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15.21% Blood & Juniper (A Vampire Tale) / Chapter 14: A Surprise (Part 2)

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Chapter 14: A Surprise (Part 2)

Accounts of Ashlen. Nearing midnight.

'How did he do that!?' I stare flabbergasted. My amazement is almost enough to distract me from the gnawing hunger.

Sam steps aside holding a hand out toward the shoddy homeless man. The backlit emeralds dim in Sam's cunning eyes. I gulp unconsciously.

As unappealing as this should be, I want to sink my teeth deep into this hobo's flesh.

This time isn't as bad as the first encounter at the gas station, but it's still difficult to resist the urge to pounce and tear into him.

'Don't forget about what matters.' I repeat to myself. 'Sam said if I don't forget about what's important I'll be ok.'

I don't know if I believe in myself, but for some reason, Sam believes in me. And stranger still, it emboldens me.

I take one step forward, inhaling a deep slow breath out of habit to calm myself. Big mistake.

The scent of blood slams into my nostrils slithering around to that hypnotic beat. I clench my teeth together as the heat flares behind my eyes.

I'm already screwing up! I make a ridge step back looking to Sam with shame. I'm so weak and he must see it. But I don't see disappointment in his face, only encouragement.

'I am in control.' I tell myself with force. 'His life is important and I won't take it.' I take small strides cautiously forward.

'I'm on the right track. I went the right way.' I recall that intuitive thought I was smacked with in the alleyway at the crossing point. And I mean *smacked*. I had never been struck with such a hunch, so clear and detailed. I shudder, knowing exactly what would have happened if I headed for that menacing, blue door.

Before everything, my intuitive sense was like a small warning almost like an overactive conscience or an event faded with time. Now, it's loud, crisp and blatant like a fresh memory and just like before it's undeniably accurate.

Running into this man at the crook of this area confirmed that. I knew Sam would talk to him and I had mistaken them for friends because of it.

I need to be really careful not to fill in the blanks next time. I don't want to let the wrong people know about my hidden talent. How many other surprises will spring on me today?

That isn't the only modification to my now full blown premonitions. When I think about changing something slightly, like changing directions at the cross in the alley, I am made aware of more outcomes, possibilities.

That would be great, helpful even, except it's difficult to pinpoint the cause for each change. It's an unorganized mess, information overload.

I swallow, I can feel the heat of the man. He looks like he's sleeping standing up. No longer do I see a mangy, unkempt hobo but a remarkable energy, flowing inside a flesh wrapper, ready to be cracked open.

Ba-da Ba-da Ba-da

His heartbeat is weak but gentle. I know the blood swimming throughout his body will taste so much more grand than the scented flesh masking it. I float over, shaking with need. I'm struggling to keep 'what's important' in front of my mind.

There are a few ways this situation can go and I'm aggravated to find I don't know how to sway the outcome.

If things go really well, we'll all walk away alive. If things go bad I end up killing this guy and in some of the veins of possibilities, I injure Sam, too. AND If things go flat out wrong, Sam will kill me, or comes pretty damn close. Yikes.

The 'need' becomes a thick cloud of amnesia, I was forgetting what I was trying to prevent. Was it something important? My clawed hands are hovering over him, inches from his weathered skin. I lean a little closer into that beautiful pulse, eyes rolling back as I bite into my lip with teeth feeling more tapered than before.

'Mine.' Says something terrifying but familiar, shutting out every other thought.

And with that an intense fire rages in my eyes, fangs bursting forward. A hand tearing away the collar of his shirt then digging into his shoulder, the other shoving away his face leaving the neck exposed. A sharp hiss sounds off and I plunge my mouth in the crook of his neck and shoulder. Canines sink in like a hot knife.

A whimpered noise bubbles up from the man's throat, a sound you hear from someone experiencing a bad dream. That's all I am, a nightmare.

Out gushes something so euphoric I must have been transported straight to heaven.

I guzzle it down unable to get enough. The siren's song of a beat playing beautifully in my ears as the bass and the flow of blood pouring down my throat as the melody. I was never really alive, ever. From birth to death, I wasn't actually living. This is what it feels like to truly be alive.

The man mumbles about a "nice surprise" as he starts to sway from blood loss. I don't remove my mouth, instead grabbing him harshly, hands on his upper arms. I miraculously force him over to the brick wall by partially lifting him, his heels dragging in the gravel. He must have at least 50 pounds on me, but it's a cake walk.

His back thuds against the wall as I pin him in place. I'm not finished with him yet.

That heartbeat is slipping away, but it's not a concern of mine.

I just want.... *more*.

"Ashlen, that's enough."

I hear someone annoying behind me and ignore it. They can wait until I'm finished basking in this ecstasy.

"Ash, stop! You're taking too much. You're going to kill him."

My lips pull back into a snarl, letting whoever that is know this is mine. Then I chomp aggressively back on the muscled flesh, immediately losing myself to the sweet nectar. No one's getting in between my meal and I, not a chance in Hell!

A deep voice growls, "Ash!"

I pay the voice no mind, swirling my tongue around behind my teeth, drenching it in the exquisite drink. That beat is so faint now.

My eyes snap open, like a sixth sense, I can feel someone charge at my backside. I turn on the defensive but I'm not quick enough. My body is tossed aside, thrown far, hitting the tough brick wall across the way.

I don't notice any pain, just pure rage. My eyes lock on the masculine figure coming at me again. I explode with fury like a shaken pop can, howling as I strike out at him but he catches my wrist, smashing it into the wall. The bricks crumble a bit on impact. My other goes for the furious beaming eyes trying to claw one of them out. He evades his eye being nearly pluck out but not completely unscathed. I lacerate his cheek leaving two wide slices as a parting gift.

He flashes his teeth and a menacing bass rumbles low within his chest. I growl back, taking another swipe, pushing against his grip on my captive wrist.

He snaps up the free hand before I can attempt another assault, forcing the other arm harder into the wall. I hear the grout start to give way. He pushes his body against mine somehow trapping my free arm in the process, pinning me to the wall. I snap at him with my jaws but he's one step ahead. His forearm creates a barrier, squishing into my throat and further limiting my movements.

"Bastard!" I spit.

His eyes burn so green they are almost white, "I thought you didn't want to kill him! What happened Ash, huh!" he jabs, gritting his sharp teeth.

I try to wiggle away but he only adds more pressure.

"I don't care! I don't care if I kill him! He can *die*!

His glare intensifies, shaking his head slowly.

"That's not you talking."

I make an unintelligible sound of frustration, fighting his strength.

"You're giving in? Fight it! Damn it, think!" his eyes still angry but his brows raised with concern.

My glare sears him, "You know nothing, you don't know me! Keep holding me here and I'm going to gut and pull out your entrails!"

Those words came out of me? The sound of an outsiders voice speaking through me jolts me back to my senses. 'What am I doing? I tried to kill a random bystander and then I threaten to kill the man trying to help!' My jaw falls limp in realization, terrified.

Sam grinds his teeth, narrowing his eyes. He abruptly takes his weight off of me, yanking my wrist into a twirl so my back is against his chest. He snatches the other wrist and fold his arms under my breasts, locking the cuffed hands with his hold.

A burst of anger rips through my spine shooting heat into my eyes and ears. A snarl from my own lips erupts in disapproval, then sets in shock of realizing I made a sound without being aware of it, again! Why is my temper so uncontrollable?

We're turned in the direction of the hobo I nearly killed, he's slumped over unconscious.

Sam leans into my ear biting out the words, "Look, there he is. Helpless. You want him? His blood on your hands forever?"

I feel tears well up. A part of me *does* and it's so wrong.

The gorey scent dances merrily around us to a dying beat in a mocking sway, rubbing salt in an open wound, grinding it in. I sigh outward without a returning breath.

After what feels like a minute, Sam slides his arms out from under my ribcage, releasing the hold and spins me around to look at him.

We are both calmer, but still strained. His eyes are cold, defeated and sad.

"Well, I made you a promise and I intend on keeping it," he takes a deep slow breath and a glint flashes in his iris as they dart over to the vagrant then back to me, "You'll be absolved of guilt, because I'm the killer, not you."

His eyes glaze over as the last words slither through his teeth.

I stare wide eyed in worry. His gaze drifts away as his fingers slide from my wrists.

"Stay put for 3 seconds," he orders with his back turned, stalking over to the limp body.

"Wait!" I reach for him almost falling forward, clasping my hands around his large palm.

He peers over his shoulder straight faced, green circles faintly glowing through his razored bangs.

I shake my head, clinging to his hand as tears escape.

"No," I whisper.

His hardened face eases with pause before turning to me. He extends his arm, holding it out to me in a delicate gesture.

I close my heavy lids accepting the offer and he slides his strong hand around my upper back. I feel worn out, the weak heartbeat and seeping wound on the victim's neck are still punching me in the back of the head. I need to get out of this alley.

As if Sam read my thoughts, he scoops me off my feet carrying me out of the passage. He didn't ask, but I'm glad he didn't waste time doing so, I can't stand this dingy street any longer. My willpower is too unfaithful to move, I probably would have come crawling back to finish what I started.

The journey is quick and smooth like riding as a passenger in a car. He weaves fluidly around obstacles obstructing the narrow pathway.

I let myself breathe in his comforting scent, like new leather and fresh spring water. Simple, sweet, soothing. I keep my my lids closed, cradling tighter into him, clearing the raging blood from my mind and letting myself be rocked by the graceful pace.

The ride is too short, he sets me down tenderly without making eye contact. I catch his sallow features as he strolls over to a bench plopping down on it.

He leans over, resting an elbow on his knee while pinching the bridge of his nose with a thumb and index finger. After a few moments he leans back shuffling around for something in his pocket to retrieve a small box and a lighter.

The lighter rasps out a spark when he ignites the cigarette retrieved from the carton. Resting an elbow on his thigh, Sam leans forward to inhale. The embers turn red with a crackle as he mindlessly stares into space. He lets the out toxins in a puff, resting his chin on the fleshy part of his palm while rolling the thin white stick between firm fingers.

I'm the first to break the silence, "I didn't know you smoked," he didn't smell like a regular smoker.

"I don't, generally," he held out the cigarette, offering it to me with an unreadable expression spread on his face.

"No thanks. To be honest, I hate the smell. It's overwhelming and... And sticks to everything," I bite my tongue, that came out unfiltered and rude.

"I hate it, too."

"Are... youu addicted?" I start to feel a little hazy, losing my train of thought.

He laughs humorlessly, "The only thing I seem to be addicted to is pseudo-cannibalism."

"Welll, that's stuupid," I find myself slurring, "If you hate it shoo much why do you do it?"

He raises an eyebrow at me as smoke dances in front of his face from the burning end of his cigarette.

"Good question," he responds, it's clear he has no intention of elaborating further.

I stare up at a street lamp that seems very lopsided, tilting my head then the rest of my body to look up at it.

"What are you doing?" says Sam, giving me a weird look.

"Whaaat doess it loook like I'm *doing*," I notice a bit of attitude and inappropriate emphases in my intonation.

He chortles, shaking his head.

"I feeel strange. WHY do I always feeeel sooo strange?"

Sam covers his mouth with his hand to wipe the creeping grin off his face.

"Um," he clears his throat, "I think that guy you drank from might have been on drugs or maybe drunk," he tries to look sympathetic but looks more like he's going to crack up, "You're probably just experiencing the effects of that."

"You've GOT to be KIDDING me!" I shout dramatically, flopping down on the ground then sprawling in the dirt. I roll my tongue over some teeth, that might explain the funny after taste. It was slightly off, like someone put a little too much lemon on an otherwise perfect dish.

He chokes out a laugh while trying to say my name, "Ash-len."

I pout still laying in receded grass, "Whaat?"

He wanders over, I see him peak into view. Two fuzzy Sams stand over me. His expression is amused like when a child throws a temper-tantrum that's too outrageous to be annoying.

I sigh, "At least the staars are beautifull."

The stars seem to swirl above like a massive slow turning disco ball, and I feel myself nodding off.

"Ash, you can't fall asleep here."

The ground has never felt so cozy, just a little longer. The sounds of the atmosphere hum a sweet lullaby.

"I'm sorry, this night got so out of hand. I really screwed this up."

I smile with contentment but don't open my eyes, 'it's ok' I want to say, but it feels too good to just lay here and do nothing. The breeze is kissing my skin and the night sky is like a comforting blanket.

"Ashlen, did you seriously pass out? You've been laying there for almost 10 minutes."

'Huh? More like 10 seconds, what is he talking about?' My lids feel so heavy, I probably couldn't open them if I wanted to, and I don't want to.

I'm transported into clouds as the ground fades away, it feels like I'm floating.

Like when I died.

I struggle to take a peek. The night sky just like before with branches reaching for stars as I levitate on my back, only it's clearer and more vivid this time.

I remember this, my very last human memory.


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