After the bars close, the city dies. An atmosphere of hopelessness and despair pervades. Only the evil and destitute are on the streets; the homeless, junkies, muggers, killers, and worn-out prostitutes. And few of those. Dirty scraps fly around empty streets. A pedestrian glances furtively over his shoulder for an evil presence, trembling in terror when under a lamppost his shadow looms up.
On such an evil night I met Celia. In a bleak mood, I slunk past islands of lifeless light between terrifying stretches of darkness, my jacket collar up; my hands stuffed in my pockets. My footsteps echoed as I descended into a filthy subway station to the tomblike gloomy platform. Especially gruesome graffiti decorated the walls, symbols of death and Satan, pentagrams, skulls, ravens, corpses, prayers to the evil one. One dark splotch could've been blood. I shuddered, wondering what some Satanic cult did down there.
I leaned against a gray steel pillar, alone except for a shabby drunk asleep with his head on his chest, clutching a bundle of newspapers. I shivered, hoping that no predator would arrive before the train. I glanced at my watch. An eternal fifteen minutes had elapsed with no sign of a train.
A bad feeling came over me. The station seemed abandoned. Enormous cobwebs hung from the ceiling, and mold grew in the corners. A rat eyed me. I wondered whether I had wandered into an unused station. No attendant had been upstairs. I shook the drunk by the shoulder. "Hey buddy, does the B train stop here?"
He slumped over at my touch. I gasped and stepped back. His rotted face and stench told me that he was a corpse gone bad. A voice close to my ear said, "I don't think he'll answer you."
I turned quickly, prepared to defend myself. Next to me was a strange girl dressed Goth style, dozens of earrings, spiked dog collar, tight jeans, a top that ended above the midriff, a pentagram tattooed on one bare shoulder and a skull with a bloody knife through an eye socket on the other, pink hair cropped like a boy's, pale white skin as though she'd never been in the sun. Nonetheless, she had a eerie beauty, with high cheekbones, full carmine lips, dark eyes flashing with amusement at my reaction to her, attractive curves that I traced with my eyes. I wondered how she'd come up on me so silently with her four-inch spike heels.
I acted cool. "You're right. We should tell somebody."
"Why? If anyone cared, they would've found him already." She laid the corpse out flat and crossed its arms. "Shall we perform a service?"
I grinned in response.
"Why're you here, dear? This station's been closed for years."
"I wandered down here by mistake. I could ask you the same question."
"Me and my friends hang here." She lit two cigarettes and handed one to me. "So, where're you going?"
"Nowhere." I took a deep drag. "I lost my job, my girl and the apartment we shared. I was celebrating."
"Too bad. What you need is some fun."
"With you of course," I replied sarcastically.
"I could show you things that you've never seen before."
"How much will that cost me?"
She laughed. "I'm not a hooker." She flipped away her cigarette, put her arms around my neck, and gazed into my eyes. "What I have to offer is free."
Her strange dark eyes held mine so that I could not look away. An icy chill made me tremble. What was this girl to paralyze me with a look?
"Stop shivering. I promise not to take so much that you die. I like you." She pulled me close. Frigid lips and a dry tongue brushed my neck. Ice picks pierced my throat. Pure terror turned my legs to jelly. Was this how I'd end, my essence feeding this monster? My blood spurted into her mouth, my heart beat wildly, and an intense ecstasy overcame me. My world grew dark. Death was a heartbeat away. But, before I lost consciousness, the vampire halted her feeding. She propped me up by one armpit and wiped blood from her lips. She dragged me to a bench, covered the wounds with Band-Aids, and lifted my chin so that I once again gazed into hypnotic eyes. "You're my slave now. What's your name? Mine's Celia."
"Josh. Will I become a vampire?" The idea didn't seem too awful Vampires remained young for hundreds of years. Wasn’t immortality worth never seeing the sun?
"You know better than that. For you to become a vampire, you'd have to drink my blood." She tipped her head to one side. "Which I might allow, if I really like you. Now, sit still until your strength returns."
I had no choice but to obey her. Her mysterious hold on me made me do whatever she demanded. I asked, "What now, Celia?"
"I'm bringing you to a place where people are dead, yet live."
I sat immobile for a long time. When my strength returned, I said, "I think I can stand."
Her icy fingers led me to a bus stop. Before the bus arrived, two hoodlums approached. Celia watched them coldly. When they neared, one brandished an automatic. "Hand over your money and jewelry," he snarled.
I gave my wallet to his partner. Celia grinned with her hands on her hips. "You too, bitch," shouted the one with the gun. Celia's foot came up kicking the gun from his hand. "Hey, what the ...." He went after her with fists. Big mistake. Her Karate chop dropped him like a stone. His partner grabbed her and held a knife to her throat. She flung him over her shoulder. He landed with a thud. She grabbed his gun and shot him and his partner in the head. "Close your eyes."
I wanted to, but could not. I watched in horrible fascination as Celia sucked blood from their bodies. Her skin became rosy and her hands warm. "Help me," she ordered. She dragged one corpse into an alley. I hauled the other. We stuffed them into a dumpster.
We rode uptown on a bus, getting off by a cemetery. I asked Celia, "You killed those hoodlums in cold blood. Doesn't your conscience bother you?"
"Oh Josh, you fool. The undead don't have consciences."
We entered an evil cemetery. If there's one place I don't like at four in the morning, it's a cemetery. This one was a labyrinth of tombstones, crosses, stone angels and mausoleums. A white mist rose from the ground. She led me through the oldest section -- where the gravestones had weathered blank, and dark angels stared with granite eyes -- into a Greek-revival mausoleum, like a miniature bank, except that the dead were stored instead of money. I wanted to scream as she closed heavy brass doors, leaving us in utter blackness and the silence of the dead. The stifling air smelled of mold and decay.
Celia lit her lighter. "Over here." On the face of the vault was written, Lucelia Washmeyer, 1726-1745. "I sleep here."
"You're almost three hundred years old?"
She chuckled. "Don't I look it?"
"You brought me here to show me your tomb?"
"One reason. But there's something else." She pulled a circular iron ring, part of a decoration. With a tooth-jarring screech, a secret panel opened. I peered into the darkness beyond, but saw nothing. "C'mon." She grabbed my arm and pulled me through.
We exited somewhere else, in a place outside the familiar universe. A full moon lit up an unearthly nightmarish graveyard, with thousands and thousands of sepulchers, at all angles in a jumble as though thrown there. "Where are we?"
"The land of the living dead." She slid off the heavy stone top of a tomb. A man in a cape and nineteenth century garments popped out and hugged her. She and he ran around waking the undead until a large crowd had gathered. They built a bonfire and passed around a cup. Celia made me sip the thick, salty dark liquid. "What is it?"
We disrobed. She took one hand, and another of the undead took the other. Naked, we danced wildly around the bonfire. The fire grew higher, and a towering horned demon rose in the flames. With an earsplitting voice like nothing human, it shouted, "Rock on my children. Do what thy wilt."
Celia grabbed me. Holding me in her grasp of steel, she sucked my blood until I passed out.
Naked, weak, filthy, with puncture wounds on my throat and numerous scratches where Celia had dug long nails into to me, I awoke in the cemetery next to her mausoleum. As I headed to my motel, I knew I'd be back that night and every night afterward, as long as Celia desired to dance the dance of the undead with me.
Bio: I'm a former technical writer retired from a major computer company, a voracious reader of all kinds of books, and have been a fan of science fiction and fantasy practically since I learned to read. My favorite movies are "2001, A Space Odyssey," "House of Frankenstein," "Alien," "The Wizard of Oz" (which by the way, I've seen in theatre release many years ago), "The Incredible Shrinking Man" and "The Lord of the Rings." My favorite authors are Isaac Asimov, Piers Anthony, Philip Jose Farmer, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Frank Herbert, William Gibson, Anne Rice, Dan Simmons, Robert Silverberg and H.P. Lovecraft. I've had short stories published in the following internet E-zines: At Fantasy, The Fifth Dimension, SFF World, Dark Moon Rising, EOTU, Swords Edge, Aphelion, Writer's Hood, Martian Wave, Planet Magazine, Alternate Realities, Nocturne Horizons, and Aorfe's Kiss. I've written a series of gothic fantasy novels called "The Morgaine Chronicles" about witchcraft, the occult and sorcery which is available at Renaissance Books, www.renebooks.com. The current novels in the series are "Morgaine and Michael,""Morgaine and Melody," "Morgaine and Raven," "Morgaine and Gretchen," and "Morgaine and the Demon." My website The Fantastic World of Papa Joe at www.geocities.com/papajoev contains short stories, a serial and art in an SF and fantasy vein.
URL: The Fantastic World of Papa Joe
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