So I started this little tidbit back in high school. I think I had intended to go farther with it, possibly to make either a novel or at least a longer short story out of it. But I’m actually quite fond of it just like it is.
The prompt for my little story was this: What if Dracula had a cat? What if it got away, and ended up in a town?
So, here you are. Some of my old writing (cleaned up a bit so it’s suitable for the blog of course. Didn’t need all those nasty tense switches anyway). 😉
It was a small box, with a cross on it. Maybe two feet by one foot, and not at all shaped like a normal coffin; no instead, it was rectangular. Ben mused to himself as he watched a crowd pass by it, everyone averting their eyes, as if they all knew what it could be. Ben stepped closer and, making eye contact with the gravedigger, and gestured at the coffin.
“Nope.” the man said. “Cat.” Ben’s eyebrows rose slightly.
“Yessir. It come in jest this morning.” He stopped to wipe the sweat from his eyes. “Note said all was taken care of. Jest bury ‘im wherever you got room.” The gravedigger picked up a shovel from the ground and surveyed the land behind him. Ben took a closer look at the stand the old man has set up.
It was rather rough looking, like an old world blacksmith. A wooden shack, with shelving and hanging units along the outside for tools. The wood the shack was built of appeared to be either of a cheap oak or plywood. The floor consisted of the dirt that lined the nearby road. Only the tools gave way to the idea of an inhabitant. They hung from every nook and cranny, strung like beef and pork in a butcher shop. There was no sign of the wood to be used for coffins. This puzzled Ben and caught his attention.
“Um…excuse me sir, but where’s the wood?”
“The…coffin wood. I don’t see any.”
“Oh. Comes up from down south. I got a feller, goes and gets it fer me every couple weeks as needed.”
“Right.” Ben, done with his investigation of the stand turned to follow the crowd down the road.
“Yes?” Ben turned back, feeling puzzled.
“Would’ja like a look?” the old gravedigger asked, gesturing at the coffin containing the cat. Ben opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly a chill of fear took over him. The adrenaline coursed through his veins, quickening his pulse. His hands sweated, a cold sickly sweat, and his eyes bulged. Frozen, his eyes drawn slowly to the box, he felt cold. Tears streamed down his face and his knees shook. The digger just grinned, the smile distorted by Ben’s fear became menacing, an evil leering voiceless laugh, which seemed to sprout from the devil himself. Ben fought to look away, fighting with a might that would have made his fencing mentor proud. Gaze broken and battered with the box, he found himself free and ran, ran faster and farther than he ever had before. The cold smile burned his back as he fled, terror moving his legs of its own accord, and he felt as if he was running from fear itself. The digger watched as Ben fled, the hyena grin never leaving his eyes though it had long since left his mouth.
Ben relaxed. He was back in his house, his sanctuary, and safe in his mind, content that all was well. He reached for the remote and turned on the TV, sinking into his lounge chair. The chair itself was a thing to behold and he was really quite proud of it. He had squandered and penny pinched for years to afford its soft leather plushness, and now it was his. He felt all the tension of the past few weeks seeping out of him and leaking down into the giving black leather. This was what he had needed all along. Not a road trip, not a change of scenery, not a woman. No, all he had needed was this. This moment, this chair, this time. Only now was he truly able to unwind.
The TV clicked as it turned on, and images, pointless ones, flung themselves against his face but did not penetrate his cranium. Blindly plastering themselves across his eyes, he let them come, come and take him away.
There was a sharp crack and a sizzle as the TV went out, along with the rest of his power. Ben barely moved. The power went out a lot about here, the lines hung at a low elevation, near the bottom of a hill and it wasn’t uncommon for branches to fall from the top of the hill to the lines below. He waited patiently for the lights to come back on. Waited and—
–the lights remained off. It had been too long. He felt worry creeping its way up his back and he attempted to shove it off. It clung there though, as hard as it could. He stood, slowly, and walked to the door of his apartment to make sure it was locked. The wind howled and screamed past his windows. His mind went dim for a moment, and he had to catch the door handle to keep from falling. As he reached out for it, his weight twisted his hand and he pulled down. The door swung open.
For a moment all things seemed to end. Quiet swirled in his brain, and with it, a blind panic, a terrifying overwhelming fear of that silence. And then it was over. He sat there, the door open in front of him, and there was nothing there. Nothing at all but the dark shadows of the night. He shut his door to the void and, standing, walked back into his apartment.
The dizziness, the panic, that terrible oppressing silence overtook him before he reached his bed and he fell, almost graciously, into unconsciousness.