The mountain guide contemplated her growing professionalism as she pulled herself up the last few feet of the cliff. Slipping over the edge, she rose to her feet and dusted off her ice crusted pants. She unclipped herself from the useless safety line with a grateful sigh - she only used it to set a good example for the unseasoned members of the team. On her own, she could climb this mountain using nothing but fingers and toes.
She dug her bare feet into the snow and rocks and raised her face to the icy wind. Then, turning back, she leaned over to look down, the tip of her foot hanging over the air, two hundred feet from the rocky slope below. They’d made good time today. She doubted anyone but her could pick out the neon tents of their base camp miles down the mountainside.
Her team hung directly below, strung along the rope she’d secured to the cliff face, climbing slowly to the top. She gauged their progress with a critical eye.
First in line and not far down, the man in the red parka climbed after her. What’s-his-name is a good climber, she noticed, confident and skilled. Following her internal praise, as if just to prove her wrong, his hand slipped and his clip snapped in the same instant. He shouted as he fell, dropping a few feet before catching himself on a thin outcropping of rock.
Perhaps she’d spoken too soon. With a sigh she jumped down, free falling to catch her hand on the cliff above where he hung. The other reached out to grab at the scruff of his coat. She hauled him up and shoved him over the crest to solid ground.
Following after, she swiftly crouched to check the rest of the lines, running her hands over the clips. Red coat huddled a safe distance from the edge on a snow covered rock. She listened as his heart gradually slowed and his breathing leveled out. He’d be fine.
“Thanks.” He said after a moment.
She nodded without looking up.
“Must be nice, the advantages of your… uh… you know,” He gestured to her bare arms and nimble fingers. She shrugged, glancing at his layers of gear. At his hands, bundled in clunky gloves and his face, covered by a stifling mask, red parka bulging over top of it all. And still he shivered. Ridiculous.
“The cold really doesn’t bother you at all?”
Likes to talk, this one, she thought to herself. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes - she was a professional.
She only shook her head, then, satisfied that the knots would hold, walked to the edge to inspect her string of climbers. She watched every foot placement and listened to every labored breath and creak of the rope, ready if another slipped.
Undeterred by her non response the man continued, “You could be at the summit and back before we made it up this cliff, couldn’t you?” There was a note of envy in his voice.
Turning to look at him, she smiled, carefully not showing her teeth, “I could, yes, but the point is to get you lot there safely. That’s what you’re paying me for, after all.”
He smiled back easily, “Well, I would love to see you when a bunch of humans aren’t holding you down.”
She didn’t say anything, but allowed herself a small grin as she bent to help the next climber over the edge. After all, with over a hundred years of experience, she was the best guide in the business.
Vampires, as it turned out, made excellent mountain climbers.