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.


4. Stuck in Between

“Belle somehow noticed that the guy was palest – quite similar to how pale Cythare was.”


The first paranormal death in Paris was memorable; something I could never forget. I was still human then. I remembered, reading the front page of Paris Times one early morning. Margaret Wilsen came running barefoot from the woods into the servants’ quarter. A huge commotion suddenly followed – it intrigued me for it was the first time everyone’s face was in a distorted puzzle.

I stood up and buttoned my khaki shirt, I had barely touched my toasts but I sped up to see what the trouble was about.

“Mia Anna! Mia Anna!” screamed Margaret at the top of her lungs. Her dress waved gigantically as her body swayed without control. “She’s dead! Her body was found drained with blood!”

Frantic murmurs from the rest of the crowd erupted. There were accusations here and there. I stood there and watched how lines played across their wrinkled faces.

I remembered Mia Anna. She was the pretty daughter of Barnes Onnor, the owner of Late Day Pub just downtown. She used to tease with me and my brother whenever we came with Father to their shop – for business matters of course. I just could not imagine how someone so beautiful could die as brutal as that.

A gunshot pierced the air with every noise suddenly vanishing as if it was being sucked by a giant vacuum. Senyor Pedro came and tucked the gun beside his left pocket, his body guards quickly followed. He was Father’s visitor, they came from Spain and decided to buy a portion of the land up north – he was obviously here to make some negotiations with my Father.

“What is all these noise about?” Senyor Pedro asked as his beard curled instantly.

“We found Mia Anna’s body naked and drained with blood in the woods!” shrieked Margaret and some other women in unison.

“Diego, Theodore secure these people back to their quarters,” commanded Senyor Pedro to the two huge men behind him. They wore lose clothing; obviously just awaken by the noise for they just live some blocks ahead of our manor. Senyor Pedro turned to face Margaret again. “Lead the way!”

I quickly followed Margaret and some others as they lead us to that distinct part of the woods. I could see how some of the other folks were very eager to witness firsthand the brutal scene but they were warded off by two of Senyor Pedro’s bodyguard.

Margaret led us between partings by the woods just behind our manor. It was still dark here as the trees grew towering way above us that the sun’s rays merely made it to the forest ground. The oaks diffused an eerie smell that sent chills to my insides, knowing that some minutes from now I would witness the very first dead body in my life.

Our journey was silent. Everyone was all buried in their own thoughts that it made me wonder what is it about. After some more lefts and rights we finally arrived at a rocky creek. The sound of soft rippling echoed through the air, with the trees swaying madly above us.

Margaret hopped across the creek and we followed.  Senyor Pedro’s hands quickly secured the gun from his pocket. I wondered if it were reflex for he was actually frightened too on what scene he was about to witness.

“Mia Anna!” Margaret cried as she went down on her knees, her face buried into her hands.

“Dios mio!” Senyor Pedro gasped. So did the rest of the people who followed.

I hopped a little more and tried to see what is behind the huge rock that sent them to awe.

And behold, there she was. Her body was oddly sitting just behind the rock as if resembling a broken mannequin. Her eyes were wide open and her jaw obviously due to post mortem hardened in a very disturbing oval. She was naked and blood had dried already all over her body. Her skin was very pale as if all the colors were washed away by the creek.

I stood there for a minute, five minutes… I could not fathom how long I stared at her. I could still remember how lively and colorful those eyes were. But right now I am staring at an empty soulless body. But it was not about the odd posture why I could not look away. It was because I noticed how all the blood around her body traced up to be coming from two punctures around her neck.

I blinked away in pity. Never expecting that a month after, it would be my turn to inflict that kind of terror all over Paris.

Belle closed the book as her body seemed to cripple with fear. It was an hour after midnight already, but sleep had never even dared visit her eyes. No matter how much she tried, she could not just erase the memory of seeing Winona unconscious in Bret’s hands hours ago.

Winona was her classmate in Analytical Geometry just that afternoon, who would have thought that she would be meeting such fate in the evening.

Belle recalled the events that occurred right after. The party was forcefully stopped as faculty and directors came rushing into the scene. The immediate crowd of students were dismissed and advised to go back to their respective homes; those who opted to remain were mostly friends or classmates of Winona.

After some time the ambulance came and took custody of Winona as they tried to revive her; everyone was hoping it was not yet that late. A police officer came to interrogate Bret and that was when Belle heard a very familiar story.

“We were talking just minutes ago when she complained that she forgot her purse inside the car,” said Bret still shaking from shock. “I waited for her but she never came back so I decided to take a walk just through the woods. Everything was well until I heard twigs cracking just north of me. I carefully went to see what it was and that was when I saw Winona sprawled on the ground, blood rushing out from her neck as if someone or something bit her hard.”

Those who heard Bret’s statement stared in disbelief as if they were imploring that he was actually the cause of Winona’s accident; but the police officers quickly dismissed them.

Belle sought after Bret then, but he decided to accompany Winona to the hospital. Flannery and Dawn on the other hand decided to spend the night in Belle’s house just for the sake of companionship.

“May I come in?” asked Dawn who had just emerged from Belle’s bedroom door.

“Of course,” said Belle, placing the book back into her bedside drawer. “How’s Aunt Natalie?”

“I think she’ll fare better. Flannery’s keeping her company,” replied Dawn. She moved to the windows and seemed to stare seriously outside at the neighborhood. “Nice view you got from here.”

“Thank you,” smiled Belle, getting off the bed and standing beside the windows too. “I actually do love to stare at the evening sky in times like this – when everything just seem so unclear and complicated.”

“I’m Dawn Aerie by the way,” said Dawn, flashing Belle one of her beauty-queen-like smiles. “Flannery forgot to introduce us formally.”

“Belladonna Summers,” said Belle. “You are taking up?”

“Biology and double chemical engineering,” said Dawn, folding her hands as she spoke. “My dad used to work for Crestfield Pharmaceuticals. He wanted me to take his footsteps actually. I can’t blame him though for he longed for a son and they got me.”

“Awesome,” said Belle. She remembered to come across an article from a newspaper before telling about how Crestfield Pharmaceuticals dominate its industry. “So you are a scholar? Since the pharmaceuticals company owns the university.”

“I  am,” said Dawn. Belle could sense humility in her tone. “More of an academic scholar rather than through affiliations. Although dad works for the company, I repeatedly deny his offers so he couldn’t claim all the merit.”

There was a brief moment of silence. Belle’s thought seem to wonder elsewhere again.

“About the party, who do you think could do such a thing?” asked Dawn, noticing the awkward silence.

“I am absolutely sure it ain’t my brother,” said Belle defensively. She could perceive that it was where the conversation was heading to.

“Of course it isn’t him silly,” laughed Dawn. “Who in his right mind would inflict such damage and cry out wolf at the same time; unless he is schizophrenic. I do have a different theory though.”

“What theory?” asked Belle as she leaned closer to Dawn.

“Forget about the theories and everyone get to bed – NOW,” Flannery came bursting in from the door. “Aunt Natalie’s fine, she’s asleep now it’s our turn too. We got class tomorrow, and Belle have you finished the essay for history?”

Belle gasped, she totally forgot about it. She quickly scrambled to get her laptop up and started again on her essay as the two other girls went off to dreamland.


The next day was a bit odd. There was a gloomy atmosphere that seemed to cover the rest of the campus as students could be seen grouped together in the cafeteria, parking lots, lobbies and even in the libraries – all discussing the tragic accident that had occurred to Winona during the kickoff party last night.

Everywhere Belle would go, she could feel the scrutinizing eyes of students upon her; though whenever she would look at them again they would redirect their gaze to somewhere distant behind Belle. They thought Bret did it. Belle thought as she passed the Faculty Building lobby.

She had won herself a trip to Cythare Elven’s office for that afternoon – simply for not finishing the fifteen-page essay they had for homework and failing the exam he gave earlier that morning. It was at this point in her college life that everything just seemed to get heavier every second.

Belle stopped at the foot of the stairs leading to the second floor and stole one last glance at the students behind her. That was when she had confirmed that she was really the talk of the campus – or more appropriately her brother. She scowled at them and rushed upstairs; trying to fight down the welling tears from her eyes.

She quickly turned right the moment she reached the second corridor; as Cythare had instructed. His office would be the last door of this hallway.

Finally she reached the end of the corridor and was face to face with a giant oak door that seemed to be hidden from view. No one would ever notice that there was a room there unless they traverse the whole length of the hallway. There were also no students around the area which she was thankful for it; she would not know how else she could will herself not to burst into tears.

Belle placed three soft knocks on the door and retreated quickly; wishing her appearance was not that haggard for Cythare’s taste – at least.

There was a soft click from behind the door as it suddenly creaked open, revealing a spacious room behind.

Belle rather surprised that there was no one behind the door, entered the room and shut the door. She was greeted by a very circular room, with its walls lined up with all sorts of books. There was an old fashioned table near the middle of the room that stood on a dew-laden carpet with baroque caricatures. A realistic figure of a crow was placed on the desk with a couple of parchments and notes left unobstructed around it. For some funny reason Belle remembered the crow that had been following her the day before when she was trekking the graveyard somewhere in the school grounds.

Belle moved closer at the crow and felt the tip of its beak with its fingers. She could swear that the replica really looked so real.

“You must be Belladonna Summers,” Belle looked up from the crow and saw a tall beautiful looking guy holding an odd looking book coming out of a second door which she had not notice the first time she entered the room. “That is actually mine – the crow of course. I named it Rafael; got it from a French merchant a very long time ago. You can have it if you want.”

“No – it’s . . . its fine. Thanks but I really don’t enjoy being given free stuffs,” said Belle, stepping back from the table. The guy smiled back and sat by Cythare’s desk. Belle somehow noticed that the guy was palest – quite similar to how pale Cythare was. He had a short messy light brown hair that spiked elegantly at all directions. He got emerald green wolf-like eyes with very faint purple circles around it as if he had not slept for days. His nose was strong and straight, symmetrically aligned with his perfect angular face. He grew a very short yet neatly done facial hair that stretched to the top half of his neck. He was wearing a fitted black tank top that accented his ripped, athletic body structure. Belle gasped internally and blinked successively, fighting not to lose herself. “How . . . how’d you know my name?”

“I’m Coundre Elven,” said the guy in a musical tone that made Belle’s heart to sink. Such wicked coincidence, he and Cythare shared the same surname.

“Cythare. . . ” Belle said, raising an eyebrow in confusion. There was something about his face that gave Belle the impression that she had already seen him from somewhere.

“Yes – I’m his brother,” Coundre smiled sweetly, his cheeks were pinkish when he stretched it out. He placed his legs on top of Cythare’s table.

“Professor Elven didn’t tell me he had a brother,” said Belle in disappointment.

“Well Cythare’s not one to show,” he said, resting his hands behind his head and leaning backward on the chair.

Belle smiled weakly.

“You were summoned here by my brother? What petty crime could someone as beautiful as you commit that Cythare couldn’t let go off,” teased Coundre, staring at Belle the whole time.

“Two – first was I failed to finish his essay and second was I failed his exam this morning,” said Belle quickly, getting the impression that Coundre might be thinking she had completely forgotten what was her purpose here prior to his arrival.

“What are you taking up?” asked Coundre while fiddling with the strands of his hair.

“A major in History and Liturature,” said Belle who was wondering why she was feeling just as nervous as she had whenever Cythare was around. No wonder they’re brothers. . . They share the same hmmm . . . charm?

“A lady historian, that’s kinda rare these days,” said Coundre, beaming at Belle.

“It’s more of a literature addiction that drove me to take this course,” started Belle who appeared to be very affected with his spell. “How ‘bout you? I don’t see you around much often.”

“I show myself only to people whom I feel like showing to,” smiled Coundre. “You should be thankful today’s you’re lucky day.”

“You’re a natural charmer,” Belle laughed. She was beginning to feel comfortable now.

“Very much the opposite of my brother,” said Coundre, lowering his voice as if afraid that anybody outside might hear him. “I’m taking Arts – more into painting and sculpting. There is more to arts than what meets the eye. I dream of creating works that moves a human’s very soul.”

“That’s –”

“Passion,” Coundre continued. Belle suddenly got the impression that Coundre sounded like a noble man from the 18th century Spain.

“Yeah. . . Passion,” confirmed Belle..

“I see why my brother’s so into you. You do remind him of someone.”

“Excuse me?” asked Belle confusedly.

“I never thought he’d get over the last one. It nearly caused him everything”

“The last one?” asked Belle who was hoping her impressions were wrong.

“Yeah, Helena his girlfriend,” said Coundre in a slow monotone manner. Belle shrugged and replied with an I-got-no-idea stare. The name Helena did ring a bell in her mind. “But that was way long ago. I doubt he even wanted to talk about it to anyone.”

“Oh – maybe. . .” It seemed like Belle’s world had dropped and left her hanging somewhere in space. It never even came to her that Cythare had a painful past relationship that could anytime lure him back to it. She was stupid enough to hope for something more out of Cythare.

Helena… It was the name of Cythare Elven’s love interest in Darker Days Downward. Is life playing a serious prank on me? She thought. It was then when she remembered about the brother’s name in the book – Coundre. She stared blankly in front of her. How could it be very possible that the characters are as close as these immortally beautiful men she happened to just met. Belle thought. Is there some sort of mystery about them that I ought to discover? Such repeating coincidences point to something far more than that…

“Hello Cythare,” said Coundre. Belle swallowed as she suddenly felt a presence behind her. She turned her head immediately and was surprised to see Cythare standing between the entrance with a dark, menacing expression over his face. She was too engrossed with her thoughts that she did not notice Cythare walking into the room.

“What are you doing here?” asked Cythare in a deep tone that gave Belle Goosebumps.

“Meeting a new friend,” Coundre flashed another of his warm smiles as he stood up from Cythare’s desk. “I never expected her to be so . . . accommodating. You on the other hand looked spooked.”

Belle was struggling not to burst out as she noted Coundre’s sense of humor way above average. She noticed Cythare had not moved at all and was staring at Coundre with something Belle could not make out as fury or foreboding.

“Why don’t you join us Cythare,” Coundre offered his seat.

“I need to have a word with you – alone,” said Cythare firmly.

“Such a pity – she came all the way here because you requested her to,” Coundre pouted cutely, as if a little angel deprived of his golden harp.

Belle’s instincts seemed to be screaming at her: that there was something – a family business or a serious issue that they need to discuss; although she felt quite hurt that Cythare had not acknowledged her presence. Not even a simple Hi or Hello.

“I should probably go,” said Belle in an instant as she swiftly turned around her spot. She looked at Cythare and opened her lips as if she was about to say something then quickly turned to Coundre instead. “It was nice to meet you, Coundre.”

“Great meeting you too Belladonna,” said Coundre in his most romantic tone that moved Belle’s insides. To her surprise, Coundre reached out for her hand and kissed it gently before smiling back at her. She was very much confused at the moment, there was something wrong with her – she was certain of it.

Belle made for the door, paused for a moment as if expecting Cythare to say anything to her, and walked right into dark and gloomy hallway. She walked briskly with mixed emotions. Confused; Cythare seemed to be suffering from chronic mood swings. One moment he would treat her well then later disregard her. Inspired; She could not deny that Coundre did cast a spell at her, for she was still craving for more of his wise yet humorous ideas – not to even mention his irresistible face. What about Helena, what was she like. . . How could she manage to break someone like Cythare . . . Why are all the characters in the book popping out one by one. . .

Several miles from the university, inside a private ward in Saint Agnes Hospital lay Winona. Her body was still sore as she struggled to sit up – as commanded by a deep and musical voice coming from a hooded guy standing at the foot of her bed.

“Bret is that you?” breathed Winona. She tried to adjust her vision through the darkness of the room but it did not do her much justice. “Can you turn on the lights please?”

The hooded figure did not respond nor move at all. He was staring – studying Winona’s every move from the way she wiped her eyes to be able to see clearly to the way she struggled with her posture – obviously still recovering from massive loss of blood.

“What are you standing there for?” said Winona impatiently as she tried to reach out for the guy but the dextrose attached on her right hand restrained her of further movements. “I’m thirsty – can you please get me something to drink?”

The hooded guy finally moved and headed for the refrigerator just beside the door. He opened it and for a brisk moment the light from inside the refrigerator illuminated his ghastly face. Winona gasped in horror with what she had witness. The man’s face was marble white and incredibly smooth. There were very dark circles around his emerald green eyes, with wicked looking nerves stretching out towards his cheeks. His lips curved into a smile as he seemed to enjoy the horror in Winona’s face.

Winona tried to scream when she saw inch-long fangs stretching out from the man’s grin; but no matter how hard she pushed her throat, no sound came out. In a quick blur of motion the man appeared beside her.

“Look at me and calm down,” said the man in an out of this world tune.

Winona could not resist. Every fiber of her body seemed to obey his command as she felt numb all of a sudden. Her outstretched mouth shut and she relaxed back to bed – as if she were a puppet tied into his strings.

“Try to remember what happened at the park last night,” said the man.

Winona obeyed quickly as she closed her eyes trying to recall the events that took place last night.

“I forgot my purse inside the car… Left Bret for a while to get it,” said Winona, hypnotized. “Something called me into the woods; I followed but couldn’t see anyone but me. I was standing behind the giant tree when something attacked me.”

“What attacked you?” asked the man in an urgent tone. He leaned closer as if Winona’s next word would cause him to win the lottery.

“I can’t remember,” replied Winona. “Everything happened so fast. It spoke to me to forget before everything went black.”

“Think,” said the man impatiently. Winona could feel unfathomable force trying to break into her head. She winced at the pressure it was exerting to her mind. “What attacked you in the woods last night Winona White?”

Winona suddenly stopped struggling as her whole body went stiff. She sat there for some seconds, calmly in a very odd fashion. It was then when she opened her eyes with her lips curving into a very dark smile. She remembered, it was unexplainable but everything was so bright and clear right now.

The man smiled jubilantly, his compelling powers did work on her. Winona took a soft breath before she turned to look at the man straight into the eye.

“Your kind attacked me last night. A Vampire…”

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