Jezri's Nightmare Books

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Dagger

The Dagger
By Lisa McCourt Hollar



“Are you sure no one’s home?” Al Stevens, known to his friends as Little Al, was hanging half in, half out the window to the back of an old gray house. The occupants of the home were gone, or at least that’s what Kevin had told him when he’d suggested they take a peek inside. A noise somewhere in the house told him that Kevin was wrong.

“Yes,” Kevin Young whispered, his voice hissing his annoyance at Al for doubting him. “I saw them leave myself. The little creepy girl was wearin’ a school girl outfit.”

“A school girl outfit,” Al asked, swinging his leg over the window sill and positioning himself to drop to the ground inside. His head was now hanging outside the window and he eyeballed Kevin suspiciously.

“One of those plaid skirts that parochial schools make their students wear.”

“She doesn’t go to school,” Al said, “my mother said so. A social worker has been asking all over the neighborhood about her.”

“I know,” Kevin said, “that’s what made it so creepy. She had on those white knee socks an’ the skirt barely covered her ass, like she was trying to look sexy. And she was bossing the boy around, like she was in control and not him, even though he’s older.”

“That’s just creepy,” Al said. “She’s what, ten years old?” He had dropped to the floor and was looking around the room, waiting for Kevin to climb in and join him.

“I know,” Kevin said, falling head first through the window. Al shook his head, amazed at the gracelessness of his cousin. Pushing himself to his feet, Kevin looked around and sucked in his breath. “Wha’ you make of this?”

The room appeared to be a study. A computer sat in the corner on a desk and several pieces of furniture were scattered around the room. That wasn’t what caught Kevin’s attention though. Lining one wall was a collection of swords, some of which looked like they dated back to the Civil War. Kevin wasn’t sure when the Civil War was, but he knew it was a long time ago and these swords looked old.

“Don’t touch them,” Al said.

“But they might be worth money,” Kevin said, reaching his hand out to pull a sword off the wall, then quickly pulling it back when Al slapped the back of it. “You didn’ have to hit me,” Kevin yelled.

“I told you not to touch them,” Al said. “Where the hell you think we’re going to unload them? Not down at Goldie’s. He’s not going to buy something this hot when he knows the po-lice will be looking for them.”

“Maybe I’ll just keep it then,” Kevin said.

“Oh sure,” Al said, rolling his eyes. He wondered if the teacher’s kept passing Kevin so he’d be someone else’s problem. “And just where are you going to tell your mom you got it from, or are you just going to let her be surprised when the po po come knocking?”

“Wha-ever,” Kevin said, tired of his cousin always making him feel like a dunce, just because he was 13 and a year older than him. Kevin was still taller than ‘Little’ Al, that should count for something. But Al always acted like he was superior to everyone, even though his leg was twisted and he would never be very tall. He even walked like he was superior and for some reason it worked because no one ever dared call Al handicapped because he walked with a limp; they never even seemed to notice it.

“Let’s check the next room,” Al said and before Kevin could say anything, Al was out the door and down the hall. Kevin took one last look at the swords wishing he owned something so beautiful. A flash of light caught his eye and he looked to the right and saw a knife on display between two wicked looking swords. The dagger looked pretty wicked itself, with silver wolves carved into the design and before Al could come back and tell him how dumb it would be to take it, Kevin snatched the knife off the rack and stuck it in his pocket. As soon as he did, a nervous feeling came over him, like he was being watched. Kevin took a quick look around. Seeing that he was alone in the room, he chuckled at how stupid he was acting, then he hurried out of the room to catch up with his cousin.

“Did you hear that,” Al asked, his voice barely over a whisper. He was standing in the living room, unaware that Kevin had only just come in behind him.

“Hear what,” Kevin whispered back.

“I think someone else is in the house,” Al said, motioning to Kevin to keep quiet. Kevin was just getting ready to tell Al not to ask him questions if he didn’t want him to speak up but a creaking somewhere in the house cautioned him to remain quiet. He looked at his cousin, his eyes wide with fear. Instinctively his hand went to the stolen knife in his pocket. The floor creaked again and then a cat came running into the room. The tabby looked at the two boys, then meowed and ran out of the room.

“It was just a cat,” Kevin said, laughing nervously and pulling his hand away from the knife he’d almost revealed to Al. Al’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“Whatcha got in your pocket?”

“Nothin’,” Kevin lied

“If it’s nothing, then why were you reaching for it?”

“I wasn’t reaching for nothin’,” Kevin said, slapping his cousin’s hands away as Al tried to turn him so he could see his back pocket. He knew when he slapped him it would be a mistake, Al always answered a slap with one of his own and harder. The sound of a key in the front door though stopped Al from hitting him back. The two boys froze a moment and then ran for the back room and the window.

***

“That was insane,” Kevin laughed, bursting through his front door, Al right behind him. His heart was racing, adrenaline pumping through his veins, excitement building from nearly being discovered inside the house across the street.

“I thought you said they were going to be gone for a while,” Al said, not feeling the same excitement his cousin did. Al hated close calls. Close calls got you busted and put in prison. His father had taught him that and Big Al would know. He was currently serving 7 to 10 for a close call. Little Al was smarter than his dad though. Goldie had told him that and he believed him. Goldie always paid Al top dollar for anything he brought him and had told him that one day he’d let him come work for him. That wouldn’t happen if Al got busted inside a house on his own block and especially that house. No one went near the creepy girl and her brother. It was just an unspoken rule and if he’d been caught in there he was sure Goldie would think that meant he took too many chances. He was stupid for listening to Kevin in the first place.

“They usually are,” Kevin said. “They never come back this soon. Never!”

Al reached out and cuffed Kevin in the ear. “If they never come back this soon, then why’d they come back now?”

“I don’ know,” Kevin said, rubbing his ear and moving out of Al’s way, letting him take control, even in his own house. Al went up the steps and Kevin followed. He was still rubbing his ear, when he started to follow Al into his room, nearly falling over him. Al had stopped just inside the door and stood staring at Kevin’s bed.

“What are you doin’” Kevin asked, pushing Al, trying to get him to move out of his way. This was his room after all and he wanted in. Then he saw what Al was staring at and froze. The girl from across the street was sitting on his bed, still in her school girl outfit. Her legs were crossed and she was sitting there as though it were her own bed and staring at Al and Kevin as though they were the intruders.

“Don’t just stand there,” the girl said, “come in and shut the door.”

“I think you’ve surprised them,” another voice said and Kevin turned his head to see a boy about 19 years in age standing by the window. He was leaning against it, looking amused.

“What are you doing here,” Kevin asked, trying to make his voice sound threatening. Instead it was shaking a little and he worried that Al would hit him again for being a coward.

“I came to get my property back,” the girl said.

“We don’t have anything of yours,” Al said defensively.

The girl laughed when Al said that. “One of you does. Your smell was all over the house, so we would have known you were there, even if you hadn’t taken anything. If you had just taken a look I might have let it slide, or even if you’d taken another dagger, but the one you took has sentimental value. Give it back and maybe we’ll let you live.

Kevin shifted nervously. Al was still in front of him and he was wondering if he’d be able to run down the steps and out the door before this strange girl or her brother caught him. His thought was answered when the boy suddenly appeared behind him, blocking any chance of escape. Al jumped and turned, having just witnessed the boy in front of him disappear.

“How, how’d you do that,” Kevin asked, his heart racing again, this time from fear and not excitement.

The girl chuckled again and the two cousins moved the rest of the way into the room, the brother pushing them forward. They looked at each other nervously when they heard the door click shut behind them. “You two morons had the bad luck of stealing from vampires.”

“Vampires,” Al scoffed, “vampires aren’t real and even if they were, it’s daylight out. Vampires would be in their coffins right now.”

“Not Day Walkers,” Kevin said. “Day Walkers can be out in the sun.”

“Don’t be a dunce,” Al said, cuffing his cousin on the ear again. “They aren’t vampires. They probably saw us leave out the window .”

“And got here before we did,” Kevin yelled, rounding on his cousin and somehow finding the backbone to cuff him back. Al pulled his fist back and brought it forward, aiming for Kevin’s mouth, but Kevin, prepared for the return attack ducked and threw himself forward, hugging Al’s middle and slamming him against the door. Al pummeled Kevin in the back, but Kevin, tired of the years of abuse at his cousin’s hands didn’t feel the blows and continued to squeeze Al’s middle shoving himself against him as hard as he could, until the boy…vampire pulled him off of his cousin, lifting him in the air and setting him down on the other side of the room.

“You know, you are terribly rude,” the girl said, fixing Al with a stare that should have had him wishing for a hole to open in the ground. Al however had stood up to bullies from the time he was little, determined to be even more of a threat to those that could hurt him than they could be to him. With his life it was survival of the fittest and he aimed for that to include him.

Pulling himself up to his full height, Al stared the girl in the eye and said, “If you think you can do something about it, then why don’t you, instead of just sitting there flapping your jaws.” Al smirked at the girl. Vampire, bah! She must think he was as dumb as his cousin to believe something like that.

The girl looked back at him, then looked at her brother, her eyes questioning. Her brother shrugged his shoulders, a wry smile on his face. Then before Al could react, the girl flew off the bed, her feet barely touching the ground. She grabbed Al by his hair, twisting his neck and ripping his head off. Kevin fell over backwards as blood spurted across the room. Fascinated, he watched as the two vampires drank Al’s blood which had slowed its eruption once Al’s heart stopped beating.

Once the two vampires had finished feeding, they turned to Kevin. Kevin knew he didn’t stand a chance and didn’t even attempt to defend himself. Instead he reached into his back pocket and pulled out the dagger. Holding it out he offered it to the girl. “I’m sorry,” Kevin said, “I just never owned something as nice as this before.”

The girl vampire took the knife from Kevin and looked at it a moment before sticking it into her purse. “Your cousin was mean to you,” she said, “but he isn’t the only one, is he?”

Kevin shook his head, the memory of beatings from his father, his mother, his step-father and even a few of the neighborhood bullies came to mind. He closed his eyes.

“My name is Trina,” the vampire whispered. “My father did horrible things to me. When I became a vampire I wanted to kill him for all he had done, but I couldn’t stand the thought of drinking his blood. I killed him with this dagger.”

After she stopped speaking, Kevin braced himself for her bite. When nothing happened he opened them and looked around. His room was empty, even Al’s body was gone and the blood was cleaned up. There was no evidence that Al had ever been killed in his room. The only proof Kevin had that something had happened was the dagger lying on the floor in front of him.

***

“Kevin?”

“Yes,” Kevin asked, looking up at his Aunt’s face. It had been a few days since Al’s disappearance and she looked worried.

“Have you heard anything from Al?”

“Nothing,” Kevin said, shrugging his shoulders while he examine his hands.

“He hasn’t shown up yet,” Kevin’s mom asked, looking at her son nervously. He’d changed in the last few days, gaining more confidence since Al took off. He’d started hanging out across the street with that brother and sister. She wasn’t sure she liked that. She slapped him once, when she’d told him to stay away from them. He’d slapped her back, knocking her against the wall. Then he’d laid his step dad out on the ground when he’d tried to step in. Kevin had pulled a knife out of his back pocket then and pointed it at Jerrod.

“I won’t take any more beatings,” Kevin said. “I’m done with them. Touch me again and it will be the last thing you do!” Then he’d gone across the street and was over there the rest of the day.

His mother and his aunt exchanged looks when Kevin repeated that he didn’t know where Al was. They were both sure he was lying. They were also both sure Al was probably dead. Al’s mother rubbed her cheek, remembering how her son had cuffed her the same day he disappeared. She supposed she wasn’t too terribly sad that he was gone.

Copyright© 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

  1. Rather extreme child-abuse revenge, but rather effective. Great story, Lisa!

    Blaze

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome characterization! Al was quite the little shit.

    Stacey

    ReplyDelete