An animalistic howl of agony tore Lucas from his sleep.
His eyes opened to dark surroundings, his room swathed in the shadows of the night except for a tiny slit of silver moonlight that streamed through a gap in his curtains. The illuminated green figures on his bedside clock told him it was half past one in the morning and everything around him was silent. For a brief moment, he wondered if he had dreamed the noise.
‘Help me!’A voice pleaded from outside.
Lucas sat up immediately, fully alert now. Peering round his curtains, he surveyed the dimly lit streets below his window, trying to seek out the source of distress. At first he couldn’t see anything; blinds were closed and the houses lining the streets appeared to be asleep just like their owners inside. Pools of darkened yellow light embellished the concrete where the street lamps hung over them. Lucas looked up the road towards where it made a large bend into the centre of town but couldn’t find anything wrong. When he looked the other way though, he spotted something.
A figure stumbled in the road, clutching his neck. Eyes wide with fear, mouth twisted in pain, a man in his mid-thirties, early forties perhaps was being pursued by a dishevelled looking woman. Her clothes were ripped and covered in stains and there was something wrong with her eyes. Lucas squinted, trying to get a better look at her when the man seemed to notice him. He ran over to Lucas’ window and began banging ferociously on the pane.
‘Please!! You’ve got to help me! Let me in!’ The man’s eyes were bottomless pits of pure terror and real desperation.
Lucas didn’t think twice; he jumped off his bed away from the window and grabbed his keys from the coffee table in the hallway. He seemed to be running on auto-pilot and was sure that if he really stopped to think about what was happening, the man would fall into the deadly hands of his predator. The journey to the front door seemed to take too long and his legs felt like liquid. The man’s silhouette stood outside the door and he was pounding against the glass, his sobs growing louder with each passing second.
Lucas fumbled with the keys in his hand and jammed it into the front door. It wouldn’t turn though. He tried again and again until he realized it was the wrong damn key.
Stupid Lucas, get a grip.
‘I’m coming,’ he muttered impatiently. What was so drastic that a man couldn’t defend himself against a woman who didn’t look like she weighed more than 120 pounds anyway?
When he finally managed to select the right key, the man’s voice had changed and Lucas realized that the woman was standing right outside the house. He threw open the front door and both the man and the woman tumbled inside, the woman hissing and growling at him like a demented animal. In the mess, Lucas lost his footing and fell backwards into the wall.
The woman was snapping her teeth at the man, who was desperately trying to hold her off with both hands. Blood had already begun pooling on the carpet from a gory looking wound in the man’s throat.
Lucas grabbed an ashtray and without thinking, brought it straight down over the woman’s head. The glass shattered in his hands and the woman jerked back sharply. Her eyes flickered and her mouth twitched until she slumped against the man’s body, completely motionless. Vivid red liquid covered Lucas’ hands and the woman’s dress. He could see bits of brain matter between the shards of glass and his stomach rolled. Before he could help it, bile rose in his throat and he vomited heavily against the wall, the heat and the smell of it wafting up his nostrils, churning his insides. His mouth burned and his eyes watered.
‘What the hell did you just do??’ the man shoved the woman’s body off him and backed up against the threshold of the door.
‘I believe I just saved your life,’ Lucas muttered, wiping his mouth. He didn’t want to look at the woman but he knew that he had to. Her skin was yellow and sagged, embellished with cuts and bruises that looked months old. Heavy dark shadows hung beneath her eyes and her open mouth showed a row of rotten, stained teeth with tiny pink bits wedged between her canines. Lucas nodded solemnly at the nasty looking wound on the woman’s upper arm.
‘Just as I thought,’ he whispered. His eyes flickered up to the man’s neck; the wound looked the same as the woman’s but a lot…fresher. ‘Can you tell me what happened?’
‘Urm, I was walking home from the pub and this woman was like moaning…crying, from the alleyway. I went to see if she was okay. It was dark, shadows everywhere. I couldn’t see her properly.’ He shook his head, his eyes looking a little glassy. ‘Out of nowhere she like leaped on me and bit my neck. I threw her off and came looking for help. What was wrong with her? Was she rabid?’
‘Something like that,’ Lucas frowned, heading towards the kitchen. The man followed him.
‘Should we call the police?’
‘No, no point. The police can’t help. Nobody can help.’ Lucas began rooting through his drawers until he found what he was looking for. ‘I’m terribly sorry about this, truly I am. You seem like a nice guy but you’ve been infected. There’s nothing anybody can do for you anymore.’
The man watched him like a deer caught in headlights. His mouth was open in shock and he had been about to say something when Lucas silenced him forever.
The look of fear was still etched onto his features long after the bullet had gone into his brain.