Born Again

Born Again

A Story by Jacob Clifford

Born Again

 

The only thing she felt was darkness, down to her core. Not only the sense of fear and unknown associated with darkness but tangible darkness itself. Had she ever known anything else? She couldn’t recall. It was this way for time immeasurable. Then came a blink, a flash of life in the blackness.

            Something tugged at her, stirring the shroud around her. She was lifted, forced to rise from her tomb, the darkness peeling off of her like layers of skin. Instead of being the shadows, she was surrounded by them.

            Now within herself, she felt small and cold. Smooth fabric spread out beneath her fingers. Hard narrow walls surrounded her. She was boxed in with little room to live. Her gaping mouth could draw in no air. Her ears perked up, trying to pinpoint the distant whispering. It spoke to her. She realized now it had always been speaking but, at it told her, she hadn't been worthy until now. It told her everything it couldn't before, and it was almost too much; her lungs were on fire, and her senses were growing fuzzy. A casket was no place for a living body.

            The voice filled her. It wanted her. It needed her. And who was she to refuse? It spoke from no direction, coming from nowhere yet everywhere. It knew she couldn’t decline its plea. It knew that she knew. And it was willing to exploit her - not that it had need. She didn’t know who she was, but she knew she existed for Him and Him alone.

            The box opened, letting in dull moonlight. Her lungs filled with the fresh air of night. She had been granted permission to leave her wooden prison, but she knew she could never escape His watchful eye. In life, she was young and free. She had known no master. Now she knew the illusion her life had truly been. He held the leash, and she followed obediently.

            Slowly she - the spectre - climbed from the box. Her form was foreign and unresponsive. She felt no gravity pulling on her as she tenderly lowered herself to the ground. The grass withered beneath her soundless feet. She didn’t take steps so much as her feet materialized just before her. She let instinct guide her through the familiar yet unknown environment. She paused several times before the headstones, her eyes straining, but the sun's light had not yet come. The stories and identities the stones told were lost to her.

            It wasn’t until (after much aimless wandering) she stepped foot inside the rows of buildings that she knew any goal. It was there that she saw him. He, the reckless youth who, with his mechanical steed, forced her from his world. He, who so carelessly stole what was hers. He who did naught but waste the gift of which she had so frivolously been deprived. He stood there, not a city block away. The spectre boiled at the sight.

            A deep longing settled in what substituted for her chest. It drove her forward, at speeds greater than the most arrogant of the living could hope to match. She cut through the crisp air, nothing but a phantom. He turned, uncertainty plain on his face. His eyes stared in her direction, but she couldn’t be detected by his paltry senses. He knew nothing of his danger, of how close his end was.

            Her nails drove deep. Scarlett tongues splashed her, graciously filling her gaping maw. Her very essence shuddered with pleasure. A long and involuntary hissing moan emanated from her dripping lips. With a flick of her wrist, she separated his head from his body. A terrible wrong had been righted. Justice had been served.

            The gravity of the mortal world now pulled on her. Her legs became solid beneath her. A heavy pit formed in her chest, squeezed by brittle bones. Translucent lashes of golden brown cascaded down her head and past her shoulders, straight as could be.

            She heard a whisper, and she followed it to the most prominent structure in the small town. The building was no doubt grand to those unwise to the truth, to the residents of this foolish plane: those who valued status and frivolous things over necessity and comfort. But she knew the truth. The needless vanity meant nothing to her. Her heart burned inside her. The stolen blood pounded in her ears. She twitched her fingers, trying to make a fist but struggling with the motion. No matter.

            The front door did nothing to hinder her progress. It took her mere moment to reduce it to shambles lying on the groomed lawn. Her body trembled as she stepped through the doorframe.

Involuntarily, her head bent back, and again came a low ghastly wail, echoing throughout the house. Had the inhabitants not been so blind to their senses, they might have heard it. As they were, they couldn't have had the slightest inkling anything was amiss.

            She climbed the stairs, her feet making only the slightest impact on the carpeted faces. Her breath left her when she came to face the door. That door. The one with that lock. (A memory from a previous age returned to her: "Never go in here. Off limits.") She placed her hands against its smooth surface. She exhaled, and the temperature in the hall dropped. She pushed. The door didn’t budge. This was no ordinary door; nothing born of this world could withstand her force. Something was interfering, supporting the door and blocking her might. She would not let this blasphemy stand. Had she the full body of a human, opening the door would have been simple. But in this form, her body could not pass. She would have to sate herself further

            Her voice might not have been detectable to the pitiful mortals, but even they couldn’t avoid the frantic scratching and rattling of the gilded doorknob. Within moments, the four members of the house were at the locked door, whispering amongst themselves and sharing foolish words of safety. She felt immeasurable glee well inside her as she swung her arm through the neck of the jealous one whom she once craddled in her arms. Maybe now he would know his place and show due respect to the eldest child. His life water sprayed his parents, who stood in open-mouthed shock. The young sister, her body just starting to mature, shrieked. She, The Young one, the Favorite. She who never needed to lift a finger to get want she wanted. The girl who knew nothing of hardship or pain.

            With sinister abandon, the spectre lapped the blood from the walls, ecstasy sending chills down her spine. Mortal pain racked her as tissue and marrow were bound around her wisp of a body. She growled in agony.

            Then they saw her. Oh yes, at long last, they saw her: the forgotten daughter, the firstborn. The one who had been taken prematurely. The one whose potential was never seen. They saw, and they would soon know the pain brought by the scorn of blood. They would soon understand what they failed to cherish.

            A wicked grin grew on her face. She took one step forward and watched with glee as they fearfully backed away. Another step forward, another step away. Again. The man’s eyes locked with hers. He could not have fathomed the depth of her wrath, but he would feel it soon enough.

            One moment. That’s all it took for the ones who gave her life to be acquainted with Death. This much was only fair. After all, she was already familiar with it. It had forced himself upon her and had its way with her. Why should those who failed her not experience the same?

That left only the little one standing in shock, her beautiful, petite features indiscernible behind the crimson that dripped down her face. She looked up. Her eyes were filled such pure, distilled, delicious terror. Her lips quivered. A shaky whisper barely escaped. “Lauren?”

            The young girl's eyes widened as a hole was punched into her chest. She looked down with only mild, incomprehensive surprise before falling. The girl’s supple body scarcely made a noise as it hit the floor.

            The spectre knelt down, pressed her thickening lips to the girl's ribs, and drank deeply. A wave of pure elation nearly swept her off her feet. She stiffly rose, burdened by the meat and muscle that now clung to her. She brought her hand level to her eyes. She closed it, made a slight turning motion, one that could open a door. She smiled.

            Every moment brought her greater and greater control of her new form as the mortals' blood made its way through her system. Her memories returned and became clear. Her body thickened. She had the slender frame she kept while alive, but even this body felt monumental compared to the ethereal one she had just moments ago. She spared a passing glance at the bodies littering the hall. Her head buzzed deafeningly. The already dim light in the hall spilled out, wetting her face and blanketing her sight with meaningless blurs. She blinked twice and rubbed her eyes. Not now.

            She looked back at the door. Just a few minutes ago it seemed so impenetrable. But now, it appeared just as it was: a simple slab of oak. She wrapped her hand around the knob and pulled. She met no resistance. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the vase in the middle of the room, atop a decorative desk. This was it. This was why she was here, why He sent her - she could feel it.

            The spectre took one step forward and hit a wall where the door formerly was. It wasn’t physically there, of course. She may have been almost human now, but she was still too much of a spirit. She couldn’t get close to the vase; it held her grandfather’s ashes and had been blessed by his "business associate". She'd been too stupid as a mortal girl to realize what had happened, but she knew now. Her spectre would not be able to get close. Her meat-and-bone body would need to be complete before she could get close to it. With the blood rushing through her, it was only a matter of time before her earthly tether grew stronger and she could pass to anyone as alive.

            She closed her eyes, feeling the blood of her blood course through her veins. Years of a childhood long since forgotten came flooding back: endless smiling faces, laughter, birthday cakes and candles, a first kiss, her sister's soccer games, the accident that ended her own life. Her throat tightened, her heart racing and eyes stinging. She chided herself; she would never have stood for such weakness and emotion mere minutes ago. There was no time for such pointless things.

            Taking a hesitant breath. Lauren took one step forward. Nothing. No barrier, no difficulty. Just a doorframe. She had half a mind to smile at the progress. It disgusted her to wear the skin of mortals and feel their petty emotions, but she had no choice. She had to make the sacrifice to serve her mission.

            The creaking of the floorboards beneath her feet gave her a start. She tightened her jaw as she closed the rest of the distance. Holding back her trepidation, she hefted the vase, held it close to her ear, and shook it. Oh, how interesting. There was more to this vase than could be understood by the human mind, but she felt it just fine using what remained of her otherworldly senses. She laughed once, without humor. The poor fool. He had been stuck inside this thing since the funeral, floating aimlessly through the limbo, hadn’t he? He had gone through a lot of trouble to free himself. She didn’t understand how he had managed to retrieve her soul, but it didn’t really matter. She was here and one step away from being done. She could rest in peace after. The thought sent a chill down her spine. She swallowed.

She smashed the vase on the floor. She didn’t know what she expected, but what happened wasn’t it. The vase broke. There was no great commotion. It simply shattered. The ashes scattered around the carpeted floor, stirring up a fine layer of dust. She was almost disappointed. But then something more happened.

            The ash and dust amalgamated just before her, forming a silhouette. Icy hands gripped her heart. Pitiful, disgusting fear overwhelmed her. Stupidly, she felt regret, not toward freeing Him but for what she'd done to her family.

The voice returned. It said no words - what use did it have for such artificial things? - but she heard the message clearly: her work was done here. The dust dispersed with a strong gust, blowing back the hair that she used to be so proud of. A puff of air escaped her lips as her body went limp and fell to the floor in a heap.

            Part of herself was heartbroken. Why had she been given life just to have it pulled away after so short a time?  Her grandfather had never been a kind man, but this was nothing short of cruel.

            A single tear streaked down her face as her essence was forcefully ripped from her mortal coil. She slowly began to fade. Her last thought was of her family. Everything that happened this night . . . it was all her fault. She was a monster.

© 2019 Jacob Clifford


Author's Note

Jacob Clifford
Thank you for reading! This is the first "real" short story I've written in a while, and I wanted to give it far attention. Now tell me ... What do you guys think? Any suggestions? Opinions? Hate comments? I would like to read it all!

Awarded 3rd place in the "Create a Horror Story!" contest.

Awarded 3rd place in the "Scare a Horror Author" contest.

Awarded "Lovely Darkness" in the "Lovely Darkness" contest.

My Review

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Featured Review

A hauntingly beautiful, scary and imaginative piece. I always enjoy a horror story from the perspective of the monster. However... I can't believe that she was willing to sacrifice those she loved so that she could 'live again'. That her grandfather was a necromancer who cast a spell upon her that she could not resist is one thing but then all of her thoughts seemed to be about revenge - in other words she hated her family; but why? It was an accident that killed her, not her family. All I'm saying is that I don't buy her motivation. But, as I said, this is powerfully written and I enjoyed it greatly - perhaps the problem is that I don't believe in evil?

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

5 Years Ago

You raise a very good point. On the surface, it does seem like she wouldn't have a reason to feel ve.. read more



Reviews

A hauntingly beautiful, scary and imaginative piece. I always enjoy a horror story from the perspective of the monster. However... I can't believe that she was willing to sacrifice those she loved so that she could 'live again'. That her grandfather was a necromancer who cast a spell upon her that she could not resist is one thing but then all of her thoughts seemed to be about revenge - in other words she hated her family; but why? It was an accident that killed her, not her family. All I'm saying is that I don't buy her motivation. But, as I said, this is powerfully written and I enjoyed it greatly - perhaps the problem is that I don't believe in evil?

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

5 Years Ago

You raise a very good point. On the surface, it does seem like she wouldn't have a reason to feel ve.. read more
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A perfectly understandable story, Clifford. I have no idea why some readers have struggled to grasp the ideas behind it!

A life taken. Given a chance at rebirth, but only at a price. Once the evil deeds have been performed, on her own kin, does she succeed in her mission...to free the spirit of her Grandfather from oblivion, only to have that chance at rebirth snatched away in an instant. Evil has tricked evil.

This is a very good short story. Very well articulated and described. And certainly gruesome in parts! I enjoyed this one very much. Very well done, Clifford.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

5 Years Ago

I've always been a bit puzzled about the confusion, as well. Parts of the story are mysterious, but .. read more
This was confusing... but in a good way. Correction, in a GREAT way. I was left wondering what exactly she had become. But that was alright. I got a sense that what she had truly become was something much darker and much further from mankind, and sometimes, the unknown is the greatest horror.



This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

5 Years Ago

Thank you, Ellis. The unknown certainly can be confusing, and I tried playing to that realization. T.. read more
I think over all it is a strong and intense story -- makes you want to know more. Very minor tweaks which may previously have been mentioned infallible certainty should be just certainty. The second infallible should be impenetrable, as it refers to an oak door. Lastly, aught should be naught. In terms of big edits, I don't really see any, other than if you want to add and build upon the story.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

6 Years Ago

I appreciate your input. After I quick search, I believe you're correct about naught instead of augh.. read more
Lyn Anderson

6 Years Ago

That is your call. It is not an error, per se, but more a suggestion. For such a complex idea it is .. read more
I admire the way you've written this story in an abstract way, such that I could not get a firm grasp on what this is about, yet the action is vivid & compelling all along. Your word-crafting is imaginative & fitting the macabre genre . . . & I apologize for not being a huge fan of this style, such that I cannot make much sense of this story . . . other than to just say the writing is strong & interesting.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

barleygirl

6 Years Ago

I also agree about not changing a story like this. Sometimes, later on, we re-write the idea in a di.. read more
barleygirl

5 Years Ago

Congrats on winning 3rd in the contest . . . (((HUGS)))
Jacob Clifford

5 Years Ago

Thank you!
You have built up the character very well. Dark and dangerous.
A very different kind of story. How she returns to avenge herself.
The ending is also very nice and unexpected.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

6 Years Ago

Thanks for stopping by.
How did you write something this abstract, in such a way that my concrete brain was fascinated with. Rarely does someone writes a piece like this grips me like this one did. So engaging.
There is some awkwardness in the paragraph that begins: "Her voice might not..."

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Shannon

6 Years Ago

First two sentences have some wording that makes my stumble. Avoiding the door knob. The thing abo.. read more
Jacob Clifford

6 Years Ago

Thank you very much for your input. I made a few quick tweaks.
Shannon

6 Years Ago

So much better. You are welcome. Anytime.
Very fascinating Cliff.

"...faster than the most arrogant of the living could hope to match. "

"...as her essence was forcefully pulled from her mortal coil."

Justice had been served" -- all I could imagine after this line was a huge storm cloud of "vengeance" forming overhead.

I love your transitioning and change of scenes imagery. You're able to write abstractly, yet pull the reader back to reality on your command. You provide a sense of gravity amidst freedom. I imagine a sun or planet with orbiting moons or something. You speak of grace, yet this is written with a force. This is really cool and goes far beyond typical expectations. You leave me curious and "light" - congratulations, my friend.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

6 Years Ago

Thank you for such a kind review, Phoenix. This story is fairly old (by internet standards, anyway),.. read more
PhoenixDown

6 Years Ago

Also meant to comment on the first 2 quotes I included - It is through lines like those that you rea.. read more
This is a very interesting story and I really liked the suspense of the story, especially in the beginning. The capitalizing of the word "Him" had me confused there but as I read more deeply into the story I finally understood what Him referred to. The story was very intense and I would like to commend you for your creativity. Keep up the good work and I wish you good luck in your future endeavors. I look forward to reading more works by you in the future.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

6 Years Ago

Thank you very much, Desiree. This story has always felt to like like a confusing mess, but I'm glad.. read more
Desirée Tolliver

6 Years Ago

You're Welcome
Your capitalization of Him, together with your title, deceives readers into thinking they know what they're going to get, so that as the story progresses, and the plot materializes, curiosity is heightened. This brilliantly dark story is marred a little by some awkward sentences, such as "It wasn't until she knew with that infallible certainty did the whisperings cease." If you could clean those up, I think you'd have a very desirable piece here.

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jacob Clifford

6 Years Ago

Thank you, Roland. I agree: many sentences are strange. I was going for a certain kind of tone when .. read more

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Added on January 7, 2016
Last Updated on January 28, 2019

Author

Jacob Clifford
Jacob Clifford

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About
Thank you, my Cafe family, for all that you have done for me. This has been a wonderful period of my life. If any of you ever want to reach me, feel free to send me an email at [email protected] more..

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