Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"See No Evil" a short story about a regretful vampire - From the Mind of a Writer

See No Evil


Mitchell S. Karnes

            Seventeen year old Antonio Moretti tosses frantically in his bed as he tries to escape his nightmare.  For the past two nights, he has been haunted by a dark shadow that lurks in his dreams.  The shadow has no face to speak of, no name to utter, but it terrifies Antonio with its mere presence.  A chill runs down his spine.  Antonio’s body spasms uncontrollably.  His second story bedroom window rises slowly, making an unnerving screech.  Antonio wakes him from his dream.
            He feels a chilly breeze blowing across his bed and pulls the sheets up around his neck.  He cracks one eye praying to see without being seen.  The curtain moves.  The shadow suddenly appears.  It drifts incorporeally through the cracked window, to the floor of Antonio’s bedroom.  The stranger from his nightmare!  Antonio watches helplessly from the other side of the room, praying it won’t notice him.  He slowly inches the bed sheets upward, pulling them even further toward his face.  The shadowy stranger floats his direction. 
            Antonio realizes the sheets offer no substantial protection from the hideous shadow. He leaps from the bed and rushes to the door.  The bedroom door slams shut and locks itself.  Oh God no!  Antonio tries the door in vain.  He screams and beats on the wooden panel for help.  It’s useless.  His world goes silent…even the pounding of the door makes no noise.  After moments of silent torture, Antonio turns to face the darkened mist.  He is frozen with fear, so terrified of the strange apparition that he cannot move.
            The shadow hovers over him, seemingly fascinated by the boy’s reaction.  The sound of sniffing breaks the silence.  The shadow hovers closer and sniffs him again.  As it descends upon him, it finally takes physical form.  The creature’s mouth opens wide.  Large white fangs appear.  They move closer to Antonio’s neck, and he is paralyzed with fear.  “Not again…please, God, not again.”  Antonio winces as the dagger-like teeth pierce the soft tissue of his neck.  As the blood rushes forth from the wound, the creature bites even harder.  It sucks Antonio’s blood.  All the boy can do is feel.  Blinding pain.  Dizzyness.  Darkness.
            Antonio screams in agony.  He sits up in his bed and looks around the room.  He is alone.  Thank God, it was just a dream.  Antonio wipes his forehead and peels the sheet from his body, slick with sweat.  A cool breeze comes in from the open window.  It feels good on his hot face.  It’s going to be okay.  It was just a dream.  Just a dream.
            Wait a minute.  I know I shut that window before I went to bed.  Antonio scratches his head.  His hand slides down the left side of his neck.  Tentatively, he explores his neck with his fingertips, affirming his fears.  There are two small tender spots.  He examines further with his fingers.  It’s blood.  Antonio’s mind races for a solution other than the obvious.  Nothing else comes to mind.  He’s been bitten.
            He has to know the truth, no matter how horrific.  Antonio forces himself to walk down the long narrow hallway to the bathroom and turns on the light.  At first he sees nothing.  He leans closer and bumps his head against the glass of the mirror.  The only thing he sees is the fog from his breath and the wall behind his head.  He puts his hand to the mirror.  It too has no reflection.  Oh God, it’s true.  I’m already turning.  He falls in despair.  He lies there trembling on the cold, hard tile floor.  Antonio finally forces his body up and walks back down the hall to his bed.  He cries himself asleep.
            The alarm blares.  Antonio jumps up and hits his head on something solid.  He rubs his forehead and wipes his eyes.  For some reason he slept under his bed on the hardwood floor.  He shakes his head, crawls out and reaches for the snooze button. 
            Just as he begins to fall back asleep, the door opens and his mother hollers, “Oh, no you don’t.”  She stomps her foot and puts her hands on her hips.  “You can’t be late for school again.  Antonio Giovanni Moretti, wake up!”  She walks to the window.  “I don’t know how you can stand it so dark.  It’s like a tomb in here.”  She pulls the curtains aside.
            “No!” Antonio screams as he puts his hands over his eyes.  The bright morning sunlight fills the room.  To his surprise, nothing happens.
            “Are you crazy?” she snaps.  “Get up and get goin’.”
            “Thank God, it was a dream.”
            “What was that, Baby?” she asks as she picks clothes up from the floor and puts them in a corner hamper.
            “A…nothing…Momma…what’s for breakfast?       
“By now…cold waffles and eggs.”  She looks at her watch.  “The bus comes in five minutes and I can’t drive you today.”
            “But Momma, I need a shower…I’m all sweaty.”  Antonio smells his armpits, looks at the clock and grabs his body spray.  Throwing on an old t-shirt and his pants, he sprays his entire body with the refreshing fragrance.  “Great.”  He rushes down the stairs, realizes he forgot his backpack and returns to his room to retrieve it.  He notices the open window.  No way.  It’s enough to bring back a sliver of doubt.
            Antonio runs out the front door to catch the bus before it leaves the stop.  He glances up at the sun and smiles.  It wasn’t real.  So what were those little sores?  He touches the two spots on his neck.  The sores are still there.
            The next day, Antonio wakes to the first morning alarm.  He looks out the window at the overcast day and goes to the shower.  He turns the water temperature up as hot as he can stand.  He still can’t shake the cold that has seeped deep into his bones.  He finally turns off the water and dries off with a thick white towel.  He wraps it around his waist and runs hot water in the sink.  He lathers his chin and face with shaving cream.  Antonio lifts the razor to his chin and wipes the foggy mirror with his other hand.  The razor drops to the sink.  It rests under the flow of hot water.  It is true.
            Later that afternoon Antonio hops off the bus, completely famished.  How can I be so hungry?  I ate three helpings at lunch.  He enters his house and rushes to the kitchen to grab a snack.  “Not until you clean your room,” his mother says from the corner of the kitchen.
“But Momma, I’m starving.”
“I don’t care.  Clean your room and then you can eat.”
He rushes up the stairs in a huff.  The room is a mess.  I thought Momma just cleaned this up.  He tosses dirty clothes toward the hamper.  Antonio grabs his aluminum baseball bat by the barrel to put it away.  It crushes under his grip.  What the hell?  What’s happening to me?  He tosses the bat under his bed and picks up the rest of his mess. 
As soon as his room is clean, Antonio bolts down the steps and into the kitchen.  He grabs an entire packet of lunch meat and gnaws on it like a wild animal.  His mother shakes her head and says, “Teenagers.”  She shoos him out of the kitchen.
Even though he ate less than thirty minutes ago, Antonio is still hungry.  He keeps craving meat, and yet it ceases to fill him.  Just as he is about to go back downstairs to get something else to eat, his mother yells from the kitchen, “Supper.”
I could eat a horse.  Antonio rushes down the stairs and jumps the final four steps in one leap.  Instead of landing with a thud like he always has, Antonio’s body floats to the floor.  He lands lightly on his feet.  Oh God no. 
“Come on, Baby.  I made your favorite…lasagna.”
“Thanks, Momma.”  Antonio takes his seat and bows his head.
Momma says, “Bless us, O Lord! And these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord.” 
They both say, “Amen.”
Antonio begins to feel queasy and covers his mouth as Momma scoops a huge helping of lasagna on his plate.  He is suddenly and violently repelled by the overwhelming odor of the spices.  His nostrils burn as if he had just inhaled fire.  He suddenly excuses himself.  He runs up the steps to the bathroom.  He puts his head under the tub faucet and flushes the sting of the garlic from his nose with cold water.  He gags with the surge of water, but continues to flush the spices from his nose. 
“Antonio, Baby, what’s wrong?” Momma asks from the door of the bathroom door.
He turns the faucet off, grabs a towel and dries his face.  “Nothing, Mamma.  I just got sick to my stomach is all.”  He stands and looks in the mirror.  Nothing but he wall behind his head.  This isn’t happening to me.  This crap only happens in the movies. 
“Oh, Baby, I’m so sorry…and this is your favorite meal.”  She trudges down the stairs and eats supper alone.
As soon as his mother is gone, Antonio puts his hand on the mirror and confirms his fears.  He touches the glass.  He sees the back of his hand but no reflection.  He runs to his room and locks the door.  He locks the window and pulls the curtains to.  He lies down and falls asleep. 
That night, his dreams change.  Antonio opens the window and pulls the curtains aside.  He looks up at the moon and smiles.  As he looks down, he notices the landscape changing…moving underneath him.  He’s flying.  What a rush.  The trees disappear beneath him.  He counts the blocks as he passes over.  Then he quickly descends.  His body lights upon the ground silently.  He sniffs the air and smiles.
“Wasn’t that Superman guy hot?” one teenager asks her friends.  They all giggle.
“Oh, and that one scene,” a second girl adds, “when the fire burns off his shirt.  OMG.”
The three laugh so hard they don’t notice the dark figure behind them. 
The first girl says, “Oh, I’d marry him in a heartbeat.”
“He’s to die for,” the third one adds.  She sees something move in the corner of her eye.  It’s too late.  Antonio engulfs her in darkness and silence.  He covers her mouth with his hand and bends her head to the side.  He bares his fangs.  The razor sharp teeth plunge deep into the soft white flesh of her neck.  He sucks the hot pulsing blood from the holes until there is no more.  Antonio gently sets the limp body down.
“Okay.”  The first girl asks, “Who’s hotter, Orlando Bloom or Superman?”
“OMG it has to be Superman.”  Just as she finishes the sentence, she too is enveloped in darkness.  Antonio drains her body as well.
“Well,” she says as she stops.  “What about you, Lydia?”  The darkness takes her before she can even turn to see it. 
Engorged with blood, Antonio takes flight and returns to his home.
The alarm blares.  He sits up and bangs his head on the bottom of the bed.  Again?  He climbs out and turns off the alarm.  He showers and brushes his teeth.  This time he doesn’t bother to look up.
He heads down to the kitchen.  Momma left a note.  “I have to work a double shift today, so I won’t be home until tomorrow around noon.  There’s food in the fridge.  Call me if you need me.  Love Momma.”
Antonio turns the television on and grabs the cereal and milk.  A special news report cuts into his Saturday morning show.  “We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you this special report.  Early this morning the bodies of three local girls were found at the corner of Sycamore and Elm.  Each girl’s neck was bitten and her body completely drained of blood.  You heard me right, people.  They were discovered bitten on the necks and drained of their blood.”
Oh, God, please no!  You can’t let me be a…
Antonio’s cell rings.  He answers it.  “Hey, Tony, are you watching the news?”
“Isn’t that awesome?” his friend says with excitement.  “It’s like Twilight in the flesh, Tony.”
“Yeah, Drake, just like Twilight.”  Antonio half listens as he focuses on the news report.  Everything is just like his dream.  “Just like Twilight.”  Except I’m the vampire.  “Hey, Drake, I gotta go.  I’m sick.”  Antonio runs up the stairs, just in time to make it to the commode.  He vomits pink liquid.  The second time he vomits it’s all red.
Even though it is only eleven-thirty in the morning, Antonio forces himself to sleep.  He hopes this might just be another dream within a dream.  He hopes he might wake and see that it wasn’t real at all.  But his dreams are wild and dark.  He wakes the next morning feeling even sicker than the day before.  His stomach is bloated and nauseated.  Feeling the sickness coming on, he rushes to the bathroom and vomits until there’s nothing by dry heaves.  Relieved from the pressure and nausea, Antonio wipes his mouth and notices the blood stains on the toilet paper.  He really doesn’t want to, but Antonio looks down into the water…it too is red…red with blood!
Antonio drags himself back to his room and flips on the television.  “Once again tragedy strikes Windy Cove as yet two more young women die at the hands of a mysterious killer.”  Antonio listens to the details.  Another girl’s throat was punctured and her body drained of blood.”
His phone rings.  “Hey, Tony.”
“Not now, Drake.”
“Come on, man.  This happened two blocks down.  This is too creepy, Tony.”
“I know…”  Drake starts to laugh and says something about a Bloody Mary drink.  “It’s not funny.”
They don’t talk long.  Antonio has other things on his mind.  Thank God it’s Sunday!  Antonio stays in his room most of the day, searching the internet about vampires, trying to sort fact from fiction.  It’s all supposed to be fiction, he thinks.  Getting hungry, Antonio goes downstairs to see what Momma is making.  “Momma, what’s for lunch?”  He looks in the kitchen, but she’s not there.  “Momma?”  Just then he sniffs the air and follows his nose around the corner to the counter top near the sink.  Before Antonio realizes it, he is face first in the raw ground beef, licking the blood from the bottom of the Styrofoam tray.
“Sei pazzo?” Momma screams as she enters the kitchen from the back porch.
Antonio stops, looks up, and realizes what he is doing.  “Sorry, Momma.”
“Sorry, Momma?  Sorry, Momma?” she screams.  “Sei pazzo?”
Antonio wipes the blood from his chin and face and runs back upstairs.  His mother says several derogatory things in Italian about teenagers and their craziness.  She throws the meat away.  As she curses Antonio in Italian, Momma takes cold luncheon meat out of the fridge.  She throws it and some bread on the table. 
Antonio is so embarrassed that he stays in his room through lunch, and his mother is so angry she lets him stay there.  For the rest of the day, she doesn’t speak a word in English.  Around seven that night, Susan texts Antonio and asks where he is.  He realizes he was supposed to have been at her house thirty minutes ago to take her to the movie.  He texts that he is on his way and climbs out the window.  Working his way down the trellis with ease, Antonio is surprised that his acrophobia isn’t bothering him in the least.  He runs to Susan’s house, apologizes for being late, and walks her the final two and a half blocks to the movie theater on Main Street.  He’s amazed at how well he can see everything in the dark…and how easily he is able to tell who and what is near simply by the smell.  He feels great!
They enter the theater, get their cokes and popcorn and take seats near the back of the darkened auditorium.  Susan relaxes as soon as she realizes all they missed were commercials and previews.  Antonio smiles, puts his arm around Susan and allows her to snuggle close.  About half way through the movie, Susan turns and kisses his neck.  The hairs on his neck and back stand on end.  She uses her tongue to tickle him, moving it in tiny circles near his ear.  Antonio finds himself getting highly aroused, but not in the way teenage boy would.  He hears her heart beating faster.  He can smell the blood flowing through her veins.  And as he leans over to kiss her neck, he feels the sudden rise and sharpness of teeth…canine teeth!
“I gotta go,” he says and runs to the restroom.
Susan smiles, thinking she’s turned him on.  If she only knew how…
Antonio barges through the men’s restroom door and splashes cold water in his face.  He feels for the teeth, confirming his fears and looks in the mirror.  Nothing.  Of course not.  He says, “Idiot!”
“What’d you say?” a gruff old man asks as he flushes the toilet and staggers out of his stall.  He reeks of alcohol.  His body odor is so strong, it nauseates Antonio.  The man threatens Antonio and comes at him.  Angered and full of fear, Antonio shoves him, knocking the old man into and through the metal stall divider.  It was a simple push.  Yet it was so forceful and destructive.
Antonio rushes out of the bathroom and through the theater lobby, running as far and as fast as his legs will take him.  He suddenly finds himself in the neighboring town, twelve miles away.  What in the name of God is happening to me?
Antonio wakes to the burning bright light sneaking through the cracks of the blinds.  Once again the night’s events are a blur to him.  He rises and thumps his head on the underside of his bed.  He slept under the bed on the cold hardwood floor again.  Why is this happening to me?
He slips out from under the bed, shielding his eyes from the light.  He wipes his mouth with his sleeve.  It is covered with blood.  As Antonio hesitantly looks down, he realizes his shirt is also stained with fresh blood.  He looks at the clock and realizes it’s already after ten.  Thank God it’s Memorial Day.  Reluctantly he grabs the television remote and flips past the multitude of talk shows until he finds the local morning news.  Oh, God, no…not again!
His cell phone rings.  “Yeah,” Antonio half answers, trying desperately to focus on the news report of the sixth victim.
“Tony, did you hear me?  Man, it happened again…this time in Bayville.”
Bayville?  That’s where I ran to last night.  But I don’t remember anything.  Not even a dream.
“Tony, did you hear?”
“Yeah, I heard.”
“Hey, man, you better talk to Susan.  She’s pissed.  You left her hanging at the movies last night.  And with all these strange killings going on, she’s really upset you made her walk home alone.” 
Drake is so busy talking that he doesn’t hear Antonio’s repeated confession.  Finally, Antonio shouts, “Drake, it’s me!”  Antonio pauses for Drake’s reaction, but hears nothing.  “Did you hear me, Drake?”
“I heard, you.  You serious?”
“Yeah, man.  Cross my heart.”  Antonio looks into his wall mirror.  Again no reflection. 
“Seriously man, where where’d you go last night?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on, O, it’s me.  You got another girl on the side or something?”  Antonio looks at the call trying to come through and ignores it.  Drake continues, “Susan came by your house and talked to your mom.  They couldn’t find you anywhere.”
“She came here?”  Antonio finally notices the note slid under the bedroom door.  It is from his mother telling him she has gone to work and wants to talk when she gets home.  Suddenly Antonio’s face turns deathly white…his voice becomes a shaky whisper.  “Drake, do me a favor?”
“Anything, man.”  Drake’s phone buzzes.  He puts Antonio on speaker and reads the incoming text.
“Tell Susan I love her.”
“Tell her yourself, man.  She’s heading over to your house now.”
“What?”  She can’t!  “Oh God, Drake, I got to do something before I lose my nerve.”  Antonio turns the chair over on its side.  He grabs the leg and rips it off with ease.  He picks up the wooden chair leg and examines the rounded bottom and the jagged, splintered top.  Perfect!
“What was that, Tony?” 
“Drake, you got to tell her…”
“Tell her what?”
“Tell her I am the vampire…”  After a long moment of silence, Antonio says, “Drake, have you heard a single thing I’ve said?  Man, it’s me.” 
“Don’t be stupid.”  Then it hits Drake.  “Wait, Tony.  Don’t you dare.”
“I have to before I hurt anybody else…especially you or Susan.  Please, Drake, don’t try to stop me.”  He drops the phone, takes the broken leg and heads down the stairs. 
Drake runs as fast as he can to Antonio’s house.  On the way, he passes Susan.  He stops, grabs her by the arm and tells her what Antonio thinks is happening.  They rush to the house.  The door is locked.  Drake kicks on the door.  “It looks so easy in the movies,” he says as his kick does nothing.  He kicks again and again.  It finally splinters open. 
They search desperately for their friend.  “Antonio, baby, where are you?” Susan yells as she rushes up the stairs to his room.  The broken chair lies splintered upon the floor.  The curtains torn from their rod.  The sheets thrown from his bed.  “Antonio!” Susan screams.
Antonio hears the commotion upstairs and knows it is his friends coming to stop him.  He
tries to plunge the stake into his heart, but can’t.  He kneels before the antique full body mirror and cries.  He looks up one more time to confirm once again that he has no reflection. 
“The basement,” Drake says and rushes out of the room.  They pass Antonio’s mother as she is coming up the steps to see if Antonio ever came home.  Susan and Drake jump to the landing, grab the railing knob, and spin around the corner.  Drake runs down the hall to the open basement door.  “Tony, don’t do it, man!” Drake yells as he rattles down the steps.
Susan prays as she follows Drake down the stairs.  “Please, God, don’t let him die like this.” 
Antonio can smell them.  He can hear the pumping of their hearts.  The hunger builds.  He’s torn.  His body hungers for their flesh, but his heart cannot bear to harm them.  He holds the broken leg of the chair in both hands and whispers a prayer.  “God, if You can hear me, forgive me.  Forgive me for killing those girls.  Forgive me for ignoring You.  Please, God, give me the courage and strength to end it now before it’s too late.”
            As Drake hits the bottom step.  He looks left and then right.  He calls out, “Antonio, stop.  You don’t know for sure.  It can’t be you.”  He sees Antonio’s reflection in the mirror as he rounds the end of the stairs and screams, “Stop!”  But he’s too late. 
“Sorry.”  Antonio lowers his head and thrusts the wooden stake deep into his chest.
“No!” Susan cries.  She falls to her knees and whispers, “I love you.”
Drake stops dead in his tracks.  He watches helplessly as the wooden stake erupts through the back of Antonio’s blood stained shirt.  They are too late to stop him.  Antonio Moretti falls to the cold hard cement floor…a wooden stake straight through his heart. 

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