Midnight

Midnight

A Story by Aurafiex
"

An origin story to the City of Midnight, and the birth of the first vampire.

"

It was midnight when I first heard the explosions. They swooped through the skies, the promise of death certain from the shrill cry of their engines that brought deafening explosions and burning death.  All around me were screams of anguish and cries of fear as the scent of smoke and oily flame saturated the air in hellish foulness. But what caught my attention was instead the sight of a massive, crimson rift upon the night sky in the shape of a singular, horrifying gash-shaped eye that had subsumed the moon. It was as if the sky itself was bleeding as the land around me burned to ash and cinders. Mesmerized I was by its alien, evil visage, that were it not for my mother’s intervention, my life would have ended amidst the flames.

 

Amongst those lucky to survive we hid in what little was luckily left unscathed. As those able did their best to put out the flames brought forth by the devils that flew over our peaceful village. I should have joined them, but I couldn’t move, for my mind remained enraptured by that mesmerizing, crimson eye in the sky that seemed to observe our plight with the apathy of an alien god.

 

The fires left by the bombing were a roaring blaze that threatened to torch what little we had left despite the best efforts of my neighbours. What little we had for buckets and pails could barely transport water quickly enough for what we needed. But just as all hope was about to be lost, the flames were vanquished by torrents of sanguine rain that fell from the sky, as if the crimson scar in the sky was bleeding fresh blood as it stained the earth a bloody crimson. When I saw throes of neighbours joining us in cover from the sudden bloody downpour, their eyes bulging with horror, did I truly realise that the evil in the sky was more than a fear-induced hallucination. Only when the sun had risen again the next morning did this unnatural occurrence go away, seemingly vanquished by the light of the morning sun. But even then, the sense of dread and madness around me was palpably thick, like the stench of burnt wreckage and copper that filled the air like a thick smog. It was safe to say that we had seen something unnatural, possibly evil, amidst the destruction of our once peaceful homes.

 

When it was deemed safe, we left our shelter to pick up the pieces, the desire for a miracle of salvation much like the rain of blood burning desperately within our hearts as we ventured forth. But it was all too little, and too late. People all around me wept for their broken boats and charred fields. There was nothing we could do but burn the bodies of the fallen in a mass ceremony amidst the ruins and crimson soil that was once our village.

 

I wonder what my father would have thought of the devastation unfolded upon his home. He had, after all, left with all the others of his age to fight when the soldiers came to recruit for the war. I still remember his smile as he left my weeping mother and my silent, confused self to join his fellows. They were all so happy, I remember, so enthusiastic and proud in their belief of victory and service to the Emperor as they did their best to march in step towards their future, leaving our sleepy home behind. That was the last time I ever saw my father. Perhaps, after all, he was better off for it. He would have been heartbroken to see this.

 

As the days passed, we who survived began to experience to true extent of the suffering wrought upon us. We had little to eat to begin with, our village being allocated meagre rations for everyone. Even before the storm of fire we had little to live on, the majority of what we produced taken away by the soldiers’ carts month after month. And now that we had nothing to offer, there was nothing to be given back. We were on our own now, they said. From their tattered and unkempt appearance, it was safe to say that they too could scarcely fend for themselves, let alone a village of invalids, women and children.

 

The porridge got more watery as the days went by, to the point it was mostly water. Grass and small pests did little in supplementing our diets, for they too were as scarce as proper food, having been taken for the same purpose by everyone else. There was an air of weakness and pestilence around us, as our fellows began to collapse outside, never to awaken.

 

To the best of our frail bodies we got together to clean up our broken homes in a bid to halt the spread of decay, gathering up the honoured dead into a pile. It was nighttime when the Shinto priest, an elderly man who walked with a hunched back, had finished performing their last rites. The pyre was about to set aflame when my mother suggested that we eat from the pile of perfectly good meat lying before us, rather than turn it to ash. This idea was turned down immediately by the elderly priest, but even as the bodies of my neighbours and friends burned in the darkness the air of disappointment and barely-restrained anger was palpable to the point of nausea. Only then did I realise that everyone around me had changed in a way, a way fuelled by hunger, desperation and something inhuman that I could not comprehend despite many sleepless nights gazing into the night sky, staring into what seemed to be crimson oblivion.

 

Perhaps my mother did have our interests at heart, clamouring for such a change in diet. While scrawny lizards and bony rats were rather delectable supplements to the watery porridge we frugally consumed, such a bounty of meat would have lasted us for days. But the thought of it just felt wrong, no matter how she would try to justify it to me over the days that passed as we survived on what meagre scraps we could bring together for our meals. I began to fear for her health as her mood would sway suddenly between rants for hours on end about her hunger and her endearment for meat.

 

It was an inevitability that her maniacal antics would grow from bad to worse, given the fact that what we had was barely edible and far from nourishing. But as we sat down for dinner one night, I realised that things were far worse for her than I could ever envision.

 

I was pleasantly surprised by the sight and aroma of roasted pork laid out on the table, a rare delicacy especially when most of our livestock had either been killed or taken by the soldiers for their war effort. But it was mid-way through my meal amidst my mother’s urgings to eat more of the meat that I noticed that the left sleeve of her tattered kimono hung bloody and empty.

 

She must have known that I had realised the origin of the meal I was consuming, for she had been watching my face obsessively, anticipating my reaction. I wanted to say something, but the dull gleam of the rusty, blood-stained kitchen knife she held twitchily in her remaining hand as she eyed me with widened pupils convinced me of the merits of silence and restraint. After that night, she seemed pleased that I wanted only water and rice for my meals. More for her, she cackled to me with great satisfaction as she roasted the rest of the now meticulously salted meat, in carefully rationed portions such that she could enjoy every bit of what was once hers’ with great relish for the longest time possible.

 

But soon enough, I discovered the extent of her madness as her the entirety of her carefully rationed portions were eventually consumed. At the dull edge of that bloodied knife she demanded of me more to sate her hunger, and thus with even greater fervour I set out into the outskirts of the village to scavenge for more with more than just hunger on my mind. But bone-thin mice and porridge satisfied her no longer, for she had developed a hunger that seemed to transcend the mere need for sustenance, even during such trying times. Eventually, she screamed that I too, had to give up some meat for a meal, as any filial son would. And by the skin of my teeth I barely escaped, her howling anger behind me every step of the way as I ran like the wind.

 

I ran and ran for what seemed an eternity, headfirst into the darkness, away from the cackling cacophony of my mother’s madness as it became louder and louder with each passing second. My legs were burning with fatigue as I forced my way into the blackness, but fear kept me silent and going until even it could not hold back the fatigue wracking my scrawny form. But I kept running until her maddened cries were reduced to little more than frustrated echoes, and only then, when I reached the seaside, did I fall face-first onto the sand as darkness consumed my senses.

 

It was sunset when consciousness finally returned to me. I found myself awake by the river, amongst the wreckage of splintered, burnt wood from a lifetime before. It was a place I remember to be once beautiful and bustling with fishermen before the war began. The men had all left to fight, and what boats that weren’t broken down into material for the war effort had been turned to burnt splinters and driftwood from the bombing. All that remained around me were broken dreams from a life lost to war.

 

And it’s a shame, really, for it was my dream to be a fisherman like my father. The sight and scent of the steamed fish my mother made for many a dinner thanks to him made me want to walk in his footsteps. I knew little of the art, but the thought of being out there in the endless blue expanse, living off the bounty of the sea seemed a lot more exciting than being enslaved to the land, tilling the fields in a methodical fashion, day in, day out. It’s strange, I know, but I wanted a simple life, much unlike my classmates, who dreamed of Kyoto, of a bustling city life they knew only from hearsay and rumour.

 

And he agreed, my father did. He was so happy that day, I remember, as he hugged me, promising to show me the ropes after my fourteenth birthday. But then he left to fight the war, two months before the promised day. It wasn’t his fault either " it was a decree from the Emperor himself that none I knew could escape. Even Satoshi, the son of the headman whom I once thought an untouchable bully, was marching in step alongside my father at the call to arms. I would have joined them too, but I was too young, and they wouldn’t let me despite my idea to lie about my age. They so adamant about this, that they had me tied to my bed on the day the Emperor’s men came. Only when the sending off parade began in earnest did mother release my bonds, so that we could see each other one more time.

 

But all that was a lifetime ago, a lifetime without war or hunger, loss or desperation. Here I was by the seaside, amongst a desolate expanse of sand and ruins, with little choice now but to eke out an existence by my own. No way in hell I could ever return to the village, lest I face her once more, bloodied knife in hand, determined not to let a meal slip from her grasp once again. I couldn’t help but wonder if this hunger was not just hers alone, considering that in the past week, there were increasingly fewer people out in the day, be it scavenging for food or begging. They were simply gone without a trace, and if they died, there was nothing to bury. Furthermore, the elderly priest was also nowhere to be seen, as according, his disciple, he had fallen ill and was not to be disturbed for any reason. But when she spoke, I could not help but notice the blood coating her teeth that she savoured with great relish in-between words while she eyed me with paranoid depravity, as if sizing me up for something.

 

She too, had changed, like everyone else. Her name was Inori Noroi and she was a tall girl with beautiful purple eyes and long red hair. We spoke little, but what from our time together I knew her to be sweet and kind, and it was thus shocking to see her in such a bloodied and depraved state. I was in love with her, though I never had the courage to tell. But she belonged to someone else, the son of that Shinto priest, as was tradition. But alas, he left to fight in the war, and she took her duties in silence, ignoring everyone and everything else until the mysterious disappearance of her master. Now, she was leading everyone else in depraved reverence of the crimson moon, heralding the blood rain as a sign of coming salvation, and she had called to me to join everyone else in prayer, and it pained me to see her at the forefront of this madness. She was visibly upset when I did my best then to politely refuse on the pretext of caring for my mother’s ailing health. But she never insisted, instead choosing to speak to my mother every morning. I would have forbidden it, seeing how she was leading the mad reverence of that evil crimson scar, but her words brought mother great comfort, and it was for that foolishness I let it be so.

 

Looking back at the signs, I was all the better to leave it for the sake of my own survival. But no longer did I dare risk walking out in the daylight, choosing instead to take refuge in a makeshift bomb shelter, the same pocket of salvation that saved us from the flames that fateful midnight. After all, my ex-neighbours, and by that extension, my mother, were out there in the daylight, picking the land apart anything even remotely edible. Only by nightfall, under that accursed, unnatural, crimson glow from the sky was I free to roam and search for what little could ever remain from such meticulous, hunger-driven scavenging. It was greatly to my benefit that they were all afraid of that unholiness in the sky, some even taking to revering its evil presence with frenzied prayer from what I had observed fearfully in the nights leading to my escape from Mother’s clutches. But so long as it kept them away from the beach at night, the feeling of being watched by someone, or something, constantly bugging my every thought and action to the point of madness was relatively trivial.

 

I took to my new lifestyle with an enthusiasm borne from desperation, hoping to survive for little more reason than any animal would. But everything changed, one fateful night, as that unholy rift bled the dark sky. It seemed like yet another night, like any other in this hopeless situation. My scavenging was interrupted a loud crashing sound that brought with it violent quaking that threw me off my feet and face-first into the sand. Fearing the worst, I ran as fast as I could towards the shelter, afraid that another bombing was underway. However, the lack of overwhelming heat and oily smoke made me realise that this was no bombing, as I heard numerous unintelligible human shouts and screams amidst the sanguine rain that did little to deter any thoughts curiosity, both theirs and mine.

 

Dusting myself off, I ventured out into the darkness once more, running towards what I believed was source of the crash. It wasn’t far, judging from the deafening impact it had made just moments ago. However, as I began to close in on the commotion I was unable and unwilling to get any closer, for Inori, mother, and my neighbours had arrived long before me and had surrounded the crash site, as if the place had called to them somehow. From my hiding spot I could see them shouting and screaming words of praise and reverence at what had crashed into the beach in a maddeningly erratic fashion, which made me wonder if the crash had something to do with the bloody tear in the night sky as I looked upwards to court its gaze, as it too, seemed to have us all under its baleful presence.

 

Venturing closer with little regard to anything else than the satiation of my curiosity, I caught a glimpse of the object of their affections. It is something difficult to describe in mere words, for it was something like a female form of violet flesh and shimmering scales, and yet, the rest of it was something alien and impossibly beautiful beyond description. Before them it lay dying and weak within the crater of sand heralding its arrival, watching its enraptured audience helplessly with its multi-coloured eyes that were simply undefinable. I didn’t know what it was, its alien, undefinable form unlike any known animal from the books I had read or the folktales from the elders before the war began. But even then, I knew it was something to be cherished and protected, our salvation as its presence alone seemed to alter reality around it, to make me even consider that as my fear turned to joy. My neighbours seemed to think so too, for they were still screaming themselves hoarse in joy of this mysterious arrival.

 

But what joy was to be had was quickly cut short as I watched the villagers take salvation with a different interpretation even as they screamed themselves hoarse with joy. I should have looked away, like all the times my mother had shielded my eyes from the slaughtering of livestock during the yearly harvest festivals a lifetime ago. But I did not, and from my hiding spot under the midnight sky, I watched in silent horror as they tore into its shimmering, violet flesh while it drew breath, biting into its scales and tearing into their newfound meal raw like ravenous beasts. I should have done something while its maddening screams from being eaten alive from all conceivable angles consumed my senses, but I was afraid, and like the night the flames consumed my old life I stood mesmerized by the violent spectacle unfolding before me, as its bloodcurdling cries drove my bloodied neighbours to even greater acts of depravity, picking the carcass clean to the bone and licking off every drop of blood spilled upon the sand.

 

And when they were finally finished, they stood with shimmering, wet mosquito wings protruding from their twisted forms and vicious claws, and their eyes glowed virulently with an unholy, inhuman hunger. Following this, they tore each other to shreds, feasting upon the fallen as they fought fang and claw in an orgy of bloody violence and hunger.  

 

At the end of it all I could barely hold the urge to scream as I witnessed the sole survivor that was now seemingly human, soaked head to toe in blood. I recognised her as Inori, even as her beautiful purple eyes glowed with that wretched hunger even as those horrifying mutations had somehow vanished from the engorgement of blood. It was unlikely that she saw me, or perhaps she was too engorged with blood to care about my presence, for she took to the darkness laughing, ravening with delight.

 

Without a second thought I took to the darkness as well, screaming as tears rolled down my cheeks while my mind tried to cope with everything I had seen. I ran and ran, not caring where I was going, or what was to happen next, until I passed out in the sanctuary of the bomb shelter I called home. 

 

But even as I try to make sense of what happened that fateful night, I can’t help but wonder if it was all a hallucination borne from hunger and anger at the village I had left. But the village was now empty, and Inori was nowhere to be seen. And no longer did the sun ever rise ever again, replaced forevermore with the darkness of midnight. I never saw that accursed crimson eye again, even as the deathly wail of that violet, alien thing haunts my dreams.

 

© 2018 Aurafiex


Author's Note

Aurafiex
Hey!

This story is part of the City of Midnight, a collection of short stories. If you enjoyed this, do check out the other stories below!

Twin Souls

Accursed Mystic

Beloved Neighbour

My New Life

Have a nice day!

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I LOVE IT! keep writing please!

Posted 4 Years Ago


Aurafiex

4 Years Ago

Thanks! I will!
Aurafiex

4 Years Ago

Heya! Its been forever, but I've finally uploaded something. Do check it out!

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Added on November 20, 2017
Last Updated on March 18, 2018
Tags: Vampire, Vampirism, Monster, Fiend, Cannibal, City, Midnight, Secret, Murder, Horror, Curse, Morality, Predator, Prey, Alien, Cannibalism, Witness

Author

Aurafiex
Aurafiex

Singapore



About
Hi! I enjoy World of Warcraft, music and swimming. I'm someone who writes for fun. Pardon any typos or mistakes, because I write on my phone(lol). I'm new here, so if you like what you see do.. more..

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