Down The Steps

Another Hallowe’en tale for you. It is a little grisly. Thanks again for reading….

Luella knew she was damned. She could have walked away from Nona at any time, but she didn’t. She was weak, useless, she sickened herself; but she couldn’t stop.

Nona had been a vampire for 6 months; bitten, drained and transformed by a random vampiric stranger one night on the way home from work. She was Luella’s flatmate, her friend, and now the noose about her neck.

Luella knew she should leave Nona in their flat that sometimes smelled so acrid she gagged over her morning coffee. To her unsettling, undead musings and her obsession with the temperature and freshness of blood; but it was difficult to do so. She had ties to Nona – memories of a sun-drenched adolescence on the beach teasing surfers with the cut of their Benz bikinis; the first days of university; the last days of a marriage. How could she leave her to her own devices? She sometimes thought she knew Nona better than she knew herself.

Vampires had to hunt. It was the only way they could get the blood. It wasn’t as if they could go the supermarket  and buy a couple of pints of  Type A or Type O. It wasn’t as if they could survive on anything else.

There was one problem with the hunting, which was the real reason Luella stayed. Nona had only one leg. It sounded bizarre and slightly comical to say it – a one-legged vampire hobbling along with a walking stick – but it was true. Nona had lost her leg in a car accident when she was 18 – and the way she was in life was the way she stayed in death.

Vampires had to be quick when hunting humans. If the humans got a whiff of danger or saw Nona’s fangs, they were off. Even though vampires could move more quickly than their human counterparts, having one leg still put Nona at a disadvantage. She just couldn’t catch her prey.

At one stage she went for over a week without any blood. Luella thought she was going to disappear she was so pale, her skin translucent. It was then that Nona begged Luella to hunt for her – calling on the memories of all the days they’d spent together, promising Luella riches, anything her heart desired; eternal life too if she wanted it.

Luella couldn’t stand seeing her best friend turning into nothing so she agreed.

It was hard. She wasn’t a killer. She had nothing against any of the people she dragged semi-conscious and bleeding back to the flat. She scoured the newspapers afterwards for any mention of their disappearance, trembling with fear, guilt and self-hatred if their story appeared.

Nona was grateful, hands and lips covered in blood, but her eyes were pallid, empty, focussing only on the next kill.

As Nona’s hunter, Luella learned more about killing than she wanted to. Nona was demanding, wanting the blood to taste as refined as possible as if it was a vintage cabernet.

When someone was shot the body went into shock and the adrenaline made the blood bitter. The same with knifing, garrotting and electrocution. A blow to the head didn’t always work. And strangulation was far too much effort.

Luella was running out of options until she found the steps leading down to the disused warehouse. Sandstone and steep, unlit by night.  If someone lost their footing on them they would break their neck.

She saw a hobo sidling down them one night and pushed him from behind watching in fascination as he tumbled over and over like an enormous rag doll. He was dead by the time he hit the bottom, twisted, mangled. Nona was waiting at the foot of the steps ready to finish him off with her walking stick, before feasting on him like a rabid dog. ‘His blood is sweeter than the others,’ she cried. ‘This is it. This is the perfect way to kill them.’

It was Nona’s idea to lure her victims to the steps by pretending to be a lost kitten. Vampires could do accurate impressions of just about anything. The kitten was full of melancholy, piteous. Its cry was enough to break the most hardened of hearts.

That night a little boy appeared, not more than ten years old. Luella recognised him as the little boy who lived over the road – Joey Smart – a kind child who left out water on hot days for the birds and helped up toddlers who fell off their tricycles.

Joey had obviously heard the kitten, emerging from his house with a torch and a can of cat food. When Luella saw him approach the stairs she waved him away.

‘What are you doing here Joey?’ she said. ‘It’s far too late for you to be out.’

‘I heard a kitty,’ Joey said. ‘He’s lost and alone. I thought I’d rescue him.’

‘There are no kitties here,’ Luella said. ‘Now go back home.’

The pitiful mewling started again. Joey rushed to the top of the steps. ‘He’s down there,’ he said. ‘I’m going to save him.’

Luella grabbed him by the back of his collar and pulled him away from the steps. ‘Go home,’ she shouted, shaking him by the shoulders. ‘Run.’

Joey must have seen something in her eyes. He dropped his torch and his can of cat food and ran back across the road. When Luella turned back to the steps Nona was standing right in front of her.

‘I wanted the blood of the child,’ she said. ‘Sweet and untainted. It would have sustained me for days. Why do you deny me what I need? I should kill you for this.’

Luella looked at the night sky. The clouds were rolling in front of the moon, grey, smudged like ashes. It was all gone. Everything. The days on the beach, listening to the seabirds call to one another over the waves; she and Nona’s matching pink and purple bikinis, their sunburned faces. Nona would never see the sun again.

‘I’m sorry, my friend,’ Luella said. ‘I’ll make it up to you.’

She snatched Nona’s walking stick, breaking it over the first stone step before stabbing the keen shards into Nona’s chest. Then she grabbed her, holding on tight, strong from all the death and the blood, and threw both of them down the steps; toppling, plunging, bundled like old clothes. Thudding. Full of pain and fear and sorrow. Seeing visions of yellow sand dunes and blue waves. Falling for what seemed forever with her friend, her most beloved friend, clutched tight to her chest, already turning to dust; until they hit the bottom, unmoving. Until the night was darker than it was before.

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29 thoughts on “Down The Steps

    1. I like a good vampire tale although in my humble opinion no one does it or has ever done it as well as Anne Rice. I used to read her books avidly!

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  1. I love your idea that different ways to kill changes the taste of the blood – I’ve read somewhere that fear changes the taste of wild game, so I bought it. Why is it always the weaker ones are the most ferocious? Not just in stories, but in life. Loved this. 🙂

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    1. AINE! Great to see you. How have you been, hon???
      The wild game thing was what gave me the idea as well as a show about how kosher meat is prepared. They mentioned how if the animal is stressed it taints the flavour of the meat. I don’t know if the same would be true for the taste of blood (not knowing any vampires) but hey, I’m allowed a bit of poetic licence, right?

      It’s true, isn’t it? The weaker ones always are the most ferocious. They make such malicious, fantastic characters!

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    1. Thank you so much, Mags. The stairs are actually round the corner from my house and lead to a little street that has a warehouse at the end. They are very spooky at night. Weren’t those stairs in The Exorcist fantastic? I also love that image of the priest standing under the lamp post. Scares me to death every time.

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  2. It ended perfectly. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with the students in my writing club: get the end right!

    Excellent read and I really like the way you handle writing vampires. Old school. It works best. 🙂

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    1. As you know, Karen, the ending can be tricky. You know what I’ve discovered? Keep it open ended if you can that way the reader can do a bit more imagining once it’s over. It has taken me ages to get even close to mastering an ending, especially with short stories. But I am working on it….

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  3. I love vampire stories and this one is a ripper – I really love the final sentence (just perfect). Have you ever watched ‘being human’ – that’s what this reminded me of – as they are all friends and half the time (when they are not killing people – haha) they just act like a pack of Uni students. There is a dress-up at the kids school next week and Tessa wants to go as a vampire 🙂

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    1. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes of ‘Being Human’ but really liked it. However, I was half way through the season and I have this thing where I have to watch shows from the beginning so I’m waiting for it to come on again. I would love to see Tessa as a vampire. Hope she has a cape!

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  4. Gagging over the morning coffee. You had me right there. The contrast between your gentle nature and these stories is hilarious in and of itself. Wanna be my Nano Writing Buddy? I’m not sure how it works. My Nano name is of course Q. Squirrel. What’s yours?

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    1. I’m Selma O_S. I’ve had a bit of trouble getting on the NaNo site. I’ll try again later and link up with you. That’ll be cool.

      It’s funny about the horror stories. I find writing them to be incredibly cathartic. It gets a lot of my frustration out. Who would’ve thought?

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  5. Please make this into a movie somebody. Selma can you make this story bigger and try to sell it to a director? Please, I wanna see it on the big screen!

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    1. You are kind to say that, Roshan. Actually, it would make a good movie – quite scary, I think. If I developed it I could really elaborate on the emotional manipulation of the vampire. I’ll add it to the list. Hahaha.

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