Charles Avent Chasing Sunrise Series
Chapter One
Poor Little Lamb

The few city blocks that made up the entertainment district became an entirely different world at night—one that most would never see. The pale light of dying neon signs bathed the streets, while the sound of merchants selling their illegal wares pierced the moist night air. The drug dealers and the pimps worked openly after sundown; not even the police would come into the area at night, much less anyone who wanted their protection.

This was Cami’s world; it was all she knew.

She knew that her protégé, Samuel, was somewhere nearby, watching her. Her own attention, however, was presently being given to the man who was walking slowly down the sidewalk. He was young—late twenties at the most, more than twice the age that Cami appeared to be—and dressed well in dark slacks and a matching blazer that would have done little against the evening chill. The girls whom he passed called out offers and solicitations, but he ignored all except the youngest. Each time he would get a close look at the girl, then move on, still searching . . . hunting. Cami recognized his technique.

“Hey, mister,” Cami said as the man approached. She was dressed in a very short skirt with knee-high socks. Her shirt was folded over on itself, revealing her stomach in such a way that it could be pulled down quickly to a more modest length, just in case the police did show up.

“Hey,” the man replied in a well-practiced comforting tone. “Aren’t you cold?”

“Yes, sir, I left my sweater at home.”

His smile disgusted her, but she kept the feeling from registering on her young face. The man offered his jacket and threw it across her shoulders.

He asked, “How old are you?”

“Twelve years, sir.” Cami could pass for twelve. After all, she had been twelve years old for a very long time.

The man glanced in either direction then peered into the shadows behind him. Seeing nothing, he continued. “How much?”

“How much for what, sir?” Cami asked.

Now believing that she was not a prostitute but just a lost little girl, he became a little more aggressive. “What if you went with me and played a game . . . would you like that?”

“Well, I should really be getting home, sir.”

“I’m very lonesome,” the man began. “I miss my little girl and just want to play a game to pass away my loneliness.” Both of those were lies, and Cami knew it. She could see the sores on his lips and knew exactly which of the girls with whom he had laid. People, however, tend to lie in such a situation—it was part of the process.

“I really should be getting home,” Cami stated again. Having thrown out the bait, she was now teasing him, just getting ready to set the hook and reel him in.

“It will only be a little while,” the man taunted. “I’ll even pay you twenty dollars! That’s a lot of money for a little girl like you.”

“Okay,” Cami agreed. “I can’t stay long.”

The man pressed a bill into her hand, and she slipped it into a hidden pocket. “Please, call me Daddy.”

Cami forced the sense of disgust deep within herself and pulled her lips into a joyless smile. “Okay . . . Daddy.” She saw the pale skin where a wedding ring had only recently been removed, and she understood what he was looking for. “Come on,” she said, leading the way.

The man followed like an obedient puppy, which had been promised a treat, as she wound through the twists and turns of the streets and alleys. “How much further?” he asked.

“Not far, just up ahead . . . Nice and quiet . . . Daddy.” She forced the last word—again. He did not answer, but she knew that her youthful tone and forced enthusiasm had convinced him. Of course, that, and the fact that he was certain he could easily overpower this young child.

Finally, she reached a dead end. It was a small courtyard, which had served the surrounding abandoned buildings. “Right here,” she said and turned to face the man.

He was already close, closer than she had expected, which made her gasp. She looked down to see his pants, puddled around his feet, leaving him standing in his boxer shorts, with his socks peeking out. He had a look of determination on his face. Cami wanted to laugh, but she dared not . . . at least not yet. He pressed in against her and closed his hand around her thin neck, squeezing hard enough to crack his joints against her flesh. He pushed her against the cool bricks and ran his free hand over her body. She could not make out exactly what he was saying, but he muttered a steady stream of angry obscenities and vulgar threats.

Cami smiled, staring knowingly into his eyes.

This took him aback—for a moment. He had done this many times before, and the girls never smiled. They choked, screamed and begged, some would even wet themselves, but they never smiled. Though he was confused, Cami knew exactly what she was doing. She had decided that this was not a human being but an animal and that he deserved to relish every moment of what was to come. She would, therefore, forgo allowing him the peace of being put under her hypnotic gaze and would simply have to endure the foul taste that the adrenaline gave, when his fear came into full force. She threw her arm around his back and grabbed a handful of his hair. He started to scream when she pulled and instinctively clawed at her hand with his own, but she was able to quickly and easily muffle his screams. She pulled his face in close to her own. When she spoke, her voice had changed from that of a sweet little girl to that which sounded as though it should be coming from some type of a large animal. It was very deep and guttural as she looked into his eyes and said, “I may appear to be a child, but your feeble mind cannot grasp my real age, nor what I truly am. Suffice it to say that I promise that not one more child will suffer at your hand, and I am about to send you to the fate that you so richly deserve!”

Then she flicked her tongue out to lick the tip of his nose and said, still in the deep, hollow, voice, “Tasty!” She then quickly twisted her wrist to whip his face to the side, exposing the soft skin of his neck to her. She was so hungry; it had been too long. She could smell the blood, which flowed through his pulsating jugular, and she could hear each heartbeat that made the vein dance for her.

“What the fu—” he started but finished with an anguished, muffled scream as Cami held his jaw shut with her tiny hand and buried her fangs into his meat, tearing the delicate membrane of the vein and spilling his blood directly into her eager mouth, pulsing with each beat of his slowing heart. The sensation was intense and immediate; her heart began to beat again rapidly. Her pupils dilated, turning her entire eyeball black, much like that of a shark during a feeding frenzy. His adrenaline had an effect on her as well as she fed hungrily from the man who clawed meekly at the young girl and choked on the blood that ran down his windpipe. She barely noticed when her protégé, Samuel, joined her in their feast, biting into an artery in the man’s thigh. It was not quite as quick to give as the jugular, but it tasted the same. He winced slightly at the taste of adrenaline and made a face as if he had just sucked a lemon but continued to feed all the same. By that time, he was quiet and still, with the last of his life leaking from his body. As Cami felt his heartbeat slow then almost stop, through her teeth, faded memories shot through her brain.

Excer​pt - Silent Dawn Chasing Sunrise