This story is by Jordyn Jiron and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Sunshine. Oh how I wish I could pull this hood down to feel the sun on my face once more. The sun is life, just not my life. Not for over a thousand years. The bright warmth of the sun was meant for humans. Which is why I always sought out the light. To hold onto what humanity I could.
I squinted past my tinted goggles looking at the crumbling ruins of what was once a great city. The war that decimated the population also left a large portion of Earth uninhabitable. But our planet was strong, and it was healing, so here we are rebuilding.
The hood of my dark leather trench coat rustled in the crisp autumn breeze. I kept my coat buttoned tight from waist to nose, leaving waist to knee loose to billow out past my hips and down my legs. Out of habitual paranoia my gloved hands shot up to ensure my hood remained casting my entire face in shadow.
I spin around on the heels of my leather boots, trying to decide where to go when it hit me. Blood. Fresh human blood. My mouth watered.
Rushing towards the scent I also detect the faint decaying smell of death that followed my kind. Not good. Reaching the rooftop I observe one human male laying on the ground, one hand pressed to a hip wound. He was next to a pile of rubble where a piece of blood stained metal jutted out. He must have fallen. Two females and three male fledglings, all wearing mismatched clothing thrown together to cover every inch of skin, stood surrounding the human.
I recognize all of them. The human was head architect on this cleanup project. With winter right on our heels the fate of hundreds of villagers depend on him. We were on a deadline and if we didn’t work together we wouldn’t make it through the upcoming winter. Anger consumed me.
The human tried shuffling backwards, causing the fledglings to pounce. I growl to shift their focus to me. They charge me. I smack them around not doing damage. Getting fed up, I latch onto a fledglings arm shoving his sleeve up exposing skin to the sun. Instantly his flesh burst into flames and he scrambled away hissing in pain.
Suddenly someone had a grip on my hood distracting me enough for a female to get a hand on my face. I lash out, sending her staggering away tearing my goggles off with her. I was rudely reminded of the grip on my hood as it’s yanked back with enough force to pop the buttons from my coat down my chest. I arch my back to remain on my feet. As I’m forced backwards I can’t ’t help but scream at the burn as blisters appear everywhere the sun touches.
I feel my second set of teeth drop down from my gums as the pain breaks my control. Baring my monstrous razor sharp fangs I let out a low growl, twist, and land crouched with my palms on the ground, bowed over to protect my face. My leg muscles tensed to pounce, but then I hear a squelch followed by two thumps. Keeping my face angled down, my eyes shoot towards the sound and I watch one of the female fledglings head roll to a stop a foot to my right. My eyes follow the trail of blood and surprisingly, the human was on his feet with a bloody blade clutched in his hand with a corpse by his feet. He wobbles unsteadily then falls to the side.
Everyone was focused on the corpse, so I take my chance and spring forward driving my shoulder into the fledgling who still held my hood. I then leap up and send my fist flying into his face knocking him out. Pulling my hood on, I jump to place myself between the human and the fledglings who spread out to circle us. In response I step over the human and crouch protectively over him snarling, “back off.”
I look down to find the human staring up at me conveying shock, curiosity, and concern. Gently I put a restraining hand on his chest when he tries to sit up. Absentmindedly he pushes at my hand. The moment we touch a liquid fire rushes through my veins causing me to shudder at the warming sensation. His entire body tenses. Everything else has fallen away. My mind is screaming one word over and over at me.
Repeating in time with his heartbeat. My mate. I think with fierce determination. Mine. I will do anything to protect him. My heart is his now. Every cell in my body knows it. Still standing over him I suddenly become aware that from his position he has an unobstructed view of my burnt and bleeding face, my blood stained hair hanging down between us. The red a sharp contrast to my light strands.
I feel like we sat staring at each other for ages but, it was seconds. Hearing movement from the fledglings, I growl, scanning my surroundings until I see a hint of silver in my human’s hand. Staying low to the ground I grab the blade. The weary fledglings visibly balk at the blade in my hands. I flick my eyes towards the door and they obey, fleeing.
I remain in my defensive position until I know they’re gone. My mate forces himself to a sitting position bringing my focus back to him and his injury. In a rush I carefully shield my arm and pull up several layers of sleeve to expose my forearm. I bite into my flesh drawing blood and offer it to him. “Here, you’ll heal in minutes.”
He hesitates. I move my arm a little closer not backing down. He sighs and in a deep voice said, “you’re hurt.” I shrug, I’d be fine. Seemingly reading my mind he questions, “you’re an Old One right? You don’t need much.” Already offering me his blood covered hand he bargains, “blood for blood?” This was the whole basis of our races treaty after all. Healing blood for feeding blood.
After a moment I nod, his warm hand wraps around my wrist as I grab his bloody hand. I lick a strip of blood from his palm, instantly feeling relief as I begin healing. I feel his lips close around my wound taking a mouth full of blood.
“Sooo,” he stretches out the world as we drew away. “Was that what I think it was?” He questions awkwardly.
I find myself unable to look him in the eyes, humans don’t need mates. But for someone like me, eternity seems less daunting with the possibility of a soulmate. I glance at him from the shadow of my hood, he had a strong jaw and warm brown eyes. Those eyes sparkle with intelligence and curiosity. He seems to have an idea of what is happening and wasn’t panicking so I answer, “we’re uh- we’re soulmates.”
He stares me down and I feel myself fidget under his gaze, but I maintain eye contact. Carefully nonchalant he says, “Huh. I wasn’t sure mates existed.” I’m not sure how to respond. I know the legends. I’ve seen the beauty and effortless bond of mates together. Some of my distress must have shown, because a gentle smile crosses his face as he holds out his hand and said, “I’m Nick.”
A huge smile lights up my face as I slid my hand into his saying, “ I’m Sarah.”
Instead of shaking my hand, he kisses my knuckles and throws out a casual, “Lovely meeting you.” I raise my eyebrows before realizing he can’t see under the hood. Somehow he seems to understand and with a chuckle he says, “Well I mean, I could do worse. You did just save me.”
Now it’s my turn to laugh pointing out, “You helped.”
That makes him smirk and wow does it light up his face. “Plus for someone your age you’re looking pretty good” he adds, breaking me out of staring at his face which I was finding increasingly attractive.
I snort and respond, “Yeah, you know you’re not so bad looking yourself for a child.”
Grinning like idiots at each other he reaches for my hand and amends, “What I’m trying to say is, maybe I’m not completely opposed to the possibility of a romantic relationship. At some point. Potentially. With you. My soulmate.”
I can’t help the laughter that bursts from my lips at his awkward ramblings. He tries glaring at me but my smile must have been infectious because soon he was shaking his head and smiling too. In the fading pinks and oranges of the sunset I meet Nick’s eyes and admit, “me too.” Looking down at our still entwined hands I think that I might be able to find some warmth in the world, after all, he is my sunshine now.