The little clearing could have been the setting for any classic Hammer horror film.
The vampire, as big around as a beer barrel, and taller than Dean by several inches, stood center stage. Long black hair hung down into its face, its fangs gleaming white in the moonlight and the front of its shirt was soaked with blood.
The centerpiece of the setting, a girl of no more than sixteen years, lay sprawled on the ground before it, clearly and horrifically dead.
Dean had been hunting this monster for days. Now he'd found him, but too goddamned late. He'd failed. Her life was lost, and her family would never see her alive again.
His rage turned white hot, building upon itself until he could hardly think, the need to kill the bastard overriding everything else, including self-preservation. A sound escaped him, a menacing growl, and the vampire stiffened and peered into the darkness, sniffing the air suspiciously.
Yelling incoherently, Dean leaped out into the open and fired his shotgun into the thing's chest, then shot it again, this time in the face. As the silver shot sent it reeling back, Dean dropped the empty gun, jerked the machete out from its sheath on his back, and swung at the thing's neck.
Bellowing, the vampire swiped at him, blocking the first blow with a massive arm, but the hunter would not be stopped. He swung again and again until the vamp lay in pieces on the ground, more meat puzzle than dead monster.
The night was silent, but for Dean's ragged breathing.
Still clutching the bloody machete, his eyes fell on the crumpled body of the vampire's last victim.
He'd won, but it made no difference to the dead.
Face twisting, he fell to his knees and started to cry.