I worked at Dracula’s castle, but there weren’t any monsters here; Vlad the Impaler never even stayed here. It was a tourist trap, and I told stories like the other guides to scare the tourists looking for tales of vampires and ghosts. The other tour guides thought I was strange, and maybe they were right, but their words still hurt.
“She came from an orphanage.” I gasped. How did they know that?
“I heard she never goes out in the sun.” I do, but it hurts my eyes, so I wear sunglasses.
“Maybe, she will quit.” They all laughed.
The words pierced my heart. I fought back the tears.
I ran outside and then gunned my motorcycle through the Transylvanian woods.
The engine hummed like a beehive filled with angry bees. The back roads turned to trails once used by people hiding from the secret police. Many of them hid in cabins around here. Despite the dangerous curves, I sped on and hit the sand, causing the wheels to lose their grip on the trail. I skidded on my side for a long time.
I was okay, but the motorcycle wasn’t so lucky; the wheel was bent, and the handlebars broke in two. I was dazed, and my cell phone had no service. I managed to find a small game trail going through the woods.
I found a hunter’s cabin, pulled my knife out, and headed toward it. I opened the door and saw a girl crouched down. She was crying.
“It’s okay,” I said and walked toward her.
Her brown wavy hair dangled in her eyes.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m Anca. What’s your name?”
“Roxana. I ran away because I felt like an outcast. I have no friends, and now I got lost.”
I knew how she felt, more than she knew. “We’ll go to the nearest town. I’ll bet it is yours. And I’ll be your friend.” We walked in the direction of the small town.
When we got there, Roxana ran to a house on a small street.
I waited outside on a dried-up fountain with a statue of an angel in the middle of it. Cracks ran along the angel’s body, and one wing was missing. A horse and cart went by with a load of vegetables on it. I thought of asking for a lift, but I looked up and saw three gargoyles posed on top of a gothic church. They looked like demons watching over everyone, but not in a good way. Darkness radiated from them, and it seemed to freeze me to the spot until a black cat wandered toward me. I reached down, and the cat rubbed against my hand. It felt soft, and it let me pet it. I heard purring and almost smiled.
It hid behind me when Roxana approached with a man she introduced as her brother, Viktor.
I backed up when he reached for me, but he grasped me and lifted me off the ground with a bear hug.
“Okay.” I struggled to get free of his embrace.
“You saved her.”
“It was nothing.”
“You must come inside for food and drink.”
“A stray,” Roxana said. “I never saw it let anyone pet her before.”
“It seems to like me.”
I went inside, and there was a large mirror in the hallway. I walked past it, and there was no reflection. I wondered what I really looked like. Death, I thought. I touched my sharp teeth and sighed. Fangs.
I had been barely eating; I was fading away. I wiped my eyes. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.
The memory of sucking blood from dead animals on the road haunted me.
I petted the black cat. “You need a name.” I noticed sharp teeth sticking out of the corners of her mouth. I thought of my own sharp teeth. “How about Fangs for now.”
She meowed. “That makes it official.”
“Can you feed Fangs while I’m away?” I said to Roxana and pointed at the cat.
“Okay, if she will let me. For you, I will try.” She looked at the cat. “Where are you going?”
“My apartment then to work, but I’ll be back for Fangs and to see my best friend.”
She offered me a spare room. Her parents died, as did mine; there were so many orphans here.
Viktor offered to lend me his motorcycle and a helmet, but I put the helmet on a shelf.
I couldn’t sleep; dark thoughts haunted me at night, like an anti-lullaby, so early in the morning, I got the motorcycle out, strapped my knife to my side, and left the helmet on the shelf. I knew I was going back to work at Dracula’s Castle. I wouldn’t let the other workers stop me. I would hurt them if they tried. I bit my lip. No, I couldn’t do that, or could I?
I saw Roxana waving to me from the door, and my heart ached.
I stopped the motorcycle on top of a hill and gasped at the beauty before me. The sun was rising, and I put my sunglasses on and pulled the hood on my hoodie up.
A few late bats zig-zagged through the air above a field of wildflowers. The dazzling colors from the flowers attracted butterflies, and a deer cautiously entered the far end. I heard a wolf howl from the nearby mountains. A red fox darted after some small animal, sending bursts of orange color trailing behind its bushy tail. Life can be beautiful, but can I be part of it. I wasn’t sure.
I knew the risk, if I never drank blood, I would fade away, but if I did, I would feel like a monster. Maybe, dead animals could be enough. If not, who could kill me? Roxana? I couldn’t ask her that, perhaps her brother. It was a dark decision, but maybe the best one. I fought back the tears. I carried a small steak and hammer if the dead animals were not enough. Wasn’t death a better choice than being a monster?
I focused on the thought of Roxanna and Fangs, and I smiled; they could be my best friends. I’d never even had a single friend before. Was this love? How could I be a monster if I had a heart?
I started the motorcycle and sped down the trails with a small light illuminating the way, hoping not to get lost in the encroaching darkness.