Locked Out

If I could change one thing, it would be meeting Maxim.

The locksmith, a hobbled old man with hunched shoulders and a jaunty cap, nodded in silence as I opened the door. In the late daylight, his shadow stretched into a slender top-hatted thing, spilling a dark pool, protecting me from the sunlight, killing the polish of the marble floor. 

His eyes gazed greedily at the stained glass in the tall lancet windows, the sparks of silver, gold and glass that jumped out at us from dark antique surfaces as I led the locksmith across the foyer and upstairs. Dust motes climbed with us as we passed the drawn drapes, and fell upon us from the vaulted ceiling, through the broken chandelier. 

“Beautiful house, ma’am,” the locksmith said. “I can see why you want some added security.”

I tried to smile, and failed. “It’s not the house I’m worried about,” I said.

But Maxim could see my worry about the house, my loneliness. My independence left me long untouched, with nary a ghost to keep me company. Family members had long been buried and almost forgotten, only alive in the portraits that ranged the brocade walls. As we passed each rich oil oblong, shimmering with smiles and frowns, Maxim laughed.

“They are nothing now, and you are everything. 

“The only thing,” he said, and I agreed. 

Maxim enjoyed my dead house and the promises it offered us. He cast the dark curtains across the portraits, took me in his arms. I swooned at the bite on my neck, not knowing what it meant. The pain seared, sizzling down into my heart and up into my brain, confusing both.

“This is the past,” he said, crashing my memories to the floor– Mama’s hope chest, Grandmother’s tapestry that had welcomed a pale, weaker husband to the fold. Diamonds and broaches fell, and my hands were too weak to retrieve them.

The jewels spilled through my frail fingers as Maxim laughed, taking another bite at my neck and beckoning with his hard hand to a cabal I did not know.

We kissed, and he bit my lips, making me bleed, furthering me into his thrall.

Then I felt nothing. The memories fled from my scrapbooks and portraits. I traced my hands across the thick oil swirls of my family portraits, but felt nothing. An image, nothing more.

I heard the locksmith tinkering away, piling lock upon lock on the tower door. “Tight as a drum, I guarantee!” the old man crowed. I sat and truly smiled, waiting, almost secure.

“I believe you,” I said.

I stared at the dead panels on the wall. Out came a face. A skirt. A suit. A smile. Yet they meant nothing to me, even as they beckoned. Meanwhile Maxim chuckled, taking me into his arms, willing my hands away from my family. 

Again, so deeply we kissed, that nothing else existed. “You are mine,”  he breathed. Then I realized he wasn’t like my mother or grandmother, honoring my family, but outside them, not breathing, merely observing. And I was becoming like him.

Memories were a pain, a scene I no longer fit. No honor was left.  I saw tears, bloodshot eyes and mottled faces, and they still meant nothing. Mouths moved on the canvas, but I only heard the pounding of my strengthening heart. Maxim’s ghouls stood in the background, confident that I would join them, now that I had shared his bite.

It was a chance, but I took it. There was no past I could cherish anymore. While he slept next to me in the black canopied bed once promised for my marriage, I killed him. The oaken stake stilled his heart and stained the sheets scarlet. He cared too little to look me in the eyes as he died, merely warning me that his followers would come for me. 

I was scared by the thrill I felt plunging the stake into his chest, the victory of breaking the bones and silencing that dark heart. Pleasure was not something I wanted to fear.

I wasn’t so lonely that I needed evil for company.

The locksmith put the final touches on the door, locking me in. I felt the sun setting. 

“Your payment is by the door,” I said. “Get out now!”

I prayed the locksmith would flee before dark, when Maxim’s undead were bound to return.

My nervous hands held the detonator. I  heard the rush of giant wings, and pictured my house aflame.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

13 thoughts on “Locked Out

    1. Thanks! Yes, wondered if the top hat thing went off correctly (it’s just a description of his elongated shadow as my attempt at foreshadowing “Ooh, maybe sunlight is scary and appearances can be deceiving” 😅). I’m laughing emojically at my own lameness here. Thanks for the kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Kim! I really enjoyed this story. Your opening is really strong, and the way you unfolded the narrator’s change of heart was very well done. The premise of the narrator fighting her conversion and going so far as to kill her vampire lover is an interesting and refreshing take, especially the way she is willing to sacrifice herself (if I’m reading the ending correctly) to avoid her dark fate. I also loved the description of the locksmith’s shadow – not that he was wearing a top hat, but that his shadow was elongated, *as though* he was wearing a top hat. The first time jump (from the conversation with the locksmith to the introduction of Maxim) was a little jarring – honestly, I think it was just the word “but” at the start of the paragraph that threw me. Once I figured out the two storylines, past and present, it made sense. I feel like we are missing a part of the narrator’s backstory/history. For instance, you say “Then I realized he wasn’t like my mother or grandmother, honoring my family, but outside them, not breathing, merely observing.” This implies that she had originally thought he *was* like her mother or grandmother, and I started to wonder, had they been vampires too? (Grandmother had taken a “pale, weaker husband…”) I think with a little editing that could be made more clear. All in all, though, I thought this was a really well-executed story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I did think I got off track with the husband reference (was thinking of that just as contrast to undead dominating Maxim and a metaphor for the weakness of her memories). Was wondering if I should format one timeline differently for an easier read (e.g., italics) but thought that might be a cheat. You did interpret correctly, thanks for the kind thoughtful feedback!


  2. I love some of the imagery here, “black canopied bed once promised for my marriage”, “Mama’s hope chest, Grandmother’s tapestry that had welcomed a pale, weaker husband to the fold”. I stumbled on the “But…” at the beginning of the third section too. I wanted a little more about how he got there in the first place. Other than that, I like the way you twisted the obvious idea of the locksmith getting someone out into the locksmith locking someone in. Fun twist, nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great imagery in here, starting with the elongated shadow. I enjoyed this dark tale. I was a little puzzled at the ending, why was she locking herself in? So that she couldn’t chicken out about blowing up the house?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! My idea was that she was turned into a monster/zombie/whatever by Maxim and was locking herself away to avoid doing further harm and kill herself before she lost her humanity, but word count! Thanks for the kind words!


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