Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for violence.
Becca hurried out the building before her manager asked her ever-so-politely if she could stay behind another hour. She had had to park her car down a side street this morning because their tiny company car park had been full. The light on the outside of their building had been broken for over a week and was most likely not going to get fixed anytime soon. Becca wasn’t one to complain, despite being acutely aware of how her heartrate sped up as she headed through the darkness at a clipped pace. She took her car keys out of her bag and slotted them between her fingers, clutching them so hard they stabbed into her palm.
A wet, sloshing sound piqued her fear. It was coming from close by. A little voice inside her warned to her run the other way. But it was coming from near the exit of the car park. She could go the other way, but that meant walking all the way around the building in the pitch black.
She slowed down her pace, walking between the few parked cars that were left to be less exposed. The sound grew louder and she moved closer. Then she saw where it was coming from and froze.
Through the windows of a car, she saw the person slouched against the tire of the next car over, eyes closed and head lolled against his shoulder. Black glistened down the man’s smart, white shirt. Becca pressed her knuckles to her mouth as her body trembled with fear.
Another person was crouched beside the man. No, not a person. A vampire. Sucking on his neck. Slurping at the blood the trickled down his front.
Becca forced herself to keep moving, her movements too stiff, thankful for the car between them. She edged sideways, keeping her eyes on the vampire – knowing that the image would stay etched on the backs of her eyelids for the rest of her life, but too afraid to look away.
She managed to reach the exit of the carpark without catching the vampire’s attention. As soon as she was on the other side of the wall, she ran, her low heels clacking against the pavement.
Her car unlocked with a button and she had never been so appreciative of the function until now. Her hands were shaking so much she knew getting her key into the slot would have been like threading a needle in an earthquake.
The roads were close to empty, as usual, so she floored the gas, not caring about the speed limit. She was about halfway home when her phone started buzzing in the passenger seat. Maeve was calling her. Her tongue pressed hard against her cheeks and she swallowed the urge to answer it. She wanted so desperately to talk to someone, but she was already swerving on the road, going 50 in a 40 zone. The unanswered call was followed by a text.
‘Get home. NOW.’
Becca’s heart was lodged in her throat. I’m trying.
She parked up outside her house and tried to run straight through the front door, but it was locked. After a cacophony of frantic knocking and trying the handle, the door swung open and Maeve dragged her inside.
A small suitcase, the one Maeve used when she would stay at her mum’s, was standing by the shoe rack. Beside it was her cricket bat. For the first time in months, Maeve was wearing outside clothes. Her faux fur black coat had been thrown over a baggy t-shirt and gym leggings. Trainers were on her feet in place of her usual slipper booties.
“You won’t believe what I just saw,” said Becca, breathless.
“The Pattinsons are dead.” Maeve grabbed her and shook her.
“The Pattinsons. At number 23. They’re dead. Found in their garden. Ripped apart.” Maeve was shaking her so violently that Becca felt her neck crack. “It was vampires! There’s so many of them now! They’re all here!”
Becca opened her mouth to speak, but found herself without words. Maeve pushed her towards the stairs. “Pack a bag, we’re going. I’ve already packed most of the essentials.”
“But, where?” Vampires were everywhere. There was nowhere to go.
“I don’t know. I don’t care. But I’m not staying here waiting to get eaten!”
Becca paused on the third step. “But Gabriel said vampires have to be invited into a place to enter.”
“And you invite him here!” Maeve was red in the face; eyes bugling and neck veins throbbing.
“He didn’t kill the Pattinsons.” Maybe the vampire she had just seen in the carpark did. Not Gabriel. She had to believe that.
“How do you know? He bit you, didn’t he? He’s not the man you thought he was, Becca.” Her chest was rising and falling heavily with her angry breathes. “I’m taking the lead here. Now get upstairs, grab a bag and let’s go.”
Becca obeyed. She had never seen Maeve so frantic before, it seemed the wise choice not to get in her way.
She threw a change of clothes, her phone charger and a pack of her grandad’s medication into a backpack before heading back down the stairs. All her important things were already in her workbag.
Becca got into the driver’s seat and Maeve slid into the passenger side after throwing her suitcase and bat into the backseat. Becca took one last look at their little house, wondering when she would be returning, before heading off down the road.
Beside her, Maeve was chewing her nails and breathing in short, heavy spurts. “We could go to my mum’s. For now.”
Becca nodded. “I just need to get my grandad first.”
Maeve’s eyes shot to her, alarmed.
“What?” Becca caught the look. “He’s coming with us. I can’t just leave him here to die.”
“He’s dying anyway!” Maeve exclaimed then quickly clamped her mouth shut when Becca look at her appalled. She corrected herself, “He’ll slow us down, Becks. We have to go. Now.”
Becca’s grip tightened on the steering wheel as she turned the corner in the direction of her grandad’s bungalow. “He’s coming with us.”
“I’m not gonna abandon him!”
Maeve fell silent. Becca glanced at her. She saw the understanding in her best friend’s huge eyes. A lump swelled in her throat and the backs of her eyes burned with brewing tears.
Silence hung in the car for the rest of the journey, even Maeve’s erratic breathing had calmed somewhat.
It wasn’t until Becca parked the car outside her grandad’s house when Maeve spoke again. “Do you need my help?”
Becca shook her head. “Paul will be there. He can help me get him in the car.”
Maeve nodded, and as soon as Becca shut the door behind her, she reached over the seat, locked it and lodged her bat upright between her knees.
Becca rushed up the driveway and unlocked the front door. As soon as she stepped into the house she was hit with the smell. The smell everyone knew even if they couldn’t place exactly how. It was oddly metallic. Like old pennies.
And a lot of it.
Becca charged through the corridor and nearly tripped over Paul, lying on the kitchen floor by the open back door. His head had been almost torn completely off. Bile crawled up Becca’s throat at the sight of the stringy, meaty mess of exposed tendons. Blood had pooled around the body, running under the kitchen units. It had a dull, tacky look to it, like the top film of it had dried over. That meant it had been spilled a while ago.
“Grandad,” Becca gasped, and shot into the living room. Her legs gave out beneath her and she dropped to the floor, the carpet burning her knees through her tights.
Her grandad was sat in his chair, arms limp on the armrests. Head back, slack-jawed. His chest had been ripped open – rib bones sticking out like red, clutching claws. His whole body was soaked in blood and when Becca’s eyes trailed to the floor, she threw up onto the carpet. Some sort of organ was by the fireplace. Too chewed up and mangled for her to even identity what it was. Her grandad’s heart? His liver?
A crashing sound, like broken glass, got her stumbling back to her feet. There was too much to process. She couldn’t take her eyes off her granddad but then there was the noise again. It sounded like it was coming from the front of the house.
Then there was a shrill, girlish scream.
Becca jerked into motion and skidded across the bloody kitchen floor as she jumped over Paul’s body and ran to her friend’s aid. But it was too late.
The driver’s side window had been smashed in and there were a pair of legs hanging out of the broken window. From the porch, Becca could see some sort of altercation happening in the front of the car. She saw a flash of Maeve’s blonde hair and the wood of her bat jerking around awkwardly before blood jetted across the windshield.
Becca dropped down to the ground and crawled her way into her grandad’s bedroom. She shuffled her way across the room and shut herself into her grandad’s wardrobe.
Her pulse pounded in her ears so hard it was deafening and throbbed like fingers prodding into her temples. She covered her mouth with both hands to calm her panicked breathing. She could still smell the blood. The smell was so strong she could taste it like it painted the back of her throat.
What is happening?
What is happening?
Her grandad’s dress shoes stabbed into her back. His cardigans itched her face. She slapped them away irritably then sobbed more and curled her fingers into the clothes. They smelled like him. Like must and cherry blossoms.
But she couldn’t hide in the wardrobe forever. The house wasn’t safe. If a vampire had come in and killed Paul and her grandad, that meant it was free to come back and kill her. Was that vampire Gabriel?
Her heart stuttered and bile rose in her throat again.
She had invited Gabriel into the house.
Had he killed her grandad?
No, he wouldn’t.
But he said he wouldn’t bite her and he did.
Had Maeve been right all along?
And now she was dead.
Tears streamed down her face and she had to lodge the sleeve of a cardigan in her mouth to stop her raking sobs from drawing attention.
There was blood all of the house. And two dead bodies. She couldn’t stay here. But she couldn’t get in the car because… because…
She couldn’t use the car.
She needed another car.
The couple at number 23 were dead. They wouldn’t need their car. Was it still stealing if the owners were dead?
Carefully, Becca stood and creaked open the wardrobe door. She paused, listening. She must have been in there for a good hour. Was the vampire still lurking outside?
Was Gabriel still lurking outside? Or was it the vampire she had seen in the carpark?
She thought back to the legs dangling out the window but then shook her head when the memory of Maeve’s blood attacked her.
Don’t think about that now. Just think about surviving.
Her road wasn’t too far from her grandad’s. It had been the reason she had moved into it. An easy fifteen-minute walk.
An easy five- minute run?
There was only one was to find out.
As Becca passed her car, she couldn’t stop herself from looking through the broken window. A wounded cry leapt from her mouth at the sight of Maeve in the passenger seat. Her forehead was against the dashboard like she was sleeping; her big fur coat covered her body like a blanket but it was sticky and matted. In that position, her wounds weren’t visible, but the interior of the car was coated in her blood. It trickled off the dashboard and ran in streaks down the windows.
“Maeve?” Becca whimpered. Was there any chance she could be alive?
There was no answer. No stir. Tears pressed hard against the backs of Becca’s eyes. She had to keep moving. Choking back a sob, she forced herself leave her friend there, alone, like forgotten roadkill.
Her low heels clattered far too loudly against the pavement as she ran so fast her lungs felt like blocks of ice. Her skirt was hiked so far up it was practically a belt. The air ripped against the back of the throat and her thighs burned. But she kept running. And running. And running. Fear and adrenaline were an unruly combination.
By the time she reached the Pattinson’s house, her heart was thumping like a war drum. She was so in her head, so focused on just getting away, that she didn’t think twice before grabbing the spare key from inside the fake rock by the back door (entrusted to her to use when the Pattinson’s were away on holiday), and broke into their house. Their car keys were handily draped over a display hook marked ‘keys’.
She unlocked the car and got in. When the world was going mad, morality meant nothing. And with that thought, she started the engine and drove off into the night, completely unaware of where the hell she was heading.