Marina’s key to freedom swirled in Lola’s wine glass. She watched the blood red wine slosh as Lola tilted her hand side to side. Marina gazed down from a twenty story building towards the fluorescent sky of New York City outside her tinted floor-to-ceiling window. A thrill went through Marina at the thought of dancing along the street at night and slipping down alleyways in the dark.
She remembered sitting in her room with glass walls, staring at the people below. She remembered the shows on the TV screen depicting life in New York, all the beautiful places and delicious meals she could sink her teeth into. All her memories had been built in this tower, filled with scientists and cuffs on her arms up until age fifteen.
“Thank you for letting me make an appearance,” Marina said with a sweet smile. Lola turned around, her face unreadable as always. The woman stood leaning against her desk, dressed in the typical white lab coats even though she was technically off duty.
“It’s New Year’s Eve, and you’ve finally made progress in showing humanity. It’s good timing to display you to the world.” She remained monotone, very similar to the other men who had taken care of Marina throughout her whole life. Marina knew Lola’s emotionless attitude was only a front, one she put on to climb her way to the top. But Marina had seen Lola’s face when she thought no one was looking. Her expression had been one full of hope and pride. She was always excited when Marina acted civil. Marina resented both her sad attempt at hiding her emotions and for being delighted in Marina’s so-called progress. She was just trying to get high enough in the business to finally show how successful she was at taming a vampire, which was, of course, impossible.
Lola set down her glass and looked at Marina, her eyes showing excitement. She placed a hand on Marina’s arm and gave her a light squeeze.
Marina inhaled Lola’s scent as she moved and heard the pulse thrumming through her hand. Thoughts of blood consumed Marina’s mind temporarily, making her squeeze her eyes shut. When she became grounded, she opened her eyes to see Lola staring at her.
“It amazes me every time you control your temptation. I can’t believe I’ve actually made a vampire control herself,” she said, mystified. Marina clenched her teeth. As if I can be controlled and deny my true nature.
“I say we toast to it,” Marina said, raising her glass towards Lola. “To progress.”
“To progress.” Lola picked up her glass and clinked it against Marina’s before taking a sip.
“Or should I say…” Marina began, watching with a malicious smile as Lola blinked rapidly, her eyes watering and reached for her throat, “to freedom.”
Lola staggered back and gripped onto the edge of her desk, the poisoned wine working its way into her body.
“I’ve been stuck here all my life, and I am sick of it.” Marina watched as Lola began to heave. “All I needed was to get you out of the way so I can leave this disgusting skyscraper-turned-lab and finally see the city — see the world!”
Marina was momentarily overcome with emotion.
Lola began shaking her head. “It’s not safe. You’re a danger to everyone out there.” She continued to shift her hands along the edge of her desk. “At least here is better than prison. Out there you can’t have the luxury you desire.”
“Oh really?” Marina let her fangs drop down from her gums. “I’d much rather have them try and stop me than be stuck here where I have to follow your strict rules. I’d much rather be me, unlike you. You pretend to be an emotionless man, but you’re not. You care too much. And you’d rather suppress who you are to achieve success than be who you are. Let’s face it — you’re just as trapped as me.”
Lola stared at Marina with wide and betrayed eyes. Marina could feel just how much Lola hated her truthful words.
But Lola’s vigor died along with her. Marina savored every last sound of her slowing pulse.
She made her way to the door with a triumphant smile, but it burst open before she could reach it.
An army of people in white uniforms came rushing through the door. Marina cursed under her breath. She had forgotten the emergency button beneath Lola’s desk and had been too focused on the last of Lola’s pulse to notice she pushed it and hear them approach. She bared her fangs and reached out for the nearest man.
He grabbed her, and she felt something sharp prick her neck. The world began to sway, and her senses started to dull.