"Thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you would I silently sleep and be carried eternally."
- Walt Whitman | Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand
More than enough has been said about the winters in Chicago. Known for both some of the coldest temperatures in the midwest and as a home of historically infamous winter storms. The festive seasons as a result have been a point of heavy dislike and wondrous appreciation for both natives and tourists alike. Despite a lifetime here I could barely make any solid judgements to attest to this. My numbness during these times of the year have all just been too great. All thanks to a crippling seasonal effective disorder that always left me apathetic and tired whenever snowflakes fall. Always down when the thermometers go blue but always at least somewhat stabilized when the leaves start to grow back in spring. Medication and counseling resistant. Trauma and shame protecting it like Cerberus guards hell. All I could do was merely exist and that was just on the course of my best days. Though everything changed since that day, since I encountered solace celebrations of the most wicked kind.
I’ve been changed haven’t I?
You’ve changed me haven’t you?
All thanks to you.
Because of you I’m now left in fractured ruins. Left with a strange boutique of mixed emotions. Yet even with this dread and disorientation going through me there still exists this morbid pining. Inside the sickest layers of my being I find myself with an unearthly desire to go back to the icey warmth of Rising Boreal.
The Ainsworth Inquirer days were numbered. The end of an era just around the corner. I knew it, my chain-smoking boss knew it, and even the damn Janitor knew it. Yet it was all business as usual with this dime-a-dozen community paper spitting out its usual garbled of tame local interest stories and obituaries. You had to still pretend everything was right or find yourself ostracized by your bosses and co-workers. The quiet stress could almost be measured by the foggy rise of on-property cigarette smoke. But this was a joyous time for me as selfish as it is to admit . In the long-term I would be jobless, yes, but it meant I was no longer bound by the requirements and conservative expectations that come with a paper most known for reporting on Boy Scout charity drives. At the end of it the rope I was freed of professional chains. I could pursue an obsession of mine. Using my own expenses the boss let me off to the Crossroads of America. All to look into a series of murders that few even acknowledge.
It was a quiet drive through hours fields and fields with the occasional strip mall to interrupt it. Lost in thought, and with a busted car-radio, I dwelled existentially onto my life. A piss-poor child of an addicted mother who would have sold him for crack money if she could. A teenager who won a scholarship by chance and wasted it on a Journalist degree he almost didn’t get due to academic misconduct. A man’s career who, if died tomorrow, would have peaked with an awkward five minute interview with a school board member. A barely stable manic depressive who was at the time throwing everything he could at a blood-sucking serial killer in rural Indiana.
The Vampire Murders, as the Indianapolis Star coined it, are a series of strange deaths likely done by a serial killer. Victims went missing then turned up roadside on US highways to be discovered by some unexpecting passerbys. Autopsies showed these poor bastard’s blood were drained and their bodies almost-perfectly preserved despite estimated times of deaths ranging from weeks to months before then. Veins could have been cleaned out by a damned brush from the looks of it. And to make matters even more disturbing this didn’t seem to be done by any knife or medical device.
Those were bitemarks.
Done by fangs.
As terrifying as this is and as much the victims deserved justice that is not what brought me to investigate these tragedies. Because those gruesome killings had been on the down-low. There had been no press conferences, public releases, or even the most basic of updates from law enforcement local or state. Even normally greedy national and corporate-media were avoiding any kind of reporting on the crimes.
There were some online news articles and the occasional 6-minute info dump on local news stations to be sure but as for anything not minimal there was a clear deliberate ignoring of the vampire murders. Normally such deaths would be front page news across the country with true-crime documentaries already being greenlight. There had to be a reason for this and I, in all selfish honesty , wanted to be the one to uncover this all before my paper tanked.
In hindsight I wish I had turned the other way and headed back home. Not like I could have outrun my own destiny but maybe I could have had at last a few more good years before I came face-to-face with bitter truths and forbidden fruits.
In the morning I made it to the town closest to where the last body was found. Rising Boreal. Checked into a hotel before daily routines began. . As the sun went up and I got a clear view at the landscape before me I was wordless at how different this place was from the surrounding areas and just in general how eccentric of an aura it gave. Lilies, roses, and even sunflowers thriving at every corner. Both in flower pots and on the grass. Pine-trees, a sight only up in Northern states dotted the woods and greasy eras amidst the town itself. All in the dead of winter with snow and ice leaving a kiss on everything. These things had to be plastic or I was misidentifying species. I shivered.
Even the architecture of this place gave me a certain unease. Buildings both homes and businesses alike were made from picturesque bright red bricks, dark-brown logs, and the whitest flatten woods one could picture. But all the while there was almost something far too idealistic and quaint about all this. As if it was bright coloring meant to paint over blood splatter. A smiley face blanket tossed over a corpse. This beauty meant to hide something terrible.
I pushed my cynicism aside and carried on. This uncanniness, this weirdness would have to wait. There was business to attend to.
I often thought about the man who exists to me in only old faint glimpses of time.
My mother never told me directly what happened with my father.
I had to pick it up from her slurred drunken rants from across the years.
When I was only half-way through kindergarten she walked in on him in bed with another man.
Kicked him out the same day.
All photos she had with him in it were burned.
Now all there is is fading feelings of warmth.
It was all downhill for her mental state from there.
My first stop was the closest shop to the hotel. The cashier was, to my luck, also the owner. A Kind and jovial man who was very helpful if sometimes dodgy wherever questions arose about the odder aspects of the town. I quickly tossed the run-around side and went straight for the jugular asking about the corpses that popped up not too far away.
The color drained from his face and the eye contact I worked so hard to establish was lost in a millisecond.
He quickly but still politely pulled out my requested souvenir then showed me on my merry way. Even giving it to me “on the house” so no conversation over cards and cash could occur. This would become a running theme during my visit.
Turned away by store keeper to store keeper and by passerby to passerby I was already in a rut so soon into my trip. Perking myself with a latte I decided yapping away was pointless and decided to make my way from that café to the town library. On my way however something caught my eye, right in the middle of the town center was this huge unbloomed flower, roughly the size of a pickup, with vines intertwined with nearly every in-place and thing. The peculiarities of this were disturbing. As if I was witnessing the behavior of an animal belonging deep at sea or mils into the jungle. Something that ought to remain away from human civilization. Benches, support beams, walls, lamp posts, and all one could imagine was latched onto. None of the shoppers and families walking buy seemed to even care. Accustomed to it all. I took a deep breath and pressed on to my destination.
My father was gone when I came into adulthood. My mother was emotionally never really there. Maybe this would not have been so bad if there were any parental or authority figures in my life that could have held me up high. Sadly for me they looked down on me. A delinquent and a worthless son of a bitch unlikely to accomplish much in life beyond pushing around carts for minimum wage.
I know for the sake of self-love I’m supposed to say they misjudged me but now that I think about the cheated math tests, the fights I got into, and all those picked pockets I wonder if they were right. That all good fortunate was a fluke or all a part of a cruel joke. That there wasn’t a place for me. Least not in this world.
A “Satanic” cult.
No name was even given for it. But they existed. And They spilt blood. A 1982 news article from the archives reported briefly about a paganistic cult in Boreal broken up and arrested for sacrificing and killing four people at a local cave. Names of the arrested were not included nor of anything thereafter when it came to trials and sentencing. To add insult to injury there was no follow up from the paper that covered it from the rest of it’s lifespan.
I had been at it for five hours on an ancient desktop that must have been top-end tech back in 2002 and this was all I could show for it. I rubbed my forehead and then checked my watch. I had ten minutes left before closing. An announcement from the loud speakers soon confirmed what I already knew. While logging off from my session fear overtook me. I was being watched. I checked my surroundings, my eyes tracking down two smiling men staring at me from a couple of bookshelves across the room. These freaks had unnaturally pale skins and unblinking eyes that made my spine want to pop out of my body. A sadistically gleeful smirk written on their faces. I felt like I was being watched by two deformed mannequins rather than any living breathing human being. The moment was mercifully interrupted by a librarian telling me it's time to go in that classic annoyed tone .I nodded then looked back to see the space near the shelves empty once again. For once in what must have been forever my compulsion towards this godless place began that common sense gut punched me. I had to leave this town before it was too late.
Later that night I threw my things haphazardly into the back of my car and started to high-tail it out of town. Didn’t even bother to get my money back for the days paid for that would be unused. I barely obeyed traffic laws as I made it to the town’s outskirts. That is as far as I went before fate reared its ugly head. I saw them. All those lights in the woods. Many many torch lights in the distance to the left of me. I parked on the side of the road, numbing myself to my own inner-voices, and headed out on foot. It could have been nothing. But those lights painted too much of an unspeakably sinister picture for me. I pushed through many bushes and clumps of snow before I finally hit a man-made path. Those were not far away. Those unseen devils calling to me in their mystery and danger. A mere minute later I was hunched down in a bush. I started observing these velvet robbed figures grouped together and slowly few by few heading inside this cave.
The same cave mentioned in the article.
When there was only one cultist behind this congregation I prepped myself and firmly grasped a nearby rock. In a flash I was standing over the body of said man now with a bashed in head.
No matter where one falls on the debate of how human sexuality forms. Be it environment, genetics, mixture of the two, or none of the above I can tell you that my dad was not the first gay man in my family.
My great great grand father frequented an underground gay bar shortly after th great depression lifted. A man he thought he was going to get lucky with turned out to be an undercover cop. Some months later he was institutionalized against his will. Then half-hazzardly lobotomized doomed to spend the remaining decades of his life in a home. I remembered visiting him shortly before his death in 2001. Even at that young age I knew that I was witnessing a living tragedy. He had spent the better part of his life not as himself but as a mental-child who couldn’t even control his own bowel movements. This man was once a lively and kind man. Given a fate worse than death all for liking guys.
Maybe if he was white he would have been given a slap on the wrist.
The screams of that poor girl echoed through my mind. Crying, pleading, and praying to god.
He didn’t hear her.
Pulling the ceremonial clothing from that body I disguised myself as one of their ranks and got with the rest of the people in time to bear witness to this horrible act. I watched a bearded man in a blue robe sucking the life out of this woman through those horrific teeth. Right until there was none left. When she was no longer on this earth the crowd gave a foreign chant that I did my best to mouth along with. A couple of mooks disposed of the body as the man addressed the crowd. Speaking of strange things to his people. Of freedom, superiority, and salvation from this cruel world. Then my cover was blown if I even had it to start with.
“We have a visitor tonight, my children”,
My heart sank down deep and my body froze in place. I thought this was going to be the end of me. I expected the men surrounding me to grab me and put me onto the now-crimson stained concrete slab. They didn’t. Instead a plain clothed man stepped onto the stage. I was in complete shock not just because it was the same man I thought I had just killed but it was also an all too familiar, all too desired face from a lifetime ago.
My father gave me an almost sickenly affectionate smile. An unnaturally long snake-like tongue licking up the unnaturally colored blood from his forehead. No harm or no fool it seemed The mad priest gave a laugh before placing a warm romantic kiss on my father’s lips. I could feel the emotional resonance from the act despite how far away I stood. My dad embracing his lawfully wedded husband of the wintertides. I wanted to run. To drive away and never come back, But the fanged fiends of this evil religion blocked all exits with their increasingly unnatural vitality.
The preost stepped forward from his lover and faced the crowd. And with a nod communicated that it was time. After praising some deities of old he…..I can’t come up with the words. Lord help us all I can barely describe what happened next. There are just some sights, sensations, and universal truths that the English language simply cannot do justice for. Horrible horrible things that can never be truly rationalized and accepted by the human brain. In what fractured pictures of time that I can pull from my subconscious I witnessed the priest do a metamorphosis that spat in the face of mother nature herself.
He turned into something that was far too powerful to be a mere vampire.
Turned into something far too beautiful for anything that two-bit American folklore could ever come up with.
Before I lost consciousness there was a noise emitting from my mouth. To this day I can’t tell if It was screaming or laughing.
I remember seeing the flower before I left. That fauna from a different world, a different time, and a different dimension. I don’t know if I ran past it while running away from the cavern or if I saw it while being carried by those unholy holymen but I know I saw it sometime before I woke up in my hotel room the following day. I vividly recall that It had blossomed to the joys and cheers of gathered locals. That It was glowing a celestial blue that seemed to be reaching out to the heavens itself. It’s strangeness blessing the falling snow like one might see inside the painting of a gentle madman.
I swear up into this very day that I saw ghostly vestiges dancing amongst the snow stricken sky that night.
Mail has piled up at the front door. Phone calls have stayed unanswered. Without hesitation I have cut off anyone who remotely cared about me. It was the best route since even if I tried my damndest there was no way in hell I was going to be close with another human being ever again. Not after what I have seen. Not after finding out what I am.
Sanity’s sun will never shine on me again. I am left in a cold growing shadow engulfing all peace of mind and homosapien sensibilities. And all I did was scratch the surface about what is waiting for us in the wintry darkness. What dreams may come. What suffering too imaginable and what pleasure too savage. And what familiar faces may already be frolicking in a garden of weirdness. All ready to guide me into the next planetary steps.
There are very little ways out now. I can either allow myself to wither away into oblivion for the sake of some undeserving affinity to mankind or I can take the from the frozen Olive branch offered to me by Gods of aeons-past so that I may live in a new reality.
Somewhere, for the first time in my life, I may have a loving family.
Somewhere I truly belong.
Written by AudreyOwO