In the Dead of Night
Who's at the door?
Trigger warning: alludes to physical assault
* * *
Thump, thump, thump.
The resounding sound of flesh pounding on the apartment door roused Sheena from her slumber. She sat up with wide eyes, her heart beating up through her throat. The room was swathed in sheets of black, the lack of light disorienting.
When had she fallen asleep? What time was it? She fumbled around for her phone.
The last thing Sheena remembered was coming home exhausted from her shift, putting her pj's on and heating up some hot chocolate, because fuck food when she had cramps. Then...then?
Thump, thump, thump.
Adrenaline pulsed through her veins, she was now fully awake and getting slightly pissed. Who the hell was making that racket?
Her neighbors were bound to report this to the landlord, Mr. Porter. He was all bark and no bite, but she'd just as soon not have to deal with him. And his grabby hands.
"Will you shut the hell up? I'm coming," she whisper-shouted, her anger getting the better of her.
Damn it, now that giant oaf of a landlord was surely on his way.
Sheena's hand landed on her phone at last, lighting up to reveal it was 1:03am. Whoa, that was late.
She scrambled to turn on the table lamp and hastily made her way to the door.
Peering through the peep hole, she spied one vibrant blue eye staring directly back. With an audible gasp, she pushed away completely unnerved.
"Ummm, can you back up a step?" she squeaked through the door, her voice a little shaky.
A deep muffled voice answered, and then she heard the sounds of movement. When no further response came, she once more approached the door and peeked through the peep hole.
The dim hall lanterns cast a murky silhouette of an imposing figure on the far wall. He was tall and broad, wearing a suit that hugged his frame. His dark hair hung in a wave across his forehead, covering one eye. The other of course was the brilliant blue that had stared back at her only moments before.
Sheena was feeling less and less concerned and a lot more interested in what this stranger might want with her now that she'd seen him. That seemed like a strange thought to be having, yet she couldn't shake it off.
They stared at one another in silence. The full weight of his gaze intensified as he pushed his wave of hair aside, revealing his other eye. As if in a trance, Sheena unlocked the door and opened it wide.
"I'm sorry to bother you at this late hour," the stranger began, moving closer to her, "but I find myself in a bit of a situation. If you would be so kind as to invite me in and give me a place to rest and eat, I'll repay the kindness."
His blue eyes bore into Sheena's deep brown ones, willing her to agree. With a dreamy smile, she nodded her head and stepped back to allow him entry.
Once over the threshold, the man's entire demeanor changed. His charming smile dropped away as he shut the door and locked it with an ominous 'click.'
Sheena's heart raced. A drop of sweat slid down the length of her spine. Her body knew something wasn't right, but her mind was still in that dream-like fog.
His stare bore into her again, making her feel blissed out but at the same time like prey.
"My name is Malcolm," he began, his soft timbre holding the slightest bit of menace, as if he were reigning it in. "I will be living here now, and you will be whatever I need you to be. Am I clear? Answer yes, now."
Tears began to leak from Sheena's eyes as her mouth formed words she tried desperately to hold back. She new deep in her bones that once she agreed, things would never be the same.
Malcolm's face hardened as moments passed while Sheena strained to hold in her response. He gripped her trembling chin roughly, staring harder into her eyes.
"Say it." His cold breath hit her, smelling of iron and decay.
"F-f-f-uckkk y-y-ou," she stuttered out.
Malcolm's handsome face filled with rage. It was the last thing she saw before a heavy hand struck her face turning everything black.
* * *
Rays of morning light crept across Sheena's body, warming her as she began to awaken. A soft yawn and stretch saw her finally sitting up. Her mouth felt full of cotton, and her head thumped a bit. Had she been drinking last night?
Her gaze wandered over to the coffee table as she looked for her phone. No phone, only a full cup of untouched hot chocolate. Huh. That was weird. Sheena didn't even remember falling asleep. She must've been more exhausted than she thought.
Why was everything so fuzzy though?
She tried to think back to the last thing she remembered clearly. She'd come home from work, put on her pj's, made her hot chocolate and then...there'd been a knock at the door.
Sheena's heart raced as she covered her scream, smothering it with shaking hands.
He'd somehow gotten her to let him in and then knocked her out when she refused to agree to his insanity.
Her head swiveled wildly, the fear choking her, as she sought to find his imposing form.
Where did he go?
Sheena didn't see him anywhere in the kitchen or living room.
Should she try to escape? Go for help?
She should, she really should, but the thought of moving paralyzed her with fear. This may be her only chance to leave though.
Rising slowly, she took one painful step after the other, holding her breath and praying to all things holy that she could make it to the door. The silence in the room was thick and oppressive.
A million tense moments seemed to pass before Sheena's hand finally grasped the gold knob. All she had left to do was flip the lock and escape. She could do this.
In a burst of adrenaline, she unlocked the door and ripped it open, rushing into the hallway. Sheena didn't care that she was in her skimpy night clothes or barefoot as she raced towards the elevator.
She hit the down button and whirled around, prepared for an attack.
But the hallway was empty.
The fact that Malcolm hadn't shown up yet made her feel sick to the stomach. She knew he would come for her.
The 'ping' of the elevator had her spinning back around and practically leaping through the doors as they opened.
Except Malcolm was standing in the elevator.
Sheena's eyes rounded in terror and she turned to flee, but he was faster, snagging her by the hair and dragging her back.
His arm banded around her waist, hauling her small form into his meaty chest.
This couldn't be happening. She'd been so close.
No, she would not accept this. Her hands became claws, her voice became a weapon. She struggled and screamed, fighting for her life.
But Malcolm's strength easily overpowered her. Her shouts cutting off as he squeezed her tightly.
She was moments from passing out, when a door opened down the hall, and the sound of clicking heels drew close.
Malcolm pressed his lips right up to Sheena's ear and whispered, "If you want the owner of those footsteps to keep breathing, you'd better play along. I've already had to take care of your awful landlord."
Sheena swallowed hard. She recognized the sound of those heels. They belonged to Dina in 5B–a school teacher and honestly one of the nicest people she knew.
"I understand," she breathed out.
Malcolm instantly released his crushing hold and grabbed her hand.
"Darling, come now, let's get you back to our place. I know you were excited to see me, but you'll catch cold without shoes and proper clothes," he joked.
Malcolm's warm voice pulled Dina's attention away from her phone as she rounded the corner and almost walked right into them.
The moment her gaze snagged on his, Dina's entire demeanor changed. She looked blissed out as he spoke to her in soft tones.
"Continue on with your day as if nothing has happened. Remember only that I'm living with Sheena and have been for some time. She and I are in love."
"Yes, in love," Dina sighed.
"Now off you go," Malcolm finished with a gentle push for her to continue on to the elevator.
The second she was out of sight, Sheena began to struggle again. Well her intent was to break free, but Malcolm's hold on her was bruising.
He huffed and effortlessly began hauling her back to the apartment. She had no choice but to follow or get dragged the entire way.
Like an echo of last night, the sound of the lock engaging felt ominous. Sheena was trapped again with no hope of escape.
"Now, let's try this again," Malcom purred directly into her ear tickling the fine hairs there. "You're going to be exactly what I need you to be and no more fighting back. Yes?"
His index finger lengthened as he spoke, the nail gaining a pointed edge which he used to painfully lift her chin.
As his blue-eyed gaze bore into hers, she felt a euphoric calm wash over her. Somehow his direct stare forced calmness and compliance. She needed to fight it but without him knowing as last time he knocked her out. She needed to play this smart.
Sheena kept her face slack and widened her eyes while trying to retreat into her mind, fighting to accept what she'd seen to be truth–Malcolm wasn't human. He was other.
"Yes," she breathed.
* * *
Two months of this hell with Malcom, and Sheena was no closer to figuring out how to escape. She was at her breaking point. The things she'd seen and the things she'd done would haunt her into the afterlife.
He managed every part of her days and nights now. She had no recourse but to comply, all the while with a drugged-up expression of happiness on her face.
The first thing he made her do was quit her job. No leaving the apartment, not for any reason. He rarely left either, ordering food delivery and laundry services, and doing most of his work on a laptop he brought back the first time he left. But when he did go out, he was sure to zip-tie her to the bed with duct tape stretched painfully across her mouth.
He relished ripping the tape back off, making her bleed just a little. His rough tongue licking the wounds he made.
Although Malcolm never said it out loud, she figured out he must be some type of vampire, or at least what she thought a vampire would be. He could compel people, he drank blood, and he was inhumanly fast and strong.
At first he didn't drink from her, only from Mr. Porter. Sheena felt bad for him at first, but he really was a pig of a man. Whenever Malcolm was out of sight, her landlord leered at her, making her skin crawl. Sometimes, if he was lucid enough, he'd come up with new and inventive ways he wanted to violate her, going into extreme detail.
It was during one of those episodes that Sheena just snapped. There was nothing she could do about Malcolm right then, but she could sure as hell do something about the pig taunting her in her own apartment. The place that was supposed to be her sanctuary, that she'd busted her butt to afford.
Without thinking, she grabbed a knife from the kitchen, returned to the living room where Mr. Porter was kept, and stabbed him until he was nothing but pulp.
Covered in blood, she stood there heaving, shocked at her own actions. The knife fell from her hand, making a deadened 'thunk' as it hit the bloody carpet. Everything was bloody right then. All she could see was red.
This wasn't her. She saved people, she didn't murder them in cold blood.
Bile rose in her throat. Sheena raced to the bathroom, tears streaming down her face, and barely made it before her stomach emptied out into the cold, porcelain bowl.
She was so caught up in her shock and despair that she failed to remember Malcolm had been taking a shower. The only reason she'd been alone with Mr. Porter in the first place.
Oh god, Mr. Porter. What had she done?
Sheena had just killed the vampire's blood source, and now she cowered before him covered in an aphrodisiac while he towered over her naked and dripping.
His captivating eyes roamed her body while his nose scented the blood.
He only growled one demand before he was on her, "Say yes."
That was the one and only time she allowed the compulsion to fully take her mind. She couldn't fake saying yes willingly; she knew what he was going to do to her.
Malcolm used her body over and over again, as a blood bag and as a sex toy for the next forty-eight hours until the mania finally subsided.
He was more careful with her now, as she'd been severely dehydrated and bruised at the end of his bloodlust episode. He had to find another food source for two weeks while she healed–some poor nameless girl he found on the streets, looking for a warm meal and a place to stay.
One morning, Sheena woke to the girl's muffled screams as Malcolm feed from her and ravaged her body. Her cries died off as he drained her dry then snapped her neck.
Since then, it had just been the two of them in the apartment.
It was worse than hell. All he did was take, take, take.
Sheena felt broken physically and mentally each time he was done with her. She didn't think she could hold on any more. Her situation was hopeless. She needed to escape or die trying.
The next time Malcolm was in the shower, Sheena crept to the kitchen and quickly enacted her plan. She returned to the living room to wait. If this didn't work, she'd be dead anyway.
Minutes later, Malcolm strolled into the living room still towel-drying his hair.
"Come with me, yes?" he said while claiming her gaze.
Sweat beaded on her brow, but she managed to hold onto herself while nodding in agreement.
Malcolm grasped her hand roughly and pulled her to the bedroom. The moment she was on the bed, his fangs slammed into her thigh, and he pulled deep.
A small smile formed on Sheena's mouth as he continued to drink. It took longer than she thought for him to notice the difference.
Malcolm ripped his mouth away, tearing her flesh.
"What have you done?" he panted before his eyes rolled back, and he slumped to the side.
With all the strength and courage she could muster, Sheena stumbled through the apartment to the door, disengaged the lock and flung it wide.
Her plan had worked. She was free.
Ever since she was a young girl, Sheena had been unable to swallow pills. Her parents tried everything they could to help her, but nothing worked. To this day, she was forced to find liquid versions of all her medications.
Today, she swallowed everything she could get her hands on in the hopes it would fatally poison or at least stun Malcolm. But now she needed medical help or the overdose would kill her.
Sheena pounded on her neighbor's doors, but no one answered. She continued on to the elevator. The wait was agonizing. When the doors opened at last, she felt such sweet relief.
If she could just get to her car, she kept a spare key in the wheel well, and she could get to the hospital. Sheena's vision was beginning to blur, and her stomach cramped hard stealing her breath. Still she pressed on.
Finally stumbling out into the parking garage, she leaned heavily on the concrete wall to her left. The cold felt good on her skin. She was so close. Just a little further.
Sheena's car was in the last space in the row in the back. Each step felt like agony, but she kept putting one foot in front of the other. At long last, she reached her little green hatchback and fell onto the front seat. She'd just close her eyes for a moment.
* * *
A fist rapped on the door, loud in the quiet of the hour.
"This is the police. We'd like to speak with you."
The officer waited impatiently, tapping her foot. It'd been a long shift, and she wanted to get this last questioning done as soon as possible.
She thought she heard movement behind the door, and it looked as though someone was peering through the peep hole. The officer raised her badge so the occupant could verify her identity.
After another moment or two, the door finally cracked open.
"Dina Atwood?" the officer checked.
"Yes, that's me. What can I do for you?"
"We just have a few questions about your neighbor, Sheena Adams."
At the mention of Sheena's name, the door pulled wider, exposing a tall, dark-haired man.
The officer's hand drifted unconsciously to her weapon holster. Something about the man setting her off.
"Did she say Sheena, my darling?" the man purred, curling his arm about the young woman's waist.
"Yes, but I'm not sure what this is about," Dina turned to look at the officer inquiringly.
"Yes, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but we found Sheena's deceased body inside her car. It appears her body has been there for some time. We don't have an official report I can share as of yet, but off the record, it does not appear to be a natural death. We wanted to see if you noticed anything unusual lately. Any drug problems? New boyfriends? Trouble at work? Things like that."
Dina paused for a moment. Her hand taking on a fine tremor the more seconds that ticked past. Just as she opened her mouth to speak, the man pulled her chin over, staring deeply into her eyes.
"We haven't noticed anything, have we, my dear?"
"N-n-o," she stuttered out. "We haven't."
Then he turned his head and caught the officer's gaze.
Her mouth went slack as she stared into his brilliant blue eyes. She barely heard his murmured words, but found herself nodding slowly to whatever he'd said and walking away.
The door shut and clicked behind her, the distinctive sound of the lock engaging.
The noise sounded ominous.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
I really enjoyed this. Can't wait to read more of your work.
Wow, enticing vampire story. Well done. ❤️
It's rare these days that someone writes something truly original and unique in the vampire neck of the woods. While intensely dark, I'd all but written the genre off. I like your style; humanity and inhumanity explored without any undue and warranted romance. Bravo.
I truly enjoyed this story. I'm a huge fan of Anne Rice and although it's been years since I've read "Interview.." this story brought to mind all the elements I remember reading. Very, very well written.
Great article! Got a bit spooked imagining.
Excellent! I loved it. Great storytelling.
I was hooked immediately! Congratulations on Top Story! 🎉
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Isn't that just the way? I mean, seriously. Very well done!
Well written story. Compelling and intense.
Awesome story !! ❤️
Nice job my friend. Your story hooked me and didn't let go until the end. Whether you realise it or not this style of writing shows that through the way you treat your characters that you have the ability to manipulate the emotions of your readers. Well done👍
So.... I'm sleeping with the light on tonight. Darn girl! This one not only scared the bajeebahs out of me, it made me mad! LOL! GREAT job!
This is an excellent response to the challenge. Others are better to give constructive criticism, I will just say I thought it was excellent, very creepy.
OH MY GOD! Sheena died in vain! I did not expect that! And poor Dina, now she's trapped. And the fact that those drugs didn't kill Malcolm! Argh! No I mean that's good because it makes the story less predictable. This was extremely well written! You took a simple prompt and turned it into such a creepy story! I loved this so much!
This was really, really good. I was wondering why she would so readily let him, but you covered that later. Well done.
Fanrastic storytelling. Loved it!!!💕