Any outsider might have believed that Dexter had spent the last two days finding Jesus.
His small apartment had undergone several drastic redecorations, mostly in the theme of second-hand crosses, crucifixes, and rosaries hung on every available hook, nail, and doorknob. There were also several bibles roaming the apartment, all flipped to various pages, and a few paintings of the Virgin Mary haphazardly hung on the otherwise bare walls.
Less than obvious but nonetheless new were the two shiny locks on the door above the deadbolt and the Charley bars that sat in the windows, keeping the glass shut.
The book Dexter was reading was not the bible, but it was as heavy as the cinderblocks. It was large, thick, and leather bound, and he left it on his cheap black coffee table as he flipped through the brittle and yellowed pages. On every other page or so the blocks of tiny typeface were broken up by old illustrations, all horrible, most bloody. It was the sort of thing he’d usually like, in a movie or video game, but the farther he read, the more his eyes grew wild and his hands fidgeted. The air conditioner was set to full blast, and he was sweating.
When the silence was broken by sharp raps on the front door he almost screamed, jumping several inches into the air. He reached clumsily under the ratty brown couch he was sitting on and finally found what he needed – a wooden baseball bat, the fat end whittled down to a point. He stood several feet from the door and held the bat over his shoulder.
“Who’s there?” he asked, hoping he had kept the fear out of his throat.
“It’s us, man.”
“Bert and Alex, bruh. Who else is it going to be?” said Bert, sounding exasperated.
Slowly, Dexter looked through the spy hole. He didn’t let go of the bat as he undid the three locks and swung open the door.
“You coming in or not?”
Alex and Bert exchanged a look Dexter didn’t like before coming through the doorway. All three locks were replaced in mere seconds.
“What is that?” Dexter pointed with the baseball bat at the brown bag in Alex’s hand. Alex smiled.
“If you don’t recognize this,” he said, pulling a bottle from the bag, “you’ve been gone way too long.”
“Well, if you’re not coming out with us to get drunk, we decided to come to you,” Bert said, going to the kitchen to get some plastic cups from the sink.
“You know what whiskey does to me,” he said, lowering the bat.
“That’s the best part of the plan,” Alex said. “You’re already home.”
An hour later and Dexter was happily slurring his words and sloppily pouring his own drinks, much too enthused about the whiskey to notice that while Bert and Alex had been drinking, what the two had consumed didn’t add up to what Dexter had taken in all by himself.
“You guys, seriously, guysss, just, wow,” Dexter said, consuming another glass. “You bring me booze when you know I can’t leave the house and it’s just…it’s just.”
“Dude, you’re not starting your period now, are you?” Bert asked. Dexter tried to shove him but only succeeded in pulling on his shirt.
“Hey, you know what?” Alex said, looking past Dexter at Bert. “The Mollies are playing at the Tannery tonight.”
“Ooh, you know, that lead singer, what’s her name? Debra? Donna? Amy?” Dexter tilted his head to the left to think and started leaning that way entirely, leaving Alex to catch him before he hit the deck. Dexter didn’t notice. “Whatever. She is…smoking. You know the things I would do to her, mmph.”
“Why don’t we go down there? They start playing in twenty,” Bert said, standing up. Dexter sadly shook his head.
“Sun’s down. I can’t leave. You guys…guys, you know this.”
“Come on, Dex,” Alex said. “Do you really think you were attacked by a vampire? Does that really sound right to you?”
“It happened,” Dexter said, but already he was starting to sound unsure. Bert smiled at Alex.
“You were drinking, man. Maybe you blacked out, made up the story while you were out.”
“So here’s the question…Dex, look at me,” Alex said, turning Dexter slightly. “Are you going to stay in here like a little bitch afraid of a nightmare, or are you going to the Tannery with us to drunkenly hit on the Mollies until one of them goes home with you?”
Dexter put as much thought as his drowned brain could muster and then stood up quickly, hands on his hips.
“Gentlemen…to the Tannery.”
“Fuck, yes, this is finally over,” Alex said as they follow Dexter to the door.
“Any longer and I was going to beat the shit out of him.”
“What good was that going to do?”
Bert shrugged. “Why not?”
Dexter’s door was only a few feet away from the front door of the apartment building. The cool night air felt smooth on his face and while he vaguely realized he had left his jacket in the apartment, he also vaguely realized he didn’t care. Even just standing there, wobbling in the wind and thinking fondly of whats-her-face from the Mollies, he realized how crazy he had been to even think-
“Look who finally grew a pair?”
Dexter was screaming before Bert and Alex could finish coming out the door. A tiny girl in a tank top and short shorts that revealed miles of pale legs was gripping Dexter by his hair and his neck in her mouth. Blood seeped past them and fell in drops on the ground.
“It can’t…” Bert muttered, arms limp at either side.
Alex didn’t know what he was doing, but he was anything but frozen. His brain had stopped functioning on a higher plane when he first saw the scene, and his movements were pure instinct. He started going back into the building without fully turning around. He managed to keep to his feet through sheer forces of will and found himself back in Dexter’s apartment, which luckily none of them had remember to lock.
The baseball bat was where Dexter had left it, leaning against the wall next to the front door.
The scene had not changed by the time he came back. Alex rushed past Bert, bat firmly over his shoulder, and swung for the fences.
In a blink the girl had a hand out to stop the bat. She was looking at him with dead blue eyes. Her teeth were coated in blood. She growled.
Alex attempted to take back the bat and she pushed, holding onto the bat. He was stubborn, though, and even as he got pushed off his feet he refused to let go of his end. The girl, or whatever she was, was taken surprise and got rocked a little of her balance. It was enough. Alex climbed back to his knees and shoved hard, pushing her off of Dexter. He fell in a heap.
Alex got to his feet and swung the bat again. This time he hit her square in the temple and she went down, letting out a small, angry cry.
Before she could do anything else Alex brought the bat down, point first, through her upper ribcage.
In what he would later always refer to as a ‘god damned miracle,’ the makeshift stake found her heart.
There was an involuntary gasp, and then it seemed to Alex the girl was falling into the ground. Within a second all that was left was a few traces of dust that spun around in the wind and flew off.
Behind him came a heavy thud as Bert gave up.