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Which was interesting, because up until now, I thought I already was dead. Funny what life—or afterlife—throws at you.

The Man in Black smirked at me from beneath that cloak of his. His eyes glowed red beneath the dark mask he wore inside the hood.

You should never have challenged me, girl. Your fate was sealed the moment you dared think you could kill me.”

We stood in the front hall of the high school, right in front of the massive trophy team celebrating our multiple state champion tennis and water polo teams. It seemed a strange place to bleed out while facing down a monster.

I reached one hand down and pressed it against the wound on my side, just beneath my right ribs. I could feel the blood pump from the wound, but I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to make this bastard pay. I just wanted him to feel just a bit of the pain he caused.

I couldn’t let you get away with it,” I said. “You killed and you would kill again.”

Death is my life,” he said, a smile on his lips. His pronounced canines made him look like a wolf beneath his disguise. “I long ago gave up your foolish human world. Your foolish human morals. They have no meaning to someone—something—that can live forever. I am a predator and the humans are just prey. The sooner you learn that, the sooner you can move on with your existence.”

I laughed. It made my side hurt, maybe even opened the wound more. I didn’t care. I needed to laugh, and not just a little chuckle. A full on guffaw, as if I heard the funniest joke ever told.

I wondered if I was getting a bit hysterical.

I regained my composure as much as I could before I looked the Man in Black in his lifeless red eyes.

You sound like every goth kid I’ve ever met. You go on and on about all the darkness that surrounds you, the never-ending path that leads only to death. How the only gods that rule over man are wicked creatures designed for only torment. I went through that phase when I was fourteen. Get over yourself.”

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