Along with the hunger came memories.
The woman (Sheila Schettler) had been a waitress at a Waffle House restaurant. She’d left her second shift job one night and seen a child alone in the alley behind the restaurant. When she’d gotten close, he’d looked into her eyes, and she’d found herself unable to do anything but come closer.
He’d commanded her to bend over, and when she did, she’d seen his teeth—long, sharp canines that would have been the stuff of nightmares.
They would have been if she’d been able to have nightmares after that.
He bit into her neck, slurping and sucking with complete and total enjoyment. Sheila never moved even though she desperately wanted to get away. She’d thought about how her sister told her not to take the second shift because it ended so late. She thought about her roommate, pinning her hopes on the possibility that her roommate would call the police if she didn’t come home.
Eventually, she stopped thinking. When her body woke up, it woke up different, stronger, and conscienceless. Sheila was dead even if her memories remained. Something else was in the driver’s seat.
Between what used to be Sheila and her master, they’d sucked her roommate dry, and made another vampire out of her ex-boyfriend Phil. What remained of Phil wasn’t much better at being a vampire than a boyfriend, but master said there would be more soon.
At the center of what used to be Sheila was something else, and it didn’t want to die. Amy felt it reach into her, trying to find something to hang on to.
Within Amy though, another presence reacted—the one that had kept silent almost the entire time since Amy became the Bloodmaiden. It said, “Don’t make my mistake. Let go of her!”
At the same time, Amy knew what she meant even if she couldn’t explain how. She drew the vampire’s essence toward her, but threw it out at the same time, directing it into nothing. She didn’t know where it went, but the woman’s body fell in on itself, turning to dust and shattered pieces.
Pulling the Bloodspear away from where the body had stood, and pointing it at the child, she said, “Who’s next?”
The man she’d hit with her spear (Phil) struggled to rise from the ground, and fell over again, tripping over his own feet. Sheila had been right. He wasn’t a particularly impressive vampire.
The child hissed at her and tried to meet her eyes. For a second she found herself losing the ability to move, but as she did voices within her screamed, and she drew on her own power, stabbing the vampire before he could do anything more.
She didn’t make the same mistake twice, controlling and directing his essence through her and into nothingness. She felt him draining away into nothing, his memories flying past, many of them about dominating vampires, and devouring humans.
He’d been alive for more than two hundred years, and his given name was Jerome. She learned that without even wanting to. Paying attention to his memories meant coming into contact with his essence, and he had so much more of it than the first vampire. She felt certain it would overwhelm her if she did anything more than aim it away.
It felt like it took forever even though she knew it went quickly. All the same, despite his incompetence, she knew that Phil could still hurt her if he attacked before she was done.
Worse, she could feel that she was getting tired.
She could sip energy from Jerome’s essence, but she knew better. It wouldn’t be much more. She could feel that.
Steeling herself, she put more power behind it, tearing out everything she could as quickly as she could.
It was a success. She could feel the last remnants of his personality unravel. Whatever child must once have been there was now gone. All she felt going past her were orgies of bloodletting. They were easy to ignore—all except one.
Some time in the recent past, Jerome had sensed blood magic. Like her, he’d sought it out. He knew it wasn’t the magic he’d seen some vampires use, but he never managed to find it. Whoever used it was good enough to evade him.
Jerome had caught her attention with that, but even a hint of interest created a chorus of, “No!”
As much as part of her reflexively wanted to investigate purely to annoy them, she didn’t. Jerome’s last gasp vanished into nowhere.
The body turned into a pile of dust as Phil began to laugh. “There’s no more master. I am master.”
He was standing. Amy turned her spear toward him, ready in case he charged, wondering if she could destroy another.
She didn’t have to. He ran out the front door. She knew she should chase him down, but everything in her wanted to sit.
From outside came the sound of a thump followed by a shriek. Amy shook her head. Now, what?