I was six when I saw my first dead body.

Not respawn-dead, either, but cold and stiff and gone for good.

don't worry, he'd been dead a while, and it was at a wake. Ma says I was a morbid kid, and sure, I didn't go looking for stiffs. they usually found me first. So, the first dead body I saw was my great Uncle sombeody. You can see how much of an impact it had on me -I don't even remember the guy's name, only that everybody acted all broken up about it until later, when they wouldn't shut up about how much of an bastard he was.

Figures, doesn't it? I even saw my Ma squeeze out a few tears for the guy.

but it wasn't all that bull that really struck me about it. It was the look on the guy's face. His eyes were cracked open just a little and he has this little smirk on like he was pretending to be asleep, just for the fun of it; getting a rise out of all those people fooled by it. I was convinced he'd wake up at some point. That he'd just sit right up and open his eyes.

So I started laughing like a madman in the second row. Ma had to take me outside to recover, and told me now matter how much of a bastard the guy you're burying was, you have to practically commit suicide over it -so as not to be disrespectful or anything.

But the way I see it, it's a hell of alot more respectful to laugh, than to wring out some tears before going on about him like 'good riddance'.

I think I was nervous, too, though. And when I get nervous, I laugh like hell. Half the time I don't even know what I'm nervous for, but you can't shut me up for nothing. If you put another stiff ion front of me right now, I'd probably crack a rib laughing so damn much, I really would.

Stiffs don't bother me anymore. Why should they? I see so many out on the field, and even outside of that, it isn't like great-uncle-whatshisface did ever get up. It's not like dead guys can really do anything to you. the way I splice it, once you're dead the damage is done. I'm not going to care anymore than the next guy if you blubber at y funeral, only to go home and tell about what I bastard I was. I mean, to tell you the truth, you'd probably be right.

See, Ma really believed that seeing a body when you were young would mess you up for life. She meant, of course, outside of funerals and wakes and all. context is everything, you know. Dead guys in coffins make me a hell of alot less nervous than stiff in alleyways -boy, they have me obnoxious with isn't even so bad when the stiffs try to talk to you.

But it's something when they try to kill you.

-

My name is Buddy Glass. I work for Reliable Excavation Demolition under Mann Co. as their Scout. I'm writing this as a warning. I'm probably dead if you're able to read this, or close to it.

A few days ago, I found out something really, really bad about somebody I know. somebody I am sort of close to.

They did something very awful. They are something very awful.

I live on the RED base in Teufort, New Mexico, with the other employees. It's pretty close quarters and all that, and it took me a long while to get used to the guys here. Some of them are pretty weird, and I thought I had gotten used to it. Or that I could handle it. For a while I was sure there was nothing anybody could throw at ,e that I couldn't catch. Not even Spy.

And he's the somebody I'm talking about.

I always thought he was sort of -off, really. I mean, I knew that he was supposed to be a lady killer, but he was a flit, too, and I figured that even if he was a little odd, it wasn't anything I should've been worried for. Worried for my life over, anyway.

then, a few months ago, when we were stationed at Sawmill, it was like a light just switched on in him. He was faster, and funnier, acted happier, like life was amazing, but I never saw him eat, or do anything different at all. He started to go out more, and stay out longer, and later. He started hanging out with our Sniper more.

But the thing that I saw him do, that's the important part.

It's one of the few outposts with a decent bar nearby, and we had all gone out bar our Sniper, and maybe Engie. That was the night I saw him kill somebody.

That isn't even all of it. I mean, I've seen him kill plenty of times before, but this was different. The guy wasn't a Mann Co employee, or even somebody that he knew. but I saw Spy kill him.

I saw Spy eat him.

I didn't even mean to. I was walking back on my own, so I could have the showers to myself for a quick jerk before the rest of them came back, and I passed him and some guy making out. I mean, I knew spy was a little inclined like that, and I didn't really want to get involved, but I figured I could wave, or come over or something, just to break his balls.

Jesus, I'm glad I didn't. I got closer, but not by much. Just enough that I could see them in the light better. It sure as hell wasn't a kiss, that's for sure. The guy was struggling like hell -soundlessly, but with such violence. He was bigger than Spy, too, by nearly a head, but was pinned totally.

Eventually, he went limp against the wall, and in the second Spy pulled away, I was blood. I know I was it. at this point, I was slightly crouched behind a dumpster. Hell, if he was eating this guy, I didn't want him seeing me. and I was sort of shaking, too, to be really honest. I was scared out of my mind.

That wasn't even the most horrible part.

Spy hangs out with out Sniper, like I said, who stays in his van out behind base. Now, Spy isn't a little guy, but he's sort of wiry. And not all that strong. But I saw him, clear as goddamned water, pull this guy over his shoulder, and start towards the van. He had this limp body on one shoulder like a sack of laundry, for Chrissake.

when I got in, I locked my goddamned door and sat the hell up in bed all night. I kept figuring about spy eating that guy, and then worse -our Sniper.

Sniper's a nice guy and everything, a little spaced, but stand-up and all. But even before sawmill, he started getting really attached to Spy. Like, really attached. He got quieter and quieter, and stopped coming to mealtimes, or to bars with us. Practically stopped doing anything.

Watching Spy eat that guy made me wonder if Spy was eating him, too. Or maybe they were one in the same. I saw them both in mirrors and stuff, and you have to be living material to pass through respawn, so I guess the can't be vampires or anything like that.

After that night, I figured I couldn't sit tight and wait until Spy started eating us. I had to find out what was going on with Sniper. For all I knew, they were both eating people, and I didn't want that to happen to Miss Pauling. I didn't tell her, though. I figured I needed something a little more concrete than what might just have been a trick of the streetlight or something.

The next free afternoon I had, I went out to sniper's van to see if he was okay. I hurried out there and everything, because I figured Spy would know if he saw me. I hauled ass, and fumbled for the handle, and saw a hand on the top of the door.

he said, "What are you doing?", but like he found it funny. He was acted so goddamned normal, and it made me nervous as hell. I practically started laughing, too.

"I was jus'-..." What the hell could I say? I needed to make up some excuse to see Sniper, but I hadn't seen him in so long, nothing would sound believable. "I was ju's gonna ask to borrow a shirt."

I was having about two haemorrhages apiece by then. I wondered if he could hear my heart beating like hell, or smell fear or something. I know that eating meat improves your sense of smell. Does eating people do that, too?

"By all means," And he opened the goddamned door, staying right on my ass like he was afraid I was going to make off with Sniper, or something.

There wasn't much room inside. I tried to remember every detail, but it was bland, and nothing really looked suspicious. There was no blood or anything. No meat, or stray copies of 'Dracula'. Nothing much by Sniper practically passed out on his bed.

Spy sat down nest to him and mumbled to him in french. Of course. I didn't get a damn word, and even if I had, I failed my only semester, so it wouldn't have done me a hell of alot of good. At a nudge, Sniper's eyes cracked open the teeniest bit, and he fumbled for his glasses on the nightstand.

"Scout wanted to ask you something." Spy was looking at me then. I had plain forgotten I had even said anything, and tried to think of something -anything, really, that I'd seen Sniper wearing. the trouble was, it had been so long since I'd seen him.

"I, uh-" I started looking around the room nervously. "I jus' wondered i you were usin' your houndstooth jacket. I thought I might-..." My heart was beating like crazy, I swear. I thought I was going to vomit. I figured I had to calm myself down, though. I still what the hell was wrong with the both of them.

Sniper gestured vaguely to a small closet, and said, in the teeniest, tiniest voice you can imagine. "S'on the left."

I rummaged for it and picked it out. I knew the jacket was way too big, but made a show of being grateful anyway. I didn't have a deathwish, y'know. Then, I was stalling in the middle of the room.

"Hey," I said, striving for a breezy tone. "The guy's aint seen you in a while. you want to go out or somethin', slugger?" the 'slugger' gave me away like hell. Sniper was never that familiar with anybody. In fact, I was damn surprised he was even letting Spy sit that close. Not just that, either, he was in the guy's lap, practically.

Spy was staring at me, all intense and stuff. It was like he knew that I knew. I almost started laughing again, I was so damn scared. "I think he perhaps needs his rest tonight. I had planned to go off-bade. You're welcome to jpin me, if you'd like."

I knew it would be suspicious as hell to say yes, but it would look way shadier to say no, so I took him up on it. It's not like I wanted to, I was so damn convinced I'd be his dinner.

I told him I'd be ready in half an hour, and I went out and everything but stuck just below the window. I needed to hear them on their own. If Spy was feeding off of him, or something. Jesus, maybe I really was crazy.

There as some shifting and all that, but not much talking. Eventually, some, but it was so damn quiet, I has to really strain to hear any of it.

"It hurts," Is what Sniper said. He kept mumbling it, like a kid.

"Don't be so dramatic," Spy was clearer, but still pretty quiet "I'll pick you something up tonight. Something to make you feel better."

If I wasn't nervous before, I sure was then. And I was set to keep eavesdropping, when Miss Pauling turned the goddamned corner and scared the bejesus out of me.

Boy, did she look vital and pretty. I didn't like her so near to Spy. I figured she'd be helpless if he put the moves on her.

"What are you doing?" She asked me. He voice was so damn loud compared to sniper's itty-bitty, voice, it was like she was screaming at me. I nodded towards the van and put my hands over my ears.

"I don't wanna scare you." I told her. "But-"

Spy joined us then. "Are you quite ready, Scout?"

I nodded, like a stupid bastard. Hell, loose lips sink ships and I thought it was better to be just suspicious.

We walked to some seedy joint together that was down into the town. It was a hell of a dive, loud music and dark rooms -the exact opposite of a place to talk. We stayed with eachother for the first twenty seconds, practically, before I lost him. as soon as I was sure he was gone, I hightailed it out of there.

Just up the road, ahead of me, there he was. Walking back to base with this girl under his arm. I knew Spy wasn't a complete flit, but she was a real catch, sort of young and very blonde. I stuck to the darkest part of the road, and followed them all the way back to base, when they started having a bit of a moment against the base wall.

I saw Spy make her laugh. I saw Spy kissing her.

and then I saw him rip her throat out.

There was way more blood this time. Way more. The poor broad didn't even get a chance to cry out or nothing. But she squirmed. Jesus, did she squirm, and bleed. All the while, Spy kept on at her throat, way more than with the other guy. No, this wasn't necessity. It was like he was enjoying it.

Spy made his own way back to the van with her body. I got the best glimpse I could, leant against the side of the van, and using my pocket-mirror as a kind of periscope.

He didn't even seem the least bit fussed. That was the worst part: the sonofabitch didn't care, he really didn't. Spy roll out a white tarp, and lay her bodydown change his jacket. Wake up Sniper, still passed out.

Sniper was so out of it, all pale and shaky, but he smiled when he saw Spy. didn't take two looks at the girl on the floor. I mean, I'm pretty sure she was dead by then, but he didn't seem bothered at all but it. He just sort of watched Spy go at her, taking a chunk out of her wrist. Spy's eyes went so goddamned dark and full. He was so into it.

After a few seconds, he licked it clean, and moved his mouth away. that's when I saw them.

Fangs. Real fangs. Like in hollywood. Dracula fangs.

It got rose. I didn't even know it could, but then he handed the girl#s limp arm over to Sniper, and he started having a go. I don't think sniper is a vampire -or whatever the hell Spy is. He wasn't into it at all. No fangs, and his eyes didn't change. He just kept looking up at Spy to see if he was doing a good job.

And Spy? Stroking his hair, practically encouraging him. It was weird as hell. My hand was trembling so much I had trouble making out the damn reflection.

I couldn't even move. I was sort of crying. I don't know -it was dumb, but I wasn't even scared for me. I couldn't help but thinking about that stupid girl, and how she probably had a Ma, and friends, and they'd never even find her.

sniper sucked on that poor girl for forever. I swear he did. Spy wrapped her up in the tarp so nicely -so damn nicely, it could have been a funeral. He turned back to Sniper, and they started getting sort of sexy.

That didn't even bother me. The whole flit thing. But it was like they were celebrating eating that poor girl. I swear. Sniper seemed so out of it, still, but had some kind of energy, now. all I saw was him taking off his shirt. he was covered in some many goddamned scars. I couldn't watch anymore.

I was still crying like hell. I ran like hell down for the infirmary. I ignored all of the guys that could have seen me, and I kept on running until I practically knocked Miss Pauling down in one. Her papers went everywhere, up in the air like goddamn snowflakes.

"I'm obligated to ask you what's wrong." She said, her manner unreadable. It sounded very strange, but I didn't care. I nearly broke down then and there, but figured I didn't want to scare her. She wouldn't know what to do if I just started screaming about vampires. "Mister Glass, you-"

"No time,"I grabbed her hand, and I kept right on to the Infirmary like Spy was actually chasing me,. I just had this weird premonition that he knew that I knew, somehow, and that if I didn't tell somebody tonight, he'd get me for sure.

Down, Medic's office-light was on. Jesus, was I glad for that. And then I remembered.

he hadn't really been himself lately. It was strange. after some accident outside of respawn hours, he'd damaged one side of his face sort of badly, and tried to patch himself up. It doesn't look bad or anything -not compared to the things I see on the field, but one side is much paler than the other, and isn't nearly as expressive. It's not just that, either.

He's started talking to himself a little. Not all that much, but enough, and the way he looks at us, sometimes, I swear, it's like he doesn't know what team he's supposed to be on.

I'd plain forgotten until he came out of his office, one side weary, but open, and the other disturbingly inert. It freaked me out, for sure, but I was too out of breath to even speak. ~

He addressed Miss P, first. "What seems to be the problem, Frau?"

She looked at me, sort of panicked, and then back at him. "I don't-"

I had to interrupt her. It was too urgent. I figured I could always apologise later, if we were still alive. "It's Spy." I was talking at about a hundred miles an hour, but I was clear about it. "I saw him -twice, I saw him eat people! An' -an' he started biting them in the alley and then took them back to Sniper and he started sucking on them, too-"

"Don't scream at me, please." Miss Pauling was frowning at me. It was total crap, anyway, because I wasn't even screaming.

"He's got fangs!" It sounded so promising in my head. I don't now what happened. "He does! He started eating this girl and his eyes went all dark and he wrapped her body in a white tarp and it's probably still there!" I was so out of breath. It was crazy. "You can check." I said to her. "You can check if you don't believe me."

Miss Pauling looked at me. "Why wouldn't I believed you?" she said, slowly. "Why wouldn't I believed that Spy ate somebody?" She was getting real derisive about it.

"I'm not makin' this up!" I was screaming then. But only because they weren't listening. If they'd just listen. "I swear to God, go an' check if you don't believe me."

"what are you telling me?" Medic was looking at me like he was really bored. I didn't even know how to answer him.

"I'm tellin' you that there's something wrong with Spy." I spoke slowly and clearly, in case he didn't grasp it. Again.

Medic wasn't buying it at all. "So, you're telling me he's a vampire?" He sounded so serious, and calm. I had half a mind to agree to that.

But I needed to sound credible. Or sane, at the very least. "C'mon, man, don't be crazy. It's-" I never meant to insult him or anything. Buy it was like I'd said the magic words -Sim Sala bim! And Medic had a hand around my throat so fast.

"you think I am crazy?!" He was the one screaming now, practically heaving me off the goddamned ground. "You think I'm crazy? I will show you who is crazy!"

He practically dragged me onto the examination table. I was kicking and screaming like hell, but it was like he didn't even notice. He tore the live wires out of the light next to me and tested them together, making sparks fly right above my nose.

"You know what they do to crazy people?"

I hadn't even meant what I said earlier, but now I was certain he'd gone round the damn bend, I really was. But he started moving the wires towards me, holding me down by the neck. I was clawing at his hands and face, and he was bleeding and all, but didn't even seem to notice.

I was screaming like hell. "I never said you were crazy! I didn't say nothin'!" But he wasn't stopping. I could feel the heat of the spark through my goddamned eyeballs, and I figured it was all over then. It wasn't even Spy that had eaten me at all. i was still screaming y the time Miss P reached out a hand and stared at Medic hard.

"That's quite enough." Is all she said. And not even loudly. Boy, she was a real spooky kid, that's for sure. No sooner did she say that, than Medic dropped the wires, and let me the hell go. He grabbed his head like he'd been concussed and looked about vacantly.

"My apologies," He tried to laugh, sort of sweetly. "I'm, not much myself today."

You could say that again.

I was still choking like hell, but made a beeline for the exit. I wasn't hanging around for another episode. he called after me, though, stopping me. "What was it you wanted to tell me? About Spy?"

And I could have told him everything. I could have. But all I did was rub my neck and shrug. "don't worry about it, Doc. Get some sleep."

I took miss Pauling's hand, again, though, and spoke to her out in the hall. "you believe me, right?"

She looked at me, dully. "I think-" She sighed. "I think you're very tired, Scout, and if you just sleep on it, it'll all make sense."

Yeah. That's all the thanks I got for trying to save her goddamned neck. Literally.

I figured what I really needed to do was to get Sniper some help. If I could just fix him up or something, maybe he could tell me what the hell was going on. They'd believe him, at the very least.

A few days later, when Spy was out for the evening, presumably talking to dinner at some dive, I got a free moment, and went into Sniper's van. I was trying to be as covert as possible, but I practically fell over a pair of shoes on the way in. Again, there was no sign of blood, or of the body. Just sniper, dead to the world on his bed.

I checked his pulse and everything. He wasn't literally dead, but might well have been. I wanted to test a theory I had of my own, so I picked up his kukri from it's sheath and pricked the end of my finger on it. Nothing too intensive, just a little slice. It started to bleed right away.

That's when Sniper perked up.

I let him take my hand, terrified. He sucked on that bad boy until it felt like my whole hand was dry, and my finger was pruny as hell when it came back out. Then, something even stranger happened.

He practically jumped by bones. I can appreciate that Sniper's a good-looking guy and all, but I wasn't no flit, and he was grinding on me with the kind of energy I was surprised he even had. In a couple of seconds, he had me pinned, and was nipping and biting me like mad.

I tried slapping him hard -and not just for the hell of it I figured he'd snap out of it or something -anything, but he kept right on. he was kissing me, and I could barely fight him off.

Between gaps, I was yelling like a madman. "Sniper!" He wasn't responsive at all. It was like he was in a trance. "Sniper, man, get the hell off of me!"

For a second, he sort of stayed suspended on top me me, staring out into the midspace. "Jesus!" I said to him, softer. "Are you alright?" It was like he was suddenly deaf. I gave him a small shove. "hey, listen to me. Is Spy hurtin' you?"

He wasn't even looking at me. "Spy isn't here right now." He said, quietly.

"Do you wanna leave?"

now, Sniper looked a little confused. He put his hands over his eyes and shook his head. "No, Spy sin't here right now. He'll be back soon."

It was like some strange mantra. I could hardly believe this was the same Sniper I used to know. I shoved him again, nervous. "Can you even hear me?"

"He'll be back soon." And then he started up again, with the kissing, and the pinning my wrists. I was goddamn terrified. I kept screaming, and trying to get him off, but I'm not the tallest or strongest guy you ever saw. to tell you the truth, I was sort of wishing Spy could come back, just to get Sniper the hell off of me.

Hey, wish granted. He burst through the door like a goddamned hurricane.

"What the hell are you doing?!" He tore Sniper off of me for sure, and with no effort at all. It was scared out of my mind -I could hardly speak. "do you have any idea what you've done?! He's going to be sick for a week, at least."

Sniper was still on the floor, drawing himself up slowly, staring at Spy like was some god. It was only then I realised that Sniper was hard -christ, harder than a math test without a calculator. I thought about crawling out of the door, but no sooner did I even flinch than spy slam the door shut and turn on me. I thought it was all over then, I really did.

"Don't move. Don't speak, or I'll kill you this instant. Nod if you understand me."

I nodded like hell. I didn't want to die. at least, not like that.

"I knew I should have killed you when I smelled you in that alley the first time. I thought you were drunk. I gave you the benefit of the doubt." with one arm, I watched him pull Sniper back onto the bed.

"I thought that he-" Sniper was stumbling over his words. Spy didn't care an inch for it.

"Quiet." He said, coldly. and then he turned back on me.

"Are you gonna kill me?" I had to ask. So I could be prepared, or something.

"Mon dieu, no." He sighed like he was done, and sat down. He lit a cigarette and started smoking I looked out for his teeth but didn't get a glimpse of them. "I like you, Scout. And I'm not going to kill you. Providing that you stay put, of course. No more following after me, or scaring the others. Are we clear?"

Despite myself, I nodded. He laughed at me. "you can speak, you know. Are we clear?"

"Crystal." I wheezed.

"Beautiful. Really. Cigarette?"

I waved a hand, trying to be nonchalant. "I'm good."

"If you're sure." He put the cigarette tin back in his jacket and sighed. I guess he caught me staring at Sniper. "You needn't worry about him. He's in safe hands."

I didn't say anything. How could I?

After a while of silence, he looked back up at me. "You must learn to relax. Is my company really so drab?"

Before I could even think, I blurted out, "I saw you eat a girl." what a rude bastard, I know, but I was terrified.

He just laughed a little. "You see me kill people all the time. Why was that any different?"

The laughter made me angry. the memory did. That poor blonde girl didn't even have a name, and she was already dead, and gone without a trace. She was dinner. "That girl had a family."

"You can't know that."

"You didn't even now her name!" I couldn't tell you why the whole thing made me so mad, but it did, and he was making it worse by looking so damn inert.

"Vanessa. how is that? will you sleep all the better tonight knowing that?"

"Maybe." I muttered. It didn't mattered that he probably made the name up. At least In could mourn her, now. At least I could put something more on her imaginary headstone than 'blonde girl'.

"Listen." He said, quietly. "Listen., I don't want to kill you anymore than you want to die. But this...arrangement has some finer details we need to iron out."

I didn't like the sounds of that.

"I'll take you to the forrester's club in town. We can talk there. Just two colleagues meeting. How about that?"

"you want to take me out to dinner?" I swallowed.

"Yes." He let out some smoke. "that, or I could kill you now, and save myself the bill." there was a short pause, and eh laughed again. "So: dinner?"

"Am I dinner?"

He looks at me, very unamused, and straightens his jacket.

"Come now." He says. "I have a very promising proposition for you."