Friday, 20 January 2012

PREDATOR/PREY by Leon Steelgrave

Leon's debut TKnC chiller will have you looking over your shoulder... Yes - YOU.


Picture a singles bar. You don’t need to know its name or location, we are all familiar with these types of cattle market and no greater definition of the club is required.

The woman is tall, sinuous and beautiful, in a cold sort of fashion. She moves with the primeval grace of a great cat, for that is what she is - a hunter.

‘Will she pick me?’ you wonder. The answer is, of course, no. You are too tall or too short, too thin or too fat. Your gender is wrong, unsuited to the direction in which her sexuality is swinging this evening. The capricious favours of her bed will not be yours tonight. You instinctively know this to be true.

The man, sipping a Gin and Tonic at the bar, is equally suave. The dark intelligence in his eyes shows that he is more than equal to the woman’s lust. If such a thing were possible, one suspects that his desire may run even deeper than hers does. But surely no one is that carnal?

Their eyes lock, a stream of unspoken dialogue passes between them, then they close in for the kill. You watch, a little ashamed of your voyeuristic behaviour. It’s not as though you couldn’t find a trap of your own. God knows you could have your pick of any of the people in this sleazy den. The night is still young and you have plenty of time to try a few moves of your own. In the meantime, you might as well enjoy the floorshow.

Their interaction fascinates you. You’ve seen all the tricks before, but rarely performed with such intensity. The woman accepts a drink form the man and giggles (that laugh’s much too young for her) as she dips a finger with an exquisitely manicured nail in the clear liquor. She traces her finger around the rim to produce a single, ringing note. Whenever she looks at him it is through lowered lashes, showing him deference and hinting that she is willing to surrender herself into his power.

The man smiles in return (I bet he’s sucking in that gut) and reaches across to retrieve an ashtray from the bar, his hand brushes against her breast seemingly by accident. The woman remains ice-maiden cool. Yes, you can touch me but it’s going to take far more sophistication than that to win the game.

She asks for a cigarette and he obliges. When she leans forward to accept a light she is careful to show off her breasts to their full advantage. The movement causes her to lose her balance on the high barstool and she reaches out, her hand grabbing the man’s thigh. It lingers there a fraction too long to be purely accidental or decent.

‘Hi. I couldn’t help noticing you were sitting alone. I don’t wanna to be presumptuous, but you look kinda lonely. Perhaps you need a friend?’

The voice makes you turn, your anger flares momentarily at this interruption to your enjoyment of the floorshow. You smile; this suitor is rather attractive. A sense of irony makes your smile wider, for it would seem that you are now the prey. Your uninvited guest takes this as a sign of acceptance and sits nervously beside you.

The man returns his lighter to his pocket with a well-practised movement. His eyes never stray from the woman during the operation. He is thinking that it is all too easy. The prey is naïve and falsely confident in its abilities. It is a pity there is no greater sport to be found.

The woman exhales and carefully crosses her legs, showing the maximum possible amount of thigh. Her thoughts run in a similar vein to that of the man. She is picking up overconfidence and an excess of ego. It lends a rank odour to the air around her and makes her savour the thought of destroying both confidence and ego.

You offer a drink, conversation, but your attention is rarely focused on your conquest. The man and woman at the bar continue to fascinate you. They draw your attention from your partner at every given opportunity. Your inattention does not go unnoticed, but you gloss over it with saccharin pleasantries. Then the man and woman are moving, weaving through the crowds, heading for the exit. Shocked by your own actions, you find yourself on your feet, mumbling feeble apologies about some forgotten prior appointment. You hustle your way across the room without a backward glance. Your limbs feel stiff and leaden. Perhaps you’re getting old? Ha!

You give the cloakroom girl your ticket and wait impatiently for her to find your jacket. Each second of delay decreases your chances of being able to pick up their trail. Though what you intend to do when you find them you do not know. Will you follow them home to his or her apartment? Will you wait afterwards and follow whoever leaves to their abode. If you do, what then? This is madness. You have clearly lost your mind.

‘Hey, buddy, are you gonna to take your coat or are you just gonna stand and stare all night?’ the girl grouses. Glaring at her impertinence, you snatch your jacket and hurry out onto the street.

Outside it is dark and cold drizzle is falling, making the sidewalk slick underfoot. Despite the weather the street is relatively crowded. You walk a few paces to your left, your head weaving from side to side like a cobra getting ready to strike its prey. You turn on your heel with a silent curse and head back to the right. Something catches your eye. Is it them? Yes. Necking in the harsh sodium glow of the streetlights. You slow down and will them to go on so you can continue to follow them. Your breathing is harsh and you’re surprised to find yourself sweating heavily despite the chill night air. Perhaps you’re coming down with a virus? Maybe that’s the source of your madness?

They disengage and move off down the street. Your heart skips a beat when they pause at the edge of the road, if they should hail a cab you’ll have no chance of following them. But no, they are waiting for a break in the traffic. Your heart slows - it’s all right - you can continue your pursuit.

They cross the road and step into a garbage-strewn alley that stinks of urine. It makes you apprehensive to find yourself in the city’s seedy guts, but you can’t seem to stop yourself from following them. You have embarked on a journey of self-discovery from which there is no turning back.

A hand grasps your ankle and you cry out. The old derelict stares at you with bloodshot eyes as you hurry past. With luck, they will not have heard you.

From the alley to a viaduct beneath the road and then back to another alleyway, you follow them until they arrive outside a cheap motel, the kind that rents rooms by the hour. Not that you are familiar with such places.

You watch them through the glass doors of the reception as they check in. Your wheezing breath reminds you of an elderly relative whom you watched sicken and die. You ask yourself what you should do now the hunt is over. You’re fevered. You really should go home now that there is no more to see. Yes. Go home, back to your warm, comforting and safe little life.

Taking your own advice, you are just about to turn away when a light illuminates one of the downstairs windows. The blind rolls up and the woman stands framed before you. You watch as the man, now naked, comes up behind her and grabs the straps of her dress. His muscles ripple as he tears the fabric into ribbons, which hang about her waist. Her breasts rise and fall in rhythm with her quick, shallow breaths.

The man is strong and handsome. The woman is firm and beautiful. How you crave to feel one set of that ripe flesh against your own, and how you envy them. Ensnared, you continue to watch as the man tears the remaining scraps of fabric from the woman and steps in closer, to encircle her from behind. She shudders. The muscles in her thighs and belly ripple.

You’re sweating heavier than ever and each breath burns like fire as you struggle to draw oxygen into your starved lungs. You ignore your growing malaise and continue to watch.

The woman’s breasts flatten against the glass as the man forces her against it. Her palms and spread fingers press against the window as she braces herself. With horror you realise she is staring straight at you, just like the man who, with fingers knotted in her hair, looks over her shoulder. Their eyes seem to ask if this is what you came to see. You don’t know. You’ve been struck mute. A growing sense of dizziness threatens to rip you from consciousness. You stare in terror at your wrinkled, liver spotted hands and scream silently in fear and incomprehension. Your vision dims and the last thing you ever feel is the sickening lurch in the pit of your stomach as you fall.

The woman sighed. ‘Was it good for you, darling? Such a gorgeously filthy id, I feel quite bloated.’

‘Yes, I knew the moment I felt those eyes watching us in the bar that we’d found the one. Almost too easy. This city’s full of the desperate and the needy. But we’re only doing to them what they do to themselves.’


Bio: Raised and educated in what he describes as a town of narrow streets and even narrower minds, Leon Steelgrave was afforded plenty of opportunity to hone his acerbic wit. If he never looked back, he certainly spent a lot of time looking inward, a practice that has stood him in good stead, not least in his writing career.

White Vampyre, his first work of fiction, was originally published as a Print On Demand paperback by in the USA in 2003. Out of print for a number of years, he recently issued a revised version via Kindle Direct Publishing. Two sequels are currently in preparation along with a police procedural, A Pauper’s Shroud, and a collection of early short stories.

Web Site:


  1. A good psychological piece; fast pace and... gotcha!

  2. Brilliant - you kept me guessing right to the end. Nice work! :)

  3. When you showed us the dance of lust perfectly performed in the bar I thought, vampires. Then I thought, serial killer watching. Then I thought, This is gonna be good. But I never thought, telepathic vampires of the id. I never thought the sucking that followed the . . . uh . . . bad rhyming word . . . would be what it turned out to be. A nifty Sucker(heh) punch I never saw coming. Cool.

  4. Sharp narrative that keep me pushing for the net line. The turn was fantastic and came at just the right time. Really enjoyed reading this...a lot.

  5. It's rare for fiction to work in 2nd person but this does, disturbingly well.

    I really enjoyed the illicit observation here coupled (sorry) with the emotions and sensations so carefully suggested by all parties.

    1. The use of the 2nd person was largely a nod to those old adventure books.
      Quite an old story - dates from about 96, although the writing has had some revision over the years.

  6. Certainly had me folled. I thought this was going to lead to a killing of the girl and her lover. Getting lured by vampires ... did'nt see that coming.

  7. An excellent piece of social commentary married with a 2nd person viewpoint.

    It caught me totally unawares at the end. Bravo.

  8. Thanks for the positive comments.
    Glad you all enjoyed it. :-)