I gingerly followed Opal as she led me through the shade of the alleys to a dingy apartment block. Together we climbed three or four flights of steps. I stiffened as we passed a kid on the stairs, but my recent feed had left me feeling less predatory than usual, so I looked the other way and climbed a little faster. In a somewhat surreal imitation of reality, Opal took out a key and opened the door – number 20. As she shoved it open, I saw that inside was, mercifully, dark, and I ran headlong into the sanctuary.
“I don’t mind the light, but I appreciate others do...” Opal shrugged by way of explanation. I nodded, and began to explore. It was a small flat, maybe three or four rooms in total. All the curtains were drawn. There wasn’t a huge amount of furniture, but Opal was clearly a tidy vampire. There was very little clutter, and the pictures on the walls were few and tastefully chosen with landscapes but no portraits. But it smelled strange. Peculiar scents that my new body had not experienced hung in the air. Eventually I realised it was the smell of Opal and –
“Ardal’s out at the moment, probably getting some lunch” she chuckled. I looked at her emptily. “Ardal – he lives here too. Gets kind of lonely otherwise.”
“Right,” I managed. There was a pause. I looked around tentatively, then asked, “Mind if I -?”
“Not at all,” she smiled. I went off on a tour, familiarising myself with each room, the smells and more importantly, potential exits. Opal was the first vampire I’d met, and I didn’t yet trust her, or know what she wanted from me. Oddly enough, I think she understood that, and got that I needed to know I could get out at any time.
When I’d finished, Opal was in the kitchen. “Drink?” she offered, holding a mug of steaming blood. “Er, thanks, but I” - how to phrase it? - “already ate.” I finished awkwardly. “Cool,” she said, leaning at ease on the counter.
I was puzzled now. Did Opal and Ardal only drink blood out of hospital packets, like Angel or Mitchell in Buffy and Being Human? I asked her, and she laughed. “Not exactly. It’s just handy to have some in the fridge – saves the hunting. Why, d’you think we’re vegetarians or something?” She seemed amused at the idea. “God, no.” I smiled too, as if I'd been teasing in the first place.
I heard footsteps echoing up the stairwell, and then a key in the lock. “Oh, Ardal’s home,” Opal remarked. “Oi Ardal! Come and meet Fabia.”