‘So what do we do now?’ I asked.
We sat on the edge of the porch, watching the night sky and I tried desperately to not let my eyes be drawn to the freshly made grave close to the tree-line.
‘We move on. Find somewhere safe. Or safer’ Michael replied grimly.
‘They will come for us’ I said. It was not a question.
‘Yes, they will certainly try’ he said, scanning the woods as if he expected them to already be here.
‘We can’t run forever’
Michael laughed softly.
‘Do you wish to stay and fight, Sarah? Whatever happened to the girl who likes to run away?’
‘Well it’s not like I want to fight them. I’d rather not have to see any of them again particularly as it seems they are intent on killing me for some strange reason. Plus their hospitality was terrible. They should employ a chef. Stale bread and a manky bit of apple won’t win them any Michelin stars, that’s for sure’
‘I’m not sure they are too bothered about Michelin stars, although in the vampire world, their den had something of a reputation. Fine wine and twenty-four hour entertainment’
I stiffened automatically.
‘Well I’m glad us humans are so entertaining for you’ I said coldly.
Michael sighed and turned to face me.
‘Sarah, I know you find it hard to believe when you have met so many of us who take delight in the suffering of humans, but we are not all of the same ilk as the Exodus den. I take no enjoyment from the torture of people and I know many vampires who feel the same’
I snorted derisively.
‘You will be telling me next that you feed only on rat blood’
‘Actually a single rat could never quench the thirst of a vampire, unless of course you go for the sewer rats. There are some as big as dogs down in the drains and as nasty and as vicious as wolves. But I never fancied living off a creature that swims through other people’s excrement’
‘You truly are disgusting sometimes’
‘So now you think I’m only disgusting sometimes? I think we might just be making some progress!’ he smirked and I fought the urge to hit him. Instead I pulled the blanket tighter around my shoulders and felt the night air touch its chilly fingers to my skin.
‘You should go back inside. You’ll catch your death out here’
I glanced at him sharply.
‘Sorry’ he grinned ‘Poor turn of phrase. I have a spare jumper, it might be a little too big for you but it will keep you warmer than that vest top’
Looking down at my dirt encrusted and blood stained clothes, I suddenly felt incredibly disgusting and in dire need of a bath.
‘Does this place have hot water?’ I asked.
‘It might take a while to heat up, but yes. Why?’
I looked at him incredulously.
‘It might come as a surprise but we humans like to bathe once in a while’
‘It might come as a surprise but so do us vampires. In fact, we’re even known to use soap too’
‘Really?’I said, raising an eyebrow ‘do you have bubble bath too? A rubber ducky maybe?’
‘Do you want that hot water or do you want to continue smelling like some kind of feral animal?’
I gasped and instinctively sniffed at myself.
‘You’ve smelt fresher’
‘What?’ I cried ‘are you serious?’
He stood up, leaped up onto the porch and walked through the open cabin door.
‘Michael, do I really smell that bad?’ I said, horrified.
I could hear him chuckling to himself. I jumped up and walked back inside, still sniffing at my skin and pulling the fabric of my top to my nose and inhaling.
God, he was right! I really did smell!
Suddenly I felt horribly ashamed of myself. In the light cast from the lamp in the cabin; I could see just how dirty and foul I must have looked to him. Dark stains had seeped through the denim from the wounds where Alex had bit my thighs. My vest top, which has once passed for white, was now shades of grey and brown. I reeked of the earth-floor of the cell, musty and dank, tinged ever so noticeably with the sweet cloying smell of my own blood. I couldn’t wait to submerge myself into the water and rid myself of the cell-stench.
I walked into the other room, watching as Michael placed a small bar of soap, a flannel and a towel by the side of the bath tub. There was a small, unframed mirror hanging on the wall to the left of the bath and steam had risen, clouding the glass with condensation. It was just a little too high for me to see much other than my face, which was probably a good thing, as when I wiped away the mist, seeing my face was bad enough, without seeing the rest of my appearance. I was much whiter than my usual pale red-head inflicted complexion. Spending much of the past year out of the sunlight meant that any freckles that usually splattered across my nose and cheeks were now non-existent. Usually they provided some colour to my pale countenance and without them, my skin looked almost porcelain. However I was quite used to my skin tone by now, so it was not that that left me wishing I had not wiped the glass.
Great black shadows were painted around my eyes and the whiteness of my skin only emphasised the dark circles. My eyes themselves, which were usually a rather striking shade of green, now looked dull and lifeless and I felt like I was looking into the eyes of someone else. An impressive bruise smeared the corners of my mouth like smudged lipstick and my lips were cracked and dry. I ran a tongue over them, feeling the sharp taste of where the skin had split and remembered the feeling of a fist slamming into my face.
I reached forward with a visibly shaky hand and touched my fingertips to the glass, tracing a line across my reflected face. Suddenly Michael’s face appeared behind mine and his eyes were tinged with sadness. He placed a hand lightly on my shoulder and I shivered involuntarily as the buzzing coursed through my skin, which was always stronger whenever a vampire laid his hand on me.
‘Bathe, Sarah. You will feel better once you are clean again’
With that, he was gone, pulling the door partially closed behind him. I looked down at the steaming water and wondered if it could magically cleanse away my memories together with the dirt and grime.
Copyright (c) Lindsey Clarke 2011