The First Ever Straw Dog Society Chain Story
written by James Zarones, Brighton Wood, and Robert Michaud

Part Four of Countless Unwritten Numbers

    “He’s dead Michael. They killed him last night. He might have been your only way to figure things out. Now we may never know. What we can do is beat the hell out the guy that did it.”
    Michael slowly looked up, he was in a dark place sitting at the head of a large oak conference table. He couldn’t see anything but the table and his mother sitting at the other end. Her face was twisted in anger and rage. Michael could also feel it, her feelings were violent. Michael knew that she wasn’t just going to hurt the man who did it, she was really going to make him feel pain, and then she would kill him.
     “Where are we, what’s going on?” Michael asked.
“Were inside your head, you’re dreaming. We have to kill him.” Her words were cold, calculating. Michael never remembered his Mom being so angry, so full of hatred.
     “We can’t just kill him Mom, how do you even know he did it? Whoever it is that we are talking about.”
    “I know because I saw, sometimes we can see things happening in other places. THAT’S NOT IMPORTANT! We were almost safe and this murderer, this prick has ruined it all!”
    “Well I can see you don’t care about me at all. Fine, but don’t expect my help, or to hear from me for a while.”
    “MOM COME BACK! I didn’t mean to yell! I’m sorry! We can figure something out! Maybe we can call the cops or maybe there’s some vampire cops or something! Don’t leave me!”
     The image of Michael’s mother wavered and vanished. Michael lay his head down on the table and gave a sigh.
     It’s hopeless, I am cursed. Nobody can help me anymore. Maybe I should end it myself. I don’t have the guts to do something like that though. Why? Why me?
    Michael could feel weight on his back, he opened his eyes and saw the ceiling of his bedroom. He lay there at first watching the ceiling fan whir around on medium speed. It still needed to be oiled, because the old fan made a squeaking noise that used to drive him out of his mind.
     Well it wasn’t the ceiling fan that did this to me. Of course it might not hurt to make the thing stop squeaking. I don’t need to end up more psycho than I already am. Oh God the dream. Mom. She left me. What am I going to do. Maybe if I say sorry, she will forgive me.
     Michael sat up in his bed and threw the covers off of himself. He remembered the little goth kid that he had tied up and threw his glance to the side of the bed. The rope and the strip of bloodied t-shirt that was once a gag, lay on the floor discarded. Michael’s eyes darted around the room trying to see the boy. The door was slightly ajar and the boy definitely was not present. The smell of pancakes wafted into the bedroom from the kitchen. Michael sniffed for the smell and grinned. Maybe Mom was wrong. Maybe that one guy is back. Maybe we can eat food too, maybe we don’t need blood after all!
     Michael stepped out of bed excitedly and popped open his dresser drawer. Michael stepped out of the jeans and boxers that he had been wearing for the last couple of weeks. He grabbed his only clean shirt, it was white with a big yellow smiley face on it. Below that it said, “How May I help You?” with K-Mart written in Red underneath that. Hey it’s my shirt from work. I’ll bet I’ve been fired from there for sure. Wonder what Jeremy is up to these days? Maybe I will give him a buzz someday... if I ever figure out how to get out of this.
     Michael grabbed some plaid boxers and put on his favorite pair of jeans. Some black ones that he had bought for himself as a treat from the Gap in the mall. When Michael had socks and shoes on, and was all dressed he pulled the door open slowly and stepped out without making a sound.
     The smell of food did not necessarily entice Michael, it was the memories associated with it. However long ago it was that he was human, Michael used to eat then. At that moment he would have given anything to be what he once was, and for a moment, he totally forgot that he was something other than human.
    Michael rounded the corner into the kitchen stopped abruptly. The little goth kid was apparently responsible for the pancake smell, as he was eating them at the cheap table in a little nook that Michael had decided was the dining room. Michael wanted to say something but he was absolutely puzzled why the little burglar had not left when he had the chance.
     “Hey KID!” Michael halfway shouted.
     The kid who had been fully entranced by the buttery syrupy pancakes looked up quite startled. He quickly finished chewing and set down his fork. He stood up and put his napkin on the table next to his silverware.
     “It is an honor to finally make your acquaintance Michael”.
     “Who are you?! Why are you in My Apartment? Don’t try to go anywhere, I can stop you!”
    Michael spread his arms out wide and bent down, ready to jump either right or left if the boy tried to run by him.
     “We have already gotten off to the wrong foot I see. My name is London, and I am here to help you. I know what you’re going through, and I can tell you things that you need to know.”
    “DAMNIT! I knew you found out that I’m a vampire! Why are you in my apartment!”
    “Because you need my help, but I need your help too. I need your blood to live, everyday I don’t get your kinds blood is like utter torture. I can be extremely useful to you, I can protect you during the day, I can go out and do things for you if you don’t want to be near people. I am sure that if you give me a chance you won’t be sorry.”
     Michael stood quietly for a moment staring at the boy.
     “Why do you need my blood? That sounds pretty gross. How do I know that you won’t try to kill me or something? Or that if I trust you, you won’t just go tell everyone that I’m a…………a eh……vampire.”
    “I need your blood to sustain me. I don’t know why I need it, but when I don’t get it, my body is nothing but pain. I passed out on your floor because I smelled blood and it just started the pain all over again.”
     “Where am I going to get the blood to give to you? Its so hard for me to get any the way it is, much less provide for two people.”
     “You have all sorts of powers Michael, I’ve seen your kind use them, after a while, getting blood will be easy. Besides, you can just drain a little from me, and then give me the same amount that you drained. That way it doesn’t even make a difference. Plus! I can show you how to use some of your powers!”
     “What happens to you if I say no?” A look of concern flashed across Michael’s face.
    “If you say no, then I don’t know what will happen to me. I might be all right, I might not. I don’t know.”
    Michael suddenly looked very tired. Tired of living, were he not immortal, he suddenly would have looked 45 instead of 23. Michael sighed a deep sigh and clasped his hands in front of his mouth in deep thought.
     It is so disgusting. But on the other hand, he needs my help. And he can help me. But it’s so gross. I don’t know if I can just cut myself open and share some blood with him. I don’t know.
    “I tell you what London. I’m not sure if I am ready to commit just yet, but you look like you really need it. So I am going to give you some of my blood for now, and I will just have to think about it for a little while. But on these conditions. You’re going to have to go out and do little favors for me now and then. I have trouble being in public. And you’re going to have to tell me everything you know. And quite frankly I don’t know what we are going to do about money, I haven’t been to work in a long time.”
    “Thank you so much Michael! I just know that you’re not going to regret this.”
    “Look in the cupboard on your left there. You should find a syringe there from when my friend with diabetes stayed over for a few weeks. He forgot that when he left.”
Michael sat down in his brown armchair while London rustled through the little plastic bag of medical supplies that was below the sink. London found the syringe and removed it from the bag. He approached Michael cautiously and kneeled down next to the sofa.
    “I am going to need one of your arms, you don’t need to watch this if you don’t want. Don’t worry, I won’t take too much.”
    Michael lowered his wrist onto the arm of the chair. He clenched his teeth and turned his head. His eyes were closed very tightly and his entire body shook in disgust and fear. The syringe slowly plunged into Michael and the red ichor slowly filled the vile. It crept up at such a speed that London was sure the blood itself was teasing him.
     “All done. Thank you again Michael”.
    As soon as London pulled the syringe out of Michael’s arm the small hole closed up and there was no longer any evidence that anything had just been inside of Michael’s wrist.
     “Wait until I leave to drink the blood London, I really can’t stomach it. I will go into my bedroom or something while you do whatever it is that you do. If My Mom calls or comes by or something let me know, I really need to talk to her. TELL HER I said I’m sorry, all right?! I’ll just be in my room.”
    With that Michael rose up from his chair and brushed passed the now standing London. Michael realized part way down the hall that he hadn’t taken a shower before putting on his clothing. Oh freaking well. Michael closed his bedroom and felt like he might cry again. I need my Mom. I can’t get along without her. And now I’m bringing this poor boy in on this horrible nightmare. I just can’t stand it. I need to just take a deep breath, relax.
     Michael lay down on his bed and crossed his arms on his chest. He took in a deep breath and held it for a moment, then exhaled. It wasn’t until after he did this a few times that he realized for the first time, that he didn’t need to breathe anymore. But the relaxing technique helped him.
    Michael could feel himself sinking down into his tortured psyche. He felt himself lowering down into the deepest depths of his being. Michael imagined himself lying in a beautiful meadow. He could feel the grass brushing against his legs; the dew on the grass was still there from the night. The sun was bright in the sky and a peaceful breeze flowed through the trees. They swayed in unison and several birds chirped as the breeze went through their homes. Michael lay his head down onto the soft grass and felt it even tickling his nose.
     Suddenly a powerful crack sounded. It felt like a shotgun had just been fired right next to Michael’s ear. He opened his eyes and saw that it was night again In his dream realm. The trees were being whipped around by an angry wind. The grass that he was laying on had rotted and was now brown and black mush. Michael saw the lightning falling from the sky on his dream realm. He tried to scream, but what he saw next caught even his voice. A disgusting rotted corpse grabbed his chest with both arms and threw lifted him up in the air.
     “If you can’t take care of it… Then I will!”
     As the corpse spoke insects and worms crawled around on her. Something came out of the hollowed out eye socket on the left and bubbling puss dribbled out of the other eye.
    The corpse screamed a scream so loud and terrifying that Michael thought he was going to die. He tried to cover his ears but the sound was reverberating in his head. He started to scream too, but it wasn’t loud, it was meek and terrified. He couldn’t do anything but stare at the seething corpse. Its skin was mostly black with red blotches and open cuts that tissue just hung out of.
    The corpse threw Michael with supernatural strength. Halfway through the air, things went dark. Michael drifted through nothingness for a moment and then a sharp pain spread through the back of Michael’s head and back. He slid down the wall that he had been thrown against and opened his eyes. He was inside of a jail cell.
    Michael leapt to his feet and threw himself against the bars. He pulled and pushed and flailed his body about trying to wrench the bars apart. It was no good though. They wouldn’t move. Michael screamed in fear. He glanced down the hall and up, he saw that he was surrounded by thousands of other cells. A collective wail began to slowly answer Michael’s first scream. Michael backed up terrified. The wail grew louder until it made Michael’s head feel like it was going to crack. He backed into the corner and put his hands on his ears. He rocked back and forth and wailed in absolute terror. The sound of the others wailing grew even louder and Michael knew true pain, and madness.


    When London finished drinking the blood his head began to clear. His muscles stopped aching also. He could think so clearly again, it amazed him every time. He sat down at one of the chairs in the dining room and smiled. He was sure that Michael would keep him on. He was sure that Michael was truly a nice person, someone that really NEEDED London.
     An annoying tapping sound on the window began to annoy London. He crossed the dining room and stepped into the living room. A small bird was pecking on the window trying to get in or something.
    “Nothing in here little bird. Go away.”
     The little bird just kept on tapping and scratching at the window though. London really wanted to just enjoy his newly found peace. He slid open the window and batted the bird away. The fresh air felt good in the room, and God knows the room needed it.
    London began searching for cleaning supplies, maybe a broom or something. He was popping open Michael’s closet when he heard loud screams of terror emit from Michael’s room. His first instinct was to run. Then his next instinct was to go help Michael. But London knew his kind better than that. It would be better to leave the vampire to his own demons. No sound emitted from the bedroom and London stepped closer. Still no sound.
     Now his curiosity was sparked. London stepped close to the door and let his senses expand. He could smell Michael and he could hear labored breathing. The rustling of sheets. Loud footsteps echoed towards the door and London pulled his senses back, he tried to get out of the way, but it was too late. The door swung open and knocked London off his feet and behind the door. A clumsy stumbling Michael careened down the hallway. He took a left into the living room.
     “KILL THEM ALL!” Michael screamed.
    The door to the outside slammed hard and London gripped his ears. He hadn’t pulled back all of his senses yet. For the next twenty or so minutes, London had no idea about what he should do. He knew that Michael’s clan suffered from Madness, so he doubted that intervening would do any good. London decided to try and please Michael by continuing to clean the house. He grabbed the vacuum and wheeled it into the living room.


     Imre did not consider himself patient, but he knew how to wait. Huddled in another old blanket in the alley next to the apartment where Michael Swanson had called the hospital, he planned out his next move.
    He knew this Michael would be having problems. Why else would he have called a psychiatric clinic? His contacts at the phone company had rewarded him with the information of the call the night after it had happened. He hadn’t known for sure it would be one of the Touched. He still wasn’t sure. But if it was Dimitri, or another who knew him...
    Years ago, Imre had met him in Georgia. Strangely enough, he had been in the company of Ravnos, sharing with them tales he brought from Latin America. He immediately knew the fair stranger with the bright colored hair could be trusted; otherwise he would never have been allowed to sit at their fire. It was a pity Dimitri had seen Imre slaughter the other cold-dead, the Giorgio they called Andras. The battle had been quick, and Imre’s escape afterward even quicker. He prayed to his beloved that the Touched one would not betray him. Evidently, he had not.
    Now Imre needed that trust again, to commit yet another betrayal of his own. He had caught word of Dimitri’s presence in New Mexico only a week before, through the waterfall of gossip that came from having a city with a Toreador Prince. He had heard that Prince Corinthe was ruthless in a lazy way, much like a lion. Dimitri had used his gift of prophecy well to please her, and she had spread his name to other Princes. Imre thought he should consider himself very lucky. Others he knew of the same bloodline were not quite so well off.
    Suddenly a light turned on in the apartment window he had been spying on for hours. A thin shadow seemed to limp across the the room and disappear in the depths of the apartment. Curiosity sparking his ambition, Imre gave a sharp quick whistle. He needed a friend with wings, and surely enough, a moment later a small red tailed bird appeared. Gently but with the force of his will, he sent a simple command into the mind of the bird.
    Go to the bright window.
The colorful bird hopped a few times, then fluttered up to the only window shining that late on a week night. Perching with gravity defying ease, it balanced on the thin ledge of the windowsill and looked around curiously.
    Peck at the window.
    The bird hit its sharp beak against the ledge a few times, then seemed to grasp the idea and tapped on the glass instead. The sound was faint, even from where Imre stood, and he wondered if anyone inside could hear it. The bird was insistent though, and finally some one came to the window.
    It wasn’t Dimitri. Imre frowned slightly. A young boy leaned out the window, strands of blonde, nearly white, hair falling across his face as he took a deep breath of the humid night air.
    Imre registered the fact that he was breathing, making a mental note. Would Dimitri keep a ghoul? Perhaps it wasn’t Dimitri who lived in the apartment at all, but just another of his kind who knew him. The boy lingered at the window, looking from the bird to the star lit sky, until a nightmarish scream resounded from the back of the apartment. Immediately the pale boy froze, then dashed toward the sound.
    Imre jumped up from his position as well, his muscles finally springing into action as he sprinted from the alley to the nearest stairwell. Taking the stairs three at a time, he reached the second floor in less than a minute.
    The voice smashed into his ears, incredibly loud even from several rooms and walls away. Imre pinpointed the location of the cry and headed toward the door, when suddenly it crashed open, nearly flying off of the hinges. An angry blur of a man barrelled down the hallway, so completely focused on whatever possessed him that he didn’t even notice Imre gaping at him with no place to hide.
    The man stumbled down the stair well in a blind rage, half running and half falling. Imre paused, torn with indecision. Should he follow the crazed man who had so violently erupted from the apartment, or stay and question the younger one he had seen in the window?
    Sucking in a deep breath, Imre closed his eyes and stilled his thoughts. Something tugged his attention to the right, toward the cold desolate stairs. Running after the sound of echoing footsteps, he sent another wistful prayer to the rememberance of his lover that this would not be the final time he chased after his hope. The tiny flicker of hope that someday their paths would once again cross.


    At first, London wasn’t quite sure whether the meeting with Michael had gone entirely well, but a bathroom and living room later, London was content. The house did need a lot of work, but London had the time. Meticulously, he scrubbed and washed every inch of wall and tile while vacuuming and spraying every stain in the carpet. The boy was talented at removing blood stains from most any surface. Although he was not sure when Michael would return, somehow, he knew that the tormented vampire would.
     The sweet nurturing blood nestled softly in the young boy’s stomach. With the pain and hunger gone, he felt as he did during his time with the Reverend. Once to Michael’s bedroom, London searched through his CD collection. With mild satisfaction, he found an old Gary Numan album, which he slipped into the outdated stereo.
    While the sweet darkness of electronica swept over the house, so London let his cleansing hands. Sure enough, when he came from his trance the entire house softly bled the aroma of lemon and orange. Extremely pleased with himself, London threw himself upon the fresh couch. The gurgling sound of the washing machine was hardly audible over the gentle Numan.
    Ever so slowly, the boy’s gentle lashes slid down over his deep blue-grey eyes. The waves of serene music slowly faded as unconsciousness took over. London hadn’t willfully slept in a long time... and never in such splendid comfort.
     A gentle breeze seemed to wake the boy. He was laying in the cool loving sand, his feet and calves naked to the world. A delicious moon beat down its silver lighting upon his surroundings. The vast ocean before him played with the moon’s light, refracting and bending it to his sole delight. The wind was sweet to the taste, as seemed the gentle waves.
    The boy stood... he was young again. He felt as he did on his twelfth birthday, ten years ago. Although his waking self only looked to be in his mid teens, his eyes truly looked his age. His hair was long and dark again, cascading down past his shoulders, massaging and tickling his well defined back. His lucid skin seemed to glow in the moonlight. He felt healthy and alive... more alive than he had felt since he met the Reverend. Every vessel in his body seemed free of the vampiric dependency... the curse... the addiction.
    He rose into the air one foot at a time. The quiet gusts took him in their arms and swept him out over the ocean. In the darkness, all he could see were the tiny dancing reflections cast by the moon, and nothing else below. The heaven’s were illuminated so blissfully with scattered stars and the motherly moon.
     “In my darkness, I see dead men kneel before the cross...”
He could hear Gary Numan in his head, echoing his gentle gray voice throughout London’s mind.     The water seemed to write and sway to the exquisite soothing beat.
    Suddenly, London desired the embrace of the water. He wanted to feel its coolness all about him. He wanted to feel it push against his body as he twirled about in the glorious liquid. He wanted to fill his mouth and lungs with its sweet taste.
     Lower and lower he flew, the water was so close he could nearly touch it. Just as he reached for it, he withdrew his ready hands in horror. It was not water, or ocean or lake. It was blood... so much blood... bad blood. Again, his eyes were locked open in raw fear as the blood slowly congealed. Mounds and gashes of muscles and tissue seemed to spread across and arise from beneath the glistening and crusted liquid.
     His young tormented eyes were so shocked at the visual pain that he hardly noticed the hand reaching from the center of the fleshen mass. As if by reflex, his pupils snapped and locked onto the gaping hand. It too was skinless. Its twisted finger bones were hastily wrapped in ripped and rotting muscles.
     The hand grew a shoulder from the quivering living ooze, and the shoulder grew a chest. Soon the creature was fully developed from the waist up. Instead of hair, it had horrendous tendons and tentacles that seemed to waver through the night air, shrieking in pain. London didn’t want to go back to him.
     “Little boy... little choir boy... you shouldn’t have left.” Its horrendous mouth seemed newly formed as muscle tissue blocked and tied its two lips together. Without a second thought, the beast swung his sickening maw as wide as he could. In horror, the boy watched the tissue snap and rip as the bone jutted at an impossible angle.
    “You look so much like... the father.” The beast began to laugh. London could feel its lungs inside himself. Every inch of them burned and quaked for oxygen. The throat was torn by impossible bone fragments and incomplete tissue.
     London heard the familiar cry again. But this time, London was in control. He could bear the monster, but he could not bear the sight of his beloved Reverend in pain.
    “No! No, Scipio, I will not come back to you! I don’t belong to you...” He threw his arm and shoulder back, pointing directly behind him towards the cries. “I belonged to him... but he’s dead now.”
     “Come back... you little SHIT!” It must have hurt the creature tremendously to speak. It hacked and coughed up a torrent of blood, splashing the innocent boy.
     “If you don’t come back, then I’m gonna have to come... and GET you!”
    Just then, London inhaled. He was now awake, he knew that, and his current breath seemed like the first he had taken in a long time. A single bead of sweat slid down his perfect forehead into his light-brown brow.
     There it was again. He didn’t truly remember it the first time, but it seemed eerily familiar. A simple knocking upon the door. Something deep inside London didn’t feel right. It was just a dream, he told himself. It had to have been.

Read Part 5, introducing Michael's poor innocent buddy Jeremy!
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