Home is Where the Bloody Heart is

Home is Where the Bloody Heart is

Alex, supposedly dead resurfaces home for the holidays, going against direct orders. Things turn out a little bloody.


Crime / Suspense / Mystery / Thriller


Michaela von Schaumburg (United States)

Home is Where the Bloody Heart is
The scent of cookies in the air, the sound of carols everywhere, bright lights twinkling here and there. Christmas used to be my favorite holiday. It was one of the few times of the year that the entire family got together to catch up, play games, and of course, exchange gifts. It’s supposed to be this wonderful, family oriented holiday about giving and receiving. That all changes when you die.
Sebastian had warned me of all the temptations holidays would bring. Despite that he still expected me to follow the same two rules he had given me from the get-go: no killing and no visiting people from your past life, absolutely no exceptions, not even your old veterinarian (apparently that was a common problem). They both seemed easy enough rules to follow in exchange for being able to still walk on this earth. I have abided to them for the past nine months, but something today made me snap. I had to go home.
Sitting on my grandparent’s front porch in the shadows with a trash bag full of presents, like some demonic Santa Clause wasn’t exactly how I wanted to be spending my first Christmas as a nonhuman. I knew Sebastian would have my head if he knew where I was, and what I planned on doing. But I had already gone too far to turn back now. It was just three steps to the door. Three steps to seeing my mom and dad, my papa and granny, my nieces and nephews, my sisters and brother. Three steps to seeing all of my favorite people again. Three steps to going back to my old life that I loved so much. Just three steps.
The front door looked just the same as it always did during the holidays. All decked out with Christmas spirit. The wreath that hung on it was made of fresh pine that made my nose tickle like it did every year. I was glad at least one thing hadn’t changed. No matter how small of a thing it was. My finger jabbed the doorbell before I could think about all the things that had changed, and chicken out. Ten long seconds passed before the door creaked open.
“Alex?” My dad uttered in total disbelief from the door frame. A chorus of “Alex?”s followed my dad. It sounded like everyone in the house said my name in varying tones with different emotions behind it.
I stood there, staring intently at the only father I had ever known in my mortal life, with his untamed hair, tanned skin, and twinkling green eyes that I shared. Absolutely nothing like the perfectly trimmed and deathly palor of my new “father”.
“Alex! Come in! Where have you been?! All of us thought you were dead!” My sister cried as she pulled me into the house. I flinched as I crossed the threshold, but nothing abnormal happened.
We made our way into the kitchen where I was assaulted by hugs and greetings. The touching was definitely not something I looked forward to when I was human, and even less so now. The warmth of their bodies, the beats of their heart, the smell of their blood. It was all too overwhelming now.
How easy it would be to snatch someone’s wrist. How easy it would be to sink my teeth into their flesh. How easy it would be to drink their blood. To gulp down mouthfuls at a time. To feel the liquid renew me in ways I would have never dreamt possible. To take all of their lives just to prolong my own. It was so tempting. Just three gestures. Snatch, eject fangs, bite. My hand crept towards someone’s forearm.
“Alex?” My grandma’s soothing voice interrupted my thoughts. “Are you okay, sweetie pie?” She placed her hand on top of mine.
“Yeah, I’m totally fine, granny.” Giving her a smile, I rested my other hand on top of hers in attempt to reassure her. “Just can I get some space?” I gestured to the dozens of other bodies currently residing in the kitchen.
“Sure, Honey.” She gave me a grandmotherly grin then turned to the rest of our family and put two fingers in her mouth.
The noise that came shortly after was awful, especially with my enhanced hearing. She shouted something along the lines of “Get out”, the room cleared out. All that was left were my grandmother and me.
“So, Honey, where have you been for the past nine months?!”
I had every intention of answering that question to the best of my ability, and hand out all the presents I had gotten for everyone. I just wanted it to be like past Christmases. But that wasn’t exactly how things turned out.
A hand caressed my face. I snatched the limb. Ejected my fangs. Bit into the milky flesh. Her radial artery pumped precious blood into my mouth. It was salty, sweet, and all around heavenly. It was nothing like the cow blood and synthetic stuff I had been feeding on for the past nine months. I felt invigorated, ten times more alive than when I was first turned. I was swallowing much faster than what was pumping into my mouth. Before I knew it, it was over. The blood stopped flowing. There was nothing left. I needed more. I needed more. I needed more.
Mindlessly I opened the door that led into the living room where my parents, papa, siblings, nieces and nephews were sitting around the Christmas tree. They all shrieked when they saw my bloody face and the dead body in my arms. The cries of fear and disgust didn’t bother me though, in fact they fueled me. I needed more blood. I needed it desperately. Absolutely nothing was going to stop me. Not the cries of children or the punches of adult men. I was going to get that blood. But there wasn’t enough.
Twelve empty sacks of blood were lying on the ground around me. Twelve was not enough. I needed more. Blood made me able to live like never before, like I am the most powerful being in the world. Blood was-
“Mommy? Daddy?” A small voice spoke from across the room.
I picked my head up and saw my eldest niece, Rose staring at me with her big beautiful blue eyes. I followed her innocent eyes as they wandered over the carnage I had caused. My grandparents, my parents, my brother, my sisters, my nephews, my one other niece all were lying on the ground around me. Not empty blood sacks, lifeless people. A dead family. I had ruined an entire family. No more inside jokes. Or family get-togethers. No more Christmases.
Well I guess Christmas won’t be a problem next year.

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1



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