The vampire hunter collapsed. He didn’t even know where he was. Some abandoned warehouse on the waterfront. His arm was broken. He knew that much. He was bleeding internally. He had barely gotten away from the monster responsible and he knew he didn’t have much time.
He checked his coat.
One grenade. Not much good against the undead.
He spied a wooden chair and considered breaking off a leg, but didn’t think he could manage it with one arm. He wasn’t sure he could even get back up.
A second later it didn’t matter. The monster appeared in the door.
The Vampire Hunter threw the grenade, because why not. He was about to die anyway. By the time it arced across the warehouse the monster was on top of him.
The vampire seized his throat and lifted him off the ground.
“Any last words?” it growled.
The hunter gasped for air. His head rolled back and as he looked up at the ceiling he smiled.
“Good morning,” he croaked.
The grenade went off, crumbling the wall on the far side of the building.
The monster dropped him as the sun crept over the horizon, and as his eyes closed the hunter saw his enemy’s ashes giving way to one last sunrise.
The signal was weak at first. Our radio telescopes almost missed it.
By the time we had studied and translated the languages, they were broadcasting video as well as audio.
Their world was not unlike ours; a small blue planet orbiting a yellow star halfway across the galaxy. They themselves were much like us; two arms, two legs, standing upright. There were minor differences of course–skin pigmentation, facial features, hair.
They caught our imagination. What were they like? Did they worry about the same things we did? Did they share our hopes, our fears? We soon found out.
Our television networks began to show translations of their programs. They really were just like us.
Then the broadcasts stopped.
We were stunned. What had happened? All our telescopes were pointed at the little yellow star.
The signal was weak. We almost missed it among the background noise of the universe.
“Hello?” it said. “Is anybody out there?”
We wanted to answer. We wanted to reach out, but the distance meant the owner of this voice was already dead. We listened.
“I’m broadcasting from a radio station just outside San Francisco. Please, if anyone is still alive out there, let me know I’m not alone. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have power, but–”
It comes in the storms, following the thunder down from the mountain. The world empties out during a rainstorm and it comes to hunt when it knows it won’t be seen. If you walk alone in the rain, beware a dark shape moving in the trees.
You’ll only see it at the edge of your vision. It will look like a man, but something will seem… off. It’s a little too skinny. A little too tall. Its elbows and knees aren’t quite jointed in the right place, like someone had seen a drawing of a man once and tried to make one. It stays on the periphery; sensed, felt, but never clearly seen. Not unless it has chosen you as its prey.
You’ll smell it before you see it. A sickly sweet smell; dead flowers, rotting in the sun. You’ll hear it breathing. An oddly musical, whistling rhythm, blowing warm air on the back of your neck. You’ll feel the firm, ice-cold grip of long slender fingers.
And then you’ll be gone.
No one talks about the disappearances, but everyone who grows up around here knows about them. It takes people, and they’re never found. No one knows what it does with them, or why, we just know not to walk alone in the rain.