I spent hours in that basement that night. A grin on my lips from the memory of Duffy's untimely demise. He never saw it coming, did he? He never knew that tonight would be his last night on Earth. Good! That's exactly how I felt when they murdered me. I hope he is alive long enough to reflect on how it must have felt, having the world drained from your main arteries in big sickening gulps. My only regret is that he is now at peace....and I still have much work left to do.
When the dawn finally came, I felt my limbs get stiff, and my mind began to wander aimlessly through whatever random information it had absorbed throughout the day. I laid down on the mattress Mr. Talbot had given me to sleep on, and allowed myself to, once again, be drawn into the ether. And that's when I began to dream.
I remembered how it used to be...seeing the sun in all it's brilliance. Standing on the high school soccer field, finding every given opportunity to look at the legs of the boys around me. Long, smooth, strong. I used to lick the back of my teeth and pretend that it was their inner thigh as I saw them running up and down that field, lost in the sportsminded goal of the game. And then....there was Patrick. A boy I had always admired, but never really expected him to feel anything in the way of affection for me. I had almost forgotten how he looked in daylight. With the sun shining through those silken strands of blond hair, and his eyes sparkling with the youthful charm of a priceless crystal, discovered for the first time. They were so amazingly blue and surprisingly green, that the combined charm of the extreme color scheme would catch you off guard everytime you caught sight of them. His beauty was an impressive novelty that never wore off. Never ceased to leave you speechless with its purity, even though he wielded that weapon with an unconscious level of grace that gave it an almost divine sense of rarity. I remember that things started off as a friendship between us. With me trying to hold back an inevitable crush and him just returning my cheery advances with a smile. It was safe. It made sense. I knew I wanted to be around him, he knew he wanted to be around me. Being friends and spending time with each other seemed almost normal for the first few months. But things grew from there...and we both knew that this 'friendship' of ours wasn't as simple and uncomplicated as we would have liked it to be. Not by a long shot.
I'm thankful for it though. If weren't for him wanting me in return, I never would have spent so much time here in this house when I was alive. I never would have met his father. And his father...never would have brought me here to complete my crossover. I suppose that fate is not without a sense of humor afterall.
It was then that my thoughts began to darken, the dream around me began to rip itself apart, and only the terrifying memory of that bloody night was left.
I remember the crispness of the air, the shuffle of dirty snow beneath my feet, and the faint sound of Christmas music coming from outdoor speakers at the gas station down at the end of the next block. They had read my mind....targeted my weaknesses...and took full advantage. I'll never forget that boy's smile. Not ever. Vincent was his name. He was the one who took the time to butter me up that night. To guide me towards trusting what he said. To lure me into that alley where the others were waiting in the shadows. He was absolutely gorgeous. Impossibly beautiful. His looks even rivaled Patrick's, who I had fallen deeply in love with at that time. I don't know why I followed, or why I was even interested. I had a boyfriend, but my hormones got the best of me. I suppose I was just curious about what it would feel like to sleep with another cute boy. Patrick was my only sexual outlet. What would this hottie do differently? You know? A sad mistake...and my last.
"Come on, it's just a little bit further. Come on! Hehehe! Don't be scared." Vincent told me, his ruby lips turned up in a sweet but sinister smile. "It's just down this alley." I remember how cold it was that night. I should have gone home. I should have just turned around and gone on with my life. But I followed him. I followed him.....and before I was even able to realize what was going on, I was trapped.
The initial blow to the back of my head was so unexpected that I had already fallen to my knees before actually feeling any pain. There was no time to scream. No chance to run. He rendered me completely helpless in an instant, and the others crept forward out of the shadows themselves. My vision was blurry, but I knew blood when I saw it dripping freely down to the concrete as I crawled aimlessly on all fours. It seemed that my directionless attempt to slowly scramble to safety only added to their amusement, and the faint sound of restrained snickers and giggles could be heard from behind me.
"Fuck, man! You hit the kid pretty hard! Hehehe, he's wasting our 'dinner' all over the street!" Said one of them.
"He's cute. Aww, Vincent....such a waste." Said a female voice.
"Do you wanna bite or not? Dig in!"
"Give me a minute. I gotta write this down."
So many voices...I was so dizzy. So helpless.
"I got first dibbs on his throat! You four can grab whatever you want!" Vincent told them as he held me still from behind, his hand pulling my head savagely to the side. How did I get there? How did it all happen so fast? I remember their grins as they approached, and each one of them took a piece of me to suck from. Filling their bellies with my existence.
The first to bite me was Vincent, their tribe leader. He sank his fangs into my neck and began to suck hungrily at the wound while I helplessly tried to wrestle my way loose. It was so unreal...being drained. Feeling the blood leave your body, pint after pint. Feeling your head getting light with an indescribable dizzyness...your body turning cold, starting in your fingers and toes and traveling throughout your body with an unstoppable wave of numbness. The pain actually melts away rather quickly once the drain begins. I can't explain it, but it was as if a part of me began to enjoy it. I was even aroused by it. There was this scent in the air that got to be stronger as they did the evil deed, and it worked to calm me. Forcing me to willingly give my life over to the darkness of death. I swear I can still feel Vincent's teeth...piercing my flesh and vaccuuming the life right out of my body in gulps.
The next to bite me was Barry. The muscle headed jock asshole who helped to hold me down when I tried to run. He was one of those bulky 18 year old football types with no class, no neck, and no brains. But somehow, his strength made up for it, and he took a big juicy bite out of my right bicep...causing me to scream in pain as he fed upon my liquids without mercy.
Then came Trixie...a girl my age who was dressed like a 21 year old stripper. Dark clothes, fishnet stockings, glossy lipstick, black spiked heels, with hair dyed purple. A girl who more resembled a full blown dominatrix than a teenager. She bit deeply into my left inner thigh as I leaned against Vincent's chest, who still had his fangs firmly submerged in my throat from behind.
It was the full bodied goth girl, Carolyn, who took the next bite. She was short and stocky, heavy in build, with medim length brown hair and extremely pale skin. Black make up and lipstick, made up to look like the walking dead....but, you know...fashionable. Her wide frame spread my legs out further, and she bit deeply into my right ankle and then my calf, getting whatever she could get from me while the others took their turns murdering me.
Vincent stopped briefly to say, "Spaz, what are you doing? Get over here already before the bllod runs cold! We're not hunting again tonight, so you might as well get your fix now." My eyes slowly rolled to look in his direction as I was held up, sread eagle for them to consume me alive. Just as he had finished his 'drug deal' and gotten his merchandise, it was the waifish, hippie looking, Spaz that took the next bite. He had to write down all the details of what he bought, and then folded the notebook into his pocket before approaching. He first bit me on the shoulder, then the arm, then the wrist...then finding a better artery, he bit the inside of my arm and then let his fangs rest there. I could feel the beginnings of his 17 year old stubble on my arm. I had never known that such pain could exist in this world....not until they showed me the way.
"DAMN! This boy is SWEET! You ain't far from being a virgin, are ya kid?" Barry taunted.
"This is primo!" Carolyn said, drinking heavily. Duffy was standing nearby, beginning to fidget impatiently.
"Keep watch!" Vincent snarled, watching Duffy as he tried to inch his way out of the alley. He just wanted to go back to the club to do more business that night. He couldn't care less about my life.
"C'mon man! I ain't down with this shit! You're gonna get us all in a heap of trouble! I've got SPICE on me, man! I can't get caught with this shit! Do you know what Elders do to cats who deal Spice? Huh?" He whispered loudly.
"Just keep your eyes open and tell us if somebody's coming. Got it?" Vincent asked, and when Duffy didn't answer, "GOT IT???"
"ALRIGHT! Jesus....just...hurry up! I've got shit to do tonight!" He answered. I remember that my eyes met his for a moment, and as my body was too limp and too weak for me to struggle anymore, I tried my best to whisper for him to help me. To DO something. To SPARE me the pain of having my fucking LIFE stolen from me at the tender age of sixteen! But...he turned away. He turned away. "Shit, man...hurry up and bleed this kid already! I don't like watching this shit!"
"Do you wanna bite?" Trixie asked him with a bloodstained smile.
"No thanks. You guys only left me one appendage to suck from, and I ain't looking forward to putting it in my mouth." Duffy answered.
He was my only chance to be saved. My only chance. And when he didn't assist me, a part of me gave up. My human instinct to survive had been compromised. Instead....embracing the idea that the intense pain will stop if I just....let go. And let go I did. Despite the loss of my life and the horror of the situation....fading to black that night was a sigh of relief for me. No more pain. No more pain.
I quickly woke up from the dream and found myself alone in the basement. It took a few minutes of me rubbing my eyes and ignoring my paranoid thoughts to remember where I was. Damn....those vampire dreams seem to get more and more real every time I have one. I stood up with a stretch, feeling my body crack and loosen up gradually from the day's hibernation, and then went into the small functioning bathroom there in the basement. I washed up, fixed my hair a bit, and took a good long look at myself in the mirror. My eyes were glowing. I'll always miss their natural color. I'll never get the chance to see my own eyes ever again. I never felt so uncomfortable in my own skin before. It was like a curse to be alive. To be aware. Feeling this...this....sickness in my veins. Prolonging my torture by creating the illusion of life in this walking corpse of a teenager. A teenager that died all alone two years ago in a dark and dirty alley just before Christmas. It was the look of my own reflection that prepared me for what I was about to do. It kept the hatred strong, adding fuel to the fire in my heart, and reminding me just what rage felt like. And why it was necessary to keep it with me at all times.
I heard the door open upstairs, and the sound of footsteps walking down. It was Mr. Talbot, his confident stride entering my habitat, and he had brought a bundle of clothes down with him. The same clothes that I had given him a few nights before....after my monthly feeding. I never thought that a tourist could bleed so much. It covered me from head to toe, I barely made it home without getting spotted. I've got to remember to carry extra clothes with me when I go out. It's hard to block such thoughts from your own mind. The last thing I want is to turn the murder of innocent civilians into something 'practical'.
Mr. Talbot was a wise man, with a small patch of stubble on his face, and a warm voice. Well built, police officer type, with the same piercing bluish green eyes that his son possessed, only hardened over time. He set the clothes down in the easy chair and gave me a crooked smirk. "I heard you moving around down here, I figured you were up and might want your clothes back."
"Are they clean?" I asked.
"One hundred percent. Although, I suggest you budget yourself for new clothes when you feed. Slag Hunter patrol is excellent at getting rid of any and all bloodstains...but they're going to think it rather strange for me to keep washing the blood out of a teenager's fits." He said.
"Don't worry. If everything goes to plan, I won't be hunting again. Not anymore." I took the clothes from the chair and went to slip the shirt on over my head.
"Right...." Mr. Talbot almost sounded sad when he said. The kind of hidden sadness that someone developes when trying to talk to a terminally ill patient, but is attempting to keep up a brave front regardless.
"I figure they're all spread out around the city right now, but they'll be in contact soon." I said, busying myself with making the bed. "They're pack hunters, but I'm pretty sure they split up into separate places when they're not feeding." I said. "They have to feed more often, I'm thinking every two weeks or so, but when they all get together and jump on the same prey, they can easily drain it completely before moving on. It's a short term fix for the hunger, but they never have to worry about the odds. Together they can overpower just about anybody, but on their own, I'm pretty sure that I can take them out, one by one. I just have to prevent them from ganging up on me."
He watched me as I fluffed the pillows. "'Pack hunters', huh? I see you've been reading my slag hunter handbooks again."
I kept moving, making sure that I didn't look into his accusing eyes. "I had to learn everything that I could. I want to know what I'm going to run into."
"Believe me...I know those handbooks backwards and forwards. I've studied every line, every diagram, every passage, and I can assure you...you never know what you're going to run into. I speak from experience."
"They're not so tough. They're a weak breed who take advantage of unsuspecting victims who are younger and smaller than they are. It's time to let them know that they fucked up. BIG time."
He watched me scamper from one end of the room to another, and then said, "...You know, there's still a good chance that you can let this whole thing go, Luke."
"I'm NOT letting it go! You understand?" I snapped, my anger bubbling to the surface before I could stop it. I lowered my eyes and mellowed my tone. "And my name is 'Cylance'. Luke died years ago." I sat down on a nearby footstool and put on my boots, tying them up tight. Mr. Talbot didn't say anything for another few moments, and I felt guilty about my hostie reaction. But I dodged an apology by slightly changing the subject. "Is he still mad at me?"
"I'd be lying if I said he wasn't." He replied. "But I think it comes more from love than hate. So if you're wondering if he still cares, I can honestly tell you that he does."
"He doesn't understand."
"He chooses not to."
"Well then that's HIS problem." I felt aggravated...but hurt.
"Is it? Because you suddenly don't seem so sure of yourself anymore."
"I am. Believe me."
"I don't think so. I think you've been making this a well planned fantasy in your head for so long that the reality of actually going through with it has got you scared shitless."
"I'm not scared..."
"Yes you are. Covering it up with anger isn't going to hide that from me. It's not going to hide it from them either." He stepped closer to me, and put his hand firmly on my shoulder. "I know what you're doing, kid. You think if you can just hold on to the hatred for just a LITTLE bit longer...then maybe you'll accidently find the courage you need to go through with the kill. You won't. It's just going to blindfold you while you spiral down into further actions that you are ultimately going to regret."
I pulled away from him slowly, and did what I could to regain my focus. "You're not going to talk me out of this, so stop it."
"I take it I've hit a soft spot."
"There aren't any soft spots left."
"There's ALWAYS a soft spot left."
"STOP IT!" I said loudly. "They killed me, I kill them back. End of story. I did everything you asked me to. I laid low, I waited around in this basement for years, I'm READY! It's time to end this. I'm sending each and every one of them back to hell where they belong...and then I'm taking myself out of the picture..."
"A sacrifice. I don't plan to live forever as one of those....'things'. I don't ever want to feed again. Ever. You have no idea what it's like to close my eyes and know that I have the deaths of 24 people on my hands. Some nights, I can still hear them begging for their lives the same way I did. I can't be allowed to live. Not like this." I told him. "This is it. I'm doing it. And nothing that you or Patrick has to say is going to change my mind about that."
There was another meaningful pause. Mr. Talbot was an expert at making them. "Then what does it matter what Patrick thinks? You'll be 'gone' in a few days, and you won't have anything to worry about. Will you?" He asked, a sarcastic tone in his soft fatherly voice.
"What are you saying? Huh? What should I do? Just forget that I was ever alive? Just sit here in this basement for the next century or two and roast chestnuts every Christmas Eve with the two of you until you both grow old and die without me? Is that what you're saying?"
He sighed with a hint of disappointment. "I'm saying...that you have choices, Luke. We all do. The second you stop pretending that they don't exist for you, maybe you'll be able to see this plan of action the same way that Patrick does." He told me. "The same way that I see it too."
Our eyes met for a moment, but I wasn't going to let him talk me out of this. Not now. I've come too far and worked too hard to get this right. "I have to get ready. Duffy said that Spaz hangs out at this spice shack on the South West side. I'm gonna have to hop on a bus to get there before I lose him." He lowered his eyes a bit as he realized that I wasn't heeding his advice. I just couldn't turn back. The stage has already been set, the dominoes ready to fall. He could have argued it out with me for a while longer, but in the end he didn't try to stop me. He knew it would do no good.
"Be careful. More importantly...be safe. Ok?" He said quietly. "There's no need to kill yourself ahead of schedule." And then he walked back up the stairs again to leave me in peace. I meditated on what he said, but only briefly. And then...my preparations began.
I dressed in all black, from head to toe, a dark pair of shades over my eyes to hide their unnatural glow. I wore layers to keep warm and limber, but loose enough to provide me with enough movement to do what was needed to bring somebody down. I'd been taking Tae Kwon Do classes since the age of ten. Funny, I never really thought I'd need it for anything...just liked how it looked on tv. Now, I'm glad to have that knowledge with me. There was really no need to excercise, as my body would revert right back to the state it was in the night I died every sleep cycle. So it's not like I could get any stronger. But I trained anyway. Trying to get faster, smarter, more precise, with every strike. I bled for them, I wnted to make sure that they'd bleed for me in return. I kept my long saber with me at all times. I vaguely knew the area where their heart would be, but not exactly. I'm sure if I just kept stabbing them enough times, I'd find it. It was a flat silver blade, turned horizontally, it would easily puncture the flesh and muscle between the ribs, hopefully pushing its way back out to oxygen on the other side of them. I kept it at my hip, ready and waiting. I put on a long black trench coat to hide the weapon from wandering eyes, and prepared to make my move. This is it. This is the first step to my salvation....at last.
As I walked up the stairs, I saw Mr. Talbot and Patrick standing in the doorway to the kitchen. They were whispering loudly, a highly distressed look on Patrick's face, and Mr. Talbot was trying to calm him down. They heard me step out into the hall, and both stopped to look at me. There was an almost eternal moment when we said nothing at all. They knew where I was going and what I was going to do tonight. There was no use in hiding it. But there was no use in explaining it to them either. So I put my shades on, and turned to walk towards the front door.
"Luke, wait!" Patrick called out to me, and hurried over to take a hold of my arm. He's the only person on Earth who can call me 'Luke' and not have it sound so profane. "Come on! Enough is enough, alright? You don't have to do this! You can walk away from this any time that you want to."
"I don't want to." I told him, avoiding his eyes, knowing that I could find my last living weakness in their reflection.
"This is STUPID! What if something happens to you? What if you don't make it home?" He pleaded. "Luke....please....just stay here. With me. You're better than this. Don't let them take another life from you." I turned to look at him briefly, and let my hand reach forward to grasp his gently. Then I leaned in to give him a tender kiss on the cheek.
"Don't wait up for me. I might be a while." I said, and turned to leave the house before they had any more interference in my plans. I needed to get my head straight. I needed focus. No time for wrapping my emotions around something I was destined to lose soon anyway.
The air was icy cold, and the snow had stopped falling, but was turning to pounded down ice beneath my feet. I'm glad that I had good traction in these boots. I can't afford to be tripping over my own feet tonight. I got on the first bus that came my way, and let my mind wander as it began the long trek out to the south side.
It can be unsettling being around the human population again. Being so different. So removed. You hold within you a secret that would cause each and every single person on that bus to hate and despise you beyond the limits of what is socially acceptable. And they don't even know it. That's where the tension comes from. Having to hold in that secret. Forced to swallow it, and protect it, at all costs...just to keep from being the victim of their judgement. They force you to hide....and a piece of you really hates them for it. So it grows, until you no longer care whether you live with their approval or not. A person can only live with the pain for so long before it consumes them completely. Sigh...I thought I had avoided that feeling by coming out of the closet. I guess I have to live through that pain all over again, at least for the next few nights.
I remember the day I told Patrick that I loved him. Hehehe, it came as a complete shock to him, as that little confession came before I ever told him that I liked boys. I didn't know what to expect as a reaction, but it certainly wasn't a sudden kiss on the lips. It took me a few seconds to even realize what was happening. "Oh my God, PLEASE tell me you're not just kidding around! I'm SO gonna toss myself out of a window if this is a joke!" He said, a nervous smile on his cute little lips. He was so beautiful. He truly enchants me.
I remember how his aqua colored eyes were frantically searching for an answer in my surprised silence. And how they began to mist up slightly when I told him, "I love you more than I can say. I've loved you for a long time now, Patrick. I just...I didn't think..." He didn't let me finish. He wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed me deeply on the lips, as I allowed myself to place my hands lovingly on his small waist for the first time. Nothing takes your breath away like the first kiss of someone you truly love. It still makes me squirm happily to even think about it.
Being together was not as difficult as I expected it to be. I honestly suspected that there would be more problems, more secrecy, more struggling with my identity. But the truth of the matter is, Patrick's father already knew that he was gay, even if he didn't say so. Loving, open minded, parents can always tell, I think. So it was no big shock when his son told him about his 'secret life'...and he welcomed me into their home with open arms. Anything to see us happy. Our friends that knew about us were more than happy for us, and the people who didn't know....never seemed to ask. Patrick and I were like brothers for the first two years of high school. It hardly seemed strange for people to see us spending so much time together. And as far as our relationship went, we couldn't have asked for a better match. Patrick was affectionate, and good natured, and highly sexual when he wanted to be. He's the only person I ever had sex with, but it was a mindblowing experience being with him. Extremely passionate with every movement, every whisper, every touch, every kiss. We took every chance we could get to find some time alone and enjoy one another. Almost got caught by his dad on numerous occassions, but always got our clothes on in time.
Then again, I'm sure he knew what was going on. He wasn't only a loving parent, but a police officer as well. Or...at least that's what we thought.
Just like all of the other pleasant memories of my human life...the road ends on the night that I entered that alley. I was going to go out to Barney Meyer's birthday party with Patrick on my arm, but the cold weather had given him an early case of the flu. He stayed home that night to get some rest, but made me promise to go anyway and have fun. I can only thank God that he wasn't with me that night. Or he might have met up with the same fate....or worse.
I can vaguely remember the vampres dislodging their fangs from my arms and legs, with Vincent sucking his last few drops from my neck, as my body spasmed involuntarily from a pain that my brain couldn't even process anymore. I couldn't move, I couldn't speak...but I was somehow still awake. They must have thought that I'd just finish bleeding to death in the trash where they left me. I was no longer their problem. My body was dragged to lie in a corner on a lumpy pile of snow behind the dumpster. They all wiped their lips, some of them smiling. And Vincent said, "Shit..I feel better already! C'mon, let's get back to the party. I feel like having a good time tonight. Hehehe!"
"Hold on a second..." Spaz said with the slurred speech of his laid back druggie fashion. He took a small folded notebook out of his inside jacket pocket, and a pen. "Where are you guys gonna be?"
"Come on, Spaz! Just come with us for crying outloud!" Vincent said.
"No, no, I'm coming, seriously. I just wanna....get my head right first with some of the good stuff. You know what I mean?" Spaz told them. And Trixie was the first to roll her eyes.
"You mean you're going to get so twisted that you don't know up from down and won't come out at all. Right?"
"I SAID I'm coming! Now, just...give me some details, alright?" He wrote everything down in his notebook. Vincent told him where he'd be. Barry did the same. Carolyn and Trixie were going to hang out at the same spot. And he recorded every word. I guess this had become a tradition for them arond this time of year. "Cool. Just go. I'm gonna go get fucked up, and I'll be there with bells on man. Top hat and all that, dude."
"Deal. Don't disappoint us, Spaz." Vincent smiled, tucking his shirt back into his pants. Strangely enough, even after he had drank my blood, my life's essence, I couldn't help but admire how untouchably beautiful he really was. Even from this angle. "Alright boys and girls! Let's go have us a celebration!"
"Whooooo! YEAH BABY!" Barry shouted, and they all moved away from me, giggling as they walked back out onto the street.
I don't know how long I was lying there, but I do remember asking God to take me home. Wondering why I was being left behind to wallow in this misery for so long. Wondering why it all wouldn't just....fade away. And that's when I heard the engine of a car in the distance, and the sound of footsteps approaching my lifeless carcass. There was a light shined in my face, and I heard a gasp, as the two men in black looked down at what had happened to me. I didn't know what to expect, or how they would interpret what had happened to me or why. But you can imagine my surprise as my dilated pupils were suddenly filled with the image of Mr. Talbot, squatting down to look at my wounds. "Luke? Luke? Shit! He's not dead...get him into the car!"
"Sir? This is highly unorthodox. We can't take him anywhere, we're just supposed to...."
"NOW!!! Get him into the fucking car! Give me a hand!" Mr. Talbot yelled, and I blacked out once they started moving me.
A slag hunter. I guess Patrick's father had a secret life of his own. He was there to 'collect' me, wasn't he? To cut me down into manageable pieces of flesh and toss me into the freezer where I'd be secretly put into an acid bath and declared 'missing'. But he didn't. He saved me. He brought me home, gave me shelter, and stayed there with me every day through my crossover into darkness. I guess they make slag hunters study our developments in order to better serve our kind. I'm thankful for that. Thankful for him. Thankful for Patrick and the love we shared. Because, despite the horror of that night, it all seems so clear now. As though every part of that process was necessary in order to make it possible for me to kill every last one of them and wipe them from the face of the Earth once and for all. It's my purpose. My mission. Mr. Talbot had to make sure that I laid low for the last two years...waiting for my classmates, my friends, my parents...to stop looking. Or to at least lose hope of finding me alive. If it weren't for Patrick, I would have lost my mind in that house. But I made it to the surface again. I've been waiting an eternity for this. At long last, I'm reminded that I'm here for a reason, and I intend to fulfill my obligation with a smile.
And a LOT of blood!