I noticed her laugh before I saw her face. It was a deep laughter that made its way up from her chest and through a set of perfect teeth, through lips painted rusty red. She's in a haze of smoke at the far end of the bar, wielding a pool cue at a group of young men. Two short women, presumably her friends, stand by her side holding their beer bottles like props. It is a busy night and the place is full of college students pissing away their meager earnings on alcohol to dull the boredom and meaninglessness of their existence. Several fraternity boys are hovering in the far corner, waiting for the group to finish their game of pool so they can grab a table.

The laughing girl is holding out her hand to a tall, lanky boy with messy blond hair. "I beat you again," she's saying to him. "C'mon, pay up. You owe me a drink!" He scowls and complains, but he smiles when he looks at her. He sets his pool cue against the wall and heads towards the bartender to place his order. She turns her head in my direction. Our eyes meet and I trap her in my gaze, holding her there until her clear green eyes glaze over. I wink at her. She smiles, brushes a strand of long dark hair from her face, and looks away. She whispers something in her girlfriends' ears, then looks back at me. I wait as she makes her way towards me, oblivious to the drunken people stumbling across her path, not noticing the busy waitresses brushing past her with drink-laden trays. She seems to be in a daze, and it makes my skin prickle with anticipation. I have this effect on women. You may think I'm lucky in that respect, but it enrages boyfriends and would-be lovers. Even now, I can see that the blond boy has returned with a cocktail and is turning in circles looking for her.

"I've never seen you here before," the girl says. She's standing in front of me now, yelling to be heard over the pounding music. Despite the height of her black heels, she still needs to tilt her chin upwards to meet my gaze.
"Yes," I reply. "I'm new to town. I was supposed to meet someone here tonight, and I think that I've been stood up!"
"I'm sorry to hear that," she says, but I can tell from the grin on her face that she's not sorry at all.
"No need to be sorry," I tell her, "because now I've met you. You have such a wonderful laugh that I could not help but notice you."
I smile, carefully hiding my teeth behind my lips. Despite the dim lighting, I can see her cheeks flush. I glance at her group of friends. Her lady friend is tapping the blond boy on the shoulder, pointing at us. The average person would not see his jaw tightening from this distance, but I can. I need to get us out of here quickly. I dip my head to her level and rest my hands on her shoulders. "Let's go outside for some fresh air. I can hardly hear you in here," I say into her ear. She's so close to me that I can smell her blood racing in her veins.

She slips her hand into mine and follows me out the crowded doorway, into the quiet darkness. A few couples are sitting on the patio furniture, smoking cigarettes or making out. I lead the girl onto a vacant roadway, walking further and further away until the music and shouting from the bar fades into the background. The night is silent but for the sound of her heels clacking against the pavement and the chirping of crickets in the roadside shrubbery.
"What's your name?" I ask. Her eyes glisten in the gentle light of the full moon. I search for my reflection in them, as I do with all women I meet in this way, but of course there is nothing there. Her skin is pale for a human, in a way that is much more beautiful than any sun-tanned body could be. There is so much about the night that humans can't appreciate. There is much in the human world that is overrated, actually.

They are working miserable jobs so they can feed and clothe their accidental children, too busy reaching for false power in the form of money and job promotions and their so-called God that they don't know how weak they really are, both in body and in spirit. The true pleasures in life are not in material objects, but in bodily sensations. The way the darkness strengthens my body, the heightened sense of taste and smell, the way a fresh feeding feels -- these are the most worthwhile things in life. Or should I say, in death.
"Are you okay?" the girl is asking me. She's looking at me, her forehead crinkled with concern. I'd forgotten that I'd asked her a question. I must have missed her reply. Oh well, it doesn't matter.
"Yes," I tell her. "I'm perfectly alright. But there is something that would make me feel even better."
She shivers in the night air, saying nothing, still looking at me with her clouded green eyes.
"I'd like to hear your laugh forever," I tell her, as I pull my lips back from my fangs and reach for her neck.

Ten Years of Terror: The 2010 Halloween Horrorquest

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