampires in everyone’s story even where there aren’t any..lol) I don’t know if I could ever get tired of these romatic, horrific stories. I really enjoyed this, you did a great job taking me out of my own time and place and feeling theirs. Glad you dusted it off for us!

  18. I’ve avoided vampire books (although the wife makes me watch TruBlood) since Anne Rice stopped writing them so I haven’t been over-saturated with them and I loved this story.

    I know you consider this a one-off but it would be cool to further explore this world.

    Again, very cool.

  19. Shannon, 2mara – thanks.

    Anthony – I may explore it further one day. There is just such an over-saturation of vampire stories at the moment.

    I think any new vamp stories would have to really redefine the genre, otherwise it would just be jumping on the bandwagon.

    Still, never say never…

  20. I agree with you. Commercialism has put a damper on a good genre. However, you did a fine job with this piece, and I loved the tragic ending. Even vampires can experience love that makes life not worth living when it’s gone.

  21. Ha, a vampire suicide note. I’ve not seen that done before. Very clever, and very well executed (no pun intended). I’ve not read a lot of vampire stuff so I did not find it tired at all. Well done.
    ~jon

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