An Accidental Vampire
In 1650 Simone Gireaux is a widower living with her late husband’s family. Then the Marauders descend on the town. She wakes the next day, her village destroyed, her family dead. And the sun burns her skin. She has no one to teach her how to be a vampire. Yet she perseveres and survives to live in California and meet Justine Kroft in my novel Blood Justice.
The short story, An Accidental Vampire, is the first chapter in her odyssey.
This E-story is available at these fine purveyors of E-books.
Here are some first pages of An Accidental Vampire.
An Accidental Vampire – about 7500 words
Like most children, Simone Gireaux had been warned of the mythical Marauder all her life. “Be good or the Marauder will snatch you away.” “Do as I say or the Marauder will eat you.” “Don’t go outside in the dark or that monster, beast, vampire, demon, werewolf, creature, The Marauder, will take you to his cave and leave only bones.”
In 1642 the warnings became real. A small band of vampires came out of the northern Jura mountains as full night fell. A woodcutter’s camp became blood and ravaged flesh, axes no match for the sudden onslaught of fang and blade. The blood drenched bodies of an itinerant trader and his wife were left glistening in the hard glare of their burning wagon.
The vampires burst out of the forest and rampaged through the outlying areas first, then converged on the French village of Suben, raping, torturing, feeding, fighting amongst themselves for blood. None were spared.
Simone and her eight-year-old son, Henri, lived with her sister and her husband, their three children and his parents on a small farm at the edge of the village. By the time the alarm reached them it was too late to run or hide.
The Marauder, who’s real name was Stephan Sinakov, and six of his band, caught Simone and her family in the barn where they had an underground storage pit that could be used as a hiding hole.
The father, husband, and oldest boy fought valiantly, but were quickly cut down. Blood Lust drove the attackers and they did not even bother to feed on them. The sister tried to protect the youngest girl. A futile gesture. One attacker ripped the girl from her arms, another impaled the sister with a pitchfork through the throat, pinning her against a post. She drowned in her own blood, hearing the girl cry out for her. Mercifully the girl’s death came quick, the six fighting amongst themselves for her delicate young blood.
Sinakov held Simone and Henri by an iron grip on the back of their necks. He made them watch the butchery. When it was done he called to his cohorts, the Russian that he spoke for the forty-two years of his life barely discernable among the other Slavic and Germanic languages he had been exposed to in his two hundred and forty year journey from his death on a remote Black Sea beach to Suben at the Eastern edge of the Kingdom of France
“There is more.” He held up Henri as if he was a squealing piglet.
“Please, let him live,” Simone pleaded.
Sinakov nodded toward the storage pit. One of the blood spattered vampires jumped in and came out with Camille, the oldest daughter. At fourteen, a sweet innocent girl, the favorite of the family, the whole village. Huddled on the floor, surrounded by fanged monsters whose mouths gaped inhumanly wide, the girl whimpered with fear. “Aunt Simone, don’t let them hurt me.”
Sinakov said, “Choose.”
“Choose. One lives, one dies. Choose, or they both die.”
“Who…who are you to force such a choice on one?”
“Ha. Do you truly not know me, woman? I am the Marauder, the one you tell tales about to scare your children. Can you not see I am that creature of myth? Slinking quietly through the night hoping to find a foolish child to eat. Hiding in my filthy cave in fear of an enraged populace.”
“I do not know if you are the one they tell tales of. I only know you are an unholy fiend.”
“Madame, you possess courage to go with your mouth.”
Still gripping the back of her neck, he held her at arm’s length, facing him. He bowed to her.
“So, allow me to introduce myself. I am Stephan Sinakov, unholy fiend. Now, woman, choose or watch them both die.”
“No. No. I cannot choose.” Her heart pounded with new fear. She gagged at the stench of fresh blood. How could she choose Henri over Camille? Tears burned her cheeks. She fell to her knees. “Please, don’t make me do this.”
“Decide, woman. Is this one not your son? Surely you will choose him.”
She reached for Henri.
Sinakov held him away. “You choose to save your son?”
Simone covered her ears so not to hear Camille pleading for her aunt to save her. She could not look at the girl.
“Say it, ‘My son, save my son.’ Say it!” Sinakov jerked her to her feet. “Say it!”
Heart breaking, barely able to speak through her sobs, Simone said, “My son. Save my son.” She clutched Henri to her breast and collapsed.
The vampires cheered. In a few seconds the clothes were ripped from Camille’s young body.
“Aunt Simone,” Camille cried. “Save me!”
“Stop! Stop! Do not harm her,” Simone cried. “Take me.”
Sinakov ripped Henri from his mother’s arms.
“You want to choose your son to die?”
“Take me instead.”
“No. The boy or the girl. Choose.”
“You will kill us all.”
“One will die for good and all. One will survive. You have Stephan Sinakov’s word.”
Simone had no hope of saving her own life. She would rather die than become one of those beasts. The children would too.
“One will live and one will die. That is the choice?”
“Then I will pick.” Blood racing, not thinking lest she not act, she reached out to her cowering niece. “Camille, dear one, come to me.”
The girl, grasping at a glimmer of hope through her terror, crawled to her. Henri still dangled from Sinakov’s hand an arm’s length away.
“Forgive me, dear ones.”
Simone yanked a knife from Sinakov’s boot then lunged at Henri. The blade sliced the boy’s throat. Blood flowed from his neck before she swung the blade at Camille.
The master vampire was too quick. He snatched the knife from her hand and smashed her to the ground.
The rest was a swirl of blood and pain and horror. Sinakov ripped off her clothes, leaving stinging gashes the length of her back. She then suffered the humiliation of being held up naked and forced to endure the screams of Camille’s ravishment.
“Bring me the girl’s sweet blood,” Sinakov called to his fiends. “I must regain my strength.”
They tied the ravaged girl to the barn wall, arms stretched out. They slit her open and gathered the blood in an old cup, which they brought to their Master.
He wrapped his hand in Simone’s hair and pulled it back. “You could have saved her, stupid woman.” Laughing, he poured some of the blood into her open mouth. She choked as it’s foul warmth overflowed her face and neck.
Sinakov drained the cup. “More!” he called to his minions.
Simone wanted to die. All whom she loved were dead. Henri by her own hand. The guilt would drive her mad, death was preferable.
Sinakov’s teeth sank into her neck.
Then the soldiers attacked.
Abandoned, she slipped to the dirt floor. As in a dream she heard cries and curses, gunshots and swords. Then silence, but for the crackle of flames. Then all was blackness.
She awoke, covered in ash stuck to dried blood, in a tiny space formed by the barrel she had been raped over and an unburnt section of roof. Sure she was in Hell, she climbed out into devastation.
All the village had been laid waste, bodies lay everywhere. Crows and rats scavenged for dead flesh. Some houses in the town had survived, most damaged or half burnt. The odor of smoke from still smoldering ashes mixed with the suffocating stench of rotting flesh and hung over the wreckage. It overpowered Simone’s suddenly acute sense of smell and she gagged as she scavenged for clothing: Coarse trousers from the baker’s son, a tunic from an old man, a jacket from the mayor’s wife. A search for Henri found only some small burnt and scattered bones.
She wondered that her wounds had healed, though she had slept only a day. She had been taught to expect Hell to be different, with flames and fearsome demons. Not so…quiet.
Through the last dim light of day she spied two rough men, scavengers like the dogs and foxes, searching the rubble and bodies for money and useful items. They saw her, chased after her. But she sought safety under the remains of her family’s barn. Curled in a tight ball, in the storage pit, she trembled with fear and growing nausea as the men crashed about searching for her. She had no doubt what they would do to her should they find her. Her sickness so distracted her she did not notice how easily she lifted and closed the storage pit’s heavy wood lid that a grown man normally had trouble moving.
Her outer wounds had healed, yet there was something wrong with her. As the hours of shivering on the dirt floor of the black pit passed, Simone first become aware of the quiet. Not of the outside world, but within her own body.
The rustle of her shaking body against the dirt, each creak of settling debris, each scuttle of rodent came to her as crisp as a clear winter’s day. Without thinking, she could pinpoint every sound. Still, the silence in her head was unnatural. She held her breath to listen to the strange quiet.
She did not need to breathe! Lungs full of air, she felt no burning in her chest, no compulsion to exhale. When she forced herself to exhale, no impulse to breath in overcame her. Hands on her chest, she felt for the natural rise and fall of breathing. Nothing. Accidents were common in rural communities. Many times Simone had watched Madame Thessereyne, the town healer, touch fingers to a victim’s neck to confirm their death. Simone herself had done the same; a man beaten unconscious, but alive, her own mother, lying still in her bed after weeks of illness, dead.
With desperate fingers to her own neck, she searched for the pulse of life, and found nothing. Another spot. Here. Here. The other side. Nothing.
Simone was dead.
Was this then her Hell? What had she done to deserve this? A dark pit as her bedroom. A desolate landscape once populated by those she loved and who loved her to wander in forever.
“Henri! Camille! Oh God, forgive me for what I’ve done. By my own hand, I am alone, and I deserve to be alone in Hell for all eternity. Can you forgive me though I am with the devil where I belong?”
Eventually the misery inflicted on her body and mind pushed her into sleep.
The first thin rays of light leaking through the heavy wood door roused her. The shaking of her body had lessened, the nausea gone. To be in Hell she accepted, to be locked in the pit she did not. Standing beside the pit, Simone stared down at the door she swung open so easily. Intermingled with the horrific visions of the attack was one of her husband as a strong young man struggling to lift it.
Death has made me strong
She scrambled into the open. Inspected her hands, felt her face. No difference. The first direct sun rays escaped over the mountains, assaulting her eyes. The sun warmed her palms thrown up to protect her eyes. But even the weak first light became uncomfortably hot.
Simone had heard the stories, knew the folklore — Sunlight destroyed vampires. She knew then, not why, not how, that she was Vampire.
“Lord, let me die again.”
She opened herself to the sun, wanting an end to guilt and the horror of becoming one of the creatures that massacred her village and her family. But, as the pain grew she knew destroying herself was the coward’s way. Consigning herself to oblivion would not serve her family. Surviving to seek revenge, would.
Close to the devastated farm a finger of the mountain covering forest reached out. Simone ran for the offered shelter. She stumbled, rolled hard against a tree as she tried to stop, unused to the speed. Crawling into shade, she moaned with relief.
As Simone huddled in the forest after the burning sun drove her into the shadow, she had time to ask God why He allowed this horror to happen to her and her family. She did not want be one of those damned creatures, did not ask to live, yet, here she was, driven into the forest like the beast she had become. The village priest was dead, hacked to pieces, so he could not answer her question directly. But God had not seen fit to save the priest, despite his faith, so maybe that was enough of an answer. Faith in an uncaring God would not save you. Faith in one’s self might. Curling under a fallen tree gave her more protection than her faith had. With that thought, she slept.
When the sun set, Simone walked the village. Unaccustomed to her new strength and speed, she tread carefully, sometimes tripping over her own feet when they moved faster than she could think. In the ruins of her house, she marveled at the ease with which she lifted a half burned roof beam. Underneath, she tore up the floorboards and retrieved two leather pouches full of gold and silver coins, all that was left of the family’s wealth.
The nausea from the day before had become a growing ache. Hunger, she thought. Food scraps overlooked by scavengers, both human and animal, were easy to find with her heightened sense of smell. Yet she retched at the taste and smell, making the ache worse.
Not all in the village were killed. Simone tried to contact them, but they would not open the doors of the remaining buildings where they huddled in fear. They prayed out loud for God to protect them, but would not help one of their own.
One man opened his door to her, Monsieur Tremain, the butcher. The odor of blood permeated the man. Before, it had nauseated her, but as she ducked through Tremain’s door, the scent drew her in like a warm fire on a cold and lonely night. She knelt by the fireplace, soaking the warmth into her cold body.
“Please help me,” Simone said. “Something has happened to me. The others are scared and will not let me in.”
Tremain, a mustachioed man made strong by years of hefting carcasses, came right to the point. “I will help you, Simon Gireaux, and protect you from the others if you help me.”
“What help can I provide you, then?”
“Those beasts killed my wife. You will replace her.”
Simon had seen how Tremain treated his wife, Charlotte, a simple, pleasant woman sorely abused. The suggestion revolted her. Better to risk the dark of the forest and the violence of frightened and ignorant people than endure the man’s abuse. “If you will not aid me as one villager aids another, I will not accept your proposal, Monsieur Tremain. You would treat me little better than Stephan Sinakov and his band of brutal creatures. Open your door and I will trust my survival to the kindness of the wolves and bears.”
She was loath to leave the warm fire and the smell of the place, that formerly repulsed her, and now stimulated her senses and invigorated her body. Yet, she stood and moved toward the door. Her late husband had been a good man who treated her with kindness and respect. As she felt then, there was no reason to settle for a cochon like Tremain.
The butcher grabbed her, dragged her into the bedroom and threw her onto the sour smelling bed. He began to undress.
“Did you not see for yourself, woman? The priest is dead. The prefect is dead. The mayor is dead. The soldiers are gone. You will be my wife and I will protect you only as long as you do not disobey me. Disrobe, I would look at you.”
Images of the unspeakable brutalization of sweet Camille still flashed in her mind. No, no, no, Simone would not let that happen to her. The idea infuriated her. The residual smell of blood intoxicated her. A quick search for an escape route revealed none.
“Disrobe, woman,” Tremain ordered. He yanked the belt from his britches with a snap. The knife he always wore fell free. He grabbed it and held it as he struck her leg with the belt. “I care not what injury you bring to yourself.”
With no plan but to obtain the knife, Simone launched herself at the man. They tumbled through the door into the main room. She rolled over him, landed on her back, still astonished at her strength and speed. But she had the knife.
Tremain wrapped the end of his belt around a fat-fingered fist. He struck her face with the belt. “Damn bitch! I’ll throw what’s left of you outside to feed the scavengers.”
The sharp pain on her face galvanized her. She was on her feet without realizing it. Tremain swung again. Simone caught the heavy buckle and yanked him to her. A swipe with the razor-sharp blade flayed his arm. A backward swipe cut deep into his neck. Shocked at what she’d done, Simon watched him stagger, drop to his knees, and sag to the wooden floor. No longer a danger.
That’s when the first cramp struck.
Pain made her curl up tight on the floor and cry out for God’s mercy when she could inhale in enough air to speak. When she did breathe in, the scent of fresh blood broke through the bloodfire that burned through her and drew her attention to Tremain’s quivering body. Mortal mind and vampire body working against each other, she crawled to him.
Blood seeped from his neck with small pulses, pooling around his head. Simone’s body knew what it needed. A sharp pain in her front teeth forced her mouth open. What was happening? Her mouth opened and opened uncontrollably. The dull pain not enough to keep her away from the blood. Though her mind cringed at the act, she tentatively licked the warm liquid, then sucked greedily. Immediately, her stomach rejected the pungent, unfamiliar thick liquid. Simone’s thoughts also recoiled. She spent long minutes huddled in a corner staring with revulsion at what she’d done.
Yet, the bloodfire still burned within and drew her like moth to flame. It pushed her humanity aside and let the creature she had become suck with voracious appetite at the fresh, warm blood.
The pain in her gut eased. The burning dimmed to a soft warmth. She uncurled like a new flower in the sun. She hardly noticed when the mortal shuddered and exhaled his last breath.
Pain gone, strength restored, Simone paced the small room. She was dead, a beast, a horror, a creature of the night, hated and feared by all. Immortal, it was said. Stephan Sinakov was the name of the fiend that slaughtered her family. Revenge burned hot in her. Simone vowed to survive long enough to seek vengeance for their deaths.
Soon after, she set the foul bed aflame and slipped into the night. Terrified, exhilarated, completely alone and beholden to neither God nor the Devil, she headed into the mountain forest, where even the wolf and the bear avoided her.