He curled around me, holding me so that my back pressed against his chest. My heart thundered in my chest as he kissed my ear, my hair. Power coursed through me so that my vision was saturated with colors. Sounds traveled to me from great distances. The crackling of the fires miles away, the individual steps and sighs of the zombies that wandered the streets below. The blood rushing through my veins.
I rolled, turning to Dimitri. His eyes were gray, lids heavy with exhaustion. I placed my hand against his neck and felt the blood moving through his veins, powered by magic instead of life. I kissed him gently, afraid now that I could hurt him. That I could take too much. “We must go,” I said, sitting up and looking around for my clothing.
We dressed silently. Dimitri occasionally reached out and brushed against me; his fingers playing with a strand of my hair, lightly touching my ankle as he tied his shoe. Once we were clothed, my chain wrapped around my waist again and my one remaining knife in the makeshift holster at my hip, Dimitri pulled me against him. “Darling, I do not understand what you are,” he said, kissing the top of my head, inhaling my scent. I leaned against his button-down shirt, wrapping my arms around his narrow hips, feeling his hard chest against me. “But in all my centuries on this planet I’ve never known this before.”
I looked up at him. “What?” I asked. “Known what?”
He held my face and kissed me, his tongue tangling with mine, more of his power drifting to me so that I rose on my tip toes and pulled him closer. The strength within him was intoxicating. I broke the kiss and held his hand as we walked toward the door that led down into the apartment building we stood upon.
I pulled on the handle, which was still warm from the sun that had sunk hours ago, but the door was locked. “Let me,” Dimitri said, reaching around me. I stepped aside and saw his forearm strain as he pulled. The door didn’t give and Dimitri’s brows conferenced. He looked over at me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Dmitri shook his head. “I need to feed,” he said, putting both hands on the handle and yanking hard. I heard the metal give and the door buckled. With one more tug it opened.
It was dark inside, I reached out blindly for the railing. Dimitri wrapped his hand around mind. “Follow me,” he said.
The door closed behind us and total darkness descended. I felt his hand on my cheek, his thumb running under my eye, his fingers gliding into my hair. His lips brushed against mine. “I want to drink from you,” he said.
I imagined the delicious sinking of his fangs into my flesh, the pleasure of satisfying his hunger, nourishing him. But I knew that I could not help him and stay safe at the same time.
“I can’t let you,” I said, my voice sounding breathless but strong. His lips skimmed the skin beneath my ear as they traveled down my neck, his tongue came out and flicked against my skin. “I’m sorry Dimitri,” I said, “but I can’t feed you.”
“I understand,” he said, backing away from me but keeping hold of my hand. “You can’t see in the dark?”
“No,” I laughed. “I bet you can though.”
“Of course,” he said sounding almost insulted. “Shall I carry you?”
“I’m fine,” I answered, feeling strong and steady even in the dark. While I could not see the steps, I could see his energy all around us: it was pale and weak. I had taken a lot from him.
We started down the steps and at the first landing Dimitri opened a door to a hallway. The lights were still on here. They flickered as we walked past apartment doors. “I need to find a human,” Dimitri said.
“I thought all the people were moved by the army.”
“Yes,” Dimitri said, stopping in front of a door. “But not everyone went. Some people have hidden in their apartments.”
“How can you tell?”
A smile twitched on his lips. “I can smell them and hear them.”
“Their blood, moving through their veins,” Dimitri said, his fangs descending slightly. He turned to me. “Yours is driving me almost insane.” He made eye contact and I saw a voracious hunger in his gaze. Something that no amount of sex, touch, or feel, could heal. He had to suck someone’s blood to satiate it.
Dimitri dropped my hand and kicked the door open. It banged on its hinges and Dimitri stepped into the apartment. I followed behind him into a living room. A ceiling lamp illuminated a worn couch and two chairs facing a large tv. The screen was blank except for small lettering in the upper left hand corner that read “no signal”.
Three doors lead off the living room and Dimitri headed toward one of them. A gun shot rang out and the door splintered as a bullet passed through it. It thunked into Dimitri’s stomach and he stumbled back, knocking into me. I fell onto the ground and stayed there, covering my head with my hands as more bullets flew. Dimitri took a step back as they penetrated him. One ripped through his shoulder and a mist of blood filled the air as it flew through his flesh.
Six bullets and the shooting stopped. I heard the sound of someone reloading and Dimitri kicked the door in. I sat up to see a man fall back into the room, Dimitri upon him. The man’s scream was cut short as Dimitri dove into his neck.
A woman was screaming. I stood up, feeling her scream against my skin, the fear and shock filling the apartment. Dimitri was sucking at the man’s neck, the sound strange and vaguely erotic. The man groaned beneath him, his arms coming around and embracing the vampire, pulling him closer.
He was going to kill him I realized as I walked toward them. When I crossed into the room I saw the woman. She was clutching a child, her eyes wild, almost feral. Her mouth open wide, sound erupting out of her small frame. The child in her arms didn’t move. It was dead I saw, there were no emotions around it, no spark of life. “Dimitri,” I said. He did not acknowledge me.
I stared at them, my eyes focusing and unfocusing. There were lines I saw, cords wrapped around both humans. Faint lines of light, thin, loose; almost like old fashioned telephone wires leading off both figures. The man’s ran to the woman and child and back, a crisscross of ties linking them.
Several ran off Dimitri and disappeared through the wall. Others sprung from him and wrapped around the man, pulsing with each suck.
I put my hand on Dimitri’s shoulder and then ran my fingers up into his hair. “Enough,” I said, pulling him with my mind, twirling lines of my own around him. Taking a deep breath I felt the pleasure he was experiencing. It was magnetic, incredible, sent shivers through me. I stepped closer, pressing my body against him. He slowed down. “Do not drain him,” I requested, my breasts resting on his arm, my emotions pressing against his, attempting to slide between him and his victim.
Dimitri raised his head. The wound on the man’s neck was small, just two punctures. They oozed blood, which Dimitri lapped gently with his tongue. I watched the wounds close. Dimitri stepped away from the man who wobbled for a moment before dropping to his knees. His wife kept screaming. I could tell her fear was turning Dimitri on. He wanted to feed from her too.
I left Dimitri to attend to the man at our feet. His eyes were glazed. A satisfied smile on his face, like a drunk who’s had his fill. I heard Dimitri move away and the woman fell silent. The sound of that gentle, erotic slurping started up again. I felt the pleasure they were both experiencing on my back like the sun’s beams, a nourishing warmth.
The man’s gun was still in his hand. Silver and unloaded. I took it from him. “Where are the extra bullets?” I asked.
He did not respond. Looking around I saw them sitting on a dresser. We were in the couple’s bedroom. The child’s body was on the ground next to where Dimitri held the woman, his face pressed into her neck. He picked her up and carried her to the bed.
I walked over to the dresser and loaded the gun. I placed it in the makeshift knife holster on my waist. It stayed well enough but I made a mental note to pick up a better one.
I looked down at the child. Skin that was once a deep mahogany now looked pale and grey. It was a girl, must have been about two years old. I didn’t see any injuries. What happened? I wondered. Then its eyes opened and I realized the child had turned. It reached up for me and I stumbled back, knocking into the man. We both tumbled to the ground. The zombie child crawled toward us, reaching out. I kicked it away and the man snapped out of his haze.
He reached for the child. “Baby,” he said, his voice tight with emotion.
“Don’t,” I said, grabbing for him. But he shrugged me off and reached for his little girl as she reached for him. “No,” I said, feeling power pour out of me, the horror of that child biting her father too much for me. Not on top of everything else. I had to stop it.
And I did.
They both stopped. Frozen in place, their fingers centimeters apart. The girl’s jaw was open, eyes filmy, a faint green glow coming from behind her irises. Her father, his skin darker than hers ever was, reaching for her, his expression loving and pained. Dimitri’s soft suckling continued. I looked over at the bed. The woman was on her back, Dimitri was between her legs, his head buried in her thigh, those ties that disappeared through the wall pulsing.
Fear thrust through me and they began to move again. I jumped forward grabbing the girl up and holding her away from me. She turned her small face toward me and snapped the air. Then Dimitri was there, he took the child from me and turning his back to the rest of the room crushed the girl’s skull. I recognized the sound.
Sadness, limitless and impenetrable, expanded through the room. It was coming from the father. He began to weep. His broad shoulders shuddering. Dimitri threw his influence over the man but it could not quell the grief that thundered out of him. Dimitri thickened the cloak around the father until he calmed, his eyes going hazy again.
The woman was motionless on the bed, her leg seeping blood from two puncture wounds, staining the quilt she laid upon. Dimitri put the little girl’s body down gently before bending down and licking the woman’s wounds, closing them.
I turned and left the room. Crossing through the living room I opened another door hoping to find a bathroom but what I saw was a hospital bed, a child’s hospital bed. I stared at it, the metal sides glimmering in the low light that filtered around me from the living room. Machines surrounded the bed, their lights off.
“I’m sorry,” Dimitri said behind me. I closed the door and turned to him. “Blood lust,” he said as if in explanation.
“I… it’s been a long time since that happened to me.” I didn’t say anything. “I was very hungry.”
“What will happen to them?” I asked.
He looked back at the open door of the bedroom behind him. “They will be taken to our camps, if they survive long enough to be picked up.”
“Their little girl,” I said, my throat closing as a lump of tears moved up from my gut.
“Not from being bit though,” I said. “She was sick.” Dimitri didn’t say anything. “The dead turn no matter what?” I asked.
“Perhaps,” Dimitri said.
“Will they rise from the ground?” I asked.
“Perhaps,” Dimitri said again. So calm. So fucking cold.
I pushed past him, opening another door that turned out to be the bathroom. I slammed the door and grabbed for the toilet just in time to hurl into it. Tears poured down my face as I retched, my body heaving, bringing up nothing but bile. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten.
The spasms subsided and I sat back, leaning against the wall. Closing my eyes I took some deep breaths, pulling myself together. How did I stop them? I questioned. Where did that power come from and how could I use it?