Slowly I become aware of people talking behind me. The girl is limp and although I can hear that she isn’t dead she will not be able to move. I wonder if I can kill her by draining her. Except that as her blood has become thicker and more sluggish there is a bitter aftertaste. I release her neck and look at the knife. I hold out my hand and look at the weapon. He doesn’t argue, just walks over and places the butcher’s knife in my hand. With a quick movement I cut her throat. I hand back the knife. Then I lay the girl down, listening until her heart stops beating.
Turning I find that all four men are watching me. I smile and feel a little self-conscious. Max is watching me with a lazy satisfied smile. Colin looks jealous and the other two look sick.
“Sorry,” I say to the humans.
“Better them than us,” the knife says.
I frown. That’s a decent point. Are humans something I want to eat? Moving faster than they can track I lean into him. He smells good, like a man, but not like food. He places the point of the weapon under my chin. I smile. He couldn’t do much damage.
“Relax,” I say. “I’m just checking.” I then move to Max’s side.
“Checking?” he asks.
Max watches me. “To see if you were possible food.”
“And?” he asks.
“No,” I answer.
Colin hands me a handkerchief and points at the corner of his mouth. I dab at it and realise that I’m a messy eater. Not that I’ve ever done this before.
“So what are you?” he asks again.
“I don’t know,” Max says honestly.
The humans look at each other and then the knife shrugs. “I’m Brian and he’s Dick.”
“Dick?” I say with a grin.
“Ha…” Dick says, looking bored.
“So,” I ask. “What were you doing with the girl?”
Brian looks uncomfortable. “Well, we were…”
“We wanted her,” Dick finished and he gives us a defiant look.
“Wanted her?” Colin asks, and I can see that he is not happy. I think it has something to do with a subtle change in his scent.
“We know that our barrier won’t hold for long,” Brian says. “So we ae getting our kick when we can.” He gives Max a roguish grin, but Max just stares.
“How many?” I ask.
Dick shrugs and looks away. I can see that he is trying to be casual but his eyes are moving around the alley. He is trying to look for escape. There is none. The alley is a dead end and we are standing at the only entrance and exit.
“A couple,” Brian says. He has holstered his knife at his waist. The sheath doesn’t completely fit the knife, but the thick waistband of his jeans protects his skin from the part of the blade that is exposed.
“Where?” Colin grumbles.
Brian looks at his feet and then meets my eyes. I’m shocked at the icy blue of them. He gives a slight grin and I can see that under different circumstances I would find him very attractive. Max reaches out and grabs my waist, pulling me toward him. But really, although there is a residual attraction, it is almost as if there is no drive to know Brian any better. I feel that he isn’t even in the same league as me. But then I suppose that I’m now a different species. Briefly, for just a moment, I feel rage rumble through me. I may be able to survive in this world but I have been left with few choices. Max or Colin… There is no choice. I sigh with sadness for the life that I could have had.
“I’ll show you,” Brian says and starts to walk toward us. Dick grabs his arm. If Brian is handsome in a surfer-dude way then Dick really isn’t. He has broad shoulders that tell of a life spent lifting weights, but his face is hard. His hair appears to have a fresh buzz cut, almost as if he had been caught at the hairdresser when everything had gone down.
“Those girls are mine,” Dick says.
Brian shrugs him off. “I don’t think we can argue.”
Dick looks at us and sneers, but lets Brian go. “This way.”
We follow. I want to immediately run, especially as I can smell the trail that Brian and Dick left before. I find that faintly disturbing, the fact I could track the trail back to their little hidey-hole.
“Have you hurt them?” Colin is asking Dick. In fact they are behind us and falling further back.
I tug on Max’s arm and nod to Colin. He drops back and leaves me with Brian.
“They trust me with you?” he asks.
I laugh and look at him, allowing my eyes to sink into the blackness.
“Shit,” he says and looks away.
“They have trusted me with you,” I say, pleased to find that my fangs have shrunk so that I’m not going to lisp.
“So you hunt the things?”
“Yes, but I’ve only been different for a while, so I’m not sure.”
“How long?” he asks.
“What time is it?” I counter and he winces.
“How did you change?”
“Max…” I don’t say anything else.
He glances back and I can see the anger on his face. I guess I would have been a good catch, if I’d still been human.
“What have you been doing with the girls?” I ask.
“I’m no saint,” he says. “In fact, I’m not a nice man. But people always think I am. It’s probably the looks.”
“Probably,” I say with a smile.
Maybe it is the smile, but as he moves toward me I don’t feel threatened. In fact, I just look at his face. But at the last moment he drops all pretence and his face goes blank. The knife slides between my ribs and I feel it hit something.
“A body goes into shock when you hit a kidney,” he says. And truthfully I feel the blade going through me with each painful detail. It is hot, the pain, which surprises me. Shouldn’t it be cold? As I think this I feel myself fall to my knees as the blade leaves me.
Distantly I hear Max roar and Colin scream. Dick and Brian are running in opposite directions and the guys are pursuing them. I don’t fall further than my knees. Suddenly it is as if I know my body completely. I feel my kidney that is ruptured, and the direction the knife took. I feel each tear and as the blood fills the gaps left I feel my body start to heal. I know that my eyes are the deepest black as my human side is pushed aside and the monster takes over. It is almost as if there are two beings inside one body. The monster doesn’t want to die, and although the human I once was might take the option to be free of this broken world, it is not allowed. Slowly the monster that is now me begins to fix my body.
It’s difficult to explain, but I turn inwards and as I do I know what to do. Slowly the bleeding stops and my flesh starts to mend. As I come around to my surroundings I see that I’m alone. Max and Colin are gone and about three feet from me, crouching, is one of the others. It sniffs the air and licks its lips. I can see that it is half starved. At the same time I smell it.
The thing that once was a man, a business man by the looks of it, doesn’t smell as nice as the girl does but my body cries out for the blood. Unsteadily I get to my feet and the other does the same. Reaching to my side I place a hand where my wound was. The skin is closed now but the blood is still there. I wet my hand with it and hold it out. I know that the other wants human blood, but this one is half starved and just might take the opportunity.
It does. In a rush it is next to me, hands clawing and mouth wide. I grab its head and push it to one side, ignoring the hands. Exposing the jugular I lunge forward and the other freezes at my bite. I drag the creature’s blood into my mouth. This one tastes strong and I know that I won’t need to drain him. Once my body tells me that it has what it needs I release it.
It falls to the floor. I stand and look about me. Reaching down I take the thing’s head in my hands and a quick twist ends the wretch’s life. I do it all without feeling anything.
I look one way and then the next. There is no sign of Max or Colin. I feel a twinge of anxiety. They ought to be back. I can’t see Max leaving me this long. Unless they thought you were dead, a small voice suggests.
Turning to Max’s scent, I start walking.