The Motel 8 was new. Growing up, McCarthy's "Farm Fresh" produce stand had stood where the parking lot now was. Long gone and paved over, the plot was now lit by halide lights, a bright island in a dark sea of rolling hills and dairy pastures. On the opposite side of the interstate, reached by a new overpass, was a Subway sandwich shop and a convenience store. There was nothing else for miles around.
Besides, I had other options.
I thought, briefly, of the clerk downstairs. An image--a surprisingly vivid image--of slamming her against the wall, tearing open her blouse, and fondling her breasts while I tore open her throat played in my head. Coming to myself, I quickly submerged it, shocked by how my entire body hungered for that. I couldn't deny it...this was the farthest gone I had ever been. It had been five days since I last Fed, the longest time since my Embrace. I knew, from what Athena had assured me, I was strong enough to go another week at least before Dusk took me and I slid into vampiric dreaming death. The thought didn't comfort me...it terrified me. A dull, aching Hunger radiated from the centre of my chest, the cavity where my heart used to beat. It was a fucking black hole. I could barely think of anything else than tearing flesh and trying to appease it with the wet rush of hot blood. If this was five days...what on earth would I be like in a week?
I went to the window, allowing my senses to reach out and scour the dark. The clerk was one option, but she was risky. She was awake and alert, manning the front desk. Now, feeling the tremors in the air, I sensed at least five other heartbeats, all in the slow rhythm of deep sleep.
Much easier prey.
"I am going out," I whispered, partly to myself and partly to my Familiar. In the window glass he looked up at me, staring. I could see the worry in his reflection, even though my reflection, which should have been just inches from my face, was nowhere to be seen.
Before he could protest I let myself out, pulling the door closed behind me. My hand was shaking, and I closed it into a fist to stop the tremors. Just like a fucking junkie.
The night air felt cool against my face. I felt it brush across my skin. It was chilly enough that I should have been cold, if my body felt cold any longer. But cold was now my base state, and it was the heat of the sun and fire I had to fear. Cold could do nothing to me.
Grabbing the rail I hopped over it, and fell 20 feet to the ground. I landed without sound on the sidewalk below. The highest concentration of heartbeats, calling out to me like taiko drumming in the dark, was down here. For some reason--maybe being home again--my condition was never more clear to me as it was then. I was a dead thing...my flesh was dead, my skin, my eyes...and the only thing that kept me up and ambulatory was the stolen life oozing through my veins. This was me. This was me for all of eternity.
And it didn't matter. I was too hungry to think about it.
I went to the first door. Quietly, I gripped the handle and turned it. Locked. No matter, my plan was to try the doors of the occupied rooms and see if any had been left open. This idea seems absurd to you, gentle reader, who grew up in the city, but from where I was raised, most people left their doors unlocked. All I needed was one in five.
I moved to the next.
They say the third time is the charm, and in this case it proved true. I turned the knob and it turned easily, unlocked. A smile crept over my face. I tried to remain calm even though the Hunger in my veins was screaming EAT RIP TEAR BLEED DRINK in my brain.
I entered the room.
She was sleeping just a few yards away. I could tell from her pulse she was a woman, possibly in her late fifties. I would have to feed gently so as not to kill her. I might have preferred younger prey, but hers was the open door. She had all but invited me in.
I moved silently across the carpet, my fangs sliding slowly from their sheaths. My entire body trembled with need for her...it was like being sixteen and needing to fuck so badly you mind was hijacked with it. It was being so hungry that your friend across the room started to look like meat. It was...
Well. You get the picture.
I pulled the blankets from her, and slowly rolled her over.
Then I leapt back, as if I had just touched hot coals. My entire mind froze.
She seemed to sense it, sitting up suddenly, looking around as sleep fell from her eyes.
On pure instinct I crept backwards, straight into the wall. On the bed, my mother looked around the room, blind in the dark.
Sleep now, the voice purred. It came from the dark across the room. Immediately, in response, my mother collapsed back into the pillows and began to snore.
My eyes must have bulged so wide they could fall from their sockets. I stared into the shadow as it stepped from the corner and took on the proportions of a tall, spindly man.
Young Master Draegonne. At last.