The Longest Night by D. L. Keith
vampire erotic science fiction short story
(approx 8000 words)
Release Date: 02/14/2013
Cover art by Jupiter Gardens Press
On a deep space colony ship, cryogenically frozen human passengers sleep while the vessel is maintained by “caretakers” — vampires who have been integrated into human society, and who thrive in the perpetual night of the decades spanning voyage.
While the caretakers service the ship, the passengers have contractually agreed, if woken, to perform their own…service in return. Casey, a young woman, is roused to spend a passionate, taboo-free night with the caretakers — a male and, to her surprise, a female.
Even as the prospect awakens unsuspected passions within her, Casey also accidentally discovers a dark secret…one far more deadly than the cold vacuum beyond the hull…
Casey opened her eyes. Her lungs felt dry as she inhaled sharply, responding reluctantly. She blinked twice. Above her the lid of the casket yawned open, and she could see black and gray pipes snaking along the ceiling of the bay. There were lingering traces of frost on the inside of the casket, melting away in the natural warmth of the chamber. She was aware of the faint, almost subconscious humming of the vessel.
She sat up.
Her muscles were stiff, but she felt better than she thought she would. She put a hand to her neck, but the skin was unmarked.
Of course it is, she chided herself.
Casey dropped her feet to the ground. The floor grating scraped against the soles of her paper slippers. She stood unsteadily, then stretched, the dry fabric of her sleeping gown rustling with the movement. She yawned.
“Kelsey?”she croaked, coughing. It had been a long time since she’d last used her vocal chords, she reminded herself. In a clearer voice, she said, “Kelsey, are you there?”
A small orange light blinked on to her left. “Of course,”answered the computer, the programmed inflection in its tone trying, and failing, to mimic a human voice. “Are you well?”
“I think I’m okay. What time is it?”
“Oh-eight hundred hours,”it said.
She dragged her fingers through her blond hair. �gNot ship�fs time, Kelsey. How long since earth?”
“Approximately ninety‑five years, six months, and one week.”
More than halfway, she mused. She glanced around at the ice‑sheathed slow tanks lining the walls of passenger bay G. Calling the frozen colonists “passengers”was a bit of a joke, like calling the slow tanks “caskets.”
She frowned. Just thinking about the word casket reminded her she wasn’t alone. She looked down the gray corridor, submerged in shadows, capable of hiding so many things. Where were they? Nervously, she touched her throat again.
They were probably just running a diagnostics or something. They knew she�fd want a few minutes to get her sea legs, have a shower, find a protective collar. That sort of stuff.
Yawning again, she started down the aisle.