Return to Short Stories

Dance Darkly, My Dear


History:This is the second edition of this story, updated to create a more traditional vampire (in terms of reaction to sunlight, mirrors, etc.)


Dance Darkly, My Dear

High above the city streets, the wind rushed around the rooftops at an incredible rate. All manner of debris was scooped up and deposited in neat piles, while the wind provided its own haunting chorus to accompany its actions. Devoid of life and vegetation as it was, the scene could have been from another world; an alternative existence where carefully laid stone and fast moving air communed together. With sudden gusts the wind punctuated its ownership of all it surveyed, only one lone figure standing beside the wind. A female outline against the night, standing by the low wall that ran around the rooftop, staring down at the other world beneath.

Far below, people were walking the cold night streets. Each road was a deep yellow from the streetlights, full of strange shadows and creepy shapes. The inhabitants took on a sinister turn, human by day, but altogether inhuman in the yellow glow. The evening was young, though the winter had lent a concentrated darkness to the proceedings early on. Undeterred, the people moved quickly through the chilly streets, groups and individuals converging on pubs, bars and nightclubs. The fashions were variable, linked only by each person's conviction that they looked the best they could. Despite the temperature, many men and women opted for revealing clothes in the hope of attracting some attention from the opposite sex. Flimsy jackets provided scant protection from the driving wind. The relentless pursuit of social interaction drove people on no matter what the environment.

Fifty stories up, Catherine leant on the low wall in front of her and peered down into the other realm below. She watched the people scurry about as the wind whipped past her, picking up her long, dark hair and dancing with it to some unheard rhythm. In the cold light of the moon, the darkness of her hair provided a sharp contrast to the paleness of her skin. Her eyes shone brightly with the night's sun, lending her an almost ghostly appearance befitting the elevated world she found herself in.

Stepping back from the wall, Catherine straightened her clothes. She also was ready for a night out. Black trousers and high-heeled boots provided stark contrast to a pink sleeveless top. Her arms were long and thin, pale skin flowing smoothly down from shoulder to hands, perfect and unblemished.

She twisted slightly, checking her trousers were fine and admiring the heels on her boots. Though she was by no means short, the boots had tall heels, and she smiled at the extra height they gave her. Running a hand gently through her hair, the wind died obligingly as she tried to shape it.

She pulled a small makeup mirror from a pocket, unfolding it deftly with one hand while retrieving lipstick with the other hand. Bathed in moonlight, Catherine studied her own ghostly reflection as she carefully applied her lipstick. She traced the outline of her mouth with red, pouted for the mirror, and put the lipstick away. Catching her own eye in the mirror, she smiled broadly, half-laughing at herself. Then she folded the mirror and secreted it away.

Finally, she straightened her top one last time, then with a satisfied smile walked to the edge of the roof, placed one hand on the low wall, and deftly swung her feet up on top of the brickwork. Clouds passed across the moon, providing a sinister background as Catherine stood up straight on the wall, the entire city laid out before her. Then, reaching her arms out straight to either side, she closed her eyes and slowly tipped forward.

She pivoted about her feet, falling in a gentle circle, until her body lay horizontal, level with the wall but supported by nothing but air. Then just as she passed the horizontal, her dark eyes opened wide and an amused smile appeared on her face. Suddenly there was the sound of flesh tearing and fabric ripping, and two enormous bat-wings unfolded quickly on her back. She fell rapidly through the air as the thin membranes reached their full extent, translucent skin and narrow bone moving into position so that as one the wings caught the rushing wind. Catherine's descent into the depths changed abruptly into a smooth arc as she glided across the lower rooftops and in-between towering skyscrapers.

Catherine's mouth opened in a wide smile revealing brilliant white teeth and gleaming, sharp fangs. The wings at her back beat heavily as she flew vertical, following the wall of an office block that reached forever towards the sky. Catherine steeled herself as she approached the top of the building, bracing herself against the sudden impact of the wind as she passed the top of the towering structure. Again she levelled off, wings beating lazily against the night air, and she watched the view of the city as it passed below. The majesty and beauty of the scene reached out to her as the whole world spread out ahead. She was quite in awe, never ceasing to be caught by the fantastic view, buildings and people far below faintly lit by the pale light of the moon as it peered over her shoulder. She swung in a long curve, turning above the city with wings beating against the night, before lazily gliding past roads, cars and buildings far below. A million twinkling lights winked at her as she passed.

Just as she wondered if she might stay and enjoy the view from the heavens all night, an uncomfortable gnawing sensation at the back of her mind refocused her attention on the night's activity. Spying a smaller building far below, she looped around in a gentle spiral, closing on the flat roof beneath her. Wings spread out wide, she gracefully circled the building before coming in flat across the roof. One last sudden beat of her wings took her vertical, and she touched down on the roof. Despite the high heels, she still managed to land gracefully on her feet, arms by her side and fingers flared out as if they were wings of their own. Her hair bounced briefly on her shoulders as she came to rest.

Disappointed at the mundane surroundings, she sighed quietly, a wholly unnecessary gesture to the world at large. Then she turned on the spot, wings catching the air and slowing her turn. She walked across the roof to the edge, heels gently clacking on the hard surface as her wings folded slightly, and she looked down at the street below.

Though this roof was atop a smaller building than the previous one, she was still several floors up, with nothing but a small brick ledge dividing solid roof from perilous drop. She leaned out carefully, afraid not of falling but of being seen should she fall. Close public attention was unwanted.

The street beneath her looked like many of the others, with similar buildings, similar lights, and similar people. But one particular building held her attention. "Eternity" was a favourite nightclub for the young business people for miles around. The queues forming at the door so soon in the evening were testament to its popularity. She watched the line of shivering people as the bouncers on the door let in groups of four or five. As another group entered the building, she caught sight of a lone male near the front of the queue, unhindered by friends or partners.

Catherine stepped back slowly from the edge and walked to the side of the building. A narrow alleyway separated it from the offices next door, the closeness of the two brick walls forbidding entrance to street lighting. Checking there was no-one below, Catherine stepped off the roof into the blackness.

She fell quickly, her wings opening wide again at the last moment. Her descent, though slowed, was still fast and she landed in a crouch, wings still held out to the sides. She watched for a second, waiting for any reaction from the queue of people across the road. When none came, she stood slowly, her wings folding again. There was a sound, like hot metal being placed into water, and her wings flowed into the flesh of her back and disappeared. She gently reached one hand around behind her back, feeling through the holes in the torn fabric and running her hand down the smooth skin. It still amazed her that such things could vanish back into her body and leave no outward signs of their presence. Some things still impressed over time.

She straightened her clothes one final time, then walked carefully down the dark alleyway. In the darkness the ground produced deep potholes to catch the unwary, but each footstep walked carefully past the obstacles. The shadows were lit up before her nighttime eyes, no secrets withheld by the blackness. She saw the rough ground, piles of rubbish, bins, by-products of human society. "You have to love them for their excesses," thought Catherine, picking her way past some stray fast-food cartons.

As she walked a cat crouched warily in the darkness, hiding behind a large metal bin. It examined her thoroughly, frozen into the shadows. But to Catherine's eyes, it was plain as day; more so, in fact. She slowed her walk and watched the cat a moment. It sat poised to run or fight as need might require, untrusting of the stranger but also sure of itself. Her attention caught, Catherine crouched and made small clicking noises, holding out one hand towards the cat to entice it over.

The cat, still wary, slunk out from the shadows and padded across. It sniffed suspiciously at the outstretched hand, and then seeing no danger it walked up close. A few more sniffs, and it started rubbing itself across her legs. Moving slowly, Catherine gently picked up the small furry object in her hands and stroked it gently behind the ears.

"Hey, little cat, what are you doing hiding out here?" The cat just purred its approval at the attention. Catherine marvelled at how easy it was to please. She gently rubbed at the black fur, gratified by the low-rumbling purr.

A minute passed, and Catherine set the cat on the ground, standing as she did so. The cat slunk off into the shadows again, pausing only to flick her a glance; "I was ready to leave anyway." Catherine watched it go.

"Sorry little cat, but I've got things to do." She spoke softly, then walked the rest of the way down the alley, stepping into the harsh streetlights.

Across the road the line of people extended past two buildings. She marvelled at their patience in the freezing weather. She crossed the tarmac swiftly, the roads quiet but not deserted at that time, and joined the back of the queue. Then seeing it still wasn't moving, she walked confidently down the line of people.

Men and women alike turned as she sauntered past, differing motives on their mind as they watched her go. A woman in a short white dress spun around as Catherine brushed against her, an angry look crossing her face. "Hey!" she said, fuming visibly. Catherine said nothing, but instead made a dismissive gesture over her shoulder. The woman's complaining tone could be heard down the line.

Two people back from the front, Catherine reached the male she had targeted earlier. She felt the fangs snick back out of site as she sidled up to him and linked her arm around his. Startled, the man turned to her, face alive with the unexpected good fortune.

"How good of you to wait for me," said Catherine, smiling sweetly at the man. He smiled back, unsure of how he came to have an attractive woman on his arm, but not willing to lose the moment by questioning it. Instead he rested one hand on her arm, staring deep into her eyes. Catherine nodded as the queue started to move and asked, "Shall we?"

They stepped forward with the flow of people, the queue being stopped behind them as they went inside. A dark-skinned bouncer in long black leather coat nodded at them as they went in. Catherine nodded back graciously, and they stepped into the other night within.

Inside the club, all was as bedlam. People were thronging the dance floor, waving and shaking to the thundering bass of the music. A small stage held aloft the most beautiful people, separating them from the masses and giving them their moment of glory. More people were around the sides of the dance floor, leaning against the walls or sitting at tables, picking and choosing who looked most attainable by them tonight.

Rivalling the floor for number of people was the bar, and Catherine carefully steered the man past the heaving group and led him to a dark corner. Puzzled, he followed her behind a tall pillar, shrouded now in darkness.

The music was muffled slightly by the tall support, and Catherine stopped and turned back to face the man. Despite her heels, the man was still taller, and Catherine found herself level with his neck. She suppressed a smile a moment and stared earnestly into the man's eyes.

"What's your name?" she said, hands resting lightly on the man's arms.

"Steven," came the reply, quiet against the background noise.

Catherine held him firmly, but kindly. "Well, Steven, it's lovely to meet you. You are a kind and wonderful person. You have such charm and the looks to wow any lady."

Steven looked around nervously, though still smiling. Barely had he set foot in the place, and already a lady was making moves on him. Looking back at her, he managed only, "Uh, thanks..."

Catherine continued. "Yes, you're very nice, but for all that I'm afraid you're still not quite the person I'm after tonight." His face fell as a wicked smile twitched at the corner of her mouth. "Y'see, I could have anyone in this room tonight, and you really don't cut it."

His eyes showed blank incomprehension. "But then why...?"

She pressed one finger against his lips to make him stop. "Good looking, charming, kind, aren't you. And yet..." She pulled him close, resting her head against his shoulder before she continued. "And yet, I wouldn't be seen dead with you."

He drew away slightly, looking at her strangely. She smiled back at him. "If it's any comfort though, there is one thing..." His eyebrows raised in hopeful expectation. "I wouldn't mind you being seen dead with me."

His mouth dropped opened a fraction, shock registering as the words made sense. Seizing the moment, Catherine grabbed him with both hands, pulling him close towards her. The fangs snicked back out again and she plunged them deep into Steven's neck. He gasped slightly as he tried to exclaim, but no further sound came. Catherine sucked quickly on his neck, stemming the flow of blood and drinking it down hastily. Steven's body became limp, and she carefully lowered him to the ground. Two small holes marked the sudden incident, but no blood ran free. The only other change was a certain paleness about the body that matched its stillness.

Checking carefully for witnesses, Catherine scooped up some empty glasses and bottles and arranged them around Steven's body, seating him against the wall as she did so. Finding one half-empty bottle, she rested it in the dead man's hand, admiring her handiwork only briefly before leaving the slumped form where it would remain undisturbed for some time. The fangs shrunk back into her mouth as she left the darkness.

Stepping out of the secluded corner into the lighter darkness of the club, the beat of the music was hard and strong, a heartbeat for the dancing. She felt sure that should she remove the heart of any one of the people, the beat of the music would keep the blood flowing. Until she was finished at least. She smiled at the thought, and paced slowly around the outside of the dance floor.

She walked up a small slope and rested her hand on the waist-high guard-rail. It offered her a view onto the dance floor inferior only to the precious beings on the stage. She watched carefully, looking for the next person to catch her eye.

Abruptly, the music changed beat and picked up speed, and Catherine looked up towards the DJ box. A brilliant white strobe light suddenly lit up, catching her full in the eyes. Reeling in pain, one hand instinctively came up to protect her face as a high-pitched combination of shriek and hiss came from deep within her. Staggering, head looking at the floor, she forced her way past the people until she was caught by a nearby wall. She leaned on it with one arm, still covering her face and waiting for the burning to stop. Her eyes betrayed her, substituting the club with glowing greens and purples. Despite herself, she breathed rapidly, taking in air from the sudden shock of the moment.

A hand rested on her back and she felt a head near hers. A kindly male voice spoke softly to her. "Are you alright, love?"

She glanced round, but saw only nondescript shadows. Reaching out into the darkness, she caught the man by the throat, holding him tightly so he choked slightly and clutched at his neck. She pulled him close, an outline forming before her painful eyes. "Fuck... off..." she whispered, then swung him around and smashed his head against the wall. He fell to the floor and lay unmoving. Catherine watched the still form slowly come back into focus as her vision recovered.

"Nice man," she thought, as she slowly looked round. The darkness had once again opened up into daylight for her, and she made a note to be careful to avoid the strobe light in future. All around her the moving hordes were too wrapped up in their own little worlds to worry about the man heaped on the floor. Catherine kicked him viciously as she walked back out around the dance floor.

Shielding her eyes as she walked level with the DJ box, she reached another vantage point and looked out into the crowd. Her sharp eyes immediately found what she wanted - a newcomer to the dance floor, tall, with brown hair. The man was good looking and strong, managing to avoid appearing skinny despite his height. She was impressed. Surely he would be worthy of some time.

She walked quickly down to the dance floor, moving smoothly through the crowds, threading her way through the gaps between the people. So unimpeded was her movement, the casual observer might have been fooled into thinking that the crowd parted to allow her passage. She flowed into an empty space behind the tall man and tapped him briskly on the shoulder.

He spun around, surprised that anyone should try to get his attention, and gazed down into Catherine's best smile. She shrugged her shoulders, bare skin glowing blue and green and red in the ever-changing lighting. She spoke quietly, "Want to dance?"

The words were inaudible above the crashing music, but the sentiment was felt clearly enough. The man smiled and nodded. They danced hard to the music, Catherine waving her arms above her head, or swinging her head to a particularly ferocious guitar riff. The man looked on in wide-eyed wonder as Catherine's dark hair swung through the air, light playing off her perfect skin, wild light shining deep in her eyes. He stood aback, momentarily forgetting to dance as he watched the vision before him, consumed by her beauty. She, for her part, smiled mischievously, enjoying the spectacle of the man being drawn in by her charm.

She took him by the hands and waved them in the air, cajoling him into dancing. Unwilling to admit defeat, he started again, and soon they were waving and moving in the same frenzy as the rest of the crowd. The people flowed and swayed, the floor shaking to the music and the stomping feet as though the very ground itself was dancing.

Catherine held her arms high above her head, shaking and shimmying to the music, head swishing from side to side with great flows of black hair following. Then suddenly she swung her arms downwards, one hand catching the man on his neck.

"Ouch!" He stopped dancing, one hand pressed against his skin. He drew it away, dark liquid visible in the strange lighting. Catherine's nostrils flared involuntarily as the smell of the blood reached out to her on the crowded dance floor.

She raised one hand to cover her mouth. "Oops. Sorry." She grinned sheepishly, eyes getting drawn to the cut on his neck despite her best efforts.

"It's okay," he said, "Just a scratch." He wiped sweat from his brow. "Aren't you tired yet?"

Catherine shook her head, swaying slowly to the music to prove her stamina. Despite the rising temperature on the dance floor, she showed no sweat, nor even any reddening of her face. A cold white stage light illuminated her, showing the same pale visage as before.

She reached up behind his head and drew him close to her mouth. "Why don't you get us a drink," she said, voice raised against the background. He nodded his approval, mouthing the words, "Like what?" to her. She shrugged again. "Surprise me!" He nodded once more, and pushed his way through the crowds.

Catherine stood still on the dance floor, seeing his departure, and then turned the other way. She raised one hand to her face, and watched as the first digit on the hand retracted from a sharp, curved claw back into a normal finger. On the end of the finger was a thin film of blood which she surreptitiously raised to her mouth licked off.

Her eyes closed in a moment of exquisite pleasure. Oh, the joy of the purest blood! She thanked the heavens above for putting such divine nectar in the bodies of mere mortals. Then opening her eyes, she saw a nearby woman looking at her sideways, a confused expression on her face while she danced. Catherine smiled back unpleasantly, raising her middle finger at the woman so she turned away.

The beat of the music changed again, and Catherine danced to herself, enjoying the moment. The song rolled by in a continuous stream of beats. Then another, and another, and another! She started to wonder what had happened to the man. Despite the crowd at the bar, he should have been back sooner than this.

Turning quickly she moved swiftly through the crowds, again flowing into the gaps as though the whole dance floor were empty. Reaching the edge, she strode purposefully towards the bar, and soon found her answers. On the edge of the wall of people struggling to get their drinks, the man stood holding two drinks. Next to him, a tall woman with a mane of blonde, curly hair gazed pathetically into his eyes. Catherine stormed up to them, the man catching sight of her as she approached.

Catherine stopped and stared him sharply in the eye. He tried to look apologetic, though his face betrayed him. He offered one drink towards Catherine. "Here, I got this for you."

She snatched the glass away from him, her eyes still boring into his skull. "Did you now? And this?" she said, nodded her head at the blonde woman. The man cleared his throat and made introductions. "This is Rebecca. Rebecca, I'd like you to meet, uh, hmm... what was your name again?"

Catherine's eyes narrowed and she looked fiercely at the blonde girl. "I'm Catherine", she said, ill-concealed venom in her voice. The woman gave a small but nervous wave, and an awkward silence passed between them. Even the music seemed to recede a moment, not wanting to get involved in any way. Then the music flowed back, and the blonde woman took the man's hand.

"Shall we dance?" she said, dragging the man back towards the dance floor. He just looked over his shoulder and smiled apologetically at Catherine.

She watched them go until they disappeared into the crowds. Her eyes remained narrowed as she stood unmoving, icy calm playing across her features. A group of giggling women bounced off and around her, shouting their apologies as they stumbled away. Catherine gave them no reaction.

Slowly she walked around the outside of the dance floor, still holding the drink. She pushed past the flow of people and settled herself, leaning back against a wall that offered her a prime view of the gyrating masses. Amidst the crowd she saw the man and the blonde woman, dancing feverishly.

She raised the glass slowly and sipped at the brown liquid within absentmindedly. A foul and bitter taste reached her brain, disgust on her face as she reached out sideways and tipped the liquid away. Of course, she didn't need human foods; couldn't stomach it in fact. She dropped the glass by her feet and folded her arms, a crash coming from the floor.

A man and a woman suddenly piled up against the wall next to Catherine, and she looked at them with disdain. Slowly they kissed and caressed, all smiles as they gradually lowered themselves to sit on the floor. Catherine looked away, a smile briefly penetrating the stern expression on her face as the couple exclaimed loudly at the soaking floor and picked themselves up to find a location more conducive to romance and physical love.

Across the room, the blonde girl briefly hugged the man and then started walking away from him, one finger waving at him sternly. Catherine stood up straight, hands by her sides, seeing the onrushing moment. She watched as the woman fought her way off the dance floor and walked into the ladies' toilet.

Catherine walked slowly towards the toilets herself; patience and timing would be the key here. Threading her way through the crowd, she pushed open the door, waiting while a small group of women came out. The group were talking loudly, swapping notes on the most eligible men of the evening and talking down the fashions of any competition. Catherine let them pass, then walked determinedly inside.

The toilets were in stark contrast to the room outside. Whereas the dance floor was lit by a few multicoloured light sources, the toilets were illuminated by strong white lights. Catherine shielded her eyes a moment against them, even the walls and floors failing to provide comfort, covered as they were with shiny white tiles. A tall woman with brown hair gave her a peculiar look, pushing past and fumbling makeup back into a handbag. The door swung shut, the music becoming just a faint vibration in the walls. Catherine waited while her vision adjusted to the unwelcome brightness, the distant throb of the music ringing in her ears like a pulse.

All was deserted inside apart from a single figure stood in front of a sink. Before the sinks was a huge mirror running the length and height of the wall, and the woman was redoing her lipstick in the reflection. She glanced across, saw Catherine and gave a small but nervous wave. "Uh, hi." She went back to doing her lipstick.

Catherine smiled sweetly, walking the length of the room. As she moved, a reflection of Catherine moved in time. Catherine glanced at the mirror and, seeing her own reflection, paused. The reflection looked back out at her, eyes betraying hidden mischief, then slowly the image distorted and rippled, before fading away into nothing. The mirror reflected Catherine no more.

Catherine moved behind the woman, inspecting her as she went. The woman's hair ran down her back in long golden curls and her face shone with good health and high maintenance. Catherine had to concede that she could understand how the woman had dragged away her man, but understanding did not entail mercy. Pulling out a lipstick of her own, Catherine stood close beside the woman, leaning in towards the mirror to adjust her own makeup.

The blonde woman continued with her makeup for a moment then froze, staring at the mirror in front of Catherine. Then her gaze turned to Catherine, then back to the mirror. Catherine went on oblivious to the woman's reaction.

"Er," said the blonde woman, but no further sound came out. Catherine glanced across at her for a second, saw no more was forthcoming, and looked back at the mirror. She pressed her lips together and pouted a moment, then replaced the lipstick back in her pocket.

"Er," said the blonde woman again, struggling for a handle on the moment. "That's not right, is it?"

Catherine looked sideways, adjusted her hair in the mirror, and then turned to face the woman. "What's not right?"

The woman's mouth moved without sound a moment, trying to find a phrase that captured the blindingly obvious adequately. Finally she settled on, "The mirror. It's not right."

Catherine looked the mirror up and down with a puzzled stare. "It looks alright to me..."

"But the reflection," continued the blonde woman. "It's all wrong!"

Catherine smiled sympathetically, as though dealing with someone of feeble mind. "Of course it's not right, silly. It's a mirror. It all gets switched sides." She motioned with her hands how the image was reflected back differently.

"No, I mean your reflection is wrong!" The blonde woman's voice rose an octave, straining to convey the serious flaw in this reality.

"Well, that's a bit harsh," said Catherine, one finger rubbing at the corner of her mouth to remove any stray lipstick.

"But there's only one person reflected in the mirror!" exclaimed the woman, hands and lipstick punctuating the comments in the air.

Catherine looked back into the mirror and effected mock surprise. "My gods! You're right!" She raised a hand to her mouth in shock. "What's happened to your reflection!"

"My reflection is fine! It's your reflection that's missing!" The blonde woman's voice rose another octave, tinged faintly with hysteria.

"It is?" asked Catherine. She studied the mirror intently a moment. "You're sure that's your reflection, not mine?"

"Yes!" said the blonde, exasperated.

"I mean, you can't have made a mistake in any way...?"


"You're quite sure it's your reflection?"





Catherine rested her chin on one hand a moment, a thoughtful expression on her face. "Well, that's a bit of a bind isn't it?"

"I guess so," said the blonde, calming at having finally confirmed that all people were living in the same distorted world.

"Well. I guess that can only mean one thing really."

"What's that?"

"I guess that makes me the vampire."

The woman's expression blanked for a second in dull incomprehension. "Vampire?" she said meekly.

"Vampire," confirmed Catherine, turning to the woman and smiling to reveal a set of perfect sharp fangs.

"Oh my..." said the blonde, but she was cut short as Catherine grabbed her round the shoulders and sunk fangs into her neck. The woman stiffened a moment then was still as Catherine dragged her back into one of the cubicles. Locking the door, Catherine made sure no blood was wasted, drinking it all down with a look of distaste.

When the body was completely white and lifeless, Catherine hoisted herself up on the cubicle walls. Peering over the top but seeing no-one else, she swung herself effortlessly over the door and landed on the hard tiled floor. She walked to the sink again, pulling out a delicate white handkerchief. She ran a corner of the handkerchief in the water and delicately dabbed at the corner of her mouth. The white fabric came back stained red.

Catherine put the handkerchief away again and once more reached for her lipstick. The mirror wavered and flowed a moment, shimmering slightly in the harsh lighting. The reflected light seemed to bend and twist, before righting itself as Catherine's reflection faded back into the world. The image drew lipstick across its mouth in perfect mimicry of Catherine's own actions. She watched the mirror a moment, making eye contact with the reflection, smiling again. Then she replaced the lipstick in her pocket and pouted for the mirror.

When all was done, Catherine turned away from the sink, crouching a moment and looking under the cubicle door to make sure the blonde girl's body hadn't fallen off the toilet seat. Then Catherine stood and walked out. A trio of giggling women squeezed past her as she went.

The door swung shut and Catherine was once again in the strange realm of coloured lights. Music pounded still, the life on the dance floor showing no signs of wanting to stop. Catherine watched the people go by for a second. If anything, there were more people than before, and certainly many more couples. Men and women were walking hand in hand, alcohol producing some unlikely combinations. The smartest and most beautiful were mingling with the ugliest and most untidy, prim-and-proper ladies clinging to rough-and-ready men. Catherine mentally thanked alcohol for diversifying the gene pool, then stepped onto the dance floor.

Flailing limbs and swaying bodies parted without moving again, as Catherine manoeuvred her way through the crowds. The target of her attention was dancing by himself, looking somewhat lost and alone. She almost felt sorry for him - but only almost. She sidled up by his side and tapped his elbow.

He looked round and gave her a slightly confused look. "Uh... hi."

"Hi," she said, smiling sweetly. "Rebecca said she was, ah... feeling drained." Catherine suppressed a smile at the poor humour. "She won't be coming back."

"Oh, okay."

"I saw you here by yourself though, and thought you looked lonely. Care to dance?"

He conceded reluctantly, but as the music wore on, the beats picked him up. The pair danced with passion and energy, though his energy was noticeably falling, but gazing deep into Catherine's ever-watchful eyes he felt himself drawn to her again. She danced close, looping her arms around his neck, licking her lips involuntarily. He watched the movement, seeing her lips glistening slightly, a dark red offset against the white of her skin. Still she gazed up at his face, feeling his shallow breathing... He looked back into her eyes, amazed at how dark they were. He felt himself weaken, his head moving closer to hers, reaching down towards her mouth...

She reached up and placed one finger on his lips, pressing him gently back. "I have to go," she whispered, but inside his head it was the only sound. "Walk me home?"

He nodded and the two of them picked their way out of the crowds, her leading him by the hand. He stumbled on the steps in the darkness, and she laughed gently at him, pulling his hand to hurry him up.

As they reached the doors, he pulled back on her hand and stopped her. She looked round with an impatient expression.

"It's cold outside. Don't you have a coat?" He nodded towards the cloakroom.

She shrugged back. "No, I don't really feel the cold."

She started walking again, almost pulling him down the steps as they headed out into the night air. Quickly they moved, not stopping to acknowledge the bouncer's farewells as they went nor responding to the many taxi drivers that had appeared, offering quick journeys home in a warm taxi. Instead she led him down one street and then another, each one slightly darker than the last. Still he was trailing behind, almost dragged off his feet in her haste. Eventually he stopped her, pulling back on her hand then letting it go. She walked on a few steps before stopping and looking back at him.

He stood bent at the waist, hands resting on knees. Clouds of white came from his mouth with each deep breath. He started to speak, then decided to wait until his lungs were full again.

Catherine folded her arms and waited impatiently, checking her watch and looking up at the sky. She was suddenly glad they left early. She looked back at the man, waiting for him to recover sufficiently.

When he had composed himself, he stood straight, his breathing still leaving faint clouds in the air. He marvelled that she didn't seem to be out of breath at all. In fact, she barely seemed to be breathing.

He looked around, unsure of where he was. The streets here were dark, streetlights few and far between. Looking up at the massive buildings, he wasn't sure even in day it would be any lighter, so much shadow must there be from the towering structures. But even allowing for the lack of light, the location held its own air of darkness. The place seemed grubby, rubbish and litter strewn all around. Graffiti covered some of the walls, ill-formed and hastily written words conveying shallow sentiments from the local denizens. Some of the text was accompanied by pictures; people, cars, objects... Simple drawings in blue and green spray paint. A few stood out, higher up from the rest, black and silver describing a simple stick-person, but two huge wings on either side of him. The writing that accompanied it was illegible, possibly English, but seeming to be derived from a language altogether less spoken. But whatever the words, they were written in brilliant red paint.

He shuddered a moment, suddenly feeling unsafe in the dismal surrounds. He turned back to Catherine, wondering how she could dare walk through this place. Clearing his throat with poorly concealed nervousness, he said, "You, uh, live around here?"

"Nearby. There!" She pointed to a tall building further down the road.

He walked up to her, his eyes following the line of her arm. "Okay, let's get there quickly then. I'm freezing out here."

They continued on at speed, the buildings getting more rundown as they went. He noticed the windows were broken in many of the buildings, doors knocked off their hinges. Everything seemed derelict and abandoned. A troubled feeling grew as they approached Catherine's building.

"Here?" he said, somewhat incredulous. "You live here? But this is just offices surely?"

They stopped at the base of the building, Catherine turning to look at him. "Not here - up there!" She gestured upwards with one finger.

The man tipped his head back and looked upwards. The building sure was tall; straining his eyes against the night, he was surprised that he couldn't make out the top of the building. It reached into the sky as though it was hoping to catch the moon as it crossed the night.

He looked back at Catherine. "You live at the top of an office block?"

She smiled wickedly, stepping close to him. "Not at the top. On the top."

As a puzzled expression crossed his face she reached her arms under his and held him tight towards her. Again the sudden sound of tearing flesh came, massive wings unfolding on Catherine's back. He tried to push her away, but she held him too tightly, and with one powerful beat the wings carried them both into the air.

They rose swiftly next to the building, both looking upwards to the heavens as Catherine's wings flapped hard against the air. With each stroke they rose higher and faster, accelerating up the building until finally they approached the top and flew past it, still climbing. Scarcely able to believe what he was seeing, but scared in case it was real, he clung hard to Catherine's arms, looking sideways at the ground falling away far below. Catherine spared him a glance and laughed at his worried face, and again looked skywards. They continued upwards, he closing his eyes and fearing the moment, her eyes open and alive, her body basking in the feel of the strong air currents. The cold night air ran around them both, but gradually as the beating wings moved less and less. Finally he dared open his eyes and look around.

The view took his breath away. They were standing in the air, her wings still spread wide and flapping lazily as they drifted slowly downwards. All around a billion points of light could be seen, white stars in the sky above and yellow lamps in the city below. The bright pinpricks seemed to stretch to infinity, running off in all directions, the solid ground he remembered so well just a tale told between twinkling light points. She watched it herself, feeling the same high she always did. The world laid out before her...

Looking down, the man saw a rooftop rising up to meet them. Slowly it approached, gently trying to catch them. Catherine also looked down, wings flapping slowly, compensating for the air currents up high and keeping their descent slow. They drifted downwards with gentle grace until finally, first he then she set their feet upon the hard concrete surface. His legs almost gave way from the experience of the flight, and she held him upright a moment until he was stable.

He looked at her strangely as she stepped backwards, wings still spread wide. In the pale moonlight, he could just see how flimsy the thin membranes were, distant streetlights barely visible through the tight skin. He watched her as the wings folded and disappeared into her back.

"What are you?" he said, uncertain what emotion he should be feeling.

She shrugged and paced about the rooftop. Looking out across the many buildings, she spoke softly. "There are many names. Some would call us human, though they are few. Most would call us vampires."

There was a moment's silence as he adjusted to the information. Finally he managed, "You're a vampire?"

She turned to face him. "Aren't they beautiful? The lights I mean..." She turned back, looking out at the sea of yellow. "I love being up here when the air is clear. It's beautiful. Tranquil. Such peace and harmony... the entire world stretching out for my consideration." She turned back to him. "Don't you think it's beautiful?"

He looked out across the city, moving slightly closer to her. He folded his arms tight in front of him, shivering against the cold as he contemplated the scenery. "Um, yeah. It's real nice..."

Catherine looked back out at the buildings again. Her voice was calm and quiet. "I only get to see the city at night now. Never in the day..."

He struggled to find a comforting thought. "Well, at least it looks beautiful."

Suddenly she wheeled on him, her face wild and mouth showing brilliant white fangs. "Beautiful!" she cried, "Beautiful! I suppose you'd know all about that. Every day you get up and walk in the light, feel the heat on your skin. You don't have to live life in the shadows, hiding from the light, hiding from the people, alone, unloved and unmissed, a sorry tale from the dark recesses of the city. You don't know how much I long to walk in the light, to lead a normal life, to mix with normal people. Just for once to have the chance to feel the heat upon my skin!"

She waved a hand at the shining lights below. "This is all worth as nothing when you can't leave it! When this is all you've got! Oh, how I would love to mix with people in the day, normal people with normal lives, not the people inside the clubs. In the day you see the very best of human nature, in the night, the worst is all I can hope for. Thieves and criminals are the only ones who walk the streets with me, and even they shun someone so unnatural! How I want to find someone, anyone, who will love me, live with me, and never leave me. Someone real, someone from down there, not from up here! Someone who can make me feel the way you human's do, someone who can show me compassion and kindness, love and affection. Someone who can make me feel human again..." Her hair shielded her face, but as the wind picked up, he saw faint tears running down her cheeks. She sobbed quietly.

He stepped next to her, resting one hand on her bare shoulder. "I'm sorry," he whispered, watching one tear roll down her pale skin, "What can I do?"

She sniffed slightly and stroked her hair back. "You can love me. Care for me. Tell me what it feels like to walk in the day. Hold me as we walk in the night. Share my pain as I'll share yours, build my pleasure as I'll build yours. Talk to me softly with tales of joy, cry to me lightly with your tales of woe. I'll tend to you when you are frail, if you'll tend to me when you are not. Love me. Have me. Hold me. Keep me safe from harm. See me. Be with me. And never leave me."

He swallowed with dry mouth. The wind caught her hair again and played with it across his hand where it rested on her shoulder. He watched her in silence as she in turn watched the world below.

Finally, he spoke. "I'm ... I'm not sure I can..." His voice tailed off.

Catherine sniffed again, stroking her hair back once more behind her ear. A smile broke out on her face. "In that case, there is maybe one other thing you can do for me."

"Name it." His voice regained some of its strength.

She glanced sideways at him. "Feed me."

"Feed you?"

"Yes, feed me. Your blood is food to me. I tasted it once this evening already." She nodded towards the cut on his neck. "To drink a body dry of its crimson life-force is an experience apart. Divine texture and feeling, so seldom truly savoured by any creature of this world."

"But won't that... kill me?"

"Well, yes."

"But I thought you wanted my love?"

Catherine laughed quickly. "Did you really think that? I'm a vampire! I'll live forever! There is nothing that I cannot see or do! What use would I have for your pathetic love? Do you really think I would waste eternal life seeking one pathetic human emotion?" She turned to him, brushing away the tears roughly, evil joy lighting up her eyes. Her mouth twisted in a cruel smile, white teeth and white fangs flashing with reflected moonlight.

"But your suffering..."

"The only suffering I have is from the agonising charade needed to reel in you feeble creatures. I no more want you than I would wish my own death."

Confusion and realisation mixed in his mind, his face showing a distorted form of madness in the toiling emotions. He tried to step back but Catherine quickly grabbed his arm. She raised his wrist to her mouth and sunk her teeth in deep. Warm liquid flowed smoothly out of the wound, running down her throat, delicate sweetness filling her mouth. Her eyes closed and she sighed slightly, a wave of long-denied pleasure sweeping over her, flooding her mind and blanking any thought of the moment but one long, drawn-out instant of purest ecstasy.

The man cried out, fear and pain driving away the confusion. He struggled hard against her, trying desperately to pull his arm away, but she was too strong. They turned and spun slightly across the roof as his momentum pulled against her unyielding teeth.

Suddenly there was a tearing sound as his arm came free of her grasp. Flesh was ripped harshly from his wrist by the dagger points of her teeth and blood spilled out onto the roof. He staggered backwards, swaying slightly as she opened her eyes and spat out the loose pieces of flesh. He watched her through fading eyesight, clutching his wrist but not able to stop the torrent of red liquid squeezing up between his fingers.

Her eyes lit up angrily, annoyed at the premature end to the pleasure. She took a step towards him and he backed away quickly. He stopped on the edge of the rooftop, swaying against the small ledge that barely came up to his ankles. Blood ran down his arm and spattered on the floor, exploding patterns of red and maroon decorating the grey surface.

He wavered and faltered on the edge, ankles pressed against the short brickwork. His face showed horror and confusion, little comprehending what was going on. His mouth opened slightly and quiet words came out as the wind increased. "I don't... understand..."

Catherine took another step forward, and the man tried to back away again. His legs were held firm by the ledge so his body tipped backwards slightly, and as one final gust of cold air struck him, he fell backwards over the edge into the world below.

Catherine rushed over to the edge and looked down. She saw him falling silently before landing in a bloody heap at the bottom. The thump of his landing was audible even from where she was.

"Damn," she thought, frustrated at this turn of events. "And he tasted so good too." She looked around her, spying the messy pools of wasted blood on the ground and turning her nose up in distaste. "No matter," she thought. "There will be plenty more."

Looking up at the sky, she saw far in the distance it was starting to become light. She checked her watch. Time had caught up with her, and time meant she should be moving on. The great wings unfolded again as she positioned herself on the ledge.

She paused as she stood there, wings outstretched, and pulled the white handkerchief from her pocket, along with the makeup mirror. Checking her reflection and dabbing at her chin where some blood had escaped, she contemplated the situation. It had not been a totally unsuccessful evening, despite the unfortunate end. She figured that she should live life for the moment anyway, and immortality did give her so very many moments. The only question that bothered her was which did she like more? The flying, the blood, or messing with the minds of humans? Whistling wind answered her and she laughed quietly to herself. Of course, the answer was obvious; she liked them all equally.

And with that, she replaced the handkerchief and mirror in her pocket and adjusted her top. Stepping off the roof she fell into a long and graceful arc that carried her across the city, following the dark retreat of the night once again...

This page was created by James Corrin.
All works Copyright James Corrin unless otherwise stated.
For questions or comments, contact the webmaster.