Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Night Realm - Chapter 27 Excerpt (Paul turning into a vampire)
He couldn’t quite get his breath. The air was rasping in his throat like it was mixed with drops of water. He was panting like a dog. Something was tickling his face all the time, frustrating him, and in his delirium it took his hazy brain quite a while to figure out what it was. It was sweat, running down his face in rivers.
His body started to tremble and he was suddenly very cold. Paul didn’t know where he was or what was happening to him. Why couldn’t he wake up? Why did he feel like he had a major fever? Was he sick? Did he have malaria or something? And where was Kelly? Was she with him? He couldn’t sense her presence and his inability to come to his senses was annoying the hell out of him.
Paul heard himself grunt loudly as he tried to force himself to wake up. Now he was hot again, burning up, the sweat leaking from his pores incessantly. He could feel something soggy and wet beneath his body. A mattress, maybe. It was drenched. Clothing clung to him like plastic wrap. Where was the air conditioning? Was he in the tropics?
Then his arms were wrapping tightly around his own torso as he felt a series of bone-deep chills ripple through his body. He shuddered some more as he curled up into the fetal position. The sweat dried up momentarily as the cold set in. He felt tears streaming from his closed eyes, but he wasn’t crying.
His body convulsed as if he were receiving electric shock therapy. His hip bounced off the bed, then all his limbs shot straight out, muscles flexed and rigid. They suddenly relaxed before tensing up all over again.
An eclectic potpourri of emotions flooded through him. Happiness, sadness, lust, anger, love, hate, vengeance, bitterness, warmth, emptiness, compassion, jealousy, outrage, calmness. He couldn’t keep up with them and had no idea what he was feeling in the end, so he just went with the flow, still drifting in and out of consciousness.
And then the pain struck.
Paul felt like he’d just been bowled over by a train. Every muscle in his body burned with a searing fire. It felt like his ligaments were all being stretched beyond breaking point. His muscles were tense and loose at the same time. It didn’t make any sense at all. Then the joint pain set in. He had the semi-conscious sensation of being over a hundred years old. His joints felt riddled with arthritis of the most acute nature. He tried to straighten his legs, then tried to bend them at the knees. Nothing moved. It was like the joints had been fused.
His heart pounded in his chest, slamming against the ribcage. A thousand pulses beat throughout his body. Once again his breathing was shallow and ragged. He just couldn’t seem to draw a decent breath. The fever seemed to have passed, but the pain hadn’t. It wasn’t as bad as when the first wave hit, but tension and agonizing cramps still racked his body periodically.
Now he was overcome with the devastating sense of loss. Had someone just died? He felt grief-stricken, an emotion he’d never really experienced in life before; especially not to this extent. Paul couldn’t shake it, it was all-consuming.
The realization struck him then. It was suddenly so very clear. Someone else hadn’t died. It was he that was dying.
“Fuck!” he managed to say through clenched teeth and a constricted throat.
Paul tried to fight the sensation of life fleeing from his stricken body. He was rapidly losing the battle. His human spirit was being sucked from his mind along with his mortality. He was utterly powerless to stop it. It was the way it was meant to be and there was no denying fate and the claws of death.
His periods of semi-consciousness were becoming less frequent as time went by. He was being drawn into a deep black hole, a bottomless void.
Is this what death felt like? he wondered.
Consciousness was fading fast now, his mind was drifting, floating through that dark cloud of nothingness. Deeper and deeper and deeper...
Suddenly he was face to face with the most grotesque being he’d ever witnessed. Its head was bloated and seemed to be covered in giant-sized pimples and warts. Some oozed bright yellow pus. There was a slit of a mouth in the globulous face. That mouth opened and the forked tongue of a snake darted out. It slithered all over Paul’s face and he felt himself scream, but no sound came out. He was terrified and tried to cry out again. The tongue retreated back into the mouth. The lips now curled into a hideous smile. Once again the mouth opened, wider and wider. Paul felt like he was being sucked towards that gaping mouth until his entire head was inside. He waited for it to bite his head clean off.
But then it was gone and he was floating through white space. There was nothing else around him, just stark white light. Even when he closed his eyes the light was just as bright. Paul could feel himself spinning though the void, totally weightless. Gradually the white gave way to shades of grey. The grey became darker and darker until everything was black once more.
His feet suddenly hit solid ground and he found himself standing all alone in a forest at night. Moonlight filtered down through the trees, casting the area in spectral, ghostly shadows. The tree branches moved as if alive and he could have sworn he saw the trunks closing in on him. He took a few steps forward and the forest opened up into a moonlit clearing. It was like he was standing under a spotlight in the clearing’s centre. All around the edges was dark forest. Pairs of red eyes peered out at him. There were dozens of them, all watching him, sizing him up as if waiting for their moment to strike.
Paul found himself frozen to the spot. He could no longer take a step, nor move a limb or twitch a muscle. It was like he’d been paralyzed from the neck down. The only part of him that had any mobility at all was his head. He twisted it left and right, watching the eyes watching him. Those eyes started to grow bigger as whatever lurked in the forest starting merging all as one toward the clearing.
Paul held his breath. He was still unable to move, though he was desperate to turn and run. But he was powerless. All he could do was stand there, rooted to the spot and await whatever fate had in store for him.
They crept insidiously into the clearing, some walking tall with arrogance, others stooped and moving with an awkward gate. One looked like a zombie, its limbs bent at bizarre angles, the rotting flesh falling off its body with every labored step. Another smiled a wicked smile, its teeth bared, two long fangs protruding from the upper jaw. Paul swore he could see blood dripping from those fangs.
He felt tendrils of fear crawl all over his skin. Still he couldn’t move. The creatures, at least twenty in number, moved slowly closer. One darted up to him and punched him in the stomach, then quickly retreated to the pack. It did it again, taunting him.
Paul’s head spun around. It kept going, turning a full three hundred and sixty degrees. That was impossible, he knew, but somehow it had just happened. With the pirouette he realized there was no escape behind him either. He was surrounded by at least fifty of them. Some were zombies, others vampires. One young woman looked like some sort of a witch. It was like he was caught up in an outlandish fairytale, only it was more like a nightmare and he couldn’t wake up.
I can’t wake up because I’m already dead, he thought. But if he was dead, would he be seeing everything he was seeing now? Maybe this was hell and his destiny was to be tortured by these repugnant creatures for the rest of eternity?
He could do nothing but stand there and wait to be torn to pieces. Paul just hoped it was over with quickly.
That annoying little zombie rushed in first and sank its sharp teeth into his thigh. Paul felt the flesh rip away from the bone and he screamed in agony. A vampire latched onto him from behind and plunged its fangs into the top of his shoulder.
One by one the creatures came in for their piece of the action. Another zombie took a bite out of him, ripping away Paul’s right cheek. He felt blood gushing from the wound like a geyser. It sprayed crimson all over the face of another vampire that was moving in for a bite. Instead of attacking him, the vampire was content to just stand there with its mouth agape, letting the blood pour down its throat.
Paul could do nothing to stop the assault. His entire body remained paralyzed except for his head. And that was like some cruel joke. He couldn’t ward off his attackers, but he was given a panoramic view of them and was able to see every single one of them moving in for the kill.
What had he done in life to deserve such torture? He hadn’t been a bad person. Why had his soul been doomed to endure this?
The assault continued. Bit by bit his hapless body was torn to pieces until he was just a gore-covered skeleton standing in the centre of the clearing. Eager tongues licked the blood from his bones. There were constant, disgusting sucking and slurping sounds as the undead fed on whatever it was that he’d become.
Then suddenly every one of them was gone, retreating into the forest with the sound of rustling bushes. All fell silent. There was nothing left of Paul now. He was just a skeleton with two eyes that still worked.
As he stood there, paralyzed, butchered and all alone, he felt the final threads of life ebb from his being.
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