First Responder

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Centrally located between Malibu Creek and Topanga state parks is a lonely stretch of road the locals refer to as the ‘Mulholland Dieway’. Here first responders frequently rally to save those unfortunate enough to find themselves stranded and in need of assistance. For years Karen thought that section of road was unusually treacherous-tonight would be no different.

Nearby lies a creature with a heart as black as night. It has reinvented itself and moves through time unnoticed by most. It feeds on those less fortunate and in dire straits. Immersing itself in the misfortune of others, it is a life saver for most, but for some, the last thing they will ever see.

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A random unedited teaser:

Back at the cabin

Jack awoke some time later with his hands tied together and held above his head. He was suspended from the ceiling by another rope that dangled annoyingly just off the side of his face. Jack was slowly twisting to the left with his feet approximately a foot above the wooden floor and his head hanging low. It took him several seconds longer to fully comprehend the predicament he was in. When he tried to get free he noticed that his feet were also tied together at the ankles. There didn’t seem to be much that he could do to escape.

With the amount of pain he was experiencing in his shoulders, Jack wasn’t sure how long he had been hanging from the ceiling. As best as he could determine with his experience with pain, he figured it to be about two days or more. Any sort of effort to move or free himself was met with dagger-like shooting pain that radiated from his shoulders down the middle of his back. Jack thought it unnatural for him to feel such pain in his shoulders from being suspended from the ceiling by his wrists. His attempts at freedom only managed to turn him slightly faster as his rope straightened under his weight.

Jack’s mouth was not gagged. He could talk though he didn’t really feel like doing so. He was starting to take in the space around him, and as he slowly turned he scanned the room for the jogger. Looking down he could tell that he was wearing the same lucky t-shirt and blue jeans that he was earlier. Although his vision was limited to where he could turn his head, he continued to search the room for his captor. It was a small cabin with a single front door. It had four exterior walls, with very little comforts to speak of. Shifting his body back and forth he managed to start twisting to his right. Over against the wall by the door he saw his old watch, wallet, and shoes on a nearby shelf, but he didn’t see his cell phone. He continued turning to the right, and as the next wall came into view he noticed the corner of an old bed pushed up against it.

Time passed very slowly for Jack, the way one expected a line at their favorite theme park would. As he waited to turn further to the right to see more of the bed, every hair on his body stood up on end. Sitting on the far right edge of the old bed was the jogger. He was looking forward at Jack while fidgeting with the business end of a sharp hunting knife. Jack felt a pain in his gut grow larger. Blood seemingly began draining from his face, his hands, and his arms. Where it was going he wasn’t sure, but Jack was certain that had he access to a mirror he would see himself turning white from head to toe. The jogger rubbed his thumb over the knife’s edge horizontally, making a soft scrapping sound. He never spoke, he never moved; he just continued staring at Jack with anticipation.

Jack closed his eyes and kept them shut and in doing so he experienced the accident all over again in vivid detail. He saw the jogger coming at him on the road. He remembered blinking his eyes a few times and then hitting the jogger before locking up his brakes. Jack’s head started to beat up with sweat, partly due from the temperature in the poorly insulated cabin, and partly out of fear. Jack opened his eyes and stared back at the jogger who was still sitting on the edge of the bed, never blinking. He did what he could to slow his progress down, he didn’t want to keep turning and have the jogger to his back. Struggle as he might, Jack only managed to twist to the right even faster. He wished he could have done this earlier when he had wanted to look around. Now he focused all his energy on slowing his turn so he could keep eyes on the man in blue.

Soon the jogger would be out of sight and Jack couldn’t handle that; his mind considered the actions that the jogger could do when he was hidden. He didn’t know why he was in this situation. It was all just a simple misunderstanding; Jack knew he could make things right. He wanted to talk to the man. He wanted to say something but he didn’t want to make matters worse. He didn’t know what would set this man off, and he surely didn’t want to anger him as he turned his back towards him. Jack had twisted his neck to the left as far as it would go as he continued turning to his right. There was nothing more he could physically do to keep the jogger in sight. He sighed and held his breath as he tried listening for the jogger step onto the floor from the bed. He desperately needed to know where he was, although there was nothing that he could do to stop the man if he chose to approach.

With his back still turned to the jogger, Jack mustered up enough courage to speak.

“Look, I’m sorry. Obviously I didn’t run you over or hit you with my truck, and for that I’m grateful. I’m a nervous wreck inside. I didn’t mean to break into your cabin, I just needed a place to stay for a few minutes; I needed to collect my thoughts and clear my head,” Jack pleaded.

Jack’s attempt to elicit a response from the jogger came up short. The man in blue didn’t comment either way. Jack grew more agitated as he slowly turned towards the jogger. At the rate he was going, it was still about two weeks before he would be far enough to turn his head the other way to once again see the jogger. Each second the jogger was out of sight was torture for Jack. The more he listened for the jogger to stand up and move toward him, the more dark thoughts came and went. His imagination was set in motion as he heard the jogger hit the floor and take deliberate foot falls in his direction.

“Well hell, boy. I’m guessin’ you didn’t mean no harm when you ran me off the road. I’ve just a few scrapes on me, no biggie,” the jogger said.

Jack felt a wave of relief wash over him and followed the jogger’s statement with a calming sigh.

“But she did die in the process. You know she’s dead, right?” the jogger asked.

Jack was looking for words when the jogger placed a hand on his left shoulder and stopped him from twisting. He was once again thrust into uncertainty as the other hand with the knife came around and rested against the flat of his stomach.

“You know, you can’t just leave someone like that, they have to be buried,” the jogger said as he leaned in against Jack.

He whimpered a few times against the jogger’s contact, but did not struggle.

“It’s not so much as the need for a ceremony or closure; it’s more of an effort to protect yourself. You always need to keep your taint to a minimum out in the wilderness,” the jogger finished.

“OK. I under-,“ Jack got out before he was interrupted.

The jogger moved the point of the knife back and forth slightly to the left of Jack’s chest a few times before stopping where it was initially and continued to speak.

“People aren’t trash you know,” the jogger said with agitation.

Jack prepared himself as best he could for what was to come. This was it, he was sure of it; Jack was going to die. Looking over at the small table by the wall he tried to figure out what time it was but Jack was just too far away.

“Come on man. Fuck. No-don’t do this,” Jack shouted.

“Now I make it a practice to bury all of mine, in different locations of course,” the jogger said as he pressed the end of the blade into Jack’s chest.

Ruining his favorite t-shirt, the jogger lowered his knife hand making about a six inch cut. Blood quickly began soaking Jack’s shirt.

The jogger let go of him and spun Jack around to face him.

“What makes your life any better than hers?” the jogger asked.

He yelled at Jack’s face, sometimes spitting as his words came out. Jack said nothing further to anger the man, he just hung his head and tried to mitigate the pain. It was more psychologically damning to see and hear his blood dripping onto the floor beneath his suspended body than to experience that pain.

“Where are my manners,” the jogger said softly under his breath.

Jack opened his eyes and looked around without raising his head. He thought that if he didn’t struggle, his wound would stop bleeding. He saw the man walk over to an old table and open a small bag. Jack could not tell what was in it, but he figured it to be some sort of dried meat.

“It won’t be much longer now, but you best eat,” the jogger told Jack as he approached with what looked like two pieces of beef jerky.

“Cured this yesterday, and its might tasty if I don’t mind saying so myself,” he said laughing as he held a piece in front of Jack.

Jack shook his head no and closed his eyes for a second, but the jogger’s offer was still present when he reopened them.

“Better eat it boy, or I’ll cut you, real deep like, and watch you bleed,” the jogger said with a sinister voice.

It wasn’t that chewy, it wasn’t that hard. The meat was cooked, firm, and salty, just as one might expect a piece of cured meat to be. Most meat tasted like chicken, everybody said so; but Jack couldn’t place it.

“Is it rabbit or beef?” he asked the jogger as he found himself once again slowly twisting on his rope to the left.

“Oh, I’ve not had much time for trapping and hunting lately with me trying to get in shape an all. Ever wonder why your back hurts so much when you struggle, did yah?” the jogger asked.

Jack didn’t respond to the jogger’s question. He kept thinking about what he said and how it fit in with his question. Jack thought and thought, but he still didn’t understand.

“Well, if I would have cut on you before I hung you from the ceiling it would have been more painful and you would have bled a lot more than you did,” the jogger said.

Jack listened carefully and to test this theory he pulled upon his wrists. Pain once again shot through his upper back. He didn’t want to believe what the jogger said, it couldn’t be true.

“I only took two strips from yah, each about eight inches long; they do shrink down you knows,” the jogger said with a smile.

The jogger continued smiling at Jack until he spit out the last bites of his jerky on the cabin floor and started to cough.

 

Random thoughts

  1. Dogs will be dogs. Most people think dogs that provide protection are voracious man-eating dogs, large in size, loud in bark and usually just around the next corner. In all reality, it’s the one who accepts you and barks to alert you for your safety, not to protect you-you’re the vampire!

 

 

  1. Being a short, balding man with aging blonde hair enabled the vampire to fit in, making him almost invisible anywhere he went in public where there were crowds. By himself however, he did stand out. When he did go out in public his smile always arrived minutes before he did. That smile coupled with his charisma took him places. That was part of the reason for his success; his master key that opened all doors. It came in handy when he needed to feed, and had never failed to provide interesting conversation and nourishment. Dr. Stevens was nothing if not a social butterfly, a short, charismatic, deadly social butterfly.

 

 

  1. Looking at the cars parked in the Waffle House parking lot his eyes were pulled towards a simple white bumper sticker with red letters: GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE-VAMPIRES DO! How ironic for him to be reading that, he thought. And it couldn’t be any further from the truth. He hung around, literally, until its owner came out, mainly out of curiosity.

 

 

  1. He is the epitome of a classical vampire. He’s the one that I fell in love with when I was growing up. Since I have never met a vampire in person, I can neither confirm nor deny their existence or abilities, so I’m sticking with what I love. Slow moving mists, bats, wolves, flying and moving quickly through the darkness, all these things are fun. Along with the superstitions of being staked and not allowed ingress unless invited, so the good with the bad. Enjoy.