Short Story
                                                Mythtaken
                                                                    By Hugh McStay


    Eva fell so deeply into the brown chocolate whirlpools of his eyes that she was worried that she wouldn't
be able to find her way back to the table. Eddie's gaze seemed to look deep into her, as though he were
seeing her as no one else ever had. It made her feel incredibly vulnerable, but also safe and wanted.
Something she had never felt before.

    She knew Eddie was 'The One'. The notion sounded silly in her head, the kind of claptrap a million love
songs and romance novels would pedal. But she knew it totally with every part of her pounding, brittle
heart. No man she had ever met had so totally understood her, so completely pulled her out of her own
scepticism.

    “Eva, would you come home with me tonight?” he asked nervously.

    “Of course I will,” she replied, leaning into his embrace.

    Settling the bill (Eddie paid of course: such an old-fashioned gentleman), Eddie led her from the
restaurant. They stepped out into the beautiful summer evening, Eddie holding her by the hand as he led
her towards home. The summer sky sparkled above them, providing an extra-terrestrial firework display
that could only be matched by the feeling inside Eva's heart. The stars seemed to be shining just for her,
the full moon beaming down like a happy chaperone. Eddie's hand felt cool against hers, cooler than she
would have expected. But then, given the revelations earlier in the evening, Eva would have to radically
readjust her expectations about a lot of things.

    She still couldn't believe how the evening was going given her original misgivings about online dating.
After some relentless peer pressure, Eva had given in and re-joined an online lonely-hearts chat-room.
She had previously found the room to be full of married men looking for gullible women with low self-
esteem, to help them with their own self esteem problems. When Eddie's name flashed up on her screen,
she assumed him to be just another asshole looking to get laid. To her surprise, he was quite content to
exchange pleasantries, to chat and seemed genuinely interested in her answers. There were no smutty
comments, no pushing for her phone number. Just getting to know each other. Eva was just happy to
speak to a person and not a penis with access to a laptop. She had never been good at flirting with
people in the real world never mind the online one, but she was relieved that Eddie seemed just as inept.

    They had courted for two months online (courted was Eddie’s term, he had an incredibly old-timey
vocabulary) when suddenly, out of nowhere, the strangest thing happened: Eva asked to meet Eddie.
Normally the horny adulterers were desperate to arrange a meet as soon as possible but Eddie had never
even broached the subject. He was delighted when she suggested it, as evidenced by the plethora of
smiley faces that filled the chat window when she asked. They arranged it for that coming Friday, leaving
only two days for Eva to get the better of her nerves. She loved her nights at home on the sofa, she
enjoyed her own company immensely. But it would be nice to get out for an evening and have drinks in a
room without rising damp.

    Eva had never been one for Glasgow's nightlife. One of the largest, busiest cities in Europe, Glasgow
was an ever growing, buzzing metropolis. It was a beautiful city, the architecture of the old clashing with the
new in glorious, challenging ways. The place had a reputation for being 'tough' and 'dangerous', and while
it was true that certain areas of the city were no safer than market day in Kaboul, Eva had never seen the
side of the city that made it famous. She believed this was largely down to the fact that she avoided being
out in the city centre after dark, staying away from the seedier elements with her timid sensibilities. But she
wanted to make an exception for this exceptional man. When she arrived at the bar, half an hour early to
find the best possible spot to wait, Eddie was already there waiting on her. He smiled at her from across
the room, an inviting and warm smile that made her feel nervous. She couldn't remember any man looking
at her with eyes like that.

    Eddie was the most handsome man she had ever met, elegant and poised but at the same time
approachable and friendly. He wore a tailored dark blue suit with a white shirt and black tie. Normally the
men online would overstate their looks; Eddie had undersold himself considerably. They spoke easily and
without hesitation, both laughing over their shared nervous punctuality. They barely touched their
overpriced drinks, which felt like props in Eva's private perfect date movie. Eddie was everything she had
been waiting for; a gentleman who understood and enjoyed the subtleties of romance.

    “Is it much further?” Eva asked

    He turned to her, his eyes hungry with desire.

    “Not at all, it’s just up ahead.” he responded in that odd accent of his.

    There were a lot of odd things about Eddie. His accent, he had told her, came from his extensive
travelling. He had been born in Croatia but he and his family had travelled all over Europe before
eventually landing in Scotland. His skin was cold and had an odd shine to it, almost hard. And he had the
most amazing eyes she had ever seen (Oh God his eyes!! she had thought when they met). Looking into
those beautiful brown eyes, she could see her reflection radiating happiness. And then, when the word had
left his mouth, that delicious accent delivering it to her ear on a silk pillow, she knew it to be true.

    He had whispered it to her in the restaurant, the proximity of his lips sending goose bumps all over her
body. The revelation did not shock her, although had he told her before they met then she would have
simply written it off as a fantastical lie. Being confronted by the reality of the man, the word seemed to fit
perfectly.

    “I am a Vampire” he had said nervously.

    “I know, my love” she replied, meeting his wonderful, perfect gaze with a smile.

    “I would never hurt you Eva. I've been alone for so long, it’s nice to just have someone who wants to be
around me”

    “You'll never need to be alone again” Eva replied, feeling the emotion behind the clichéd words.

    They had been walking for almost half an hour, quietly enjoying each other’s company, each other’s
touch, when they rounded the corner to Eddie's house. The rows of houses passed them by until they
reached the end of a street that led onto a large expanse of open ground. A large wire fence stood around
the grounds, and far into the darkness Eva could see Eddie's house. It was a large Victorian era building
and it stood alone in the field. At the far end of the city, it was just far enough away from footfall to pass as
abandoned, but the more you examined it, the more you could see that it was in fact very well maintained.
He opened the gate on the fence and led her through the grass by the hand towards his home. The house
rose up before her as tall, dark and elegant as her companion. The closer she got to the house, she could
see that the building had been worked on and added to. Large iron shutters hung by the windows in the
house, currently sitting open for the house to enjoy the beautiful evening.

    Eddie walked up the steps to the front door and unlocked it. He turned to face Eva and held out his
hand.

    “Eva, you are the first girl I have brought here in many, many years. Would you do me the very high
honour of accepting my invitation?” he asked, holding her hand softly.

    “Of course.” she replied, her smile beaming. She blushed and felt a ripple of pressure rushed through
her body and he pressed his lips to her hand.

    “Then please come in.” Eddie said, standing aside to allow her to pass.

    Eva passed into the narrow hallway. Directly ahead lay a staircase leading to the first floor, where
Eddie's bedroom no doubt lay. The thought of Eddie's bed excited her, although she would do her best not
to show it. She entered the room on her left as Eddie indicated and walked into a large living area. The
room was light and modern, not at all what she was expecting. An odd but familiar smell hung in the air, not
terrible but certainly on the verge of being unpleasant. In the middle of the far wall were two large wooden
doors with polished brass handles. A dark leather sofa faced a massive wall mounted television in which
she could see her reflection. And beside her was Eddie’s.

    “You have a reflection?” she asked, confused.

    Eddie laughed softly and quietly. It was a kind laugh, not the mocking one that Eva often heard.

    “There are a lot of odd myths about us. Most of them made up, idiots trying to sell books or stories to
scare their children.” he replied. “Tales told by men intent on demonising us, on pushing us to the brink of
extinction....” he trailed off

    Eddie sat down, his eyes ever so slightly watering.

    “There are so few of us left Eva. Those who remain have done so by hiding, by living in the shadow of
humanity.”

    “You poor man,” she said, sitting beside him. “I can't imagine how lonely it must have been for you”

    “I was.” he said, those wonderful eyes of his focussed entirely on her.

    Eva's smile was in danger of ripping her face in two.

    “So, you're ok with mirrors. How are you with sunlight, garlic?” she asked as she sat down of the sofa,
placing her bag on the table in front.

    “We do not like sunlight, it hurts us to be in it and with prolonged exposure then yes, we would die. But it
is not like in the movies where we burst into flames upon contact with it,” he explained. “And I enjoy garlic
in moderation.”

    Eva giggled.

    “Well, we will need to make sure we stay somewhere nice and dark...... and warm” Eva said.

    “I have one or two ideas about that.” Eddie replied. “Would you excuse me for a moment? I need to pop
upstairs”

    “Ah, even the undead need to use the little boys room.”

    “Indeed Madame,” he said, leaving the room.

    Eva still couldn't place the smell. It was familiar, but seemed to be out of place. The answer on the
periphery of her mind was being confused by her surroundings. She stood up and began to look around
the room. There were no pictures of Eddie or his family, no ornaments or personal trinkets. It seemed
incredibly empty now that Eddie had left the room, almost like a doctor’s waiting room. Clean and tidy, a
TV to keep you occupied while you waited. All that was missing was some six-month old magazines on
the coffee table. She stood from the sofa and adjusted her dress, using the large TV as a mirror.

    As she walked around the room, the smell increased in its potency. It had gone from being barely
noticeable to objectionable the closer she got to the wooden doors. Approaching the doors, she gripped
one brass handle in each hand, handles as cold as Eddies touch, and opened them both at once.

    Damp

    Her mind offered up the word that had eluded her since she first set foot inside the living room. It no
longer seemed out of place. As her eyes took in the room before her, many changes in her situation were
dawning.

    The room was a wreck; broken floorboards jutted angrily from their fixtures like cheap tombstones in a
backwoods cemetery. The ancient floral wallpaper was peeling from the walls in dark brown clumps,
plaster from the ceiling lay strewn around the room. The room had no light fixtures, bathed only in the cold
blue hue of the computer monitor that sat on a crudely made desk of bricks and boarding. The computer
that Eddie had used to lure her here. Beside the computer was a small steel bucket, rusted over with filth
and grime. Inside were shapes and protrusions covered in a dark, thick, sticky liquid. Her stomach felt as
though it had been scooped out, leaving her hollow, cold and foolish. She began to tremble as the
implications of her discovery became all too apparent in her head.

    Eva closed the doors hurriedly and turned to flee. Standing in the doorway was Eddie, the warmth in his
eyes gone, replaced by something darker, more primal. She had seen enough wildlife documentaries to
understand that look. The look a lion has in its eyes before the unfortunate gazelle meets its end.

    “I could have sworn I locked that. It was such a nice evening as well.” Eddie said. “It’s a shame it had to
end so soon.”

    Eddie began to advance on her slowly and deliberately, his eyes unflinching and unblinking as they
bore holes in her. He shuffled across the room, a nightmare made flesh. Just passing the coffee table, Eva
made her move.

    Charging at Eddie, she thrust her shoulder into his ribs and lifted him clean off his feet. She was
surprised at how little he weighed and at how much he had underestimated her. She crashed down on to
the coffee table with enormous force, Eddie breaking both her fall and his own ribs. She heard him scream
in pain as she clambered over his writhing, spluttering body, specks of his coughed-up blood staining her
beautiful dress. She got to her feet and ran for the door.

    Slamming against the bannister of the stairs, Eva composed herself and opened the front door. The
night air felt cool and refreshing in her lungs, grateful that she was alive to taste the air in her mouth. She
stood there, looking across the grounds. She wondered how many more girls like her and been brought
here by Eddie. How many unmarked graves did she walk over on her way here? How many more would
follow her? She turned back to the living room door. Inside, she could hear Eddie rasping for breath,
clambering to his feet. She closed the front door and returned to the room.

    “Bravery? Stupidity?” Eddie spat.

    Seeing Eddie again, Eva's guts turned to ice.

    One of Eddie's contact lenses remained in place, as creamy as her favourite chocolate. In the other
socket was a sickly yellow pulp, staring out at her. His hair, a wig of matted blackness, sat lopsided on his
head like a magnificently coiffed rat. But the feature that stood out more than the others, the one that made
her regret closing the front door above all others, was his mouth. It was an enormous gaping maw of razors
and blood. His jaw had become distended, allowing her to better see his tongue; long, lizard-like,
caressing his lips in lust and hunger.

    “Definitely stupidity.” she murmured to herself.

    Leaping over the couch, Eva reached over to the ruins of the coffee table to grab her handbag. In a
second, Eddie was on her. He knocked her onto her back, her head banging off the floor with a loud crack.
The room began to spin around her, darkness crept into the periphery of her vision. She fought
unconsciousness with all her might, to give in to it was to die. Eddies' cavernous mouth swung slowly into
view as he straddled her, his knees on either side of her body. Still her hands scrambled for her bag. His
once beautiful features were now completely gone, the monster that lurked beneath the surface smiled at
her.

    “You should have taken your leave of us…” he cooed, caressing her face with his hand.

    He leaned in, his Great White mouth inching towards her throat.

    “And you should have checked my bag.” she replied, stabbing him in the gut with the small knife she
had removed from her purse.

    Eddie fell backwards, howling in agony. Propping himself up against the sofa, thick jets of black blood
oozed from the wound and spilled onto the floor beneath him. He looked down in disbelief at the blade
wedged in his torso.

    “You stupid bitch.... You'll never get away...” he said, panting and moaning as he began to fade.

    Eva sat up slowly, still dizzy and groggy from the knock to her head. She crawled over to Eddie, her
hands sloshing through his blood on the floor, her dress now ruined for sure. Grabbing the handle of the
blade, she met Eddie's contemptuous gaze. She twisted the knife and dragged it up his mid-rift, spilling
his intestines onto the floor. Warm, foul smelling offal spilled from the hole in his body as he breathed his
last.

    Tears silently poured down Eva's cheeks as she pulled herself up and away from the beast she had
slain. She returned to the front door and opened it. The night sky was still as beautiful as it had been an
hour ago, when eternity seemed to be reaching out to her and offering her everything her heart desired.
She dropped to her knees and began to sob, cleaning the remnants of Eddie’s guts from her hands and
on to her dress.

    She sat that way for several minutes, the reality of the night kicking in and presenting her with a new set
of rules for how the world worked. Finally, she stood to leave. She just had to take one step outside the
door.

    It was easy.

    Just one step.

    She stood at the threshold of the door for almost five minutes. Panic began to fire in her brain. She
screamed for help until she was hoarse, but no help was coming. No one would hear her this far out.

    My phone! she thought, and turned back to the sitting room.

    “I did say you would never leave.” Eddie said.

    He was standing in the doorway, her mobile phone in his sticky, red hands. Snapping it in two, he
dropped the sparking pieces to the floor. He held his belly closed through crimson hands, covered in his
own blood and meat, shaking violently.

    “One good thing about all those stupid stories,” he began, the smile returning to his face. “Is that
sometimes things get mixed up.”

    Eva began to run upstairs, terror threatening to overload her system. She came to a complete stop six
stairs up. At the top of the stairs stood another creature, its decrepit, ancient features hidden in shadow.
Two hungry yellow eyes peered at her in the blackness

    “Ooooooh, you've brought us a pretty one this time Eddie.” its high pitched, mewling voice cried.

    Eva turned to Eddie, who was advancing carefully up the stairs on her.

    “We aren't as strong as your stories say, but we are very durable. We aren't romantic, beautiful
creatures, but we have other virtues. We respect our families, we do not abandon our elders.”

    Eva screamed in pain as the mouth of the demon behind her sunk its teeth into her shoulder, tearing a
chunk of flesh from her body. Her blood shot from the wound and splashed against the wall as she fell to
her knees.

    “You don't have to worry about inviting a vampire into your home, my love. We come and go as we
please.” Eddie said, advancing on her as the dark around her vision mercifully returned.

    “But you really should never accept an invitation into his.”
            


Bio;
About Hugh McStay

"Hugh McStay is a native
of Glasgow, Scotland,
where his love for all
things horror blossomed
in the city's plethora of
urban myths and stories.  
Influenced by the works of
Stephen King and Clive
Barker, Hugh is currently
working on his first novel
and regularly publishes
short horror stories.  Hugh
can be found on twitter
@angryscotsman81"
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.