I was twenty-two when I started chasing her. I'm thirty-two now, but still a few days shy of the ten year anniversary. She was my friend, the only one I had. She begged, pleaded to become one of them only to turn on the one who made her, killing him with one swift blow that tore his head from his neck. I, by her, was offered the gift of immortality, but saw that it might corrupt the mind, and tried to kill her, much as I didn't want to. She gave me something to remember her by before escaping. A small, curved scar on the side of my neck that was not intended to kill. A souvenir to always have with me. In the back of my mind, I'm glad she got away. I'm glad I didn't have to kill my friend.
Throughout the years, I followed her narrow path of blood. She was careful, but left me clues. On purpose, it turns out. She left me some friends to play with sometimes. They weren't nearly as strong as her, so my playmates easily became fertilizer. At least they decay fast enough to not be discovered.
Russia, Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Syria. I chased her everywhere, all of it leading up to the day we finally met again. It would all go full circle, but I wouldn’t realize it for months. Her trail went cold. I hit up contacts who owed favors only to turn up nothing. I decided to go home.
Winter in Maine is a very beautiful time of year, even in the middle of nowhere where people venture out and never return. It was a time that I missed dearly after I began my search. Being so close to home again was nostalgic. Old memories flooded my mind with better times.
I remembered back when we were kids, we went off into the woods while it lightly snowed around us. We jumped over a narrow stream, and went in pretty deep until we found a frozen pond. We made several trips to that pond in the coming years, having some number of picnics while the warm sun covered us gently. I never knew why we never tried to take our relationship any further. We had gone as far as we could without being in a committed relationship to one another. We were more than friends, but less than a couple, stuck in that confusing limbo. Even then she had a love for vampires, often telling me about dreams she had of being one. Immortality, pain practically nonexistent, abilities enhanced to the point of godliness. They were good days, though. I wouldn't trade them for the world.
There was a log cabin in the snow-covered forest. A cap of white was carefully held atop the roof. Rumors persisted in town about a hermit living there, a woman who only ever came out at night. It was worth a look, especially being so close to home.
As I trudged through the snow with naught but a knife hidden behind my back and a black 9mm handgun in plain sight, I could see the cabin in the distance. Smoke rose from the chimney and orange candle light danced in the windows, casting a solitary shadow from inside. With the gun drawn, I slowly made my way to the front door. It was impossible to be quiet from the sound the snow made when I stepped, but silence was the least of my worries. She knew I was coming; expected me to show up ready to fight.
The door slowly crept open. The new hinges made it silent. Warm air rushed over my freezing face, easing my tension some with the scent of cinnamon and apple, one of my favorite candle scents.
"Get out of the cold," her voice kindly beckoned from inside. Her scent slithered my way. Perfume she'd worn her whole life. Very sweet smelling, like candy floss.
I stepped inside cautiously, holding the gun close to my chest. She was sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace, sipping on a steaming cup of tea, the string hanging over the side as the bag floated in the cup. I couldn't see her face because of her dark chocolate hair. She let it grow out, down past her shoulders. It looked nice. She wore a pure white dress with long sleeves, hardly any skin was visible, which was how she always liked it. The sleeves coned out as they got to the wrist. A little white bow was added to the left side on the hip to give it a little something extra. The cabin itself was slightly minimalistic. Wooden furniture that anyone with no sense of decorating could put together to make it look rustic and manly.
"Ten years, almost to the day," she said.
I slowly pointed my gun at her. "It stops here, Marra."
She took a small drink from the white cup before setting it down on the coffee table in front of her. There were a couple women's magazines along with a large stack of newspaper clippings of our ten year escapade. She'd been keeping track of me, my whereabouts, and the goings-on. I tried my best to stay out of the paper. Sometimes, it couldn't be helped. There was this vampire movie once where they exposed a vampire hunter by setting him up. The same was done to me, only I killed a vampire instead of being baited with a human. I made it to number seven on the Most Wanted list in the states. I also managed to make it on that list in four other countries, but I didn't keep track of my number.
"How shall we do this," she asked, pressing her pale brown skin against the barrel of my gun. Her auburn eyes stared right into mine. If I wanted to, I could have pulled the trigger. "Step outside and duel it out? Or in here, and ruin our new home?"
I pushed her away with the gun. "This will never be my home!"
"Have it your way, Juren. Outside."
She callously walked by me. Being a thing that feels nothing, she walked out into the snow with no shoes or coat. I followed, standing some number of paces away, two separate trails plowed into the snow by both of us. The evergreens were sprinkled with white powder while the terrain was blanketed in pure, sparkling white.
No snow fell around us. It had stopped while we were inside. The world was completely still out in that depressing nowhere that I found strangely comforting. The moon, pale and smiling, hung over us like a guillotine ready to chop off the head of the loser. White instead of red. I was sick of the sight of blood, though I would be spilling some shortly.
"I don't expect you to go easy on me," Marra said as she stood in calf-high snow.
I removed my jacket and gloves, ignoring the cold as best as I could as I tossed my protection from the cold into the snow. My gun was tightly gripped in my right hand while my knife was held in my left. Goosebumps covered my arms as the chilling fingers of winter massaged themselves over my chest and back.
I lifted the gun as fast as I could. It made me think of myself as a cowboy, quick-drawing at high noon. It also held twelve shots, all of which were fired at the start in a matter of just a few seconds. My aim was dead on, but it looked as if she hadn't even moved. I missed every shot.
"Get to the hands-on part," she told me dryly.
The knife jumped over to my right hand after discarding the gun to the snow. I charged at her, swinging with a wide right, the blade pointed at her. She bent backwards, her body resting ever so slightly on the surface of the snow as my arm swung over her. With the way she probably sees things, I might as well have been moving in slow motion while she could move in fast-forward.
When the swing was complete, I swung down at her, sticking the knife in her stomach. Lifelessness red stained all things white. She made no sound, as if it didn't hurt at all. It seemed more like she was bitten by a small, annoying bug than just being stabbed in the stomach with a Bowie knife. Instead, after moving her body back up, she grabbed my arm, and broke it at the elbow with one hand. I screamed in pain and dropped to my knees.
"Such a disappointment," she said before grabbing a handful of my shirt and throwing me back to the cabin. My right arm slammed into a pile of chopped wood. My back cracked and my head bounced off the wall. The world spun around me so fast, I gripped the frozen ground beneath the snow in an attempt to keep myself from spinning with it.
Marra came close and knelt down in front of me. Her face was inches from mine.
"Just say the word, and the pain will stop."
My teeth were clenched shut, my breaths heavily pushing through them.
"Oh, we both know you'd enjoy that."
She left me out in the snow, unable to move, freezing to death. There was no way I would ever be able to beat her. She was too fast, too strong. She wasn't human. She wasn’t my friend.
Almost an hour later, when the cold was on the verge of taking me to the icy blackness of forever, she came back. With my bloody knife in her hand, she stabbed it into the wall next to my head.
She got close, touching her cheek to mine and whispered to me, "You are a foolish man if you think I would be rid of you so easily, or even at all. Ana oheboka."
My eyes opened wide. I had gotten a message written in blood once from her that said the same thing. Even after I had it translated, I figured she was just taunting me. I always understood why she did it. Why she became a vampire, I mean. Nobody wants to die. Despite my apparent death wish, neither did I, but I never did have a desire to be something that wasn’t human! But she said it sincerely, honestly. Someone who was no longer human was capable of sincerity, compassion.
"Why," I nearly whimpered out.
"Things just happen. Do you want to stay in the snow and die, or come inside with me and stay alive?"
I didn't answer, but stared into her eyes. There was actually some emotion behind them. A soul. The same soul I thought she had lost ten years ago.
She smiled. "Come."
My left arm was put over her shoulders, and she carried me inside. I was laid down on the couch and she helped me drink warm green tea.
"If you're going to do it, then do it."
She hovered over me, ran her arms over my body. At my neck, she played with the scar she gave me.
"That formed a nice little scar, didn't it?"
I felt my neck where she had scratched me ten years ago. It really was a nice little scar, always reminding me of her. It was also the only scar I had.
"Do you love me," she asked, her warm breath caressing my neck.
I felt a little pinch, and my body tensed. I closed my eyes, expecting to drift to sleep and never wake up. When her kiss left my neck, my eyes opened. The world around me was the same, yet changed in every aspect. I could see the fire flickering slowly, crackling in the fireplace. My body no longer hurt as I moved.
I took one calm breath in, lips curled up into a Cheshire smile. "Ana oheboka!"