As I reached the edge of the field and stepped out onto the lane, I could see my route lined by an overbearing avenue of tree’s either side. There was approximately two hundred metres of lane to walk until I reached the main road. In the opposite direction, lay the farm house and golf course. I set off en route to the main road, my pace quickening with every step as I felt the weight of the dusk pressing against every fibre of my body.
Do you remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and Scarecrow are walking through the forest and they realise the tree’s are evil and can hear every word they say? This is how I felt walking up that lane. I was sure that at any second, one of the trees would whip a spindly branch out to trip me up or wind it round my neck until I couldn’t breathe. Every nasty woodland critter or slimy insect was watching me, waiting for me to succumb to the trees evil trickery and when I was lying helpless on the ground, they would fall on me in their thousands and devour every last morsel.
I cursed my furtive imagination and began to run. Well actually it was more like running-without-trying-to-look-like-I-was-running. Crazy, I know. I’m on my own, on a deserted lane in the middle of a wood and I’m worried about how I might look running. Vanity is a deadly sin.
Except I wasn’t on my own at all.
Halfway down the lane on the left hand side, the trees opened up to reveal a small field, a horse’s field to be exact. At the back of the field stood a rather sorry-looking open-fronted shed-like structure. I had seen this field before and always wondered how the shed could possibly shelter the horses adequately when the rain was mercilessly torrential. Alisha, Jane and I often came down here to feed the animals, fuelled by our belief that the farmer owned this field and was cruelly neglecting these poor creatures.
Even as the dark of the evening descended upon me, I couldn’t fail to slow my pace slightly as I passed by the field and glance to my left to see if the horses where still there. What I saw caused me to not only slow my pace, but stop dead in my tracks. Two of the horses stood huddled together, wild-eyed, and snorting over by the shed. The third remaining horse lay on its side in the middle of the field and over it, stood a man.
Now most people who stopped to view this scene would have assumed, quite naturally, that this was either the owner of the animals or maybe a vet, seeing as the horse was lying on its side and quite possibly ill or in some kind of distress.
But I knew he was neither. He was a vampire. I didn’t even have to examine his appearance too closely to know what he was. As soon as I spotted him I began to experience that strange faint buzzing sensation, that I had first felt when I saw my first ever vampire. It was a little bit like static electricity, tingling up my spine and making my hairs stand on end. I had often wondered about that feeling over the years, wondering if it had just been coincidental and not connected at all to my ability to know a vampire when I saw one. Having not seen a vampire since I was two years old had caused me at times to doubt myself and my memory, but now here I was, staring at a creature that I hadn’t seen the like of since I was barely out of nappies.
The vampire knelt and lay his cheek against the horses neck. With one hand he stroked the horses muzzle and with the other he caressed the soft shiny hair on its body. Again and again his hands moved up and down its flank, gentle and slow and the horse remained calm, inhaling and exhaling deeply and smoothly.
Anyone else watching the vampire would have thought ‘Wow, now here’s a guy who loves his horse, maybe a tad too much if you know what I mean, but he sure does love that old nag’. I couldn’t help but feel a touch of nausea creep into the pit of my belly and claw its way up into my throat as I watched. I was not sure vampires were known for their love of horses, or any living creature for that matter. I didn’t hold out much hope for this poor animal.
No sooner had I thought that, than the vampire turned his face as if nuzzling the horse’s neck, I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing but I could guess well enough. And the sucking sound was unmistakable. I couldn’t move but in my head, a voice was screaming at me to start running.
Move damn it, move! Stop bloody gawping and get your feet moving!
But still, there I stood. I couldn’t help but watch this horrific scene played out before my eyes. All this time, as the vampire fed, the horse didn’t move or struggle, it just lay there, as if accepting its fate. A brief question flickered across my mind.
I wonder if it hurts when they bite you?
The vampire looked up from his evening meal and immediately saw me standing there. He rose quickly, removing a handkerchief from an inside jacket pocket to wipe the blood from his mouth and chin, and with one jump, leaped over the horse.
He was very tall, well over six feet, and was pretty much a giant of a vampire. In fact, if anything, he was maybe a little on the heavy side, but I wasn’t about to start poking fun at his weight issues. From what I could see in the fading light, his hair was dark blonde and kept quite short, a little spiky at the front. His clothing was simple, jeans, trainers, plain t-shirt and a blazer that was probably one size too small. I wasn’t about to poke fun at his obvious fashion issues either.
His game was up and identity revealed, of course, as I had seen him attack the poor animal, but as he stood there staring at me, his eyes grew wide with shock and he turned his head slightly as if he was listening, in the same way that a dog moves its head when it hears a sharp sound. The vampire knew what I was.
He folded his bloody handkerchief up; once, then again and he placed it back into the inner pocket and then smoothed the outside of his jacket with his hands, over his chest and down both arms as if wiping away non-existent food crumbs. As soon as he started to walk towards me, the voice in my head finally succeeded in convincing my legs that I was about to become dessert, and I felt myself moving. Not just moving but running; running like I had never run before in all fourteen years I had stumbled around this world. I was running till I thought my legs could take no more, hearing the thud of my feet as they frantically hit the floor in panic to get me as far away from this nightmare as possible. And yet still the nightmare was behind me, and I was sure, getting closer and closer by the second.
Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2010 all rights reserved