Chapter 24

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Kelly Johnson was a senior at the local high school and a top athlete on both the track and volleyball teams. Her morning routine included getting up early every day to run at least five to ten miles before school, and then got home late after practice to run another five to ten after school. She had slept through her alarm clock that morning and missed her early morning run, a slip that almost never happened and kept her mad at herself the entire day. Determined to make up for her lost miles that morning, she stopped on one of her favorite dirt roads after school, sending a text to her mom to let her know she’d be extra late for dinner. It was called Potter road, it ran alongside Conway Lake and was usually void of heavy traffic. The occasional breeze off the lake in a few spots made the end of the run pleasant, and the steep hills made the run challenging. Usually she reserved this run for pre-competition training, but the lost miles of the morning weighed heavily on her mind.

She parked her car at the entrance to an old logging road just off the main drag, then throwing her hair into a quick ponytail while she stretched and tied her running shoes. She paused just long enough to stuff the speakers of her music player into her ears before taking off, turning the music up on her player and jogging in near perfect step with the upbeat music. She only had a couple of hours of daylight left and no reflectors on her clothes, not wanting to get stuck running in the woods after dark she took off in a hurry and kept her pace fast. In her rush to get going she didn’t notice the small and dirty car that slowly pulled off the road behind her and watched as she was getting ready.

The man sitting behind the wheel looked to be in his late teens, maybe early twenties. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of dark sunglasses that contrasted against the sharp features of his pale face. He kept his dark hair cropped short and wore plain clothes, doing his best to blend in so that no one who saw him would give him a second glance. Although his smile was disarming and his face young, he was in fact cruel and deadly, close to two hundred years old. He was a vampire, never staying in one town too long, and never for more than a couple meals. He came into town hungry, expecting to spend a day or two stalking the town in search for a meal. What a stroke of luck it was to have seen this girl pull off onto a lonely dirt road on his very first day in town! Even luckier, she was exactly his type. Young, athletic and beautiful, she was a girl who had a bright future ahead of her. A future he would take pleasure in denying her. He watched her run off with a smile on his face. He would wait just a little bit longer before taking her, following her just until it started getting dark before making his move. He hoped this road would remain empty of all but her for a few hours, but killing off a human witness or two wasn’t really a big deal for him if worse came to worse. He turned off his car and watched as she rounded the first corner of the road, noting her long legs, white beneath her small red running shorts, and her blonde ponytail bouncing behind her as she ran. He would cut that off and take it as a trophy. He had hunted them young and athletic as long as he could remember.  The blood tasted so much better that way.

He stepped out of his car and shut the door quietly behind him. He could still smell her in the air, could still hear her faint footsteps running down the road. The smell of her made him hungry, the sound of her footsteps made him eager for the chase. Unlike a lot of his kind that he knew and had met over his two centuries, he was very picky about his food. He was also one of the most sadistic. Like a cat plays with a mouse before delivering the fatal blow, he delighted in playing with his victims, often for hours, before finally ending their misery. Such weak little things deserved such torment, plus their screams and struggles amused him. It would be no different with this one. He would catch her, drag her off the road, and cut her open again and again, slowly drinking every precious drop of her blood to the music of her cries. Then he would carry her far into the woods and leave her to the animals. It’s a game of death he’s played countless times, in thousands of towns with thousands of girls over the course of his second lifetime. None of his victims had ever been found.

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