“We apologize for the interruption but we have reasons to believe the Maniac of Boon County has taken residence in Rembrandt after another corps was discovered earlier this morning. Star News is collaborating with Rembrandt and Sunnyvale Police Departments in hopes of tracking this individual down. If you have any leads, please contact either emergency department immediately so we can put an end to this nightmare.
“As a reminder, do not venture out on your own past sundown – travel in groups of three or more if you must. Volunteers for neighborhood watch will be greatly appreciated, hours are from 6pm to 6am. Accommodations are negotiable for those who are unable to meet the standard 12-hour shifts. Our condolences and prayers to the families affected by this vigilante. Please work with Star News in putting this cannibal behind bars!”
It’s midnight. The alert chimed in halfway through a rerun of Caped Crusader, when a frantic anchorwoman appeared on the screen trembling as she attempted to read her lines from the podcast. A bloodthirsty psychopath commenced the reporter who redundantly stretches the serial killer’s murderous accounts. Skipping introduction, she hands it over to a fellow anchorman.
He offered a rest-assured smile to viewers watching from the comfort of their homes and introduced himself before regarding his lines. He strikes under the cover of night, seldom cases have been reported during the day. No motive. No preference. After he summoned a portable 6-foot tall blackboard, the practicality was of a cannibal and not of a vampire which the reporter redundantly emphasizes. Vampires don’t exist.
This monster was of flesh and blood. A man with a very dark and twisted agenda. For the next 10 minutes, he practically blead his heart out to viewers in hopes someone had a lead that’ll help authorities in tracking the creep down.
From the photo, the man looked middle-aged. A thick head of blond greasy tamed hair, piercing eyebrows, moon-shaped eyes the shade of rushing waves which sparkled, and cheeks as red as his heart-shaped lips. The picture was said to have been taken almost 8-years before. Joined beside it was a digital construct of what Star News officials purported he looks like today. The difference in this picture was that his face was grislier, abandoned dark eyes, and furrowed.
In sight of his killing spree, the media knows little about the Maniac’s unorthodox method of dealing with his targets. He inherited the title, “Maniac of Boon County,” because Boon County’s where the slaughterers first began. He’s been traveling on foot to mainly small towns like Rembrandt and Sphynx. What’s terrifying is that earlier today while Daniel and I were out goofing around town, the Maniac could have unknowingly been right under our noses.
In Daniel’s room. He’s in a frenzy and sniveling over a teddy bear. I’ve been trying to settle him into bed for what seemed like hours, but he refuses to go to sleep without it.
“Please, will you help me find him?” Daniel shrieks.
So I go snooping. Rummage through drawers, plastic storage containers, shoe boxes, and check his toy bin. After I’m finished tearing apart his closet, he points towards his laundry basket. “There,” he grunts. I slide the rectangular-shaped hamper away from the wall and shower the floor with his dirty laundry. No teddy bear. “What about out there?” Daniel gestures towards the window. I peek out back. Nothing but calm forestry. I make sure the latch is secured, then close the drapes.
“Now!” I moan, “Is there anywhere else you want me to look?” Such an eyesore. Yesterday, it was a spoon. A freaking spoon! His favorite one and he wouldn’t dare touch his breakfast without it. Last week, ironically, a pair of lucky green socks. The week before that, a green T-shirt Boris won at some stupid carnival in Sunnyvale. There’s no limit to his carelessness.
“Arnie has to be around here somewhere,” Daniel baffles incomprehensibly.
“I’ll look for it in the morning.” I sigh, a bit agitated.
“HIM!” He angrily corrects me. “Please, we must find HIM. I can’t sleep without, Arnie.”
“I looked everywhere.” I argue.
“Come with me to search the barn?” Daniel yelps, smearing somnolent moisture across his bloodshot cheeks. Gibberishly contemplating to himself places he might have left his stupid toy animal.
“Go to bed and quit this foolishness.” I bark. A bit sluggish than I had planned to be.
“Sleep in here, with me.” Daniel whimpers, grabbing my hand. Blue ogles sparkling like a poignant kitten, face blooming in what almost looks like tears. Mist will build in those large eyes but tears would never dive from them. I regard his long face and yawn carelessly. It’s all just an act.
“Daniel! This is silly!” I snatch my hand away.
“Please! It’ll be just for tonight.” He sobs and collapses into me. Heat seeps through my pajama top, then goes damp and cold like tears ought to. But only if he were crying. It’s exhalation. Not tears.
“No! Back off!” I growl.
“Please…please.” Daniel sympathizes, arms locked and trembling upsettingly. Wiping at his eyes. His head shifts slightly towards the window, sniveling as he does it. No tears. Just hot breath. Snot and phlegm too. I feel gooey strings oozing down the side of my neck and grimace. I hate it when he throws fits like this. It’s messy and horribly uncomfortable to bare.
“Daniel, I’d like to sleep in my own bed tonight.” I reason, trying to pry his snotty nose off my neck. The last time this happened I spent hours picking boogers out of my hair.
Daniel puckers disgruntledly and rubs at his eyes again. A bright-red inflamation’s starting to sprout beneath them. “I’m scared, Jasin.” He had never been able to pronounce my name like everyone else, he replaces the J sound with the letter Y in a lot of words. I tried mentoring him in the right pronunciation but he couldn’t quite grasp the concept. So I left it alone.
“Okay,” I sigh, “But only for tonight.”
Daniel leads me to his bed. He settles in and I fall like a flaccid corps after him. All this fuss over a lousy, rotten, no-good teddy bear. Then it hits me almost as if there was a light bulb that flicked on above my head. I lean over the side of the bed and sure enough, the little stuffed animal’s midway in reach collecting dust. I pluck it off the floor and toss it beside him. “You know, for an 8-year old, you sure act like your 4.” I grumble.
“Arnie protects me when you’re far away fighting monsters.” Daniel defends. Teddy bear caressed tightly, thumb shoved in his mouth and a foot propped over my back.
A little past midnight. I can’t sleep. So I leave a loud snoring Daniel in bed and venture into the hallway towards the privy when something long and prickly scurries across my cheek. I bark obscenities then with a gasp of relief my terror of spiders flee when a rope swirls into view. I hate spiders! The door to the attic’s propped open, streams of light flickering inside. It’s Boris, suppose he can’t sleep either, scuffling around like an amateur burglar. I clutch onto the rope then pull the cover the rest of the way down. It lets out a loud screech, rebels a bit, but gives way once I’m dangling from it. I gently place one foot on the ladder to test its tolerance then carefully ascend the rusted wooden steps.
In the attic. There’s this potent scent of rubbing alcohol mixed with molten Crayola and it’s a bit frothy. A few days ago, Boris decided the walls needed a more habitual touch thus rendering them a fresh vanilla coating. There’s unfurnished sheets of lumber stacked high in the far back corner that has been there since we moved in. Two recliners with a small oak coffee table centered in between them, in front of a large feudal window clothed in long red drapes. The attic’s where Boris decided to setup his workshop mainly because of the placid view of the forest on most nights.
Boris is hammering away on a flat peace of two-by-four at his workbench, with a handful of screws and nuts off to the side within arm’s reach. I wait until he’s at a stopping point, then tug his shirt. Lifting his spectacles, he looks down at me from out the corners of his eyes.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.” He says, stepping away from the table. His voice sincere and jagged.
“The racket isn’t the problem.” I shrug.
“Rough night, huh?”
“I guess you can say that.” He knows about my night terrors. I don’t mention it, instead, I search the lug in his contorted features. His eyes don’t suggest much. Only that he’d been at it for a while. There’s a heavily worn crease around them as well, I believe are from the glasses.
Boris looks older than he really is. His face is agedly defined and tapered like a decrepit skull, cheeks droop like a Beagle, small almond-shaped eyes buried deep in his skull, and he moves slow, hardly ever smiles.
Atop his bold egg-shaped head sits a few thin strips of salt and pepper hair. He shaves it bold from time-to-time but not very often. I suppose he does it three—maybe four—times a month.
Boris rests against the edge of the bench and folds his arms. His voice lessens to a mutual tiredness, “I’m afraid a good night’s rest is too much to ask for.”
“What are you working on?” I ask. A grimy oak taste settles on the bed of my mouth.
“I’m fed up with trying to fix this crap. Most of it isn’t worth saving.” Boris grumbles, unfolding his arms and tossing his protective wear on the table behind him. “I’ve been thinking about recycling all of it at the junkyard—make a couple of bucks.”
“I’m sure you’ll find some good out of it.” I try and pacify.
“I should hope not, besides, I can use the extra cash to finish work that needs to be done on the house—spruce up this place a bit.” Boris works for a packaging company in Sunnyvale as an Assembly Machine Technician. There’s been a few setbacks and productivity hasn’t been fruitful over the past couple of years. The recycled scraps of lumber and plastic, he brings home to remodel the house.
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about mom.”
“I’m listening.” Boris exhales agilely.
“What happened to her?” I ask.
He starts doing that weird frenzy thing with his eyes, the way he always does whenever he has to put forth effort to reason. He starts to say something, arching a brow, eyes nearly falling shut, but disapprovingly shakes his head and ponders on. Satisfied he says crossly, “Your mother was very ill—”
“—Bullshit.” I snort, cutting him short.
He wets his lips and glares down at me, “Watch your language.”
“It’s a lie, Boris, and you know it.” I challenge him.
“Fine!” He barks and hurries me off towards the flicker of candlelight. There’s a bookshelf facing the seats. Boris and I pass the time relaxing and reading here. This area has become what Daniel and I refer to as the miniature library. There’s another on the first floor, next to my room. One much grander and succinct, stocked with remedial textbooks and proverbial genres guest won’t find too unorthodox. A sort of comfortable study with crosswords, funnies, and Rembrandt Time’s and finest.
I absolutely love reading books. Since we moved I haven’t been doing much reading, but the second things get back on track I’ll bury my nose in endless hours of adventures. My favorites are science fiction, thrillers, and myths. My second favorite digests are occults, practices, mysteries of ancient times, Nephilim origins, tavs (ancient symbols), Greek and Hebrew texts from various aspects and regions of the globe.
Reading’s a ritual. Honestly, on average I read 2,120 books a year. No one else in this house or at school reads that much. Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone who reads that much.
It was Boris’ idea to build a sanctuary up here for his own collection once mine cluttered the library downstairs. What’s strange about his books is that all of them have no inscriptions. No title! No foreword! Front matter or overview! No pictures nor ingenuous illustrations! Not even a personal or formal note written in regards from the author or friend. I’ve gone through every last one of them and couldn’t find a single scratch.
Boris stops and thumbs through the titles on the second row of books on the bookshelf, lips puckered and face contorted as he runs his fingers over the labels in misty darkness. Once he has a feel for what he’s looking for, he plucks it from the coalition and finds his seat.
I sink into the sofa adjacent, draw my knees close to my chest and rest my chin on them. After fishing out a cigar he lights it then eases back in his chair and exhales, focusing on the frayed pages. Silence a brief moment rubbing his skullett while he studies before regarding me. “This diary belonged to your mother, Norah. She referenced spells from prodigies referred to as Mistiks, to safeguard it. I was saving it for you and your brother as a birthday present. But I see now that I cannot prolong this any further.”
“What is it?” I ask.
“Notes she written to you and Daniel several years before she died.”
Boris passes it off to me. I get a tingling feeling in my fingers during the exchange but pass it off as nothing peculiar. I’ve never seen this particular book before and it doesn’t come as a terrible surprise to find inscriptions neatly drawn-out. On the front cover it reads “Norah Fray.” Below mom’s name, there’s an eerie hieroglyph.
It starts with two bull horns, a crescent and full moon-like emblems wedged in-between them. Although, one of the horns is more defined than the other, in terms of a maze-like pattern. Below the first two set of horns are three small incisions carved deep into the leather and below that, is fancy handwriting…
Spirit of the Nightwalker
A second set of horns are attached to a stake and midway down it are the last set of identical horns which are more parallel than the first and second sets. I’m not sure of the symbols carved between the second set but they look similar to ideology serpents I’ve seen in ancient Egyptian doctrine.
I study mom’s handwriting, comparing it to my own. I’ve read somewhere that you can tell how much you have in common with someone based on their penmanship. Judging by her journal, mom and I have much more in common than I thought.
To amuse myself, I trace the words on the front cover with my finger. Not much of a difference except her letters are a bit lengthier. This is so cool! I’ve never been this close to mom before. My lips form a smile imagining mom as a dedicated reader too! Gosh! I’m sure she would loved to have read to me.
“Your mother was very tedious, much like yourself.” A cloud of cigar mist ascends and disappears.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It took her what seemed like a million years to concoct such few pages.” He says nonchalantly with a warm chuckle. “In fact, it was like that with everything she did, always over-exerting herself.”
My lips curl into an even larger smile when I think how Daniel always says things like that about me. “You mentioned protection spells?”
“The spell she learned from the Mistiks, familiarizes this book with your genetic coding.” Boris educates. “It’s a simple spell really, all it requires is a sample of your DNA. Blood, hair, nail clippings. The spell prevents all but those genetically tied to it from seeing whatever it is the spell caster doesn’t want to be seen. In this case, writing only you, Daniel, and I are able to perceive, as for everyone else is concerned, these are just blank pages.”
“That’s silly,” I tell him.
“Open it and see for yourself.” He inclines.
I fondle with my ear. I think he’s toying with me, but I can’t be sure. “This had better not be one of your pranks!” I bark.
“No prank, Jasin, just open it.” He presses.
Cautiously, I peal the front cover back. “There’s nothing here.” I tell Boris.
Boris grinds his cigar into the oak chuckling modestly. With his index finger, he reaches over and taps the page 3/4th of the way down. The page glows and words slowly start to materialize. “You’ll need to touch it in order to deactivate the barrier, leave it lying around and the words will disappear.”
“Far-out!” I yelp.
“All the others on this shelf are enchanted as well, but specifically to my touch. One day, I’ll teach you the spell so that you’ll be able to override my authentication in order to read them.”
Just as Boris had told me, the words start to disappear. I’d never guess, not in a million years, these books were enchanted.
I tap the page after the words disappear and watch the fireworks swirl before my eyes. Boris is peering over in content. I don’t know if it’s from observing my reaction or the proud feeling of watching me take my first step into sorcery. “Boris, I want to know everything.” I tell him perilously.
Boris nods. “In time.” I start to contend and he silences me with a finger pressed against his lips. “For your sake, let’s hope not too soon.”
I sigh but respect his wishes. “Can we read some of this together, then?” I ask Boris.
Boris smiles, then snuggles me close. I think that was the first time I ever seen him smile. Some letters quiver nervously in formation and a few others hang and bulge out at me. Propping my head against his arm I listen as he narrates.
I wake to Daniel whimpering and quickly look around the room. After the view of my bedroom gradually swims into view I spot him standing at bedside. He frowns at me, his face distorted and moist—with a hand, he wipes his eyes.
I sit up in bed and reach out to him and he reaches for me. “Daniel?” I gape, but he refuses to respond. Just stands there, silent—arm still reaching out for me. “Are you okay?” Daniel wipes at his eyes again then gazes distressfully at me. His blue ogles sparkling in the faint moonlight pouring in through the window. He whimpers a spell, then reaches for me with both his hands this time. “Did you lose Arnie again? Come here—it’s alright.” I assure him. His silence starting to become more unsettling. I slowly crawl towards him, reaching for his fingers.
Daniel’s warm pulse drums against my skin. His smell starting to feel my nose. Lavender and crayons. The way he always smells. I hear the blood rushing through the veins along the side of his neck. One whiff of it and my canines pulse fervently.
The more I fight for control, the stronger the smells and sounds become. When I think I have it under control I find my lips brushing against his neck. Quickly, I bite down and blood squirts the walls of my mouth. It’s so sweet and delicious. I feel every hair on my skin rise as his warm body goes limp and cold.
Daniel moans blearily as he is drained of his strength. He quivers but my fangs remain interlocked. His head slumps back, eyes slightly open gazing tiredly into the awaiting afterlife. I take hold of his hands while I feed off him, their cold and a little muggy—from wiping tears. Mortified at what I was doing, but I can’t stop myself, the taste of his warm sweet blood’s too delectable.
In the last drop, I regain control and push him away. His body thumps the floor. Daniel lies in still silence. Skin as white as a ghost. What kind of sadistic act did I just commit? I run my fingers through my hair in panic. Questions sending the world around me spinning out of control. What should I do? Tell Boris? What will he say? I’m a murderer! A cold-blooded murderer!
Another look at Daniel, then the bedroom door. The window. I should run away. Get as far away from this place as I can. No! Let’s be logical a moment, I couldn’t have indulged in my little brother’s blood. I’m no cannibal. That just ridiculous.
A cold-blooded killer.
I cower over Daniel’s body. Pull him into my arms, caressing him as tight as I could bare. He shimmers feverishly for the last time before going still. I rest his head on my shoulder and grab blankets and drape them around the two of us. For a moment, I just hold him. Bury my face in his blond hair and cry.
I gasped and sat up in bed, a bead of sweat drizzles down the side of my face and a few more blobs follow it. My clothes are drenched and so are the sheets. My throat burns as if I’d been screaming for hours. After I sit still a few seconds to pull myself together, I slip out of bed. Talk about a bad nightmare! It felt surreal!