The Change. Short Story.

Jeff could feel it in his very blood, calling out to him, telling him to just relax and let it take over. He slapped himself across the face, hard. The sharp pain helped ground him. He couldn’t give in, wouldn’t. He took a deep breath, the feeling of itching deep in his bones subsided a little. He longed for a drink, something strong that would burn its way down to his stomach but he couldn’t. Not now. The drink would make it that much harder for him to resist. The others were out in the fields, feeling the air on their face, feeling truly alive while he was stuck inside, inside this stuffy room where the walls seemed to press in on him. He walked to the window, his hands already moving to open it before he stopped himself. No, it was a trick. If he went outside he would lose himself completely. Feeling the grass beneath his feet, the moonlight on his skin, the fresh air carrying the scent of prey. No it was his job to remain in his full senses.

He gasped, it felt like his blood was bubbling in his veins. He longed to itch and scratch and tear at his skin. Outside someone called out, he could smell it, the hot coppery smell of blood, he knew it well. But it wasn’t coming from outside, it was from somewhere in the house. He opened the door before he could stop himself, already caught up in the hunt. He ran through the halls, excitement building, he rounded the corner and slammed into someone, Lucy, his younger sister, too young still for the changes. She looked up at him, eyes wide and full of fear. His breathing was heavy, harsh, “Go back to your room.” The words were spat out, full of hunger and rage. Lucy scrambled to her feet and ran. He could feel the tug, the desire to chase after her, to run her down, but the smell of blood was still in the air, stronger here. He started moving again, this time cautiously. His mouth started salivating, he remembered the story of the maid. The poor maid who cut herself on a night like this. Nothing would have saved her. Perhaps some juicy morsel had made a similar mistake.

He opened the door and stopped. Blood was splattered across the room, the floor, the walls, even the ceiling. Towards the middle of the room was a pile of meat, that was the only thing he could think of it as. Whatever it had been before was almost impossible to tell, it had been torn to pieces. He stepped into the room, his nostrils twitching at the intoxicating aroma of blood. He didn’t notice the saliva drooling from his lips and down his chin. Something had happened here, he needed to focus, to be aware. Whatever it had been was human, that much he knew. Outside he heard another cry, but this time it was closer to the house. Those outside were fully in the grips of the madness, they wouldn’t be rational, thinking people. Even he was having difficulty staying in control. If they got into the house everyone inside would be doomed. He stalked from the room, longing to return, but he had to check.

The doors and windows were all locked, but he could see them, outside running around the garden, ducking into shadows. Whatever had happened in the house had happened after everyone was outside. Lucy. She had been inside. Had she had blood on her? He hadn’t noticed. The smell of it had been thick in the air at that point. He turned and went towards her room.

He knocked on the door gently, something inside slammed against the door. Jeff’s heart beat harder in his chest, either Lucy had made the change or she was dead. He would find out in the morning, for now whatever it was was trapped and it was safer for everyone that way. When the young ones changed for the first few times they were dangerous. Savage and new they delighted in torment and pain. There was no control in it, there never could be, but as they aged the change wasn’t as severe, they didn’t feel the same gnawing need and hunger deep inside.

When the morning came Jeff felt the dawn wash over him. He sighed in relief, finally that maddening itch inside was gone, as was the need to run, to eat, to kill. He was tired, more exhausted than if he had allowed the change to take. Everyone outside would be there for a few hours yet. It was summer and they would sleep in the morning light until they woke.

He opened the door to Lucy’s room, it was destroyed. the mattress had been ripped to shreds, great gouges in the walls and floors, and in the centre of it all was Lucy, sleeping on the tattered remains of her duvet. Sighing Jeff moved in and lay down beside her, feeling sleep take him. The change was terrifying the first time. She would wake up scared and disorientated, he would need to be there for her.

Jeff yawned and stretched, they had spent the day cleaning. The woman who had been killed, for it was a woman, was one of the newer maids. No one knew why she had stayed behind when the others left. She certainly knew she wasn’t supposed to be in the house after 5 P.M. Jeff suspected she was planning on breaking into the safe during the night and slipping away, but he had no real way of knowing. Others had disposed of the gristly remains outside, with the others. There had been many accidents over the years and the family had to keep its secrets. Lucy had spent the day crying but now she seemed to be doing a little better. She knew it wasn’t really her that did it, no one ever remained themselves when the change took over.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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