“Dude. That’s a vampire.”
“Yes.” Raven’s smile grew. “I am a vampire.”
“Dude! That ain’t cool. Let’s get out of here before he eats us.”
The leader scowled at Avril Lavigne Jacket. “Shut it, Zippy. This here is our turf. I ain’t gonna get scared off it by a crackhead vampire. You wanna run like a chicken running home? Fine. Scat. Get lost. We don’t need you in our group if you’re that jelly-nerved.”
“Dude. I ain’t jelly-nerved. I just know what vampires do. They eat dudes. Especially dudes like us.”
“Yeah? Well, I say let’s eat him back! Who’s with me?”
The rest of the group cheered and made an assortment of enthusiastic sounds.
Raven admired his claws and waited.
Raven lowered his hands and extended his claws a little further.
The group charged at him. Their fists glistened with daggers, bruisers, knives, and brass knuckles.
Not a single stake.
Raven laughed as he slashed through their numbers.
Blood fell and fell and fell.
Until there was no more blood left.
Raven carefully licked the blood off his claws.
But the blood had splatched and splotched his bared hands.
His left eyelid.
His entire forehead.
His mouth, dripping down to his chin.
He licked his lips and pondered his next move.
I can’t very well go anywhere looking like something out of a slaughter.
I need to go somewhere to clean up.
He turned and walked through the blood and dead bodies.
He left a trail of bloody footprints.
The footprints thinned and faded as the blood on his shoes dried. Until, at last, they disappeared in mid-step. There was a left footprint and half a right footprint. Then, nothing. It created the illusion that he had disappeared altogether. Or was abducted by aliens.
In this world, either was possible.
But Raven continued on towards the abandoned school.
Raven entered the building and gently closed the door.
I will need to take a shower.
I will need to clean my clothes.
I will have to wait for them to dry again.
He thought about the tablecloth.
I will not put that around my body. Not again.
So, what will I do? Sit about naked?
He walked down the hall.
A scream shrilled in the air.
“Missy!” He ran to Missy’s classroom.
Her scream escalated and grew frantic.
He burst into the room and turned on the light.
She had fallen out of her bed. She thrashed about on the floor. Her eyes – closed. Her mouth – wide open in a scream.
He rushed to her and dropped to his knees. “Missy. I’m here.” He gently touched her arm.
She burst into flame.
He kept his hand on her. “Missy. It’s me. Raven. I’m here. I’ve returned.”
The flames crackled and spat.
It didn’t damage his skin, but it hurt.
But he held on.
She transformed back into Missy and opened her eyes. “Raven.” She threw her arms around his neck, throwing him off balance.
He fell backwards and she landed on top of him.
She held onto him.
“Miss. This is not comfortable. This is—”
“You came back to me. I didn’t think you would. I thought you’d leave me for good. I thought…I thought…”
“Miss, please. Get off of me. This is not right. This is—This is…” He took in the moment.
The feel of her arms around his neck.
Her body sprawled out on top of him.
Her scent trickled around him, twining around him like vines.
Her heart beat against his chest.
“Missy. You need to get off of me. Please.”
He sat up and smoothed his suit jacket. “You ought to be more careful.”
“Sorry.” She climbed back into the bed.
“Why were you screaming?”
She covered up, but she didn’t lie down.
“Are you hurt, miss?”
She looked down at the yellow linen tablecloth she’d been using as a blanket. “I dreamed a memory and it was a bad memory and it scared me and it hurt it hurt it hurt. My dream…it hurt.”
“Do you wish to speak of it?”
She didn’t reply.
Raven sighed and stood.
“They stole my voice. They used knives and scalpels and some sort of bad and ugly magic.” She rubbed her throat. “I was immobilized. So, I couldn’t fight back and I couldn’t escape and I couldn’t fall asleep. I was conscious the whole time. I felt everything the whole time.”
She drew her shoulders inward. “I screamed the whole time. Until my voice was gone. I tried to keep screaming, but nothing could come out and it hurt. It kept hurting. Hurting so much. And that’s all I want to say about that.”