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Darkness Falls

  • Posted on November 4, 2016 at 3:43 pm

By Girl Lover

Susan’s eyes fluttered in the darkness. She was lying on a floor somewhere and her head was killing her. She brought her hand up and winced in pain as she felt the bruise on her forehead. Her breaths coming deep and slow, she tried to get up, rolling onto her side and pushing up with her arm, but it was too much and she slipped back down with a choked cry. The pain was too much.

Opening her eyes and looking about, all she saw was darkness with a faint light that seemed to come through a doorway. Closing her eyes again, she tried to remember what had happened.

*****

“Just one more ride!” Stacy begged.

“So do I,” Stacy reminded her.“I have to be up at six-thirty tomorrow,” Susan protested.

“Yea, but you already finished grading your papers. I haven’t.”

“Aaagghh! Okay… I’ll see you tomorrow,” Stacy conceded.

Susan Swann and Stacy had known each other since they first met at the University of Texas, where they were both majoring in Applied Learning and Development. Four years later, they graduated and were both hired on at Webb Middle School. Stacy taught writing and Susan taught sixth-grade science.

Twelve years later, they were always together. Stacy had gotten married soon after graduating, but Susan had never managed to find someone wonderful like Stacy had. Compared to Stacy, she was plain and a little chubby. Her shyness and being an introvert kept her from going out and was always a hindrance to being able to make friends. No one wanted to hang out with her outside of school, except Stacy, her only friend. When Megan, another sixth grade teacher, had gotten engaged, she had gone around to all the other teachers showing off her engagement ring, but never to Susan. Susan knew that Megan didn’t have any ill-feelings towards her, but it was simply that she, along with everyone else, simply forgot that she was there. It was like she was invisible.

That was why she valued Stacy’s friendship so much, because Stacy was the only one that actually cared and wanted to spend time with her. She jumped at every chance to hang out with Stacy, but Stacy’s husband and kids often came first, so Susan spent many nights alone, enviously watching other couples who had someone.

Now at thirty-five, it seemed that no one would ever be attracted to Susan and that she was destined to be alone the rest of her life. This was all too clear because she had never actually “been” with anyone. She had had a boyfriend in high school, but it didn’t last long. Neither of them had really been attracted to the other and although they had made out a few times, that’s as far as it went. So, a thirty-five-year-old virgin with no boyfriend, no friends (except Stacy), and no life.

It was no wonder that when Stacy had invited her to the carnival, she jumped at the chance. She valued every second that she had with Stacy because she was her only company. But as the night grew later, she knew that she had to get back home. Although she wanted to stay, she had papers to grade and that always took too long.

“Do you need a ride home?” Stacy asked.

Susan looked in the direction of her apartment and replied, “No, I’ll be okay.”

“You sure? You know how scared you get.”

Susan smiled in agreement, “I’m sure. It’s just five minutes. Besides, I need the exercise.”

Hugging Stacy goodbye and waving to her husband Greg, Susan turned and walked along the dark, empty streets, the warm night air feeling good on her skin. Normally, she never went out at night. Being very timid, she was scared of everything. But, it was so nice out here. She looked up at the full moon through the bare tree branches and marveled at its beauty. It was so bright and she was able to see the grey and white areas on it. She used to know which one of the grey areas was the Sea of Tranquility and…

“Wha’re you doin’ out here all alone?” a voice slurred. Susan turned suddenly towards the voice. A haggard, disheveled man was leaning against the wall in front of her. Flinching, she stepped away to go around, when he also stepped in front of her, blocking her path. Suddenly coming to a stop, she turned around to go back and was startled to see a second man directly in front of her.

“My friend asked you a question.”

Susan tried to run, but he grabbed her arms. “Hey Earl, it looks like we got a wild one here.”

Susan pulled out her phone and opened her mouth to call for help, but a hand clamped over her mouth from behind. They started pulling her when Earl cried out in pain, “OWW…FUCK!! SHE BIT MY HAND!” He smashed his fist against her head, causing her to drop her phone. “YOU FUCKIN’ BITCH!!”

Reeling from the blow, she felt herself being thrown towards the wall. Smacking her head against it, she collapsed on the ground. As she tried to get up, she felt a blow to her stomach and suddenly couldn’t breathe. Dazed and gasping for breath, she felt herself being dragged along the ground. Her vision a blur, she tried to get up.

“Stop moving, bitch!” as she was shoved back down, smacking her head on the concrete. Blinded for a few seconds, the blurriness in her eyes cleared and she saw the wild-eyed man leering down at her maliciously. The other man beside him held her arms down with one hand while covering her mouth with his other hand.

“Now if you’ll cooperate, you may live to see tomorrow,” the man on top of her sneered. Holding up a knife in front of her face, her eyes grew wide with terror.

“Ohhh yesss…I’m going to enjoy you,” he promised her. He proceeded to tear her dress open, then slipped the knife under her bra, cutting it open. Roughly grasping her breast, he grinned at the other man.

Staring at the knife in his hand, Susan froze in fear. Trembling, tears ran down her face as she wondered if she would survive this. Then… something caught Susan’s eye, a movement in the darkness. Just behind the man. A small, black form creeping silently towards him, on all fours like an animal, then it disappeared from view behind him.

Seconds later, a face sprang up behind the man’s shoulder and sank its teeth into the side of his neck. He began screaming as his throat was ripped open, spraying blood across Susan. The other man gaped in fear than quickly staggered up onto his feet and began running. The creature raised up, blood dripping from its mouth as it snarled at him, then dropping the lifeless body it was holding, it swiftly bounded after the fleeing man on all fours before springing onto his back and tearing open his neck. The man fell down, screaming hysterically for a few seconds and struggling wildly, then was silent.

In shock, Susan watched as it kneeled down, its face buried in the man’s fallen body. Though in a lot of pain, Susan tried to get up, but couldn’t focus through the haze in her eyes. Turning to look at the creature, she watched in horror as it stood up and began walking back toward her. Panicking, Susan tried get up… and then everything slowly faded to black as she lost consciousness.

*****

Susan awoke. Gasping as she remembered the two men and the creature, she reared up, desperate to flee. But suddenly feeling dizzy, she fell back, panting for breath. Looking around wildly, she saw that there was only darkness. After several seconds, there was a faint light off to one side, illuminating a room that she was in. She was lying on the floor in a small carpeted, empty room.

She slowly raised up, her head still hurting. Grasping her forehead, she winced at the pain and looked around. Her dizziness seemed to be gone. Carefully getting up, she stumbled to the open doorway and looked out to behold a large empty warehouse before her; not just empty, but long abandoned. Where she had been lying was once an office.

At a loss as to where she was, she slowly walked out into the cavernous warehouse. It was huge, bigger than a football field and completely empty. She looked all around and could only see one door that seemed to lead out.

Complete silence. At one time, this place was full of life with people and things moving, now it was dead and still. No sounds. No movement…

Something moved behind one of the steel columns in the middle of the floor. Susan stared at it in fright, wondering what it was. Then the small, pale face of a little girl peered at her from behind it. A little girl?! In a place like this in the middle of the night?!

She walked towards the girl, calling out, “Hello. What are you doing here?”

Half hidden in the darkness, the girl didn’t answer. Susan slowly came around the column trying not to scare her. “What’s your name?” she quietly asked.

Still no answer. The girl, who appeared to be no older than the sixth-graders that Susan taught, continued to stare curiously at her as Susan came around the column. She was dressed in a dirty, torn blue t-shirt and jeans, with shoulder-length dark hair. She looked homeless.

No longer afraid by her surroundings, Susan’s attention was completely on this girl. “What’s your name?” Susan repeated.

“Elena.”

“I’m Susan. What are you doing here?”

“Watching you,” the girl replied.

Susan slowly asked her, “Do you know how I got here?”

“I brought you here.”

Stunned by this, Susan looked at her silently. “How… why did you bring me here?”

“You were hurt.”

Susan felt goose bumps on her skin as she remembered what happened. Her mouth dry, she slowly asked, “Were… were you there?!”

Elena didn’t say anything.

“What were you doing there?”

The girl answered in a low voice, “I was feeding.”

“You were… what?” Then in Susan’s memory, she remembered the face that appeared over the man’s shoulder, biting his neck and spraying blood out. The face looked… like a girl. The girl that now stood before her. She blinked a few times.

She gasped, “That… that was you?! What the hell were you doing?!”

Elena said quietly, “I was hungry and needed to eat.”

“You were hungry?!” Susan choked, “What the hell are you?!”

“I’m a vampire.”

“A what?!” Susan asked, not believing what she just heard.

“A vampire,” the girl replied calmly.

Susan asked, “You’re not serious?!”

Elena nodded.

“You mean fangs and drinking blood?”

Elena nodded again.

“Elena, I’m not in the mood for jokes. Vampires aren’t real.”

“We are real.”

“We?” Susan’s eyebrows raised.

“There are others.”

Susan sighed and told her, “Okay, look. I was dizzy and don’t know what I saw, but it wasn’t a vampire. I’m tired, my head is killing me and I need to figure out how to get back home.”

“You don’t believe me?” Elena asked.

“No. I don’t believe in vampires or werewolves or Frankenstein. Now, I need to go home,” Susan turned away and began walking towards the door, “And you need to go home too.” She turned around to face her, “Your parents must be worri…”

The words died in her mouth. Elena wasn’t there. She was gone, as if she had never existed.

Susan looked all around, turning slowly in a circle. There was no place that Elena could have gone in the emptiness of the warehouse. Not the darkened office, not out the door, nowhere. In the silence, Susan suddenly felt chills go down her spine.

“Okaaayy… this is getting creepy,” she muttered. Looking all around one more time, she turned to head back toward the door…

“AIIGGHH!” she shrieked.

Elena was standing right in front of her, her lips slightly parted, exposing the two fangs hanging down half an inch. “Do you believe me now?”

*****

Two days ago.

“Come on, Susan,” Stacy begged, “It’ll be fun! Everyone says this movie is really cool.”

“I don’t like horror movies.”

“You’re such a pussy! It’s not scary,” Stacy teased her.

“They are to me. There’s already enough sickos and violence in the world,” Susan told her emphatically, “I don’t understand why you would want to watch such a thing.”

“It’s not real!”

*****

This was real. Susan’s breaths started coming in gasps. The combination of the pain throbbing in her head along with the realization of something standing before her that used to only exist in horror movies overwhelmed her to the point that she suddenly felt lightheaded. Susan stepped back, staring wide-eyed at the girl.

“I won’t hurt you,” Elena told her. “Please don’t be afraid of me!”

She continued stepping back, keeping her eyes on Elena fearfully.

“Please don’t go! I’m not gonna hurt you!” Elena beseeched her.

Susan paused, then asked “You won’t hurt me?”

“No.”

Suddenly feeling faint, Susan said, “I think I’m going to throw up.” Seeing a couple of pallets stacked on top of each other nearby, she quickly went over and sat down, hunched over and breathing shallowly.

Elena asked, “Are you alright?”

Hunched over, she wrapped her arms around herself and closed her eyes. She took a few deep breaths to keep from vomiting.

Elena quietly told her, “I’m not the monster that books and movies portray me as.”

Susan looked at her fearfully, “I saw what you did to those men!”

“I saw what those men did to you,” Elena replied quietly.

Susan thought back to the men holding her down. It came back to her… being hit and held down, staring at the knife in his hand. Her eyes squeezed tightly shut, she drew in a shuddering breath as she remembered wondering if she was going to die.

She heard Elena’s voice quietly in her ear, “Who is the monster? Me or them?”

She raised up her head to look at Elena and was shocked to see that she was still standing where she was, about twenty feet away. Distracted by how she did that, she had to admit that the little girl didn’t seem… well, evil. She had saved her after all.

Wringing her hands nervously, Susan asked, “How did you get to be this way? I mean… how did you become…” she took a deep breath, still not believing she was talking to “…a vampire?”

Elena came over and sat down beside her. “I grew in a village called Tsenovgrad, in the Balkans. It doesn’t exist anymore. Life was completely different back then, harder, more uncertain. Back then, everyone believed in various monsters. But to me, they were just tall tales that the superstitious and children told each other. I didn’t believe any of them, though some of my friends did. Anyway, I was eleven years old when the plague came.”

“Plague?” Susan wondered, “I don’t remember seeing anything on the news about a plague.”

Elena looked at her, “You wouldn’t remember because it happened hundreds of years ago. It was the Black Death.”

“Hundreds of years ago?!” Susan interrupted, “But you’re only eleven.”

“Actually… I’m almost 700 years old,” Elena explained.

Susan’s eyes and mouth dropped open as she felt a chill come over her and exclaimed, “700 years?!” to which Elena nodded. Susan stared off into space for several seconds trying to visualize this.

“Nobody in my village had heard of the plague until it was too late. Every day, more people died. Their bodies were carried outside the village and burned. My mother eventually got it and then my brothers and sisters. They got sicker and sicker and I wondered when I too would get it. Soon, they were gone. I carried their bodies outside the village to the pit where we burned them. For awhile, I thought that maybe I had been spared, but I had not. I knew it was just a matter of days, but I did not fear death anymore. After being surrounded by it, it was just another fact of life. Being alone, without my family, I almost welcomed it.

“Finally, it got to be that I was too weak to get out of bed and I could barely breathe. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would join my family in the afterlife, so I waited for the end.”

Susan wiped her eyes.

“That night, a dark shape, like a shadow, appeared beside me. It looked like a ruddy, bloated man. It asked me if I wanted to live. Before, I thought that there was no choice. Now, this dark stranger was giving me a choice… and I took it. It leaned over me and I felt it biting me on the neck. I don’t remember anything after that.”

“When I woke up, the dark man was gone and I didn’t feel sick anymore. In fact, I never felt as good as I did. I was somehow stronger, faster. But in the morning when I tried to go outside, the sun burned my skin as if I had been set on fire. I learned that I couldn’t go out in the sun anymore. I had to wait for it to be night to go out.”

Elena looked down at the ground as she whispered, “I was also hungry.”

She paused, then continued, “I had gone a full day without eating. I tried to eat some of the vegetables we had in our garden, but they tasted awful and I had to spit them out. We also had some chickens. I killed one and tried cooking some of the meat, but it was like the vegetables, I threw it up. That’s when I noticed the rest of the chicken with the blood in it. I tried some of the meat raw and I found out that I was able to take the blood as food, but it didn’t taste very good. Over the next several days, I learned that I was no longer able to eat food anymore, but could only sustain myself by drinking the blood from our chickens. And if I went too long without drinking it, I would get weaker and weaker.”

“Everything changed one night when a thief broke into my house. When he saw me, he came at me thinking I was alone. I fought back and easily killed him. Afterwards, I looked at his blood on my hands and licked it.”

Elena paused then said, “It was better than the chicken blood. Much better. In fact, it was delicious. I drank more of his blood. It filled me and made me feel…” She paused again, “It made me feel so good, almost giddy. I kept drinking it till I couldn’t hold anymore.”

She turned her head away from Susan so she couldn’t see her face, “I changed that night. I no longer wanted chickens. I wanted people. But I didn’t want to hurt anyone and so I had to learn to control my thirst.”

Susan said, “How can you drink another person’s blood?!”

Elena replied, “I have to. I need to eat, the same as you. Most of the time, I’m able to do it without killing anyone. Are you able to eat without killing plants or animals?”

Thinking for several seconds, Susan had to admit, “No… but it’s not the same! What you do, it’s… it’s a curse, and immoral.”

“This thing that I am may seem immoral, but life before it was much worse. Every day was a constant struggle to fend off disease, starvation and evil people who wished to harm you. You had no control over your life. There was no medicine, no police, no cell phones, no social services… nothing! It was up to fate whether you lived or died! Now, I am in control! Fate has no hold over me! This curse, as you call it, is not a curse at all. It saved me from the plague and from the man who tried to hurt me. And it has saved me hundreds of times from those who wanted to harm me because they thought I was a defenseless little girl.”

Staring intensely at Susan and in a rebuking tone, Elena told her in a low, quiet voice, “You have no idea what it’s like to have your life be in the hands of someone else… or do you?”

Susan stared back blankly, condemned by her words.

Elena asked, “Do you regret my saving you?”

“No,” Susan whispered, shaking her head sadly and wiping her eyes. She felt nauseous as she realized that something this vile, a parasite even, had saved her life because of what she was. If you had something that could keep you safe… from disease or accidents or evil people… well, how could that be a curse? Thinking back earlier, to the alley, as she was held down with her life in the hands of someone else, she realized that she too would have done anything to be safe.

“I’m sorry…” she mumbled quietly.

Elena looked down sadly, “I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to be so stern. It’s just… I’ve been feared and hated for centuries. I can’t help who I am. In the past, I have feared people as much as they’ve feared me. That’s how I came to America. In the eighteenth century, a mass panic over vampires in eastern Europe drove me from my village. People began hunting us down and even went as far as digging up graves of people who recently died and staking them through the heart. I had to head west, traveling at night and sleeping in caves during the day so I wouldn’t be discovered.”

They were silent for a few seconds, then Susan asked, “Where do you live now?”

“Here,” Elena looked about the warehouse. “I’ve been here for the last two years. Before, I was at a closed textile plant, but they started tearing it down so I moved here.”

“You live here?!” Susan asked, looking around at the dirty emptiness.

“Yes.”

“But it’s so dirty,” Susan exclaimed, “and there’s… nothing. No furniture… nothing…” As Susan looked around at the warehouse, she found her heart going out to this girl… despite what she was. “Don’t you have any friends you can stay with?”

She shook her head, “I don’t have any human friends because of the whole stigma against vampires. And vampires are kinda solitary. We don’t live together.”

Susan’s eyes felt heavy as the lateness of the evening began to take its toll. Noticing that it probably was really late and needing to get home, she stood up. She had lost her phone when the men grabbed her so she didn’t know what time it was and she couldn’t call anybody. “I need to go home and get some sleep.”

She walked toward the door, leading outside, with Elena trailing her. Opening the door, she saw a dark, empty parking lot surrounded by the silhouettes of trees and buildings. Still fearful, Susan was reluctant to leave and hesitated.

Feeling something touch her hand, she looked down. Elena smiled up at her, “I can walk you home if you like.”

Susan smiled weakly and nodded. “Thank you. I’m already afraid of the dark, and after what happened earlier…” She looked around the parking lot and with Elena by her side, she stepped out into the night and moved forward.

As they walked along, Elena asked, “What do you do?”

“I’m a teacher. I teach sixth grade science.”

Coming to a road and recognizing it, Susan now knew where she was. It was a closed-down factory near her apartment. She began walking along the road, which was as silent and empty as the warehouse. She looked up at the sky and again saw the moon with its white and grey patches. Seeing this, she asked, “Do you miss the sun?”

“Yes,” Elena answered sadly. “I can’t remember what it’s like any more.”

They walked along for a while and then Susan asked something she had been wondering. “Elena… why did you tell me all this, about you being a vampire?”

Elena didn’t answer right away and when she did, her voice was sad and distant. “I left the human world when the dark man brought me into the night. I further stopped being human when I began to feed on people.”

She looked up into the black sky, “Since then, the night has made me… do things. Things that I have regretted.”

Elena’s voice became more upbeat and hopeful. “Humans and vampires have always had a mutual hate and disgust for each other, but there has been a movement in the vampire community about integrating with and living in peace among humans. Not everyone wants it, but many do, although we still have to hide what we are. There are too many unaccepting people in the world. This is something that I’ve wanted for a very long time. I want to be able to talk to and interact with people like I used to before I was turned… I want to have a friend. A few decades ago, I began mainstreaming.”

Susan looked at her with a confused look.

“It’s another word for mixing with humans. I go into places where people are, such as a store, and I just hang out and talk to them. I love how it makes me feel… like I am one of them again. Then when I get hungry, I leave and go look for a stray dog or…”

Elena saw Susan’s shocked look and told her, “I have to eat. It’s either an animal or a person. Animal blood can nourish me, except it doesn’t taste as good.”

“So… you’ve been feeding on dogs all this time?” Susan asked, her face wrinkling in disgust.

“And other animals, most of the time,” Elena answered dejectedly, “Sometimes I can’t find one, so I have to search the alleys for a homeless person that’s passed out. I don’t kill them, I just take a little blood from them as they sleep. They aren’t even aware of me doing it.”

Susan winced as she imagined Elena in a dark alley, kneeling over a sleeping man, blood running down her cheeks as he quietly bled into her mouth. Susan asked nervously, “What do you do if you can’t find an animal or a homeless person?”

“Then I have to hunt as I’ve always done.”

“People?!” Susan stared at her, horrified. “How can you do something like that?!”

Elena looked down as she quietly said, “The night has its price. I’ll never grow old and I’ll never die,” she looked up at Susan, “but I must feed. I try to do it without hurting anyone.”

They continued walking in silence until they came to Susan’s apartment. As they approached, Susan found herself in a bit of a quandary. Over the past half-hour, she had actually found that she had grown really close to this little vampire girl. Elena wasn’t just a vampire; she was also a little girl and she was nice. Someone who could be a friend to her. She hated the idea of Elena having to live in a dingy, dismal warehouse, especially since she wanted a friend too. And Susan knew how it felt to desperately want a friend. Susan was so lonely herself that she was willing to give someone like Elena a chance.

After walking up to the door, Elena smiled, “I’m glad I met you Susan. I hope I’ll see you again later.” She turned and walked away.

Susan watched her leaving, and then reached out through her loneliness and concern. “Elena?”

Elena stopped and turned back. “Would you maybe… want to spend the night here… with me?”

Elena walked back. “Why?”

“I just… don’t want you to have to live in that warehouse, especially when you’re wanting to have a friend,” Susan smiled weakly. “I hardly have any friends myself and it would be nice to have company.”

“Why would you trust me?”

“Because of everything you’ve told me.”

Elena thought for a while, then said, “If I were to spend the night here, I would have to leave early to get back to the warehouse.”

“If you want to, you could sleep here during the day while I’m at work, except…” Then she asked questioningly, “Do you need a coffin to sleep in?”

Elena smiled as she said, “We don’t sleep in coffins. That’s just a myth. In the past, people thought that people who recently died became vampires and with that 1931 Dracula movie, people thought that we all slept in coffins. I just need someplace away from the sun.”

*****

Pulling her key from her pocket, Susan opened the door. She turned on the lamp nearby, revealing a small kitchen and living room. “It’s small but you’ll have your own room to sleep in and you can watch TV.”

She looked at the clock. 12:13. “Ugh…” she groaned. Just over six hours before she had to get up. Turning back to Elena, she closed the door and saw for the first time how pale she was. ‘So that’s what happens when you don’t get any sun’, she thought.

Walking towards the second bedroom that she used as a storage closet, Susan told her, “I have to be up at six-thirty, so I need to go to bed now, but this is where you can sleep.”

When she reached the doorway, she saw that Elena was still standing back out in the living room, just inside the door leading outside and staring apprehensively at the kitchen.

“Elena…” Susan walked towards her, “What is it?”

“Could you put that away?” she whispered apprehensively, pointing at something just out of sight on the wall.

Confused, Susan walked over to see what Elena was pointing at. As she rounded the corner, she saw what it was: a cross hanging on the wall that her dad gave to her when she moved in.

Susan looked at Elena and saw her staring intensely, almost fearfully at it. Her confusion turning into nervousness, Susan slowly and quietly mumbled, “Okaaayyy…” then went over and took the cross off the wall and took it to her room.

Just before she entered her bedroom, she looked back at Elena and saw that she had walked further into the living room, no longer afraid. As Susan walked towards her closet to put the cross on the shelf, she stopped mid-stride and after thinking for a few seconds, she went over to the nightstand beside her bed and laid it down within easy reach.

Coming back out, she asked, “Do you have any clothes or things?”

“Not really,” Elena simply said.

“You mean, that’s…” looking at the worn, dirty clothes she was wearing, “what you wear everyday?”

“I wash my clothes at the laundromat and I also search the clothes donation bins that are around town for new clothes.”

“Okay. We’ll have to remedy that. The bathroom is over here,” Susan pointed to a door in the hall, “Oh, I just remembered I don’t have a toothbrush for you. I’ll have to get one.”

“I don’t get cavities.”

Susan stared at her for a few seconds, then said, “Well, you still need to clean your mouth. I don’t even want to imagine what your breath smells like.”

She walked in the second bedroom and moved some boxes off of the bed onto the floor. “You can sleep here. What time do you go to bed?”

“About seven in the morning,” Elena replied as she went to the window and touched the curtain covering the window, “Do you have another curtain that’s thicker than this?”

“Lemme see,” Susan looked inside the closet, moving blankets aside and looking inside boxes.

“Nooo… I have this blanket. Let me try hanging it up.” She carried a dark blue blanket to the window and carefully draped it across the curtain rod, then tucked the sides in.

Elena inspected the sides.

“Will that work?” Susan asked.

“Yea, I think so. It can’t let any light in.” Looking around, Elena saw a large dresser with a tall mirror attached to it. “Is it okay if I move that in front of the window?”

“Yes, of course, except it’s really heavy. I can’t even budge it myself. My dad and brother had to put it there.”

Elena walked over and stood in front of it, then as Susan watched, she grasped either end and easily picked it up, causing Susan to gasp in surprise, then she carried it over to the window and set it down so that the window was blocked.

It took a few seconds for Susan to find her voice, “H-how did you lift that by yourself?,” to which Elena smiled shyly at her. Susan told her, “Well, okay… I need to go to bed now. Would you like to watch TV or something?”

“Yes, thank you.”

As Susan walked into the living room to turn on the TV, she caught a glimpse of Elena behind her in the mirror hanging on the wall. “Hey, I can see you in the mirror! I thought vampires didn’t reflect in mirrors.”

“That’s another myth from that Dracula movie.”

“Really? What other things are myths?” Susan asked, surprised.

“I can’t turn into a bat. That’s from the Dracula movie too. In Twilight, the vampires were able to go into the sun and all that happened was that they sparkled.” Sighing, she added, “I wish that was all that would happen to me if I were to go out into the sun.”

“So, you don’t like crosses or the sun. What else do you not like?”

“Silver, garlic, being staked and decapitated.”

“I don’t like being staked or decapitated either,” Susan said jokingly. She went to the couch and handed Elena the remote, then stood there, looking at Elena, slightly smiling.

“Are you okay?,” Elena asked.

“Yes. It’s just everything that’s happened… being attacked, meeting you, then I go and invite you to spend the night,” she chuckled nervously. “I hope I’m not losing it.”

“I don’t want you to be uncomfortable,” Elena told her. “I can leave.”

“No. You need a decent place to stay, and I know you’re good.” Susan took a deep breath, then said, “Good night.” Remembering that she still hadn’t graded her papers, she sighed. She’d do it tomorrow. “If you need anything, be sure to tell me.”

“Okay.”

As Susan turned to go into her bedroom, Elena called out, “Susan…”

Susan stopped and turned.

“Thank you for letting me stay here…and for trusting me. You don’t know how much it means to me. No one has ever trusted me before.”

“You’re welcome.”

Susan went into her bedroom and closed the door. Going to her chest of drawers, she pulled out her nightgown and began getting undressed. ‘A vampire!’ she thought eerily, ‘I actually have a real, live vampire with me! No one’s ever going to believe this.’

She couldn’t wait to tell Stacy. ‘She won’t believe this, but I’ll bring her over and show her…’

Suddenly Susan imagined Stacy telling others. And then people calling the police. The police coming over during the day when Elena was vulnerable. The news picking up the story, making her out to be a killer… Susan froze, staring off into space. She couldn’t tell Stacy. She couldn’t tell anyone.

She went into the bathroom and was stopped in her tracks by what she saw in the mirror. As the bloody, bruised reflection looked back at her, she cringed, lightly touching the bruises on her face. It was a stark reminder of what had happened. Going over to turn on the shower, she undressed and stepped into it. After showering and brushing her teeth, she finally slipped on her nightgown and crawled into bed. She thought she wouldn’t be able to sleep at all because of everything that happened, but ten minutes later, she was asleep.

*****

Elena looked at the remote control as she tried out the various buttons. Though she had watched TV many times, she had never used a remote control — or had a TV of her own, for that matter, since she had never lived anywhere that had a TV. She flipped through the channels for the first time and was amazed at the kinds of shows that were on. After about an hour, she had grown bored and turned it off. Rising off the couch, she walked around the small apartment and looked at the various things that Susan had: family pictures, books, CDs, and DVDs. She seemed a quiet, simple woman and judging by her books and DVDs, she loved history and science.

As Elena looked around, the reality of having a comfortable place to sleep sank in. No one had ever willingly let her stay with them in their house before. ‘Willingly…’ she thought. There had been times, when she was still feral, when she had simply taken what she wanted because she could. ‘But, that was in the past. I’m not that way anymore’, she reminded herself. Elena was grateful beyond words for what Susan had given her. Susan hadn’t just given her a comfortable place to sleep in, she had given Elena her trust. For this, Elena was eternally grateful. It gave her hope of being able to mainstream with people.

Continue on to Chapter 2