Walking home down the dark alley on a moonless night, I shrieked. He looked like Nosferatu and snapped me from my reverie when he morphed out of the shadows and fell into step beside me.
“Excuse me…” he murmured an empty apology, as if he had meant to catch up to me.
“I was not expecting you…” I mumbled and sped up, trying to steady my nerves.
The tall, pale and lanky man with sunken eyes, buck teeth and dressed in black let me pass. I felt his eyes on the back of my neck as I rounded the corner into my street. I considered walking on and pretending I lived elsewhere, but remembered the all-night pharmacy across the road.
Still rattled, I stepped into the bright shop. I often buy candy or last-minute groceries here, and knew the employees, at least by sight. There was no one at the checkout, which did not surprise me, since they often walked around the store, but would always materialize as soon as someone neared the register.
I ambled around the candy aisle for a while, but did not wish to buy anything. Nothing made my mouth water. In fact, my stomach was in a knot.
Countless times I had walked the streets by myself and encountered so many people. None, not even the homeless man who yelled obscenities at the air, had ever frightened me as this creepy Nosferatu. There was nothing about him that should scare me, I rationalized. He was only an unfortunate-looking fellow walking alone at night.
“It’s not even that late,” I muttered.
“Beg pardon, miss?”
I jumped and stared at the employee standing beside me.
“Sorry, I was just, um, thinking aloud,” I managed an innocent smile.
He smiled back, and I gazed into his warm, brown eyes.
“Is there anything you need?” He asked, and his voice was music to my ears.
“No, no,” I stammered, “I, um… Someone startled me outside, and I’m still a little shaken.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, and my heart skipped a beat when he smiled, “Do you live nearby?”
“Across the street,” I replied.
A little voice in my head said to never show strangers where I live, but a pleasant brain-fog drowned it out. I grinned at the employee while a wispy thought wondered why I had never seen him.
“Would you like me to walk you out? My shift will be over in a few minutes.” He held my gaze, and I blushed.
He was handsome and kind, and I drifted into an ocean of comfort and trust. The little voice in my head was screaming now, but with muffled, mangled and nonsensical words. The world stopped when I assented, and he beamed at me with the radiance of a thousand suns.
I lallygagged until he beckoned to me, and I followed him out the sliding doors.
“Is the man you saw still here?” He asked as we reached the curb.
I tore my eyes away from him for a quick glance, “No, he isn’t.”
The little voice whispered, how did he know it was a man? You never said it was a man! But it might have been speaking Greek for all I cared.
We crossed and approached the stoop to my apartment building. The street was quiet and the porch-light dim. I had an odd sense of artificial silence, though I heard the bustle of the city traffic a few streets away.
I stared into his eyes and smiled at him. We were at the front door. I had a vague idea I should reach into my purse for my keys, but I only stared into his handsome face. He brushed my cheek with his fingers, and I trembled. He leaned closer.
“May I come in?” He cooed.
I was about to nod, but was so entranced by his touch and breath on my skin that I could not reply. He put his arm around my waist and pulled me into his embrace. The porch-light flickered, and I felt his warm kiss on my lips.
His gentle hand guided my head sideways and brushed my hair away, exposing my neck. I closed my eyes, enjoying the moment as he placed his lips on my throbbing vein and made a soft, lustful hiss.
I gave a blissful giggle and blinked my eyes open, then screamed. Nosferatu’s pallid face appeared from the darkness behind him. In an instant, long bony fingers grabbed hold of his shoulders and pulled him away from me.
Horrified, I glimpsed his handsome face transform into a growling grimace. His eyes became two fiery red-hot coals, while two long fangs gnashed at Nosferatu.
The vampire lunged at the pale, lanky shadow-lurker. But Nosferatu, lightning fast, drove a wooden stake into the vampire’s heart. The vampire squealed in agony, then shattered into a cluster of spiders.
Calm and collected, Nosferatu quashed every one. Terrified and motionless, I stood on the stoop; the porch-light flickered and buzzed. When he finished, Nosferatu turned to me and smiled. It was a soft, comforting smile that improved his wraith-like countenance a thousandfold.
“Pardon me, miss,” he said, “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”