A New Novel in the Making
I'm working on a new novel. Here's the ninth 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
The Lower Canines
Caroline sleeps in her bed, lying on her back with both arms up by the pillow, one hand under it. The room is dark, except for the pale light of the moon, shining in through the uncovered window. Out of the far corner of the room, a shadow emerges and moves silently towards the bed.
It is a short and slender teenage boy, dressed in dark clothes. The skin on his face and hands is so pale it reflects the moonlight. The rest of him is completely black in the dim light.
Ever so slowly, the boy crawls onto the bed and lies down beside Caroline. He gets up close and exhales through his mouth into her face, making a soughing sound, much like blowing on a window to create mist.
Caroline's head leans heavier on the pillow, which makes her neck exposed. The boy kisses it lightly, his lips barely touching her skin. Then he bites it, very delicately, and remains there.
Caroline becomes restless in her sleep. She mumbles something inaudible and her legs move. The boy retracts and looks at her face. When she relaxes again and her legs stop moving, he bites her anew.
Immediately, Caroline wakes up. She twists her head and stares right at the boy. He is just a silhouette from her viewpoint, with the moonlit window behind him.
"Freddie?" she asks, not waiting for confirmation. "This won't do! I know you've peeked at me before, when you thought that I was sleeping. More than once, when you had your sleepovers with Thomas. I noticed, but I didn't bother. But this is too much!"
She turns on the bedside lamp. The boy blinks, blinded by the sudden light. She stares at the boy and takes a sudden breath through her mouth, as if to scream, but then she holds her breath.
The boy seems to be of her age, but smaller. He is very skinny and pale, almost as if anorectic or suffering from some disease. He shades his eyes with his hand, but it doesn't stop him from squinting in the lamplight.
His hair is black. So are his clothes. He has a coat on, reaching him to the knees. It is something vintage and quite worn, buttoned all the way to the neck. The pants are also visibly worn, especially by the knees, and his elegant black leather shoes could do with a shine.
Caroline sits up in the bed.
"Who the hell are you?"
The boy mumbles with a weak voice and the hint of a strange accent, pronouncing the vowels with unusual clarity:
"I saw the signs. Your dreams were speaking louder to you. So, why couldn't I stop?"
"I should have left at the first signs," he continues with a sigh, speaking to himself. "I know I should."
Caroline looks around the room. Her door is closed, and so is the window.
"So, how did you get in? And how long have you been here? All night?"
The boy sighs again. He has stopped blinking but avoids looking Caroline in the eyes.
"Not long at all, in the scheme of things. Much less than a year. But really far too long to remain with one host - I know that."
Caroline's eyes widen and her neck straightens.
"One year? Are you telling me that you've been here for a year?"
"Much less than that. Nine months at the most."
"Have you been hiding in my room for all that time?"
The boy swings his legs out of the bed and sits up, turning his back to her. Caroline can see that he is definitely shorter than her - and much skinnier, which is something his coat cannot hide. He crouches as if lacking the strength to hold his back and head up straight.
"Oh no, not at all," he replies.
"I would think not."
"I've been out and about, most of the nights."
"The nights?" Caroline repeats with confusion. "And the days?"
The boy points to the closet door.
"In my closet?"
Caroline jumps out of bed and inspects the closet. There is no sign of an intruder. Nor can there be much room for one in that space, filled with clothes on their hangers as well as some boxes covering part of the floor.
"And the attic," the boy continues. "Mostly I've slept in the attic. Well, the basement, too. Lately also in your brother's room, since it's... vacant."
"I hear you've had the tour," Caroline comments bitterly. "So, you know our house. Weird."
She returns to the side of the bed, standing where she can see the boy's face. He has his back to her bedside lamp but faces the moonlight, so his features are quite visible. His skin is pale and smooth, almost as if his face had been powdered. His hair is so black that it seems to be died. Also his eyes are very dark. The moonlight is not enough to reveal their color. It looks like he has no irises at all, just very big pupils. His nose is small and his lips are so thin, they are little more than two dark red lines.
"You've slept during the days, and stayed up all night? You're quite a party animal, then."
"Oh no," the boy hurries to assure her. He seems to be embarrassed by the mere idea. "It's not like that at all."
"So, how then? What is it you do at nights that keeps you up?"
"It's not about the nights," he replies, staring right at the moon outside the window. "It's the days I want to avoid. All that light."
Caroline finds herself staring in the same direction as the boy - right at the moon.
"I can see why," she comments with a gentler voice. "Nights are kind of peaceful. Things settle down. With the darkness comes silence, too. Yes, there are times when I welcome the night, me too. Some days are just too much."
"Well, that too."
Caroline turns back to him.
"So, you're a night owl. But that still doesn't explain what you're doing here."
"Night owl?" he repeats confused. "I'm not an owl."
Caroline sighs demonstratively.
"Fine. You're not an owl. Back to the real question: How come you're here?"
"I told you. I've been sleeping in your house during the days."
"Yeah, you told me. For nine months, was it? You also mentioned my closet, the attic and Thomas' room." She moves in front of him, blocking his view of the moon. "But when you woke me up you were in my bed. Explain that!"
Blocking the moonlight, she doesn't see his face very clearly, but his voice reveals great discomfort.
"Oh that," he says, pausing as if nothing more would be needed.
"Yes, that. Do I have to spell it out? You were lying on my bed, kissing me on the neck! What kind of a pervert are you, sneaking up on me when I was sleeping?"
"No!" he protests, his voice suddenly louder. "That's not it at all."
Caroline crosses her arms on her chest.
"I saw you."
"No, I swear!" There is desperation in his voice. "I didn't."
"I said I saw you. And I could feel your lips on my neck." She puts her hand on the side of her neck. "Right here. I felt it when I woke up."
The boy squirms where he sits, lowering his head.
"I was feeding," he mumbles with a low voice.
"Feeling?" Caroline inquires, unsure of what she heard. "Feeling what?"
"Feeding," he repeats just a little bit louder.
"What do you mean?"
"Well," the boy starts, and then he is silent.
"I don't know how to explain it, without you getting angry."
"I'll be angrier if you don't. As a matter of fact, I already am."
The boy glances at her quickly, and then he lowers his head again.
"Sorry," he says.
"You should be. And you'll be even sorrier if I don't get any answers. I just need to scream and my dad will be here in a second. Then you'll really be sorry. Then you'll see some real anger." She opens her mouth wide and takes a big breath, to show that she means it.
"Please don't," the boy begs her, without having seen her expression from his crouching position.
"So tell me!"
After a few seconds of silence, the boy answers with a voice so low that Caroline holds her breath to hear it.
"I've been feeding on you."
Caroline's eyebrows bend and her head tilts to the side.
"On me?" Again she puts her hand on her neck. Then she holds it up in front of her face, inspecting it. There is nothing. "What kind of nonsense is this? You want to eat me, like a cannibal?"
"No, no, no," he insists, looking up at her. "That's just what it's called."
"I thought as much."
"I've been drinking your blood, only. Not much at all. I mean, you've hardly noticed, have you? By now, I guess that you have a bit of an iron deficiency, but other than that you should be just fine."
"What the hell are you saying? You've been drinking my blood like some vampire?"
"I don't like that word," the boy objects. "I'm a human being, just like you."
"Oh, really?" Caroline says with some venom in her voice.
"I prefer to call it a special diet," he continues. "Sort of like being a vegetarian. Well, the opposite, actually."
Caroline shakes her head in disbelief, instinctively taking half a step back. The boy anxiously keeps his eyes on her.
"I don't have any choice, you see. It's the only thing I can digest."
"This is just crazy!" Caroline says with a sigh, shaking her head again. "You're telling me you can only feed on blood? What's wrong with you?"
The boy shrugs his shoulders.
"It's just the way I am. I can't do anything about it."
"I mean what's wrong with you believing that about yourself! Of course you can eat food like everybody else. There are allergies, I know, but I never heard of one against everything but blood."
"Allergy? I like that word better than the other one," the boy says with a fraction of a smile. "Yes, it's a kind of allergy, definitely."
"Didn't you hear me? There's no such allergy."
"I've got it, for one. Don't you think I've tried normal food? My body reacts already when I put it in my mouth, no matter what it is. I have to spit it out. I've forced myself to chew it anyway. A couple of times I even managed to swallow it. But I got it right up again. Vegetables, fruits, fish, meat - nothing works." He makes an involuntary face of disgust. "Really, I can't. Even plain water is difficult. I can drink water, but not much and not without feeling nauseous. It tastes like metal, like drinking steel."
"And blood doesn't make you nauseous?" Caroline interjects. "That's sick."
"I guess I am, in a way."
"But not that way. You're no blood sucker. That's just too much. I bet it's something you came up with, because I caught you kissing my neck. A weird excuse. I'm not buying it. Nobody would. You still have to explain what the hell you were doing in my bed. And no more lies, or I will call my dad!"
"What can I say? I told you the truth."
"Come on!" Caroline growls, lifting her arms and shaking them in front of her. "Can you stop with this nonsense? You're a weird kid, alright, but you're no teenage vampire."
"Do you mind?" he asks gently like a prayer.
Caroline's arms drop. She stares at the boy. There is a minute of complete silence, before she speaks again.
"You really believe you are, don't you? You really think you're a vampire."
She waits for his response, but he just watches her with anticipation, sitting very still on the side of the bed. Caroline frowns.
"Get real!" she says sharply. "Vampires are big and terrible monsters. You look like a mouse. Hell, I'm sure that I could beat you up."
"Are you going to?" he wonders, raising his shoulders to brace himself.
Caroline laughs, but quickly stops herself, with a glance at the door. She lowers her voice.
"I'm mighty tempted, if you don't give me some answers."
"Just ask me," he says with a calmer tone of voice, keeping their eye contact.
Caroline grabs the chair by the desk and sits down right in front of him, leaning closer.
"Well, to begin with: Who are you, and what are you doing here - for real?"
"I'm Reuben. I've been here for just about nine months, feeding on you. You know, drinking your blood."
"Like a vampire?"
"If that's what you want to call it."
Caroline waves her hand, as if brushing away a fly.
"Ridiculous. Wouldn't that make me a vampire, too?"
"Oh no," Reuben says and shakes his head. "That takes two. Just like with ordinary people."
"Vampires have babies?"
"We're infertile," he replies, hesitantly, and looks away. "We can only make vampires out of living people. If two of us bite you at the same time, you become one."
Caroline bends over even more, until she is facing him so closely that the tips of their noses almost touch.
"Open your mouth!"
Reuben obeys, and she inspects it closely. His teeth are shiny white, but none longer than the others.
"If you're a vampire, how come you don't have vampire teeth? The fangs." She gives him a triumphant grin. "Explain that, if you can."
"Of course I do!" he replies with a tone of pride.
"They grow out when you drink blood? So show me!"
"No. They don't change. They work fine as they are."
Caroline carefully puts the tip of her finger on one of his upper jaw canine teeth.
"Not those," Reuben says, careful not to close his teeth on her finger. The words are blurred. "It's the lower ones."
"The lower ones? But that's wrong," Caroline replies and pulls her finger out of his mouth.
"It's not like in the movies. Not at all. My fangs, as you call them, are the lower canines. They have to be. Think of it. Otherwise, how could I reach the veins on your neck?"
"This is crazy. I'm crazy," Caroline mutters as she examines his lower jaw canines.
They are pointed, but not notably bigger than the other teeth. She puts her fingertip on one of them. Although her touch is light, the tooth pricks her finger.
She stares at the finger. A drop of blood has emerged from it.
"I'm sorry, I should have warned you."
"I must be dreaming," Caroline mumbles.
She notices how Reuben stares at the blood on her finger. Quickly, she hides her hand behind her back.
"Oh no, you're not going to drink my blood!"
Reuben opens his mouth to comment, but closes it again. Caroline doesn't notice.
"Okay, so that's odd," she says, looking at his mouth although he has closed it. "How come they're so sharp, your teeth? Did you use a file or something?"
Reuben shivers at the thought.
"I've done nothing to them."
"Still, that doesn't prove anything. Can you fly, or something? Can you turn into a bat?"
Reuben shakes his head, with a faint smile.
"So, how do I know you're not putting me on?"
Before he has a chance to answer, she leans back on the chair and shakes her head.
"What am I saying? Of course you're not a vampire! You're just a weird kid, who broke into our house. Why don't I just call for my dad, so he can have you arrested?"
She goes to the door and grabs the doorknob. Reuben follows her with his eyes, but sits still.
"Please don't," he says with almost a whisper.
"Why shouldn't I? You break into our home, you get into my bed when I'm sleeping, and then tell me crazy stories..." She suddenly freezes. "Hey, did you drink my blood? You never bit me with those sharp teeth of yours, did you?"
Reuben opens his mouth but hesitates.
"Shit!" Caroline exclaims with a grunt and rushes out of the room.
All the chapters posted so far: