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It had been almost an hour since Charles’ car broke down when the rain started. It did not begin slowly or gradually. Instead the sky exploded, and drops began falling in dense sheets, coming down as hard as stones. He had been leaning against the side of her vehicle, waiting for the tow truck to come, when it started. Now he quickly climbed back into the car, waiting for it to pass. The headlights remained on, illuminating the road in front of the car. The path was unpaved, and he couldn’t tell how far he was from town. He hoped the truck would make it. Charles didn’t want to think about having to sleep here. The thick black clouds had suffocated the moon and stars, and without the headlights, it would be nearly pitch dark.

He reached over and locked the car doors. He wasn’t sure why, but the woods that lay on either side of the road made him uneasy.

Something about the white, whip-like willow limbs, and the way they reached toward him like the outstretched arms of emaciated corpses. Their leaves were black. He thought he’d been here before, but didn’t know when. Lightning flickered like a broken lamp, and as the thunder roared, and the sky wept, something struck the side window.

Charles spun his head in the direction of the sound, and let loose a shrill, animalistic yelp of fear. Pressed against the rain-streaked window was a hand. Its fingers were thin, and unnaturally long, ending in sharp, black nails. The pale, bony hand, however, did not frighten Charles nearly as much as the pair of shimmering yellow eyes in the gloom behind it.

The hand slid down the glass and fell away, and the eyes moved closer, until an entire face came into view. Its features were that of a man, the yellow eyes sunken deep into their sockets, the cheeks hollow with age and hunger. Tangled, stringy black hair framed the dead face, soaked with rain. Grey lips formed a hideous, jack-o-lantern grin, revealing a cavernous mouth full of row upon row of jagged, rotten fangs. Charles could do nothing but sit and stare, its thirsty, primal gaze paralyzing him with terror. There was a slow groaning of metal, and before he knew what was happening, the man-thing outside had torn the car door off its hinges and flung it to the side. Still smiling its crazed smile, it reached toward him.

Panicking, Charles struggled to open the other door, but before he could even find the handle, a huge, cold hand closed around his face, holding his mouth shut, and wrenched him forward. The hand had wrapped over the entire lower half of his face, and as it pulled him forward, one of the long, black claws dug into his cheek, so sharp that it pierced all the way through. The metallic taste of his own blood filled his mouth, and he tried to scream as he felt the fingernail inside, cutting into his tongue as he was dragged out of the car. It lifted him off the ground with one hand and held him at eye level, blood seeping from between its spidery fingers. The creature was enormously tall, nearly twice the height of Charles’s vehicle. Lightning flashed again, as it slammed him down onto the roof of the car, and he felt something in his back break.

It grasped underneath his chin and roughly tilted back his head, a sickening crunch echoing into the night. Its mouth gaped open, showing rows of teeth like that of a shark, each one razor sharp and gleaming. These fangs were the last things Charles saw as his neck snapped like a dry twig. His eyes rolled back, just as the beast’s teeth chomped down on his throat.

Blood spurted and oozed from Charles’s neck like juice from a ripe plum, drenching his attacker’s lips and trickling down its chin. Its jaws clamped shut, and its teeth gnashed together, removing a large chunk of flesh from its victim’s throat. It drank. Once it had finished, most of its ghastly face was smeared and splattered with red. It slunk off into the woods, dragging the half-decapitated body behind it. The following morning, Charles was found floating face down in a drainage ditch, his head attached only by a small piece of meat and tendon, his skin a pale blue-grey. There was not a drop of blood in his body. Deep in the forest, in the shadows of the bony willow branches, the vampire still watched, and waited.

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