“Where the Apple Shine Won’t Reach”

brenda

 

Hi friends!

Here’s the first installment of the FREE FICTION category. An oldie, but a goodie! It was the lead off story in an anthology called MON COEUR MORT and later appeared in DARK DOORWAYS along with work from Jack Ketchum and F. Paul Wilson! It also was a cool online comic book…last chapter is still pending…

Since it’s Halloweentime, and this tale takes place on Halloween, I thought it pretty appropriate.

Fun Fact: The title pays slight homage to Stephanie Meyer’s epic and sparkly saga TWILIGHT. To be honest, I was taking the piss a little with the title, and the story. I have nothing against Stephanie really. Admittedly, she wanted to make a new kind of vampire story, and goddamn, she did! We should all be so unfortunate…

For SM—no offense…

Brenda lay on her bed, three pages to go in her book. Her face was moist with tears and she was biting her lip. Seven books in, this was to be the last book for the Dark Gift romantic vampire series. The absolute last, according to the publisher; in spite of the two previous sequels that were also to have been the last. But this was to be the absolute last one. It was even called, “Last Rites.”

Brenda had waited patiently for this one book for nearly three years and she had gone to the midnight sale date. Midnight, Halloween night at Holmes and Bernard’s Bookseller and Music Superstore invitation through lottery only please, thanks so much. She stood in the small line that had begun to form the night before Halloween (but she was third in line thank goodness!) and ran to the display and grabbed her book-$34.99-no sale price for the early birds. She paid for it and bolted for her car so she could begin the long night, day and night of “Last Rites” in her apartment, all alone with the curtains closed tight and not stop reading until she was done.

Then she would take a shower.

The book itself was mammoth; nearly fifteen hundred pages long, not counting the 45-page author’s introduction. (“I love each and every single sick one of you!” the grateful author concludes.) The other books for Dark Gift ran from 300 to 675 pages throughout the run of the series. This one, though… Brenda was very intimidated by its sheer size, but was also delighted because she knew it would be worth the wait to read it. She knew that there was so much to get out of this book. And how could it be anything other than huge?

Nearly twenty-four hours later, here she was, weeping and nearly done with the entire series. It was beautiful. It was a dream how wonderful the words were so well crafted. Helen, the story’s heroine, had spent the bulk of the Dark Gift series madly in love with Kirk, a young looking vampire she met in high school. They have adventures and high romance with other vampires and human friends as well. But then there came werewolves,

ghouls, (one tried to kill, then eat Helen!) mummies, (it was awesome-they went to Egypt for a class trip) and finally, Count Dracula himself in this, the final book.

Dracula, who was actually Kirk’s uncle, tried to get between him and Helen. And Dracula nearly succeeded, but Kirk, ever resourceful, stopped a very bad union just in the nick of time. But then, Kirk was nearly destroyed by the ancestor of Van Helsing, Dracula’s old enemy, but Helen, and her latent psychic powers (found in book three, “Head Trauma,”) came to the rescue.

And that was only up to page 750!

There was more-a lot more, leading up to the last three pages in this sprawling series, where Helen and Kirk marry and where Helen agrees to finally accept Kirk’s “Dark Gift.” As she turned the last page, Brenda’s eyes went wide. She let out a very tiny ‘squeak.’

She quietly closed the book and sat on her bed for several minutes. She felt…fulfilled somehow. She shuddered slightly and sat up. She wiped her face and sighed. She was hugging the book as if it were a small child. A thousand thoughts ran through her mind; she wanted to cry, she wanted to kiss, she wanted…

She wanted. Most of all, she wanted.

She stood up and went into her bathroom. Resting the book gently on the toilet tank, she stepped into the shower and turned the cold water on strong.

Oh yes, she wanted.

Ten minutes later, she stepped from the shower and toweled off. She grabbed the book and padded into her bedroom. Tossing the book oh so carefully on the bed, she opened her vast closet and chose what she’d wear tonight. It was nearly Midnight, and still Halloween. There was always a little fun to be had and she had so much pent up energy from the book, she couldn’t contain herself.

Wouldn’t contain herself.

She wanted to explode and giggled.

She felt naïve and older than her years; she knew love like Helen and Kirk’s couldn’t exist, but oh, she wanted it so bad. It was so beautiful to her. The stories had touched her in ways she couldn’t have ever imagined.

And now she would go out, and hope in her heart of hearts that maybe, just maybe…

There would be something in the world for her.

She smiled and went out of her front door to find something.

Something she wanted very much.

Anything.

Four and a half hours later, Brenda sat on her bed, crying. Her face was buried in her hands and she sobbed hard. No, there wasn’t a love like Helen and Kirk’s. There wasn’t anything close to it. No instant attraction, no doe-eyed romance, or romantic adventure. No pale skinned beautiful waif and certainly no glittering supernatural hero. There was what there always was; anger. And hate. And emptiness. Just a void that could never be filled by anyone or anything. She was alone. All alone.

She stood up angrily and walked across her room. She kicked the young man lying crumpled in a heap and unconscious on the floor. He gave a small muffled yelp. He slowly came too, and began to weep.

“Where…where…where…”

She kicked him again.

“Shut up!” Brenda snarled. “Just shut up!”

She began to pace, glaring at the young man. He was looking up at her now, petrified.

“Please…look, what did I…”

Brenda stopped and knelt down to him. She grabbed his neck and pulled him closer. His eyes went wide as her face turned into a snarling rictus of sharp teeth that extended from ear to ear.

“What did you do? You didn’t do anything! Absolutely nothing!”

The young man started to scream and Brenda sank her teeth quickly into the lower half of his face. He struggled briefly, but then was quiet again. She fed and fed well, but cried the entire time. When she was done, she pulled herself up off of the floor and went into the bathroom.

She looked at her face.

Vampires weren’t heroes. They weren’t romantic. They didn’t sparkle in the sun, they didn’t fall in love, they didn’t have fabulous adventures and although they could see themselves in the mirror, they were not beautiful.

They were most often covered in blood and left a trail of corpses behind them.

She hit the mirror as hard as she could. It shattered and she nearly screamed, but held it.

The books.

She wanted to destroy them.

She ran into her room and picked “Last Rites” up off of her bed. She was going to tear it in half. Brenda looked at the cover.

She looked at it carefully.

And she wanted to cry.

She sat down for a long time until finally, she opened the book and began to read.

Vampires weren’t a lot of things; nothing like how they were in the “Last Rites” books.

But, they could still dream.

Nelson W Pyles © 2011, 2016