Ok, this isn't really a new story, but it is the first story I ever wrote back in high school. I thought it would make a good Halloween story for the
The police car lights blinked rapidly against the dark, moonless night of the city as the sirens of more approaching squad cars could be heard in the
distance. The door of one police car opened, and the precinct homicide detective emerged. Placing his hat firmly on his head, he quickly pushed his
way through a crowd of onlookers who stood huddled near the wall of an apartment building, close to the opening of a dark and dirty alley. The
detective stepped up to the sergeant in charge of the scene, waved his hand in a wide arc, obviously calling the sergeant’s attention to the
observing crowd around them, and soon the attending deputies began ordering everyone to go back inside their apartments. The crowd retreated about
twenty yards, and a few people actually went back inside the building. The majority, however, remained just beyond the threshold of what they
considered necessary to avoid an arrest.
They were looking at the body. As the police began placing a security tape around the scene, a Channel 4 Action News van pulled up next to one of the
police cars. A couple of cameramen penetrated the security and obtained just a few seconds of footage before they were pushed away by police, but it
was enough to give thousands of New Yorkers a glimpse of the naked dead person. It was apparently a young woman. She was about average height, but
that was all that one could tell upon a first or even second glance.
The body had been horribly mutilated with some hideously sharp device. The forelimbs had been amputated and crushed. Fingers and pieces of fleshy bone
were scattered on the sidewalk next to the apartment wall. The body cavity had been cut open from the back, and bloody, white, unmistakable pieces of
vertebrae were scattered past the body onto the street. Soon, the main body part was covered with a black plastic bag, and a New York City Police
Department coroner’s vehicle arrived to clean up the mess.
Ivan stood at the edge of the crowd. He knew he had to get home soon, because bad things happened to people who stayed out too late in this
neighborhood. The old man turned toward the black alley, and began to slowly walk into the darkness. He hadn’t stopped to look at the murder scene
for long; murders were not unusual anymore in this section of the slums. A gang war had erupted, the worst ever in the cities history, and this
particular killing had only been one of several recent, grizzly slayings. Rumor had it that the police were beginning to suspect a serial killer, but
most residents were blaming it on the gangs.
Ivan’s sparse, curly white hair and pale, wrinkled face did not even show his true age. He was, in fact, even older than one would surmise upon
first viewing his stooping figure. It was his loneliness, however, not his age, which made him think about himself, instead of the poor victim over
whose dying ground he had just passed. He lived by himself in an apartment about three blocks further down the alley. Living alone was dangerous here.
Screams could be heard outside of his home almost every night, and someone would eventually call the police, but if you lived by yourself, you were
better off minding your own business. His, and practically all of the other apartments in the area, were one bedroom flea-traps, so there were a lot
of other lonely people in this part of town. In that respect, he realized he had some company. It was ironic.
He was no longer alone now. The damp clacks of his footsteps were accompanied not only by the sharp clicks of his cane, but something else. Footsteps
were approaching from behind and catching up fast. Feeling a twinge of alarm, he realized how dark it actually was in this alley. The high walls were
sufficiently immense to block out any of the light from the street, save for the intersection far ahead of him, and also from the glaring police
lights at the murder scene, more than a block behind. He was, essentially, in a long dark tunnel. Ivan suddenly stopped walking, and the sound of the
steps behind him stopped as well. He cocked his head to one side, heard nothing, and took another step forward. Ivan immediately felt a strong hand
grasp his shoulder as he was spun violently around to face his stalker.
In the darkness of the alley Ivan could barely discern the features of a tall, muscular individual, who quickly struck a match and raised the
blossoming flame to a cigarette which hung from the corner of his mouth while inhaling. The young man let the match drop to Ivan’s feet, exhaled,
and then spoke: “Been hearing about you, old man.”
Ivan replied in a thick European accent, “About me, eh? You must be mistaken. I know very few people in this town, and I rarely talk to anyone. Now
it’s late, and I must be getting home now.” He turned to continue down the alley. The young man gave a slight laugh. He forcefully jerked Ivan
back to face him, almost knocking him off balance, and answered with a grin.
“Now hold on just a minute, there’s somethin’ we gotta talk about” Then, in much more serious tone, “The name’s Tyrone. A couple of my
...”assistants” spoke to you after you left the grocery store last night. They said you were, well, let’s just say...a little uncooperative.”
Ivan looked down for a minute, then returned his gaze to Tyrone. “Yes, I do think I recall a couple of young men your age had spoken to me last
night. I must admit I didn’t quite understand what they were trying to sell me. Some kind of “hood protection” I think they called it. Do you
Tyrone gave a spontaneous burst of laughter. “You’ve got a great sense of humor, even at your age, grandpa!” Then serious again and with a cold
stare, “In a way, I do sell insurance. You know this is a dangerous place at night. Look down the alley. Fifty dollars a week and my boys could see
to it that you don’t end up like that poor girl down there.” He nodded toward the flashing police car lights. “I know you old folks get social
security, and everyone in this neighborhood pays. It ain’t much, and I know you can afford it.”
Ivan answered as innocently as possible, but he knew Tyrone didn’t take him for an elderly fool. “I’m very careful, and right now I must go home
immediately. I must take my medication.”
“But what if you run into trouble? What if one of the gangs wants to rob you tonight? What if I want to rob you tonight? I don’t think you’re as
senile as you look, and if you’re as careful as you say, then you know it’s best to be my friend.” Tyrone bared his teeth slightly and added,
“and certainly not my enemy.” He began reaching into Ivan’s coat pocket, digging for cash.
“No!” Ivan yelled, “I spent my money at the store. Leave me alone!”
“You went to the store and brought nothing for Tyrone?” he retorted. “Next time, I hope you remember to be a little more generous!” he said
hotly. He then turned sharply and disappeared into the darkness. Ivan cursed to himself, and started home.
When Ivan opened the door to his apartment, he hung up his coat and went into the kitchen.
“Hoodlums,” he said to himself, as he took a can of tomato soup from his coat pocket and opened it with a can opener.
“Murderers!” he hissed, as he poured the contents into a small bowl.
“Bastards!” he spat, as he placed it on the stove and turned on the burner.
When it was ready, he sprinkled in a little meat, sat down at the table, and slowly sipped it from a spoon.
Thankfully, he was beginning to calm down, as the angry thoughts of tonight’s would-be mugging gently gave way to recollections of his childhood in
Romania. Nights in the apartment were often spent in this manner; sipping his soup(it was the only thing from the grocery store which he could
digest), as it reminded him of the times when his family would gather around the table and eat the dinner his father had caught, killed, and provided.
Those were good meals. Their family was despised for the way they lived, and so it was that they had come to America. His father believed that they
would finally be free of persecution in this new land, and as with millions of pilgrims who journeyed to this country throughout the years; America
had captured his soul and his dreams. And like all the immigrants before us, Ivan thought bitterly, it was simply a lie, and nothing more. His kind
would never be accepted here.
Three sharp knocks on his door startled him out of his ruminations of the past, so he went to the door, opening it just a crack. Before him stood an
elderly woman who wore a long, blue dress, an orange apron, and a white wig that must have been at least two decades old.
“Why, how do you do sir?” I’ve been living two apartments down from you across the hall for about two years now, and I’ve come to realize that
we’ve never been formally introduced. My name is Ms. Jenkins, Beverly Jenkins. And what may I call you by sir?”
Friendly enough she was, and Ivan was astonished. In all the time he had lived here this had never before occurred, a visitor coming to knock at his
door. Still, as he opened the door wider and let his eyes scan both sides of the hall, he kept his hand on the doorknob.
“Just call me Ivan. Nice to meet you, ma’am. I’m very sorry I can’t invite you in for supper tonight, I’ve been a little busier than usual
and my home is, quite frankly, a shocking mess right now. I was just about to go to bed....”
Ms. Jenkins interrupted, “Oh, that’s quite alright, I really didn’t mean to disturb you this evening. Actually sir, I had been hoping to invite
you over for dinner on Friday night. Of course, I can’t boast of being the best cook in the world, but every now and then I try to cook up something
special, for special guests.” She winked after the last sentence, and Ivan was a little taken by her forwardness. He answered after a second’s
pause for thought.
“Ms. Jenkins, thank you for your very kind and unexpected offer, but I’m afraid I must decline, as I will be out for most of the night on Friday.
But thank you very much again.”
Instead of looking disappointed, she threw him an amiable smile, and said “Very well, sir, or I guess I should say...Ivan, but it was a pleasure
meeting you all the same. I’ll be sure to plan something special for another night; one that will be more convenient.” With that she turned and
walked toward her apartment. Ivan shut the door immediately.
He stayed home all the next day, not because of fear but weariness. He was getting older and weaker these days, despite increasing his diet. Ivan had
few personal friends; his new relationship with Ms. Jenkins was an unexpected, surprising event. He had never spoken to his neighbors but very
briefly, because residents in this building were used to unlocking their doors for only the brief seconds it took to get inside or out; this was a
matter of safety above all else, so no one ever stopped to chit-chat in the hallways.
Later that night another scream pierced the darkness outside.
Ivan awoke late the following night and realized, unfortunately, he needed to go the store. He didn’t want to meet Tyrone or his friends again, and
after the last incident he had come close to filing a report with the police. He knew that the cops were overwhelmed by not only the citywide crime
situation, but also the numerous killings in his own neighborhood. In fact, a police report was probably as far as the case would get. His best bet
was certainly to watch out for himself, and Ivan didn’t get to be as old as he was by being careless.
He made it to the market without incident. Standing in the check-out lane with his groceries, Ivan glanced at the newspaper headline. It revealed that
the police were now on one of the largest manhunts in city history. This was due to the discovery of yet another mutilated victim, again not far from
Ivan’s own neighborhood. Ivan reached the front of the line and the check-out clerk, an attractive young brunette, met him with a caring smile.
“That will be eleven dollars and eighty-five cents, sir.” the clerk reported, “and I also noticed that you’re shopping alone this evening,
sir. Would you like one of our clerks to see you across the parking lot tonight? We’ve been providing complimentary escort for any customers who
shop alone this week,” Her eyes darted toward the newspaper on the rack. “and you can probably guess why” she finished. Ivan guessed that she
must have seen him reading the headline, and he was impressed by her concern. Such thoughtfulness was less common these days.
“Thank you very much, but I really don’t have far to travel. Thank you again.”
“Alright, but please be careful.” The clerk gave one more smile, this one of more concern, as Ivan walked out into the night.
Instead of using the alley, he decided to go around the block to avoid another confrontation, and he walked as fast as his tired bones would
accommodate. Getting through the parking lot was no problem; it was always well lit, and was next to a busy intersection. The difficulty was in
getting past the alley. He would have to walk past the opening on either this side or the other, because it cut directly through his apartment block.
He decided on the other, since it was closer to his apartment.
After walking around the block, it was now time to pass the opening to the alley, and arrive at his apartment, which was a mere fifty feet away. As
soon as he approached the dark, gaping entrance, his expectations of an uneventful passage were shattered suddenly by the image of a dark figure
stepping out from the blackness. Tyrone boldly stepped up to Ivan, rocking like a prizefighter stepping into the ring.
“Old man, I thought for a minute there that you weren’t gonna have any money for us tonight, the way you decided to walk around the block instead
of taking the alley.” He grinned tauntingly “but I guess you just need a little exercise now and then, that’s it, right?”
“I don’t want any trouble. Please, let me go home.” Ivan was hoping that Tyrone would take his advice.
“Just give us what we want, and there won’t be any trouble at all.”
“I don’t have any money” Ivan pleaded. “I should have told the police about you last time.”
“What, no payment!” Tyrone raised his voice. “You want to get hurt? You’ll end up with a knife in your throat!”
Two more shadows stepped out of the darkness. Tyrone’s fellow gang members grabbed Ivan’s coat, and dragged him into the cover of the alley.
Tyrone’s huge shape looked menacing as he pulled an open switchblade from his coat.
“Everyone pays,” he whispered coldly as he forced the blade against Ivan’s throat. “Old women, little kids, even the rats in this neighborhood
pay me not to cut them up. And nobody’s stupid enough to call the police on Tyrone.” He pushed the cold, steel point of the knife painfully
against Ivan’s throat. “I guess I’ll have to make you into an example.”
“Stop!” Ivan shouted in desperation. “You don’t know the consequences of this!”
“Are you threatening me, old man?” Tyrone was now infuriated, the frustration in his voice rising noticeably. “If you won’t pay us tonight,
we’re going to have to take the payment out of you!”
Ivan was suddenly shocked by the incredible pain of Tyrone’s fist striking against his face. He gave another muffled cry as Tyrone viscously kicked
him in the stomach. The other two gang members stepped forward and contributed their part to the beating. Then, without warning, two police cars
suddenly pulled into the alley, lights blinking. Within seconds, everyone except Ivan was running away and gone. The old man lay on the ground,
unconscious, as the officers called for an ambulance.
Tyrone and his crew ran back through the alley and around the building. They were less than a block from the subway when Tyrone stopped running and
reached into his coat. One of his accomplices shouted back in protest.
“Come on man, we gotta get back to Tina’s apartment before those cops see us. With our record, the first cop that sees us will know we did it and
grab our asses before we know what happened.” Tyrone was opening the wallet he had pilfered from Ivan’s coat pocket. It held no cash.
“I got no doubt that the old bastard’s gonna squeal his mouth off. I can’t stop that now. What I ain’t gonna do is go home to that bitch
without something to pay the rent with this week. She’s been screaming her goddamn head off every night when I come home, and if I don’t get
something, all three of us are gonna be livin’ out on the street again. Go on ahead. Go!”
After finding Ivan’s address in his wallet, Tyrone reached the building and burst through the main doors. He went immediately to the elevator,
pushed a button, and began ascending to the third floor. About tonight’s beating there was no regret, nor was there any indecisiveness in his mind
about what he was about to do. The elevator doors opened, and he stepped quietly into the hallway. There was no one around, so he walked past the
apartments, looking for the right number. When he found it he tried the knob and found it locked, but there was no deadbolt. He quickly retrieved a
tool from behind his belt, and easily picked the lock. He then opened the door, and stepped inside.
The first thing that Tyrone looked for in the darkness was a light to turn on, and he couldn’t find one. Old folks go to bed early, he thought; the
guy probably sleeps from dusk ‘til dawn, except for when he has to go to the store. He took out his lighter and sparked a flame. Looking around, he
began to fear that he was out of luck again, as there appeared to be nothing of value inside. The walls were a dingy grey color, and dust was
everywhere. A single chair and table stood next to the kitchen. Tyrone peered into the bedroom and discovered that, oddly enough, there wasn’t even
a bed, only a tall, empty, wooden box leaning upright against a wall. Weird, something’s not right, the depths of his mind told him as he turned
around. Then he nearly jumped in surprise as he found exactly what he had been searching for. In the far corner of the room, barely noticeable, was a
small television set. Tyrone quickly unplugged it, flicked his lighter on again, and stepped toward the kitchen to see if there were any more
appliances in the old man’s dump.
Unfortunately for him, the only items in the kitchen consisted of a pot, a ladle, and pile of empty cans labeled “Tomato Soup”. Tyrone then saw
that there were lumps of rotten meat on the counter next to the cans. When he looked closer he realized that they were organs, one looked like a
kidney, another resembled like a piece of lung. Tyrone wasn’t really sure what it was, only that it smelled awful. A large black rat suddenly burst
from a hole in the wall, tore off a piece of meat, and disappeared into the darkness again. Disgusting! This guy’s more of a pig than my
girlfriend!, he thought, as he picked up the set and headed out the doorway, shutting the door behind him.
As he ran down the hall with the television in his arms, a feeling of power came over him. He had finally robbed the old man. He was probably dead now
anyway, and Tyrone felt that this final, symbolic strike would put him just a little further underground. Well, sort of. A little closer to the truth,
Tyrone was mostly relieved to be out of the apartment. He had seen a lot of sick things in his life, but that place was just too creepy. Pushing the
memory from his mind, Tyrone backed into the elevator and turned to the mirror on the wall. He stood there admiring his reflection, alone and
powerful. It was then that he heard a thick Romanian accent remark, “I was hoping you’d come to my place. I was very much looking forward to a
Tyrone spun around to face Ivan. Instead of being elated at the second chance to kill the old man, Tyrone began to feel apprehensive. Ivan’s words
sounded cold, evil, and playfully sinister. Why didn’t I see his reflection in the mirror?, he thought as he jerked his head back toward his own
reflection. Still, no one was there but himself. He looked back at Ivan, and the television slid from his fingers, crashing to the floor.
Ivan’s skin began to turn an even paler shade of white. Tyrone looked in horror as the old man’s body became thinner and thinner, yet Ivan’s
piercing glare remained fixed on him like a viper ready to attack. Tyrone’s horror turned to terror as Ivan jerked violently, his back arching in a
bizarre manner. His mouth opened and widened to reveal long, pointed teeth. The teeth became even whiter and longer, as two enormous fangs grew from
his jaw. Ivan’s fingers grew also, and his fingernails extended to form ten horrific four-inch long blades. With the corners of his mouth slowly
turning upward, he stared back at Tyrone with a malevolent grin and said, “Dinner is now served.”
Tyrone screamed as Ivan slashed open his stomach, covering his jeans in a deluge of blood, and took one huge, painful bite. His screams turned to
bloody gurgles as Ivan began to devour his stomach. In less than a second Ivan’s head was completely inside of his chest cavity, eating everything
except his heart, and Tyrone felt every moment of it. He clawed in vain at Ivan’s back, and watched in horror as pieces of his yellow intestine
exploded onto the walls of the elevator. As Tyrone quickly began to lose strength, Ivan used one of his fingernails to rip a hole in his throat, and
then dropped him to the floor. Tyrone was then shaken like a rag doll, and he realized that Ivan was gnawing at his skull. It made a terrible
crunching noise as Ivan ate closer and closer to his brain. Tyrone quickly became aware of something else...a slow, nauseating, sucking sound coming
from Ivan’s enormous fangs which were buried deep within his head. He had a chance for one more agonizing, regretful thought as Ivan withdrew his
teeth to take a second, monstrous bite. Then Tyrone knew nothing.
The elevator doors opened and Ivan stepped into the hall. He was once again himself, dressed in his regular clean coat and suspenders. Cradling the
television set in his arms, everything looked normal, except that the elevator walls were a slightly darker shade of red. Never enter a vampire’s
den, Ivan mused. He walked on, toward his apartment. There would be no body left for police to find this time, Ivan did not even save a few scraps of
Tyrone to put in his soup tonight. But it had been a good meal; Ivan thought, yes, a very good meal.
“Oh my god, are you hurt?” Startled, Ivan saw Ms. Jenkins step out from her apartment. Her voice was shaky and full of concern.
“I was watching from my window and saw those thugs grab you from the street. I called 911 immediately, and it looked like one of them hit you before
the police pulled up. Ivan, you were so lucky that those units were patrolling close to the apartment! Are you hurt? I can give them a full statement
if you like, although I must tell you, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.”
Ivan reassured her in a humorous tone. “Everything’s quite alright, Ms. Jenkins. Just a few young punks who were drunk and looking for trouble.
You know how it is these days. Thank you very much for the help. There’s no need for a statement though, they got away.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. My dear! Would you like some help with that? It looks pretty heavy.”
Ivan quickly turned the television around in his arms to hide the cracked face from the view of the inquisitive Ms. Jenkins.
“Not at all, but thank you. Just bringing this old set back from the repair shop. I’m not as weak as I am old, believe me.”
He rested the set on his knee for a moment, and then used his free hand to open the door to his apartment. Before he could get inside, Ms. Jenkins
added “Well, you must be hungry after all that. I want you to know I’ve cooked a delicious lemon-pepper chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, black
eyed peas, and apple pie for desert. Won’t you join me tonight, Ivan?”
He set the television just inside the door and turned to face her with a tired look.
“I‘m so very sorry, but I have to decline again. I just had dinner a little while ago, and you wouldn’t believe how full I am right now. But
thank you anyway.” As he was about to retreat inside, he stopped and reconsidered.
“But come to think of it, Ms. Jenkins, I plan to go to the store again tomorrow night. You may feel free to accompany me, if you like.
Afterwards”, Ivan looked at Ms Jenkins hungrily “it would be pleasure to have you for dinner. Yes, it surely would.” Ms. Jenkins’ face lighted
with surprise. “Fantastic! We’ll make an evening of it. See you tomorrow night, Ivan.” She winked and went back inside, locking the door
Ivan watched her go inside, licked his lips, and grinned.
[edit on 13-9-2006 by Flatwoods]