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Topic Subject:THE FAVORED FEAST - Story Thread
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-07-04 23:27 EST (US)         
"THE FAVORED FEAST"

A Short Story for All Hallows' Eve


By Civis Romanus


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

All characters in this story are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.


Please do not post in this story thread. Instead, follow THIS LINK to the story Discussion Thread and post your comments there. Thank you.


PLEASE DO NOT POST IN THIS THREAD

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-08-2004 @ 04:15 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-07-04 23:50 EST (US)     1 / 14       
All HALLOWS' EVE - A SATURDAY


Cleo waved back to her friend, shouting loudly so her friend would hear her over the noise from the city traffic, “No, I’d love to, but I really can’t.”

“But it’s Halloween!” shouted back Janie from the driver’s seat of her ice blue Mustang convertible double parked outside of Cleo’s apartment house. “We always get together!”

“I know, Janie; but I simply can’t. I’ve an invitation to meet Darren. I just can’t say no to him.”

“It’s that bad, huh?!” shouted Janie to her friend of many years.

“No, Janie. It’s that good!” countered Cleo with a wave and a grin. “Sorrryyy!” she said adding a plea for forgiveness to the tone in her reply.

“Okay, girlfriend,” Janie called back. Then Janie gave Cleo a wave and closed up her hand to make a fist, her thumb upright and her little finger extended, bringing the thumb to her ear to signal “Call me.” Cleo waved and nodded. Yes, she would call Janie, the next day following her evening with Darren.

Janie looked to the left and seeing the street was clear of nearby traffic stepped on the gas pedal and sent her mustang on its way to her next destination. Cleo sighed and closed the window to the street-side of the apartment, shutting out the insistent noise of passing automobiles, trucks, busses, motorcycles, and what-have-you. Quiet returned to the small apartment in which Cleo Carter lived, and her thoughts returned to her plan for the evening’s activities. It would be All Hallows' Eve and like past eve’s she would once again escape being bothered by trick-or-treating children.

However, unlike past eve’s she would not be spending the evening with the women she called her friends. Instead, she would be spending the evening with Darren, the intelligent, sensitive, charismatic man she met one evening just a few weeks ago. Tonight she would be enjoying a home cooked meal at his place. Cleo couldn’t believe the sheer joy she was feeling at the prospect. She couldn’t believe it finally happened to her, that at long last she had met the man of her dreams. No, Cleo couldn’t believe any of this and especially her sudden unfathomable good fortune.

All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-10-2004 @ 02:55 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-11-04 20:47 EST (US)     2 / 14       
There were things to do that day. Fortunately this was the year All Hallows’ Eve fell on a Saturday, and though the parlor was quite busy, Cleo was able to sit down in the chair only 15 minutes later than her hair appointment time should have started. From the parlor it was off to the dry cleaners to pick up the dress she selected days before and had rushed to the cleaners to be readied for her invitation to dinner.

Now back at her apartment, all of her hustling and bustling about the city completed, she drew out a bottle of nail polish and opened it. Immediately her nose wrinkled up and periodically continued to do so as the pungent odor of the chemicals in the polish wafted up and invaded her senses. Barely tolerating the odor she continued to brush the pale pinkish flesh colored paint on her nails, occasionally putting the brush down to take an emery board to a rough spot needing attention. She didn’t bother with her toes. Cleo wouldn’t be wearing open-toed shoes that evening anyway. The sooner she could put the bottle of nail polish away the better. Task done, she clicked on the television in her small sitting room and watched whatever came on while holding her nails upright to speed the drying of the polish.

She stared at the television not really seeing anything on the screen as her mind reviewed the remaining plans for the day. Let’s see… Pick up a few things around the apartment, select shoes, a purse, umm, and then… An electronic tone coming from the wall phone in the kitchen invaded her thoughts. Darn! Why does that always happen when nails are wet with polish! Cleo jumped up from her couch and quickly stepped to the telephone taking great care not to damage her nails upon the insistently ringing instrument.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-12-04 18:34 EST (US)     3 / 14       
“Hello?”

“Hello Cleo,” came the response. It was Darren. Cleo knew it could be nobody else by the timber of the voice, its gentle strength and the way the words were pronounced. Immediately Cleo became concerned.

“Hello Darren. Why are you calling?”

“Just to be sure, Cleo.”

“Sure of what?”

“That you really are going to be here tonight.”

“Of course I am, Darren,” Cleo reassured him, a smile coming to her face. “Why should you think I wouldn’t?”

“I really didn’t think you wouldn’t, Cleo. I have a wonderful feast planned for tonight. I just wanted to be sure. That’s all. Are my driving instructions clear? I do live a distance away from the city… in the country.”

“You’re not that far away, Darren. It’s more like the suburbs. I will have no trouble finding your home.”

“The area will seem like the country to you. Well wooded. Seemingly remote. Private. You’ll like it, Cleo.”

“I’m sure I will.”

“Please be on time, Cleo. The feast is demanding and will not wait. But don’t be too early or the feast will most likely appear to you embarrassingly unprepared.”

“I’ll do my best, traffic and all.” Cleo noted a longer period of silence and patiently waited for Darren to reply.

“I’m so happy you’ll be here,” Darren finally said. “Goodbye, Cleo.”

“Goodbye, Darren,” she said. The line clicked shut as the call ended and a dial tone replaced Darren’s voice in the speaker of the handset Cleo was holding. Odd and unexpected, but very sweet of Darren to call she decided. Cleo placed the handset in the base of the telephone and saw the red light illuminate to signal it was charging. A pleasant thought coursed through her mind and her body warmed in response.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-13-04 21:10 EST (US)     4 / 14       
An hour and a half later Cleo carefully fitted the shower cap to her head making painstakingly sure her light brown, blonde highlighted, freshly trimmed hair was protected from the effects of the water that would soon be showering down upon her. She gave the mixing lever a spin and then adjusted it to the “sweet spot” where the mix of warm and cool water was just perfect. She stepped into the combination bath/shower tub and swiftly pulled the curtain across the face of the tub to prevent water from escaping onto the bathroom floor.

Amidst the soothing effect of the warm shower of water and the gentle caress of the floral scented bath gel she was applying, a little melody played out its tune in her mind, and almost without realizing it, Cleo began to hum a few bars of the tune. Where had she heard that melody? When ? Oh yes. The night on the town with Darren a week ago. It was a CD he played in his SUV, the black Explorer. It was a lovely little tune. Something old, Darren said, from a musical group in Europe. Cleo couldn’t remember the name of the group, only the tune. She continued to hum it as the water of the shower rinsed the now foamy gel from her shoulders, back, waist and legs.

Each of those nights with Darren was a joy. Exciting. So filled with closeness and sensitivity. Cleo continued to dry herself with the clean pink bathtowel she had placed on the rack that morning before running her errands. She wondered if tonight would be the same. Her expectations were running full. Her hopes were high.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-13-2004 @ 09:11 PM).]

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-14-04 15:17 EST (US)     5 / 14       
Cleo thought back to when she and Darren met for the first time. It happened one late evening in a popular crowded downtown restaurant while both were separately waiting for a table. They sat next to each other in the waiting area and the conversation between them just seemed to happen.

He usually works from his home, Darren had said. He was at a meeting that went late and he was there for a late supper. Had she been waiting long? The conversation continued from there. Then Darren’s name was called and he said to Cleo, “No need to waste a table for two on just one, would she be willing to join him for supper?” Cleo heard the word “Yes” pass over her lips before the rest of her had a chance to even consider the offer.

He didn’t eat anything, which at the time seemed odd to Cleo. After all, he had been waiting for a table in the restaurant hadn’t he? Darren answered her question by saying how much he was enjoying their conversation and didn’t feel he needed anything more than that for the moment. Other nights together followed. One thing led to another and now she was doing her best not to be too early and not to be too late for Darren’s feast at his suburban country home.

All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-18-04 15:43 EST (US)     6 / 14       
Darren was no doubt a busy man, for as many times in the past as Cleo felt compelled to call him from her office during the day, Darren could only seem to find the right moment to answer by calling Cleo at her apartment long after Cleo had come home from work. This was a minor annoyance to Cleo that seemed to disappear the moment she heard his compelling voice on the speaker of her telephone. Yes, his voice. Just like today. Reassuring, enticing.

“Girl!” exclaimed Cleo directing this to herself. “You are sooooo going to be late if you don’t get a move on!” Cleo laughed at herself and wrapped the pink towel about her 5 ft 5 inch frame for warmth and unnecessary modesty while walking down the short hallway to her bedroom a few steps away from the bathroom. “Silly, who’s going to see you?” she laughed as she walked into the bedroom, making straight for the full-length mirror hung on the far wall.

In front of the mirror she unwrapped the pink towel from around herself and appraised what she saw reflected in the mirror. Hair: still fine. A touch here and a touch there and it would look just like it did after the parlor. Face: needs makeup. Not a lot, just some eyeshadow, light foundation, blush and lipstick. She liked subtlety. The whites of her blue eyes were clear for a change and not overly reddened by using the computer in her office. The rest… Well, at twenty-five and having been an office worker for over three years since college, she couldn’t say she was exactly, well no, not exactly a hard body any more. Not like the ones in the movies or in those glamour pictures or on the covers of magazines. She was, well. “Oh Cleo, “ she said to herself, “You’re being sixteen again. Worry, worry, worry! If Darren didn’t like what he’s seen he wouldn’t have invited you over tonight. Now get busy!”

She listened to herself and did exactly as she was told. A short time later clothed, made up and ready for the drive, Cleo closed and locked the door to her apartment and took the elevator to the parking garage in the structure’s basement.

All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.


Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-19-04 16:04 EST (US)     7 / 14       
Cleo reached for the ignition with her key in her hand, but hesitated just a brief moment. She was far more nervous than she ever thought possible. Excitement. Must be excitement. Must calm down. Her hand shook just a little. She pulled her hand back from the ignition switch and she dropped the key in her lap. She took a deep breath and as she settled down realized her driving instructions were still in her purse. That wouldn’t do, she thought, and opened her purse to find the small piece of paper with the directions given to her by Darren the night he called to invite her over.

“Hmmm. Let’s see.” Her voice was muffled somewhat by the closed-tight interior of her three-year-old Honda Accord. “There it is.” She pulled the folded sheet of paper out and looked the instructions over one more time. “East on I72. Off at Exit 60. Right on Barrier Road. Left on Endover Road. Continue on until I see the number 25 on a hanging signpost in front of twin open wrought iron gates. That’s the address: 25 Endover Road. Pass through the gates and follow the road to the house. Simple enough, really,” she reassured herself. Cleo picked up the key from her lap and purposefully, without a shaking hand, inserted the key in the automobile’s ignition and started the motor up.

Traffic that greeted her was moderate at worst, and lighter yet as she left the lights and congestion of the city behind. Exit 60 was only about 10 miles from the city center but she could see that the density of residential housing and commercial shopping centers was already beginning to thin. Only one car traveled past her heading south while she waited for cross traffic to clear at the end of the Exit 60 off ramp. She turned right and saw the sign for Endover Road about a mile later. There she turned left and immediately noticed that houses became widely scattered, but were substantially larger than those she had seen closer to the city.

She wondered what Darren’s house would look like. Cleo had to remind herself that she wouldn’t see the house if she didn’t keep her mind on the road and her eyes open for Number 25. Meanwhile, behind her, the sun relentlessly sought its resting place below the horizon and even now permitted only its very upper edge to radiate diminishing rays of reddish sunlight across the quieted lands on both sides of the road she traveled.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-20-04 15:11 EST (US)     8 / 14       
A short two miles later, the road curved gently to the south. Cleo could still see the road and signposts in the weakening sunset. To her right occasionally appearing structures suddenly would loom into view illuminated from behind, their fronts cloaked in deeply reddish shadows. A signpost up ahead displayed the number “30” prominently in white paint on a black background. It couldn’t be very far now. In fact it wasn’t.

She slowed her car to about two-thirds the speed limit just to be sure she didn’t miss the signpost she sought. The road commensurately narrowed so that each lane permitted one car and nothing else. Silhouetted in the nearly totally faded light of day was one more signpost and behind it a car-length long driveway bordered by two wide open wrought iron gates. The number “25” in black letters was displayed on the white painted signpost. Cleo turned on her right turn signal, mostly out of habit as there was no vehicle following her, and aimed her car for the center between the open iron gates. How nice that she didn’t have to press a button somewhere to get Darren to open the gates for her while she waited.

The road to Darren’s house was wide enough for one vehicle only. There were two turnouts that Cleo supposed were there just in case. She didn’t want to think about what would happen if two vehicles met on the road somewhere without turnouts. Cleo shook her head to erase the dire thought and drove slowly in the direction the curvy road indicated.

About one-hundred meters later the road straightened out, curved left and terminated abruptly in a parking court directly in front of a grey-painted, two story, Victorian gingerbread house. Not quite a mansion, but not as small as a city home, Darren’s house despite its gray, stood out starkly in the dark of the newly arrived night. Cleo turned off the auto’s ignition and withdrew the key all the while staring at the front elevation of the house. She gathered her purse and stepped out of the car, smoothing her dress immediately before locking the car door with her remote and dropping the electronic device into her purse.

Cleo took a moment to look the structure over before ascending the stairs to the double door separating the bordering bay windowed-towers. There were no lights visible in the windows, something Cleo attributed to the heavy drapery that seemed to be closed tightly inside. She made a mental note to suggest to Darren that a slightly open drape somewhere would give the house a more welcoming look to a visitor, one of his clients perhaps, or a business associate, or even herself.

Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, Cleo carefully climbed the stairs straining to see as best she could in the darkness rapidly enveloping the structure. At the door she found an antiqued doorknocker and used it, giving the plate two assertive raps with the business end of the knocker. The door opened and to her surprise she was not greeted by Darren but by a young woman very near in age to herself, perhaps slightly younger. The woman was dressed very properly in a crimson colored 19th Century Victorian dress and looking very much like she belonged exactly where Cleo discovered her.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-21-04 15:38 EST (US)     9 / 14       
The young woman’s gray eyes slowly scanned Cleo from the tip of her head to just below her knees. Finally her eyes came to rest once again on Cleo’s face. There was no hint of a smile on her face. “Enter,” she said. “Darren will be with you soon.” Cleo stepped into the house and the young woman in Victorian dress closed the door behind her.

Cleo had a sudden thought just as the young woman began to walk towards a doorway leading into some other room in the house. Unwilling to let the thought pass, Cleo asked her, “How do you know who I am. I mean, you didn’t ask my name. And what is your name, please.”

The young woman stopped, then slowly turned around, her lips forming words but manifesting neither disapproval nor a smile. “You are as Darren described. You are the only one expected tonight. You must be Cleo.” So saying, she turned about and took one step towards the room she intended to enter, then stopped. Without looking back she said to Cleo, “My name is Susan. Darren will appear here soon. Sit down if you’d like.” Susan pointed to a high backed chair near one of the wood paneled walls of the entryway and then walked to the entrance of a room on the right side of the hallway leading beyond the entry.

Frowning still, and wondering about Susan, Cleo took that moment to study what parts of the house she could see from her vantagepoint. The entryway as she noted earlier extended into a hallway that ran 10 meters into the center of the house, terminating at the foot of a two-meter wide crimson carpeted stairway that rose upwards between solid wood handrails and then terminated at the base of the upper story. From the top of the stairway, a walkway extended left and right to what must be more rooms, perhaps bedrooms, upstairs. An elaborately carved wooden banister bordered the upper walkway about waist high compared to a woman of average height like Cleo.

Downstairs, the hallway leading to the stairway was bordered on the left by what appeared to be a double-doored entrance to a room, followed by a single door entrance to the next room. On the right side, she could see the same grouping of doors. Symmetry, she commented to herself silently. Symmetry is so important to a house of this kind, and it certainly could be found here. She imagined herself in a Victorian dress, entertaining guests, managing her husband’s home, and romance. Just like the mystery books she read as a youth. This house even had dark wood paneled walls, just like the mansions in these stories, and elaborate antique chandeliers hanging from the very high ceiling, no single electric lamp of which was illuminated. In fact, where was the light coming from?

Dull brass wall sconces and upright candelabra sparsely placed in the entry and hallway were filled with tall candles, their wicks lit and burning softly, fueled by their yellowish wax. This left the area barely touched with light, but not so dark as to make it impossible to see. Very easy on the eyes, she noted as her vision became adjusted to the perpetual dusk. Cleo continued to examine what she could see of the area, its carvings, tapestries and small portraits of very pale-faced people in clothes from long ago. So intent was Cleo on her surroundings that she failed to notice his appearance, nor did she see from where he arrived. It was his distinctive voice that snapped her out of her preoccupation with the house and captured her attention immediately.

“Hello, Cleo,” welcomed Darren. “I’m so glad you could be here tonight.”

Cleo quickly rose from her chair, purposefully walked to Darren, and placed an affectionate kiss on his unexpectedly cool cheek.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-22-04 16:01 EST (US)     10 / 14       
Darren gently drew himself away from Cleo, the hint of a smile just barely curling the corners of his mouth. “That was very nice,” he said, his voice pleasant but oddly displaying very little enthusiasm. Cleo would have wondered why except she had a more pressing matter on her mind and as priorities went, this was at the top of her list.

“Darren, who is the girl?” Using the word “woman” might have implied a comparative she hoped was not in Darren’s mind at all. “The one at the door, I mean.” Darren’s left eyebrow raised slightly as he examined Cleo’s expression. “Susan is my sister, Cleo. We live together in this house. Our parents are long gone. As she is unmarried, it was what she desired for the time being.”

“Oh,” said Cleo, a slight touch of shame in her tone. “I didn’t mean anything by the question.”

Darren nodded. “I’m sure you didn’t. She is younger than I and of course you would be curious.”

“Yes, that’s it,” Cleo lied. “Curious.” Relief passed through her on winged feet and she pushed all thoughts of Susan out of her mind. “What do you plan for our feast? Can I be curious about that too?”

Darren’s hinted smile returned. “Of course. And soon you will be shown. But first, let me make you comfortable in the dining room. This way please, Cleo.” He led and she followed him down the hallway to the double doors on the left. Cleo was hoping to go upstairs. Maybe later. Darren placed his hands on the two doorknobs, turned them, and then pushed the doors open into the room. Cleo followed him as Darren entered the room. She smiled at him once more when she saw him glancing over his shoulder to see if she was right behind.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-25-04 16:11 EST (US)     11 / 14       
The dining room was nearly as large as Cleo’s city apartment. Narrower from wall to windows than it was long, the room was paneled in darkly stained wood two-thirds the height of the surrounding walls and painted gray-green the remaining height of the walls and across the ceiling. An immense chandelier hung from the center of the ceiling oddly bereft of anything creating light except for four lit candles spaced equally apart on holders. Six wall sconces also held lit candles. All in all, the room seemed dimly lit, but then again, some upscale restaurants in the city offered about as much in lighting as she could see here.

Along the upper edge of the wood panel was a long, narrow ledge. Displayed on the ledge were various pieces of fine bone china, pottery and pewter vases, pitchers, bowls, cups and other assorted containers for liquids hot or cold. A surprising collection given the tendency for such collections to be of plates or platters tilted on edge, their patterns if any made visible to those who wished to see the artistry more closely. She shrugged somewhat indifferently and turned her eyes to the table that dominated the center of the room.

It was dark wood, as dark as the wall paneling. It was sectioned for expansion or contraction depending upon the number of guests expected to feast. No cloth covered its surface. So much the better, thought Cleo, since the grain of the wood shaded as it was by the dark coloration of the wood, was absolutely lovely. Not one to stare at clouds for images or anything similarly, nonetheless she couldn’t help but notice that the shaping of the grain of the wood towards the center of the table seemed to hint of a slender face with a sharply pointed chin. The nose of the wood-encaptured face was aquiline, its point just above a closed mouth outlined with thin, gauzy lips. The eyes, yes the eyes. Remarkable. They seemed to follow her wherever she walked about the room when following Darren. What tricks candlelight plays on the unaware she thought as Darren led her to what apparently would be her seat, just to the left of his place at the head of the table.

Two place settings rested on the table consisting of a goblet for Darren and her and nothing else. Cleo surmised the bowls, plates and utensils would be brought out with each course. But why only two settings and not three? “Won’t Susan be joining us?” asked Cleo.

“Later,” said Darren. “She prefers to prepare, then feast.”

“Oh.” Cleo heard soft footsteps approaching and a door at the far end of the room opened. Susan appeared, seemingly gliding across the hardwood floor making no sound with the soles of her shoes as she walked towards them. She carried a decanter, and even in the flickering candlelight Cleo could see that the content of the decanter was a deep red. As Susan poured the content into Cleo’s goblet, Cleo’s observation was confirmed. Through the clear glass of the leaded crystal goblet the liquid remained darkly red in appearance. She glanced up to see that Susan had poured the liquid into Darren’s goblet as well and was now filling her own. Cleo’s eyes returned to Darren to see him pick up his goblet and elevate it towards her. “Welcome, Cleo, to our favored feast.” Knowing custom demanded a response, Cleo said, “Thank you Darren and Susan for inviting me.” She then prepared to take a draught of the liquid in her goblet, while out of the corner of her eyes noting that the face in the table continued to stare as intently at her as before.

All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-26-04 11:18 EST (US)     12 / 14       
The liquid in the goblet was easy on the palate, like a vintage port or sherry, but it wasn’t wine. In fact, Cleo could not identify the substance to which the taste belonged. It was not unlike a liquor, but it wasn’t extracted from any fruit nor was it fermented from any juice or extract she could recall. Yet it’s effect was heady as it forged its way from her throat to her stomach, taking up residence there as if nesting in the center of a growing place of warmth. The glow spread continuously from its origin in all directions. She was amazed at the speed of its progress.

“Drink again,” suggested Darren. “It is a rare vintage. Very old. Saved for only the most momentous of occasions. We call it our family’s special elixir.” Darren managed a brief smile. “Go ahead. Enjoy it with us.”

The spreading warmth within seemed to take her resistance away, to remove any reason to say no to Darren’s entreaty. She brought the goblet to her lips to sip again, perhaps to draw inwards a volume greater than a sip, but certainly not the entire contents at once. That would be improper. Then again, Darren might appreciate her enthusiasm. And it tasted so sweetly perfect. Even now, the scent of the liquid was filling her nostrils as she rested the goblet on her slowly opening lips while she made up her mind about the size of the draught she would consume next.

Before she could decide, however, a disturbance from below the floor of the room ripped her attention from the goblet. Something fell over and a series of sounds that could only be described as snarling and growls followed scuffling that finally subsided after thoroughly catching Cleo’s ears. Darren frowned and exchanged a meaningful glance with Susan. “Susan, please quiet them down if you will. They will be attended to shortly.” Susan nodded, placing her goblet down on the table and gliding off to do what she had been told. Darren returned his eyes to Cleo. “Forgive them, Cleo. Our pets seem to be impatient for their service this night.”

“What pets do you have, Darren? They sounded like dogs of a sort. Certainly not like cats.”

“Hmmm, yes. Not dogs. We keep them in the basement. I’ll show them to you later if you’d like.”

“I guess so,” Cleo hesitated. “They sound mean.”

“Just an altercation. It happens sometimes before they feed.” Darren leaned over and pushed Cleo’s goblet back towards her right hand. “Drink again. This time a toast to us. Drink heartily, Cleo. It’s our family tradition to do so.”

Thus persuaded and hearing nothing more from downstairs Cleo drank rather than sipped another draught of the liquid. Once again the warmth spread from her throat to her belly and to all of her extremities. Her thoughts narrowed to cares about nothing other than where she was and whom she was with. Cleo’s universe progressively became the chair on which she sat, the table before her, the dark wood of the paneling, the gray-green of the ceiling, and the face in the center of the table that now seemed to be smiling at her instead of simply staring as before. She drank the final draught and placed the goblet on the table, her hand reluctantly releasing the vessel’s thick crystal stem.

A whooshing sound seemed to be here, there and everywhere at once, no matter the direction in which she turned her head. A fog of worrylessness filled her mind. There was nothing else for thoughts to do but flee, and so all of hers did exactly that. Here and there a different feeling replaced those normally resident. These feelings moved about randomly at first, but then began to center on Darren, as if coming together at a junction of roadways. They were becoming more and more specific as each moment passed. Soon the paneled walls of the dining room faded from Cleo’s mind, then the color of the ceiling, the sconces and chandelier and finally even the increasingly joyful face in the table ceased to matter to her. All that mattered was Darren. And she could see that as she sat riveted to her chair Darren was rising from his and silently moving towards her with the same noiseless gliding steps she observed in Susan.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-27-04 15:56 EST (US)     13 / 14       
Darren’s hand reached out. Cleo could not refuse. She placed her hand in his. Her heart beat harder, faster at his touch. The veins in her neck distended from the tense excitement. She rose from her chair, gently pulled upwards by the pressure of Darren’s hand in hers. She looked up at him as Darren’s aristocratic face came close to hers. Cleo closed her eyes hoping what came next would be what she wanted, needed. She tilted her head back, heart beating at an impossible rate, her breathing faster and the intervals between each breath shortening. There followed the touch of his lips. Not on her lips but below her right ear, softly brushing her skin in its movement downwards. Heat on her face. No, from within her cheeks, rising to the surface and spreading with the pink that increasingly colored them. Darren’s lips gently traveled farther down Cleo’s exposed neck until they found the start of her shoulder.

Cleo’s breathing became rapid. The strength in her legs began to desert her. Of necessity she as much as leaned against Darren’s left arm for support as stood upwards on her own weakening legs. She offered no resistance. There could be no resistance, for the elixir in the goblet dictated she should submit and the face in the table she no longer saw through her closed eyes seemed to whisper submission. And she could do nothing more than this: obey the elixir; obey the voice of the face in the table, and obey Darren.

His lips retraced their path by moving upwards along her neck. Cleo had no strength left. She was totally without the means to move. Not even if she tried could she calm her speeding heart, nor could she stop to catch her breath. Then Darren’s lips stopped at a place midway between her ear and shoulder. His lips seemed to part, his mouth expand. What seemed like the tips of twin tongues flicked at the area just over the large distended vein in Cleo’s neck. Two widely spaced, sharply pointed objects touched lightly just over the vein and withdrew, then did so again. The third time they stayed and pressed relentlessly on their chosen place. Cleo’s eyes flew open, the only part of her body she could move.

Cleo didn’t know when Susan had returned. She knew nothing before that moment except the brush of Darren’s lips. Yet there stood Susan, pale-faced, eyes intensely staring, a large empty pitcher in her hands; and on her face, for the first time, a smile. Not just the hint of a smile; but instead a full, open-mouthed, diabolical smile painted on her face from ear to ear, her teeth exposed for the first time. In that brief moment as Cleo felt something penetrate the skin of her neck in two places she realized in disbelief that Susan possessed two upper teeth twice as long and far sharper than anything a human should possess. She realized this just as Darren’s similar fangs found what they sought: Cleo’s river of life-sustaining blood pumping with abandon through the vein in her neck. After this moment, Cleo realized nothing more, ever again.


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

Civis Romanus
Earl
posted 10-28-04 10:58 EST (US)     14 / 14       
In the waning hours of All Hallows’ Eve, before midnight, Darren carried the scraps of his and Susan’s favored feast to the basement below. Anticipating their sumptuous morsels, the horned beasts from the pit in the floor gathered noisily not paying much attention to their own drool as it splashed on the dirt floor or on themselves. Finally the door above opened and a barely warm, ghostly pale human torso was cast down to them. Not caring for the upper world they paid no attention to the creatures who presented them with their feast. Neither did they care when the door was closed and how once more they were all in darkness illuminated solely by the reddish light shining from their narrow, angled eyes. They cared only for the feast before them and noisily turned to the business of consuming every part of it their eyes beheld and their claws grasped and tore.

Darren pulled on the basement door to ensure it was secure. Susan already had moved Cleo’s car to the back of the house near the family crypt to join the other rusting, driverless vehicles abandoned there. Now she rejoined Darren and watched as he conducted a final check of the lock on the basement door. She smiled at him when he turned to greet her, then dropping any pretense of being like a sister to Darren, a ruse she invented hundreds of years ago, rushed into his arms to exchange another of the many passionate kisses they exchanged after their feast that night. Disengaging from Darren and still smiling, Susan offered her forever-youthful hand to her ageless husband and drew him towards the back of the house and to her family’s crypt. There as before they would chamber themselves and sleep together for the better part of a year until it was time once again to prepare for another All Hallows’ Eve.



THE END


All text copyright © 2004 by Civis Romanus. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-28-2004 @ 11:00 AM).]

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