It was so bright out by the time Honey busted through the door onto the motel roof she thought he was already dead.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck,” she muttered to herself, scanning. She had gotten turned around on her way up. Which way was east? The sky in the direction she was facing seemed darker, though even all the way to the horizon it was becoming a light blue. Panting, heart racing, she went around the stairs, hand holding onto the little building for support.
“Ah!” she yelled in relief, doubling over. He was alive, sitting on the edge of the roof. Beyond him, sunrise was threatening but hadn’t actually gone through with it yet. She had minutes.
A wave of nausea hit her and she stayed double over, head near her knees, nails digging into the stucco for support. She dry heaved. Spat. Tried to get the nausea to go down. I don’t have time for this. The second it began to recede she stood up and began across the roof. Honey wanted to run but all of her muscles were fire.
Shaun should have noticed her by now. She hadn’t exactly been quiet. But still he sat on the hip-height wall of the roof, legs dangling over the alley four stories below. He was facing east. Waiting for the sunrise. As she got closer, came around to his side, she saw the look on his face. Tranquil. Or checked out. Honey knew. Still panting, she put a hand on the wall near him to see if he would notice. When he didn’t move – and truly he was like a stone, not a twitch or a flinch – she put a hand on his shoulder.
The look on his face shifted a bit, and his shoulder twitched under his hand. He didn’t take his eyes from the east. This cheap motel was right on the water, and directly east of them was just the shimmering white line between ocean and sky. No sun yet, but close enough she could see the exact spot where it would rise above the water.
“Hi, Honey,” he said. His voice was peaceful. Bland. Barely sounded like him at all.
Honey swallowed hard, and glanced down at all the empty air below them. She shifted back, away from the wall a bit, now that he knew she was here. She hadn’t been able to do anything the last time she had seen this. She still wasn’t sure if this idea was even going to work.
“What are you doing up here, Shaun?” she asked. She pronounced her words deliberately, hitting the consonants like a stage actor. She had one chance and not much time.
Shaun smiled. “Waiting for the sunrise. I think it’s soon.”
“It is soon. Very soon. Why are you waiting for the sunrise?”
That got a casual shrug out of him. Still his eyes were glued to the east. That spot on the horizon was getting brighter.
“I haven’t seen it in such a long time. A nice lady named Seraphina told me to. She had purple eyes.”
Witch. I fucking knew it.
Honey’s eyes were going back and forth between the horizon and Shaun.
“Why haven’t you seen it in a long time?”
Shaun didn’t answer, only continued to stare dreamily. She put a hand on his shoulder again, and squeezed.
“Shaun, why haven’t you seen the sunrise in a long time?”
“Because I’m a vampire,” he answered in a matter of fact tone.
“Right,” she said. “And what happens to vampires in the sunlight?”
“They burn and die.” Might as well have been answering questions in science class.
“That’s right, Shaun. So…” She took a deep breath. “What will happen to you if you see the sunrise?”
There were a few seconds where nothing changed. In that few seconds Honey managed to look between Shaun and the horizon about twelve times. On the thirteenth time she looked back to Shaun, she saw that his face was no longer serene and empty and tranquil. He had the beginnings of a frown, and there was a crease between his eyebrows.
“Tell me, Shaun. Tell me right now. What happens to you when the sun comes up?”
“I…I…I don’t know.”
“Nah-ah. That’s bullshit. You do know. And you’re going to say it out loud.”
The frown increased, and the line between his eyebrows gained a friend. He looked like he was trying to wake up. The sun looked like it was inches away.
“I’ll…I will…if the sun comes up I will…”
Shaun shook his head, his hands clutching his temples like he’d just developed a headache. Maybe he had. He looked up at Honey sideways through squinting eyes, looking at her for the first time.
“Honey? Where did you come from?”
Except there wasn’t any time left to answer. There wasn’t any time left at all. The first sliver of deadly yellow light had come up over the blue. It was shining in her eyes, blinding her. Crawling down her face as it rose higher. Shaun was sitting. He was a little below her, and the sun had not reached him yet. But it would soon. And not minutes soon. Seconds.
There wasn’t enough time to explain. There wasn’t enough time for anything.
Except one thing.
“Just try to remember we’re friends,” Honey said.
Shaun got half a second to look even more confused than he already was. Honey put her hands on his back and used all of her strength to push. If he hadn’t been confused and weak it never would have worked. He would have stopped her, or held on. But he was both of those things, so away he went, sliding off the little wall and down into the alley. The dark alley, shaded by the equally cheap motel next door. Honey watched him go down, missing the sun by inches, legs and arms flailing. Honey thought it was sort of funny until he hit the pavement and his head popped like a cherry tomato.
She stared at his unmoving body for a few seconds, breath held. The heat had grown immeasurably and she was starting to sweat.
After ten full seconds, his body was still there and not a pile of dust.
“Well, thank God for that,” she said, and headed back for the stairs.