“It’s happened again, Vicky.” Aunt Sue tossed the newspaper toward me.
I stretched my arms above my head and yawned. I tried to ignore her scent. It was distracting. And not even remotely appetizing, thank god. I pushed the mental cobwebs away and the scent of broccoli with it. Aunt Sue had no idea, but her new vegan diet had made her safer than she could have ever imagined. I guess that was something my boyfriend Drake and I could add to the list of new information about our kind. Vampires would only eat vegans in an emergency. Dirty sweat socks would smell more enticing than Aunt Sue did right now.
I slid into the chair across from her in the sunny kitchen. Ah, yes, another thing about us, we had no issues with sunlight. I picked up the paper.
Gruesome Discovery at Bartlett Town Hall: Mayor Murdered blazed across the front page. My eyes roved the picture of confused police officers on the hall’s front steps. I so didn’t need this right now.
“How many is that now?” I asked, even though I knew the answer. I had been following it more closely than she could possibly know. I dropped the paper and picked up the comics.
“Four. And whoever it is, he is getting more brazen. I know we don’t know who it is, but I’d like to say he, because let’s be honest, most serial killers are men if you look at the profiles. Dropping the body of the mayor on the steps of town hall?” Aunt Sue picked up the paper, a look of disgust on her face. “Just sickening, that’s what it is.”
I poured coffee from a carafe on the table into a mug Aunt Sue had left for me. The steam and scent that rose from the mug really had no effect on my ability to feel more awake. That was contained in the bags of blood in the locked mini-fridge in my room upstairs. I’d have to make a visit after my so-called breakfast.
“I mean, I know we had the animal attacks a few months back, but nothing like this. Animals, well that’s just nature.” Aunt Sue’s eyebrows rose and her voice lowered dramatically. “You heard he’s been ripping their throats wide open. Almost beheaded. And the victims had no blood left in their systems.”
“Yeah, weird, right?” I looked past Aunt Sue and through the glass back door out into the back yard. The sun glittered like diamonds on the piles of snow, not unlike my, Drake’s, and Monty’s eyes did now that we were vampires. It still struck me as odd that regular humans just let it go. Like if they saw something enough, their minds just trusted that it was supposed to be that way. I still couldn’t believe that the humans in Bartlett had unknowingly let a killer like me live right among them.
My name is Vicky Hernandez. Or was Vicky. I still went by it, though. I showed up in town six weeks ago, just after Halloween, or just after I had clawed my way out of the earth. I was a vampire’s experiment gone wrong, or gone right, really. I possessed something that my creator, Steve, had tried to uncover for hundreds of years— a way to walk in the sunlight. But he had failed. I could walk in the sunlight, and those created by me could as well, but it didn’t transfer like Steve had hoped.
The blood that ran through my veins was from my ancestors, The Lost Ones. The one and only Daywalkers that ever existed. Thanks to them and their human counterparts, I was pretty much indestructible, provided no one chopped off my head or shoved a stake through my heart. But with my super-strength, they’d have to use an army to take me down, which is exactly what Steve had done. Sadly for him, he was the target of my revenge. Not only was my strength something of legend, my desire to get even and protect my friends was something he also didn’t possess. Hundreds of years of experience couldn’t teach him that. If you could have seen the look on his face when I beat him with his own arm…trust me when I say it was priceless. But that’s a story for another day.
Bartlett had been pretty quiet since we dispatched Steve and his crew. The ‘animal’ attacks had stopped and everything was back to normal, until last week. Now some crazy was dropping mangled bodies all around town. And for what? The police had no clue. The victims didn’t appear to be related. There had been no attempt to hide the bodies. They were put on public display, like the killer got some grotesque satisfaction from showing off his handiwork.
I had tried to let the police do their job, but it was clear they needed some help. The dead bodies kept coming. So who better to try and help them than a deadly killer? A creature of the night. I figure it takes one to know one, right? I only had a few bodies under my belt. Two I regretted. The others I didn’t because they were killers like me. Steve and his friends deserved everything they got.
“What do you have planned for today? Christmas shopping?” Aunt Sue poured some more coffee for herself and spooned in some sugar. The spoon clinked on the side of the mug.
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, I guess I do need to go shopping. I do have a few gifts to get.” Ugh. This Christmas thing was getting out of hand. I still didn’t have much in the way of money. I’d started working at Lou’s, the pizza place where Drake and I had met before he became like me. But my next paycheck wasn’t coming for another week. I’d be one of those people who power-shop on Christmas Eve.
“Please be careful out there, Vicky.” She met my eyes, her brows furrowed with concern. “I really worry about you kids right now. I mean, what if this killer comes after one of you? Maybe you should just stay here.” She raised her quaking mug to her lips. She might want to add something a little stronger to that coffee to calm her nerves a bit. Maybe she could use a nice bottle of Bailey’s for Christmas.
“Aunt Sue, don’t be silly.” I smiled and reached across the table to pat her arm. “I promise you nothing will happen to any of us. We can’t stay locked in the house forever. There’s shopping to be done. And there is still a week of school left, not to mention I’ve got to go to work. Drake helped me get that job and I just started. If I stop coming, they’ll fire me and that will make him look bad.”
“I don’t care about any of that, Vicky. You’re my niece and if anything ever happened to you,” she paused and set her mug down, “if you ended up dead, I could never forgive myself.”
I tried to swallow a laugh at the idea, but of course it was unfair. She had no idea that I wasn’t really her niece. I had used my vampire powers of compulsion to convince her that I was so I had a place to stay in Bartlett, to stay near Drake. And so I could try to have a normal life, or as normal of a life as I could manage like this.
“Seriously, Aunt Sue, I’ll be careful.” I reached across the table and squeezed her hand. “I won’t end up dead.”
I couldn’t end up much more dead than I already was.