THE VAMPIRE SHRINK - EXCERPT #4
A Really Bad Night . . .
It was perhaps lucky that I didn’t know right away that I’d woken up in a coffin. The first thing I noticed was a putrid smell, a unique stench consisting of backed-up sewer, rotted meat, blood, mold, mildew, and death. The smell was so horribly potent that it caused me to become aware of the second thing: it was very dark. The reason the smell triggered me to notice the darkness was because as soon as I got a good whiff of it, my stomach heaved. I tried to sit up, or roll over, because I didn’t want to throw up on myself, and I was certain that barf was in my immediate future.
My attempt to sit up caused me to bang my head against an unexpected barrier, which led me to discover there was a ceiling directly above my body. I began to push against it and quickly deduced it was an immovable object, or at least a very heavy one.
Then I panicked.
The feeling of my hands pushing against the resisting material immediately triggered a cellular memory of the aforementioned movie and I started to scream, which shifted my attention away from throwing up. This proved to be very helpful: fear is a powerful motivator. Like the mothers who lift multi-ton vehicles off their children, imagining myself locked in a box for my ride up the Entry Ramp to Eternity allowed me to become Hulk-like in my strength, and to force open what turned out to be the bulky lid of an old coffin.
I sat up, still screaming, the sound reverberating off the walls of the small, decrepit building I’d awakened in. A building that smelled extraordinarily bad.
Raising the lid on the coffin allowed me to see the sunlight filtering in through the broken front door. I couldn’t tell how much time had passed, but it was obviously daytime. A chunk of my life was missing. I valiantly tried to reconstruct the chain of events that had brought me to this moment, and failed.
I stopped screaming – mostly because it hurt my throat – and let my eyes adjust to the dim light. Being able to see where I was made things worse. Instead of only suspecting I was up shit creek, I now had verification.
The building was an old, run-down mausoleum. Low spots in the cement floor were filled with stagnant, rancid water mixed with blood from several dead bodies. Even in the limited light, it was clear that no one in any state of aliveness could be the color of the remains scattered around that room. The place looked like a human slaughterhouse. Back in a corner were bones and pieces of rotting clothing, which gave evidence to the likelihood that whatever was going on here had been going on for a very long time.
Needless to say, I had to get out.
I assumed that whoever had killed all those people was probably coming back to get me. I didn’t have time to think about why I was still alive, why the murderer had left me in the coffin instead of adding me to the collection on the floor. It occurred to me I was probably in shock, which explained the strange fuzzy feeling in my head.
Since the lid of the coffin had only swung back on its hinges and was still standing straight up on one side, I couldn’t brace myself by holding on to both edges to lift up. Grabbing the available edge, I put my other hand down alongside my legs and felt it sink into clumps of dirt or sand. As I pulled my knees underneath me, I heard a soft clattering sound as something knocked against the inside of the coffin. I reached my hand out to find what had made the noise and closed my fingers around a long stick-like thing. I brought it up into the light and found myself in possession of a human bone. I had been lying on top of whoever had been buried in that coffin.
My stomach lurched again and I rose to my feet as if pulled by ropes. Looking down, I could clearly see the remains of the original resident. With shaking hands I brushed off as much of the desiccated decomposed material as I could from the rear of my pants and apologized silently to the person I had scattered into the air.
The coffin I was now standing in was situated on a pedestal about three feet off the floor. The area close around it was filled with dead bodies and pools of bloody water. I would have to jump, which under the best of circumstances called on grace I hadn’t cultivated, and to jump while wearing four-inch heels would guarantee a painful outcome. But if my choice was to wait in the coffin for the psychopath to return or take my chances with a sprained ankle, I’d choose the sprain anytime.
Since I was far from adept in physical situations, it took me a moment to work out that I could sit on the open edge of the coffin, swing my legs out, and scoot down, then find a small space for the ball of my foot on one of the few dry spaces on the floor and ease myself away from the pedestal.
Kismet the nerd who flunked gym class in ninth grade.
That’s what I did, all the while listening for any sound that would alert me to the return of the monster who’d brought me there.
I walked on tiptoes through the carnage to the door, unable to avoid wading through puddles of slimy, bloody water, and finally reached the stairs leading up to the light. My stomach had been clenched so tightly I’d barely breathed since I left the coffin. I climbed up the stone steps and shoved the door. It swung open on rusty hinges, making that sound always present in horror movies. Then I stepped out into the sunshine and found myself in the middle of an old graveyard.
I heard sounds of traffic nearby and moved in that direction. I kept glancing behind me to see if it had been a trap, if someone – or something – was going to spring out at me from behind one of the huge gravestones and haul me back into the pit of hell, but I was alone.
Doubtless I must have been quite a sight as I walked out of the ornate cast-iron gates of the graveyard and crossed the parking lot of McDonald’s.
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