Dark Sorrow

Chapter 1, 1864

It was close to dawn on a Spring morning and the air was cold, Deborah didn't feel it. Unable to sleep, she wandered through the dark woods near her home in a haze of grief, blinded to her surroundings. Something inside her wanted to burst free and shout her sorrow to the heavens. The death of her young son was only the latest catastrophe in her life, and it was surely the worst. Her husband's death by a sniper's bullet had not affected her so strongly.

She had loved him, not passionately, but with a strong sense of friendship, and she missed him. But the death of her child had ripped away a part of her soul. He was the one thing that made the hardships of the war bearable. Now he was gone. Taken by sickness that no herbs, no prayers, no tears would cure.

She came to a small pond shining like a jewel in the moonlight. Sitting with her back against a tree, she watched as ripples of water reflected the light, wondering how it would feel to walk into the pond, swim out to the middle and let the water close over her head.

"I think it would be a terrible waste." The voice came from behind her, soft, low, mesmerizing. She jumped up and turned.

Lost in her grief, Deborah had not sensed anyone approaching. Her extra sense usually warned her when trouble was brewing. In the end, it would not have made any difference.

"I am sorry. I didn't know anyone was here," she said, wiping tears she hadn't realized she was crying from her face.

She felt it then. The evil rolled over her. He appeared to be a tall, well-built man with long, dark hair. His face was shadowed. She was gripped with a desire to run, but something told her it was already too late. Another, final, catastrophe was upon her. Death stood before her. She realized, too late, that she really didn't want to die.

"Who are you?" Her voice was a whisper.

"I am called Alphonse" He bowed to her.

"Well, Mr. Alphonse, I must be going. I don't wish to trouble you any further." Her voice quavered.

"Oh, no, my dear. Now that I have found you, I shall never let you go."

His voice slid into her mind, oily and unclean. He moved close to her and she could see his face in the moonlight. He smiled. His teeth looked sharp and two of them lengthened as she watched. The surface beauty faded and she saw him as he truly was. His hair was colorless, filthy and stringy. He skin seemed to be stretched across his skull.

He walked toward her, not hurrying. He didn't need to. As much as she wanted to run, she seemed rooted to the spot. All she could do was watch him approach. His hand brushed tears from her cheek. His touch was cold. He slid his hand down her neck to the high collar of her dress. Tearing the cloth to expose her throat, he slowly lowered his fangs to her neck, enjoying her fear. She screamed as his teeth sank into her flesh, the pain excruciating. He held her tightly to him, slurping greedily at her throat. Finally able to move, she tried to struggle, but he was too strong.

When she was so weak she thought she would die, he stopped feeding and licked the wounds he had made. Greater horror ran through her when he slashed his own chest and forced her mouth to the wound. She tried to resist but found herself drinking. The blood burned down her throat. She gagged, her stomach rebelling, and struggled to pull away, but he held her to him. Then darkness claimed her.