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1 – END RUN
His body was a machine—arms pumping in sync with legs that devoured the damp concrete in long strides. He’d raced through the city for hours, running for his life. Yet his lungs did not heave for air, sweat did not cover his brow, and his heart did not hammer in his chest. His heart did not beat.
Swift and silent, he stuck to the shadows. Except for a few people who glimpsed a blur in their peripheral vision as he zipped past, he sped through the crowded streets unnoticed. He turned left down a side street, fleeing the flickering lamps that spilled dull yellow patches of light on the cracked pavement and the remaining humans who were oblivious to his plight—and what chased him. Another quick left placed him in an alley. He splashed through puddles, the splatter of displaced water the only indication of his presence. The alley dead-ended at a thirty foot block wall.
He slid to a stop and inhaled the damp air. His heightened senses registered their silent approach. They surrounded him, covering the rooftops and blocking his retreat. Their red eyes glowed in the darkness like vultures watching their soon-to-be meal. The hair on his neck rose and he turned to confront his enemy. Their sharp, white teeth glistened in the moonlight.
He glanced at the full moon and exhaled out of habit. Two fatal mistakes marked his two hundred and fifty-five years of life—turning left down this blind alley and falling in love with a mortal woman.
Shadowy figures jumped from the rooftops, their bodies blotting out the sky as they sliced through the air. The cold moon that lit his way in rebirth and remained his constant companion would now witness his final death. A fitting end to a life filled with anguish for not being able to touch her, hold her—to claim her.
Fingers tore into his chest, splintering his ribs in search of his heart. A clawed hand closed around the non-beating muscle and squeezed. He clamped his teeth to prevent the scream from slipping past his lips. Instead, he smiled and watched confusion flash across his tormenter’s face. For an organ that no longer functioned, it produced such an agonizing ache he wished it vanquished from his body.
He spread his arms wide, welcoming the end. A life without her was not worth living. The ancients would have called him foolish. They would have told him his heart contained his emotions, his dreams and desires, and housed the last vestiges of his humanity. But he knew the truth.
“Thank you,” Victor whispered as his enemy yanked the once indispensable thing from his chest. With a suck and pop his fading vision spied the bloodied hand holding the dead remnant of his past. Such a sentimental organ never belonged in the chest of the monster he’d become.
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