Vampire Dancing, page 4
“I just stopped to offer assistance,” Alyssa said. “I have my own car over there.”
Brian looked across the median. He could barely make out Alyssa's car. “You're headed the other way then.”
“I was, but I'd be more than happy to drop Julie off at the next town.”
Alyssa looked straight at Julie; willed her to accept the offer.
“I dunno...” Julie said. “I really don't want to put you to any trouble.”
“It's really no trouble,” Alyssa insisted.
Brian handed Julie the flashlight. “Last chance for a ride to the next town if you don't wanna trouble Alyssa here.”
Julie took the flashlight and bit gently into her lower lip. She pondered her decision for a few moments, then said to Alyssa, “This gentleman's going my way. I'll just take the ride from him.”
Alyssa looked at Brian. He didn't seem particularly sleazy or threatening (he was even moderately good looking). But then, they never did. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, but thanks so much for stopping and taking the time.”
“It was nothing, really,” Alyssa said. “I Hope everything works out well for you.” She raised a hand as a goodbye gesture. “Take care.”
Brian tipped his hat. “You have a safe ride, Alyssa.”
Julie gave a little wave. “Thank you.”
Alyssa walked back to her car. Halfway across the median, she looked back. Julie was getting into Brian's truck. She hoped the girl would be okay.
She slipped inside the Buick and lit a cigarette. Blowing smoke out the window, she watched the truck peel off the shoulder and pass the stricken car. She drummed her fingers on the steering wheel and tried to ignore the gnawing sensation in the pit of her stomach. Nothing but a low hissing sound could be heard from the car speakers. She turned off the stereo and sat in perfect silence for a while.
Alone with her thoughts.
When she was through with her cigarette, she flipped it away and rolled up the window.
Julie would be okay.
Alyssa put the car into drive and resumed her journey to nowhere in particular. The distant landscape was indistinguishable from the sky.
Dark enough out there to get away with just about anything. Like hiding the body of Bradley Evans.
… Or perhaps Julie with the car trouble.
Alyssa spun the Skylark one hundred and eighty degrees and gunned the engine. The force of the acceleration pushed her back against the seat. She drove across the center median and merged with the road west.
What the hell had she been thinking? Letting an attractive girl - who didn't look a day over eighteen - get into a truck with a complete stranger?
And a man.
She kept her foot pressed firmly on the gas pedal. The needle swept past the 60 mph mark. Her heart was pounding. Why hadn't she listened to her gut? It had started to gnaw at her the moment she laid eyes on the truck's lights twinkling in the distance.
The needle climbed past 70 mph and crept steadily towards 80.
Still no sign of the truck's tail lights. They couldn't be that far ahead. Surely Brian wouldn't be doing anything like 80 mph.
Alyssa watched the needle crawl past the 80 mark. She hammered the steering wheel in frustration. "Come on, you fucking piece of shit!"
It was then that she noticed a light in the middle of nowhere.
It had to be the truck.
She twisted the wheel sharply to the right; cut across the median onto East Broadway then headed straight onto rough desert terrain. Dirt and stones flew under the spin of the tires, and rattled against the car's underside and bodywork. She crossed a small railroad track. Her teeth clattered and her spine quaked, but her foot remained firmly planted on the gas pedal.
Please, don't make me be too late.
When she eventually arrived at the source of the light, it was too late.
Alyssa threw open the car door and quickly got out. The ride across the expanse had been nerve-jangling. Her legs were trembling.
Brian stood in the glow of the truck's lamps. His hands and shirt and pants were covered in blood. He was still wearing his hat. He moved around the body of Julie. His motion was almost drunken. He was laughing deliriously.
Alyssa found herself paralyzed with horror at the sight of the girl's body. It lay spreadeagled on the desert floor, and was completely naked. The area between her thighs was nothing more than a bloody, mutilated mess, and her throat had been slashed.
“I cut out her secret place,” Brian said.
Alyssa looked up. The glare from the truck's headlamps dazzled her eyes. She squinted. Brian was holding a knife in one hand.
He moved in front of one of the truck's beams.
“I cut out her secret place,” he said again. “You wanna see?” He started to fish around in his right front pocket.
A wave of revulsion hit Alyssa. She raised a quivering hand to her mouth.
Brian produced a lump of gore from the pocket. He held it out to Alyssa, then started towards her. “Cut it straight from her. Now she'll be no more trouble.”
So much horror witnessed in Alyssa's long lifetime - some of it up close, some of it from afar; some of it dealt by her own hands, some of it dealt by the hands of others - but only once had she felt as utterly numb, as completely wrought with guilt as this.
Somewhere in the distance, a dog howled. It was such a mournful sound, and seemed to sum up the scene entirely.
Brian started to sing a slightly tailored version of the Bad Boys theme song from the television show, COPS: “Bad girl, bad girl, watcha gonna do? Watcha gonna do when I come for you?”
He stopped advancing, then closed his eyes and laughed hysterically. When he reopened them, Alyssa was gone.
He spun around. “Where the hell'd you go!”
He staggered back towards Julie's body, then stopped and scanned the darkness. “Brian ain't finished with you yet, y'hear?”
He threw his handful of Julie to the ground in a fit of rage, then whirled; was sure he'd felt Alyssa breathing down his neck. “Goddamn you, cunt, where you at?”
The distant, plaintive cry of the dog could be heard once again.
“I'll cut out your secret place and feed it to that damn dog!”
The hairs on the nape of Brian's neck stood on end. He turned quickly. Alyssa was standing in front of him. She slapped him hard across the face. His head whipped to one side and his hat flew off. “What the fuck!”
And then she was gone again.
“Show yourself!” he yelled, and slashed his knife at the cold night air.
Brian spun. Alyssa was there. She slapped him harder this time – with so much force his legs almost buckled.
“Jesus H Christ!” he spat, and raised a trembling hand to his face.
He turned again, and this time Alyssa slapped him so hard he staggered to one side and tripped over his feet. He struck the desert floor and wailed like a hysterical child.
“No more!” he cried, and thrust out a hand to protect himself.
But Alyssa was nowhere to be seen.
The dog continued to wail. It sounded closer than before.
Brian picked himself up. He thought he saw something, but wasn't sure what. All those slaps had caused his eyes to water. He blinked several times. Gradually, two small lights came into focus. They hovered in the darkness.
He muttered something to himself and moved cautiously to investigate.
The darkness embraced him.
Drawing closer, he realized they weren't lights at all. They were eyes. Bright eyes, illuminated like fireflies in the night.
“What the ...?”
Alyssa pounced seemingly from nowhere and knocked Brian onto his back. He landed hard in a cloud of dirt. Air gushed from his lungs and the knife bounced from his hand. She straddled him and opened her mouth.
There was just enough light in the area for Brian to discern what looked like fangs; long,
Alyssa's eyes sparkled brightly, then turned an intense red. She sank her teeth into Brian's neck, puncturing skin and drawing blood.
Brain's arms flapped by his sides.
When Alyssa pulled back from Brian, she took with her a large chunk of his flesh. She spat it to one side and wiped her mouth with the back of a hand. It painted a bloody smear across her cheek.
Brian's body violently convulsed. Blood filled his mouth and bubbled around his lips. He coughed, decorating his face with crimson droplets.
Alyssa wasn't finished. She sunk her teeth into the other side of Brian's neck and began to gorge on the warm life fluid which filled her mouth.
Brian's movements gradually became less convulsive, and eventually he lay motionless.
After awhile, Alyssa sat up, panting. Her ire had faded, and she felt tired and vulnerable.
A dog came padding from the darkness. Caught in the glow of the vehicle beams, it looked almost otherworldly.
Alyssa rose from Brian's mutilated corpse. She gazed at the impoverished beast and conveyed a silent communication to it, and then wandered off into the darkness, leaving behind everything but the burden of guilt.
The dog waited until the woman was almost lost to sight before approaching the man's body. It licked at his face and neck, and then lapped at the puddle of blood just below his trachea.
Soon after that, it began to tear strips from him.
After a time, the animal stopped and scanned its surroundings. The woman was nowhere to be seen. It felt a pang of sadness for her. When their eyes had met, it had peered beyond her veneer, and saw only emptiness. And something else it did not understand.
It now wished to communicate gratitude to her for saving its life.
A low whine escaped its throat. And then it buried its snout in the man's neck and continued to feast.
01:28 am ...
Screwball stands at the far end of the Lexington Avenue Line platform. His feet are positioned at the edge of the yellow safety strip. He looks at the opposite wall. The tiles are cracked and dirty. In some places, they've broken off the wall completely.
Wiley walks up behind him and slaps him on the back. “Watch you don't fall over.”
A cry escapes Screwball's lips and he almost loses his balance.
Wiley grasps hold of his friend's jersey and holds him steady.
Screwball places a hand over his thumping heart. “Jesus fuck on a popsicle, thought I was gonna fall.”
Wiley grins. “Relax. You're in safe hands.”
“Hey,” Screwball says, “check out what I found in the trash.” He fishes around in his pocket and pulls out a wrapped condom. “Ain't even used.” He's positively glowing with excitement. “Crazy what some people throw away, huh?”
“You use those things?” Wiley asks.
“Well ... I dunno.”
“Screwing with one of those,” Wiley says, “feels like someone's numbed your prick with Novocaine.” He hears the distant sound of an approaching train and peers into the tunnel. No sign of it yet.
Screwball makes a discontented grunt and pops the condom back into his pocket.
Kobie and Len come strolling over.
“So, what's the plan?” Kobie asks.
“The plan,” Wiley replies, “is her with the ponytail.”
Further along the otherwise empty platform is a woman who looks to be in her mid-twenties. She's wearing a pink off-shoulder top, skinny dark wash jeans and white pumps.
“Yeah, she's cute,” Kobie says.
Screwball grabs his crotch. “She's makin' my sausage go all tingly and my meatballs shrivel.”
“What if she gets on the train?” Len asks.
Wiley's eyelid twitches. He raises a hand to it. “What the hell do you think? Why the hell you think I bought you the ticket?”
“Oh, okay,” Len says.
“No, not okay.” Wiley grabs one of Len's titties and twists it.
“Ow,” Len wails.
“Hey,” Kobie says, nodding in the direction of their intended target. “She's with some guy.”
The guy Kobie is referring to seems to be about the same age as the woman. He has blonde floppy hair and is wearing jeans and a loose-fitting oatmeal colored sweater. Wiley thinks he looks fairly capable, but reckons it's nothing a knife and a few threatening words can't easily handle.
“He won't be a problem,” he tells them. “They never are.”
“Looks like Justin Bieber,” Screwball says.
Kobie disagrees: “Nah, Bieber ain't blonde, and this guy's built like a motherfuckin' linebacker.”
Screwball chuckles. “Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.”
“She don't look nuthin like Miley Cyrus,” Kobie says.
“I'd still fuck 'er,” Screwball replies. “I'd fuck 'em both.”
Kobie looks at Screwball in disgust. “You'd fuck Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. You're sick, dawg.”
“Jesus Christ,” Screwball says, and whips his hat around. “I'd fuck Hannah Montana and this here girl. I wouldn't go screwin' no Justin goddamn Bieber. I ain't no pedophile.”
“Bieber's eighteen now,” Wiley says. “It’d be perfectly okay if you wanted to.”
“But,” Kobie says, “Miley was a kid when she was Hannah Montana, which would then mean you have pedophile tendencies after all.”
“Now hear me out,” Screwball says, raising the level of his voice to compete with the sound of the arriving train, “I don't give a damn whether he's eighteen years old or eighty years old. I have no desire whatsoever to fuck Justin Bieber. And Hannah Montana is god damn Miley Cyrus and she's all grown up now. I ain't no kiddie fiddler, got that!”
Slowing to a halt, the number six train floods the platform with the usual cacophony of clattering wheels, spitting brakes and general high-pitched squealing. A gush of wind accompanying its arrival encircles the group.
Wiley watches an empty potato chip bag go tumbling past his feet.
"You sure those cams ain't working?" Kobie asks.
They all look up at one such camera.
Wiley leans against one of the columns. “Fuck knows. But at least the subway cars ain't rigged - not yet anyway.”
Kobie shakes his head. “I dunno, man.”
The moving platforms extend, bridging the gap to the train. Exterior doors open and the intended target and her capable boyfriend stroll into one of the cars.
“Okay, fellas,” Wiley says, “time to go.”
Each of the men step into the nearest car. Wiley's the last to enter. He steps inside, then does a double take back at the platform.
Kobie sits on one of the light-blue molded plastic seats. He notices Wiley look back outside the car. “Wassup?”
Wiley shrugs. “It's probably nuthin.”
“Don't look like nuthin.”
“Thought I saw a woman,” Wiley elaborates, “from the corner of my eye, hurrying across the platform. Thought she was comin' our way for a moment. Wasn't there when I looked again.”
“That all?” Kobie says.
“I kinda got a weird vibe from her. Dunno why.”
“She's gotta be on the train somewhere,” Screwball says, leaning against a full length handrail. “Maybe we could, y'know, do her, too.”
“Who the hell you think I am,” Wiley says, “John Holmes?”
The PA speakers burst to life with a pre-recorded male voice: Stand clear of the closing doors, please. This is followed by a ding-dong chime.
The doors close behind Wiley.
Kobie stares at his feet, and says again: “I dunno, man.”
The train pulls away from the platform.
Amber claps her hands. “You just made it there.”
“Thought I was going to get caught in the doors,” Michael says.
“Highly unlikely,” Amber replies.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.
“A big baby, huh?”
“A big baby,” she says again.
“And are you in the habit of fooling around with babies?”
She gasps. “You're awful.”
The train pulls away from the platform. The sudden momentum, albeit slight, causes Amber to stumble into Michael's arms. His top three shirt buttons are undone. She gazes at his smooth chest then slides her arms around his waist.
Michael opens his mouth for her.
“You're cold,” she says between kisses. “You need to feed.”
“I already am,” Michael replies.
“You know what I mean.”
“I haven't done what you're suggesting in a while.”
“And why is that, exactly?”
“Because people are us. It's cannibalism. There was a time when it was difficult to live any other way. It was survival. But now-”
Amber places a finger over Michael's lips. “Save it. I don't doubt you feel that way. But you're not being completely open with me.”
Michael takes Amber's hand. It's so soft, and stirs long buried memories. He looks past her and sees the interior of the car reflected in the window. He sees himself. It makes him feel uncomfortable.
“It's easy to make mistakes,” he says.
“We all make mistakes,” she replies.
“For sure. But there are some mistakes that are truly mistakes.”
Amber looks into Michael's eyes. She can see he's holding onto something painful. “You're turning this car into Room 101.”
Michael sweeps his memories aside - “Sorry, my bad” - and smiles.
“You've got a great smile. Anyone ever tell you that?”
Amber delivers a playful slap to his arm. “Narcissist.”
Michael chuckles. “You really are a tonic.”
“A tonic for what?” she asks.
It's not a question Michael finds easy to answer. He shrugs. “You remind me of someone, from a very long time ago.”
Amber slings her arms around his neck. “I hope it's a good memory.”
“It is,” he replies. “Mostly.”