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Last night I stayed up late watching an anime titled Memories and talking to friends online. This morning I awoke from this bizarro dream...

I work in a hotel. One of those seedy places with wooden floors so worn you know going barefoot would give you splinters. And it's almost grey from all the traffic it's seen. But I try to keep it clean. I sweep, I scrub and I wash everything regularly. Tonight the hotel is empty and my boss and I are relaxed in one of the rooms watching television. We're chatting about something, I don't remember what but it's nothing terribly important. Idle commentary on what we're watching probably. Which is of course when we get our only customers for the night. The prostitute and the John.

The prostitute is tall and lanky. His hair is shoulder length and thinning, his clothes worn and his skin dry and chapped. He's had a hard life and made hard decisions. We've seen him here before, we know the routine. He's become almost a friend in his regularity.

The John is a short fat man who smells sour. He has the look of a used car salesman at a hinky dealership. A rumpled cheap suit with sweat stains and misaligned buttons. We don't hear his voice during his stay with us tonight.

I take them to their room, the one furthest from the front desk so that no other would-be patrons hear the sounds that might emerge. Not that the prostitute is noisy but we can't be sure of the John's tastes. Better safe than sorry. They do their business, while my boss and I watch television, and within the hour they're gone. I'm in their room cleaning, my pocket still full of the ones and tens that make up their room charge. It's almost a hundred dollars. Seems steep for the hour's usage but we don't charge by the hour and the prostitute knows this. He comes because it's clean and because we treat him like any other customer. I think he comes for the conversation too. On occasion he stays the night and we talk about life in the city, anything but the sweltering heat.

As I strip the bed of the soiled sheets and check the trashcans for discarded condoms I hear the door open behind me. I turn and see the prostitute returned. He's forgotten the money the John slipped in the nightstand, something extra he sometimes does. I crawl across the bed and reach into the nightstand grasping the bill with the tips of my fingers. I give it to him and he asks me to go somewhere with him. He says he doesn't want to be alone. Without a second thought I finish balling up the sheets, discard them in a closet and then leave.

We walk through alleys and down streets getting further and further from the hotel and deeper into the bad part of town. There's very little talk on the way, he's almost somber and I'm too jumpy at every rat squeaking from the shadows. We end up at what looks like a portion of a scrap yard but I'm not sure. It's so dark out and there are no street lamps here, only moon light reflecting off metal here and there. I'm not sure what the prostitute is doing here, why he's come or why he wanted me to come with him. But this is where I leave him. He tells me I can't follow him any further and he starts down a small path worn in the soil. He disappears in the darkness.

A few weeks go by and there's no sign of him at the hotel. There's no one for me to ask about him and no one comes looking for him, but I have this nagging concern that something bad has happened to him. That he needs to be found. And so I find myself looking for him. Retracing our steps that night. Finding my way back to that dark scrap yard. Then I found that path in the dirt between the piles of junk and I followed it. I walked a while then came to a dead end. And there, from behind a pile of metal, a man emerged. He wore all black and there was something very creepy about him. He asked me why I'd come and I explained about the prostitute. He told me I could not go where he'd gone. That only death could follow him. Then he told me there was another way.

A dagger dipped in blood then dragged across my own flesh. Followed by pain. I fell to my knees and gasped in agony..then I arose. Stronger. My senses more aware. And I looked above me to the clouds in the night sky. That's where I'd need to go. Up. Where he was. My tongue ran across my pointy canine as I envisioned a castle on a mountain surrounded by clouds. Filled with vampires. But the man had one more piece of advice for me...

"They will come after you. While you seek out your friend they will hunt you. Be warned."

It was because I hadn't crossed the way they had. I hadn't died, my body still lived yet I had become one of them. My heart still pulsed though it had slowed almost completely. It was the life within that would draw them to me. ...and then I woke up

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