The air is crisp, not that I can feel its chill. I sit perched on my window, watching humans scattering on the damp streets below. I can tell it is cold by the way they hold their coats tight around the necklines. They rush toward closed doors. Rush to get home from work, to make dinners, watch television. The world changes beneath their feet, only they won’t notice it, until it reaches their front yards. We left my prison in the forest, instead of running, we took a short stroll down a hidden path to a waiting chaperoned car. We headed east to one of the greatest of human cities, The City of New York. For having killed a vampire my punishment is complete. My family and friends are dead, my husband and I forced apart, my humanity lost – making me a part of the world that damned me. Everything is louder. Smallest things hold unimaginable detail. The night is alive as day. The sky more filled with stars. There are more shades of colour, yet nothing left to bind me to the humans below. The few I care for now, stand on the other side of the war, sweeping across the face of this precious planet.
As though reading my thoughts, Phoenix barks from inside the room. “Yes, Phoenix, I was thinking of you,” my vampiric hellhound.
We arrived two nights ago – a high-rise amongst many in this city, owned and occupied by The Ossenfelder Corporation, a revered manufacturer of prevalent pharmaceuticals. Towering above busy city streets, quiet upper levels, house private living quarters of countless vampires. Spacious studio apartments with all the luxuries one can imagine. Across the lower levels, the company’s offices, conference rooms, and laboratories, complete with state of the art research facilities specialising in blood disorders. The convenience of which is obvious for a company entirely controlled by vampires. A building of old architecture. Carved stone facade detailed with statutes of winged animals. Darkened windows – metal shutters seal them from the inside during the day. We sleep uninterrupted, human guards at every entrance.
Many humans work for us, some to stay alive, or an offer of eternal life. Others fight with us because they believe in the cause. They say they want to free the world of violence and destruction. They believe the only way to achieve this is with the culling of the human race. I’m unsure what I believe. I do know what I want. I want to scout these streets – I want to hunt. I’ve watched him from my window, stalking the alleys below, abusing all that cross his path. Tonight, this stranger, will cross my path.
A dandelion fluff of sorts floats through the air. I catch it in my hand – “I wish John would hurry up.” Instant wish delivery, my maker – the one vampire I could never hate, walks into my room. I release it back to the sky, “Thanks, Santa Beard.”
“Alice, are you ready?”
“Yes.” He comes to the window with a smile. He looks different when he’s not dressed to the nines. He’s wearing dark, fitted clothes, as am I.
“It is time you learn to jump,” he says. “Phoenix, stay.” Phoenix doesn’t seem too happy with this command, but he adheres.
“Are we jumping to the street below?”
“We are jumping to the building across from us.”
“Won’t they see us – the humans I mean?”
“We move too fast for their eyes to register. Jump Alice, as you normally would, only use enough intended force to reach the other side. I will go first.” He climbs the window’s ledge, leaps off in a high, long jump. Gliding through the air, he then lands gently on his feet, waves at me to follow from the adjacent building roof across the street. I ready myself for the jump, giving the streets below, and the humans that fill them one last look, before pushing off the ledge with all the strength in my legs. I fly through the air at an incredible speed – hurtling onto the roof inches away from John. Concrete cracks and breaks beneath my feet, using my heels to slow myself, I regain my balance. Brushing off grey, concrete dust from my clothes, I smile at John.
“I think that was good for a first go,” I say.
“Use less intention next time,” he tells me, stating the obvious. Searching for the location of my friend, I walk to the ledge. “Looking for something in particular?”
“There is something –” I nudge my head toward an alley lined with apartment fire stairs, festooned with graffiti art. “He has a friend with him tonight.”
“Even better,” John smirks, crouching down beside me.
Rain begins to fall from the clouded sky above, it fills the air with the smell of moistened concrete. We watch the two men. They are planning to attack someone tonight. I can hear them whispering, sharing scattered sentences, senseless, jumbled words. Excited over the fun they think they will be having – they have noticed what time a particular woman gets home each night. I look over at John. I know we’re on the same page. We will wait, follow them – have some fun of our own. Emotions lie just below the surface now, similar to a spark that doesn’t eventuate into a fire. The filtering of triggers runs deeper through the mind, so not to interfere. Still, this is the perfect kill – one without a hint of guilt. John points toward the skyline, and smiles. He is showing me the Empire State Building. He’s such a tourist it makes me laugh.
“I want to take Phoenix for a walk through Central Park tomorrow night,” I say.
“It would please me to show you around,” his English accent makes him sound old.
Heels click along the pavement – a woman in a yellow raincoat and matching yellow umbrella, makes her way down the alley. The men hide inside a doorway out of her view. It’s too late for her to run by the time she notices the men waiting inside. They grab her, muffle her screams with a hand on her mouth. One of them rummages in her handbag for her keys. They know where she lives. They’ve watched her from the fire stairs – the same way I’ve watched them. She struggles, is unable to get free of their hold. They drag her into the building, make their way to her apartment. Through an open window, we see them enter the apartment front door.
“You must land lightly this time, Alice. Follow my lead –” John jumps of the ledge, lands on the fire stairs, without making a sound. He waits by the brick wall between the windows of her apartment. I take the deepest breath – leap off. Cutting through the air drowns out every other sound – distracts me. I crash through a window, land on the woman’s dining table, shattering it into pieces. John is by my side in an instant. He looks at me, and smiles. It takes time for the men to register what has happened. Our sudden appearance bemuses all three of them. I remember how fearsome we are through human eyes. Anticipating a chase, the hairs along the back of my neck spike up. The man I am after, takes out a knife. Now, I’m the one who’s smiling.
Adding a rhythmic thud to the woman’s insistent screams, my blood pulses harder through my ears. John’s raises a hand in a gesture for her to be quiet, she is silent. The men charge at us – a scuffle doesn’t last long. We easily overpower them, feed as the woman watches, too terrified to move, or maybe still under John’s influence. I have to remember to get him to teach me how he does it, how he this easily is able to control their minds. It doesn’t matter now – all that matters, is this man’s blood. Held within my arms, no longer good or bad, no longer right or wrong – no longer human. His blood flows into my mouth, running down my throat. I feel myself growing stronger, more energised with every passing moment. I drink until the beat of his heart ceases to exist, until his body falls to the floor, drained of all its blood.
“What will we do with her?” I say.
“Nothing. It will not matter in a few days.” John makes his way back toward the landing, a slight backward glance at the woman watching. I follow him.
Her eyes reveal an uncontainable fear. She sits as still, and quiet as a mouse. I can hear her heart beating from across the room. “If I were you, I would take the ones I love and hide. There are more of us coming. They won’t be as selective as we are,” I offer a small warning, before climbing out of her window.