“Literature and most movies have accurately described the speed and strength of the vampire. Few mortals have witnessed a vampire in the fighting mode and lived to tell about it.”
Thaddeus Romans, The Vampires among Us
On a crisp April night, Nessa and I held hands as we walked to Broadway on a narrow side street from a theater on the Upper West Side. Without warning, she pushed me aside and turned toward the alleyway on our left. A dark, hairy form raced at her, emitting a growl that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Nessa ducked, put her hands under its body, and flipped her attacker through the air into a light blue delivery truck. A second dark-haired creature emerged from the same alley, snarling and displaying three-inch-long incisors glistening with saliva. When the second beast tried to bite Nessa, she grabbed the creature’s throat and snapped its head backward. She sank her fangs into its neck and ripped the carotid artery. I gagged at the sight of the blood spurting from the gaping wound.
The first beast rose and was about to charge Nessa when I raced forward to tackle it.
“No!” Nessa yelled, and she put herself between the beast and me. The creature swiped a hairy paw at her head, but she ducked and stepped behind her lethal adversary. The creature tried to turn, but she grabbed its throat and raised the beast two feet into the air. She squeezed its neck until the sounds of bones cracking made me cringe. She let go, and the creature fell to the ground. Nessa closed her eyes and sniffed the air.
“Any more of them?” My thumping heart banged against my ribcage, and perspiration ran down my forehead.
“I don’t smell or hear anything for a quarter of a mile,” she replied. “How do you feel after surviving your first attack by werewolves?”
Nessa inspected the creatures she had killed with such little effort.
“Terrified but happy to be alive.” I stood by her side at the nearest werewolf and examined its paws. Three-inch claws tapering from one inch around at the base to razor-sharp tips made lethal weapons.
“That’s why I screamed at you. I admire your courage, but the creature would have eviscerated you in one swift stroke.”
“I know you’ve told me about the damage werewolves can inflict, but hearing about them isn’t the same as watching them in action.” I shivered at the thought of how easily either of them could have killed me.
She stared at me. “Frank, are you OK?”
“I think so.” My pulse had slowed down, and my lungs no longer screamed for air. I glanced upward at the night sky. “No full moon?”
“They can inject themselves with a serum that enables them to become a werewolf whenever they choose.”
The werewolves terrified me, but the creature Nessa became frightened me almost as much. I stepped back and watched her fangs disappear, and her eyes return to normal.
She stared at me for a moment and then reached out to touch me.
I moved away from her.
“What’s the matter?”
“Seeing you like that and what you did unnerved me.”
“I never wanted you to see me as a vampire. I am sorry the attack by the werewolves put you in danger. Please come to my apartment so we can talk about what happened.”
I took another step backward, not sure if I was safe with her.
“I would never hurt you.” She sighed. “Please trust me.”
“Sure,” I whispered, still mentally numb from what I had witnessed, wondering what she would tell me.
The werewolves began to turn human while we talked. The creatures were muscular, though shorter than my six feet two inches.
“What do we do with the bodies?”
“I’ll take care of the mess.” She took out her cell phone, punched in a number, and spoke a few words I couldn’t hear. “People trained in disposing of bodies and removing bloodstains will take care of this within half an hour. These are sights mortals should not see.”
“Is there a dead werewolf removal service?”
“You can hire someone to provide any service you need in New York.” She raised her eyebrows and smiled.
I tried to return her smile but couldn’t find it in me.
After we had walked to Broadway, Nessa stepped into the street and snapped her fingers. A cab appeared less than a block from us. When we got into the taxi, we sat apart. She leaned back, resting her head against the cushion while myriad questions ran through my mind.
“Lincoln Square,” she said to the driver.
“You got it, lady.”
Traffic was heavy, making for a long ride. She sat quietly looking straight ahead while I wondered why I remained in the cab. I leaned my head back against the cushion and thought about the previous three weeks.