I hadn’t been behind the wheel of a car since high school. I’d been afraid of cars my whole adult life, since the accident that hospitalized me for six weeks and stuck the fact of vampires deep in my brain like a festering cyst. I’d been afraid of a lot of things since then.
Like now, I was afraid of the injured vampire in the back of this Civic, stretching his torqued leg across the seat as best he could manage. Sig had given me an address, at the edge of the University District, and handed over his car keys.
I thought about what Sig had told me about where Nick lived. About how vampires die. I was afraid to ask why he had given it up so easily.
It was weird, how quickly driving came back to me. It helped that it was almost midnight and hardly anyone was on the road. At least the roads I stayed on. While I drove Miranda texted me with updates about Jenna at the ER. I wasn’t in a state to feel relief yet.
Behind me Sig hissed—the car’s suspension wasn’t kind to his knee. I slowed down, and realized I’d made a decision.
As I drove on the buildings around us thinned out. Then the trees. The horizon pulled back. I finally came to an empty parking lot and slowed to a stop.
“Where are we?” asked Sig. “We should have passed the Ave by now.”
I tried to keep my voice even. “Magnuson Park.”
I braced myself. I had taken him as far east as you could drive without taking a bridge, the opposite way from his apartment. Maybe Sig considered lunging at me in the next few seconds. Instead, he just leaned back against the door.
He sighed. “It’s fair.”
“What do you mean?”
“I knew you wouldn’t really let me… walk away. I’d have done it to you, to keep what I had going. Like I said, no one wants to die. But I don’t want to do this anymore either.”
“I’m sorry,” I told him for the last time.
“Can you help me out of the car, at least? My leg…”
I lifted him out of the backseat, still expecting him to tear my throat out at the last second, but he was done. I helped him down to the edge of the water.
It wasn’t much of a beach—the grass just ended where the lake started—but it was a place to sit. Sig laid back, stretching his leg out in front of him. We had some hours to kill, and I wasn’t leaving him alone.
I must have dozed off before Sig spoke again. “Nick’s been like this for longer than either of us have been alive. He won’t let it go. If you’re going after him, make your peace first.”
“What about you?” I asked.
Sig didn’t say anything else.
After a quiet eternity, dawn began erasing the stars. Kirkland appeared as a dark lump on the far side of Lake Washington. A pale strip reached up the sky and then crept toward us. When there was enough sunlight to see by, I watched Sig.
Quietly, quickly, patches of his skin darkened. They started grey and spread, like bruises, until he was black and dry as charcoal. Then, just as I started to see clearly, he began to crumble in on himself.
It could only have been minutes. In the end, there was nothing left of Sig but black dust in a heap of empty clothes.
Submitted by Corodon Fuller