Ethel was awakened as usual by the shrieks of her conscience. She took a long swig from the bedside bottle of whisky, and then lay there while her soul succumbed to the anaesthetic. She knew the drill; she’d seen it in countless others whose heads she had cradled as they drifted, at first terrified, then delirious, and then finally at peace, into eternal sleep. You don’t survive a vampire apocalypse without seeing some stuff.
Sedated enough to face another day, she went outside and cleaned the traps around the house. It had been a fruitful night: two caught on the front porch, one at the back, and another two behind the shed. Plunge a stake through the chest, remove the head with a sharp cleaver, and then onto the next one; it didn’t take long. By the time she had finished the other household chores the sunlight has turned the bodies into piles of flaky ash. Then it was just a matter of dispersing them with the leaf blower.
In the front yard in the late afternoon, an energetic spell on her drum kit helped Ethel unwind, and reminded her there was still beauty in the world. It also attracted survivors. Hers was the only occupied house for miles, and sometimes travellers would stay there overnight on their way between towns. Such travellers would always invite Ethel to leave with them the next morning, and she always refused.
As she slid her drumsticks back into their velvet bag, she saw a young woman enter the gate and walk up the long gravel road to the house. Ethel pushed back the hair that had stuck to the sweat on her brow and watched the woman approach. The young visitor would have been no more than twenty years old, and was dressed only in a nightgown. She moved slowly and her steps made little noise, barely disturbing the loose stones. Her breathing was shallow. Ethel retrieved a small flask from her pocket and took a shot of burning liquor. She put the flask back, removed the string of garlic from around her neck, and then put her hand into another pocket. “You’re safe here, child,” she said, and walked over to meet her. The young woman seemed disoriented, but glad to see a welcoming face. Once she was in reach, Ethel grabbed the woman by the neck and threw her to the ground with one hand, while drawing a loaded pistol from her pocket with the other. She put her foot on the woman’s back, leaned down and pressed the gun against her temple and pulled the trigger. The silver bullet did its job.
Two small, white puncture marks could be seen on the young woman’s neck. Ethel removed a long, silver bayonet from her sock and set the point between the woman’s shoulder blades. Leaning upon the hilt, she eased the weapon through and into the ground. A wolf howled in the distance. Ethel looked and saw her long shadow was now hard to distinguish. She turned to view the sun dipping below the hills in the west; the young woman’s body would have to wait until tomorrow; the leaf blower could take care of it. Ethel went back to the house, picking up her garlic on the way. With a bottle in her hand, she spent the evening watching old sitcoms.
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