My fingers dig through my bag, searching for the smooth metal of my only friend. I find the pistol easy enough and pull it out. The silver finish glints against the flickering light of my candle as I rub my palm over the grip, comforting myself with the touch.
Sliding the barrel under my chin, I place my finger on the trigger. I don’t cry tonight. I don’t cry at all anymore. This is my ritual, and mine alone.
I exhale, bring the gun down, and stuff it into my backpack. I wrap my arms around my chest.
This wasn't weakness. This was a curse. The curse of being the luckiest girl in the world. I doubt many others have managed to survive this long. I only wish that I was released from the agonizing grip of this nightmare like the rest of humanity was.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The constant trickle of wetness as it falls into the collection pool is driving me mad. Sometimes, the droplets sound like people, screaming for someone to save them. I cover my ears with my hands, rocking back on the heels of my feet.
It’s dark inside the cave I call home. The light from my candle barely allows enough visibility for me to see my arm when it's stretched out in front of me. I snatch my flashlight off of the smooth stone floor, aiming it toward the tunnel that leads to the entrance of my dwelling.
There’s nothing there but smooth rock, and the stalagmites glisten as the light hovers over them. The tightness in my chest loosens just enough for me to breathe deeply again, and then I switch the light off. I only have one more pack of batteries and I can’t afford to waste them.
Spending days alone inside of this cave affects me more than I'd like to admit, so instead of going insane, I daydream. Memories of my mother fill my mind, and I lose myself in the visions.
I watch my mother's face brighten with a smile as she pulls her cardigan around her shoulders, dancing as she waves a smoking stick of sage over the house. She places shining geodes on top of our mantle for good luck, stating that we'll need it soon. Fleetwood Mac blares on our old record player as she rids our house of negativity, boasting about her hippie days in Bali as she tousles her messy curls. She looks down at me like I’m the reason for her joy.
Suddenly, my chest feels too tight, and I turn the flashlight on again, aiming it toward the tunnels. No one is there, but the twinkle of the stones slow my heart once more.
I sit up in bed, throwing my blanket off my lap. My bed isn't much of a bed at all, really. It's a pile of old t-shirts and whatever else I could find in the gift shop that once operated outside of this cave, leading tourists inside to marvel at the beauty of the cavern walls. I'm lucky to have as much as I do, really. Lord knows I've been dealt worse hands.
Pacing seems like a better option than lying in bed all day, so I walk from one end of the cavern to the other. I'm not sure how many months have passed since the vampires arrived, bringing death and destruction to everything they touched, but the seasons have turned and it's beginning to get cold again. A chill wafts through the tunnel, and I hug my arms to my chest.
Not good. Not good at all.
Cece would have known what to do about this. She'd have a plan for the cold weather. Maybe she'd start a fire, or try to insulate the makeshift door that covers the entrance to the cave. My sister's mischievous smile appears behind my eyelids, and I push my fingers against my temple.
No. I won't think about her.
I stand perfectly still as the sound echoes through the cave from outside. Blood pounds in my ears as moments pass in silence. I hold my breath as I wait for something else to happen. Surely if something were outside, they would find my cave and drag me out kicking and screaming. When nothing comes, I back away to my bed, keeping my footsteps as light as possible.
It must have been a tree falling. Yep. That has to be it. I squeeze my eyes closed, willing sleep to take me. At least if I slept, I didn't have to deal with paranoia.
When my mind refuses to quiet down, I give in to the thoughts. I think about my past, about my first year at University, and losing my virginity to that shithead, Jason. When those thoughts become too painful, I replay my favorite movie in my head, changing the script to the way it should have been written.
Eventually, sleep does come, and I welcome it.
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