Fog paints the bathroom mirror like an early morning mist after a turbulent thunderstorm. Kairi reaches out with her towel to wipe off a section of the fog to see her reflection. She stares into her eyes trying to search for any trace of what happened last night. They stare back at her like empty pits. Somewhere in the darkness of her soul is a vampire, reposing in satisfaction at their successful hunt.
After having buried the body, Kairi had wasted no more time in finding Mr. Salinger in his kitchen on the line with the police. He was describing a vicious monster to the operator, arguing with them that he knew what he saw and that he wasn’t crazy. He isn’t crazy, she thought to herself as she approached him from behind, just a little too slow.
“Mr. Salinger,” Kairi said as she slid a hand onto his shoulder. He whipped around and instantly dropped the phone in shock. She could hear the woman on the line call out in confusion.
“You— you—” He fumbled for the words and attempted to scramble away from her grip on his shoulder.
“I know,” she said, trying her best to sound as soothing as possible. Her eyes found his bright blue ones glazed in fear. She lured his subconscious into a trance-like state, “Mr. Salinger, you were out in the parking lot of the Newport Blood Bank tonight to have a little smoke and get away from your wife after an argument. You took some time to yourself and went home. You didn’t see anyone there. It was an uneventful night.”
She held their eye contact as he repeated the words back to her.
Satisfied she continued, “You’re gonna pick up the phone, and tell the lady that she is right, you just had a strange episode. Tell her you are feeling better now and sorry for wasting her time.”
Kairi leans into the mirror satisfied with her ensemble, dressed in a black pencil skirt, black tights, and a white loose button-up with a beige overcoat thrown on top of the outfit. She brushes over her edges with her fingertips and the tight bun she has pulled her hair back into, double-checking they are secured in place. For the final touch, she whips out her matte burgundy lipstick.
Leaning into the mirror, she smudges the pigment across her lips and pulls back in satisfaction. One final glance before she takes off in the hopes that she can keep her mind as neat as her appearance for the rest of the day.
“Kairi,” a familiar voice shrills as she steps into the office. Coffee in one hand and clipboard in the other, Vanessa scrambles over to her side the second she gets off the elevator. “Where the hell have you been girl?”
Just like always, nothing escapes the hawk-like eyes of Vanessa. She is the receptionist at their office and therefore retains all the gossip and loves to know every little detail about everyone’s waking moment. Since Kairi is her best friend at the office, she has found that Vanessa has her cute little button nose even deeper in her business than anyone else’s.
“I slept in,” she shrugs trying to make haste towards her cubicle, hoping that Vanessa is the only one that noticed her tardiness.
She halts in her tracks as Kairi places her purse on her desk and begins to unpack the necessary items for the day. A tumbler, her phone, and a breakfast bar.
“Don’t give me that,” she retorts, giving Kairi a deadpan look. “You are never late. That is just not like you at all.” Vanessa’s perfectly arched eyebrows twist in confusion as she gives her usual ‘I’m-not-leaving-till-you-explain’ pout.
For a moment Kairi looks at her friend’s youthful, round face, and doe-like eyes that innocently beg to be let in. She tries to imagine what her reaction might be if she told her the truth. In her mind, an image of Vanessa staring at her with an expression of fear and disgust pops up, and she is quickly shaken back to reality.
“I’ve just been having a rough couple of nights,” she responds. “I think my insomnia has just been wearing me out a bit.”
Vanessa nods slowly seemingly letting it go, “Oh, well I can recommend you some vitamins.” She taps at the clipboard in her right arm with her acrylic nails. Kairi feels herself hone in on the rhythmic tapping, finding that the noise is getting strangely louder.
“Oh, yeah,” Kairi shakes her head trying to dismiss the weird feeling she is getting. “That would be helpful.”
Vanessa straightens up and breaks out with a proud smile, “Great, I’ll go grab them from my desk.”
Kairi watches as her caramel brown curls whip through the air in slow motion as Vanessa turns to walk away. The tap–tap–tapping of her heels echoed against the wooden floor unusually.
Falling into her office chair, she pulls out the keyboard and opens up her desktop. Time to focus. Not a second after opening her email, she hears a weird thumping in the background increasing in volume at an alarming rate.
Her fingers hover over her keyboard as she looks around the office. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. None of her other colleagues seem to notice the sound, so she tries to brush it off and continue focusing. But the thumping continues and multiplies. Multiple rhythmic thumps are overlapping in the background and Kairi finally acknowledges that her senses are heightening.
Fuck, she thinks as she starts to pick up on details that she otherwise can’t see with her human vision. The dust particles lined the spaces between the keys on her keyboard, the tiny hair follicles in her skin. The heartbeats of her colleagues continue to thump away in the background like an orchestra picking up intensity.
Her breath starts to fill up her thoughts as she squeezes her eyes shut, hoping to block out her environment. She just fed, but for some reason, the cravings have returned almost tenfold.
“Kairi?” a voice calls out in the distance, “You ok?”
She can feel Vanessa hovering over her desk and when she opens her eyes, she notices the bottle of vitamins that she rattles around in her hand.
“I got you the vitamins.” She says but Kairi is lost in the flurry of sensory overstimulation. Not only can she hear the vitamins bouncing around their container, but she can also feel them.
“I’m not feeling so good.” She manages to get out as she pushes away from her desk and shoves all of her things back into her purse. “I’m—” she attempts to explain to Vanessa that she is going home for the day when she hears the slice of a finger against a piece of paper and a muttered curse that follows. Blood.
She manages to dodge past Vanessa and bolts towards the elevator just as it opens. As she spirals mentally, Kairi finds herself unable to maneuver around the person stepping into the office, smacking straight into their right arm.
“Woah—” The voice pipes up, completely caught off guard.
Their eyes meet and for a second the world freezes. She feels a pull towards the manly gaze that pierces hers.
“Is this a circus or a workplace?” the man snaps at her. His warm blue eyes quickly turn into cold, hard stones and she mutters an apology before escaping into the elevator that was just about to close.
She lets out a shaky breath. She can hear somewhere in the distance, from the office she just escaped, Vanessa apologizing to the man for her. But she blocks them out and decides—tourist season or not, she needs to find a deer to sink her teeth into. Right now.