A few kids turned from their games to stare at him.
Billy pushed his way through the crowded aisle to the fire door.
Jon is a vampire, he told himself. Jon is the vampire who murdered Joelle.
Now where is he taking Lynette?
He pushed the heavy fire door open with his shoulder, stepped outside, and let the heavy door slam behind him. The rain had stopped, but the air remained cool and wet.
He stood in a small alley behind the arcade. Where are they? he thought frantically. Where did Jon take her?
He let his eyes search up and down the alley. No vampire.
Would he really hurt a little kid? Billy thought.
Lynette’s cry. From nearby.
Which way? Billy wondered. He spun around. Tried to tell where the cry came from.
“Help me!” He heard it again.
He’s taking her to the beach, Billy realized. The deserted beach.
Billy sprinted from the alley. The beach was a short distance away. But it seemed to take forever, even running full speed. Finally, he clambered down the wooden steps that led to the sand.
His sneakers dug into the rain-wet sand as he started to run.
He stopped short.
A dying fire still smoldered near the shore. Drenched by the rain. The last sparks of somebody’s interrupted beach party.
And in the dim orange light of the low fire, Billy saw Lynette, sprawled on her back on the sand. Arms straight out. Head tilted at an angle. Not moving.
“Hey—!” Jon stepped forward to meet Billy. “Stay away from here!” he shouted, his voice deep and menacing over the steady rush of ocean waves behind him.
“I—I know you,” Billy stammered.
The closer Jon came, the taller he appeared. His eyes flashed as he narrowed them on Billy. A dark orange flash, the same color as the dying fire.
You’re dead, Billy thought. You’re dead, Jon. I killed you last summer. After you killed Joelle.
Billy had obviously failed.
“I know you,” Billy repeated. “You killed my girlfriend. You killed Joelle.”
The vampire sneered. “Was that her name?”
“You—you—” Billy couldn’t choke out any words.
The vampire snorted. “Bad break, kid. But that’s the way it goes sometimes,” he said with a smirk.
“You killed her—and you didn’t even know her name,” Billy managed to say.
“Sometimes I like fast food,” the vampire said, snickering at his own joke. “I don’t always have time for introductions.”
Billy turned his gaze to the fire, thinking hard, the rage burning in his chest. “How can you joke about it?” he cried. “How can you joke about taking human lives?”
The vampire shrugged. “You’re interrupting my dinner.” He motioned to Lynette, sprawled motionless on the sand. “Maybe I’ll save the little girl for a late-night snack. You can be the main course.” He let his fangs slide down over his lower lip.
His orange eyes flashed brightly. He began to rise up over Billy, floating off the ground.
“No—!” Billy uttered a sharp cry and dove past him.
Stumbling, sliding on the wet sand, Billy hurtled to the dying embers. A weathered piece of driftwood had just caught fire. It burned dully, purple-red flames licking up from the charred log.
Billy grabbed the burning log off the sand—and whirled around.
As Jon dove for him, Billy swung the flaming log at the vampire’s chest.
“Die!” Billy screamed. “Die! Die! Die!”
But to Billy’s shock, the vampire grabbed the burning log with both hands.
He tugged it easily from Billy’s grasp. Held it by one end.
Billy’s arms flew up to protect himself.
With a howl of triumph, the vampire thrust the log forward—and shoved it through Billy’s chest.