The early morning sun began its laborious journey of the new day. Its rays, weak from the early hour, fought with the myriad shadows that still predominated throughout the city. Harris easily assumed the slow, awkward gait of those around him and tried not to stare at the surrounding scenes of disrepair.

The vampires cared little for the living conditions of their food supply. After they had taken over they had merely erected walls around the cities and left the survivors to do as they would within these pens. Except, of course, for the thralls and the serum.

The thralls were not vampires, but not fully human either. The vampires could not function in the daylight, so they needed others to police their food supply. The thralls, so named due to their total bond of obedience to the vampires, had all been bitten but not fully drained. This gave them strength beyond human capabilities, but nowhere near the level of their vampire masters. They were allowed to live in luxury and do as they pleased with their charges, as long as the quota of fresh blood was achieved.

"God-damned serum," Harris fumed silently as he passed two thralls manhandling a woman too doped to defend herself.

The vampires had developed the serum to keep the humans docile. Each month everyone had to attend their local clinic for a fresh injection. The thralls kept records; they rounded up and killed anyone who failed to attend. They didn’t know much about the serum or how it worked, but they did know that it acted to slow down the body's ability to interpret signals from the brain.

Each and every one of the people living in the city were fully aware of the horror around them, but were physically unable to do anything about it. Although the city was surrounded by walls, each person inhabited their own private cell: able to eat, dress and perform simple, mundane tasks, but completely incapable of acting independently.

Harris had grown up in this city and it tore his heart to see the once beautiful Town Square, always awash with blooming flowers and laughter, now desolate and dark. His father had brought him here regularly and they’d sit and watch the world go by, neither one saying anything as they soaked up the life that surrounded them. Harris felt deep regret when he remembered his parents. His mother had been the glue that held the family together, although he never knew how she had put up with three men in the family.

She had died of cancer two years previously. Soon after that his brother Josh had taken off and they hadn’t heard from him since. His father, once a tall, mountain of a man, had shrunk terribly after the stroke last year and, though the doctors had said that he should fully recover, he never had. Harris knew that no medicine could have treated the real reason for his death. His wife’s passing had drained his vitality and spark; the prospect of a lonely old age was not worth fighting for.

Harris had enrolled in the local university to study Engineering and, although he had plenty of friends, he often came down to the square alone for lunch to enjoy the area’s sunshine and vitality and remember happier times. The fountain in the middle of the square, previously the centrepiece with water gushing from its twin spouts, was now dry. Clumps of weeds and dead flowers spilled out over the fountain basin.

He stopped at a red brick building at the end of the street and joined a queue of about ten people. When he finally shuffled into the serum room, he suppressed the urge to run, but had a difficult time concealing the look of shock that wanted to register on his face.

“Twelve thralls,â€