When Darkness Falls

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
My name is Lloyd. I work nine to five in an office. My colleagues think I'm dull. If only they knew the dark truth. I am not like them.
I am Undead.

Submitted: February 13, 2014

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Submitted: February 13, 2014

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The morning train was thirty minutes late. The platform was packed with grumbling commuters. Everyone was late for their jobs and feeling the cold on this winter morning. I hadn’t felt cold for a long, long time, but I, too, was running late for my crappy office job. It was one of those dark grim mornings when even those with the sunniest of dispositions feel depressed.

The train pulled into the station. I joined the pushing and shoving throng. After being bumped along for the next five stops finally it was time for me to get off.

 

I crossed the open plan office with the quick march of those who are late for work, I threw my coat on the back of my chair and booted up my computer. My job on the accounts department was tolerable. It paid the bills, as they say. Not that I had your normal out-goings but we’ll get to that later.

 

Just before lunchtime my manager called me into his office. I noticed smug grins from my colleagues. Were their lives that dull that they got their kicks from other people getting in trouble at work? I went into my manager’s office. He mumbled for me to close the door.

He pointed a manicured finger at me.

‘Lloyd, you are good at your job. Your grasp on figures is amazing.’

I said nothing. I stared out the window behind him. Looked out at the grey industrial horizon. I did not have a reflection but if I did I wondered if it would look as bored as I felt.

‘If you play your cards right you could make department assistant manager. How old are you? Thirty-’

‘Thirty-six.’

I had been on this earth for over eighty years. I had seen and done things that would have stopped his heart.

‘Well, you keep on the way you’re going and the future will be very bright for you.’

I nodded. I wasn’t there to climb the corporate ladder. I fought the urge to grab him by the collar and throw him through the window. When I sensed he was finished I muttered ‘thank you’ with as much sincerity as I could muster before shuffling back to my desk.

As I sat back down I noticed a few glances among my colleagues. They clearly hoped I’d been getting a dressing down. I was tempted to show them my dark side. Show them my true nature, the monster that lurked beneath the collar and tie. But I reminded myself of the reasons I was there in the first place. The others in the office had me down as something of a nerd. They simply saw the quiet pale guy who was good with numbers. But I was so much more, and each day I was tempted to show them.

But that was part of the reason I was there. Wasn’t there a saying that if you wanted to hide something then the best place was in plain sight? Well, nobody in my workplace would have ever dreamt the truth about me. I doubt they would have treated me quite so badly if they did. I was there to fit in. I was there to be the quiet, introverted, pasty faced guy, dull but harmless enough. This role was my alter ego, I had a secret identity.

 

On my way home from the station that evening I made my way past a couple of pubs. A guy in his fifties headed in my direction. From the way he was walking through the darkness, the way he swerved from one side of the pavement to the other, he was clearly very drunk. As he neared me he was to my right, on the side nearest the road. He stumbled on wobbly legs and bumped into me. I caught the stench of stale beer, cigarette smoke and body odour. He obviously took more interest in his drinking than he did his personal hygiene. His shoulder hit me in the chest. I put a hand on his arm to keep him upright.

His eyes tried to focus on me. He tried to make sense of where he was and what was happening.

‘Why don’t you watch where you’re going?’ he slurred.

I shook my head. Stepped around him, walked away. In the familiar tone of the argumentative drunk wanting a fight I heard him call out, he swore at me.

I stopped. I spun on my heels. A split second later I was in front of him. My eyes turned a deep, blood red. I bared my fangs. I made a noise that was something between a hiss and a growl.

With a look of terror on his face and mumbling to himself he ran down the street as quickly as he could. I let him go. My expression returned to normal. I continued on my way home. I could move fast but again I wanted to fit in. I wanted to blend into the background.

 

My basement flat was perfect. There was one tiny window over which I’d hung thick heavy curtains. I did not want any daylight coming through. I can tolerate weak sunlight. Most of the year I was fine, this was Salford after all. On summer days though I couldn’t leave the flat. You know those few days each year when we have hot weather, you know those days when every convertible has its top down and every beer garden is full of sunburnt people. Those days, I had to retreat to my flat. The office thought I had a rare skin condition. I suppose I have. I am a creature of the night. I would burst into flames in strong direct sunlight. If that isn’t a skin condition I don’t know what is.

I know what you are wondering, does a creature like me sleep in a coffin like in horror films. Yes, I do. I sleep in a coffin to protect me from the sunlight an also from would be attackers. If you would combust in bright daylight you’d be careful too.

 

After work I would sleep for several hours. I would take to my coffin. My kind do sleep but we do not dream. I’m not sure why. It would appear that dreams are a luxury of the living. Even dogs dream when they sleep, paws twitching, but alas, the Undead do not. Perhaps we do not dream as a defence mechanism, we need to be on our guard lest the coffin lid is pulled back and a stake driven through our hearts. It would not do to be dreaming about our previous human existence at the vital moment. Or maybe it is the fact that we witness such beautiful moments of pure horror that we do not wish to revisit these scenes in our slumber.

Every few days, or rather nights, I would feed. The hunger would grow as the time passed since my last feed. It is similar to the way you mortals experience hunger as the hours go by since you last ate. But our hunger is a hundred times stronger. When you are ready for your next meal and feel hungry it is a knowing sensation. To us it is an agony, a lust, an irresistible craving. It would drive you insane not to quench that thirst. But, similar to you mortals, once I have fed I can continue my existence. Having fed I can go to the office without wanting to turn the dull open plan space into a blood covered murder scene.

 

And so, having rested for a several hours, with the hour of midnight approaching, I pushed back the lid of my coffin. In one fast, fluid movement I was out of the casket and standing in my sparse room. Silent seconds later I was on the street in the darkness. I stood there for a moment. I could see, hear, feel, could sense everything and everyone nearby. I heard a cat moving across an unmowed garden lawn three streets away, could hear an asthmatic reach for his inhaler in a house on the next street. I sprung into the air. I landed on the roof of a terrace house without a sound. I perched there, looking out across the rooftops. I stared out at row upon row, street after street. The pale moonglow felt wonderful on my skin. The light made me look even whiter. I bared my fangs, hissed at the glorious moon.

I leapt to the next roof. Hit the tiles at a run. I rushed off into the night. I moved quietly and quickly, almost dancing along the rooftops.

My kind move differently to you. I can recall the way I moved before I became what I am today. I remember trudging along, feeling aches and pains, getting out of breath after dashing for a bus, and just the sheer slowness of it all. Compared to the way the Undead move it is like you are trying to run underwater. We move easily, and so fast that to your eye it is almost a blur. And gravity doesn’t pin me down like it used to. We can leap into the air, climb buildings. Our movements are more feline than human.

 

A short time later I was across Greater Manchester. I stopped. Stood still on the roof of a pub. Again I basked in the glow of the moon. I extended my arms, held my pale arms out in the moonlight. The moon, to me, felt even better than the Spanish sunshine does on your skin. It was electrifying. I lived for nights like these.

I closed my eyes. I listened, felt and sensed movement around me. In the public house beneath my feet there were a few middle aged men drinking pints, a barman cleared tables and wiped the bar with a dirty cloth.

A few streets away a woman in her twenties walked alone. I dashed in that direction. Followed the sound of heels tapping along the pavement. There was not a living soul around. I lightly touched down behind her. She walked quickly through the pools of orange streetlight. I could smell cheap perfume and cigarette smoke. I sensed the blood running through her veins, the thumping of her heart.

I reached out, placed a hand on her shoulder. I bared my fangs, my eyes turned deep red in anticipation. Before she could let out a scream I tore her throat out. And drenched the lifeblood from her still warm body.

 

Please do not judge me too harshly. You have no qualms about eating meat. Do we both not feed upon lesser creatures? And if you are going to say that that is different then I suggest you ask your vegetarian friends about it. I’m not sure they’d agree with you.

I am a vampire. A creature of the darkness. We are predators. We feed on the human race. We are not romantic heroes in some teenage story. I do find it amusing when I see the recent portrayals of the Undead on the big screen. The tales of a vampire in love who doesn’t prey on humans? The very idea is preposterous. No, I am not the lead in a love story. We are more like monsters in a horror story.

If only you knew the truth about us. When you mortals discover the reality it is usually too late.

 

I left the body in the street. There was no point in hiding it. My victim would be found soon enough. I knew what would happen next. The body would be found. The police would be called. The details of what they called the attack would be reported. This would immediately come to the attention of a small, little known police department. The full name of this department was something very long and contrived. But in circles that knew of their existence were known by another name. The Night Shift.

It wouldn’t make any difference how hard I hid the body of my victims. The body would be discovered. The Night Shift arrived on the scene of any crime they deemed suspicious. They would take over the investigation. The regular police force would hear no more about it. The case would be hushed up. The Night Shift would hunt the creature down. They knew exactly what they were dealing with. They were expert in ways of tracking and slaying my dark brothers and sisters.

I had to be careful. I only fed when I really needed to and never in the part of the city I lived in. The office job helped. Nobody would suspect a nerd like me, or the persona I let them see, of being a monster. Doing the mind numbing job in the office was, I hoped, perfect cover. The accounts clerk was almost my alter-ego. Hopefully the Night Shift would pass me by. I was not some horrid creature in my coffin all day. I was Lloyd, the boring accounts clerk.

I had had only a few run-ins with the Night Shift in all my decades as Nosferatu and I was still here. I was reminded of a spoof vampire film I saw a few years ago. Dracula, Undead and Loving it. Not quite loving it but I was satisfied with my predatory nocturnal existence.

 

A few days later there was a new starter at the office. Her name was Dorothy and she would be working on my department. My manager introduced her to all the members of staff. I did not really bother with my colleagues. I was quiet but pleasant. I let them think I was dull, boring, and harmless. They pulled my leg, sometimes mercilessly. I let them. I found it strangely empowering. I was Vampire. I could have massacred every last person in the office before they had time to blink. But, no, I let them tease, mock and belittle. If the Night Shift were to enquire to my employers about their workers I would be mentioned as an after thought, a footnote.

My manager waved a hand at me.

‘And that’s Lloyd. This is Dorothy.’

‘Alright?’ I mumbled.

Dorothy smiled. She was in her late twenties, had dark brown eyes and blue eyes.

‘Lloyd is good with the accounts. They’re the only type of figures he is good with.’

My colleagues laughed and guffawed at my manager’s hilarity. I said nothing. Raised my eyebrows. Dorothy gave me a wink before my boss carried on the tour of the office.

 

Over the next few weeks Dorothy and I worked closely together. I was naturally a loner and I did try to keep the walls I’d built between myself and the others in the office but there was something about her. While everyone else was quite happy to label and pigeon hole me as a geek, the oddball, Dorothy would persevere with me and ignore the comments others made. She would even defend me against the jibes. I didn’t understand it, and the others were equally non-plussed. Dorothy would reply with things like ‘Well, we’re alright, aren’t we, Lloyd?’ I was confused. I wasn’t a we. I was an I.  I was not used to working so closely with people, and after all, I was a vampire. I found myself feeding more frequently. I had to keep my hunger at bay. Indeed when we were going through the numbers there were times when I craved to sink my fangs into her throat. I did like her. She had a wicked sense of humour and eyes that as a human I would have never tired of gazing into. But, alas, I hadn’t been human for half a century. If this was 1962 then we might have had a chance. But it wasn’t the Sixties and I was a monster. This was no Twilight film.

One morning months later she placed a hand on my pale arm, looked into my eyes. I fought the urge to rip her to pieces.

‘You going on the works do, Lloyd?’

‘No, not really my thing.’

‘I can’t say I’m stunned.’ she laughed. ‘I can think of better things to do than watch this lot get plastered.’

She paused, leaned in close. I felt the pulse of her heart, the blood running through her veins. I clenched my fists tight. My fingernails dug into my palms as I fought with all my might. I struggled with the urge. I longed to bare my gleaming fangs and savage her delicious neck.

‘How about you and me go out? Leave those plebs to it, what do you say?’

I honestly did not know what to say. I am a vampire. The Undead. Contrary to the wave of books and films released recently we are not romantic creatures. We do not go on dates. There was hardly an online dating agency for people like me.

The screaming reason not take her up on her offer was that I was already tempted to take her in the police environment of the office. Would I be so restrained outside of work? The reason I did not want to take her was partly that it would very likely bring the attention of the Night Shift down upon me, but also partly because I actually liked her. There was something about her. I was intrigued by her. So, the reason I had for not going out with her was the same reason I wanted to. I was actually warming to her. Before I knew what I was saying I’d muttered ‘yeah, we can do’ in a whatever tone. I did not want to turn her down, but I also did not want to encourage her. It was a tightrope. A quandary. Perhaps, I hoped, that would be the end of it. Maybe it would all be forgotten about.

 

That night as the town hall clock struck twelve I was out on the street. I took to the rooftops with urgency. Usually when I hunted I danced along like Fred Astaire. Now I bounced and leapt like a lion chasing his prey. Dorothy was getting under my cold, cold skin. I had to feed otherwise it could be her precious blood I was drinking. The idea sent excited shivers down my spine. I tried to put the thought, the vision, out of my head. I crossed the city like a panther.

I noticed a woman in a long dark coat letting herself into a block of flats. I lightly hit the pavement. Before the door could close I jammed a foot in the doorframe. She was heading for the stairwell. Given the hour I assumed she was heading for bed. I could not cross the threshold without being invited. It was impossible. It would be like trying to walk though a wall of glass. My kind cannot enter a building without being invited. I don’t know why. Just something that happened. I understood it no more than you understand the laws of gravity. I found it all very quaint thought. How polite of us. Please let me in so I can rip your throat out.

I cast a quick eye at the list of names by the door buzzers. I called out.

‘Excuse me, love. Does Chris live here? Have I got the right place?’

She half turned, nodded.

‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘He’s on the top floor. Come in.’

Bingo. I was beside her, fangs showing, before she could turn away.

 

A few days later Dorothy collared me at the coffee machine. They called it a coffee machine but the bitter dark liquid it despatched in plastic cups that burnt your fingers was completely and exactly nothing like coffee. I could drink your mortal liquids but I found them completely devoid of any flavour or taste. And my hunger was for the blood pulsing through your veins.

Dorothy leaned against the machine, arms folded. She looked at me with mock seriousness on her face.

‘So, when are we going out then?’

I had my reservations. There was really nowhere this could lead. The mortal idea of marriage, setting down, having children, all that just wasn’t on the cards. At best it would come to nothing. At worse, it could lead to me draining her body of blood. But I found I couldn’t help myself. The thought of an evening in her company was intriguing. It was simply too much to resist. And so, going against my darker instincts, I acquiesced. I took a swig of the tasteless hot coffee.

‘Whenever you like. What do you fancy doing?’

‘I think for starters we go for a few drinks around town.’

I found myself saying things as they popped into my head.

‘Yeah, sounds like a plan. When were you thinking?’

‘Are you free this Saturday night?’

The actual honest answer would have been that apart from draining the blood from some unsuspecting victim, I had no plans.

‘I’ve got nothing on.’ I said.

‘Well, let’s take it one step at a time.’ she winked.

 

For the rest of the week the office gossips clucked and bitched, made their snide comments. I heard the nasty women asking her if she really was going on a date with him. Others asked if she was doing it for a joke. The idea of a date with me must have been a mickey take. My alter ego was working like a dream but still did not seem to put Dorothy off. She just smiled and said ‘Leave him alone. He’s lovely.’

I was many things, I had been described as lots of things in my past but lovely was not one of them. I will admit that I was strangely pleased by Dorothy’s interest in me.

 

Like every group of people meeting up in Manchester city centre on a Saturday night I met up with Dorothy in the Moon Under the Water. I didn’t care for places like that. Too noisy, full of idiots, four deep at the bar with one spotty oik serving drinks. I preferred the quieter pubs serving real ale. But then that was probably because I had been doing my boozing in Manchester in the early 1960s.

I arrived at the pub first, ten minutes earlier than the agreed seven thirty. As I made my way to the crowded bar I sensed that Dorothy wasn’t in the place yet. I didn’t need to check. My heightened senses told me she wasn’t in the building.

I was nursing a pint of bitter when she arrived. She placed a hand on my shoulder. I could smell high street perfume and shampoo. She looked me up and down, taking in the designer shirt and expensive jeans I’d bought that afternoon at the Trafford Centre. I normally wore plain, dark clothes and a long overcoat. Despite the portrayals of vampires wearing tuxedos in Dracula films we mostly favoured dark, plain clothing.

Dorothy ordered a glass of some dry white wine with a French name I couldn’t pronounce. We managed to find a table. She sat next to me, really close.

The conversation flowed easily. We spoke of all kinds of things, our crazy colleagues, our lived and interests and so on. I had to blag most of it. I tried to recall what I’d read about recent music. I made up some line about me and my school friends trying to get tickets to see the Stone Roses gig at Spike Island. I also explained that I’d had various girlfriends but not many serious relationships and that most had fizzled out. I could hardly tell her that the Beatles first singe was released the last time I took a girl out.

 

We did a crawl round the city, having a couple of drinks in each noisy, packed pub. I must admit that considering I was a nocturnal predator whose only purpose was catching, killing and feeding, I was actually having a good time. I still couldn’t explain it but there was something about Dorothy that I found captivating.

At the end of the evening I walked her to her tram stop. I would then ‘jump in a taxi’. I would actually travel home at speed along the rooftops but you don’t say that on a first date.

‘I’ve had a really lovely time. Fancy doing it again?’

‘Yes. Definitely.’

A voice in my head yelled Do not kill her!

Then she hugged me. I put my arms around her. I could feel her heartbeat. I turned my head away so she did not see the fangs I bared. I wondered just what I was playing at. Hoped it did not end in disaster. I was very matter of fact about my lifestyle but I liked Dorothy, really did not want her to be on my list of victims.

‘What’s your mobile number?’

I don’t have a mobile phone. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. We are not social animals. I managed to mumble something about having lost my phone a while back and not having got round to replacing it.

‘Tsk. What are you like?’

You have no idea, I thought.

The Eccles tram rattled and beeped towards the platform. She called out that she would see me on Monday as she darted towards the tram.

I vanished into the darkness.

 

A short while later I wreaked havoc in a Lancashire mill town. The restraint I had shown while in Dorothy’s company was gone. I cannot recall how many victims I took that night but I was even more barbaric than usual. I spotted a group of lads leaving an Indian restaurant. I landed behind them. And proceeded to rip them to pieces. The attack was similar to a strike by a wild animal. Mind you, in some ways, that’s exactly what it was. A waiter appeared. He had come out to see what the noise was. His white shirt was soon a deep red as I pounced on him.

 

The next few weeks rolled by. We would be polite in the office and make our arrangements to get together in hushed conversations by the photocopier or water cooler. Again the nights in her company were riveting. And again, it made my feeding all the more frenzied. It might be a cliché but I was like the moth to the flame. I knew it could go nowhere, knew at best it would end in disaster but I could not stop seeing her.

One night we went for a meal in her favourite restaurant. I cannot recall the name of the place but it was owned by a television chef. I looked at the menu. Mostly pasta dishes and a few meat dishes. Back when I was frequenting restaurants the idea of exotic was a slice of pineapple on my gammon. These days you could go around the world in some Manchester restaurants. Unsure of how to pronounce half the dishes I went for the steak.

‘And how would you like your steak cooked?’

‘Bloody.’ I said with a smile.

 

Each time we embraced the urge grew stronger to attack her. It was torturous. Again I wondered what the outcome would be. When we kissed she closed her eyes. My eyes turned deep red and gazed to the stars.

 

One evening as she walked home a group of men tired to take her handbag. Dorothy would not hand it over. The men yelled and swore at her from under their hooded tops. She told them where she would shove the handbag if they did not leave her along. Nobody heard me lightly touch down on the pavement behind the attackers. I moved through the dim glow of the streetlight.

For anyone with your normal, mortal reflexes, the next few seconds were a blur. I twisted, caught one guy square in the chest with the flat of my palm. He shot back through the darkness, flew back three feet like he’d been hit by a car. My fist connected with the face of another. There was a crunch as several bones in his skull shattered. The rest ran as I growled Go Away! in a voice that was not human.

Leaving Dorothy clutching her handbag and wondering what had just happened I disappeared into the shadows. It had all happened too quickly for her eyes to see and for her head to make sense of. So fast. Imagine real life moving like it’s on fast forward. And in the darkness of the city streets at night. Dorothy would have seen shapes, figures and silhouettes.

 

The next morning when I got to the office Dorothy was already at her desk. I went straight over. Put a hand on her shoulder.

‘Hey. How are you?’

‘Not bad, thanks.’

‘You sure?’

‘Yes, I didn’t sleep too well though.’

‘That’s understandable.’

‘How did you know about last night?’

I swore under my breath.

‘Know what? I meant that you look exhausted. Is everything okay?’

She went on to explain about the attack and her strange rescuer in the night.

‘Really?’ I said. ‘Honestly. That’s awful. Thank goodness you’re okay.’

Dorothy smiled, nodded gently.

‘Hey,’ I said. ‘And it seems you’ve got a guardian angel. I will have to be on my best behaviour.’

She gave me the best smile she could.

 

Later that day, still looking nervous and shaken Dorothy asked me if I would call round to her house that evening. She looked at me with sad, pleading eyes. After the previous night she clearly didn’t want to be own. How could I refuse?

Despite my concerns about being unsure of my restraint while alone and in private, I agreed. She thanked me, said I was a sweetheart.

 

I bounced along the rooftops of her street. Stepped off the roof and, arms wide, landed on the pavement as though I’d done nothing more than hop off the kerb. Half a second later I tapped gently on her door. Before she opened her door I sensed scented candles and coffee. She opened the door. She was wrapped up in a huge woollen jumper. She waved a hand telling me to come on in.

I followed her through to the living room. There was a large flat television, a small stereo and two large sofas. The cosy room was cluttered. The small space was filled with the usual array of tat that you mortals are so very fond of. I also noticed photographs of elderly people who I assumed were relatives. There was a bowl containing pebbles and sea shells gathered from various holidays. I found all this completely unnecessary. Your obsession with petty worthless trinkets is so amusing. Mind you, Nosferatu are not sentimental creatures. When you have been walking the earth for as long as we have you become a little detached to it all.

Dorothy told me to make myself at home. Said she would be right back. She placed a warm hand on my arm as she passed. It would take all my resolve not to take her this evening. She slipped out of the room. I turned my attention to the stack of paperback books on her bookcase. Brightly coloured paperbacks by authors with even brighter names, a few volumes of poetry.

Dorothy returned. She came over to where I stood. I was about to pass comment on the lack of thrillers and horror stories on her bookshelf but her expression made me pause. She had a strange look on her face. I sensed movement outside. Feet pounding across pavement. I tilted my head in the direction of the street.

‘What have you done?’ I whispered.

‘I know what you are.’ she said. ‘I’ve always know. I am-’

‘Night Shift.’

Suddenly there was a wooden stake in her hand. She lunged at me, wielding the stake like a knife. I was stunned. I had feared this night might turn nasty but this turn of events was completely unexpected. I moved to the side. Swatted the weapon out of her hand. It clattered across the room. She stood there helpless. She stared at me afraid, disgusted, yet fascinated. I bared my fangs and growled. Dorothy gasped. I felt like an animal on display in a zoo cage. Footsteps thundered down the hall. The door burst open. A second later the room was crowded with Night Shift officers. They wore no uniform, just plain clothes, but with a silver coloured band on the right arm. They wielded weapons. They shouted that I was to stay where I was. I took one last look at Dorothy.

I turned and leaped through the bay window. Glass shattered around me as I hit the pavement. I landed in a crouch, like an athlete about to sprint one hundred metres. I was still reeling. I was stunned that Dorothy was in league with the Night Shift. How could I have been so careless?

I looked around me. I was not alone in the night. Gathered in the street, waiting to ambush me were almost a hundred officers. Each one wore the silver arm band and clutched a weapon of some sort. Some had wooden stakes, others held crossbows loaded with smaller pieces of wood.

They stared at me, surrounded me. They yelled abuse and instructions not to move. I was the wild animal backed into a corner. And I was furious. I raised myself up to my full height, flung my arms wide. Let’s do this.

With a grin I launched myself at the nearest officer. I was at his throat before he knew what was happening. He was dead before he hit the ground. I felt hands grab my shoulders. I lashed out with fangs, fists and boot. With screams of agony my attackers released their grip.

An officer charged at me brandishing a long thin stake. I leaped into the air. He hit the side of a transit van with a thud. Another guy tried to rugby tackle me. Perhaps he was thinking to get me on the ground while his colleagues drove their cursed stakes home. He never got the chance. I side stepped, grabbed his head, twisted it quickly. I heard his neck snap. Then I moved on to the next officer.

A wooden stake missed its target. It tore at my shoulder. I swore. Knocked the weapon away. We dark creatures have a high pain threshold and our wounds heal at super human speed. But a wooden stake through the heart, you don’t get up from that. I had to keep moving. Had to keep fighting. I could not afford to let them wear me down. They were trying to get me weak, vulnerable, then they would drive their stake home.

A small projectile from a crossbow struck me in the stomach. I yelled at the moon as I yanked it free. I ran, cat-like, up the wall of a house. If I could get to the roof I might be able to get away. As I neared the guttering at the start of the rooftop I felt nets and rope catching at my limbs.

I fell. I landed in a garden hedge. I managed to get untangled from the nets. And still the Night Shift attacked in swarms. I kicked one guy hard in the chest. I felt his ribcage shatter as he shot back. I tossed one attacker into a brick wall. He slumped to the floor.

And others were simply torn to bloody pieces by my fangs. The Night Shift were every bit as formidable as their reputation. I was the monster, I was the predator. But they did what they could to overpower me. I felt hands and nets tug and pull me. I ducked one way. I twisted and turned another. I fought like the beast I am.

I was wounded. The throng was wearing me down. I wondered how much longer I would last. I heard a train rattle in the distance. I fought on. I was growing weaker. The train grew nearer. I thought fast. I concentrated hard. I used all my dark talents.

I attacked the crowd. I pushed, kicked and ploughed my way through. Timing would be important. I spotted the alleyway between the two houses. I leaped over the thinning wall of attackers.

I landed on trembling legs. For the first time since the onslaught began I was outside of the mob. I’d been at the centre, the eye of the storm but now I’d forced my way to the edge.

I darted down the alleyway. I moved as fast as my wounded supernatural form could carry me. I rushed down across the cobbles. My attackers followed in pursuit.

I climbed the sloping grass of the embankment. Pushed myself on. As I reached the top of the slope the train rushed along the tracks. The carriages rattled and clacked along. The lights from its windows pulsed through the darkness.

I crouched down. Paused for a moment. Then I sprung up. I landed on the roof of the train with a thud. My legendary grace and poise deserted me. The Night Shift could only look on as the train whisked me away into the night.

 

Six months later.

I danced along the rooftops in the moonlight. This perfect night, I was the perfect hunter. Vampire. I hit the pavement with a sound quieter than a whisper. I saw the woman. She rushed from her car towards the front door of her house. I moved. I was right behind her. No time to escape.

‘Good evening, Dorothy.’

She turned. Stared at me, eyes wide. Terror stopped the scream in her throat. I grinned.

 

These days I do not settle in one area for more than a few months at a time. I cannot risk being spotted by the Night Shift. I may not survive another attack. I go from job to job. I work in offices, on building sites, in high street shops. I try to keep under the radar and draw little attention to myself.

So, remember, next time you’re making fun of the pale nerdy guy at work, be warned. It could be me.

 


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