Author's Note: So. Salem's Lot is an amazing book. I am in love with King's writing -it's official. If you haven't read this incredible novel. Do so. Right. Now. It will renew your faith in vampires. Unfortunately, there is very little fanfiction for this lovely book, probably due to its age. This is my contribution to a small fandom.
Musical inspiration: End Transmission by AFI
This fanfiction is my interpretation of a certain quote from the prologue:
"A week later, he awoke sweating from a nightmare and called out the boy's name.
'I'm going back,' he said.
The boy paled beneath his tan.
'Can you come with me?' the man asked.
'Do you love me?'
'Yes. God, yes.'
The boy began to weep, and the tall man held him."
The night was full of unseen devils. They clawed at every window, tempting their victims with beguiling eyes. They pursued him on the streets, soulless creatures – possessing an unquenchable thirst that had ravaged the Lot, draining its pitiful humanity, and perhaps externalizing the monsters within its people.
Ben Mears raised a hand to his chest, feeling for the cross with trepidation. Hell had suddenly descended upon him, without reason, without explanation. He was back at ground zero, wandering through the moonlit streets, his terrors revisited.
"Hello?" he called nervously, looking around for Mark, for anyone. "Who's out there?" The darkness had left him feeling naked; he was under the scrutiny of inhuman eyes. The man clutched at the stake in his hand, trembling.
"And what do you expect to do with that?"
Ben turned around sharply, color draining from his face. "Impossible…"
"Without a hammer, how do you expect to kill me?" Barlow stepped into view, smile reminiscent of a savage animal.
"No… we killed you. We saw you die, you can't be –"
The vampire laughed heartily, lips curled into a contemptuous snarl. "Oh, you flatter yourself, Ben Mears. I am the embodiment of darkness." Barlow leaned closer, malevolence carved into the shadows on his face. "I never die."
Ben staggered, his entire body wrought with anxiety. "Mark…where is Mark?"
Smiling again, the demon gestured to the abyss behind him. "Do not concern yourself with the boy, Ben. I think you'll find him delighted to be one of the monsters he once admired."
Dread welling in his gut, Ben forced himself to look at the child. A pale seraph against the darkening night, the boy's eyes were empty, blood-lusting windows to a vacant soul; his complexion was cadaverous, his smile a fulfilled nightmare. He was an angel corrupted, an innocence forsaken.
"It really isn't that bad, Ben…" Mark called dreamily, "It's ever so nice. Join us, Ben…let me show you how lovely you can feel…"
"No!" Ben rounded on Barlow, his countenance contorted with fury. "You bastard. You filthy, blood-sucking bastard! He was all I had left!"
Barlow pushed the boy forward, his chilling smirk still wide. "Take him, if you want him. I'm certainly not stopping you."
Mark looked to Ben pleadingly, looking almost human for an instant –No. Don't look him in the eyes! His mind screamed desperately. But Ben Mears was already transfixed; he was caught in the hypnosis, his senses mollified. The man felt some distance part of himself scream –what little grasp he had on the world was slipping. "No!" he cried, "Mark!" A falling sensation assailed him, and Ben wondered if he was dying. He continued yelling for the boy, hoping vainly that the monster would sympathize. A voice called in the distance, and he groped for it blindly until the meaning could be grasped.
"Ben, wake up!"
The man was immediately aware of a milder reality. He was drenched in sweat, his skin plastered to the sheets and covered in gooseflesh. Exhaling, Ben opened his eyes.
"Are you all right?" Mark inquired, propping himself up on his elbows. "You were screaming."
Ben nodded warily, glancing briefly at his surroundings. A copy of the Bible perched carefully on the nightstand; crosses were hung on every available hook. "I had a nightmare."
Mark looked up at him with curious eyes. The boy had certainly matured since the incident at the Lot, both physically and mentally. His once pale visage had darkened; his skin was healthily tanned. The tenuous aspect of his frame was less evident; he had filled out, but still retained an effeminate quality to his features. Ben thought he was beautiful –the boy's presence in his life was his only nepenthe.
"What was it about?" Mark pressed, resting his head on his chin. "You seemed really upset."
"Take a guess." Ben said dryly, squinting against the moonlight.
Mark pursed his lips in mock-contemplation. "Well, you were screaming my name, and you sounded pretty terrified. I'm going to take a wild guess and assume it was about Barlow."
Ben nodded mutely, feeling very cold and alone in his bed. The dreams had haunted him since they fled to Mexico; nightmares were evidently unhindered by distance. It seemed Jerusalem's Lot was luring him back, beckoning with the irresistible eyes of a beast.
"Come over here," he whispered, looking furtively in Mark's direction.
Without missing a beat, Mark hopped off his small bed, padding across the room to Ben's. His hair was dark and disheveled; his bedclothes consisted of a t-shirt and boxers. The boy looked fixedly at Ben, a moment passing between them that held all the intensity of the last night at the Lot –the night Barlow had been slain. Wordlessly, Mark climbed into the bed.
Ben shifted over to accommodate him, thankful for the closeness. This was not the only time they had shared a bed –the practice had become semi-routine. Plagued with dreams of monsters at the window, human intimacy was excellent compensation for security, and a panacea for sleepless nights.
Mark quietly nuzzled into the crook of Ben's neck, the man's arms embracing him reassuringly. The Bible on the bedside table fluttered in the drafty air, as if insulted by the behavior.
"Are you sure you're alright?" Mark asked again, withdrawing to look the man in the eyes. "It seems like something's on your mind."
Ben sighed deeply, shaking his head. "I don't know, Mark. I don't know what to do."
The dark-haired boy bit his lip, looking nervous. "You can't be considering…"
Ben sat up, looking strained. "It doesn't feel right here. We have unfinished business at the Lot."
Mark's eyes widened, and he sat up as well. "Ben…we'll die. We can't go back," he exclaimed fretfully, "There must be more of them by now."
"Exactly." Ben muttered, looking desperately at the boy. "Do you love me?"
Mark leaned in, kissing the man briefly; they had kissed before, in the dead of night, when the gods turned a blind eye and the demons came alive.
"Yes." Mark whispered, swallowing his fear.
Ben fixed his gaze elsewhere, eyes burning with determination. "I'm going back."
The boy paled beneath his tan.
"Do you love me?" he repeated, looking to Mark with an unwavering countenance.
"Yes. God Yes." Eyes filling with tears, the dark-haired boy clutched at the sheets. "Hold me," he sobbed quietly, falling against Ben's chest.
The tall man held the boy as he wept, thinking fleetingly of Susan. Ben remembered the night he had killed her –it was the hardest thing he had ever done. He had loved her –God, he had loved her. She was intelligent, beautiful, and altogether perfect.
The man quickly pushed her from his mind. Mark was his only reality now –all else had vanished. Perfection was a thing of the past, and a happy ending was something he could no longer hope for. He loved Mark. They were soldiers on a suicide mission, star-crossed lovers facing death. "We leave tomorrow." Ben murmured, and kissed him. The sobs quietly subsided as Mark kissed him back, tears fresh upon his cheeks.
The Bible lay forgotten on the table, looking upon the sinners with disdain.
Disclaimer: I do not own Salem's Lot. That should be fairly obvious.