She didn’t know how much longer she could hold on.
Every muscle trembled, every nerve stretched. She dropped to a crouch in the dark corner of the parking garage, fist tight against her lips to hold back the screams that threatened to spew forth. A whispering noise to her left, like the slither of snakeskin, caused her to jerk tighter into a ball. Involuntary shudders stole down her spine like hairy spiders.
He was here.
If she could just hold on, a little longer. Daybreak was less than an hour away and she’d be safe. Safe from harm, safe from the evil that swam through the parking garage like a shark in still waters.
“Come to me, mortal.”
The sibilant whisper pinged off the metal of the cars surrounding her, disguising his location. A brush of sound – his fine Italian loafers scuffing across a cement floor. Her throat convulsed, the barest whimper skipping past her tightened lips. She curled into the wheel well of a truck, sharp metal stabbing into her spine.
Every nerve screamed in protest as she rose silently, slowly. She lifted her foot, took a step forward, careful to move silently. Alert to any movement behind her, she glanced through the truck window. It would be so easy for him to take her now. She was weak. Weak from the loss of blood.
The keys dangled in the ignition, and Katya almost breathed out a sigh of relief.
Creeping closer to the door handle, she knew she’d only have this one chance. One shot at saving her own life.
“Going somewhere, my pet?”
Her muscles jerked, spinning her around, the hard handle of the truck pressed between her shoulder blades. A mewling squeak issued from between her lips, rasping past a knot in her throat so dry she could barely breathe.
“Thought you’d escape me, did you?”
Her head shook back and forth, denying. Her fingers twitched against the fabric of her jeans, scrabbling for one last whisper of hope. Fear overrode everything, until all she could do was freeze into immobility. An animal caught in a snare.
The dull, yellowed fluorescent lights caught a glint of bright silver in his hand that mocked the dull glean in the dead gray depths of his. Long blackish fingernails encircled the ornate chalice as he scraped the edge of it down the side of her neck. The scent of fresh blood, her blood, rose from the now-empty vessel. She jerked back, her stomach recoiling violently, heart hammering violently.
She had to move. She had to flee. She had to live.
Palms flattened, fingers spread wide, Katya braced herself against the cold metal of the door and kicked hard, her boot catching his elbow and sending the chalice flying. It landed with a clank as it crashed to the cement floor, a blood-red ruby spinning loose to land on the dirty floor. The ancient silver glinted in the murky light, ancient symbols engraved in it’s surface, the edge of the cup bent.
The vampire sucked in air, hissing it past his fangs. His eyes, red now, speared through her very soul. “You shall pay for that, my love.” He walked to the cup and lovingly ran a long thumbnail back and forth over the damaged edge. His voice was crooning, wavering in an odd rhythm. The metal warmed in his hands, smoothing the marred lip of the cup.
Katya gathered every last resource she had, every breath in her body, every nerve of steel. It had to be now. With a burst of speed she didn’t know she possessed, she tore open the door of the truck, ignored the pain of a torn fingernail and slammed it closed behind her. Her fingers clawed wildly for the keys, her breath whistling as she cried “please please please” over and over again. With a roar, it started and she slammed it into reverse.
He was there. Waiting. A mocking grin exposed his incisors. The kind that said you’re going nowhere, but feel free to try.
She shoved the gas pedal down as far as it would go aiming the truck for the center of his black-clad body. It was now kill or be killed.
With a giant leap, he was suddenly in front of the vehicle, the same grin on his face. He slid the chalice down his smooth cheek, the still-jagged edge of the metal catching the skin, tearing open a bloody line. His tongue flickered out, capturing a drop.
Shivers of revulsion shook her body, her fingers clenched on the steering wheel, her jaw muscles bunched so tightly the scream had nowhere to go. Jerking the gear shift to drive, she mashed the pedal to the floor. Kill. Kill. Kill.
She drove through thin air. His mocking laugh bounced off the pillars, and the shivering scrape of metal as his long fingernails reached for the door handle screeched in her ears. His face pressed against her window, long fangs bared, the red eyes searing into hers. She kept going. To stop now would be death. Hers.
Katya aimed the truck toward one of the pillars, intent on scraping him off like a bug from the bottom of her shoe. The only sound was that of the door handle being peeled off the side of the truck, as once again, he disappeared. Dear God, what did it take?
She kept driving, eyes frantically darting side to side, the truck whipping around corners, aiming for the surface. For safety. For sunlight.
There. The corner of his black cloak whispered around the corner ahead of her.
Faster. A burst of speed around the corner. Sobs tore from her throat. Kill. Kill. Kill.
“Wake up, Katya. Wake up now.”
With another wild scream bursting from her lips, Katya sat bolt upright in bed, the bright sunlight dazzling her eyes. Frenzied, she searched for him, searched for—
“It’s just a nightmare. You’re okay.” Gentle fingers brushed through her sweat-dampened hair.