The Fragments of Early Life

Forty years of doubt and recriminations: It has been a life.

Truth be told, I’ve very few memories of my first dozen years of wakefulness. They’re foggy at best. And even those rare memories are smeared and dreamy:

…my mother plays cards with a groups of clucking women. One takes out her teeth and snaps them in my face. They all laugh, as I hide crying in the closet.

…my brother helps me climb out the window, and I sit on the front porch, waiting for someone to come along and tell me where my mother has gone.

…my brother and a girl play with a lighter. They find the flame, but can’t put it out. They hide the lighter in the closet. Firetrucks are loud and bright red.

…falling out of the window of a two-story house.

…a car door opens and I am launched into the street. I remember screeching, and I think it’s tires.

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Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 6 WIP, part 3

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

Towering around the cabin, coned pine trees crowd needle and branch against thin red oak. But close to the cabin, a tiny circle is clear of even scrub brush or wild blueberries. It is not as clean as the yards in the Southern portion of the country, where tired residents daily sweep the dirt in their yards to keep down the growth. Here, around this cabin, clots of grass grow near the porch.

Even with the bogs so close, it is quiet, but for the constant whine and buzz of flies and other insects. Flickering above, bats are silent, like small demons swooping through the feast.

A dozen yards in front of the cabin I see graves. Ten of them closed, one more lies open. The earth around the open grave is fresh. It has been recently dug, the dirt packed to one side and covered with a blue tarp. Someone means to use it soon.

Now I stop, every sense wide open and alert. Perhaps I assumed too quickly that the hunter has taken a wounded friend to the hospital. I stare hard into the trees and strain my ears for the slightest sound that would be out of place in the night.

buzz. whir. screech. snap.

Normal enough, and the shapes moving in the darkness are all night creatures. A mouse tittering to itself as it chews something tiny in its paws. A fox slinking near the rodent. An owl twisting on a limb high above.

I hold in silence for a moment more, then continue.

The blood trail I follow skirts the open grave, though there is a small pool near what could be the foot of the pit. I remember the perfume and consider the movements of the two. If she was dead, it’s possible that he paused here and considered dumping her body into the open grave.

But then, why carry her? Why not simply drag the body? Indeed, he has a vehicle. He could have driven the woman to wherever he needed. Have they left together?

Something is wrong here. The scent of blood from the cabin. Ten graves, the eleventh open. And the pool of blood by the grave, not near the Jeep track. If he loaded her into a vehicle, the blood should be closer to those ruts, not here on the raw earth.

The scent of fresh blood hangs heavy outside the cabin: It calls me.

A rough-hewn pine door is bolted to the cabin’s door frame. It padlocked from the outside, a hunter’s caution against thieves. I know where I am in this forest. Vandals and looters would be rare this far out of the city. No matter, and with the hunter gone, no need for silence. The lock twists easily against the hasp as I pull it from the wooden frame. My hands are much tougher than they used to be. The lock gouges my flesh, but my skin heals as quickly as it is ripped.

The door swings outward and creaks as it does so. It is silence inside. No one is here. Just one tight room, cluttered with broken wooden furniture. On the back wall, near the fireplace, is a long box. It is a bed, almost like a coffin. From here, I can see old blankets stuffing the box. A warm nest on a cold night. The hunter could burrow down into the blankets and shield himself from the cold.

There is no kitchen, just an area for cleaning dishes. There are a few cabinets on the wall and a small shelf. Two large pots, likely one for washing, one for rinsing sit on a another cabinet below the first two. No dish drainer. A couple of rusty knives held to the wall on a magnetic shelf.

Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 6 WIP, part 2

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

Despite the cold, there is no smoke pouring from the chimney, yet there is no doubt that someone has recently used this dilapidated dwelling as his lodging. The scent of death is here, though much of the scent that hangs in the air is human blood. I expect the odor of deer or wild pig, but the scent is predominantly human. That peaks my curiosity.

Death has an odor, and most humans shy away from that scent. In doing so, they miss the subtly of the textures in aroma. The death of a skunk is quite different from that of a fox. And a human has a completely different kind of smell when left to rot. And though there are animal scents here, most are vigorous with life. It’s human death that gives this area its unique scent.
This hunter is clearly more than he seems, and I approach the cabin with care. I am accustomed to human death, but it’s out of place here in the forest. Something is wrong. I scent the air cautiously for anything that might hint of vampires.

Nothing.

There are hunters of my kind, though they, like so many of my kin, stick to the cities to carry out their slaughter. Vampires and hunters are rare in a deep forest. But then, so too, should human death be uncommon.

Not far from the cabin, I see bogs that would slow entry to this place. Anyone not mindful of where she places her foot would find herself mired in muck and snarls of roots in the dark water. Yet there is a jeep trail that winds neatly off to one side of the bogs to avoid the standing pools of black water.

This hunter has as been here recently, though he is gone now. There is no vehicle nearby, and the scent of gasoline hangs in the air. The vehicle and hunter were here not long ago.

That realization offers an answer. A wounded hunter, one carrying the other back to the cabin and vehicle for the trek back to the city. That might explain the scent of death in the air.

But there’s too little blood. A few drops in the forest. A few more here at the cabin. None of it having the richness of arterial blood.

Curiouser and curiouser.