They Bite at Night

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A 1902 era story and a trip from New York to England.

Submitted: June 29, 2017

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Submitted: June 29, 2017

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They Bite at Night

Summer,1903

This is a tribute story to ‘The Window’ by Augustus Hare.

The Window is said to be a true story and a well known legend in England

 

We decided, my brother and I, to go to Croglin Grange in Cumberland, England to explore the area and talk with locals about the myth of vampires in the area that had lingered and thrived since the short story: ‘The Window’ was written by Augustus Hare in the late 1800s.

My brother Mark thought it a lark but was excited for the adventure nonetheless. We would have two weeks stay at Croglin Grange. I looked forward to it like a kid at Christmas.

The trip was pleasant as we had splurged on a private room on board the passenger ship: October Waters. Seemed a strange name until the Porter informed us the ship was owned by a large firm: October and Waters. Thus the unusual name.

On the top deck of the ship there was a canopy covered area that served wine and fancy cheeses. My brother Mark could hardly be pulled from the place because of the abundance of pretty women. One woman in particular, Katty Wells, had the poor guy spellbound. She claimed to be unattached but I had my doubts that the black haired lady had managed to stay single.

I kept our journal up to date that Mark had been so keen on before we left New York. I would ask him if he had anything of interest to log and he would mumble something to the negative. I would be a third wheel until we parted ways with Miss Wells.

When possible I would pull Mark away from Katty. I did get my brother interested to join in one of the many poker games below deck. Mark was a master at poker and the thought of new money in our pockets was tempting for him.

So, in time Mark was sitting in on a game. I was unaware it was the high stakes table until Mark motioned for me to buy some more chips. He was having a row of bad luck. I tried to pull him away and he became almost violent. I put half of what was left of our funds in my left pocket and bought Mark his chips with the remainder. Our lodgings in England would have to be downgraded.  Upon my return to the table I saw Katty standing besides Mark while he laughed and raked in a moderate pile of cash and chips.

I put the freshly purchased chips in my pocket with hopes of cashing them in. I watched for several hours as Mark continued his winning streak with the long haired beauty pressed against him and laughing with each new win.

Relieved Mark was on his game and tired from the day’s activities I retired to our cabin. The swaying from the ship was comforting to me and I fell asleep at once. I dreamed of reaching our destination of Croglin Grange and found adventure in sleep.

Morning light from the port window woke me and I looked to the lower berth only to find Mark missing. Could that card game still be in full swing. Good Lord. I walked to the game room and saw the night must have been wild. Porters were cleaning the floor and tables.

I ordered a coffee and drank it in the all but deserted room. A ship's mate stopped by out of politeness and we conversed about trivial things. After a few short minutes he excused himself and reminded me that breakfast was being prepared.

Breakfast sounded good and so I went back to our cabin and was shocked to see a nearly nude Katty trying to pull Mark back into her own cabin. A scandalous scene to be sure.

Mark saw me and whispered something to the woman and she backed away and shut her door. But not before shooting me a look to kill. I did not like this woman and clearly the feeling was mutual.

“ Ted! I have enough winnings to pay for our trip twice over. How about that?” Mark was so excited at his success at the poker table and no doubt with Miss Wells that I barely recognized him.

“ How about your scandalous behaviour with that woman?”

“ Sounding like the old man, brother. I happen to like her a great deal.”

“ Really? After mere hours? We will be docking soon. I trust your ‘friend’ is not departing with us?”

“ In fact brother she certainly is. Stop being so Victorian and enjoy your life. I intend to.”

“ Fine, I’m not going to argue. Breakfast is nearly ready. Going?”

“ No, I need some sleep. I’ll catch up with you in a bit. Going to the upper deck?” Mark looked drugged. I guess he was up all night with Katty. Drinking too no doubt.

“ Yes, I’ll be there after breakfast. Get some reading in.”

“ Reading? Ted, come on and have some fun. Mix it up with the single ladies. Why do you think they take these trips? Single men of course.”

“ Right. See you sometime later.”

 

“ So, Mark was with Katty almost every minute. She would barely look my way. I felt like an annoyance and wished our vampire hunting adventure had never been mentioned. Still I would make the best of it knowing Mark would not be much of a participant.”

Once in Cumberland I went to the Cooper’s place to get the key to the  Croglin Grange Estate. The famous, rambling, one story house of vampire legend. Of course I had to endure the Coopers’ take on the vampire story and when Mrs. Cooper paused in mid sentence I found my out and excused myself. Waiting for me on the walk Mark and Katty were inappropriately kissing and groping. I would have a talk with Mark if opportunity presented itself.

We arrived at the rental early enough to scout the area. In particular interest to me was the graveyard and it’s many mausoleums. The legend of the Croglin Grange vampire was that he ‘slept’ his days in a coffin located in a mausoleum.

The graveyard was, to my surprise, overgrown and unkempt in every way. A shame as the limestone markers were quite elaborate. Truly artistic. I called out to Mark. No answer. I called out again and heard muffled laughter-of a woman. Miss Winters?

It was then I knew Mark’s enthusiasm for our intended purpose of the trip was replaced with his lust for Winters. I was damned angry. I would go about the adventure without him.

As I walked along the winding paths I would, at times, have to step over large vines. I imagined running in terror through this maze at night. It would be close to impossible not to trip and trip repeatedly. Again I heard the foolish laughter of the Winters woman.

After making some crude drawings of an ornate headstone I continued on and gave each of the mausoleum doors a slight push. After the sixth or seventh push a door creaked open. I pushed it to fully open so as to have light. Twelve coffins in all were housed inside. One coffin was open. I approached it with a fair amount of caution. As I stood over the coffin I was awed by the site of a mummified body. Hands folded over a rotting suit. The hands clasped a very old looking Bible. It was then a hand fell on my shoulder. I jumped and probably screamed.

It was Mark and he was laughing madly at the prank. Miss Winters laughed as well but evil glowed in her eyes. I’m sure that at one point she smirked at me and rolled her eyes upward as if to pronounce me a coward.

“Damned funny Mark. Did you raise the coffin lid?” Mark paused before answering.

“ Yes brother, I opened it hoping you would come in. Good stunt, eh.”

“ Yes. very funny. Close the lid. And door. I’m going to the house.”

“ Don’t leave mad.” Said Miss Winters, blocking my way out. She held out a hand. “ Friends? People who don’t call me Katty, call me Katherine.”

I took her hand and tried to make my smile look genuine.

“ Katherine. Good then. I’ll leave this to the two of you. I want to straighten things at the house. Oh, and good to meet you.” At that she moved giving me access to the exit.

Reaching the famous , long, one story home where we had left our bags earlier I went into the house of Croglin Grange. Musty but fairly clean. I began to open windows and tried to decide which bedroom the sister in the story had slept. I assumed it was the back room as it was the smaller of the two sleeping rooms. I looked at the window and imagined the vampire standing there as was originally reported by Augustus Hare. Then he would run his long fingernails along the glass. I then imagined the horror the sister felt the night she called out for her brothers to defend her. Eventually she was bitten without the turning associated in other vampire tales.

I decided to take this room as my own during the short two week stay. Unpacking my bags I began to sort my clothes in various dresser drawers.

Finished with the small task i went to the patio and wiped off the chairs and table. It would be more pleasant to lunch here than the small kitchen that would maintain that musty smell for most of the stay.

For three days and nights I was all but alone. Mark and Katherine were never separated and never invited me to tag along on their walks into town. It was only due to Mrs. Cooper’s gossip that I learned my wayward brother and his new friend had rented a room in town.

On the rare occasion that I saw my brother he was sullen and declined all offers of food. He was becoming thin and had the constant smell of alcohol about him. Katherine was even more distant than before and seldom came to the veranda for meals or drink. She would however watch Mark from a distance and had begun wearing a long white dress that dragged along the ground. Her black hair contrasted the clean portion of the dress so starkly that her face was almost ghostly. Of course living alone in the house with an infamous reputation led my imagination into wild thoughts.

As usual I Found myself alone on the sixth night and so lit a lantern and retired early. I did not even have heart to read. I laid down on the bed that was mine for another week and wondered if it was my duty to endure yet another week of solitude or if I should politely part company with Mark and Katherine and return to New York.

I propped my head up on the pillow and clasped my hands behind my neck to think of a realistic reason to quit the holiday that had gone so wrong when a scratching began at the sole window in the room. Mark and Katherine trying to frighten me. I laughed softly and stared at the window.

Within moments a dark clad figure, outlined by the full moon , appeared at the window. In my head I could actually hear the apparition.  

Let me in. It’s cold and I’m lost. It couldn’t be. The wine I had after supper was helping my imagination go wild and yet the thing remained at the window. Both light and dark it appeared. It shimmered like a reflection on a waters surface. It raked long nails against the glass and was gone.

I can not be certain but I felt, as the sun rose, that I had not slept. I dressed and made hot tea and poured it in the silver teapot and went to the veranda to clear my head of the fog and phantoms that had haunted me. Just a dream? I drank the entire pot of tea and walked to the area outside of my window. The ground was overgrown with thicket of weed brush and spindly saplings that could have been the apparition from last night. There was no spot for a foot to rest near the glass panes.

I went back to the veranda and tidied the table before gathering the cup and pot and returning inside. I searched for my journal to no avail and a sudden image of Mark lying dead in the mausoleum, Katherine was closing his coffin lid. I closed my eyes tightly shut to rid myself of the horrid image.

It was then and there I would hire a ride into town for the next morning and head back to New York. I was becoming more outraged at the theft of my journal than being left to my own devices. I would give the church and mausoleums a good search for my book and hope it was intact. My head clear from the tea and anger allowed a more realistic image of Mark and Katherine playing a game with my writings by hiding them where I would be most likely to fear.

Even though it was very sunny the tombs would be dark and so I took a lantern and began the search. It was early in my walk that a journal page floated by me. Another leaf from the book was atop a tombstone with a stone to hold it in place.

 I was ,at that moment, the most angry I had ever been i walked to the page on the tombstone and found it had a note written in red over my own writing. I was, of course, to think the red ink was blood. Mark was always a bit childish but this was too much. I read the note: Look in the tomb where we frightened you. Your Journal is there, Mark. Truce?

Grabbing the paper from under the rock I stomped off to the tomb. It was time to let the two know exactly what I thought of them. Would give Mark an ultimatum: finish our trip as planned or leave for home.

At the ornate door closing off the tomb I stood and listened to a hissing noise. Clever. I went in.

Mark was on the brick floor naked and bleeding from the neck. He smiled as I  took a step backwards. I backed right into a white wolf. She growled and bared her teeth. Yes she. I knew in my soul it was Katherine. I ran knowing I could not outrun her.

Knocked to the ground I looked into the gaping mouth of the monster. The teeth were sharp killing objects. I blacked out.

I came to in a stateroom aboard the ship October Waters. The ship that had brought me into hell. Mark and Katherine were sitting on chairs near me smiling. Not vicious smiles but the smiles of a kinship. Katherine felt my forehead and I felt a sudden closeness to her. Her touch and breath were cool and soothing.

She was wearing a tight , new, white gown. I could read her thoughts. Lambs were waiting for their slaughter. The three of us walked to the ball room.\

eNd

 





© Copyright 2017 Bob W. Kasch. All rights reserved.

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