The sun dips behind the treeline, disappears completely from the sky and gives the moon center stage. The clouds above the rotting shell of a house are still thin cotton shapes. The once blue sky is now turning a dark, orange and pink streaks paint the horizon. His brown-red eyes stare up at the streaks, looking for the crescent moon and the stars. The lush trees, once a vibrant forest green, are now turning black as shadows fall over them. Abraham peers between the trunks looking for any sign of movement. His muscled chest rises and falls; otherwise he is completely motionless. Tenderly, the breeze carries the essence of this morning’s rain. Still soaked, the ground is soft under his heavy boots. He moves from his fixed position in the door frame and into the shadow of night. Abraham snaps his powerful jaws once signaling to his companion that he is leaving.
Last year’s dried leaves are quiet under his feet. An interstate of trails and cleared paths crisscross the forest floor where he lays his claim. Crickets chirp and a single owl adds her voice to the wind rustling the trees. His boots disturb twigs under him and stretching branches pull at his thick wool jacket. Denim provides a thin, but durable, layer clothing his strong legs. His body is that of a man used to hard labor, someone that had worked long hours in a forest cutting trees, slamming a pickaxe into unforgiving stone before his transformation. A long sculpted nose cuts his face symmetrically in half, leaving his full lips to pull the two halves together. Black thick threads of hair fall down on either side of his face and down his back, the sharp points stopping just before his elbows.
Poised and practiced, he stops a step from a white oak tree, the striking trunk maimed by his fingernails. The four slashes six feet up the trunk are his markings. Much like any bear would do he carefully marks his territory not only with scent, but with visuals. Turning his head toward the oak, he smells the marks, unsatisfied he pushes his shoulder against the trunk. He is careful to get a few hairs to stick to the tree before moving on. Thirty minutes pass before he stops again, going to another ‘scented’ oak. He is more finicky with this one, not sure he picked the right tree. Unfortunately he is left to ponder this, his attention is drawn elsewhere. Clumsy footsteps pull at his natural instincts.
“Humans.” He murmurs too low for anyone to hear. His voice is deep, unnatural. Without any true thought or need he starts forward; listening further. The wind carries their scents, it’s a couple. Abraham moves in their direction, a shark smelling fresh blood. Hardly noticeable, his mouth is open allowing the scent of his prey to tickle his pallet. They are a simple couple, carrying two backpacks overstuffed with camping equipment and food. The young man, a tall lean boy of twenty, opens his bag to pull out the bright orange tent. The woman, barely older than the man, starts to gather sticks and brush. Together, they are the perfect couple, she is the outdoorsy one. He is the love of her life and the victim of all of her adventures. He is the semi-athletic one, the one that enjoys the outside world, but prefers to keep it local. Here in Franklin County, Maine they are at the most beautiful section of Blue Mountain. With the summer season slowly ending and turning once again into the stunning orange and reds of autumn, they take one last hiking trip to Angel Falls. She’s careful not to pull any poison ivy or poison oak, and she’s quick to assemble a campfire, as she works to provide them with heat her thoughts turn to tomorrow’s leg of the hike. According to the map, they are only five miles away from the falls. The fire slowly starts to glow, once she is sure the flames will take, she pulls a tiny rake from her own bag and cleans the area of any brush that might catch fire. Her partner works, clumsily, with his back to her. His incompetent hands struggle with the poles of the tent before he appears to get the hang of it. His confidence comes to a soft heap before him. A torrent of vulgarity leaves his lips as he pushes his hands on his hips. He knows the tent is easy to put up, but the long ten mile hike to this flat area of mountain has dulled his intelligence and fatigued his muscles. Running a dirt caked hand through his tousled blonde hair, he sighs in frustration. The forest breathes in the only way a forest can. Watching from the shadows surrounding the couple, Abraham studies his prey.
The woman pulls a tin can from a zipper pocket in her backpack, the sound of metal being jaggedly cut is strange. Cinnamon floats into the air from the opening. The woman then changes her focus to the man’s bag where she opens several pockets before finding what she is looking for. She emerges with a pan. The flames catch on a bigger log. With the sudden flare of light, Abraham steps back silently avoiding detention. The woman is distracted, she’s working on their dinner as the man once again watches the tent buckle. A pleasant sound emits from her, she is mocking him with her laughter and the man takes this in stride. Affectionately they trade tasks, he takes the can of honey and cinnamon beans. The woman graciously moves toward her partner’s failed attempts. Her laughter continues as she sees what he did wrong. Of course it is a simple mistake, a misplaced pole. Abraham watches her fix his mistake.
Shifting his weight, undecided, Abraham continues to watch them. A dull ache in his stomach signals that he is in fact hungry, but that hunger is a distant memory. The true annoyance comes from his throat, an arid dryness that makes him feel as though he’d swallowed glass. Turning his head to the side, he hopes to stifle this feeling with his own scent, the effort is fruitless. He needs to wet to lips with blood and drown the desert that has formed inside him. His first noisy step is deliberate. He allows for the right about of curious pause, he enters their line of sight. Seconds pass before, as humanly as possible and without appearing to be too dangerously clumsy, he makes his way into the fire-glow he originally avoided. The woman sees him first, she’s apprehensive, suspicious.
“Hello.” She greets him with a half-hearted smile. She is bent slightly over the skeleton of the tent. Together they push the into the proper standing position. This task, having been so simple to begin with, has taken nearly half an hour. Forcing an amused smile away from his lips, Abraham takes a few more steps forward. The man is the first to venture closer to the stranger, he introduces himself and sticks out a pale dirty hand. Abraham takes the man’s hand feeling the delicate bones beneath the skin. Nodding, he returns the greeting with a false introduction. This is something he has learned to do over the years. The man, clearly more trusting than his partner, offers him seat at their fire. Another lie passes through Abraham’s lips. Without needing to be prompted, the woman interjects before the man can continue.
Idle chat fills the space between the three of them for a long time, too long. In spite of his growing impatience, he keeps the conversation light. The couple ask questions of him that he has practiced the answers to many times before. Every part of his facade is a projection of how he wishes his prey to see him. He needs his them to believe he’s harmless. He thrives on their misguided trust.
The woman excuses herself after awhile. Abraham doesn’t waste anymore time. Faster than the man can comprehend he is bitten. The pop of Abraham’s fangs inaudible as the elongated canines ripped into the man’s fleshy cheek, just below the cheekbone. Panic and an instinctive reaction made the human flinch away and then cry out in surprise. The few feet that once separated them closed within seconds and the man’s blood dripped from his attackers mouth and chin. Pain fills every vein in the human’s face as Abraham prepares to free his two inch fangs. The sound of tearing flesh defeats the applauding trees. With a single downward motion the cheek of the man is removed exposing the upper and lower row of teeth. Strong hands, once clamping the man in place, tossed him aside. Discarded and left to bleed to death, the man rolls in the dirt and leaves around the camp. Tear blurred eyes search the surrounding area for the creature that attacked him. Abraham retreats to the shadows once again. In his wake, he leaves confusion and trepidation.
To save energy, he uses the injured man as a trap for the woman. Rushing back to her camp, the woman screams in alarm. Crimson liquid seeps into the already damp ground, settling on top in large puddles. Sinking to her knees in the largest of the puddles, she scoops her lover into her arms. Thick tears stream down her face as she speaks the name of an entity she doesn’t believe in. Her dirty hands seek the wound, touch bone, and ultimately find their efforts are useless. They are miles from any help. Bending her head defeated, the woman begs for her lover to hold on, to remain with her. Circling her now he waits. Ever growing curiosity drawing him to study human behavior. The sobs of the woman echo off the mountain peaks and her anguish makes her forgetful and complacent. Without further delay, Abraham pulls the woman roughly to her feet, her curly hair falling between his fingers in matted clumps. She gasps, cries out, and then begins to fight him. With his left hand, he clamps her mouth quiet. His right arm coils around her waist pinning her against his chest. Uselessly her feet kick at the muddy ground beneath her, fighting for her life in spite of her conscious mate laying before her. She begins to see black and purple dots, her lungs gasp for air. Her hips ache with every kick as his arms tightens like a thick boa constrictor around her waist. Several minutes of eerie silence suddenly pass. The woman loses all strength and lets the comfort of unconsciousness take her. Her body grows heavier, but this is a minor annoyance to him. Letting her fall to the blood soaked earth before him, he gazes at what he’s done. The woman’s head smacks a rock with a sickening crack.
Proudly, he surveys his meals. The dull ache in his stomach returns like a bad aftertaste. Begrudgingly, he picks up the male by the right arm and left hip. He slings him over his right shoulder, securing him with his right hand on his waistband. Abraham can feel the still warm droplets of blood on his back and down his right leg. The feeling reminds him of being pissed on from behind. Shaking away the distant memory of life in Ireland, Abraham turns to pick up the unconscious and less bloody woman. She is lighter than the man, and is easily hoisted onto his left shoulder. Abraham takes the time to kick bloodied damp leaves onto the fire before starting his long track home. The man hanging listless drips blood onto every branch reaching toward him and on the ground below. A piece of his face is left behind next to a cold smokeless fire, the clear imprint of two long canines starting the edge.