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by Sunil Ramdeen

She bled from the cut on her knee.

She had stumbled, as she ran down the dark street, the street where the lights don't work, where the fabled haunted houses stood, the place where you were always afraid to go when you were a kid.

Still she ran. She had been running for some time obviously. Her clothes were drenched in sweat, tattered too, as if she had been in a struggle. There was blood on her forehead and along the left side of her face, as if she had been scratched. Or had scratched herself maybe.

She had a pretty face. No, I'm wrong. She was beautiful. In fact, she was what some would call, 'a real catch'. Short dark hair, a bronzed complexion, round dark eyes, and those deep thick eyebrows. She could be no more than five and a half feet tall, a figure a model would have envied, accentuated by tight fitting jeans, and a dark pullover jersey. No coat, despite the chilly weather, on this brisk October night.

But it was the terror in her eyes that really drew me to her. The terror was pure, it was unmasked and uninhibited. This girl was running from something so horrible, it threatened her sanity. Her face was smeared by dirt too. It was obvious that she had fallen more than once. She made little noises as she ran, gasps, incoherent really, but did I hear her call for help?

That was when I snapped out of it. What was such a girl doing in a place like this, especially at two in the morning? A forgotten part of town, abandoned homes, where only a few stubborn pensioners still lived. A place the authorities didn't even bother with any longer. The couple of votes here didn't matter, and that was why only a few streetlights worked. The sidewalk was cracked, and grass grew out of it, while the yards in many of the old houses had been overgrown by bush. Yes this was as close to a ghost town as you got in this modern age. So, what was she doing here, running down the middle of the street?

I started after her. She was terrified, and I had to help. I called out, and I think she heard me, because she turned around once. Still she didn't break her stride, running, stumbling, falling along the street.

I looked around quickly, understanding dawning that we might not be alone. The streets were empty, the dark houses silent. Maybe her attacker ran off, or worse, maybe he -- it -- was lying in wait. I picked up my step, and was now running after her. Still she fled.

Finally, before even I realised it, I had caught up with her, and reached out just as she was about to fall again. My hand closed on her, fingers biting into her shoulder. She screamed, and turned to face me.

As she turned I saw that look of terror in her eyes once again. But more than terror, I saw myself reflected in those eyes, those beautiful eyes. I saw the dark, unusually deep eyes, I saw the tangled mat of dark hair covering the pallid face. I saw the straight nose, and full mouth. I saw the deep red lips. I noticed the long, strange fingers holding her, and I gasped. As I opened my mouth to speak, to assure her, I saw her cringe. . . .

Then suddenly my senses were bombarded. The light, and that smell? Overwhelming, my mouth filled with, what? What was that taste? Rich, deep, wonderful. That thumping sound in my head? Boom, boom, boom. Warmth, so much warmth sweeping through me, on this cold, cold night, this night of death. And then it stopped!

I saw her again, the girl that was running. Lying on the street this time. Her knee had stopped bleeding, as did the scratch on her face. The only sign of blood came from two peculiar holes on the side of her neck, just a trickle. She seemed so pale now, not like when I first saw her. She wasn't breathing, was she? And as I leaned forward I knew. I knew why she ran, and I knew who she was running from. When she ran tonight, she ran from me.


Sunil Ramdeen is a Senior Producer/Reporter with TV6 News in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. He's always been intrigued by the vampire and other supernatural stories, and draws inspiration from Anne Rice and Stephen King. He hopes to write more about creatures found in his local folklore, like "la Diablesse," a female demon with a cow's foot, or the "Soucouyant," a vampire-like old woman who sheds her skin in the night.


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"Runner" © Sunil Ramdeen. Used by permission of the author.
Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.