Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/656395-The-Aftermath
by Jeff
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Drama · #656395
The result of a showdown between a vampire and the government hunters tracking it.
Kara made her way across the room with some effort, wading through corpses, each brutally slain, the horrible realization of their own mortality etched on their faces. Kara herself was not unscathed. Their blood mixed with her own, primarily from a deep gash on her right shoulder, a puncture wound on the side of her torso, and a nasty cut just above her right eye. She had barely survived the assault.

Sifting through the bodies, Kara uncovered David. She looked down upon him sadly. David had been the first casualty. Unadulterated shock resonated in his expression, caught unaware, killed before he could react. A large wooden stake protruded from his chest, centered over his heart. Classic vampire execution. Blood seeped from the fatal wound, pooling on the floor around his body.

Raising the body into her arms, Kara moved to the door. She carried him as a groom would his bride, across the threshold of the museum and down the front steps. The sky outside was beginning to emerge from its eerie blackness, the early hours giving way to the morning sun rising in the east. But it would be another hour before its golden rays would fall on this somber location.

At moments, Kara wanted to succumb to the guilt gnawing at the pit of her stomach. David was dead because of her. He had such promise, such ambition. He wasn’t young by any stretch of the imagination, but still should have had many years left ahead of him. He would have surely risen to great heights. He was a poet, a musician, a playwright, an artist, a philosopher. Accomplished at all these things, they were mere hobbies compared to his skill as a lover. He loved all things. He loved women for their mystery. He loved nature for its simplicity. He loved art for its beauty.

They both knew the risks. Had it been worth it? On the one hand, she had been exposed to his passion for life, his enthusiasm for everything beautiful in the world. His love had permanently infused itself upon her soul. She was forever changed, looking at the world in a brand new light. On the other hand, she had been responsible for the death of the one person she truly loved. How do you weigh the two? Life-altering joy at the price of life-altering sorrow.

David, however, had paid the ultimate price. He found a woman to spend forever with, at the expense of his future. For the first time in his life, he had enjoyed the true love of a beautiful woman, elevating him to heights of passion he’d never experienced. But thanks to fate’s twist, those passionate heights were to be his undoing. Scarcely a month after meeting her, he found himself dying, his life force ebbing away through the gaping hole in his chest. Was it divine justice, or just bad luck?

Kara carried David toward the shoreline in the distance. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day in this tiny beachfront town. The world was just beginning to come to life – paperboys and milkmen waved to one another in passing on their daily early-morning routes, everyone in the New England town blissfully lost to a time forgotten by the rest of the world. Kara managed a weak smile as she watched them; they reminded her of the way things used to be.

She first met David at the club. It was a moody, dismal place where would-be poets and aging beatniks gathered to soak up the so-called intellectual atmosphere. Kara found the place fascinating. She visited often, sometimes when she was in a self-deprecating state of mind, wanting to simply wallow in her own misery. But more often, Kara would come to watch everyone else. She would find a secluded booth in the back corner and sit, observing the other patrons for hours as they came and went, some only coming for a drink, others staying for the ambiance.

That was how she met David. She noticed him one evening, sitting close to the stage, enchanted by in the performing poet’s words. The words were mediocre at best, and Kara couldn’t help but wonder what he found so fascinating about them. She approached him as he was leaving, the first contact she had initiated in a long time. They immediately hit it off, talking until the early hours of the morning about everything – poetry, art, politics; wherever the conversation took them. She was enthralled with his passion for life.

Perhaps it was a mistake to contact him again. But Kara was so captivated by David, she staked out the club for days, waiting for the mystery man to come back. Eventually he did return, late one night after most of the regulars had gone home, as the owner was closing up for the night. Once the two had been kicked out, they went for a long walk, talking and discovering much about one another. Kara could pinpoint that night as the first night she fell for David.

They saw one another frequently over the next few weeks, both becoming more enamored with one another as the days went by. Kara remembered all the days, every detail permanently etched in her memory. At first, it was a blessing. She could recall with a moment’s thought any of the countless happy memories they shared. Now, with David’s lifeless body in her arms, it was her curse. Everything she remembered about her life with David would have a bittersweet sting. She would no longer be able to remember the good times without recalling the horrors of last night as well. They were one and the same now, forever fused together in her memory.

Kara reached the beach. She felt the soft sand yielding beneath her feet, delighting in the sensation. It was one of the things David had left with her. She could find peace in the simplest of experiences. Feeling the wind blowing through her hair now held just as much rapture as imbibing a century-old bottle of wine on a clear night in Paris. She could find pleasure in the simple things, as well as the sophisticated.

Arriving at the waterline, Kara looked out at the endless ocean before her. She stopped a moment, feeling the waves cascade around her feet. She closed her eyes, she felt dizzy, off balance. She savored the feeling, something she had not felt since she was a little girl. She opened her eyes, regaining her balance. The sun was just beginning to break above the horizon.

As sunlight began to spread toward the beach, Kara strode into the water, David still cradled in her arms. The sun bathed them both; Kara winced, feeling its heat for the first time in ages. She was waist-deep in the water and could feel her skin beginning to erode. Painful, yes, but nothing compared to the agony she felt in her heart. She felt a pang of terror strike her, survival instincts kicking in. But she fought them off until the sunlight became almost bearable, her fear giving way to acceptance. She was going to die, centuries of knowledge and experience with her.

How had they found her? It was one of the last thoughts that entered her dying mind. She had kept a low profile for so long, evaded their far-reaching intelligence network, and even managed to forge some kind of normal life for herself with David. It was the night she had asked him to meet her at the museum. She was going to tell him everything. She was a vampire, hundreds of years old, one of the few left. She had watched her kin die at the hands of the vampire-hunting squads. Once existence of vampires had been discovered, the government had created elite teams equipped to take the monsters down. Funded with a nearly unlimited budget, the teams had done their work well. When she met him at the museum, one of the teams was waiting. They had found her.

She fought bravely, but it wasn’t enough to save David. She had eliminated three of the six hunters before David died. Then, in a reflexive reaction, Kara dodged a high-velocity stake fired from the crossbow of a hunter, horrified to see David had absorbed the hit, stake protruding from his heart. He fell to the ground; Kara wasted no time, executing the remaining half of the hunters in a horrifying fury. But that didn’t change anything. David was still dead because of her.

Up to her shoulders in the water, Kara let David’s body float away. She reached out, holding just his hand in hers as she felt the full strength of the sun upon her. Through the exquisite pain, Kara let the years fade away. She focused her thoughts on the joys of the past few weeks with David, her final moments at peace before everything went black.
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