FOR THREE DAYS, IT WAS DARK.
News reporters scrambled. This was the biggest story to come along in weeks.
They called it a blackout.
The last one was in New York City in 2003, but this one was different, special, because the grids in six major cities across the country had been fried, kaput, see-you-next-Sunday. Everyone with some jurisdiction blamed each other, and when there was no one left to blame, terrorism rode in on its gallant steed.
It was the media’s fault. They were so busy stuffing fanatical Muslims with a penchant for Allah and decapitations down the American citizen’s throat, that they never saw it coming. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on them.
They were partially right.
It was terror after all, but a whole new kind. And when the lights came back on, things had changed.
The dark had brought us visitors.
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Whatever was on my back gripped my clothes and heaved itself upward. I tried to get away, but it was useless. The thing on my back, which (let’s face it) had to be a vampire, had me at hello.
My gun was a few feet away from me, my arms pinned beneath my body. The only chance I had was the pocket-size piece in my belt. The small bullets it shot would feel like a bug bite to a vampire. At any rate, I’d need the one on my back to turn me over in order to shoot it and I wasn’t holding my breath. The smell of burning flesh filled my nostrils.
“You never know what’s in a package,” said a female voice, “until you unwrap it.”
“Is that right?” I asked.
“Yes. You see, I wasn’t even going to bother with you. Your friend’s got the blood, that’s a sure thing. But then I thought, ‘Who knows? That other one just might surprise you.’ So, what do you think? Are you ready to surprise me?”
“Oh, I’m ready,” I said, pushing against the vampire’s weight. I moved my arm down. An inch or so more and I’d have my hand on the gun.
“Stop wiggling, you little worm. Before I open my package, I need it to tell me why Mabon armed the humans.” I got my hand further down. No contact, yet. “Stop moving, worm, and answer the question.”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
“Because I’m asking you.”
“Like I said, I don’t know.”
Neither of us spoke. The charred skin smell was making me nauseous. My face had gone from pain to numbness to pain. I inched my hand down some more. The tips of my fingers brushed metal.
“I guess that settles it. I kill you now.”
“No! Wait. Just wait.” The gun’s handle was in my hand. I fumbled for the safety.
“You’ve got something to tell me?”
“No. I promise you…I don’t know anything. I don’t know why he gave us weapons.” Promises made to vampires didn’t count. “Please. I want to see you. I need to see the person…that kills me.”
“Person? I am no person! Look at me!” She flipped my body over.
It was the female vamp with the diamond nose stud that had caused a stir earlier. She had been badly burned by the fire. Most of her hair and her eyebrows had been singed off. Her face was Cajun-style. The diamond and the whites of her eyes were glowing with the contrast. The blue lipstick had come off almost entirely onto her teeth, making her look as if she had just been feeding from the jugular of a Smurf.
My unintentional insult had her in a divvy. I thought I might act the same way if someone called me a vampire.
“Look at me. I am vampire. Have no doubt of that.”
She grabbed my hair and forced my head back. Her mouth descended toward my neck.
“You’re losing your brains,” I said.
“We all go a little mad sometimes.”
I raised the gun to her right temple. “No. You’re losing your brains.”
I pulled the trigger.