Chapter 1

The door shakes, hinges squealing in protest as they try to open. You go to it, hesitate. The knocking comes again, louder, more insistent, willing you to come and turn the latch. Such a simple action, turning a little piece of metal, not difficult at all, no reason at all why you shouldn't do it. Still, you feel that the very thought of it is wrong, deep down. You know that there is danger on the other side. The knock comes again, and this time you can't stop yourself, despite your instinctive fear. You reach out and turn the lock. You hear it click.

Immediately, the door flies open. You're too close for it to swing open past you; instead, it hits you in the side, sending you sprawling onto the carpet, out of breath. The sharp pain in the side of your body is quickly overshadowed by your momentary inability to breathe. As you roll over onto your back, you notice that there is no one on the other side of the door, but rather only a faint black mist, which is slowly seeping into the room. It booms, 'You destroyed my family. I destroy yours.' You stare at it, mindlessly fearful, yet knowing that there was no possible way that you were responsible for what the vague form has accused you of. You've never seen him – her? it? – before, or anything like it, let alone its family.

The mist enters the room, slowly condensing, creating a monstrous nightmare form that is all too familiar to you. As the mist clears from about his face, his pale skin is revealed underneath, a perfect white, whiter than the full moon you know to be hanging in the sky outside. His midnight hair falls just under his shoulders, carefully trimmed, but hanging loose. Dark, trim eyebrows furrow over his red eyes, which are filled with the desire for blood, your family's blood, your blood. He looms over you, huge beyond belief, or at least he seems to be. As he looks down on you, his hair falls in front of his face, and he calmly brushes it back. In your hazy confusion, you don't notice that he doesn't physically brush it away, but rather that it seemed to move of its own volition, and is still moving, a dark, writhing halo.

After a moment spent towering over you, he leans forward, grasping your collar and pulling you to your feet, then off your feet. Your legs flail a foot above the ground, oddly never actually coming into contact with any part of his body, though you legs kick in all directions. You groggily acknowledge his incredible strength; despite your bulk, he still manages to lift you easily with one hand and no apparent strain. Paying no heed to his obvious advantages over you, you reach out in an attempt to grab some part of him, but you cannot get a grip on any part of his skin or clothing.

All of this happened before the initial confusion of being floored by the rapidly opening door cleared. Now, that shock does dissipate, and fear takes its place. Not a rational fear, but an intense, primal fear. This is the most basic type of fear, a fear that has always been a part of the human psyche, though it rarely has the opportunity to surface: the fear prey feels toward a predator. But what kind of a predator preys on humans?

You feel a single heartbeat pass before you realize that you hadn't actually formed that thought; the dark tower in front of you had asked it. Though you are absolutely sure that the question had not originated in your own head, you are also truly positive that no words were spoken, the only sounds in the room your guttural groans as the being begins to squeeze your windpipe. The question was clearly rhetorical, since he is currently depriving you of your voice, but he squeezes a little harder, as if he expected you to answer and became angry when you didn't.

'No, I didn't expect you to answer.' Pause. 'And yes, I am reading your thoughts. If you can call these insignificant mumbles thoughts. But I won't be for much longer.' Blackness begins to creep into your field of vision, invading your eyes, though you try to push it back. With utter, abject fear, you realize that this time, it isn't the strange mist that accompanied the man into the room. The blackness spreads, and consciousness begins to leak from your mind. You can no longer feel pain, but a simple pressure on your throat, nothing too disabling. Rather, you feel that although the pressure is slightly insignificant, there is no real reason to even attempt to lessen it. At one point, you even realize that you should want to stop it, and yet you don't. You try to struggle out a few last ragged breaths, but the pressure becomes greater with every attempt and eventually you give up completely. As you feel the knife stabbing into your neck, you know that there should be pain, but that it doesn't matter anymore.

Niac's eyes shot open. He bolted upright in bed, sweat dripping from his brow and pooling on the floor as he shook his head, trying to clear it. Horror and despair shot through his head, alien sensations he had never felt at any time other than after the dream. Again. I had the dream again. He had no idea what it meant or why he continually had it, day after day. Usually it happened towards dusk, so that by the time he awoke, he could take his mind off of it by entering the night and distracting himself in the hunt. The only thing he could remember from the dream was that the figure resembled him in a perverse, twisted way. He could never puzzle out whether any of it meant anything, or if it was just a random combination of images his mind threw together. Already, they were fading from his memory, as they always did; only a faint sense of confusion remained.

He wiped his brow, removing the remainder of the sweat, and his arm came away drenched in red. Fuck! I'm going to have to actually feed again tonight. I've been losing too much to these dreams. Don't get it on your clothes, dumbass, blood stains. He threw the covers back and trudged to the bathroom. He groped the wall for a moment, trying to find the switch, before he realized – once again – that he didn't need it. It was instinct to reach out and flip the light switch, but he hadn't the faintest idea why. It was a passing impulse – a human instinct. Fuck, not this again. He clenched his fist, and small red crescents quickly arose on his palm where his nails broke the skin, drawing blood, pain, and his attention for a few moments, but they quickly healed again, leaving him wondering why he had been suffering from seemingly random bouts of human instinct.

He stared into the darkness of the bathroom, bright as the blasphemous sun to his ultra dilated pupils. Remembering the red stain on his hands and arm, Niac reached for the wall and pulled a towel from the rack. He stared at the towel for a moment, a silent indication of just how long these dreams had been plaguing him. When he had bought the towel, it had been a slight off-white color, perhaps the same shade as an egg. Now, it by the grace of so many sleepless days, it was stained to a deep crimson, permeated by the blood that covered his arm. Not a patch of white remained.

With a sigh, he wiped the towel across his face, removing what blood he hadn't already transferred to his arms. He ran some water in the sink and submerged his hands and arms in it, quickly turning the pristine tap water to a murky brownish color. As he dried his hands on a different towel, he checked the clock. Seven thirty. It was still early, not quite dusk yet, and he knew that trying to sleep would be futile; he could never regain that state of oblivion after having had the dream, no matter how clearly he remembered it. He settled in for a few more hours in his house, not wanting to brave the sun and suffer the subsequent weakness. On a whim, he opened the blinds and looked outside. It was overcast. With the sun hidden by the clouds, he wouldn't be quite as weak as he was in broad daylight, but did he want to risk it? There was always the chance that he could run across a lone Hunter, or worse, he could always stumble into an entire team of Hunters.

After a moment of pondering, he decided to risk it. He was confident in his abilities, even when he was weakened. After all, couldn't he already achieve many things at the age of twenty that some centuries older could not? Besides, there were always more people out just before darkness fully fell, and he was extremely hungry. Those dreams always drained him quite thoroughly, and having his choice of meals would help raise the efficiency of feeding.

His mind made up, he reached for all the familiar things. An all leather solid black trench coat, running from his collar to the ground, hiding almost his entire body. In many places, such a covering would be extremely conspicuous, and he would be marked as a threat and possibly confronted. Though he could take care of that easily enough, he preferred staying in the streets anyway, so it wasn't so much of a problem; lone individuals were momentarily put on their guard when they saw him, but he didn't have to deal with them for more than a few moments at most. Overall, the coat definitely was worth was the risk, since it hid almost all of his overly pale skin, except for his hands, which he covered in black leather gloves, and his face. By turning up the collar, he attracted a little bit more attention – after all, it was only October and not that cold out – but he also hid his neck from the public.

His long gray hair was a little eccentric, but didn't attract too much attention in and of itself; he pulled it back and held it there with a simple rubber band. Generally, he wore it loose, but putting it in a ponytail kept it out of his face while he was hunting and – hopefully – feeding. Usually, he chose this route to attract less attention; he could always use Dark to achieve the same thing, but it was much more obvious.

He covered his eyes with red-tinted sunglasses; though he may have preferred simple black glasses, these red ones were more effective. With plain sunglasses, anyone who managed to catch a glimpse at his eyes behind the shades would see that they were not a natural color; with these, anyone in that situation would assume (with a little prodding, perhaps) that the color of the glasses simply reflected back on his eyes, tinting them an unnatural red. To complete his guise, he pulled on a black fedora. The long brim of the hat cast a shadow over his face, somewhat masking his pale and dead looking skin.

As he prepared to enter the outside world, Niac sighed. If it didn't help him blend into shadows so well, he wouldn't wear so much black clothing; he knew that he looked like a stereotypical vampire from a bad science fiction movie, an image that didn't usually help him hide in a crowd. Rolling his eyes at the ridiculous image that the media had created of the night creatures, Niac opened the door and began his hunt.

Someday, they'll know what a real vampire looks like.