Darker Days Downward

Belle had always been hooked into horror fictions lately, and gets the surprise of her life when a vampire character based on her latest read turns out to be her new history professor –alive and very much real! Belle had fallen in love with the vampire in the book she was reading; now she begins to fear whether she would fall in love with her new professor which she was suspecting to actually be a vampire.


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2. Graveyard Run

He looked into Belle’s eyes as she almost went out of her mind. Belle felt like she couldn’t see anything but this immortal beauty in front of her.

 

Belle’s heart began to race madly; this was the point in her life where she found herself questioning reality from a dream. Just behind the teacher’s desk, fairly illuminated by the sun coming through the window was the most beautiful man Belle had ever seen her whole life. Cythare Elven was tall, equally lean with an untidy yet elegant bloody hair that waved gloriously behind his neck. His allure stood out all over the room, especially when his skin glowed angrily back at the sun. He was pale white, the palest person in the university as Belle had assumed. He had deep black eyes with faint shadows of purple underneath – as if he had not slept for weeks.

But it was not why Belle could look away; she constantly stared because no matter how she would face him, he was immortally beautiful. He looks exactly the same as the drawing from the book she had been reading; very much identical. How could this be possible? She thought.

Belle blinked, finally breaking away from captivation. She noticed that all the girls present in the classroom seemed to be hypnotized by his figure, which papers came falling from their grasp. While the guys were all of a sudden filled with envy at the kind of phenomenon their new professor brought along with him.

“Good morning class – I am Professor Cythare Elven,” greeted Cythare musically. His rosy lips were in perfect symmetry with his face the moment he talked. Belle shivered at this, quite shocked at the coincidence that he had the same name as the character of the fiction she read. “I think you are all aware that Professor Vane could not be coming to work anymore therefore you guys will be spending the rest of the semester with me.”

“I have been exposed to different aspects of history for quite a long time already,” Cythare began walking towards the students. “I assure you that we won’t be leaving any area of the past unturned.” He smiled; the whole class suddenly went into gasping and awe.

He came past Belle as she and Flannery quickly sat up straight. It was as if time had paused or moved so much slower than usual. She met his eyes; it was cold – and deep. He stared back at her; there was something that Belle thought moved inside his eyes. It was constantly trying to pull her in, but she resisted. She was gripping herself until all of a sudden the picture from the book flashed into her mind and it was as if a knot has been cut by a giant sheers. She jerked backwards, bumping to the back seat of her wooden chair. What had she just felt? It was so hard to explain. She watched as he moved gracefully past everyone, surveying each of his new students like a predator picking a potential prey.

“What happened to you Belle?” Flannery whispered, as Belle appeared to have just seen a ghost.

Belle was still distracted. She watched as their new professor was introducing himself now at the back of the class. How on earth could this be possible? Is the day playing tricks on me…? Her mind drifted back to the pages of Darker Days Downward…

It was the 17th day of October, 1743. This was the time of the year where the days are shorter and the nights are longer – very much alive. Father was troubled, the whole council was actually. News that a psycho killer is walking the very streets of Paris scattered a week ago after the whole family of Bellizare were found dead inside their dwelling. Blood was scattered everywhere with all their bodies drained from it.

It was actually strange for I never even laid interest to any one of them. This leaves me wondering whether it was my brother who did this foolishness. We should be more careful now that everyone is aware… our secret might be out and exposed. I could not imagine the look on father’s face if this happened.

I suddenly heard footsteps somewhere outside the hallway of my room. It was my brother’s who had just obviously finished his midnight snack. I needed to confront him again, ask him to tell the truth about the Bellizare murder. For his sake… For father’s sake…

“I think someone here had forgotten to realize that daydreaming in class isn’t allowed at all,” Cythare’s voice boomed across the classroom, shaking Belle as well.

Belle snapped out of her reverie. She felt chills jittering down from her spines into her legs. She took a glance around her classmates and wondered why they were all looking at her. She found Flannery’s face in front of her – trying to make out something with her lips.

“Your. Turn. To. Introduce. Yourself.” Flannery was whispering.

Belle placed her thoughts behind her and stood up from her seat, Cythare leaned backwards as his hips rested gently over the table. His hand folded in front of him. It happened so quickly. She recognized the familiar pale skin that suddenly flushed much livelier over those muscular forearms. She noticed the perfectly angular cheek bones and the dark circles around his perpetually immobilizing eyes; the same untidy hair that fell magnificently around his masculine glare, he smirked at her.

“Belladonna Summers,” Belle managed to say, fidgeting her left fingers behind the pocket of her jeans. “I live at Acacia Lane south of the university.”

“And what drove you to take history as your major?” Cythare asked. He looked into Belle’s eyes as she almost went out of her mind. Belle felt like she couldn’t see anything but this immortal beauty in front of her. She noticed how the rush of blood moved upwards her head the moment his lips curved to a smile. Belle closed her eyes and faced back to the window in a quick motion that her neck would have snapped. How she wished he had not noticed the flush of rose around her cheeks. How embarrassing.

The whole class suddenly roared into laughter.

“I wanted to do some correction with the present state of things in our society by studying the past and avoiding repeating its mistakes in the future,” Belle breathed out as she looked back to Cythare, her gaze more powerful this time around.

“Substantial,” said Cythare as he motioned for her to take her seat.

Her mobile phone kept vibrating now and then. It was obviously Flannery trying to ask her what she had just done moments ago. The period went on with Belle sitting uneasily. Cythare began some introductory discussion about the Americas during the 14th century with Belle’s thought sifting back and forth from the character in the book and into the man who was standing so beautifully in front of her.

Belle found it hard to pay attention to the rest of their history lesson now that she was bothered whether this new professor has something to do with Darker Days Downward. She sat there wandering for hours why she felt something strange about him. Even to the extent of suspecting him to be the vampire she had been reading about. Stupid Belle, vampires aren’t real…

“You say it like you’ve been alive since then Mr. Rosewood,” said Cythare to a guy in glasses with burning red freckles all over his cheeks, in a tone of appreciation. “Dates were accurately mentioned – I’ll exempt you for next week’s exam. As for the rest of the class, I’m expecting a fifteen page, double spaced research about Crestfield’s History. No research, no exam. Class dismissed.”

With it the bell rang a nasal buzzing sound. Everyone went scuffling through their stuffs and filed to get out of the room. Flannery was still giggling while stealing glances at Cythare, while Belle attempted to avoid his gaze as much as possible.

*                                                           *                                                           *

Belle was not aware of how long she had sat there; bowing to the laptop and beginning on the task Cythare Elven had given to them. She closed her eyes and took time to savor the fresh scent of exposed olives around her. She sensed the silent woods she was in – just somewhere inside the university. She had found this spot on her second day in school; found it accidentally when she decided to take a walk the rest of her free time that afternoon. It was not that deep within the woods to be lost in, or that dense to be found easily. She had managed to come across the school graveyard beside the chapel and saw an opening by the thickets – she then went through for a little silent adventure.

She opened her eyes and looked at the progress she had made in her research. About three to four paragraphs – fourteen pages more. She hit the hibernate button and placed the laptop back to her bag. She always wanted this time during her afternoons which were vacant.

She declined Flannery’s offer then – to go shopping at the mall down town – for house stuff and clothes to wear for the Freshmen Kick-off party romorrow. They went separate ways by 1 PM; and Belle took the time to trace her path through the thickets by the graveyard – until she made it here at her spot; beside a giant rock under two tall olive trees.

She stood up and gazed at the tranquil nature on its course around her. She checked her mobile phone for time – 5p.m. she still got two hours before meeting up with the Flannery back at Ponzo’s Grill for dinner. She stretched her arms; a short yawn followed. Let me see where this trail heads too. She challenged herself; owing to the new spark of braveness she discovered she had this morning.

Belle slid the mobile phone into her rear pocket. She took in another deep breath and smelled fresh leaves drying up with the sun, and started to walk straight ahead. A black crow had cropped up, obviously terrified by seeing a human at this point at the woods.

There was a fair parting in the trees about a dozen meters ahead, a path big enough to be a narrow road. It was quiet except for the unnerving screech of the crow which now settled at a branch about five meters above Belle. Lousy bird.  It hopped tree to tree, higher and higher after each progression. There was a steep road downwards that ended up at a crystal clear creek she never expected to have existed within the university. Am I still in school territory?

She reached down, abruptly stopping just inches away from the mouth of the creek. It was a soothing scenario – the placid rippling of slow water had successfully washed away the uneasiness she felt for the crow. Where is it? She stared above her, quite surprised to see no trace of the manic bird anywhere near her.

She walked along the creek, undecided whether she must head back that instant. She had been walking for almost ten minutes now, just looking ahead when she abruptly stopped.

Belle found herself looking at an odd fashioned building. It looked like an estate that was ornately decorated like some stuffy billionaire’s weekend getaway, but she noticed the CRESTFIELD TRAINING FACILITY logo embossed upon the unpolished marble floor. She figured it was like an executive retreat or something. It had an air of abandonment; with a dark elegant walkway heading to the building’s main entrance.

She walked ahead, quite troubled on why an enormous training facility was left isolated from the school. Where’d everybody go? She wondered as she reached the main entrance which was left open. Why the power’s out?

The interior was a sight to behold. She found herself in the middle of a huge and spacious hall she assumed to be the lobby, where executives were greeted in. She was standing over a gigantic seal which Belle recognized to be the school’s logo – two question marks inverted against one another to make it appear like the Chinese Yin Yang, but with one white question mark over the other red question mark.

The floor which was spread with the streak of light from the entrance glowed exquisitely – marble. There were several posts of Corinthian decent fixed equally apart from one another, towering so high until it reached the ceiling about twenty feet above Belle. Aside from the posts there was nothing else in the empty lobby.

Something moved in the darkness around her. Something – a silhouette as tall as an average person registered in Belle’s mind.

Belle spun toward the sound, retrieving her mobile phone and activating its flash light – aiming at where she thought the sound came from. The light caught the last of the movement, a heavy curtain that covered the hallway was still shaking – apparently no air was present inside to cause such a spur. She took a step closer, watched as the curtain eased moving as her flash light trembled along with it. Whatever it was, it was gone now.

A forest animal probably.

She swallowed dryly; quite sure that it must be time to head back. She had not seen nor heard anyone since she had walked away from the graveyard; it was as though everyone else had fallen off the face of the earth.

Or I have, she thought darkly, lowering her mobile phone slightly and turning to check her position. She was almost past the middle of the lobby, about two meters away from where the streak of light from outside had ended on the floor, she was in total darkness. It was that instant moment this thought had dawned on her when –

Belle blinked, surprised to see the heavy curtain swaying madly – inward then outward in a rhythmic pattern, as if it were breathing. Or something behind the curtains was breathing.

It all happened so fast that Belle had a hard time registering the events into her memory. A painful screeching sound pierced the stillness of the air, the sound was severe that it almost paralyzed Belle and sent her writhing with both hands cupped over her ears. Whatever it was behind the curtains must have caused the sound. She saw it through agonized eyes how it tore the curtains with something sharp – claws maybe – belle could not see clearly in the darkness.

Belle looked ahead trying to adjust her vision in the dark and saw a pale looking; long-limbed creature peered out from the curtains. It bored something like its teeth – only too long for any animal Belle could quickly imagine – thick and sharp, clutching the air in front of its obviously muscular chest.

Before she could take a step, the creature leaped mightily into the air and another figure emerged from nowhere, hitting the creature on its left limb and sending it flying ten meters off course before smashing on the opposite wall.

Instincts and intuition drove Belle. This was her chance – whatever it was had hit the creature badly and she had to leave as fast as she could before it would recover from its fall. She turned and sprang towards the main entrance, never looking back. The hot afternoon air slapped her quivering body as she run as fast as her legs could carry her.

She could still hear the creature’s screeches – only which it was not like its roar of hunger and yearning; it was screaming as if it was being battered and hurt. Belle did not care anymore – all she thought was to be far away from the training facility as possible. She traced her way back swiftly, carelessly climbing the steep path towards the opening between the trees that she accidentally tripped over an extending root from a wild bush.

The impact was enormous. With the speed she was running and the height she was in before tripping. Her fall sent her tumbling backwards until abruptly hitting the ground flatly. Her whole body was sore, as if screaming back at her.

Belle felt for her legs first, securing then her bag and wished her laptop minor damages. She faintly stood up, still shivering with fear from a near-death encounter just minutes ago. She felt her heart beating madly, as if it were to rip her chest out. She took a backward step and turned to return to the steep path when her body obviously shook with utter shock – surprised to see Cythare Elven now standing at the foot of the steep climb.

“Are you alright?” Cythare asked concernedly. The scene was so beautiful, with several streaks of sun bathing his immortally smooth face.

“No – uhm. . . I was – ” Belle swallowed, not sure of the confusing emotions rising within her. It was as if all of a sudden the fears that had haunted her were washed away the moment she saw Cythare – replaced by the feeling of security. “Well I saw – ”

Belle paused, should she say what she saw: an abandoned training facility far deep within the woods. A creature she was sure to be nothing close to even a lion.

“What?” Cythare moved closer to her, so that she could clearly see now the faint purple shadow around his immobilizing eyes.

“I saw an abandoned building just down there and went in to check,” Belle was struggling through her breath. “Something in the dark… uhm – well it leaped… or tried to leap at me, only that something caught it beforehand. It had long claws, about ten feet tall… Long limbs, reddish eyes. . . Very sharp teeth and –  “

Belle stopped, seeing Cythare’s unbelieving expression that made her think through what she had just blurted out. He must think I’m crazy.

“Never mind, I must have hit my head badly,” Belle faked a smile. “Were you following me?”

“No,” Cythare said firmly – his beautiful face expressionless. “I happen to be walking up there when I heard you screaming.”

“Oh. . . Sorry,” Belle apologized. Nice move Belle. “My name’s Belladonna Summers. Belle will do.” Belle was uneasy.

“Cythare Elven,” he said so charming enough that Belle almost totally forgot what had happened earlier.

“I know,” she smiled, unevenly breathing. It was something with Cythare’s presence that made her so tensed. “You’re our new History Professor.”

“Were you hurt?” Cythare frowned, moving closer once more to Belle. She felt her lungs tighten.

“Excuse me?” She asked, dazed at how close Cythare’s muscular body was to her.

“I mean your fall,” he asked moderately.

“Oh. . .” Belle gasped and her senses were instantly brought back to her. She felt a throbbing pain on her right arm. She turned it over and carefully folded her sleeves higher so it would show her arm which was freshly draped with blood.

“Just a scratch,” said Belle as Cythare surprisedly jerked away from her. There was a look of immense pain in his face as if he could not hold on to. “– are you okay?”

“I’m. . . it’s nothing,” Cythare said darkly as he swiftly turned his back to Belle. “You need to leave – get that taken care of.”

“It’s just a simple scratch,” Belle said while unfolding her sleeves. She noticed Cythare was now breathing heavily. “I’m fine – ”

“JUST LEAVE!” Cythare growled without looking at Belle even once.

“I – fine.” Belle finally said. Shock and anger played across her face. How rude of him. She started walking ahead as she heard Cythare breathing loudly behind her.

Belle glanced around once more, he was gone – she was alone. Belle gazed for a moment at the spot which Cythare stood not long ago, and wondered how Cythare took off so quick without making such noise. She quickly dismissed the idea before she could get lost in it and noticed the forest growing darker as the sun threatened to leave the golden sky which it had ruled for long. Forest animals were silent, as if expecting a dark, breezy night to take over. Whatever it was she saw in the facility far behind her must be gone now. Everything was tranquil – no more roar of something evil corrupting the innocent air.

She tightened her grip on her bag and started her trip back to the graveyard. Overly thankful that the nightmare was over, she was still alive after all. If there was one thing she learned, it was never to walk to unfamiliar, isolated places alone.

The sun was quickly waning, with the shadows of the olive trees stretching awkwardly over her. Her thoughts drifted to Cythare – wondered why she could not keep him away from her mind since the first time she saw him walk into their classroom. Wondered why she was always lost in speech whenever he was around her – all the disoriented signals around her body was coming in haywires the moment she would hear his voice. Wondered at how it was actually possible that he perfectly looks like the character from a century old book. Wondered at what she must have done to cause him such anger and agony in his face after showing her wound. She felt puzzled.

We were face to face . . . all alone in that place.

The place she wished to forget if only he had not appeared.

And the night was finally coming down in him . . . and me.

She could not deny how Cythare had left his spell on her – how she would want to be around him always whenever he was around her. What was she feeling? Why was it so hard to explain?

It’s never going to be a reality. . . I must not – why does it feels like I’m breathing underwater.

The sun was totally replaced by the cold night air. The moment Belle emerged back to the graveyard. The chapel’s light blinked to life one by one, with the last bulb revealing a first real smile on Belle’s lips – a smile finally coming from deep within her heart.

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