Monday, March 24, 2008


If you approached the scene, say, from above, spiralling down as if you had an expensive camera crane, you’d see the epic swirl of sorghum and you’d think not of westerly winds but of all those ghosts chasing patterns through the stalks. Certainly, on this sort of day, with the sky a sparse unbroken blue, nothing seems to be hidden in the air. The only explanation is something invisible, as strange as this seems.

But nowhere else is a vampire running, hustling, running through a wheatfield. He turns blindly this way and that, snaking from unseen captors, a parasol held wildly above his head. His shirt, his tartan cotton button-down, swings wildly about him, heavy with sweat. His pulse cracks loudly through his head, fistfuls of blood pulsing, circling and trading rhythms with his ragged breath.

Through the vampire’s shaken vision, glimpsed flickeringly through wheat-stalks, is the green promise of the woods beyond. He pushes on, stagger-running with hollow legs, fortuitously tripping as a dark stripe whirrs past his face. He throws himself to the ground and the cackle of nine more arrows hail over him. Their sharp speared tips glint in slow-motion in the perfect sun before thudding staccato beats into dirt. The vampire curses to himself. He senses more arrow-shadows screaming black through the wheat before their silver spits punch the soil towards him and he rolls quickly to his left, springing to his feet, jamming his conspicuous parasol under his arm and sprinting towards the edge of the field. His face begins to shred in the full light of the sun and he stifles his breath to a gasp, bending his head frantically down towards his chest. Just as he is ready to collapse, his body explodes from the wheat-maze as a mad dog would from a harness and he sprints the precious few yards to the dark haven of the forest.

The vampire dodges welcome mossy rocks, clambers over fibrous tree stumps, fighting for breath. The midday light has hardly made it down through the branch canopies. The vampire collapses to his haunches, clenched fists sinking deep into the leaf mulch, nostrils gratefully breathing earthy, cool air. He knows he cannot fall asleep, though this is all he wants to do, all—it seems to him now—that he has ever wanted to do. He places his soil stained fingers against his cheek. The sun has made tracks through his skin, turning it rotten and hot. He rises slowly to his feet, turning around to peer back the way he has come. They are still out there, he thinks to himself. They are never going to go rest.

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