Terry flexed his right hand. It was working as it should be, he decided, clenching it into a fist. Some of the muscles in his forearm had tensed up as well, as they should. But, when he pulled his jacket sleeve back, he wasn’t happy with what he saw.
The large chunk of his arm that Glenn had bitten out was growing back. But it was still a sickly colour, pallid and- he couldn’t be certain under the street lights- possibly tinged with green. More worrying was the way that the skin beyond the edges of the wound was taking on a similar tone, and it seemed to be expanding. It made him sick to look at it. He flicked the sleeve back down, tugging at the cuff to pull it as far as possible.
Up ahead was the bridge they had driven over to get into Salford. Iron arches, held together with fat rivets, held it up. Once, when he was drunk, he had thought about scrambling up one of the arches, to stand at the top, looking down on the river and the drivers. He hadn’t, of course, too scared of slipping and breaking himself in the fall. With his new found dexterity and damage resistance, he could happily have sprinted up the metalwork less than an hour ago. But the wound to his arm, and the craziness of how he sustained it, made him uncertain and nervous again.
When he was cured, and his arm was smooth and firm again, he would run wild about this town. The Mistress would tell him to take care, not to do anything that might draw attention, but he would just remind her that she had abandoned him with the zombies.
First, though, he had to find a way to get better. The damaged flesh was growing back, part of his power as a newly fledged vampire. Drinking blood boosted the powers, so he was going to find someone to drain.
Over the bridge, and into Manchester, there were dozens, hundreds of warm bodies. But they were too close together, it would be too easy to be spotted. He had not yet learnt all the vampire stealth tricks he would need for that. He wasn’t even sure there were such tricks, or if they had just been invented for the movies.
He had to split someone off from a crowd, or find a straggler. He watched a couple of cars go past, then spotted a likely figure. Someone was coming over the bridge, his steps uncertain as he wobbled his drunken way forwards. He was glancing over the parapet of the bridge, looking for something. His body language, and his aura, hinted at the agitation of a full bladder.
Terry stepped into the shadows, and tried to appear interested in something else. There was a hotel on this side of the street, so he stared in the window, concentrating on a darker corner. He might not have a shadow any more, but his intended victim did.
The drunk reached the end of the bridge. Here, there was a small open space with a bench and tree. He was considering pissing against the tree, but soon decided it was too visible for that. Beyond the micro park, there were steps that headed down to the riverside. Terry knew it as one of the places other homeless people occasionally set up their tents. If there were none down there now, it would be the perfect place to feed.
Terry crossed the road quickly, then practised his stealthy creep through the garden. His target was at the bottom of the steps now, looking left and right along the path above the river. He went right, heading under the bridge. Terry waited for him to disappear under the structure, then followed.
The riverside pathway was laid with orange-red bricks, with a barrier to keep walkers from falling into the water. Years of water, and a lack of recent work, had led to some of the bricks sinking or jutting up. Terry handled the uneven surface better than the drunk, who stumbled and swore, his shout echoing unenthusiastically once under the bridge.
There was the rattle of a belt buckle being released, and the sound of a zip opening, and the man was fumbling around in his boxers trying to find himself. He didn’t even see Terry approach, and only knew he had company when a hand closed over his mouth.
Terry clasped his palm tight over the man’s mouth and nose, and grabbed a handful of hair with his other hand. The drunk’s eyes went wide, and he began to struggle, reaching up to push at Terry’s arms. His trousers fell down to his ankles. Ignoring the resistance, Terry pushed the man’s head over, exposing his neck, and the vein carrying the all important blood. His teeth sank into flesh, and tore it open.
Blood pumped out fast and hard, as panic pushed the drunk’s heart rate up. He gave up on trying to fend off Terry’s hands, and reached up to try and push his head away. His efforts to stop the bleeding grew weaker and weaker, until he was only upright because Terry was holding him up.
The exultation from this kill was far stronger than the previous one. Terry had achieved it all by himself. He had found the prey, stalked it, even sneaked up on it. The blood gave him a surge of energy. He almost felt so good he could believe the last hour had not happened.
With little care, Terry draped the dead drunk over the metal railings. He felt light headed, the alcohol in the blood he had just drunk hitting him faster than any shot of vodka ever could. Hooking fingers into a leg of the dead man’s boxers, he rolled the body over the barrier. Hearing the splash, he couldn’t help but giggle.
The intoxication cleared up quickly, as his body processed the blood and drew all the goodness it could from the meal. He walked out from under the bridge, up the steps and back onto the street. Standing by a lamp post, he pulled up his jacket sleeve again.
The bite mark was still obvious. The new skin that filled it still looked unhealthy. If anything, it looked closer to decomposition than it had before. He grimaced. If feeding was working, it wasn’t working fast enough. Perhaps he would need to kill more humans, and drink an excess of blood, before he would properly begin to heal.
He had no problem with that. The only question was, should he return to the tower before, or after he began his feeding spree?