The young woman yelped, as she felt the hands stoking the ball of her back. The thin, needle like fingers were icy cold, causing her to shudder violently. Without warning, the two hands harshly clutched her trembling shoulders, and spun her around. She gazed into the two, jet-black marbles above the thin, bloodless lips that began to curl at each corner into a wry smirk. Fear paralysed her. The vampire took two long, careful strides away from Karen. Still, she stood, almost mesmerised by the two hypnotic orbs that lay in the centre of his face. Her gaze soon lowered, until her eyes rested on the wide grin that seemed to go on forever. Within a second, he bent his knees and lunged, aiming directly for Karen’s naked, fleshy neck. Time began to slow down.
“Heeeeellllllp!!” she screamed, as she sat bolt upright; beads of cold sweat matting her dishevelled, maroon highlighted brown hair to her forehead. Her pyjamas clung to her quivering skin like scotch tape. She slowly, but steadily swung her legs out of bed, and tiptoed downstairs, careful not to wake her already stirring parents. ’22 years old, still having nightmares, and still living with my rents’ Karen silently sighed to herself. ‘What am I growing into?’
Every night was a repeat episode of the previous. She would have the same nightmare, wake up in the same state of shock and fear, and then make the same journey downstairs, seeking a way to calm herself. This sequence had continued constantly for the past six months, ever since her episodes with the ‘un-dead’, as she commonly referred to them; vamps. Each dark dream was a reminiscence of the events that occurred 6 1/2 months back. Shaun, her fiancï¿½ at the time suggested psychological treatment, to which Karen declined profusely. ‘Shaun, I haven’t the energy, nor the self-esteem to persuade some stranger that I have been in contact with a blood sucking fiend.’ She snapped at him. ‘I’ll get over this in my own time.
‘ The man, two years her senior, stood perfectly still, paralized with fear, his eyes glazed with terror. He gazed over her shoulder at the obscenities taking place behind her. As if in slow motion, his mouth opened in a wide, shrill scream. His hand swiftly eased her to the side as the pale being lunged at her, missed, and persevered in attacking the one she loved so much. It devoured him like a fruit; grotesquely and violently, sucking him dry, as if through a straw. His very last words were hardly audible to Karen, yet she knew exactly what he was trying to say. At that point, she broke down in a state of fear, shock, anger and grief, as images of her late boyfriend’s corpse scrolled across her mind, imitating a screensaver. Then it happened. Everything that she continuously feared and recollected in her sleep occurred. Two days later, she decided she couldn’t spend another day living under the same roof as the essence of the attack. That’s when she returned back home to her folks.
Karen charily retreated back to the so-called safety of her room, her hideout, or even her refuge from the world, having taken some sleeping pills, and paracetamol. The drugs were beginning to kick in, blessing her with a sudden sense of sub-consciousness. She drowsily stumbled into the four walls in which she inhabited, half in the real world, half in her own fantasy world.
A breeze entered the room through the open window to the left of her. She turned her head sharply towards the zephyr, unaware that it had been opened. Her senses grew alert, and she sensed a presence in the room. She halted, ceased all movement, and held her breath. She scanned the room until she was adamant that she was alone in the room. Hurriedly, she shuffled to the window and closed it.
As she turned, she tripped on her own feet, and collapsed in a heap on her bed, unaware that an old friend had stopped by to pay her a visit.
Her eyelids felt heavy, as her body prepared for sleep. She drew the covers up towards her chin, feeling warm, cosy, and safe. She began to lose consciousness, as her mind drifted off into dream world, leaving her helpless and vulnerable.
The window opened silently. The air in the room froze over. Karen drew in her breath sharply, still asleep, and curled herself into a ball to keep well insulated. Steam was omitted from her mouth after every inhalation.
The creature emerged from the murky depths of the shadows. It chuckled silently as it observed in her slumber. His inherited aristocratic attire had grown shabby over the centuries, leaving him in rags, his cape reduced to a frayed cloth. Karen stirred, and the creature dispersed. She settled down, and returned to sleep. Slowly but surely, the vampire recuperated. He knelt next to her and moved his face close to hers. His pale, emaciated lips pressed to hers. The two flaps of skin parted, as his bloodless tongue emerged, seeking hers. Karen’s eyes began to open, as she returned to reality. Her lips divided into a piercing screech as she realised what was happening, her face twisted and contorted into a grimace.
“Muuuumyyyy, daaaadyyyy!” she shrieked. “Heeeeellllllp!”
The footsteps increased speed, and her parents burst into the room, expressions of worry on both their faces. Before they were able to catch sight of the monster, he dispersed into thin air. They quickly ran over to the window and closed it. After a thorough search of the room, they concluded to themselves that the room was empty and it must have been the wind. As the two adult returned to bed, Karen couldn’t get back to sleep. She sat awake, thinking about Shaun, and how her parents had ceased to communicate with her fully since the events. She buried her head in her hands, and sobbed mutely. After a short period, she dried her eyes. The room grew cold, as it did no less than an hour ago.
She looked up, wide-eyed and terrified. The window was open. This time she knew she hadn’t opened it, neither had her parents. She stood cautiously, waiting for something to jump out at her. She rushed over to the window, shutting and locking it. She held the key in her hand for a second, and then pushed it deep into the cavity of her pyjama pocket. She turned around rapidly. He was there. He wagged his finger at her, almost mockingly. Abruptly, he enclosed her in his cape, muffling her scream with his hand.
“Leave me alone, please” Karen wept. “What do you want from me? You’ve already taken the one I loved the most in the world. What else do you want?”
“What do you mean I took the one you loved the most?” It questioned her remark.
She lost control of her senses. His lips once more pressed against hers. She couldn’t move; she was paralysed. He released her. She fell to the ground, gasping for breath, difficultly, yet liberally. She looked up at him. There was something incongruously familiar in those deep, spellbinding eyes, as if it was a long lost relation of hers.
“What’s the matter?” he asked gently. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
She looked him up and down.
“Oh, the garb!” he said casually without thought. “I have to, its part of the job”
Suddenly she remembered what she was doing trapped inside the vampire’s drape. She consequently began to scream for her parents’ aid.
“Why do you keep doing that?” He enquired. “It’s not exactly like they can hear you.”
Karen’s lips froze half parted, a screech ready to fly.
“What do you mean?” She queried uncertainly, her bottom lip quivering slightly. “What did you do to Shaun and me that night?”
“Why do you keep talking about me like that?” His face showed puzzle and worry. He began to stoke her shoulder gently. She jerked away violently.
“Who are you?” Karen was becoming hysterical. Her voice was but a shrill squeak.
“Stop joking around.” He began to laugh nervously, but as he saw her face continued to hold that same look of distress, his grin melted into a long look of concern.
“WHO ARE YOU?!” She shrieked at the very peak of her lungs.
“It’s me, Shaun. Who else would it be?”
“No, No, Noooooo!!” She backed up against the wall, her chest heaving, struggling to breathe. “You’re dead! I saw you die.”
“Yes and… is that it. Is that what’s been freaking you out? What’s the big deal, I mean, it’s not like you’re alive either!”