He lead me down the alley with the promise of a kiss. Not the most romantic spot. My hands were shaking. I hoped he would assume it was excitement. It was raining. His hands were firm on the sides of my head. His lips were cold. Afterwards, he pulled back and smiled. I’d never actually seen a wolfish grin before, but this one was. It was predatory. That’s when he opened his mouth, dug his nails into my cheeks, and sunk his fangs into my neck.

The vampire recoiled, clawing at its own blood-covered mouth, and scurried into a corner. “What is this?!” he snarled.

If he could have crawled under the dumpster, he would have. It was super satisfying.

I was backed against the wall of the alley, grateful the attack was over. “Boy, this would hurt if I hadn’t numbed up my neck. Local anaesthetics, man, they work!” I was shouting more than I meant to. Adrenaline. But then the alley started rolling under my feet. I am built for sitting on a lab stool, not this. But I did choose ‘this.’ So.

I slid down the wall, not caring that I was sitting in a puddle. That’s when I puked all over my arm. I watched the rain start washing away red wine and bits of cannelloni. I felt like taking me for Italian food was some kind of cliché. Dating cliché. Vampire cliché. I didn’t know which. I could tell he was gross at the restaurant—there was a rotting smell, his face was dead and vicious all at once—but he’d done that thing with his eyes, and I’d honestly thought he was the hottest thing I’d ever seen. I blinked and looked back at the vampire, cowering behind a dumpster. It was ugly again. Reassuring.

“Check this out.” I pulled an emergency bandage out of my pocket. “They’re designed to grab-and-slap with one hand.” I demonstrated, hitting my neck a bit harder than I meant to, and then wincing. “Not impressed? Oh well.” I closed my eyes and listened to the rain for a minute. My heart wouldn’t stop pounding against my ribs.

“Are you scared?” I finally asked.

It didn’t answer.

“I said, are you scared?

It still didn’t answer. I hadn’t expected it to degenerate this fast. Sweet.

“Because you should be scared.”

Its lips were starting to turn black, not grey but black. Finally.

“We’ve got a couple of minutes, and I really want to tell you what’s happening. My name’s Linda.” It sniffed at me. “Well I gave you a fake name, obviously!”

“So, my name’s Linda Yi, and I just killed you. Well, sorta.” I sat up straighter, breathed deeper, calmed down a little. “You killed you when you drank my blood, but I killed you when I made what’s in my blood.”

It made eye contact, a little intelligence peaked through.

“Okay, so, a huge part of vampirism turns out to be viral.” It cocked its head. I was starting to wonder if I was projecting. Whatever. It’s lower lip was starting to shrivel. I was safe. “Yeah yeah, curses and “blood magic” and blahdy blah. There’s a virus.” The local was wearing off, so I was starting to feel the neck wound. I had expected the sharp pain but not the dull ache. My muscles were all torn up.

“So I figured, vaccine, right? Vaccinate everyone, then vampires can hunt all they want but never make new ones. Then, we whittle you down like we always have. Maybe even convince people you’re real so we don’t have to pick you off one by one.

“Yeah, ‘we’ as in hunters. There are lots and lots of hunters, all around the world. C’mon, you knew that.”

Its upper lip was withering, now, and I was pretty sure they’d both fall off very soon.

“So, um,” I’d lost more blood than I thought I would. “Uh, we took a tiny bit of vampire virus, and we weakened it and weakened it until it was harmless. Then we tested it on mice. We made a whole lot of vampire mice, I’ll tell ya, but we kept them in the sun. Dead mouse equals useless virus. No big deal. I mean it’s like vampires want to be scienced to death.” Too much talking. I had to catch my breath.

“But you know what happened?” It stared. The lips had fallen off, and the rest of the face were shrivelling up. The eyes still watched me, though, so I kept going. “Antibodies. Awesome little antibodies. I mean, that’s how vaccines work, no surprise, but these ones, oh it was so cool, if we put them in a vampire, it died! All those mice just curled up and rotted from the inside. Poor little guys. I really made their last moments suck.”

I looked it in the eye as its head started to loll forwards “And that’s what’s happening inside you. I wish I could see it, the organs all rotting.

“So I figure, now, no one gets turned, ever, and one of you dies every time you try to feed. It’s a twofer, right? We just have to get it out there. Homeless people first. Then poor people, kids, old people, young women. You know we’ve got stats on who you like to hunt? It’s pretty screwed up. Says a lot about society.”

The vamp’s chest had collapsed, and its head was hanging down. It was dead or whatever, but I was just about done anyway.

“So,” I eased myself up, bracing against the wall. “That’s about it. Tell all your friends.” I started laughing to myself. It wasn’t that funny, but I was really light headed. I pulled up the hood on my rain coat and got out my phone. “Hey, Janky… Yeah, corner of Burrard and Robson. … Oh yeah, very successful. Like, bring a clean-up crew.” I staggered out of the alley, leaving behind the most beautiful pile of muck and bones I’d ever seen.


(C) Copyright Orion Ussner Kidder, 2018

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