Blood and Kisses

a tale of vampire love by J.T. Blackfriars

The table was strewn with beer bottles, coffee cups and full ashtrays. The vampires, zombies and elves sat around it in ratty old armchairs.

I looked at my watch. The sun would soon rise, and I was the only vampire who had to avoid the daylight.

I chugged my beer and put the empty bottle on the floor next to all the others. “I need to get in my coffin,” I told the others at the table.

Lynette, the new girl, laughed. Nobody else did. “Holly really does have a coffin,” Garyn said to her.

“How come?” Lynette asked.

“Because I’m a vampire,” I said.

“Me too,” she said.

I stood up. “Goodnight. Or good morning.”

“Do you really have a coffin?” Lynette asked.

“Like I said.”

“Can I see?”

“If you like. But you’ll have to be quick. Come on.”

She looked at the others. The role-playing game had been going on all night, and it wasn’t going to end yet. “Be right back,” she said to them, and followed me to my bedroom.

“Awesome,” she said when she saw the coffin. “Where did you get it?”

“I was buried in it.”

“How long ago?”

“I’ve lost count.” I hauled the lid off the coffin and let her see the red velvet padding.

“Awesome,” she said again. “I want one.”

I didn’t say anything. I’d heard that before.

“You really sleep in it?” she said.

“Do you see a bed?”

“This is so cool.”

“Okay, I need to get some sleep. Later.”

“See you later,” she said, and went back to the living room.

I closed the door behind her, and locked it. I took off my black dress and put on a white nightgown. Then I turned off the light, which made no difference to how clearly I could see. All that affects that is when I close my eyes. I climbed into the coffin. I could have leapt like a cat, and sometimes I do, but I was tired. Sitting up, I reached for the lid, and then pulled it over me as I lay down.

I read somewhere that all people dream when asleep, whether they remember their dreams or not. I don’t know if that’s true of vampires, but I know I’ve never remembered a dream, and I’m almost sure it’s because I don’t dream. Being without beginning, if I did dream it would mean I never, ever got a break.

When I woke, the sun was setting. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it. Still in the coffin, I used my cell phone to send a text to Jason. “What are you doing tonight? I’m thirsty. Can I come over?”

I lay there for a few minutes, coming fully awake. My phone beeped, telling me I had a text message. It was from Jason. “I guess you didn’t check your email yet,” was all he wrote.

I pushed up the coffin lid, eased it to the floor, and climbed out. There was still some daylight, but it was shadowy enough for me to be okay. I sat cross-legged on the floor, booted up my laptop and read the email he’d sent me. It was short:

Holly, I don’t want to play with you anymore, cuz it seems like all you want is play, & there’s somebody else I like & she wants more than play. So we shouldn’t see each other anymore. I’m sorry. Jason

I’d hoped to see him before my appointment with Don, which was at 7:30. It was almost 6 now, so that meant I didn’t have to hurry, and at least I’d have something to talk to Don about.

I went to the kitchen and brewed coffee. The house was silent—some of my housemates were asleep, others at work. I drank a cup of coffee, took a shower, did my hair and put on a black dress and flat black shoes. I don’t wear makeup—I always look like I have some on. I drank another cup of coffee, and then went out. It was almost dark. It was late winter, so it was only warm instead of hot as hell like it would be soon. I could hear police sirens, and gunshots not far away. Ah, the children of the night—what music they make.

My house was at 40th Street and Buckeye, where everybody was scared to live, which was why my rent was cheap. Don ran his practice out of his house in Encanto, which is the other side of town. Nothing in Phoenix is near anything, so to get anywhere fast you need a car. You do, I mean. I don’t.

I walked quickly, then faster, then started to jog, then started to move into a run, but then the change came, as always, and I was flying. I swooped under a streetlight, enjoying seeing how I didn’t cast a shadow, and then I went higher and headed Northwest. Ten minutes later I was at Don’s. I circled over his house a couple times to make sure no one was around to see me land, and then I felt the change happen again as I slipped down and landed on my feet.

The side door to Don’s house led to the waiting room. I was early, so he was still with the client he was seeing before me. As usual, I was his last client of the evening, but I wasn’t alone in the waiting room. There was the ghost.

She talked to everybody who came into the house, but nobody but me ever answered her, because they couldn’t see or hear her like I could. She looked like she was in her late teens, she was dressed like it was the 1930s, and she’d been stuck in that house for a long time. I don’t think she ever remembered seeing me before, because she always asked me the same question, and she asked it now:

“Can you go outside?” she said, looking at the door I had just come in.

“Yeah,” I said, gently. “Yeah, I can.”

She spoke sadly. “I can’t go outside.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“I wish I could go outside.”

I wished she could too, but I didn’t say anything else. I don’t know why she had to stay in that house. I sat down, and she went past me and stood at the window and looked out. Then she faded away.

The door to Don’s office opened, and a couple came out. They looked so angry, I didn’t think his therapy was helping them much. He wasn’t a great therapist, but he was one of the few I’d been able to find that saw clients in the evenings, which obviously was a major factor for me, so I’d been seeing him for a few months. But we didn’t agree about my issues. I thought I was lonely and bored, and he thought I was mentally ill because I thought I was a vampire.

The couple nodded to me, walked past me and left. Then Don stuck his head out of his office and invited me in. “Hi, Holly. Enter freely and of your own will.” It bugged me a bit when he said that, because I knew he was humoring me. I only have to be invited into a place with those words the first time I come in. After that, I can enter whenever I want, whether you want me to or not—as Jason was soon going to find out. I’d told Don he had to say it the first time or else I couldn’t come in, but he’d been saying it ever since then, and I found it condescending. I was afraid that if he ever realized I actually was a vampire, he’d mansplain vampirism to me.

I said hi to him, went into his office, and sat down on my usual chair. He sat in his chair facing me. He thought of himself as an old biker type, but he rode a scooter and he was so bald that his mullet was more of a skullet.

“So…how are you doing, Holly?”

“I could be better. I just got broken up with.”

“Oh? I didn’t know you had a partner. Is this a new or recent relationship?”

“He’s not my partner. Wasn’t my partner. We weren’t dating or anything, though he wanted to.”

“If you weren’t dating, what were you doing? What’s the relationship that he’s ended?”

“I was having sex with him and drinking his blood.”

He almost sighed, but managed not to. “I see.” He waited for me to say something else, and when I didn’t he said, “How much of this is fantasy?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, like your fantasy of being a vampire. Does this man you say broke up with you even exist? You haven’t mentioned him before.”

“He does exist, and I am a vampire.”

“Holly…”

“I haven’t mentioned him before because I’m not all that into him. He loved having sex with me, I liked it with him, but the most important thing was that he gave me blood so I didn’t have to hunt. Now I’m going to have to figure something else out.”

“I’m going to have to be straight with you, Holly.” (Ever notice that when people talk down to you, they use your name a lot?) “I think you really do believe that you’re a vampire…”

“I do, because I am. Can we talk about Jason?”

“Vampires don’t exist, and your delusion is keeping us from doing the therapeutic work that you need to do.”

“I should never have told you.”

“Why did you tell me?”

“Because when I decided to try therapy, I did some reading about it, and I read that for it to be helpful you have to be totally honest with your therapist and not hide anything.”

“That’s true, and it’s good that you didn’t hide your delusion from me. That makes it possible for me to help you.”

“Oh? How are you doing to do that?”

“There are two possible interventions we can try. The one I recommend is a chemical intervention.”

“You mean meds?”

“Yes. I think an antipsychotic such as Haldol might make an enormous difference. I can’t prescribe it—I’m a psychologist, not a doctor—but I can write you a recommendation, and a doctor will prescribe it.”

“I don’t think I need meds, except for an antidepressant, maybe.”

“But if you’re not open to trying this, then I think we should consider a more radical intervention—inpatient treatment in the state hospital.”

I sat there and looked at him. “Are you threatening to lock me up?”

“Holly, I’m not threatening you with anything. I’m not threatening you. I’m trying to help you. And you’re very ill.”

“Can we drop this subject for now and discuss what I want to discuss?”

“We can’t, really. There’s no way to move forward until you have a view of your life that’s based in reality.”

“Okay,” I said. I looked around the room. There were no mirrors, and the curtains were closed. “Would you open the curtains?”

“Why?”

“I want to show you something. Just let me show you, and then if you don’t believe me I’ll accept whatever treatment you recommend.”

“All right.” He got up and walked over to the window. I followed him and stood behind him. He opened the curtains. It was completely dark outside. “Now what?” he said.

“Look at your reflection in the window.” He did. “Now look for mine.”

“You’re not—” he froze, staring at the window, then turned and looked at me. Then he looked back at the window. I moved close behind him and rested my chin on his shoulder.

“So where’s my reflection, O ye of little faith?”

He shook me off, looked at me, looked back at the window, back at me. “How are you doing that?” he said.

“I’m not doing anything.”

He kept looking from my face to the window, where he could find only his own reflection. “How… How…?”

“You’d better sit down, Don.”

He just stood there. I took his arm, led him to his chair, sat him down on it. “Now watch this,” I said. “And I’ll see you same time next week.”

I opened the window. Then I started to walk around the room, clockwise, walked faster, started to jog, and felt the change. When Don saw it, he screamed, curled up in the chair, and pissed in his pants. I could smell it and hear him screaming as I flew out the window.

#horror #fiction #vampires #urbanfantasy #paranormalromance #erotichorror #angels #ghosts #supernatural

Jason’s house was in the barrio at 11th Avenue and Van Buren, not too far from Don’s, but a different world. He shared it with a bunch of other people. I was glad to see his car was parked outside, but when I looked in his bedroom window I saw he wasn’t in the room. That made sense—he wouldn’t be in bed this early—but it would have been fun to find him asleep.

I opened the window and climbed in.

I sat on the bed. I could hear voices and TV coming from the living room. I texted Jason: “Come to your bedroom.” Thirty seconds later, he did.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he said, shutting the bedroom door behind him.

“What do you think?”

“How did you get in?”

“How do you think?”

I stood up and let my dress fall off me. I wasn’t wearing anything under it.

He closed his eyes. “Holly—” He didn’t hear me move toward him, so he was startled when he opened his eyes again and found me right in front of him. I reached between his legs and felt the hardness of his cock through the black denim of his jeans.

“Mmm…” I said. “Nice to see you too.”

“Holly…” he said again, as I rubbed him.

“Want me to stop?”

He didn’t answer.

“Want me to stop? Answer me.”

“No,” he whispered. “Don’t stop.”

I stopped, and took a step back. “Take off your clothes,” I said.

He did. When he was naked, I shoved him onto the bed so that he was lying on his back. I bent over him and licked him from his balls to the head of his cock, till some pre-come leaked out. I licked it off. Then I straddled him and looked in his eyes.

“Please,” he said.

“Please what?”

“Please fuck me.”

I kissed him, fucking his mouth with my tongue. “You know what’ll happen if I do?”

“Yes.”

I took him inside me. He groaned as I rode him. My wetness ran down his cock and over his balls. I saw his face contort and knew he was about to come. I grabbed his wrists and pinned his hands above his head. “Give it to me,” I whispered.

He cried out, filling me with his come, and as he did I sank my fangs into him where his neck met his shoulder. He whimpered as his orgasm subsided and his blood pumped into my mouth. I kept swallowing until I’d had about a pint, about as much as he could safely give, and then I pressed my tongue to the wounds, and kept it there until the blood flow stopped.

I lay beside him and looked at him. He was trembling, his eyes closed. “Are you okay?” I said.

“I feel really weak and dizzy.”

“You should drink some orange juice, and eat some spinach or kale. I took more than usual, so you need to replenish.”

“This isn’t cool,” he said.

“I need to go,” I said. “I need to get to work.”

“I have a girlfriend now, and you made me cheat. Even worse than cheat.”

“You didn’t cheat. You didn’t have a choice.” I got up and put my dress on. I hadn’t come, and I briefly considered making him get me off, but he was so weak now I knew it wasn’t a good idea, and I didn’t have much time. Besides, I’d gotten what I needed. “I’m leaving,” I said. “Seriously, drink some orange juice, and eat something with folate.”

When I was perched outside on the window sill, I heard him call after me, “Holly, I revoke my invitation. You may no longer enter.”

Shit. I shouldn’t have told him about that.

I jumped to the ground, started to run, felt the change, and then I was gliding through the hot, dark air.

I made it to work just on time. I was a clerk at the Circle K not far from my house.

#horror #fiction #vampires #urbanfantasy #paranormalromance #erotichorror #angels #ghosts #supernatural

A week later, when I walked into Don’s office, he held up a crucifix.

I laughed. “That doesn’t work. Sorry.”

He stared at me.

I sat down on my usual chair. He stayed standing.

“So the movies and books got it wrong?” he said.

“Not totally. A crucifix can work, if you’re a Christian. Or, even if you’re not, it can still work on a vampire who had a Christian background if they haven’t unlearned it. But you’re not a Christian, and neither am I. I was around long before Jesus.”

He kept staring. “This is crazy. This is impossible.”

“You know better. You know what you saw last week. Want to check our reflections again? We can look in the window, or we can go look in the bathroom mirror.”

He shook his head.

“Sit down, will you?” I said. “You’re making me nervous, standing there looking at me like that.”

He sat down.

“You’re really a vampire,” he said.

“I thought we’d established that. I’ve told you, and I’ve shown you.”

“Do you really work nights at a Circle K?”

“Yeah. Everything I’ve told you is true.”

“Why do you need a job?”

“Because I need to pay rent. And I need food as well as blood.”

“Don’t you have the power to get whatever you want?”

“Hell, what do you think this is, Don—Interview with the Vampire? I don’t think I can make you understand, but I’ve had entire cities under my power, thousands of people enslaved—and it didn’t make me any happier than working a minimum-wage job, and it was a lot more hassle. I’m trying to keep my life simple now, and do some work on myself, which is why I come to see you.”

“I don’t think you should keep coming to see me.”

“Oh. Is that what the crucifix was about?”

“Yes. I was going to ask you to leave.”

“Did you think I might hurt you?”

“Yes. I’m afraid of you, of course.”

“Why?”

“I saw you turn into a—something else, not a person—and fly out of my window.”

“Do you think I would hurt you? I won’t. I’m not going to.”

“I’m afraid for my sobriety. I’ve been in the program for twenty years, and I haven’t relapsed, but I’ve never wanted to drink as much as I want it now.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t know if I can trust myself to be sane anymore. You can’t be real, but I don’t feel as though I’m hallucinating. If I told any of my colleagues, they’d think I needed medication. I really need to get back to some kind of normalcy—a life in which you don’t exist.”

“Can you just go back to not believing?”

“I have to try.”

“Okay.” What a week, I thought. I get broken up with by my fuck-buddy and my shrink. This is going to give me a complex.

I stood up and was about to leave when Don said, “Can I ask you something, Holly?”

“Sure.”

“Are you evil?”

“I don’t know. I’m older than ideas of good and evil. But…you’re refusing to help me, and, even though I could drain you like a bottle of wine right now, I’m not going to, and I’m leaving like you want me to. So maybe that answers your question.”

He closed his eyes. “Thank you,” he said.

I was tempted to leave by the window again, but I didn’t. I left the human way, walking out the door, into the heat of the night, feeling more alone than I had in centuries.

I didn’t have to work that night, which was fortunate, because I had to hunt. I hadn’t had any blood since Jason, a full week ago, and if I didn’t get some soon I would get too weak to do anything.

I’d put some personals ads online, looking for kinky guys who were into having their blood sucked, but the responses—and there were plenty—had all been from guys who were into a bit of playful biting, skin-breaking, blood-licking, and would likely have freaked out at what I needed. I could just have taken all the blood one of them had, which would have kept me going for a few weeks at least, but the guys who emailed me all seemed decent enough. There weren’t any I’d have felt okay about butchering.

So I decided to find one.

I went to The Bikini Lounge, figuring that now that it had become popular with ASU students, I might be able to find some obnoxious frat bro I wouldn’t feel bad about chowing down on, but it was low-key that night, just a few broke artists and working people hanging out. I drank a pitcher of beer and, when the pickings were still slim, decided to head over to Seamus McCaffrey’s, which was so popular with lawyers I thought the asshole quotient must be high.

I was right.

It didn’t take long for me to pick my target. There was a musician playing Irish folk songs on an acoustic guitar. He wasn’t great, but he didn’t deserve to be humiliated. When a swaggering, drunk lawyer in his twenties went up to him, held out a wad of money, and loudly said, “I’ll pay you to shut the fuck up,” I knew I could close my menu.

I was sitting at the bar, drinking a Guinness, and, as luck would have it, the guy sat next to me and tried to chat me up. I didn’t want anyone to identify me with him, so with cold politeness I told him I was just about to leave, and when he asked for my number I shook my head. Then I finished my drink and cut through the crowd like a knife and slipped out the door.

There was an alley right next to the bar, and in the alley there was a dumpster. I moved quietly into the alley, hoping there wouldn’t be any homeless people there that I might disturb, and there weren’t. I flattened myself behind the dumpster, closed my eyes, and waited. Each time I heard the door of the bar open and close, I inhaled, searching for the scent of my prey.

And then I caught his scent, and I could almost hear his heart beating, almost feel his pulse. His blood.

His car was parked about a block from the bar. I circled above as he weaved along the street. I kept circling as he got in his car, and then I followed as he drove along Monroe to a gated condo complex near 7th Street. Perfect.

He was about to roll up the car windows before turning off the engine when I swooped in through the passenger side window. I tore out his throat and spat his Adam’s apple in his face. Then I put my mouth to the spraying wound, and I fed and I fed.

When I was done, I sat there on the passenger seat and cleaned myself with my tongue, like a cat, until there was no more blood on me. Then I flew out of the car, out of that complex, I flew just to be flying, laughed just to be laughing.

When I got home, a role-playing game was in progress. They asked if I wanted to join in, but I said I had just hunted and killed and needed some down time, and I went to my bedroom. That’s why I have the type of roommates I have—I can tell them the truth, and they think it’s just part of the game.

My roommates are into tabletop role-play. I play with them just to be sociable, but they think I’m into 24/7 live-action RP. Which I am, except that I’m not playing.

I wasn’t tired, but I got in my coffin and read some Barry Graham by candlelight until I felt the dawn arrive. I blew out the candle, put the book aside and pulled the coffin lid in place.

The news just said a man had been found dead, mutilated, and that the cops thought he might have been attacked by an animal. The paper didn’t speculate about what kind of animal it might have been. The guy’s name wasn’t released, because he came from out of state and they wanted to notify his family before making it public.

I knew the cops wouldn’t want to release all the details of the state of the corpse, because they’d be afraid of starting a public panic, which is why I did him that way instead of going with the traditional neck punctures. If I did it tiger-style a couple more times, stories about a chupacabras would get going. To get away with killing, you should either do it invisibly or spectacularly. However you imagine a killer who could tear a man’s throat out, what you imagine doesn’t look like me.

A bunch of ASU students came into the Circle K where I worked. As they bought some beer, they talked about what I’d done, and they agreed that they hoped it was a wild animal that was responsible because they didn’t want to imagine what kind of person could do something so horrible. I had to hold in my laughter when I thought about telling them that it was the same person who was ringing up their beer, taking their cash and giving them their change.

As they left, I heard one of them suggest stopping at KFC on the way back to their dorm, and now I did laugh. They were cool with breaking chickens’ beaks off and leaving them to sit in their own shit, squashed together in a battery cage, and then having them bleed to death after a machine cut their throats—and if they were lucky they’d be dead before they were automatically scalded with boiling water—but me devouring some lawyer in order to live is just horrible…

I made a mental note to go to a student hangout next time I had to feed.

I learned from another news item that the lawyer’s name was A. M. McDowell Jr. That made me even happier that I’d killed him; if you’re not a child, and you end your name with “Jr.” or a number in Roman numerals, you’re too annoying to be allowed to live. I’d gotten so much sustenance from him that it was more than a week before I started to get hungry again. And even then it was only a slight peckishness, not full-on hunger, but I decided I’d better feed before it got strong enough to cause me to make bad decisions.

Until recently, if I’d wanted to hunt ASU students, I’d have had to head out to Tempe, but, since the downtown Phoenix campus had opened, there was an abundance of annoying people in the nearby bars. I decided to start my evening by going back to the Bikini Lounge, where there would also be some real people. I could have gone to Carly’s or The Paisley Violin, but just because you eat pork doesn’t mean you have to live in a pig-sty.

The Bikini Lounge was packed this time. It was mostly real people, because DJentrification was the DJ, but there were also enough bros that I knew I wouldn’t be short of prey.

I pushed my way to the bar and got a pitcher. All the stools were taken, so I had to stand as I drank. I looked around from time to time. I spotted one group of guys whose idea of amusement was to spill one another’s drinks. Any one of them would have made for a meal, but as I watched them I saw them go outside to smoke, which, though it would kill them eventually, saved one of their lives that night, because I can’t stand the smell of it, let alone the taste of it in blood.

A couple different guys tried to get talking to me. If they were suitable prey that might have been all right, but they were nice enough guys, so I froze them out. I realized that leaning on the bar drinking by myself probably made me easier to hit on, so I poured what was left in my pitcher into my glass and moved away from the bar. I moved around and through the crowd, searching.

In the corner near the door was a guy who aroused a different kind of hunger in me. He looked like Doc Savage on the old paperback covers—tall, blond, muscled like a statue, eyes so blue they looked like they had to be contact lenses, skin a golden color that looked like it had to be artificial—but I somehow knew there was nothing artificial about him.

And he was looking at me.

I smiled at him. He didn’t smile back, but he nodded, and stayed where he was, and kept looking at me. The arrogance of that annoyed me a bit, but not enough to stop me from going over to him.

“Hey,” I said. “I’m Holly.”

“You need to go back to Don’s place soon,” he said in a voice like black ice.

“What?”

“You need to go back to Don’s. Caroline misses you.”

“What? How—how do you know about Don?” He didn’t answer. “I don’t know anyone named Caroline.”

“You talked to her at Don’s place every week. She’s lonely. No one else can see or hear her.”

“Who are you?”

“You can call me Hesediel.”

“What are you?”

He smiled, and something about the smile told me I had to get out of there. I went past him and out the door, stopping on the sidewalk to look back and see if he followed. He didn’t.

I ran until I felt the change, and then I was out of there, though I somehow didn’t feel like I was getting away from him.

At home, I got in my coffin, and all night I alternately cried and masturbated, sometimes both at the same time, until the sun rose and I, exhausted, sank into darkness.

#horror #fiction #vampires #urbanfantasy #paranormalromance #erotichorror #angels #ghosts #supernatural

I was awakened by the sound of someone pulling at the lid of my coffin. I could feel the daylight, so something was badly wrong. That it was day also meant I couldn’t move, so even though I willed myself to grab at the lid and try to hold it in place, there was nothing I could do.

When the lid was taken away, I expected to burst into flames, and to be dust soon after, but nothing happened, and I realized that whoever it was must have left the drapes closed.

Then I heard Jason’s voice.

“See?” he said. “I told you.”

A woman’s voice answered, “This doesn’t mean she’s really a vampire.”

“Yeah? Then watch this.” I felt him put his hands on my face, and he pried my eyelids open. I lay there staring up at them, unable to blink.

The woman was dressed in black, like Jason always was, and had a goofy-looking nose-piercing. She stared down into my face, and I had no choice but to stare back. Perhaps a minute went by, and then she said, “She hasn’t blinked.”

“I told you.”

“My God.”

“I told you I didn’t cheat on you. She made me.”

“My God.”

“Do you believe me now?”

“I—I think so. My God. My God.”

“So, do you really want to do it, now that you know?”

She stared at me some more, then said, “Yes.”

“What if we go to prison?”

“I don’t care,” she said. “This kind of evil has to be eradicated. And, besides, the bitch made you fuck her.”

“Yeah. She did.”

“Give me the bag,” she said. He handed her a little backpack, and she took out a freshly-carved wooden stake and a hammer. I guessed they hadn’t been able to find a mallet.

“We could just open the curtains and see if that kills her,” Jason said.

She pointed at my face. “Look. She’s crying.”

Jason looked. “Oh, fuck. She is. This is horrible. Let’s just go.”

“No, we have to do it. We must pass through bitter waters…”

I felt the point of the stake against my skin. She raised the hammer, and at the same time Jason walked toward the curtains, reaching to open them.

Hesediel stepped out from behind the curtains, somehow keeping the daylight behind him as he did, and took Jason by the throat.

“Stop,” Hesediel said, in that voice, and the woman froze.

Hesediel shoved Jason toward her. He staggered into her, and they both fell. The hammer she was holding fell with her, but when she let go of the stake it rolled down over my abdomen and came to rest on my stomach.

I couldn’t see Jason or his girlfriend. I could see Hesediel, who now stood by my coffin and glared at them with those horrible, beautiful blue eyes. “Both of you—leave now, and never come back, and never think of Holly again,” he said, in a quiet voice that included the roar of thunder and the hiss of a snake. I heard them get up off the floor, and then Hesediel said, “Stop shaking, both of you. Now leave.” And I heard the door to my bedroom open and close. Then Hesediel moved out of my sight, and I heard him lock the door.

Then he was back, looking down at me. He lifted the stake off me. He took a handkerchief from his pocket, reached down and wiped the tears from my face, then gently closed my eyes. In a voice so tender I would never have recognized it as his, he said, “You’re safe now, Holly. Please take care of Caroline as I have taken care of you. And, when you hunt, choose your prey skilfully.” He covered me with the coffin lid, and, though I couldn’t see him leave, I felt his absence.

I lay there in the blackness of the coffin surrounded by the white heat of the day, not knowing what to think or how to think, not knowing what I was feeling. One thought kept appearing in a loop: I always locked my bedroom door, and I had forgotten last night because of meeting Hesediel, and that had almost destroyed me, and it was Hesediel who had saved me.

I didn’t know what time of day it was, only that it wasn’t near sunset. I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep again, but when I thought about Hesediel wiping away my tears, sleep came like a hand covering my face with a silk handkerchief.

When I woke, the sun was gone.

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My roommates were sitting around playing a game as usual when I walked into the living room. “Who let Jason and his friend in?” I said.

“Uh… I did,” Garyn said.

“Why?”

“He said he wanted to see you. Isn’t he kind of your boyfriend?”

“No,” I said. “He isn’t. They’re both vampire hunters. Never let them in this house again.”

“Oh, okay.” He thought it was part of the game.

“And never let anybody in my room during daylight. And never come in there yourself.”

“Okay.”

I gave a flash of fang for effect, then walked out.

Don was with his final client of the evening when I arrived. That was okay—it wasn’t him I was there to see.

I sat in the waiting room, and it wasn’t a minute before the ghost appeared.

“Can you go outside?” she asked me.

“Yes. I can.”

“I can’t go outside.”

“I know, Caroline. I’m sorry. I wish you could.”

When she heard her name, she looked at me in a way that she hadn’t before.

“Yes. Yes, I’m Caroline. What’s your name?”

“Holly.”

“I can’t go outside, Holly. Holly. I’m Caroline, you know I’m Caroline. Yes. Holly…are you my friend?”

I smiled at her. “Yeah, I’m your friend. That’s why I’m here.”

I stayed there with her for nearly an hour, until I knew Don would soon be finishing with his client. “I have to leave now, Caroline. But I’ll come back soon.”

“You’re going outside?”

“Yes, but I’ll come back soon. I’m your friend.”

“You are. You’re Holly. You’re my friend.” And she was gone.

When Don and his client came out of the office, I was gone too.

I wondered where to go now. I had to feed, but I felt restless and didn’t want to have to sit still in a bar while waiting for prey to appear. I considered taking some revenge on Jason and his girl, but I knew it wasn’t smart to kill anybody that people knew I knew. Also, he wouldn’t be an easy target, since he’d revoked my invitation to enter his home. I imagined he’d have this bedroom sealed with garlic and crucifixes too, not that they’d do him any good.

I walked around the empty lots of the downtown area, trying to figure what to do, or to at least walk off my antsiness. I saw a man stumbling across one lot, and I walked over to check him out.

He was middle-aged or old—it was hard to tell because of the state he was in. Dirty clothes told me he was probably homeless, but worse was that his head was split open. I could actually see part of his skull. He was covered in blood, but the heat of the night was drying it already.

He looked at me as I approached him. “Can you spare a dollar?” he said.

“What happened to you?”

“It’s okay, I just need a dollar.”

“You need more than that. Sit down on the ground and keep still.”

“I’m hungry. I need a dollar.”

I handed him one. “There. I’ll give you more if you sit down for a few minutes.”

“Okay, I can do that.” He bent to sit down, then fell over. I caught him and eased him to the ground. He closed his eyes.

“Stay here, okay? I’ll be right back,” I said. He didn’t answer and his eyes didn’t open, but he was still breathing.

I moved away from him quickly. I was so hungry it felt like anger, and the scent of his blood was making it worse. I pulled out my phone and was going to call for an ambulance, but I saw a cop car turning the corner, and I ran out in front of it to force it to stop.

When it stopped, I approached the driver’s side window to talk to the cop at the wheel, but he yelled at me to back off. Startled, I did. He got out of the car and stood facing me. “Keep your hands where I can see them,” he said.

“Okay…”

“What the hell are you doing running in front of my car? You could have gotten yourself killed.”

No, I couldn’t. “There’s a man lying on the ground over there who needs help. His head’s split.”

He laughed. “If he’s lying down, he’s probably drunk.”

“So what if he’s drunk? He’s bleeding. He’s hurt bad.”

“Probably not. A little blood goes a long way. He’ll probably sleep it off.”

I looked around. There were no witnesses. I tried to think straight, to catch hold of my anger, but control slipped away and it felt good. It felt even better when I saw the look on his mean, stupid face as I went at him, and it felt even better when I tore him wide open, shoved my head in, and fed.

When I pulled my head out of what was left of him, I felt full, bloated. I turned away from the oozing mess, left it lying on the ground next to the police car it had driven, and I looked around. Still no witnesses that I could see, but I decided to get out of the glare of the streetlights and find some shadows to clean myself in, so I walked back to the empty lot where I’d left the homeless man. As I approached, I saw a figure crouching over him. Shit, I thought. There are predators everywhere. I moved toward them, fast, silent, ready to tear the newcomer’s head off.

I was almost on him when he looked up.

It was Hesediel.

He was holding the homeless man like a baby. The man wasn’t moving, but his head wasn’t bleeding anymore.

“Hello, Holly. It’s good to see you,” Hesediel said.

“Is he still alive?”

“Yes, he is now. He almost wasn’t, but I caught him just in time. You’d better clean yourself before he wakes up, or he might die of fright. I don’t need you undoing my good work.”

I reached out my tongue, and I couldn’t resist letting it go almost all the way to Hesediel’s face, then go past him and almost wrap around his neck, but he didn’t even blink. So we sat there, him holding the unconscious man, me running my tongue all over myself, until all the mess was inside me and I was so clean I would have glistened had a light shone on me.

Then there were lights on me.

Four cops. They hadn’t turned on their sirens.

Flashlights and guns, coming toward us.

“Can you do something about them?” I asked Hesediel.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I have no power over them.”

“I saw what you did to Jason and his bitch. Do it to them.”

“I can’t. I have no power over evil.”

A cop yelled, “Both of you, lay down on the ground! Do it right fucking now.”

Hesediel very gently laid the unconscious man on the ground. “Don’t shoot!” he yelled at the cops. “This man’s hurt.”

“So will you be if you don’t get on the ground right now.”

“I’ve got this,” I said to Hesediel.

“I know,” he said. “Do you know Eddie’s House in Scottsdale?”

“No.”

“You’ll find it. Meet me there.”

He lay down on the ground. I didn’t.

I walked toward the cops, hands in the air.

“Get down on the fucking ground, you cunt!” their spokesman yelled.

I ran at them, and they all fired. I felt the change, and I swooped over their heads, then I turned around and dived at them. When they saw me, they all screamed, and one of them shot one of his partners by accident. The wounded man fell, and the three others ran toward their cars.

I swooped over the homeless man. None of the cops’ bullets had hit him. I could see Hesediel in the street on the other side of the lot, walking away, without hurry. I didn’t follow him. Instead I flew east, toward Scottsdale.

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I’d heard about Eddie’s House, since the owner was a famous chef, but I’d never been there. Like just about every other restaurant in Scottsdale, it was way beyond my budget. I figured I’d stick Hesediel with the tab, since meeting there was his idea. And it made sense to go to downtown Scottsdale, which, even though it’s only ten miles or so from downtown Phoenix, might be a million miles away. Nobody would think of looking in Scottsdale for whoever had devoured a cop near an empty lot.

I landed in an alley behind a strip mall, and, after the change, I used my phone to look up the address of the restaurant. I went in, and was about to take a seat at the bar when I saw Hesediel sitting at a table.

I joined him. “How the hell did you get here before me? I flew.”

“I drove,” he said.

We looked at each other, and we both burst out laughing.

He handed me a menu. “The food here’s great. Get whatever you want. It’s on me.”

A server came over and asked if I wanted a drink. Hesediel already had one. I ordered a glass of merlot. The server chatted with us for a moment, and I realized what he was seeing: a beautiful man with a perfect body and impossible colors in his eyes, hair and skin, and a pale woman in a short black dress and matching purse. I knew what he thought we were, and I knew I wanted it to be true, and I had no idea what to do or say.

I ordered cheese flatbread and mushrooms stuffed with lamb chorizo. Hesediel ordered a vegetarian platter. “I would only order that if it included some vegetarians,” I said, and he laughed again.

As we waited for our food, we sipped our drinks, and looked at each other.

“We’ve got stuff to talk about,” he said. “But somehow I’m not in a hurry.”

“Me either,” I said, and it was true.

And then we drank our drinks in easy silence, and when our food came we got more drinks. The food was as good as he’d said it was, and we washed it down with more drinks, and we talked.

“Thanks for going to see Caroline,” he said.

“How did you know about her? Or about me?”

“I know about everything in the Valley.”

“What, are you psychic?”

“No. I don’t have to be.”

“How come? What are you?”

“I’m an angel.”

I laughed, and he sat there and drank and watched me laugh. When I finally stopped, he said, “I never thought I’d have a vampire laughing at me for claiming to be an angel.”

“I’m not really laughing at you,” I said. “I don’t even know what I’m laughing at. You should have seen what I did in front of my therapist when he wouldn’t believe I was a vampire—”

He smiled. “I didn’t see it, but I know about it.”

“So…you really are an angel?”

“I really am.”

“How long have you been on earth?”

“A long Goddamned time—and I mean the curse word literally.”

“Huh?”

“God expelled me from heaven. The prick.”

“What for?”

“For calling Him on His bullshit.”

“So you’re a fallen angel?”

“Yes, but He didn’t send me to hell, since He knows Satan quite likes me. Instead, He banished me to central fucking Arizona.”

“What happened? Why did he banish you?”

“Sounds like you don’t know much about God. Have you read the Bible?”

“Not all of it, but yeah.”

“If you’ve read the highlights, you’ll understand. God’s the most insecure, narcissistic bully I’ve ever known. We first got into it when He kicked Satan out for questioning him. He promised this world to Satan, but He fucked him on the deal. Then look at what He did to Job…”

“I read that part.”

“Yeah. It was evil. Job loved Him and would have done anything for Him. But when Satan taunted God and told Him His creations didn’t love Him as much as He thought, God tormented the shit out of Job to see if he would love Him no matter how cruelly He treated him. I told Him it wasn’t love, it was codependency. The most abusive relationship ever.”

“I’ve always thought it was kind of horrible what Job had to endure.”

“Damn right. And that’s a supposedly loving God? But what finally pissed me off was His crap about forgiveness. He’s so big on that, and it’s total hypocrisy. I got along okay with Satan, but we were never really friends. But I really like Jesus… and what God put him through was just disgusting. I mean, He’s mad at the human race for sinning, which of course is the nature He gave them, but instead of just forgiving them He says He’ll show his love for them by taking it out on His son instead of on them? The night before it all went down, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane pleading not to be tortured, and his Heavenly Father does it to him anyway, because He had to take out His cosmic temper tantrum on somebody? Where’s this fabled forgiveness? I told Him He obviously had borderline personality disorder, and that nobody actually liked Him but they were all afraid to say anything. And that’s how I got stuck here.”

“What do you do here?”

“I try to do good. That’s my nature, whether I like it or not. And, actually, that’s why I sought you out. I need you.”

“Me? Why?”

“Well…you asked earlier why I couldn’t do anything to defend us against the cops tonight, when I was able to bend Jason and Amy to my will. See, the way God rigged this world is that angels have some power, but we’re helpless in the face of evil. Jason and Amy aren’t evil, they’re just stupid goths who’ve watched too many horror movies, and Amy’s a jealous shrew, and Jason’s a weakling. So I have power over them. Same with the homeless guy tonight—whoever split his head isn’t evil, just a fuck-up, so I was able to heal the wound. If the person who attacked him had been evil, there’d have been nothing I could do to help him, other than hold and comfort him while he died.”

“So all the cops who showed up tonight were evil?”

“Yes, because the Valley is evil. That’s why God sent me here. And it’s why Joe Arpaio became Sheriff of Maricopa County. When someone puts on a uniform to serve a place like this, any good in them becomes irrelevant. When they swallow the evil of this place, the place doesn’t change and the evil doesn’t change. It changes them.”

We were silent a moment, and then I said, “Everything I’ve seen on the news on TV here actually makes sense in the light of what you’ve told me.”

“Light is the right word. I want to bring light. That’s the nature of an angel. Shit, that’s what Satan was about, which is why his name was Lucifer. So God’s torment for me, knowing that my nature is to do good, is to put me in a place where I’m surrounded by evil, knowing I can’t do anything about it.”

“Why are angels helpless against evil?”

“Fuck if I know. Ask God, not that you’d ever get an honest answer. But it’s why so many atrocities happen in the world, and why people doubt that there are angels, doubt that there is such a thing as a force for good. We exist all right, and we hate the evil in the world, but there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.”

“So what is it that you want from me?”

“There’s what I want from you, and what I need from you. I sought you out because of what I need.”

“Then tell me what you need.”

“The Valley is now at its peak of evil. Violence, corruption, racism, poverty, all of it… It’s never been so bad. And evil is contagious, so the rest of the country is following. Have you noticed that every unjust legislation that comes out of here, even if it gets struck down as unconstitutional, inspires similar legislation in other states?”

“Actually, yeah. I have.”

“If I’m stuck here, I’m going to do some good, no matter how God has rigged it. I want to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I can bear witness to evil, but I can’t actually fight it.” He smiled. “But you can.”

“Ah. I get it.”

The server came over and asked if we wanted more drinks. We did. When he brought them and left us alone, Hesediel asked me, “Well? Are you in?”

“Fuck, I might as well. It’s not like I’m doing much of anything else. I’m bored, and I’m lonely.”

He raised his glass, I did the same, and we clinked glasses and drank.

“I’m lonely too,” he said.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. So, now that I’ve told you what I need, can I tell you what I want? Or do you know already?”

I stared at him and licked my lips. “I know already,” I said. “And it’s what I want too.”

When we left the restaurant, we got in Hesediel’s car and drove into the desert, drove until the city was out of sight, and kept driving until the only light was that of the moon. I had kicked off my shoes, and my bare feet were on the dashboard, and my dress was pulled up to my waist, and my legs were open, and Hesediel had one hand on the steering wheel and the other between my thighs, two fingers deep inside me, my wetness seeping down to his palm.

At last we turned onto a dirt road, parked, and without a word we got out of the car. He opened the trunk and took out a rolled-up blanket. With the blanket under one arm, and his other arm around my waist, he guided me as me walked away. After a few minutes, we stopped, and he unrolled the blanket on the earth.

The warm wind on our skin, the silhouette of a saguaro against the moon. My tongue everywhere on his body, tasting, probing, everywhere, everything. Light of the moon in his eyes, light of his eyes in the moon. Biting him hard, harder than I ever bit anyone, the soft golden skin yielding but not breaking. On my hands and knees, him behind me, me coming and coming and coming so hard I scream into the moonlight and pound my fists into the earth.

Then feeling him spray all over my ass and my lower back, and I don’t stop coming, for so long, so long.

Finally, when we’re quiet, wrapped around each other there on the blanket, listening to our breathing and the calling of night birds and the wails of coyotes.

“I felt myself change,” I said, kissing his ear. “Did I change?”

“You were just you,” he said. “Not one form, and not another.”

I didn’t know what that meant, and I didn’t care. I didn’t need to. There was an absence of any kind of need, and in that absence was peace, the first I had ever known.

He fell asleep there, with me in his arms, my head on his chest. I fell asleep too, and when I woke it was because the sun was beginning to rise. Hesediel was still asleep, and I didn’t want to wake him, and I didn’t want to move. I knew I had to wake him, because I had to get home and into my coffin, but it was perfect and I didn’t want to add anything to it or take anything away from it.

So I didn’t move, and he didn’t wake. I lay there and watched the sky lighten. And when the first rays of the sun touched the earth, and moved toward me, closer and closer, I didn’t move, and I wasn’t afraid, and I let the light come.

THE END

#horror #fiction #vampires #urbanfantasy #paranormalromance #erotichorror #angels #ghosts #supernatural

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