Author's Note: It has been eighteen years since I wrote and pasted the original draft of Waiting for Sunrise here on FictionPress. Now, after a long period of dormancy, this angsty kernel is getting a dramatic revision. The first two chapters from the old original have been merged, dialogue slightly modified, and language tightened in a few places. However, a lot of the original content is still intact, so bear in mind this was originally written by a teenager and modify your expectations accordingly.

For anyone wondering about the setting, I avoid giving a specific date or location in the narrative for reasons. But if people are curious, the location is a fictionalized depiction of Chilliwack, British Columbia. The timeframe is the early 2000's.

Jan 24, 2024 Update: Cut out some paragraphs, played with dialogue, and added more of Irene's thoughts.

Feb 21, 2924 Update: Removed the whole school scene. Tweaked some of the dialogue further. Later chapters will be rearranged, so keep your eye open for chapter headings that don't match.

Regarding Content Rating: I was torn between labeling this as T or M, but erred on the side of caution with M. This story (not necessarily this chapter) contains scenes of violence, death, imprisonment, suicide, and fear inducing situations. There are sexual themes, but no explicit sexual content. There are references to rape. There are references to drugs and alcohol. Course language is minimal.

Irene Locklyn was jogging along a wooded trail, her tawny ponytail bobbing with the motion. Cool air clung to the warmth of her cheeks as she eased to a stop, leaning against a tree to catch her breath. That's far enough for today, she thought to herself. Birdsong filled her ears instead of the growl of traffic, and Irene basked in the predawn tranquility. The moon had already descended and the sun had not yet awoken, enshrouding this patch of the world in darkness. Irene knew that it only heralded the dawning of a new day. But she didn't wait for the light to begin her day; no, she wanted to get a head start while everything else still slumbered. Irene began heading home.

The serenity of the morning was shattered by a loud crack and mad laughter. Quickly Irene slipped between two closely entwined trees, unsure where the sound had come from. Closer and closer came the sound of rushing footsteps and disturbed foliage. A gasp! A groan! Out of the nearby brambles stumbled a limping shadow, a masculine voice swearing viciously. More silhouettes spilled out into the nearby clearing. Someone approached Irene's hiding place, causing Irene to hold her breath as a tingle of fear swept through her. Immediate, but incomplete, relief flooded her as they grabbed a large branch and ran back to the fight. Each sound of impact, each meat-tenderizing squelch, each grunt of pain, sent shivers down her spine. These impulses tingled down to her feet, where they rooted her to the spot despite her desire to run.

"He has learned his lesson, yes? No?" Came a nasally voice with an accent. "Come, the sun soon will rise." The men vanished as suddenly as they had arrived. Squinting in the darkness, Irene's eyes set down on a lone figure which lay on the ground. Cautiously, she approached and knelt down. Frightening possibilities raced through the girl's mind. Is he dead? Is he dying? Is there anything I can do? Is there anything I really should do?

"You… you just going… to stare?" Irene nearly screamed, her tense nerves snapping at the sound of a choppy voice.

"Don't move!" Irene exclaimed reflexively. "I'll help you."

To Irene's astonishment, she heard a chuckle, but it was imminently cut off by a moan of pain. Down went her hand to the leaf-littered ground beside the man, whereupon she felt a sticky, lukewarm liquid. She brought her fingers up and examined them - colour had not yet bloomed in the low-contrast light, but there was no mistaking what the dark smudges on her fingers were. Disgustedly she wiped her hand off on her sweatpants. Irene had first aid supplies at her house, but it would take too long to retrieve and return. "May I check for breaks or fractures?"

Despite the strain in the man's voice, there was a tinge of amusement as he answered, "Be… my guest…" Irene cast aside any bemusement and ran her hands along his crumpled body. Gently, her fingers investigated the back of his head and neck, slipping through blood matted hair to feel the skin underneath. It wasn't noticeably swollen or lumpy, albeit she could feel the firm tension of his neck muscles. Nothing seemed to be broken. Still, she wasn't absolutely confident in her findings. Thank God for the Good Samaritan Act.

Irene continued a quick examination, having to rely on touch more than sight. She palpated his legs through his torn slacks, and to her surprise she realized his feet were bound. She discovered the attackers bound his wrists as well. The knots were tight. She didn't have anything to cut them with, but it occurred to her that if she could wedge something between the cords, she might be able to loosen them. She dug her keys out of her pocket and worked on freeing the unfortunate soul. Who would do something like this? "Why didn't you say you'd been tied up?"

"Thought... it was... obvious..." he murmured.

"There. Think you could walk if I helped you?" A monosyllabic noise of affirmation was all the response she got. Grunting, she helped him to his feet. To her surprise, the stranger was no taller than her, a little over one and a half metres she judged. In the darkness she could not make out his features. Focusing back on the situation, Irene inquired, "Do you live nearby?"

A barely audible whisper replied, "No… do you?"

"About ten minutes' jog away… but…"

"Anywhere but here is… good… I need… to get inside somewhere, anywhere…"

Irene didn't have the heart to refuse, so with the man leaning heavily on her for support, they began walking towards her home. Mixed feelings stirred deep in Irene's mind. This is the right thing to do, isn't it? However, she had a strong aversion to being involved in whatever trouble this man had gotten himself into. Furthermore, the thought of bringing a stranger into her home clenched her stomach. Perhaps she could just set him on the porch and go phone an ambulance.

The first rays of light were breaking over the surrounding mountains when Irene arrived at her house. It was a strenuous and silent walk; neither Irene nor the man said a word. He inhaled sharply as she guided him to the rickety old deck chair outside her front door. The beaten man's leg shook in clear agitation as he glanced towards the east.

Muttering under her breath, Irene struggled with the old lock. Finally, there was a satisfying click and the door swung open. Seeming to forget himself, the stranger tried to jump to his feet, only to have his knees buckle beneath him. Irene caught him before he fell onto his face, thankful that he was not a man of great stature. "Easy there… no rush…"

A sharp hiss forced its way past his clenched teeth. Irene redoubled her efforts to get the languishing stranger back into the chair, but he pushed his way into her home despite her protests, like a cat leaping out of one's grasp at the approach of a barking dog. Fearful of hurting the man further, Irene let him stagger inside. He leaned heavily against the wall by her coat rack, leaving dark smears on the faded wallpaper. As Irene flicked on the light, the man exhibited animal-like distress. "The light… no… need... dark…" he muttered.

Irene hesitated. None of the rooms on the main floor got very dark. All her windows had warped blinds that were better for collecting dust rather than repelling sunlight. "Think you could handle stairs?" The urgency and fretfulness of the man was worrying her, and she felt it better to pacify him before anything else.

The man's eyes fixated on her. Finally she got to see his face clearly. His coal-black eyes were bloodshot and one of them had significant swelling around it; it may have just been the injuries which gave them their squinty, shifty appearance. His messy black mop of hair was badly in need of a trim, unkempt bangs sticking to his high forehead. The angular structure of his jaw was further punctuated with a black soul patch on his pointed chin, conjuring the impression of a devil or imp. A slightly hooked nose perched above a set of lips, which Irene was unsure of their natural shape as they were split and puffy. Marred as his face was, Irene guessed he was in his thirties.

Keeping strong eye contact with her, the stranger made a subtle inclination of his head. Immediately she returned the nod and helped him towards a nearby door. She gave the loose knob a twist and led him down into the basement.

"The basement is the darkest room here…" she explained as they stepped into darkness, the air having a heavier quality and a whiff of lint and laundry detergent . With a flick, a bare, yellow light bulb lit up the room. Irene gestured with a free arm towards a roll-away bed shoved in the corner.

"This'll do…" the man croaked. Feet shuffling asynchronously across the scratchy berber carpet, Irene helped him to the bed. Before letting him lay down, she whipped off the handmade quilt. The sheets were cheap, but Irene was not about to let the man bleed on a memento from her late grandmother. The man sluggishly laid himself down and put his hands over his chest, staring up at the stark, low ceiling.

"Wait here; I'll call an ambulance." For the first time, Irene had wished she owned a cell phone. She could have called 9-1-1 when she first saw the disturbance, unseen, and uninvolved. Before she turned away, her eye was snagged with an alarmed expression on the man's face.

"No hospital!" blurted the man, expectorating blood in the process. Irene quickly stepped back to be out of the line of spray. "Just bandages..." Irene rolled her eyes and left to go find some gauze and other supplies.

Irene returned holding a plastic case in one hand, and a bag of ice in the other. Her guest took the offered ice, stared at it a moment as if trying to decide where to deploy it, then put it against his lip. Irene knelt beside the bed. "Let's see here…" she said as she opened the case and grabbed the bandages. She gingerly cleaned the wounds on the man's face first. He closed his eyes and remained remarkably still, barely wincing as she wiped away the blood. Irene then unrolled more gauze and dabbed it with disinfectant as she eyed him for any more obvious abrasions. "Unbutton your shirt…" Wordlessly, the man complied. "By the way, my name is Irene," Irene introduced in an attempt to break the tension.


"This might sting…. Cyrus? It's not a very common name …" Irene remarked as she did her best to clean several cuts along his ribs, which were in clear relief beneath his pale skin. She kept expecting the man to flinch at her touch, but he remained eerily still as she worked. As more silence followed, Irene continued, "Then again… Irene isn't Jennifer or Amanda or Jessica…"

"I had very scholarly parents…" Cyrus remarked, a slight look of amusement drifting onto his face.

"Well, that's all I can do for you. You really should go to the hospital," Eyes shot open into a glare, and he curled his lips menacingly like a dog about to bare its fangs, but quickly pressed his raw lips together. Before he could utter a word in protest a cat wandered into the room, meowing loudly. Irene jumped and whipped her head around, relaxing and laughing when she realised it was just her cat. Promptly, the small grey tabby wandered over to investigate. After getting a good sniff, the feline arched her back and hissed furiously. Irene stooped down and picked up the cat, trying to calm her down as she smoothed out a puffed-up tail.

"Shhhhh…. it's okay… it's alright…" Irene cooed soothingly, but her pet continued to growl and struggle. Irene brought her over to the doorway and placed her on the stairs, quickly closing the door. There was a loud scream of protest followed by the sound of tiny feet thumping up the stairs. Irene turned to Cyrus calmly, cheeks just slightly rosy with embarrassment. "Silver is usually very friendly."

Cyrus looked up at Irene from his perch. "The cat has spoken - I must be a blackguard," he said cheekily, although the humorous effect was mired by another grunt of pain.

"Not at all," came Irene's flat response.

Cyrus lifted his head slightly, slowly bringing his bandaged hand up to wipe away dark strands from his eyes. "Right…" Cyrus responded dryly. Regardless of what she said about not relying on a cat's first impression, Irene was growing more uneasy.

"I'm going to call that ambulance now."

"NO!" Cyrus almost shouted. Moments ago he was struggling to talk, but now Irene realized just how much louder he'd gotten. "I can't afford it."

Can't afford it? This isn't the States. Unless... "Are you an alien?" Irene asked. His accent sounded local to Irene, although some of his word choice seemed a bit off, perhaps he was from south of the border.

"...I don't have citizenship if that's what you mean..." Cyrus admitted after a pause.

Oh for heaven's sake. This just got a lot more complicated. Irene put her hands on her hips, eyeing Cyrus critically, as if blaming him for being a continued nuisance, despite her having provided unrequested aid. "It's better to get tended by professionals and end up deported, than to stay here and risk getting an infection."

"Wow you are naive." Irene squinted. Cyrus snorted and reiterated, "NO hospital!" His glare returned with much more intensity.

"Don't give me that look. You can't stay here." Irene studied Cyrus again, noting how pale he was. She initially thought it was because he was in shock, but he seemed very lucid and she wondered if that was his natural complexion. She hesitantly walked back over to him, putting her hand on his forehead just to be sure. The flesh was not clammy, but it definitely was cool. "You really look awful."

"I'm in pain!" he snapped, then amended a smile and the words, "But... I've been through worse. Let's not make a production out of this." Irene squinted analytically. A shock victim surely wouldn't be able to flash a smile like that. Or was that a stroke victim? Irene was certain neither shock nor stroke victim could produce an almost pleasant smile. It was only 'almost pleasant' because to Irene, the man's face repeatedly reminded her of some strange creature crossed between a rat and an owl. "Just let me stay here the rest of the day, and I'll be gone by nightfall, I promise!" Cyrus urged. Irene crossed her arms over her chest. This conversation was going nowhere, and he seemed coherent enough. She needed a shower, to soak her clothes before they stained, and to get to school. Staying home and playing nurse did not appeal to Irene.

"I'm not making a production. You know what, fine. You want to avoid the hospital.. I used to avoid them myself, since my sister-" Irene aborted the sentence. That was too personal to tell a stranger. She quickly tried to cover up that slip with more talking. "Whatever. You can stay until I get back. But if you get worse, I'm sending you to the hospital - no arguments."

Pacified, Cyrus's mouth split into a grin. Literally. A new bead of blood trickled to the surface. Yet he barely winced. "Trust me, I'll be fine." With an understanding reached, Irene instructed him to rest before she left.

Irene barely managed to catch the bus to school Although her morning had been extraordinary, she found the routine and humdrum of school a balm to her anxiety. The incident in the woods faded like a dream as she did her work and chatted with her childhood friend. She carefully made no mention of the man in her basement, as she didn't want the strange experience to bleed any further into her world.

However, Irene had to face the consequences of that mornings' heroics. Was it heroic, or was it just guilt? A transformation overcame her as her thoughts began racing about what she would find when she went down into the basement. She was second guessing herself. Why did I help him? Why did I let him stay? Why didn't I call an ambulance? Better yet, why didn't I call the cops? Thoughts stirred like autumn leaves caught in a swirling wind. Her heart raced as the thoughts kept coming while she passed by the basement door. What if he's dangerous? What if he dies and I get blamed? Irene rolled back her shoulders, took a few deep breaths, and prepared herself to show no fear. Irene grabbed a plastic cup and filled it with water, then ventured downstairs. Stop being a coward. He needed help. I'm only doing what any good person would do.

The bed in the basement was still occupied. Irene stood in the doorway, staring. The man, Cyrus, didn't stir at all. He was as still as a corpse, as still as her sister was as she was laid in her coffin. Irene could clearly remember the gleam of the white satin reflecting the pink hues of the makeup, which wrongfully set the illusion of life. She could see the strands of the golden wig now, spread out on the pillow. People remarked that it looked like she was asleep, but Irene knew better. Her sister smiled in her sleep, but there was no smile on that mask. No, it wasn't her sister anymore - her sister was a lively person. That was just a shell that looked like her; a mere doll dressed and propped. Irene winced.

Awareness of something cold and wet dripped down her arm drew her out of her reveries. She quickly turned the cup upright, muttering under her breath. A slight movement crept into her peripheral vision, and her eyes darted back towards Cyrus. He had finally moved, turning to face her. His dark eyes followed her every movement as she walked towards him. A sick feeling lurched in Irene's stomach. Irene ignored it, dismissing it as weakness.

"Here, I brought you some water. I can get you some toast if you are hungry." Irene passed over the glass, trying to maintain her composure.

"I'm not hungry, only thirsty," he responded, bringing the cup to his lips. His lips were a shade pinker than the rest of his face but... weren't they bleeding before? Now they were clean and hardly swollen. Irene's mind was screaming to her that something was wrong, but she did not react quite yet, choosing instead to rationalise it. Maybe her memory exaggerated the extent of his injuries. It was dark in the morning. She must not have seen clearly. Resolved to continue on the course of compassion, Irene knelt down beside the bed, grabbing the first aid kit supplies she'd stashed beneath the bed.

"Drink as much as you would like..." Irene said and opened up the plastic case, looking for the scissors.

"You don't look very old. Do you live alone?" Cyrus asked abruptly. Irene lifted her light brown eyes, fixing him with a stern stare to cover the wave of anxiety the question stirred.

"I live with my father." Irene said firmly. She suddenly wanted to get her hand on those scissors as soon as possible.

"Really? I haven't seen him… he doesn't mind me being here?" Cyrus pried.

"He's working," Irene responded. She didn't need to tell him he wouldn't be home for a few days. Irene swept under the bed to see if the scissors had fallen out underneath.

"Where's your mother?" Cyrus asked. She could hear the bed creak as he shifted, a shadow falling over her as he leaned over the edge, watching her.

This line of questioning was making Irene very uncomfortable. "Dead," Irene snapped, anxiety disguising itself as irritation. She quickly backed away. She really wanted something sharp. Or should she just leave? Irene eyed the man, feeling increasingly more vulnerable. What did I get myself into?

"Oh. And your sister? You mentioned…"

"Also dead," Irene didn't want to lie, but she also didn't want to talk about it. She hoped her clipped responses would send a signal to the man.

Apparently, that signal was not received as the man continued his line of inquiry. "So your family's all dead or absent? Sucks to be you," the man responded with an astounding lack of tact. What is wrong with him? I'm helping him and he says things like that. Getting no further response from Irene, he added, "It's a miserable start, anyway."

"Maybe." Irene said, her impatience growing. "But I'm not dwelling on it." Finally, she noticed the sought-after scissors sitting atop the drying machine. She clicked her tongue at her forgetfulness and retrieved them. She was feeling just a bit more reassured now. Maybe she should leave and go find a neighbour. She gripped the scissors tighter. No.

Irene recalled when she was at a friend's party - a friend who was often left alone by her parents. One of the boys brought his older brother - and both were drunk. When things got rowdy, her friend ran next door for help. The neighbour's idea of helping led to social services getting involved. The resulting stress tipped an already volatile home life over the edge - her friend's parents split soon after. Irene was sure her absentee father didn't need to be put under the microscope. She was almost an adult and could handle herself.

"Really? I thought that's what all teens did, dwell on everything." Cyrus sounded inappropriately amused.

"I've got better things to do than throw a pity party. I have no use for that attitude," Irene spoke firmly. She returned to Cyrus' side, kneeling beside him with scissors in hand. If he tries anything...

"And what, pray tell, do you find useful?" Cyrus asked quietly. An icy gaze was Irene's first response. A protracted silence was the second. Finally, came the third - which was to move things along. She kept her hand steady; if she showed fear then he might guess how alone she really was. If she acted like things were normal, perhaps he would move on.

"I'm going to change your bandages now... and then I want you to leave." Irene said firmly.

Cyrus laughed in response. Unnerved, Irene cut the medical tape and unravelled the bandages. Her furrowed eyebrows rose in surprise. She could not believe what she saw. His wounds had halved in size and appeared to have weeks of healing. This was impossible, and yet, she was touching him. He was real. In fact, his very real hand seized her wrist and squeezed. Irene gasped and tried to pull away, but his grip was firm. A struggle ensued, and Irene gazed frightfully into his dark eyes as she tried to pull away in vain. Stupid, stupid! I should have left the moment he asked if I was alone. His grin widened, and then he let go, sending her flying back. She tumbled and fell to the ground, quickly crawling away from the man. Every panicked attempt to get to her feet resulted in her losing balance and falling down again.

Irene's eyes darted around the room, then returned to stare at his unreal presence. Cyrus swung his legs to the side of the bed and rose to his feet with ease and grace impossible for a man with his injuries. Irene took in a deep breath to scream, but instead held it in her chest, trying to steady her racing heart. She looked at the exit. Get up and move!

"Thanks for helping me, but you probably should have looked the other way. Now that you've seen too much..."

Irene grasped the scissors behind her back; it was reassuring. She gulped, swallowing the lump that was forming in her throat, preparing herself. Irene rose to dash for the exit, but he immediately crossed the room and pushed her up against the cold wall. Irene let out a yelp. Firmly gripping the scissors, she slashed at her attacker's exposed chest. Red liquid gushed out, spattering across her nose like tiny garnet freckles. Cyrus hissed and she felt her body being crushed against the wall, his strength belying his wiry frame. Her wrist was squeezed until she was forced to release her makeshift weapon. No! His eyes stared into hers, taunting and maddening.

Irene felt his hand move to her neck. Irene did not dare so much as blink, instead she kept firm eye contact with him. Cyrus's savage gaze dropped from her moist, unyielding eyes to her slender neck. The danger was real, and yet her heart began to slow down. She was still afraid, but the panic had burnt out. This isn't happening. This can't be happening! Everything seemed to slow down, and for a moment she couldn't feel him or anything. Then reality slammed back into her with reinforcement. Irene could only muster a sharp airy gasp as a piercing pain penetrated the skin on her neck. He was biting her. She could not believe it. He was biting her!

Light-headed and fuzzy, it was all Irene could do to just stare in horror at her own blood being licked from the man's lips. Again sensations dulled, and she was barely aware of the pain or blood trickling down the side of her neck. A chuckle, almost a loud purr, erupted from her assailant. Cyrus placed both of his hands on her cheeks, squishing them together, forcing her lips to pucker. Irene broke out of her daze and glared at him. Anger bloomed in her chest, and steadily rose like liquid fire in her veins. Cyrus moved his face closer to hers, and her lips unwillingly connected with his, the taste of salt and iron invading. Then Cyrus threw back his head and laughed.

"What? No screams? No please for mercy? As much as begging is a real turn on, your lack of hysteria is refreshing," he mocked, releasing her face. Instantly Irene's hand flew to the puncture on the side of her neck, pressing hard to try and stop the bleeding. However, she was too angry and afraid to speak, and too confused and sore to try and run. All she could do was continue to glare at him, just willing her rage to seep out of her. Irene could not make sense of anything; the pain, the reality, or his crooked grin.

"Speechless? Oh… I have that effect on people." He grabbed her once more, his hand working its way until his palm pressing into the nape of her neck. Please stop! She could not make the words, and she doubted they would avert his monster even if she could. His other hand pulled at her wrist, breaking the cover over her neck wound. Irene cringed. He brought his face close to hers and Irene turned her head, causing the pain in her neck to sting even worse. But she could not look. She needed to search for a way out of this. Anything! Shivers wove up and down her body as she could feel his slimy tongue sliding along the open wound. The pain gave way to numbness, and the only sensation on her neck was a moist chill and a dull pulsating.

Cyrus ceased licking her and took a step back again. His lips parted into a broad grin, showing off his long, inhuman fangs. Irene stared in silence. She wanted to rationalize and believe they were fake, that his biting was because he was mentally unhinged. But that didn't explain the healing. It didn't explain her cat's reaction. It didn't explain his power. Thus, all of her attempts to find some other explanation ended in defeat. She was left with the absurd conclusion: he's not human. "B-b-but vampires don't exist."