Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 5 WIP, part 2

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

The waitress winked at Tom, and slipped him a small piece of paper with the bottle. Laura saw it, but didn’t say anything. Tom took both the scrap and bottle in one hand. He didn’t appear to notice the paper, but when he put the bottle down, the note was gone.

“Look,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’m just wound up. Finals next week.” He tipped the bottle back and swallowed about a third of its contents. he put the bottle down. “And you know my sister is sick.”

Laura watched Tom’s hand, not his eyes. She didn’t see the scrap of paper and thought it had probably fallen to the floor. She looked up. He was staring at her.

“My sister,” he said. “You know, the one with cancer?”

Laura was still waiting to meet Tom’s family. She had hoped for a dinner at local restaurant, or at her home. But one crisis after another had prevented them from sitting down to a meal and conversation. Tom’s grandfather had died just a few months ago. He was a private man, Tom said. The kind of person who wanted only family around the coffin — only family to cry and remember. Laura tried to offer what comfort she could from an emotional distance. She wanted to help Tom get through the death of a man he so plainly loved, but Tom was private about the death.

“He would have wanted it that way,” Tom had said. “It’s family. It’s who we are. That’s what Papa taught us.”

Then, not long after, Tom’s brother was hit by a car and spent a week in critical care. “It’s his face,” Tom said. “He doesn’t want anyone to see him this way.” Apparently the boy’s face was crushed in the accident. He would live, but with scars that would make living a normal life difficult at best.

Tom was depressed about how his brother would have to live, and he drank more than usual through the time his brother was in the hospital. Tom was angry and unforgiving of mistakes. But nothing like this.

Tom swallowed another third of the beer and sat the bottle down carefully on the table. “I’m sorry, Laura,” he said. “I just–” He stopped and toyed with the bottle again. “I don’t want anything bad to happen. When you were late, I thought–” He pushed the bottle around in the wet circle condensation had left on the table from earlier drinks. “I just thought, well, that you didn’t–” He looked up at Laura. “I love you, Laura. I don’t know what I’d do if you ever left me.”

Advertisements

Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 5 WIP

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

“You’re late.” Tom tapped his beer bottle on the table and glared at Laura. The bar was dark and smokey, and Tom seemed to be a part of the gloom.

Five empty beer bottles were pushed to the far end of the table, against the wall. Tom was drinking more these days. When he drank, he got mean. “Sorry,” Laura said. “Homework and Monica.” Laura slid into the booth opposite Tom. “You know how she gets.”

Tom spun the longneck bottle between his hands. It was almost empty, and the beer in the bottom of the bottle turned to froth. “No, I don’t know how she gets,” Tom said, his voice dropping to a growl. “Why don’t you tell me?” The last was a challenge.

“Don’t be angry,” Laura said, motioning to the bartender. “It’s just–”

Tom reached out and grabbed her hand. He yanked Laura hard into the table so that her face was only inches from his. “I said you’re late.” Tom jerked her arm with each word.

“Tom–”

“Just shut up.” Tom shoved her back into the booth. “I told you to be here at 6, and it’s quarter after.” Tom swallowed what was left of his beer and signaled for another one. “Where were you?”

Laura rubbed her wrists. Tom rarely acted this way. She wasn’t sure what to do. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t think–”

“You’re right.” Tom spit the words out. “You didn’t think. I told you when to be here. You’re wasting my time.”

The waitress came up beside the table. Her voice was high, and had a lilt to it. “Two-fifty,” she said. “You want something?” she added, nodding to Laura.

“She doesn’t want anything,” Tom said, throwing three one-dollar bills onto the table. “But I might, later on.”

Laura’s mouth dropped. Tom had never been so crass, nor so cruel. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“I’m fine.” He bit the two words off one at a time. “I’ll be better after I’ve had this beer.”

Vampire’s Daughter – Chapter 4

Vampire's Daughter

Vampire’s Daughter

It’s rare to find human blood this deep in the Pine Barrens. Animal blood is common enough in this primeval forest. Creatures often tear one another apart, feasting on still twitching remains. It’s a brutal and dangerous life for the unwary, and so a little scattered in the rotting bed of pine needles isn’t unusual. If you move faster than the scavengers, you’re likely to stumble across a blood trail sooner or later.

But much of this forest and murky swamps are virginal — inaccessible to any but beasts and insects with the will to kill and survive. Yet, splattered there plain to anyone with keen sense are a few drops of humanity on ragged leaves and pine needles. Three tiny splashes, nearly lost in brambles and the browns and blacks of the Pine Barrens’ floor. Even in the dark, I see the edges of each bloom of blood and how those drops have spread like a flower.

I love the scent, and I take a long, slow breath. I do not need human blood to survive. I got over that myth years ago when I learned that any animal will provide me with what I need. Two legs. Four legs. It makes no difference. It is the blood – so long as it is red and rich – that sustains me. I have lived in forests for most of my new life as a vampire, taking the lives of creatures and living safely in solitude.

It is only the taste of the blood that differs, like the difference between a hamburger and steak. Both give me what I need, though one is admittedly more desirable. Yet, I am not above taking the solitary hunter in the forest. Careful in my bloodlust not to arouse suspicion, I take those humans who poach what would be my meal.

Now that taste for humanity beckons; it’s the blood that calls me.

I have no fear in the Pine Barrens. There are no hunters of my kind. Just me and the occasional unwary human. I take them if I feel safe in the knowledge that they’ll not be missed before I make my way to another forest.

I look toward the moon to make sure I’ve enough time to follow the blood trail. The moon is low in the sky — still time enough for me to follow my interests for one evening.

Only a predator made for the hunt could have found these drops of blood. One must have a taste for blood to pick just three drops from the myriad of delicious sensations aromas that hung in the air.

A werewolf, its nose to the ground, already tracking prey, snuffling along like the animal it is might have found those drops. But few other were-animals would even have bothered to slow down at such a tiny spoor. Wolverines, single-minded creatures, would have snuffled and moved on. Rats, certainly, would investigate. But most weres are too lazy to pick up and follow such a small trail.

Weres don’t have the patience to really track a victim. Too easily distracted by the abundance of more accessible prey, they screech, whirling in different directions until they stumble across a creature too slow and stupid to outrun them. It doesn’t matter whether a were is in the middle of the forest or a city. A were can run all day and into the following night: It doesn’t slow down long enough to think about what it’s doing. Just run and run until it catches something.

A vampire, understands understands tracking — the single-minded pursuit of one animal, following it from moment to moment, until its heart leaps in syncopation against its rage and fright. I know the sweet taste of stark, rabid fear, adrenaline shouting along, coursing through the brain.

Urging. Demanding. Run — RUN!

To me, finding and tracking is the appetizer before the meal, those delicious moments in which I can I lose myself.

My sense of smell is the sharpest of my senses, but even with that, there is what is plain to the eye: a broken branch; a fourth drop of blood nearly hidden against the side of a rotting log; a wisp of perfume — not the ruddy smell of aftershave — but perfume, delicate, like a puff of smoke.

And something else in the air. Dark, sweaty, an odor that grunts its presence. There are two people here. One is definitely male, the other female.

Two humans. One carries the other, and it is probably the female that is bleeding. Mixed in with the blood on the ground, perfume. Footprints are gone, swallowed in the spongy earth. But the broken branch is enough. With that branch, I can draw a circle and move out from here. And there is the scent of blood. Enough, for now.

It’s not a straight line to the pair’s camp, but wider and wider circles, and I know I will find another blood bloom. Even if one human carries the other, the latter still bleeds.

Not deer tonight.

Tonight, human fear and blood. I smile and run my tongue over my fangs.