Breathless HTML version

Eighteen years ago
Twilight was gathering when Judy Nyland stumbled out of the trees onto the narrow hiking trail, her
right hand clutching her neck. Thin ribbons of drying blood streaked the back of her hand like a badly
done spider web tattoo. Her long blond ha ir was tangled, and her normally pretty face bore a dazed,
confused look as she fought to ma inta in her balance. At the moment, she appeared much older than her
twenty-five years.
Even in the shade, the air was still warm, but the woods seemed strangely silent. What was she
doing out here? She winced when she turned her head to search the pathâ€"god, her neck hurt. Pulling her
hand from her throat, she stared at her bloodsta ined pa lm. Was that really her hand, covered with blood?
Gingerly, she touched her neck and felt a wet round hole slightly smaller than the tip of her finger. How
the hell had that happened? She glanced down at her stomach, only recently beginning to swell with her
second child. Thankfully, the front of her light blue T-shirt was unmarked.
“Judy!” her older sister Janet shouted, hurrying down the trail. “You had me so worried.” Her
eyes widened at the sight of Judy‟s bloody hand. “What happened?” Janet gently grabbed her sister‟s
wrist and began examining her palm.
“It‟s not my hand.” Judy tilted her head and pushed her hair aside. “It‟s this.”
Janet examined the wound. “Doesn‟t look too bad,” she comforted. “The bleeding‟s mostly
stopped. We‟d better get you to a doctor though, just in case. You might need a shot or something. What
happened? Did you get poked by a branch?”
Judy frowned. “I don‟t think so… I don‟t remember.”
A faint image began taking shape in her brain. She struggled to bring it into focus. It was a man.
Very pale and very thin. His eyes bored into hers, mesmerizing her. She knew she should run , that he
meant her ill, but she was frozen, rooted to the ground. As he moved closer, his lips peeled back,
revealing a single yellow fang.
Judy grabbed her sister‟s arm with both hands. “Oh my god! I think I was bitten by a vampire. A
one-fanged vampire.”
“Uhhh…sure. A vampire,” Janet said a bit more sarcastically than she meant to. “With only one
fang. Makes perfect sense. And much more likely than being poked by a sharp branch, for sure.”
Judy touched her neck again, confused. What the hell had happened? Were her hormones running
amok? Her husband had been teasing her about watching too many vampire shows. She squeezed her
eyes shut, trying to remember. It had been so clear just a moment ago….