Continued from Part 1
Something furry grazed my cheek and I woke with a start. Where’s the moon, I wondered. Where’s my drink? I was lying down but it was another moment before I realized that I was lying on a dirt floor, not a sandy beach. I was so thirsty; I would give anything for that margarita. I started to sit up and almost cried out in pain from the effort. The left side of my neck felt like it was on fire. I gingerly tapped my fingers over the area and found two open, bleeding wounds.
“What the hell—“ I said.
I froze. She was behind me and so close that I could feel her breath on the back of my neck.
“Don’t be afraid, Irene. I’m here to give you what you want. To give you that life you’ve always wanted. In return, I get what I’ve wanted for a very long time—a companion.”
She placed her hands on my arms and slowly lifted me to my feet. I was struck dumb by her strength and her presence, her oppressive presence.
I felt dizzy and wished she would let me go, let me fall back onto the dirt floor. The close dank air of the basement was making me feel sick.
“You’ll get used to it, to the intensity of your senses. You might say you are more alive now than you were before.” She laughed slightly and turned me around so that we were facing each other.
My eyes had adjusted to the dark for I saw her pale young face clearly. Only now she had rosy cheeks and lips and when she smiled, her brilliant white fangs just touched her lower lip.
“What have you done to me?” My voice trembled with fear. I already knew what she had done.
“I’ve made you my sister. So you can call me Emily now. We’ll be sisters forever.”
I didn’t have a sister, or a brother. I had been an only child, but I had always liked it that way.
“I don’t want to be your sister. Besides, I’m old enough to be your mother.” My body started to shake. I didn’t know if I was angry or afraid. I think I was both. How dare she do this to me, I thought.
“I dare do what I want,” Emily said with saccharine sweetness. “And I am considerably older than you can imagine. But, with us, age does not exist.”
I tried to push her away but she put her hands on my head and started to squeeze. The pain was worse than my worst migraine. I saw a flash of searing white light as my legs collapsed under me.
“I can destroy you, Irene.” She released her grip and let me fall to the floor where I cradled my throbbing head. “I don’t want to destroy you. But I can if you resist me.”
The floor vibrated with the sound of a car approaching. In spite of the sharp pain in my head, I could hear the sound of tires on a dirt road. I could almost see the car break through the wood. I knew it was Ray and that it had to be late, late enough for him to drive all the way out here looking for me.
“Come, you need to feed,” Emily said abruptly.
I sat back on my heels and looked up at her. She was at the ladder, staring up at the darkened kitchen, a look of excitement and hunger animating her face. She looked down at me.
“You see, Irene, once you’ve fed, then you’ll be completely turned and we will be sisters. Forever.”
“And if I don’t . . . feed?” Of course, I knew the answer, but I wanted to hear her say it. Emily looked at me as if she would spit at me in disgust, and then she smiled.
“If you don’t? You know, if you don’t feed, then you’ll simply be my slave, which will be very tiresome for me. You will always be hungry, always begging for food. I can keep you tied to me by giving you little animals to feed on, but it’s too much work for me. I want you to be my equal, my sister. But, don’t worry, you will feed. No one can deny their hunger for long.” She laughed, and then we both started at the sound of two car doors slamming shut. Ray hadn’t come alone. Emily could barely contain her delight when she realized that we wouldn’t have to share.
“Irene!” Ray’s voice broke through the thick air of the basement. He was only at the front door but I could smell the slightly acrid odor of his sweat and his fear. He’s scared, I thought. He’s afraid something has happened to me. I felt hungry for him. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to drink him up.
Suddenly Emily sprang to the top of the ladder. Ray and the other man were in the foyer. I could see their flashlight beams criss-crossing through the murky darkness of the kitchen.
“Irene!” Ray called out again and the fear in his voice made my body ache. I wanted him more that moment than I had ever wanted him before. I crawled to the ladder and began to climb slowly, until I was almost on top on Emily.
“Wait,” she said in a harsh whisper. “You don’t know what you’re doing yet.”
“I thought it came naturally,” I said sarcastically. I couldn’t believe I was talking back to her, knowing what she could do to me. She glared at me and then pushed me down to the foot of the ladder.
The heavy footsteps of Ray and his friend Dan echoed throughout the house as they searched everywhere but the kitchen. Why didn’t they come to the kitchen?, I wondered.
“They don’t see that the basement door is open,” Emily whispered. “Your husband doesn’t want to search the basement. He’s afraid of what he will find.” She laughed, thoroughly amused by Ray’s fear.
“And they have guns,” she said. “Oh, when will humans realize how useless those are?” Her body quivered with delight. She liked to torture, I thought, and then she glanced over her shoulder at me.
“You’ll come to enjoy it, too. The little games you can play with people before you kill them. But you have to stay back this time. They can kill you the way you are now.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling so disappointed. And then Emily laughed out loud.
“No, there’s no cure for you. You either become like me or you die!”
“Irene!” Ray and Dan were hurrying toward the kitchen. They must have heard Emily. They thought she was me, and I could feel Ray’s heart swell with hope and relief and love. Why hadn’t I believed that he still loved me?
As Emily started to lunge toward the sound of the men, I jumped up and grabbed her ankle. Such a small bone, I thought as my hand encircled it. She turned back to hiss at me and then swept her nails across my cheek.
“What the—,” Dan said, and I could just make out their figures stopped within a few feet of the basement door. Dan’s arm was thrown protectively in front of Ray. Dan had a revolver pointed at Emily.
Emily turned back toward the men. I tugged at her foot and pulled off her small suede boot. I sunk my newly minted fangs into the back of her ankle and started to tear at her Achilles tendon. Her screams filled the house, shaking the windows, and she kicked furiously at me. But I didn’t let go.
I’m feeding, I thought to myself. I’m doing what you told me to do.
“Not me, you fool! You’re not supposed to feed on me!” Emily roared as she thrashed about. It seemed like we battled for hours, but the fight was over in just a few seconds. As she turned to grab my hair, I pulled her torn leg away from the ladder. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a rusty hook jutting out from a pillar. My strength was waning quickly. I was running out of time.
I grabbed Emily by the waist, lifted her up, and then threw her at the hook. Before I passed out, I saw Emily’s impaled body, flaying against the beams of Ray and Dan’s flashlights. Blood was gushing from her wound and I wondered if it was my blood. I lost consciousness just as Emily’s body started to deteriorate, her now rotting flesh falling off her bones in great viscous gobs. It made me sick.
When I awoke I was in the hospital. My neck was bandaged and an IV was stuck in my arm, sending blood into my body. I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to have new blood coursing through my veins.
My room was dim. I guessed the sun had just gone down, but I could see Ray dozing in the chair next to my bed. He was holding my hand. He had a two-day-old beard and stank of too much deodorant. He looked lonely and old with his heavily salted black hair, the deep furrows between his eyebrows, and the loose skin around his neck. I wanted to cry for him and for all that I had put him through.
I wanted to snuggle into his arms like I used to do in the early years of our marriage. I wanted to kiss him. I wanted to taste his skin again and remember those days when he’d come home after a long day of plowing in the sun. His skin would taste like salt, dust, and heat. It used to excite me.
I licked my lips and was surprised to find that my teeth were still rather sharp and pointy. I studied them with the tips of my fingers. The fangs were still there.
I looked back over at Ray. I couldn’t believe that I had actually thought of leaving him. I squeezed his hand, and he stirred in his chair.
“I’ll never leave you, Ray, “ I said softly. “We’ll stay together. Forever.”