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by Angela Slatter

Pale and weak, I wake.

Another night of failure.

For a while, I said it wasn’t my fault. Nathaniel was too sensitive. Then guilt, that hollow sensation in your heart, in the invisible chamber where feelings reside, seeped in. I thought there would be an echo if someone knocked on me.

Nathaniel ran when he found me with Ben. I remember the devastation in his eyes, like he'd cracked inside. He didn’t come back. Eventually I was certain he was dead.

I had to apologise. I needed the doorway between the living and the dead. So I took to the streets.

The vamps live among the junkies and hookers. They don’t draw attention but everyone knows they’re there. Some go to turn, some for the thrill. Others go because the vamps stand one foot on either side of the doorway.

It’s hard to find one who will take you right to the edge. A death brings the cops. You need someone who doesn’t care.

I don’t want to turn. I just need to get closer.

I drink juice straight from the bottle. I wolf down stale danishes: sugar and carbs keep me going. Coffee would make me vibrate.

Outside, the sun is turning dark orange, sinking low. I leave the apartment. Last night’s suckhead only made me pass out. He wouldn’t risk it, but said there was someone who might. A new vamp, bereft of feeling.

The alley is a crack between two buildings. I take a deep breath and enter.

Water pools on the asphalt; moisture seeps down walls. A forgotten dumpster is wedged at the dead-end. It stinks of rotten food.

What do I say? The previous vamps knew what I wanted. Here I feel stupid. Noise, movement behind me; I turn.

Tall, big, the hood of the sweatshirt pulled well down over the face. I swallow.

‘What do you want?’ A low voice, rough with ill use.

‘I want the doorway.’


‘To ... apologise.’

He pauses, nods, pushes me against the dumpster. My neck is already dotted with wounds. He drinks deep and quick.

I slip out of my body, see the doorway. I call 'Nathaniel', but there’s no answer. I call again, but no one comes.

I drop back into my flesh. He’s taking too much. I hit out, dislodge the hood.

Devastated blue eyes flash; my blood bubbles. Soon it is dark.

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