Home > Vampire Dreams (Vampire for Hire #6.5)

Vampire Dreams (Vampire for Hire #6.5)
Author: J.R. Rain

1.

The dream came again.

It was the third dream in as many days. Normally I don’t dream. Normally I close my eyes and sink into an eternal darkness, and don’t awaken until the persistent blaring of my alarm clock pulls me out of whatever black chasm I had descended into. Sure, I might have major issues, but insomnia isn’t one of them.

Except sometimes I do dream. I dreamed of Kingsley and the ruby-rose medallion last year. I’ve dreamed of Fang before, especially prior to meeting him. Not so much anymore.

And now, for the past three days, the dreams with the girl. I have no clue who she is. Young, cute, dressed in a waitress uniform, sitting on a bus bench, just prior to a runaway city bus obliterating her. The same dream. Over and over.

Now, as I sat up in bed, gasping, blinking hard as my alarm blared on the bedside table next to me, I saw her broken body again. Hell, I could even smell her blood.

Jesus.

Waking up in the middle of the day was hard enough. Waking up in the middle of the day to images like that was just plain unfair. So I sat there for a few minutes, rubbing my face, listening to the alarm, seeing her broken body, smelling her spilled blood. And through the pulsating alarm, I could hear her cries…until she could cry no more.

Jesus.

I got out of bed. Time to do some chores, then off to pick up the children. In the living room, where the window shades were always drawn tight, I automatically turned on Judge Judy.

2.

I was sitting in my minivan, parked on the side of the road.

Sundown was minutes away, and I was feeling anxious. The way I always felt just before the sun set. Excited. Relieved. Impatient. Desperate. Incomplete.

I forced myself to calm down.

Not an easy thing to do. Not at this hour.

I was on my way to see Detective Sherbet. He had a case for me. A big case. Someone was leaving dead bodies around Fullerton. Bodies drained of blood.

My son was heavy on my heart, but I was able to console myself with the knowledge that he seemed so…comfortable with who he was. And why shouldn’t he? He was just a growing boy, a boy who happened to be stronger than everyone else at his school. Sure, he might think he was a little freaky. But this was a good freaky, wasn’t it?

I nodded and wiped a tear that had somehow found its way to my cheek bone. “Yes,” I whispered. “A good freaky.”

I was going to have to tell him. I knew that. He had to know.

“He has to know,” I said to no one.

I was parked along Harbor Boulevard. Not too far from mine and Kingsley’s favorite restaurant…and not too far from Heroes, either, where Fang worked. I checked my watch. Yup, he would be working now. Just around the corner. Serving drinks and dreaming of becoming a vampire. Fang, with his freaky teeth hanging from his neck.

Lots of freaky going on here.

3.

I was parked on Amerige Street, facing east.

In front of me, maybe twenty feet away, was Harbor Boulevard, which ran north and south. Diagonal from me, across Harbor, was a familiar bus bench and a u-shaped hedge. It was the same bus bench and hedge I had seen in my dream. I was sure of it.

Seeing it had surprised me, so much so that I stopped my minivan and just stared.

The same bus bench. The same hedge. Minus the dead girl.

I knew Harbor like the back of my hand, but, during the dream, I hadn’t been aware that it was this bus bench, on this section of street.

What the hell was going on?

I didn’t know, but I decided to wait out the final few minutes of the day. Hell, I might as well be firing on all cylinders when I met with Sherbet in a few minutes. Didn’t hurt to have a clear mind when discussing a serial killer.

So I waited. And I watched.

I knew the sun was inching closer to the horizon without having to look at it. I always knew where the sun was. Always. Just as I knew it was sitting on the far horizon, slipping slowly away.

Too slowly.

I made fists in my lap. Two small, white, knobby fists. I saw the sun in my mind’s eye. Orange and burning. So beautiful that it hurt. Halfway above the horizon. Now a quarter. Slipping ever lower.

Hurry, hurry.

I opened my hands, closed them again.

And then it happened. Actually, two things happened simultaneously:

First, the sun dropped below the horizon and relief flooded my system. The night was truly my drug.

Second, I saw her.

The broken girl from my dreams.

Sitting down now on the bus bench.

4.

I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel, thinking.

My position on Amerige afforded a perfect view of the bus bench along Harbor, where cars zipped up and down. A few pedestrians, too. Downtown Fullerton was a happening, vibrant place, filled with banks, coffee shops and restaurants. The local congressman had an office here, too, which sort of added to the air of coolness.

Except I wasn’t thinking about the congressman or the fact that I hadn’t had a coffee in nearly seven years.

I was trying to decide what to do.

Unlike someone I know, I never asked to be a vampire. And I never asked to be saddled with the many side effects of vampirism, either. One such side effect was enhanced extrasensory perception. Or ESP. Over the years, this ability, this psychic ability, had grown stronger.

But so far, I had never been able to predict the future. Or even see the future.

Until now.

So, as I sat in my minivan, I was beginning to get a very bad feeling. I suspected things were about to go very, very badly for the young lady sitting on the bus bench.

Unless, of course, I helped.

I drummed my fingers some more, watching the girl through the windshield. She was now leaning back on the bench, looking down at her cell phone. As comfortable as could be. As peaceful as could be. She was cute and petite. Maybe even smaller than me, although I had her by a few pounds. Normally this would be cause for some minor jealousy, but I wasn’t feeling any jealously now.

No, I was worried sick.

Interestingly, I have warning bells that alert me to danger…but danger only to myself. Not to others. Presently, my inner alarm was quiet as the grave.

Maybe my dream was wrong.

Maybe.

Except everything looked the same. The same girl. Same bus bench. Same street. Same surrounding bushes. The only thing that was missing was the out-of-control bus.

It’s coming, I thought. And it’s coming soon.

The girl on the bench suddenly laughed and appeared to text something rapidly on her phone. It was a similar laugh I had heard in my dream. I had seen all this before. Three different times, in fact.

And it was not going to end well for this young girl.

No, it was going to end very, very badly.

And soon.

Unless I did something about it.

I stepped out of my van.

5.

The sun had set minutes earlier and I felt like a million bucks. Or, more accurately, I felt like a freaky, nearly invincible, bloodsucking creature of the night who will probably never sniff a million bucks.

Potatoes, potatoes.

I inhaled the evening air—the sunless air—supercharging my undead body. Feeling stronger than I ever had, I beeped my minivan locked out of instinct, shoved the keys in my front pocket, and headed across the street.

6.

Like a good pedestrian, I waited for the light to turn green before I crossed Harbor going east. As I did so, I kept my eyes on the young girl, who was currently digging in her handbag for something. That something turned out to be a black e-book reader. My guess was a Kindle. Then again, I’d only just gotten a Kindle this Christmas, so what the hell did I know?

She turned it on and sat back and crossed her legs. Her left foot kicked up and down. I watched all of this as I continued across the street.

She was still south of me; Amerige Street still separated us.

Now, as I waited for this light to turn green, I watched her suddenly look up and frown. She turned and looked behind her. I looked, too. There was no sign of a bus anywhere. She frowned some more and almost reluctantly went back to her Kindle.

As I waited for the light, frowning myself, I reflected that people were more psychic than they realized. Had she sensed some impending doom? Had her body given her its own warning bell, and she chose to ignore it?

I didn’t know, but it was something to think about as my light finally turned green, and I crossed Amerige street, heading south on Harbor.

I suddenly felt foolish.

It was just a dream, after all. Granted, a very freaky dream. But a dream nonetheless. And yet…

And yet…all the pieces of the puzzle were here. Everything. From the girl, to the bench, to the hedge behind her. Everything except the runaway bus.

And one thing was certain: a bus was coming.

Yes, I felt foolish, but if I’ve learned anything over these past seven years, it’s to expect the unexpected. A prophetic dream seemed strange as hell, sure. But no stranger than drinking blood and changing into a giant vampire bat.

God, I’m such a freak.

So, I moved toward her a little more confidently, even picking up my pace. I passed a few pedestrians, couples mostly, no doubt on their way to one of the many downtown restaurants. No one paid me any mind, and no one paid the girl any mind, either. No one but me.

Your friendly neighborhood vampire.

So how do you warn someone of danger?

I didn’t know, but I was going to figure it out. Feeling nervous and more than a little anxious, I sat on the far end of the bus bench. She looked up as I did so, and I smiled. The smile caught her off guard. She gave me a weird half-smile, as if she’d never smiled at a stranger before. Good enough.

I sat straight, knees together, wringing my hands, the very picture of the crazy bus lady.

Maybe I am crazy, I thought.

Maybe. But the dream was real.

I leaned forward a little and looked down Harbor Boulevard. There, about two blocks down, was the bus. The same bus from my dreams. I’m sure of it. Down to the red stripe over the wide grill. Presently, it was unloading some passengers as many more boarded. No doubt making its last stop before it would stop here…for her. Or us. I hadn’t ridden on a bus in years, and I had no plans to ride this one.

And I had no plans to watch a young girl die today, either.

The bus lurched forward again. The crawling marquis over the windshield proclaimed it was heading toward Fullerton College, which was up the street past us on Chapman.

I swallowed hard, forced myself to calm down. To think.

I was a mom, dammit. I had two kids. I watched Survivor. I wasn’t a hero. I wasn’t something out of a comic book. Sure, I was freaky as hell, but I never asked for any of this.

I rocked a little on the bench as the bus drew ever closer.

So how do you walk up to a complete stranger and tell them you’d been dreaming of their death? I didn’t know, but I was going to have to think of something. And quick.

Think, Sam.

A favorite writer of mine likes to have his characters “cudgel their balky brains.” I was beginning to appreciate that phrase. My balky brain needed some cudgeling, some sense knocked into it. Something, anything to kick start it.

Just talk to her, I thought. Do something.

“What kind of reader is that?” I asked.

She looked up at me again. This time she wasn’t smiling. After all, to smile at the crazy street lady would only encourage her, right?

“Kindle,” she said simply, emotionlessly, and went back to reading. She was wearing a Cocoa’s uniform: black slacks, red pin-striped, short-sleeved blouse.

“Do you like it?”

“It’s okay I guess.” She kept her head down.

The bus was a block away. Waiting at a red light, it looked menacing as hell, especially if you imagined it careening out-of-control, bounding up the curb like an enraged beast.

Sweet Jesus.

I swallowed my pride and said, in as non-threatening a voice as I could, “This is going to sound crazy—” words, I’m sure, every person waiting at a bus stop wants to hear— “but I believe your bus is going to…be involved in some sort of accident. I’m sorry. I know I sound like a crazy woman, but I really, really think you should listen to me.”

Her eyes shot up as the Kindle came down.

“What?”

The bus was a half block away and picking up speed. From here I could see the driver. An older man, both hands securely on the steering wheel, staring intently ahead. The picture of professionalism. There were a few passengers further back, I could see, but it was impossible to tell how many. I could hear the bus’s big engine growling, its shocks squeaking as it bounced over the pavement.

When I looked back at the girl, I saw that she was now sitting as far away from me as possible.

I spoke urgently now, admitting to something I rarely admitted to anyone, let alone a stranger. “Look, I see things. I know things. I’m weird like that, I know. But I’m here now to warn you.”

“Warn me, why?”

“You’re going to die.”

She stared at me, long and hard. Sure, I was expecting a reaction, but not the one I received. As she stared at me, and as the bus bore down on us, she burst out laughing. “Who set you up? Dillon? That fucker. Where is he? Is he filming this shit? What are you, like, his mom or something?”

“Or something. Look, I don’t know who Dillon is, but—”

The laughter abruptly stopped. She leaned toward me aggressively. “Then what the fuck do you want, lady? Money? I don’t have any money. Drugs? I don’t have that shit, either.”

“All I want is for you to just move. To get up. Stand ten or twenty feet away. Maybe thirty.”

“Maybe you should go fuck yourself.”

The bus grew louder. It blotted out most of the street. The driver sat high above us. He looked alert and clear-headed. He didn’t look like someone who was about to lose control of a massive vehicle that, if out-of-control, might as well be a Sherman tank.

   
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