It was the silence that scared him more than anything. Just five minutes ago they had been running for their lives, stumbling hand in hand - he thought he would go deaf from the sound of his own screaming. In comparison to that chaos, this quiet was thick. An interlude until they were found.
He watched as she inspected their hideout, checking the security of the doors and windows. Every movement she made showed complete confidence, and he got the feeling that she was far too accustomed to their situation. How could she not be terrified? "Are they gone?" He whispered.
She sat back down next to him. "They're not inside. Not yet."
"Not yet." He slumped back against the wall, shivering. "Fuck. I don't even know your name, and I'm about to die with you."
Without even looking at him, she grabbed his hand and shook it. "Elena. Nice to meet you, Frank. We're not going to die. Not if I can help it."
"How do you know my name?" He snatched his hand away as if she had burned him.
Elena rolled her eyes. "We're in the same class. 3rd period. Biology."
"Oh." He wondered how she could go out in sunlight, and decided he was too scared to ask. She did tend to wear long sleeved hoodies even during the warmest part of the year, just like she was now, hardly showing any skin. Maybe that helped.
There it was again. The silence that threatened to choke him. It was broken only by Elena opening the small backpack she always carried and pulling something out. He had to squint to see it in the darkness five or six glass bottles, a pointed wooden stick, and a long, deadly knife. Does she take that stuff to school with her? He wondered. "Holy water." She held up one of the bottle and frowned. From what he could see, the liquid inside looked a little dirty. "It's not cheap if you want the good stuff. But it's the best I could do." Frank didn't reply, just continued to stare at her. Long, jet black hair messy, but that was to be expected after everything they had gone through - pale skin. He couldn't see her eyes in the darkness, but knew that they were bright blue. If he hadn't been so terrified of her he would have thought she was beautiful. She handed him one of the bottles. "They'll come in pairs. It's how they hunt. One takes you down, the other goes in for the kill. Like wolves. We're better off working together."
His hands were shaking so much he could barely hold the bottle. "Wh-what's this supposed to do?"
"Burns them." She uncorked one of the smaller bottles and splashed some of the liquid on the wooden stake and her knife, rubbing it in and wincing in pain every time the water touched her skin. As she leaned over her work, a crucifix on a thin silver chain fell out of her shirt. There was a T-shaped scar where it had been laying against her skin, like a bad burn healed over. He didn't mention it.
As his eyes adjusted to the darkness Elena had refused to light even a match Frank looked around their hideout. It looked like some sort of storage room. There were crates stacked up against the walls, and shelves covered in things he couldn't quite make out. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust and mold, and the floor was damp. No one had been in here for a long time; that had been obvious the moment they arrived. Another minute of trying to pry open the doors and they probably would have been dead
but now the monsters hunting them had stopped trying to get it. Waiting for just the right time to strike. "Where are we?"
"A nightclub. It's been abandoned for years."
"So there's no chance of being rescued."
"You don't need to be rescued. You've got me."
He smiled weakly. "Yeah. You're doing a great job so far. How do I know you're not on their side?"
In an instant, she was on top of him, pinning his body down to the floor, her hand around his throat. She looked like some kind of rabid animal. "Because if I was," she snarled, releasing him as quickly as she'd trapped him, "you would be dead."
He tried to say something clever. It came out like a whimper. She picked up the bottle of holy water that he'd dropped when she'd 'attacked' him and shoved it into his hands. "And if you waste this, you will be dead." She smiled, as if to show that she was joking. He wasn't convinced.
"Why me? I mean, why were they coming after me?" He rubbed his neck where she had choked him. She had probably left a bruise. Some of the blood on her hands had rubbed off and stained his skin. He shuddered.
Elena leaned back against the wall. At first glance she seemed relaxed, but he could see how stiffly she held her shoulders, how she kept the knife and the stake and the water all within arm's reach. "I don't know. It may not have anything to do with you. Maybe you're just convenient. But then again
Let's just say I've run into these guys before. They like a challenge, and you're sure as hell not a challenge. I just don't get it." She sighed. "Not that it matters."
"It matters to me!" He stood up on shaking legs. "I was just minding my own business! Then those freaks come after me, and you just drag me here-" razor sharp white teeth scraping his neck, and then there she was, shielding him with her own body, saving him
"You even killed one of them!"
"To protect us. It's what I do. Get down, you idiot. You're just making this easier for them."
He sat back down. It hadn't ever occurred to him not to follow her orders. "Aren't you scared?"
She looked at him. Just looked at him. There were infinite layers of emotion just in her eyes alone, and he couldn't identify a single one of them. Finally, she whispered, "I'm fucking terrified."
Frank wasn't sure if that made him feel better or worse. "But they can't do anything to you. I mean
She didn't ask how he'd figured it out. "I can still die. They've already done the worst."
"What could be worse than death?"
The silence returned, thicker than ever. And then, voices, coming from outside. They still sounded far enough away that they didn't know where Frank and Elena hid, but it was still too close. He strained to hear what was said, but couldn't make it out. There was no doubt in his mind that it was their hunters.
"What's going to happen?" Frank said. She glanced at him. "If they get us."
"They're not going to."
"But what if they do?"
She took a deep breath. "They'll kill me. Or they'll try. As for you
you'll be a good meal. They'll drink their fill, and if you get lucky they'll kill you, but you won't get lucky. While they drink they'll inject their venom, and leave you lying in the sun. It could take a couple hours. It could take a few days. Either way it feels like years." She stared up at the ceiling, and it didn't seem like she was even speaking to him anymore. "Like dying over and over and over. And then the sun goes down, and you forget the pain. You forget everything except how thirsty you are. It doesn't matter who it is it could be your best friend, or your little sister. You won't care. You'll just drink and drink until you realize what you've done, and then
" She stopped, her hands balling into fists. Frank hugged his knees up to his chest and clutched the bottle of holy water like his like depended on it. And it probably did. He almost felt like he was going to cry, but tears wouldn't come.
"I don't want to be like them," he whispered. She didn't reply. "Elena. Don't let that happen to me."
"I told you, we're going to be fine."
"No, I mean it. A stake to the heart, right? That's what it takes?" She nodded. "If they get me, kill me. Whatever you have to do."
don't let me be like them. Please."
"I said stop!" She turned to him. "You're not going to die, do you hear me? I won't let you! I won't let this happen, not again."
They were interrupted by a loud thump. The sound of glass breaking in the other room. He covered his mouth with his hand to silence his cry. He could hear their footsteps coming closer, and wondered if they could hear the pounding of his heart. Elena picked up the stake and the water and the knife, looking resigned and very tired, and gripped his hand tightly it was almost painful. Her hand was still sticky with blood, but he no longer cared, wrapping his fingers around hers.
They were coming. So close, now.
"I'll never let them hurt you," she said. "I promise."
The door flew open.