// Twenty Eight //

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Richard held down my right arm, so I swung my left around and grabbed the back of his head. I clawed my hands into his hair and pulled. He growled but didn't let go.

I needed air. Everything was slipping towards darkness.

I was suffocating. My mind faded in and out of lucid thought. I needed to do something.

With a quick jerk, I pulled my right leg out from under Richard's knee. I only had a small amount of leverage, but with all of my strength, I kneed him in the gut.

It was just enough of a hit that the pressure on my neck released for a second, and his hand released my other arm. I gasped as I filled my lungs with oxygen, and then I pushed against Richard's body, kicking with my leg and shoving with my arm. As soon as enough of his weight was off of me, I scampered out from under him like a crab and pushed myself to me feet.

My head spun with the sudden change in elevation. I'd completely lost my focus. I had no idea what was going on. Out of nowhere, a hand grasp me by the shoulder, but before Richard could throw me to the ground again, I stutter stepped back and threw a punch at him.

My hand flew through air and missed, but with the momentum I rushed forward and out of Richard's reach, buying myself enough time to regain my focus. I listened to the sounds echoing around the room, and in a flash the image of the space developed once again.

In a crash of thunder, I lunged at Richard. Arms out in front of myself, I grabbed him by both shoulders. Before he had time to react, I snapped my head forward and slammed my jaw shut. My teeth clenched around flesh. With a pop, my fangs broke the skin of Richard's neck.

"Fuck!" he screamed. "Get off of me!" His hands grasped at my arms as he tried to pry me off, but my jaw was locked. Blood flowed into my mouth. It spilled over my teeth and down my chin. It soaked the collar of my shirt.

Richard took a swing at my head. Pain shot through my skull, but I was latched on firm. My teeth wouldn't release. I tasted the thick, salty liquid running down my throat. I felt Richard's pulse in my teeth and under my finger tips as I grasped his arms. I smelled so much blood, overpowering all conscious thought.

I shuddered as ice rushed through the roots of my fangs. My teeth burned like they'd been hit with a blast of freezing air. The venom pulsed through them and into Richard's blood stream, replacing the hot blood I was drinking. Richard's struggles grew weaker, and suddenly, all of his weight fell into my arms. He was too heavy for me to hold, so he dragged me down to my knees as he fell. But still, I didn't release the bite.

An orgasmic sense of euphoria pulsed through my mind. I was floating. I could feel myself shuddering as the last of the reserves of venom left my skull, but the out-of-body sensation disassociated any feelings of pain.

Richard mumbled incoherently as his hands weakly pried at my face in one last feeble attempt to get me to let go.

You've lost a lot of blood.

I realized suddenly that even if I stopped, the blood would continue to flow. Richard wouldn't be able to get to help. He was hallucinating and the power was out. If I stopped right now and left, Richard would bleed out on the floor of his own bar. He would die slowly—alone, confused and blind.

The idea of it brought me pleasure, but it didn't matter. I had absolutely no intentions of stopping. I wanted to taste the last of his life running out. I needed to feel the last beat of his heart as it pumped blood into my mouth.

I continued to drain him, and the struggling stopped. Richard lay motionless on his back. With my teeth still latched onto his neck, I placed my fingers over the pulse point on his wrist. I could still feel the weak beats of his heart. I felt his chest moving up and down in dying, uneven respiration.

My stomach burned like it was on fire, and my head spun in a frenzy. I had never drank this much blood before. I'd never felt so full of strength. It was euphoric and painful. My head pounded like something was exploding within me.

Then, I felt the last of Richard's life run out. His pulse stopped, and he lay still. Gasping, I released my jaw from the bite, and I fell onto my back. I felt like I was glowing and burning. I felt like an explosion. Nausea tugged at my throat, but I refused to throw up.

I pushed myself to my feet, panting from the exhaustion of murder. Heat smoldered within me.

Someone would be here soon. Richard had surely told someone where he was going. It wouldn't be long before Neil or Venessa showed up. I would be caught red-handed. I would go to prison. No, worse—they would lock me back up in the vault.

I had to get out of here. I had to hurry.

Adrenaline and rage and ecstasy coursed through my body as I rushed to the door of the bar. I listened to my footsteps and the way they echoed through the space, allowing me to maneuver around the tables and chairs.

My hand reached the cool metal of the door handle, and I pushed it open. A rumble of thunder greeted me as I stumbled out into the night.

My face and clothes were bathed in blood. If anyone saw me, they would know I was a murderer. They would know I was a vampire—a monster.

I needed to run. Icy rain pounded around me, but I didn't feel the cold. A heat burned within me, electrifying my entire body. The echos of the storm allowed me to sense the shape of the roads. No one was on the sidewalk. The streets were empty.

I ran.

I darted into the center of the empty road, and I ran. My feet slipped over wet cobble stones, but I didn't fall. As my pace quickened, I was falling through a tunnel. The buildings around me became walls, and the sky a ceiling. I approached a turn in the road. The earth rumbled beneath my feet. Heat coursed through my body, and my legs burned.

A chill shuddered up my spine and zapped the base of my brain.

I lost my focus for a second.

The image of the street disappeared, and complete and total darkness filled my mind. Above the roar of the wind and rain and crashes of thunder, I heard something else—the blast of a horn.

It only took me half a breath to regain my focus, but it was too late. The shape of a car materialized in front of me as it careened around the corner. It rushed towards me, wheels screaming over the wet road.

My heart pounded against my rib cage. My breaths were daggers puncturing my lungs.

There was no way the car could stop.

There was no way I could stop.

All ghosts have a story to tell. If you listen to them closely, you can hear the echos of their lives.

As the car flew towards me, I felt an explosion of rage within me. Pain burst from beneath my shoulder blades. Bones shifted and snapped.

Right before the car collided into my body and killed me, I grew wings. They were enormous and exploded from my ribs like bullets from a gun. They stretched so wide I felt them touch the sides of the buildings.

The car never hit me. That'd be a shitty way to go.

Right before it got the chance, I took off into the sky, and like a bat out of hell, I flew away into the night.

/ THE END /

Author's Note:

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you've enjoyed the story and don't hate me too much for the ending.

In case you are curious, throughout the second half of the story, Aaron uses echolocation to gain information about his surroundings and "see". Many animals are known to use echolocation, for example bats and dolphins. Echolocation is in fact a general human ability as well. Individuals that can see repress the ability because of the precedence effect. However, individuals without sight may learn to pick up on echos passively from their surroundings, as well as actively by creating noises themselves. I thought that it was pretty interesting.

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