Chapter Twelve

A new novel in the making.

A New Novel in the Making

I'm working on a new novel. Here's the twelfth 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

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Ever Young. Novel by Stefan Stenudd.

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The Goth Stuff

Caroline lies on her belly in the bed, hands on cheeks. She is fully dressed, reading a book. The stereo plays, but the volume is so low that the sound from when she turns a page of the book is heard clearly. Only the bedside lamp is lit.

A knock on the window makes her instantly turn her head. There's Fred, pressing his nose to the window. She gets up from the bed and lets him in. He wears a black jogging suit with white stripes and neon colored sneakers.

"I feel like El Zorro," he says with a wide smile, as he climbs down from the window.

"I prefer Felipe. He shuts up," Caroline replies with a frown. "Keep it low. We don't want to wake anyone up."

Fred covers his big smile with both his hands and nods.

"Do your parents know you're here?"

"No need for that," he replies, removing his hands. "They never check on me, not since I became a teenager. I think they're scared to catch me jerking off or something."

Fred looks around the dimly lit room. He sees the book on the bed and picks it up.

"Dealing with dragons," he reads on the cover. "Any vampires in it?"

"Don't be silly."

Fred flips the book and reads the backside text.

"A princess who is bored with her fine life. So it's about you?"

Caroline snatches the book from his hand and puts it on the bedside table. Fred is about to drop another comment when he spots the closet door. He sneaks over to open it, making sure to move silently.

"I already checked," Caroline says. "I don't think that he's in the house now, but he probably knows how to get in somehow."

Fred backs away from the closet, his eyes still examining it.

"This time, he won't get out again."

"If he really has been here many times before, then he's very careful or we would have discovered him long ago. We have to make sure that he doesn't suspect anything."

"I'll be really quiet," Fred assures her, smiling again.

"Well, I'll be in bed, or he'll know something is wrong. I might fall asleep. I didn't get much sleep last night."

Fred is careful not to look at her, as she moves over to the bed and slips under the blanket, fully dressed.

"Don't worry," Fred assures her. "I'll guard you. I'll wake you up when I've caught him."

"What if you fall asleep, too?"

"I won't. Trust me, I won't."

Caroline inspects him in a moment of silence. Fred looks right back at her, still flashing his smile, but it seems to be increasingly strained.

"I want you under the bed."

"Under the bed? On the floor?"

She nods. Fred lets out a short frown.

"I hope he doesn't take long."

Caroline adjusts the pillow and rests her head on it.

"I don't know if he comes, at all. Maybe I scared him away for good. But I have this feeling. The things he said. I think he wants to come back."

"I bet he does."

"Anyway, we try it, this one night," Caroline continues and switches off the bedside light.

Just silhouettes are visible in the dim light from the moon outside. Fred raises his arms to close the curtains, but Caroline interrupts him.

"Don't. We need some light. Will you get down there? He could come any minute."

Fred takes off his sneakers and the jacket. He has a black T-shirt underneath, with a Guns n' Roses print covering most of the chest, and a list of tour dates in white on the back.

"In the closet."


"Your clothes," Caroline explains. "Put them in the closet, so he doesn't see them."

Fred obeys, stepping carefully not to bump into things in the dark. He closes the closet door very slowly. As he walks up to the side of the bed, he glances repeatedly at Caroline. All but her face is covered by the blanket. She turns her face away from him.

"Good night, Freddie. Don't fall asleep."

"I tell you I won't. Good night."

He kneels by the bed and sticks his head underneath.

"Caroline, did you check under the bed?"

"That would be too obvious," Caroline replies with a giggle.

"Nevertheless, is this the guy?"

Caroline turns on the bedside lamp, jumps out of bed and kneels behind Fred, peeking under the bed. There's the dark figure of someone sleeping.

"I don't believe it!" she whispers. "Was he here all the time?"

"Seems so. Shall I wake him up?"

Caroline leans in for a closer look. Reuben's eyes are closed, but his mouth is slightly opened.

"How can he sleep on the floor?"

"Well, you'd have me do that," Fred replies, not bothering to whisper but keeping his voice low.

"Not sleep. The hard floor is good for staying awake. You can't sleep on it.

"He can. Doesn't look like much of a vampire to me. More like John Arndts. You know, that kid at school who only eats vegetables and always skips gym class. Could it be him, with a lot of makeup?"

"Don't be silly."

Fred sticks his head further in under the bed.

"I punch him in the face. That should wake him up."


"Okay, okay."

He grabs Reuben's shoulder and shakes it, quite rudely. Reuben's eyes open, and suddenly — very quickly — he sneaks out from under the bed and jumps up on the window frame. It happens so fast that Fred is still extending his arm in a futile attempt to grab him again, when Reuben reaches the window.

"Whoa, what happened?"

Caroline stands up. Fred hurries to do the same, hitting his head on the wooden bed frame before managing to get up. Caroline blocks him from getting to Reuben, who crouches on the windowsill, his staring eyes jumping between them. He has the same black coat as the night before, still buttoned all the way up.

"Don't be afraid," she tells Reuben with a soft voice. "We're not going to harm you. We just want to talk."

"That's right," Fred adds, his voice not at all soft. "You have some explaining to do, pervert!"

Caroline puts her hand across Fred's mouth. She keeps her hand there, and he doesn't mind at all.

"We need to talk, that's all," she assures Reuben.

Reuben doesn't move an inch from his crouching position on the windowsill. There is not much space on it, but somehow enough for him to maintain his balance.

Caroline turns to Fred.

"I think we should sit down, Freddie. To get rid of the tension."

She moves her hand from his mouth to his arm, and pulls him with her onto the bed. When they both sit down on it, she looks up at Reuben again. He hasn't moved at all.

"See. We just want to talk. Don't worry."

Reuben seems to relax a bit. His shoulders drop and he leans his back on the window. But he keeps his eyes on Fred.

"Were you hiding under my bed all the time since last night?" Caroline asks.

Reuben shakes his head slightly.

"I came back at dawn," he says with a muffled voice, as if talking to himself only. "I couldn't resist. I should, but I couldn't." He sighs.

"You really do stay up all night?"

Reuben looks right at her.

"You know what I am."

"What — a vampire?" Fred interjects, throwing his head back. "That's bull!"

Caroline hushes him.

"Reuben, you must understand," she says very gently. "There are no vampires."

Reuben looks away from both of them, out the window. The moonlight makes his face even paler than before.

"Not many, nowadays, that's for sure," he replies with a bleak voice. "Maybe all will be gone, soon, the way it's heading."

"Vampires are getting extinct?" Caroline inquires. "I thought they were immortal."

"Not really. We don't age, but we can die."

"How, if you don't get any older?"

Reuben keeps staring out the window, but speaks a little louder, the tone of his voice still dark.

"In so many ways! There are accidents or murder by human hands. Mostly, though, vampires starve to death. It's not easy for us to feed, although we don't need much. People guard their blood. And now, there's the disease."

"Come on!" Fred interrupts. "What nonsense is this? You're no vampire, just a runaway kid with a wild imagination. Where do you live, where are your parents?"

Reuben turns to face them again.

"They died long ago."

Fred ignores his answer.

"Maybe I've seen you on a milk carton or something. You must have been reported missing. What's your name?"


"Your full name."

"Reuben," he repeats.

"Your last name, too, dummy!"

"I don't think I have a last name."

"Sure you do. Same as your parents."

"I don't think they did, either."

Fred turns to Caroline.

"He's not much help, is he? Why don't we just call the cops?"

Caroline steps up to Reuben and gently puts her hand on his shoulder. He stares at it, then at her.

"Don't worry, Reuben. We're not going to harm you. I guess you really believe in what you tell us. Probably, what you came from was so bad that you simply don't want to remember it."

Fred glares at the hand on Reuben's shoulder.

"You're letting him off way too easy, Caroline. I bet he's just inventing stuff. He doesn't want to get caught, that's all."

"In that case," Caroline replies, still looking Reuben in the eyes, "wouldn't he try to make his story more believable? And would he have bit me?"

"Oh, that's no mystery," Fred spits out with a frown. "He's into S&M. The Goth stuff, with role-playing, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and all. Look at his black clothes and that pale face. I'm surprised he doesn't wear a cape. Just one of those kids who get into a fantasy, because they can't handle the real world."

Caroline drags a finger across Reuben's cheek. He shivers at her touch. Then she holds her finger up in front of her eyes and inspects it closely. Reuben shivers at her touch.

"There's no makeup. His skin really is this pale."

"I must stay out of the sun," Reuben mumbles, almost inaudibly. "It's our eyes. They're used to the dark. Strong light damages them. Sunlight can make us permanently blind. Candle light is alright, but even a light bulb stings the eyes." He points at the bedside lamp.

"You want me to turn it off?" Caroline wonders.

Fred speaks before Reuben has a chance to answer:

"It's a trick!" he says, leans over and turns the lamp so that it shines directly at Reuben. "He wants to escape in the dark."

Reuben blinks in the light and turns his face away from it.

"It's no problem, as long as I don't look right into it."

Caroline stares at Fred, until he sighs and turns the lamp back. Then he points at Reuben.

"Check his pockets!"

Both Caroline and Reuben look at Fred with confused expressions in their faces.

"Maybe he's got something on him that will tell us more than he does. I can hold him for you." He stands up from the bed and takes a step towards the window.

But Caroline makes sure to stand in his way. She turns to Reuben.

"Do you mind?"

He shakes his head. With gentle hands, Caroline examines the pockets on his coat. Reuben stares at her hands. When they move from the jacket to the pants, he holds his breath. Caroline looks up at him, stopping for a moment. Then she continues the search. Fred grunts and sits down on the bed again.

"Nothing," Caroline says when finished with the search.

"That's what I have," Reuben replies.

Caroline puts her hands softly on his shoulders. She smiles at him in a motherly way.

"What shall we do with you?"

"Report him to the police," Fred mutters. "What else?"

Caroline shakes her head at him. Then she steps over and sits down on the bed beside him. She leans over and whispers in his ear.

"Can't you see, Freddie? He's obviously traumatized by some terrible experience. Like you said, he lives in a world of make-believe, because he can't bear reality. If we take him to the police, they'll only turn him over to his parents or guardians or whatever."

"So what?"

"I bet that he had a very good reason to run away from them. So good that he can't stand to remember it."

Fred glares at Reuben.

"I bet he's just crazy."

Caroline ignores him and turns to Reuben.

"Reuben, you can stay here, if you like. For the time being. Until we figure something out."

"Are you crazy?" Fred protests. "He will bite you again."

Caroline keeps her eyes on Reuben.

"You can sleep in my brother's room, but then you'll have to get up before my parents do. They'd go nuts if they found you there." She adds with a bit of a sigh: "Thomas' room has become like a shrine to them."

"Oh, they'd go nuts wherever they find him," Fred comments. "And how can you be sure that he doesn't sneak back in here, when you're sleeping, and bites you in the neck?"

"You can sleep there, too, if you worry about me," Caroline suggests, pointing towards her brother's room.

Fred glances in that direction and then at the bed he sits on.

"Wouldn't you be safer if I stayed in here?"

Caroline shows a quick smile.

"I doubt it."

There is a moment of silence, as Reuben and Fred stare at each other.

"What if he bites me?" Fred asks. "I can't sleep in the same room with that weirdo."

"I can't feed on you," Reuben replies quickly, but with a low voice.

"Why not?" Fred inquires, his eyebrows lifting.

Reuben pauses shortly before answering.

"I've been here for nine months."

Fred closes his mouth. He stares deep into Reuben's eyes, as if trying to read his brain through them. Caroline takes the few steps to the door.

"If that worries you," she says to Fred, "then stay awake all night. You said that you could. In any case, I need to sleep."

She opens the door and waits for them to leave.

© Stefan Stenudd, February 2014

Chapter 13

All the chapters posted so far:
  1. Light and Dark

  2. Mumbles

  3. Don't Touch

  4. Not a Word

  5. Swings

  6. He Talked to Me

  7. Was It Quick?

  8. Flossing, Too

  9. The Lower Canines

  10. Two Dots

  11. The Creep

  12. The Goth Stuff

  13. Nine Months

  14. Like a Rat

  15. Morning

  16. Some Things Take Forever

  17. If He Doesn't

  18. One Little Thing

  19. Another One

  20. Playing It Safe

  21. The Netherworld

  22. Never Grow Old

  23. It Sounds Trite

  24. Dying Is Terrible

  25. Just Kids Playing

  26. He Didn't Know

  27. Maybe the Only One

  28. I Don't Hear It

  29. Honesty

  30. Secrets

  31. I Care

  32. Treacherous Longevity

All books by Stefan Stenudd

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About me
I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist, an historian of ideas and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.