Authors: Abigail Graham
A Vampire Romance
Cover Designed by Damonza
This novel contains violent situations that may make some readers uncomfortable.
The dead man in the bathroom is beginning to smell.
I’ve slept in this smelly little apartment as long as I can. I lucked out this time. This isn’t the kind of place where neighbors nose in on each other. A three floor brownstone. I’m on the top floor. I’ve been sleeping in the closet for the last three days, since this guy brought me home.
I knew he was my mark when I tasted the drink he bought and felt the gritty texture of the crushed up pill meant to knock me out. I could feel it in his eyes. Hear a little voice whisper
I played woozy, let him tuck me in a cab and bring me back to his lair.
I gave him a chance. I controlled myself that long. I played at being drugged, stumbled around, slurred my speech. He could have changed his mind and called me a cab or just put me to sleep on the couch and I’d have been gone by the time he woke up, holed up somewhere else for another day. When I pretended to pass out he started pulling off my clothes. I stopped pretending.
I dragged him, kicking and screaming, into the bathroom and pinned him down in the tub. The look of absolute confusion on his face stings my memory like his hot blood stung my tongue.
I ignored his pleas and protests and the confusion and shock as a skinny, five foot two girl overpowered him and bound him with a belt and opened his wrists with a razor from his medicine cabinet. I caught as much of the blood as I could in bowls, drank some then and kept the rest in the fridge until it started to thicken up. After I drank my fill and licked myself clean like a cat I washed off the rest with cold water and washed him, too. It left a red ring around the side of the tub and a rusty streak around the drain.
Last night I went thirsty.
If I don’t kill again in the next day or three, it’ll start to get me. I feel the thirst in my stomach first. It’s not a rumbling or a sensation of
, it’s more a cold place that wants to be filled up. From there, it spreads. It goes to my lungs next, a constant feeling of suffocation, like I’m just about to draw a breath but can’t. Then it gets in my veins. They harden up. I can feel them crack when I move.
Then it gets in my head like my skull is full of cotton balls and razor blades. Then I have no choice but to feed. If I don’t, I make a straight line for the nearest warm body when I wake up. Man, woman, child, it doesn’t matter. I’ll wake up in a pool of blood holding a corpse with its throat torn open and a hole in my memory between the time the hunger took over and the feeding ended.
I can’t fly. I can’t turn into mist or walk through shadows or become invisible by turning sideways. I’ve never seen a bat in person, and dogs don’t particularly like me, much less wolves. There’s only a few differences between me and you. I’m stronger. I have a theory on that. Human beings have a kind of preservation instinct that keeps them from hurting themselves. The human musculature is much stronger than most people realize. Strong enough to tear itself apart if it’s not held in check. I don’t have that limit. I go all out, all the time. Maybe a little more.
That’s the main difference. The other is the obvious one. I have no pulse. I do not breathe. My flesh will eventually cool to room temperature, even if I warm myself up. I’ve tried everything: electric blankets, space heaters, warm baths. Every night when the sun sets I wake up and I fall asleep when it rises. I do not dream, nor can I wake up on my own. If sunlight touches my flesh it begins to smoke and sizzle and after maybe a minute I will burst into flames and die. The touch of the sun itself is the only thing I know of that can keep me awake during the day.
I have no way of knowing for sure, but I’m fairly certain I could be mistaken for a corpse if someone found me while I was sleeping. I don’t have nightmares because I don’t dream, but sometimes when I’m awake I get a flash, an unwanted imagining. In my mind’s eye I see the bright lights greeting me as my eyes open during my own autopsy, my chest spread open in a standard Y-incision as the doctor weighs my organs.
Nothing scares me more than that, except the thought of what comes after if I actually do die, whether I just cease to exist or go to Hell as punishment for the monster I’ve become. I’m not sure which scares me worse.
I get a taste of that every time I try to remember the person I used to be. My name is Christine, but I don’t know my last name or where I was born or how old I was before…
. Looking at myself in the mirror I see the corpse of somebody I’d like to know but will never meet.
Yes, I can see my reflection.
I don’t even have fangs. How’s that for a ripoff? If I want to feed it’s either my teeth or a sharp instrument.
My meager belongings all fit in my pockets. I have a pair of jeans and a t-shirt I wash semi-regularly, usually in the sink. I don’t have much a problem with odors; I don’t sweat, and my hair doesn’t even grow. No other, ah, bodily functions either.
I don’t have any money or identification, but I don’t really need it. I carry a makeup kit I stole a while back and soon I’ll steal another to replace it. After I’ve combed out my hair I go for a goth girl look. I tried to make myself look alive once, put on some foundation and blush and rouge, but I ended up looking like a circus clown. If I go for a dark palette I at least look somewhat alive in the right light. I can’t do anything about the dark veins or the waxy texture of my skin.
The other thing I carry with me is a picture. There’s another girl with me. A tall redhead. I barely come up to her chest. We’re standing together in an airport but I don’t know where it is. I don’t know their names, or why I have a picture of myself with her, how I knew her or where she is now. When I stare at it and try to remember all I get is a numb dull blackness and I have to stop, fold it in half, and carefully put it in the change pocket of my jeans.
At some point, I wore a ring on my left hand. There’s still a slightly paler band around my finger where it used to be. I don’t know if I was married, or if it was just a class ring. I’m pretty sure I went to college. I’m the right age and I get little flashes now and then. I like to read. I only get the chance when a guy’s apartment has books in it. Or they have a Kindle. I love those, if I can figure out the password.
I realize I’m stalling. I double check the garbage bags I used to wrap up the corpse in the bathtub and hope the smell won’t draw any attention for a few days. I hope that the police will call it a suicide when they find him and they won’t start looking for me.
I stop at the door, and rest my hand on the knob. I’m going to go out and find someone to murder. I would cry if I could make tears.
Before, when I was new at this, I used to pray. I figured if by some cosmic joke this could happen to me maybe there was some greater force out there that could turn me back. The more I had to kill to keep myself alive, the more damned I felt, until I realized what a joke this is. I’ve never met another like me. Nor have I met any werewolves, or seen a ghost. I might be the only one in the world.
All I know is this: I don’t pray anymore, but I want there to be a God so I can hate him. He let
happen to me.
Out on the street, the air is cold. I can’t really
my body cooling down but I know it is. I’m aware of heat, of cold, of the breeze in my hair, but I don’t
them, not really. It’s the same when I get hurt. I sense injuries but I don’t feel pain. If I try to eat everything tastes like ash and the textures are excruciating. Eating a saltine cracker is like chewing up razor blades and a bowl of soup might as well be acid. It’s even worse when it inevitably comes back up.
What I can feel is the pulse of everyone around me. Walking down the sidewalk means a constant bombardment of sensation. The sound of breathing, the feel of body heat and a constant shivering sensation as I feel the blood pumping through the people as they get close to me.
I slice through the crowd with ease. People move out of my way and look at the ground when they pass and they don’t know why, and I can feel their shivers, see the hairs prick up on the backs of their necks.
I have to go to a different place tonight. If too many guys disappear after visiting the same club people will start looking, and they will notice them all talking to me, or worse, leaving with me. Then the grainy surveillance camera stills come out on the news, and then they find me. I have no illusions about what would happen. I’m not indestructible. I’ll die if someone shoots me. Even if they take me alive, they won’t believe me. They’ll leave me in a place with windows, and come morning find a charred, greasy stain where I used to be.
So after tonight, I will move on. I will not stay the night. I will take a bus to another city. Somewhere north, maybe, where the days aren’t so long. I often wonder if there’s a way I can get into Canada. Just go and go until I hit permafrost. Maybe I can dig in and let it freeze me and this will be over.
There’s a line to get into the club. It’s worse now, the hunger. I can feel it pulsing in my throat as the bass from inside rolls up my legs. I don’t want to stand in line and wait for the velvet rope. I can’t pay the cover.
I don’t know if it’s magic or pheromones or something about my eyes, but the bouncer working the door sees me and I look him in his eyes and it happens. There’s this push, like trying to rub the wrong ends of two magnets together, and his jaw goes a little slack, and he motions me forward. I skip the line, the rope goes up, I walk into the club, and the hunt begins.
Awful, absolutely awful. The lights, the pounding, the constant movement. I cut through to the bar and find a place to sit and motion the bartender over. He doesn’t ask for my ID when I meet his eyes and do the mind trick. He just gives me my favorite drink, a screwdriver. I take a few sips and let it burn down my throat and know I’ll be dealing with it later. I have to keep up appearances. Blend in, and wait.
This is when it sets in.
There might not be another guy tonight, or tomorrow. I might bend my rules, go soft on my standards. I might make an excuse. I want to laugh at myself for thinking I can justify the death of every human being it takes to keep me going. People have to die so this
can keep going for another few days at a time.
The only thing that keeps me at it is the knowledge that sooner, or later, the thirst takes over. I will lose control, and I will hurt someone that doesn’t deserve it. Someone innocent. A woman or a child. When my veins turn to glass and frozen fire rips through me and melts away what’s left of my humanity, everyone else is just a pulse.
I should stop myself, permanently, before someone gets hurt, but I can’t. I’m scared.
The first one spots me. I see him first. Too old for this place, he’s a wannabe lothario, badly imitating the dress of the dudebros and failing to pull it off. He buttons up his polo shirts and wears his chain like a necktie and he has skinny goose legs under his out-of-fashion cargo shorts. A quick glance in his eyes and I feel it, like a distant memory. There’s a woman at home and he wants to fuck someone younger and tighter to spite her.
That’s no crime. I can’t kill this one.
He sidles up to the bar and I let him because every time this happens I’m closer to just taking the first one and giving up on justifying my actions.
I want to scream,
somebody help me
, but I already know no one will.
“Whatcha drinkin’?” he shouts.
I look over at him.
He puts his hand on my back. He’s pushy. I look over at his eyes again. Out there in the world he’s someone important. Sometimes I hate important people.
They forget their mortality, as if packing enough money in your bank account can buy time to make up for those eighty-hour weeks. As if the couple grand he carries in his wallet will buy me off when I’ve got my knee on his chest and I’m slicing open…
“What’s your name?”
I look him in the eye.
“Go home, Sherman.” The name comes to me. “Vera is lonely. You’re fifty-six years old,” how I know that I have no idea, “you’re in good health and you have a wife who loves you. It’s not too late.”
He blinks a few times. Then he leaves. He might go home, he might not. I can’t make myself care.
I keep telling myself that one of these times I’ll say to the guy
“These are not the droids you’re looking for”
but my sense of humor went away along with everything else.
I turn back to the drink and swirl the dregs around in the glass. I prop my chin on my fist and wait. I desperately need to find a guy looking for someone to take advantage of. They have to deserve it.
The next two are the same. I blow them off. The intimacy of the deep gaze sickens me so I do it the old fashioned way, with the cold shoulder.