The vampire's red eyes glow like embers beneath the quillions of my sword. I hold the sword by the blade, hilt up.
In the near-perfect dark of the windowless Detroit basement, the cross of the guard, blade,
and hilt held before me and the eyes of the creature standing at the other side of the room are all I can see.
The air is still, quiet. There is the smell of mold and stale humidity.
To look into those eyes is to know a fear, profound and primal.
The fear is held back by a bastion of faith.
I wonder what it is that I'm doing here. Why I think that I can walk into a monster's lair with a sword and walk out again. I wonder if I think I can.
I look into those eyes, and they look back at me, wondering how long it will take me to break.
I think about what this path I've chosen has cost me: Hope for a career. Hope for a family.
I think about the people I've lost touch with. I think that I'll never be close to anyone again.
I think about the life I lost.
I look at the eyes across the room, and I feel tears running down my cheeks.
I think about what I've sacrificed and the purpose that sacrifice was for.
I feel the clarity of loss.
I look across the room, and I see fear in the eyes looking back at me.
I see panic. It knows I've beaten it.
I take the sword by the hilt and coil up. I never take my eyes off the vampire, but I do partially turn my back to it in preparation for the lunge.
Vampires hide in the dark and prey on the weak. In its panic, those opportunistic, cowardly impulses drive it to strike just as my back is exposed.
The lunge I'd prepared is fast. I can cross a small room with it fast enough to threaten a swordsman of some skill. That's why I decided to use it here.
The vampire is fast too.
I barely have my foot off the ground when its misguided predatory instincts drive it straight into my uncoiling thrust.
The sword strikes at the sternum, and momentum carries the vampire down my blade.
I stumble back onto the landing, and he comes with me. In the dim illumination, his eyes are a flat brown.
The sword pierced his heart. I am close enough that I would feel the life escape him, if there were any life.