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Zombie Drift 8: Ethan Benoit

Eight: Ethan

Ethan Benoit had eyes in the back of his head. He also had them on the sides too. To some it would seem he was a paranoid individual, but he preferred the term “Vigilant.” One of his main life lessons was this: Be aware of everything going on around you. He came by this lesson the hard way and lost someone special in the learning. And while there wasn’t anyone special nowadays, he was vigilant, part as his penance, part because he was paid to be.

The life of a bodyguard didn’t come easy to him. He didn’t enjoy being responsible for someone else, but it’s all he knew to do now. After losing Veronique. The one time he’d failed to protect. And now all that was left of him was the vow never to let it happen again. He would forever be on guard, aware of his surroundings, potential trouble, and routes of escape, if the need should arise to retreat.

He was all these as he made his way to the ship’s Bridge. He hated leaving the others behind in the Starlit Lounge, but he had gauged it was one of the safest places to be topside. For one, it could be closed and locked down so others couldn’t get in. It was also in the center of the ship, meaning it wouldn’t be the first target of an attack. He wasn’t sure why he was thinking this, these tactical thoughts. Perhaps it was imbedded from his training, a natural by-product of his experience, but when one doesn’t know what is happening it was a good mode to be in.

He walked briskly to his destination. He’d been on plenty of ships before. He knew his way around. It had been a cruise ship like this where he’d lost Veronique, his bride to never be. It had been pirates then, intent on taking control of the ship and ransoming off its passengers. Veronique had been the first casualty and the last person the pirates ever killed. Ethan’s hands were stuffed in his pockets as he walked across deck, but if he pulled them out and dared to look at the open palms he knew his memory would show the blood of those who took her life. Perhaps it was his imagination, but his hands would never be clean again and his heart would forever be a hardened place.

He skirted around other passengers. No one paid him any mind thanks to the tourist attire he’d chosen to wear this morning. He passed by a girl in a large lounger writing in a notebook. She gave him a hard look, probably because he was nearly walking on top of the scantily clad blonde in front of him. Despite the fact the woman was in a bikini that appeared to be made of two pieces of string, he paid her no mind. She wasn’t Veronique. No one was. If anything, he just wanted the wannabe super model to get the hell out of his way.

An Asian boy stood at the starboard railing. He looked lost in thought and didn’t appear to be a threat to anyone. In fact, it almost looked like he wanted to jump overboard. It almost made Ethan stop, but he kept going. He’d hadn’t made it far though when a scream sounded in the air. In a split second he accessed the situation: alert the ship’s captain to things going on ashore or go to the aid of the screamer. He ran back the way he’d come. The notebook girl he’d passed just a minute ago was now at the starboard railing hauling the Asian boy back onto the ship. Ethan wasn’t sure he’d fallen or jumped, but he wasn’t the only one who noticed their plight. Others had been alerted by the girl’s scream. But in typical fashion, no one went to see what was wrong. Only in America would a crowd of people see someone in distress and instead of helping, pull their cellphones out and film it.

Ethan reached the girl and boy as they looked back over the railing and down into the ocean. “Hey, is everybody alright?” he asked. “What happened? Are you….” He stopped. Looking down into the sea, he saw what had made the young lady scream. There were several bodies in the water and they were all clambering for the side of the ship. Right away he knew this wasn’t a case of people overboard for it appeared they had been in the water a very long time. Their clothes, their very flesh was eaten away in places, revealing exposed muscle and bone. One who was desperately trying to claw the metal of the ship was missing an eye. Another had opened its mouth, it jaws making snapping noises, as if trying to chew something that wasn’t there.

He had seen this before. Not just on the television and Instagram. Yes, this was all connected it seemed, but something horrible was happening in the world. He’d seen something like this years ago in Haiti. He’d been there in service to a pharmaceutical company who wished its visiting officials around the clock protection from the area locals who had made threats to the company for harvesting plants from the region. Plants that were sacred to their shamans. After a few attempts to stop the company, other means had been implemented and one of the Witch doctors had sent zombies against them. Those zombies had been living men though. These that were in the water were definitely dead, or had been at one time.

“What are they, sir?” the girl asked Ethan hopefully. He couldn’t give her any hope, but before he could answer, she said it herself, “zombies.”

He couldn’t lie to her, even if it did cause a panic. “It would appear so. They are on land too, I think.”

“Oh my God,” the Asian boy said, and they looked at what he was pointing at. One of the dead things, having given up on trying to get on the ship, had attacked another. He was biting down on the others head. Even from where they stood, they could hear the crunch, and then several voices shouted, “Man overboard! Man overboard!”

Looking to his right, Ethan saw other passengers gathering at the railing. Many were pointing at the bodies in the water and crying out, “Somebody help them!” They obviously weren’t observant enough to see there was something wrong with those thrashing about in the waves against the ship. Suddenly there was a sound of a winch and pulley and he looked to the left. A lifeboat was being lowered down. Inside there was a crew member in a life vest.

“No!” Ethan shouted. “Stop! What are you doing?” He ran to where the guy was operating the lowering system. “Bring him back up!”

“Sir, you’ll have to step back! There are people in the water!”

“Those aren’t people! Those are….”

Just then, the pulley jerked, nearly ripping from where it was attached onboard. One of the zombies had managed to climb onboard the life boat and was grabbing at his would be rescuer. The crew member started yelling, trying to throw the thing off of him. He got the message really quick that these weren’t people in need of saving. But it was too late. The lifeboat was now touching water and two more were trying to scramble aboard.

Ethan shouted at the winch operator. “Pull him up, damn you!”

The guy was frozen. He didn’t know what to do. His training hadn’t included this scenario and as such he was at a loss. “I…I….,” he stammered.

“Oh fuck it,” Ethan muttered and kicked off his shoes, climbing up onto the railing. It was too far to jump he knew. The impact would take the breath out of him. So he swung himself over and grabbed hold of the pulley. This is going to hurt like hell, he thought. For a brief moment his mind whispered, don’t do it. Let the man die. But then that part of his conscious that asked him what would Veronique do kicked in. He slid down the pulley, the cables burning his hands the whole way. By the time he neared the end, they had started cutting into his palms.

The lifeboat was built for twelve or more. Ethan should have landed squarely in the middle but the idiot manning the winch above finally came to his senses and hit the up button. The boat rose to meet him with two zombie hanging on the side and two more in the boat itself. The one man crew was holding his own with an oar, pushing the flesh eaters back away from him. Ethan landed a little to the side and it caused the boat to tip just a little. He strong armed the other zombie and it flipped off the boat back into the water. Still, the two zombies hanging off the side decided to clamber in.

The guy with the oar swung it at one of their heads but it managed to grab the makeshift weapon and pull it out of his hands. Tossing it aside it grabbed the man and started to pull him towards his slavering mouth. The guy screamed and there was a loud pop , followed by an equally loud hiss. The zombie’s head exploded in a shower of red sparks. It fell backwards into the water, its head glowing red like someone had stuck a colored sparkler in its mouth and lit it.

Ethan stood there, the flare gun he’d gotten from the emergency box in the lifeboat still discharging smoke from its barrel. Three more zombie rose from the depths and climbed aboard.

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift. Paul D Aronson. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

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Zombie Drift 7: Yeong

Seven: Yeong

New Yeong never liked his stage name much. Loosely translated into English, it meant “New person of courage,” and right now he didn’t feel that way. Instead he felt alone. Completely. He hadn’t enjoyed the getaway trip aboard the St. Fitzgerald. Even mixed drinks and and pretty American girls didn’t distract him from the fact he didn’t even know who he was anymore. In fact, for most of his twenty years he had no idea who was Yeong, himself or the management company that had created his persona and image. Ever since he was twelve, and his parents signed the contract, he’d been trained to be a K-pop star. Handlers decided nearly everything for him. His life was like a big road map to stardom and they’d kept him on the route with no room for deviation. Even this trip didn’t give him much personal space, as there were handlers on board with him. They might have been in separate rooms, but they were like an endless presence helping him pick out meals, clothes, and even activities to do while on board. That’s why the first thing he wanted to do, the first organized thought, was to jump. Maybe then he would find himself, even if only for a few seconds before he hit the water and drowned.

Yeong couldn’t swim. Well, he could as long as his feet could touch bottom of the pool. But in the ocean he had no doubt he’d sink. He’d stuffed as many coins in his pants pockets as he could in an attempt to make him heavier. He’d also grabbed two paperweights from the desk in his cabin. And while everyone else on board was wearing sandals, sneakers, or even going barefoot, he had donned the heaviest shoes in his luggage, a pair of black dress shoes he had modified with steel taps on the bottom to help him sound out dance moves while practicing. He found it fitting they should go to the watery end with him.

He stood with one foot on the starboard railing. Looking out over the vast ocean he wondered how many people had chosen to go this way. If one were to scour the seabed how many drowned corpses or skeletal remains would be discovered. Such a morbid thought, and he felt horrible just thinking it. Feeling a twinge of guilt, he turned his head to see if anyone were watching him. Most people were engrossed in other things. All except one. It was a girl. She had dark hair and eyes and he couldn’t help but think how pretty she was. He saw she had a book In her lap and a pen in her hand, and he remembered the days he sat in his company owned apartment jotting down verses and things about girl he would never know. What was she writing about, he wondered. The thought passed when she quickly looked away, and he thought that perhaps the darkness inside him had scared her. Maybe she could see the large devastating hole that had almost engulfed him, except for these last few rungs of a ship railing.

He put his other foot up on the railing and returned his gaze to the waves. If he was going to do this, it would have to be soon. They were getting close to the ship’s home port. Soon they would be docking and everyone would be disembarking and going about their lives, reuniting with loved ones, kissing those they had missed while they had been on the cruise. A tear fell from his eye. There was no one like that for him. Sure, there were tons of fans back home who would do anything for him, but there was no one to cling to in lonely moments, to kiss every time he walked through the door. There was absolutely no one who could save him from this pale shadow of living. He stepped up another rung. And then another. He threw a leg over the top of the railing. He took a deep breath. Hesitated for a moment. He wanted to turn around and take another look at the cute girl in the lounge chair. If he was going to do this, he wanted something pretty to be the last thing his eyes would take in. But he didn’t turn. He just closed his eyes and pushed off from the railing.

For a moment there was a feeling of weightlessness, as if he were just hanging in the air, his body waiting to drop. And then gravity took hold. He began a prayer for his own soul, knowing he would never get it all out before hitting water. Suddenly there was a jerk. Gravity must have changed its mind because he was being pulled up by the collar of his shirt. Perhaps the gods had taken mercy on him. He was dangling in the air over the side of the ship, but they had hold of him. Whatever God had spared him, he wanted to know. He craned his neck up to see. It was the girl. She had hold of his shirt in both hands and was trying to pull him back up . A look of desperation was on her face as if she knew she couldn’t hold him for long. His shirt began to rip. He could feel the fabric coming apart in her hands.

She didn’t say a word, but readjusted her grip to get her hands under his armpit and haul him up more. Unfortunately he was kicking his legs under the side of the railing , causing his body to swing. “No!” she cried out. “Stop swinging!” He pulled up on him hard, bracing her body against the railing for leverage. His foot found the bottom rail and instinct made him push up on his heel. This allowed her to get a better hold of him and lift him just enough to get his other heel back on the low rail. When this happened, she yelled at him, “You have to help!”

When he looked back up into her face, all he saw were her dark, teary eyes. It reminded him of a line from one of his popular hits that went “only your ebony eyes can save me.” But then her eyes changed. They grew wide with a different kind of fear. But she was no longer looking at him. She was looking at something beyond his suspended body.

He looked down. There was a body in the ocean. A corpse floating face down. Had someone else jumped, he thought. And then the body turned over in the rolling waves. The face was something of terror, and the girl almost let Yeong go. He reached behind him with his hands and grabbed the railing. There was no way he wanted to fall down into that. The corpse’s face was scarred and serated. Blood and pus covered it with a thin, mucous like film. The clothes were tattered and seemed to be fashion from years ago. One of its arms was bent oddly at the elbow. A leg that was half missing. Thank God the eyes were closed.

Holding onto the railing with one hand, Yeong swung himself around so he was facing the railing and no longer looking at the lifeless body in the water. He scrambled up the railing, and once he got to the top, the girl helped haul him over and back onto the ship. He was getting ready to thank her when she let out a scream. Looking back down, he saw the corpse had opened its eyes and was now thrashing about in the water.

“What the hell is it?” she asked, looking at him like it was now his turn to save her.

“I don’t know,” he replied watching the creature thrash about helplessly. It didn’t even have the sense to try and save itself. All it was doing was throwing its arms and legs about as if there wasn’t a brain in its head to tell it what to do. “But here comes another one.”

They watched as another body came up from the depths to bob upon the water’s surface.

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift. Paul D Aronson. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Zombie Drift 6: Lynn

Six: Lynn

Lynn Billiot sat in a lounge by the pool. Her writing notebook sat in her lap as she jotted down three observations. One: life aboard a cruise ship hadn’t been what she expected. Two: Her parents didn’t understand her melancholy. Three: See observation one and two. The problem was this cruise was a long time coming. Meticulously planned a long time in advance, it was her parent’s present to her for graduating high school a year early. She guessed they thought the blazing sun and rolling sea would be a great reward and escape from their home of chill air and drifting snow. The truth was she missed Alaska. School in Anchorage, spending summers with her grandparents further north in Fairbanks. She missed how small life seemed to be. While others might be bothered by the isolation, the true isolation was being on a boat full of people and still feeling alone. She missed her best friend Jessica. She missed Ranger, her gray malamute dog. She missed the inspiration that came to her on early mornings while looking out the window on the Alaskan landscape.

The landscape on the St. Fitzgerald was much different. The sun back home was bright and blinding, but here it was burning hot. As such, both men and women seemed to don as little clothes as possible. She wasn’t used to that either. Clothing was a necessity where she came from, but here it seemed to be more an accessory, something to enhance one’s figure or draw attention to its shortcomings. Lynn really didn’t have to worry about that. She was a cute girl. At seventeen she was more woman that she ever felt before, with long dark hair and deep, knowing eyes, a dusky complexion that never seemed to need makeup, and a friendly nature that seemed to attract others back home. But she didn’t want to attract anyone here. Even the cute Asian boy standing at the ship’s railing staring wistfully out on the ocean.

What she wanted to attract however was a story. All her life she wanted to be a writer. She listened to stories of her Inuit people and longed to enthrall readers the way she herself had listened to storytellers weave a spell around the spoken word. She looked down at her notebook and a thought came into her head. Perhaps it was inspired by the episode of “The Walking Dead” she’d watched the night before, or maybe it was the feeling of foreboding that had dominated her time on the cruise. Either way she began to write.

“In the staggering crowd, Alisa ran. She didn’t want to be like everyone else. She didn’t want to be a zombie.”

She stared at the words and smiled, hoping this was the beginning of an exciting story. She put pen to paper again and was getting ready to write the next line when something caught her vision. A statuesque blond haired girl, wearing a two piece bikini that may have been three sizes too small strutted across the deck on the way to the pool. Though it seemed her goal was to attract attention to her golden bronze tan and her long shapely legs (and other body parts) it seemed she was attracting the wrong kind of guy. The man was following close on her heels. Solidly built, he wore khaki shorts and a colorful Hawaiian shirt. He was tagging so close that if the girl had stopped walking he would have plowed right into her. Lynn shook her head. She wanted to ask him if he’d ever heard of personal space, but then he zipped around the blond girl and was moving just as quickly away from her. Maybe he wasn’t following her after all she thought, but it gave her an idea for the next line of her tale.

“Someone was following her though. And this was no zombie. This man walked with purpose. This man was dangerous, someone on a mission. Maybe he was the one who would save them all from the zombie horde.”

Pleased with the few lines she’d just written, she looked up. Brushing hair out of her eyes, she saw both the man and girl were gone. There were others on deck, some just milling about around the pool, others on their way to other onboard destinations. The Asian boy still stood at the railing admiring the sea. She watched him for a moment, thinking to herself that his lithe, toned frame would be perfect for the upcoming protagonist in her story.

As if feeling her eyes on him, the Asian boy turned his head in her direction. Lynn immediately dropped her eyes in embarrassment. But before she did, she thought there was something very familiar about his face. He was strikingly good looking and could have been a model with his photogenic face. Small eyes, cute nose, perfect hair. His full, flawless lips looked as though if he opened his mouth, nothing would come out except the most beautiful melody. And that’s when it hit her. She knew where she’d seen his face before. Plastered all over her friend Jessica’s bedroom wall.

Lynn had always like the rugged Hollywood type, but a year ago Jessica had gotten bit by the k-pop bug. A musical genre from South Korea, it was an addictive blend of urban hip-hop, R&B, pop, and dance that had swept even Lynn’s part of the United States. And on Jessica’s wall was her favorite k-pop idol, New Yeong.

There was no way this could be the same guy though. Despite the similarity, why would a k-pop star be on an American cruise ship off the coast of South Carolina? Jessica’s dream boy was probably in South Korea getting ready for a photo shoot or TV appearance. Lynn laughed to herself, thinking it would have been something to get an autograph for her friend, but this boy was no….

She stopped. Did someone just say zombie? Lynn had pretty good hearing and she could have swore someone had just said the word her whole story was based on. Taking her eyes off the Asian boy, she cast a look around her, trying to find the person who’d spoken. It only took a second. There were two older women standing by the pool. One was showing the other her tablet. The other was exclaiming, “there’s no such thing as zombies!”

The first one was shaking her head madly. “Well, look for yourself! I’m not making it up! This is in Charleston right now!”

Lynn stood up. The hair was standing up on the back of her neck. She had to see what they were freaking out about. She looked back to the boy at the railing and noticed he was climbing it. What in the world is he doing, she thought. Before she could dwell on it much, the two women yelped and the one dropped the tablet. It momentarily distracted her, but something about the boy held her attention. He was nearly standing on top of the railing now. Oh shit, she thought. He’s going to jump.

TO BE CONTINUED

Zombie Drift 2018. Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 85 (last chapter!)

Vampire Boys Of Summer

85: Home Is Where The Haru Is

We rounded the corner in the neighborhood, and there was my house, right next door to the one Haru and his “uncles” had moved into, and Ryo’s across the street, Mrs Winston’s actually. It was a nice little arrangement. I could see that now, with my house protected in several directions from any enemy vampires that might try to take my life. Everything was peaceful now, but if what they said was true, this wasn’t over. Another attempt to build an army of vampires and take over Chelsea Valley was inevitable, but hopefully we’d have a respite. It still wasn’t clear why Haru’s dad, if he was in fact the master responsible for all this, wanted to make this little town headquarters for a vampire takeover, but all thoughts of that disappeared with the person sitting on my front porch.

I saw her right away, and though things had been pretty strained between us since I became a teenager, it was so wonderful to see Mom again. I was out of the car before it even stopped. My legs carried me swiftly across the yard, limping and all. Mother herself was jumping from the porch to run towards me. In the movies, you see this big reunion scene, where all is well, everything forgiven, and all parties involved are laughing, crying, and clutching each other like there’s no tomorrow. Well…that’s exactly the way it was. Mother wrapped her arms around me and I allowed myself not to be annoyed with it, but instead reveled in the fact that I was loved and missed by the one who had brought me into this world.

“I have so much to tell you,” she whispered in my ear. For a moment, I wondered if she was going to say there were vampires in Chelsea Valley or that dad had been right all along. But she didn’t. Instead she spoke softly against my cheek. “I love you so much.”

I smiled. This was not something I often heard from her. But I took it gladly into my heart. “I love you too, mom.”

We hugged a little longer, and then out of the blue, mom asked, “What’s wrong with Angela?”

I turned around to see Ryo standing in the yard holding Angela in his arms. She was still sleeping, her head lolled against his chest. “Um, she had a long night,” I said. “She’s just…you know, tired…”

She laughed. “Yeah, I’d say. And who’s the gorgeous boy?”

“Yeah, that’s Ryo. He lives across the street now.”

“With Mrs. Winston?”

“Nephew,” I replied.

“Ohhhh.”

To my relief, Haru had gotten out of the car and was now walking towards us. He smiled at Mother. “Mrs. Williams,” he said. “I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.” He held out his hand.

She took it and nodded graciously. “Thank you. And please thank your uncles for me again, for their hospitality and generous spirit.”

Haru raised an eyebrow. I guess this didn’t sound like the uncles he knew.

“For offering to pay for Jefferson’s funeral expenses,” she explained.

“Oh yes, Of course,” Haru replied.

I myself was in shock. Not over the offer of help, but in the fact it was the first time in years I’d heard mom call dad by his given name. I realized that I too, for some strange reason, had delegated him to just dad over the years. This made me sad because he had been much more than that. He had been my friend. But Chelsea Valley was not only missing a man the town barely knew. There were others forever gone. We’d lost a teacher or two, a guidance counselor, Students I’d gone to school with. And all for what?

Haru grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “I need to head over to the house,” he said. “Check on Tomoko and Kaito. You want to come?”

“Mom?”

“Sure, you go ahead. Now that I know you’re home, I’m going to go get me a shower. I can rest easy now.”

I hugged her. “We’ll get through all this, Mom. We have each other. We’re together. That’s what matters.”

Mother smiled. “Sometimes Nora, You’re more adult than I am.”

“Oh, mom…”

Haru looked over at Ryo, who had joined us while I was hugging mom. “You taking her home?” He asked him.

Ryo looked down at Angela in his arms. “Not yet.”

“I’ll call her mom and tell her she’s with me,” I offered.

“Thanks.”

He nodded to us both and headed across the yard. As he stepped into the street, Angela woke up. From where we stood I could still hear her voice. “Ryo?”

“Yes?”

“Am I dreaming?”

He grinned. It was that teasing bad boy smirk of old. “No, Doll. I am.”

He kissed her forehead and she peered up at him with half opened eyes. “It was a dream,” she reasoned. “I…dreamt you saved me.”

“Wrong again, sweetheart. You saved me.”

And then he kissed her for real. Softly on the lips. She closed her eyes again. This time not to sleep, but in pleasure of his kiss.

“Come on, peeping tom,” Haru said and gently tugged me from the scene.

We walked over to the car. Luhan and Chi were still seated inside. Haru leaned down at the passenger window where Luhan now sat. “You guys alright?” Haru asked. Chi nodded wearily. I could tell she was exhausted.

“Yes, we are fine,” Luhan agreed.”But we will need to talk soon.” He sighed and looked past Haru to me. “Nora Williams, You are every bit worth the fight.” Then he winked and it was back to old Luhan again. “If Haru ever breaks your heart…”

“I won’t,” my boyfriend replied quickly.

“But if he should…” Luhan blew me a kiss.

“Luhan…” Chi said impatiently.

“Okay, okay…got to go,” he laughed. “See you kiddies around.”

We watched them drive away. I turned to Haru and looked at him with adoring eyes. Since his arrival things had changed so much. He had come sweeping into my life like a whirlwind. I’d lost so much in the past few days, but had gained the type of boy I’d always dreamed about. And while Luhan may be king of the flirts, and Ryo Mr. Competitive bad boy, I knew that come what may, I could handle anything, face down any evil, as long as I had the vampire boys of summer at my side.

“Remember the thought I sent you earlier,” I asked Haru.

“Um…yeah.”

I looked at him with a teasing grin. “Race you for it!”

I took off across the yard towards his house. I looked back just in time to hear Haru yell out, “Hey, no fair!” And playfully chase after me.

Yes, we were going to be just fine…

The End Of Season One

Vampire Boys Of Summer (Re-vamped)

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 82

Vampire Boys Of Summer

82: Flight From The Cavern

The revolt of the humans had opened a window of opportunity for us. With the dwindling vampire army distracted, we climbed down off the stage and made our way to Chinatsu who was still fighting a small pocket of attackers. When they saw us coming, they hissed and ran away, fleeing into the melee between vampires and humans. I guess they thought their chances were better in the crowd.

Chi led us across the cavern floor and we rejoined Luhan, busy freeing the last of the mind controlled humans. A young girl went to run past Chi, and she grabbed her. “How were you brought here?”

The girl, confused and frightened, tried to pull away from her. “Let me go,” she pleaded, her eyes looking on us in abject fear. Perhaps she could see the fangs of my companions and she assumed they were part of the bad vampire clan.

“We’re not going to hurt you,” I said, trying to calm her down. Haru set me down and I touched the girl’s arm in what I hoped was a reassuring gesture. “We just want to know how you got here. How did everyone get in the cavern?”

I was taking Chi’s cue, because like her, I had figured it would have been near impossible to get all these people down the shaft we used. It would have taken forever for each person to be carried down the hole. I’m not even sure the new vampires could have made the jump into darkness successfully.

“By..by boat,” the girl stammered, nervously running her fingers through her long ginger hair. She was thin, almost to the point of Anorexia, and I wondered if perhaps vampires had used her as a vessel in the same manner as Angela. “I…I think…From the lake. A tunnel.”

“Where is it,” I asked.

“I can’t remember….i don’t know…please, please let me go.”

And then she pulled away and ran. I didn’t know where she thought she was running to, but she followed the wall around to the back of the stage and was gone.

Ryo watched her with a suspicious eye. “For someone who doesn’t know, it looks like she has a destination in mind.”

“She’s afraid of us. She thinks we are with her captors.”

“And now that she is free…” Chi pondered.

Luhan didn’t hesitate to finish the sentence. “…she is going back the way she came. Come on!”

We took off after the ginger girl, all six of us relatively intact. I was still limping from my bum ankle and Angela had to be carried by Ryo. She wasn’t talking much, aside from mumbling Ryo’s name. Luhan and Chi seemed in the best shape and they took up the charge ahead of us. We were just starting to go behind the stage when I stopped. We couldn’t just run away. Not like this. We couldn’t leave all the humans behind to be vampire food or hopelessly lost in this cavern. Once we took the boat or boats that the girl spoke of there would be no means of escape except straight up through a shaft that had no ladder or hand holds. I pulled away from Haru. “We’ve got to go back!”

Haru tried to grab my hand. “What? Wait, Nora…”

“No! We can’t just leave them! They are victims. They haven’t done anything. We chose to come down here. They didn’t.”

I waited for Haru to protest, to tell me we had this tiny opportunity of escape, and that if we didn’t find the boats we’d be down here forever, but he didn’t say a word. He just looked at the backs of our friends as they disappeared around the corner. Then he looked back at me and took my hand. “You’re right,” he said. “We’ll get as many as we can to come with and just hope…”

His voice dropped off and let the unfinished statement hang in the air. But I knew what he wanted to add. His hope that there would be enough boats to carry us all out.

It wasn’t easy convincing the awakened humans to follow us. Some of them believed us, while others thought Haru was among those who had lured them from their homes with the most pleasant of dreams and brought them here. It took some convincing on my part, including an embarrassing show of my teeth, before they would join us in our flight out of the cavern. First it was just a few, but then they managed to convince others, who in turn persuaded even more, until we had a number of about thirty or so refugees. I tried my best to get them to line up against the wall again, this time to head out for freedom. There were some who thought this was a trick, but what else could I do? I was just trying to save them and it brought me close to tears to see some of them rejecting a helping hand. On and on this went, we’d gain some, then lose a few, until finally I came to the realization I’d done all I could do. Maybe if they saw us leaving, they would follow us better that way.

Haru put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. “Nora, we have to go.”

“I know. I just hate to…”

“I know, baby,” he replied. “But we have to get to the boats or we are going to get left behind.”

As if to convince me further, Chi returned with the news they had found the boats, but there wasn’t an unlimited supply. “There were a few people on guard, but Luhan freed them. Ryo has taken those across.”

“Where’s Angela?”

She smiled at the worry in my voice. “She’s with Ryo. He wouldn’t leave her behind.”

And with that, I couldn’t leave the humans behind either. Following Chi, Haru and I led the thirty or so who would follow us. Along the wall we went, only leaving it to disappear behind the stage and follow the candle lit tunnel on our way to the boats. We walked a little ways in a hurried pace. I tried to encourage and usher our followers, and as they became further awake to their plight, they seemed more agreeable to the idea. Soon we were all running down the corridor, me limping along and noticing the candles in the tunnel wall were thinning out. We rounded a corner and straight into pitch darkness. No candles. There wasn’t a single sliver of light. I grabbed someone’s hand and urged everyone else to do the same. Lucky for us, vampires can see clearly in the dark. They aren’t hindered by human eyes any longer. Someone grabbed my other hand, and I could tell it was Haru by touch alone. I had held his hand so many times I knew the exact paths of his lifelines. He squeezed my hand and whispered my name, tugging me gently through the dark corridor.

As we eased our way through the pitch black, Haru periodically squeezed my hand for comfort, and I in turn squeezed the hand of the person behind me. I couldn’t see their face, but I hoped that it gave them some small measure of reassurance that things were going to be alright. They squeezed my hand back and I smiled to myself. It felt good to be leading others to safety.

Soon there was a small shaft of light ahead. I sighed in relief. I wasn’t too afraid in the dark with my hand in Haru’s, but I was still happy to see we were coming to journey’s end. “It’s going to be okay,” I whispered to the person behind, hoping they would pass the message down the line. Instead, they whispered back, “I know.”

I don’t know if I found their response strange, or perhaps it was the confident tone in their voice, but I turned to look at them. The shaft of light ahead had grown larger now, and for a brief moment it illuminated their face, just long enough for me to recognize them. My breath caught in my throat, and cold chills shot through my body. Before I could say a word, they had jerked me away from Haru’s grip, pulling me into their grasp. In an instant, they had pulled my head back and were going for my neck. I could feel their breath on my skin. “I told you you’d be my queen,” Colin hissed.

Continue to Ep. 83

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“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer (revamped) Ep. 80

Vampire Boys Of Summer

80: Ryo & Angela

“Let’s get Angela,” Haru said. He led me by the hand towards my bestie as Ryo continued to hold Colin immobile against the stage floor. As we passed them, Ryo glanced up at me, nodded, and then leaned down close to his captive.

“You are the real Icarus here,” he told him. “You play too close to vampires and you suffer the same fate as most of us do.” He hauled him up enough so that Colin was on his knees. “I have had 800 years to grow accustomed to sunlight. You have been a vampire a few days. It should be interesting to see what happens when you have to look into the light of day. I doubt very seriously that the sun will kiss you as a lover.”

“No, Please. Wait, no…”Colin pleaded. “None of this was me. I was under orders of the master. I…”

“The beauty of humanity is free will. You chose to be a vampire. You welcomed it, reveled in it, took its power and used it against your friends and others. What you have done here is unacceptable. But especially to Angela. You professed to have liked her at one time and yet you chose to use her to feed this army of yours.”

Colin began to cry. “I’m sorry….So sorry….I was nobody, and then I was somebody….”

I almost felt sorry for him. After all, he was like most of us. He wanted people to look up to him. He wanted to be a part of something special. He didn’t want to be afraid of bullies. He wanted them to be afraid of him. He longed for popularity and leadership. The vampire life offered all of that. But I couldn’t bring myself to forgive him for what he’d put us all through, and especially Angela. I didn’t know if she’d ever be the same.

A stark reminder of this brought our attention to bear on her. From her throat was coming a horrible retching sound, as if she were throwing up but there was nothing on her stomach to be rid of. Her arms were still bleeding from where the vampire girls had been drinking from her.

Haru pulled his shirt off and began to tear it in strips. He handed me a strip, and we both began to bandage her tightly, trying to stop the blood flow. She coughed and began to gag. Then came worse convulsions as her body spasmed and twitched on the stage floor. Haru yelled for Ryo.

The once bad boy turned his head. When he saw what was going on, he pushed Colin away. “Run along to your master,” he snarled. “He’ll know what to do with you.”

To an outside observer, this may have seemed like a stupid thing to do, but I suppose Ryo no longer saw him as a serious threat. And well, I’d like to think he saw Angela as far more important. Either way, he left Colin and was at our side within seconds.

We had managed to cut off the bleeding, but Angela was still choking. Haru was attempting the Heimlich maneuver on her, trying to clear whatever it was that was making her lose her breath. His efforts didn’t seem to be working.

Ryo slid to his knees at her side and Haru let her go. Ryo got behind her, taking her up in his arms so her back was against his chest. He held her for a beat as if that’s what he was trying to feel or listen for. He put his open palm against her left breast. “It’s her heart,” he declared. “She’s having a heart attack.”

Angela was clearly in shock over her ordeal and her body was reacting violently. Her heart convulsed hard against Ryo’s hand as if it recognized it was him who was holding her. Then it stopped completely.

Seeing her slump over in Ryo’s arms, I cried out, “Oh no, no, no! Angela!”

Ryo spun her around so she was facing him. “Oh no you don’t,” he said. “You’re not leaving me. Not when I haven’t even kissed you yet.” He carefully laid her on her back on the floor. He pulled her shirt open, revealing bare skin and a black lace bra. He put both his hands flat on her and began to try and force her to breathe. He counted it out each time he pressed down. “One, one thousand. Two, two thousand. Three, three thousand….” He pulled her jaws open and put his mouth over hers, giving his own breath to her in five second intervals. “Don’t you dare do this to me. Act like you like me and then leave the building. I need you to chase me, damn it!” He pushed on her chest again, trying to get the heart moving, but it didn’t seem like it wanted to cooperate.

I was in tears, and Haru was trying his best to keep me calm, telling me it was going to be alright, but I was having trouble believing him. That’s what everyone said in hopeless situations.

To Ryo’s credit he really tried, but it wasn’t happening. Angela was gone. He laid his head on her chest and cried. “Come back,” he sobbed. “I dream of you, too. I dream of you, too.” After a moment, he pulled her over into his lap. He lay her cheek against his chest. “Listen to me. Hear that. It’s my heart beating. You make it come alive, now you come alive for me, ok?”

I buried my own face in Haru’s chest. I couldn’t take this. First I lost my father. Now Angela.

“I know you can hear me. Now listen to my heart. Let it lead you back. It’s the same as yours. It wants the same things. Hear it. Follow the sound back to me.”

Ryo lifted his head to the top of the cavern and screamed in anguish. Then he look back down into Angela’s face. “I have waited nearly 800 years to love again. Don’t wake my heart and then put it back to sleep! I love you, you silly boy-crazy girl…”

Angela convulsed in his arms and coughed out a breath.

Both Haru and I let out a cry of joy. Ryo sat Angela up and patted her on her back a few times to help her clear her lungs and throat. She coughed up a mixture of phlegm and blood, but he didn’t seem too worried. “That’s it,” he said. “There you go. It’s okay. Get it out of there.”

Angela’s eyes were still dazed and haunted. She was pale and sickly looking. Her badly cut, short cropped hair, turned silver by her ordeal, made her look much older than seventeen. But Ryo touched her hair as if it were the most wonderful thing ever. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered. “Please be you again. Be you for me.”

She looked up as if hearing his voice for the first time. Her eyes tried to focus on his face in the same way one tries to remember a fuzzy, fading dream. “Ryo?”

His mouth trembled and his lips answered her, pressed softly against her own.

I was so happy I kissed my own lover’s beautiful face. Haru took me in his arms, and for a moment, for this brief respite, we forgot all the madness going on around us.

Continue to Ep. 81

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Vampire Boys Of Summer 79

Vampire Boys Of Summer

79: The Pitiful Fate of Miss Thomas

Colin Deeds couldn’t stop laughing. The nerd boy turned vampire lieutenant was getting into the role a little too much. “You kill me,” he said. “I was told what a bad ass you were. Some of them were saying you were a vampire, others a demon. And the whole time you really are just another sap who got his head turned by some stupid, silly girl. How in the world you survived 800 years is beyond me!”

Ryo was not amused. “Nine…” he said, resuming his fifteen second countdown. “Eight….”

“You can’t take all of us! Are you willing to die for her?!”

“If necessary. Seven….”

Colin didn’t look worried at all. That was starting to bother me, and made me ponder the question, where was their vampire master? If he was Haru’s dad, then where was he? In the crowd somewhere? I began to scan the crowd, trying to pick him out hidden within the vampire army. I’d never seen him before, but assumed he’d have a hard time blending in.

“Six….”

“Don’t worry, Ang,” Colin said with a sneer. “They are all going to die today, but hey! I’m like that old Don Henley song.” He began to sing in a cracked, maniacal tone. “….My love for you will still be strong, long after the Vampire Boys Of Summer have gone….”

“Five…,” Ryo said, glancing at Chi and Luhan. He then fixed his eyes on Haru, and I began to wonder if they were vampire text messaging in each other’s head.

Colin was clearly pleased with his own jokes, but then his face fell, as if a text message had come through to his head as well. “Oh to hell with it,” he declared. “Wipe them off the face of the earth!!”

The vampire army reformed. No longer a protective barrier, not quite a wall, but a wave of rage and bloodlust that shot out from the stage in an effort to bury my friends.

I heard Ryo say, “one,” clearly ignoring four, three, and two. When he moved next, I didn’t see it, and I don’t think anyone else did either. One minute he was there beside Chi and Luhan, and then he wasn’t. In the blink of an eye he was atop the cavern where the hangman noose was attached. With a sweep of his long talon-like nails, he severed the rope and Haru fell free. Hitting the ground, my boyfriend rolled and sprang to his feet. He crossed the stage to me just as fast as Ryo had leapt from the crowd to the ceiling. In two swift motions Miss Thomas was disarmed and I was swept off my feet into my lover’s arms. In a desperate scramble, she launched herself at us, clawing at Haru like a cat trying to scratch a dog’s eyes out. With me in his arms, he spun and delivered a heel to her knee. There was a crack and she went down. We didn’t wait to see if she’d get back up. We ran.

Colin, caught by surprise, tried to give chase but he was too late. We were already at the other side of the stage, unhampered by he or any of his so called soldiers. Clenching his fists in a rage he turned to dispense his anger elsewhere. His eyes locked on Angela, barely struggling against the vampire girls charged with holding her up. Both girls, sensing the fun and games were over, were attempting to drain her of her lifeblood through her arms. Before Colin could reach her and gain hold of the situation, Ryo was there, flinging the girls away so hard they both made a sickening sound as they crumbled against the wall. Then he turned on Colin.

The vampire lieutenant may had been a harmless nerd boy once, but now he cast a fearsome visage. His face, burned in places from the holy water I’d doused him with, was a mask of rage and hatred. Looking about for a weapon, there was none to be had, so he launched himself at Ryo in a crazed moment of desperation. Standing in front of Angela to protect her, Ryo stopped Colin with one hand around his throat. He lifted him in the air, his fingernails digging into the flesh. Blood began to run down Colin’s neck.

“You killed Miss Lazenby,” Ryo snarled between clenched teeth.

“No, No,” Colin said with choked breath. “Wasn’t me. She did it.” He nodded towards Miss Thomas who was trying to get to her feet despite her dislocated knee. She half dragged herself up and began to shuffle away towards the front of the stage, so she could disappear into the fighting crowd and escape. She looked back in fear, knowing Ryo’s vengeance would be terrible over what she’d done. She threw herself into the throng, hoping to get away. But in their crazed “new vampires need a drink badly” state, they believed she was attacking them. Several of them turned on her. One grabbed her by the neck and bit down on her shoulder. Another, drawn by the actions of the first, sank their teeth into the opposite shoulder, making a loud sucking sound as they drew the blood to the surface and into their hungry maw. Others soon followed suit and latched themselves onto her. One had a leg. Another had an arm. Finally, a boy vampire of about seventeen, who had probably been in Miss Thomas’ office many times before, got the gist of what they were supposed to do. He sank his long fangs into her neck right at the jugular. The smell of her blood attracted all that were close enough to catch it and soon she was swallowed up in a sea of vampires.

Luhan and Chi were shocked. Though they fought on, and were more than capable of holding their own, the sight of the feeding frenzy was enough to make them think of plans for escape. They began to fight their way through the crowd on an obvious path towards the hapless, dazed human captives lined against the wall. At first I wondered what they were doing, but then it occurred to me. Not everyone came down the shaft we did. It would have been near impossible to bring them all down that way. There had to be an easier way in and out.

Haru still held me in his arms, but I could tell he was a little unsteady from having hung from Colin’s noose for so long. This made me angry and I wanted to confront Colin myself over what he’d done to my man. I told Haru to set me down and he did. But when I went to leave his side and go to where Ryo still held Colin suspended in mid-air, Haru grabbed my forearm.

“Don’t,” he said, and I stopped. I understood. This was Ryo’s moment. They’d killed Miss Lazenby, the woman he’d saved once with his vampirism. They’d attempted to kill him. They’d bled Angela so much she was like a dazed zombie. Colin would have to answer for that as lieutenant of the vampire army.

But Ryo, in a rare show of mercy, released him and he dropped to the ground. Colin scrambled to his feet and prepared to run. Ryo pounced on his back like a big cat and drove him face down on the stage. I guess Ryo didn’t have that much mercy in him after all.

Continue to Ep. 80

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