The inside was dark. Then again, what can you expect inside a coffin? Frank “Vlad” Schumacher felt the first biting sting of dread sink its fangs into his bloodless corpse. With a self-preserving instinct warning him not to consider the crushing power possessed by the six feet of earth above him, or the fact that he had all the wriggle room of a sardine in a closely packed tin, or the inevitable conclusion that no one was coming to dig him up, Vlad began to dream about who he would eat first when he finally rejoined the world.

He imagined slinking in the shadows of some urban houses each plump with two large cars barely fitting into their driveway. And some late night jogger would come, alone in the night, assured in the perfect safety of the neighborhood. He lay in his coffin picturing the subtle jiggle of her curved thighs as she progressed on her circuit. He could just about hear the pounding of her heart grow frantic as she felt his cold presence drawing closer.

She would turn and face him, he thought, and he would meet her round blue eyes with his hypnotic stare. Her hot blood would fight his steely will, he knew, but slowly he would step closer, and then with one bite he would subdue the lavish—some part of his subconscious, growing bored with this fantasy, added a little flavor. Pulling out a necklace, she lifted up a silver cross.

Vlad awoke to his prison, and as the heat of his desire faded, recognition began to filter through the walls he’d built around his memories. The blonde jogger with the brilliant blue eyes, his old friend Lucy. Instinctually, he reached forward, not that he could move his arm much, his fingers brushing the splintering ceiling of his coffin. A memory sneaked pass his resolve, and he saw Lucy, and himself, watching the sun setting in the valley below. What year had that been? What year was it now? In the dead man’s dreams they were still young, and they were alive.

He felt the itch of the old wound, the heart’s unhealed scars driving him to remember. He held onto the sunset for as long as he could, recalling every detail of that quiet hour when he and Lucy sat shoulder to shoulder. The smell of her perfume filled his lonesome hole. He turned to her then, and stuck his nose in her ponytail, simply breathing her in.

Oh the castle he had built in the sky with her. But the sun sets, and there is a night which comes to all. He could feel his bloodless heart dryly pumping in a panicked crescendo as his memories followed their well-trodden course. He drove her home. There was a kiss. He said goodbye. Vlad desperately searched in the darkness for something to distract himself from his own thoughts before they unveiled themselves. There was no stopping this train. He remembered driving away, remembered leaving that house for the last time.

He remembered. He could not forget the hitchhiker, the bite, the sickness, the death, and the undeath. He remembered waking up, hungry and cold, desperately killing, sucking away the life of another. He remembered how the flesh gave way to his teeth, how the stolen life filled his corpse, and how he awoke, the blood clearing his mind. He awoke a murderer, a demon. He awoke with Lucy in his arms, a pale, drained corpse beside him, dressed in black, dressed for mourning, mourning for him.

Vlad lay in his coffin, confined to sleepless darkness. The madness of hunger had passed long ago, like a consuming fire, leaving only regret like black ash. Awake he lay, eternally awake, helpless in the darkness. There was no hope, and there would be no morning for him.

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