Horror Suspense Thriller

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I smelled blood. An undercurrent of damp rust and spice, a heavy tang on the back of my tongue, caught in the swell and sway of sweated and sweetened bodies on the dancefloor. Possibly fresh. Almost an afterthought once I caught sight of her.

We’d brushed past each other in the crowd. I’d turned back first, thinking myself enraptured by her stature and sauntering hips, but when she inexplicably turned to me, any flickering thoughts of spilt blood were snuffed out.

Even without her heels I’d have to crane up to look into her hungry, pitch-dark eyes. In this nightclub’s world of neon and technicolour, she seemed rendered in black and white, as though torn from a film of a different era. Pale, moon-white skin, she was otherwise shadow dark, her waist-length hair and floor-length dress and pointed nails, like she could slip through my fingers as if she’d never really been there at all. A wine-red mouth her only colouring, the lipstick almost garish on her face, a shade away from the jacket I’d worn.

She smiled a predatory grin with her eyes locked on mine and began to sway to the music, a song synthy and bass-heavy, arms open to invite me in. In the flashing lights and desire laden club, I was hypnotized, drawn to her at my most base levels. She was irresistible, and who was I to ignore such animal instincts?

I can’t remember how long we danced. At some point she’d asked for my name, and I'd whispered it against her throat. I realize now they were the only words she’d spoken the entire night, her voice rich and rasping.

I didn’t ask for hers and she didn’t offer it. She’d only smiled that wild grin, the pounding bass reverberating in our chests, a pulsing heartbeat we shared.

That night was all flame hot touches and searing mouths, but when I broke off to grab a drink and catch a break from the overwhelming smells and sensations of human bodies, she’d vanished. I’d walked home alone under a waxing gibbous moon, the memory of her burned into my mind.

Seven days later, and I can’t stop thinking about her. I feel like I see her everywhere, flashes of those white teeth and the scent of her spiced perfume ever present wherever I go, whatever I do.

Working overnight security for a hotel is a lonely job, and a hard gig to land in the first place when the guy hiring you doesn’t think women are capable of this kinda work (no matter how much I assured him I’m much stronger than I look, that I can take care of myself). But every shift this week, in the silent patrols of those three-star halls, I’ll hear the click, click, click of heels just ahead of me, disappearing around each dark corner. My friends think I’m losing it. When we meet up at the bar on my nights off, I’ll cut myself off midsentence as sharply as if I were slapped across the face, certain I glimpsed raven hair slipping out the back door. They tell me to forget about her, I don’t even know her name, but how can I? It’s all so visceral and strange, like a haunting. I’m starting to doubt it’s all in my head.

Three nights ago, when I could’ve sworn my car sat solitary in the grocery store parking lot, when I was loading up my trunk with frozen meat, certain I was the only living, breathing being around, I smelled it. Spice and rust carried along in the muggy summer night breeze. And then her face, a brief image under the lone flickering lamppost, grinning that animal grin.

I tossed the rest of my shit in the trunk and sped home, leaving the shopping cart in the middle of the desolate parking lot. Not the most considerate thing to do, I know, but can you blame me?

From that night on, I dreamt of a tall, lithe figure standing between the trees at the edges of my property, lingering at the end of my driveway, lurking at my bedroom window. My dreams dissolve into flashes of flesh and blood and sharp teeth as they often do, though now with an extra set of teeth than usual.

Tonight, I’m walking the rough paths in the woods that surround my secluded home. I’m working off some steam. The disturbed dreams, the inescapable thoughts of her, all the prep work I’ve had to do this week. It’s just a lot, okay? I think the full moon is getting to me. I look to the dusky sky, see the faintest sliver of that ghostly white illuminating the amorphous edges of the dark clouds blanketing the moon. A shudder rolls through my bones, a tingling buzz at the base of my skull. I should get home soon.

It’s no mansion, but it’s got a bedroom I can fit a king-size bed in, a garage big enough for my chest freezer, and a basement I can lock up tight and store all my crap in. Best of all, it’s private. My nearest neighbour is a half hour drive away, and that’s just how I like it. Some might think it strange, a little insane, even, for a woman to live all by her lonesome out in the woods, but like I said, I can take care of myself.

And the thing about living all the way out in the boonies, miles away from any people, knowing you are the only thing like you as far as you can smell or see – you can tell when someone, or something, doesn’t belong. When it’s been following you down and around and across winding paths for the past ten minutes.

Click, click, click.

Deer and foxes don’t make those kinda noises.


Before I can blink, I’m slammed off the path and into a thick tree, an iron-grip on my shoulders holding me still. The rough bark cuts into my back as she presses her sinewy body into mine, as close as we were a week ago, closer. I look up into her pale, pretty face, those bloodlust eyes, her canines elongated and tapering off into two elegant, dagger-sharp points. She makes them look almost dainty. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little into this intimate proximity, the heady scent of her encompassing me. I wonder if I’d taste blood on her lips, wonder if it’d be animal or if I have one less neighbour now. Maybe she’s been saving herself for this moment all week, teasing me with the tension, the hunger, letting the anticipation build.

I don’t know if I’ve said any of this out loud, but she laughs, throaty and low, and purrs something into my ear that I don’t hear. My eyes are locked on the clouds as she drifts towards my throat.

I feel two needles push into the delicate skin.

Hot blood rolls into my collarbone as she jerks back, my own blood now on those lips. I watch her face, haloed and luminescent in the twilight hours like some terrible, beautiful angel of death, as it evolves from disgust to confusion, and finally fade to horror.

That confident, predator demeanor crumbles, and she makes to run, but I’ve wrapped my hands around her upper arms. She's not going anywhere. Like I said, I’m stronger than I look.

We are illuminated in lovely, pearlescent light as the moon finally makes her grand reveal from behind cloud curtains, and we both know it’s far too late for her to make her escape. We both watch my fingers elongate enough to wrap fully around her arms, hear my nails crack and split as claws break free at last.

I grunt and groan as she squirms and wrenches and twists, a grotesque, jerking impression of the smooth, synchronous dancing we did only seven nights ago. My bones break and reshape and rebuild, my muscles and flesh snapping and growing and stretching to accommodate my substantial lupine form. Though it’s never not painful, this process is familiar, a comforting sort of discomfort I’ve learned to embrace, to cherish for what it gifts me by the end.

Still, I want to curse as my favourite jacket, the very same I wore at the club, falls in shreds at our feet, but my vocal cords are no longer arranged for human speech. My thick tongue only slaps against my carnivore teeth.

Now I’m the one who towers heads above her, watching as she trembles in my arms (if that is even the correct word anymore for these lanky, muscular, fur-covered limbs). Those eyes, once so arrogantly assured and hungry, now swirl in a storm of rage and primal terror as they look into mine, which I know are now a pale yellow and reflective of the moonshine.

She screams, and I’m delighted to hear a sound as rasping and full as her speaking voice. I want to wrap my jaws around her throat, tear it away and taste those shrieks on my tongue, see if they’re spiced, too. My head falls back as I howl along with her, deep and long and keening, our voices blending and joining the nocturnal chorus of the woods.

Isn’t it nuts how people can come together like this by chance? Every day, it’s a tale as old as time—two souls bump into each other on the dancefloor, crossing the street, in a coffeeshop, and from that collision comes a spark, an attraction and temptation that is undeniable, unstoppable, all-consuming. A connection and fire so vibrant and inevitable that it could only ever end in heartbreak and bloodshed.

And to think, in just a few nights, all that will be left of our romance, however brief yet passionate, star-crossed and preternatural, will be disturbed dirt and stained stones the colour of moonlit rust.

May 22, 2023 17:08

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Russell Mickler
02:42 Jun 10, 2023

You know, your opening para was fantastic - This para was astounding: "Even without her heels..." A very descriptive vampire story! Definitely worth the read, and I loved the title. Well done! R


C. J. Peters
23:08 Jun 10, 2023

Thank you so much! I'm pretty sure this story got rejected for the contest I submitted it to so nobody saw it (which is a bummer 'cause I quite liked this story haha) so thanks for reading it and leaving a nice comment! Also, I always really enjoy your fantasy stories! They're always so immersive and just so rich and full of life and character. Thanks again!


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