Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Vampire Family, Chapter 1

A little indulgence for ya!

The Vampire Family

By

Kristin Battestella

http://jsnouff.com/kristin

Chapter 1

“Ye sharpen that old ax,” Antonio’s father, Edward dragged him out of bed. It wasn’t a particularly comfortable bed nor was there any luxury in sleeping until dawn, but in sixteen summers Antonio’s penance was never paid. Edward pulled Antonio outside and shoved him up the jagged hill overlooking their shabby homestead. Antonio didn’t know why. He didn’t always care, either. Sometimes he looked upon the stone home’s smoking chimney, longing to be inside, but always he was left to grind away on the rocks.

“Ye stay there till supper and then I says if you can eat.”

Sunset came, and Antonio knew his father would stumble back up from the valley. Antonio watched the large bull block out the fading sun. He was old and vile compared to his own labored physique. The elder grabbed Antonio and shoved him down the hill as always. The wind picked up and dark clouds blew over the rising moon. Rain poured down on Antonio, and the ground quickly became soggy and muddy.

Antonio squinted through raindrops and saw two young girls running from the wet fields with the family’s animals. His adopted sisters knew Edward’s torment. Ann’s light hair clumped together as she pushed the sheep into the barn. Elizabeth pulled the workhorse up the rocky hill while her dark locks flung in her face, but Ann came to assist her sister. Kept weak by hunger and force like Antonio, the former orphans were not strong enough to pull the horse and plow through the slush and rock.

Antonio saw Ann and Elizabeth wrestling below with the horse.

“Father!” He tried to tell Edward, but fell silent on a jab in the face from the ax handle. The workhorse stomped in the mud as the thunder and lightning crackled. The natural sounds deafened Antonio, then the horse reared, and Antonio heard the leather bridal snap.

The horse screamed as it tumbled with the plow and rolled down the hill. His thud echoed- dead as the broken plow was useless. The Welshire Patriarch raced down the terrain towards Ann and Elizabeth. He grabbed Elizabeth. Antonio knew what would happen to them tonight, and he wept at his helplessness. Helpless to help Elizabeth or himself. In hindsight, taking in Ann and Elizabeth was not a good thing to do.

“No!” She cried as Ann ran to the house. “Please!”

Edward threw Elizabeth down the hill, and Antonio covered his mouth for fear the same would befall him. Her little body rolled, crackled, and bounced until it landed on the horse. Antonio barely heard her whimper over the wind, as her legs bent in an unnatural, shape.

Ann continued running towards the house as quick as her small legs and the natural circumstances would allow. Another bolt of thunder rumbled in the sky, and Ann ducked the lightning prick on the thatched roof of the stone home. Ann turned to the barn, but Antonio’s father was on her tracks. The elder Welshire grabbed the golden-haired child by her wet and sun-tipped strands. She was his ward now, and Edward drug her back to the hill’s crest.

Antonio watched the scene unfold from the top of the hill. He looked at his sharpening stone and heard Ann’s screams. Antonio leaped to his feet. His legs moved down the hill and past the smoking home. His hands touched his father’s evil body as sixteen years of anger, frustration, and pain helped him push his father down the hill.

The muddy hillside sank as Edward rolled down the rocky terrain. The old man’s ax ripped from its leather tie and dropped in the mud. Antonio spotted the shiny ax tip in the ground and raced towards it. The father fell into the mud but Antonio was over him with the ax. Now Antonio had the upper hand, and the elder Welshire tried to move from the danger. Antonio reveled in Edward’s turnabout-he was a turtle overturned onto its shell.

Antonio raised the ax over his head with both hands. He let the ax come down to meet his father’s flesh.

****

Antonio sat on the edge of the bed, tired but pleased with himself. He laid his palm against Elizabeth’s sweaty forehead and reached into the bucket of cool water by the bed. He pulled out a wet rag and twisted out the water over the bucket and applied the damp rag to Elizabeth’s face.

“You may come in, Ann,” Antonio called. Ann peeked around the sheepskin curtain that divided the house into two rooms. Ann stepped into the space reserved by the curtain. There was much for Antonio to do, including the disposition of their spineless mother. Antonio continued to apply the wet rag. “Today we will repair the roof, and I will take care of mother.”

Ann said nothing and retreated outside to untied Mother Welshire’s horse from the post. She opened the basket on the horse and pulled out various coins and currency.

“I will take those,” Antonio stood in the doorway. He stepped over, took the coins, and dropped them one at a time into the pouch on his belt. Ann’s eyes widened at the ax hanging next to the pouch, but she led the horse to the barn. Kind as he was to her and Elizabeth, his path towards retribution could not be deterred, and Antonio set off to find his mother.

Antonio reached the slope where his mother mourned the now tiny body.

She fell for that robber’s story! Pathetic!

Antonio’s plotting had come swiftly once his hands touched the ax. No veil or cowardice shielded him now. Antonio took his time getting to the woman. After all ,she had plenty of time to look the other way while Edward did the things he did.

I can take my time. She only has so much time. When Elizabeth no longer needs her…

Mother Eira hovered over the bloody face and kissed her husband’s lips.

Ugh!

“Mother,” Antonio shook his thoughts away. Eira wiped the tears from her eyes, stood, and straightened her long dress. The Welshire Matriarch opened her arms and embraced her son. Antonio tried to resist, then he broke the hug. “Come, Mother.”

****

Antonio sat up in his bed. He heard screaming, right before Ann burst into the house. Antonio tried to make sense of what she was saying.

“The frost came! The frost came early and killed all my crops!” Ann clutched some dead vegetation in her hands. She had labored so long against the unforgiving land, somehow finding joy in making life when hers was so dismal. Ann thrust the crops in his face.

“They’re frozen!”

****

Antonio stood outside the back window of the stone home. Snow piled up to his knees, but Mother Welshire sat inside by the fire and sewed. Perhaps she was not oblivious or uncaring, but simply incapable of doing anything about their humble existence. Goodness is easier said then done. Antonio eyed his mother with contempt. He was no longer concerned with inaction. He loaded a stone into his slingshot, pulled back, then released the weapon The jagged stone hit Eira in the back of the head, and she tumbled to the floor.

Antonio climbed in the window and walked to the main door. He was going to do things his way from now on. Ann and Elizabeth now belonged to him.

Oh no! I’ve tracked snow in the house. Who is there to tell me? Who rules me now? No one!

Antonio opened the door and shoved the body out into the snow. Ann and Elizabeth stood in silence while Antonio kicked at the body to knock it completely outside. He didn’t need to say his plans before them. Had they learned their submissive lesson from Father Welshire, or was it Antonio’s ways that chilled their bones? . He slammed the door shut, locked the cold metal latch, and gave no explanation to Ann or Elizabeth. Why should he?

****

Mother Welshire woke in the snow. Groggy, she sat up and touched the back of her head. Both her hand and the snow around her were stained with drips of blood. Numb from the hours in the cold, Eira’s body shook with trauma and panic. She stumbled to her feet and knocked on the door in time with her still pounding heart. “Elizabeth, let me in.”

The three children raised their heads. Ann and Elizabeth leaned closer to the front window and Eira looked at them.

“Do not move,” She heard Antonio ordered the younger two. “It is for the best.”

“Ann,” Eira banged on the door. The urgency in her voice grew. “Please let me in!”

Snowflakes fell fast and quickly raised the wintry blanket across the land. Mother Welshire pounded on the door with equal velocity. Antonio tricked me. I suspect he was behind his father’s death, too.

“Ann! Elizabeth!” She banged against the wood again. “Do not play this madness!”

No! Antonio is only trying to scare me. A game! What a sick game! I feel so dizzy. No. I knew he was evil.

She collapsed against the door and sobbed, “Why won’t you let me in?” Eira smacked the door in vain. “What did I do? I didn’t do anything wrong! Why are you doing this to me?”

Ann jumped up from the window, and her mother heard the latch creak Eira hoped there was will left in Ann yet, but Antonio approached the window.

“No. Unless you want to join her.”

Mother Welshire rapped on the door, and her fingers bled. The vessels in her hands popped from impact and the cold. Eira tried to stand .

Maybe a window? The barn!

The rising snow and her freezing limbs thwarted her efforts.and she tumbled to the icy ground.

The young girls heard their adopted mother’s cries for a few more hours. Loud, then soft. Weeping, yelling. Slowly the wind carried away the faint moaning and whimpers. Now, there was silence. The snow stopped, and Ann insisted they open the door.

“She is dead, Antonio,” She found her tongue too late. “Let’s not leave her out there.”

“I’m leaving her to be sure,” Antonio warmed his hands by the fire-his plot had been the first step in his letting go. Ann ducked behind the sheepskin wall.

****

The sun rose and Elizabeth woke in the pile of sheepskins by the fire. Antonio slept soundly in his own huddle. Elizabeth caught a dreaming smile on his face, then it was gone. Ann was piled near Elizabeth, but she turned in a restless sleep. Elizabeth stretched and rubbed her eyes. She remembered the horrifying events belonging to last night and winced at a twinge in her leg..

Elizabeth slid from the makeshift bed and took a few sheepskins with her to the door. Her stride was awkward, Elizabeth’s limp would be there forever because of her injuries. She reached for the latch. Could I? Should I?

She slid the bolt carefully, but it squeaked a little. Elizabeth looked to the floor of sheepskins. Antonio stirred, but did not wake. Elizabeth grasped the handle and slowly opened the door.

Mother Eira stood frozen in the snow. A contorted and morbid statue her arms were in the air, and her fists were clenched in their banging position. Frozen blood lined her arms and the collar of her sheepskin. Mother Welshire’s eyes were open. The blue irises were, glazed over with a white frost. Forever was her mouth to be open, too. Her tongue captured midway between the chapped lips, and saliva dangled like icicles from what yellow teeth she had.

Elizabeth opened her mouth to scream, but a strong hand cupped her mouth shut. Antonio whispered in her ear, “Ann is still sleeping.”

He removed his hand, and Elizabeth looked into Antonio’s cold blue eyes. She had not thought of him much before Father Welshire’s fall, but now she did fear him. His own will was his motivation, even when he cared for her. Antonio forced an uncomforting smile, but Elizabeth was captivated by the opal-colored eyes.

They are so mysterious. Deceptive? Frightening!

Antonio shut the door on his mother and returned to the fire.

3 comments:

danetteb said...

Interesting excerpts :)
It's nice to see some more dark vampires out in books.

Hugs, Danette

Theresa N. said...

Very scary stuff, but now I want to know if he's crazy or mean.

Kristin Battestella said...

Hey girls!

The Vampire Family has plenty of romance in the middle, but yeah it starts of scary enough! I'm not one to write the chick lit light vampire stylings-that feel just isn't right for these vampires. They have too many issues!

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction