Ambrose lost track of time. Of days. Of nights.
And every day was sunny.
He pressed his palms against his head. It felt too warm. Everything felt too warm.
He wanted to rant and scream and pound the ground, but that would have taken a lot of energy that he just didn’t have.
His thoughts turned and twisted into question marks.
Why did Elsie come here that night? What did she want? Why didn’t she help me? Why did she leave me here to burn? What did I do wrong? Why won’t they let me eat? How much longer can I go on like this?
If Elsie were here…
He pressed his hand-covered face against his knees and closed his eyes.
The sunlight burned down on the back of his neck.
But he fell asleep.
The day dulled into one more night.
But he didn’t move.
He didn’t even think.
He just was.
Then. He heard them.
Footsteps. Shuffled. Uncertain.
He tried to ignore them. They were just noises. Sounds of a meal he could not enjoy.
But their words penetrated his defenses.
A teenaged boy. “Oh, come on, babe. This’ll be awesome.”
A teenaged girl. “But, Danny. This isn’t safe.”
He laughed. “That’s what makes it awesome. If we can get him to show his fangs—”
“Danny, no! This is stupid.”
“Aw, come on. Lighten up. You’ll never have fun if you don’t—”
“This is not about fun. This is about survival. My survival.”
“Fine. You take the picture and I’ll pose with him.”
“But you still love me.”
“I wonder why I bother.”
“Here’s the door. Quick! Make sure no one’s looking.”
Ambrose opened his eyes.
“What ‘no one’? We’re the only two people here. Although, if I could just have my way for once, you’d be all by yourself.”
“Don’t get all nasty. This is gonna be the most epic moment of our lives. I mean, cooome on! We’re gonna pose with a real, freakin’ vampire. Everyone else just stares at him through that plastic wall.”
“It isn’t plastic. It’s made out of—”
“Babe. I don’t want to hear any nerd talk right now. Just peek around the corner and make sure there aren’t any guards creeping about.”
“Okay. But don’t go in there without me. I mean it.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Just go.”
“If you get bitten and turned into a vampire just because you were too impatient to wait for me—”
“Baaabe! Come on! You’re killin’ me here.”
“Fine. I’ll be right back.”
The boy shuffled his shoes in (what sounded like) loose gravel. “Babe? You see anybody? Hellllooo? Babe? If you’re just tryin’ to test me…” He fell silent.
“I bet she’s gone off to find a vending machine. Sure hope she brings back a candy bar for me. Might as well make the trip worth her while.”
Ambrose listened and waited.
“Deeeanng! She’s takin’ long. Hey, babe! I’m checkin’ the door. Just so you know.”
Ambrose listened to his shuffled, gravel-crunching footsteps.
The thunder grumbled and roared and split into lightning.
A well-oiled door opened.
Another rumble of thunder.
The rain fell in hard, heavy drops. Ambrose’s hair slicked down to his face.
But he stayed still
And he waited.
“He probably ain’t even alive. Babe’s just being paranoid.”
Ambrose curled his fingers into his hair.
The footsteps were coming his way.
He wanted to cry from sheer happiness and relief.
But he stayed still.
The footsteps came closer. Loud, klutzy footsteps.
He could smell the boy’s scent – aftershave and stinky feet.
He trembled with anticipation.
“Danny! You big dummy.”
The boy shuffled as he turned to face his girlfriend. “Oh, come on, babe.”
“Don’t ‘come on, babe’ me! I told you to wait.”
Ambrose couldn’t wait anymore. He rose to his feet and wobbled as a wave of dizziness hit him.
“Danny! Get away from there right now!”
Ambrose steadied himself as lightning flashed bright, hot white overhead. “so hungry…”
Danny turned around.
Ambrose smiled, baring his fangs. “so very hungry.”
Trembling, Danny raised his iPhone to eye level.
His girlfriend raced towards him, spewing every possible insult. She slipped and fell.
Ambrose lunged at his neck and bit him hard and deep. The blood poured in, filling him with a pleasure and relief so intense he didn’t know if he wanted to scream or cry.
But he held on and drank until there was nothing left.
He released his hold on the boy’s neck and stood there in a blood-high, softly panting. His eyes glazed over.
When Ambrose returned to his senses, he noticed that the girl was gone. He smiled. “And she left the door wide open.”
Ambrose dropped the boy on the ground and winced as another wave of dizziness crashed over him. He stumbled to the door and paused for a moment to catch his balance.
Someone was coming.
He clenched his teeth and fumbled his way through the open door.