Crimson liquid was everywhere. It gave off a nauseating feeling. Not so much from the smell but from the knowledge of where it came from. The liquid life that should be sustaining people was instead pooled on the floor. Only one heart was still beating in the room, the heart of a man who had just walked in on a living nightmare. Ragged breath could be heard coming from his mouth as he was frozen in place at the front door. His face was a mixture of horror and shock. Each beat of his heart jolted a flood of adrenaline into his veins but the sight in front of him kept him frozen in place.
An eternity of a second later, he was jolted out of his shock by a loud shriek coming from the second story. The adrenaline that seemed frozen came alive now as he raced for the stairs at the back.
“No, No, No!” was the only thought coming from his mind and out of his mouth came the name of the person he was desperate to get to: “Amelia!”
He didn’t stop when he made it to the stairs and instead used that speed to propel him upward. Before he was halfway up the long staircase, a man dressed in black appeared at the top.
“I found another one, boss.” He called out to his companion.
“Take care of him,” was the only reply that came from somewhere in the second story. The black clad man seemed not to move at all. One second he was at the top of the stairs and before the next second came to the present he was in front of the shocked man; throwing him down the stairs. Before the man could hit the ground his assailant was at the bottom of the stairs with him, kicking the man helplessly across the room and against the far wall. As the man slumped to the ground his world went black.
It was warm. Like the heat of the sun on a hot summer evening. It started to grow as if the sun was traveling in reverse and headed back up the sky. It continued to grow, assuming the feeling of an open oven. It brought the unconscious man back to awareness. His survival instincts started to kick in and he staggered to his knees from his position face down on the floor. The blood and gore that first greeted the man was still present but the blistering heat that woke him was what triggered more adrenalin to his limbs.
The upper story was a mass of flame and smoke and had already spread to the lower studio. By the look of the flames it was a miracle that they hadn’t reached him yet. No other provocation was necessary to get himself to his feet. He ran along the wall to the door. The flames were catching up with him by the time he reached it. The door was already open and he sprinted through it.
The front lobby was small and he was soon slamming into the front glass door but it didn’t budge. Pushing on it again confirmed that it was locked and jammed because the knob that would unlock it wouldn’t budge.
The flames were hot on the man’s tail so he did the only thing he could do. Backing up a few paces, he surged forward and broke through the glass; scattering shards everywhere and imbedding them in his skin.
After he made it to the street, he looked back at the blaze that was becoming bigger by the second. He could vaguely hear people shouting but the shock that he evaded had now settled back in. Only when the fire truck and ambulance pull in did he move from his frozen state.
A few hours later the flames were completely put out and the only thing left was the burnt frame of the building. The man was seated on the back of the ambulance after getting his burns and cuts treated. He watched as several reporters crowded around the detective that had asked him questions earlier. A hollow feeling came over him as images of what he relayed to the detective reentered his mind. Even as he pushed the images back the feeling remained.
“So you’re the lone survivor, can I get you to tell me what happened?” The man looked coldly at the reporter who came out of nowhere and evaded the detective that kept the rest at bay. The perky woman seemed not to notice the man’s stare and prompted him again. “Come now, don’t be shy.”
“Leave me alone lady, or I’ll call the detective over.”
“At least give me your name.” The eager woman looked at him expectantly. Seeing that she would leave sooner if he answered he replied curtly.
“Gabriel Montoya. Now get out of my face.”
A light breeze blew toward me. It brought with it a foul smell. It smelt of many stenches mixed into one. The smell of old trash and spoiled gasoline were common on this wharf but that wasn’t the smell I picked up. I crept around the stacks of cargo towards the source of the stench.
The smell of rust.
The smell of salt.
The smell of blood, fresh blood.
I followed the smell around more stacks of cargo and piles of junk that were so mangled it was impossible to tell what they originally were. I followed the breeze to the edge of the river where my next step would take me down a wall of concrete into the dirty water where even fish refused to live. I cursed silently at my luck. The smell was still wafting towards me from the other side of the river. I looked up and down the channel for a way to cross because it was too far for any human, even me, to jump across. I spotted a bridge about a quarter mile away. In less than a second my bow was across my back and I started to run.
The rhythmic pounding of my feet lulled me into a somewhat relaxed state. There’s nothing like running to loosen your muscles and relive stress. The harbor was quiet as I ran.
When I reached the bridge I cursed again for not noticing. The bridge was for trains. Not only that there just had to be a damn train coming to block my way. I looked down the channel hopping there was another bridge close by. There wasn’t. I couldn’t afford to wait for the sluggish train to pass. In the time I spend waiting for it to pass the leech could be long gone; headed back to the city to find another victim. Guess I have to do this the hard way.
I backed up a few paces and took out my gloves from my back pocket. Slipping them on, I flexed the worn leather a few times. They were still strong despite their use. I readjusted my bow so it wouldn’t fall.
“Here goes nothing.” I thought humorlessly and then I was in motion. In a couple of strides I picked up speed and launched myself towards the support beams underneath the bridge. For a second I felt weightless then my hands hit the bar and my body weight transferred to my arms and hands. Using the momentum from my jump, I lifted my right hand and moved it to the next beam. Then I moved my left in the same fashion.
Right… Left… Right… Left… Right…
After a while I found myself on the other side. Looking down, I saw the ledge.
“Fuck.” I swore again. The ledge was farther away than it was on the other and I didn’t have a running start this time. I started to build up momentum by swinging back and forth. Trusting my body to its natural instincts I let go and let my body fly through the air; hoping it wouldn’t land me an unwanted bath.
When my legs reached the edge I tucked into a roll to lessen the impact of the ten foot drop. My bow and quiver dug into my back as I rolled over but I was otherwise unscathed. Quickly getting to my feet, I started running; grabbing my bow and getting it back in my hand where it belonged.
The smell got stronger as I got closer. Adrenalin started flowing through me. I welcomed the added awareness. The breeze picked up suddenly blowing the stench with it. It was strong now, very strong. I pressed my back to a crate, took an arrow and nocked it. Then I listened. There was nothing out of the ordinary, though that didn’t mean much. Leeches are good at hiding their presence. The smell was coming from the other side of the row of crates. My muscles coiled and my adrenalin spiked again. I jumped on top of the crate and then down to the other side while simultaneously drawing back the string of my bow. Eyes flashing I searched for my target. Nothing happened. Still tense I studied my surroundings. I was in an alley between two rows of crates. The stench was overwhelming my senses.
A minute later nothing had moved.
“Damn.” I released the tension on the string and lowered my bow but still kept it knocked. “That bastard got away.” Un- nocking the arrow, I slid it back into its place in my quiver. Then I laid my bow carefully on the ground. Just in case I was attacked suddenly it was in easy reach. I kneeled down next to the source of the smell. The man’s eyes were wide open in fear. Two puncture holes on his neck were clear indication to what had happened. The crates around him were slightly damaged and bloodied signaling the man had put up a fight. “Allot of good that did him.” I thought bitterly. I closed his lids to hide his fear stricken eyes that were frozen in his last moment of life. “Rest in peace.” I murmured and then slid one my knives out of its sheath.
I hated doing this but making sure wild stories didn’t circulate when the body was found was important. Carefully I slashed the man’s neck where the two bite marks were, making them no longer noticeable. I added several more slashes to make it look like he was attacked and killed by the knife. After I finished I wiped the blooded knife on the bottom of my jeans. The black material made it hard to notice the stain.
Convinced that the vampire was long gone I picked up my bow, unstrung it and placed it in my quiver. The knives I carried would be better for close combat anyways.
I started to search for clues to where the leech had run off to. The man’s wallet was completely looted; not even his I.D. was left. My search only came up with a light footprint in the dirt. The small print looked like a pair of converse but I couldn’t be sure. Although the print was indistinct the smallness could only mean it was female. When nothing else turned up I started back toward the main hub of Boston.
“Roxanne! Get your ass out here. Your shift started three minutes ago. The customers aren’t going to serve themselves.” I walked out of the small locker room and resisted the urge to growl at my manager. The fool always screeched at me every time I was even one minute late. He’s lucky I am late or I might have just decided to feed on him instead. Although he probably wouldn’t mind, the creep has been attempting to come onto me since I gave him my resume.
“I’m going; don’t get your panties in a twist.” I replied walking past him. The hallway was narrow so as I moved past my side brushed his. I tried to keep walking but he grabbed my arm. In the split second it took to him to turn me around to face him I could have pulled him in closer and sunk my teeth into the thick vein on his neck. But as my nearly empty wallet reminded me, I needed this job. Instead I simply glared at him.
“Feisty tonight aren’t we.” He remarked with a smirk. I pulled my arm out of his grip and took a step back.
“What the hell do you want Wes?” I answered coldly.
“Tsk Tsk, is that any way to talk to the man who got you the job you wanted.”
“No, but it’s the way I talk to twofaced dicks that think with the wrong head.” His high and mighty smirk dropped at that. It was replayed by a threatening stare.
“I got you the job you wanted and I can get you demoted from bartender to waitress like that.” He snapped my fingers in my face.
“And I’m sure the owner would love to know why you convinced him to hire me as a bartender instead of his offer of being a waitress.” I let my threat hang in the air and his eyes narrowed. I could almost see the “events” that came after he followed me out play out in his eyes. I threw out the last jab that would get him off my case. “Last time I checked, the owner wouldn’t be too happy to learn that his manager bribed a potential employee, though bribery isn’t the word. More like promise the job they wanted in exchange for,” I let my voice drop an octave, “a bit of fun.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” He said simply; his eyes still narrowed.
“Wouldn’t I?” I challenged holding his stare.
“Whatever,” He pushed by me and headed back towards his office. “You’re still late.” I rolled my eyes and continued to the door that led to the main area. Despite his threats Wes was all talk. He couldn’t fire me unless I had done something wrong; which I hadn’t. He just liked harassing me. That stupid squabble happened almost weekly.
I straightened my uniform top before heading into the main area; thankful it wasn’t as skimpy as the waitress outfit. Walking through the door, I made my way towards the bar. It was a medium sized place with the perfect balance of lighting. The tables were arranged in no particular order but it didn’t look cluttered. The bar dominated the back wall and invited you to sit in the soft leather stools. Combined with the spacious ceiling and deep natural colors there was an air of comfort. The sort of place you came to relax after a long day of being on your feet or shuffling papers.
Several of the regulars noticed me and raised their glasses in greeting. Most sat in groups discussing work, to sports, to family. I smiled and nodded back. Not bothering with the counter entrance I simply ducked and went underneath. I looked at the clock.
“Damn that bastard, I wasn’t even late.” I thought menacingly at the cocky individual.
“Roxy! Now I can finally get outta here. I thought you’d never come and then I’d end up having to take your shift, too.” I smiled slightly. No matter what mood I was in Dave could always pull a smile out of me with his antics.
“I’m only two minutes late Davie.”
“Two minutes could seem like two hours when you’re waiting for something.” He said melodramatically. I laughed.
“More like anxious to get to your girlfriends house.” His green eyes adopted a fake hurt expression. His unkempt childlike, blond hair only added to the effect.
“Aw that’s mean Roxy. It’s my house to ya know.”
“Mmuhum, you moved into her house not the other way around, therefore her house.” I corrected while pulling out a dishrag and wiping up the counter.
“You should really get a boyfriend. Then you wouldn’t be forced to take it out on us non-single people. I’d help you out with that but I’m already taken.”
I rolled my eyes, silly Dave. “Get going, Bree is probably waiting for you.” I could see a light bulb go off in his head.
“Oh yeah,” He ducked under the counter, “See ya later.”
“You are so whipped.” I called after him. He turned, stuck out his tongue, and then headed to the back entrance. I chuckled silently, silly Dave.
“Another round Miss.” One of the men sitting at the far end of the bar called. I acknowledged him and went to get his drink.