Katie woke up when she heard that sound. She knew, without leaving her bedroom, what it was. Someone had forced open the sliding glass door to her balcony.
Her apartment was on the fifth floor. The balcony was not connected to any others. She wasn't wealthy, she could make ends meet is all. Her television was a twelve-year old tube model. The furniture came from discount places that sold overstocks and end-of-run clearance stuff. There was nothing in her apartment worth the effort to climb up four stories of the exterior of a building faced with rain-slicked smooth concrete.
She didn't turn the bedroom light on. She sat up in the bed and picked up a flashlight from the nightstand. It was one her brother had given her, it was nearly as powerful as a searchlight and not much larger than a penlight. Then she reached under a pillow and plucked out a revolver.
She waited. Enough light seeped through the bedroom curtains to see shapes.
Something was there. She turned on the flashlight. What she saw looked like a man. She knew it wasn't, or possibly it had been a man once.
The creature smiled, revealing fangs. Katie's soul was screaming inside of her. They're real. My brother was right. Vampires exist.
She pointed the revolver at it and cocked the weapon. The vampire heard the clicks as the revolver's hammer came back. It sneered at her. "Go ahead, make my day. Bullets cannot harm me or my kind."
The thought that even vampires were cheesy enough to crib their lines from Dirty Harry movies drove away the fear-induced trembling. Katie fired.
The vampire staggered back against the wall from the impact. The expression on its face was a mixture of shock and incomprehension. "How--," it started to say. But then it almost exploded from the inside out in a shower of dust that stank of age and corruption.
Katie turned on the light on her nightstand. She picked up her telephone and dialed her brother.
He was obviously asleep, for he answered with a groggy "`Lo?"
"The bullets worked, bro" she said. "Thanks for giving me them. Go back to sleep." She hung up.
She could see the bullet lying on the floor. It had been a solid lead bullet, until her brother had carefully drilled it out and inserted a wooden rod that was about a quarter-inch in diameter. The wood was african blackwood, the hardest, toughest, heaviest wood available. He had swaged the rod into the bullet and loaded up .45 Colt rounds with them.
He'd given her a box of those cartridges, along with a Ruger Blackhawk that had night sights. Katie had thought her brother was crazy, but she loved him, so she had humored him.
In the morning, she'd vacuum up what was left of the vampire and call Maintenance to fix the glass door.
The phone rang. It was her brother.