"The Earth Bound"
by Michael V. Wilson
During my planning for the “31 Days of Halloween” event I opened the doors to some guest writers. Today we’re joined by Michael V. Wilson, as he shares “The Earth Bound”, the tale of Booger Red and his friends.
Will they receive the gift of immortality they’ve been promised?
You’re going to have to read on in order to find out.
- This story is around 2250 words in length.
"The Earth Bound"
Booger Red whooped with joy as the skinny dog whimpered and cringed in terror-filled pain from the slashing knife. The others – Spitter, Mace, High Top, and Back Jack – laughed along with him. Tonight was their night. Tonight was the night their long-promised deliverance would finally come true. Immortality was at hand and they were going to become vampires.
Outside the desecrated tomb, the graveyard was cold and dark as midnight approached. Tombstones stood in orderly rows separated by close-cropped grass. The occasional pot of flowers graced some of the stones, silent evidence that someone cared enough to leave mementos of love for the dead who lay six feet under.
Beyond the vast reaches of the graveyard were the distant lights of the city. The dull hum of traffic was light and sporadic. Most of the people were asleep by now. Only a few hardy souls braved the winter cold or sought solace in dimly lit bars. None of them suspected what was about to occur in the vandalized tomb where the drug-addled miscreants capered around the stone sarcophagus that served as their temporary altar.
Booger Red, sometimes they just called him Booger, had started having dreams lately. Weird dreams. Dreams where a strange slithery voice told him things and gave him directions, promised to make all his wishes come true.
Booger had been in and out of jail since he was a kid. All of them had. Now in his mid-twenties and meaner than ever, he was ready for the biggest score of his life. So he’d have to torture the little dog to death. So what? The voice hadn’t told him to do anything he hadn’t already done or wanted to do anyway.
He told his friends about it and at first, they thought he was crazy or had OD’d, but after the voice, which called itself Pale-Shining, had spoken to them, they became believers too. It told them the things they needed for the ceremony which would turn Booger into the first vampire. Then he would turn the rest of them with the traditional vampire bite.
They were thieves, pickpockets, and killers. They’d been doing it so long crime had become second nature to them.
They swiped the chemicals and drugs from pharmacies around town to concoct the cocktail that would stop Booger’s heart so he could become an undead vampire. Then they stole the other, more exotic elements from herbal stores and witchcraft supply shops. One particular plant wasn’t for sale anywhere and they’d had to drive 500 miles to find some growing in a swamp.
That one wasn’t much fun.
But now everything was ready.
The dog was the blood sacrifice Pale-Shining told them was needed to fuel the final part of the ritual. Spitter leaned close with the goblet to catch the dog’s blood as it poured out of his throat where Booger had slashed it. It steamed in the cold air as it splattered his hands and the sides of the cup.
“To the Dark Lord!” he proclaimed as he lifted it high.
“To the Dark Lord,” the others echoed.
Mace uncorked the wine bottle they’d use to hold the lethal mixture of drugs and herbs. He poured some of it into the bloody goblet. “The power of the Earth,” he intoned, his eyes on fire with greedy anticipation.
The others repeated it after him, their voice echoing off the stone walls around them.
On the coffin-holding altar where the body of the dog still lay, six candles flickered at each end. Booger laid his knife down on a black cloth that was draped over the altar. “I surrender the power of death,” he said, feeling a gathering presence of power in the echoing chamber.
High Top picked up the knife in his left hand. “We take the power of death forever,” he said slowly. He held it between both hands, the point facing straight up. Booger moved around to stand facing him, his back to the altar.
Black Jack grabbed his left hand. Booger licked his lips nervously, then nodded at him.
“We surrender the power of life,” he said triumphantly as he slammed Booger’s hand down on the knife.
Booger screamed in pain as the knife pierced his palm and went all the way through it. Four inches of razor-sharp steel protruded from the back of his hand. He shuddered with the effort of remembering what to say through the red haze of agony. “I surrender the power of life,” he gasped.
High Top yanked the knife out of his hand and Booger screamed again in spite of himself. Spitter held out the goblet with its mixture of dog blood, drugs, and herbs. He put it under Booger’s hand to catch some of his blood in it. He turned and set it on the makeshift altar.
Booger clutched his hand to his chest, gritting his teeth as they all took up positions around the goblet. They all reached out to grab the knife in one hand. Together they used the tip to stir the grotesque contents, reciting as one, “Now and forever, life and death, Nema!”
Pale-Shining had told them Nema was Amen spelled backward.
Booger took the goblet in his hands. Squeezing his eyes shut against the revolting taste he took a huge drink before he could chicken out. It tasted even worse than he’d imagined. He coughed violently, spraying the bloody mixture all over his friends.
“Oh, gross, man!” High Top shouted, backing away. He brushed fitfully at the bloody spots on his clothes.
“You should taste it,” Booger wheezed painfully.
Booger shuddered as the lethal mix in his stomach began its deadly work. He swayed, then managed to right himself. “Help me up,” he croaked through red lips, blood trickling down his chin. His companions crowded close to lift him onto the altar. Mace moved the dog’s body toward one end to serve as a pillow. As soon as Booger was laying down, still cradling his wounded hand, Spitter poured the rest of the goblet’s contents on him, trailing it up and down his body to let dribbles splatter him from head to toe.
When he was done he gave it to Booger, then the four of them backed away. Now that the ceremony was done, nervousness began to take over. In spite of the dreams and the smooth reassurances of Pale-Shining, they still only half-believed it would work. They still expected Booger to just die.
Booger was having a hard time seeing. Everything was swimming and he felt dizzy. It was getting harder and harder to hold his eyes open. He was getting heavier, his arms and legs too leaden to move. There was a huge weight on his chest now. It was getting harder to breathe. He struggled against it briefly until a curious lassitude took hold of him. Giving up the fight he let himself slip down in the growing darkness.
His friends heard his final breath sigh out of his chest, watching as he seemed to deflate into the stillness of death. For all their malevolence and careless evil, the death of their ringleader seemed to shock them for a moment.
Booger found himself floating above his body, watching his companions watching his dead body. Lightning-shot darkness was coalescing around him and he suddenly knew they had succeeded. He was about to be reborn!
Something relentless gripped him, pulling him down. Yes, he thought, watching his body grow closer. He was going to rejoin his body as an immortal vampire!
But he was pulled past his body down into the ground.
What was happening? Far below there was a tiny pinprick of light, a red glow like the light of a fire, growing closer and closer.
Then he saw a black shadow, more shadow than substance, coming up out of the red glow. In a moment they would be passing each other.
“Who are you?” he shouted or thought he shouted or something. He didn’t know how he could talk like this but somehow he could.
“You know me as Pale-Shining,” the winged form hissed as it drew near.
Desperate hope blossomed in him. “Are you getting me ready to be a vampire?”
“No,” the creature laughed hotly. “You will burn in Hell as is your due while I become Earth Bound in your body.”
“NO!” he shouted as they passed each other. “You promised!”
There was the bare suggestion of a face on the shadowy form, a face that made Booger want to vomit. “I lied.”
Booger screamed in helpless despair as he was drawn inescapably down to the fires that raged below.
“We gotta get outta here!” Spitter whispered frantically, looking around for any cops. “We can’t be found with no stiff!” The rest of them nodded. Booger was dead and their crazy dreams with him. They started to turn and the body – inhaled.
Superstitious dread froze them in place. Their eyes were wide and staring as the body moved, jerkily at first, then gradually with increasing smoothness until finally, it sat up. It opened its eyes and looked at them.
Mace licked his lips nervously. “Boo . . . Booger?” he managed in a hoarse voice.
It looked like Booger but it didn’t. The wounds and blood of a moment ago were gone as if they’d never existed. The scars on his face from a long-ago knife fight were gone too. His skin was smooth and clear. As they watched in horrified fascination his body seemed to inflate and enlarge, swelling with strength and power. Within seconds the new Booger looked as if he’d been an Olympic athlete all his life.
Pale-Shining examined the memories lodged in the chemical structure of Booger’s brain cells. All of them were laid bare for inspection; the names of the four humans in the tomb, Booger’s family, his Social Security number, the way he talked and walked, his pet name for his girlfriend, every personal detail from his short and violent life.
Pale-Shining made Booger’s face smile. “It worked! It really worked!”
High Top overcame his astonishment and fear enough to stagger forward half a step. He felt lightheaded from shock. “It’s you? Really? You’re a, a vampire? For real?”
Booger’s body smiled wider. “It’s me. Come on you jerks, this is what we’ve aiming at for months.”
Black Jack couldn’t suppress a shudder at the unnatural thing standing before them. Talking about it in a drug-addled haze was one thing, but standing here in a tomb – a tomb for crying out loud! – talking to a walking corpse was more than he could take. Booger was dead! He’d seen enough dead people to know the difference between dead and alive, and Booger had died in front of them, dead as a doornail. This thing standing here now wasn’t natural. It wasn’t anything he’d ever dreamed of.
“You, you guys go ahead,” he stuttered, backing away. “I’ll, uh, be outside scoping for cops, you know?”
The thing that looked like Booger shook its head. “No, you won’t.”
Then it moved.
Nothing on earth moved like that! It moved like it was heavy, heavier than anything that size had a right to be, its footsteps thudding like a giant. And it was fast. Too fast. Before Black Jack could take another step it was behind him, grabbing his wrist in one hand.
He yelled in terror and tried to pull away but it was like pulling against a mountain. Instead, it pulled him toward it, his feet sliding helplessly across the stone floor. The mouth opened and there were fangs, fangs that glittered in the candlelight and grew as he watched. He screamed like a girl as they sliced into his neck.
Instead of draining his blood, they injected something into him.
Suddenly he was flopping on the floor, screaming over and over again as the burning sensation spread to his whole body. Dimly he was aware of his friends screaming in fear then in pain as the Booger-thing attacked and bit each of them.
His body gave one last spasm and he felt himself thrown out and down, watching his body disappear above him as he hurtled down toward a distant red glow. As he fell, a terrible dark shadow passed him going the other way. In an instant, he realized what had happened to Booger, the same thing that was happening to him right now.
Pale-Shining watched as others swarmed up from below and became Earth Bound in the bodies of the four criminals. One by one they swelled with power and strength until they finally stood up.
The one that had been Mace looked at him. “These bodies will need to be fed before we can begin.”
Pale-Shining made Booger’s head nod. “Yes. Blood only though, and do not drain the humans to death. Leave enough life in them so you can inject them to prepare their bodies for more of our brethren.”
Before they could respond, another shadow, larger and more powerful than any of them appeared in the room. To human eyes it was invisible, but the Earth Bound saw it clearly. They bowed low.
“Step one is complete, my Lord,” Pale-Shining said in a language Booger’s body could barely pronounce.
The shadow nodded. “Our Prince of the Power of the Air will be pleased,” it hissed.
About Michael V. Wilson
Michael V. Wilson is a native Texan who received an honorable discharge from the Marines, spent 20 years in Los Angeles then moved around the country several times before finally returning to Texas where he and his wife now spend as much time as possible spoiling their grandchildren.
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What Did You Think Of "The Earth Bound"?
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If you’re planning to pick up any of Michael V. Wilson’s other work, or have read any of his other stories, we’d love to hear from you.
Who Else Is Dropping In?
“31 Days of Halloween” is a collaborative effort, and I really couldn’t put out 31 posts in 31 days without help.
While I’ve personally filled many of the slots for the event, I also have some amazing guest posts, from some wonderful folks.
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