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Crying out with the sheer terror, she fell to her knees and laid her forehead against the stained bottom of the tub. The hot water beat down on her as she gave in to the overwhelming despair inside of her.

***

The mirror was empty. Not a whisper of reflection was there.

Amaliya blinked slowly. She stared into the empty mirror, willing herself to see her image. But there was nothing; just the empty shower behind her. Reaching out, she pressed her hand firmly to the fogged surface.

Nothing. Not a flicker.

She pushed harder, as if she could literally shove her reflection into the silvered glass, but nothing happened. Her hand remained against the empty mirror without a doppelgänger’s hand pressing against her own.

Closing her eyes, she lowered her hand and slowly took hold of the sink. Her whole body trembled as she tried to gather her wits about her. The horror of her new reality washed over her, fresh and terrible. Opening her eyes, for a moment, she thought she saw her reflection. A brief, stark image of a woman with dyed, black hair laying heavy and wet against her neck and shoulders, staring with desperate need into nothingness. The image flashed out of existence. She reached out a desperate hand. The mirror shattered as her fingers slammed into the reflective surface. The shards tinkled into the sink. Sobbing, she sat sharply on the edge of the tub.

She ran a hand over her wet hair as she sat in silence, her lips quivering. She could just go to bed and go to sleep. This wasn't real. None of it was real. She was sick. Maybe she had the flu. It was all a dream. A horrible, terrible dream. There were no such things as vampires. She didn't even have sharp teeth! She couldn't be a murdering, bloodsucking fiend! Vampires didn't exist.

Shoving her fingers into her mouth, she ran the tips over her teeth to fearfully search for sharp little teeth. Nothing. She felt nothing. Just the smooth edges she should feel.

“I just need to go to bed and wake up,” she decided.

Pulling a towel securely around her body, she walked into her messy room and sprawled across the narrow twin bed. The alarm clock lay right in her view. Its bright red numbers stated it was nine o'clock.

Red like blood, she thought idly, then shoved the terrible allegory away from her thoughts.

Rolling onto her back, she stared up at the poster over her bed. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails glowered down at her in all his dark beauty. Closing her eyes, she lay her hand over her face and willed herself to sleep. If she slept this would all go away. She would wake up and. . .

What?

She would suddenly not be living dead? Her battle to be out of the grave would suddenly not exist? Her blood soaked clothes wouldn't lie in a heap on the floor?

“Dammit!” She sat up and shook her head.

Drops of water splattered over the wall and clock as her wet hair fanned around her. Gripping her hair with both her hands, she pulled it over her shoulders and held onto it as she rocked back and forth. She could not stay here. She knew it. Too many questions would be asked. They would find the bodies. For all she knew, they would be able to track her to the scene. The police had all sorts of fancy ways of tracking down killers nowadays.

Oh, God, she was a killer. Her teeth had torn into the flesh of humans and she had drunk blood.

Blood!

The memory of that first bite filled her thoughts. Instead of repulsion, she felt the sting of pleasure. It had been exquisite. An erotic pulse of power rippled through her as she leaned back slowly on her bed. The lovely sensations she had felt as she had fed overwhelmed her senses. Her panic faded away. She relished the memory of the blood, the fear, the power; it had been delicious and wonderful.

Her tongue scraped against something sharp in her mouth. She bolted upright. She shoved her fingertips into her mouth again. She gasped as something sharp tore them open. Staring at her bloodied fingers, she ran her tongue slowly along her teeth. Amaliya shivered as the tip of it discovered two sharp teeth pressing down on either side of her mouth.

“Fuck,” she blurted, launching herself off the bed.

What had just happened to her? She had lost herself in the memory of her feeding. Dammit, she had enjoyed killing and she knew it. Looking back at the event through the bloody pleasure of her need, she felt no remorse. Panicking, she pulled deep inside of herself to find guilt and fear. She mentally shoved away the part of her that had relished her killing bites.

“I have to get the hell out of here,” she muttered.

In a frenzy, she shoved clothes, underwear, shoes, and anything else that looked remotely useful into her large duffel bag. Realizing she was naked, she dropped the bag. She snagged a clean pair of jeans and a tank top from the laundry basket. She looked around the room, trying to collect her thoughts into a workable plan. As she slid her tank top on, she abruptly remembered her father's phone call. Her student loan had come in!

“Oh, yeah,

” Amaliya breathed.

She fell to her knees beside the dresser. Pulling out a drawer, she felt under it for the envelope that she had duct taped under it. Her searching fingers found it and yanked it off with a sharp tearing sound. Inside the little envelope was over $5,000 of student loan money. It was all the money she had in the world. In her bank account was just a few dollars. Her paycheck from her work-study wouldn't hit until tomorrow.

Opening the envelope, she quickly recounted the money, then thrust it into her jeans. It would have to do for now.

Shoving a few more pairs of thong underwear into her bag, her gaze swept over the room one last time. The bloodied clothes and forest grime lay at her feet. She started to reach down, then hesitated. Unsure, her hand hovered over the bundle.

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