Dark Fantasy

Dark Fantasy

Twenty-Fifth Reunion

Twenty-five years.

Twenty-five years of waiting.

Twenty-five years since he had been betrayed and left to die here alone. Now it was over. No more waiting, dreaming, and plotting. Now it was time for action.

He reached out into the darkness. They were just beginning to arrive. He let his mind wander through their unguarded thoughts. He felt nostalgia, old regrets and pain, childhood memories and, yes, even thoughts of lust and greed. The one he sought had not yet arrived. He touched them all briefly but did not linger.

After twenty-five years he could wait one or two nights longer. Time had little meaning for him anymore. Meanwhile, he could practice his skills on some other poor fool. He had grown very powerful over the years. Mind travel was easy, not the strain it had been at first. Still, he must be cautious, for he did not want to alert anyone to his presence just yet.

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Controlled chaos was the only way Glenda could describe the scene before her. She sat on the grassy, sloping hillside with the sea breeze blowing through her short brown hair. There were tent poles and piles of camping equipment lying everywhere, as families searched in the darkness for suitable ground to pitch the tents which would be their homes for the next few days. And this was just the tip of the iceberg! There were many more people to arrive on the following day, including her own husband, Simon.

It had taken a great deal of time and hard work to put together a twenty-fifth reunion of everyone who had lived at Pike’s Cove, or whose parents or grandparents had lived there. Now, as she looked at the milling crowds, rushing around with their lanterns, she knew it had all been worthwhile.

‘Hey, Mom! You up there?’ her ten-year-old son came scrambling up the hill towards her. ‘Ken’s found a good spot for our tent.’

‘Has he, darling?’ She smiled indulgently at her baby. Bobby had his father’s beautiful big, soft brown eyes. Puppy-dog eyes, said twelve-year-old Paula, who had inherited her mother’s sparkling blue orbs.

‘He said you’re to come and sort out the equipment while we put up the tent.’

     ‘Oh, he did, did he?’ She ruffled his sandy-coloured hair affectionately. ‘Guess we’d better get busy then, hm? Lead the way, chum.’

‘Okay. Ken said we had to get a move on.’

Ken was her oldest, twenty-five, and very special to her. All three were special but Ken was different. His fiancé was in Europe on a student exchange, so he had agreed to join them for the reunion.

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Later that night, when everyone had settled into their sleeping bags and camp cots, Glenda lay awake. It was hard to believe that so many years had passed since they’d all left here. So much had happened since then, some of which she would rather forget. At seventeen, she had been very naïve and impressionable.

She was besieged with memories, both good and bad, of her last days in the village and her life since leaving. Her innocent, teenage romance with Simon. That one brief, but very passionate, transgression with his best friend, Walter, after she and Simon had quarreled bitterly. Their friendship turning to a bitter rivalry, and her stubborn rejection of them both because she couldn’t choose.

Walter had left Pike’s Cove in secret. No one had seen him since, and they had not been able to locate him for the reunion. Simon was considered one of the last to have seen and spoken with him but claimed that Walter had said nothing about leaving. Again, Glenda wondered about the cuts on Simon’s arms the day they left and his unapproachable mood.

‘I tripped over some barbed wire,’ had been his curt reply when she inquired. He had become withdrawn and tense after that. He blamed it on adjusting to a new life and all new surroundings. She had always felt that Simon knew more than he told her, that he was hiding something. She smiled in the darkness. Dear, dependable Simon. He was not the type to handle some dark secret. At forty-five, he lived the life of a man twenty years older. He was far too serious, as if the fun had gone out of his life when they moved. Like tonight, for instance. He was on call at the hospital and absolutely refused to have someone cover for him. He had insisted that she and the kids come on tonight and he would follow in the morning. If it was a busy night, he would get some sleep and come in the afternoon.

‘You know how I hate to be indebted to anyone, Glenda. If I ask someone to cover for me, I’ll have to return the favour.’

How well she knew that. She closed her eyes and fell asleep, listening to the deep, even breathing of the children, all three of them. There was a big difference in Ken’s age and the two younger ones, like having two separate families, but it was good.

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He reached out again, into the dreams of the sleepers. He entered the mind of a man who was dreaming of some young pornographic film star and drew energy from his racing heart. Then he let his mind wander again. He would go slowly, seeking the best ones. Some rebellious kid was plotting a nasty trick. Someone else was planning to con money from these people who used to be his friends. This was the kind of negative energy he needed. Then he touched a dream that gave him a terrific jolt. He recoiled quickly … paused … then reached out again … tentatively … gently …

SHE was here! Why had he not sensed her before? She must have been outside the area where he had searched. Cautiously, he let himself feel her subconscious thoughts. He would have smiled if it was possible. She was reliving some of her life here in this place. He entered her dream for it was the only way he would ever again experience such feelings, although he could remember them. The only time in his mortal life that he had experienced such an emotional high and great pleasure.

He withdrew abruptly when she woke, reeling with the power of her pleasure. Why had she been dreaming about that one particular incident? Had it been that important to her? He would return to her thoughts again before this was over, but not tonight. Now he needed hatred, greed, lust – negative thoughts to feed on. Again he sent his thoughts into the dark night, feeding on these emotions and gathering strength. Strength for the task that lay ahead. Pleasure did not make him strong, but…

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When Glenda awoke in the morning she felt tired, drained of energy. Probably the after effects of a long, tiring day and a night in a sleeping bag, she thought. It was years since she’d gone camping like this. She had vague recollections of dreaming, but couldn’t recall what it was all about.

‘You look tired, Mom. Are you feeling okay?’

‘I’m fine, Ken. Just getting a little too old for this kind of sleeping arrangement, I guess. Good thing it’s only for a couple of nights.’ She got up and stretched..

‘I’ve got the camp stove going. The kettle’s boiled and the bacon’s almost done.’ He kissed her cheek.

She sniffed appreciatively. ‘Mmm. Smells good. Where are the kids?’

‘Down at the beach. There’s a bunch of kids down there. And don’t worry, they’ve already eaten.’ He grinned. His mother knew he could persuade them to do anything, even eat breakfast. They both idolized their big brother. He did so many things with them which Simon never seemed to have time for.

The day passed quickly. All sorts of games had been organized for the young people, while the adults renewed old friendships and caught up with everyone’s news. Later in the day, a big fire was lit down on the beach and they feasted on fish and shellfish which the men had caught that day. Then there was a dance, kids and adults all dancing together, and fireworks around midnight.

Glenda thought she had never seen prettier fireworks. The bright reds and blues, and every colour of the spectrum, stood out so clearly against the dark night sky. No glare or reflections from street lights detracted from, or interfered with, their brilliance. Even the kids had stayed awake for this, but had succumbed to sleep soon after.

Now Glenda lay in her sleeping bag. Simon was last asleep next to her, snoring gently. Glenda closed her eyes. She knew her life with Simon was good, but one thing marred her happiness ...

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His mind traveled easily. All night he had been feeding off the emotions and feelings of the people, those who were jealous of others, who lusted after others’ wives or husbands, so many strong feelings. It had been a true powerhouse of energy. Now he was ready. It was almost time for the final showdown. The one he sought was here.
He found the place where they slept. The two youngest ones were dreaming – peaceful childhood dreams. There was one other. This one he felt was different. There was almost a feeling of familiarity and ... understanding ... Dismissing it, he moved on.

Twenty-five years of waiting would soon be over. He hesitated briefly, then brushed on smoothly past his intended target. It could wait a little while yet, until he had sampled another taste of HER dream. This time, however, he would be a very real part of it.

Like a cloud in a breeze, he drifted slowly from his cold resting place. Over the still land, past the silent tents, and he paused. This was it. Inside this tent he would exact his revenge. He touched the children lightly. They would not awaken until morning. Then the other one, the young man who puzzled him. And then HER.

Gently, he reached into her mind. She was in a deep sleep, not dreaming. That would soon change. He moved towards her, touching her like soft, cool tendrils of fog. He let the weight of his will increase until his physical presence was real enough for her to feel it. When their minds and thoughts were merged, he induced her dream of the previous night. The dream that had given her such intense pleasure, and had hit him like a bolt of lightening. But tonight he was ready for it. Tonight he would be part of her thoughts, part of her dream. He would experience it with her, through her...

Glenda sighed as he brought her out of the dream into wakefulness, making her aware of her thoughts, and of his presence.

Her eyes wide open, Glenda stared hard into the darkness, but saw nothing. Tentatively, she reached out her hands but could feel nothing. There was nothing there. It was just another dream. But why was she dreaming of making love, and why was it so vivid? Most of all, why was she dreaming of Walter? It was the most realistic dream she’d ever had in her life.

She started to tremble as she realized what was happening. Walter! She’d been dreaming of Walter! She had not done that in years. They had only made love that one time, the night that she and Simon had quarreled, the night that ... the night before they left Pike’s Cove...

Slowly, he withdrew from her and she shivered. She was aware of his presence. She would remember. Good! Now for the final stage, the reason he had survived like this for the last twenty-five years.
‘Simon!’

The sound was a hoarse whisper, echoing around them in the confines of the tent.

‘I have come for you, Simon!’

Glenda was aware of everything, but was unable to more. Her limbs felt heavy, lethargic. She could only watch, terrified, as Simon sat up slowly. In the pale light of the early dawn, she could see that his face was white and drawn. He resembled the zombies you see in a late night movie.

‘So many years,’ the disembodied voice continued. ‘Did you think you had won, Simon? That you had escaped from me?’

‘What the hell is going on?’ Simon grumbled, rubbing his eyes. ‘Is this some kind of a sick joke?’

There was a sound like sizzling bacon, and the air felt as if it were electrically charged, crackling with anger and energy. ‘What did you do with the knife, Simon? How did you explain the disappearance of your best friend the night before everyone left town?’

The blood ran cold in Simon’s veins. He had been so sure that no one knew. Only one! ‘Walter?’ he croaked. ‘But you’re dead!’

‘Death is but a new beginning for some.’

‘Simon?’ Glenda couldn’t understand what was going on. She tried frantically to move, to will herself to move some part of her body, but it was useless. She was held by some sort of paralysis. This was like something from one of Stephen King’s worst nightmares. And it was happening to her this time.

‘It doesn’t concern you, Glenda,’ Simon said.

‘It concerns her very much, FRIEND. She’s the reason it happened. Tell her,’ the voice commanded.

‘Simon, please?’ Oh, if only she could move. ‘Tell me what’s going on. What is this all about?’

‘She has a right to know,’ the voice insisted. ‘You should keep no secrets from her.’

Simon’s shoulders slumped as he began his tale. The words poured from him and he was powerless to prevent the catharsis.

‘Walter had always been in love with you, Glenda, just as I was, and I knew it. When he told me that you and he had made love that night, and that he intended to fight for you, I guess I lost control. I didn’t mean for it to happen, I swear. God! I knew I shouldn’t have come here. Now his ghost has come back to haunt me.’ He hung his head. ‘I’ve had nightmares about it and now it’s happening.’

‘I am more than ghost, but less than spirit. I am but mind and thought. I am willpower without substance. You killed my body, but my hatred lived on, feeding on the energy of animals and the few hunters who frequented the area. Lived on for revenge.

‘For God’s sake, Simon, what is it ... it ... trying to say? What happened?’

‘I killed him, Glenda,’ he choked out. ‘I killed my best friend with my hunting knife. The night before we left Pike’s Cove. As God is my witness, I didn’t mean to do it. I was out of my mind with jealousy and rage, and one thing led to another.

‘That’s how you got those cuts on your arm. That’s why you kept telling me it was useless to search for Walter. All those years, I’ve felt that you were keeping something from me, but I never dreamed it was something like this. Why, Simon? In God’s name, why? He was your best friend.’

‘We both loved the same woman – you. We were rivals. He was afraid I’d win you,’ the voice ... Walter’s voice ... told her. ‘You had made love with me, but not with him. He felt that gave me an advantage; that it created a stronger bond between us than you and he had. But I shall win, in the end. Victory will be mine. Make no mistake about that, Simon.’

‘Go ahead then, kill me,’ Simon said, his voice heavy with remorse. ‘It can’t be any worse than the hell I’ve been living with for the last twenty-five years. But please don’t hurt my children. Leave them alone.’

‘Why should I care about your children, any more that I care about you? Or you cared about me?’

‘Then have some concern for your own,’ Simon said desperately, ‘and what they mean to each other.’

The air crackled threateningly and Glenda felt the icy hand of fear clutch her heart.

‘You dare to mock me!’

A shower of sparks fell around Simon and he cringed. ‘Ken is not my son,’ he said. There was another shower and he felt a thousand tiny pinpricks of fire burn his flesh.

‘He ... he’s right,’ Glenda whispered. ‘Ken is Walter’s son ... your son!’ She swallowed hard. ‘After I learned I was pregnant, I tried to find you.’

‘Yet you married HIM!’

‘After twelve years of waiting and hoping, I gave up on finding you. I had to get on with my life, to make a home for myself and Ken.’

‘Would you have married me?’

‘Of course! You were my first lover. I had your child, your son ... OUR son.’

‘That explains why he felt different when I touched his mind. He is my own flesh and blood. Some tangible part of me to live on in this world.’ There was another shower of sparks and Simon bit his lip to keep from screaming with the pain. He bit hard, until he tasted blood.

‘Does he know? My son?’

‘Yes,’ Glenda whispered. ‘I’ve told him about you. For twelve years we both tried to find you. He has never given up hoping.’

‘I would be sorry for what you have gone through if I could still feel such things, but it is not possible.’

His attention was again directed at Simon. ‘You!’ he ground out harshly. ‘You cheated me out of everything! I was so close to having it all! You will pay for this, Simon. You will pay dearly, my friend.’

‘No! Walter ... if it really is you ... please, I beg of you ... think of the children. If there is anything left of the kind, wonderful person you once were, please don’t do anything to harm my children. They are mine too, Walter.’

‘They will be safe, and so shall you.’

‘What about ... Simon?’ she whispered.

A flash of light split the air. ‘Don’t ask me to spare his miserable soul! He cheated me out of a life with you, watching my son grow up ... he was supposed to be my best friend. I loved him in spite of the rivalry between us, and he cheated me out of a normal life. No, I cannot let him go. I cannot forgive him for this.’

Glenda looked at her husband. He looked like an old man, tired and broken. She felt nothing but pity for him. He had become a stranger to her. She didn’t know who he was anymore. What had happened to the man she’d once known?

‘What are you going to do?’ she asked.

‘That is not for your eyes. It will not be pleasant. But, in deference to what we once shared, I will not subject you to this.’
Glenda felt herself growing sleepy and was powerless to fight it. ‘Walter,’ she mumbled, ‘will I ... will you come back to me again?’

‘As I am now? An entity ... a vampire ... feeding on the hatred and deceit of others... needing negative energy to survive? I don’t know. It is no use trying to bring back the past, Glenda. It is lost to us forever.’

‘I wish things had turned out differently.’

‘Close your eyes and sleep now,’ His voice was softer. ‘Remember that I loved you, and I will go on loving you. Remember what we once shared together.’ He HAD loved her, even though he could no longer feel it, and he knew it was important for her to remember it all.

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With the sheer force of his will, Walter led Simon out of the tent, to a place in the woods where there was a sharp drop over a cliff. It was not far from where their last encounter had taken place. It was isolated enough that Walter’s screams of pain would be unheard, just as his had gone unheard that night twenty-five years ago.

As the flesh melted from Simon’s bones, Walter feasted on his pain and terror, and drew Simon’s flesh into himself. His task completed, he returned to his resting place in the cool, refreshing earth. He did not know if he would survive beyond this point, if Simon’s death would end his own existence. Or perhaps, the ingesting of Simon’s being would have some other effect. Whatever the outcome, he could not be worse off than he had been all these years, in this agonizing state of timeless limbo, mind without body ... soul without substance...

Justice had been done.

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When Glenda woke some time later, she lay still for a few minutes, remembering all that happened. Had it been a dream? Then she saw Simon’s empty sleeping bag.

Later that morning, Simon’s clothes were found in a little heap near the edge of the cliff. It was assumed that he had committed suicide, though why he had stopped to remove his clothing was a mystery.

Glenda and her family packed up their belongings and went home. She would mourn, not just for her husband, but for the lost and wasted lives, caused by a senseless act of jealous rage.

All reunions didn’t end happily, after all.

© 1991, F. Herridge
Vampire's Crypt 4, Fall 1991


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