This story is by GW Fuqua and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
“This was my favorite dress,” Jeanette Tanner moaned as blood swelled from the knife wound above her heart. The blood captured her attention as she disregarded the mugger running off without her purse.
Jeanette’s muscles trembled and she crumpled to her knees. The blood against her skin reminded her of warm bath water—if bath water were thick, sticky, and crimson in color. She stared up at the bridge crossing the East River and regretted going out clubbing that night. And she regretted fighting back against the mugger.
“I have to call my dad,” she mumbled as she dug in her purse for her phone, then she listened to the dial tone and waited.
“Sergeant Tanner,” he answered in a gruff tone.
“Dad, it’s me.”
“Oh, Jeanie, I didn’t see who was calling. What’s up?”
“D-a-a-a-d.” she drew out such a simple word, a desperate plea for help any parent would recognize.
“Jeanie, are you ok?” His voice quickened. “What’s wrong?”
A wave of dizziness washed over her and her mind became cloudy and confused. The shock began wearing off and her muscles clenched in pain. Blood continued to flow from the wound and tears streamed from her eyes as she cried out for his help. “Dad, I’ve been stabbed!” She sobbed into the phone, wishing to be a little girl again so her daddy could ride in and rescue her. Those days were long gone—before they started arguing all the time and before he started working night shifts. They rarely saw each other anymore.
“Jeanie, where are you?!” he shouted with a tremble in his voice.
“Williamsburg. Sorry dad, I was at a club tonight … I know you hate …”
“I don’t care about that, Jeanie! Where are you exactly?”
“The East River. Near Williamsburg Bridge.”
“Is anybody with you?”
She struggled to look around. “No. Nobody.”
“Hang on, I’m on the way!”
He surprised her by hanging up. She looked at her phone and longed for more time to talk with her dad. She would have told him she didn’t blame him for her mom’s death, that she was sorry for their quarrels, and that she loved him. But it was too late. He’d never be there on time. He worked at New York’s 32nd Precinct on the other side of the river. At least a hundred and thirty blocks away. Eleven miles. Too far. Not enough time.
The phone slipped from her fingers and Jeanette Tanner in her blood-soaked dress fell on her side. She knew her life was over. Death crept through her body. Had she called 911 first, she might have lived, but she was a scared little girl who needed to hear her daddy’s voice. All the pain and heartache he’d caused melted away when she realized she’d never see her dad again.
Her eyelids drooped as the darkness of death called her. And then she felt it, wind brushing across her face. She didn’t see what caused the wind, but she heard a voice in the darkness. “Jeanie, Jeanie!”
The voice echoed in her head like a distant dream. Hollow. It sounded like …” Dad? He couldn’t have come so quickly.
Then he spoke again, “I hope you’ll be able to forgive me.”
I forgive you, dad! She tried to yell out but couldn’t, her voice sounding in her head.
Struggling against death, she opened her eyes and saw her dad weeping as two long fangs sprang from his gums which he sank into his wrist until blood streamed out. To her horror, he held his wrist over her face and directed his blood into her mouth. “Forgive me,” he said over and over again. Her eyes closed as blood trickled down her throat, and she tasted the repulsive sweetness.
Jeanette’s eyes fluttered back open and fixed on her dad’s face with its glistening tears. A wonderful smell filled her nostrils; the smell of blood. Human blood. Her blood that had flowed from her veins minutes earlier.
She noticed the pain had stopped; no more bleeding. Her mind obtained crisp clarity. Absolute awareness. Then she sensed them. Heard them. Humans. She heard their heartbeats pounding across the city. She smelled them. Smelled the humans and their human blood.
What happened to me?
“Jeanie, I’m sorry, I had no choice.” He turned his face away, unable to look her in the eye.
“Dad, what did you do?”
“I’m sorry, Jeanie, but I had to turn you. You were dying. To save you, I had to turn you.”
A vampire! Jeanette Tanner knew the answer. She closed her eyes and listened to the heartbeats and smelled the blood of humans so far away she couldn’t even see them. Her stomach ached as the blood enticed her senses, and she thirsted for it.
She wanted to accuse him. To be angry. But what she really wanted most … was to quench her thirst.