The walls around me were echoing with the music that played in the club. People danced to the beat of whatever the DJ played on the sound system. I couldn’t hear what song was playing; all I could hear was the beat. It sounded like a heart beat. When the music stopped, would one of us be dead? The people kept dancing, unaware of what was about to take place in the next room -– the room I was standing in. Their lives would be the same after they left. They would probably leave with the same people they came with and tomorrow they would start over again.
But in this room, only one of us would leave alive.
Daniel and I stood there motionless, only a few feet apart. This was my nightmare; I had dreaded it my entire immortal life. I was facing the man who had waited centuries to kill me. But here I was, bringing what seemed like a hallucination into a reality.
Daniel was disciplined. He had years of training and centuries of killing behind him. He couldn’t help but show his emotions: excitement and anticipation. I could feel his blood flowing in his veins like a rapid river. Adrenaline was pumping throughout his body, making his hands shake as he prepared himself for our fight. His eyes were black, his body was tense and he thirsted for my blood.
It was hard to think that only a few months ago I was living a normal life – a mortal life with bills to pay, errands to run and PTA meetings to attend. The only thing I had to fight for back then was to make it through the grocery store before the lines got too long. Day after day I woke up to the same routine; some would even call it boring. But I was happy knowing that every day was going to be the same. Now, the things I have already done and the things I was about to do were things I watched in movies or read about in books. I was living an immortal life now, fighting just to stay alive.
I didn’t have a plan of attack, just the anger in my blood to prove I was still there. I knew he would know what I was thinking; my thoughts would show him how I would strike. I had to think differently. I had to think like a killer. I had to start thinking like Daniel. I read about him in the book that Ismenia created for me. I studied it and from it, I learned how Daniel fights.
I always imagined Alex and I fighting this battle together, standing side by side and maybe dying beside each other. But I was meant to face this man alone. As isolated as I was, this is how it had to be. I couldn’t help but hope that Alex and the others would find their way to freedom. I could only pray that they would be able to break out of their cells and run as far away as they could. I didn’t want them here with me. I was sure I was going to die this night and I wanted them to be free. I wanted them to start a new life. I wanted them to be at peace and live their eternity happily. Maybe finding a companion and building a home far away from this. I was certain that I would lose this fight and I wouldn’t be able to share that happy life with Alex.
Daniel let out a fearsome growl telling me that he was ready to fight. We ran toward each other with our hands out, snarls coming from our mouths. We both jumped into the air, hitting each other, our impact tossing us to separate sides of the room. I felt a scratch across my face, from my eye down to my jaw, but it instantly healed.
He stood up slowly. “You do realize you can’t defeat me,” he hissed. “All the power in the world – that you think you might possess – will not make me fall.”
I rose to my feet. “Are you scared, Daniel?” I paused and cracked my neck. “That a girl might be better than a washed up has-been vampire like you?”
He ran over to me and grabbed my neck. “Get this through your thick head… Nobody is more powerful than me!”
“Scared?” I whispered through my throat.
He pulled me up, lifting me off of the ground. I reached over and grasped his hand trying to peel it off of me, with no luck. He was stronger than I was; there was no doubt about that. I just had to try harder to prove I could be just as scary.
“Do you honestly think a pretty little girl like you could make me scared?” There was anger in his every word.
“Then why are your hands trembling?”
He threw me across the room. I felt myself flying backwards through the air. I slid down and landed on my butt. My back started to feel like it was on fire and my arm was hanging out of its socket. The pain only lasted a moment but I knew I had to hurry up before it healed the way it was. I grabbed my shoulder and pushed the bone back into its joint. I screamed.
“Is that the best you got!?” I said through my moment of pain.
He walked over to me, kicking debris out of his way. I started to panic. I wasn’t sure what he would do next. I scrambled onto my hands and knees trying to pick myself up.
“Not even close.” He yelled.
How was I going to get out of this? How was I going to match his strength and hurt him? What did I need to do? He leaped to my side and stood there for only a second. Then he kicked me in my stomach. I heard bones crushing and felt the cracking of my ribs, but before I could fully feel the pain I felt it heal.
Suddenly the room was still. The music stopped beating off the walls and I could hear the screams of the humans, and the sound of their running feet against the ground. Something was happening in the club but I was too weak to sense what it was.
Daniel stopped and listened contently. He rolled his eyes before closing them tight. “It sounds like your precious Alex and his friends broke free. But not for long. I have men in hiding that they don’t even know about.”
I felt happiness and amusement spread throughout my body and I couldn’t help but laugh. They were free and he couldn’t toy with them any longer or use them against me. They would have a chance to run from this place, alive, and there was nothing Daniel could do about it. If they could get free – from the cells that Daniel probably spent endless years of construction on – they could certainly overpower Daniel’s other men.
“I wouldn’t be too eager to celebrate. My men will stop them and enjoy killing them,” he said with a hint of sarcasm.
“Good luck with that,” I said through my laughs.
I didn’t care what he had to say. I knew that Alex and the others were immense fighters and together they would triumph over Daniel’s army. They would walk away safe and sound. Daniel would never try and find them once I was dead. He wanted my blood, he wanted to hear me scream in pain and he dreamt of my death. I knew when he was finished with me he would turn his sights onto Lilith and forget about Alex and the others.
I couldn’t let him go after Lilith. I wanted my daughter and the one who made her the way she was. I wouldn’t let Daniel take that away from me. There were no reasons left for me to prolong this fight any longer than I already had. My only reasons to listen to his lies were fighting their way out of the club right now.
I suddenly felt a surge of bravery pulsating inside of me. There was no more time to act scared; there was no more time to train for a fight that I probably would lose. Now was the time when one of us would reach our end. I stumbled to my feet. I felt a little woozy at first, but once I caught my balance the cloud in my mind cleared. Daniel stood in front of me, examining my every move, waiting for me to strike him.
He brought his head down to my eye level and smiled. “You ready for round two?” he hissed.
I was tired of his voice, so cynical and evil. It reminded me of Gerviase who had been so sure of himself it made me sick. I needed to shut him up. “We’ve only been through one round?” I said, exhausted. But I managed to sound sarcastic.
He spread his lips to smile but I extended my fist and punched him in his throat, tossing his body across the hall. He let out a loud cough and I heard a bone break. But as quickly as I heard it, I saw his body tense and I knew it had healed.
I ran to his side before he could stand and knelt down to grab him by the neck. I lifted him up so he could stand. I wanted him to look at me, to see the hate in my eyes. He tried to speak, but only gurgles came out.
“Are you done yet?” I said mocking him.
“Not even close,” he said again.
I backed up a couple of steps and kicked him in the chest. His body broke through the wall and he landed in the club on the vacant dance floor. The club was empty of all the dancers that I had to fight my way through a few hours before. Only a few dead vampires remained lying limp on the floor. My assumptions about Alex and his strength were right: he was able to defeat Daniel’s men.
The candles that still burned in the chandeliers overhead cast the only light. The mirrored wall behind the bar was destroyed, leaving shards of glass along the floor. Daniel’s chair – his glorious throne – was broken in two and each half lay quiet on opposite sides of the room. And the curtain that once displayed the club’s name was torn down off the wall. Blood was everywhere and torn limbs were what was mostly left of Daniel’s men.
Daniel raised himself up smiling, as if all this fighting and all my anger gave him some sick pleasure. It was that taunting that insulted me. It fueled my rage deeper. This was all a game to him; my life and my sanity were his game pieces and the club’s dance floor was his game board.
I didn’t want to hold back. In my mind all I could see was red.I could taste his flesh in my mouth and feel his blood dripping down my throat. I wanted it now more than ever. I wanted to taste him; I wanted to drink his death.
I started to breathe heavily and he knew my attack was coming. We started to run towards each other, but when I looked into his eyes something happened. I lost my bravery; maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe it was the look in his eyes that threw me off. He threw his fist into my face, crashing my head into the ground. The tile beneath me cracked and indented. I felt myself drifting into unconsciousness. My surroundings were dimmed to black and then I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know if my eyes were open or closed. I could only here voices around me.
In the distance I heard Alex’s familiar voice, but my awareness of it wafted in and out. He had come back for me! Why did he want to risk his own life? He told me he couldn’t fight Daniel. Why would he take this chance? I heard loud crashing coming from all around me. I heard Daniel laughing and Alex screaming and I couldn’t do anything about it. I was paralyzed. I wanted to get up and help but my body wouldn’t move with my thoughts. Was Alex losing his fight?
Please God help him, make him turn back, help him walk out the door and leave all this behind him.
Images started blinking though my minds darkness. I saw my wedding day and then the birth of my daughter. I saw Sierra’s face, the way I knew her to be. I saw the two of us lying on the bed reading and laughing together. I saw when Alex and I talked for the first time. I saw him pull me through the orchard and take me to safety. I felt all the emotions I had that rainy night when he spoke of my mother and her death. I saw him holding me in bed at the monastery, caressing my arm. I felt his passion in my cold heart and I remembered how I never wanted to leave the safety of his tender embrace after hearing him say ‘I love you.’
The images started to blink faster, like a strobe light. Alex’s eyes flashed before me: those captivating, beautiful blue eyes that always seemed to sparkle when he looked at me. I saw his picturesque face, his warm smile and the way his hair would trickle down over his cheek. Alex’s smile, Alex’s arms, Alex’s love…
I couldn’t let it end this way! He couldn’t fight my battle for me; I couldn’t let his life end for me. He had risked so much for me throughout my whole life when I didn’t even know he was there fighting for my survival.
The blackness started to fade away and I could move again. I opened my eyes and screamed. I scrambled to my feet. I turned around and saw Daniel holding Alex by the throat; his legs dangling off the ground.
“Daniel, NO!” He stopped. “This fight is not with him! Stop fighting everyone else and fight me!” I yelled, almost begging.
He turned and looked at me. His mouth was open revealing his fangs, ready to bite Alex. Alex’s eyes were weak and rolled up into the back of his head and his own blood was dripping from the sides of his mouth.
Daniel looked at Alex and saw I was right. “This is your lucky day,” he told him. He dropped Alex who rolled into a ball, helplessly falling to the floor. I wondered where my other protectors were. Would they come too?
Daniel started to run toward me, his rage pulsing with every step he took. But this time I was ready for him, I jumped and twisted my body around his, landing behind him, making him stop and turn around. I crouched down and hissed.
“NO!” He yelled.
We ran for each other, but before he could grab me, I slid through the space between his feet. I quickly stood up and put my back against his. I grabbed his neck and flipped him over my shoulder slamming him against the ground. My rage intensified and I felt the acid stream into my fangs. I knew this would be my chance, my only chance. Daniel was confused and tired but he tried to resist it.
I clenched my fingers around his throat, piercing his skin. “You’ll never win; remember you’re up against the Devil,” he managed to mutter.
I knelt down close to his ear. “I already have,” I whispered. I leaned closer and bit his neck, tightening my jaw. I felt my acid drain into his body. He started to scream with pain. I tasted his blood, it was cold and bitter but strangely enough it totally satisfied me.
I drank as much blood as I could. I stood up and took a step back and looked at him. His veins started to show through his now pale skin. They were turning yellow green and his body looked drained. He looked dead.
But I wanted to make sure he was dead. How does one make sure somebody who is already dead is now gone forever? I looked around and spotted the leg from his chair. I smiled and thought this would be symbolic: killed by the throne that he loved so much. I walked over and reached out for it, my hand shaking with fear as I grabbed it. I knelt down beside Daniel’s body. His eyes were closed. I lifted the chair leg up over my head and jammed it into his heart with all of my might. His body didn’t move, it didn’t even twitch. He was dead. I wiped the blood from the corners of my mouth.
I fell to my knees and closed my eyes. This journey was over. I sat there for a moment and relaxed my body. I took a moment to look around the room and let out a sigh of relief. Finally. I might be able to sleep tonight knowing he was longer after me. No other vampire would have to fear Daniel.
My attention was drawn to Alex who lay motionless on the ground. I ran to his side and touched his face – he was still alive. “Alex? Can you hear me? It’s over.”
He opened his eyes and I saw that beauty I’d been waiting for. He smiled. “I knew you’d win.”
I smiled. “You did, did you?”
I grabbed his shoulders and helped him up. “I think this belongs to you.” He pulled out my book from under his shirt. “We need to get out of here.”
You could hear the sirens from miles away. I let him hold the book. “I’ll meet you outside,” I said, turning to look at Daniel’s body. Alex walked out slowly, looking over his shoulder at me only once.
When he was gone, I walked up to Daniel and stood over his body. I thought all my hatred would be gone when he died, but every second I felt more and more anger. I thought things would be different, but things felt the same. I knew there was one more creature out there: not fully a vampire and not fully human. No, Daniel couldn’t hunt my dreams, but Lilith could. She needed to be stopped.
I looked at his shirt pocket and saw a pack of Camel cigarettes. I studied his hand, with his silver crested ring still on his pale finger. I knelt down, slid the ring off and examined it. The crest symbolized where he came from, depicting his father’s crown and the slithering snakes of evil. I gently placed it on my own finger. His heritage was now mine. No vampire would fear his crest any more because it would be worn by his killer. It would now be the symbol that there is freedom and that somebody is there to fight for it.
I grabbed his cigarettes and opened the pack: a Zippo lighter was inside. I took a cigarette out and lit it. Who cares how dangerous it is for my kind. I just defeated the undefeatable. I took my very first drag and blew out a white cloud of smoke. I held the Zippo in my hand; the fire still burned. I looked at the flame and then looked at Daniel. I was remembering what Jessup had said about fire. I threw the Zippo towards Daniel’s body. He lit up instantly and the fire spread quickly to the destruction around him.
I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear as the flames increased. This is what he had intended for me: that he would be standing beside my burning body. But here he was, in my place. I turned and walked out, taking another drag of my cigarette.