Marie O'Regan lives in London with her four children. She has been published online in Savage Night, Quantum Muse, Dusk and Gator Springs Gazette. She has fiction due to be published shortly, in print, in Dark Angel Rising, Here and Now and Roadworks. Marie is also the editor of Prism, the BFS newsletter, and maintains their website as well as that of Elastic Press, which she also designed. You can read examples of Marie's work at www.marieoregan.net
Elaine fumbled in the dark for the light switch, and scrunched her eyes shut as light flooded the kitchen. The kitchen clock said 2.15. She'd managed a whole forty-five minutes sleep this time. Making her way over to the sink, she turned the tap and let the cold water run for a moment while she got a glass. She hadn't been able to sleep properly for days; something was at the back of her mind, she just couldn't figure out what. Her eyes burned, and she was so tired she felt weightless.
The kitchen door rattled, and Elaine turned her head, feeling her neck creak. Nothing. The door was still, the house was quiet. Dave wouldn't wake up unless the house was hit by a hurricane. Even then it would be touch and go. She stood and made her way over to the kitchen light, and turned it off. She waited in the dark and as the seconds ticked by she began to relax.
The door rattled again; only this time there was another sound, like a child crying - all high and thin. Instinct took over, and she took the keys from the hook and unlocked the door. Ice cold air swept in as the door swung open, and she shivered. She couldn't see a thing. The streetlights were out all the way along the street. She wondered briefly why the houses were unaffected, then lightning flashed, and she saw the garden in silhouette. There was a child crouched by the bin, and in the stark light his eyes flashed silver. He looked grey, and was huddled into an oversized ragged coat that made him look oddly shrunken. The lightning died, and suddenly he was at her side. His breath rattled in his chest, and she put her arms round him to keep him warm, grimacing at the stench that surrounded him like a cloud. He snuggled his icy body into hers, and she smiled as his head nestled under her chin. The smile died as she did, her blood warming them both.
Dave woke with a start when Elaine pulled the duvet off him and climbed into bed, pressed herself against his back. She was freezing. He tried to move away but she just nuzzled closer.
'Okay, okay.' He moved over, lifted his arm to put it around her, and pulled her close. She stank. 'You're wet, how the...' She rolled on top of him and he tried to pull away as she gripped his wrists and forced them over his head. As she leaned closer, he caught a familiar metallic odour. Her entire front was slick with blood, but he couldn't see where it was coming from.
'Bring him.' He turned his head to see who had spoken, and saw a little boy standing in the doorway, grinning. There was something not right about that smile. Elaine grunted, and nuzzled his chest, her teeth grazing the skin.
'Elaine...' He looked at the boy, embarrassed, but Elaine wasn't listening. Her head sank lower, and he gasped as she ran her tongue across his chest. He tried to push her off, then screamed as she sank her teeth into him and pulled. She was at his throat before he could scream again, and then it was too late.
Cursing at whoever was hammering on the door at this time of night, Sarah ran down the stairs and threw the door back, ready to give them hell. She stopped abruptly. It was Dave, and something had hurt him. He was a mess, and blood was seeping through the coat he was holding tight around his throat. He was white as a sheet.
'My God, Dave, what are you doing here? If Bill sees you...' He opened his mouth, but no sounds came. His face twisted in frustration, as if he had forgotten his words. Her anger turned to fear and she pulled him inside, out of the cold. He lifted his fingers to her face and traced the contours, his eyes unreadable. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back - this was something she usually enjoyed. Tonight it felt dangerous. His nails scratched her face, and when she opened her mouth to protest his finger snaked in to it, questing. He moved his finger in and out, his breathing coarser now. She tried to push him off, fingers scrabbling against his coat, and he just forced his hand further in. She felt her jaw crack as he got a firm grip on her tongue and wrenched it out.
House by house they went along the street, taking the others. One shadow detached itself from the deeper shadows of the garden and watched, smiling. It was his time now.
In the course of the next few hours they made their way ever more quickly through the town, always heading down towards the sea. By the time the first hint of dawn touched the sky there must have been over a hundred of them. They marched slowly, dragging their feet, eyes dull. Men and women in varying stages of undress, children of all ages, toys left behind. A ship was docked at the end of the pier, it's captain waiting for them. He stood grinning, eager to greet them; top hat perched jauntily atop his head, ragged frock coat blowing in the wind. A young boy stood beside him, basking in his approval.
'Hush, child. Watch. Watch my children.'
A frown creased the boy's face. 'I thought I was your child.' He kicked out at one of the children shuffling by, and snarled at him as he fell. The Baron chuckled. 'You are my son. In heart and soul, you are Samedi's child. These are just meat, but they are still mine. Everything dead belongs to me.' The boy nodded, and they watched once more, as the newcomers made their way into the hold to the beat of the drums, where they sat without making a sound. When the hold was full, they lined up on the deck.
As the sun rose, the ship set sail. It had been a good night tonight; plenty of fresh white meat for the fields. The wheel had turned, Baron Samedi had risen - it was their turn now.
(C) Marie O'Regan 2003
© Paul Kane 2003-2018. All rights reserved. Materials (including images) may not be reproduced without express permission from the author.