Sunday, July 29, 2012

The End - From "The New Death and Others"

The story below is from The New Death and others, a collection of unexpected, thought-provoking, and highly original stories by James Hutchings.  I selected one of his lighter and more whimsical stories to share with you, because, hey, I'm shallow.

The End

"OK, that was a pretty scary story, but I think I've got a better one." Rob paused to pop a roasted marshmallow in his mouth. He stood up. In the flames of the campfire his eyes seemed to glow, like those of a wolf in the night.

"Once upon a time, not so long ago, a group of friends went out camping. There were five young men and women...but did I say five? In truth there were but four. For the fifth member of their party was not the young man he appeared to be. He was not a man at all; indeed, not even a living creature, but one of the walking dead! Dear friends, there is a twist in the tale. This is no story. Many years have I walked in the guise of mortal man. Many thirsty years. Now, at last, I shall feed!" Rob opened his mouth, now filled with long, wolf-life fangs, and howled with inhuman laughter.

There was a long silence.

"Wow. This is awkward, Rob," said Jenny at last. "I'm actually a vampire as well. But I guess we can split two ways?"

"Three ways," said Mark.

"Oh, no way you're both vampires too," Rob said angrily.

"No, no. I'm a demon. I was hoping to tempt you into sin and damn your souls. Well, Tim and Alice's souls now."

A pair of bat-like wings, huge and leathery, sprouted from Alice's back.
"Sorry. Succubus."

Tim raised his hand.

"I'm the coagulated rage of the murdered children whose bodies lie beneath us. I regenerate, so I guess you guys could eat a bit of me, but I'm kind of sour..." He trailed off as the others shook their heads. Mark warmed his hands at the campfire. Everywhere is too cold when you come from Hell.

"Man, what are the odds?" Rob asked no one in particular. "I mean, you assume everyone else is a real human, am I right?"

"I guess so," Tim replied. "I actually stalked these four college kids last month? Turned out they were the ghosts of some college kids I killed years ago. Pretty embarrassing."

"You don't..." Alice began, then trailed off.

"What?" Mark asked.

"Well, you don't think that they're all gone?"


"Humans. Mortals. They haven't...I don't know, died out?"

"What, everyone's really a vampire or a demon or something?"

"Well, yeah."

"No. No, no way. I mean, we'd know. You could tell."

"You know," Mark said thoughtfully, "people don't seem to be into forbidden magic any more. It's been so long since anyone tried to sell me their soul. It was...actually I think it was in the 20th century some time. Gee, that long. But no, no way they could all be gone." He turned to the two vampires. "I mean you guys get hunted all the time don't you?"

"Oh, for sure," Jenny nodded. "I'm always thinking people are following me or about to throw holy water or whatever. There was this old guy, Obadiah something. Wow, he just didn't give up. Followed me pretty much the whole Civil War."

No one replied. The only sounds were the insects and the fire. At last Alice broke the silence.
"Hey, if this was a TV show? The vampire hunters would leap out at us about now, and they'd be all like 'we didn't die, we just got real careful' or 'we're over here' or something."

But no human sprang upon them. None at all.

James Hutchings lives in Melbourne, Australia. He fights crime as Poetic Justice, but his day job is acting. You might know him by his stage-name 'Brad Pitt.' He specializes in short fantasy fiction. His work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, fiction365 and Enchanted Conversation among other markets. His ebook collection The New Death and others is now available from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. He blogs daily at Teleleli.

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