Authors: Catherine Woods-Field
The Chronicles of Bree
Copyright © 2014 Catherine Woods-Field
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are used factiously. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The author is under the belief that all works of art referenced in this book are within the public domain.
Exterior artwork provided by Debra Fillmore
“The blood is the life!”
Bram Stoker ,
Descent Into Madness
The Chronicles of Bree
October 21, 2012
here are moments that define us. Moments that shape our thoughts and actions, even shape our entire purpose for being. These moments - so catastrophic, so intense - rip our souls and split our hearts. They force us to choose which path we will walk in life's terrifying journey into the dark, unknown abyss. They are moments of sheer survival – when our hearts whisper their last breaths, and we have a chance for redemption. These moments erase our pasts and define our futures. Nay, they are our futures.
What follows was a moment for me; a mere moment that flickered quickly yet burns in my eyes still with the intensity of a scintillating flame against a black sky. It was a night I will never forget.
What follows that in these pages are moments – so many moments – some frightening and some indescribable, but that define
. They have cumulated here in the penning of this account of my... descent into madness
y story begins on a night too much like tonight – stormy, with lightning christening the sky. The moon - overcast, blanketed in a thick haze of gloomy clouds echoing heaven's thunderous chorus. A night that was so beautiful when it first began that had I known what lurked in the distance, what watched me from the shadows, I would have prayed my Hail Mary's before retiring. Now, after all these years, I know that even God could not have saved me from him.
The lightning painted the sky cobalt as I withdrew the covers and climbed atop the straw mat. Stray blades of dry hay poked through the rough, cotton sheet scratching my legs. For a brief moment while pulling the white sheet away from my pillow, I thought I had seen an outline of a man in the bushes just outside the window. It had been a shadow, I told myself, nothing more, and I climbed beneath the sheet; my worn limbs greedily slipping between the fabrics.
Then out of the corner of my eye, as the lightning danced upon the glass, I saw it again. The figure stood near the bush line, skirting the moonlight just enough that I could make out its visage looming dangerously near. Its cloaked head was buried, revealing only a nightmare that has come to taunt my peace of mind.
As I peered out my cell window, my eyelids growing heavier while the fog rolled in off the moor. I watched the figure stand motionless in its pursuit, until my eyes finally closed and I heard a whisper arise from the far corner of my cell. It was a subtle hiss, a low, almost guttural growl, alerting me of his presence. Although the shadows concealed his body from my eyes, his presence in my cell was certain.
I had lain there in my bed, quiet and fixed; my breathing labored by fearful constraint. I trembled, struggling not to scream as my nightmare became reality. I laid there quietly clutching the sheet, staring into the waiting darkness. The air surrounding me grew stale; gone was the subtle scent of lily wafting in from the garden, and in its place a stagnant scent of musty, old earth.
“Who is there?” I remember whispering. Yet only the cold silence of the stale night replied. My limbs trembled; my mouth quaked. Tears pooled beneath my fluttering lids. The presence bore down, projecting a familiarity from the surrounding gloom. I knew this person now. I knew him.
“Be calm, dear sister,” spoke the man. He had come for me, to take me from the only home I had known these past five years. He came to steal me from the peace, the joy, and the love of the only family I thought I had left in the world. He came to claim me that night, and, as I would find out, I was powerless to fight him.
“Wesley, how is this possible?” My knuckles were white, the bed sheet wrinkling in my grip.
"What do you want, my brother?"
My eyelids fell and I trembled, hoping his presence was a nightmare from which I could wake.
Yet, then I sensed him moving to the foot of my bed, the specter now looming over me. My trembling ceased, and my body stiffened against the straw pallet. My eyelids widened as his cold eyes stared into mine. He stood above me, a living being, but I could not comprehend how that was so. Again, I asked, “What do you want?”
His raspy voice replied, “You.”
Freeing my stiffening bones from the sheets, I rose and rushed into the corner nearest the window. It was then, in the dim of the moonlight, that I first beheld his face. His features had become refined and pronounced, and his demeanor deliberate; the man was no mere specter come to haunt me, and he appeared far more noble than I had remembered him being.
Black buboes had covered his body. Blood was oozing from the festering wounds, and as I left him, the acrid odor of death misted his body in its grey veil. Our parents had already perished from the horrible plague, and I left for the convent before I could witness Wesley leaving this world.
Now, his once dark hair was as black as the clearest midnight sky. It was long and moved with such ease, each strand independent from the other. His eyes were translucent; when glanced into, it was like peering into an endless crystal orb. Even his voice was deeper.
My own voice cracked as I stared into his familiar eyes. “Me?" I questioned, cowering in the corner. Trapped.
I was transfixed as he moved closer, sliding his fingers through my hair. There in his crystalline eyes were love and hate, mingling and living as one emotion. These emotions threatened me as he stared into my eyes. Still, even as I trembled, I was entranced, unable to steer my eyes from the menacing creature before me. The images he projected into my mind – the two of us living together again, traveling together – were both haunting and beautiful. For a moment I forgot myself; the fact that I was a pure, untainted nun, betrothed to my maker no longer mattered. In that single moment, I wanted the life he showed me.
All I wanted was to be sixteen and to be with my older brother. To run, frolicking in the lavender fields until the sun set on our weary faces and tell ghost stories by the fire. To eat roasted quail until our bellies burst and watch the minstrels perform at court. To dance again.
I fell into his arms, embracing the monster before me.
Yet in that embrace, he robbed me of my innocence. My life. My everything. He held me forcefully; I could feel his lips upon my neck as he whispered into my ear. There was an unnatural coldness to his words. They sent ripples of reality coursing through my body, until I realized what he meant to do. But by then, it was too late.
“I have come for you, Bree. I’m delivering you forever from the day and bringing you into my world, the world of endless night,” he whispered, his raspy breath trickling trails of icy air down my back. “I have missed you, sister.”
Before I could question him - before I could plead - he roughly embraced me. In a brief moment, I felt the sharp sting of his teeth ripping into my jugular. I struggled. My nails scratched at his ashen skin. Tears welled in my eyes, but his grip was unyielding. As my life passed into him, ounce by precious ounce, I succumbed, no longer frantically thrashing beneath his arms; the strength drained from my body and with it, my will to live.
He tossed me onto the bed. With each breath I took, a searing pain washed over my chest. My head spun in dizzying circles. My throat closed. I could see the crucifix hanging on the wall and I rallied to pray for my soul, but I had not the strength. I was dying.
“The pain will soon stop," he said while leaning over me. "When the darkness comes, do not fear it. Embrace it. Take it in; make it a part of yourself! Or you will die, Bree.”
I remember the waves of vertigo bathing me in sweat, one after another; violently they crashed inside my skull – a million violent hurricanes. My stomach churned, that night’s supper erupting from my body.
“I am… not… afraid… of death.”
“Heed my warning!” he commanded.
Then the night descended with an obsidian sky that somehow grew darker. My mind became clouded in a vague gloom. My thoughts swam in a sea of vertigo; my hands struggled to grasp onto reality in the void. I could hear nothing. See nothing. Taste nothing. I was powerless.
That is when I resigned myself to death. Seeking to find an eternal sleep and escape from this painful torment.
“Embrace the darkness, Bree. Do not fight it!” he yelled from the corner.
I surrendered, I let it draw me into the bleak eternity it promised. I allowed myself to become one with the cold, ethereal essence enveloping me, instead of fearing it. Instead of it suffocating me, it helped me to breathe again.
Once I came to, I saw the world anew. I opened my newborn eyes and there were billions of crystals floating weightless in the air, suspended along numerous currents in an atmospheric stream. My hands reached out to grab whatever existed in the surrounding mist. Yet the crystals slipped through my zealous fingers. Beads of sweat poured down my burning cheeks. Then the void returned and I started falling, weightless in a perpetual tunnel of nausea and vertigo.
Finally, the beating began - the last pumping of my human heart. Its cadence slowing until I feared it would cease forever, then, quick as lightening, it returned. It shattered in my chest.
My eyes closed. Sweat moistened my palms. My fingers twitched in agony. As I felt the last beatings of my human heart rip through my chest, each beat a pain sharper than the last, I screamed to my Maker. I pleaded with Him! Why was he forsaking me now? What could I have done?
“Oh Lord,” I panted.
“Please take away this pain!” I howled.
“Please!” I screamed into the shadows.
Then like a vice tightening its grip, my heart squeezed from it the last of its human life. The last precious crimson droplet fell away, invaded by this new, frigid vampiric eternity.