Without

Despite the fact that I fed often during my trek back to Chicago, taking advantage of the diverse wildlife I encountered in Alaska's wintry terrain, I couldn't satiate my hunger. This was a hunger borne of frustration, borne of loneliness. Borne of rage.

I kept remembering one of the last things Mrs. Elderberry had said to me: "I don't know what I'd do without you, Alice Paine."

I had failed her, in her time of need. Out of my selfish desire to protect myself and the fragile life I had created for myself in Chicago, I had failed her. And now I was the one forced to do without.

What I could not understand was why I did not receive any visions warning me of Mrs. Elderberry's death. She had been present in my past visions -- I always seemed to know what she was thinking before the thought even crystalized in her mind. I realized now this was as a result of our closeness; the closer I was to someone, the clearer and more accurate the visions became.

I fully intended to seek revenge for my friend's death. Mrs. Elderberry was the only friend I'd ever had in my entire life. If what I was living could even be called a life. I was able to become close to Mrs. Elderberry without fear of being discovered for what I was because she was just like me -- alone, without a friend in the world. Her husband had died and she had no other family left. Truthfully, my experience befriending and working for Mrs. Eldeberry had been the first time in my existence that I really felt alive.

I had no memories of my human life, so I didn't know if I had any friends before waking up underground in a coffin. I still wondered who had been responsible for changing me -- I knew, somehow, that this same person had also placed me in the coffin underground. Had lovingly dressed me in white lace before leaving me for dead.

Mrs. Elderberry's death made me realize the importance of catching her killer. So that others wouldn't have to suffer like she did and so that others wouldn't have to grieve like I was grieving now.

Was the Chicago killer the same man I'd met in my apartment last week? A man with skin as white as the snow beneath my feet and eyes as red as the blood that now eternally slept in my veins? I did not know. I scanned my visions fruitlessly, but all I could see was my wandering the streets of Chicago at the dead of night, questioning the vagrants about any clues they might have seen and receiving no useful information in return. I saw myself learning from Mrs. Elderberry's lawyer that I was the sole beneficiary in her will and would be inheriting her business, news that gave me more heartache than joy, despite my newfound love of fashion. But nowhere in my visions was there any trace of Alistair Llewellyn.

Come to think of it, I hadn't received any visions of him prior to his popping up in my apartment out of the blue. I wondered for the first time if he might not possess some sort of vampire super-power, like me. Some sort of mental cloaking device. Hm...

Before I could follow that thought further, a vision suddenly interrupted my stream of consciousness. It was of a tall woman with strawberry-blond hair and golden eyes, dressed in a rag-tag assortment of leather and fur. She was poised in a hostile, predatory stance before me and her sharp white teeth were bared.

I whipped around with a sudden intake of breath only to find the woman from my vision about 100 feet away from me. I crouched, ready to spring at her first move.

 

The End

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