The boy sits trembling among the rubble that once was his house, clenching his bloodied hands around his ears in a desperate attempt to muffle the tearing screams that come from outside. He burrows himself deeper into the corner he was hiding in and presses his nose against his bruised and battered knees, holding his breath as a cloud of black smoke rolls over him, drowning him in the smell of fire and ash.

Another scream echoes through the air, followed by a series of growls and hisses, the spattering of something wet against the side of the house, and then it is silent once more.

Only a moment passes, yet it feels like hours to the boy, unable to move or help, as the sounds of slaughter drown him. He remains still, but then the door bangs open, and the boy scrambles to the nearest window as he was told, ready to jump and run. However, there is no threat in the opening; it is his mother, her face covered in smudges of dirt and droplets of blood, her once clean and beautiful dress hanging in soaked shreds around her body, a broken, rusty sword in her fist. She rushes to him, grasping him in her arms and pressing him to her bosom tightly.

"You must run, James. Run and hide, find somewhere safe," his mother mutters softly into his ear.

James begins shaking his head, but she grasps his face in her soft hands. "You need to, there's no other way. Go through the window and straight for the woods. Don't look back!"

She pushes him away from her, and he runs to the window, heaving his body over the wooden beam before a scream returns his gaze to his mother. An unknown woman clings to her back, hair as red as the fire around him, pale fingers clamping over his mother's mouth and face, bending until her neck is revealed to the hungry, crimson eyes of the vampire. His mother is in tears, wrestling and thrashing until her mouth is freed for only a few seconds.

"Go!" she screams, then howls as the glinting fangs of the vampire slash through her artery, releasing a flow of blood dripping to the ground until she latches on, drinking greedily as she sucks the life out of James' mother, right before his eyes. She goes limp, her skin turning pale and her eyes fading from bright blue to dull gray until she looks nothing like the lively woman James once knew anymore.

His mother is dropped to the floor, and glowing red eyes find him from across the room.

James' fingers slip from the window sill, free-falling and then landing sloppily on his knees before he runs blindly for the trees. He hears the vampire land behind him on the ground, snarling and hissing at him to turn around. But the boy dares not to look over his shoulder and pushes his body instead to go faster, fighting the tears that threaten to roll down his cheeks.

He cannot lose now, not when his mother gave his life for him.

He knows the nearest town is over a day away, a path he and his mother had taken countless times before. Now, however, he had a bloodthirsty vampire hot on his heels, and the chance of escaping had diminished. He pants, then, after realizing it had gone silent behind him, James slowly turns around while he tries to catch his breath. He scans the trees to catch a glimpse of the fiery redhead, but the vampire is nowhere to be seen. The thick, black smoke rising above the treetops catches his gaze then. He follows the plume of smoke down to his village, once beautiful and thriving, now burned to the ground in piles of ashes, its citizens violated, tortured, dead. He could very well be the only survivor.

Anger consumes him like burning flames, racing through his veins like poison, but he is smart enough to know that he could not fight a dozen vampires. And since he has seemingly lost the red-haired woman, he turns back round to continue his run to the nearest town.

He is only running for a few minutes when he is forced to the ground, a searing pain spreading from his shoulder. He glances at his limb, then nearly passes out as he sees the rusted tip of a crude arrow sticking from his skin. He claws at it, trying to break the tip off so he can remove the stem from his flesh, but the wood is not bending, and he grunts in agony as another wave of prickling pain and nausea rolls over him. James scrambles behind a tree, palming his mouth with his hand to cut off his heavy breathing.

He does not hear the footsteps of the vampire until they round the tree.

James' eyes squeeze shut in fear, unable to face death as the monster stops in front of him.

"Hello, James," the woman purrs.

He opens his eyes, his vision blurry from the tears, but there is no mistaking the fiery redhead before him.

"You are going to be very valuable to us." The woman smiles softly.

James sputters something, cowering as the woman crouches in front of him.

Then he is silenced as the vampire's teeth pierce his neck.