Ellaheh Gohari

The Ghost of St. Augustine

“Are you sure this is a good idea, Josh?” ten-year-old Everly Saxe asked her older brother, staring warily at the abandoned graveyard. She didn’t know if it was just in her head, but the air seemed colder than usual, especially for Florida weather. The sun had long since disappeared from the sky, and in its wake, a big, bright blood moon had emerged.

 “Don’t be such a wuss, Evie,” Joshua said dismissively. As a thirteen year old, he considered himself to be far more mature than his kid sister … even if he was a little scared himself. He didn’t realize the graveyard would look so empty. Gray gravestones lined the overgrown field in perfectly straight rows, spanning as far as the eye could see. There was no sign of life anywhere; even the flowers had become wilted and brown. It was as if nobody had stepped foot in the graveyard for years.

 Everly curled into herself, her petite frame making it easier for her to hide. “Let’s just go back, okay? I don’t want to be here …”

Joshua patted his sister’s black hair sympathetically. “I mean, you can go back if you’re scared. After all, you’re just a baby,” he teased. 

Everly pouted, sticking out her bottom lip. “I’m not scared!” she protested, much to her brother’s amusement, “I just don’t know why we’re going, that’s all.”

“To see a ghost, duh! My friends at school said that the Ghost of St. Augustine only comes out during a blood moon at midnight, and, well,” the teenager motioned up to the dark, slightly red sky, “it looks like he’s coming out tonight.”

Everly sighed. “I guess you’re right … but if he doesn’t come, I’m telling mom you made me stay up past my bedtime for nothing.”

Joshua smiled. “Don’t worry, he’ll be there. I just know it.” He paused, offering his right hand to his sister, who took it. “Now, c’mon, let’s find his grave before it’s too late.” The siblings ran deeper into the field, not noticing the suit-donning, ghostly pale man shrouded in the bushes behind them.

The man smirked, trailing the kids with his glowing red eyes. He hadn’t consumed new blood in years and yearned for a taste of the crimson liquid. His fangs descended as he stalked through the shrubbery silently. 

Unaware of what was going on behind them, the siblings reached the first row of graves quickly, and started searching for St. Augustine’s final resting place. 

“Iona Harvey … Magdalena Robbins … Tabitha Todd … I can’t find St. Augustine anywhere!” Everly exclaimed, squinting as she read the eroded, dark headstones.

Joshua scoffed. “Well, it’s not just going to be labeled St. Augustine. That’s the city we’re in, not the actual ghost!”

“Okay, well then what’s his name? Or do you not know it?” the ten year old questioned angrily. It seemed like her ‘all-knowing’ brother wasn’t so all-knowing after all.

Joshua rubbed his neck nervously, racking his brain for ideas. “Uh, well, his name is-”

“Randall Webb,” a deep voice finished. Both siblings jumped in surprise, their blue eyes widening as they took in the new stranger.

“E-Evie. Hide behind me,” Joshua said shakily, stepping protectively in front of his sister. “Mr, uh, Mr. Ghost Man, I d-don’t know what you want, but p-please don’t hurt her. Please. It’s my fault we’re even here, so if you are going to,” he gulped, “kill anyone, let it be me. Everly shook her head. worried, and clutched her brother’s sleeve tightly as she hid behind his trembling form.

The Ghost of St. Augustine only comes out during a blood moon at midnight.

The stranger smiled widely, revealing his large, sparkling white fangs. “You got me all wrong, my dear boy. I’m no ghost. I’m something far worse.”

“Vampire …” Everly muttered, finally finding her voice for the first time since the stranger appeared. She still cowered behind her older brother, not daring to show herself.

“Correct, dear girl. Randall Webb. Pleasure to meet you.” The man stuck out a pale, veiny hand slightly out of Everly’s reach, knowing she would have to emerge from behind her brother’s shadow to take it. “Do not worry, I won’t hurt you. You smell so sweet, after all.”

“Everly. Don’t,” Joshua warned, but it was too late. Intrigued by the mystery man, Everly reached out and grasped the offered hand, her creamy skin a stark contrast to his unnatural white.

“Yesssssss. Good girl,” the vampire hissed. “Now, you wouldn’t mind if I had just a little sip of your sweet, sweet blood?” His red eyes shifted green, then blue, then black, a hypnotizing display. Everly couldn’t find the willpower to say no, her thoughts and actions at the complete mercy of the intruder, and nodded slightly.

“Evie? What’re you doing?” Joshua asked, concerned for his sister. Everly was always such an anxious little girl, albeit a bit too curious for her own good, but she would never agree to be fed on by a real vampire.

“Don’t worry Josh,” she said in an eerily calm voice, “I’m okay.”

Joshua shook his head in disbelief. Something was wrong, he just knew it. 

Despite the dissociated look on Everly’s face, the vampire didn’t seem to notice anything wrong, or if he did, he didn’t seem to care. “Now, Everly, let’s find a nice place to sit, so I can commence the feeding process. After all, I can’t just stick my fangs in you willy-nilly, there has to be some sort of preparation,” he ordered, delicately guiding her to the single empty spot in the entire graveyard. Joshua followed carefully, keeping a watchful eye on his younger sister.

“Wait, Mr. Webb, what’re you going to do to her?” Joshua asked. He noticed a sharp tree branch hanging loosely downwards, right in his reach. The teenager grabbed it discreetly, reasoning that it was probably best to have some sort of weapon should things go awry.

The vampire didn’t notice Joshua arm himself, his thoughts too preoccupied on keeping Everly under hypnosis. The young girl would be his first meal in years, and while her body and thus her blood content was a bit too small for his liking, his bloodlust was too all-encompassing for him to care. The graveyards were already filled with the bodies of the monster’s past victims, and the space he was standing on seemed like the perfect spot for one more.

Without answering Joshua’s question, the vampire silently directed Everly to sit down on the grassy field. “Hold still,” he ordered unnecessarily, knowing that Everly was under his complete control and would do anything he said. Still, it was nice to put on a show for her older brother. He would naturally be the vampire’s next victim, but Randall didn’t like to think of two prey at once. It was too distracting.

Noticing Everly was situated on the ground, her eyes blank and unseeing, the man slowly caressed her soft neck, heating it. After it was warmed to his satisfaction, the vampire surged forward excitedly, his fangs bared. His teeth penetrated the ten year old’s epidermis with ease, and he sucked in some blood. As soon as the first drop hit his mouth, Randall’s bloodlust kicked in with a vengeance, and he took in even more of the liquid. Nothing could stop him from draining Everly of her blood, her face turning almost as white as the vampire’s skin due to severe blood loss.

Joshua’s eyes widened as he watched the display, and he knew he had to do something. Mustering all his strength, he tried to yank the vampire off. The monster wouldn’t budge, still sucking on Everly’s blood without a care in the world. Luckily, strength wasn’t his only form of defense. Without hesitation, Joshua’s fingers clenched around the stake-like tree branch, brandishing it in the air before stabbing the vampire through the back. The stake burst through the vampire’s body, piercing his blackened heart and emerging out the other side.

“Hck- hck,” Randall mustered, staring in shock at the stake running through his body. He fell to the ground limply, detaching his fangs from Everly’s neck before fading into ash.

Joshua stared blankly at what once was Randall Webb, blinking slowly as he processed what he had just done. A gasp of breath rid him from his thoughts.

“Hhhhh, hhhhh,” Everly convulsed, trying desperately to get some air into her lungs. She was shaken from both the hypnosis and blood loss and needed to get some rest.

“Everly!” Joshua cried with relief, falling to the ground to get closer to his sister. “You’re okay!” The air was silent, and Joshua shook his sister lightly. “You’re okay, right? RIGHT?”

Everly laughed, though it came out as a weak cough. “Y- yeah. I will be. Just, please, let’s go home.”

Joshua smiled, his fears mostly alleviated, before helping her up. “C’mon. You can lean on me. One thing though … don’t tell mom.” 

Everly giggled weakly. “Don’t worry. This stays between us.” 

With that, the siblings waddled slowly out of the graveyard, worn out after a long and draining night, but comforted by the knowledge that no matter what, they would always have each other.

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