Vampire Dancing, page 8
He pats the woman's hand.
The woman refuses to let go. She has a rabbit-in-the-headlights look about her. Michael wonders what her story is; why a woman her age is alone on a train at this time of night - or morning. He looks to Amber for guidance.
Amber shakes her head and exits the car.
“Lady,” Michael says, “I think it might be dangerous up ahead. It's best-”
“Danger?” the woman says, her eyes wide with alarm.
“Well- no. I mean, yes, but ... can't you just stay here?”
The woman digs her nails deeper into Michael's arm. “I'm scared.”
“Okay, come with me. But stay behind. If anything happens-”
“You know what, nothing's going to happen.” He pats the woman's hand again. “Just stay close.”
The train passes Spring Street station without stopping. It's a sight which leads to a sharp increase in Amber's unease. Not bothering to wait for Michael to catch up, she moves quickly to the end of the aisle and exits through the door.
In the next car, a girl is sitting with her hands folded on her lap. She's wearing a denim jacket on top of a white cotton blouse, and a long, brightly colored flared skirt. She's all alone and staring ahead, as though mesmerized by the motion of the tunnel lights darting past the windows.
Amber's approach catches her attention.
The girl gets up from her seat and meets Amber at the midway point of the aisle. Clumsy looking black ankle boots are attached to her feet. “Did you see that? The train didn't stop just now. And the lights have went all weird.”
“Hard not to notice,” Amber replies.
The girl bites gently into her lower lip and twists a multicolored beaded necklace around one finger. “I had an argument with my boyfriend. He drove away and left me stranded in the street and I didn't have enough money for a cab, so I had to get this train. And I left my cellphone in his car. I'm terrified riding the subway at night.”
Amber reckons the girl can't be older than eighteen. “Your boyfriend's an asshole. Dump him.”
The girl continues to twist her necklace. “Well ... I'm kinda pregnant.”
Amber looks at the girl's tummy.
“Oh, I only just found out,” she says. “won't be showing for an age - hey, you wouldn't happen to have a phone on you, would you? So I can call my mom, let her know I'm okay? I should've been home by now.”
Amber realizes she's left her purse and jacket a few cars back. “Crap, it's in my jacket, and I put it down in another car. I can go back for it.”
“Uh, it's okay, it's not that big a deal. It's not like I haven't been out all night before.”
“Tell you what,” Amber says, “I'll need to fetch my things before we leave the train anyway. You can call her then.”
“Sure,” the girl replies.
The speed of the tunnel lights flitting past catches Amber's attention. “We seem to be running slower now.”
“Do you think we're stopping?”
“I don't think so,” Amber replies. “At least, not yet. It's like the train's gradually running out of power or something.”
“Maybe the driver's stopping to fix the problem with the lights.”
The girl's eyes are bold and blue, and she has punchy little cheekbones, a button nose and pronounced dimples – and, of course, she's a blonde. Amber believes it's just as well she has this whole cute thing going for her, because she sure as hell doesn't seem too bright.
“I think he would've stopped at a station to do that,” Amber replies.
The girl ponders Amber's words, then blurts: “Maybe it's a terrorist attack.”
“I think we have more chance of being invaded by aliens from outer space than being attacked by terrorists,” Amber says.
“You think it could be aliens?”
“No- I'm not suggesting we're being attacked by aliens, or that I even believe in them. I was just saying-”
“Have you ever saw a UFO?”
“I … don't really know.”
“I saw a UFO once,” the girls says. “It was shaped like a cigar and was long and vibrating.”
Amber looks bemused. Was this conversation really happening?
“Anyway,” the girl goes on, “one moment it was there, the next ... poof. Gone.”
Amber forces a smile. “That's usually the way.”
“Yeah,” the girl says. She sweeps her bangs back from her face. It does little good. Her ash blonde hair is clearly in need of a trim.
Amber offers the girl her hand. “I'm Amber, by the way.”
The girl takes Amber's hand. “Wendy.”
“Pleased to meet you, Wendy.”
Meeting Wendy, all alone and vulnerable, and exchanging names and a handshake, Amber can't help but be reminded of Julie with the car trouble, outside of Van Horn.
There are some things you never forget.
Just then, Michael and his uptight lady companion enter the car.
Relief sweeps over Amber. Even though she only just met him tonight, she's already feeling considerably more assured in Michael's presence.
“Michael, meet Wendy,” Amber says.
Ushering the woman accompanying him towards Wendy, Michael says: “Hi, Wendy, meet Barbara. Barbara, meet Wendy. Now, if you'll excuse me, ladies, I need a word with my wife.” He takes Amber by the arm and pulls her to one side.
Amber yanks her arm free of Michael's grasp. “That was rude - and your wife?”
“Ssh,” Michael says. “I had to get you away. I need to talk to you.”
“This ... you don't think this has anything to do with what happened at the parking garage, do you? There's surveillance cameras everywhere these days.”
Amber glances past Michael to make sure the other women aren't within earshot. “I hardly think the cops would have the driver randomly mess around with the train - and besides, it's too soon for them to have caught up to us. This is something else.”
“Anything to do with the trail we followed?”
Amber thinks for a moment. “I don't know.”
The lights in the car briefly flicker.
The flickering catches Michael's attention. “Remember a few minutes ago ... when you asked if I felt anything out of the ordinary?”
“Yes?” Amber replies.
“Well now I'm beginning to.”
01:42 am ...
“Shit, what the hell's happened to the lights?” Screwball says. “And just as things were gettin' good!”
Wiley frantically tucks his penis into his pants. He can hear Len blubbering excitedly and Kobie yelling expletives from the other end of the car. He looks along the aisle and sees Amanda coming towards him through the darkness. She doesn't look like his mom anymore. She's completely Amanda again.
And yet she isn't.
He pulls out his switchblade and flicks it open. “Stay away from me, bitch, or I'll fuck you up!”
Amanda wraps her fingers around a vertical hand rail and takes another step towards Wiley. The light from the tunnel flashes across her face and, for the briefest of moments, she doesn't look pretty at all. Her hair is straw-like and all over the place, and her mouth is drooping, as though it's melting. And then there's her eyes ... dear God, her eyes. Each eye is completely black with a bright yellow elliptical pupil.
Wiley feels his legs turn to Jell-O. It doesn't matter that Amanda looking like some kind of monster lasted only an instant. The very fact that she did just turn into something hideous means she'd be no less threatening a sight dressed as a Catholic schoolgirl with her hair in bunches and a lollipop sticking out of her mouth.
He backs into something and turns with a startled cry.
It's Kobie, come to see what all the fuss is about. “What the hell's wrong with you, man?”
Looking over his shoulder, Wiley says: “We gotta get out of here. She isn't human. Her boyfriend has to be the same.”
Bewildered, Kobie shakes his head. All he can see (and not very clearly at that) is a non-threatening woman coming towards them.
Wiley leaves Kobie where he's standing and heads quickly for the end door.
Kobie watches Wiley go - dude's went fucked in the head - then turns his attention back to Amanda - who is suddenly standing right beside him.
And she looks anything but human.
Before Kobie can react, Amanda grabs the back of his head and rakes his face with wickedly long fingernails.
Blood sprays onto her face.
Kobie's screams fill the car.
“Kobie!” Screwball yells, and fumbles for a handrail. He trips over something big and lands face first. His baseball cap topples from his head. “Jesus fuck!”
Shadows generated by the lights from the tunnel dart back and forth through the car's interior.
Screwball manages to discern what he's fallen over.
He crawls over to the big guy and gives him a shake. “Hey, Lenny, wake up.”
He gives Len's face several light slaps. “Come on, I think Kobie's-”
Screwball realizes his fingers are wet. His hands begins to tremble. “Lenny?”
But Len isn't going to reply to Screwball, or eat another peanut M&M or drink gallons of soda in a day or look at a pretty girl and wish he wasn't a loser ever again, because his throat has been torn out, and that makes him about as dead as dead can be.
Fear causes Screwball's bladder to momentarily loosen and a little bit of urine to spurt out of his prized pecker.
First those screams of Kobie's, and now Len ...
Something is killing them.
Wiley hurries into the adjacent car and sees Spring Street speed past the windows.
The slumbering old man he had passed several minutes ago is now on his feet. “Whatever's going on in there” – the man points at the door Wiley just came through - “I don't wanna know.”
“The train's not stopping,” Wiley says.
The old man digs his hands into the pockets of his dark, quilt-lined coat. “I think we went past my stop a long time ago.”
Wiley's sure there's a double meaning in that statement. He looks at the old fella. He's not a very tall man - five-eight at a stretch - and has a face that looks like it's partied in Hell and lived to tell the tale.
“Mister,” he says. “I think we're in big fuckin' trouble.”
The door at the far end of the aisle opens and a small group of people enter the car. Wiley recognizes them as the couples he and his merry men eyeballed before.
“Anyone know what's going on here?” one of the men asks.
Wiley tucks his switchblade into his back pocket and approaches them. “You gotta go back the way you came. There's fucked up people back there.”
He looks over his shoulder.
No sign of Amanda yet.
“Fucked up people?” one of the men says.
Wiley attempts to usher everyone out of the car. “Come on, we gotta go.”
“Wait a minute,” the other man says. “I'd really like to know what you mean by 'fucked up people.'”
Both men have on dark suits and have more than likely had a swell evening on the town with their attractive girlfriends. Wiley is certain, however, that all good things are about to come to a swift end if they don't perform a u-turn, and soon.
“There's these people back there,” he explains, “...two of them, and they're fuckin' maniacs. I think one of them might have killed a friend of mine - judging by his screams.”
Typically, one of the girls - the blonde one in the red strapless dress - gasps.
“Screams?” guy number one says. “And you left your friend back there?”
“Look,” Wiley says, “if you wanna be a hero, be my guest. You all can go touch base with it for all I care. All I know is, I'm gettin' as far away from it as I can, and that means goin' back the way I came.”
“Wait a minute,” guy number two says. “You just called one of these 'maniacs' an It.”
“Why don't you go see for yourself,” Wiley replies.
“I think we should go,” the blonde girl says. “I'm getting scared.”
“Me too,” the taller brunette in the sexy little black number pipes up.
“You know what,” Wiley says, “I don't care what you people do.” He looks to the old man, who's seated back where he was before. “What's your name, mister?”
The old man looks over at Wiley. He has the look of someone who barely gives a crap anymore. “Jack.”
“Jack, you comin' with me?”
“You think if I just sit here and mind my own business they'll pass me by?”
“I don't even know if they're headed this way, but you heard my friend scream, right?”
The couples wait intently for the old man's reply.
Jack hoists himself to his feet. Not the easiest of tasks at his age.
Wiley approaches Jack to offer assistance should he need it. “You can call me Wiley.”
Jack looks at the young man and manages a smile. “Then lead the way, Wiley.”
“Hey, look, the train's slowing down,” guy number two says.
The blonde girl grips his arm. “Maybe we'll be able to get off now.”
Just then, the door at the opposite end of the aisle opens and Amanda enters the car.
“Not soon enough,” Wiley says.
Amanda - looking like Amanda as opposed to Amanda-the-thing - stumbles forward and drops to her knees. Despite a lack of light, it's clear to see she's the image of distress. Her pink off-shoulder top is torn, exposing a black bra cup, and her hair is all messed up.
Immediately, one of the men rushes to her aid.
“No!” Wiley shouts, “Don't go near her!”
Discarding Wiley's advice, the man helps Amanda to her feet. “It's okay, I got you.” It's then that he notices the blood on her hands and face. “Oh my God, you've got blood on you.”
“It's not her own blood,” Wiley says. “You gotta get away from her.”
Now it's the second man's turn to ignore Wiley. He, too, motions to help the distressed woman, but his brunette girlfriend holds him back. “Becky, what are you doing? I can't just stand here.”
“Gary's with her,” Becky replies. “And besides, what if this Wiley guy is right?”
“Jesus, Becky, does she really look like a maniac to you?”
Becky refuses to let go of her boyfriend's arm. “Still. Just hang back. For me.”
Amanda's sobbing quite loudly. She tries to talk, but her words come out broken and incoherent.
Gary leads her to a seat. “Take it easy.” He sits her down. “Try to catch your breath then tell me what happened. It might also help if you give me your name.”
“She's called Amanda and you're gonna fuckin' die,” Wiley says.
Amanda wipes her eyes and takes a deep breath as suggested. “My name's Amanda, and...” She takes another breath to help maintain her composure. “And they raped me.”
Alarmed, Gary asks: “Who did this to you?”
Amanda looks directly at Wiley - “Him and his friends” - and then she bursts into tears.
“Fuck this,” Wiley says, and pushes past Becky and her boyfriend. “I'm not gonna die with you all.” But, before he can reach the door, he's hauled back by the scruff of his neck.
“Oh no you don't.”
Fucking Mister Becky, trying to play the hero.
Wiley fumbles around in his back pocket for his blade - something that isn't easy when you're being pulled backwards.
Mister Becky, who must be packing quite a bit of muscle under his suit top, spins Wiley to face his accuser.
Amanda continues to provide details between sobs: “They muh- made me do...” - deep breath - “suh- sex acts on them.”
Mister Becky squeezes Wiley's neck. He has a hand as big as a shovel and a grip like a tightly wound vice. “Is this
“She's lying!” Wiley protests. “Jack, you heard the screaming.”
“Oh yeah, I heard screaming,” Jack admits, “but I don't know who it belonged to.”
Amanda says quietly: “It was my boyfriend.” She sniffs. “They killed my boyfriend.”
The blonde girl gasps.
“Is that where all this blood is from?” Gary asks.
Amanda nods her head.
Gary looks over at Wiley and curls his fists into balls. “You dirty motherfucker.” He turns his attention to his blonde girlfriend in the red dress. “Sheri, move away from him.”
Sheri moves away from Wiley and joins boyfriend Gary's side.
“Man, you're all in so much trouble,” Wiley says.
“You threatening me!” Mister Becky barks.
“Steve,” Becky says. “Calm down. We don't know what happened.”
“I think we got all the evidence we need,” Steve replies. “This guy and the rest of his gang are up to no good – speaking of which, where the hell is the rest of your group?”
“They're probably all dead,” Wiley replies. “Just like you're about to be.”
“That's it,” Steve says, gripping Wiley's neck tighter than ever, “keep it up with the threats, see where it gets you.”
Amanda, head hung low, says something.
Gary moves his ear close to Amanda's mouth. “What was that?”
Wiley surreptitiously slides his switchblade out of his back pocket.
Amanda repeats herself, but she's speaking so quietly it's still hard for Gary to make out what she's saying.
Gary looks to Sheri, but she's just as nonplussed. He lays a comforting hand on Amanda's shoulder. “I'm afraid you're going to have to speak up.”
Amanda's sobs fade and she looks up at Gary. The lights from the tunnel flash briefly across her face, highlighting her puffy eyes and runny mascara. And then, suddenly, those same eyes blacken over and the pupils turn yellow and elongate.
Before Gary has time to react to what he's seeing, the Amanda-Thing thrusts its long, blood encrusted fingernails into the underside of his chin.
It stands erect and lifts him off his feet.