Just a short story I wrote for my Writing Group at school. The topic was ‘Vampires’ and the challenge was a 1000 word story. Want to read it?
The clock chimed midnight. The coffin creaked open, cobwebs straining and breaking. The man inside emerged, his pale eyes glinting through the gloomy darkness. He stood, long dark hair streaming past his shoulders and onto his cape, once rich velvet but now a little moth-eaten around the edges. His coffin obviously wasn’t as air-tight now as it had once been.
The attic was empty. His heightened senses showed him that the entire house was, likewise, abandoned. No humans, no animals, not even a rodent lurking inside a wall. He smiled wanly. His vampiric scent, undetectable by humans but not by more sentient creatures, must have become noticeable during his decade-long slumber, so anything larger than an insect had fled. Still, he preferred the solitude. Bloodlust upon waking could be unbearable if blooded creatures were nearby; it was so much easier to maintain control if brain cells activated before centuries-old instinct. Intellect before everything was his philosophy; control was paramount. Hence his decision to wake today; the day to commence his plan.
He descended to the second storey of his mansion, noting instantly that not all was as he had left it. His eyes narrowed, the only outward sign of his temper flaring. A sign to those who knew him that death – much, much death – was imminent.
He took a deep breath. Yes, since he had fallen asleep, human fools had occupied the house… but his determination to overcome baser passions was strong, and he calmed his wrath within moments. The power of rational decisions over mere instinct. He quirked an eyebrow and intentionally focussed on the changes.
Someone, years ago, had repainted, and furniture he didn’t recognise lay scattered in random fashion. The heavy curtains he’d chosen, which blocked out all view of the mountainous terrain beyond, were the only feature left untouched. Wise. It could get cold up here – not that he’d felt it once he’d been turned. Still. Whoever the interlopers had been though, they’d long since gone. It looked as though they’d been moving in when suddenly they’d been interrupted. And for whatever reason, they’d left and not returned. Curious.
He continued down to the first storey. More unusual furniture, more evidence of sudden abandonment. Dishes laid out on the dining table, ingredients prepared in the kitchen with saucepans ready on the stove – all long since left to dry up and rot. He snorted. Humans. Limited intelligence, rarely successfully utilised!
The ground floor revealed still more questions, but some answers to others – the family was here. What remained of them, anyway. Two larger skeletons were huddled together with two smaller and one canine. Amongst the jumble of bones, now stripped bare of flesh by insects, he noted that their faces had been either turned toward the main doorway, or averted from it. His brow furrowed. What had happened here? He thrust his senses out further, searching beyond the house for the logical explanation. There may not be any creatures inside – his scent had driven them away – but he knew there’d be owls hunting rodents in the forests outside, foxes stalking their prey, eyes bright despite the lack of moon.
And yet. He canted his head to one side, forcing his senses further, then still further. There was nothing. No blooded creature nearby. No sense of anything. He stopped, noticing his powers were only rudimentary due to his long fast. He’d need blood, and soon, to regain his strength.
He stepped to the main doorway. Its thick oak had stood for centuries now; he expected it would last for many more. It had withstood wars, plagues, even a siege during medieval hostilities, however it had always prevailed. The question of safety fleeted through his mind, however he dismissed it. It was well past midnight on a new moon; it was almost pitch black outside. And although vampiric sight meant everything was visible for him, he’d be unnoticeable to others. Not that there were humans outside. He tried casting out his senses again. No. Nothing and no-one in the immediate vicinity.
The sturdy metal handle felt old, and uncared for. Like his cape, it was showing evidence of age. He sighed. The bolt grated metal on metal as he unlatched the door, swinging it wide, releasing air into the house. And that’s when he noticed it.
The air was lifeless, oxygen-depleted. The forests opposite were gone. The mountains were bare; empty of everything… as far as his eyes could see. No trees, no creatures, just bare grey earth. And the sky wasn’t black anymore, stars shining brightly with the lack of a moon. No, the sky was orange, as if it were burning. The brilliant intensity of the colour hurt his eyes. By the light of the sky he stared out at this unexpected scene. It was desolate. Completely and utterly dead.
He tasted the air again, closing his eyes this time to focus his concentration. And there it was. The radiation he’d missed the first time, when he’d been astonished by the devastation before him. The air was saturated with it – so much radiation that nothing could survive except insects. He even felt his bloodless skin recoiling from its touch.
A faint buzzing nearby made him reopen his eyes. A swarm of gnats rose from the area where the forests had been, racing toward him. They’d sensed his presence when he’d opened the door perhaps? And acting purely on instinct, they’d decided he’d be a worthwhile meal.
Fear shot like a lightning bolt down his spine, and he turned to close the door – too late. The swarm was upon him, biting and tearing, devouring his clothes in seconds, his bloodless skin yielding under their assault soon after.
What had happened to the world he’d planned to conquer? His scheme had been flawless; his intellect had foreseen it!
As millions of razor-sharp teeth ravaged his body, and his mind descended into pain and darkness, he regretted not living by his instincts after all.