Screams pierced the darkness of the house.
Kristi shot up from her bed, her eyes searching her room for the source. Her eyes went in and out of focus. The first thought racing through her mind was she could still be dreaming. It wouldn’t be the first time she woke because she thought she heard someone screaming.
The longer she sat, fully waking up, the sooner she realized the screams were coming from her younger sister’s room.
She pulled her sheets back and leapt from her bed. She ran for her door and almost crashed into it instead of opening it. Swinging it wide and stepping into the hallway, she heard her parent’s shocked voices from behind their bedroom door.
But she was closer to her sister’s room and was already banging on the door loudly before her parents even managed to reach the hallway.
“Becky! Becky, what’s wrong? Are you all right?” Kristi screamed, her mom and dad storming towards her.
“What’s going on?” her father asked.
Shaking her head, she tries to open the door, but it’s locked. “I don’t know. I just woke up to her screaming.”
“Where’s the extra key?”
“Above the door frame,” her mother says.
Standing on her tiptoes, Kristi reached for the top of the frame, feeling for a key. Her fingers feel cool metal and she grabs it. Her shaking hand had trouble putting the key into the lock, but once in she quickly turned it. Hearing the click, she shoved the door open.
The room was pitch black. A small breeze brushed Kristi’s hair in her face. As her eyes adjusted she saw the window above Becky’s bed open. Or rather broken, the glass shattered on her sister’s bed.
Becky was lying on the floor, her screams tearing Kristi’s eyes from the window. A trail of blood led from the bed to where her sister lay.
Running to her, Kristi grabbed Becky, but the small girl flailed in panic. Her nails dug into Kristi’s face and she felt burning pain as her cheeks were scratched.
“Becky! Becky! Calm down! It’s me, Kristi!”
Becky’s eyes were wide and even in the dark Kristi could see the whites around the brown pupils. Realizing who held her, Becky’s arms fell to her sides and tears poured from her eyes.
Kristi stared at the source of all the blood. Her sister’s neck looked as though an animal ripped into it. It was amazing her sister hadn’t bled completely out yet.
Their mom screamed, falling to the floor in horror. Their father ran out the door, heading for a phone to call 911. Kristi tried to put pressure on Becky’s neck to stop the bleeding, but there was too much. Far too much for such a small child.
A hand grabbed her arm and she stared into her sister’s eyes.
“He said he would come back. He’s going to come back to finish it,” she whispered.
Shaking her head, Kristi sucked in painful breaths as tears fell from her eyes. “You’re going to be okay, Becks. We won’t let anyone hurt you anymore.”
“He…said he couldn’t take the hunger anymore,” Becky said, her voice growing weaker. Her head fell back as her eyes closed, the rest of her body going limp.
Shaking her sister, Kristi shook her head. “Becky? Don’t close your eyes! Becky, look at me! Oh God, please, Becky! Don’t close your eyes!”
* * *
A cold chill ran down her spine, the hairs on the back of her neck stood at attention. She felt the eyes watching her, but couldn’t see the owner. Would he show himself to her? She spent so long trying to find him and made sure their meeting place was safe.
But what was safe? She’d lost sight of that word’s meaning years ago.
Footsteps approached from behind her and she cautiously turned. She fought down her fear, anger, and desire to run. She needed to be strong, show she wasn’t afraid of him.
The man stopped a few feet from her, crossing his arms across his chest. The clothes he wore looked expensive, tailored perfectly to fit his body. His smile was pleasant, but his unnatural eyes scanned her face. She could feel them reading her every movement, every breath, maybe even every thought crossing her mind.
She wrapped her coat about her tighter telling herself it was because of the cold breeze moving through the alley. Not because of the man standing in front of her, if she could even call him a man.
“Are we going to be standing her all night or did you want to talk? I have all the time in the world to wait, but unfortunately the opera I’m attending doesn’t and I’ve been waiting all year to see this production. So please, ask your questions,” he said with a voice soft and calculated. There was a slight accent, but it was only barely audible and nearly impossible to decipher what language it was related to.
“Dutch,” he said. “My accent is Dutch. Well, Flemish Dutch, but I haven’t had to speak it in…years.”
“So you canread my mind,” she asked.
The man smiled, showing his brilliant white teeth. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw the longer than normal canines.
“I can do a lot of things, Kristi,” he spoke the words with a warm, welcoming tone as though speaking to a lover. “What do you want?”
She felt her heart lift at every word, desire filling her at the hint of temptation in his voice. Her sister’s face flashed in her mind and she remembered the purpose for this meeting.
“I want answers.”
“That all depends on what the questions are.”
“How long…how long have you and others like you…” She hesitated. She can’t bring herself to say the words. She prepared for this moment, this chance to finally learn the truth, but her voice shakes with nerves.
The man’s smile faded and he moved his hands to his pockets. “You did a lot of work to get into contact. Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet now that you’re face to face with me.”
“How long have your kind fed on humans?”
“Hmm, my kind? Are you afraid to call us what we are because you still have some denial? Vampires. We’re vampires.”
“I want to know everything. I want to understand,” she adds, her anger rising inside.
“Everything? There isn’t enough time for everything, but I could tell you the shortened version if you like. Then again, why should I tell you anything? Give me a good reason to tell you any of our secrets and I might consider it,” he said, smiling again and leaning his head to the side.
“I want to understand why my nine year old sister had to die because one of you bastards decided you couldn’t stand to see all of her blood just sitting there, waiting to be sucked dry. Exact words from the mouth of one of your own kind,” she fought to keep her voice controlled, but there was still heat in the words.
He chuckled lightly and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I doubt you actually heard him say that.”
Kristi grabs the scarf around her neck and pulled it and the shirt underneath down. A large bandage covered the left side of her lower neck and shoulder. “He said it as he tried to carve me open. But you wouldn’t have known that since you haven’t fed from me in over two months, right?”
The man’s smile disappeared, his face blank. The only sign of emotion was his eyes flashing a dark color. The air around him seemed to suck the life out of anything that dared to come near.
“You are very brave,” he said, the warmth long gone from his voice. “But you are also very stupid.”
“Really? Please, explain.”
“Whether you realize it or not, you’re entering a very dangerous territory asking me questions about my kind. We don’t take lightly to our prey discovering us, let alone speaking ill of us. If anything, I should kill you right now, but that wouldn’t be the proper way for a gentleman to act around a lady.”
“Drinking our blood without us knowing is proper? Why not go ahead and fuck us too while you’re at it?” She released her shirt and scarf, covering the bandage again. “You could at least tell us your names so we know who to curse when we’re rotting in hell.”
The man raised an eyebrow, his lip twitching with amusement. “Is that what you want? You want to know my name?”
The question surprised her. She hadn’t thought about it, truthfully, but she did want to know his name. “It wouldn’t hurt to know it.”
“Vince. Right now my name is Vince.”
“What do you mean, right now?”
“I’ve been alive for a very log time. If I kept the same name than people would’ve discovered long ago I wasn’t human. To protect myself, I change my name every half century or so.”
“I want to know your real name,” she said, staring into his eyes.
His friendly smile returned and he took a few steps closer to her. “It isn’t something I plan on telling you anytime soon, my dear. I’ve never told anyone my real name, not even other vampires.” The warmth slowly oozes into his voice.
She feels her head lighten and her heart pound. “Stop that.”
“You wanted to talk to me, a vampire. I’m just giving you the full experience. Aren’t you enjoying it?”
“You don’t need me to answer. Of course, I’m enjoying it,” she said, trying to calm her quickly beating heart. “This isn’t what I wanted…wanted to speak with you…about.”
Somehow he’s closed the distance between them. His head lowers to hers, threatening to touch their lips together. His hands rose as though to stroke her arms.
“Of course not. You want answers.” His breath on her skin sends chills through her. “You want to understand.”
“Yes.” It’s barely a whisper. A stinging pain in her neck made her gasp. She stepped away from him, her head clearing suddenly. “Stop it!”
A cold wind moved through the alley, blowing Kristi’s hair into her face. She raised a hand to move the loose strands, but Vince beats her to it. His hands are cold to the touch, but strikingly smooth. He moved her hair behind her ear, his eyes locked to her throat. A look of longing filled them, but also something else hidden deep inside.
“It wasn’t always like this. Feeding off humans like parasites,” he said, his vampire tricks gone from his voice. He spoke with no hidden power trying to confuse her.
“Please, tell me everything,” she pleaded.
His hand flinched away from her and his brows furrowed. He smiled, but it was a sad smile. “No, not everything. There’s not enough time. I can only tell you the shortened version, but not here.” He laughed to himself before turning and walking away. “Damn, I guess I’m going to miss my opera.”
When he didn’t sense her following her turned back. He held his hand out, keeping his eyes low.
She walked forward and grabbed his hand, ready to hear the answers she’s been searching for.