No Grace from which to Fall
A work of fan fiction based upon "Nightbreed", as masterfully written and directed by Clive Barker.
Author's note: Listen, anyone who happens across this story and decides he can handle the R-rating – this story is rated R for a reason. It's horror, plain and simple, Barker style horror, bloody, violent and more than a little psychotic. This is Peloquin I'm writing about, remember? He eats people. I'm not kidding with this warning.
So that while the original movie was indeed rated R, and so I doubt anyone who cannot take the rating would want to read this story, I still must ask you to be careful about this. It's not exactly for those of a weak stomach.
Whisper our names - we hear, we hear
Beloved monsters all
And if your gods would damn us, if your gods would damn us
That's alright - we have
No grace from which to fall
Talis Kimberley / Tribes of the Moon
They had shotguns, plenty of those, long deadly rods of shining metal gripped firmly in each hand, as if they were any protection at all against the night. They flaunted them often and loudly, sending rogue bullets into the undergrowth, shooting blindly in the thick, primal forest. None of the shots found its target, but the rustling of bushes grew louder sometimes, as if something was moving within, startled by the noise and smoke. In the air hovered raw fear clouding and choking.
Hours had passed already on the hunt, and the moon was high in the starry heavens, still a good while away from dawn. In the night the things that made humanity hide under its bed, or take up a shotgun and hunt them down, had an edge. The dark loved them, and they loved it in return, unafraid and unwavering, proud.
But the truth was, that at this point, Peloquin no longer cared if he lived or died.
The bushes made faint sounds as he ducked beneath them, grasping frantically for the chance to catch his laboring breath. Hours on the hunt, running, helpless, fire, guns behind him, men crazier, crueler than the Beast, the waning night. All the while he could smell them, minutes behind him always, and it drove him mad, that and the sound of footfalls, and the bullets.
He closed his eyes and curled up in the scarce hiding place, sufficient only for moments before they would be on him again. A sharp pain leaped up from his gut and up his spine – ravaging, gnawing hunger, after two weeks of forced fasting turned from a dim memory to a crippling need.
Blood pounded in his ears, and he tried not to think about blood.
Blood, warm, salty blood, meat to calm the Beast, and then run, because it would be dawn soon…
He was not supposed to be the one hunted.
He thrashed under the cover of the leafs in a sudden motion of pain and frustration, and at once the rushing feet stopped, oil lanterns raised, horrible light out to get him. Hunted for all his life, scarce thirty years, but every moment, hunted like an animal.
Would that he could hunt on them – but he could never, because he was not an animal after all.
But gods, he was hungry…
With an agile leap, he was on his feet and sprinting away, seeking cover in the night. The night was always a cover to his kind, always a shield, always a comfort. Not tonight. They were after him. He never harmed them. He never went anywhere near them. He hid from them, from the day he was born, in ruined buildings, in empty woods, wherever was possible, because that was the life of the Nightbreed, because they would not have him among them, and he would not force them to.
Not an animal, starving and hunted in the night…
The Beast laughed in its mighty throne within Peloquin's skull, and the sound echoed and shattered over the fragile walls of his mind.
No, not an animal – thinking, knowing, understanding. The Naturals were close, they had shotguns, they had fire, they had the dawn. He heard they drew comfort and hope from the dawn, and found it more frightening than all their weapons.
They were always there, and they dug him out, and called him a monster and an animal, and now he was running.
He didn't have to run, the Beast reminded him quietly, pounding the insistent hunger against his crumbling resolve. He could stop, turn around, fight them tooth and claw until the dawn, even half starved he could probably take some of them to the night with him.
No, not an animal, not a monster, not what they hated and hunted. Run.
Run. Away from the town, lights in the distance, away into the thick woods, bushes, undergrowth, comforting darkness, sheltering shadows. The sounds of the night hovered in the air, driving his senses to predatory keenness, his mind to a primal state, blind feeling, hunger, fear and rage. Footfalls, men shouting, the high, round moon, cursed light. Shotguns! A bullet shrieked inches away from his shoulder and he jumped aside, startled and panting. He glanced back; guns could not harm him, but the thundering noise, and the cursed light, why did they have to bring light with them everywhere?
Fear and hunger, escalating into deep, boundless hatred…
No, not the Beast. He lunged at a slight movement in the bushes as the pursuit was broken one blessed moment, silent as he had never been, claws closing on something shuddering, soft and alive. Peloquin tore off its head without stopping to see what it was. Blood filled his mouth and dripped down on his hands and the ground, salty and wonderful. He could eat it, bones and all, right there, right now. This felt right; this was how the hunt was supposed to go.
With supreme effort, he caged the Beast for the while, consumed the small creature without glee, without treasuring the scent and feel of a living body crushed in his hands. It only made him hungrier.
A low growl turned into a whimper in his throat and he rose shakily, mournful eyes darting to brave the darkness. Gods, he was hungry, he was sick of being the prey. He had done nothing to them to deserve death, nothing at all. He played with them in his way, had his fun, his dark Nightbreed games, but nothing to earn death, not if he had been human…
But if he had been human…
Abruptly he lurched up, stumbled backwards and fell heavily into the depth of the undergrowth, startled and raging. More light! More voices! New voices! Was there no end to these humans, these insane Naturals with their guns, their lamps, their hunt?
He held his breath and desperately listened, trying to mingle away with the night, to not exist, not think nor feel nor even be, until it was over.
Their voices, so many…
"We chased it into the forest. We reckon it can't find shelter until sunrise."
"Murderous beast… hate that kind…"
"It never even tried to attack us. Think it's scared, boys?"
"Probably a young one… doesn't know what it's capable of yet."
"Oh, fancy that, a young one, a sweet little monster-pup…"
Cruel, harsh laughter.
Peloquin gritted his teeth and fought the Beast tooth and claw.
Too frightened to fight… too worn out to run.
No, not an animal; thinking, rationalizing. The newcomers had to have arrived from one of the nearby farms, which meant one of them lay empty of men, guns and lights, and will remain so for a while. And nobody – none of these men who hunted him like a monster – would credit him with enough intelligence to hide right under their noses.
He thought of the dawn, the terrible, bright dawn, and it gave him all the courage and energy he needed.
It seemed like hours, but at last the brilliant beams of oil lamps turned away, piercing another corner of the forest, and the heavy footfalls followed them. Peloquin rose and moved with the silence of a predator, feeling the foul taste of the irony all too well. He could see another kind of light in the distance, and taking a deep breath discovered the thick smell of cattle and horses. Large, warm sacks of blood, unaware… another wave of pain exploded in his gut, and he bitterly silenced his eager instincts. Could not risk being found out, though the dawn seemed less a threat now and more a promise of freedom.
He skulked between the leafs, battling the overpowering urge to run. His breath was still heavy and his head still spinning with adrenaline, but he could not miss the distant lights. Not that far away. He managed to lose the hunting party for the time, it could not be that bad, it could not be. A wind tore through the clustered treetops and he stopped one moment, breathing in the aroma of the night. Not that bad, really…
He made it to the gates.
They were not large, but they were locked. A metal sign hanged loose from one side; he recognized the marks on it as letters, but his knowledge ended there. Behind it was a short trail, and then large houses forming a square. One was a barn. Good. All doors and windows were shut tight, locked against the darkness, the night, the monsters.
Peloquin slammed himself against the bars, and only got pain for his trouble. This was no wooden door he could knock down with his weight alone. Rage filled him suddenly, hatred at the lock, at the barring gates, the unknowing gates. He clasped two thick rods of metal, and with a roar of frustration, pulled them with all his dwindled strength.
The gate came away from the walls with a terrible sound of yielding metal, and he found himself sprawled on the ground under it. The muscles in his arms felt sore and taxed, but he could still throw the useless metal scrap ten feet away.
Doesn't know what he is capable of, the men said.
A small rush of thrill ran down his spine, and he stood up and ran into the farm, every few steps testing the air. Livestock, crops, the thin-spread smell of hay and wooden walls, but no men, no trace of nearby men, and no smell of guns.
His breath was becoming easier.
He sneaked into the barn, an easy entrance. Soft, golden hay was spread all over the floor; stepping in, he almost drowned right into it, and the heavy smell made him sneeze and cough. But it was warm, it was silent, and there were rats running about. If he stayed there until the next night, the farmer would end up very grateful. It might have discouraged him if he was less hungry.
But he was not, and the blood on the hay looked very beautiful, especially in the moonlight.
He managed to catch three and ate them whole, barely even bothering with the fur and bones. It was barely enough to keep him from going crazy, but enough to keep him alive. The blood calmed him and eased the clinging tension, making the night what it should be, the feeling of the warm flesh trembling in his grip feeding and adding to the strange feeling of newfound power. It was not that he had not tried living on other things, but he always went back to the hunt and the kill, and by now he already stopped making excuses.
He was strangely calm now, but still unbelievably hungry. No smells lasted or penetrated the thick scent of the hay, but his keen eyes spotted a slow movement just by the door, a flicker and shifting of shadows. He advanced slowly, intent of lunging and capturing the creature with both hands, but when rising, he instead collided with a start against another body, and with an icy flood of fear leaped backwards, staring.
Then he gave a quiet chuckle. It was a young woman.
Very young indeed, no more than eighteen years old, but shapely already. She was probably left alone in the farm while her family joined in the hunt for him. Now she had him at a gunpoint, but the long barrel was shaking in her hands, and she was as pale as the moonlight. Horror shone in her eyes as a subtle flame, and she studied him up and down, mesmerized.
Peloquin silently delighted in her fear, free now of his own. A pained and weary delight it was, clouded by exhaustion and hunger, but comforting nonetheless. He looked at her in the faint light, the curves of her body were pronounced by shadow, breasts, hips and round face, smooth young skin and bright eyes framed by dark hair. She was a simple beauty, and that was quite enough. A rising whisper of desire braved itself into his mind, in mockery of the hunters. Forgetting the hunger for just a moment, he moved forward to touch her.
Gasping, she raised the gun and thrust its edge below his collarbone, just strongly enough to keep him away. The fear – heavy, visible, dark – made her tragically beautiful, and helped her very little.
Swiftly driven to anger, his hands shot to her face again.
She stumbled back, and fired.
A curse tore from him at the noise. He could feel the bullet pierce his flesh, crushing a rib before it flew out. It hurt terribly for one instant – just one before the wound was already mending.
Doesn't know what he is capable of…
Pushed by pure anger, he grabbed the gun, and he crushed it in his bare hands without thinking one moment.
The girl shrieked and tried to turn, to run, but Peloquin didn't waste his time. Rage overwhelmed him now, rage and forbidden need, pain, defiance and hunger, storming within his mind and empowering him; he lunged at her, caught her waist with one arm and clasped a hand over her mouth. She trembled feebly in his grip, like a small bird grounded, her breath erratic, tears flowing down her face and onto his hand. Her skin was amazingly warm.
Forcefully he made her turn
around, forced her eyes onto his freakish face. He caught her long hair, felt
its texture in his hands, slipping between the claws. Her heart was pounding
like a distant drum and the sound was surrounding him until he could not think.
Her skin was soft and eyes were wide open, and he slipped a finger over the
front of her dress and the claw cut it wide open.
Gods, but he was hungry...
She was shivering in his
grip, terrible knowledge in her eyes, that she knew what he was going to do.
Despite the gnawing in his gut, driven to an explosive pain by the smell of
flesh and breath, he smiled savagely as his gaze caught hers. He slipped a claw
delicately over her exposed breasts, grinning wider yet as her nipples
stiffened, delighting in the feel of his own erection. Her mind might claim
that she was being raped, but her senses will soon tell her otherwise...
A small whimper echoed as
he forced her hard against his body, studying with wide eyes her delicate face.
The skin was vulnerable and smelled wonderfully, her flesh was gentle. Blood
was trickling from a cut in her cheek, and it sent him tumbling back to a more
primal need. The Beast roared and banged on the bars of fear and taboo, and
with the faint quivering and the feeling of life, it swept him away completely,
leaving only itself its wake.
He sunk his teeth deep into
her exposed neck.
She made no sound as one
fang punctured the veins in her throat, sputtering his face with blood until he
could see nothing but a red veil. With a low growl he pulled away, shocked at
the feeling of something warm and bloody in his mouth. He swallowed it whole
before he had the chance to realize what it was.
She crumpled, pulling him
down with her, tumbling to the ground like a rag doll. Her eyes were still open
and her chest rose and fell against his, quickly, trembling, hot air, the wound
radiating warmth into the cold night. He could not stay upright if he wanted
He fell, and cried out as
his head bashed against a rock. The pain lit within him a match of pure fury,
sending fire pulsing in his muscles, mingling with the hunger, the distant and
terrible realization, and the smell of blood... what was he holding back for?
He flashed bright white
fangs, sharp and deadly in the moonlight, and he sunk them deep into one breast
and tore until there was nothing left to consume. Flesh scattered, salty,
wonderful, dark red flow the color of wine, a smell sweeter yet. She looked at
him all the while, and her eyes drove him long past insanity.
Hunger and darkness,
roaring in his head, in his chest with the racing pulse, the sharpening of all
senses. The night was heavy, everywhere, the bright blazing stars, claws and
teeth tore into the soft surface of a vulnerable abdomen, licking the blood off
warm entrails. Inflamed, unable to stop, needing and fearing, ripped away one
hand, caught the stump in his mouth, sucking on the blood, tracing his tongue
against the shattered bone, pulling out the flesh and ligaments. Fangs along
the empty, frozen image of an unreal face, drinking one eye dry, claiming lips
in a tainted kiss. And she looked at him, looked at him still, empty eyes,
gaping mouth in a silent plea, rushing blood in her veins. And he could not
bear it, not even the Beast could bear it. He bent over her, caressed her chest
gently, caved in her ribs. He pulled out the still beating heart, and her eyes
remained open and gazing up until the second he bit it in half.
Peloquin collapsed, lost in a bloody delirium.
Dawn was near when he woke at last, dizzy and wonderfully warm, at first not remembering what happened. He stared with quiet amazement at the decimated body of the woman, her ribs shattered, her guts scattered and spilt, her breasts a mess of blood, bits of flesh and deep bite marks. Swallowing hard, he felt the taste of blood in his mouth.
And he knew.
In the first few seconds, he started coughing and choking, the muscles in his stomach and throat resisting the air heavy with the smell of death. He thought he'd vomit, lose consciousness or die, he expected nothing else, deserved nothing else, but did neither.
Meat, just a heap of red, trashed meat, cold now, but he could remember it well, steaming, bloody, convulsing, living… meat for the Beast, little more.
And living eyes, staring living eyes, knowing, accusing. No, not an animal…
He dragged himself feebly away, then rose up in disgust.
He had his way with the body, brutally, viciously, as almost an act of cleansing. There was a passion he could understand, could claim and live by, the ever present, ever consuming need to take and taste and devour… he shuddered in a violent seizure. One moment he was dazed by the scent of the blood, and a welcome sick feeling washed over him. He felt a distant longing to retch out the cursed meat, to rid himself of its taint, but no such grace came for the Beast.
Shivering, he rose up from the tortured, naked remains of the human, the meat. A sick feeling? He felt healthy and satiated at last, more so than ever he could remember. Satisfied, in all ways. Strong, in an almost electrifying way, the buzzing course of power, and hungry.
He touched a hand to his face – sleek blood, sweat, foam, saliva – swept it over his eyes, as if the feeling of power was a moment's weakness he could banish. Something was changed in him and he knew it, felt it, physically and deep in his mind. With a choked mutter, he kicked the ravaged flesh, which gleamed red and beautiful under the moonlight. Through a haze of mad desire, he struggled to look away, clinging to sanity. The smell of blood and death was threatening to overwhelm him completely, drag him with its tantalizing beauty into the darkness along with his kill.
His kill… he felt so good, satisfied, refreshed and powerful, and he gazed down on his bloodstained hands and closed his eyes, unable to look…
The sound of footsteps, men rushing from the nearby buildings, talks and shouts, roused him from the delightful agony. His head snapped to one side, keen eyes narrowing to pierce the darkness. The sentient, thinking and feeling being that wrestled with passion was gone in an instant, surrendering to the comforting instincts of the Beast. They were back, too early, lured by the smell of death. He could hear them, smell them coming, and soon they would be upon him. They had knives and guns, and dawn would come soon, but he knew that he could fight them all and shed not a drop of blood, and still find shelter when the sun came. He could kill them all.
A brilliant beam of light pierced the darkness, but the men who came found nothing but what they could only guess was once a human being. Peloquin fled into the night, and it welcomed him with an eager embrace.
Dawn. Dawn was coming.
In between thick clouds, the sky was colored a faint red shade, reminiscent of that of dried blood. The cruel touch of the sun viciously roused Peloquin from the haze of swirling thoughts combating ravenous desires. He desperately glanced around for cover, but the old graveyard he found himself in provided none.
And all around were open fields, distant woods, and hunters.
In thirty minutes it became burning agony, the sky slowly going from red to white to blue, the huge orb of fire in it casting down an endless barrage of rays. He buried himself as best he could under bushes, behind tombstones, but it still felt like the life was sucked out of him bit by bit. Which was, of course, exactly what was happening.
He knew it could not be long. Perhaps an hour. Probably less.
It might have been shorter if he had not eaten hours before. It might then have been a lot less proper. He might have tried to run anyway.
Different deaths, that was all, in the end.
He just never knew the dawn would be so beautiful.
He was already semi-conscious when a great sound startled him awake and aware. Raising his head with an effort, he saw that a stony wall was gone from under one tall arch, revealing a hole like a gaping mouth in the construct. Blessed shadows were inside, and against them stood stark and tall the figure of a man.
No, not a man. Not if the strange, grotesque slits on each side of the elderly face were any indication, if the eyes…
Peloquin lurched. Another Nightbreed?
"You look like one of ours," the older man said. He did not step into the sun.
Peloquin found that he could not speak, not even nod, and that it had nothing to do with the burning light, not really.
The older man looked at him a long while, nailing him with wise eyes that saw everything, knew everything, did not even have to ask. Now he moved forward, and his eyes narrowed slightly in the light. He bent down a bit.
"Blood," he said, calmly, without as much as worry or contempt. "Is it not? Your own?" Peloquin still could not answer, though he tried. He swallowed hard and found the taste of the night still lingered in his mouth, mockingly. He forced air out, trying to speak, and choked.
"No?" The older man visibly blinked, and now there was something else in his gaze. Peloquin looked away. "And you are so young…"
He took another step forward, yet stayed at an arm's length, not in fear but in quiet confidence. He moved to kneel, studying the young freak intently.
"You don't look very well, boy. The sun?" his voice was amazingly soft. At last Peloquin managed a feeble nod in reply, and shrunk away from the careful hand trying to touch.
"I see," the older man said, and he stood up. "I think I understand."
He retreated back into the shadows of the arc, but did not look away for an instant. In the shadows he looked at home, his dark eyes coming alive with deeply buried embers. He was clad in tattered rags and looked more than a bit starved, and he was as one with the darkness, in a way Peloquin could appreciate all too well.
At length he spoke.
"Among the Tribes of the Moon, there is forgiveness," he said. "No one would begrudge you whom this world had turned you into. But within these walls, things are different. This is our world, and in our worlds, we have laws, we have oaths and legacies, which sometimes force us to change, but we abide by them nonetheless. They are the reason we are not the monsters we are made to be."
He looked down on Peloquin, without pity, without judgment, without fear, and he held out his hand.
"Now choose," he said.
And Peloquin looked at the hand, and upward, to the face of that man, that freak, who lived underground with his rules, and would take in a monster and a killer. That Nightbreed who sought to make light in his beloved darkness, to cage the Beast, to be all that was hallowed as human.
The reason we are not the monsters we are made to be.
He rose up in defiance of the sun, and stumbling caught the hand, allowed himself to be pulled up and helped to his feet. And together they descended into Midian.