This story is by Rebekah Markillie and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Olivia suspected something funny was going on with her father. As an attorney, he always worked grueling hours but these days he looked half dead. Dark purple rings engulfed his eyes and his hair was papery and lifeless.
Tuesday morning, while Olivia was making herself breakfast, her father stumbled in through the front door, shirt untucked and his glasses askew. He looked tired but compared to when she last saw him; his hair had more color to it and the bruises under his eyes were nearly invisible.
Maybe he was seeing some strange new woman who was into having sex with a zombie? Olivia thought randomly. She shuddered, pushing that thought out of her mind.
“I thought you left early today. You just get back in?” Olivia asked.
“Uh, I guess so,” her father replied.
He walked over to the counter, poured himself a cup of coffee then collapsed into an armchair in front of the television.
You guess so? What does that mean? Maybe he was developing a heroin addiction?
Olivia made a mental note to look up addiction symptoms during lunch.
As Olivia left for school an hour later, she grabbed The Richmond Times which her father failed to retrieve from the front porch. Olivia liked being informed. She liked reading about the cases her father worked so hard on. Whenever Olivia brought up the subject of work to him in the evenings, him he always said something about wanting to leave work at work and would pour himself a heavy glass of scotch.
“12 killed in brutal animal mauling.” The first headline nearly screamed.
Perhaps was because she just marathoned the newest season of Vampire Diaries the night before, but rather than feeling shocked or upset Olivia’s mind went instantly to the supernatural.
Animal mauling? That’s, like, what everyone says whenever a werewolf or a vampire comes to town. That would be exciting.
By lunchtime, Olivia had long forgotten she wanted to look up addiction symptoms.
“Did you hear about that animal mauling?” She asked as she and her friends piled into the car.
“Oh yeah, that’s so crazy,” Lydia replied. “I think I’ve been watching too many vampire and werewolf shows because ‘animal mauling’ just makes me think of Vampire Diaries or Twilight.”
“That’s exactly what I thought, too!” Olivia said.
“You realize, all that urban fantasy stuff is just fantasy,” Moira laughed. She was the most sensible of the trio, graduating early and already had her Stanford acceptance letter. “But actually, it is pretty crazy. I was shadowing a doctor last night for my internship when she was called out by the paramedics to check out the bodies.”
“And you got to see them?” Olivia demanded.
“Oh yeah,” Moira said earnestly. “They were super messed up, too. Limbs taken off, skulls smashed. But most mysteriously, no blood.”
“Aha! It is a vampire!” Lydia declared.
That night, Olivia tried to wait up for her father. He left her a note on the kitchen counter saying that he would be back late again, but Olivia wanted to ask him about the supposed animal mauling. She felt a little ridiculous attaching “supposed” in front of animal mauling in her head, but she couldn’t shake off the feeling that another current was entering her life.
Around 2 a.m. Olivia gave up and drifted to sleep. Her dreams were strange. People around her were dropping like flies, all dying of the same mysterious symptoms.
The next morning was a repeat of the day before. When he came into the kitchen, Olivia tried to ask her father if everything was okay, but he just looked at her and shrugged, grabbing a beer from the fridge before turning on the television.
Day drinking? He’s most definitely not okay.
On her way out, Olivia grabbed the paper her father had remembered to bring inside.
It happened again.
“Four killed in second mauling.”
Olivia scanned the article wondering if these bodies had been drained of blood, but there was no mention of it.
At school, the strange deaths were the only thing talked about. Everyone was on edge, walking quickly and talking loudly.
Throughout the day, Olivia and her friends caught snippets of conversation. Students betting it was a bear or a rabid dog. Some joked about satanic rituals and vampires, but no one was talking about the blood.
“Did they just not report it?” Lydia asked as she read through yesterday’s article for the fifth time.
“The blood?” Moira said. “No, I remember thinking that was strange.”
“It’s not in this article either,” Olivia said. “You’re sure about the blood then?”
“Yes,” Moira insisted. “Dr. Rodriguez was really baffled. She had me looking up other incidences of this happening.”
“This has happened before?” Lydia said, her eyes wide.
“As far as I could tell there was something like this years ago in upstate New York but nothing else.” Moira shrugged.
“So very strange. Eerie even.” Lydia shuddered. “I take back what I said about vampires being exciting. I don’t like this at all.”
When she got home from school her father was tidying up the kitchen. He looked strange but better.
“Olivia, you need to get your things now. We need to get out of here.” He said, strangely calm as if he was giving directions on how to make salsa and not suggesting they needed to run. “Leave your phone and computer here. I don’t want them to track us.”
There was no time to think.
In fifteen minutes, Oliva had packed a couple duffle bags into the trunk of the station wagon and her father threw in a cooler of snacks for the road. In twenty minutes, they were driving west on I-84.
“It’s been you. You’re a vampire,” Olivia said plainly.
Her father looked over at her.
“When are we going to stop?”
“I really don’t know.”
“You aren’t going to hurt me?”
“I really don’t know.”