Rude Awakening

Adrian shuffled down the halls, tripping over his own feet and struggling to stifle the near continuous stream of yawns. No matter how many corners he turned or how many doors he passed he never seemed to get anywhere. All the corridors began to look the same, like he was travelling in an endless loop of white walls and black doors.

Finally he came to a halt in an abandoned intersection. He had the sense that he was somewhere towards the center of the building but he couldn’t be certain. The first thing he noticed was that someone had taped an index card to the wall near one of the corners. Thick black letters sloppily spelled out: Turn left, then turn right, then take the third door on the right. Adrian blinked, dumbfounded. It looked as though someone had put instructions up for him. It was difficult to entertain the idea of following them. After all, those directions could be intended for anyone and he had no guarantee that they would not lead him somewhere dangerous. But he was getting nowhere on his own and anywhere, dangerous or not, would be better than this aimless wandering. He decided to give it a try.

He rounded the corner to the left and, a short time later, took the first corridor on the right. The hallways didn’t seem to be unique from the ones he had just passed through. He arrived at the third door and looked it over with care. There was nothing unusual about it, just a standard black door. Cautiously, he turned the knob and pushed it open a crack. Peering in, Adrian was shocked to discover the elusive staircase on the other side. His jaw dropped but he couldn’t think of anything to say, and even if he could, there was no one to say it to.

He climbed the metal stairs to the third floor and exited the stairwell to discover a perfectly normal apartment hallway. The carpet was dark brown and the walls were a happy yellow color, spotted with wooden doors neatly labeled with gold numbers. The hallway was completely devoid of the noise and bustle of the ground floor.

 Adrian couldn’t help but be impressed by the normality of it all. This could have been a floor of apartments anywhere in the city. Maybe living here wouldn’t be so bad. He found his number and keyed into his room. The room was neatly furnished with a bed, a couch, a dresser and a television. There was a bathroom off to the side and a closet on the other that was already stocked with clothes. The only thing conspicuously lacking in the room was a kitchen but this didn’t bother him too much. He’d never liked to cook anyway.

But at the moment, Adrian couldn’t find the energy to worry about anything. Without bothering to change, he kicked off his boots and got into bed. He was asleep before his head even hit the pillow.

* * *

The next morning started with an angry bang as two large men kicked in the door to his new apartment. Adrian scarcely had time to sit up before the men grabbed him by his arms and dragged him out of bed. He struggled against them, mind reeling at unexpected attack. The men forced him out into the hall and down the stairs. Twice he broke free of their vicious grip but each time they managed to restrain him again.

They took him through the halls of the first floor, which were full with more people than ever. No one made any move to help Adrian or even bothered to look concerned for him. He swore loudly, causing the men to grab the back of his head and force it down until he could hardly breath. They lugged Adrian down another flight of stairs, opened a door and roughly threw him into the room beyond.

Adrian jumped to his feet and turned around, taking in his surroundings. Behind him there was no door or even a building. He was outside, on a cracked and abandoned road. To either side, the long waving grass of open plains stretched as far as the eye could see, some growing green in the cracks on the road. Above stretched the endless night sky, freckled with stars. A strange half-light shone down from the moon. Two or three cars sat completely still, covered in rust, windows all broken. Most were missing their tires. There was something eerie about it all. It rang with the silence of a once populated place.

A hiss broke the quiet. Adrian turned to see a pale creature stumble out of the grass. It looked human but Adrian was not a big enough fool to mistake it for one. Its fingernails were sharpened into pointed claws. Its eyes were pitch black, its hair matted and its clothes tattered. Two long fangs protruded from its mouth. It hissed again as it hunched over, like an animal getting ready to strike. But before it launched its attack, several more emerged from the grass, each slightly different in appearance and yet, strikingly the same. Pale arms reached for him, black eyes flashed, mouths snapped open and shut over fangs. In an instant Adrian knew what he was dealing with: vampires.

It didn’t take a genius to realize the predicament he was in. He had no holy water, no cross, no garlic and no wooden stakes. He turned and ran straight down the road. Farther down, Adrian could just discern the vague shadow of a fence. Without anything else that might serve as a weapon in sight, he could only hope that it was made of wood. The vampires screeched and charged after him on silent feet, like leopards hunting their prey.

As Adrian got closer, he could see that the fence was made of wood but it was old, covered in moss and rotted. He hurdled over a broken board and dashed into the field. The grass inside was cut short, allowing a sweeping view of the resources ahead and the enemies behind. A glance over his shoulder revealed that there were at least fifteen vampires. But they hesitated to enter the field, wary of the wide-open area. Using this moment to his advantage, Adrian kicked down one of the newer looking boards in the fence and fractured it into large splinters. The vampires seemed to consult one another in their hissing whispers before charging at him full speed.

Adrian sprang into action. He swiftly maneuvered through the hissing herd, plunging stakes into the hearts of the vampires. The monsters used their numbers to their advantage, surrounding him and attacking from all sides. Although Adrian managed to vanquish a good amount of the vampires, he soon became too bogged to do anything but keep the creatures away. They lunged and dived at him and Adrian struggled to kick and throw them back. He needed to break free. Taking a chance and gripping his stakes, Adrian charged headlong out of the pack. He ran down the length of the field, stopping occasionally to destroy the vampires closest to him.

Finally, he came up to the far fence, beyond which there was nothing but more high grass. With nowhere left to run, he turned to face the remaining vampires. There were five of them that stood, panting heavily, a short distance from him. They seemed to realize that their meal was far more deadly than they had anticipated. Adrian backed up to the fence, desperately trying to think. He had hoped that there would be something beyond the field, a farm or house where he could hide and reassess his situation. Now he was simply trapped.

His back hit the rotted fence board. He waited but the vampires made no move to attack him. And that’s when he heard it, just one soft snap of a twig, but he knew there were more in the grass behind him. Before he could even turn around, ice-cold hands gripped him with impossible strength and pulled him up over the fence. They slammed him down through the thick grass and the last thing he saw was their savage faces, all wild eyes and bone white fangs, And then everything went white.

The End

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