William’s eyes flickered open. Sundown. Hunger flushed through his body, the intense craving for the sweetest of God’s bounty.
He stood from the bed and walked to the basin in the corner of the room. Once more he’d slept above the covers, slumping into the bed too tired to climb beneath them and sleeping the deep sleep of a dead man. Except for the dream.
He rinsed his face in the basin and looked up into the small mirror above it.
He met his own eyes and saw once more the bed as it had looked that first time: deep red and dreadful. Her eyes had been glazed over, although for an hour after she stopped breathing he could swear they still held the flicker of life.
William dried his hands and face and reached for the lavender water he kept nearby. His hair was no longer greasy, his skin refused to fall away, his body no longer felt the urge to sweat, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t smell nice.
The second time had been worse. She hadn’t fallen unconscious as he sunk his teeth into her neck. After drinking his fill and his mind cleared, he found himself sat before her, blood rushing from her neck, or gurgling up her throat as she tried to talk, and falling out once more from her lips. She had used all her strength to reach out to him, obviously pained, as she slowly died before him. He had wept, rocking slowly back and forth on the bed.
He couldn’t stop himself watching but hated every minute of it.
His ruby red tears had tasted of her.
He pulled a clean white shirt from his wardrobe and put it on over a black t-shirt. His favourite jeans were stilled stained with drinks from his last night clubbing, so instead, he found an older pair, horribly frayed.
He looked at his reflection in the full-length mirror built into the wardrobe door.
The third had been the worst.
Her name had been Clare. He’d actually met up with her a few times and taken her out too. He’d answered the phone and told her he didn’t feel well. He didn’t, he knew it was going to happen again. She’d still turned up to cheer him up. After shouting at her to leave, followed by begging, she’d forced herself into William’s flat. She’d caught herself on the doorframe, and must have cut herself. When he’d blacked out, all he heard was the door slamming. When he woke up, he was staring into the lifeless eyes of his lover. Her skin was entirely pale as if every drop of blood had been removed from her body, although the puddle she was lying in was much too small. The cat had left trails of red footprints all through the living room.
William grabbed his rosary and black velvet jacket and unlocked his bedroom door. In the office outside, Maria had left today’s newspaper. He turned on the computer whilst glancing at the various pieces of tabloid ‘news’.
A handful of businesses were falling apart, Edinburgh Castle was reportedly no longer haunted, and one of the warehouses in the docklands in Leith had burnt to the ground. William tossed the paper back onto the desk and checked the online news.
Various resignations at all levels at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital seemed to be caused by a sudden communal understanding that the bureaucracy simply didn’t work. Most of the people seemed to have been hired at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Building works at an office building in Holyrood continued, as its foundations had been found to be unstable. The work was scheduled to carry on for some time, even working throughout the night and day.
Business as usual, it seemed.
On his way to the door, William stopped before a small alcove in a bookshelf. He lifted his rosary and said a short prayer over three necklaces, still reliving every moment of the three women. His prayers done, he left his office by the front door, heading up the stairs to the bar.