DISCLAIMER: This is an original work of fiction. All copyright's are property of the owner, no reproduction without consent of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A sequel to my original short story Tainted. While it's not necessary to have read the first one, it doesn't hurt! In this universe, humans can't be turned into vampires.
WARNING: Vampire blood play, sex between women, some violence.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE: Written for Epic Proportions 2009.


By trancer


Jennifer paced back and forth anxiously. The hunger was back. She could feel the sticky tendrils of pain wrapping around her stomach and beginning to squeeze.

She knew she should leave, go out and get some fresh air. Leave for a couple hours, couple days, couple weeks. Anything to get away from the feast of human flesh tied to the bed before her. All warm, vibrant, pulsing.


Jennifer brought the unconscious Katherine to her new home, immediately tied her to the bed then went about the task of caring for Katherine's wound. The cut on her forehead was superficial, quick and easy to clean. Jennifer took the dirty bandages, wrapped them in a bag and tossed them into the backyard. She hoped that would erase the scent of blood in the air. The mere sight of Katherine had caused her fangs to extend, the hunger to rise in her belly, the arousal pulse achingly between her legs.

The scent of the blood on Katherine's pussy - was causing Jennifer to go mad.

Katherine was just like Jennifer remembered her, down to the long, black coat, matching shoes and nothing else.

But Katherine was infected and, now, so was Jennifer. What could it hurt to have a little taste? She was already dying.

Tentatively, slowly, cautiously, Jennifer crawled onto the edge of the mattress, as if waiting for that part of her, her conscious, to make her stop. The hunger urged her forward. Placing her hands on Katherine's knees, Jennifer pulled the blonde's legs open.

"Oh fuck!" Jennifer groaned, the scent hitting her like a punch to the gut. 'Just a little taste', she thought to herself, 'that's all I need. A little taste and I'll stop'.

She lowered herself between Katherine's legs. The scent alone was almost enough, thick, rich and heady. She ran her nose along Katherine's slit, chuffing and panting like a dog rooting for a bone, prodding open the folds and delicate crevices, until her lips touched flesh and blood.

The hunger increased. It was more than pain, it was heat and arousal. Jennifer's hand seemed to move of its own volition, popping open the button to her fly and jamming between her legs.

Katherine stirred, hips rolling languidly like she was having the hottest, wettest, wet dream and wasn't quite ready to wake up. Then she did. Her body froze. Jennifer watched the veins beneath Katherine's skin pump wildly as adrenaline shot through her.

A new scent flooded her senses, mixing with the scent of blood and pussy - fear. Intoxicating, exhilarating, addicting.

'Just a little taste'.

Like a hand on the back of her neck, Jennifer found the last drop inside a well of restraint she didn't know she had. She flung her body upwards, sitting back on her heels. Fingers pushing deep inside her, she brought her forearm to her lips and plunged her teeth into her own flesh. Grunting, slurping, coming.

Dizzy from the intense high, she collapsed forward, face planted between Katherine's breasts.

Time stretched into an afterglow of forever. The desire abated but the hunger remained. Katherine still smelled like blood. Jennifer lifted her head, stared into dark brown eyes and an unreadable blank face.

"Are you going to kill me now?"

"Is it true?" Jennifer paused to take a long drag off the joint she shared with Emerson Banks. The former high school football star who got drunk on his small town fame and squandered his dreams of making the big leagues with petty crimes his rich daddy couldn't bail him out of. Now, he lived off his receding fame and the money he made selling drugs to the kids with dreams of making it out of their small town, reduced to self-medicating because they didn't have the means to do anything else.

"Is what true?" He leaned his back against the wall, tucking a hand into his belt and flashing her his best half-smile, the one that worked on half the girls in town.

"That you've been to the city."

His eyes went cold. The smile turned to a grim line. His voice lowered to a menacing growl. "Who the fuck told you that?"

"I don't know," she shrugged. "I heard Cody and some of the guys talking, that's all."

His eyes turned towards the small crowd gathered in the room. "Cody needs to learn to keep his fucking mouth shut."

"It's just talk." She scuffed the floor with the toe of her boot, taking a long swig of her vodka spiked bottle of synth.

"Yeah, well, I ain't the only one they talk about."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Is it true?" The smile returned to his lips, only it was colder, darker. "You like to eat pussy?"

Jennifer crossed her arms defensively across her chest as the blush painted her cheeks. She turned away from him, pressing her back to the wall and pointing her eyes downward. "Fuck you," she mumbled. "Asshole."

"Yeah, I heard about you." He placed his forearm over her head, leaning in to her. He took another long drag before handing it back to her, watching her acquiesce because, well, there really wasn't anywhere else in this one-horse town to go. The one's who didn't go off to college - too old to be in school, too young to drink - Emerson fed off their quiet desperation like a leech. "Heard you're a real freak."

"Shut up, Emerson."

"It's okay, baby," he smiled, trailed the back of his fingers down her arm. "Nothin' wrong with getting a little freaky." His fingers trailed lower and just when she was about to jerk her arm away, Emerson grabbed the bottle of synth from her hand and brought it to his lips. "There's this park in the city," he whispered, wiping his lips with his forearm. "I've seen some real freaky shit down there."

Jennifer didn't want to listen, didn't want to hang on Emerson's every word. She didn't even know why she was at the party. They'd never really been her friends, just the kids she had the misfortune to grow up with.

"Just after dark, the humans come out. They're not like in the stories, they don't have red eyes and shit. They look just like us. Come in all shapes and sizes and just," he stopped to suck the air between his teeth in a long hiss, "fucking horny as hell. They just come up to you and they'll do anything. And I mean anything."

She took a long drag from the joint, chased it with the synth. "So where is this park?"

"You think that kinda information comes for free?" Emerson watched her throat as she swallowed. "You don't know me very well."

Jennifer snorted. "If you think I'm going to fuck you, then you don't know ME very well."

Emerson stood to his full height, crossing his arms across his chest, scratching the small whiskers on his chin with his fingers. "What about a bet?"

"I don't have any money."

"It's not money I'm after." He leered, licking his lips. Certain she wouldn't bolt, or punch him in the face, Emerson continued, "Last one standing." He nodded his head towards the double doors at the other side of the room. "You win and I'll give you directions to the park. I win and, well," he licked his lips, staring at the space between her breasts and her crotch, "you service me sexually for the day."

Maybe it was because she was high, or drunk, or both, or maybe it was because, aside from the skunk weed and the occasional pills he scored, Jennifer couldn't stand Emerson Banks. Who teased her in middle school, ignored her in high school and, after graduation, a day didn't pass when he wasn't making some humiliating sexual comment towards her. He thought he was better than her, than all of them. And she'd always fantasized about the day someone took Emerson down a peg.

Today, it would be Jennifer.

She squared her shoulders, lifting her head up and extending a hand. "Deal."

Emerson took her offered hand, squeezed his fingers tight. He pulled her towards him, licking his lips and leering. "I'm gonna make you scream. CODY!" He released her hand, pushing her back as he stepped dramatically into the center of the room. "Get the goggles!"

The crowd parted, hovering on either side of the room like a pack of hungry wolves waiting for the kill. The air thickened with tension and anticipation.

Jennifer had never played 'Last One Standing', considered herself smarter than that. It was one of those stupid games bored people did like drag racing, or mailbox baseball, only the consequences were deadlier.

Emerson handed her a pair of thick goggles, probably stolen from the chem lab. He grabbed his crotch, already thinking about his conquest. "I bet you're still a virgin."

"I bet you scream like a little bitch." Jennifer pulled the goggles over her eyes. She planted her feet firmly to the floor, hands balling into fists pulling into a sort of fighting stance. Emerson stood in a similar position, standing next to her, the two of them facing the door.

He nodded his head towards Cody and another boy standing before each of the double doors, their hands gripped firmly on their respective handles.

Cody started counting down, the crowd joined in. "10.. 9.. 8.."

"You can still back out," Emerson sneered.

"7.. 6.. 5.."

"You can still fuck off and die," Jennifer fired back.

Emerson laughed. He downed the remainder of his synth, tossing the bottle behind him. Throwing his head back, he let out a deep, resonating howl.

"2.. 1!"

The doors swung open. The door keepers immediately jumped into the shadows. The doors faced east. The sun had already crested over the distant mountains. Even in the early morning, it blazed bright. It blazed hot.

Jennifer hissed as she felt the first rays hit her skin. It was like diving into a scalding hot bath.

"10 seconds!" Someone shouted.

The pain receded, her body acclimating to the effects of the rays. She remember the first time she'd been touched by the sun, only seven years old and playing with a sliver of light poking through a slat in her bedroom window. The light warm, bright and luxuriating on her palm, until the pain hit and Jennifer learned why she should never play in sunlight.

"30 seconds!"

"You can still back out," Emerson grit between his teeth.

"Not a chance," Jennifer hissed back.

Their skins were turning lobster red. The pain increased. Even under her clothes, Jennifer could feel her skin burning. She dared a glance towards Emerson, blisters had formed on his face. Angry, red blotches dotted his bare arms. Hands balled into fists, his arms trembled.

"One minute!" There was a hitch in the time-keeper's voice. The thick tension had turned to a slack-jawed panic, like watching a train wreck, knowing something bad was about to happen but too entranced to make it stop.

"Close the fucking doors!" Someone screamed.

"Touch that door," Emerson growled through blackening lips, "and I'll fucking kill you!"

Emerson was burning. Jennifer could smell the smoke from his skin, on her own skin. The pain was excruciating. But she couldn't back down, not now. What had started as a not so simple bet had become more. Jennifer had something to prove, to them - the ones who teased her, laughed at her, made fun of her behind her back. If she backed down now, gave in to Emerson who she knew would expect her to fulfill her end of the bargain and wouldn't stop pursuing her until she did, if she gave up she'd always be Jennifer Blake, the skinny dyke with the drunk of a mother and dead, loser father. She'd always be less than.

Emerson screamed, a shrieking, high-pitched wail. He dove towards the shadows, trails of smoking wafting around his body. Someone sprayed him with a fire extinguisher.

The doors were immediately shut. Jennifer stood staring at the closed doors. Her skin burned but there was no pain, only triumph. She didn't just beat Emerson, she beat them all. She could feel their eyes on her, gaping in astonishment. Someone turned the fire extinguisher onto her. The chemicals actually felt worse, a cold burn on top of the hot, but Jennifer didn't care.

She walked over towards Emerson's body still writing on the wooden floor. Planting a foot on either side of his torso, she squatted down over him, grabbing him by the front of his shirt and pulled his blistering red and blackened face towards her own.

"Told you you'd scream like a little bitch."

Jennifer sat on the roof of her new home, watching the red and purple sky turn black. She'd eaten her last can of beans and tossed the empty tin over the side into the tall grass below. No point in putting it in the garbage since there was no more garbage service anyway.

She'd been in the city for a month. The first week was the worst, when she couldn't sleep in the shanty holes she'd crawled into out of fear of being staked in the heart while she slept.

The city sat on a large peninsula, the north and south end separated by a series of connected bays that fed into the large lake on the east side. Two bridges connected both sides of the city. They were old, decaying and scary as hell to drive over. But they were un-patrolled, still littered with abandoned vehicles and desiccated corpses from both sides of the war.

She spent her first nights searching for a perfect place to set up camp. She'd found it on the south side of the city. It wasn't the perfect place, she'd prefer something closer to the park. But the park was surrounded by multiple storied buildings still occupied by humans.

Finally, she settled in a neighborhood surrounded by overgrown copses and thriving trees, one of the few houses still standing. The rest had either burned to the ground or collapsed from decay.

It was the home of Arthur and Betty Greaves. She found them, still in their bed, wooden stakes pierced through their chests. Twenty years of neglect had taken its toll on the home; the pink exterior weathered and faded, the yard overgrown and plagued with weeds, the driveway splintered and cracked. But the foundation was still good, the windows still boarded up and the roof, while missing most of its shingles, was still in one piece.

Jennifer's biggest reason for picking the location was it gave her a direct line of sight towards the park. She spent her days sleeping in the bathtub. Despite burying Arthur and Betty in the back yard and giving them a proper funeral, sleeping in their bed felt disrespectful somehow. So she slept in the tub, arms wrapped around her father's shotgun and her nights sitting on the roof watching the park through a pair of binoculars.

There'd been occasional activity, a couple souls here and there. But nothing comparative to the night she'd come, no wave of human bodies. She figured maybe word had gotten out that the park was no longer a 'safe place' to play, that the humans were intentionally infecting her kind. Except, the humans had been intentionally infecting her people for over thirty years. If she was willing to ignore the risks for a brief moment of pleasure, why would anyone else stop?

Suddenly, an explosion rocked the night air, no less than a few blocks north of the park. So close, Jennifer could feel the heat from the giant fireball lighting the night sky. Everything went still, like the entire universe had been put on pause. Then the report of gunfire, like fireworks set off all at once. Screams, in multiple voices, carried in the night air.

Jennifer leapt from the roof, hitting the ground in a dead sprint. The bridge was less than six blocks away. Her motorcycle would be quicker, and louder, plus she'd run out of gas days ago.

She skidded to a stop just off an access ramp before clambering into a tree to get a better view. People, hundreds of them - men, women, children, young and old alike, ran in a stampede towards the bridge, like cows in a blind panic.

The rush of adrenaline, of fear, that washed over her like a wave was almost exhilarating, intoxicating. She'd never smelt human fear before. Thick and sticky and wet. It seeped into her pores, tiny thin fingers wrapping around and tickling her insides.

The hunger began to rise.

One by one, humans dashed below her. They were so close. So full of fear and blood. Jennifer licked her lips as dark thoughts flickered in her mind. Thoughts of her reaching down, yanking one up into the tree with her and sinking her fangs deep into their neck. They would twitch and squeal and fight like a pig during the slaughter. She'd drink, she'd come. Get her fill then reach down for another one. They were so close, a buffet of flesh and blood and fear. Jennifer pressed down hard on the thick branch between her legs because, fuck yes, she could really do it.

She leaned forward on the branch, reached her hand down..

And froze.

Katherine was running towards her. Jennifer could never forget that face. She could never forget that body - black coat, matching shoes and nothing else.

Jennifer waited then pounced. She sprung from the tree all big cat on its prey. She grabbed Katherine around the shoulders. Katherine screamed. No one came to her aid. The two tumbled hard down the embankment.

Jennifer landed on her back, Katherine atop her, her back to Jennifer. Jennifer snaked around Katherine, one arm around her throat, a hand over her mouth, legs around her hips. Katherine struggled, bucking and writhing, unintentionally rubbing against Jennifer's heat.

Then, Katherine stopped struggling.

"You stupid, fucking whore!" Jennifer's mother, Patricia, backhanded her daughter across the face, teetering on her legs from the force created by her arcing arm. At one time she'd been beautiful, the Prom Queen, the head cheerleader, the girl voted most likely to succeed. But the grief and the liquor had taken their toll, aged and hardened her beyond her years. Unkempt brown and graying hair spilled wildly off her shoulders. She stank of stale cigarettes and staler whiskey.

The blow didn't hurt. They never did. But Jennifer felt the pain anyway. The pain of embarrassment and shame because now they all knew what they and, ultimately, what she had done.

They'd gone into the city. Jennifer, Cody and Emerson, the rest had bailed, all talk and no action, then ratted them out. Jealous wolves wrapped in concerned sheep's clothing.

"All right, now," Sheriff Dale captured Patricia's wrist before she could deliver another blow. "It's over."

"The Hell it is!" Patricia turned on her heel, finding a new target to direct her fury. "There's still a boy missing."

"That's right," he jabbed an angry finger into her chest. "My boy."

They couldn't find Cody. He'd run off the moment his father arrived, with his deputies and a posse of recruits, blinding headlights and guns blazing like a lynch mob on the hunt.

Emerson cried the entire ride home. Between blubbering like a little girl, he yammered between apologizing and repenting. Jennifer wanted to kick him in the balls. What was there to repent for? They hadn't actually done anything!

"It's my boy that's missing," the Sheriff continued. "And your girl's right here, safe and sound. Maybe you could try and find some comfort in that."

She thought the ride from the city was long, the five minutes from the station to her home was interminable. A ride spent in tense silence. Jennifer driving because there was no way in hell the Sheriff would let her mother behind the wheel.

The truck rolled to a stop in the driveway. Jennifer's fingers gripped the wheel tight, wishing there were more road to travel, just a little more distance. She inhaled deeply, then blew the air out in a long, ragged sigh.

"Mom," she whispered. "I'm.."

Patricia shoved open the passenger's side door, hurriedly pulled herself out then slammed the door. Jennifer exited her side of the truck, following her mother up the porch like a prisoner towards the gallows.

"One of these days," Patricia suddenly turned on her heel, lunging towards Jennifer, all twisted face and angrily jabbing finger. "One of these days, you gonna get yourself in a world of trouble. One of these days, Jennifer Anne-Marie Blake, ain't NOBODY gonna be there to bail you out!"

"Are you going to kill me now?"

Jennifer languidly opened her eyes. She pulled her fangs out of her arm, licking the wound clean until the puncture marks dissolved into smooth skin. Not quite ready to remove the hand between her legs, she rolled her head back, riding the aftershocks and post-orgasm afterglow.

"I don't know," she huffed, shuddering softly as she slid her fingers out of her jeans. She opened her eyes on a large intake of breath, Katherine's scent wafting heavily into her nostrils. "I'm still hungry." She leaned forward, planting her hands on either side of Katherine's armpits. "And you smell delicious."

"You'll die," Katherine said.

"So will you." Jennifer felt the hitch in her breath as she ran the tip of her nose along the line of Katherine's jugular. The rapid beat had receded to a dull, regular pulse. Disappointment coursed through Jennifer's veins. The fear had smelled so delicious.

"I didn't know you could do that," Katherine paused, licking her lips as Jennifer moved to the other side of her neck. "Drink your own blood."

Jennifer lifted her head to gaze closely into Katherine's eyes. "I can do a lot of things now. Thanks to you." She drew her fingers across the soft plain of Katherine's breastbone, resting her hand palm down between Katherine's breasts. "You're not afraid anymore," she half-asked, half-stated.

The hand moved to a breast and Katherine's pulse began to rise. "I thought you were some.." she paused at the sensation of Jennifer's fingers softly pinching her nipple, "someone else."

"Boyfriend or girlfriend," Jennifer chuckled slightly.


"Good." She continued to play her fingers over the surface of Katherine's breast, her other hand sliding around Katherine's wrist and untying the bonds. Her hunger had been sated but it left a fierce arousal in its wake. Her body burned with an ache to touch and be touched. She slid down Katherine's chest, replacing her fingers with her lips, sucking the hardened nipple into her mouth.

"Jennifer.." Katherine pleaded like she was supposed to tell Jennifer to stop but her fingers were threading into Jennifer's hair, legs spreading open, hips arching upwards.

Jennifer slid her fingers between Katherine's legs, played her fingers across the slick and wet heat, slowly, teasingly. The night was still young, Jennifer wanted to make it last. Her scent was thicker, headier, blood and desire, and Jennifer wanted to taste it so bad but even in her building sexual haze knew she couldn't. Who knew how much would be the final nail in her coffin?

Her ears pricked at a sound coming from somewhere in the house. Something she hadn't heard before, an eager scratching unlike the rats or bugs that scurried in the house, or the small animals outside trying to get in. This was bigger, she realized as the intensity of the scratching increased, much, much bigger.

She pulled her face from Katherine's breast, removed the fingers from between her legs. "Don't move."

Katherine understood. Jennifer could see it in the blonde's widening eyes. She could smell it in the fear roiling from her pores.

Jennifer clambered off the bed. She stepped quietly into the hallway. As she emerged into the living room, she saw a shape outside one of the windows. Long, white fingers wiggled through the slats trying to find a weak point.

Her eyes hurriedly scanned across the room, trying to remember where she'd placed her weapons. A floor board creaked like a thunderbolt on a still night. Jennifer froze. The intruder stopped.

Suddenly, the barricade imploded. Wood and broken glass shattered inwards as the intruder threw himself at the barrier. He tumbled into the room, rolling onto all fours in a low crouch.

Jennifer gasped.

She couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman; it's face was ghostly white, skin distorted like melted candle wax, most of its hair was gone, the rest were stringy tufts that jutted in patches from its scalp. Its eyes were entirely black - no white, no pupils, no corneas, just a sea of angry black.

Then it hissed. And all Jennifer saw were rows of sharp, pointed teeth. It's mouth, lips, cheeks and neck, were covered in blood.

It sprung, hurling itself towards Jennifer, crashing into her hard. Her back slammed against the wall, the aged and crumbling it immediately gave under the impact, the two tumbling into the kitchen and crashing onto the floor.

Like a wild animal, it hissed and snarled at her, mouth snapping, hands grabbing and snatching. Jennifer kept a vice grip on the tattered remains of its shirt, desperately trying to push it away. Gripping it tight with her left hand, she curled her right hand into a fist and smacked the creature hard against the face. Again and again and again. She felt something in its jaw crack and still the creature came at her.

Winning the battle but losing the war, with every punch of her fist, the creature's snapping maw grew closer. They rolled about the floor, knocking over chairs, rolling over discarded bits of wood that dug into Jennifer's back. The thing wiggled its arm and suddenly its hands were around Jennifer's neck. It held on with a vice grip, squeezing its fingers. She saw teeth and stars, felt its hot, blood tinged breath and saliva dripping onto her face.

It didn't want to just drink her blood. It wanted to consume her. Tear Jennifer to pieces with its bare hands and rows of razor sharp teeth. There was more than hunger in its black eyes. Jennifer saw rage and madness and pure, unadulterated hatred.


Both combatants eyes snapped towards the sound of Katherine's voice. She stood in the kitchen, holding Jennifer's shotgun, the sexiest goddamned avenging angel Jennifer had ever seen.

The creature wailed, an angry, keening sound like a cat being sawn in half. Jennifer felt its body coil, readying to leap.

Katherine placed the tip of the barrel against its temple. "Fuck you too!"

The creature's head exploded. Jennifer pushed its twitching body off her, hurriedly scooting herself away from it, backing into the cabinet. Hands trembling wildly, she wiped away the bits of brain and skull and gore that had showered her face.

Katherine knelt down next to her. She placed a hand on Jennifer's shoulder. "You okay."

Jennifer released the scream caught somewhere in the back of her throat. When the wail died down in the back of her throat, she turned to Katherine. "What the fucking, FUCK was that?"

Katherine dealt with the body while Jennifer cleaned herself up, knowing she would never feel clean after that. She'd stolen a bottle of her mother's whiskey, intending to save it for a rainy day. By the time Katherine returned to the kitchen, Jennifer had downed half the bottle.

Dressed in clothes from Arthur and Betty's closet; a pair of loose jeans tightened with a belt, white t-shirt under a green, moth eaten sweater, hair pulled back in a ponytail. The clothes were old, ill-fitting, but they beat walking around half naked.

She fished a pack of cigarettes from her pocket. Back against the sink, she lit it, took a long drag then drew her free arm around her stomach. "Fuck," Katherine groaned. "I wasn't supposed to start my period for another week." She ashed into the sink. "Beat's being pregnant, I suppose."

"Your period?" Jennifer gaped. "You wanna talk about your fucking period?"

"What? Your kind don't have'em?"

"Not like you," she grumbled, taking another long pull from her bottle.

"Seriously?" Katherine padded across the floor. She took the chair across from Jennifer. Reaching across the table, she took the bottle from Jennifer's hands and took her own long pull. "What do you do?"

"We," Jennifer paused. She'd exchanged the bottle for the cigarette and stopped to take a drag. "We go into heat. Once we hit puberty, it only happens like every five years."

"God, I'd give everything for that."

"You say that now. Wait 'til every Tom, Dick or Harry within twenty miles is scratching at your door."

Katherine snorted. "Like they aren't already or, in my case, every Tom, Dick or Jane." The bottle inches from her lips, she noticed Jennifer's change in countenance. "Aw, did you think you were special? Honey, I'm a Siren. It's what I am. It's what I do."

"Then why'd you stop with me?"

"You're still a virgin, aren't you?"

Katherine tried not to blush under the older woman's gaze. She was tall, taller than Katherine, with long, wavy dark hair and intense blue eyes. Beautiful in a 'hot for teacher' kinda way.

"Don't worry." She cupped Katherine's chin with her fingers then brushed their lips together. "I'll be gentle."

She was.

She lead Katherine deeper into the woods. Spread out a blanket on a soft patch of grass. They kissed, slowly, languidly. She opened Katherine's dress, a flowery, printed thing held together loosely by a belt around her waist. Her hands were cool against Katherine's heated skin. Expert fingers massaged, groped, pulled and pinched until Katherine's breasts ached and her insides burned. Then those fingers were between her legs, knowledgeable in ways Katherine wasn't. Her hips arched. Hissing through clenched teeth at the resistance that snapped like a rubber band.

The woman's lips began a slow, sensual journey down. And then she was right there and Katherine forgot all about the pain.

Ragged blanket and grass and dirt balled into her curled fists. She closed her eyes and still saw stars. Hips undulating, she howled when the woman added another finger, curling them upwards, pressing against a wonderfulness Katherine had no idea was there.

There was pain again, somewhere in the middle of her thigh. Katherine felt lightheaded and dizzy. Her body felt heavy and languid, like being held underwater. Something deep in the back of her mind cried out, screaming at her to make the woman stop. But she couldn't. She wouldn't. It felt too damn good, like she wanted it to never end even as she could feel the tension building to its inevitable conclusion.

It stopped.

With a suddenness that made Katherine gasp, the woman withdrew. Withdrew her fangs from Katherine's thigh, her fingers from within Katherine's sex.

She looked up at Katherine with wounded and angry eyes, realization hitting with the cramps seizing her body.

"You're.. you're infected!" She lunged like she was going to strike, then flopped onto her back as her body began convulsing wildly. Her skin reddened, blisters erupted across the surface, saliva boiled from her mouth in a frothy foam. The woman flopped and twitched like a fish thrown onto dry land. Then suddenly, she stopped. Her head rolled to the side, eyes wide and glazed. Dead.

Katherine screamed.

"Excuse me!" Katherine trudged through the muddy ground, bundling herself in a ragged coat that was useless against the rain and sleet pouring from the sky. "EXCUSE ME!"

Corporal Gina Cambiessi whirled angrily on her heel. She was no more than a year older than Katherine but she had a uniform with stripes on the sleeve. Stripes she brandished like a weapon. "WHAT?" she hissed, trying not to lose the cigarette clamped between her lips.

"I was told there was a doctor here. Not for me, but for my sister. She's really sick.."

"Do I look like I fucking care?"

"Colonel Bennett told me if I volunteered, if I made a kill, I could see the doctor."

"You see a Colonel around here?" the Sergeant snorted, tossed her cigarette to the ground and stamped it out with her boot. She stepped towards Katherine, eyes hard and menacing. "What? You think just 'cuz you killed one you're something special? Doctor's are for soldiers." She jabbed her finger hard into Katherine's chest. "Real soldiers. You know, the ones who choose to fight on their feet NOT on their backs. So take your fucking pity party sob story back to the Hot House with the rest of the whores."

"What the hell is this?" Katherine extended her arm, waving the small, piece of paper before the man sitting at a long, rectangular table.

He glanced over the tip of his glasses, gazing disinterested at the paper. "I believe that's called a paycheck."

"Yeah," Katherine huffed. "And it's about 300 hundred dollars short."

"Life's expensive. Staying in this camp's expensive."

It was payday. Katherine's first payday at the camp. Three separate tents had been set up. The first tent had a line of men and women dressed in camouflage and carrying guns. The second tent was for the Grunts, the civilians who did all the work around the camp - cleaning, building, cooking. The third tent, Katherine finally noticed, was lined with only people from the Hot House, the place where Katherine lived.

"I'm being charged?" the realization hit her hard. "For what?"

"You think the food's free," he rolled his eyes. "Or your shelter, electricity, security?"

She pointed towards the other two lines on the opposite side of the camp. "Are they being charged?"

"They work for a living," he snorted, tilting his head to look around her. "Next."

Katherine stomped angrily back to the Hot House, a converted one-story office building with mold in the walls and holes in the ceiling. On a good day, it could comfortably house ten, it was never a good day in the Hot House. She didn't stop until the bathroom door slammed behind her and she was finally alone. She lost the battle with the tears welling in her eyes, fingers gripped hard around the edge of the sink.

She'd been duped. She didn't know why Colonel Bennett had taken such an interest in Katherine and her sister. But staring at her reflection, she was beginning to understand why and it had nothing to do with helping her country or saving the human race.

"We're short on the virus," he'd told her and Katherine only half listened to what he was saying because the Colonel had come with a basket filled with food, hot food. "And you're already a carrier." She nodded, greedily chewing into her fried chicken. She couldn't remember the last time she'd had fried chicken. "There'll be food, real food and shelter and people who can protect you." She licked her fingers then tore into a bowl of baked beans. "And there'll be doctors to help your sister."

She didn't hear anything after that. The Colonel placed out the bait and Katherine fell into the trap - hook, line and sinker. A week later, she and her sister were on a truck filled with dirty and glassy-eyed civilians heading towards the camp. A month later, Katherine lost her virginity in the woods.

The Hot House was quiet and empty. Katherine walked towards her 'space' which extended a half foot from the mattress pushed against the wall. She sat down next to the sleeping form curled in a tight, shivering ball. Cassidy was only nine. Katherine quietly and gently wiped the beading sweat off Cassidy's forehead, pulled the threadbare cover over her shoulders and gently tucked it around her.

"How's she doing?"

Katherine turned to see Sergeant Cambiessi standing next to the door, an unlit cigarette in one hand, her other casually holding the strap to the rifle slung over her shoulder.

"Not good."

"What's wrong with her?" Gina asked.

"I don't know. It's why I want to see a doctor."

An odd tense, silence filled the room. Gina brought the cigarette to her lips, attempted to light it then thought better of it. She took a step deeper into the room. "Some doctors are coming on Thursday."

"Yeah, I know."

"Maybe someone can see her."

"Yeah, sure," Katherine snorted. "After they get done looking after the soldiers. And then, when they're done checking on the grunts. And then, just maybe, if they still have time because they're being sent off to another town, they might fit my sister in."

"I'm just sayin'," she paused, tucking her hands into her pockets and shuffling her feet almost nervously. For a moment, standing nervous and unsure in the middle of the Hot House, Gina looked like her 19 years instead of the hardened soldier Katherine was accustomed to, long black hair, a thin face, dark eyes and caramel skin. "Maybe I could pull some strings."

"What? You mean like a little trade?" Katherine rose angrily from the mattress. She crossed her arms over her chest. "I scratch your back then roll over onto mine?"

"Fuck!" Gina huffed. "Is that all you whores think about?" Her face fell at the harshness of her own words. She raised a hand. "Sorry, reflex."

"Yeah, well," Katherine brushed passed her. "You know what you can do with your reflexes."

Gina reached out with her arm and caught Katherine by the elbow. Quick and hard, harder than she intended. Katherine glared down at the hand holding her elbow like her eyes could shoot fire. Gina released her hold. "Sorry."

She watched as Katherine walked away. Her shoulders sagged, eyes rolling towards the ceiling as she fought for the strength to speak. "I can't read."

Katherine stopped dead in her tracks. "What?"

Gina ran a nervous hand through her hair. "I don't know how to read. I came to ask.." she paused licking her lips and wondering if the taste sliding down her throat was pride. "I was wondering if you would teach me."

"Yes," Katherine smiled incredulously. "You get a doctor to see my sister and I'll teach you how to read."

Cambiessi kept her word. The doctors came, three of them. Cassidy was put at the top of the list with the most wounded of soldiers, with some bullshit excuse about making sure she wasn't infected with something that could spread amongst the camp.

Cassidy went in a sickly, little girl, she came out with a spring in her step Katherine hadn't seen in months. Tears rolled down her eyes. She tried hard to listen to the doctor who prattled on about something or another, handed her a bottle of pills Cassidy needed to take to stop the infection.

She had her sister back and all it cost her was teaching someone to read.

Cambiessi kept her end of the bargain, Katherine moved heaven and earth to do hers. They met twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday, curled up in some corner, reading the pages of whatever book Katherine could get her hands on.

Rumors began to circulate like tiny embers floating over drought plagued grass. Soldiers didn't go to the Hot House. No one in their right mind, anyway. Katherine and her comrades were the lowest rung of the social ladder. A soldier, a good soldier anyway, didn't sleep with the people who slept with the enemy.

Gina was openly teased by acquaintances. Scorned by her friends and lost a few promotions from her superiors. Katherine found it odd Gina would rather let them think she was sleeping with Katherine than learn the truth - that Gina couldn't read. But they all had their crosses to bear, this was Gina's.

A year passed. The camp moved from town to town, state to state, moving closer and closer to the West coast. Soldier's were lost in battle, recruited and replaced. Gina got Cassidy a job in the Mess Hall, where she peeled potatoes and cleaned dishes.

Gina killed the enemy her way, Katherine continued killing the enemy in her own way.

They sat side by side on a bench under an open tent. Gina read quietly aloud, an instruction manual on the proper maintenance of air conditioning units. Katherine nudged Gina with her shoulder.

"You know we don't have to do this anymore?"


I know." Gina closed the manual and set it on the table. "I like this. It's practically the only time I get any peace and quiet these days. Plus, you're more fun to hang around with than those assholes."

The assholes that used to be her friends. Now Katherine worried about them fragging Gina on some mission.

Life had been better with Gina around, Katherine had to admit. The portions on her plate in the chow line increased in size. She had blankets that kept her warm at night and clothes with fewer holes. The crew in the Mess Hall had taken a liking to Cassidy, took her under their collective wing and made her the Mess Hall mascot. She and Cassidy were given real tubes of toothpaste and real bars of soap, the thick scented kind that lathered into a thick foam.

And Gina had asked for nothing more than an hour of Katherine's time on Wednesday's and Saturday's to read.

"I hear we're breaking camp soon," Gina spoke softly, breaking the silence and stirring Katherine from her thoughts.

"I heard," Katherine said.

"An abandoned base a couple miles off the coast. Some platoons have already moved in. Enough room for all of us to have our own quarters, Sarge said." She looked down at her fingers unable to meet Katherine's gaze. "You could, you know, you and Cassidy, move in with me."

"Gina.." Katherine blushed. "I don't know what to say."

"Say yes."


Katherine moved first because she knew, not even in a million years, would Gina make the first move. She moved her face closer, brushed her lips against Gina's just in case she'd misinterpreted Gina's invitation. She hadn't. Gina closed the distance, pressed her lips against Katherine's. They kissed, soft and tentative. Katherine felt something she'd never felt before with dalliances with the enemy - loved.

Tentative and passionate quickly turned to urgent and hungry. It was Gina's first time and Katherine wanted it to be special but, in their world, there were always limitations. An empty bathroom with an empty stall was as close to a private bedroom either would get. Katherine pressed Gina against the wall. It felt odd, to be younger than Gina and yet older in so many other ways. She dropped to her knees, yanking open Gina's belt and pulling her camouflaged pants down to her ankles. Buried her face between Gina's legs, snaked her tongue between wet and swollen lips, slathering hungrily across the swollen pearl.

"Katherine," Gina husked, one hand threading into Katherine's hair, the other clawing wildly at the wall. She wondered why she waited so long. Then, she didn't think anything as the orgasm ripped through her body and all sound escaped her throat in a ragged groan.

"Wow," Gina whispered, still trembling in Katherine's arms. She tilted her head to stare into Katherine's eyes. "I did ask you to move in with me, didn't I?"

"Yes," Katherine chuckled.

"And you did say yes?"


"Good," she smiled then kissed Katherine deeply. "Because we definitely need to do that again."

"It's a house!" Katherine gasped incredulously as Gina pulled her fingers off Katherine's eyes.

"It's not much," Gina beamed, "but it's ours."

"Seriously?" Cassidy bounded up the cracked sidewalk, jumping onto the front porch before either woman could answer.

Three weeks earlier, Gina and the majority of the soldiers left for their new camp. When the fear that the soldier's would never return began to crest into a panic, they were moved again.

The base sat at the bottom of a large sound, sandwiched between the mainland and where the large arm protected the inlet from the ocean. The buildings were all painted in a sickly, tan color, some were collapsed, most were in disrepair but it was Xanadu compared to their previous camps.

Katherine, who'd never seen herself as anything resembling an 'Army wife', practically leapt into Gina's arms after exiting the bus.

True to their word, the military issued the soldiers 'quarters'. The civilians were given the tight and cramped barracks, three-story complexes that lined an eastern quarter of the base in a chaotic scheme in an attempt to build 'community'.

They'd given the soldiers the houses. A throwback to the days when soldiers dared to do things like get married, start a family (because if the military wanted you to have a family they would have issued you one when you enlisted).

The house was a one-story Colonial that sat on a tree-lined street with dozens of other homes that looked exactly the same.

"It's wonderful," Katherine tried to hide the warble in her voice, or the tears that welled in her eyes.

For awhile, everything was perfect. Cassidy went to school, a real honest-to-God school. Katherine stopped working in the Hot House. There were still 'carriers' who volunteered to infect the enemy but they were no longer kept like cattle in a pen or treated like third-class citizens.

Katherine spent her days at the Commissary working the registers and bagging groceries.

Gina finally received her promotion, moving from Corporal to Sergeant. They celebrated with dinner at the first restaurant to open on the base in twenty years with perfectly cooked steaks and wine that didn't taste like it was distilled in a bathtub filled with moldy shoes. That night, Katherine showed Gina how much she appreciated her, until they were breathless, exhausted and sticky with sweat.

There were still missions Gina was sent on. Sometimes, she was gone for days, sometimes, she was gone for weeks. But there were backyard barbeques, nights at the movie theater, weekend parties filled with food, beer and song.

It was perfect.

But perfect was an illusion, smoke and mirrors easily felled by the slightest of breezes.

And the wind was beginning to blow.

"I ain't never seen anything like it," Gina shivered. Katherine quietly cleaned the wounds on Gina's back, part of her routine while Gina was on medical leave. "I mean, I'd heard the rumors. We'd all heard the rumors. Thought they were just stories, you know, talk. Shit those fucking country rubes made up to keep the soldiers around."

Gina and her troop had been sent on a mission. They were gone for less than two days.

"Katherine!" Mandy yelled. She'd worked alongside Katherine in the Hot House and now shared registers, she ran into the Commissary, eyes wide and ashen face. She grabbed Katherine by the arm. "You'd better come quick!"

"Why? What's going on?"

"They're back!"

A crowd gathered on the edge of the tarmac where the choppers brought in the wounded to the hospital. Katherine recognized the faces in the crowd as they watched the three helicopters rush towards the landing strip. They were the wives, husbands, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons of the 'Lucky 38's', the platoon that always came back.

Their luck had just run out. They were always 30, the names may change, the faces may change but they went on a mission as 30 and came back as 30.

Today, only seven came back.

In the weeks that followed, Gina never talked about that night. Katherine knew not to ask. It was summer, the night air, hot, thick and still.

"Reapers," Gina continued, her bandages replaced, she leaned forward off the edge of the bed, placing her hands on her knees, chin on tightened fists. "They call'em Reapers. White as ghosts. Teeth like a shark's. One minute, there was nothing, the next, they were everywhere. Coming out of buildings, crawling down the walls, out of the sewers. We couldn't contain them.. Couldn't stop them.." her voice trailed off.

"Shh," Katherine scooted behind her, wrapping her arms gently around Gina's waist, placing her chin on a shoulder. "We don't have to talk about it."

Truth was, Katherine didn't want to talk about it. Word had spread fast, some of it false, most of it true. She learned very quickly about what happened to the Lucky 38's. Made a silent prayer every time she passed one of the widow's, or children of those that didn't come back. Thanked the Gods that her Gina had returned even though pieces of her had still been left behind. Pieces she might not never get back, never be whole again.

They were quiet for awhile. Gina calm enough to actually lie down on the bed. "I've been thinking about transferring," she spoke after a long silence. "I have an aunt who lives back east, outside of Red River. After.." she stopped and shuddered, unable to finish her thought. "I'm sure they'll put in a good word for me. I think I've earned my stripes."

"What about us?"

Gina smiled for the first time in weeks, an impish half-grin that always made Katherine's heart skip a beat. "You really think I'd leave without you or Cassidy? You two were the only thing that kept me alive. The grenade went off and all I could think was 'I have to get back to them, I have to stay alive for them'. My life doesn't mean a damn thing if you're not in it."

"Red River?" Jennifer didn't mean to interrupt but couldn't help herself. "You don't mean.." her voice trailed. Katherine took a long drag off her cigarette before stamping it out on the table. She nodded her head slowly, like she didn't want to admit the truth.

"Fuck!" Jennifer dragged the word out. She'd heard what happened in Red River. Everyone heard about it. Formerly Carson City, Red River was the name the humans gave it after her people abandoned the city during the war. "And they sent your sister there, and Gina. Was it before or after?"

"Before." Katherine ran a nervous hand through her hair. "Before."

She pulled the pack of cigarettes from her pocket, pulling the last one between her fingers before crumpling the empty pack in her hand and tossing it onto the floor. "I was supposed to go with them."

"Why didn't you?"

"Fucking bureaucracy," she paused, striking a match and lighting the end. "They hadn't planned on the soldier's starting families. Too many people wanting to leave for Red River and not enough buses to take them. We decided it was better if Gina took Cassidy and I waited for the next transport out. I should have gone with them." She exhaled, dragging her sigh out in a long plume of blue-white smoke. "I should have gone with them."

Jennifer let the moments tick by, watching Jennifer as she smoked the last of her cigarette and stared blankly into space. "What happened? I mean, at Red River."

"Red River," Katherine snorted. "It was supposed to be our 'new beginning'," she spat using her fingers as quote marks. "You wanna know what happened? They were in such a fucking hurry to rebuild, to give us some kind of hope, they got complacent. They got stupid. Found the first empty city, shouted 'Come here, build here! It's safe. It's secure.' Only it wasn't. They built our new hope over a goddamned Reaper nest. It only took two days, I was told. By the time anyone figured out what was going on, half the city was either dead or infected. And rather than try and save the other half, the fuckers nuked the Red River off the goddamned face of the planet."

"Fuck," Jennifer exhaled.

"Yeah," Katherine stamped her last cigarette out on the table. "Fuck."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Colonel Bennett clasped his hands together and set them on the desk. "We all lost someone at Red River."

Katherine didn't want to cry, tried valiantly to keep the tears from welling in her eyes and failed miserably.

"But," the Colonel continued, "you can't stay in the quarters anymore."

Katherine couldn't speak. It had only been a week since the incident at Red River. Even though the bodies were still warm, the wounds still open and bleeding, it wasn't enough to keep the vultures at bay. Old resentments, old prejudices Katherine thought had been erased were merely bubbling under the surface and now erupted all around her. She'd already lost her job at the Commissary, along with all the other former Hot House workers who lost someone at Red River. Now they were coming after her home - Gina's home.

"They can't do this," Katherine grit through her teeth. "That's Gina's home.."

"No," Bennett held firm. "It's the Military's. And they might have turned a blind eye while you two were.. Together, they aren't so willing now."

"Fuck you!" She jerked up from her chair, slammed both her hands down on the surface of the desk. "FUCK YOU!"

She spun on her heel and stormed towards the door. Colonel Bennett rose from his seat and hurried after her.

"Katherine, wait!" He grabbed her by the arm. Katherine struggled but his hold was strong, firm. "Where are you going?"

"What do you care? I'm just a stupid whore who was tainting one of your precious soldiers. Where am I going?" she hissed, her eyes blazing hot. "I'm going home."

Home. The place she abandoned, dragging Cassidy along with her, for the promise of safety and security.

"You can't." Bennett released his hold on her arm, his face softening. "Don't you understand? It's anarchy out there. The people have gone into panic mode and without the safety of the Military.."

"Safety? They're dead you son of a bitch!" She shoved him hard. It was like pushing a mountain.

He stepped back, not from the force of her push, but to give her space, give her time. "The Military still needs you."


"We lost twenty percent of our Carriers at Red River," he explained.

The realization dawned on her, what Bennett was asking of her. She placed a hand over her mouth to stifle the giggle rising in her throat. "You have got to be kidding me?"

"I'm not." Bennett walked back behind his desk, secure Katherine wouldn't bolt. He pulled a folder from inside a drawer and placed it on the desk. "Have you seen your kill record? You've killed more of them than any soldier with a gun. And we need people like you, Katherine." His voice was softer, almost imploring her. "I've got soldiers deserting left and right to search for family. Now that word of the Reapers has spread, no one wants to enlist. I'd find more Carriers, but they've practically gone into hiding. And it'll take months to create more carrier tests.

"Look, I know I failed you.. before but it'll be different this time around, you have my word. Besides," he added, "what more have you got to lose?"

Bennett was right, it was different. She had a room of her own instead of a dirty mattress on an even dirtier floor. This time she had a room with a shower with actual running hot water, a tiny kitchenette, a bed. She was provided with blankets with no holes in them, meals served in the chow line that actually left her feeling full.

It was different, but it was still the same. She was a Hot House whore. The room accommodations and meals may have been better, the attitudes towards her, and those like her, were not.

The days ticked by, slow and excruciating until the days turned to weeks. After the third month, Katherine stopped counting. The drugs helped, little vials of clear liquid cooked in back alleys and basements, one drop left her in a fugue state that lasted for hours.

Katherine had drugs and she had sex. She wandered the streets, the parks, the abandoned buildings that weren't quite so abandoned. They were always there, always looking for a thrill, looking for a taste, looking for what Katherine gave them in ample supply – blood and sex and death.

There were occasional men, but mostly women; women with dark hair and dark eyes, women that reminded Katherine of Gina if she closed her eyes and imagined hard enough. At night, she fucked and came and thought of Gina. In the day, she cried and thought of Cassidy.

And Katherine had had enough. She was tired of merely existing, of wandering the earth in a dream state wanting something she could no longer have.

All she wanted now was death. She knew exactly how to get it. She'd end this life, the life of a whore, the way it had started. It wouldn't be easy. It only took a few gulps of Katherine's blood for the virus to take affect but she knew where to find lovers, knew exactly where to find a lot of them.

"Aww," she paused with a sneer. "Did you think you were special or something? You were the fifth I'd had that night. I'd been drained of enough blood, I knew all it would take was one more and it'd be over."

"But you stopped?" Jennifer interjected, still stung by the realization that there hadn't been anything between them other than Katherine's death wish. "Why?"

Katherine's eyes flashed angrily. "Why? Maybe I didn't wanna go out with your fingers in my cunt and your fangs in my thigh? Who knows. I was fucking high, okay?" She took a long swig from the bottle, downing the last of the whiskey.

"But.. you didn't just tell me to stop, you told me to run."

"Maybe I was just fucking tired of death. For fuck's sake, haven't you heard a word I've said? This isn't about you?"

Jennifer rose from her seat at the table, crossed over to the sink. She pressed her palms onto the surface, leaning her weight forward as if she expected at any moment for her legs to go out from under her. "I lost everything."

"Yeah?" Katherine sneered, wiping her mouth with the back of a hand. "Join the club."

"I think you should leave."

"It's still dark outside."

"Katherine," Jennifer growled. "I said you should leave. I'm starting to get.. angry." She turned around, her fangs already extended. "And you smell like blood."

"What do a human and a beer bottle have in common?" Carlton Blake grinned widely at his daughter.

"I don't know, Dad," Jennifer responded with an exaggerated groan. "What do a human and a beer bottle have in common?"

"They're both empty from the neck up." Despite the rain, Carlton tipped his wide-brimmed cowboy hat back to see his daughter's reaction. "C'mon, that was funny. Admit it."

"I'm not admitting anything."

"You know I got a hundred more, right? What do you call a zit on a human's ass?" He didn't wait for Jennifer's reaction. "A brain tumor!"

He guffawed loudly, exaggerating the noise with a booming rumble. A storm had passed through and they'd spent the remainder of the night fixing up fences along the edge of their property. Carlton could have done it alone, but he always enjoyed the company of his daughter. Even if she didn't like his bad jokes.

"Hey Dad?" she asked, handing him a pair of pliers. "Mom says you're going to the city tomorrow?"

Carlton took the pliers and began the process of bending the barded wire attached to the newly fixed fence. "Yeah?"

"Can I come?"

He paused, eyeing her suspiciously. "Don't you have school tomorrow?"

"Yeah but.."

"And don't you have a test tomorrow?"

Jennifer answered with silence. Carlton chuckled softly. "Nice try, kid."

"C'mon, Dad. It's nothing I can't make up. Besides, it's so boring here. I've never been to the city before." She was whining now and she knew it. "I've never been outside Eagle Pass."

"Boring's good. Boring's safe. Look," Carlton set down his pliers. He turned towards his daughter and placed a hand on her shoulder. "One day, I promise, I'll take you into the city. But you're not old enough." He could feel her tense under his touch and he squeezed softly. "When you're old enough, we'll go together."


"Soon. Now," he released his hand and moved back towards fixing the fence. "How can you tell a human's lying?"

"I don't know," Jennifer sighed, forcing a smile onto her lips. "How?"

"Because their lips are moving."

"You've got a lot of fucking nerve!"

It had been three weeks since Jennifer had seen Katherine. Now, the woman stood on Jennifer's doorstep. Jennifer had begun to see Arthur and Betty's place as her own. When she no longer felt creeped out by sleeping in their bed. Katherine's arrival felt like an intrusion. She pushed the door closed, intending to slam it in Katherine's face. Katherine held out a hand to stop it.

"Please," she said. "I need your help."

"Are you fucking serious?" Jennifer glared at her. "Why the fuck should I help you?"

"Because," Katherine answered. "I can help you get the cure."

Jennifer's hands were shaking. Part of it was rage, the other was from hunger. Katherine brought her a peace offering - a six-pack of synth. Which Jennifer guzzled with an almost frenzied hurry, going through two bottles before the shakes even thought about subsiding.

She'd run out of her own synthetic blood twelve days ago. Subsisted on the apples growing on the tree in the backyard and the few canned goods she'd found while scavenging. When the hunger became too much, Jennifer sank her teeth into her own flesh. But, rather than replenishing her, it made her weak. Her wounds no longer healed within minutes and now her arms were dotted with her own teeth marks and ugly darkened veins. She thought about hunting, finding a human and feeding. But she didn't trust human blood anymore.

She didn't trust the humans not to be tainted.

Leaning against the counter in the kitchen, Jennifer took a long pull from her bottle. Katherine stood on the other side of the kitchen, leaning against the wall. She was dressed differently, well, dressed in actuality in a pair of faded denim jeans and a well-worn plaid shirt.

"There's a fucking cure?"

"Yes," Katherine answered. She folded her arms nervously across her chest. "When they made the virus, they made an, I guess you'd call it, anti-virus. Whatever. Anyway, in the beginning, some people got really sick. Couldn't handle it. In the long run, they used more virus than anti-virus and there's still some left."

"Fuck! And you're telling me this now? Why didn't you say something before?"

"I don't know. I guess I didn't think you'd believe me."

"Bullshit." Jennifer paused, set her half-empty bottle on the counter. "So where can I find this cure?"

"I'll tell you," Katherine tilted her head down, pointing her eyes towards the floor. "But only if you help me."

Jennifer was angry now. Again. It flared up within her and burst outwards like a sun gone supernova. Her fangs snapped out, eyes saw red as she launched herself across the room. She slapped both palms against the wall on either side of Katherine's head, the surface cracking hard under the impact, plaster and dust raining down over the two of them. An intoxicating cloud of fear roiled off Katherine. Jennifer wanted to rip her open, fuck her 'til she screamed, sink her fangs into her neck and bleed her dry.

"Why the FUCK should I help you?"

"Because," Katherine choked. "Cassidy's alive."

Just like that the rage quickly followed by the hunger was gone. Jennifer pulled back. "What?"

Hands trembling, Katherine reached into her pocket and pulled out an envelope. "I got a letter. I always told Cassidy, if we were ever separated, if anything ever happened, she was supposed to go home. Our real home. She wasn't even in Red River when the attacks happened. I don't know how she made it, but she did."

Jennifer stared at the envelope in Katherine's hand like it was some kind of alien. She wasn't a monster; she knew how much Katherine's sister meant to her but she also knew this news came attached with strings. "What do you need me for?"

Katherine refolded the letter and tucked it back into her pocket. "Cassidy's in Silver Forks," she exhaled, running a hand through her hair. "It'd take me two weeks if I only went through human territory. But if you drove.." she dared to tilt her head up and gaze into Jennifer's eyes. "It'd only be a couple days."

The humans had a sliver of territory on the coast that Jennifer's kind didn't venture into. There was more territory they claimed deeper inland, but it was cut off by a large swath of heavily defended enemy land. Land Jennifer could easily venture into and across unabated.

"I can't fucking believe you," Jennifer snorted. "You infect me, leave me to rot and now you expect ME to help YOU."

"Not me, my sister. Please," she placed a hand on Jennifer's hip, leaning closer, her nose edging along Jennifer's cheek. "There's no one else who can help me. I'm desperate Jennifer and I'll do anything." With that, Katherine clasped a hand around Jennifer's wrist and brought it up in the space between them. She placed the pads of Jennifer's fingers onto her lips, opened them slightly, let Jennifer feel the warmth of her breath, poking her tongue between her lips and letting it graze lightly over the pad of Jennifer's index finger.

Jennifer wasn't an idiot, well, not completely anyway. She knew what 'this' was. No matter how much she wanted it to be real, no matter how much the 'hunger' cried out for more, because Jennifer wanted more. She wanted to take Katherine against the wall, on the dirty kitchen floor, on Arthur and Betty's worn and aged mattress, wanted to fuck and bite and consume her until it killed them both. Katherine wanted Jennifer's help and Katherine was willing to pay any price.

But, no matter how much the hunger clawed at her gut, twisted her insides and clenched her pussy, no matter how much Jennifer wanted to make Katherine pay, and pay, and pay, Jennifer wasn't that kind of person.

She pulled her hand away from Katherine's mouth, stepped backwards, away from Katherine's heat – inside and outside. There was no more fear oozing from her pores, it didn't make her any less intoxicating.

"I'll take you to your sister if you show me where to get the cure. I don't need or want," she paused as the lie rolled off her lips, "anything else from you."

"Are you sure about this?" Jennifer squatted down behind the dumpster.

"No," Katherine answered. "But it's not like we have a choice. Look," she added, trying to ease Jennifer's fears. "I know these guys. They're not the sharpest pencils in the box. Just.. stay here and don't make a sound."

She rose quickly, not waiting for an answer and headed towards the street. They were hidden in an alley off the main road. The soldier's encampment was less than five blocks away. At the crosswalk, under a broken stoplight barely hanging on a wire was a checkpoint that consisted of one rusted truck and two soldiers.

Katherine said she knew them from the camp. The plan was simple - Katherine would talk her way back into the camp, steal a vehicle and the two of them would be on their way. Easy right? Except for the small fact that Katherine was AWOL.

Jennifer dared to peer over the top of the dumpster. Katherine walked towards the two men. The larger of the two, leaning against the grill and smoking a cigarette, tossed his cigarette to the ground and stomped towards Katherine. Jennifer could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand on edge.

Something wasn't right.

The soldier grabbed Katherine by the shirt, spun her around and slammed her back against the passenger's door. He grabbed her throat as he pressed his weight against her. She saw Katherine's lips move, couldn't hear her words over the wind and the rain. Whatever she said, the soldier didn't like. He released his hold on her neck then backhanded her across the face.

Jennifer saw red. A switch turned on and the rage flowed through her, red and hot and angry. She streaked towards them. The soldier never saw her coming, one second his fist was sinking into Katherine's gut, the next he was flying into a wall. His skull cracked and split open against the hardened cement like a watermelon shot from a canon. The other soldier scrambled towards his gun. Jennifer leapt onto the hood of the SUV, hissing loudly then sprang onto him. She clamped a hand onto his mouth, twisting his head violently to the side then sank her teeth into his neck.

She'd heard about bloodlust, had been warned against it. But, like many things they'd told her, no one told Jennifer just how good bloodlust felt. It felt good to let go, to give in to the desires bubbling beneath the surface every time she tasted blood. Desires she was told were wrong, dirty, evil. She sank her teeth into the soldier's neck, the rage rubbing against and charging her desire, the two twisting and coiling together, like a livewire that went from her mouth straight between her legs. She drank and she came with every gulp of the soldier's life-force sliding down her throat.


The sound was like her named being called while deep asleep, heavy and distant.


She felt a hand on her shoulder and Jennifer growled, a dog with a bone and no intention of letting go. The soldier was dead but he was still warm, still full of blood.


Her mouth yanked away from the soldier's neck. She turned and hissed, snapping wildly at the intrusion. Fear. She smelled fear and it smelled delicious. Lunging at Katherine, knocking the blonde off her feet and onto the pavement, Jennifer clambered over Katherine's body. Katherine, who always smelled good - blood and sex and sometimes fear. She pounced on Katherine, pinned her down, stared into her eyes -

And broke.

"Katherine?" She blinked.

The bloodlust dissipated like the air from a popped balloon. She didn't just see Katherine's fear, she saw how Katherine saw her - a monster.

Jennifer slumped over, sliding a hand over her stomach because she suddenly felt sick. She'd never killed anyone before. Now, she had blood on her hands. "I didn't.." she mumbled. "I've never.."

Katherine cautiously scrambled to her feet. She went over to the dead soldier's body, the one Jennifer tossed against a wall and who's body lay in odd angles on the ground, and rifled through his pockets. Pulling out the dead man's keys, Katherine made her way towards the driver's side.

"You coming?"

"You coming?" Jennifer asked. She'd never been with a girl before. Sure, she'd touched herself, enough to burn in Hell in eternity she supposed her pastor would say. But she'd never done it to another girl before. Had never pressed her fingers against warm, wet flesh that wasn't her own.

"Don't stop."

Felicia was nineteen, strawberry blonde with bouncy cheerleader breasts. Jennifer was seventeen and barely filling out the gangly frame that seemed to have spurted like an overgrown root in the past year.

It was summer, the nights were short, the days were long. The time when everyone went a little stir crazy from being inside.

They were never really friends. Felicia hung with the football/cheerleader crowd, with her linebacker boyfriend she subsequently and immediately broke up with after arriving at college. Jennifer wasn't sure how she got into the party, the kind of party returning college kids threw when they returned for the summer.

Now she and the remaining stragglers were stuck there until the sun went down. Jennifer and Felicia alone on a basement couch, still tipsy from cheap beer and pot left over from last summer's party, Jennifer's hand between Felicia's legs.

"Wait!" Felicia gasped, pulling her mouth from Jennifer's. Hands on Jennifer's shoulders, she began pushing. "Go down on me."


"Jason never goes down on me. Says he hates eating pussy." Felicia opened glassy and dilated eyes, lips curling into a seductive grin. "You've eaten pussy before, right?"

Jennifer blushed. "No."

"Don't worry, it's easy," she slurred, licking her lips. "It's just like eating a watermelon."

Jennifer had a crush on Felicia. Hell, everyone had a crush on Felicia. But Felicia had always been nice to Jennifer in ways the other kids at school hadn't. She never teased her, or talked about Jennifer behind her back. They were never friends but she'd never been Jennifer's enemy either.

In that moment, Jennifer realized why. Felicia saw something Jennifer, something she probably saw in herself. Kindred spirits.

She crawled down off the couch, sliding between Felicia's legs. She was slow, tentative and exploratory at first, tracing the tip of her tongue along the smooth lips and delicate creases. Felicia's hand pressed on her head, fingers threading into Jennifer's hair and Jennifer knew she was on the right track. Emboldened, she licked harder and Felicia moaned. Tongue flicking across Felicia's clit and Felicia's hips began to writhe. When she inserted a finger into Felicia's pussy, Felicia's fangs extended and her head rolled backwards.

Felicia was wrong, it wasn't anything like a watermelon. It was much, much better. The smell, the taste, the texture. Jennifer didn't want the sun to go down. She wanted to stay in the tiny basement forever; between Felicia's legs, with Felicia's fingers scraping across her scalp, the sound of her moans filling Jennifer's ears, the feel of her hips writhing on her shoulders, the sensation of Felicia's pussy clenched around her fingers.

Felicia came. Her back arched, body tensing and spasming, a keening moan exhaled off her lips. And the hand in Jennifer's hair, the one urging her forward, was pulling at her to stop.

Jennifer pulled away but just a few inches so as to admire her handiwork and to be ready just in case Felicia wanted to go another round. Because, fuck yeah, she could get used to this.

"Fuck," Felicia groaned followed with a giggle. "You're going to love college."

"I don't think I'm going to college," Jennifer admitted, kissing the inside of Felicia's thigh because it felt like the right thing to do.

Felicia opened her eyes, tilting her head down to look at Jennifer. "Why not?"

Jennifer shrugged. "With my Dad.. gone, Mom needs someone to help with the farm. Some days, I don't think I'm ever gonna get out of this town."

"You will." She reached out her hand, waiting until Jennifer clasped it then pulled the younger woman back onto the couch with her. They kissed slow and gentle until slow and gentle rose to heated passion. Felicia's fingers wormed underneath Jennifer's shirt, fingernails digging into the small of her back, legs wrapping around Jennifer's thighs.

"You'll get out of this shit town," Felicia groaned. "You'll find someone who'll appreciate you."

"You think so?" Jennifer rose up enough to stare down at Felicia's face.


"Good." Jennifer grinned impishly. "Felicia?"


"Can I eat your pussy again?"

"Have you ever been with a woman before?" She was out of place in the seedy dive bar, with her shiny and conditioned dark hair, crisply pressed pin stripe suit and well manicured hands. Hands she used to lift Katherine's chin, forcing Katherine to stare into her eyes.

"I'm not a virgin." Katherine blushed hard, pulling her face from the woman's touch, anything to break the eye contact.

They were in the bathroom now, in a tiny cramped stall barely built for one, let alone two.

"That's not what I asked." She smiled, squinting her eyes slightly, like she was sizing Katherine up. Her hand trailed down Katherine's neck. "How much?" she asked coolly, staring at her fingers as they lightly trailed over Katherine's breast, the nipple now poking hard through the cheap material of her dress.

"Twenty dollars for an hour," Katherine swallowed. "A hundred for the night."

Her eyes snapped upwards, surprised. Then, just as quickly, the cool demeanor returned. "You sell yourself to low." She gently pinched the nipple between her forefinger and thumb, watching Katherine hiss. She leaned closer, pushed her nose along the line of Katherine's ear. "I know people, rich people, who would pay a nice sum for a moment of your time."

Katherine stiffened. "I'm not a whore."

"Did I say you were?"

"This is just a one time thing," Katherine softened, her tone still defensive. "I just need some extra money that's all."

"Like I said," she pressed her body against Katherine's, slid her thigh between the already acquiescing thighs. "I know people more than willing to pay. Men are cheap. Women will treat you right."

"How much.." Katherine could feel her heart hammering. It felt like it would explode from her chest. "How much are you willing to pay?"

She grasped Katherine's hands by the wrists, pulled them up and over her head, pinning them to the wall. "Have you ever been with a woman?" she asked.


"Then name your price." Her hand slid between them. Katherine hissed at the first touch of the woman's fingers between her legs.

"A hundred for the hour." She began to roll her hips, surprised by the reaction of her own body. "A thousand for the night."

The woman smiled then jutted a finger deep and hard into Katherine. Enough to make Katherine's body jolt, enough to make her stand on her tip toes.


It was a rest stop found dotted along the crumbling thoroughfares, with benches and picnic tables and barbeque pits cemented to the ground. Built for families wanting a break from endless driving. Most of that was gone except for the restroom. There'd been attempts at maintenance, some of the stalls still had doors attached to them, the toilets actually flushed and water ran from the sink. But it smelled of piss and shit and ammonia, of abuse and misuse, decay and abandon. Another stark and depressing reminder of the way things used to be.

Jennifer was just glad for the privacy.

Hands balled into fists, she pressed her knuckles down on the counter. She'd been standing before the mirror for a full fifteen minutes but still hadn't dared to look at her reflection, afraid of what she might find staring back at her. She was changing, in ways she didn't comprehend and those she did – stronger, faster, hungrier.

It had been hours since she'd killed the two soldiers, but she still felt their blood on her hands, still smelled their fear, still hungered for their taste.

She heard Katherine's footsteps approaching. Katherine entered the bathroom, stood next to Jennifer and leaned against the counter. Good, Jennifer thought, looking at her means I don't have to look in the mirror.

"Am I turning into a Reaper?"

"What?" Katherine gasped. "No. What makes you think that?"

"I'm supposed to be sick. I don't feel sick. I feel.. stronger."

"You've been infected for months. If you were gonna turn into a Reaper, it would have happened already. You're just reacting to.. what happened back there."

"Reacting?" She clenched her fists tighter, could feel her nails digging into the palms of her flesh. "I fucking killed them!"

"And they would have killed me if you hadn't done anything," Katherine stated matter-of-factly, not wanting to fuel Jennifer's already emotional state. "You did the right thing."

Jennifer snorted.

"Well," Katherine added. "At least I appreciated it."

A tense silence filled the air. Katherine uncertain what to say next. She fished into her pocket and pulled a pack of cigarettes found in the glove box. It was new, still wrapped in plastic. Katherine tapped it on her open palm, before tearing off the cellophane and pulled a cigarette between her fingers. She held it there for several moments, as if the allure had abated.

"I lost my virginity when I was fifteen."

"Yeah," Jennifer mumbled, not impressed. "So did I."

"Did you lose yours to a 45-year-old trucker for a pack of smokes and twenty bucks?" Jennifer didn't answer. Katherine continued. "Don't get all sad-faced on me, it was over in under five minutes." She sighed then placed the unlit cigarette back into the pack and tucked it into her pocket. "I'm not saying I'm Polly Perfect or anything. I've done some bad shit and I've fucked and fucked over a lot of people."

Jennifer lifted her head to stare at Katherine, Katherine continued staring at the wall. "Why are you telling me this?"

"I don't know." Katherine shrugged. "Maybe because you were right. All anyone saw of me, all they ever wanted from me was a pair of tits and a piece of ass. They took what they wanted and to hell with what I wanted. You were different."


"Why do you think I came to you for help?" She stepped behind Jennifer, her reflection appearing over Jennifer's shoulder in the mirror. "Because I knew you were the only one who would help me."

"That's not true."

"It is." She rested her chin on Jennifer's shoulder, her hands on the swell of Jennifer's hips. "In my experience, people are selfish and self-absorbed. But not you. You could have killed me that night.. Should have killed me," she added as her body moved in closer, molding against Jennifer's. Her lips moved closer to Jennifer's ear. "But you didn't. You're special, Jennifer. I knew it that night in the park. Even when I knew I shouldn't, I couldn't stop thinking about you."

Jennifer felt Katherine's breasts against her back and the steadily increasing heartbeat underneath her chest; felt Katherine's hands as they slid under Jennifer's shirt and wrapped around her waist.

"Katherine," Jennifer swallowed hard. Something wasn't right. Katherine was warm, and getting warmer. Her touch was soothing, intimate and arousing. The fingers of one hand unbuttoned the fly of Jennifer's jeans while the other moved upwards and cupped a breast. "We can't do this." Jennifer shivered at the sensation of fingertips running over the delicate curls between her legs. Mouth opening to allow room for her extending fangs.

"Why not?" Katherine whispered, flicking her tongue across Jennifer's earlobe.

"Because it's.."


"Dangerous." Jennifer replied, gazing into the eyes of Katherine's reflection. Eyes that weren't staring at Jennifer but at herself.

"Biting me is dangerous," Katherine's reflection answered. "Fucking you isn't. I don't know what will happen tomorrow but, right now, we have tonight. Maybe that's all we have. Right now, I want to show you how much I care for you if you'll let me."

Jennifer couldn't say no if she wanted to. Katherine's fingers were inside her, stroking her with a short, staccato rhythm that cut the air from Jennifer's throat, made her grip the counter hard from legs suddenly turned to hard jelly. Katherine pinched her nipple with a vice-like hardness. Jennifer cried out as the pain streaked through her body and pooled between her legs.

Then she felt Katherine's teeth on her neck, hard enamel scraping at her skin, digging into her flesh. Jennifer reached up and thread her fingers into Katherine's hair, urging her on, wishing Katherine had fangs to sink into her neck.

It was like all the tension building within her over the last few months - the fear, the anxiety, the rage and hunger - all that energy drew itself inwards, to that place where orgasms were created, wrapping and tightening around Jennifer's core and coiling around Katherine's fingers connected by a livewire where Katherine's teeth dug into Jennifer's neck.

When Katherine's teeth broke through the skin, Jennifer came.

She collapsed her elbows onto the counter and followed with her weight. Drops of blood, her own blood, spattered into the sink. Jennifer rose her head to stare at Katherine's reflection in the mirror.

Katherine, her fingers still stroking inside Jennifer as her freehand gently caressed up and down Jennifer's back, continued staring at herself.

"This is your home town?" Katherine gawked, easing the vehicle down to the speed limit. "No wonder you fucking left."

Jennifer chuckled from her hiding space on the floor of the backseat. It would have been faster to just cut straight across from the city to the human border, less than a night's drive. But that space of land was treacherous - for both sides. Which meant heading south and then east. Which meant driving through Jennifer's home town and praying to God no one stopped them.

"It's not that bad," Jennifer sighed.

"The fuck it isn't. I mean, for fuck's sake, there's a Mickey-Mart. A Mickey-Mart! I haven't seen one of those in years! Oh my GOD!" The car slowed even more as Katherine gawked. "Someone actually rode their horse to the bar."

"Would you just drive!" Jennifer yelled from the backseat. Katherine was safe inside the car. For the most part, you couldn't recognize a human from just looking at them. For the most part. Jennifer didn't want to take that chance.

Katherine pressed on the accelerator taking them to the speed limit. Jennifer exhaled a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding.

"Besides, that's just Mr. Carson. He's like a hundred and fifty. My Dad used to say he's been around so long, he met God on his way to create the earth."

Katherine chuckled. "How long do you guys live anyway?"

"I don't know." Jennifer twisted to stretch the kinks building in her back. "I had a great-uncle who lived to 290. But I think he was an exception."

"How old were your parents when they had you?"

"My Dad was 57, my Mom was 52. They'd been trying for thirty years. It's not easy for our kind to reproduce. Females going into heat once every five years probably doesn't help."

"What's it like?" Katherine asked. "Going into heat?"

Tired of the cramped space on the floor, Jennifer crawled onto the back seat. They were almost out of the city limits anyway. She rolled onto her back, tucking her arms behind her head. "What's it like?" she asked aloud then repeated. "What's it like?"

"It's like being a little drunk and in pain at the same time. You feel feverishly warm all over and tipsy, like your senses are all on high alert and dimmed at the same time. All you can focus on is the heat between your legs because you're horny, really fucking horny. Your nipples are so hard they could cut glass, your pussy's always wet, your clit feels like a fucking baseball between your legs screaming to get hit," Jennifer paused to laugh at her own bad pun. "In the beginning, it's easy because, hey, who hasn't been horny before? Then, it starts to hurt because you're still horny as mother-fucking fuck and nothing you do seems to stop it. Until all you think about is fucking. Hell, even when you are fucking, it still hurts because it's like a five-day itch that, no matter what you do, can't be scratched. So, yeah, that's what it's like to be in heat."

"Wow," Katherine replied.


The car rolled to a stop, tires crunching on gravel as Katherine pulled off the road. Jennifer rose to a seated position ready to exit the backseat when Katherine turned to her.

"You've fucked girls in heat, haven't you?"

An impish grin spread across Jennifer's lips. "For four years, eleven months and three weeks, I'm the freak they can't stay far enough away from."

"And that one week?"

"I'm the freak they can't get enough of. Better to fuck the freak who likes girls than risk getting pregnant by the Mickey-Mart clerk."

The two exited from their positions in the car. Jennifer stood on the roadside, stretching her arms above her head, flexing and un-flexing her muscles.

"So?" Katherine slid onto the backseat. "When do you go into heat?"

"Thankfully," Jennifer hopped behind the wheel, pulling the seat back an inch. "Not anytime soon."

Katherine stretched languidly across the plush mattress. Rolling onto her side, she propped her head with one hand while the other lazily caressed the still warm but empty side of the bed.

Lisa had been right - women were willing to pay a nice sum for a moment of Katherine's time. It wasn't exactly a life of luxury but it was certainly better than anything Katherine had before. While other women paid, Lisa didn't - a fact Lisa considered a waist of Katherine's considerable 'talents', not that it stopped her from opening her door or her bed when Katherine came calling. Still, Lisa was an excellent mentor even if the student was beginning to surpass the teacher.

Lisa sat before an antique vanity, applying her makeup. She was older, with wavy brown hair, dark eyes and distinguished features.

"You ever fucked one of them?" Katherine asked.

Lisa lowered her eyeliner pencil, her eyes finding Katherine in the mirror. "One of who?"

"One of them, you know, a vampire?"


Katherine felt her heart skip at the revelation. "What was it like?"

Lisa paused, thinking about the question then chuckled softly. "Like fucking a virgin with fangs."

Katherine rose from the bed, crossing the room to straddle Lisa's lap, draping her arms over the older woman's shoulders. "What do you mean?"

"For the most part, they're just like us. Some are experienced, some are inexperienced and most are somewhere in between. But most have never seen a human up close, let alone had a sexual experience with one. So they can get a bit.. overzealous. I knew a woman once who let a vamp go down on her and didn't survive to tell the tale. We found her a day later, still lying on her back with puncture wounds in her thigh."

"You ever been bitten?"

"Yes. Careful," she pulled her face away from Katherine's approaching lips. "Don't ruin my makeup. Why the sudden interest?"

"I've heard some things." Katherine found a spot on Lisa's neck and began gently suckling.

"Such as?"

"Such as how much they'll pay for some quality time with a human."

"Not a good idea. We can't afford to lose an.. asset such as yourself to an overzealous customer."

"Oh, I don't have to worry about that."

"Why not?"

"I'm a Carrier."

"Really?" Lisa pulled back, staring into Katherine's face. Katherine could practically see the wheels spinning inside Lisa's head. "In that case, there's someone I'd like to introduce you to."


"Seriously?" Katherine groaned. They'd been driving for hours. Well, technically, Jennifer was the one driving while Katherine stayed hidden in the backseat. After the first hour, she was bored out of her skull. The radio was dead, Jennifer didn't have any cd's and, apparently, Katherine's singing skills weren't up to Jennifer's standards.

She tried drifting off to sleep. But she was too wired. Her thoughts drifted to the past, to Lisa, to her favorite clients and all the things she loved to do with and to them. And suddenly -

Katherine was horny.

Jennifer hadn't returned the favor after their tryst in the bathroom. Katherine hadn't minded at the time but now she was starting to feel it. She thought about her past lovers. She thought about Jennifer; the lithe lean feel of her body, the way it coiled with tension, like she was fighting not to give in. Katherine thought about the dead soldiers and how quickly and easily Jennifer killed them. Thinking back, Katherine should have been horrified. Jennifer was one of 'them'. The enemy. But Katherine had been close to the enemy enough to know there was more lurking underneath the surface.

She touched Jennifer on the shoulder, Jennifer pounced on Katherine. Then, seeing Katherine's face, she recoiled. Jennifer thought she saw fear on Katherine's face. Katherine knew differently. She saw Jennifer and Katherine saw 'power' - raw, unbridled power. Not like the soldiers or the politicians, who's power was given and as opposed to earned. Jennifer was pure power.

And she was all Katherine's.

"You guys have a heightened sense of smell, right?" In the darkness of the backseat, Katherine's lips had curled into a seductive smile.

"I don't know," Jennifer answered back. "I guess."

"Can you smell me?"

There was a pause. "Yeah. Why?"

"Because," Katherine purred. "I'm about to start touching myself."

The car slowed then sped up again. "What?" Jennifer asked.

"I'm horny," Katherine giggled. "I was thinking about you and me back at the rest stop and how we never got to finish what we started. Well, I'm finishing it."


She could hear the purr in Jennifer's voice, all 'you're not about to do what I think you are' and turned on.

"You guys have heightened hearing too, right? Because this," she paused as a soft pop filled the air, "is the button of my fly coming undone. And this? This is my zipper going down."

It was crazy and stupid and probably dangerous because she was a human being driven through enemy territory. An enemy that could probably smell her a mile away. But she kept thinking of Jennifer. Imagined her hands tightening around the steering wheel as the sweat built on her palms. The way she licked her lips when she became aroused, the way her eyes dilated and fangs extended. She thought about Jennifer's teeth in her thigh, the heady rush as the blood pulled from her, how it felt like sex and death and yet Katherine had never felt so alive.

"Do you want me to tell you how wet I am?" Katherine moaned as her fingers met her flesh. "Or can you smell it?"

Her other hand slid urgently under her shirt, finding a breast, squeezing the nipple painfully. She moaned again because, yeah, she was getting into it now. It hadn't been *that* long but it'd also felt like forever.

"I wish you weren't infected. Did I tell you how good it felt when you bit me? I'd never come that hard before," she paused, back arching as her fingers found *that* spot.

The car slowed to a halt. Katherine stilled her fingers. She was close. She could finish herself off but she really wanted Jennifer to do it.

"I really want you to make me come."

"Quiet!" Jennifer barked.

"Seriously?" Katherine groaned. "You ready to come back here and finish me off?"

"I said SHUT UP!" Jennifer yelled and Katherine froze at the tension in Jennifer's voice. "There's something wrong," Jennifer added, lowering her voice to a whisper.

Katherine jolted upright in the backseat. They were on a two-lane road lined with thick, leafy trees on either side impenetrable under the moonless sky.

"What is it?" Katherine asked, heart beating a million miles per minute.

"There." Jennifer pointed with a nod of her head.

A half-mile up the road, it curved softly to the left. The pavement disappearing behind the thick forest. Through the thick growth, the silhouette of a car barely visible from a single working headlight.

Jennifer shifted the car into reverse, turning the wheel.

"What are you doing?" Katherine placed her hand on Jennifer's shoulder.

"I don't like this. I'm going around."

"Around?" Katherine shifted until she hovered in the space between the two front seats. "We can't go around."

"Why not?"

"Because going back means another 150 miles."

"Yeah, a safe 150 miles."

"That'll take us back into the towns, back onto the highways and back onto someone's potential radar. That," she pointed with her finger, "is just a wreck that'll take us two minutes to drive around."

Jennifer clenched her jaw, rubbing her chin with the back of a hand. "This is crazy."

"No. Crazy is driving cross country with a human jerking off in your back seat. This is just driving around a fender bender and pretending you didn't see it."

The death grip Jennifer had on the steering wheel tightened. "That's more than a goddamned fender bender! What if they need help? What if they've already called for help and there's a bunch of police coming down that road."

Exasperated, Katherine slapped the back of Jennifer's seat with her hand. "What if, what if, what if, WHAT IF!! What if the police are coming from the opposite direction? For fuck's sake, Jennifer! Aren't you tired of being afraid?"

With that, Jennifer put the car in gear. She was afraid, and tired, and frustrated at a world that had stacked the odds against and kept upping the ante every day. What was a little more?

Jennifer drove slowly, cautiously, keeping their car as close to the edge of the road as possible. The one headlight grew brighter, the silhouette buried in the deep grass turned into a pickup truck. It's front end bashed and crumped as it hit a tree stump buried in the ditch. Steam lifted from the broken radiator.

"That's.." Jennifer gasped, slowing the car to a crawl. "That's Mr. Harris' truck."

"What are you doing?" Katherine hissed. She already knew what Jennifer was doing. Jennifer was stopping the car and Jennifer was getting out.

Katherine scooted across the backseat, opening the passenger door and stepping out onto the road. The air had an eerie stillness to it, like the world had been put on pause and nothing moved.

Jennifer edged closed to the crashed pickup. Looking past the bed, she could see where it had careened off the road, the tire tracks leaving deep gouges in the earth illuminated by the red of the tail lights.

"Jennifer!" She ignored Katherine's voice as the blonde yelled angrily at her. "Get back in the fucking car!"

The feeling of 'wrongness', the feeling that had forced Jennifer to stop the car, grew within her. The hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on edge. Her heart rate increased with every step that brought closer towards Mr. Harris' truck. But she couldn't stop. She knew him. She *knew* him. He sold her Dad feed at the store. She went to school with his son. Everything normal that Jennifer used to be, the familiarity of home, of someone she saw almost every day, neither family nor friend but a casual stranger that sometimes filled the pages in the book called Jennifer's life - that's what called to her and made her step closer when every instinct inside screamed for her to stop.

The front windshield was gone. Shards of shattered glass rimmed the edges. There was a lump in the front seat, hidden by the darkness of the night and obscured by the shadows created from the sole headlight. She took another step and the coppery scent hit her like a punch to the gut. Blood. Rich, thick, fresh. Jennifer's eyes fluttered and she swooned on her feet. She'd never smelled so much blood in her life. Her mouth opened, the scent washing over her tongue causing her fangs to extend. Stomach clenching, the desire tickled her insides.

Then, something moved.

It snapped Jennifer from her haze. She froze, suddenly coming to her senses, remembering her sense of dread. Her sense of fear. Heart beating so loud the pulse pounded against her eardrums.

She stepped closer.

"Mr. Harris?"

The lump moved. A white face snapped up from the darkness, its mouth and chin covered in blood, Mr. Harris' blood. She could see him now, what was left of him.

Another blood covered face lifted from the darkness. Together, they hissed at Jennifer, exposing rows of sharp, angry teeth. Exposing a hunger that hadn't been sated.

"REAPERS!" Jennifer turned on her heel and ran. She saw Katherine standing between the passenger door and the backseat, the angry look on her face melting into sheer panic. She didn't wait for Jennifer, ran to the open driver's door and shoved herself behind the wheel.

Jennifer grabbed the handle to the passenger's door just as the vehicle bolted forward, wheels screaming as Katherine hit the gas hard. She squeezed herself into the backseat, boot dragging on the pavement as the inertia slammed the door onto her leg.

Something slammed against the door and Jennifer howled as something snapped in her leg.

Katherine slammed harder on the accelerator. The military vehicle tipped onto two wheels as she took the soft curve hard. Jennifer screamed again as the vehicle righted itself, slamming back down onto all four wheels.

"OH FUCK!!" Katherine yelled. The headlights pierced through the darkness of the road. There were two bodies, at least what she thought were bodies. She couldn't see them from the Reapers covering them like jackals at a feast. Their pale faces turned towards the oncoming car, mouths opening, their piercing screams shattering the silence of the night.

They jolted towards their feet, running towards the oncoming car with no fear, just anger and hunger.


Flesh versus steel, the SUV rattled as it hit one, then another. One bounced off the hood, cracking the windshield before it rolled off.

Katherine kept going, kept her foot on the gas. She drove like a bat out of Hell until the two-lane road widened into four. Until she saw lights and buildings in the distance. They may have still been in enemy territory but better the enemy you know.

She eased the car's speed back down to the speed limit, suddenly remembering that she wasn't alone. She dared a look through the rearview mirror into the backseat.

"Jennifer?" she asked. No answer. "JENNIFER!"

Slowing down and pulling the car over to the side of the road, the SUV finally rolled to a stop. She pushed open the door, stepping onto the road before moving back towards the passenger's side. There was a dark smear and deep scratches into the paint. Katherine pulled the sleeve of her jacket down over her hand to keep from touching the blood covering the handle. She clambered into the backseat, crawling over Jennifer's unconscious body.

"Jennifer?" She patted the brunette on the face. Another non-answer. "JENNIFER!"


Do you know why Lisa sent you to me?"

Her name was Carmen. Lisa had told Katherine the woman was in her seventies but, to Katherine, she didn't look a day over forty; lustrous, brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and curves in all the right places that made Katherine feel inadequate. She didn't bother to hide her nature, keeping her fangs extended even during conversation.

It had taken all of Lisa's connections to smuggle Katherine into enemy territory. Into a penthouse suite with real silk sheets, champagne poured into crystal glasses and a concierge more than willing to look the other way.

Carmen didn't bite Katherine the first time they'd had sex, or the second. By the third day, Katherine was beginning to wonder what exactly she'd walked into.

She continued her slow strip tease, standing between Carmen's legs as the woman sat on the antique lounger, stripping down to the expensive lingerie Carmen had purchased before she paused to answer Carmen's question.

"Lisa said you wanted to bite a Carrier."

Carmen laughed, placing a hand on Katherine's thigh and unsnapping the garter. "I like to live dangerously but not that dangerously."

Katherine stilled the seductive sway of her hips, gazing down curiously at the older woman. "I don't understand."

Carmen worked her way to the other garter. "You're good. I will give you that, but you're not perfect."

"What do you mean?"

"Do you know what it is I do for a living?" Katherine shook her head. Carmen smiled, running her hands up the back of Katherine's thighs and pulling her closer. "I'm an actress."

"This was all a test?"

"Something like that. Lisa was right," she ran her fingers under the garter, pulling Katherine's panties down her hips. "You do have potential."

Katherine smirked as she stepped out of her panties. "I get the job done."

"Yes, but that's all you do. You play the part. You don't become the part." She pulled Katherine onto her lap, hands sliding up her back and working on the clasp of her bra. "I've been watching you."

"You've been more than watching."

"True," Carmen smiled. "You thought I wanted to bite a Carrier. While you've given, you've not once attempted to make me bite you. You're just playing the part, not becoming. I see the ambition in your eyes. What I don't see is the willingness to do what it takes to get there."

"I think I'm more than willing."

"You give your body," Carmen tilted her head down, clasping her lips around a nipple. She suckled and teased, then pulled away. "But you give nothing else."

"What else is there to give?"

"Give not just what they want, Katherine, but what they need."

"Acting?" Katherine licked her lips. It was getting very hard to concentrate. She understood Lisa a bit better, realized Lisa had taught her everything she could. Now, it was time for the next lesson. And Carmen was an excellent tutor.

"Yes. You'll be amazed at what they'll give you when you give them what they need. Money, power, anything you want, anything you desire.." Carmen pushed and pulled Katherine with her hands, turning the younger woman around on her lap, Katherine's back pressed against Carmen's breasts. She cupped a breast as her other hand lowered between Katherine's legs, her nose nuzzling against Katherine's ear. "If he is unfortunate in the looks department, don't just tell him he's the most handsome man in the world, *look* at him as such. If he's poor, make him feel like the richest man in the world. And if she wants to bite a Carrier," Carmen ran the tip of her tongue up the line of Katherine's neck. "You act as if nothing else in the world matters but feeling those sharp teeth sinking into your flesh."

"Acting huh," Katherine panted. "Sounds a lot like lying."

Carmen purred into Katherine's ear. "Who says it's not?"

A groan filled the silence, low and mournful. It took Jennifer a moment to realize the groan was hers. Her eyes fluttered open, immediately snapping closed at the sudden jolt of pain piercing her skull.

Waiting until the pain subsided, Jennifer tried again, opening her eyes slowly, letting the adjust to the darkness of the room. Slowly, the memories came back to her. Mr. Harris. The Reapers. Her broken leg.


She rose onto her elbows, swooning a sudden wave of nausea. She remembered Katherine half-carrying, half-dragging her into a room then laying her on a bed. Jennifer had passed out again when Katherine had reset her leg, pulling the bone back under her skin. She didn't know how long she'd been passed out, it could have been days, it could have been weeks.

But the bed was soft, clean aside from the rank smell of Jennifer's own sweat and dried blood. A motel, Jennifer recognized. Her eyes scanned the room, the small tv sitting on the wide dresser, a satchel filled with the only items she had in a chair, the empty cans of synth Katherine had force-fed her during Jennifer's delirium scattered across the table.

"Katherine?" Jennifer called out, knowing she was alone in the room.

Grabbing one of the few unopened cans of synth on the nightstand next to her, Jennifer popped the tab and guzzled hurriedly. It was warm, bitter stale and probably weeks after its expiration date. But it cleansed her cotton mouth and eased the nausea turning her stomach.

Headache abating, Jennifer went about the task of examining her broken leg. She winced, remembering the pain of the car door slamming across her calf, frantically jerking and pulling on her leg to get it inside the speeding vehicle. The pain had been excruciating, worse than anything she'd ever felt before in her life. Now, it was nothing more than a dull throb.

Jennifer pulled back the sheets. Her left leg was propped up on a pillow, wrapped in acres of bandages and a homemade splint from her knee to her ankle. It took her a half hour to unwrap her leg, pausing every couple minutes in her weakened state to regain her strength.

The bandages completely removed, Jennifer gasped at the sight of her leg. She expected to find ruined skin, bruised and purpling, signs of infection.

She didn't expect for her leg to be completely healed. The skin was unmarred except for a fading scar where the bone had broken through the skin. She ran her fingers over the small bump where the bone had mended. Jennifer never thought of herself as a fast healer. She'd never broken any bones before but she knew this was unusual. Really unusual.

Jennifer rolled to a seated positing, planting her feet on the floor and gathering her bearings. Then she stood. There was a bite of pain more from atrophied and tired muscles than her leg. But she knew instantly, her leg had healed.

She walked back and forth across the soft carpet. Her stomach began to growl and Jennifer stopped walking next to the nightstand, grabbing another bottle of synth and drinking it a bit more casually than the first one. The synthetic blood tasted just as awful as before but Jennifer started to feel good. Real good. The nausea went away, the weakness in her bones dissolved, replaced with a new found strength. She wondered if the motel had a restaurant, or at least a snack machine. Bouncing on the balls of her feet, she thought about chips and soda and maybe a candy bar.

She thought about the warmth on her leg and how strange it felt compared to the rest of her body. Looking down, her heart stopped for a beat then charged.

A sliver of sunlight shone through a small crack in the curtains. It's beam cut a path across the room, ending just before the bed where Jennifer stood. A strip of white light illuminated Jennifer's calf. She gaped at her leg.

The skin wasn't burning.

She'd played 'Last One Standing'. It had almost killed her once. Yet she continued to stand with her leg in the sun. The minutes ticked by - one, two, five, ten and all she felt was warmth. No burning. No pain.

Her mind whirled with a million thoughts. Was she still dreaming? Was her leg dead? Could she really stand in the sun? The last thought spurred her into motion. She ran towards the window, grabbing the curtains and jerking them open.

Sunlight. Warm, bright sunlight blasted the darkness of the room, bathed across her skin. She stood captivated by the bright yellow ball hanging low in the late-morning sky.

The room faced the nearly deserted parking a lot, behind it was a just as deserted highway with the occasional car passing by. Jennifer stood and stared, transfixed. She could always look outside during the sun hours but not too long before the glare would hurt her eyes and she'd feel the familiar burn across her skin.

Her thoughts drifted to the why's and how's. Her mind drifting back to one person, one name.



"HOLY FUCK!" Gina Cambiessi jumped back almost three feet, stumbling into the table and knocking the empty cans of synth onto the floor. A hand pressing hard against the center of her chest to keep her heart from leaping out. "I thought you said she was fucking dead!"

"I didn't say she was dead," Katherine rolled her eyes. "I said she was dying."

"That doesn't look like dying."

"And what would you know?" Katherine jerked back the sheet covering Jennifer's body, pointing a finger at the heavily bandaged leg. "Look. Her legs all fucked up. It's infected. She's got a fever and I'm sure as shit not taking her to a doctor."

"Yeah, okay," Gina pulled a cigarette, shaking fingers placing it between her lips before she lit it. "So why'd you try to help her?"

"That was before I knew how close you were." She moved towards the dresser, pulling out her clothes and stuffing them into a suitcase. "Whether she lives or dies, I was gonna dump her anyway. That was the plan, right? What's eating your ass?"

Gina leaned back in her seat, the earlier nervousness and shock replaced with a growing anger. "She's one of.. them."


"You didn't tell me she was cute." Gina took a long drag, watching the blue-white smoke drifting from her lips. Her dark eyes darted towards Katherine. "Did you fuck her?"

"Why? Is she any different from all the others? I do what I have to do. So, yeah, I fucked her. I fucked her. I lied to her. And I used her." Katherine walked towards Gina. She placed a hand on the side of Gina's face, leaning down and pressing their lips together. "And I'd do it all again to get back to you. Can you end your pity-party now so we can go somewhere and have a proper reunion?"

Gina smiled, leaning in for another kiss. She rose from her seat, stamping the cigarette out on the table top. She stood at the door, waiting for Katherine as the blonde grabbed the last of her things.

"Forget anything?" Gina asked, opening the door.

Katherine stood in the entranceway, giving one last once over inside the room. Her eyes fell on Jennifer then she turned her head and exited.


Jennifer stood on the cracked sidewalk, face to the sky, pausing to feel the sun on her face. Spring was in the air. In the distance, she could hear birds singing, children somewhere playing, laughing, the backfire of a car. It all sounded so very.. normal.

The house was as she imagined it to be, a two story bungalow with a brick façade and white-rimmed windows. Time, the elements and a general sense of abandonment had taken its toll. The white picket fence that surrounded the property was no longer white. The yard, overgrown with weeds, hadn't seen a lawn mover in years. But there was new life in the house. An SUV sat on the driveway, old but sturdy, its left passenger door dented and covered in scratches. There were also voices inside. Voices Jennifer carried on the breeze that blew across her face.

She hopped over the gate with a fluid and graceful ease. The sidewalk that led to the front porch was more weed than cement. Her footsteps were silent as she stepped onto the porch, avoiding the worn and creaky front steps. The front door gave in with the softest of shoves from her shoulder.

She entered a living room covered in plastic. The sheets yellowed and dusty. The only furniture visible was the couch, empty wine glasses and cleaned plates sat on the table before it. Jennifer paused at a wall covered with framed photographs. A Mom. A Dad. A little blonde girl. Underneath one of the photos, a framed certificate from an elementary school. Katherine Cassidy Emerson typed in bold letters underneath the school name.

The clink of glass turned Jennifer's attentions towards the kitchen. She walked silently down a short hallway that opened to the dining room.

Like the house, Gina Cambiessi looked exactly like Jennifer imagined, brown hair, olive colored skin and deep brown eyes. She stood before the opened refrigerator, drinking from a carton of milk. She froze in that way people do when they realize they're no longer alone.

Turning on her heel, her eyes went wide at the sight of Jennifer standing in the kitchen. "You!" she gasped, dropping the carton at her feet. "You're.."

"Dead?" Jennifer smirked. "Not quite."

Jennifer lunged, pinning Gina to the refrigerator. There was rage and anger and hunger. But it wasn't Gina's blood Jennifer hungered for. Her hands clasped about Gina's head, twisting and snapping her neck with a lightening quickness. She lowered Gina's body to the floor and closed the refrigerator.

"Gina? What's taking so long?" Jennifer froze at the sound of Katherine's voice. Katherine continued, her voice becoming a seductive purr. "If you're that hungry, I have something much, much better to eat."

Jennifer felt her lips pull into a smile as her fangs began to extend. She turned and walked back into the living room. Her steps were intentionally heavy on the stairs, wanting to be heard.

The second story was darker, the bedroom doors all closed except for one at the end of the hall. Light spilled from a gap between the door. The closer Jennifer walked, the scent around her thickened, perfume and sex and Katherine. Her hunger grew, a gnawing, anxious tension coiling in the pit of her stomach.

A shadow drifted behind the gap in the door, then it pulled open. Katherine stood in the entranceway, wearing a black robe and nothing else, a carbon copy of how she looked when Jennifer first met her.

Katherine gasped, bringing a hand up to her face. "Jennifer?"


Katherine's eyes flicked towards the space behind Jennifer. "Where's Gina?"

"Gina," Jennifer sneered. "Gina's with Cassidy."

Quickly, Katherine tried to slam the door. Jennifer was faster. She slammed her shoulder into the barrier, knocking Katherine backwards. Jennifer maintained her momentum, rushing towards Katherine, the two of them tumbling onto the bed.

In a flash, it was over. Jennifer pinned Katherine to the bed, straddling her hips and pinning her arms at the wrists.

"I thought you were dead," Katherine stammered.

"Thought I was dead or left for dead." She watched as Katherine pursed her lips. "You lied to me."

"Everybody lies," Katherine snapped back.

"Everybody," she could hear her father's words echoing in her mind. "Or just humans."

"There really is a cure."

Jennifer chuckled. "You really expect me to believe that?"

Give them what they want, Katherine heard the voice inside her. "Yes."

"Liar," Jennifer leaned down, leaned closer. She could smell the fear on Katherine, real fear. And underneath, she could smell Katherine's arousal. "I've already found a cure."

Katherine's eyes widened.

"I'm stronger," Jennifer continued, nuzzling her nose against Katherine's cheek. "I'm faster. I can walk in daylight. And I owe it all to you. You said I was special. You were right."

"What are you doing to do?"

"You took everything from me. It's my turn to return the favor."

"You can't bite me, remember? I'm a Carrier."

"Honestly, Katherine," Jennifer lifted her face to meet Katherine's eyes. "I don't care."

She sank her teeth into Katherine's neck, growled from the heady rush. Katherine's blood was hot in her mouth but she didn't feel the burn from before, the fire in her veins that had turned to agony. She'd been infected, that much Jennifer knew for sure but something different ran through Katherine's veins.

Katherine cried out, arching her hips into Jennifer. Hands released, she gripped Jennifer's back, pulling her closer. Sex and death and life because, with every draw of Jennifer's lips draining Katherine's life force, Katherine wanted to live. She knew she wasn't a good person. Just a create of nature, who did what she had to to survive.

"I love you," Katherine groaned and she hissed as Jennifer pulled her fangs from Katherine's neck.

"I know," Jennifer breathed into Katherine's mouth. She kissed her deeply, passionately before driving her fangs into Katherine's neck.

The two-story bungalow with the brick façade and white-washed windows burned under the light of the fading sunset. Jennifer walked casually through the scores of people running towards the scene, the sounds of sirens coming closer rang out in the distance. Before, she would have felt like a sheep amongst wolves.

Humans were dangerous. Humans lied. Humans created a virus meant to kill her kind. Ostracized and alone, Jennifer knew she could never go back. She didn't know what she was now, she just knew she was -


The End

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