WITNESS TO THE FEAST
The vampire introduced himself to Lizzie as Shepherd. He was pale and wiry, with eyes like polished garnets. When Lizzie met him, she was instantly captivated. Shepherd was charming and handsome. He seemed harmless, so when he asked her to leave the party with him, she agreed. She didn’t learn the truth about him, until it was too late, until her life had ended in an explosion of blood and violence.
"Holy shit," said Lizzie, staring at her own corpse. "You’re a fucking vampire!"
Shepherd glanced up, to squint at her ghost. "Yes."
"But you weren’t sparkly at all!"
He shook his head and picked up her corpse, muttering about girls today.
"What are you doing?" demanded Lizzie.
"Covering my tracks," said the vampire.
He carried her out of the alley, into a condemned tenement. There were boards nailed over the windows, but the back door hung off its hinges. Lizzie found herself drifting behind Shepherd, pulled like a child’s balloon on a string.
"Where are we going?"
Shepherd didn’t answer. He carried her down a flight of rickety stairs that groaned in a manner that would have frightened Lizzie when she was alive. Burdened with her corpse, the vampire danced down them, nimble as a cat.
At first, it was utterly black in the building’s basement, but then Lizzie’s vision seemed to adjust to the dark. Things took on a purplish tint. Shepherd didn’t seem to have any problem at all finding his way around.
He went to a wall and pushed. The wall, apparently made of solid bricks, slid open on oiled hinges. Beyond it, a narrow tunnel led away from the basement.
"Where are you taking me?" asked Lizzie.
He didn’t answer.
They followed the tunnel until it reached a dead end that turned out to be another false wall. On the other side, lay the sewer. The smell hit Lizzie like a physical thing. She recoiled in disgust.
"You are not leaving me down here!"
"Hush," said Shepherd. "Stupid, dead girls don’t get to have opinions."
He dropped her body like a bag of wet laundry, then knelt beside it.
"What are you doing?"
Shepherd didn’t answer. He began to strip Lizzie’s corpse. His movements were methodical and practiced.
Watching him do it left Lizzie feeling unnerved. It was worse than her death, which had happened so quickly, so suddenly, she hadn’t had time to feel anything about it at all. But this? This was different, this was intimate and horrible.
Soon, her body was naked. The wounds at her throat and shoulder were raw and awful. Lizzie turned away, unable to bear the sight. Shepherd shoved her clothes into a paper bag, and stood.
"What happens now?" asked Lizzie.
"Recycling," said Shepherd, blandly.
She wondered what he meant until she saw the first rats emerge from the shadows. They were huge creatures, the size of cats, with mad red eyes and naked pink tales.
"Oh God, no. . . ."
The huge rats descended upon her corpse, attacking the pale flesh with their sharp yellow teeth. More of the creatures spilled out of the dark. The tunnel filled with the sound of their feasting.
Shepherd turned his back on the rats’ buffet, and started walking deeper into the sewer. Lizzie, appalled by what was happening to her remains, hurried after him.
She got about a dozen feet before she was stopped. Then, try as she might, she could go no further.
"Shepherd!" she screamed. "Shepherd!"
He did not acknowledge her frantic calls, just walked away, leaving Lizzie trapped in the dark with her corpse and the rats devouring it.