“Be careful, Hildreth.”
“I will. I’ll call you again when I reach Master Shinowa’s place. I love you, Elsie. I love you more than words.”
Hildreth sang softly, “Now that I’ve tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands and touch me
Hold me close don’t ever let me go
More than words is all I ever needed you to show.”
Elsie sang with him, “Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
‘Cause I’d already know.”
“I will be back soon, Elsie. I promise.”
“I’ll be here waiting for you. Good night, Hildreth.”
He yearned to touch her, to kiss her. “Good night.”
Hildreth slouched in his seat and closed his eyes. He was just about to drift off.
A woman whispered, “Oh. Look. Jeb. Hey! Hey! Look at this one. He’s just lying there. All by himself.”
A man whispered back, “Looks like an open invitation to me.”
“Same here. I get to bite him first.”
“Dream on, Polly. I saw him first.”
Polly gasped. “Liar! I pointed him out to you. You weren’t even looking at him.”
“Oh, yeah? Well. I caught his scent first.”
“Liarliarliar! Why are you such a liar?”
Hildreth sighed heavily. I just wanted to get some sleep. He opened his eyes and sat up.
“See? Now, you’ve gone and ruined it.” A woman with cotton candy pink hair punched her companion – a burly guy with an olive green Mohawk.
“You’re the one who was doing all the talking.”
“Liar! You should change your name to Liar Lying-Allthetime, because you are such a lying liar.”
“Ha! The joke would be on you if I did that. Your name would become Polly Lying-Allthetime.”
“No. I would get to keep my name because I am not a liar like you.”
“But we’re married. So, you’d have to change it with me.”
Hildreth cleared his throat. “Excuse me. I’m trying to get some sleep here.”
“Well, cry me a fountain.” said Polly. “I’m trying to negotiate a meal.”
Hildreth unzipped his duffel bag and pulled out his Bossman 550. He stood and pointed it at the other man. “I really want my sleep.”
Jeb stiffened. “Is that a Bossman 550?”
“Yep. Now, you have two choices: Let me sleep or get staked.”
Polly folded her arms across her chest. “I’m hungry. You should drop that weapon and let me bite you.”
Jeb pushed her. “What about me? I’m hungry too.”
“So, go grab the conductor or something.”
He pushed her again. “You go grab the conductor.”
“No! He smells like canola oil and I don’t like canola oil. I have never liked canola oil and I never will.”
“Tough on you. I’m biting this one. He smells good.”
Hildreth sighed and shot a bolt at Jeb. It bounced off his shoulder.
Jeb stared at him in wounded shock. “You shot at me.”
“If you don’t leave, I’ll shoot you both. And it won’t bounce off.”
“What? You think you’re a hunter or something?”
“I don’t think I’m a hunter. I am a hunter. I should probably stake you anyway.”
“Oh!” Polly maneuvered through the row of chairs and stopped in front of his weapon. “You think your so tough and dangerous, don’t you?”
She smiled, baring her fangs. “You aren’t.”
“Pol! Get away from there.”
“Relax. I know what I’m doing.”
“You’ll get hurt.”
“Trust me. And quit worrying.”
Hildreth startled as he felt her slip into his mind.
I want to put my weapon down. I’m tired and it’s so heavy.
He narrowed his eyes.
I want to go to sleep. I’m tired and this weapon is heavy. So heavy.
“My Bossman 550 is not heavy.” He pulled the trigger.
Her smile fell and her eyes widened. “You…”
“Polly!” Jeb ran to her side. “No. Nonononono!” He carried her out into the aisle and laid her on the floor. “Polly. Baby, look. Look at…” His hand trembled as it traveled from her face down to her punctured chest.
He raised his gaze to Hildreth. “Why? She never even touched you!”
“She would have.”
Jeb stood. “You hunters are all the same. Heartless, soulless monsters. You don’t know anything about her or me.”
“I don’t need to. You are a vampire. You’re a threat to my well-being. What else do I need to know? Your Social Security number? Your entire backstory? Why? None of that would change the fact that you’re still a vampire. You still deserve to be staked.”
Jeb snarled. “Come out here and say that to my face.”
“Insults don’t hurt me, vampire. They can’t change me.”
Jeb’s anger burned out. He sank to his knees beside Polly’s body. “I’m sorry, Pol. I couldn’t protect you.”
Hildreth’s head reeled. Is this Elsie and I if we were changed? Would I be able to protect her? Or would I fail her like this? “Take her, vampire.”
Jeb raised his head.
“Take her and go.”
Jeb shook his head. “Stake me too.”
Jeb rose to his feet and approached the hunter. “I’m dangerous. I’m a vampire. I’ll kill you. I’ll change you. Stake me. End me. I don’t want to be without her.”
Hildreth curled his finger around the trigger.
Jeb lowered his arms to his sides and waited.
“How old are you, vampire?”
“Nine days old.”
Jeb frowned. “My age. I’m…”
“Can’t you remember?”
“Sometimes. I’m twenty-five.”
“Does she have a family?”
“What do you care? We’re vampires.”
“Does she have a family?”
“Parents. Three sisters. One brother.”
“If I stake you, how will they know she died?”
Jeb had no answer.
“Take her and go to them.”
“This is a trick.”
“No. This is mercy. More than a creature like you deserves.”
Jeb returned to his wife and gently cradled her in his arms. He carried her away without another word to Hildreth.