Affinity for Darkness – Chapter Thirteen

Starry night with Aurora and little houseThe candles beside me still burn, the guiding lights of my tale. I feel some relief in having written all of it down, but my relief is shallow. My story is not yet complete, and I don’t quite know how it will end.

I have spent hours writing. It has grown dark outside. These hours I probably should have spent figuring out what has happened, analyzing each event of this past week, but I find no answers doing this; I find more contentment in my writing than I could discovering how I would die. It makes me feel as if I have done something productive with my time.

As I said at the very start, I know great fear. As I sit here in anxiety, my fear is really all I know. The darkness contributes to my fear, I know. It adds a sense of mystery; I don’t know what, or who, may be lurking in the shadows. I don’t know where Justin is.

I have always thought that the worst type of fear is when one knows that something terrible will happen, knows that death is near, cannot find a way to stop it, and has to wait in complete anxiety for it to happen. I know now, that this fear is very great, as I had suspected. I sit and wait for Justin to return, most likely to kill me. Everyone else has died, after all. He probably wants to suck my blood. I wish he would just come and get it over with, instead of drawing out my fear, my terror. In fact, I wonder where he is and what has taken him so long to come back to the cabin.

But I was wrong. That is not my biggest fear. It is not what tortures me, great as it may be. What tortures me most is my fear of self. I am afraid of who I am, what I am capable of, why I drank my friend’s blood. I must be a horrible creature. It’s a terrible thing for one not to know what one is. I know that when Justin comes, he will bring truth. He will be able to answer these questions I so desire to have answers to, but at a terrible cost.

As I wait, I look towards the windows in the adjacent porch. The snow has stopped falling and the clouds have drifted away. I can see t±he moon, but not clearly. Too many branches are in the way. The darkness is almost oppressive. Dusk has come and gone, leaving me with a black sky, covering all the land, smothering the trees. It’s as if I can hear the wind, whispering in my ear, telling me to come outside and join, telling me through a closed window. I’d love to come out and play. The trees, in their blanket of darkness, beckon to me. They tell me it will be fun to go out in the dark, and I believe them. I know what the darkness is. Darkness is the holder of mystery, the master of suspense. I have always loved darkness for this quality. I still do, though I fear it as well. It seems to summon me now. I feel an urge to lie outside on the cold ground and stare up at the stars, to let the night whisper its ancient memories in my ear. I know it sounds strange, but that is what I feel will happen if I do go outside. I wonder as to what the memories will ∆reveal; I am pretty sure they will be painful ones.

I get up and walk towards the porch. Before I do so, there is a knock at the front door of the cabin. I know it must be Justin. My time has come. I hesitate before opening the door. Should I let him in? I do not have much of a choice. If I do not, he can get in anyway. It is his cabin, and he can easily open the door. If I do, I know I will never see another dawn, but then again, I did have a vendetta against the sun.

I open the door. Justin stands there as I had anticipated. Yet, I could not have anticipated his beauty. In that moment, his beauty is supreme, overwhelming, more so than ever before. His already lustrous hair has extra sheen and appears softer. His blue eyes have more depth; I feel I could be swallowed by them, lose myself in them. His face and his features appear softer, more kind. His skin is paler than usual, but not at all ghostly.

Justin has a glow about him. I hope it isn’t just because of the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of the kill. But how could I even say that about him after what I’d done to Jill? She had been my best friend in the world. A tear forms in the corner of my eye but I do not let it fall. Breaking down crying would not help my chances of survival.

Justin’s face, for all its softness, displays sadness as well, as it always did. I could see dysphoria and sorrows in his all-consuming eyes.

Since we had stood there, right inside the door without speaking, just staring silently at each other, I decide to break the silence. I want to get it over with. “Hi,” I say, attempting, in vain, to smile.

“Hi,” Justin replies with a heaviness, a resignation, in his voice.

“Would you like to come in?” I ask. There is no sense standing on the porch forever.

“That’s usually the case when someone knocks on the door,” he quips. He smiles a genuine smile, touched with pain.

√I turn away from him and walk back to where I had been sitting to write my tale. I sit there once again. Justin sits on the couch, to the left of me, looking directly at me. Only one of my candles is between us.

After a long moment of silence, Justin speaks. “What are you writing?”

“My story.” I answer. I believe he understands.

“Are you finished?” he asks.

“No,” I reply. “I do not yet know how it will end, but I have a few ideas.” I looked up at him and saw agony I had never seen before, so intense it was unfathomable.

“I trust, then, that you know why I’m here.” It was a statement, not a question.

“Yes,” I whisper. I am more sure than ever that my suspicions will soon be confirmed. But a new realization hits me along with it. I don’t know exactly where this came from—somewhere in the vast depths of my mind. “You have come to kill me, and then yourself. Am I not right?”

He looks down, he would not look at me. “I’m sorry, Andrea,” he says, barely audible. It is the first time he’d ever used my real name, but I ignore that. His words invoke fire in me.

“If you’re so sorry, then why are you here?” I ask, a hardness in my voice.

“I’m sorry,” he repeats. “It is necessary.”

“Why?” I shout. “Would you mind answering that? Could you stop rambling on about how sorry you are and tell me what the hell is going on? Why is this necessary?”

He looks like I’d just slapped him in the face. Not a bad idea.

“Don’t you already know?” he asks. In a way I do. I know it is because of Jill, Eve, Don, and Karl. But I cannot completely understand how it is connected, or why it must lead to our destruction. I tell him as much.

“It’s a long story,” he replies.

“We have time,” I say harshly. “Besides, I deserve an answer.”

“Do we have time?” he asks, more to himself than to me. He nods his head. “Yes, I suppose we do. Where should I start?”

“Wherever you want; I don’t care. I just want an explanation,” I say bitterly.

Justin begins his tale. It seems we all have a lot of those to tell these days.

“It all started just before Todd’s death. At least that’s where it started for me. There are things I never told anyone about that night.

“I did not gracefully decline the offer to go to the woods as I led people to believe. It was late at night. Jake and Todd’s parents were sleeping. I went with Todd to the cave. Well, I walked with him on the way there. I never went in the cave where they died. Todd is the one who had called all of us to the cave. He said he had something important to share with all of us once there. While on the path leading to the cave, Todd and I hung back, letting Brenda and Jake be far ahead, and out of earshot.

“Todd told me a story. Parts of it will sound familiar, I’m sure. Todd had felt weird ever since the party. He could not place his finger on it, but something wa¿s different. He seemed to be thirsty often, but at first this was very subtle.

“He began to like the taste of blood. He would bite his lip or cut himself just to taste the blood. This bothered him, but he didn’t think much of it, for this didn’t occur on a regular basis, only from time to time.

“Oh my God,” I breathe. “I do that sometimes. I bite my lip to taste the blood, but I never thought . . .”

“Ssh,” Justin says gently. “The story goes on.” I quiet. He resumes talking.

“It got so bad that Todd’s own blood was not enough for him. He began to crave more blood in larger doses. He began to think of drinking the blood of others; it became his only thought.

“Todd felt he had to tell Jake, after all he was his twin. Wouldn’t he feel the same way? The answer was yes. Not only did Jake feel this way, but Brenda did too. Todd didn’t feel scared by this, in fact it comforted him. There is safety in numbers.

“Anyway, about a month before the deaths, Brenda invited Jake over and told him to bring Todd. They went. When they arrived, Brenda was waiting for them, licking her lips. In her basement, she had a body, a freshly dead body. Todd got scared, asking who it was and what was going on. Brenda merely replied, ‘Drink, Todd, drink. Don’t ask questions, just drink.’ Todd’s thirst became instantly stronger and he couldn’t help himself. Todd, Jake and Brenda each opened one of the man’s veins and, well, sucked him dry.

“After that, Todd was disgusted with himself. But after the initial drinking, his thirst only grew stronger. He could think of nothing but warm blood, satisfying his every need.

“Then, two weeks later, Todd killed a man. His head began pounding and he could not avoid the pain. You see, his thirst had begun to hurt him physically. He weakened. He was in constant pain.

Yeah, I understand that all too well. I know exactly what that felt like.

∆ “I’m not trying to make excuses for him. I’m just telling you exactly what he told me. I don’t believe Todd was trying to make excuses, either. He was just telling me straight out what had happened.

“Well, he was suffering and he came across an old man. Seeing no other way out, and feeling the man would soon die anyway, Todd killed him and quenched his thirst.

“Todd felt immediately stronger. His headache had ceased. At the same time though, he felt extreme guilt. He had killed someone. He vowed to himself never to do that again. He went home thinking that no matter how bad the pain got, he would never resort to killing others for his own satisfaction.

“To his dismay, Brenda and Jake had no such idea. He knew they’d killed people, and he knew they were still doing it. He knew they would continue to kill. Jake had told him so. Todd even followed them one night to see for himself if it were true.

“Then Todd began to talk about things that confused me. He said it all was connected to an ancient secret that he could not tell me, something he’d seen in the crystal ball that Brenda coveted. He said he had a plan that would stop it all. Then he told me he could only take care of Brenda and Jake. He asked me to find the rest of them. There were six more, he said. I asked if they were vampires. That’s how it had sounded from his description. He replied that yes, they were. I asked him how to tell a vampire from a regular mortal. He told me that anyone who had visions of a dead world near in the future, a really strong image, was one of them. The vision was because vampires would create a dead world if they continued to exist.

“Next he told me that he had to talk privately with Jake and Brenda. He told me to go back to the campsite. I tried to argue but Todd was adamant. I turned and walked back to the campsite. I had no idea what Todd had in mind. I knew I was a vampire. I have to admit, it didn’t even really surprise me. I, too, had felt weird since the party. My cravings for blood were not nearly as intense, but they came from time to time. There is no rational reason to explain why that happened. I guess it is different for different people.

“All too soon, we all found out what Todd had in mind,” Justin concluded. “I thought of suicide myself. I knew I was an evil creature. I knew I could end up destroying the world. However, I could not get Todd’s last words out of my head. I had to keep my promise. I believe he wanted me to carry out the rest of his plan.”

“I see,” I say. “I suppose that’s what you brought us out here to do. You had to carry out your plan by knifing my friends. You probably sucked their blood in the process, quenching your ever-important thirst. Am I right?” I am angry, but what makes me most upset is that his story rings true. I know he is telling me no lies. That just makes it harder to accept.

“I have never in my life drank the blood of another human,” he replies, evenly, strongly, but with compassion in his voice as well. I am still angry, angry at the world for making me the way I am.

“How did you manage that one?”

“In constant pain.” He pauses. “There is another part of the story. After returning home I had to go see Brenda’s crystal ball. I had to know what she was talking about. I looked into it and I saw a tragic story. I saw the story I told two nights ago at the campfire.”

“So, you are basing murder on what you saw in a crystal ball?” I ask, incredulous.

“I had some proof. First, if the crystal ball was all a joke, I would have seen no story play in front of my eyes, inside the magical sphere. Second, the chant that Richard used to make himself more powerful and also quench his thirst was the exact same chant Brenda had used in her ‘spell’ that she claims didn’t work. There is no mistaking they were the same. Third, you saw what happened this week. None of your friends ever saw the crystal ball; they did everything on their own. Not to mention what happened to Jill.”

Oh God, did he have to bring that up? “So exactly what did happen between my friends, if you didn’t drink any blood or kill anyone?” I ask, needing an answer though not really wanting to hear it.

“The first night, when Eve died, she was killed by Karl. I saw him get up and leave during the middle of the night. I think he was scared, though, by what he’d done, because he seemed to be more terrified than anyone else. I think my campfire story got to him. Don, I think, killed himself. I don’t believe it was on purpose. I think he was just trying to relieve his thirst and, well, went a little overboard. Jill killed Karl, I’m sure, though I don’t know the circumstances. I guess you know what happened with Jill.”

“I didn’t kill her,” I say. “It was an accident. She was running and tripped on a fallen tree. She fell on her knife.”›

“I’m sorry,” Justin says. “I know she was close to you.”

“Speaking of Jill, what exactly did you do when I took after Jill, and where were you for that whole time after I got back?”

“I was busy,” he says. “There is a basement to this cabin no one could ever know about, but evidently you found. My Aunt Ellie had it put in because she was absolutely terrified that a tornado would hit while she stayed here over the summer. We tried to tell her that was very unlikely, but she would not listen. Anyway, down there, there are a lot of things, one of them being a bomb.”

Oh no. In all of Justin’s storytelling, I had almost forgotten his purpose. Fear consumes me. “Does it have to be this way?” I ask Justin.

“I know of no other way,” he says sadly. “We only have about fifteen minutes left. But to answer your question, I went out looking for you. Eventually I found Jill. Then I came back here. I then went into the basement again. You know there is a telephone down t˘here?”

“Yes, I saw it, but I didn’t think it worked. It looks so old,” I answer, wondering where he is going with this.

“Well it does work. I used it to call the police.”

“What?” I ask, confused more than ever.

“The bomb I have will cause the place to explode, but it will also catch fire. Seeing that there is a lot of wood and trees around, I knew this could be very dangerous. It could start a forest fire. I told the guy who answered at the police station that a small fire had started and gotten out of hand. Driving their fastest, it would take them an hour to reach this place. I called approximately forty-five minutes ago.”

I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to fight with all my might to stop this from happening. But I know that none of this will do me any good at all.

“Andrea,” Justin says, and the pain is again quite evident in his voice. “I didn’t know for sure that you were one of us until you said something to me last night. I had my suspicions, but I could not be sure. I⁄ never even wanted to hurt you. I wanted you to have fun on this vacation. I wanted to spend time with you. I wanted to tell you how I felt. Most of all, I just wanted you to be happy. That’s why I asked you if you had anyone else you wanted to bring on the trip. I figured that if someone else would make you more happy than I would, then so be it. I intended to somehow get you home before I did anything. I didn’t want anyone to know what happened here. I wanted it to appear to be an accidental fire. I guess things got a little messed up, very messed up. I’m sorry. I really never meant for any of this to happen. I thought I was saving the world. I don’t want anyone dying for no reason, like the old man did.”

The fire goes out of me. My will crumbles. “I guess strange things happen when vampires get together. It’s almost strange how we all picked our friends, and lovers.”

Justin nods. He seems so troubled he cannot even speak. Then finally, he does. “I can’t do this. I don’t even care what happens to the world anymore.” He reaches into his pocket and withdraws a set of keys. “Here are the keys to my car. There is a map under the front seat. Take it, and go, quickly. There are still about ten minutes left. You can definitely get far enough away in that time. I can’t force you to stay here, to die, against your will. I love you, Andrea. I can’t do it. Please go.”

“But what about you?” I ask, no longer trying to hold back my tears. They cloud my vision.

“Leave me here,” he says, “I can’t go on much longer living this way, denying myself of blood, and I refuse to drink it. I will probably die soon anyway.”

“How do you manage?” I had to ask. I had not been able to do so.

“I grin and bear it,” he replies, and tries, unsuccessfully, to smile. Then he becomes more solemn. “Really, I don’t know. I guess I sort of had the advantage. I knew what was happening to me. Todd told me.” He pauses for a moment, deep in thought. “When the three of them died, and everyone thought it was suicide, they were often called cowards. They took the easy way out of life. I disagree. I think Todd was very brave. It’s hard to do something you know will kill you. I am not that brave. I’m scared. I’m really scared.”

I sit beside him on the couch and try to hug him. I wish there were something I could do to make him feel better, to comfort him. His pain is obvious. Yet there is nothing I can do. The thought is hopeless. Justin pushed me away, thrusting his keys in my direction. “Leave, now.” he demands.

I want to; I do not want to die. I cannot leave him. Then I think of something. “There is a way!” I exclaim. “Every time I was near you, close to you, my pain was not as strong and I would feel some relief. I believe it’s because of the strong feelings I have for you. So, if we stay together, we can make it!” When Justin does not reply, I ask softly, “Please, Justin? Can’t we try? Won’t you leave with me?”

“It is not the same for me,” Justin says. “My pain is too great. I have not been free of it ever since Todd died. But for you, that is good. There is comfort in love. Please leave. You will find someone else to love, someone who can offer you that comfort.”

I am sobbing now. I believe it is the first lie he has ever told me, but I know his intentions are good. There will never be anyone like Justin. Nor can I leave him. It is probably too late anyway. My decision has been made.

“Justin,” I say, sadness lumping in my throat, choking me. “Can we move to the porch. This might sound weird, but I really want the last sight I see to be the night sky.”

“You won’t leave?” he asks in a despondent tone.

“No,” I say, simply, sobs shaking my body. We go out to the porch. Justin takes me in his arms and it is an embrace like nothing before. Both of us are crying. Our tears fall and mix. I believe Justin already knows, but still I must tell him. “I love you, Justin,” I say.

“I love you, too.” he replies. “I wish to anything that things didn’t have to turn out this way. I’m so sorry. But you are right about one thing. There is comfort in love. Here, holding you, I do not feel as scared. All I feel is regret.”

I, too, do not feel the same terror I had before. I hold Justin tighter, knowing the end will come soon. We should have done this earlier. I think of how our love was once pure, before Brenda did any incantations. Maybe Eve, Jill and I should have let her be our friend. I wonder if that would change anything, but I doubt it.

I hold Justin even tighter. Both of us are still crying. I am glad that I got a chance to love him, and to tell him how I felt. It seems to make all of life, even the horrible parts, worthwhile, even tonight. Justin does not need to{ speak it aloud. I know he is thinking the same thing.

I must go now. My story is over.

~~~

So, this is the last chapter of Affinity for Darkness, this little “novel” I wrote as a teenager, and it’s really this chapter that I find the most mortifying to post. I remember when I was a freshman in college, maybe about a year and a half since I finished the first draft of this little piece of work, thinking that if I ever went back and revised it (which I didn’t; it was just too mortifying by then to revisit) I would completely change the ending, have Andi walk out. But the truth is that I was a pretty lovesick teenager and this kind of crap is what I dreamt up at the time.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Feel free to check out other Samples (including more current work), and Published and more early work.

~Emilia J

Next Up: AfD Epilogue

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