by: Jeanne C. Stein
August 30, 2011
She senses my approach.
We’re still a mile away from each other, but she picks up the rage. I close the distance in seconds.
Then we’re face-to-face.
The vampire and the man and woman at her side. They are stunned by my sudden appearance, by my vampire face. They are young, maybe twenty, dressed in dark jeans and hoodies that are tattered and stained. They each carry a small satchel. They cringe away, look to their guide.
I look at her, too. She has the smooth, unlined face of a very young woman. Dark skinned, dark hair and eyes that tilt up at the corners. Exotic. Latino or Middle Eastern?
I point to the humans. Let them go.
The vampire tilts her head to one side, studying me. Physically, we are evenly matched. She is weighing her options.
You have no options.
She is cloaking her thoughts. Then, abruptly, she says, Perhaps you are right. These two are of no consequence.
Do they speak English?
I drag my eyes away from her, motion to the couple. “The border is three miles straight ahead. There is a tear in the fence. You can make it on your own.”
I am trying very hard to sound human. Even to my own ears, my voice is rough. It comes from my gut, not my vocal cords. A growl.
The humans are mesmerized. They can’t look away from my eyes.
The vampire raises a hand, strokes the hair of the woman. They want to stay with me.
She has not shown her true nature. The woman steps behind her for protection. The vampire laughs.
The fury in me builds. I realize her intention. Her mouth opens, her teeth gnash. She reaches behind to pull the woman forward.
I have her neck before she can grab the woman. I pull her away and spin her around, showing the cowering couple the true face of their savior.
They jump back, mouths open in astonishment.
The vampire laughs again. I force her to her knees. Reach into the pocket of her jacket. Pull a wad of bills from inside. Toss it to the man.
“Take your money. Go. Now.”
This time, there is no hesitation. They circle around us in a wide arc, uncomprehending, fearful the creatures might change their minds. Then they are off, running across the desert floor.
I hold the vampire on the ground until the rustle of their clothes, the sound of their footsteps is a distant echo.
You could have let me keep the money.
She is not afraid.
Do you know who I am?
Everyone of our race knows who you are.
Then you know I can’t let you go.
Still no reaction. Her mind is closed. Mine is not. Do you think because you are not resisting I will spare you?
I think you will spare me because I have something to offer you.
I pull her to her feet. She faces me squarely. We are the same height. Her dark eyes have changed back, she still holds the vampire in check. She wears jeans and a blouse that skims her shoulders, a denim jacket. Her hair is tied back from her face with a scarf. She looks about twenty-five. Her thoughts are much older, much darker.
The creature before me radiates malevolence. She has killed for a hundred years. She has a taste for it. Lust for blood oozes from her pores like the foul smell of rotting meat. My instinct to kill her now and quickly battles with a desire to learn what a being like this thinks she can offer me.
See? You are curious.
I backhand her across the face. She flies fifty feet and lands on a barrel cactus.