By Dora Abel
Heavy, full drops of rain.
The kind of rain that soaked through clothes and seeped into the very bones, making the victim vulnerable to colds.
Roselyn, however, was used to it. She had been caught up in worse storms than this, and she had also been subjected to colds and fever, but nonetheless she did not step gingerly through the puddles or the mud.
A chime rang off in the distance over the storm. It was Big Ben, telling her that it was now the twelfth hour: midnight. She suddenly realized how appropriate this seemed to be. With the last echo of the final bell disappearing into the night, it was officially October 31. The streets of London were dead, and rightly so. She had only noticed two carriages on her journey, but luckily the lamps still flickered with a warm glow, helping to light her path.
Perhaps another reason why she did not mind the rain and the cold tonight was because she knew she was on the way to her demise. She was fifty years old and no longer the sprightly vampire hunter she once was. Her long hair was pulled back into a tight braid. Ash-grey mixed in with what few flickers of fire-red remained. Roselyn was the last of her family, the last of her line. Unable to bear children and having no want of a husband, she’d dedicated her life to her profession, and now…there was only one vampire left.
The one who began it all.
He had eluded her for so long, but she had managed to kill all of his offspring and the ones he had turned, even his brides. She had not faced this daunting task alone, of course. She’d had help from other hunters and even from her apprentice, and for a while there was peace. He had not made moves to turn more people and any word of him had died down until now. One of her informants told her he had been seen lurking around on the more posh side, up near Kensington, apparently had bought himself a townhouse there. Roselyn figured he knew she was in the same city, and that they had both grown old and tired of the fight, so she was going to make the first move.
The rain had turned to a mist by the time she reached the address. She was on high alert; even though her senses had faded a bit, the hunt was second nature to her. She expected some turned guards or at least hired mercenaries, only the area was empty. The streets were quiet. Not a tense quiet, not a ‘deep breath before the plunge’ quiet…no, this was different. This was a peaceful quiet. It was a bit foriegn to her, but not unwelcome.
Roselyn walked right up to the front door. If this was to be her last stand, she was not going to expend her energy climbing and attempting to break in. Somewhere, deep down, she knew he was waiting on her. She tried the door first and surprisingly found it unlocked. This only confirmed her suspicions, and she slowly pushed it open.
The house was dark save for a glowing light bouncing off the wall from the room ahead of her. It was warm inside, uncommonly warm. She furrowed her brow and shut the door quietly.
Something was off.
Roselyn crept forward, gingerly this time for fear of stepping on a weak board. Thankfully, she reached the runner that decorated the length of the foyer and stepped carefully up to the open room. She peeked around the corner to see a fire blazing in the hearth and a figure hunched over in front of it. Confusion hit her yet again. She opened her coat and pulled the wooden stake from its sheath at her side. Her crucifix was around her neck and she had a holy water bauble to break if things got too intense.
Roselyn stepped forward, but that was her mistake. The wood creaked beneath her and her heart nearly stopped. The hunched figure suddenly jumped to his feet and whipped around.
It was him.
“Who are you?” he demanded. Roselyn blinked. Could he not see her? “Who are you??” he asked again.
“You know damn well who I am,” she said as she stepped further into the room. She held the stake hidden along the length of her arm. “I’ve come to finish our business.”
“What business?” His voice was stressed and held confusion in it. It was not the normal arrogant tone she was used to. His eyes seemed to search frantically around and he backed up, running into his desk and tripping over the chair. “I do not know where I am…I have no recollection of how I got here. Where is my wife? Where is Elisabeta?”
Roselyn was stunned. She had no idea even where to begin. Vampires were immortal, this was known. It had always been assumed that they would not fall prey to the same weaknesses that mortals were subjected to, but that was when she realized it. There was only one vampire who had lived an ungodly amount of time, and he was standing right in front of her. All of the others had been killed off.
“Elisabeta is not here…” she began carefully. She reached behind her coat and subtly shoved the stake down the back of her pants. She held her hands up slowly. “I have only come to speak with you. Tell me,” she said as she stepped forward slowly, “why do you have the hearth burning so brightly? The heat is sweltering. Even against the cold and rain of London.”
“London?” he gasped. His pale face was riddled with confusion, his dark eyes searching the floor as if the answers would appear across the wood. His normally slicked-back long hair was mussed and untidy, as if he’d been nervously running his fingers through it. And then, he did reach up and run his fingers through his hair. He took a deep breath. “I…stoked the fire. I have a terrible chill within me. My skin is cold. I cannot seem to get warm no matter what I do.” He nervously rubbed his hands together. “I also hunger and thirst. I’ve gone through three bottles of wine, water, and have nearly eaten myself out of house and home, but nothing sates…Nothing seems to cure me of it.” He looked up at her suddenly. “Will you help me? Please?”
Now, Roselyn was conflicted. It seemed the notorious alpha was suffering from a sickness of the mind. She wouldn’t have wished that on him. She would much rather him have his memories and the both of them fight it out in one last glorious battle…but she had to work with what she was given and hope that he would snap out of it soon.
But then, she thought, maybe with a taste of blood, he would come back to his senses. It was risky, but she had nothing to lose. She had already made peace with the possibility she could die here and now.
“I know what ails you…” her voice took on an earnest tone. “It is something that can never be cured with wine, or water, or food. It is a hunger for flesh and blood.”
“Impossible,” he snapped. “What a revolting notion!”
“Is it?” Roselyn said as she unsheathed the small silver knife from her thigh scabbard. She rolled up her sleeve and let the knife bite into her skin just a touch. A bead of blood rolled down and she held her arm out to him. She watched him carefully, and saw how his eyes were now glued to her arm.
He licked his lips, felt his heart race, felt his mouth water, but he still seemed confused and disgusted by the idea.
Roselyn took the wine glass that sat on the table by the armchair and lifted it to her wrist to catch the blood. It rolled into the glass, pooled a bit at the bottom.
“Here…” she said, handing him the glass. “I know you have a conflict inside of you right now, but as strange as this is, you need to trust me. If you want to know and remember, drink this.”
He hesitated a moment, his lip curled in somewhat of a snarl…but he couldn’t deny his nature, even if he did not understand it. He reached out and took the glass. That gave Roselyn the opportunity to bandage her arm quickly so she could be ready for whatever came next. She watched as he brought the glass up to his nose. He took a deep breath, shutting his eyes as he smelled the familiar coppery smell of blood… and when he opened his eyes again, his mouth was on the rim of the glass. He tilted it up quickly, getting every last drop possible, quite like a man who was desperate for water.
Roselyn shifted from foot to foot, preparing herself for a jump. Her hand reached behind her long coat and gripped the stake at her back.
“I can hear your heart racing…” he said slowly. His tone was different now, more seductive, more sure of himself. A calm realization seemed to slide over his face and he pushed his hair back out of his eyes. He stood up straight and set the wine glass off to the side. “Roselyn,” he finally greeted.
“What the hell was that all about?” she demanded, her defences right back up.
“I do not have long. I do not know when the next bout will hit me, so I will speak quickly.” He cleared his throat, his grace and dignity seeming to return. “Even though I am immortal, I am not immune to the effects of time. I have lived an unnatural long life, one that goes against nature and all of creation. There is an order to things, and no matter how long one lives, how immortal one is, Time claims us all. My mind is going, Roselyn. I am the last of my kind, you are the last of your bloodline.”
“Indeed. The world is advancing, getting ahead of us. The Industrial Age will have no room for vampires and hunters…The modern world will have no need for such fairy tales–because that is all we will be to them: fairy tales.”
“You are right. I often thought mortals below myself, but in these last few months I have seen the error in that opinion. I know that Hell awaits me, or perhaps this is my Hell and only nothingness awaits me. Whatever it is, I wish to die the creature I am rather than the sniveling, lost man that possesses me. I know what you have come to do, Roselyn. In fact, I was counting on you coming to do it. I would wish for no one else to kill me but you. After all, we have a history, you and I.”
“Yes. We do,” Roselyn agreed with a respectful nod. “Even though you have eluded me and I have despised you for all that you’ve done, all that you’ve put the world and your victims through, I respect you. I have an apprentice and my guild of hunters to return to, but I suppose we will all be out of jobs after this.”
“Do not be so sure…” he said, smirking and revealing a milky white fang. “There are other creatures of the night in the wide world besides myself and my children.” His eyes ran down her for a moment. “A pity I could not make you my bride. You would have been a fine wife.”
Roselyn scoffed and shook her head, the hint of a smile on her lips. “On death’s doorstep, and yet you still flirt and quip? I would not have made a fine wife. I cannot give birth to normal children, let alone children of the night.”
He grinned at her.
“I would not have used you in such a way. But I respect you, as well. The hunter who finally caught her prey.” He suddenly bowed before Roselyn, making her eyes widen in surprise. “I know you will do me the honor of making it quick.”
“I will. You have my word,” Roselyn said. He rose back up to stand straight. She finally drew the wooden stake and held it in her left hand, but then held out her right to him. He was a bit shocked, but smiled pleasantly and took her hand.
“Goodbye, my dear, fiery Roselyn.” He pulled her hand up and kissed the back of it before letting her go. There was a silence between them. The rain had picked up and was pattering against the window. The fire still blazed brightly, but time, it seemed, had stopped for the pair. It stood still in the moment.
Lightning flashed across the sky and lit up the room fully, and in that instant Roselyn stepped forward and shoved the stake into his heart. He tensed, his hands coming up reflexively to grab her shoulders. He looked down at her, but there was a slight smile on his face. Roselyn looked into his eyes for the last time.“Slán, Abhartach.”
Dora Abel is an archaeologist and a writer. She has a bachelor’s in anthropology, focus in archaeology, and works for a Cultural Resources Management firm in Louisville Kentucky. She loves her job very much but when she isn’t working she enjoys writing, drawing, playing guitar and playing video games. Her favorite genres to write are fanfiction, fantasy, and some southern gothic. She also writes songs and poetry if the need strikes her. Originally from Mississippi, she now resides in Indiana.