For this week’s flash fiction, we head back to the basement of the Kinter house. But first, a disclaimer: If you haven’t read the other stories in this series, click here to read them before getting into this week’s installment. (Start at the bottom and read them in the order they were posted.)
The prompts were tough this week. They were good prompts, don’t get me wrong, but very specific, making it difficult for me to select one that I could weave into the fabric of this series. Fortunately, the prompt from Flash Fiction Friday was written with a lot of wiggle room, and I was able to find a way to make it work. (I’ll admit, though, that I really, really wanted to keep the Kinter house stories on pause for another week and just write a straightforward vampire story. But, since I was out of town last week I felt it best to get back to the series. I mean, I’m not heartless. I can’t just leave those kids down in that basement forever. At least, not alive.)
Here’s the prompt:
Prompt: Craft us a tale about a vamp, but forget all the stereotypes. Be scary, be wild, be hilarious, be touching. Paint us a picture of one of them that we’d never expect.
Word Limit: 1,500 words.
James Kinter is unquestionably wicked. Is he a monster, too? Read on to find out…
Carrie wasn’t supposed to watch rated-R movies. Her mom strictly forbid it. “Why would you want to fill your mind with that filth?” her mother asked when she said she wanted to see The Lost Boys. She tried explaining that it’s an old movie, tame by modern standards. That she could see far worse on TV. That, truth be told, it should be PG-13 at the worst. It had Corey Haim and Corey Feldman in it, for crying out loud. How graphic could it be?
Her mother narrowed her eyes. “I know all I need to know about it from the rating. No.”
That had been that. Or, at least that’s what Carrie’s mom thought. Carrie wasn’t truly a bad girl. She had too much integrity for that. She did what good girls do–she asked permission. But, getting an answer that didn’t please her and feeling that her mother’s reasoning was insanely stupid, she did what proactive girls do, be they good or bad. She found a way to watch what she wanted to watch. It hadn’t even been hard.
The movie failed to fascinate her, though. She had no idea what her friend, Heather, who recommended it highly, found so frightening about it. The monsters weren’t real, that much was obvious, and the Corey’s were over-rated. Granted, Kiefer Sutherland had been fun to watch for two hours, but she could look at pictures of him in his younger years without having to listen to all that drivel about head vampires and not turning until your first kill.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Besides, she didn’t believe in monsters, anyway. Until, that is, she found herself lying on Mr. Kinter’s basement floor.
Her collision with the stairs had been brutal. Her head was bleeding. She could feel the warm fluid dripping down long strands of her hair and pooling beneath her face. Her skull hurt like a motherfucker. In fact, had she chosen to say anything at the moment, that’s exactly what she would have said. “My skull hurts like a motherfucker.” Under normal circumstances she would have verbalized just such obscenities. It was fun to watch Kevin and Max squirm when she cursed.
But Mr. Kinter was clearly a nutbag, and she decided just shortly after her cranium made acquaintance with the stairs that it would be best to play dead for a bit. It would buy her some time to think.
She’d been lucky in the way she fell for two reasons. One, her body slouched forward and to the right, leaving her head lying on its right side, facing the room. Her hair had fallen over her face. She discovered that she could open her eyes and see most of the room quite clearly without anyone noticing that she wasn’t dead or passed out. Her hair formed a veil. Like a two way mirror, she could see out, but others couldn’t see in. The second reason she was lucky was because she couldn’t see all of the room. Behind her and to the right an entire corner was a huge blind spot.
Thank God. That was the corner where Mr. Kinter had Max.
The screams were like nothing she’d ever heard before. Far worse than even the best lungs she’d experienced when watching horror films. She heard Mr. Kinter’s movements and ripping sounds and the sound of blood splattering across the floor, but none of these compared to the screams. And while Max screamed, Mr. Kinter laughed.
In fact, the bastard giggled.
She decided then and there what he was. She didn’t know if he had any special powers or if he drank blood. She had seen him in sunlight and doubted that garlic would have any repellent effect on him at all. No matter. She decided that Mr. Kinter was, without question, a vampire. He was draining life out of Max and something about the process fueled him. If that didn’t make him a vampire, nothing would. He wasn’t human. He was a monster.
She didn’t know how long he would toy with Max or what he might cut off after he was done with the ear, but she was sure when he finished with Max he’d move on to Kevin, or Mr. Baker.
Or her. She needed to find a way out.
She could see clearly that Kevin would be no help. He’d pissed his pants. Again. He was crying and sucking his thumb. She felt no anger or judgment about it, though. It was a shitty situation. She wished she could revert to baby behavior, herself, but if she did, who would get them the hell out of there? Kinter was distracted with Max. Maybe she could work that to her advantage.
Of course, there was another adult captor in the basement. The woman with the scars.
She looked like Freddy Krueger but worse because it wasn’t makeup. It was real. Kinter called her his sister, Jessica, but it was the first Carrie had heard of another person living in the house. Having seen her when the kids first came down to the basement, she knew why Kinter wasn’t parading her around town. The woman was a walking freak show. Her face was a twisted map of scars and burns, cuts and crud stitching. It almost looked like her face had been cut off her skull at some point, cooked, and then sown back on. She was horrifying, sitting there on the stool with that dumb-ass, lopsided smile, watching Mr. Baker breathe.
But ugly or not, she could prove to be a huge problem. And Mr. Baker–well, he looked worse for wear. He was tied to a chair, his hands behind his back and his ankles bound. His head drooped to the side. He was breathing, but he was not awake. She had no idea what had been done to him so far, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.
When Max’s screams reached a deafening crescendo, Jessica stood and walked forward several steps. She was smiling and the bitch even licked her lips. Kevin had snot streaming from his nose. He was on the floor rocking himself back and forth, still crying and sucking his thumb. But Mr. Baker moved. His head cocked to the side and he opened his eyes. They were blank, his eyes, rolling to and fro without settling on anything. At first Carrie thought he was drugged, but then she remembered where she’d seen the same thing before. Her uncle, Harold. His eyes sometimes did that if he wasn’t wearing his dark glasses.
Like Harold, Mr. Baker appeared to be blind.
Just as she realized this, Mr. Baker closed his eyes. Damn. He was awake, but how much good would he be to her if he couldn’t see?
“Would you like a look, my sweet sister?” Mr. Kinter asked Jessica. Jessica nodded and moved forward, cupping her hands to catch the ear that had, minutes ago, been attached to Max’s head. Max moaned in the corner, his voice hoarse from too much screaming. After passing the ear off to his sister, Mr. Kinter kicked Carrie’s leg, probably to see if she was still out. Carrie let him, hoping for at least a few minutes more time to formulate a plan.
“Show the ear to his friend,” Mr. Kinter said. And Jessica did. Holding it like a mouse, she shuttled it across the room to Kevin who blew fresh snot bubbles from his nose at the sight of it. Mr. Kinter sighed with contentment. He was standing in the middle of the room, in Carrie’s sight, looking from one of his “guests” to another. Finally he turned back to Max. “It seems, young man, that you are to remain the focus of my attention for the immediate future.” He wore a chilling smile, ear to ear. Carrie knew it was her mind, the stress or the trauma or the fear, but she would have sworn in that moment that he had fangs, as well.
Mr. Kinter spun on the balls of his feet and walked to the far wall, away from Max. Behind Kevin there were all kinds of tools hung on hooks. He reached for a chisel, a small hammer, a utility knife and a cordless drill. Carrie had to hold her breath to keep from screaming.
It evidently took a moment for Max to see Kinter walking back toward him, but Carrie knew the moment Kinter was in Max’s sight. Max began to beg. It was the saddest, most desperate thing Carrie had ever heard, and in response Kinter merely chuckled.
“Do you know what the word ‘flay’ means, young man?” he asked.
Max began to sob.
“Here, let me show you. Your left hand, please.”