We froze in place when we heard Dragos shout from the bottom of the stairwell. Gloria stood close beside me. Saying nothing in response to his questions, I told her she’d have to shoot Dragos as well, like she did Lupus a few moments before. That as a vampire, he’d be too powerful for us to overcome and escape. We’d never get past him if he’s alive.
“Alright,” she said, although I detected a slight hesitancy in her voice and not taking the pistol out of its holster. Then, looking at her more closely, I noticed a spattering of blood droplets on her face and more embedded in her short hair.
“Gloria,” I said, “you’re covered in blood.”
Gloria rubbed her hand across her cheek and through her hair, then examined what she’d wiped off. She licked her lips, which were likewise splotched with the wolfs fluids. “Oh no,” she muttered, closing her eyes and shaking her head as if she’d suddenly realized an undeniable reality. Then, in a shaky voice she said, “The wolf must have spewed this on me—when it coughed and gasped at the same time I bent down to check its pulse to make sure it was dead. It was its final deed, its death throes.”
Not grasping the implication of her situation, I said, “Okay. But right now, you just have to kill Dragos. Then we’ll clean you up and get out of here.”
But before Gloria could respond to my plea, Dragos, who by this point had come halfway up the stairs, and ignoring me, said, “Welcome to our world, beautiful lady. I see from the change in your eyes, that Lupus infected you with the werewolf virus. How fortunate, to be brought into an existence so much more rewarding than the mundane life you have been trapped in. And you, Stefan, must now choose your path. Vampire, werewolf . . . or death.”
“You’re insane,” I screamed, then grabbed Gloria’s hand and pulled her back up to the landing. “We’re gonna get you cleaned up and get out of here. Come on, there’s a bathroom down this hallway.! We’ll wash that blood off then find another way out of this madhouse. Hurry.”
But Gloria resisted my attempt to lead her away from the stairwell and, to my great horror, growled in a low gravelly voice. Then, with animal-like quickness, she lunged forward and bit my hand, sinking her emerging sharp canine fangs deep into the muscle at the base of my thumb.
Still barely able to speak like a human, she said, albeit it was somewhat difficult to understand her words, “This is the only way we can be together, my dear Stefan.”
I jerked my hand away from her mouth, which by then was turning into a longish snout dripping saliva, and ran down the hall looking for a way down to the lower level. But instead of another stairwell, I found nothing but a dead-end. With no alternative, I collapsed in a dark corner, terrified and overcome with dread. Then, a short moment later, I saw a beautiful, silver-haired wolf approaching in the dim light. She growled sweetly as she came closer.
“Is that you, Gloria?” I manage to say, even though it was difficult to enunciate the words.
“She growled gently, maybe even lovingly, then lay down next to me.
Feeling the comfort of her soft fur and the rhythm of her deep breathing, I relaxed and thankfully accepted my new life.