I ran over to the block of flats, using all my speed to get there as fast as I could, knowing the longer I took, the more beatings Harry would receive. My bag was tight in my fist as I stopped outside the block, the stench of smoke and alcohol wafting up my nose. Goose bumps rose on my skin as I stepped inside, glass crunching under my foot as loud shouting echoed from upstairs. I swallowed hard, repeating his words in my head to convince myself to continue.
“I’ve seen this before.”
I didn’t have anyone else to turn to, praying that Zed could give me some information on what to do. My whole body trembled as I approached his flat, glass and used cigarettes covering the floor by my feet. I reached out to knock on his flat door, but it fell open at my touch. It creaked open, slowly revealing his dingy flat, the stretch of alcohol flowing up my nose. I held my breath, pushing myself to do this for Harry’s sake.
I shakily stepped in, letting my eyes slowly wander around the place, a double bed at the far end, the wooden frame covered by a yellow mattress. A disgusting fridge stood by the bed, black damp covering it. Finally a ripped sofa slumped painfully in the middle of the room, pieces of sponge exposed through the torn cushions.
Suddenly the front door slammed shut behind me. I spun around, my body jumping at the sight of a hysterical Zed. He was trembling madly, red eyes connecting with mine. My bag fell to the ground by my feet at the shock of how Zed’s become. It was clear he had been drinking and hadn’t slept for days, weeks even.
As he glared at me from across the room, I opened my mouth to explain, raising my hands in surrender, but he quickly lunged at me, grunted loudly as we collided. I stumbled back and fell over the arm of the sofa. A pained grunt escaped me as I crashed down onto the sofa, Zed’s muscled body crushing me as he laid on top. He pinned my wrists either side of my head, his gritted teeth in my face.
“Zed, please…” I begged, squirming violently.
He let go of my wrist and grabbed a knife from his back pocket, pressing it tight against the side of my throat.
“This time I will give you what you deserve without your boyfriend interrupting,” he spat down to me.
I could barely breathe as the blade cut into my skin. “Zed,” I choked, wrapping my free hand around his wrist, slowly forcing the knife away from my neck. I could still feel the beast under my skin from using my speed to quickly get over here. I could easily throw him off of me, but I needed him, for Harry’s sake. “Zed, I-I need your help.”
“Why would I do anything for you?” he asked, spit spraying my face.
“Please, Zed. Let me explain. It’s about what you said the other week…about seeing something before,” I stuttered, “something like me.”
The colour in his face suddenly drained away, his grip loosening on the knife. His bottom lip began to quiver as his chest heaved against mine. My eyes widened at his reaction, never seeing emotion in Zed’s eyes like this before. But before I could fully register it, anger flickered over his eyes, pushing the knife closer to my neck again.
“Why do you care?” he spat, narrowing his eyes at me.
“Can we just talk?” I asked calmly. “Please.”
The blade was pressed further against my skin, close to cutting it open, but as the seconds passed, Zed’s muscles began to weaken. I watched as Zed’s features slowly began to relax, his gaze refusing to meet mine as he nodded before climbing off of me. I let out a sigh of relief as I pulled myself up, swinging my legs off of the sofa and sitting on one end of it. A now knifeless Zed collapsed next to me, the whole sofa wobbling on its weak legs. He stared straight ahead of him, making his bottom lip sore with his teeth.
“Zed,” I croaked. His head shot around to me, his eyebrows furrowed in anger. “Harry, he’s…he’s in trouble. I need to help him, but I don’t know how.” I stared straight into his eyes, however terrified they made me feel. “But you might do. What did you mean by before?” I asked.
He let a shaky sigh fall from his lips, sinking down in the sofa. I’d never seen him so vulnerable before. A few moments passed, Zed’s eyes gently closing as he tried controlling his breathing.
“My older sister,” he finally spoke, “she was about 20 and she had this boyfriend…Sam,” he spat. My heart stopped in my chest at the name, making the hairs on my neck stand up. We both shuddered, horrid pictures of him flashing in our heads. “I was about 10 when it happened…”
“One, two, three…” my older sister counted loudly, covering her eyes with her hands. I darted out of the living room where my sister stood, swallowing down my giggles as I raced into the kitchen. My sister’s voice was faint as my eyes frantically shot around the room. I grinned as I saw the kitchen cupboard next to the oven. I ran over to it, swinging the door open as my sister’s counting grew louder until she finished. I climbed in, pressing my lips together as saucepans clashed against each other around me.
“Ready or not, here I come,” she called across the flat as I closed the cupboard door after me.
I could hear her footsteps before the kitchen door swung open. I suppressed a chuckle, holding my legs to my chest tightly in the cupboard. I grinned into my knees as my sister called my name out, her footsteps slowly growing closer to where I was hiding. One of the cupboard doors swung open, light attacking the darkness surrounding me as I was curled up on the other side. I brought my legs closer to my chest, knowing I was going to get caught any second. There was a long hesitation before my sister’s hand reached into the cupboard. Her hand soon gripped hold of a small, sharp object. She pulled it out, silence growing in the kitchen.
That’s when the front door slammed shut. My jaw grew tense, my fingernails digging into the sides of my legs as I heard loud, heavy footsteps. Sam was back. I squeezed my eyes shut, burying my head into my knees again. I hated him. I knew what he did to my sister, the mysterious bruises on her arms and neck. He made my blood run cold. The kitchen door swung open, crashing into the wall beside it. I heard my sister gasp as Sam’s footsteps gained, my sister’s and Sam’s figures blocking the light from shining into the cupboard.
“Hi sexy,” he growled before my sister gasped. Slowly, I pulled my legs from my chest, shuffling down to the other end of the cupboard so I could look up. Tears swelled in my eyes as a small whimper was forced from my sister’s mouth as he kissed her. Sam’s body was tight against hers, crushing her slim body against the counter. One of her wrists were gripped tightly, Sam’s other hand on her hips, squeezing painfully tight. But she still had hold of the object she found in the cupboard, a needle.
Sam groaned deeply against her lips as his hand slid down her hip to her thigh and then around the hem of her skirt. My sister whimpered, grabbing his hand and forcing it away. Sam pulled back from her lips, growling in her face. He pressed his forehead against hers, hissing something into her face as his hands wandered around again. My sister swallowed hard, nodding every so often as he was pressed tight against her. The tears fell from my eyes as I witnessed this. Sam soon grabbed both her wrists, forcing her to wrap her arms around him, but he finally noticed what she held. He let go of her other wrist, holding up her hand holding the needle, a mysterious glittery blue liquid inside.
“Where did you find this?” he hissed into her face.
The colour drained from my sister’s cheeks as she stuttered an answer. “I-I um...found it in the cupboard.” She sucked in a breath through her teeth as his fingertips dug into her wrist.
“What did I tell you about snooping around? Do we need to repeat what happened last time?”
My sister swallowed, shaking her head vigorously. Her long blonde hair swished on her shoulder, her brown eyes staring frighteningly up at her boyfriend.
“It-It’s just that me and Zed were playing hide and seek and I was worried because he could have found it and…” She was cut off as Sam pulled her closer by her wrist. She screamed out, soon simmering to a whimper as he twisted her wrist.
“Do you want to know what this really is?” he asked, glancing down to the needle wrapped in her slim fingers. She didn’t have time to respond as Sam dragged her over to the table. He pulled back a chair, still gripping onto her wrist. “Sit,” he ordered, pushing her down onto the chair. I watched from the cupboard, making sure I wasn’t noticed by either of them as I listened in.
Sam pulled a chair back the other side of the table, collapsing onto it heavily. He never took his narrowed eyes away from my sister, leaning far back in his chair. My sister cautiously placed the needle on the table, her hands trembling madly as she lowered her gaze from Sam. My skin crawled as Sam slowly sat forward, leaning over the table to my sister. He reached out suddenly, a grin plastered on his face as my sister flinched. He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, his long fingernails grazing the skin behind her ear. My sister swallowed hard, shuddering at his touch.
“Do I scare you, Ava?” he asked her, one corner of his mouth tugged up higher than the other. Her face grew paler as she didn’t respond, only staring at him with fright. He pulled back from her ear, grabbing her hand forcefully on the table. “Good,” he hissed between his teeth, clenching her hand harder. She whimpered weakly, but didn’t pull back, her body trembling with fright. “See Ava…” he started, releasing her hand. She sighed quietly, her body hunching over as she pulled her hand away, rubbing it tenderly. “…I’m different from others.” His simple words sent a cold chill down my spine, but I didn’t know why. What did he mean? “I’m a vampire, Ava,” he said sternly, leaning further forward.
“Wh-what?” my sister stuttered as she stopped rubbing her hand.
“I’m a killer. I suck people’s blood. I’m a vampire.”
My jaw dropped, my young mind spinning. My sister reacted the same. I wouldn’t have believed it at first, but I knew what Sam was like, violent, horrid. I believed him straight away.
“And this…” he continued, picking up the needle in his slim hand. “…is the only way to kill a vampire. You stick this in a vampire’s neck and in a matter of seconds they’ll be dead.”
As I crouched on my knees in the cupboard, I still couldn’t get my head around all of this. Why was he telling her all of this? My sister stayed silent, staring at the needle as her face grew paler. He suddenly stood up, the chair scraping on the floor, making me flinch. I watched in fright as he slowly walked back towards my sister, grabbing her sore wrist and pulling her back up to her feet. Sam’s body blocked my sister’s feeble one from my view, but I could tell she was in pain, that he was hurting her somehow.
“The thing is Ava…” he growled into her ear, a whimper forced from my sister’s mouth. “…you know my secret now and what the needle’s for…so I’m going to have to kill you.”
His words wrenched the air from my lungs. Tears swelled in my eyes as Sam’s head leaned down to her neck, his grip on both of her wrists. A moan left my sister’s mouth as he slowly sunk his teeth into her neck. Her face grew paler than ever before. She finally looked over Sam’s shoulder, her eyes meeting mine. She stared at me, her eyelids drooping as her body slowly became weaker in Sam’s grip. I stared back, unsure of what to do. He was killing my sister and I did nothing.
One last whimper fell from her mouth before Sam let go of her wrists so she crumpled to the floor. Sam kept his back to me, slowly wiping his mouth with his hand as he stared down at my sister’s lifeless, bloodless body. She laid on her side, her eyes wide open, staring straight at me. I bit my bottom lip, tears streaming down my face. Sam eventually spun around. I quickly reacted, sitting back out of view. I pulled my legs back to my chest, forcing back the sobs until I heard his footsteps leave the room once again.
Tears silently ran down Zed’s face before he quickly brushed them away, letting out a shaky sigh. He hung his head as he finished his story as if ashamed of showing emotion. I bit my lip awkwardly, wondering whether to comfort him or leave him. I went to reach out to place my hand on his arm, but he flinched away, anger flickering in his tear-filled eyes.
“Th-that look in your eyes when I was attacking you on the mattress…it reminded me of that day.” His features softened, but he still looked afraid of me. “And the strength you had when you threw your boyfriend across the room like that reminded me of the way Sam used to beat my sister.”
I reached out again and placed a warm hand on his shoulder. He flinched, but didn’t pull back, biting his bottom lip as he forced himself not to cry.
“I’m sorry, Zed,” I mumbled, patting his shoulder comfortingly.
“Why do you want to know this?” he asked. My hand grew stiff on his shoulder as I pictured Harry tied up in the changing rooms, beaten until he could barely move. Tears pricked my eyes, but I blinked them away, pulling my hand back from Zed.
“Samuel, he has my boyfriend.”
“You know Sam?” His voice grew higher in shock. I nodded my head weakly, my muscles tingling with heat as I grew angrier. But I kept myself calm for Zed’s sake.
I eventually lowered my gaze to the large, colourful tattoos running up his neck and the top of his chest. I took each one in deeply, a fiery red dragon, a word in Hebrew I didn’t understand, a long snake with piercing green eyes staring out at me. And lastly a set of sharp teeth marked on his skin at the bottom of his neck. Drops of blood dripped from the end of the sharp teeth, running down his neck and shoulder. The ink looked so real as I stared at it, finally understanding the meaning of it. But Zed’s voice dragged me back to the dingy flat.
“I didn’t know Samuel had him,” Zed spoke apologetically. My eyes shot back to his, shocked at his sympathetic looking face. He flashed me a faint smile, tears pooling in his brown eyes. “So why have you come to me?” he asked, his eyebrows drawn together.
“I had no one else to go to,” I muttered. “I remembered you saying you’d seen someone like me before. I need help, Zed, to find a way to stop Samuel. He’s got Harry, Zed. If anything happens to him I’ll…” The sentence died on my tongue as my stomach twisted violently inside me. I stared straight ahead of me, blinking back the tears. “You’re the only person I can turn to. Please, help me,” I murmured.
Zed hesitated before slowly nodding in agreement. “Thank you,” I whispered, letting a tear escape my eye and run down my cheek. “Now,” I started, clearing my throat before continuing, “tell me about this liquid in that needle.”