“Here There Be Vampyres”

Here’s the first of my “back catalog” of stories I wrote in or slightly after college.  It’s called “Here There Be Vampyres” and it’s my own version of the “hell is cyclical” concept.  I admit it’s a tired concept for a story, but it was one of the first I ever wrote.  It was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s story “The Troll Bridge.” He did it much better than I did, of course, because he’s brilliant and I’m not.

I actually submitted this story to a Flash Fiction contest and it won an honorable mention, so that’s cool.  Maybe I should add that to my “Notoriety”  page…

Anyway, story after the break.  I’d really like to know what you think, if you’re inclined to read it.

Here There Be Vampyres

“Here there be Vampyres,” they told me, and I didn’t believe them. There was no such thing.

They were a group of motley elders living in an abandoned subway station beneath the city. They took me under their collective wing and helped me to survive in the Underworld, the network of homeless that traversed the city. For the most part, I learned quickly.

“Here there be Vampyres,” they told me, pointing to a remarkably pristine gray metal door in a remarkably vile corner of the subway abyss, and I didn’t believe them. There was no such thing. I was too green in the ways of my new world, too whimsical from my youth to take such threats seriously. I had seen it all, I thought. I wanted to prove them wrong. Maybe I just wanted to prove to it to myself.

I went through that door one night, when everyone else was asleep. I opened it with a heavy swoosh and a soft sigh, listening to the minute scrape of the metal on the grungy concrete. I descended down the ancient wet stone steps into the pitchy darkness. The sounds of my flapping shoes made hesitant percussions that echoed down the vast, dark stairwell. Night hung from the smooth rock walls like a velvet shroud.

I was a little scared, but I didn’t believe them and saw no conceivable danger. I continued.

Some ways down, I encountered a chamber, a cleaner version of the station I lived in above. The chamber glowed with a soft flickering torch. The torch outlined a hunched figure across the room, and my belief grew in my chest, hammered into my ribs.

“Here there be Vampyres,” the figure rasped as he pulled the torch toward his drained, lifeless white face. Blood and saliva dripped from the soulless, red mouth. The thing’s eyes were sunken and barren. A smell of ancient rotten meat hit my nostrils, and I fled.

I had barely turned when the figure seized me from behind with swift strength and long arms. I felt the double sting of the creature’s dripping mouth on my neck, and the inky air sucked my soul from my head. My vision faded as the life force drained from my corpse.

I stirred sometime later to an empty chamber, save for a flickering torch sputtering on the wet ground. I stood, held the torch in my dry claws and ran my pink tongue over the sharp canine teeth. The wicked points drew blood that ran thinly down my chin, and I waited.

I waited for a very long time, what I would call years in my life, feeling nothing, seeing nothing but black, before I heard the heavy swoosh and soft sigh of the clean metal door, and the hesitant scraping footsteps echoing down to my ears.

Here there be Vampyres.

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