The Long Drink (Part Two)
William drifted in and out of consciousness as he sat in the pile of trash. He felt Pops’ gold chain between his fingers, and he hoped it would be enough to keep any vampires away. Whenever he heard footsteps pass, he raised his head and tried to stay aware of his surroundings. But every time he closed his eyes, he imagined snuggling into his bed back at the lab. He could even hear Andre humming as he drifted off.
His head snapped upright as footsteps came down his alley. He pressed his body back up against the wall, feeling his weakness. He saw two bodies approach him, one in heels and the other in sneakers. They stopped right in front of him, and William realized he couldn’t just blend into the brick background.
“What’ve we got here?” a male voice said.
William kept his eyes to the ground, hoping they’d just leave him be. The woman put her hand on his chin, tilting his head upwards. She smelt like soap, and William found a pair of brown eyes watching his own. “He’s halfway through turning,” she said. “Some sonuvabitch did a mean job on him.”
William swatted her hand away when her thumb lifted his lips to check his teeth. She let out a laugh and turned to the other man. “He bit him,” she said with a laugh. “Probably self-defence.”
“Poor bastard didn’t know what he was doing,” the other man said. “What’re we going to do? Take him home?”
“No,” William mumbled. He felt blood leak from his mouth.
“I think we’ll bring him home,” she said. “But let’s finish turning him.” She snapped her fingers in front of William’s eyes. “Hey, buddy, I’m going to help you out, okay?”
William’s eyes rolled away from her. Careful not to open his mouth too wide, he muttered. “Go away.”
The woman squatted in front of William. “You’ve got a family, don’t you?”
“Nope,” William said.
The woman wiped blood away from the corner of his mouth with her thumb. She said, “If we leave you, you’re going to burn in the sunlight, but you’re not going to die. Your flesh is going to slowly burn off piece by piece. It will be the most painful experience of your life, and you’ll live through every minute of it. And then you’ll be hungry for blood, but you’ll have no way of getting it. You’ll be somewhere between human and vampire.”
“Now that doesn’t sound nice, does it?” the man said.
William shook his head. “But I’m not sure the alternative is much better.”
“Oh, we don’t mind so much,” the woman said. She took off her leather jacket and handed it to the man. She offered her wrist to William. “Come on, bite and suck and you’ll feel a lot better.”
William raised the hand with the cross on the chain. The woman smiled softly. “It’s heavy, isn’t it?” she asked.
He nodded, and she took the chain from his hand and carefully slid it into his sweater’s pocket. Watching her, he decided he had no other choice. William leaned closer to her. He tried opening his mouth, but a bolt of pain shot through his jaw.
William knew he was dying, but he certainly didn’t want to slowly decay like they described. If he turned into a vampire, he could step into the sunlight and turn into ash. He could probably even tie up his loose ends with Andre, if he was particularly careful. He liked that idea. At this point, seeing Andre again was tempting enough. He tried opening his mouth again, but his jaw clicked. He stared longingly at the dark skin on her wrist.
“I don’t think I have it in me,” he replied.
“Sucking my blood or breaking the skin?”
“Breaking the skin,” he replied.
The man kneeled down with the woman. He pulled a knife out of his jacket and handed it to her. She cut the palm of her hand and then raised it up to his mouth. With a sigh, William leaned forward to suck and lick her blood. He tried not to worry what he was getting himself into, and while he felt none of the delicious pleasure the man sent through him, his injuries stopped throbbing and he felt more aware of his surroundings.
While the woman wrapped her wound in a cloth, he took in their appearances. The woman had a heart-shaped face, a thin nose, and a short afro that emphasized her dangling feathered earrings. The man’s face was chunkier and he wore a goatee with no hair on top of his head. His black eyes darted quickly around their surroundings, and his skin was lighter than the woman’s, but still dark enough to suggest some African heritage.
He wondered if his race just saved him.
The woman pulled her hand away. “Thank you,” William said.
“Can you stand?” the man asked.
“Not sure,” William said.
“Come on, let’s help this lucky bastard up,” the woman said.
To William’s surprise, the woman handed the knife back to the man and wrapped her arm around William’s back, lifting him up herself. The man kept surveillance and tucked his knife back into his jacket. William’s legs were stiff, but he could feel both of them. Any breaks had been healed or were in the process of healing.
“We’re taking him back to the complex, right?” the man asked.
“Uh huh,” the woman replied. “Did you say you had someone waiting for you?”
“Sort of,” William replied.
“Well, let’s get you fixed up first. I don’t want you going home hungry or else it won’t be much of a reunion – at least, not the reunion you imagined,” she said.
The trio started walking, and he noticed the woman shouldered most of his weight. He put an arm around her to try to even his weight out. His legs didn’t seem to want to move much on their own. As he saw other shadows move in the night, he suddenly appreciated his new comrades. “What are your names?” William asked. “I’m William.”
“I’m Lisa,” she said. “And this is Cyrus.”
“Hey,” Cyrus said, his face lightening up with a smile.
“He’s an idiot,” Lisa said.
“You injure me,” Cyrus said, grabbed his chest as if she stabbed him.
“How did you two join together?” William said. “I have to admit, I don’t know a lot about vampires’ habits. I just assumed you travelled alone.”
“Better in packs,” Cyrus said. “We keep this town pretty safe, but we’re nasty buggers when we’re hungry. Right now, your blood would taste pretty awful, but some hungry bastard would suck you dry just for a taste of whatever human blood you had. I think that’s what attacked you in the first place.”
“Most of the vampires around here are the wine and dine types,” Lisa said. “I haven’t seen one that likes to rough people up in a while. And that means whoever did this could still be around.”
William, unsure about their loyalty to the man – the First, changed the topic and asked, “What do you mean, you keep this town pretty safe?”
“Hungry and mean vampires are bad for all of us,” Cyrus said. “Humans and vampires alike. Not only do they give off the wrong image, but they also kill everyone in sight, which lessens our own food supply.”
William blinked. “You mean, you don’t usually kill your prey?”
Cyrus laughed and Lisa scowled. “We have to get him back to the complex,” Cyrus said to Lisa with a grin. “It’s gonna blow his little mind.”
William held his tongue. Curiosity and excitement knotted through him. If there was the potential that he wouldn’t kill Andre, maybe he could use his transformation to his advantage. They did need more vampiric samples to test on, and he was a walking one. And, he had to admit, these two made him want to see how the other side lived.
He just had to remember to keep his cards close to his chest. They may be loyal to the man that turned him, and they may not like his research. And, perhaps most importantly, he couldn’t lead them to Andre. He wanted his assistant to be safe, partly because he wanted the research to continue, and partly because he cared about him.
“All right,” Lisa said. “We’re here.”
William looked up at the apartment complex. He recognized it as one that was condemned five or so years ago, but now it looked back in working shape. The foundation looked reinforced and the graffiti had been cleaned off the walls. He could see lights flickering behind some of the boarded windows.
“But where’s here?” William asked.
“Just wait and see,” Cyrus said, showing a fang in a smile. “Come on in.”
William recognized the pride beaming off of both of them. Whatever this place was, they fixed it themselves. They were responsible for what was inside. He held his breath as Lisa helped him through the doorway.
The inside looked even nicer than the outside. They fixed up the lobby. The grey carpets looked fresh and neat. The furniture was comfortably worn in while still looking new. The lights didn’t flicker and shone brightly, illuminating the room.
And he could smell them. The room was full of humans. His mouth watered, and his stomach churned in a mingle of disgust and hunger. There were at least ten around his age, and they grew silent when he walked in the room. Despite their similarity in age, the humans varied in size and ethnicity. The vampires seemed to have an eclectic taste, and somehow William felt relieved that Cyrus and Lisa likely would have saved him regardless of his race.
Lisa led William to one of the chairs, and he dropped into it. He looked at the humans, and they weren’t bound to their location. The one closest to him had a book in her hand. Another one had a laptop on his lap. A few were watching television, and despite the humans’ silence, the TV quietly murmured.
“We found him in the street,” Lisa said. “Some bastard left him half turned and really did a piece of work on him. Trust me, he looked a lot worse than he does now.”
William self-consciously touched his face and wiped away some of the dried blood. He wasn’t sure if smiling was the right thing to do, and he sheepishly looked at the steel-coloured carpet. He couldn’t see much dirt loitering in it. He heard murmurs from the humans, and he tried not to listen to their blood pumping through their bodies.
“We’re going to keep him under watch,” Cyrus said. “Your children will be safe.”
“Children?” William said, raising his head. He looked at the humans, but he only saw fear in a few of their faces. Most of them trusted the vampires’ judgement. Lisa sighed and gave William an unimpressed look. “I’m sorry,” William said. “It’s just – I haven’t seen any children in years.”
Children and elders were the first to go. Children had a tendency to wander and were easy prey. Elders were not only weak, but had more reason to want to turn. He still saw a few older people, but rarely did he see anyone older than sixty or younger than late teens. But maybe he was just going to the wrong places.
“We keep them safe,” Lisa said, firmly. He quickly realized she was daring him to challenge her. He, of course, had no intention of doing so.
So William simply offered a submissive smile.
Lisa turned back to the crowd and said, “Would one of mine be able to help us? He wants to go home, and I don’t want to leave him on an empty stomach.”
A man raised his hand and approached them. The man was William’s own height, but more muscular. William found himself checking out the man despite himself. “Come on,” Lisa said, holding out a hand to William and pulling him out of the chair. “I’m going to bring you to my apartment and we can get you sorted out.”
“I’m gay,” William said. “I mean, I just don’t want him to be uncomfortable knowing-”
The man laughed and offered William a bright smile. William found his cheeks growing hot. Lisa punched the man in the arm. The man said, “I’m fine with it,” he said. “I’m sorry, it’s just you clearly haven’t been around vampires much. Whatever your sexuality is, it sort of stops mattering around them.”
“Oh,” William replied.
“Either way,” Lisa said through clenched teeth. “We appreciate your honesty.”
“I really do,” the man said. He held out a hand to William. “I’m James.”
“William,” he replied, shaking the hand.
He let his fingers linger for a moment. He could feel the blood pumping through the human. James humoured him with a smile, but Lisa swatted their hands apart. She took her place under William’s arm to lug William towards the elevator. “Things will feel different for a while,” Lisa said. “Some of it will take a while to get used to.”
“I get that impression,” William replied. James pressed the elevator button and William said, “So what is this place, exactly?”
“A sanctuary,” James said.
“A home,” Lisa replied.
James and Lisa exchanged shy smiles. James agreed, “Our home.”
The elevator door opened and they stepped in. “I’m sorry,” William said. “But I don’t understand how this works.”
“You mean, why I’m willing?” James said.
William smiled weakly. “Something like that.”
Lisa said, “Well, since we don’t need to completely drain our victim, we can keep them alive, and really it’s in our best interest or we’ll run out of humans. For the humans, it feels great and they drink a juice box and feel better. It also seems to heal some of them, I can’t really explain it. We used to have a doctor with us, but,” Lisa’s voice trailed off.
“He went missing,” James finished. “Some humans just leave – as they are free to do – and some disappear. We look for them, but I don’t think we’ve ever found anyone.”
William hesitated before saying, “I’m sorry,” and still it didn’t feel like the right response. He continued, “So you willingly give your blood for pleasure and protection?”
“Basically,” James replied. “I mean, if vampires are attacking humans, it makes sense to hang around with the safe ones.”
“And we don’t drink from all of them,” Lisa said. “We leave anyone who doesn’t want it alone, and the children, old, and sick. But we still offer them a place to stay, if they need it.”
“And you can leave them alone?” William said. “I mean, you don’t feel compelled to act upon your vampiric urges?”
Lisa snorted. “No,” she said. “Like I said, so long as you’re not hungry, you can control it. We like to have more than one human so we don’t weaken them. They’re still alone in daylight, and I’m sure a lot of humans don’t agree with this place and would like to shut it down.”
“Have you had any problems?” William asked.
“Nothing we can’t handle,” James replied.
“How many are staying with you?” William asked.
Lisa shrugged. “We have ten vampires and, I don’t know, over a hundred humans? And I rely on four humans to feed me.” She winked at James.
“And we are always flattered,” James said.
“So it’s possible I can make things work with my friend,” William said.
“If he’s not scared shitless,” James said.
The elevator door opened again, and the trio stepped out. Lisa helped William to the apartment at the end of the hallway and opened the door. William expected something sparsely furnished, but it looked like a regular apartment. Bookshelves lined one wall. A television sat against the wall with a couch obediently staring at it. She had photographs on side tables.
“This is a nice place,” William said.
“We’ve fixed it up,” Lisa said. “I’ll put you down on the couch.”
William flopped onto the couch, grateful to be sitting again. The stiffness in his body turned to a dull ache. He looked up at James and said, “I don’t actually feel all that hungry. But I don’t suppose you’ll let me go otherwise.”
“‘Fraid not,” Lisa said. “You’re not hungry now, but you will be. The trick is to keep the hunger supressed so that you can control how much you take. If you’re hungry, you might drain a human dry.”
Raising his eyes to James, he said, “And you trust me?”
“I trust Lisa to beat you off of me if it gets to that point,” James said, with a laugh. “But now I’m curious. I haven’t had another vampire bite me before. I’ve heard it’s different.”
“We don’t share,” Lisa said. “For one, if it’s the first time the human’s been bit, there’s a bond created between the two of us. We feel more connected, I guess. I don’t quite understand it all. Anyway, James won’t taste the same to you as a fresh human. And then we always just figured there would be some jealously as well. That’s why I asked one of mine to help you. I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”
William nodded. “You’re very organized.”
“We had to work at it,” Lisa said. “It started with just me and Cyrus. But I’m going to wait until you visit again to tell you that one.”
William grinned. “So you want me back.”
James sat down beside him, and Lisa sat down in a chair nearby. She said, “Best case scenario, you pick up your friend and come back here. You’re curious and you’re polite. I’ve met some sneaky vampires in my day, but usually at the beginning they’re either mean and hungry or scared and hungry. You’re doing a good job hiding your fear.”
“Thank you,” William said. “I am trying to rationalize how I’m going to make this work.”
“We can tell,” James said, inching closer to William. He waggled his eyebrows and said, “Come on though. You better have a snack.”
Lisa snorted and rolled her eyes. William looked to her, and she said, “Go ahead.”
James scooted closer and William wrapped his arm around him. He found James’ brown eyes staring right into him, a small smile on his face. James’ enthusiasm made him nervous. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” William said.
“You don’t need to bite the neck,” Lisa said. “You can bite the wrist if you’d prefer. I’ve always considered it a good introduction bite.”
“But there are other places you can bite that feel wonderful,” James said, his tone suggestive. He laughed and added, “And it tastes better when you seduce me.”
“Jesus,” Lisa said.
“I don’t understand,” William said. He eyed James’ neck and then ran his fingers across the smooth, dark skin on James’ arm. “Is he normally like this, or is it the charm?”
“Charm,” Lisa said, raising her hands. “You can’t turn it off. We’re pretty careful around here, but usually humans stay pretty loyal to whoever bites them because of the bond that forms.” Her lips thinned and added, “Usually.”
“You gave me permission,” James said, defensively. “Besides, I’ve never met a black, gay vampire before.”
“I won’t have my way with you or anything,” William said, feeling the pulse in James’ wrist. A familiar surge went through his body.
“Oh, it’ll feel like it though,” James said, grinning. “Come on, just do it.”
William looked to Lisa. He said, “Thank you.”
Lisa smiled and nodded.
William turned back to James and kissed his wrist, feeling James quiver in response. He let his body take over as he sunk his teeth into William’s wrist. James gripped the couch with his free hand and squirmed in the seat. William didn’t feel as much pleasure as he had when the First bit him, but the taste was something new. It was thick and textured. Somehow it reminded William of a Guinness on a hot summer’s day. But instead of a warm intoxication, strength moved through William. He could hear James’ breaths quickened against him, and he felt the urge to flip him onto the couch and take him. He wanted to trace his lips down James’ chest and run his hands up the inside of his thighs.
But he kept drinking carefully. William’s free hand rested lightly on James’ thigh, trying to keep the man steady. When he felt like himself again in strength and energy, he pulled away from James’ wrist. He gave it a few licks before kissing it again.
Lisa came over and wrapped James’ wrist. “It will heal pretty fast,” she said, “but it’s always good to wrap it up just in case.”
William nodded. James relaxed against the couch, a blissful smile on his face and a bulge in his jeans. William wiped the corners of his lips, and Lisa motioned for William to follow her.
When he stood up from the couch, he found his limbs back in working order. She led him into a bathroom. “You can wash up in here,” she said. “I’m just going to grab some clothes for you from my bedroom. You’ll startle your friend in the clothes you’re in now.”
William looked down at his blood stained clothes and sighed. So much for his favourite clothes. “Thank you again,” William said.
“Just hop in the shower. I’ll let you know when I’m back, and you can ask more questions then. I’m sure you have them.”
“You’re right,” William said, surprising himself with a laugh. He pulled off his shirt as Lisa left the room.
William ran the water in the shower as he took off his pants and boxers. He stepped in, wincing at the cold water, and then stepped completely in, rubbing his arms. He stared at the shower wall as he realized he died today. His life was gone. He would try to recover Andre and his research from it, but it was possible both would reject him. He may be living in this apartment with these people for eternity.
And he would never see another sunrise until he gave up on his life. That’s how he would die, William decided. He would step out into the sun, and the wind would blow away his ashes, spreading him back throughout the earth that created him. It would be poetic, and terribly cliché.
He grabbed the bar of soap and quickly began washing off his body. A more important question lurked in the back of his mind. How much could he trust these humans and vampires? Where would they stand on his research?
He heard Lisa walk back into the room. “Lisa?” he asked.
“I’m not going to peek,” Lisa said.
William laughed, hoping it didn’t sound forced. “No, but I wondered something.”
“Well, tell me.”
William stuck his head around the shower curtain. His eyes darted around for a towel, and she tossed one at him that he caught mechanically. His reflexes surprised him, but he tried to focus on the matter at hand. He shut off the water and wrapped the towel around his waist as he stepped out of the shower.
“If you could turn back into a human, would you?” he asked.
Lisa exhaled and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “It’s complicated,” she said.
“What tempts you?” William asked, smiling softly. “Immortality?”
“Strength,” she said. “In a world like this one – even before this so-called infection spread – I need to be strong to protect the ones I care about.”
“And this hunger is worth it?” William asked.
“So long as I can control the hunger,” Lisa said, “I have to protect the ones I love. Whatever I could have been as a human is gone now. Trust me, I tried to be a strong, progressive woman, but I constantly found myself treated as less than and victimized. At least like this, I can keep everyone safe. And I have to keep everyone safe.”
“So you would rather be a monster?”
Lisa let out a sharp, harsh laugh. “You really think I’m a monster?”
He ran his eyes across her. “Well, no,” William said.
“They’re trying to make us out to be monsters, William. And maybe some of us are, but they’re the loud minority. There are four other complexes like ours in town. We’re unified and we watch out for each other. How do you think humans stayed alive in this city so long? Because we keep things safe at night.
“Someone will always think and tell you you’re a monster. But you get to choose who you want to be. Even if your friend runs from you, even if he smells so good you want to drain him dry, remember that you’re in control. You get to choose who you are.”
William nodded. “I will remember.”
“Get dressed,” Lisa said. “We should bring you home before daylight.”
“In front of you?”
Lisa rolled her eyes and turned her back on him. William sheepishly dried off with his towel and dressed in the clothes Lisa left out on the counter. He noticed she tried to pick clothes similar to his tastes – another sweatshirt and jeans. They were worn in, but warm. He could smell James on them, and he couldn’t help but breathe in again. He salvaged his belongings from his old clothes, carefully transferring the cross to this new sweater. He wanted to find a way to return it to Pops.
“Are you thinking about trying to find the Doctor?” Lisa asked.
William tensed. “I’m sorry?”
“Did you ask me because you heard rumours about a cure?” Lisa asked.
“Yes,” William said. “You can turn around.”
Lisa turned around. “There is no cure,” she said. “And there is no Doctor.”
Somehow hearing the words from Lisa sent a chill through William. She confirmed his death. She denied him of his life’s work. She helped build his new form and helped to kill his old one.
“Don’t look so surprised,” Lisa said. “Most of us came to this city because of the rumours that the Doctor was here. I wonder if that’s why we work so well together. We knew some sought out to kill the Doctor, and we tried to pinpoint the good from the bad. We lost quite a lot of humans in the old days to smooth-talking liars. But we’ve gotten better at judging people. At least, I hope we have, William.”
She gave him another accusatory stare. William raised his arms defensively and gave another sheepish grin. He knew better to challenge her, and he still had no reason to. Lisa motioned for him to follow her, and he obeyed. James, his eyes still in a happy glaze, shook his hand and gave William a ‘See you soon.’ He stayed in Lisa’s apartment as the two vampires left.
When they reached downstairs, Lisa waved Cyrus over, and the three of them headed out of the apartment complex. William once again found himself enchanted by the night. He breathed in the crisp air and looked up at the stars. It had been so long since he got to appreciate the night, but now William wished he spent more time appreciating the day. He wondered how long it would be before he forgot what the sun’s warmth felt like on his skin.
“Which way should we head?” Lisa asked.
William pointed in the direction of his lab, and they started walking. Lisa said, “Cyrus, why don’t you tell William a little bit about the Doctor?”
Confusion crossed Cyrus’ face for a brief moment, and then he nodded. “We’ve decided that if the Doctor does exist, he or she has gone into hiding somewhere – not that I would blame them at all for hiding. But we’ve lost quite a few people – vampires and humans alike – in the search. I don’t know if the vampires stay out too early and get trapped in the sun, or if the humans stay out too late and get trapped by an unfriendly at night. We just know we’ve lost a lot of people who go out looking.”
“There are theories that the Doctor has taken them,” Lisa said, “to test out the cure. The Doctor is kind of a fun horror story amongst some of the children. He pries unconventional families apart to try to make things his version of right again.” She and Cyrus laughed, and Lisa added, “But we doubt it’s like that at all. It’s much more likely that they just got attacked while searching for him – or her.”
“So don’t go looking,” Cyrus said. “If your friend doesn’t accept you, come back to us.”
“But what if there is a cure?” William asked.
“We’ll hear about it,” Lisa said. “And if that’s what you want, we’ll help you get it.”
William shook his head. “I’m not sure what I’d want, but I like to know my options.”
An eternity of research and watching history move forward in front of his eyes was certainly tempting. But he would watch Andre die – and everyone else he loved. He exhaled.
“Well, chasing after a fantasy isn’t one of your options,” Lisa said. “The time we can spend outdoors is too limited to search for needles in haystacks.”
“Forgive her,” Cyrus said, with a slight grin in the corner of his mouth. “She used to be one of the biggest advocates for finding the Doctor.” Lisa shot Cyrus a look to kill him. But Cyrus just shrugged. “He should know.”
William looked at one vampire to the next, and then he looked ahead into the city streets. “It’s fine if it’s none of my business,” William said. “I won’t go looking for the Doctor.” Though, he supposed Andre was the Doctor now.
Lisa sighed. “We lost James’ wife,” she said. “She went out looking for the Doctor during the day, and she never came back. At that point, we knew for sure that the Doctor wasn’t simply taking in willing patients for study because James’ wife loved him and his children. She wouldn’t have left them all.”
“You mean the James I met?”
“It’s been a few years,” Lisa said. “It’s been hard on him, but he does his best to stay optimistic and strong.”
“But?” William asked.
“You saw how eager he was to offer himself to you. I think he likes to give his blood to drown out the sorrow,” Lisa said. “And I will never forgive myself for letting her go.”
“She volunteered,” Cyrus said.
“This is my place,” William said, pointing to his house.
Lisa looked relieved at the sudden change in conversation, and he offered Lisa a smile to show her he understood. She asked, “Do you remember how to get back to the complex?”
William nodded. “Yes.”
“Do you have a cellar or anywhere you can sleep?” Cyrus asked. “Any rooms without windows?”
“Yes,” William replied.
“Well, don’t be a stranger,” Lisa said. “Let us know how it goes with your friend.”
“I will,” William replied. “Thank you for everything.”
The three stood awkwardly at the end of his driveway. William couldn’t decide if they wanted something else from him. Then Cyrus suddenly swept William up into a hug, lifting the scientist off of the ground. William tried to wrap his arms around Cyrus’ beefy back to hug him back. “You’re one of us, now,” Cyrus said. “And we’re happy to have you.”
“And I’m happy to be with you,” William replied with a soft laugh.
As soon as Cyrus set him down, Lisa hugged William as well. She tucked her head beneath his chin and breathed him in. He wondered if she could smell James on him. He squeezed her and kissed her forehead. “I am eternally grateful for all the help – and all the hope – you have given me,” William murmured.
“Remember what I said,” Lisa said as she pulled away. “You choose who you are.”
“I will remember,” William said, smiling.
With a wave, the two vampires started to walk off into the night, and William approached his doorway. He unlocked the heavy door and opened it. The house’s lights were all off, and slivers of light from streetlamps snuck through the boarded windows of the house. The house felt foreign to William. Everything smelt new. William closed and locked the door behind him.