Fear and Ascension, a short story

Sorry I haven’t been posting in a while; life’s been happening, what with college and all. This is a piece inspired by Harry Potter – not necessarily by what Harry Potter is about, but by what literary analysts like John Granger have said about it, about that series’s structure. That being said, I hope you feel no obligation to research all that to enjoy this. Now, here’s a vampire done right.

Tom crouched in the corner of the basement, cowering in fear in the house he had foolishly stopped by for the night. But he had had no other choice, his car having broken down during a rainstorm. He had discovered his host to be a vampire, and after the subsequent chase, found himself down near the furnace, hoping the vampire wouldn’t be able to find him. But this was a rather futile hope. The mansion was only so big, and the vampire probably had some way of tracking him – probably by smelling his blood.

As if to stress this point, the door to the basement creaked, signaling the entrance of its demonic master, whose heavy footsteps now echoed down the stairs. Tom reached to his right beside the furnace, taking hold of the lead pipe that lay there, a scrap perhaps from the very construction of the house, desperate for anything that might be a weapon in his current situation.

“Where are you hiding, Tom?” the vampire hissed into the darkness. “Well, I’ll find you shortly. You know I can smell you! There’s no escape, even though you did find a good spot to evade me!”

His voice drew nearer, until Tom finally sensed him, standing over him. The vampire crouched, and Tom felt his eyes on him, boring into his soul. It was the only opportunity he would get. He swung the pipe with all his might, smashing it into the unseen face of his demonic host. Blessed physics sent the monster reeling, but his demonic nature had him back on his feet in a moment. It was enough, though, for Tom to pelt past him and up the stairs. He slammed the door behind him as he ran, the vampire’s voice chasing him.

“There’s nowhere you can go I won’t find you!”

Tom sped through the enormous house, anxious to put as much distance between himself and his host as he could. He briefly wondered if it were best to just leave the mansion, but he was sure the vampire would continue to pursue him at this point. Of course, that was assuming he remembered where the entrance to the house was, and he was finding it painfully easy to get lost inside the mansion.

After several minutes of panicked flight, Tom found himself in the dark dining room. Pewter dishes and glimmering silverware lined the large table in the center. Tom walked across the room, toward the door on the opposite wall. Before he reached it, though, he heard a voice behind him.

“Nice, isn’t it? All just in case I have friends over. A beautiful occasion.”

Tom twisted around to glare at the vampire. He picked up one of the pewter dishes and tossed it at the monster, who dodged it easily, ascending the table to pounce at Tom. Tom leapt aside, snatching a pair of silver knives from the table and facing his host. The vampire thrust his clawed hands at Tom, who parried with a knife, backing away along the table as the beast continued his assault.

They reached the end of the table, and soon Tom’s back was against the wall. The vampire pounced, and Tom found it wasn’t a wall, but a door, as he went flying out of the dining room, landing against an earthy floor, before rolling over to try to gain advantage over his foe, who clutched him like a long-lost sibling. Tom’s knives had been lost from the shock of being flung through a door. The pair of combatants rolled through the dirt, struggling for supremacy, Tom barely keeping the vampire’s claws and fangs from his throat. He managed to toss the vampire away from him, and scrambled to his feet to face his opponent, but only to find him preoccupied.

Tom was standing in a garden, on the east side of the mansion. Far on the horizon, the red sun was rising, and it was at this that the vampire blanched, and fled, into his house to find some dark corner where he might wait out the day. Tom marveled at the miracle of this dawn, and that he must have spent more time in the mansion than he knew.

But now he was free. He could leave this accursed place, and turn his back on it forever. He began walking, toward the sunrise, toward salvation.

He paused. The vampire would still be here, no doubt to ensnare the next hapless soul that passed his way. He tried to tell himself he didn’t care, that it wasn’t his business, and at any rate it wasn’t worth risking his life all over again just to maybe kill the vampire.

That little voice spoke again. What was it called? A conscience? It told him that it was worth it. That it was his business, and that, no matter what the outcome, he couldn’t sit idly by while this vampire continued to victimize the innocent. Tom sighed.

He turned back toward the house. The voice was right. Especially because it was now the perfect opportunity to kill the vampire. Even now, he was probably hurrying back to his coffin, or wherever he hid from the sun. Tom just needed a weapon to kill him.

Tom began walking again, back toward the house, back into the dining room, toward grim battle and an uncertain outcome.

He gazed around the dining room, and its ruined table – the results of Tom’s fight, and the vampire’s flight to his most secret chamber. What he really needed was a weapon. Silverware, pewter dishes, and lead pipes had proved ineffective. He needed a greater weapon to slay his enemy.

He made his way through the dining room, checking the other walls. The sun now provided him with a little light, and he now saw a single door on each of the walls. One was wide open, where he had first entered. The other two he tried, one containing a closet, the other the kitchen. He decided to try there.

Inside, the kitchen was rather empty. Tom wasn’t surprised. After all, what would a vampire need with a kitchen? It was probably just a place to bleed his victims. However, on the counter, several golden goblets reflected the new sunlight. Tom realized how thirsty he was, since it had been a long, terrifying night. He took a cup to the sink, where he filled it with water and drank. It refreshed him, reinforcing his conviction to slay the vampire. He looked around, and found an odd brass steak knife.

“It’s not much, but it’ll have to do,” he told himself.

He picked it up as he left the kitchen, ready and almost eager to face the vampire. He wondered if the steak knife really would do the trick, but figured if not, he could always try decapitation.

It was still easy to get lost in the mansion. This time, though, he had a more specific destination in mind, rather than just anywhere the vampire wasn’t. As a result, it was harder to find, although Tom had a general idea that he needed to go to the top floor or perhaps the attic. Unfortunately, the top floor was a big place, and he began to get rather impatient searching it.

“Why can’t I find him?” he growled.

As he said this, he passed a huge suit of armor. Tom looked at it briefly. In its right hand, it carried a huge spear, with a thick, menacing iron head. Beside it, the steak knife looked downright comical. He was absolutely sure it would get the job done. Taking the spear, he also saw that there was a door, previously unnoticed, beside the armor. In fact, looking at the scene, Tom would have guessed that the armor was supposed to be in front of the door, which seemed nearly invisible against the wall, and that the only reason he could see it was the vampire’s haste to return to his lair. He opened the door, looking in to find that his guess was right.

“So this is where you’re hiding,” Tom said to the glaring figure on the opposite side of the room. “It took me a while to find you, especially since this is so clever a spot.”

The vampire said nothing as Tom entered the room, the spear in his hands and the knife on his belt. The room lay in darkness, and the beast himself stood in a black coffin. It was warm, and dry, which Tom guessed to be part of the preferred atmosphere for the room.

The vampire crouched, and Tom raised his spear. They pounced at once another like tigers ready for fierce combat, each letting out roars of fury. The vampire hissed, and Tom let out all his fear and fury in a single roar. The iron point pierced the monster’s flesh, sending a shudder through Tom’s arm, and adding the sound of breaking skin to the desperate chorus. And in a moment, it was over, as red blood soaked the floor, and a fanged mouth kissed it, but would never taste it.

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