Ambrose slept for sixteen days straight.
Elsie danced through his dreams. Sometimes she was the light. Sometimes she was his shadow.
But she was always out of his reach.
Until the sixteenth day. He caught her in his arms and held her tight.. She looked up at him and smiled.
Then, she disappeared.
“Elsie!” He opened his eyes, but she wasn’t there.
He lay still, with his mouth slightly open, and listened to the silence of the house. The inside of his mouth was completely dry.
He was hungry. But his energy was gone.
I’ll just lay here a little longer. Just…His eyelids drifted downwards. Just a little…a little…
The wicked sharp sound of breaking glass jolted him awake. He lay still and listened
His hunger grew.
They walked upstairs.
He sat up too quickly. His head twirled. He was pretty sure his eyes were spinning too. He flumped face first into the pillow. “Mmph.”
“Watch it!” A man spoke out loud. “That’ll keep us eating for a week at least.”
A woman replied, “If we can sell it.”
“Of course, we can sell it. That’s high quality. You can see it in the lines.”
“High quality don’t count for much if we can’t sell it.”
“We’ll sell it. Don’t be so paranoid.”
“I prefer the term practical.”
“Paranoid sounds more like it.”
Looters! Ambrose’s stomach growled. How dare they break into my place and steal my stuff!
“What’s in that room?”
“I don’t know. Door’s closed.”
She clucked her tongue. It was a sharp, irritating sound. “Then, open it. My hands are full.”
“Your hands are always full.”
“Because you’re always putting junk into them.”
“This isn’t junk. It’s high quality—”
“Shut up with the high quality and open the dumb door.”
“Fine. Hey! Quit kicking me. I’m opening it. I’m opening it. See?”
The door to Ambrose’s room swung open. The scents of pineapples and smoked salmon drifted in.
His stomach growled again.
“There. You happy?”
“Only if there’s something worthwhi…” Her voice dropped into a panicked whisper. “Derb. Derb, look. There’s someone here.”
“In the bed, stupid. Look!”
“Ah! How did that happen? I thought this place was abandoned.”
“Derb. Let’s get out of here before he wakes up.”
“How do you know it’s a he? Could be a she. A lovely, bodacious glossy—Hey! Don’t kick me so hard!”
“We need to get out of here now. You hear me? Now.”
“He’s not moving. Could be dead.”
Ambrose closed his eyes and sent his thoughts into her mind.
I should go check it out.
“I should go check it out?” She sounded puzzled.
There might be valuables over there.
“There might be valuables over there.”
Ambrose hesitated and wondered if it would be going too far. He smiled.
He might be wearing a priceless medallion.
“He might be wearing…a priceless medallion?” She sounded like she couldn’t believe her own words.
“A priceless what?”
“Medallion. You know bronze, silver, gold. Medallion.”
“Whaaat? You think this guy was some sort of Olympian?”
“Oh, you’re hopeless.”
He left her mind and let her carry on, as he knew she would.
And she did.
She walked over to the bed.
“Wait. I hate to be the paranoid one, because that is your job, but I don’t like this. Feels way too much like a set-up. A whole team of police are gonna hop out of that bed and—”
“Derb. Don’t be paranoid. Besides, why would the police be interested in—” She uncovered Ambrose’s head and rolled him onto his back.
The sudden movement made his vertigo act up again. He scrunched his eyes and waited for his brain to settle.
“Oh. No medallion.”
“Forget about medallions. Don’t you know who this is?” He didn’t wait for her to guess. “This is that vampire we saw on display at that zoo. You know, your fantasy boyfriend. Ow! Man, you got spikes in those shoes?”
“It can’t be him. He got eaten by a giant hamster or something. I don’t know. It was some crazy thing like that.”
“Vell. Look at that face.”
“Wait. You’re right It is him. Oh, Derb! You know what that means?”
“Sure do. It means he wasn’t eaten by a giant hamster.”
“Yes, but he is our ticket to riches. Think about it. He was a big draw to that place. We bring him back, they’ll gladly give us all manner of loot.”
“I hope they don’t give us any medallions.”
“Right. So…How do we get him out of here?”
“Hmm. Take this stuff down to the van. I’ll figure something out.”
He almost smiled. She’s making it so easy for me.
“Wait. You expect me to leave you alone with him?”
“What’s the matter with you? I’m not going to do anything pervy. So, grab your mind and drag it out of the gutter and take that stuff down to the van.”
“What? Who was talking about pervy stuff? I sure wasn’t. I was just thinking that he could suddenly spring up and bite your neck and make you a member of the unholy walking dead.”
She clucked her tongue again. “He’s a vampire, not a zombie.”
“That doesn’t make it any better.”
“Just go. And trust me. I’ll figure something out by the time you get back up here.”
He sighed. “Seems like a bad horror movie trope sort of thing to do.”
“Quit whining and listen to me.”
Ambrose lay still and waited for Derb to leave the room.
“Now, what to do about you…”
He opened his eyes.
He grabbed her arm too hard. His claws broke her skin.
She yelped and struggled to pull away from him. Blood trailed down her arm.
His pupils widened with excitement. He pulled her closer and licked the blood trails.
“Oh, that is so gross! Did you sandpaper your tongue?” She tried her best to pull away, but he held tight. “If I get out of this in one piece, I am going to go home and bleach my arm until it bleeds.”
He sank his fangs into her arm.
She stopped talking.
And he sailed into a blood high.
His mouth was no longer dry.