|Chapter 2: The Vampire’s Kiss
While working at St. Christopher’s, I tended to the needs of many patients with many types of illness. Even though we were a hospital for the mentally ill, we often had patients who were physically ill as well. Sometimes the local police would use our hospital as a dump off when the jail got full, and we had to learn to treat the diseases of drug addicts and prostitutes. I didn’t have a medical degree, but I was the hardest worker and a quick learner. I knew as much as anyone who did have a degree.
I also had a way of making others feel comfortable, and I was usually called on to calm down any of the patients who were in hysterics. I was also in charge of “Incoming”. I stayed busy at my job and I really enjoyed it.
Our doors were open twenty-four hours a day. The majority of the patients who came in after dark were those brought in by the police department. One particularly dark night, an officer brought in a patient who holds a permanent home in my memory.
I was awoken by our night watchman around two o’clock in the morning. An eerie feeling came over me when I saw the person responsible for my abrupt awakening. I noticed he was not in handcuffs, even though he was accompanied by a police officer. The officer seemed to be wary of the man, almost scared of him, and avoided any close contact.
“What is this man charged with?”, I asked. He didn’t reply, just indicated for me to give him the paperwork that I was holding. Later on that night, I saw that same paperwork in the waste basket by the desk.
As I looked at the man standing in front of me, I understood the officer’s strange behavior. My first impression was that he must have a serious illness. His skin was like white paper, and his hair and eyes were dark and shiny like black ink. When our eyes met, everything in my body told me to flee, but I was a mouse stuck in a cobra’s trance.
I reached out impulsively and grabbed the man’s hand to lead him to his room. His flesh felt cold against mine. A surge of emotion raced through my body, an abominable combination of intense fear and carnal desire. His face remained blank. I could sense that there was something inhuman about him, and I thought of my mother and realized that the demons who tortured her were nothing compared to what was inhabiting this man’s soul.
The room was completely empty except for a small cot that sat lonely in the corner. A narrow window was in the other corner. I was startled when the new patient spoke.
“Could ya keep the sunlight from coming in that window for me?”
I walked across the room and closed the drab white cotton curtains.
“Definitely not gonna work.” He eyed the curtains nervously. I remembered that there was a dark green army blanket left behind by one of our previous patients in the hall closet. I retrieved the blanket, and as I was pulling it over the curtain rod, he addressed me again.
“Still ain’t working for me sweetheart.”
“OK”, I said, keeping my voice as calm as I could. The few years I had spent at the hospital had taught me that patience was essential in situations like this.
“So what do you suggest?”
I ended up nailing cardboard boxes over the windows until I fell asleep that night.
All week after the arrival of the new patient, I heard whispers in the hallways about his strange behavior. He had somehow convinced the custodian to bring live rats to his room. After discovering what the rats were for, the custodian promptly quit his job.
Several of our staff started complaining of severe fatigue after being assigned to his wing of the hospital after dark. There was talk of his nocturnal tendencies, and how he would allow no one to come into his room after daybreak. Fear drove everyone to comply to his strange demands. It came to a point when I was the only one brave enough to enter his room at all.
I was just as scared of the man as everyone else, but mixed in with my fear was a certain amount of pity. I had a skewed sense of duty to care for this man when no one else would. Not only that, but something deep inside my soul that yearned for someone to need me. It was similar to how I had felt toward my mother.
During the night, I often heard him talking to himself of dark secrets and mysterious strangers who were hunting him down. I had heard this kind of talk from many patients before, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something really was lurking in the shadows this time. I began to suspect that I might be going insane myself.
After a few weeks of being his full time care giver, I began to notice small changes in his behavior. I often felt someone watching me, and when I turned around he would be standing there, his eyes burning holes into the core of me. He didn’t even avert his eyes in shame when I called him out on it. His arrogant nature was alarming yet alluring to me.
Eventually, he seemed to anticipate my nightly visits. He had made a routine of asking me how my day had been, and insisting that I spend more time outside. I saw this as a sign of improvement, at least socially. I never would have imagined just how dire his condition really was.
One particularly hot summer night, he asked me to take down the cardboard from the window. The sky was clear and full of stars. Golden moon beams streamed into the room, reflecting off of his white skin. He was a glowing ember. Mesmerizing, but too dangerous to draw near to.
I thought a saw a smile dancing on the corners of his mouth as he asked me a question that I didn’t quite know how to answer.
“Do you think I’m crazy, like all them people been sayin’ out there?”
“What do you want me to say?” I replied. I knew he could see the anxiety in my eyes. Once more, the image of predator and prey came into my mind. I fought the urge to run.
I saw a flickering of a smile on his face again as he asked me, “Would you believe me if I told you that I have the power to make you live forever?”
Once again, I answered in the only way I knew how.
With another question.
The game of questions ended as he stood to his feet and his tall, lean figure seemed to float across the floor to me. He lifted me like a breeze lifting a soft down feather. I was struck with awe. His strength was greater than his physique implied. My body went limp with surrender.
He then laid me down on the cot and proceeded to give me the first, and only, sexual experience of my mortal life. My father’s voice echoed in my head; lectures on the ravages that a man can do to a woman’s pure virginal body; the cardinal sin of Lust. A part of myself tried to fight it, but my more primal urges overwhelmed me.
I was as close to heaven then as I will ever be. I cursed my parents for preventing me from experiencing this feeling for so long. At the point of my ecstasy, I felt his teeth pierce my skin. He drank from me, and I from him. I was powerless in his hands.
Knowing what I know now, I’m surprised that I made it through that night without any major physical damage to my body. It’s a testament to the gentleness of my sire I suppose. Though at the time, I thought he was incredibly savage, and I loved it. I felt a stirring within myself, but I wouldn’t fully realize how changed I was until it was too late.
When it was done, I collapsed, gasping for breath. A warm feeling crept into me, and I wondered if I was falling in love. I believed that we would run away together and live like Bonnie and Clyde. I knew that it would not be right to continue my existence as a nun. I had betrayed God and I couldn’t bare to ask his forgiveness. I only wanted to run.
I reached out to touch the object of my naive obsession, but only grasped air. I sat up and four blank walls stared back at me. The sound of crickets and howling in the distance poured in from the open window. I was completely alone. I felt a tightening in my chest.
“He abandoned me!” I thought. Then I felt my instincts reaching new heights. I was like a dog sensing unseen threats or a newborn baby sensing his mother is near. I felt his ghost, and I chased it.
I chased it right out of the hospital and into the wilderness. I told myself that I would not quit running until I found him. My body didn’t dispute my mind, and I noticed myself feeling stronger and swifter every time my bare feet connected with the red dirt. It was then that I realized what he had done to me. I was becoming an animal.
The briars stung my skin as I raced through the trees. I did not slow down until an injured deer stumbled into my path. A sickly sweet scent entered my nostrils. I gazed into the deer’s glossy black eyes and saw a reflection of myself, and it sent chills through my body. I was no longer the prey, I was the predator. I knew that this deer had not stumbled into my path by coincidence.
A hunger arose in my gut and I sprang for the deer. My long red hair flowed around my naked body like a lion’s mane. I was feral and majestic, the Queen of the Wild. It was then that I finally saw him. Standing above me. He grinned in approval. I began to stand, but he motioned for me to stay put. Then he spoke the last words I would ever hear from him.
“Don’t stop on my account darlin’, it ain’t too good when it gets cold.”
***Go on to Chapter 3