A Walk in the Sun

Posted on August 14, 2011

A Walk in the Sun

He died yesterday. It is a loss that I can not quite relay to you. I sit here in the darkness of the parlor staring at his mortal remains. Memories flood my mind of days long ago. Days of his youth. Holding his hand in mine as we would take a walk in the sun through the park. It was his favorite place to spend time with me. We would talk. He would talk actually and I would try to answer his questions to the best of my ability or interject a few comments to help him understand the world around him. Sometimes we would feed old stale bread to the ducks and geese by the pond. He would laugh and then run and jump in my arms when one of the geese would get a bit too close. He was always amazed by how the wind would blow through the leaves in the trees. He would say that they, the trees, were talking to each other and that sometimes he could hear their voices and what they were saying. I would smile with the thought that maybe it was true. I would watch him as he took to the air on the playground swingset and wonder how far in life he actually would fly. With his curiosity, I didn’t think that the sky would even be the limit with him. Yes, I know, I had a grandfather’s prejudice, but he really was one of those people that would light up any darkness, be it within someone’s soul or a shadowed room. It saddens me that this darkness I brood in now cannot be shed with his brightness.
You know, the last time he saw me (that he knew of anyway) was when he was about five years old. I must have been around forty-five or so. He and his mother (my daughter) were living with us while her husband was serving a tour in Afghanistan after the whole 9/11 mess. I remember saying good-bye to him before I left that morning. I didn’t realize then how permanent that would be. I was leaving on a trip to visit some family members down in southeast Texas for a few days. He cried as I hugged him good-bye and didn’t want to let go of me. I assured him I would be back in a few days time and that I would take him to the park when I got back. Even now, all these years later, it still feels like I lied to him. I gave him back to his mom and crawled into the car. Wished I hadn’t now.
The trip itself was pretty uneventful most of the way. However, shortly after dusk had officially given up the ghost to night on some Texas backroad near Maud, my car began having trouble. I pulled over on the edge of the road, pulled my flashlight out of the glove box, and got out to see if I could find the problem under the hood. Right away I felt something was wrong. There was no noise. No sounds of the night bugs usually found in the area. No wind blowing. Nothing. Nothing, except the sound of my heart beating. It seemed to be picking up its pace as I stood there. I looked around the area I was stranded in but could see very little except what was in the faint light of my flashlight and that was mainly tall grass and a few trees on the sides of the road and the road itself. It was a very dark night. No moon and very few stars. After a few moments of fighting my own paranoia, I popped the hood of the car and began investigating the engine compartment for what was wrong. That is the moment when my life would be changed forever.
Life. What a strange word defined by a strange world. Life and live.
Anyway, it was at that moment life became something more (or less) than living. As I was bent over the engine, something hit me from the left side and knocked me down into the road. My ribs felt like I had just been struck by one of those hammers they use at carnivals where people try to hit that little platform that sends up whatever that thing is that rings the bell at the top of the post. My head, from the impact of the fall on the road, definitely felt like there were bells going off in it. My glasses had been knocked off my face and were lost in the darkness. I had lost my flashlight in the assault as well. It was rolling back and forth on the ground and in the rocking light I could see something that my mind had trouble understanding right at that moment. It was a young and very beautiful woman. The kind of beauty that photographers try to capture in those model magazines that my wife would sometimes look at when we were at the check-out counter at the Piggly Wiggly. She wore a tattered white dress with what appeared to be some kind of flower pattern on it (perhaps daffodils) and nothing on her feet. But something was wrong with her. She seemed off. Untouchable. And I don’t mean prom queen to the science nerd untouchable. I mean untouchable in a way that you felt as if you would die (or at least want to die) if you did touch her. Made my stomach turn. It may have been a trick of the rolling flashlight, but it actually seemed as if the darkness was either moving right through her or out of her. Wasn’t sure which. As I lay there looking up at her, she moved towards me. At least, I think she did. I did not see her step forward, but she was definitely closer to me than when I first noticed her. Each time the flashlight rolled she appeared closer. My heart was racing wildly now. I felt the urge to flee but couldn’t find the strength to regain my footing. She was hovering over me now looking into my panicked eyes with hers. How lifeless they were and as black as the darkness in which she seemed to belong. Her delicate, fragile looking hand reached down and gently embraced my throat caressing it. Fondling it. I wanted to scream from the touch of her frozen fingers, but fear…no, terror…had a grip on my throat as well. Suddenly, she grabbed me with an astounding strength and lifted me up above her head still looking into my eyes, but this time I was looking down at her. I realized that my feet weren’t touching the ground. How could something that seemed so weak and fragile lift a 220 pound man into the air like that? With one arm?
She smiled. It seemed the smile of a cat before pouncing on the rat that has had the misfortune of making its acquaintance. I then saw her teeth. It was the last thing I saw of her and the last time I saw her.
I don’t remember much after that. Some horrifying dreams of dying and undying, but nothing more.
I found myself waking suddenly in a unknown field with the sun on the edge of the horizon. I was damn lucky to be alive (or so I thought). At that moment I felt an uncontrollable instinct to flee or hide. There was blood on my shirt and pain was shooting through the side of my neck. Felt like my heart was burning as well. The sun was coming up more as I laid there. That feeling of flight grew stronger. I stood up and looked around for a place to run to or hide in. There appeared to be an old, abandoned church near a dirt road about a mile away. That struck me as odd. My vision had never been very sharp since I was a small boy. I had to wear glasses all my life and those had been lost in the attack. I knew I shouldn’t be able to see that far (especially that clearly), but that would have to be figured out later. I began running. Running for whatever reason I could not fathom. It was pure instinct. The sun was coming. Fear was rising and, once again, was giving over to terror. The mile was covered with amazing speed. I reached the delapidated building as the sun forced itself on the world. My skin felt like it was on fire as I entered the darkness of the church.
The cool, soothing darkness. Under the pulpit I wept and then slept.
I don’t know how long I slumbered within the rotting timber and shattered windows of that haven. May have been a whole day or even days. It didn’t really matter. I didn’t live (there’s that word again) by days anymore. I had changed and knew I had changed. Changed in ways I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I stayed there in that crumbling building for many months becoming more and more of what I am now. The thirst, or hunger if you wish, was incredible. At first, I would hunt the smallest of God’s creatures. Rats. Rabbits. Racoons. Even a skunk once. Just once. With my heightened senses that one about drove me mad with the stench. Whatever came close to the building so I wouldn’t have to wander too far from its shelter became my prey. This soon became not enough. I hungered even more as time went by no matter how many of the woodland creatures I killed. Even a full grown buck that came near did not sate my appetite.
Then it happened. I still ask God for forgiveness for that moment. I did not want it to happen, but it did. The sun had just settled in for the evening and the moon had come knocking in its fullness backlit by the stars of an autumn sky. I had awakened that dusk to the sound of something familiar. It was the sound of an ATV. It was growing stronger and stronger much like my hunger. I crept out of my make-shift home to see what was coming. I could see the headlight weaving in and out of the sparse trees near the dirt road that led to my sanctuary. With the time of year, I surmised it must be a hunter maybe looking for a place to set camp or perhaps a spot to set up for some night hunting. It became clear to me (as well as repulsive) what I must do. The hunger gripped me with a severity that I can not describe. I followed it to its conclusion. I stalked him…able to move as fast as his four-wheeler if not faster. I hunted the hunter. He never knew I was there. I dismounted him with one swift blow from that mechanical contraption which immediately crashed into a tree. I slammed him into the ground and I attacked. I watched as the horror in his eyes dissolved into the coldness of lifelessness. I drank until the pulse in his veins subsided to nothing. I fed and he bled. I fed and fed and fed. The hunger was sated and I had become what I knew was inevitable. I had become…vampire.
Later that evening, after I had wept blood tears for that unknown man whose family would never know what had happened to him (much like mine I imagined), I decided to leave that place and become part of the shadows of the rest of the world. The killing…I prefer to call it hunting, but I know what it really is…would continue, but I always made sure the target was completely dead for I did not want that person to become what I had become. I would learn to control this blood urge eventually and hunt less often over time than when I first started. I never got used to it though. That and not seeing the sun again.
I learned many things in that time between the then and now. In the shadows, I learned how much my wife and family had grieved for me. The hardest part for them seemed to have been the not knowing. Not knowing if I was actually alive or dead. How ironic…and sad…that it was both. But given time, they healed and moved on. Never forgetting, but not dwelling on it either. I also learned more of the world than I ever imagined I could. The good and the bad. I could go into all that, but I haven’t much time to do so now. The sun approaches soon.
And now, here I sit. In a funeral parlor that has been closed for hours looking at the mortal remains of the last remnant of my mortal humanity. By the way, if you are wondering, immortality isn’t all its cracked up to be. In a mortal world, you wouldn’t like immortality. Everything and everyone eventually leaves you in one way or the other. He was the only connection I had left to that world. I always watched him from afar within the shadows. I tried to keep him safe, but not too safe. After all, life isn’t just to be walked through. It is to be waltzed through. He had to make his own mistakes and learn from them, but I was always there…hidden…if he needed the music to be reset. A safety net I suppose. But he didn’t need it. He did well growing up and into a man. Good in school. Lots of friends. Played sports. Went to college. Became a pediatrician and served for many years as a deacon at his church. Well-loved by the community of which he gave most of his time and energy to improving it. Had a loving wife and several children which in turn gave him many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I was…and am…very proud of him. I did visit him once, but he thought I was a ghost from his past. It was on his death bed a few days ago. I visited in the night (of course) while others thought he was sleeping the sleep of fevered dreams of the slowly dying. He called me “papaw ” like he used to when he was a boy. I smiled and kissed his wrinkled forehead and told him everything was okay and that I loved him. He told me he loved me too. He quitely fell asleep. I squeezed his hand gently and then vanished back into the darkness from where I had originated. I cried my blood tears alone that night like so many nights before, but this time not for the loss of those hunted, but for the one cherished and lost.
He died yesterday. He was 98 years of age. I look at his body now and am grateful to have known and loved him no matter how my life…unlife…has turned out. He was the foundation of the humanity in my inhuman soul.
The dawn is coming. I have stretched out my welcome for damn close to a century and a half and now my story is up. I think it is a good day for a walk. Maybe I’ll feel him holding my hand once again asking me so many questions like he did so long ago. Maybe he’ll listen to the trees again as well. Yes, I think it is.
It’s a good day for a walk in the sun.


0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 50 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5 (0 votes, average: 0.00 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this.

One response to “A Walk in the Sun”

  1. outstanding style. Really draws you in. Great read.
    I really liked the last sentence.

    I’m not an out and out vampire buff, but I notice how Horror as a genre is incredibly popular. Of the stories I have read in this arena, this is one of the absolute best.

    Sitting here, what I realize is that there is a degree of originality here, that is often lacking in the run-of-the-mill blood+guts+screams.

    You often add a nice twist.

    Under "genres" I have added some more options to cover this.




    Congrats. Great write.

Leave a Reply