This is not our world, but rather, one just a step removed from ours, where the lines between heaven and hell, between the living and the dead blur more frequently than in our own. Vampires and angels are just as real as the girl sitting next to you in class, albeit less frequently encountered. They are not relegated to dusty tomes wasting away on forgotten library shelves - they walk the street, and sometimes, they intervene on the living, for better or for worse. They are respected and feared by all, from the youngest child to the oldest man, housewife and soldier alike.
The date is September 11, 2001. In this strange new world, this was not the date where planes and skyscrapers merged in plumes of smoke and death, marking the world with senseless violence and fear. Instead, this is the date that something worse has happened. Indeed, just the night before, a group of young fools, teenagers at most, snuck out of their cozy suburbian homes, intent on seeking adventure, a tale to tell, perhaps even a badge of bravery. Maybe they felt that the vampires were nothing more than tall tales parents told them to keep them in the house late at night, akin to Santa Claus. Maybe they felt they could handle whatever lurked in the sewers. Perhaps they even wanted to make a name for themselves.
Indeed, I believe they may have just gotten a little too comfortable in their safe little bubbles. After all, while the older generations knew all too well the chaos and destruction that a vampire could wreak, especially one that was hungry or enraged by some slight real or imagined, there hadn't been any vampire sightings in years, possibly even decades, let alone confirmed deaths. These youngsters would've been too young, too naive to remember locking their doors at night, cowering and praying that they'd see the sun rise the next morning, and woe betide those who had nowhere to go.
Whatever their rationale behind this, whatever their logic, or lack thereof, it did nothing to change the events that would play out over the next few hours as they found themselves in the vast underground of New York City, wandering boarded up maintenance tunnels and access routes that seemed endless, with little more than dim flashlight beams to light their way.
We can only wonder as to what they would've seen while they were there. Did they notice as they crept from the highly trafficked tunnels near the subway station into the disused, cobwebby offshoots that likely hadn't seen a single living soul, save for rats, for what must have been decades? Were they overcome with a feeling of just how wrong this place was? Maybe one of them urged the rest of the group to turn around, one who didn't want to be there in the first place, who only ventured out of his home thanks to peer pressure.
It was no big secret that there were vampires safely sealed away below the surface, in the same way that it is no big secret that there may be a nuclear reactor in your area, or that there may be a lab that experiments with viruses in a particular city. Everyone knew they were there, or at least, they thought that they knew there were vampires in the underground. And yet, in the same way that you may not know the exact address of that nuclear reactor, of that biohazard lab, or even what street they lay on, neither did these people know exactly what sector these vampires were walled up in.
Perhaps they were located somewhere in the Bronx, where it wouldn't be a shock at all if the odd late night wanderer went missing. Or maybe they were located in the Upper East Side, where their presence would simply be terribly embarrassing, or perhaps they were near SoHo, revered as part of the artsy world.
Regardless, it is doubtless that these children knew not where they were going, nor did they understand the potential consequences of their actions. Did they see the myriad arcane symbols and crucifixes and prayers, one part warning and one part containment that the legends spoke of? Was it marked, some sort of perverse shrine to the nosferatu, or was it merely another disused corridor, a nondescript door to hell?
Maybe they had ample warning, obstacles that should have encouraged, nay, forced them to turn back, or perhaps they had none at all, save for some chain link fencing, or rotted wooden boards that gave way under a firm kick or two. Were they certain of what they were encountering, knowing in their heart of hearts that these were vampires, that they would be dead long before the sun rose again, or did they simply think they were encountering other lost travellers, or even dead bodies? Did they even see these vile beasts before they were drained of blood, torn limb from limb? Did they beg for mercy, pray to a God that they may not have even believed in? Who can truly say, aside from those who ventured into those tunnels, never to emerge.
The end result, of course, was the same. As the sun rose on the morning of September 11th, 2001, it would bring with it the dreadful news. The vampires, once thought to be gone, safely locked away, or better, dead, had returned. This time, however, they made it clear that they would not play along with the laws of humanity. There would be no parleys, no peace treaties brokered - the last time they'd agreed to something of that nature, they'd been cheated; the humans had not upheld their end of the bargain. This time, however, it would be as nature intended, the vampires the predator, the humans the prey.