Sunday, 24 February 2013

Prep Time

Thursday. In preparation for the weekend I spend the evening doing a check on my equipment:
-       1 tin of white spray paint
-       1 bottle of holy water, along with a pouch of balloons for making holy water grenades. 
-       Wooden stakes. The first ones I made were too thick. But they don’t need to be very thick at all, just thick enough to take a blow from a hammer. They need to be thin enough to slip in between the rib cage. They don’t need to be very long either. No more than 30 centimetres will do, the length of a ruler. Small enough to cram into my backpack. Small enough to hide in my clothes. To make them all I did was buy a couple of cheap strips of pine wood from B and Q, then I sawed them up and sharpened them at one end. .
-       1 hammer, to make it easier to drive the stake into the heart.
-       A small mirror. They don’t have a reflection, so it’s a good way of telling friend from foe.
-       1 plastic bottle of paraffin, tightly sealed, and a box of matches. Fire can kill them just as easily.
-       2 torches, (any halogen model is the best).
-       Spare batteries.
-       A length of rope, just in case of any climbing. A lot of the tunnel entrances are fenced up now.
-       2 crucifixes. Defensive weapon, although I noticed that the crucifix becomes much less powerful as it gets darker.
-       Cloves of garlic.
-       2 lightsticks. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Unfinished Business

Tuesday, after school, I head back down the track just before dinner. I’m not here to search for Jamie. I’ve got unfinished business.
I’m standing before the mouth of a disused railway tunnel. A gaping black mouth overgrown with thick knotted ivy. The darkness alone, deep and suffocating, would be enough to put most people off. And the curtain of damp, and the coldness of the air. And the silence. The deathly silence. But not me. I don’t hesitate. I’m not scared. I’ve learnt that hatred is much stronger than fear.
To think that this place had once been our playground. A place we came to for adventures. It seems a long time ago now. It was an exciting world back then. If only we’d known. We would never have come down here in the first place.
Back in Victorian times these tunnels had been busy. They were a vital link to the docks and the steamships that sailed across the ocean. But the line has been shut down for decades now. The iron rails are rusted, and the wooden sleepers are going through the long slow process of decay, crumbling to dust.
The track runs mostly under the townspeople’s feet. It runs through a series of long, dark tunnels. Here and there it comes out into the half-light, sunk below embankments overgrown with trees, bushes and weeds. The tunnels were miracles of engineering, but they’ve been left to ruin, overcome by nature. It’s a place that has been truly forgotten about.
The only people who ever come here - apart from kids like me and Jamie - are those who want to avoid the police: underage drinkers and drug addicts. Their litter is scattered about at the tunnel entrances: broken bottles, cans and used syringes. I’m not scared of them either.
            The rest of the track has already been cleansed. Me and Jamie did most of it together. I did some of it myself after....after. This tunnel is the last one left on the track. After this, they can never return here.
Jamie - my mind never strays from him too long. Only a matter of weeks ago we were fighting those creatures together. And now he’s gone. They took him from me. I’m burning, broiling with rage and determination as I stride into the blackness.
This tunnel is one of the longest ones. There’s no light showing from the other end. I switch my torch on. It’s a halogen model, one of the best I could buy with my pocket money. It floods the interior with light.
The walls are still smoke blackened. I think of the thousands of steam engines that ran through here during the glory days. But now the blackened roof is covered in wet slimy patches, green with moss and dripping wet.
I strut from sleeper to sleeper, swinging the torch from side to side. I’m determined that no hole, no corner will be left unexplored, uncleansed. All I can hear is the echoing sound of my own footsteps. It’s not long before the light from the other end appears round the bend.
There are no doorways, no maintenance hatches, not even a recess. That means there are no hiding places, and nowhere for them to sleep securely away from the daylight.
Finally I reach the end, walking out into the open air and switching off my torch. A hundred yards ahead the track comes to a halt at a ten foot high galvanised steel fence. On the other side, the track intersects with the main line, the one that trains still use. The red signal lights are visible, and the railtops are of smooth polished silver.
I linger there for a moment, imagining Jamie at my side, just like he had been before. I suddenly feel downhearted. Now that I’ve reached the end, that I’ve cleansed the track completely, it dawns on me just how far away he is, how out of reach. How the heck am I ever going to find him?.
That creature, the boy with the piercing red eyes, he knew I’d be looking for them. He had looked into my eyes and into my mind, and he had read my thoughts. He could see I wasn’t going to give up. In his place I would have been far away by now.
I turn back to face the tunnel. I peel off my backpack, reach inside and pull out a can of white spray-paint and a bottle of holy water. I spray some large crucifixes on the walls. Then I splash some of the water around the tunnel entrances.

Thursday, 27 September 2012


Monday afternoon, and I’m in history. I’m going through all the motions, pretending that I’m listening and taking notes, but the eyes are vacant. The kings and queens, the ancient wars, the names of people long dead, they mean nothing, they just wash over me. The past is done, dead, and the dead are beyond saving. But Jamie isn’t dead yet, I’m sure of it. He can still be saved. Saving him is all I can think about.
I’m still quite new at this school, since we moved here just recently. But there’s been time enough for Jamie and me to become best pals, even brothers. It was me and him who discovered those creatures in the tunnel. It was me and him who fought them, and it was together, and only together that we’d managed to kill one of them and escape with our lives.
And now he is gone. They’d had taken him. Maybe it was some kind of revenge. I don’t know. But what I do know is that every day, every hour, every minute that passes will see Jamie becoming less human, and more and more like one of them. My face is a picture of calmness to the outside world, but inside I feel like I’m burning up. Burning with anger, with frustration, with impatience. I want nothing more than to get out of this class, out of this school, to bunk off, head straight back down the track and go searching for him. Having to wait until the weekend is eating me up. Yet I have to fight it back. I have to keep a lid on it. I have to appear normal so as no one gets suspicious. There are enough eyes on me already after what happened.
The bell rings. We file out. I don’t talk to any of my classmates, don’t even meet any of their gazes, which are filled with a mixture of pity and morbid curiosity. They’re like car drivers slowing down to gawp at a train wreck. Most of them have been giving me a wide berth, which suits me.
Sometimes as I walk down the corridor I can feel the eyes on me, and I can hear them whispering to each other: “That’s the boy, his mate Stan was the one that got snatched.”
None of it bothers me much. It’s nothing to the demons plaguing my mind.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


The back door opens, and I’m flooded by light and warmth. Mum is sitting at the table, a mug of tea and a magazine in front of her. She looks up and sees me standing there, dripping wet like a drowned rat.
“Son, you’re soaking.” She runs for a towel.
“I’m fine, Mum, really.” I protest as she drags me over to the gas fire and starts drying me off, rubbing my hair furiously.
“Where have you been anyway?”
“Just in town with a few mates.”
Mum has been worried about me since the night Jamie was taken. I’ve never told her the truth. And why would I? She would never believe me anyway. She’d probably think I was mad. She might even take me to a psychiatrist. I’ve been putting on a face for her. I didn’t need to hide my shock at the beginning. Everybody was shocked. But I’ve toned it down since. I’ve hidden lots from her. I just don’t want her to be concerned.
“Get yourself upstairs and change out of those clothes,” she says when she finishes.
My room is where I feel safest. Which is strange, as the creature that I’ve been searching for, he knows exactly where I am. He’s been here. I still remember his eyes staring through my skylight window. Burning eyes, watching me from the other side of the glass. He hypnotized Jamie into opening the window, and then he snatched him out.  He knows exactly where to find me. He could come for me any time he wants. But that would be a mistake. I’ve made a lot of changes since then. I’ve made it safe. It might not look it, but it’s a fortress. There are crucifixes everywhere. I hidden them, but they’re there. And that’s not the half of it. The window ledge, for example, is lined with a paste I made out of garlic and holy water. I’m protected here, like I am nowhere else.
I unroll a large map across my bed. I stare at it for a while. Then I trace my finger along the town’s disused railway track, following it upriver until it joins the main railway line. On it goes, heading for the urban sprawl that is the city.
I’m not going to be able to do any serious searching during the week. I have school to go to. As much as I’d like to bunk off, I can’t. I have to keep up the pretence of having a normal life, and besides I can’t cause any more waves than I already have. I need everyone to think I’m back to normal. There’s no time after school either. There just aren’t enough hours of daylight left. And there’s nowhere left nearby for me to search.
Next weekend. The frustration is going to kill me. I keep thinking of Jamie. Every day, every hour he spends with that creature he’ll be resisting, but his resistance can’t last forever. He’s suffering, I know it. And slowly but surely he’ll be losing, as his humanity is sliced away piece by piece. I only hope I can have more luck next week.
The least I can do then is make sure I’m totally prepared. I open my notebook and jot down a list of things I can do. I need to get on the internet and check google. I need to find out what disused railway lines the city has and how I can get access to them. I need to visit the library, do some research, scan newspapers and the internet for any strange disappearances or unexplained deaths, even reports of big cats.
When I finish I put my cheery face back on and go downstairs. Mum and I eat dinner silently. I’m not in the mood for conversation, but then I have a thought.
“Mum, where does Auntie Susan live again?”
Auntie Susan was Mum’s sister, and I knew fine well where she lived: the city. “It’s just that it’s been a while since I’ve seen her. Do you think it would be okay if I went and visited her for a few days?”

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Taking Chances

The sky is getting darker. One by one the streetlamps are coming on, their amber light reflecting in the sheen of rain on the tarmac. I’m standing on a real railway platform this time, waiting on my train home.
But the train is late. I’m getting anxious. I should’ve been home by now. I should've been safe in my own room, the one place that I know is secure against them. I’ve turned it a fortress. Daytime is my time to hunt. And night time is theirs.
Finally it pulls into the station. I wait for everyone else to get on first. Then I take a final look around my shoulder. One thing I've learnt through bitter experience is to always check my back. You never know who - or more importantly what - is trailing you. Then, just as the doors are about to swish shut, I step inside and find a seat.
I keep my head down, my hood up, and my headphones in for the whole journey. I avoid eye contact with everyone. At one stop, a group of people from my year at school get on. Sarah Taylor is one of them. Sarah lives just round the corner from me. We sometimes say hello to each other in passing. She’s a slender, pretty girl with long red hair. The group she is with are all smiling, laughing. They’re on their way home from the bowling alley. I think about how carefree and how innocent my life used to be, before it got snatched away. I really want to be with them, to be one of them, living a normal life. But that could never happen, not now, not after all I’ve been through. 
I get off the train a stop early. A wave of blustery rain has moved in off the firth. Other people are running for cover, but not me. I just keep walking. Rain is good. It washes away your scent, makes your trail harder to follow. Crowds too, as your trail gets diluted by all the others. It’s almost fully dark now, I have to be extra cautious, so I take the long route home, through the main mall, even cutting in and out of various department stores. I reckon this is enough to throw any pursuer off my tail. 
As I near my house, the rain is lashing now and my head is down against it. The streets are quiet and empty. I can feel myself coiling up. My mouth is dry, my heart beating fast. I imagine him, that boy with the piercing red eyes, waiting for me in a dark corner, readying himself to pounce. And if he did, I would have no chance. No one would hear, no one would see. There’d be no one to help.
I run the rest of the way. I know I’ve made a mistake tonight. I dallied too long, I took a risk with the train and put myself in danger.  I’m going to have to be more careful in future.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Life or Death

            He’s fast. With a swipe of his hand my stake and mallet are gone, catapulted against the wall and smashed like matchsticks. Then his fist connects with my chest. The blow is like a cannonball. It knocks the wind out of me, catapulting me backwards through the air.
            I land with a crack. Then I’m tumbling. Over and over. I only come to a halt when I hit the back wall. Everything is going in slow motion. I’m stunned, senseless. My temples are throbbing and my eyes feel like they are bulging out of my head. There’s a salty taste on my lips too. Is it blood? I have no time to check. He’s already on me.
I look up at him, illuminating his white hellish face in my headlight. There is triumph in his eyes. He thinks he’s won.
            The creature rears up slightly. I’ve seen this many times. He’s coiling, like a snake about to strike. But I’m not done yet. Not by a long shot. I’m too prepared, and I’ve been through it too many times before. In the split second I have left before he pounces I reach into my leg pocket and pull out a water pistol. It’s a small, plastic yellow toy, something I got free with a magazine when I was 10. Harmless to humans. But when it’s filled with Holy Water it is anything but to these creatures. It’s a lethal weapon.
            He’s descending on me now. His sharp canine teeth are exposed. He’s reaching, his hands white and bony, his fingers, long, slender and claw-like. I have just enough time to angle the pistol at his face and pull the trigger.
            A streak of water jets out and hits him square in the face. He jerks back, throws his hands to his face, screams. It’s a shrill, piercing scream and I have to cover up my ears to protect my eardrums.
            He collapses on the ground, writhes in agony, kicking up the long-undisturbed dust. His face is sizzling. It’s giving off smoke. The holy water is like acid to them. And it’s the least they deserve. I have no sympathy.
            But there’s no time to waste spectating. I open my bag and pick out another stake. This one will have to be hammered in with a shoe if need be. I jump onto his chest, rip open his shirt. He’s in too much pain to resist. I grasp the stake in both hands and drive if into his chest. I’m surprised how easy it goes in. The shoe wasn’t even required.
            I can feel the stake pierce the creature’s heart. You can tell, it’s always softer than the rest of the flesh, and it gives easier. He roars and throws me off. I tumble against the back wall, cracking my head against stone. He struggles, his fingers clawing at the dirt. But the damage has been done. It’s already too late for him. By the time I get to my feet his face is dissolving, his body gurgling. Within the space of a minute all that will be left is a puddle of disgusting gunk, the nature of which I’ve never had the stomach to investigate. 
            And that’s it. I don’t give the creature another glance. I rub the bump on my head, wipe the blood off my lips. Then I leave, slamming the door behind me.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Boiler Room

It’s a large room with brick walls, empty save for some rusting machinery and 4 long, narrow boiler piles at the other end. And resting on one of those piles is a figure. Lying on its back, I can tell straight away that it is one of them. He’s bald-headed, his skin is white, tinged with blue, his eyes are sunken and his face is like a pale porcelain mask.
            I shine my torch around the place, but there are no other creatures in here. He’s alone. I creep closer. My heart feels like it’s about to burst now. I’m in a cold sweat, and fear is clawing up my back. I’m fighting it, knowing that the creature isn’t likely to wake up. Not now, not in the height of day time. Even if he did, he would be at its weakest and I would have a good chance against him.
 Now I’m close enough to see his face. I don’t recognise him. This isn’t one I’ve come up against before.
            So Jamie’s not here. Now that I know this, I feel empty and crushed, but the disappointment is tinged with relief. There’s no time to dwell on it though, and my trip isn’t wasted. I pull off my backpack and take out one of my wooden stakes and a mallet. I place my fingers on the creature’s hand. It’s ice cold. I gently lift it off his chest. Then the other hand. There’s no flicker of wakening in his face.
            He is wearing a dark overcoat, which is buttoned up to the top. I can scarcely breathe as I finger the top few buttons through their holes. One by one, I move down, constantly checking his eyes. Finally I unbutton the shirt underneath, exposing his bare chest.
 I grip the stake hard. I tuck the tip right between the ribs, just above the heart. Only now, as I’m raising my mallet to strike, does the face move.
The eyes open. Eyes that are searing, venomous, spewing with fire like the gates of hell itself.