For it to be considered a notion honorable and completely dignified was not to speak of its boundless prowess, for there was no word that could be said to describe the way a bird does fly when it is in the sky, or the way a fish can swim when it is in the sea. It is, as anyone would be fit to know, full of opportunity, for there is nowhere one can’t go when they are in the air, within the sea, so for men to be caged behind bars like animals poised within a menagerie is a crime unspeakable even in the most native of tongues.
Flourishing, it seemed, but from one touch of moisture, a single drop of rain fell from the sky and evaporated the desolation of the desert as one and many. From each individual drop sprung mud, earth, grass, and from this grass the trunks of trees wide grew tall and heavy. In their surfaces there were birds, beneath them deer, and above all were doves—coasting, it seemed, the wind. In their wings there were drops of water, and from above, in the sky which was covered in clouds but marked by the sun, light shone down and made their feathers glow heavenly, as if they were the harbingers of Gods who had been brought to bless the world and all its peoples.
…for it was the greatest horrors that were revealed when the lights were out and the blankets were thin, when the world was dark and the moon couldn’t win and when, for all intents and purposes, there was a man within the night, twirling beneath his hands the skull of a child which was old and cold and rotten with mold.
Here the grim reaper stood, above the beds of little children, bony hand slung forward and scythe at the ready. He pooled from the chests of those young and innocent the pyrefly souls that inhabited each and every one of us and took them without respect or dignity whatsoever. At the children’s sides, there came the dull screech of the heartbeat monitor, then the nurses and doctors on call. They would test pulses, try to resuscitate, give mouth to mouth and use breath pumps in order to try and instill life, yet there they would be, trying to do such a thing, but unable to do anything, and there would be their parents in the other room—sobbing, bawling and in hysterics for the children they no longer had. There was nothing one could do once the dead man came. The sooner one accepted that, the sooner one realized that death really wasn’t as uncommon as it seemed to be.
The woman across the street isn’t real—at least, that’s what my friends tell me. A ‘hallucination,’ she has been called, a ‘figment of my very imagination.’ They always ask if my meds are off. I beg to question whether they truly are.
I started seeing her around three weeks ago. Her short and stupendous manner, her cackling laugh, which sounded like grackles settling along the side of the road—she’s brief and belligerent and every time I see her it’s only at night. She does not, it seems, exist during the daylight, nor the twilight hours of the morning. Rather, she makes her presence known at night—when, alongside the road, the lampposts have gone dead; and when, on her porch, she stands and watches me.
Her gaze is petrifying.
I can’t help but stare.
I stand outside on the street opposite where this woman’s home dwells. Dressed, kindly, in a T-shirt and jeans, and holding in one hand the keys to my truck, I stare across the street mere moments after I hear her moving and try my hardest to maintain my composure. She isn’t frightening, as that would be far too convenient for things unreal and of the imagination. She is, however, puzzling. Why, I wonder, is she on the side of the road? And what, I wonder, is her purpose. She is not a clown stepped from a carnival, an elephant let loose from the circus or even a cat that’s been pulled out of the hat. Rather, she is simply a person—an old, old woman, with bright, frizzy blonde hair and a mouth that distorts into something of madness. It could just be the shadows—or it could, like I dare to mention, be my imagination—but every time I see her, and every time she becomes aware of my presence, there is but one thing she can do: stare.
In her presence, I can’t help but wonder.
Is she real?
I look at the torn pictures of my life and try to figure out just how to explain myself. Who am I? I wonder. Where did I come from? How did I get here? What’s my name, my age, my purpose? They assault me all at once—a plethora, a mythology, a factual history that has been captured time and time again on magazine covers arranged A to Z. I am many things, I know, but I am not someone of purpose, which is why in writing this I can’t help but wonder whether or not anyone will actually read this.
Tell me, they say. Who are you?
“Who am I?” A game, a number, a letter, a word, a person, animal, fish, vertebrae—what can describe me on this great blue ball: when, in all respects, I see myself as nothing? What am I if not used space, a seat for one better than me to plop down and begin their time of work? Does this mean that I am not someone? That I am undeniably nothing?
It’s a scary feeling—to feel alone, to feel forgotten, to stand on the end of time and look back at what all I have experienced. Here they have fallen, yet I am standing, my feet in the grey and white ash of what used to be the modern world, and here I am trying to remember. What am I? What was my purpose? And now that they are gone, what am I supposed to do?
Time stretches forward—infinitely, without regard, and with reckless abandon.
It is then that I begin to realize—
I am alone.
It is, quite possibly, the most horrible feeling in the world.
There need be no Gods when man were Gods themselves, capable of tearing the world asunder with only the flick of a hand. He’d seen Odin’s powers, had seen them mend thread and conjure light before the sky, but when he’d thrown that spark of flame—when he’d created a fiery tornado that raged about their camp harming both friend and foe—he’d thought him incapable of such feats. Now, though, he knew better, and he knew that running away from such a man could come with consequences.
The Brotherhood: Blood
A dark fantasy novel by Kody Boye
Morning came with the scent of dew and the glistening kiss of rain. Though he had slept for only a few mere hours, and while his body protested even the idea of rising and riding on horseback throughout the rest of the day, Odin opened his eyes to a world that looked absolutely magical. Water droplets reflected golden-orange light in every direction, creating miniature rainbows across his plane of vision; the plants glowed green, as if new and virgin-birthed; and the earth seemed fresh and new, almost as if the devastating storm had not happened and thrust him into the horrible situation. Everything seemed godlike, in a way, as colors pulsated in ways never before and the light appeared more physical than it seemed entirely possible. Beauty couldn’t describe what Odin saw through his eyes at that particular moment, and it was for that reason that, while seeking out his horse in the darkness, her breaths deep and peaceful, he found himself able to straighten his posture and relinquish his horrible feelings to the Gods above.
“Come on,” he said, untying the horse’s rope to free her from her place on the ground. “Let’s get out of here.”
Leading the mare out into the cool morning air by her reins, he retrieved a blanket from a saddle bag, slid it about his slim shoulders, then mounted the giant beast with a simple jump and step before pushing her into a quick trot.
When the road came into view, Odin thought for but a single moment everything would be just fine.
Such a beautiful day, he thought.
That pleasantry quickly shifted as soon as something darted out in the road in front of him.
His sword came out in but an instant.
Gainea bucked and kicked the empty air in front of them.
What was that?
In this late fall weather, he smelled of cold sweat and fallen leaves, a scent that both comforted and unsettled him at the same time. In one way, it felt welcome, like something he’d been waiting on for a lifetime, but in another it seemed like an omen, a black cloud coming to swallow a living town whole.
Love and Other Horrors
A short story collection by Kody Boye
Excerpt from The Charity Vampire
The night my life forever changed for the second time, I stalked and cornered a teenage boy into an alley, much like the one who created me had done nearly two-hundred years before. This teenage boy—who appeared young, fit and perfectly healthy—had no time to respond when I slapped a hand to his mouth, bent my head to his neck, and slid my fangs into his jugular. As always, the intimacy between hunter and prey brought about a carnal need that only came when I fed. Normally, I would’ve pulled the boy to the ground and savagely raped him as I fed, for even I was a monster whose perversions ran deeper than blood. But, for some reason, I didn’t. Instead, I ground our pelvises together, pressing my body against his as I clamped down harder on his neck. He struggled, but gradually relaxed as his body went into shock. He even arched his back when pleasure overtook his body, signaling that he hadn’t completely died.
After I finished, I released my hold on his neck and pressed my bloody lips to his, prying his mouth open to relish his taste one last time before standing and fleeing the alley. Had I had more time—or the urge—I would have stripped him naked and delighted in the pleasures of his body. I’d done so before, with older boys and young men who preferred my company instead of none, but something about the boy had told me to leave him alone.
Something about him had told me to just let it be.
I found out why several months later.
Amidst feeding on the teenage boys and older, homeless men I’d been silently stalking at night, I found myself feeling weaker than I had ever felt before. Several times, I had to abandon a potential kill because I figured him too strong, or because I would never be able to catch and subdue him quick enough. This lack of energy had nothing to do with my blood intake—because I fed on average once or twice a week—but something else entirely.
Then, one night, after I stumbled out of bed and into my apartment’s bathroom, I discovered the reason for my frailty.
Blanketing the underside of my arms, the base of my neck and inner thighs, dark, purple sores protruded from my skin like the black plague that had once savaged ancient Europe, signaling the beginning of an eternity of suffering. At first, I didn’t know what to do. Then, slowly, I reached up, touched my neck, and traced the perimeter of a sore with my finger.
What I found astounded me.
I could actually feel pain.
Pain, I thought, and couldn’t help but shed a tear as I felt the first human emotion I had in over two-hundred years. So this is what it feels like.
Despite the measures I had went to, and despite the security I had felt in choosing my victims, I had contracted the disease—the incurable power.
My next thought was that I had to get treatment, because they said if you started early, you could potentially stop the disease before it did too much damage.
Slowly—and with more agony than I had ever felt in my life—I realized that I could not go in for treatment. How would they treat me—a two-hundred-year-old creature of the night? They couldn’t give me blood, because a transfusion would most likely kill me, and I hadn’t taken an ounce of prescription drug since that fateful night in the alley, so that was out of the question.
Taking a step away from the large mirror that blanketed the northern wall, I turned, pulled the shower curtain aside, and ran a shower, slipping inside after the water had increased in temperature. The simple act of water hitting my body forced flares of pain to develop where each of the sores were, but I bore through the pain and ran my hands over my face, rubbing away dirt that had long since made its way into my pores.
What am I going to do? I thought, closing my eyes. How am I going to survive?
Leaning against the wall, I began to cry.
Maybe this was the salvation I had waited for all along.
Maybe this was the way I would finally leave this world.