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He parked the truck a little after four. A small Toyota pickup, with a broken mirror on the driver’s side, the yellow truck looked out of place among the clean, newer models behind the mall. Dressed in torn jeans and an old army jacket left over from his brother’s short stint in Desert Storm the boy, no more than twenty or twenty one, sauntered, if anyone still uses that word, into the rear entrance by the nail techs, their incessant chatter of foreign languages a din to his ears, and sniffed the air.


There was fear. Not just the fear of being alone late at night, or the fear of dying without ever knowing true love, but a deeper fear of rejection, disapproval, and failed decisions. The air was ripe with it, emanating from the children with their parents, the teenagers in their packs like wolves looking for a lost sheep, and the aged, with wrinkled faces, spotted hands, and thick glasses. But here was also blood.


He couldn’t identify where he smelled it, but the blood was in the air. It was all over the mall. Quickly he walked through the wide confines past the GNC, where two bulk bunnies were discussing the best steroid alternative, past the Abercrombie & Fitch, filled with emaciated model wannabes in designer jeans and opaque white tank tops, and the food stands selling recycled death, packaged as chicken, steak, pizza, and fish. As he walked past the open metal doors of the Hot Topic, the music inside making the hair on the back of his hands stand at attention with disapproval, he smelled the blood again. This was different blood.


Sitting briefly by the kiosk that sold dark glasses and cell phone covers of all the major and minor sports teams, he saw the object of his scent. She was standing in the back, waiting on a customer. To anyone else she would be just another pseudo Goth, those lost generation children who all kept their skin so pale, their hair so black, their makeup so thick, and their ideas so dark, so they could be different, while being just like the rest of the sub-culture. From the back she looked to be about sixteen, her hair hanging limply to her shoulders; her jeans tightly wrapped around a yet juvenile frame. She was young, so very young, but the blood was rich from her and he could smell it.


Too soon he could feel the pull of the moon on his skin. Looking up through the skylight he watched the last few rays of day fade into twilight. He knew he had to leave soon or be discovered and he fled, not quickly as to be noticed, but languidly, enjoying the ripples of power beginning to rise from his loins, his arms, and his legs. He had only been in this form a few times, having been bitten in late summer, when the smell of flowers and cut grass floated on the breezes of evening. It had been his brother who infected him, having been attacked in Iraq, five years before. The boy was lucky to still be alive from the bite. It had been the first time his brother had let a victim live, only drawing back at the last minute after the muted cries of the youth stirred something almost primordial in the older man.


She came out of the mall at closing. There weren’t many that used the back exit and he was glad of that. This would be his first kill and he wanted it to be perfect. He could feel the stiffness of his body longing for her. He would play with her before concluding. In the end the outcome would be inevitable, but there was no reason to rush it. After his brother had regained his mortal sanity they had talked about rushing things. About being so caught up in the hunt and the moment that they lost all sense of proportion. He would do this right, not just rip and tear like he had read in the pulp fictions and had seen on Buffy, but rend with dedication and purpose.


In the shadows he now watched the others pass by. They never saw him, crouched under the apple trees by the nail salon, his dark fur and glowing red eyes kept out of the lights from the passing cars and trucks as the others exited the lot. He could smell their longing for death. There was blood there also, but it was tainted blood: the blood of drugs and alcohol and sex. It was death’s blood that flows monthly and that must be purged to allow new, cleaner blood to flow. It was not HER blood.


When he was certain she was alone he began to hunt. Paralleling her movements, down one row of cars as she moved down another he smelled her without seeing her. He knew she was the one to take. She would be the perfect one, so young, so clean, so virginal in her black clothing, her black hair and nails, and her black eyes. It was the antithesis of the Madonna, the mirror image of the pure, she would appear in another life, his life, her death.


The moon was at its’ brightest when he made his move. She paused with her key in the door as he moved with the wind to his face, keeping his scent from his prey, as his kind had done for thousands of years. There was a tingle in his fur when he reached out swiftly to grasp the throat of the young girl, still unaware of his presence but there was also something amiss.


Suddenly there was pain. Inches from her face, his fangs bared, his claws exposed, his fur burned. Something shiny in the moonlight, not seen before. A pentagram on a chain around her neck. His mind reeled as the skin singed under the silver rope. She was now looking at him, smiling. Her hand on his muzzle, the rings on her fingers searing his flesh: the same fingers that quickly attaching the collar of that hated metal. It was too late for him to understand his danger, or to take his last chance for escape. He was trapped, and in that trap, his fate was sealed. As if in a final plea for release he howled once at the moon but there was no one to hear him. That was the rule set forth centuries before when game was less plentiful: one creature, one city.


When the security guard stopped a few minutes later the girl already had the creature chained into the back of her car.


“Everything all right, miss?” He asked from his golf cart, the yellow blinking light illuminating the dark parking lot.


“Yes, sir.” The young girl said. “Just walking my dog.”



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Comments

The following comments are for "Victim"
by gypseys

:)
I thought this was a great story. It was original that he chose his prey and then stalked her and I loved the ending; such a nice twist :) I would use spaces between your paragraphs or indent to make it easier to read. Well done and write on!

jo ~xxx~

( Posted by: misunderstood [Member] On: February 2, 2004 )

victim
Thank you for your kind words. I tried to do as you suggested but didn't use html and that's the way it ended up. Kinda p***ed me off a little too, but not enought to worry. I've posted some other works on my book web site at http://claire_daniels.tripod.com. They're on the upper left side of the tool bar. Gypsey

( Posted by: gypseys [Member] On: February 2, 2004 )

accepted for an anthology
This short story was recently printed in an anthology of world short stories from India. They found me through Lit.org so I thank this site for that. The anthology title is The Color Gallery by Cyber Wit Publishing. Gypsey

( Posted by: gypseys [Member] On: April 21, 2004 )





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