Just after sundown, the float left the depot and rattled through the town. Bottles shivered in crates as the driver negotiated speed bumps – how antiquated! Someone should dig these things up. Traffic calming measures were a thing of the past now that most people flew everywhere. Or ran on foot…
The driver got out and filled a wire basket with six bottles of the top quality stuff. Garden gates and hedges were no barrier. He sprang over each one, landing nimbly at the doorsteps and depositing the delivery, before trundling away to the next street to repeat the process. He liked to play a game with himself: to get away from a house before the heavy shutters over the doors and windows rolled up and the occupants stirred themselves from their coffins to face the night ahead.
There! In a bush, eyes flashed as the float’s headlights hit. A human, a feral human scavenging for scraps.
Run, the driver urged silently! Get out of here before they sense you. I’d chase you myself but I’ve got a job to do. I can’t afford to have the boss on my back again. He’ll bite my head off.
The human – a male, pale and starving – stalked away, disappearing into shadows. There were fewer of them around these days. Having been dispossessed of their towns and cities, they had fled to the heart of the countryside. Hunting expeditions had routed huge numbers of them, for sport and for cultivation. And now, the last remaining few were returning to the civilisation they had once controlled, haunting the streets and alleyways under the cover of daylight, desperate for food.
The driver completed the rest of his round wondering about the stray. If he was lucky, he’d be captured and delivered to the dairy where he would at least survive for a couple of years. If he was unlucky, he’d be chased down and savaged, drained of every drop where he fell. This kind of thing was frowned upon – the blood should be screened, the Vampire Authorities advised. It should be cleansed.
But sometimes there was nothing better than a good old-fashioned hunt.
The driver parked the float in a layby. He treated himself to a bottle of his own goods, peeling off the foil cap and savouring the coppery aroma of the rich red liquid. His tongue traced the tip of his fangs in eager anticipation of the delicious drink to come.
Go on, run, he lifted the bottle in toast to the feral human. If I see you tomorrow night, I just might come after you myself.