Illustration: Sheri Kim

The boy stood in a pool of light created by the streetlamp above him. He was lost. The darkness had come suddenly, like a veil that had been swept over the world, but it was merely night. Nothing to be afraid of. Knowing this, he stepped forward.

A second step would take him out of the light, but the boy never stepped forward. He heard a voice from the darkness beside him.

“You mustn’t move away from the light.” The voice was hollow, sending shivers up the boy’s spine. “You mustn’t enter the darkness, for the darkness is a mask for those with bad intentions to hide.”

“Wha-what are you talking about? Who are you?”

“Who am I? I am a messenger with good intentions. Perhaps you do not believe me, but trust me when I say this: Within the darkness is a man. A man who once possessed the surname Blair.”

“A man? Am I to be afraid of a man?”     

“Afraid? No, you need not be afraid. If you stay in the light, you need not be afraid, for this man has the disposition of a vampire. His eyes do not agree with light and he drains the blood from his victims. Have you ever wondered how human blood would taste? Flesh?

His victims are young. Young, like you. He lures them forward, into the darkness, and stains the shadows with their blood. Mr. Blair has sharp teeth, you see. Sharp enough to tear flesh. Do you recall the ‘Crimson Murders’ three years ago?”

The boy nodded. The Crimson Murders were infamous, yet rarely spoken of. Bloody images of victims with torn throats and shredded limbs had made the headline in every newspaper across the country for months on end. They could not be easily forgotten. The murderer—

“The murderer,” said the speaker, reading his mind, “The murderer was never caught. The eyewitness reports all claimed to have seen a man. A man who was thin, skeletal. A man with sunken eyes, boney, gnarled, paper-white hands, and sharp canines that glinted, reflecting light. I know what you’re thinking. Mr. Blair had sharp teeth too, didn’t he? And I’ll let you in on a little secret, Mr. Blair also has sunken eyes and boney, gnarled, paper-white hands. Mr. Blair is also thin and skeletal.”

“You’re saying he murdered those people and that he’s waiting to murder me if I step out of the light? I can’t go anywhere without stepping away from this streetlamp, though.”

“I shall guide you. Do not fear. With me by your side, you will be safe. Give me your hand. Yes, that’s it. I can let the light in—”

The boy looked down at the hand he had grasped, protruding from the darkness. It was boney, gnarled, and paper-white.

“—the burning fires of hell, that is.”