I've entered #tuesdaytales Extended Edition
Hosted by the awesome blog...
Today’s photo is provided by the lovely Sue Mydliak
“It’s only a photograph,” I whisper as cold sweat beads across my brow. “It’s not there,” I try to convince myself, but the blood stain and demon head remain, staring at me with intense ruby flames where its grotesque eyes should be. I flip the postcard over, wondering who would send me such a horrible picture.
Hi Gracie! Can you believe where I am? Don’t tell mom and dad – shhh I’m counting on you - Transylvania is amazing! We’re not staying long. XOXOX Miss you. Faith
Trembling, I manage to stifle my tears searching for the address of the towering, white castle. The name is illegible, the inky postmarks from three of four countries smear over the entire description.
This has to be some sort of terrible joke. Faith went missing three years ago. She would not send such a casual and happy postcard today. Of course, postdates can no longer be interpreted either, it looks as though it’s been stamped twenty times before finally making it to its proper addressee. My folks can never see this, they’ll send a team of private investigators to Romania and if Faith has defected from this family – as I suspect she has – that is the last thing she’ll want.
The obvious holes in my theory are easy to ignore, I refuse to think of my vibrant and naive sister as anything less than alive and well. I will just have to prove it, I’ll make some excuse for work and I’ll get on a plane for Transylvania. I’ll find this bloody white tower and pick up Faith’s trail myself.
Thirty-three days and three hours later, I’m standing at the base of Black Church, a Lutheran Cathedral in Brașov, south-eastern Transylvania. I’ve been here a while, unable to make myself stop the shaking in my legs. The now laminated postcard clenched tightly in my fist, I am definitely at the right place, but I don’t know why Faith sent me a postcard of a church. Useless, she picked it up in some hotel gift shop as she and her loser boyfriend backpacked through the area. This trail is cold; my search will yield no answers, no conclusion as to what became of my baby sister.
Finally, after another thirty minutes, I turn to leave – fatigue biting like nails in every joint – but something stops me. It’s probably just the wind, a funny echo off the turret’s loose window panes, but it sounds as if it’s whispering to me. “Run Grace,” like iced breath, it whooshes over my already freezing cheeks and whirls me on the spot.
“Faith?” I call out. The streets are empty. Not a living soul creeps about in the dusk of impending night. The freshly fallen foot of snow muffles any sound that may arise from the nearby cobbled houses. The sky darkens as chimney smoke lingers on the air, filling my nostrils with bitter-sweet memories. Faith and I as small children huddle together on the sagging sofa in worn flannel nightgowns, listening to papa recite his traditional Christmas poem.
Without consciously knowing I’m doing it, my feet crunch up the tall stairs and my hand yanks hard on the thick iron pull, I’m inside the ornate cathedral before I can blink, gather my wits… run.
The oblong room is cold with gray granite. Rows of worn pews lead the way down the pale stone aisle to an ornate chiseled alter. My jagged breathing hitches with each step I shuffle forward, coming out in streams of warm breath.
“You shouldn’t have come,” a shrill creak of dry hinges, whines with the panting whisper.
Planting my feet, my head whips to the balcony searching for the speaker as a heavy door groans shut from above. A hooded figure, cloaked in black, leans over the thick railing and peers, faceless, over me.
“Faith?” I choke on the hard knot in my throat. “You’re alive? Why didn’t you come home? Your postcard said…” my words strangle as she hurls her body over the edge, but she doesn’t fall. Feet first, her long robe billows as she glides thirty feet down and lands with less sound than a bird on the steps of the rostrum.
Tripping over my feet, I stumble forward. “God, I never thought I’d find you!” Rushing now, I scurry up the four long steps.
“You shouldn’t have come,” she says again and this time I hear the remorse in her voice. I stare beneath her hood, searching for her features but the cloak’s material is so thick and dark, only shadow’s move as she speaks. “How did you find me?”
“I got your postcard,” my voice is pitchy and defensive. I can’t believe she doesn’t want me, after what I’ve been through. Thinking she’s dead, wondering everyday for years, not to mention the last month of my life. I’ve given up everything to be here, my career, my boyfriend, my savings, and all she can say – is it was stupid of me? “What’s happened to you?” I whisper, wiping a tear from my cheek.
Small pale hands reach from her draping sleeves push her hood off and the red eyes of the devil blink from Faith’s ice-blue face.
My hands clamp over my mouth, shoving the scream back down my throat where it came from. She must’ve contracted some horrible disease and didn’t want to… I’m not thinking clearly, I don’t want to make her feel badly. She’s obviously ashamed of whatever has happened to her. “It’s alright,” I rush to her and throw my arms around her ridged shoulders, “We’ll find a doctor, a specialist. There’s always some money for new – disorders in medical research. I’ll help you.”
“Vampirism is not curable,” A deep, male voice sneers from my back.
I spin, stumble and scream, cowering in a pile on the hard floor; vomit fills my mouth with fear. The full spectrum of my situation is finally as plain as the fangs on the demonic faces surrounding me.