📅 Published on May 2, 2021


Written by Soren Narnia
Edited by N/A
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.67/10. From 6 votes.
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My name is Duke. This is the story of what happened between me and Colin. We were business partners for a while; I won’t say exactly what kind of business, but yeah, it wasn’t legal, but we never killed anyone. For a while we made a lot of money, but Colin was always riding me about this and that; he was an instigator, and he made fun of me a lot because I made the mistake of telling him I was in the hospital a couple of times up in Merriniac. I took the abuse because I needed him for the business; he had a way of making people afraid of him. Once in a while we kind of got into a shoving match. One was so bad the police had to come. That time it was because he kept calling me stupid. People have been calling me stupid all my life, but that time I lost it. And then one day I did something really bad, I admit it: I made a pass at his girlfriend, and he found out about it, and he called me and told me he was going to kill me, and that was the end of the business. Like he cared; his family was already so rich he never had to work a day in his life. He did something worse than try to kill me, though. He did something worse.

One night about three weeks after Colin threatened me, I was making a run of goods out to the sailboat. We’d bought an old junky sailboat and kept it tied up in Innsfell, way out beyond the state line on the Carga River. The goods were always safe there. So I drove out this one night in August. I got a little scared because I thought I was being followed. This pickup truck was behind me all the way down County Route 7, which is nine miles or so, and it turned when I turned, twice. And I thought, He’s really going to do it. Colin’s going to kill me. There’s one stoplight in Innsfell, and when it turned green, I just waited a minute to see what the pickup truck behind me was going to do. And it didn’t do anything. It just idled. Didn’t honk at me. As soon as I moved through the light, though, it turned left. So by the time I got to the sailboat I was already on edge. The boat was always all alone, tied up at a dock at the edge of an empty property we’d bought. No one was around for almost a mile in any direction; it was just woods. I drove down the dirt access road and parked in the clearing beside the river.

As soon as I turned off the engine, I heard a thud from the back of the car. Then I heard it again. Coming from the trunk. I tensed all over, and I sat and waited. And it came again. Something was in there. I had the goods in a box in the back seat, but I ignored them for now. I got out of the car, and I left the door open, and I walked around to the back. No sound. I put my key into the trunk real slow. And when I thought I was ready, I opened the trunk all at once. And what I saw in there made me scream and scream and scream, and I turned and I ran into the woods down the access road, never stopping, and I screamed until it felt like I broke something in my throat, and the next thing I remember I was almost run over on the road by two teenagers in a Honda. They got out, and I guess I was babbling and crying and they couldn’t understand me, so they just pointed me into the back seat and we drove, and finally I calmed down. About five miles down the road they pulled up at the police station, and they said the police would help me. I got out, but I didn’t go in there, obviously.

I’ll tell you what I saw in the trunk. I’d said too much to Colin during the time we were partners, and he used it against me. We all have irrational fears, and some people have them so bad they can’t function if what they’re afraid of gets too close. I knew a woman who couldn’t look at a picture of a snake in a kid’s storybook from across a room. For me, since I was real small, maybe even five or six years old, I’ve been afraid of something like that. I can’t say the word for what it is. I can’t even say it, but I can describe it. What I’m talking about is the things that live only at night and suck your blood. When I was a kid I remember this photo taken from a frame of a movie; it was that actor Christopher Lee, and his eyes were all red and his mouth was open, and you could see his fangs as he was about to bite into a woman’s neck, and I cried all night when I saw that, alone in my room. And there was a movie with a thing that called itself Barlow, and his head was shaved and his eyes were like white marbles and he had claws, and when I saw him by accident I had to be taken out of school, and I didn’t go back for a long time. Whenever they made me talk to a doctor, they made me talk about how much I was afraid of those things. I even had to talk about them up in Merriniac.

Colin had paid someone to hide in the trunk, and when I opened it, whoever it was, was dressed in a long black gown, like a monk, but he had blood smeared all over his face, and he opened his mouth wide and he had long sharp teeth, and he shouted something at me as he tried to get out of the trunk, ‘Let me feed, let me feed,’ and he kept shouting that at me as I ran. Seeing that made something go dark in my brain, and it felt like my arms had electricity shooting up and down them, and one of the blood vessels in my eyes broke; one of the teenagers who picked me up told me it was so.

So not only did Colin scare me so bad that I almost had to go to Merriniac again, but he humiliated me—made me cry and lose the power of speech so that two high school kids had to help me, and they probably called me stupid when they drove away. So I vowed, I vowed I would get back at him. I was so sleep-deprived with the fear for a whole week after that I couldn’t function normally, or eat, but when my mind was clear I began to think of a plan. I didn’t want to just hurt Colin, hire someone to beat him up. That was too easy. I wanted to hurt his mind. Because that lasts. It took me months to stumble on the plan, but I didn’t mind waiting.

It was the hand of God that gave me the plan, it really was. I was sitting in a bar, and I was talking to the bartender about Bandage Man, who was this guy nobody knew who you would see once a year or so if you were lucky, a guy who lived in town somewhere, and when you did see him, his head was mostly bandaged up, like he’d been injured and never healed, and he wore those big prescription sunglasses, those wraparound ones that cover half your face, and he always wore an Orioles baseball cap low over his face. Obviously he was a freak of some kind, maybe a burn victim or something, nobody knew, but this bartender said he knew what the story was. This bartender was new and he lived out on Arrow Road, and he said that Bandage Man lived eight houses down in a dumpy little house with rotting paint and overgrown grass. The bartender said he’d heard what the story was from the postman. Bandage Man had been on full disability all his adult life because of what his problem was. I didn’t believe it when the bartender described it. Not for a second. But he wasn’t lying, you see. It was true.

Bandage Man almost never left his house, but when he did, I was ready. I paid one of the guys I used to sell stuff to, a guy named Gary, to go in there and look around, and he found proof; he found some photographs. And he took one of them and he brought it back to show me. I wouldn’t look at it—that was too scary—but I accepted it as proof. And that’s when I knew what I could do to Colin. I didn’t know Colin’s fears, mind you. He was a tough guy, never talked about them, but it was worth trying what I had in mind. So I sent a letter to Bandage Man’s house telling him I was going to come to him on Saturday morning with five thousand dollars and a proposition. I didn’t hear back from him, but when I rang the doorbell a week later he answered. And the deal got made without me having to ever see under the bandages.

Two days after Christmas I got a call from Colin’s girlfriend, that slag. She said Colin was in the ICU at Holy Cross. He’d had a massive heart attack the day before. Forty-one years old and he’d had a massive heart attack, and I got the chills because of course I knew exactly why. I just couldn’t believe that what I’d planned could give Colin such a shock that it would kill him. He was a chain smoker and a little overweight, but I knew right away it was that shock, that shock I had designed that had worked perfectly. I’d spent days thinking about how it would go, how the maximum effect would be achieved. I guess it had all happened exactly like I dreamed. 911 had gotten an anonymous call that someone was unconscious at that address. Colin was in a coma, on life support.

Do you want to know what did that to Colin? Okay. Imagine it’s really late, past midnight, and you’ve been out at a bar in town. And you go back to your house alone, because someone knew that on this night your slag girlfriend was out of town. And you go into your empty house, just wanting to sleep, and you put a case of beer on the kitchen counter, and you take off your jacket and you walk into your bedroom. It’s pitch dark. And you feel around for the light for a second, and then you turn it on. And the first thing that hits your senses is that there’s a man in a chair in the very middle of the room, a stranger in your house. And that first bolt of fear rips into your brain before you even know what you’re looking at. And the man is big; he’s got big hands on the arms of that chair, and he’s dressed in really old musty clothes, but his face is really all you see. It’s an older face, and that man has just one staring eye in the center of his forehead. He’s a cyclops, from birth. A real one, not from a book about myths. And when you see that, your heart seizes up. You probably see that face all the way through your collapse to the floor, even as you scream and the lights go out inside your mind.

So that’s what happened to Colin. And even though I felt great at first, it was only a few days before I started to become afraid. I had gone too far, and when Colin woke up, he wouldn’t settle things; he would kill me. I was almost certain he had killed someone before. Not paid someone to do it; he did it himself. His friend Gary, who I hated too, who was just as much of a bully, mentioned it to me once. He said Colin had hung someone who’d taken a shot at him from a passing car, hung him in a basement in San Diego, just did that and watched the guy die. Colin was capable. He would get revenge. In a way, the thought of getting stabbed or shot or even hung wasn’t as scary as what he could really do to me. He could make me see one of those things again, the things that I mentioned. He had the money to do almost anything to me. I was a dead man.

Colin didn’t wake up in two weeks, or even a month. He stayed on life support. But he had it easier than me. I got so scared of what was going to happen to me that I started screwing up in my business dealings. I couldn’t focus. I had to buy sedatives so I could sleep. I kept dreaming that I was hearing a noise inside my trunk late at night, out in the middle of nowhere, and when I went to open it, Colin was inside, but he was different. He was wearing a dark cape, and his hair had grown down over his shoulders, but it was all stringy and clotted with dirt, like he’d woken from being dead. And he lunged out at me.

After the dreams started, which was six months after Colin went into the coma, I started to have terrible headaches, and I lost a lot of weight, and for a while, three or four weeks, I couldn’t go out of the house. And then at one point someone called the police on me because I smashed all the windows of some farmhouse out in the country. I was driving along in the rain I think, and the voices on the radio started to sound like they were shouting at me, and I was trying to shut it off, and the car went off the road and hit a tree. I got out and I walked to this farmhouse to keep dry, and I walked right through the front door, and there were people inside. They were scared of me. And I broke all the windows for some reason, every single one, and the people ran out of there and the police came and got me. And I was put in Sparrows Point, and I was on and off heavier sedatives for a while. They kept me in there because I had a record with that place too. They thought I was really messed up.

When I got out after a longer time than I’d ever been in one of those hospitals, I felt really strange, like I shouldn’t be out of there. But they didn’t let me stay. I was afraid to tell them that I was starting to see the things that only lived at night and sucked people’s blood when I closed my eyes, and sometimes at night when I looked out my window at the field outside, the trees looked like them to me. The branches were claws to me, and sometimes the bumps and the curves in the trees became faces. Sometimes when it was windy late at night, I could see the branches outside my window bend down and swipe at the glass, touching it, and those were claws reaching out for me.

The very first night I left Sparrows Point, I went to a motel to start living there, and I sat on the edge of the bed for hours because I kept hearing water going through the pipes all around me, and I was thinking about a bloodsucking man squeezing himself through the pipes, moving real slow, but trying to figure out which pipes went toward me and the room I was in. And waiting for me to fall asleep so he could climb out and wait in the bathroom, listening through the door for the sound of my breathing to go completely even. And then he would come in and bend down beside me, and his eyes would go from black to red, and he would sink his teeth into my neck. Blood would spurt out, so much that he would have to turn his head fast left and right to try to catch it all, but it would splash on his face, and he would smile because that’s what he loved the most about killing.

I went to the library, and it was tough to read about the things because of all the pictures. I couldn’t look at any of the pictures or I’d pass out. So I had to find books where there weren’t any of those, and I read a lot about the beings I feared, and I found out a lot. There were stories no one talked about, and they confirmed what I had always been most scared of, which was that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t always a myth. You probably don’t know, for instance, about the butcher killings in Quebec in 1979 where six of the eight victims had their throats punctured by something, or the ones that happened in Ho Chi Minh City in the five years after the Vietnam War. There in that city walked a man that the people living there called the Laughing Cat. When they were investigating the murders he committed, they figured out that he was waiting under people’s beds for them to go to sleep. He got into the places they lived and he waited. When the dark came, he killed them. Bites all over the people, not just their necks. They never found out who did it. They called him the Laughing Cat because he was so clever, and they couldn’t solve how he got into their bedrooms.

Colin died only about six weeks after I got out of Sparrows Point. I read that. He’d been in that coma for three hundred and seventy days, and finally his body just failed, the paper said. It happened when I was feeling my weakest, as if he had planned it. I was living there in the motel room, and Gary tracked me down and he came to see me, and to ask me if I had heard about Colin. I almost didn’t want to let him into the room because I knew he’d react badly to what he saw. I could sense him looking around the room and taking it in, and seeing that I had taped three crosses to the windows. And I had bought a bunch of garlic and put it near the window in the bathroom. He saw that and though he didn’t say anything about it, I knew he was judging me, thinking I was crazy. We were sitting there and I was wondering why he wasn’t leaving, but I was grateful he was there because the sun was going down, and when that happened sometimes I just crawled into bed and turned the TV on loud and kind of hid under the covers, and sometimes I got under the bed. So it was good to have a second person there.

But then he told me about Colin’s body. If he had never told me that, I might have been okay. I might have gotten better. Somehow I knew it was coming, what he told me. He said Colin’s body had disappeared for a while after he died, right from the morgue. Disappeared, and no one really understood why, or who had taken it. The thinking was that there was some catastrophe of mismanagement and it just disappeared, but then it was there again. When he told me that, I think I must have gotten incoherent, because I remember him pushing me away from him over and over again, and finally he left the room. And I spent the night in the bathroom so I could listen to the pipes better, and be close to the one under the bathtub to make sure nothing happened. I didn’t really believe it could, but my head hurt less when I was in there, and I’d pulled the TV in there and put it into the bathtub so it covered the drain. I stayed up all night, and I slept during the day. That’s the way it would be from now on.

What I thought might be true about Colin obviously was, and for weeks I stayed in the room and ordered food delivered to me and thought about a plan. Time got strange and sometimes I forgot to eat, and once I even forgot to drink water for so long I passed out twice. I kept the TV in the tub to block the drain, so I could only wash myself in the sink. I ordered fifty or sixty books off the Internet, and I spent my days reading. There were so many stories about the suckers of blood, you wouldn’t believe it. I had gone my whole life without understanding how many there really were.

I don’t know how I got the courage to do what I did, but maybe it wasn’t courage so much as the thought that I was going to die in that room if I didn’t act. I didn’t want to die there. And I could be a hero, for once in my life. It was going to be me killing Colin or him killing me, so I had a choice. I still had forty thousand dollars in the bank, and if I know one thing in life, it’s that you can pay for almost anything. I had proven it many times. So I did calculations, and when I was done I spent a whole day making myself look presentable for when I went out. I had to find a guy named Chipper who would do things for pay, almost anything. He was in Newark, so I went there, and he was easy to find. He reacted real strangely to me, because I couldn’t stop myself from talking about the suckers of blood, I really couldn’t, so I scared him. But he agreed to do what I paid him to, even though he asked for most of the money up front. I wrote down every detail of what I needed in another motel room, and when I gave those notes to him I was surprised that it was pages and pages. He said, ‘What is this, what is this?’ I had written a lot of things he didn’t need to know about, but writing all that got my mind away from the sounds I heard from outside the room, and inside the pipes, so I had kept writing.

I got a call from Gary three days before my final confrontation with Colin. He said that Chipper had told him what I wanted to do. Gary was apologizing; he said he had lied to me when he said that thing about Colin’s body disappearing. He said he had just been trying to scare me. When he’d seen I was so freaked out with the crosses and the garlic, he’d decided to put a scare into me, sort of as revenge because he had always liked Colin, and he kind of knew I must have done something to hurt him, but it was a lie and I should stop what I was doing. And then I knew that he was protecting Colin. But I played along; I told him yes, I had lost control a bit, but I was better now. Of course my plan was crazy. I made him believe me and he hung up, and I called Chipper immediately and told him that if he didn’t follow my instructions to the letter he would get nothing more from me, and that if he made one more call to anyone about it, I would kill him.

The timing was the most important thing about what he needed to do, the timing. I didn’t know if I could trust him to get it right, but I had to take the chance. The plan was executed on the 28th of March. I spent all night pacing in my room. The phone rang the next day at noon, just when I had dictated. Chipper told me that it was all done. I had to act fast. I had only a few hours till sundown. I was more scared than I had ever been, but the thought that at sundown it would be all over gave me the strength to get in the car and drive toward Innsfell.

Even the trip out there was full of small terrors, because of the rain. The rain was so bad I had to pull over twice. They had warned about it on the radio, but I had no choice but to go out in it. It poured from first light and never stopped, and the wind was bad sometimes too. It was the remnants of some crazy weather system that had petered out to the south but was messing up the entire coastline. Terrible rain, it was. It was usually a half-hour drive out to Innsfell, but it took an hour and fifteen minutes, and I needed every second of daylight to do what needed to be done, if you could even call it that, daylight, because the sky was the color of old iron. Nothing but dark clouds, no breaks.

By the time I got to the access road on the property I had bought with Colin back in the day, it was almost completely washed out. The car spun out in the mud a few times, but luckily I didn’t get stuck. And soon the river was in view, and there was the sailboat, tied up where I had left it. I hadn’t seen it for almost two months. The wind had died down, but it was still rocking a little just from the force of the rain pelting the water. I got out of the car, and from the back seat I took the stake and the hammer and the saw. To keep my mind flat and calm I had begun to recite the lyrics to a hymn I had read in the Bible back at the motel. I’d read that hymn a few hundred times and committed it to memory. I’ll tell you how it goes:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God.
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

I went through the whole thing again and again as I splashed through the rain toward the sailboat. I was soaking wet by the time I got to it. I climbed down into the hold, and I was finally out of the awful weather. I guess the fear got so bad that I went into a kind of shock, and I felt almost like I was floating above myself. I remember thinking that there was no doubt now that I would get through what needed to be done. No one would ever forget me, or what I did. I was going to kill a being that intended to take not just my life, but the lives of many, many other people. His thirst would never stop. It was up to me.

The coffin was in the hold, in the middle of the floor. Chipper had brought it there, through the driving rain, paid to do a difficult job, and he had done it well. No doubt he had plenty of assistance. It would have been so hard to maneuver it into the boat, and if we had been anywhere near civilization, people’s houses, and the weather hadn’t been so awful, no doubt it would have been too tough to do. The coffin looked incredibly heavy, even though it wasn’t anything more than a pine box. There was some kind of marking on it, some symbol. They’d waited till dawn, when I’d told them they would be safe from Colin, and broken into Colin’s family crypt out in Pastorine and pulled it out of there. Never again would Colin return from a nighttime feeding and crawl back in there.

My hands were shaking so bad when I went about opening the coffin that I had to take one of the pills they gave me up at Sparrows Point, and I waited for it to kick in. It took about twenty minutes. And then I picked up the stake I’d pulled up from my old neighbor’s yard the month before, the stake his dog was usually tied to. And I undid the latch and I closed my eyes and I opened the lid. I said that hymn in my head one more time, all the way through, and then I opened my eyes real slow.

Colin didn’t look like he used to. He didn’t look like he used to. I felt like I was going to faint, and then time got very strange. I didn’t move for so long that when I became aware of what was going on again, a lot more light had left the sky. It all came crashing through to me then, and I left Colin where he was and went back out into the rain, and got in the car. I’d missed it entirely. Colin wasn’t the one. Do you see? There are other reasons a man might suffer a massive heart attack than getting a shock. Like massive blood loss. And there are other reasons a man would wrap his head in bandages all the time, and try to never leave his house. Because the sunlight is too painful.

The drive back to town was slow, and with the pill I took it was really tough to find Arrow Road. I only had another half hour or so before the sun went down. The house was just like how I’d seen it last, or in even worse shape. I picked the lock on the back door; it was almost falling off anyway. The sound of the rain probably drowned out the sound of me going in. I crept through the living room and down a hallway. The first door I tried was a bedroom. Bandage Man was lying there on his side, facing away from me, asleep. I held the stake and the hammer tight and said my hymn in my mind and imagined what it was going to feel like, how people would look at me differently after I had saved so many lives by killing that stalker of the dark, drinker of blood, devourer of life.

Rating: 8.67/10. From 6 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Soren Narnia
Edited by N/A
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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11 months ago

Damn! This was good!

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