The Last Sunrise - A Short Story
When I was a sophomore in high school, I read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. Needless to say, like many teenage girls I was obsessed. It was the cusp of the vampire phenomena which is where the idea for this short story originated. "The Last Sunrise" was written my senior year of high school.
The moonlight danced across the river, silently and eerily moving downstream. I stepped through the creaking leaves and fallen twigs quiet as a mouse searching for the source of my eager curiosity. My hearing alert and all nerves on end, I scoped the dark foreboding forest itching to see movement. The seconds crept on, while I breathed and observed.
Suddenly my heart skipped, and eyes flashed as I sensed it again the undeniable movement of something unseen. I inhaled deeply; the scent of dried blood filled my nose. The object of interest was close. I had a strange feeling I was the one hunted; there are wolves in the forest.... My body became consumed with both fear and excitement because of course, it could be a large buck. I held my breath and slowly turned around.
In a whirl of movement, the something attacked, and quite abruptly a searing pain overcame me. I collapsed, out of my mind in agony. As my mouth fell open with my moans, I felt warm drops of some strange metallic liquid on my lips and tongue.
Bright beams of golden sunshine slowly crept up over the horizon. I could see them faintly as I awoke some time later. A dull ache still lingered on my neck. I sat up and immediately my head started to swim. I slowly got to my unsteady feet, my head spinning. My hand reached up to my neck, and my fingers searched for the cause of pain. They lingered over two open fresh wounds. They were small and close together, blood slowly seeping out. Confusion spread through me like fire. Through my mind flashed a picture, my wife. I knew one thing that I had to make it home to her. My eyes searched for a familiar sight. I saw one off to the far right and took it back to the village.
Our village was a small one on the outskirts of the town where Lord and Lady Naylor lived, no more than fifteen families lived here. It was made up of quaint stone houses with thatched roofs. The village was surrounded by a rock fence and our livestock around that. I followed the little pebble path to my home stumbling all the way.
It was just after sunrise so as I opened the door and walked in I tried not to wake my wife, Ophelia. It was a bitterly frigid morning, and I felt colder than usual, so I took a seat by the fire to warm my frozen skin and unusually cold feet.
"Grant, honey what are you doing? I thought you were out hunting." My wife shook me awake.
"Oh... I never spotted anything, so I came home. I stayed in here so I wouldn't wake you." Though I had been sitting by the fire, my insides were cold, and I was still shivering. Ophelia leaned down and wrapped here arms around me. "Good Lord Grant your stone cold," Ophelia said staring at me in worry. "Do you feel ok?"
"No... I don't feel well actually."
"Well you need to go to bed, I'll make you hot soup to warm you up."
It felt so good to lie sown on the straw bed. I pulled warm wool covers up around my neck and tried to get comfortable. The comfort didn't last long. The wool rubbed against my neck wound making the wound sting worse. I decided just to lay on top of the covers.
Ophelia, bringing soup, came through the archway. Her beauty still stunned me. Cabbage soup an aura that usually engulfed me with hunger now smelled dull and bland. She handed me the bowl, and I slurped down a spoon full. The taste was unbearably bad, but I finished it all the same. I really must be sick; I thought to myself.
"Now you'll feel better, just get under the warm covers and get some sleep," Ophelia said smiling down at me. I tried to position my neck so that she couldn't see my wound. She kissed me on the forehead and left to let me sleep.
I got back under the covers so Ophelia wouldn't suspect anything, and though I had the lingering taste of sour cabbage in my mouth, and my neck stung I managed to fall into an uneasy sleep. I tossed and turned, nightmares running through my mind sending me into a cold sweat. I dreamed that I was in our garden planting tomatoes. From an omnipresent position, I could see Ophelia as she came out of the house and came to me smiling sweetly. As I turned around, I saw my face twisted into an evil grin smiling pointed fangs, poised ready for attack, she screamed.
I woke suddenly breathing deeply, shaking uncontrollably. The dream had seemed so real, almost too real. I have to leave, I thought to myself. I got up and climbed out the window. My landing was hard; I hoped no one heard me. I took off running to the forest. I had to find what did this to me, and what was happening to me.
When I got to the forest night had fallen. I tripped over a branch and landed sprawled on all fours inhaling sharp, raspy breaths. I went to a sitting position as the pain started again. Then falling to my back, boiling water bubbled up inside me. I opened my mouth to scream, but I couldn't hear it. My heart beat thudded against my ear drums, as I squirmed on the forest floor. I was being ripped from my body, left and right, piece by piece; the pounding grew louder. My body was surely going to shatter, and then my heart beat stopped. All senses stopped as I lay on the ground. I was dead, I had to be, but if I was dead, why could I still feel pain?
I opened my eyes and cautiously got to my feet, I was amazed at what I saw. The world had changed, every leaf, every tree, every star, everything. The world had become darker and alive. I noticed a color I had never seen before and other things I had never noticed. From far off I could see the movements of deer and squirrel. I could hear every spider crawling on the ground. This was like a dream. I reached to feel my neck and the wound was gone. My skin was pearly white, the veins very pronounced. I felt my neck again; there was no pulse. How is this possible?, I thought to myself.
Was I dreaming? I pinched myself, and I felt it, this was no dream, nor a nightmare. I felt my body and my face seeing what had changed, I was hard as stone. What is wrong with me? My stomach was overcome with a ravenous hunger I had never encountered before. I looked around listening intently. I started walking.
A little farther along a rabbit came across my path. When I glanced down at it, I could hear its heartbeat in my ears. I wanted it. The rabbit looked at me and started to hop off. Instinctively, I grabbed it and brought it to my mouth. Without a single thought in my head, I bit into its body. The taste was very salty I didn't actually find it appetizing, but the warm blood soothed me.
I drained it of its blood and let it fall to the ground with a thump. With the blood still dripping down my mouth, I suddenly realized what I had done. I could not believe it; I was beside myself with disgust. Why would I have done such a thing? Remember how much peace it brought you? A faint voice said in my head. I hated myself for thinking that, for doing that. I would surely be condemned for this. I turned from my victim and ran. Trying to run from the memory of what I had just done.
The next day I wandered through the forest, snow lightly falling onto the pine needle-strewn ground. I feared going back to the village and also feared what I would do if I stayed in the forest. There was something wrong with me. What have I become? Who or what did this to me? Why did they do this to me? Would I ever see my beloved wife again? I sat leaning on a tree lost in thought for hours. Finally, a black cloud covered the sky; it was night. I wanted to see my Ophelia, for one last time. I was unsure of what would happen, so I was very nervous. I walked back through the mass of trees to my village. I did not even have to try to be quiet; I seemed to float over the ground making no noise at all.
I found my home and walked in. In the back room, Ophelia lay asleep in bed. Her face looked sad; I'm sure she had been worried about me. My heart ached for what I had done to her. All I wanted to do was touch her. I took a tentative step out of the archway towards the bed. With each step towards her, her heartbeat grew louder. A strong force came over me ten times stronger than the one I felt with the rabbit. I wanted to hurt her, to bite her, to taste her. The force pulled me closer to her. Then my sane voice came to me, this is your wife what are you doing?! Then I remembered my dream, Ophelia's eyes flashed open slightly, horror came over me, and I turned and sprinted out of the house. I didn't stop for at least an hour then I collapsed sobbing to the ground. I wanted to hurt myself for wanting to hurt her. That was the last time I would ever see Ophelia. I could never return to my village or any village in fact. I would have to make my way as a loner, feeding off small animals never to see human life again. I was a monster. There was no hope for my soul. I was not tired. I just sat loathing myself. I needed to get away as soon as possible. I could not stay, or I would be tempted to visit my Ophelia. As I walked the night breeze blew against my face, and I caught a scent of fresh blood. It must be big if I can smell it from far away, so I followed the scent to find it. I searched through the tangle of trees and branches.
A ways off I saw an object lying in a heap on the forest floor. Again the scent of blood excited me and lured me closer. I stopped in my tracks a few feet from the body; I knew who it was. I was too overcome with shock and disbelief to scream, or even cry. My beloved Ophelia lay dying before me covered in her blood. Nearby I saw, a pack of wolves and understanding swept over me. Anger erupted inside, and I charged at the pack flashing my fangs, the wolves howled and ran off.
She must have seen me when I was at our home and came to look for me, but they found her first. I came back over to her, the open wounds seeping. Though I craved her blood, I resisted the urge. It is all my fault I thought to myself. I took her frail body in my arms and cradled it. She was still breathing, and I could hear her pulse. A million ideas came to my mind. What do I do? Where can I take her? Then instinctively I knew. It was so simple; I could save her.
I looked down at Ophelia, opened my mouth and lowered my fangs towards her neck.
Yours Truly, LeNae
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Image - https://www.splitshire.com/sunrise/