Short Stories

Killer's Circle

This one is very, very old. It's not nearly as good as I thought it was at the time. I think, though, the story itself is pretty good and it can be fixed. But frankly I'm sick of vampires and don't see any point in doing so.

He awoke to the sound of a woman screaming. Out of a dream of great things and great places, he woke to nightmarish sounds. He came to his senses quickly, but by the time his feet were on the floor, the screaming had stopped. There was a movement downstairs.

Quietly, he slipped from the room. His back edged against the wall, hand one in front of another, afraid to look down. Light emanated up from the lower level, but still there was no sound. Down the stairs, quickly. A stair creaked, and he paused, heart racing. No sound answered.

The stairs dropped him in the living room. A couch that he remembered stood along one wall. Was that something above it? No, just a shadow. But, he thought to himself, shadows don't move like that. No, just a shadow. The light's in there.

And so was she. The sight was unbearable, causing a lump to form in his stomach. Concern for her overwhelmed him, temporarily overshadowing the fear that had so recently taken him. He stepped toward the pale form, crumpled onto the floor. A tear formed in his eye, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that she must be dead. All that blood...

He turned, suddenly fearful. In the doorway was a man. Tall, black hair, pale, pale as death itself. He would have been handsome, but for the blood that stained his beard and clothes. And the smile...the man smiled at him, an evil, chilling smile, and then took a step forward, without a sound.

Flee! The only thing he could think to do was flee, and he did that. Out the kitchen door, slamming it behind him, onto the deck. He jumped off, landing on his bare feet, pain lancing up into his knees. It was at least a six foot drop, but he ran anyway. When he looked around for a split second, the man was right behind him, running quickly and silently, an evil grin on his bloody face.

Into the shed, around the saw horse. An old, thin fencepost made itself available to his harried grasp. It was pointed sharply on one end, and covered with grime. Maybe a yard long, maybe more. He didn't care. He grabbed it and jumped through the window.

Broken glass peppered his face and shoulder, blood flowing quickly, hotly, over his right arm. The man was in front of him, maliciousness apparent on his red-stained face. The man's arm snaked out, slashing him across the face, leaving four red gashes on his cheek. He rolled between the mans legs, favoring his shoulder, got up, and began running again. Pure panic took over his mind, with pain. He ran back into the house, up into the stairs, and into his room. The man was right behind him.

He turned around, and the man made his first sound. It was a laugh, a cold laugh, that chilled his spine. He held the post, bloody now, at ready, and charged. The man sidestepped easily, and long fingernails dug into his back as he passed. He slammed into the wall, turned around, and rushed again. The man was unprepared for a renewed assault so quickly, and they met, with full force.

They crashed through the window, together, the man in front, shards of glass tearing at this back. The wooden post was dug deeply into his chest as he fell. They hit the living room roof, and the post ripped out. They rolled off the roof, and this time he landed first, with his face up. The man fell on top of him, landing on the pointed side of the post. It struck, through his chest, and he screamed, loudly, painfully. Through the man's parted mouth he saw two extremely long canines, and that was the last he could remember seeing.

He awoke in a blindingly white room, with that sterile smell that can immediately be placed as a hospital. His bed was hard, his sheets scratchy, and his shoulder itched like a wild fire. A blurred figure leaned over his bed. A feminine voice proclaimed that he was coming around, and a flurry of activity in the corner. He closed his eyes again, and reopened them. His focus seemed somewhat better. He looked over to the corner, where a half dozen people were all looking at him. None of the faces seemed familiar.

"Where am I?" he asked. He knew perfectly well, but it seemed the logical question to ask, hoping some insight would be gained.

"I am Dr. Albert Morgan, and you are in St. Luke's hospital. You seem to have had a bit of an accident." The man's face appeared to him, deep in his thoughts, and the long canines stuck out maddeningly. Images of a bloody woman, broken glass, and red tinted shingles appeared in the back of his mind. That was all. He thought, hard, but nothing else came to him. Not even his name.

"What happened?"

"You were found comatose near the house of Ms. Jane Wellenby, who is now deceased. You were in the yard near there." The entire scene was clear in his head, flooding his thoughts, making his head pound.

"How am I?"

"You have had many lacerations, and extensive surgery was required to remove glass splinters from you. Three broken ribs, and your right arm is broken." He reached up with his left arm and felt the scabbing claw marks on his face. "What happened to you, to get those marks? A dog?"

"No, a man."

"I'm sorry, sir, but no man could have made those scratches. They were all over your back as well. You lost a good deal of blood through them. An interesting toxin was in the wounds; your blood would not clot."

"I only remember a man. He killed her, didn't he?"

"Yes. We could not find any identification on you. Who are you?"

Pause. A voice in the background: "He may have suffered brain damage from the fall. Amnesia, I'll wager."

"I don't know. What is happening?"

"You apparently fell out of a bedroom window, over a living room roof, and then onto the lawn. You did have a concussion, and maybe amnesia. No permanent brain damage was recorded, so it should not be permanent."

Wonderful, he thought. He resigned himself to waiting.

"If you need anything, please ask the nurse. We will be glad to do all we can."

Sure, he thought. Anything they can, but no way to get his memory back. He laid back his head, and was immediately asleep.

He was troubled by strange dreams. Shadows, monsters, vaguely familiar faces, the woman in the house, the man with the teeth. They came and they haunted him, swirling between each other, flying through the smoky void, leaving him stranded, alone, unable to do anything, and then coming back to taunt and torment some more.

"Why do you torment me!" he cried, finally finding a voice.

"Because you are!" answered a female voice, chilling to the core, filled with emotions of hatred, lust, and violence.

"Go torment some other poor soul then, and leave me alone!"

"Alone? Foolish one, you may never be alone! No one is ever alone, least of all you, now. You killed him, now, and soon, you will understand." Other voices echoed hers, mocking, taunting. But hers was the loudest, the most compelling.

"Go away!" he cried. They answered with silence, complete and utter silence. And darkness. The swirling vapors went away, and nothing replaced them. Suddenly, he was utterly alone. He screamed, but his voice was barely audible, muffled under a heavy curtain of silence. He almost wished for the jeering faces to return.

He awoke in a cold sweat, and suddenly two nurses appeared.

"His vital signs are extraordinary! Pulse rate is almost one sixty!" "Okay, we'd better give him a sedative." A needle was stuck into his left shoulder, and he suddenly felt relaxed. Enough that he went back to sleep, and back to the faces.

It was almost unbearable. The dreams, they never changed. The hospital was so sterile, feeding him intravenously. And something, something obscure, was gnawing away at his subconscious. Something he couldn't pinpoint, but was definitely there.

The nurse came in, on schedule to check him, and possibly sedate him if he was too hyperactive. As he generally was after waking. But he had been wide awake now, for several hours. It was well past midnight, and clear moonlight shone through the window. It had been some ten days, and the doctors had given his ribs no less than three weeks before he would be allowed to move. But something compelled him, stronger by the day, to leave.

The nurse looked at him, his eyes wide open and bloodshot. They all knew that he had yet to remember anything, and he may never remember anything. She checked his bandages, and the tubes sticking out of his other arm.

"My, your fingernails sure grow fast. I just clipped them two days ago and already they're almost as long as mine!"

Then, he snapped. He lost complete control. They knew he sometimes got violent while he was asleep, and were always careful. But never when he was awake. She didn't suspect a thing. His left arm, the good one, lashed out and he grabbed her throat. He pulled and twisted so quickly that she never screamed. His long, sharp fingernails accidentally sliced through her skin, and blood flowed out of her jugular vein. He ripped off the sling his arm was in, and the bandages around his arm and chest. As he did this, his fingers brushed his lips, and he tasted the blood that was on them, and he suddenly knew what it was he wanted, that he had craved for all week. The thought revolted him more than any before, but he couldn't stop himself. He sat up, pulling her to his mouth, and drank deeply of the blood which had not yet begun to stop flowing. Just like the blood on the scratches of his own wounds, which hadn't stopped flowing.

And when he finished, he sat there, trying to take in what just happened. His tortured mind realized only that he had just killed, and that he had enjoyed the experience. And that he had drunk of the blood of his victim, and had finally felt refreshed.

Realizing what he had done, he fled.

Getting out of the hospital was a challenge. He knew he'd be spotted as a patient as soon as he left, and the blood all over his gown did not help matters. The nurses gown was also too bloody to use, and he didn't have any other ideas right away. He knew that if he was discovered, with the dead nurse, he would probably be killed.

He peeked out of his door. Luckily enough, the elevator was right across the hall from his room, but the receptionist's desk was right next to it. He waited there until one of the elevators appeared, and then he walked out of the room, hiding as best he could the blood. Luckily enough, it was all on the left side, and the receptionist was to the right. The receptionist did see him enter the elevator, though, and started to chase after him, yelling "Hey, you can't leave!" But it was too late. The elevator said he was on the seventh floor. He pressed the buttons to the sixth, fourth, third, second, and parking, which he was glad to see on the list of buttons. Then, he opened the top and crawled into the access shaft above. There, he waited. It opened at the sixth, and no one appeared. It opened again at the fourth floor, and heard security men yelling that no one was in there, that he must have gotten off at the fifth or the sixth. Good, he thought, buy time.

It opened again at third and second, and no one was there. When it closed, at second, he jumped down out of the shaft, and waited. When the door opened, he peered out, seeing only cars. He ran out to the nearest one, but it was locked. He ran to the next, but it was locked too. He knew that this was hopeless, and he ran from the parking lot. Apparently no one noticed, since he was never chased.

First order of business was new clothes. The bloody hospital gown looked terribly out of place in the city, and he knew he would soon be caught with it on. But he didn't know where to go. So he just ran, and ran, and ran. He didn't notice that he didn't tire, or that he was doing remarkably well for having broken ribs. He just ran.

When he finally got a hold on himself, he was deep into a residential area. His conscience was biting at him nastily for his murder of the nurse by now, and he was convulsing with the memory. He could not make it subside, nor could he justify his actions with himself, but he was able to make himself accept her death. Far too easily, his conscience told him. And he knew that it was right.

He picked a house that looked as though nobody were home. There were no cars in the garage or the driveway, at any rate, and he broke in. Fairly easily. No alarm system; the neighborhood wasn't rich enough.

He was lucky enough to find that one of the occupants of the house was his size, too, because he found several sets of clothes that fit. He dressed himself casually; with jeans and a short sleeved shirt. He found slightly over two hundred dollars stashed in a drawer, and confiscated that. It would last for a little while, though probably not too long. He found some cheap jewelry, but very little else was of use.

He noticed a ray of sunlight through the window, and looked out at the sunrise. He suddenly realized that he was tired, and immediately he went to the bed and decided to sleep. Not a wise decision, he was telling himself, but he couldn't force himself to listen. Sleep came on.

The faces, everywhere. But different, bloody, more painful, less mocking. Pain, not just the taunts, but now real pain. And fear.

"You have done well, fledgling. You have made your first kill." The female voice again. Cold, full of emotion, but not friendly. "You may yet succeed."

"What are you talking about?" he asked. But just laughter. And crying. Somewhere, one of the faces was crying, but it was faint, and far away. The face was covered with blood, but it was naggingly familiar. It was...

He woke with a start. It was already evening, the alarm clock near said it was after five. He'd slept a long time, he realized. Almost eleven hours. And the dreams, they had changed.

He went and looked into the mirror. He looked positively haggard; his face was pale, his cheeks sunken, his eyes bloodshot and heavily lined. His hair was a mess.

The shower helped a lot. It cleaned up his hair, washed the dirt off his face. He was still pale, and his eyes were bloodshot, but not nearly so bad. His teeth, though, something was wrong with them. He couldn't place it. And his fingernails, they were like claws.

Where to go, what to do. He had no idea. He wasn't hungry, though he hadn't eaten in weeks. He'd been fed intravenously at the hospital, because he wouldn't take solid food. He went to the living room and watched some television, but it bored him. The night was long, tedious, and he was afraid. Eventually, dawn came, and sleep came again. But this time, he felt safer. He set up simple alarms on both doors; tripwires that would set off alarm clocks if either of them were opened. His sleep would be untroubled by thoughts of the owners coming home and finding him unawares, at the very least.

The dreams came, as usual, but they were distant, far away. The main focus, this time, was a single, blurry face which constantly moved through the shadows, quietly, and another, bloody face, wearing a nurses hat, that swore at him, damned him for eternity, for killing her.

Several long, dreary days passed, awake at night and asleep at day. Somewhere in the interim, the hunger, the craving, the distant gnawing came back, only this time not nearly so distant. He knew what it was, he felt it in the hospital. And he knew what it was that would get rid of it, but he couldn't allow that to happen, ever again. He also knew that he may not be able to control the hunger, ever.

After little more than a week of living there, the occupants came back. It was late at night, and he had been awake, so the alarms were turned off. He heard the door open, and close, and voices in the front room. He went to look, to see who and how many. His plan was to flee, but upon seeing them, he could not. His will was stricken down at the sight of living, human bodies, and he knew he would kill.

He waited in the shadows. The couple didn't seem to notice that he had been there, and instantly separated, one for the bedroom, one for the shower. He waited until the female was taking the shower, and he struck, swiftly, and silently. He killed the man without a sound, and drank his blood in just a few minutes. Inwardly, he was glad that, at the very least, he managed to not get any blood on the sheets.

He got the woman in the shower just as easily. The moment she stepped out, he got her. It was swift and painless, unlike the nurse's death. Soon after he slaked his thirst, he fell asleep on the bed. The bodies were where he left them, in the bathtub.

The dreams, they changed again. The faces, the vaguely familiar and unfamiliar, they were all in the distance. The blurry one was still there, and the nurse, shouting obscenities. And two new faces joined, a couple, a man and a woman, both of whom hated him.

The blurry face did nothing but laugh, the nurse shouting obscenities, and the couple cried for each other. He could feel little other than sorrow, hatred, and agony, and self-pity, for none would pity him.

He awoke, shivering. It was the first time he'd even noticed feeling a difference between hot and cold. It frightened him, deeply, and he lie there, waiting for something to happen. But nothing did. The bodies were still in the bathtub, drained of their blood. He didn't know what to do with them. He was afraid to leave here, since it was probably safe, but he couldn't be sure. And it didn't feel good here, anymore, with the dead bodies. But where could he go, he wondered. He didn't know of anywhere safe, but he knew he couldn't stay there.

He took the cash he found in the man's wallet, and added it to the stash. Over three hundred and fifty dollars. He took the man's wallet, too. What use did the man have for it, now? He packed a duffel bag with some clothing, and left. He had hoped for some sort of gun, at least, but no luck. He picked a pacifist's house to stay in.

He knew that he was hunted; it had been on the news for three days, about how he had killed the nurse and fled the hospital. His face would be widely known. He had to leave the city.

The couple's Honda was in the driveway, and he had their keys. He was reluctant to use it, but he decided that he had no choice. Another memory of the deceased pair. They looked happy together, before he murdered them.

He couldn't keep his mind off of them, either. It made driving difficult.

The light was red, but he didn't even notice. He drove through it going more than seventy miles per hour, and sideswiped a Mercedes going through. Both cars went spinning away from each other, and the Honda went head-on with a large Ford pickup. He went flying through the windshield, and slammed his face into the pickup's. He was surprised to note that not only was he not dead, but he was, in fact, still conscious. People started crowding around, and a siren could be heard. He panicked.

He got up, and started running away. The crowd of people all gasped at the thought of something in his condition actually running. He didn't notice, though. He didn't stop running until he was several miles away. By then, it was morning again. He found himself in a parking garage for some building. He picked an out of the way corner, curled up in it, and went to sleep. He hadn't even let go of the duffel bag.

Dreams again. At first, loneliness, utter nothingness. This, he had grown used to. He was very much alone, and he knew it. He could stand the emptiess now.

"No, my friend, you are not alone, you may never be alone. We will always be here, watching, listening, hating." It was the female voice again. Still cold, still harsh. But something was different. It was less hateful, maybe. He couldn't tell.

"But why, why am I not alone, when I am, and why do you hate me?"

"Because you hunt, and you kill, and you torture those whom you kill."

"I do not torture them! I killed them quickly, mercifully!"

"Yes, their deaths were short, but their enduring torture, after death, will be long. It will be as long as you are."

"Those I kill, tortured? No, that's sick, that's demented!"

"As are you."

The dream faded.

When he awoke, the parking garage was empty. Not a single car. He was surprised that no one had discovered him that day. It took him a few minutes to realize that it was Sunday and this particular building was probably closed, and he was in a blind spot of the security cameras. Lucky for me, he thought.

The words rang in his mind as he realized the hunger was back. And sooner, faster than before. And stronger. More well-defined. It chilled him to the bone.

He stepped out of the garage and into the street; the traffic was fairly light, given a Sunday night and downtown. He suddenly realized that he didn't know where to go. Or what to do. A man walked by, dressed in a three piece suit, and headed into a nearby building. An inner force drove him, so he followed.

He entered the building, and managed to get into the elevator just with the businessman. He was fairly short, dark hair, consertavely styled, almost white complexion.

They exited the elevator on the forty-first floor. He was completely under the animal urges within him now, and as soon as the man entered an office door, he attacked. He took him into an office, laid him out on the desk, and drained his body. Then, he returned to the elevator, went down to the lobby, left the building, and began running. He ran until dawn, and then he slept, in a condemned building near the outskirts of the city.

The dreams came. His twenty-third victim joined the crowd of faces, all showing somehow different emotions, all connected in some way to hate, violence, pain, and sadness, and all directed at him. The twenty-fourth face, the female, was becoming far less blurry. This was the first time he could see her clearly, and he had to admit to himself that he found her beautiful.

Her face was white, as that of his own pale face. It was cold, showing an intense hatred. Bright green eyes, brownish-blonde hair. Beneath the hatred, he could see something beautiful.

Her voice was softer, as well. Still harsh, and full of hatred, but less so than before. It was hard to tell, especially since she was easily drowned out by all of the other tormentors.

He had hardened himself to it, however. Weeks of endless hatred and agony had become something more routine, something partially accepted. Something he knew had to be there and was best ignored. They tormentors bothered him less. And that fact bothered him more, that he could adjust to it. But he did, and he could not help that.

A note of laughter, soft, distant, harsh laughter. "Immortal, have you accepted what you have become?"

His silence confirmed her, for his lack of disagreement made it plain. "Good, then. You realize by now, then, that you are completely immune to any harm."

"No, not completely," he replied. "My predecessor was killed by me."

A smile. "Yes, he was killed by you. And that is how you came to be. But, he lived for hundreds of years before you killed him. You understand, and you will not perish as he did."

"I hope, as usual, that you are wrong, lady." He was afraid, inside, that she was right. He couldn't commit suicide, since he had tried that already. He could never force himself to penetrate his body with any substance, be it wood or iron. And if anyone else was ever threatening to him, the monster inside him took over, and quickly dispensed with the threat. The car accident, weeks before had not affected him at all, yet it would have completely killed any other man in his position.

Over a hundred faces now, and six months of agony. His tortured mind had become very much numb to what he did, but he always tried as hard as he could to stop himself. Every time, he failed.

"Immortal!" Her voice had been heard very little for the past few weeks. Her voice had softened to the point where she was no longer mocking, nor angry, nor hating. Merely cold. He had come to know this voice, the only voice he could bring himself to trust.

"The time is come. You must not attempt to restrain yourself. You must become what you are to be, forever!"

"I do not understand, what are you saying?" But no other response could he solicit from her.

He stalked the streets, hungry. Few people came into his area anymore, and he tried not to leave it, as he was still afraid of capture. Not that anyone could hurt him, it was an inbred fear from years of conditioning that jail is not a good place.

But he was ranging farther now. He was entering a bad neighborhood, but he was hoping for a mugger. He tended to choose criminals if at all possible. He figured that if he had to kill, then someone who was doing society little good would be best. But he was hungry, now, and he had little choice. The first person he saw was a boy. He cursed himself, silently, knowing the fate of the boy. He didn't deserve this, but no choice was allowed. Animal instinct took over.

As soon as he was in sight of the boy, he took off running. He chased at a predator's speed, quickly catching up with the child. He was under ten, and agile. He leapt over a five foot fence, and put a good deal of distance between them. He caught up again in a vacant lot, after learning another useful talent: leaping. That trick would not work for the boy twice.

The boy picked up a baseball bat, apparently left there by either him or his friends. The boy lunged, but pulled back at the last second and began running again. But the boy was stopped short almost immediately; he had crossed in front of the boy and was standing there, waiting.

He stood there, waiting for the boy to move. The boy lunged again, but instead of attacking, he dove through the man's legs and began running. He dropped the bat for greater speed, and disappeared through a hole in a fence. Through it stepped a larger man, dressed in black, surprise written all over his face. Instantly, the target was changed.

Using his newfound ability, he leapt straight at the older man. The man's surprise quickly disappeared and he dodged away, picking up the baseball bat in the process.

The slowly advanced toward each other, taking short, quick steps. Suddenly, the man swung the bat. Instead of dodging, however, he caught the bat, and pulled. The man was thrown around him, rebounding off of the fence. The bat broke into two, large shivers all over the place. A sudden nervousness came to him. But he ignored it, forging on.

The man, dazed, picked up the largest piece of the bat remaining, and ran toward the hole in the fence. He caught him, however, and threw him to the ground. The man twisted as he fell, and pushed the bat up, right into his crotch.

Much to his surprise, this elicited little response. He swing his arms down at him, but the man was very quick. He managed only to scar him across the chest and belly, before the man was up again and running, still holding the now bloody sliver of wood.

He gave chase, and they met again in the street. He put his hand on the man's shoulder, and squeezed as tightly as he could. The man, who was still running, staggered and fell, large amounts of blood running from the new wound in the shoulder. As he fell, the man's other arm snaked around and caught him by the neck. They both fell, but he landed, chest first, on the wood.

He knew immediately what happened then. It was only all too obvious. The fiery pain in his chest, the blood gushing out onto the street. The other man was unconscious, but not dead. And he could barely move.

"Ahh, so the circle continues. I die, and you take my place. I pass to you my legacy, my reign of death. I hope you tire of it quickly, and manage to find an end to the disease.

"As for my beautiful tormentor, I come to join you. We are free now, and I will be with you, no longer the tormented, you no longer the tormentor. Together for eternity."

He died then, a smile on his face. His body gradually dissolved, steaming away until only the other man was left on the street. After some hours, the other man awoke. His eyes were bloodshot, his face very pale. His nails were far longer than they should be, and there was something about the teeth. It did not appear at all healthy. He looked around him, got up, and walked away, a peculiar nagging at the back of his mind.

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