A dangerous woman lay at rest, quiet and peaceful. Breathing slowly, her chest heaving up and down steadily. She was beautiful. Her wispy, long, blonde hair was spread across her pillow and over her shoulders. She was on her back, half covered by a silky white sheet and her head was turned away from him. Seeing his chance, her bedmate began to make his move. He moved in, slowly, his mouth open and his fangs bared, but he couldn't do it. He simply could not bring himself to, and he blamed himself. He knew when he started after her that it could not last, and he knew the longer he put it off, the harder it would be. 'Too human' is a phrase made all too familiar to him by his friends who had no qualms against killing, or any emotional attachments to, any mortals.
As he got up and dressed, he thought about how much he would be teased for this. To have to crash at the Cave again tonight would bring him more grief than it was worth, he thought as he got dressed. He took out his pad and pencil to write a lie to her for the third night in a row.
Sorry to do this to you again, but I didn't want to wake you. Please lock my apartment when you leave.
Another lie, the last in a series of many. He left the note on the coffee table of his dark basement apartment and left.
Outside, dawn was threatening to break. The sky was had gotten lighter from the sun which had not yet risen over the horizon. The dirty, cracked, well-trodden sidewalk had a darker shade to it from a slight rain in the evening. Although it was fairly light out, there were still heavy shadows because the streetlights had already shut off. He made his way down the street, the metal tips on his black boots making loud clicking sounds that reverberated off buildings and down alleyways, announcing his presence to the few creatures inhabiting the city streets. He took a left down a filthy alleyway, and down three sets of stairs to a large metal door. It was completely dark there, as there were no lights and it was hidden from the sun's glare, but Johnny could still see. He knocked on the door three times, and it was promptly opened to the length of the chain lock on it. The husky man behind the door saw and recognized Johnny, and let him in.
Various greetings resounded from the Cave's occupants, three men, including the one who let him in, and two women dressed similarly to Johnny himself: all black with a couple of them wearing capes. Everyone in the room had a very similar look: very pale skin, strange eyes that seemed to change colors depending on the angle from which you look at them, and jet black hair. The room was dimly lit, as there were no windows, with a short string of candles along all four walls of it, this was quite obviously the living room. The flickering light emanating from the candles made dancing shadows, obscure clones of the furniture casting them. The room had only two large couches, a wooden end table, a matching coffee table, and an old television. The white paint on the walls had turned yellow from age. Each of the women was sitting with one of the men, prominently showing off the fact that they were together and taking up one of the couches. The man who let him in was sitting on the remaining couch, where Johnny himself sat to take up the final space in the living room.
"So, John boy," said one of the women, "You wussed out again, eh?"
"Shut up Erin. I- I'll do it tomorrow."
"Hmm.. That sounds familiar," mocked the man sitting on the couch with Erin, "Now, where have I heard that before?.. Oh, yeah. Didn't he say that yesterday, too?"
"Yeah, and the day before?" Erin added and smiled, the saliva on her fangs reflecting the low light slightly. Everyone was having a good time at Johnny's expense, but he was tired of hearing this.
"Look, guys. I just need to stay here this one last night, I swear I'll do it tomorrow"
"You're always welcome to stay here, John," the man who let him in said kindly.
"You're the only one on my side, Andy." He chuckled slightly.
"Hey, why don't you just make her into a vampire if you like her so much?" said a man with a not-so-bright look on his face who was sitting with the other woman, apparently proud of his idea.
"You are the stupidest thing I've ever seen. Didn't we discuss this yesterday?" snapped Johnny, irritated.
"Yeah, but Steven wasn't here," Andy jumped in.
"Oh, uh, sorry, Steven. I don't want to because I don't want to put her through that. You guys remember when you did it to me and I couldn't handle it. I still hate it. I just don't want to put her through that... Besides, Jacob wouldn't have it, not when I'm still so young."
"Oh. Okay." said Steven after a bit.
The buzzer rang and an evil grin came across the woman's face who was sitting with Steven. She was quite beautiful and had short hair, only coming down to the bottom of her head. "It's the pizza man." The rest of the group smiled, too. They knew what she was going to do. "This is what I love about being a vampire."
She flung the door open, grabbed the pizza man loosely, looked deep into his eyes and hissed, baring her fangs. She was rewarded with a scream of terror as the frightened delivery boy scrambled up the stairs after dropping the pizza. Roaring laughter echoed around the room from everyone within. The anarchistic woman took the pizza and deposited it on the coffee table. She shut and locked the door, and returned to her seat.
"That's so mean, Jesse" said her boyfriend, still laughing. The only response he got was more laughter, from Jesse and everyone else.
For a couple more hours the whole group stayed up talking, eating pizza, and watching TV until all of them were so tired they knew that they couldn't stay up much longer. All of them were still fairly young as immortals go and still found joy in human pleasures such as worldly food.
"Well," Andy yawned, "we should be getting to bed before we all fall asleep sitting up." He turned to Johnny, "You can sleep on the couch again tonight, John"
"Okay. Well, goodni- err, morning, everyone!" Johnny said, and laughed at himself, as he was not yet even used to having to sleep the whole day. All the others laughed a little as well and went out into separate rooms to sleep as Johnny settled in on one of the couches.
The next night at dusk they all instinctively awoke, feeling very refreshed. Johnny knew that Carrie would be back at his apartment, and thus left soon after he got up, saying that he would see them later on that night, because he was determined that he would do it soon after he saw her. After the standard goodbies were said, he left. As he was walking down the street to his apartment, the atmosphere was similar to when he left his apartment the night before. There were still many people on the streets, as it was not very late. He reached his apartment and recognized Carrie's car in front of it. He walked up to the door, stopped before it, and took a deep breath, already feeling remorse for a deed not yet done. He wished he didn't have this curse of vampirism, and that he could let Carrie go without harming her, but he knew this was the only way.
He opened the door to see Carrie lying on his bed watching TV, wearing a gray silk nightgown. She saw him and turned the television off. She had a very sultry look on her face, and gently slid off the bed, her bare feet lightly landed on the cold hard wood floor, not making a sound. She walked over to him with her hands behind her back, stepping one foot directly in front of the other, never taking her eyes off of his. She put her arms around him and kissed him long and deep, both of them with their eyes shut. After a beat, he felt her take her arms from around him, her head and lips unmoving from their position. This was the last thing Johnny would ever feel as the sharpened wooden chair leg was thrust deep into his heart from behind.
Suzy's phone rang. She knew who it was, this late at night. All of her mortal friends couldn't sustain themselves as she could. The phone call came just as she was doing this. She opened her eyes, got off her knees and left the candles and incense burning as she answered it.
"Hello," She said, as a statement rather than a question.
The voice on the other end, although shaky was unmistakably that of Andy. "Suzy, something happened."
She could tell by his tone the severity of the situation. "What, Andy? What's wrong?" At first there was no answer. "Hello? Andy, are you okay?"
"Johnny was killed, Suzy," he was on the brink of tears.
"What, how, what happened?" she wondered, shocked.
"Just.. Just bring your things for the ceremony over to the Cave. I'll explain when you get here." He was recognizably sobbing now.
"Okay, Andy. I'll be there as quick as I can," she said, the impact of the incident hadn't quite hit her yet, but it did, halfway there. She was crying when she got there, and couldn't' seem to control herself. Her black eyeliner and white powder merged making gray streaks down her cheeks, and falling onto the light material of her black clothes. Suzy was quite beautiful, only 23 years old and had very delicate features. She was about average height, and very light. Her beauty could not be hid behind her loose clothes and dark makeup.
She found the door open at the Cave, and Johnny's skeleton lying in the middle, surrounded by his friends, Their tears did not change their ivory cheeks as Suzy's did. There were more candles burning than usual, the extra ones burning an eerie black flame, which seemed not to flicker or give off any light. The black flames surrounded Johnny's body. Suzy was noticed, and saw all of the pale faces in the room with tears streaming from their strange eyes. Johnny's body lay with the wooden chair leg which slain him still driven in between his ribs.
As she entered, everyone looked to her with devastated faces. She came to them one by one and embraced them. After she was told of the horrible incident, she got to work, down on her knees at Johnny's head as everyone else encircled him, holding hands except for at his feet where there was a gap.
"My friends, one of ours has left our world," Suzy said solemnly, trying her best to speak though her weeping. "We will never see him again, and we must not forget him, but we shall go on. Let us fill the empty space Johnny once occupied and put his soul to rest." Andy and Erin, who were on either side of the gap at Johnny's feet reached out their hands and completed the circle as Suzy chanted. As the chants got louder, the door slammed shut and every candle blew out except for the eerie black ones. Nothing could be seen but the black candles even by the immortals. Upon reaching the climax of her chanting, Suzy collapsed foreword onto the floor. Knowing it was done, Andy re-lit a few candles, revealing Suzy passed out on the floor and Johnny's body gone.
Everyone helped Suzy to the couch so she could regain her strength. Her breathing was deep and slow, she was in a dreamless sleep and it would take a while for her to rest long enough to be able to really be vital again. Everyone just sat around, mournful and unsure of what to do. No one spoke, they could all feel the heavy mood of depression in the room. Jacob knew, too. They could feel that as well and they knew he would do something about it, but as always, they didn't know what.
As they sat there, Jacob contacted them. He wanted them on hallowed grounds. They couldn't resist the urge to leave that Jacob had incited in them. So, they left Suzy by herself to unconsciously await their return.
The group walked in utter silence in the night, heeding the unspoken beckoning of their master, which they were unable to disobey. They reached the city cemetery, and upon stepping through the gates became mortals, as they once were. They no longer could feel their companions' state of emotion and the world went dark. They felt weak, although their strength was simply less than before. The only thing left was Jacob's siren's call, and they knew where he was. The cemetery was large and ancient, having been there since the city's early days as a colony. There were enormous trees scattered through it, most dead and some cut down. The graves ranged from a plaque on the ground to the extravagant mausoleums of the richest men. The outer graves were the most recent, some dug and empty, and some with fresh dirt and flowers still on top of them from the recently performed funerals. The farther they went into the cemetery, the older the graves were. They finally got to the end where they were deteriorated and cracked and most of the inscriptions were no longer legible. Chunks of the stones had fallen off and lay in the grass and were tripped over by the blinded, hypnotized immortals. On an ancient, large, square, marble headstone, sat Jacob. Said by some to be the oldest vampire in the country, but he still looked to be a man of no more than thirty. He was thin and tall, with short dark hair and a face that looked to be chiseled from ivory. His skin was clearly visible in the pitch darkness of the cemetery. He gave an air of commanding power and strength that could even be felt by the desensitized vampires. Jacob merely sat there, glaring at his puppets as he contemplated his next move. After an unbearably long silence, he spoke.
"You were supposed to look after him."
Andy spoke for the group, as he was the senior vampire next to Jacob, "Jacob, it was out of our hands. We had no idea that Carrie was wise to him. We thought she was harmless, A.. An easy target for Johnny."
"Did you ever see her?"
Andy hung his head. "No."
"Why was I not informed of her?"
"We.. We thought we could handle it."
"Always tell me who the young ones are dealing with!" There was the faint sound of thunder as the great immortal spoke.
"Who performed the service?"
"Suzy," Andy spoke quietly, shamefully.
"That impertinent little twit?! She has no right!" Jacob rose to a standing position on the gravestone and lightning flashed as he spoke.
Andy became defensive and he regained a bit of confidence, "She was Johnny and our friend. We thought it was better this way."
"You thought! It doesn't matter what you think! My will is yours and you will consult me on every decision to be made! You will also find this Carrie and dispose of her immediately! I don't need her around, there's enough like her as there is. Now go, the night is wearing thin and daylight breaks soon."
They all returned home and slept, again the trip was made in silence. They all were a bit uneasy after angering the great Jacob. Suzy was moved to a bed in the back and Andy took the couch, but no more was done before they retired. Suzy had regained some of her strength and stirred slightly as they returned, nothing more. All was not right, and they could feel it. No one knew what, but something was disturbing. Nothing could be done yet, until the passing of the sun one more time.
Carrie came up to a small establishment nestled in between various other buildings in one of the worst parts of town. As she walked in the door of slightly crowded bar, the sounds of drunks yelling at nothing, the clink of glasses, chairs moving, and heavy feet on the old wooden floor in the relatively small bar overcame her. She was expected and welcome, although late. The largest group which sat mostly at a table by the bar and some at the bar itself greeted her over with half-drunk, overly loud salutations. Most of them were already very drunk, even though it was early in the evening. Most of the group was very muscular and well built and was composed almost completely of men except for Carrie and two others. This, however, was only a small part of a larger organization.
They sat and listened intently as she related a brutally accurate recollection of her slaying of the vampire whelp, Johnny. She seemed not to be bragging of her accomplishment, only retelling the story and did not, or at least did not let on to her colleagues that she had any pride in her deed. She looked every bit as beautiful as she had to Johnny, but her face and hair was a lighter color and her hair was pulled in a tight ponytail behind her head. Her clothes were also different, all black and the same style as was common among the undead. Her eyes were a light, ghostly, almost luminescent blue that would make a person submissive just by looking into them. She spoke in a very calm voice unlike her companions and refused any food or drink offered to her. Once her story was told, she sat, listening, only adding short comments when asked for them.
After an hour or so, Carrie stood and drew a short wooden spear from a scabbard on each of her legs. The group, being intoxicated as well as daft, simply stared at her, dumbfounded and trying to figure out what the hell she was doing. They found out in a few seconds as four immortals burst into the room, all bearing long swords with the exception of Andy who brandished a shotgun with large bayonet fashioned on the end. They dispatched the mortals closest to the door with few strokes of their mighty blades, mixing their blood on the floor. The bartender who was the farthest away from the immortals was ended by a single, one handed shot from Andy's weapon which spread the former contents of his head behind the bar. Once finished with the innocents, they went after the ones they knew were after vampire blood as much as they were for mortal blood. The drunken slayers rose quickly but with not much ease. They drew weapons, mostly firearms but some were chains, clubs, and so on. Vampires and slayers mixed in a melee in the center of the bar. Shots were fired and blood was spilled, and in the end the mortals lay in pieces and heaps. The only vampire wounded was Jesse, clutching her right biceps.
"What was it?" asked Andy.
"Someone was packing silver," she said with a slight chuckle, trying to ease the pain.
They surveyed the dead, searching for their true target, but with no avail.
"Where the hell is Carrie?!" Colin demanded, frustrated. No one answered, because no one knew. "Are you sure she came in here?"
"Yeah, it was her I think.. She seemed different though, somehow, maybe it wasn't her," rationalized Erin
"It was her, I saw her come in here, she's gotta be here somewhere," Andy declared and scoured the bar the way the rest of his companions already were. The cramped room that barely could pass as an eatery revealed quickly that Carrie was not in it. Eventually they gave up and left disconcerted after feeding on the spoils of their massacre in the bar.
Carrie emerged from the shadows surrounding the bar after her foes were out of sight. She returned inside to see the product of the fight she had missed out of cowardice, or intelligence. The smell of blood and the feeling of unconfined souls overwhelmed her as she walked through the door. She looked at the so-called "vampire slayers" strewn about the room. They were vultures, she thought. They picked off the weak vampires, the young ones who refused to feed. They were not by any means ready for an attack equal to the one that brought an end to them all. She looked about the bar until she caught scent of a stronger blood, and saw a small, dark red puddle lying on the ground. Carrie bent down and lapped it up with relish. It tasted of power, strength, and within even such a small amount was the souls of hundres of mortals. She felt invigorated after finishing licking up the small bit of immortal blood. She had an intoxicated feeling of power and a heightened sense of everything around her. She felt hungry, and left with an inhuman grace and silence moments before the police arrived on the call of those living close to the bar, completely oblivious of the happenings of the immortal population of their fair city.
Euphoric, Carrie burst into her apartment searching for food. She didn't bother to close the door. She tore apart her kitchen, eating ravenously. Nothing could stop her hunger. It nagged at her stomach and at her mind. Nothing was enough. Suddenly it occurred to her what was happening. She ran to the bathroom, and looked into the mirror, deep into her eyes. A pain struck her, remorseful and excruciating. She fell into crying on her bathroom floor. For hours she lay there, curled into the fetal position, her body heaving with sorrow. She knew nothing of the world around her, only the hunger and the pain. She cried herself into exhaustion and finally fell into a fitful, restless sleep.
The immortals returned home freshly fed and with unclean hands to find it disturbed. Jacob stood in the center of the room, Steven sat, looking very frightened, on one of the couches and Suzy sat next to him, staring mindlessly at nothing. Jacob's children all felt that he was distressed. At first no one spoke, the young immortals fell silent in the presence of their master.
"Carrie got awa-" Andy broke the silence but was quieted.
"Speak when you are spoken to!" snapped the ancient vampire, "I know she got away, that's why I'm here."
"We're sorry, she just disapp-" again Andy was interrupted
"Not to punish you. Carrie is not all that she seems. She is not just killing vampires, she's drinking their blood. She's becoming a vampire on her own means and is progressing much faster than any vampire could drinking mortal blood. She's already more powerful than any one of you individually. If we don't stop her, she's going to kill every one of us. Soon, she will be more powerful even than me. You all should feast a lot more than normal. Try to completely drain two mortals a day. You will need all the power you can get to combat Carrie, because she will come after us eventually. Right now she is only going after younger vampires. You have to gain as much power as possible, I will be doing the same."
With that, Jacob woke Suzy from her daze with a strong backhand to her cheek. Then, he was gone, and left his creations pondering. Although most of them were full from the battle in the bar, Steven had not feasted so they decided on hunting again that night. On her pleading and assuring that she had the energy, Suzy was also allowed to come as well.
They left and locked the Cave and roamed the streets, deftly hiding in shadows, tracking the most powerful mortals they could sense. At last, they found their first suitable victim. A woman, tall and thin with short, blonde hair. She was a businesswoman. A lawyer or an executive, they figured. She was strong-willed and full of spirit. They decided Steven should have the first kill, as he had gone the longest without feasting.
Steven was the youngest, most inexperienced, and least skilled of the group, so they quietly surrounded the woman as she walked down the dimly lit city street, just in case. They carried no weapons while hunting, blood is better drunk from a live vessel. Steven crouched in the shadows about ten feet behind and to the right of the woman. He gathered all his energy and crept up behind the woman. He then put one hand around her middle, one on her mouth. She screamed into his hand and squirmed, futilely trying to free herself from his grasp. He lifted her off the ground and held her head to his shoulder, she was still screaming and struggling, trying to punch and kick him, her limbs all flailing about in panic, but it did no good. Steven held fast, and lowered his mouth to her neck, piercing the skin with his long fangs and flooding his mouth with liquid mortality. As soon as he began to drink, she stopped moving with a wistful sigh, all her pain was forever ended. She saw and felt everything she had ever experienced, even memories long forgotten. Steven felt all of this as well, but he would remember it afterwards. Her joyful early childhood, the death of her parents, horrible foster families, troubled teenage years, a struggle to stay in law school, and the grand triumph of graduating. Everything leading up to this final point, when she had been so nervous in the alley, so incredibly frightened when she felt the strong hands come behind her, the prick of his teeth in her neck, and the udder final calmness it had brought her. Everything leading up to this final point, the apex of existence, when Steven sucked the last bit of life from her and ended it all forever.
It didn't take five minutes for the whole thing to happen, but Steven had no concept of that. He was lost in the woman's life. He dropped the woman and walked away slowly, seemingly in a daze. He had a faraway look in his eyes and didn't say anything for a while as his companions watched him.
"Good job, Steven. How was it?" Suzy asked excitedly. She always loved to hear about what it was like to be a vampire. Her not-so-secret wish had been for a long time to become like the friends she admired so.
"Her name was Nicole," he said after a while, more than a hint of sorrow in his voice, "You were right, lawyer. Tough life. Amazing."
"Don't feel bad, Steve. It's only right. Everything works out the way it's supposed to," Andy comforted Steven. This was one of few kills he had ever made. Being young, he didn't need to feast as much as the older ones.
"Does it really?! Then what happens to us? Are we going to get what we deserve too, for taking innocent lives?!" Steven yelled, very upset, "What the fuck is going to happen to us, Andy?! Everything doesn't work out the way it's supposed to, otherwise we wouldn't live so long for killing people!"
Steven's outburst left the rest of the vampires and Suzy silent, not knowing what to say. They tried to comfort him, but he refused to be talked to or touched even by Jesse, his betrothed. There was an unspoken, unanimous decision to return home for the night. Steven spent the trip home walking a few steps behind the rest of them. None of them spoke. Steven was clearly in deep thought, contemplating something. They could feel his uneasiness. None of them questioned him though, thinking they could not help or he wouldn't allow it. When they got to the Cave, there was still a good portion of the night left, but they wasted it on nothing. Suzy was exhausted, she had not had the energy to hunt with them. She slept and the rest of them retired to their rooms. Steven simply laid on his bed, staring at the ceiling.
Suzy slept out on the couch since there was no other room for her. She was in a deep sleep, but was vaguely aware of Steven stirring. A hazy, blurry figure in her eyes, barely recognizable, he slowly walked across the room, and stopped at the door. He looked at Suzy for a moment before opening it and then walked out into the thin light of morning, shutting the door behind him.
Copyright © 1999 Phil Bowman