The creature stabbed his fingertips into Christie’s side. Pain shot through her gut, but the grip at her throat muffled her cry.
He licked her blood from his fingertips. “Sweet liver, but I came for the whole deal—from your heart to the marrow of your soul.”
The monster allowed Christie to drop a bit. A grip at the back of her scalp yanked her head back, stretching her neck. She half-gulped before the sting of fangs sank into her throat. Suction drew instant pain through her veins and threatened to invert her fingertips and toes.
She forced her withering lips to move. “Belong…to…Christ.”
A shockwave rippled from her core and surged energy into the bite wound.
The creature shoved her to the steps. She winced at the impact and clutched her throbbing side.
Steam furled from his pores as he stumbled backward. “What have you done?”
Christie coughed, then mustered a grin. “All the nights you watched me, I was drinking holy water.”
He lunged toward her. “You contaminated yourself with life! You will still die—”
The words choked off as the creature grabbed his throat and withdrew from her.
She raised a brow and mustered a rasp. “But your death will end you. Mine brings a life upgrade—infinite contamination.”
He clawed his open mouth with his talons. His gape froze. The fangs disintegrated first. The creature’s flesh and bone hardened and cracked like summer clay. He crumbled to fine dust and the night breeze gusted his remains away.
As the last quart of her life eked out, the faces of her surviving neighbors and their children flashed across her mind. Christie leaned back against the planks of the church steps and smiled.