Waking Up Dead
I awoke to silence and darkness.
My eyes slowly fluttered open and a slight groan escaped from my lips. I gathered I must have been unconscious for quite some time since my eyes had adjusted to the darkness and I could see I was surrounded by white silk padding. If there was another inclination that time had passed, it was the hungry thirst. The mind numbing unbearable ravenous thirst that obliterated almost all conscious thought except to satisfy it. I placed my hands on the ceiling of my casket like room and pushed. I realized the ceiling, as its hinges creaked lightly, was in fact a door, a lid. I weakly sat up as I fully opened the lid and examined my surroundings.
It was then I realized two things.
I was nude and I had been in fact sleeping in a coffin.
I turned my gaze upward and saw a light shining through a crack. I brought my hands as I stood and pushed. Like the lid of the coffin, the ceiling opened like a door and light poured into the small dark space. With a quick jerk, I threw the door open and found myself staring into an all too familiar room. An elegant queen size canopy bed with velvet red silk sheets, a mounted sword and hammer, and the smell of sex protruding the air. I was back in the room where Wilhelmina had slept with me and drank my blood. A single rang clear in my muddled mind. I must leaved before she returned and finished what she had started.
Little did I know that she already had.
With great effort, I managed to lift myself out from the false closet and retrieve my clothes which lay exactly where Wilhelmina had tossed them the night before. I quickly pulled on the black pants and underwear, but I paused when my shirt passed under my nose. I brought the garment under my nose and notice a strange scent. I detected the hint of fruit mixed with sweat and I felt a pang of that hungry thirst that threatened to consume me.
I quickly donned the shirt and turned to leave, my legs feeling weak as I stumbled out of the room and half leaned against the doorway of the restroom. I caught sight of the sink and ran the water cold. I splashed my face several times and it seemed to help somewhat. I suppose I should have glanced at the mirror that hung over the sink. Perhaps then I would have noticed how my skin had gotten so pale. I groaned once more as my body yearned for sustenance.
I cupped my hands and filled with my mouth with cool clear water.
But I immediately recoiled at the taste and spat out the precious life sustaining liquid across the floor. I tried once more and fought the urge to purge my mouth, but I could not bring myself to swallow. I could not stand the foul tasting liquid that could no longer sustain me and spat out once more. I cupped my hands once more and brought the liquid to my face, but to not drink. I caught the aroma of metal and chemicals and threw the water back into the sink. I shut of the flow of the abhorrent fluid and left the room.
I guessed that Wilhelmina and her friends were not home as I quickly crossed the room, but paused when I caught the scent of sex and lust once again. And something else as well, a sweet delicious scent that made me swallow hard and lick my lips at the thought.
I shook myself out of hunger induced trance and quickly left the apartment. As I quickly rushed to the elevator i caught the sounds of people in their apartments. An infant was crying because his diaper required changing in the apartment two doors down from the one I had just escaped. A television blared sports terms and statistics from behind the door to my left and I could smell the repulsive scent of rotten beer and body odor. I turned my attention and pushed the button to summon the elevator.
The button must have been constructed from poor material because I managed to shove the little piece of plastic and wire back into the wall. I pulled my finger back as I felt a spark of electricity. I stared at the small hole I had created when I heard a slight ping, though to my ears was quite clamorous. The door slid open and luckily for me, though more for anyone else, it was devoid of passengers. I entered and pressed the button for the ground floor.
I was a mere four floors from salvation when the elevator pause and a little girl, no more than twelve, entered. She wore a little white dress decorated with yellow daisies and her shoes had tiny plastic flowers that match those of her dress. Her honey blonde hair was tied back in an uncomplicated ponytail which bounced as she jumped to push the button for the eighth floor. The door closed and she smiled at me, revealing white teeth encased in metal.
"Hello." she squeaked. "I'm Cindy."
I tried to smile, "D-d-d-Dominick."
"I haven't see you here before." she looked curiously at my pale face. "Did you just move in? People been moving all around. Ms. Jenny went to fifth while Mr. Frank and Mr. Langford keep switching rooms on the second." She turned away from as if to speak to the wall. " I think they they're are fighting over which room they want, but there always together and joking around . . . "
She continued speaking, as one would say, at a mile minute, but her words fell on deaf ears. All I could focus upon was her sweet scent, a mixture of apple juice and honey, and her neck with a throbbing carotid artery that pulse with each beat of her heart. My mouth seemed to open on its own accord and I swore I felt something slid down between my teeth. I was aware she was still speaking innocently at the wall as I licked my lips in anticipation of the meal to come. I was less than a millisecond from instinct completely overtaking my body when the door opened with another thundering bell.
The door opened and I saw, less than a five yards away, was my freedom and the city. I raced to the door as fast as I could, which appeared too swift from what I came to expect of myself. I crammed the observation back into my head to dwell upon at my leisure and stepped out into the Concrete Jungle.
I'm sure if humans realized how close they came to a brutal death on a daily basis, like sweet little Cindy, they would not leave their homes unless it was set ablaze.
Everything was as it should be, but it was not. Cars horns honked and their drivers shouted obscenities in a jumble of languages, but they were far too loud for my ears. The fragrances in the air were stronger than I could recall, more pungent and complex. I could recoiled at the scent of smog and rotting garbage that threatened to make me gag. The night was at the perfect level of illumination for my eyes, though the endless ocean of faux rainbow light I found too luminous and found myself turning away from them. I stood where I was positioned and closed my eyes, trying to adjust to the new sensations, but it was futile.
And, of course, the repulsive hunger continued to hammer at my sanity.
I searched my pockets for money so I could make way back to Penn Station and home from there. Not only were my pockets empty, but my entire wallet was absent as well. However, I was not lost. I was able to ascertain that I stood on the corner of Broadway and Walker. It would be quite the walk, especially in my starved state, but I could follow Broadway north until it crossed with west thirty-third street and follow that west for a block and I would arrive at Penn Station. From there, it would be a simple matter of locating the correct platform and train, and I would be one my merry way home.
I set off at a slow pace and headed north. As I walked I saw the though this was the city that never sleeps, the streets were surprisingly deprived of the crowds that filled them when I first arrived. That was not to say they were utterly deserted. I walked past people that made me pause when I caught their decadent scents and the voracious hunger threatened to overtake my reason. I found it strange that I passed countless food vendors selling hot dogs, pretzels, roasted peanuts, and other types of food and not one of them I found particularly mouth watering. In fact some were down right repelling to me. I cringed and quickened my pace to escape the repelling scent of garlic whenever I strode past a building that prepared famous New York pizza.
I had only managed two, still quite immense, city blocks before I felt a hand grasp the collar of my shirt and wrenched me into the alley I was passing. I felt a strong hand flush me against the cold stone wall just as I caught the scent of decaying rodent mixed with horrid garbage in the air. I recovered my senses when I felt a knife against my throat and dirty looking young man , no older than myself, bared his teeth at me. I know now that all I needed to do was repeat the action, namely barring my teeth, and I'm sure that would have sent the urchin running like a small child home. It was not as if the blade could harm me, unless it was made with silver or wooden and plunged into my heart. But in my defense, and luckily for the asinine mugger, I was not aware I had grown far more lethal since I last walked the streets of the city.
He frisked me quickly as he searched anything of value. "Move and your dead!"
I would have most likely laughed if the hunger had not begun to rear its ugly head. This man smelled far from pleasant. Rotting marijuana and body odor pervaded the air around him, but this did not stop my jaw from slowly opening and I felt that sensation of something sliding out between my teeth once again. Then with a burst of strength and speed that I did not believe I possessed, I grasped the man by his shoulder and twisted so we had switched positions with him against the wall. I heard the clatter of the knife on the floor as I lunged at his neck, intending to sink my teeth into his delicate flesh. Then, when I could no longer stand the mind shattering hunger, I felt a throbbing in the back of my skull.
At best, I could describe it akin to having an angry hornet buzzing in your ear, but it felt though as if the insect was inside my head. I turned my head south to where I had come from. I gazed back north to where Penn Station lay and my home beyond that. Then I felt the throbbing again, much stronger this time. I held my head as I stumbled away and the man ran down the alley away from me. I felt the throbbing once more, so powerful that I believed my head would implode from the force. I took off at breakneck pace, breakneck for humans at any rate, heading south on Broadway.
I was not certain how, but I reached the building I had escape only an hour earlier in two minutes. I could not understand why I was compelled to return as I gazed back up at the building, but there I stood when another pulse echoed in my head. I enter and found a janitor in a blue uniform mopping the space in front of the elevator. He looked to be in his later fifties when he gaped up from the floor at me.
"Hope yer not plannin' on using the elevator." he said roughly. "Some idiot broke the relay on the twelfth and I had to shut down the whole damn thing until the parts arrive in the morning." he pointed to a corner. "Stair's over there."
I winced as another pulse squeezed my frontal lobe. "Ah!"
"You alright?" he sounded mildly concerned. "You look like you ain't had anything to eat for a real long time."
I did not respond and walked to the stairwell. The door quietly clicked shut as I felt another throb and I flew up the stairs. Not literally flew mind you. I did not, and nor would I ever, possess that gift. I reached the twelfth floor within minutes and paused momentarily in the doorway as I ascertained which direction I should take. Yet another throb informed me to head down the hall to my right. Quicker than a blink of an eye, I found myself staring at apartment 221B yet again.
Every instinct, the ones not constantly reminding me of my hunger, yearned for me to turn back. This train of thought was strengthen greatly when I heard voices behind the door. That could only mean Wilhelmina and her friends had returned home and I was being drawn back by some force I could not understand but compelled to obey. I stood there as I listened to the occupants converse.
"Why did Willy bring this crap here again?" asked a voice I recognized as Doyle's. "I never figured her for, what do ya call these again? Comic books?"
"I'm not certain." answered Adrian as I heard him turn a page. "But its not just books, but films and clothes as well."
"I remember my son had one of these." remarked Regina. "Cute."
"What the bloody hell is that?" demanded Doyle.
"A stuffed bear." Regina responded.
"Bollocks." said Adrian. "That thing doesn't look dangerous at all."
"I'm with him." agreed Doyle. "Its missing claws and teeth for one thing. A proper bear would be insulted."
"Its a toy." Regina countered. "Its not meant to depict a real bear."
I would have continued listening, but another throb pulsed and threw the door wide open. I was rewarded for my abrupt intrusion with hisses from Doyle, Adrian, and Regina as fangs shot out from between their teeth. With no conscious thought of my own, I responded in kind and all of them went erect like pale marble statue that someone had thought amusing to dress. They're eyes flashed from each other back to me and Regina gazed behind her and before her eyes returned to me.
"Wilhelmina?" Regina called, not taking her eyes off of me.
"Yes?" answered a voice from down the hall.
"Is there something you forgot to mention?"
Wilhelmina emerged from the hall clad in a white bathrobe and running her fingers through her red hair. "I'm not sure I understand." She caught sight of me. "Oh good, you're here. You must be hungry."
"Did I miss something?" asked Doyle. "Or did you really turn him?"
Wilhelmina raised an eyebrow, "I was not aware that I had to explain my actions to you, Doyle. Need I remind you that I am the authority of this nest?"
"What the fuck is going?" I demanded.
Wilhelmina regarded me for a moment then she motioned the room I had risen from earlier. "Inside."
I shook my head frantically and level a finger at her. "No way! You're not doing that again! I don't even what made me come back here."
Wilhelmina grew serious and repeated with the authority of God himself. "Inside!"
My legs moved on their own accord and I found myself back in room with mounted weapons on the wall and a canopy bed. Wilhelmina entered behind me and closed the door. I watched her walk to the closet where I knew had a coffin beneath a false bottom. I thought she wanted to repeat what she had done the night before and rush to the door.
"Stop!" she ordered with absolute authority.
My hand froze as I grasped the doorknob.
"Now turn around."
I obeyed and saw Wilhelmina throw a bundle of clothes, bound with thick rope and layers of duct tape, onto the floor. It was only when the bundle began to move and whimper that I realized it was young woman. Her scent made my body shudder involuntary and i felt my mouth begin to water. My tongue moistened my lips as I saw she wore a simple black cotton shirt and a short denim skirt. Up to her knees were pink and black striped socks and plain running sneakers.
Her words and screams were muffled behind the duct tape that wrapped around her mouth. Her eyes darted around the room frantically before they landed upon me and she tried to speak through the tape. I could not understand, but surmised she was begging to me to help her and set her free.
Wilhelmina knelt by the girl and brushed a lock of hair from her face. "You must be quite hungry. I remember when I first arose, it was all that drove me." She laid the girl on the bed, ignoring her struggles. "Luckily my maker had brought me the local stable boy. Arthur, I think was his name."
"What are you talking about?" I pointed to the girl. "Who's she?"
"I will explain later." She glanced at the girl, who had not ceased her struggling. "As for her, she is to you what Arthur the stable boy was for me."
"I don't understand."
"You will." She assured. "But for now, you must feed."
I began to comprehend what wanted of me, what I was truly hungry for and why human food no longer held the allure it once had. "No! You can't force me."
"You fail to understand that, as your maker, I can force you to carry out any and all commands I give you." She smiled. "But in this case, I do not have to resort to that option." Wilhelmina drew a thumbtack and pricked the girl's neck and the smallest drop of blood formed on her skin.
That was all it took to break me, to shatter every iota of self control.
I pounced on the girl's neck as she screamed behind her bound mouth. I was aware that something slid out between my teeth once more just as I bit down on her soft delicate flesh and the sweet nectar that was her blood filled my mouth. Never had something tasted so deliciously decadent, so satisfying, so gratifyingly luscious that I found myself unable to stop. I drank, sucked, and swallowed until her struggles and screams ceased and she laid still. The flow of delectable liquid began to slow and I bit down harder so I would not be denied its heavenly sustenance.
"Delicious is it not?" I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up at Wilhelmina, "Better?"
Like I had with the bound girl, I pounced and drove her to the floor. I was still hungry, but not for blood. Her fangs slid out as I ripped the white bath robe from her body. I tore open, ripping the buckle from my leather belt and the button from, my pants and entered her with a savage ferocity. She pulled me close and shoved my mouth into hers, her tongue lapping at the blood around my mouth and neck as I continue pounding into her. My pace increased and Wilhelmina's nails dug into my back and tore my shirt, and my skin, to ribbons, as her moans and grunting mixed with my own. We reached our climax together and we both howled together in a sensual chorus of Spanish and old French. I laid down next to her and floated on a cloud of pure bliss.
Wilhelmina caressed my cheek fondly. "J'avais oublié à quel farouche le jeune pourrait être."
My mind crashed back to earth with revelation of what I had just done. I grasped her hand and stared into her eyes. "What the hell was that?"
Wilhelmina eyed me flatly, all fondness gone. "I think you know."
I returned the look. "Why would I ask then?"
She rolled her eyes and motioned to the door, "Look in a mirror."
With my new gained speed I reached bathroom where I had tried quench my thirst in a more conventional way. What I saw in the mirror shook me to my core. It was me as I was, but it was not me. My hair was still a dark shade of brown, though slightly tousled with little clumps of blood in the strands. My eyes had remained as hazel as my father's. I had not gained any sort of muscle nor had I lost any. I was as I had been when I left my home.
My body hair still clung to my chest and underarms as well as my back and groin. What had changed was my skin, namely the color or lack of it. I was as pale as a newborn infant undamaged by the sun rather the light golden brown I had known to be the norm. I leaned closer the mirror as I examined the red stains circling my mouth. I lifted a lip and saw that I had grown a new pair of teeth.
A pair of sharp white fangs just slightly longer than my canines.
"Oh no." I step back from my reflection shaking my head frantically. "No, no, no, no, no."
I jumped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. "I hope yer not trying to take a piss, mate." said Doyle. "And don't try giving yer flute a pep talk, you'll only look like an caffler. Believe me, I've been there."
I threw the door open and flew across the room to the front door, again not literally flew. I was half way out when Regina placed a hand on my shoulder. "Where are you going?"
"Home." I spat.
"You can't." she said simply.
I turned and actually managed two steps before I heard Wilhelmina's voice and I froze. "Stop!"
I turned my head and saw she had forsaken her bathrobe for a shirt and pants. "Stop doing that." I growled.
"Sit down." she ordered and she watched me sink into a leather armchair. "I will not stop until you realize what you are."
"And what's that?" I demanded.
"A vampire, mate." Doyle leaped over a couch and his feet landed in Adrian's lap, "I know what you're thinking, put a Santa hat on it and call it Randal, but its true."
"Doyle, please get your shoes off my lap." Adrian asked dangerously calm.
Doyle obliged, "Sorry, mate."
Adrian turned to me. "What my nestmate fails to convey properly, is that you have been made vampire." His eyes flicked to Wilhelmina. "As for why, that is between you and your maker."
"Right." I said still not believing the truth. "And where are Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon? This could all be a dream. Just a really lucid dream."
"A dream? Please tell me I wasn't this much of an ape." Doyle threw a thumb over his shoulder to Wilhelmina's room. "If that's what ya dream about, going at it like rabbits with some fine vixen after drinking another bird's blood? Then ya got some really warped issues."
I thought back to the girl who's blood I drank as a man dying of thirst in the Sahara desert would a glass of water and how she was most likely dead. Wilhelmina had bound and kidnapped an innocent girl for me to drink her blood until she died. I probably would have done more much worse had Wilhelmina not distracted me.
I cradled my head, "Oh, god . . . that means . . . that I . . . that she's . . . I need . . . I can't . . . I can't breath . . ."
Adrian moved in with such rapid speed, it was not until I felt his hands crushing my wind pipe that I noticed he had moved. I gagged and choked as Adrian stared emotionless into my eyes and he tightened his grip like a vice. I pounded and tried to wrench his grip from my neck, but to avail as he was far stronger than I. I looked to the others. Wilhelmina simply stared back at me while Doyle appeared thoroughly enthralled. Regina sat next to him and looked mildly concerned.
"Shouldn't we have just told him?" she asked.
"And miss the show?" Doyle chuckled. "Not a chance, love. If I could, I'd be munching on some popcorn right now."
I wondered how they could chat so idly as Adrian choked the life from me. That was when I begun to notice, once the initial shock had passed, that I did feel the lack of air. In fact, other than the unpleasant for wrapping around my neck, I could think clearly which I should be able to if I was still dependent on oxygen or any gas for that matter
"You understand now?" Adrian demanded before he removed his hands from my neck. "You have been made vampire. You do not require air as you once did. You cannot suffocate, drown, or die by a lack oxygen."
"You could have just said so." I croaked rubbing my sore throat.
"Thank you, Adrian." said Wilhelmina as he sat down on another armchair.
"I shouldn't be the one to tell him." Adrian said flatly.
"As much I'd love to hear ol' Willy blather on." Doyle stood up. "I could eat a baby's arse through the bars of a cot, who's in the mood for Chinese?"
"I could eat." Regina stood to follow. "That girl that Wilhelmina brought really made me hungry. Just let me change."
"I am quite famished myself." Adrian asked. "You want the usual place i take it?"
"Unless you know a better spot."
"I must change as well."
Regina became a blur as she rushed to her room as did Adrian.
Doyle groomed his hair in the window's reflection and part of me realized that vampires did have reflections, "Want us to bring ya back anything, Willy?"
"That will not be necessary." said Wilhelmina. "I am joining you."
Doyle motioned to me. "And him?"
Wilhelmina did not even look at me. "He will stay here."
"But — "
"You are far too young." She explained.
"I'm twenty one!" I protested. "That makes me perfectly capable of making my own — "
"That is not what I meant." Wilhelmina interrupted.
"Fine," I snapped. "I'll get something myself."
"No you will not." she ordered. "You are not to leave this apartment."
I felt my new fangs shoot out with my anger, but I fought the urge to hiss. "Then can you at least bring me something back?"
"You still hungry?" Doyle adjusted the collar of his shirt. "Whatcha in the mood for, mate?"
"The place you going have lo mein?" I asked.
Lo Mein . . .
If there was ever a time I wished I could bend the laws of time and space, it would be then.
So I could properly slap myself for my idiocy.
Doyle, on the other hand, found it amusing like he did nearly everything. "Get a load of him, Willy. Lo mein? The bugger doesn't seem to get it."
"I can see that, Doyle." Wilhelmina motioned to the cardboard boxes scatter around the room that I had failed to notice. "While we hunt, you will sort through these boxes and their contents."
I opened a box and removed comic books in plastic bags. "These are mine."
A thought came to me and I wished it hadn't. Had Wilhelmina killed my family as well? How else could it explain that all of my things were here?
"I am aware of that." Wilhelmina must have caught on to my train of though and said lazily. "I purchased them from your family."
"They sold my stuff?" I asked astonished. "Just like that?"
"They must have been desperate for the coin." offered Doyle. "From what I figured, they had to pay for the funeral somehow."
"A funeral? After only one day? I thought you had to wait at least two for the cops to get involved."
"Normally you'd be bang on, but ya been asleep for three days." Doyle sank into a chair and propped his feet on a box. "Plus, we couldn't just have ya disappear. So Willy, Regina, Adrian, and meself torched yer car with a couple of stiffs for good measure."
"Thanks." I said dryly.
I drove a 1978 Toyota Cressida with more mileage on it than there was water in the Hudson. The air conditioner had ceased working long before I bought it when its previous owner was going to scrap it for parts. The transmission had been needing replacement for months and it had trouble starting during cold winters. The chassis also creaked and groaned if too much weight was placed in the back, but it had never once broken down and left me stranded. As far as my budget was concerned at the time, no one could have offered a more reliable car. Losing that car was like losing another part of me.
"Don't mention it." Doyle smiled. "Saved us the trouble of dumping the stiffs from our little party."
"Wait, I was dead for three days?"
"Technically, yer still dead, but I get yer point." Doyle looked down the corridor impatiently.
"The process for turning a human is quite simple." said Wilhelmina flatly as if she was explaining how to boil water. "I drained you of your blood until the point of your death. Then I fed you my blood before stowing your corpse in a dark place where you would lay dead for all intents and purposes. After three days, today, you rose again to walk the night as a vampire, supposedly for the rest of eternity."
"Supposedly?" I asked cautiously.
"Well, sometimes things go a little arseways." Doyle checked his watch and frowned before he resumed speaking. "Drugs and alcohol sometimes complicate things, but she means ya can still be killed."
"How?" I tried to make it sound like I was genuinely curious rather than arming myself.
"Sunlight." answered Wilhelmina. "Silver can harm and weaken our kind, but it is not lethal."
"I thought that was just werewolves." I said.
"Them too." said Doyle.
"There's werewolves too?" I foolishly asked.
"Yes." Wilhelmina eyed me curiously. "I thought it would be altogether obvious to come to that conclusion."
It was, but I wasn't exactly thinking clearly at that point.
"Oy, hurry up you two!" Doyle shouted down the hall. "I'm as weak as a salmon in a sandpit over here."
Adrian emerged instantly with an emerald green dress shirt and midnight black slacks. "Has anyone ever informed you that you are very impatient for a vampire, Doyle?"
"Has anyone ever told ya that only someone with a fanny should be concerned about dressing to the nines?" Doyle countered. "Speaking of fannies, Oy! Regina, just pick something. I'm sure ya'll look quite juicy no matter what yer wearing. Its only Chinatown."
"Ready!" Regina appeared in a blur wearing a red dress with golden dragons and Chinese characters with chopsticks holding together her hair.
"I'm not even gonna ask." Doyle stood up from the couch and walked to the door, everyone followed but me.
Wilhelmina did not even look back at me.
The door closed shut and there I was, alone surrounded by boxes of my possessions. I suppose I could have attempted to return home again, but I doubted I would get very far. Even If I had reached my home on Long Island, Wilhelmina would had just called me back like she had the first time.
I tried to sort the through the boxes of old clothes and novels, but I found myself on the verge of tears as I remembered how I had received many of them as gifts. Gifts, from friends and family I would never see again. I had not doubt of that. They would live their lives and eventually die, believing I had perished years beforehand, while I continued to walk the earth.
And drink the blood of humans.
Just the thought of that warm sticky red liquid coating my tongue and throat made me ravenous. I checked the refrigerator in hopes that someone might had the hindsight to store some away. It was fully stocked with food. I saw raw steaks of beef, pork, fish, and chicken. Fresh produce and fruits laid untouched in plastic bags. There was a fresh gallon of milk along three different types of juices as well as beer and other half empty bottles of liquor, but no blood. To be thorough, I checked the freezer and every drawer and cupboard. I found countless boxes of precooked food. Parboiled rice, oven ready lasagna, and cans upon cans of tuna and vegetables.
Peas, carrots, corn, potatoes, meat, fruits, water, soda, liquor. Name it and I found it, untouched of course, and not a single speck of it edible to me anymore. While I had come a struggling family, I did not know feeling of an empty stomach. I had not gone a single day in my life without food on my family's table. I closed the cupboards and refrigerator defeated. Had I given it some thought, it would have logical that the food was there simply to give the illusion that humans lived there, not vampires. But at that moment, all that came to my mind was the sick irony of being surrounded by food and starving.
Then the image of the bound girl I had drained earlier, still and unmoving in Wilhelmina's room.
I recalled reading that the average adult body held roughly ten pints of blood, just slightly more than one gallon. I was certain I had not drained every last drop she had to offer. Granted, the blood might be cold, but it would have to do until Wilhelmina and the others returned. I struggled with the ramifications of what I was considering. I had already, and quite literally, sucked the life from her. But i was still hungry and Wilhelmina had not informed me how long until they returned. I would stayed there, still as a statue, but hunger drove me and I entered Wilhelmina's room.
I carried the girl, surprisingly light to my arms, into the bathroom. I retrieved a large glass pitcher from the kitchen and undid the rope that bound her, it was not as if she could have fought me alive or not. I tied a simple knot around her ankles and threw the length of rope over the metal bar that held the shower curtain. I hauled her up and secured the rope around the pipe under the sink. I placed the pitcher under her pale expressionless face and turned to leave. While I was not desperate as I was earlier, I did not trust myself to watch what little blood she had dripped into the container drop by tantalizing drop.
I had just reached the door when I heard a voice. "So you're just gonna leave me here?" I turned and she was looking at me curiously, like we were sharing a cup of coffee. "What happened to respect for the dead?"
Great, part of me thought, now there were zombies.
I shook my head and turned away, "Shut up! You're not talking. You're dead."
She chuckled, "Hello, Kettle, I'm Cauldron. BTW, you're black."
"This is isn't happening." I told myself. "This is isn't happening."
"I don't know why you're upset. I'm the one hanging like a piece of meat."
"Just go away." I begged. "Please, just leave me alone."
"Hello, you killed me, remember?" She said casually."The least you could do is talk to me."
"What do you want from me?" I fell to my knees still not daring to look her in the eye. "An apology?"
"It'd be a nice start."
"I'm sorry, okay?" I was on the verge of tears. "I didn't want to. I couldn't . . . couldn't . . . I . . ."
"Stop from chugging me like a beer at a frat house?" she offered nonchalantly.
"Yes." I sighed, expelling the remaining useless air from my dead lungs. "Happy now?"
"Because I'm not really talking. Your guilt is only making you think I'm talking."
"Then why won't you go away?"
"You have something you wanna get off your chest. Something you regret maybe? Or maybe you want someone to talk to, even if they're not really there. Come on, there must be something."
"I just wanna go home." I sniffed.
"Do you? Do you really?"
"What do you have waiting for you back there?"
"My family." I said. "My friends."
"Would be the same family that you have wasting your life on?"
"How many years do you think your dad has left if he keeps spending his paycheck, money that he could have saved for you to go college or your brother, on booze?"
I couldn't answer her.
"What would have happened if you had stayed? You'd probably be working the same job until his liver gave out, leaving you to support your mother and brother on a low bar tending job."
"Shut up!" I was becoming angry now.
"You know I'm right. He's the reason you stayed home while your friends went to Mexico for spring break while you delivered pizzas, only to lend him the money to pay the rent because he was between jobs but still found the cash to buy beer."
"I said shut up!"
"What about a girlfriend? You couldn't go out to parties, the movies, or even to a bar to meet a girl. Why? All because you had to save every single cent so he could drink it all away."
"I KNOW!" I began to sob as I pounded the floor, my strength shattering the tiles into dust. "But he was my dad! What could I do? Leave! What about my mom and brother?"
"You can't save everyone." she said gently. "If I had to guess, Wilhelmina and the others probably made it look like a drunk driving accident. Maybe that'll shake your dad enough to get his shit together, for your brother's sake at least."
"And if you;re wrong?"
"Then I'm wrong." she said plainly. "Look, I'm not expert, but feeling sorry for yourself is gonna get real old real fast. Especially since you have all of eternity to wallow in it. You may good looking, but the brooding look isn't for you."
"You're a vampire now, remember?"
"Big fucking whoop."
"I'll say so. Able to live forever, super strength, speed, heightened senses."
"No more sun. No more food. No more fresh air." I said.
She countered with. "No more lactose intolerance or indigestion. No more allergies."
"Ripping people's necks open to eat."
"Forgot about that didn't you?"
"Technically, you forgot about it. I'm not really here." She reminded me. "There has to be other vampires in the world. And I'm sure someone would have noticed if people started disappearing left and right, especially this day and age. Maybe you don't need to drain people completely. Or you could drain animals? Try asking Wilhelmina when she gets back."
"I'm still wondering why she just didn't kill me."
"You reminded her someone."
"Don't you remember? When she was draining you, she said 'Just like William'. An old boyfriend, maybe."
"I'll have to ask her."
"You do that." She paused for a moment. "I think I'm dry."
"Unless you're planning one squeezing me like a lemon, that's all I got left."
I turned to see the pitcher was a quarter of the way filled. I was disappointed by how little was in the pitcher, but I quickly felt ashamed at the very thought. I had killed this girl and my only thought was she had little blood in her body for me to drink. However, the shame was not enough to prevent me from taking the pitcher to main room of the apartment.
So I would not spill a single drop of the precious nectar, I retrieved a large wineglass and filled it nearly to the brim. I drained the glass of liquid in seconds, licking my lip and wishing for more. I filled the glass with the last of the liquid, that had replaced both water and food for me, and drained it just as quickly. I was not certain what came over me, but I quickly sifted through the boxes and found a vinyl record player.
I set the record player upon an unopened box and plugged the wire into an outlet. It took me another moment to locate the box that held my small collection of vintage records, most of them recovered from the trash. I blew off the dust that had collected on the surface and set it to play. I returned to the couch and gazed up at the ceiling, memories of my Christine playing across the white surface like a film, just as the music began to play.
She was Boston, I was Vegas,
She was Crepe Suzette, I was pie,
She was lectures, I was movies,
but I loved her.
She was Mozart, I was Basie,
She was afternoon tea, I was saloon,
She was Junior League, I was Yankees
But I loved her morning, night and noon.
Christine and I laughing over drinks after graduation, sharing popcorn at the movies, and the day we had sat next to each other at a baseball game and I gave her the home run ball I had caught played across the pure white ceiling. I felt thick drops running from my eyes and down my face, but I could not tear my eyes from the angel of beauty above me, even to wipe them.
Opposites attract, the wise men claim,
Still I wish that we had been a little more the same.
It might have been a shoot out war,
If we had know each other more.
She was polo, I was race track,
She was museums, I was TV.
She did her best to change me
Though she never never knew quite how,
But I loved her, almost as much as I do now.
Now it was images of her twirling in elegant dresses she wanted to wear to our high school prom, picking clothes out for me to wear, and of us dancing together when both of our dates had left us for each other that caused me more grief and I felt more tears run down my face.
She was Wall Street, I was pawn shop,
She was French champagne, I was beer,
She knew much more that I did
But there was one thing she didn't know,
That I loved her, 'cause I never never told her so . . .
And there I sat for the next five hours, wallowing in misery and hunger, until Wilhelmina and the others returned. I could hear Doyle and Regina laughing only to pause when they caught sight of me.
Wilhelmina sounded irritated. "I thought I ordered you to sort through these boxes."
"I'll do it tomorrow." I croaked. "Just leave me alone."
"Where did you acquire that blood?" Adrian asked rather concerned.
He was likely concerned that I had killed yet another person and failed to cover the evidence properly. In centuries past, it was quite common for someone to disappear without a trace. But now if a person went missing for two days, there would be an investigation with highly advanced forensic tools. It was not being arrested and convicted for murder that would be the issue, but the discovery of vampires, and it was only possible if vampires did not take care to cover their tracks properly, like staging the death of the people drained at the party when Wilhelmina had turned me.
I motioned to the bathroom where the girl still hung and I heard the rapid footsteps rush to see and I heard Doyle say, "Its the same bird that Willy brought before. Gotta say, Peaches, barely a night old and yer already thinking like a vampire."
"Peaches?" asked Adrian.
"Willy said he tasted like peaches." Doyle responded.
"Did you have use the good wineglasses?" Regina asked me.
I did not answer, continuing to stare at the now blank ceiling, when I sense Wilhelmina appear in front me. "Something has upset you."
I refused to meet her eyes and chuckled grimly. "I used to get upset. When I got a flat tire, when my brother took money from my wallet. I used to get upset . . . when my friends went to concerts I couldn't afford." I laughed again, madly this time. "So if that's what upset means, what am I feeling now? If you know the word, tell me because I don't."
"He's gone mad." Adrian said plainly as if he was simply remarking on the color of my shoes.
"Oh, he'll be fine." Doyle assured. I heard the sound of a plastic bag being ruffled through and I felt Doyle place something in my lap. "Luckily fer you, Regina reminded me to bring ya doggy bag."
Even then, at probably the lowest point of my existence, I felt hungry. I gazed down a plastic container that I had seen countless times when I had ordered food from a Chinese restaurant. I did not bother to pry the lid and sunk my fangs through the fragile thin plastic and nearly swallowed a mouthful.
I say nearly swallowed, because the instant the blood filled my mouth I spat out the blood in a red mist. I coughed and gagged as I heard Regina mutter under her breath something about purging the furniture of the blood stains. Wilhelmina eyed me curiously and looked to Doyle.
"What was in that container?" Adrian asked.
"Blood." Doyle shrugged. "What else?"
Wilhelmina growled, "What kind of blood?"
"Pure breed shih tzu." Doyle said innocently. "Regina said get 'im a doggy bag and he was barking up a storm."
"I didn't mean a literal dog, you idiot." Regina snapped.
"Next time be more specific, love." Doyle shrugged.
"She did not have to be, Doyle." Adrian said. "You know perfectly well that we can only survive on human blood."
Once Adrian spoke those words, it broke me. Until I learned to control my urges or deliberately starved myself, I would mostly likely kill more innocent people to simply satisfy my hunger.
I stood up and shuffled down the corridor when Wilhelmina said, "Where are you going?"
"Bed." I croaked.
"There still is two hours until dawn." Wilhelmina informed me.
"I don't care."
"Very well, your room will be the last one at the end of the hall."
I entered the room that only held a single bed and nightstand. There was a mirror that hung opposite a door which I assume lead to a small closet. As I passed the mirror, I paused.
Dark red streaks ran from my eyes down my cheeks. I touched my face and it felt like the scabs I had on my knees when I was little. I scratched and the red streaks crumbled at my touch.
"As a vampire, you will cry blood from now on instead of common tears." Wilhelmina explained when she saw my confusion.
I collapsed onto the bed and laid there, ignoring the stale scent of the cotton sheets that were still clean, but had not been washed in some time. I was still aware Wilhelmina stood and watched me, but I didn't seem to care.
"The closet has a false bottom." She told me. "There you will find an empty coffin to rest during the daylight hours."
"Why can't I just sleep on the bed?" I asked. It just seemed to cliche that vampires actually slept in coffins.
"There is a window above the bed." I looked up and saw she was correct. "Sunlight is lethal for our kind. During the day, we must rest in a place where sunlight cannot reach us."
I roused myself from the bed and opened the door to my new closet. It was empty with a small rug innocently covering what I knew was a trapdoor. I found a crease and lifted the door. I stared at the white padded interior of a coffin that I had woken up to only a few hours ago. I shook my head, remembering how terrified and claustrophobic I felt in Wilhelmina's coffin as I died.
"Get in." Wilhelmina said.
"No." I stepped back. "No. Not again."
"Get in!" She said again, this time making her words an order that I could not disobey.
I closed the lid to my new coffin as I heard Wilhelmina close the trapdoor and the closet door behind it. In that moment, I was severely tempted to leave the safety of the coffin and fall asleep in the bed. Just to feel normal and human again, even if it meant my death. I probably would've have welcomed it then.
But the words of that girl i had drained echoed in my head.
"Feeling sorry for yourself is gonna get real old real fast. Especially since you have all of eternity to wallow in it."