Venice at Night

I remember the mist especially that night. It curled up from the water and crept through the city's canals and alleyways like weird specters, muffling sounds and blurring the lights. It was a perfect night for one such as I. I was all but invisible, my footsteps softened by the dense fog.

I was wont to wander the city by night. Night was my preferred hour, it was when prey was easy and the insufferably bright sun hid its face for a while. In the night I could just be another dark shadow, flickering along until I pounced from behind.

I drew my dark cloak around me, not because I was cold, but because it hid me. I stole down the narrow streets like a panther on the hunt, clinging close to the walls, hiding behind the night and the mist.

And that was when I saw it. A pillar of ashy smoke rising like a signal into the cool, black sky. It was easily missed, disguised by all the fog, but my eyes were keen, made only keener by the pitch darkness. I changed my course and started for it. Where there was fire, there were usually easy victims.

It had probably once been a grand estate, but the fire had thoroughly gutted it and reduced it to charred debris. The flames had been doused by the recent rain and all that was left was the billowing smoke, and a few people who were walking back and forth, poking through the cinders. I skulked in the shadows, approaching the ruin slowly, sniffing the air. I did tell you that I am a monster, and I hunt like a monster, a beast. I am fueled by my drive to feed and to live, and my instincts are my greatest resource.

And sure enough, I smelled it. Blood, still fresh and delicious, emanating from the destroyed building; irresistible and tempting as water for one who has wandered the desert for days. I suppose that for me, it is like the scent of roses or cooked food for humans, but I can no longer remember how those smells were, how sweet they seemed to be before my first death. Now all I remember is blood; everything else is like tasteless powder in my mouth.

I picked my way through the wreckage, taking care not to be seen by those looking on. I walked over cracked marble and scorched carpets, the pitiful remnants of the once opulent home.

And then I came upon her.

She lay limp on the ground, one arm pinned beneath a smashed harpsichord, the other covering a bloody wound in her side. Even to my unaesthetic eyes, she was very beautiful. She was young and fair-skinned, with a moonlit waterfall of chestnut hair. She wore a white shift that was tangled and torn and stained with her own blood. It almost saddened me that beauty such as hers must be taken from this world, but she was so tender and appetizing. She was not long for this world anyway. I was merely completing the process.

I bent down over her neck, teeth poised to bite.

But I could not.

The End

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