This Week’s Prompt: 105. Vampire visits man in ancestral abode—is his own father.
The Prior Research:Romanian Vampires
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Robert Dellsworth nearly dozing when he heard the knocking at his door. A man of his middling thirties, overworked from his office in town, he was slow to answer. Donning whatever clothes were nearby, at three in the morning, he finally made his way to the door. The infernal knocking door.
“Coming, coming! What in God’s name—” Robert began, before the sight cut through his thoughts. His father stood at the doorstep, for the first time in twenty-three years. There was silence on the November air.
“Can I come in?” Geoffrey Dellsworth said softly. In a daze, Robert stepped aside, gesturing for the man to come in. The wind whipped behind him, closing the door.
“I’m sorry, but you…you resemble an old relation of mine. But that can’t be. Please, why are you waking me up at such a late hour?” Robert said, the fire in the chimney crackling to life as his father knelt near it.
“It is no mere resemblance, Rob.” The man said, sighing as he stood and looked around the old Dellsworth entrance. “You removed my portrait.”
“Again, that can’t be. I know, certainly, that you can’t be him.” Robert said, his voice shaking. “He is long dead—or best be. When my mother died, he was no where to be seen, and never once did I hear of his inheritance or advice for two thirds my life. It would be nonsense to come back now. No, no, please sir, do not maintain this charade.”
“Hm. You seem unwell. Perhaps we should sit, and discuss this over tea?” Geoffrey said, walking into the kitchen. “You know my favorite I hope?”
The whistle of the tea kettle did little to the silence. Robert studied the man, his father. He had grown a longer beard, but his face was the same—as if wandering free from a dream. His eyes the same warm brown hue, details he’d forgotten but seemed to fit. A small scar on his cheek. A spot above his eyebrow.
“You can’t be him. But if you are Geoffrey Dellsworth, why are you here? Why now? Why not ten years ago? Twenty?” Robert said, voice straining. “Do you know what happened when you left? The rumors that went round me and mother? What it did to her?”
“It was better than staying around long.” Geoffrey said, another flicker of wind striking the ground, scattering dust. “It was better, I had hoped, for you for me to be gone some. I hope you have not made things too good for yourself.”
“Too good? Oh don’t worry about that now. Not now.” Robert hissed. “I’ve made things plenty good without you. I had to leave town for studies, I had to work long hours and burn what little inheritance I had. But I’ve made things plenty good.”
“Have you now?” Geoffrey asked with raised eyebrow.
“Go around and ask someone else at three in the morning what the Dellsworth name is!” Robert said standing. “Go and ask any of the business men I financed, the charities I’ve run, the poet’s I’ve given patronage, the people I’ve fought for in court. Go and ask them if it’s the specter of your sordid past that looms over this house! I’ve fought for that, making things too good for me!”
Geoffrey was silent. His ears seemed to prick up, and a slow sigh escaped his lips.
“So. Why. Why now?” Robert said, slumping back in the chair. “What do you want? Money? A place to hide from some new family you’ve made overseas? What?”
“No, Robert, nothing like that.” Geoffrey said, shaking his head. “No, no. I’ve come for you. For your own sake.”
“You’ve said your piece. Now I will say mine.” Geoffrey cut in. “I wish I could say I regret leaving your mother all those years ago. But I knew it wouldn’t be for the best. I am…not an easy man to get along with, even in the best of cases. That isn’t why though.”
A wind blew again…but this time, something flicked up by his father’s side. It was a strange shape, but gone in an instant.
“No, no that isn’t why.” Geoffrey repeated, clicking his tongue against teeth—teeth that looked all the sharper. “My long shadow is more than a shadow Robert—It’s true, what they said. I killed my wife in Ellingston. And my daughter, and my son, and my brother, and my cousin, and my niece, and my nephew. And I knew, if I stayed too long, I might do the same to you.”
“…Is that…” Robert stood and pointed at the shape, gone in a moment. Geoffrey’s back seemed hunched, his head longer and his teeth like needles for a moment—and then it was gone.
“So I left, without warning, hoping to spare you that fate. But I knew as well that one day I would have to come back. You’ve got the same blood. That is how it is with us. We live our lives, as best we can. But the old blood, the hungry blood, it wakes up eventually. If we are lucky, like I was, it wakes when we die. But not always. It wakes, it feeds, it sleeps, it wakes. And it will wake in you.”
“…You’re a vampire.” Robert said, staring at Geoffery. “Is that it? You left because…what, because you thought you’d attack my mother? Attack me?”
“I left because I knew I would. I could feel it. Growing, more and more demanding. You’ll get used to it, you’ll learn to keep it under control and leave when you must.” Geoffery said, nodding. “That’s why I came back. You need to leave, soon. Walk the world. Learn how to handle yourself. I had hoped…but I hear others breathing here.”
Robert’s face went pale and his blood became ice. His wife and two children were upstairs—they were heavy sleepers, as was he usually. But the last few nights he had trouble sleeping, waking often and early.
“You’ll hurt them if you stay.” Geoffrey said calmly. “Worse than I could hurt you—you’ll kill them if you stay. For their sake, Rob, you should leave.”
“There’s got to be another way to…even if what you say is true, there’s another way to deal with this than running off, ruining everything I’ve had. I’ve already done better than you once, I’ll fix this mess to.” Robert said, voice shaking.
“You can try.” Geoffrey said standing. “You can fight, you can struggle—but you’ll only make it worse. Wolves must feed on sheep—and that is what you and I are, Rob. Wolves and worse. It hasn’t come yet—I can see in your eyes, its still sleeping. It’s there, the old blood never fails. Never has.”
“You think-you think you can just come in here and tell me what I’ll be? Get out of my house!” Robert said standing up. “Get you and your so-called advice out of my house! I have worked to hard and long to scrub your stain out of the family name to believe this, any of this!”
Geoffrey nodded and stood, adjusting his coat slightly.
“Well. It will come soon. And when it does, I will be waiting in Ellington. We can drink to ease the pain.” He said, with a toothy grin. “Enjoy your fight—every inch of ground you’ll end up giving. Every twitch, every glance, every drop of blood. It’ll be worth it, I’m sure.”
Without a word, he vanished like dissipating mist.
Robert was alone again. Shaking to pour a cup of tea—a bit splashed onto his hand. He hissed and impulsively brought it to his mouth. Had his teeth always been that sharp?
This story took a number of revisions to get right, both in character and in structure. It ended up getting into some potentially heavy subjects—but that seems to be the nature of horror stories about family and folklore. I’m fond of it and unlike most of my stories I don’t think it needs much expansion—refinement, rewording, and so on but no really extra scenes or the like.
Next week, we’ll be returning to the classic night terror, and discussing why you can’t sleep at night! See you then!
I’d be remiss not to mention that we discussed the fate of a very different vampire—a blood drinking dragon who could appear as a man—here on my Patreon, for 5 dollar patrons. You can get monthly research and stories, for five or one dollar each starting today!