Chapter 4

Harvey was on full alert, his senses tuned to the noise and change in the dangerous environment around him.  It was always the case when he was on the job.  He kind of had to be or he would end up dead.  The inferno raged around him the flames tickling the curtains, the walls blackening, and the bed burning.

“Where was the girl?” he wondered.

Harvey was scanning the room and was caught unawares as a shape fell from the ceiling.  Instinctively reaching out to catch what he saw was a person, Harvey watched in amazement as the boy fell through his arms.  As the boy did, he felt a drag and hitch in his arms as he passed through them.  Grunting he started to reach for his radio.  Harvey took a step towards the boy when the floor started to groan.  With a shriek, the boards gave way. 

“Damn these old rotting houses!” he yelled as he fell.

The floor gave way and amid the sparks and embers, Baybars and Harvey fell down through the gaping wound to the living room.  Harvey momentarily lost himself; he came to on top of a pile of rubble covering the remains of the coffee table.  Rolling over, he groaned.  Despite the heavy protective gear, he was amazed that he was not severely hurt.  Incredibly sore and with probably a few bruised ribs, he pushed himself into action.

“Hey, hey you kid!” he yelled through his facemask to the form in the corner, “I’m with the fire department.  I’m going to get you out of here!”

Harvey radioed for help and then stabilized the unconscious and naked Baybars.  Harvey didn’t have time to think about why; he picked him up and turned to the exit in the hallway where George, a fellow firefighter, had entered.

“Get him out of here!” said Harvey.

George took him giving the thumbs up. 

Harvey turned back around and looked around the room.  He listened for just a second.  As deadly as the fire was, he enjoyed the sound a dying house makes, the popping of wood, the whoosh of flame, and the singing of paint as it melted.

“Singing?” he said.

And then he heard it again, the faintest sound of a girl’s voice.  Harvey crouched down and scanned under the two remaining tables in the living room.  The one in the corner closest to the hallway had his prize—a little girl.  He ran over, crouched down, and put out a hand yelling the same thing he had to Baybars.  She stared at him continuing to sing her hands wrapped around her knees.  Then she stopped and stared at him with her soot stained face, tear streaks leaving two lines on her cheeks, and crawled out to him. 

Taking her in his arms he said to her, “You are going to be okay.”

“I know,” she replied.

Harvey carried her out of the house by the way of the front door, as the fire raged behind him consuming with unconstrained need.

The machines beeped around him waking him from his slumber.  The sterile smell of a hospital with its odor of cold hands, alcohol swabs, and death greeted his nostrils.  His eyes had trouble focusing, and he stared long and hard at his arms until he saw them clearly.  There were tubes snaking out of his body to what purpose he did not know.  He followed them around painfully moving his neck to the machines behind him and found the source of the beeping.  It was his heart monitor.

“Where am I?” he asked, but no sound escaped his lips. 

He looked passed his hospital gown and bandaged feet to the door of his room and could see on the wall through the glass of the door “York Downtown Hospital.” “York?” he thought, “Where’s that?”

His brain too tired to do any more thinking, he laid back his head.  He didn’t know where he was, who he was, or what had happened to him.  As he laid his head back on the pillow, he felt and then saw his dred locked stringy hair fall over his shoulder.  Then he remembered his name.

“I am Storch.”

Baybars woke up with a similar experience.  He gained consciousness long enough to see that he was also in a hospital room.  Bleary eyed, he felt rather than saw the thick bandage on his head and the plastic oxygen mask covering his nose and mouth. He saw that there were two occupants in the room: a little girl with skin darker than his on a bed next to his and a large pale man with a red beard and short hair sitting in the corners staring at him intensely.

When he saw that Baybars was awake he said to him, “My name is Harvey.  Who are you and where did you come from?  What were you doing in that house?  Why were you naked?”

Baybars gestured feebly with his hands and made to answer but no words came.  His eyes made out Harvey’s shirt, which carried an emblem of the Baltimore City fire department on it.  Because Baybars either could not or would not answer, Harvey sighed and left the room to get the nurse, but Baybars slipped mercifully back into unconsciousness before they returned.  He had not noticed the old woman with gray hair sitting between his and the girl’s bed.  Both of whom were staring intently at Baybars.

Baybars woke up again to the sound of bacon frying.  The abrupt change from the hospital environment momentarily disoriented him.  The food smelled delicious, but then he realized that it was pork and could not eat it.  Distractedly, he sat up painfully and startled.  A girl was staring at him.  She looked to be about eleven or twelve.  She was thin with dark brown skin and equally dark brown eyes.  Her black, curly, and fuzzy hair was braided tightly to her scalp.  She sat knees up against her chest, in an overstuffed and ancient but comfortable looking chair in the corner.  The thing Baybars noticed most was her curiosity, her searching eyes.  He didn’t realize he was a stranger in her house with an unknown identity.

As Baybars moved his attention off the girl, he took in his surroundings.  He was in an old but well to do home by the looks of it.  The room had walls with floral design wallpaper, high ceilings, and large windows.  Aside from his bed, on the same side of the wall as the door, there was the chair with the girl and a dresser flanking the window on the opposite wall.  The windows offered a nice view of a manicured and large backyard.

The little girl broke his concentration saying, “My name is Aisha.  This is my daddy’s house.  He is a doctor.  Who are you?”

Baybars opened his mouth to reply and the words stopped short in his throat.  He stopped because his throat wouldn’t form words, and he couldn’t remember who he was; Baybars just shook his head.

“Where are you from?”

Another shake.

“Do you talk?”

Again a third, this time with a shrug.

She left the chair, pushed open the big door and went out into the hallway.  The floor creaked in protest.  Minutes later Aisha returned with an old woman dressed in sweats with matronly glasses perched on her wrinkled face.  Her eyes belied a kind personality. 

“Good morning!” she said rather enthusiastically, “It’s so good to see you awake.  Little Aisha tells me that you don’t talk.  That’s ok, soon enough you will feel like talking again.  My name is Rose Brokman., short for Rosalyn before you ask.  I’m Aisha’s grandmother.”

Rose prattled on, “When we saw you at the hospital and learned that you had come from the same house that Aisha and her friends had been in, we knew we had to do something.  As you appeared with no clothes, and even stranger, no fingerprints, we knew you had no one.”

No one.  The words resonated inside Baybars.  Those words faintly brought back a wisp of a memory of a person, possibly himself, but when he pictured this person he thought of running stream and the memory would flow away like so much water in that stream.

“No fingerprints?” he thought and then looked at his fingers.

She was right, his hands were completely smooth and a pale tan.  Rose’s voice drew Baybars back the very one sided conversation.

“…his hospital in Baltimore.  He is an important doctor and has some sway with the mayor which is why you are here and not in some stuffy hospital.  We are too worried about why you were in the house, mostly because no one can figure out how you got there, though you may have some explaining to do to the police and others when you feel better.  Oh, and to that bear of a firefighter; he can be so grumpy and persistent.  But that is for later, I’ve made you some bacon and eggs.”

As if on cue, Aisha walked in with a steaming plate of delicious looking food.  Baybars stomach rumbled he was so hungry.  The bacon was still sizzling.  He gobbled down the eggs but didn’t touch the bacon despite the protests from his stomach.  It was strange; though he only remembered one thing about himself, it was that he didn’t eat pork, but he didn’t know why.  However, as this was his only memory, he held onto it with an iron grasp.

“What so little appetite.  You’ve been asleep for two days.  Eat, eat!”

When he didn’t touch the bacon and didn’t try to explain why, she said slightly miffed, “Okay, don’t worry.  You just rest now.  Dr. Brokman, I love calling him that, will be home soon along with his wife Lisa and Aisha’s three brothers from school.  Lewis is about you age, I reckon, so you two might get along.  Rest up now dear.”

With that, she took his plate and left and shuffled out of the room; Aisha stayed behind.  Taking his hand, she helped him get out of bed and said, “Let me show you where the bathroom is.”

Planes land all over the world.  One which happened to be carrying very, very evil cargo landed in New York at John F. Kennedy International.  It was dark out and as the baggage doors opened, and Algharoob pushed pass the unsuspecting workers and raced off the runway.  It ran to the fence of the runway, cleared the barrier and disappeared before the police could respond.  None of the airport employees could accurately describe the figure.  The best description was that of a man in a dark and dirty dress with a grinning skull-like visage who left behind a strong stench of decay. 

Algharoob walked and walked and finally picked another alley on the other side of the world.  The smells were the same; the trash the same; only the language floating down from the open windows of the adjoining run down apartments was different.  It just sat and listened for a minute, its skin flaking off in some places.  Absent mindedly it reached under the galabeya and pulled a strip of rotting flesh from its chest.  The skin around the heart had turned a sickly brown and yellow and was slowly becoming black.  The heart had already rotted out and the decay was slowly spreading.

“It is time to find a new body,” it thought, “This one hadn’t lasted as long as we had hoped.”

It grabbed onto a dirty drainpipe and scaled it easily, the strength of the creature still improving that of the feeble decrepit body.  Reaching a window, it flipped open one of the cracked panes and slipped into a bathroom.  The door was closed and it listened; Algharoob heard two voices coming from the next room both speaking the language that Nour would have understood.  They were both female.

It threw open the flimsy door with a small bang, startling the occupants, one older woman, a teacher, and a younger women, a student.  They were bent over an Arabic textbook; the two jumped and stared too disgusted to scream.  The vampire stared back from Nour’s body.  Its eyes glowed with malice, drool spilled from its decayed lips, and the skin hung slack from its yellowing face.  Algharoob grinned because it particularly enjoyed what would happen next. 

“You’d better call the police K-” said the old woman, but she was cut off as Algharoob moved.

It ran over to the table in the middle of the kitchen and backhanded the younger girl out of the chair on to the floor.  It then reached for the older woman who had grabbed a knife from the nearby countertop and held it out defensively.  Algharoob didn’t care.  Rushing in, it grabbed the teacher, and she plunged the knife into its stomach.  The vampire grabbed her hand and held it there preventing her from doing any more damage to the borrowed body.  Then it leaned in took a hold of her left ear with its teeth while clamping another hand over her mouth.  Its body had pinned hers against the counter.  The ear came away easily, and Algharoob swallowed it in one big gulp. The older woman’s muffled screams sounded faintly pitiful underneath its hand.

Then it stepped back and let go; the woman’s hands went to her ear which was bleeding profusely.  It pulled the knife from its body and slashed her throat, before she could scream, opening a jagged line.  Blood spurted everywhere making the sink look like a butcher’s floor and painting the table a violent bright red.  It dropped the knife and moved to the young girl.

She lay on the floor moaning quietly.  Her head had collided with a cabinet and then the floor on the way down.  It crouched and straddled the girl.  Looking away she tried to squirm out from underneath it, but Algharoob held her to the ground.

It began to say words, very old words.

Kelly began to scream as the tube of darkness emerged from Nour’s heart and slowly extended to touch Kelly’s chest.  It burned her, though not visibly.  Writhing in pain she was held even tighter by the vampire’s inhuman grip.  The shaft of darkness was Algharoob’s spirit leaving Nour’s body and entering hers.  The cylinder had bits of primal yellow energy flecking off in miniscule amounts which quickly dissipated into the air.  Though they became invisible, they were not gone, and it was the ether which would roam as an invisible mass until it settled on something or someone.

The shaft cored its way to Kelly’s heart. Algharoob felt and devoured her being starting with her thoughts and feelings, love for Richard and banana splits, and the feel of the wind on her skin while watching the perfect sunset on the beach.  Her soul was consumed by darkness to be extinguished as finally as the being called Kelly Matherson.

Though it was much easier to travel solely in the ether from person to person, this more direct method was infinitely more pleasurable—for it at least.  It allowed Algharoob to consume bit by bit each piece of the soul rather than to invade all at once, occupy, and consume in a massive overload.  Its invasion allowed Algharoob to partake in his favorite delicacies of the soul, such as the ability to love and the memories associated with it, the ability to create and express oneself, and the part which tells you who one is.  Algharoob never had this and never would; it was an amalgam of souls coupled with the characteristics it inspires: hate, anger, and fear.  It corrupted what it took from creatures by force and took simple pleasure in this. 

Kelly’s screams, at the same time blood curdling and heart wrenching, grew fainter and fainter, and Nour’s grip grew weaker and weaker.  With a final exhalation, more a sigh of thankful release, Nour’s shell of a body fell on top of Kelly.  At the same time, Kelly pushed the light husk of the former man off her, pushed herself up to her elbows, smiled, and then stood up. It grabbed the knife on the floor and went to kill Kelly’s neighbor Frankie who was banging worriedly on the door.

It needed to eat again.

 

6 Comments

  1. aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. you are a master cliff- hanger maker which i have bittersweet liking for

  3. Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate! O anything, of nothing first create! O heavy lightness! Serious vanity! Miss happen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love for cliff-hangers feel I, that feel no love in this.

  4. perdita! where did you learn such awesome poetry! glad you like the cliff hangers. i love writing them and just so you know they will continue

  5. dude they should make this a movie its awesom ive oly been reaing this for two hours
    i love it

  6. thanks brandon. i am glad you are enjoying it.


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