A New Novel in the Making
I'm working on a new novel. Here's the 18th chapter of it. Let me know what you think about it. You find a Facebook comment form below the text. I post each new chapter when it is completed. The first chapter is here: Chapter One
One Little Thing
Caroline steps down the stairs to the basement and starts searching through it. She inspects every corner, behind the boiler and the washing machine, inside the drying cabinet as big as a closet. She is slow and methodical.
Soon, she turns her attention to the tumble drier, next to the washing machine and equal to it in size. Contrary to the washing machine, it is closed. Caroline grunts and shakes her head as she opens the lid on the front of the dryer. Reuben is curled up inside of it, covering the space completely. With some difficulty he turns his head to face her.
"Get out, Reuben. We have to talk."
"How did you find me?"
"I looked all over."
It takes Reuben some time and effort to get out. He takes it one limb at a time. Caroline just shakes her head.
"How did you ever get in there?"
He manages a smile as he replies:
Caroline waits for him to exit the tumble dryer completely and stretch his skinny body.
"This just can't go on, Reuben. You have to tell me the truth. I promise to help you as much as I can, and I promise not to hand you over to the police or anything, but you must let me know who you are, and where you come from - really."
"But I already told you."
He uses both his hands to brush his coat and pants, which have become quite wrinkled. The brushing doesn't make much difference.
"There are no vampires," Caroline declares with emphasis. "No real ones, anyway."
"Call it what you like. I am what I am."
Caroline sighs, and shows him to a workbench, where she sits down beside him.
"Okay, let's try it bit by bit. Where are you from?"
"It's in another country."
Caroline contemplates it for a moment.
"That would explain why the police have no information about you."
Caroline puts her hand on his, which rests on his thigh. He looks at it, shivering slightly at the touch.
"Don't worry," Caroline replies. "I just asked them about you, I didn't tell them anything. They searched their computer, but you're not reported missing - not anywhere in the country."
Reuben looks up at her with a confused expression.
"I'm not missing. I'm right here."
"You know what I mean. Even if your parents are dead, there must be some adult supposed to care for you."
"I'm an adult, even if I don't look it. We don't age at all, from the time we become what you call vampires. We're not immortal, but some live to be very old. Still, they look the same."
"And how old are you?"
Reuben hesitates to answer, and when he does his voice is low.
"Not so very old."
"Older than me?"
"So, how old, exactly? Sixteen? Seventeen?"
"A little more."
"Twenty? More? Like my parents? Older than my parents?"
"Would that bother you?"
Caroline thinks about it for a while, making jaw movements like chewing on something.
"I really don't know my age, exactly," Reuben mumbles. "I stopped counting."
Caroline steps down from the workbench to stand in front of him.
"Reuben, I need some straight answers. Some real ones."
"But I'm telling the truth. What more can I do?"
Caroline crosses her arms over her chest and glares at him.
"I don't know," she replies with a sigh. "Is there something only vampires can do, that you can show me?"
Reuben is quiet for a while, turning his face to the floor.
"The only things I can think of are those that we can't do, but humans can. Walk in the sunshine without our eyes closed, drink lots of water and eat vegetables..."
"Yes, garlic is bad for us."
"It kills you?"
Reuben shows a faint smile.
"No, but it's very hard on our stomach. We have a sensitive metabolism, because of our diet. Garlic really doesn't agree with us. Actually, any vegetable."
"I guess that would be true for some normal people, too," Caroline notes. "Anyway, we can't stuff you with garlic just to find out what happens."
"No thank you," Reuben quickly replies. "Also, we are infertile. We can't reproduce like people do."
A sudden blush appears on Caroline's cheeks.
"Oh, we're not going to put that to the test."
Reuben stiffens, shaking his head almost frantically.
"I didn't mean to. I'm sorry."
Caroline waves her hand.
"Go on, please."
"It's really quite depressing, when you think about it. We drink blood, but I guess that people could do that, if they wanted to. And we don't age."
"That takes very long to prove."
They pause, both happening to stare at the tumble drier where Reuben had been hiding. Its lid is still open to the dark interior of the cylinder.
"There's one little thing," Reuben resumes hesitantly. "We deepen people's sleep. We can't make them fall asleep - that's very difficult - but when they do, we can make sure they don't wake up."
"I did," Caroline protests.
"It's not fool proof. When we drink people's blood, we put them in a deep sleep, but they dream. In their dreams, after some time, they are warned about what goes on. It appears to them in their dreams. Finally, they wake up, right in the middle of it. I guess it's some kind of instinct. That's why we can't feed on one single person for too long."
"Like you did on me?"
Reuben lets out a sigh.
"I couldn't make myself stop and move on. I still can't. I don't know why. It's a very long time since I made that mistake."
"I guess that I'm supposed to be flattered," Caroline says with a twisted smile. "So how do you make people sleep deeper?"
"It's in our breath. We breathe on people."
Caroline moves closer to him.
"Breathe on me!"
"But it only works on people when they're already asleep."
"Still, maybe I feel something. Or it's just a case of bad breath. Try it!"
She leans forward until her face is right in front of Reuben's. He hesitates for a moment, but then he puffs on her, like one does when making mist on a window. Caroline closes her eyes and inhales. Reuben stares at her, shivering.
"There's something," Caroline says thoughtfully. "Do it again."
Reuben obeys, this time making a longer exhalation.
"Really," Caroline says after taking a deep breath. "I get a little dizzy. It's like when you stand up quickly after sitting down a long time."
She opens her eyes and stares right into Reuben's. On an impulse, she gives him a quick kiss on the lips. Reuben gasps. She leans back a bit and smiles at him.
"You taste sort of sweet."
"That's probably my diet. Blood is sweet."
All the chapters posted so far: