There was a lively (and somewhat heated) discussion on Twitter this past week concerning vampires and their choice of food. The discussion took an abrupt turn when I opinioned that blood was probably a better source of life-essence then, say, toenails. And down the rabbit hole we went, my Twitter friends and I, conjecturing on what toenails could possibly contribute to the nutritional requirements of vampires and how a writer could spin this into a story. The whole thing ended with a tie:
- An erotic short of vampires and their need to nibble on toes.
- A horror short of vampires consuming a human’s life essence by eating their toenails.
I’m never one to let something like this go by unexplored, so here are my contributions, in the style of flash fiction (short scenes written in an hour or so with limited or no editing). I’ve put the horror one up on today’s blog post. I’d love to do the erotic one later this week if I have the time.
Horror isn’t my usual genre, and I’m trying out a different writing style here, so let me know how I did. And let me know if you have ideas on what YOU might write about a toenail-eating vampire.
I woke up in a sweat-soaked bed, my heart pounding, and my jaw aching with the tension of clenched teeth. My muscles refused to move at first, still locked deep in sleep, although my mind rose to a fog of partial awareness. I couldn’t remember the dream that terrified me, that tore me so abruptly from my sleep that my body lagged behind.
My eyes focused and I saw the shadows before me coalesce, edges defining into the familiar shapes of desk, and dresser, the elongated forms swallowed into the dark maw of the open closet. I shivered as a cold breeze rolled through the open window and across the dampness of my skin. I never slept with the window open, but it had been one of those hot October days, and the cool of the evening had felt refreshing. I was regretting my action now. It wasn’t just the cold breeze, suddenly more suitable to January, it was the sounds sliding through the open window. The rustle of dead brown leaves, forever imprisoned on their branches, the scrape of naked limbs across the window panes and metal gutters, the scream of a rabbit caught in the sharp talons of an owl.
I rose, groggy, from the bed and struggled to shut the swollen window. The lock made a satisfying click and I felt safe. I was inside the house, surrounded by four walls of civilization while the wild remained outside, far away. The moon peeked from behind thick clouds, sending a ray of light through the window, as if confirming my protection. I was in the light.
But that open closet preyed on my mind. Surrounded by the moonbeam, I walked over and closed the door, glancing into the dark recesses out of habit. Something glanced back. Round crimson eyes, expressionless, as if motivated only by instinct looked up at me from the closet floor. I yelped and jumped backward, a portion of my brain convinced this was the epitome of evil, a creature from the dark recesses of hell. A more logical part of my brain tried to reassure me that it was only a rat. The first part won over when I felt a hand reach my ankle, and looked down to see a scaled claw with three yellow nails and an opposing spur gripping my leg. I jumped again, but the claw was strong and I fell onto my back, frantically scrabbling to get away.
The creature leapt with an inhuman speed and pinned me, transferring my ankle to a rear claw and immobilizing each of my limbs with one of its own. The yellowed skin stretched tight across a hairless skull, splitting open to accommodate the round eyes, slits where a nose had once been, and a gash of a mouth. The mouth opened and fangs snapped down like a snake, dripping long beaded strands of fluid from their points. I wanted to move. I desperately needed to get away, but I could do nothing but stare, transfixed, as the saliva dropped onto my face and slid across my cheek into my ear.
There was a sharp pain in my wrists, as if one of the long yellowed nails had been driven through it and into the wooden floor. I was afraid to look, afraid to take my eyes off the sharp fangs so close to my tender flesh. The sharp pain continued, as if I were being jabbed over and over again in the same place, but as I tried to move my wrists I realized they were truly impaled. The creature moved its front limbs down my torso, balancing its weight on the rear ones, and I saw the spurs were missing, fluid leaking slightly from the empty sockets.
I expected it to do the same to my feet, but instead it transferred my ankles to its front appendages, moving the hideous head lower. My mind sent desperate signals to my body, frantic to get away, but I could not move, not even twitch a toe. I could feel the uneven boards of the floor beneath my back, the cold slime of the spit as it pooled in my ear. I could feel the repeated jagged stabs of the spurs as they pulsed their poison through my wrists and into my veins, the caress of the monster’s claws as it moved them across my feet, separating the toes. I could feel every breath as it bent that skull-like head to my feet, but I could not move.
Tilting his head sideways, the creature pressed a fang to the soft pad of my big toe, and slid it upward to the nail bed. There it paused, adjusting slightly for optimal position, before driving the fang underneath my toenail clear down to the base. I screamed, the pain jolting part of my anatomy out of its paralysis.
I’d never felt pain like this in my life. Never. The fang wiggled, tearing the nail from the flesh on either side of it. Then incisors clamped firmly onto the edge, dragging the toenail slowly from the depths of my toe. I wished I could faint, go into blissful unconscious, but somehow I stayed aware throughout the whole process. Not satisfied, the monster continued to repeat the procedure with each of my toes. I felt the blood soaking around the heels of my feet. Blood mixed with that foul saliva. My heartbeat surged, then halted, erratic either from the experience of extended pain, or from the poison burning through my veins. I gasped for air that seemed to increasingly evade me.
I hoped the creature would finish me off, sink its fangs into my neck so I would quickly bleed out. I hoped it would turn and look at me with malicious satisfaction, with hate, with hunger, with any emotion at all. But this was no longer a human, it was an animal. An animal that saw me as nothing more than prey, not worthy of mercy. Not worthy of even satisfaction in my death. Without a glance, it strode from the room, its claws clicking as it left.
I lay, unable to move, feeling the pain in my toes dull to a numbing ache, the pauses in my heartbeat further and further apart. It wouldn’t be long now, and for that I was thankful.