By 2125 the world had been overthrown by monsters dubbed Century Vampires. Some kind of mutation in the human genome gave rise to the first ones, or so the scientists suspected. Vamps spent the first one-hundred years of their existence growing in number –some born, some turned –all deadly. They wreaked havoc for the past eighty-three years.
Vampires ruled the Earth now…
“Move your ass Mark!” Aura shouted from the mouth of the cave, where the rocks ended and the forest began –well, what was left of the forest after the constant brushfires of a world gone awry.
“Just one more bomb. Those bastards are going to have a real awakening.” Mark slammed his last homemade explosive against the cave wall. Searching the walls with his vigilant eyes one last time, he took note of the wrinkled skin hanging from the ceiling.
Like bats, the human vampires hung with feet clinging to the crevices. Their decrepit arms criss-crossed their chests. Rejuvenating themselves –well, that was what the humans called it. But how did they stick to the cave ceilings? Some humans speculated that vampire blood secreted some kind of sap through the pores of their skin. Others figured it was just pure evil that held them there.
“Let’s go!” Aura shouted. Mark had a way of pushing himself to the edge. Aura wanted to make sure he didn’t fall over it.
“One minute!” Mark yelled, staring at the cave walls. Aura watched his dark copper-brown wavy hair move like the tide over his face as he just stood there.
Standing on the border between the outside world and the dark cavern, Mark wanted nothing more than to watch those blood-thirsty monsters burst all over the damp walls. Here inside this cave before midnight they looked like the monsters they were, the creatures that sucked the life from his sister Laura, the vamps that decapitated his parents. Vampires didn’t appear beautiful until they turned and grew fangs at midnight. Then the deathly hollow their human bodies had become grew into something almost celestial and hypnotic-like, with unparalleled strength surging through their veins.
“We are running out of time! The vamps will be hunting soon!” Aura urged.
But Mark stood frozen, green eyes fixed on the blood-suckers, memory spinning. Aura dug her fingers and nails into his shoulders and spun him around to face her. “We’re going now!” Aura’s face filled with hot red color, and after she shook him once and he returned to her.
“I’m here, I’m going.” He lunged away from the cave and grabbed Aura’s palm in his. Racing across the fire beaten terrain, they had never moved faster. Wind hit their faces in a rush and their feet sunk into the soggy mud with each step forward.
Pop, Pop, Pop… Within seconds the cave imploded and went ablaze.
Bits of vamp flesh burned as it spattered across the barren forest. An arm limb nearly hit Mark in the head. The entire mission took nearly an hour to complete, the explosion just under a minute. The cave became rubble and debris shot everywhere.
“Won’t be seeing those blood suckers again.” Mark sounded proud, beads of sweat dripping down his cheeks.
“We still have to make it back to O-Tech-1.” Code name for the basement of the abandoned church in Manhattan.
Aura tightened her grip on Mark’s hand. “And you know a few of those mature vamps will be out hunting. Six to midnight is still not safe.” Aura emphasized that point often. Mark may not mind missions from dusk to dark. Most vamps still needed rejuvenation then, but Aura didn’t trust the dark. Vamp or no, the dark could be dangerous.
Besides she smelled the scent of something…someone following them for miles now. Someone familiar.
“We’d better shake whatever is behind us before O-Tech-1. We don’t want to lead him — it to our hideout.” Aura slowed to a stop and bent down next to a tree. Only one of a few that they passed. Tying her shoelaces over her torn sneakers, Mark leaned over her with one hand on the tree trunk and one hand on her shoulder.
He whispered, “Someone behind us?” Aura nodded. “Ready for a fight?” Chills rushed down his spine as he glanced at Aura; she always appeared so fragile to him. Small bones, thin cheeks, tiny feet. He worried one day a vampire would get the better of her. But as dainty as she appeared on the outside, in the two years they had known each other, ran side-by-side together chasing and fleeing from vamps, Aura never once fought like she had a delicate bone in her body. Instead she fought like a warrior, feisty and brutal. And as soft as she could be with him, she never once showed the blood suckers any mercy. She could be hard when she needed to be. And she needed to be now.
Twin vampires dove like vultures over the tree as they landed on Mark and Aura. Meeting their prey with such precision; they could have been gymnasts.
Two lean, but strong, pale bodies fought with Mark and Aura in the dark under a sliver of moon. Aura didn’t have time to admire Mark’s robust frame, chiseled features and rounded arms. She had to keep focused on the blood sucker trying to rip off her head. Vamps enjoyed that, sometimes more than sucking blood.
Mark dug his hand into his back pocket and pulled out a sharp switch blade. The click of the blade unlatching diverted both Aura and her enemy’s attention for a quick second, then they resumed fighting. Rolling over the mud. Digging nails into each other. Aura’s monster opened his mouth and intense fangs spread over Aura’s stoic expression. She didn’t wear her feelings. She had become brilliant at hiding them over the years.
The hiss accompanying the tooth-to-cheek fangs forced Aura to push her hand onto the creature’s nose. She had to keep the fangs from entering her chalk-white skin, from squirting its venom inside her veins, from draining all of her blood. Saliva dripped from the monster’s fangs and slid down Aura’s reddening cheeks before the putrid smelling fluid slipped over her lips. She spit to keep it away from her.
Gagging, Aura spat upon the vamp just before he slapped her across the face. Leaving a hand print on her cheek; the saliva slid down her chin and onto the ground beneath her. Her back pressed against the soil hard. The vamp didn’t give her an inch to move. His two legs teetered on either side of her, knees kicked into her ribs. His arms braced him above her as his fangs dripped of desire, desire for her blood, for her death.
Aura could smell this desire as much as she could smell his rotting flesh. He might have looked pristine, but the decaying human form underneath the illusion of the vampire was not hidden, at least not to Aura. She had seen too many of these things not to know better.
“You’re not taking me you blood sucker!” Aura kicked her legs, her knees hitting his back.
Hissing, the creature forced more saliva to drip from its fangs. Hiss, hiss.
From six in the morning till six at night, these creatures of the darkness kept hidden within their human host. Only from six PM to six AM did these creatures reveal their true monstrous forms, where the beast finally clawed its way out.
“Damn you!” Aura clawed her nails into his face, ripping skin from his cheek. He moaned in anguish as venom slid down the sides of his chin. He jerked away from hers.
“No, Damn You!” She dodged as he threw his fangs toward her chest.
“AHHHH!” Aura shouted, kicking repeatedly and finally threw the vamp off of her. Jumping to her feet, she spun around in a well-trained roundhouse kick and knocked her hard foot into the creature’s chin. Slamming him backward, the vamp hit his back into the tree.
Glancing up, she saw Mark and his vamp both in a choke hold. Each had their strong hands around the other’s open neck, Mark thrusting left and his enemy thrusting right. Mark stepped forward and his creature stepped backward, a deadly tango.
“Look out!” Aura shouted to Mark as her vamp lunged for him from behind. Busy with the twin, Mark momentarily jerked his head around toward the oncoming monster. The opening allowed his vampire to dive his fangs at Mark’s neck. Aura sprinted for her runaway.
Clawing her hands over his back, she yanked him backward. Stumbling, the vampire fell upon the soil. Aura hit her foot over his neck and twisted. Crunch. The red eyes dimmed until they died.
Myths of these night creatures circulated since 2042 when the first human was killed and humans found the culprit a teenage vampire The biggest myth, about keeping their identity secret, became laughable now. These vampires had only one rule: there were no rules. They wanted the Earth for their own and did anything to acquire it. Humans became expendable, food…and the human population now dwindled.
Hiss. Hiss. The remaining vampire pressed his fangs inches from Mark’s neck before Aura jumped at the vamp’s side with a kick. Hitting the monster away from Mark freed him long enough to step away from the attack. Aura lunged at the monster again with long fingernails aimed for his eyes.
“Damn Aura, I got this one.” Mark shouted, his shirt in a vamp-ripped tatters.
“AHHH!” But she didn’t hear him, or perhaps just didn’t pay attention. Still with a stoic expression, nothing revealing fear or hate, Aura pierced her nails into the vamps dark blood eyes and blinded him. The monster squirmed with flaying arms for seconds before following his sense of smell.
His nose twitched in the direction of Aura while Mark baited the vamp. Picking up his switch blade that he had dropped in his fight, he used the blade to break skin on his arm and played with the draining blood with his forefinger. Blood Tease. The vamp could not resist, his nose turning from Aura and aimed directly for him.
Aura had the perfect position. A vamp blinded and entranced by blood. His back turned to her. Her merciless foot hammered into his back and knocked the vamp to his stomach. Then her twisting foot to his neck broke him. Crack. His red eyes turned pale like his skin.
“Two dead. Only a world left to go.” Mark joked with a wink and Aura waved him to hurry.
“We have to get going. We are not safe until we’ve hit O-Tech-1.”
“Not safe anywhere anymore. The entire world is plagued by these monsters.” Mark added and his face grew serious as he followed Aura home.
“Mark! Hurry up!” Aura couldn’t shake the feeling that they were still being followed.
“Wait up!” Mark shouted from behind her. Her form looked so frail, and yet so strong. Her back arched, curved like a branch as her head swayed side to side. Tiny feet moved her across the moist soil. Grass patches appeared sporadically. Burnt trees reminded them they lived in the land of the dead.
Mark scurried across the ground like a jack rabbit, but still not fast enough to catch up to Aura. With her tiny frame, she could duck and jump through the burnt foliage faster than he could. Her hair bobbed up and down with each jagged move. Ripped pants marked Mark’s hand-to-hand combat with a vampire earlier. He would be sure to brag about the fight later. He always felt proud of his vamp ventures whenever he won, and he wasn’t dead. Yet.
“Why are you moving so fast?” Mark yelled, heaving just a bit, but he wouldn’t let Aura see him tired. Hell, if she could do it so could he.
“Have to keep moving. Can’t let the vamps catch us. Not home yet.” She said these words like a mantra, one she knew too well.
A dark moon hung above and a charcoaled environment surrounded them. Owls could be heard in the distance giving a whoo-whoo. Crickets could be heard rubbing their legs together as frogs croaked. Nothing but the sounds of nature, and Aura.
Her tight pants clung to her sprinting legs; she could be a gymnast. Diving under a low branch, she did a somersault until she reached the other side and then jumped. Knees bent slightly, her feet hit the ground with a thud. She moved again. Even the wind couldn’t keep up with her.
“Slow down A!” Mark called to her. A for Aura. He used that choice letter whenever he really wanted her attention.
“You speed up.” Aura jerked her head back for a second only to tell him those three words. Then, she raced forward.
Then, Aura stopped in the middle of the degrading forest. Mark stumbled toward her with an open jaw.
“What?” He breathed heavy as he stood still in front of her. Finally, a rest. He almost didn’t want to ask.
Her nose twitched left and the right. She licked her crimson lips and then stared at Mark. “Don’t you smell him?”
“Yes. I…” She tossed her head around as her nose twitched again. “I can smell him as well as I smell you. Someone, something familiar.”
“I don’t smell anything. But you are usually right about these things. I’m going to trust your instincts on this one.”
Frozen in memory, Aura’s stare oscillated between Mark and some unknown distance. “Let’s go.” Mark yanked her back to the present and pushed her forward.
Aura resumed the lead position, just like always. She was the faster of the two of them and was able to tell when one of those things was close before Mark could detect it.
As Aura jumped over broken branches on the ground, Mark tripped and fell, his face inches from the dirt. With hands pressed into the soil, he surveyed his area quickly. Suddenly, a dark shadow lurking behind a bush leapt on top of him. It appeared as if an angel had just dropped down from heaven, his body flew through the air with such grace. At least it could have been angelic—if it had not been a beast.
Hitting Mark’s back, the dark shadow clawed at the human’s skin before fixing his attention to the brave young woman approaching him. Aura stood fixed in her stance, her eyes set on the enemy. In seconds, the shadow crawled out of the darkness of the night and when a hint of light from moon shone over him Aura could see his vampire features. Two fangs protruded from his mouth. Drips of saliva met with his chin before he spoke.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
Those five words spun Aura on her axis. Her world circled out of control. His scent pushed into her nostrils and triggered memories she had long forgotten, long repressed. As she battled with the past, Mark shook his back and then flung over, tumbling the lone vamp to the ground beside him.
“Got this!” Mark assured and threw his heavy foot onto the vamp’s bare chest. In only a pair of jeans, the lone vamp growled and hissed before tossing back and forth. Loosening Mark’s hold, the vamp’s fangs aimed for Mark’s neck. But before the fangs hit his skin, Aura kicked the monster in his side and with a loud ARGH the beast lost his focus and spun his head toward Aura.
“I’ll forgive you for that, because you don’t know what you do!” The vampire’s expression twisted in pain, as Mark jumped to his feet. Standing beside Aura, it growled like a grizzly bear. His mouth opened so wide neither could see anything but his fangs.
Nudging Aura, Mark wanted to get out of there. He’d never seen the likes of a vamp quite like this one. Somehow he seemed stronger, and more determined than the others, and he doubted if either he or Aura would be able kill the beast.
Aura shook her head, breaking the fix she had on the night creature. A fix of curiosity? A fix on the kill? A fix on her memory? She couldn’t be sure, but she trusted Mark and if he wanted to run, she would run too.
Grabbing her arm, Mark rushed forward, past a few twisted trees and even a swarm of bees. She stayed at his side with ease. Side by side, the two of them fled, neither sure if they would make it to O-Tech-1, before they met up with that lone vamp again.
Both could hear the pounding thud-thud-thud of the vamp’s feet behind them. The wet ground kept covert runs near impossible, but now they both were glad for the moisture; it would assure them both of the where-a-bouts of that vampire.
“How are we going to get to O-Tech-1 without it following us inside?” Mark yelled in his run, breaths taken between each word.
“Just follow my lead. I’ll figure something out.” Aura darted right and headed toward the Hudson River.
“The Hudson?” Mark questioned with a quirked brow. But Aura kept quiet. No time for chit-chat.
Mark looked back once and saw the lean legs of the vampire closing in on the two of them. He would be jumping them in minutes if something wasn’t done…and soon.
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