Chevonne Kusnetsov, mid-21c vampire hunter on the streets of NYC, reads the words of her 19c counterpart in Finland, from an old journal.
I do not know how long I stood rooted like one of the graveyard yews, but there came a moment when I realised that the vampire was looking directly at me. Two mocking, red eyes were fixed on mine. Then with something like a gasp or a sigh, the monster released its hold on the girl. She slumped to the ground, her skin paler then even the old monster’s; I did not need to examine her to recognise the pallor of death, and to know that I was too late.
The lower half of the monster’s face glistened red with its victim’s fresh blood. Its mouth gaped open, and I could see its terrible canines stained with the same redness. With an awful murmur of satisfaction it licked its lips, its eyes burning. I acted as best I could, I raised my crucifix and made to walk forward. In a blasphemous parody of the holy object, the monster stretched its two arms out to the side and, before I could do anything, dissolved slowly into a wisp of smoke.
All light disappeared from the crypt. I was in darkness. The only faint glimmer came from reflected moonlight at the top of the steps. As I groped my way up them and back into the ruined nave, tears streamed down my face, and I keened uncontrollably. I was ashamed – and I am ashamed still to admit it – that the fate of the victim was not uppermost in my mind, but the dreadful dashing of my pride, because I had failed doubly. Firstly I had failed to rescue the monster’s victim, and secondly I had failed to destroy the vampire.
From My Cold, Undead Hand, excerpt, © Marie Marshall – available direct from the publisher here.