Ghost

Rory lay in his bed. He couldn't sleep. It was physically impossible for him to sleep, but he liked the comfort. He glanced at the clock on his bedside table. 8:07 pm. He wouldn't usually be asleep at this hour anyway. Even if it was possible, he wouldn't be able to sleep. His mother's weeping and screaming would haunt him for the rest of his life... or whatever you could call his existence now.

It was too much. Rory sprung to his feet and left his bedroom. He ran down the stairs, trying not to listen to the screams coming from his parents' room, and out of the front door. The best part of being dead, he supposed, was being able to do anything without repercussions. He wasn't in any danger whatsoever. Rory's house was situated in the suburbs, a short bus ride from town. There was another up-side of no-one being able to see you; not having to pay for anything. Rory waited at the bus stop for the night bus to roll around the corner. Eventually it did so, a few drunken stragglers on board. He hopped on as a man Rory vaguely recognised stumbled out of the door, a bottle of Jack Daniels in hand. He took a seat at the back of the bus beside a young girl who had a tear-stained face, mascara running down her cheeks.

"What's wrong with you then?" Rory asked her. Obviously, she didn't reply. "Well, let's see," Rory went on, looking her up and down. "Clothes are intact, no cuts or bruises or anything, so you didn't get attacked. Hair's still perfect as well. Broke up with your boyfriend maybe?"

As if she could hear him, the girl started crying silently again, putting her head in her hands. Rory smiled compassionately and placed an arm around her shoulders comfortingly. To his surprise, she reacted. She looked up and straight at him. Rory's heart skipped a beat. Could the girl see him..? Dashing his hopes, she looked away from him and glanced in the other direction, in search of the source of... she wasn't sure what. The bus came to a halt at the next stop. The girl got up from the seat and tottered from the bus, tearfully thanking the bus driver as she disembarked. Rory watched the girl as the bus rounded the corner and disappeared.

G H O S T

The bus came to a stop in town. Clubs and pubs were beginning to open, as the time approached 9 o'clock. Here and there, Rory spotted people from college; some were friends, some weren't, some were people he knew by face only. Every one of them saddened him though. What he wouldn't give for one of them to be able to see him, give him a link to the living world...

"Oh my God! No! What's happened!" shouted a shrill voice. Rory turned to notice that the noise had come from a nearby alleyway. It was a loud shout. So why could no-one else surrounding him hear it? Pushing this to the back of his mind, Rory advanced, investigating. As he reached the mouth of the alleyway, a man appeared, wearing a balaclava, black clothes and a baseball cap, stowing something into a bag around his shoulder. He approached Rory and stepped right through him. Rory gasped as he did. That was new.

"What's going on..." a stuttering voice said from the alleyway. Rory noticed a body lying on the floor, with a second figure standing next to it. Rory jogged towards them and as he did so, the standing figure, a teenage boy, looked at him.

"Help me! What's going on, please help me!" the person said to him. Rory stared in shock.

"You can see me?" he asked in surprise.

"Of course I can see you, what's going on? Why are you smiling?" the boy shouted at Rory, who had indeed grinned at the revelation.

"Sorry," Rory told him. He glanced at the body on the floor. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "I think he's dead," he eyed the blood gushing out of the multiple knife wounds in the chest and stomach.

"I know he is! That's me!" the boy cried, pointing at the corpse. Rory looked from the boy to the body and noticed that he was telling the truth. Through the blood spattered across the face, he noticed the same nose, the same hair, the same eyes. So that was why the boy could see him. He was dead too...

"Listen..." Rory started. Before he could go on, he saw something familiar over the boy's shoulder. The boy followed his gaze and saw the ornate wooden door that had replaced the seedy club's back entrance. A beautiful white light seeped out of the cracks surrounding the door.

"What's that..." the boy whispered, entranced.

"Next step," Rory told him simply.

The boy approached the door and touched the handle. It seemed to convey the necessary information to him through touch. He looked up at Rory, who had joined him at the door. "Thank you," he whispered. He pulled the door open and entered. He was soon lost in the light of the beyond, though Rory continued to gaze at it. It seemed to be calling him. It was so beautiful...

A strange noise brought Rory to his senses. A sucking noise. Like a hungry child gorging itself on jelly or something. He looked to his right and noticed there was a figure lying over the boy's dead body. Rory was afraid. Should he run? Why should he? He was dead. Whatever the person was doing, they couldn't do anything to Rory. The person seemed to sense something. They shot a gaze straight at Rory. It was a girl. And Rory recognised her. She had long, ginger hair and a slim build. She was a girl at Rory's college. But he'd never seen her like this. Emily Phillips' eyes were deep, dark, black holes, with no eyeballs. She had bloodstained teeth. Or perhaps 'fangs' would be the correct word. She blinked and her eyes became human. She closed her mouth and wiped it, before recognition crept across her face.

"You're dead," Emily told Rory, licking blood off of her fingers.

"You're drinking his blood," Rory shot back.

"You're a ghost," Emily concluded.

"You're a vampire," Rory finished.

Both were shocked at the others' failure to contradict their ridiculous assumptions. Before either could say anything else, a commotion sounded from the end of the alleyway. Rory and Emily spun on the spot to see a silhouette running towards them. It collapsed in front of them, screaming in agony. Emily recoiled in horror, holding her hand over her nose and mouth.

"Jesus Christ!"

"Help me!" Rory shouted as he fell to the person's side. Emily took a deep breath and knelt down beside the person.

"Tom?" she asked in shock. Rory noticed that she was right. He too recognised the person as Tom Harvey, a boy in his year at college. Tom screamed again, looking at his hands in horror. They were covered in blood. Claws seemed to be emerging from Tom's fingers. Tom's eyes were yellow and didn't even look human. Fangs not dissimilar to Emily's formed in his mouth. His face elongated and nose grew, hair and fur sprouting all over Tom's face and body. Rory and Emily backed away in horror at the creature taking shape in front of them.

Vampire

"Emily Phillips, don't you dare leave this house!" her mother cried as Emily threw open the front door.

"I'm hungry," Emily told her calmly. "I'm going into town. To get something to eat," she turned to face her mum, full-on. "Unless you'd like me to eat here?" she asked menacingly. Mrs Phillips didn't respond. What had happened to her daughter recently? Emily gave her one last look and left, slamming the door behind her.

Emily took a breath of fresh air as she left the house and stepped outside. She probably shouldn't have threatened her mum like that. Emily hadn't told her what had happened to her, but she knew that her mum had noticed a change in her. What if she did something about it? Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, Emily smiled and walked down the road, the thought of a fresh meal driving her onwards. She only lived a ten minute walk from the centre of the city. She'd be feeding within the hour...

V A M P I R E

I probably should have made some sort of effort, Emily thought, as she walked through the throngs of young people milling about, waiting for their nights to begin. In her tracksuit bottoms, tank top and messy hair, she stuck out like a sore thumb. These people weren't likely to get blood on their clothes though, she reminded herself. Nevertheless, as she noticed people she recognised, she consciously changed direction to avoid being noticed. Just keep to the back alleys, she told herself continually. Someone's bound to have been attacked. The fresher the better...

"Em?" said a familiar voice. Emily turned in horror to see an old friend of hers, Molly. Molly was dolled-up to the max, face caked in make-up. Since becoming a vampire, Emily saw no point in make-up. At times, she didn't see any point in anything, other than the thirst. Deciding not to reply, Emily just turned and ran. Molly wouldn't be able to give chase, not in those ridiculous high heels.

"Emily!" she heard Molly shout after her. She dived into an alleyway, getting out of sight. Catching her breath, she glanced down the alleyway. Still no bodies. This was pathetic. On a good night, she'd have probably found two bodies by this time. Emily felt faint. She hadn't fed off of another since the previous Saturday.

"Sod it," she muttered. Raising her hand to her mouth, she sliced it open on her fang and drew her own blood from it, the relief at having blood trickle down her throat overriding the pain of the deep cut being bored into her hand. It was never as good as someone else's blood but, as it seemed she wasn't going to find a good corpse for the time-being, it would have to do.

"Get down there you cocky little bastard!" said a harsh, rough voice. A tall man dressed in black pulled a young boy of about sixteen into the alley by the scruff of his neck. Neither of them noticed Emily, who was still standing in the shadows of the alleyway. The man dragged the boy further into the alley and threw him to the ground.

"Leave me alone!" the boy shouted.

The man shoved his hand over the boy's mouth violently and whispered to him. "You want to keep your fucking little mouth shut," he whispered maliciously. "Unless you want to meet my little friend..." Emily didn't even have to look at the pair to know that the man had just drawn a knife from his bag. She was torn. On the one hand, the boy was young. Far too young to die, especially in such a horrific way. On the other, if she didn't let it happen, she'd probably end up killing someone herself. Making a split-second decision, she ran out of the alleyway. If she was going to feed from the boy, she couldn't bring herself to watch the killing...

V A M P I R E

Emily returned to the alleyway a few minutes later. The man who'd dragged the boy didn't seem like the type to hang about. Sure enough, when she arrived at the mouth of the alley, the man was nowhere to be seen. Emily drew a deep breath. There it was, at last. That fantastic, glorious smell. Blood. She let the bloodlust take over, revealing her fangs. She let the thirst lead her to the body and she descended upon it. She gulped the warm, sticky, substance from the multiple knife wounds, being sure not to make her own incisions into the boy's body – best not to add to the boy's blood wounds. That would complicate the murder investigation. What was that? Emily looked up and snarled. There was a boy. The tiny voice in the back of her mind called sense bubbled to the surface, and she took back control of herself.

"You're dead," she realised the boy was Rory, the person from college who had been found dead in his house. Ordinarily, she'd be freaking out. But since becoming a vampire, anything was possible, she assumed. Emily licked a bit of the boy's blood from her finger.

"You're drinking his blood," Rory told Emily.

"You're a ghost," Emily said, knowing it without knowing why.

"You're a vampire." How did he know? Same reason she knew, she supposed. Before Emily could think of a reply, she heard a noise from the end of the alley. A person had screamed and was running towards them, shouting in agony. Two bodies in one night after all? The person collapsed to the floor on all fours, in front of them. Emily smelled, expecting blood. What she was met with disgusted her. Her mouth jumped to her face, defending her mouth and nose from the putrid stench the stranger had brought into the alleyway.

"Jesus Christ!"

"Help me!" Rory shouted at her. He was already kneeling down by the person, attempting to help him. Emily knew she should help the boy. She hadn't even tried to help the other one. Taking a deep breath, she joined Rory at the boy's side. Looking at his face, she realised she recognised him.

"Tom?" she cried out. The boy was the person at college who'd been attacked by that thing in the woods a few weeks back. She didn't know it was humanly possible to smell that bad though...

Tom unleashed another agonised scream. He raised his hands and Emily was shocked to see them transforming. Yellowing, razor-sharp claws were forcing their way through the tips of Tom's fingers, replacing his fingernails. His eyes gained an inhuman yellow pigment. His nose and chin stretched out, elongating so that it looked similar to a dog. Emily was speechless, she and Rory backing away from Tom as fur sprouted over his entire body.

"Get back!" a man sprinted into the alleyway. He seized Tom by the scruff of his neck and dragged him down the alleyway, not even noticing the corpse of the dead boy. Tom was growling now, fighting back, but the man's grasp kept him restrained. The man kicked open the gate of a nearby storage cellar and threw Tom inside. He slammed the door shut and locked it. Emily and Rory followed and looked through the gate at Tom. Tom was gone. In his place stood, on all fours, a large, vicious, terrifying wolf.

"What. The fuck. Is that?" Emily asked the man, who was standing behind them, frowning.

"Doesn't matter. Just don't open that gate," the man was Irish. He had long-ish dark hair and was dressed in dark clothes. He had fingerless gloves on his hands.

"Should we call the police or something?" Rory muttered to Emily.

"No!" the man pointed at Rory. "Whatever you do, do not call the police!"

Rory stared at the man in surprise. "You can see me too?"

"Of course I can see you," he told Rory, confused. Then his face softened. "Oh. You're dead too, right?" Rory nodded slowly. "Right, well. Just let him out in the morning when he's back to his normal self." The man turned on his heel and strode away from Rory and Emily.

"Wait!" Emily shouted after him. "What's happened to Tom? And who are you?"

"If the guy in there is Tom," the man said, turning back to them, "then Tom's a werewolf. My name's Mitchell. Good to meet you." Mitchell's face didn't support his words. With one last look at the pair, he turned away and left the alley.

Werewolf

Tom picked up a pen and crossed over the box for the 16th on his calendar. Twenty eight days since the attack. Twenty-eight days ago exactly, he'd be heading out to the woods with his friends. He glanced at the clock on the wall. 19:45. He supposed he'd have the scars on his back for life. They certainly hadn't faded at all. But hey, a nice, impressive battle wound to show off. Certainly an ice-breaker! People might be a bit confused when he started taking his shirt off though...

"Tom!" called his mum. "Time to go!" Tom threw the pen onto his desk and tramped down the stairs to meet his mum. He had to go to the hospital in town for a physio check-up.

"Don't see why I have to go," Tom grumbled as his mother ushered him out of the door. "I'm fine. I can walk and everything. The scratches don't even hurt anymore."

"Because it's what they always do. Now hurry up and get in the car. We're going to be late."

W E R E W O L F

Tom was sure to stroll through the front doors of the hospital's automatic doors without a care in the world, keen to show that he was absolutely fine. As he entered, he noticed a few heads turn in his direction. They looked angry, incensed.

"If looks could kill..." Tom muttered. Suddenly, a stabbing pain shot through his entire body. Tom doubled-up in pain, managing to keep his mouth shut.

"Come on Tom, no time for dawdling!" called his mum as she hurried inside after him.

Tom's mum approached the reception desk to sign in for their appointment. Tom looked around the entrance hall. He noticed more people steal looks at him. In the far corner, he saw someone look right at him, then at their watch before hurriedly leaving, dragging their companion with them. As they walked past, Tom saw them both shaking their heads in annoyance.

"Lycos..." one said to the other.

"Tom?" Tom turned to see Doctor Phillips smiling at him. He politely smiled back and Tom and his mum followed the Doctor through the corridors of the hospital until they reached the consulting room.

"Right then Tom," Doctor Phillips said kindly, sitting down at his desk. "How are you doing?"

"Fine," Tom assured Doctor Phillips. He felt another stabbing pain. He grunted, but covered it up with a false cough. When he felt able to continue, he did so. "I actually feel fine. The scratches don't even hurt anymore."

"Well that's good. I must say, I haven't heard of such brutal wounds healing so fast. You must be very lucky!" Doctor Phillips smiled. He opened a drawer on his desk and pulled a file out, which he opened. "Oh, Mrs Harvey. I need you to sign some forms for me. Boring stuff, won't take a moment. Could you come with me? You can stay here Tom." Doctor Phillips paced to the door of the room and held it open for Tom's mum. In a second, they were gone.

"Argh!" Tom doubled over again, this time venting his pain. He took deep breaths. The stabs were getting worse. He noticed a water cooler with some plastic cups behind the Doctor's desk. He surely wouldn't mind if he had some. Perhaps it might take the sting out of the strange pains. Tom got to his feet and walked over to the cooler. A sting of unprecedented force shot through his body. Tom was thrown to the floor, shouting out in both surprise and agony. The door to the room was thrown open and a man hurried over to him. Thank god, thought Tom. Help.

"Help me," Tom gasped. "I don't know what's happening." He let out another shout. "It hurts so much!"

I don't give a shit how much pain you're in," the man said venomously. He grabbed Tom's collar and hauled him to his feet. "You need to get as far from here as you possibly can. If you don't, everyone in this hospital will die."

Tom didn't reply. He just looked at the man, confused.

"Go."

Still, Tom didn't reply.

"Are you fucking deaf? GO!" the man shouted angrily.

Stumbling out of the room, Tom left the man far behind. He took the stairs two at a time, running as fast as he could. Somewhere inside him, he knew that the man was right. He vaulted the end of the banister and sprinted across the lobby. He shouted out again, nearly tripping, attracting attention from the various visitors and staff. He dodged around people at the door and turned left in the street. He consciously noted how dark it had become during the short time he'd been inside the hospital. His phone in his pocket began to ring. He took it out as he ran. It was mum.

Tom screamed. An agonising, piercing scream. People all around him stared, some quickening their pace, some backing away from him. Tom dropped his phone in his haste to get away, leaving it on the pavement, still ringing. Adrenaline coursing through his veins, he kept running. Running as fast as he could. He didn't even know why. He just knew, instinctively, that he had to get as far from people as possible. He turned a corner and saw, to his horror, that he had run straight into a large crowd of people. He chose an alleyway at random and ran down it. As he passed into it, he screeched again. There were two more figures standing about half way down. Too late to turn back, he collapsed in front of them, succumbing to the pain. The stabbing feeling was flooding his body like a plague, reaching into every dark corner of his being.

"Jesus Christ!" said a female voice. Tom's vision was fading through the pain.

"Help me!" shouted a second voice. Both people knelt at his side as he screamed again, ready to pass out from the pain. Why wouldn't the stupid people run? Didn't they know what he'd do to them?

He heard the female voice say something else. His hearing was going too. Tom felt an unearthly pain in his hands. With monumental force, he picked up his hand from the ground in front of him and looked at it. Physical pain transferred to emotional pain as he saw his hands transforming, bloodied, yellowing claws forcing their way out of his fingertips. Suddenly, Tom's eyesight returned, with a vengeance. He saw every little detail of what was in front of him. He saw each individual hair of the people in front of him, every individual change in face muscle, every fibre on their clothes.

Vicious thoughts flooded his brain. Look at that throat. So weak. Vein pumping hot blood through it. He could rip it out in seconds. The girl leaned in, as if asking him to do it. Then both she and the boy backed away, horrified looks on their faces. Perhaps they weren't so stupid.

"Get back!" said a third voice. Tom's hearing had returned to him too. He snarled as a harsh, strong hand grabbed the back of his neck. He struggled, fighting the man. He was dragged down the alley, still kept restrained. All Tom had to do was turn his head and rip the pathetic man's arm from its socket... Tom was thrown to the floor and heard a slamming of metal on metal. Turning back, he saw the man standing behind a metal gate. Screaming once more, he allowed the beast to take over.