'Snap,' you glance into the woods at the side of the path. You try not
to turn your head but your reflexes make your eyes jump toward the sound. That
one was close, your pace unconsciously quickens. The pounding of your heart is
defining to your ears. Frightened, you try to quiet the thumping of your
pulse, as if the silence will hide you from danger. 'Snick' that was
definitely behind you. A quick look, just one, but your neck is paralyzed with
fear and you can not turn to see. But you know something is there by the
prickling of the hair on the back of your neck. Almost at a run now, you look
down the path and can just make out the road ahead. Patches of shadow blend
the side walk into the night. The moon gives little comforting glow for the
next two hundred yards. You hesitate before plunging on through the inky
blackness before you. What possessed you to take this way back home. At night
here in these woods, what were you thinking.
The papers have been printing the stories for weeks, "Strange
Sightings Near Campus." And how about those coeds in the quad dorm who
quit all of their classes and simply vanished without a trace. Strange things
have been happening around town but foolishly, you choose to come home by this
route. Your train of thought is immediately broken as you see the darkness
shift in front of you. You stop dead in your tracks. There before you, melding
with the night, the darkness moves. Frozen, you don't even breathe. As your
vision closes in on the form, two eyes catch and reflect the moonlight and
shine. They glow with a fiery light like the bowels of hell. The reaction
should be fight or flight but the most you can do is stand paralyzed, a small
whimper crossing your lips. Time stops, your world is only this moment, you
are stuck in the present.
Pound, Pound, the blood courses through you, hot with adrenaline, making
swishing sounds in your ears. But nothing happens, the life that you had given
up as a forfeiture continues inside of you. The beast just watches. Standing
ten feet away, its eyes slowly surveying your form. Then, as quickly as it
came, it turns, steps in to the trees vanishing without a sound. For a moment
you pause, standing like prey waiting for the attack. Then the panic that was
held for so long takes hold. Like coiled springs your legs explode in to a
furious run. Shoes slapping the path, echoing through the woods, you run.
Every nerve in your body is tingling as the tunnel of trees slowly gives way
to street lights and the pavement of the side walk. Without pausing you burst
forth from the trail, tears welling up in your eyes, and run toward home.
Slam, Click, Home. Moving from window to window you check the latches
and close the blinds. Still shaking, you raise your hands to your eyes
watching them quiver. Standing in the foyer your breath has returned and the
nightmare begins to seem distant. Your body still can not shake the chill that
has set into your very marrow. Deciding on the only way to take the cold from
your bones, you head straight for the bath and draw a steaming tub of water.
Slipping gently into the steaming water, you lay back and relax. The
bubbles are fizzing as you close your eyes and try to forget the incident in
the woods. That beast by the road was not like any wolf that you had heard of.
The color of its coat seemed to steal the light from even the darkness around
it. And the eyes they were not like any normal animal's eyes. You shudder
thinking how lucky you were to make it home. You slide lower in the warm water
blowing the bubbles away from in front of your lips. Closing your eyes you
gently drift away.
A dream slowly takes your mind on a strange journey. You find yourself
in the woods, a long dark path leads up and over a rise. Dark gray clouds race
across the autumn sky. The night wind whispers its eerie music in to your ear.
As you crest the knoll you can see a large mansion, magnificent in its form.
Gothic style windows shine yellow from the flickering candles within. Fear.
You sense a foreboding. Deep with in you a little voice cries for you to turn,
run, do not look back, just flee. You hesitate. The light from the windows
draws you like a moth to a flame. Yes, you must go, there is the mansion, you
must go. You begin to walk toward the house even before you have made up your
"No!" your own voice awakens you from the dream. Sitting up
violently as the echo bounces around the bath room, water splashes over the
tub and across the tiled floor. Numb, you sit shaking in the slowly cooling
water. As you wait in the tub you have a strange feeling as if a cobweb is
slowly being pulled from around your body. "Brrr," you stand and
towel off your body, not waiting to put on your night gown, you move straight
to the bed, huddled under the blankets you fall quickly to sleep.
Unseen by your sleeping form a, a misty shadow slowly crosses along the
bathroom wall mixing with the night. It moves out to the bedroom, flows
through your closet and along the baseboards. It mixes with the shadow of a
cloud on the wall and is gone through the glass in the window.
A little way off, eyes open in the darkness. A hand reaches out and
lifts a glass of wine to lips. "This one will take some time." The
melodic voice stands out in to the somber night air, but there is no one but
him at the old gothic mansion to hear it. The night continues without pause.
You awaken late in the day, the sun shines on your bed and the covers
have become much too warm. Kicking them to the end of the bed you stretch and
decide that this, in fact, is going to be a great day. The birds sing for you
in the trees outside of your window. The autumn air has a wonderful crispness
and there is just a hint of burning leaves in the air. This is a wonderful
autumn Saturday to be alive.
After a quick breakfast, you lace up your hiking boots and decide to
take a closer look at that area along the path. Wandering along the trail, you
can find no sign that there had ever been a disturbance here. You are not even
sure exactly were the incident occurred. Finding a small trail, you begin a
lazy wander through the woods. The sun shining through the thin flannel on you
body feels wonderful. Before you have traveled far, you have completely lost
track of why you had come out on this beautiful day. Dragging your hands over
the tall grass you comb the country side looking for you know not what.
Cresting over a small rise you look down on a glade that looks frighteningly
familiar. There at the bottom of the hill is a rustic looking structure.
The castle-like mansion is beautiful. High walls are divided by huge
glass windows, yellowed with time. The dark brown masonry work is stunning
even if it has not been well maintained for some time. You can see that
restoration is underway along the west building face. Sconces and gargoyles
stand silent watch from their perches. Some have been removed and sit under
sheets on the ground around the scaffolding. Your heart skips a beat as you
look out across the field and see two huge wolf-like dogs sitting on the porch
of the mansion. They have not seen you and you are far upwind, but you relive
the chill from the previous night. One of them must be the creature that met
you last evening. But your vision does not quite fit with that in your mind's
eye. Looking into the late afternoon sky you turn tail and head for home.
Feeling foolish, laughing at your folly, you continue home as the sun
begins to set. Dogs, of course they were dogs what else would they have been?
You skip along the sidewalk and turn up the drive for home. The last of the
daylight disappears from the sky as you toss your boots in to the front
closet. Landing on the sofa you flick on the television and pick up the phone.
The night has chilled with the October air, you grab the blanket and wrap it
about you while calling your boyfriend. No answer. Not even the answering
machine picks up. Oh well you think, you will just stay in tonight, his loss.
Nestling down into the pillows you surf the channels looking for some
distraction. The boring TV shows all drain you further. Turning down the sound
you let sleep take you. Somewhere in the twilight a wolf howls.
Fitful, your sleep is filled with visions of unknown meaning, colors,
shapes, memories long forgotten. You toss and turn on the sofa, the night
grows quiet. The moon hides in and out of the clouds, and their shadows move
along the ground. One shadow in particular moves with intent, with purpose, it
moves through the forest, along the trail and between the glow of the street
lamps. Lying on the cushions, deep in sleep, you feel it coming. Fear. Terror.
But you are helpless in your slumber. It has made its first move.
A dream takes you, forcefully and fully. Such colors and visions you
have never seen in your mind. Burning your thoughts with intensity the shapes
begin to coalesce. Then they slowly fade and are gone. You are floating.
Floating in an endless sea, not of water, but of space. There is no up, no
down. You are lost here in this abyss. There is no sensation. You can feel
nothing, see nothing, hear nothing. You yearn for something, anything, any
sensation to fix on, but there is nothing. Finally through the void your mind
begins to hear noises just out of range. Was that a voice? Then nothing. You
listen carefully. You want to hear, you must hear it. A melodic tone? You
float in the soft musical sounds, barely audible. Are those words, you strain
to hear. You open yourself up to receive anything that is offered. And slowly
it comes. Pouring foreign thoughts into your unconscious you are helpless to
Deep into your open mind thoughts trickle. "Yes. Yes. I
understand." Your own voice sounds hollow and far away. Gently you are
lifted out of your sleep, you awaken. Not a thought remains from your dream,
you simply stand and begin getting ready for your new date. Showering quickly
you then scramble to find an outfit that you feel will be appropriate. The
black dress with the high pumps will do fine. Teasing your hair into the shape
that you desire you adjust the fit of your dress over your breasts and
grabbing your coat run out the door.
The cool night air buffets you as you move along the streets to the
restaurant. At the door the Maître' de escorts you to your table without a
single word. You take a seat in the high-backed leather chair and begin to
think about this wonderful man who has invited you to dinner. As the waiter
pours your aperitif you concentrate but can not remember that much about your
date. He is intelligent but you can not remember his conversation. He is
handsome, but you struggle to envision what he looks like. His voice, his
voice is beautiful, you could listen to his words all night you could...
"Good evening, Michelle." The voice drifts to you from behind
You attempt to rise but he motions with his hand that you should remain
seated, you pause and sit back down. The first thing that you notice is the
beautiful black cape slung over his shoulders, the midnight moon seems to be
held within its fibers. His suit jacket is a dark charcoal accented only by
his scarlet patterned neck tie. Your eyes roam over his body. His face is
handsome, dark eyes gleam from above his high cheek bones. His lips, full and
moist shine from the candle light during his speech. You realize that he is
asking you a question.
"Oh, I am so sorry," you say, "what did you just
"I was worried that I had kept you waiting long," he replies.
"No, I have not been here long, the Maître' de had just left when
you arrived, um...?" You struggle with a thought but can't seem to grasp
A voice drifts to you from deep inside your confused mind, "You can
call me Valdorn, Kurt Valdorn."
Valdorn swirls his cloak from his shoulders in what would have to have
been a practiced movement, and the Maître' de is immediately by his side to
take the mantle from him. Seating himself he glances around the table,
surveying the placements. The waiter appears promptly with a dark bottle from
the deepest of the restaurant's reserves, momentarily showing the label to
your host, then opening the cork with a well-practiced motion, 'pop'. The dark
fluid flows from the bottle, deep and pure.
The glass is raised, swirled and the blood red mixture flows around the
glass to the lip then slowly bleeds down the sides to pool at the stem.
Valdorn closes his eyes and inhales the vapors deeply. Taking a single sip and
holding it for a moment before finishing the taste. He nods to the waiter and
the wine begins to flow, filling your glass.
Dinner is served without any input, the dishes begin to align upon the
table. All through dinner he asks you about your day, your hobbies and your
interests. His wit shows through with his dry humor, joking about some of the
subjects discussed. You feel completely at ease, laughing at his humorous
anecdotes, stories from his past, that seem to parallel your own. You are not
sure if it the wine or the candle light playing tricks on your vision but you
have the sensation of gentle light headedness. You feel wonderful, you never
want this evening to end.
The candle flickers in his eyes...momentarily you fall in to them, a
deep well flickering with light.
"Good girl, dance with me."
You slowly stand, raising your hand to him. He blinks his eyes breaking
the spell, and escorts you on to the floor. Holding you firmly against him, he
leads you through steps that you have never known. Your feet falling just
where they need to be, soon you forget that you are moving them at all. Around
and around you move. The other patrons watch with obvious delight as the two
of you gracefully move across the floor.
For the second time in a day the world seems to stand still. Unlike last
evening this is a dream of immense pleasure. Your bodies move as one, you can
feel his muscles moving against you under his clothes. A gentle pressure here,
a slight rubbing there as your dancing continues. You glance up at his face,
he gives you a knowing smile as you place your head against him. Your blood
Finishing the dance he bows ever so slightly and thanks you for your
wonderful performance on the dance floor. Taking your hand he leads you back
to the table. Your heart feels heavy as you see him motion for your coats, you
now know that the night will soon end. Arm in arm you wander through the
tables toward the entrance. As you are leaving the he nods to the Maître' de
who quickly jots down a note to remind himself to bill your hosts account.
Stepping out in to the night even the jacket around you can't stop the
biting chill in the air. Seeing your body shiver he wraps his cloak about you
as he walks you down the empty streets toward home.
The conversation wanes as you approach the walkway to your door, he
seems suddenly distracted. He scans the area and then turns back to you.
Tilting his head to one side he leans closer to you, stretching up to meet his
lips you rise up on your toes. His arms close around you wrapping you tighter
into his cloak. Closing your eyes, you hold your breath, waiting for your lips
to meet. The squeal of tires turning in to the next driveway breaks the scene
as the high beams sweep across the lawn and blind the two of you. He pulls his
head back sharply, turning from you for a moment. You watch his reaction,
puzzled, as your neighbor waves saying "Hi, Michelle" before running
in to his house. The darkness returns but you feel that the moment has been
Taking your hands in his he begins to say good night. Not wanting this
evening to end on that sour note you quickly lean in and kiss his lips before
he can pull away.
"I had a wonderful time," you say.
He smiles down at you, "you will dream of me," Valdorn says.
"No, I am serious," his eyes hold your own penetrating you. You
Will, dream of me."
"...Yes..." standing there for a moment, your eye lids flutter
rapidly then you smile and turn, walking up to the door. Turning back to thank
him again, "I really enjoyed...," but he is gone.
Slipping into the shadows Valdorn moves with silent speed. As the forest
draws in around him he slows to a fast paced walk. The night did not go well,
not well at all. He had let his interest in you supersede his judgment. He
will never let that happen again. The next move will be far more calculated.
He had been a fool to rush this. You would be his, but he needn't hurry, he
had all the time in the world.
Suddenly stopping, he raises his nose to the breeze sniffing the air.
Yes, the unmistakable fragrance of perfume hangs just beyond the human sense
but well within his perception. Undressing so as to not soil his new suit,
quickly he removes his cloak laying his clothes silently upon the black
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