The vampire yelled an endless stream of Romanian sentences at Elsie as she kicked and punched him. At least half of those sentences sounded wildly uncomplimentary. The rest sounded profoundly profane.
Block. Face punch. Knee kick.
Throat punch. Duck. Roll. Stand. Elbow thrust into back.
Dodge. Duck. Block. Face punch. Face punch. Face punch.
He grabbed her shoulders and shoved her against a tombstone shaped like a large cross. He stuck his face into her face and repeated his last sentence with supreme vehemence.
“Yeah, whatever you say.” She head-bashed his nose.
He staggered back.
She rushed forward and staked him.
She attached the tracker button to him, activated it, and glanced around for the victim.
But he had already slunk away. Apparently, he wasn’t interested in the outcome of the fight.
“I guess I can’t blame him. If I weren’t a hunter, I’d sneak away too. Hopefully, he doesn’t get himself caught by another vamp.”
Elsie startled as a ghost materialized several feet ahead of her. It was a child. A girl with angel-blonde hair that glowed in her ethereal light. She stared silently at the gravestone before her.
I think I know her. Should I go up to her or—
The ghost turned her head and looked right at Elsie. Suddenly, she was there, right in front of her. She looked up at the hunter with her sky-blue eyes.
Elsie felt a pang.
I do know her. I staked her on top of the mausoleum. She was so young. Too young. “I’m sorry.”
The ghost didn’t speak. She regarded the hunter with silent curiosity.
“I’m sorry I had to kill you.”
The ghost smiled serenely and took Elsie’s hand. A flood of memories rushed into the hunter’s mind.
She looked at her reflection. Angel wings, white gown, and a halo. “I hope I don’t forget my lines again.”
She peeked up to see what the teacher was doing. He was helping Kip O’Gracy with a math problem. She smiled and pulled out her secret notebook.
She frowned as her mother dressed her up like a Jawa again. This will be the fifth Halloween in a row I’m a Jawa. I’d rather be Agent Scully.
The vampire ran after her. She was the fastest runner in her class, but he had longer legs and could run a whole lot faster. He caught up to her and tackled her. She squirmed to get away. His mouth was on her neck. His teeth pierced her skin.
She was hungry. Deeply, miserably hungry. And the world was full of scents.
She woke to the taste of blood. Her mouth clung to some stranger’s neck. She released him. Her hunger was gone. “Maybe it’s gone for good.”
Elsie towered over her, smelling like lilies of the valley and musk.
Her hair’s like a great big black thundercloud. But I know what her lightning is. Maybe she won’t kill me. Maybe she’ll spare my life. I’m just a kid. She wouldn’t really kill a kid. Would she?
The ghost released her hand.
“I’m sorry.” It was an inadequate thing to say and Elsie knew it. But she honestly didn’t know what else to say. So, she knelt and said it again.
The ghost laid her hand on Elsie’s face.
There was no memory clip show this time. Just a great feeling of warmth and peace.
And, even thought the girl didn’t say a word, Elsie understood. She had been forgiven.
The ghost with her angel-blonde hair and sky-blue eyes backed away from Elsie. Her body and all of her features faded away, transforming her into a figure of pure light. Diamond-like sparkles flashed inside of her.
“Good-bye.” The word appeared in Elsie’s head and it was not a memory.
The ghost flickered and vanished, leaving the hunter all alone.
Elsie stayed on her knees.
“Dad? Can you hear me?” She looked up at the night sky. “Why don’t you appear? Why don’t you come to me? Why don’t you talk to me? Why? This random ghost girl could take the time to come see me. Why can’t you? Dad, where are you?” She sat back on her feet and bowed her head. “I miss you.”