A fledgling vampire trys to find the jerk who killed her and deal with being undead. Fun.
|I woke up on a cold table. I wasn’t sure where I was – all I could remember was being in bed with this absolutely drop-dead gorgeous guy and him kissing my neck. Where was I? I sat up, and the first thing I saw was my outfit. Perfectly tailored to my body, it clung artfully to my breasts and hips and accented my waist in a way I immediately decided I liked. A very subtle flare at the waist, the jacket was long and cut in an antique style – seventeenth century or so, I think. I had a silk cami under that, in a deep crimson that made me think of blood. My pants were black slacks with a faint cream pinstripe, and my shoes were patent leather heels so shiny I could see my face in them. |
I liked it. None of it was my own. The last time I’d worn anything this formal had been at my cousin’s wedding, and that had been a dress. Whose clothes were these, and where was I? I looked around and saw all kinds of stainless steel tools that would have looked at home in a torturer’s toolbox. Or a dentist’s office, come to think of it. There was a refrigerator in the corner, and there was a distinct smell of formaldehyde with undertones of dead people. Oh, God. Was I…
No. I couldn’t be dead. Could I? I took a deep breath. My lungs felt funny, like I had just breathed again after holding my breath for as long as I could. I heard blood pounding in my head, and I assumed it was mine. Definitely alive. I was breathing, my heart was beating. Alive. But this place reminded me of the preservation room of a funeral home my class had gone to in high school. In fact, it was a dead ringer. I placed my hand on my neck, feeling for a pulse, just to be sure.
Nothing. What the hell? I took another deep breath, trying to clear my head. I smelled something under the chemical stench. Something sweet. It reminded me of chocolate, good wine, and cinnamon. In that order. Suddenly, I felt very hungry. My stomach seemed so empty I thought it would collapse in on itself. Hey, maybe the smell came from food, I reasoned. And maybe if I followed the smell, someone would share the food with me.
I got up and left the creepy room. I walked down the hall and followed the scent like a bloodhound on a trail. It lead me to a small parlor filled with rows of chairs. There was a softer light here, unlike the other room’s harsh fluorescents. The light here was the kind that only comes from candles. There was a soft smell of spice in here, and I spotted some potpourri and a warmer in the corner. Damn. I sniffed again and realized that I could still smell the wine and chocolate, and I didn’t know where it was coming from.
I turned to leave and was surprised by a young, good-looking man in expensive jeans and an argyle sweater. Ew. That shit is only good on socks, I thought. The guy gasped.
“What?” I asked. It’s not like he didn’t know I was here. He had to – I’d been sleeping in his own private preservation room, if that’s what it was. I was confused, and already getting a little frustrated. I was tired and really, really hungry, and this guy’s just standing there gaping like an idiot. But before he could answer my question – or shut his mouth, come to think of it – I realized that the yummy smell was coming from him. I leaned in and took a deep whiff. I sighed. I was nearly intoxicated by the scent coming off of this guy. I wondered idly what kind of cologne it was, and if it even was cologne. I hoped it was, because it made Brut smell like bug spray. I thought about it and decided to find out where I could get some for myself. Yummy.
“Uh-ah-um-” Mr. Yucky Argyle Sweater stood there stuttering at me for almost thirty seconds before he could string two words together, “You’re dead,” he managed.
Those two words were enough to distract me.
I stared dumbly at him for a moment before realizing that it all made sense now. Waking up in that little morgue-y place, not being able to find my pulse… the blood pounding in my head wasn’t mine. It was his. It was louder now, and faster. This sucks, I thought, but then I smiled.
I was dead. That meant no more sickness, no more fatigue, not to mention no more paying the garbage bill. I was pretty sure that death was a good reason not to have to go to work ever again. I felt like I’d won the lottery.
But what was I? Too solid to be a ghost, but too smart and not rotted enough to be a zombie. What else could I be? It's not like there are lots of things hanging around that were once human beings. I took another deep breath while I thought. Why was I still walking around? The guy smelled so good that I had to fight not to just lean in and take a bite of him. That thought gave me pause. Take a bite.
“When did I die?” I asked cautiously. Please don’t say three days, I silently begged. Please.
“A-about three days ago,” he stammered.
I’d been dead three days and rose from the grave on the third day. I wasn’t Jesus, I thought, going down my mental checklist. Nothing half as holy. I was hungry, and was dying to take a bite out of the man in front of me. I knew what I was – an official bloodsucker, a leech, to my less-polite friends. A vampire.
I was finding it a little difficult to form coherent words. Apparently, that hadn’t changed. “How’d I get here?” I forced the words from the back of my throat so I wouldn’t choke on them.
“Someone brought you in. He had coppery hair, bright blue eyes, about this high,” He gestured with his hand, indicating a height of about six-two. Could it have been that guy I remembered from my last night alive?
“Was he French?” I asked. The man I remembered had been. Or at least he’d said he was.
“You know, high cheekbones, funny accent…”
“Oh, yeah. Really thick accent, but it sounded Russian or something. I don’t think it was French.” Apparently, the shock had worn off, because Argyle, as I’d started calling him in my head, was finding it easier to talk to me. His heart had slowed down, too.
“Has he ever dropped anyone else off? I mean, dead people?” My head hurt thinking about all the foreign men I knew. I worked at a bar in Manhattan, so there were plenty of guys it could have been, not to mention all the people I didn’t know yet.
“No. Not that I know of, at least. I don’t work here.”
“Then why are you here?” If he was just visiting, then how would he know so much?
“My dad owns it. We live upstairs.” Which made me wonder…
“How old are you?” Maybe I should ask his name too. And phone number so I can call and hook up with him later.
“Eighteen last week.” Or not. That sucked. Speaking of things that sucked...The jerk who killed me – presumably the one who’d brought me to the funeral home – could have just said he was a vampire. There wasn’t a lack of willing victims. Supernatural beings were acknowledged as real in the early 2000’s and could no longer be killed just for existing. There were enough vampire freaks out there – the little Goth boys and girls dying to sleep with the Undead – that no vampire would ever have to go hungry. Thirsty. Whatever. Even when I was in high school, there were kids who would give their souls (and maybe they did, I don’t really know) to have real fang marks on their necks. It was like a hickey: a sign that somebody really, really liked you. When a vamp was thirsting for some good ole’ O negative, they just hung out in the clubs and found someone to willingly donate. Simple.
So why had this random vamp just forced me? It felt like rape, which was, at its core, a power trip for the attacker. I’d learned that in high school, too, along with Trig and Human Bio, but let’s not go there. Too painful.
I’d been calm, thinking about it all from a logical point of view, when the weight of it all hit me. The injustice crashed down on me like some freak wave, and the aftermath left me gasping, literally. The shock I felt at the intensity of it was nothing compared to the wash of rage and despair – all mixed up into one – that I experienced when I thought of what had been done to me. I’d never felt emotions this strongly before - like every cell in me was screaming with what I felt. I was completely and totally crushed.
I could hardly believe it; something as human as righteous anger and indignation had brought me to my knees and completely caught me up in its force. When I came back to myself, I realized I was crying. I had always admitted my feelings to myself and felt that feminine need to talk about them – something my brothers absolutely hated, by the way – but I had never, in my twenty years of life, been so completely crushed by anger and pain, never been brought to tears by the sheer intensity of an emotion.
Was this a vampire thing? Experiencing everything a hundredfold? God, I hoped not. If it was, I didn’t know what I would do. Virtually anything could throw me from one extreme to another. I would be more vulnerable now than I had ever been as a human. The thought calmed me a bit, made me start thinking.
This was going to be hard – forcing myself to feed on human beings every night of my…existence, being all alone the entire time, and somehow, dredging through years upon years of this, existing for all of eternity.
I was hit with another wave of emotion – fear, this time, and shock. I didn’t know where I was headed next. I only vaguely knew where I was. I had no clue what I was going to do in the next ten minutes, and the thought of even ten years like this unhinged me.
I was confused, thirsty, and dead. I wanted to be none of those three things. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help the dead part. There was no going back now. I could fix the confusion, but I found it doubtful that I would be able to process any information Argyle would be able to give me. I was too thirsty. But if I quenched my thirst, I would probably end up killing my only source of information. In its strange, perverted way, it made sense. I was trapped here already.
My fear and shock suddenly gave way to misery, and I sunk to my knees on the plush mauve funeral-home carpet and put my head in my hands. I began to bawl, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I wiped my tears away, and through my blurry, red-tinted vision, I saw that the backs of my hands were dripping red. Oh. My. God. I was crying blood! Anne Rice must have gotten something right, at least.
Nice, Adrienne, I thought. Not only was I scaring the shit out of Argyle here, but I was ruining his soft, expensive-looking carpet, too. Real nice. Yep, that’s me, the Destructor, but I was nowhere near as smiley (or nice) as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
Argyle kept giving me funny looks, like I was doing something strange. Okay, so I was, but he didn’t need to be rude about it. I stood up, and he started backing away slowly.
He couldn’t have picked a worse thing to do – his actions woke my inner predator. He smelled – and acted like – prey.
Shit. If I couldn’t control myself better than this, the poor guy was gonna end up dead. Or worse. But it was so hard, with his pulse beating faster again, the taste of his fear in the back of my mouth like some sweet candy, and my mouth all dry and cottony, to resist. The hot, burning sensation in my throat didn’t help matters much either. It felt like I was breathing fire, all the way down to my lungs, and I looked at Argyle like he was an oasis, and I was dying in the desert. I wanted to drink him up that bad. I started humming a tune, hoping to take my mind off the fact that I really, really needed to...um...grab a bite to eat.
I realized, as I sat there staring at Argyle, that I had few alternatives. I could either suck his blood (God, I even hated the sound of that) or not. Not a lot of options here.
I got up off of my knees and stood up, holding on the back of a folding chair for support, though it provided more mental support than physical. I took a deep breath as I got up. It was instinctual, but that didn’t make it any less stupid. The smell of Argyle here inflamed my senses. I was pretty sure I would die if I kept breathing in his scent.
I leaned in closer to where the scent seemed the strongest - his heart. This was going to be sooo incredibly gross, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?
“What’s your name?” I asked quietly. I should at least know whose blood I’m drinking. Yuck.
I heard his heartbeat accelerate, and he started to smell a little like dick. At least the poor sucker’ll die happy, I thought. “Byran,” He said. “Byran Lawrence.” His voice was a little breathy, like he was really, really excited. All I’d done was ask the kid his name. Had this guy ever gotten laid in his life? I mean, it wasn’t like I looked like Heidi Klum or Tyra Banks. I was 5’3”, with auburn hair, a little curvier than modern standards of beauty demand. I was nothing to pant over.
I thought I had some convincing to do, if Ar – I mean Byran – was going to be a willing donor for me. “So, Byran, how do you feel about getting sucked on?” I purposely made my voice a little huskier than normal. I thought I sounded like an idiot, but he seemed like he was enjoying himself. He probably thought I was gonna give him a blow job. No freaking way – not in this lifetime.
“Sounds good to me,” he said. “Let’s go upstairs.”
Ha. This loser – though he did look pretty fine, now that I really looked – thought I was going to sleep with him. I thought about that for a moment, and realized I didn’t even know if I could anymore. The idea made me cringe. No more sex? I would die!
Byran led me up a set of stairs. I tried to follow, but I kept pausing every few seconds to stare at some ornate bit of woodwork or a particularly beautiful detail on the Persian rugs. This Byran’s parents must have a few thousand dollars to toss around.
“Come on,” he said. His voice was deeper than it had been earlier, and I couldn’t decide whether to laugh at him – he had to be faking that, right? – or to let a moan I’d been trying to keep in. The moan was from the smell of him – his blood, I assumed – but he didn’t need to know that.
“I’m coming,” I grumbled.
“I sure hope so,” he said, laughing a little bit. Ha, ha. Very funny. Not.
“I do too,” I muttered. It was too quiet for him to hear. I wasn’t going to have sex with him, but taking blood might prove to be a little…sexual. I wasn’t sure, really. I’d heard that it was, but I’d never done it before and had never had the guts to ask a real vampire. Not that I’d ever met more than one or two in my life.
Byran led me down a hall, and we turned through a doorway. I thought, as a logical person would, that the doorway would lead to a room, and that I could get this over with. Nope. It was another hallway. “Screw it,” I said impatiently. “I’ll do you here.”
I was getting really frikkin hungry.
“In the hall?”
“Why not?” I must have sounded as amused as I suddenly felt, because he gave me a skeptical look.
I sauntered up to him, leaned in, and kissed his jaw. Byran’s back went stiff. He grabbed me and pulled me in toward him, and I let him do it. Might as well make this good. I moved my lips down to his throat, where the big pulse in his neck was beating out its erratic rhythm, quite like a bongo drum. I licked right over his artery, and gently closed my teeth over it. He made a little whimpering noise. Apparently, he liked biting. Good.
“Now,” I said, with my teeth still biting in a bit, “be a good boy and stay still. If you move too much I might hurt you.” It was supposed to be a warning.
“Yes, Mistress,” he muttered sarcastically. He thought I was joking. Well, if he died, he couldn’t say I didn’t warn him. I bit down, slicing my sharp fang teeth though the fragile skin.
His blood came quick and hot like a fountain of liquid fire. I locked my lips over the wound, and started sucking. He tasted like Heaven itself, if Heaven was as hot and ferocious as Hell and sweeter than anything here on Earth. The metallic taste coated the back of my throat, and the flavors had more spice once they hit the back of my throat, like Chai tea. Mmm. It was so good, I thought I would die. Again. My eyes rolled back in my head as I sucked harder, faster.
I stopped thinking about anything, stopped noticing anything but the taste of the blood. I wasn’t sure how much longer it would take until I was sated, but if it kept on going like this, I wouldn’t mind if it lasted all damn day.
A little whimper escaped Byran’s lips, and the sound broke my reverie. I could feel through both our clothes – he’d more than just enjoyed it. I could smell, faintly, that he was a little too…ahem…close…for comfort, if you get my drift, and I hadn’t even touched him down there. I pulled back regretfully, but not before I lapped up two stray drops from his neck.
Byran groaned and leaned up against the wall. “Sorry,” I murmured, my voice thicker from all the blood I’d took, “I guess I got a little carried away.” Judging from the noises he was making, I’d gotten more than a little bit carried away. Oops. He threw his head back, and it banged against a picture frame and knocked it down. The glass shattered with a distracting crash. I looked curiously at the picture as Byran regained lucidity and scrambled to pick up the shimmering shards of glass.
It was an old sepia of a family – mom, dad, three girls, and two boys. The mother was very, very pregnant. The seven of them were standing in front of a small house in the country. A weeping willow lent its shade to the vegetable garden off to the side. It was sweet, and I bent down to pick it up.
“No, no, let me do that. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t be such a klutz. Oh, god, the old man will kill me if I don’t fix it.” Byran babbled when he was nervous. Interesting.
“How are you supposed to fix broken glass?” I made my voice pleasant and friendly, like I hadn’t just made him come in his pants. The tone was the same one I’d use for a friendly cashier at the Wal-Mart. Distant and polite. “Don’t worry about it. The frame and the picture are alright, aren’t they? It’ll be fine.”
“B-but - ” he stuttered. Very nervous. Why?
I grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him gently. His eyes focused on me. Eventually. “Come on,” I said. “Let’s go.”
“I’m leaving, and you’re coming with.” The second it left my mouth, I realized how utterly stupid that was. If Byran of the Ugly Argyle was going to be panting over me the whole time, he would be more of a hindrance than a help to me. Unless he wanted to feed me again.
“Where are we going?” He apparently didn’t like to repeat himself, because he sounded impatient.
“Honestly? No idea.” Honesty seemed the best policy here – maybe I could dissuade him from coming with if he realized that we’d pretty much be wandering around aimlessly until I could get my shit together.
“Cool. Let me get my bag.” Byran shook out his dark hair and ducked into a nearby doorway. Did that mean I could’ve waited like three seconds and done this in a bedroom?
“Wait just a second,” Byran yelled from the other room. “I’ll be done in a minute.”
I couldn’t believe myself. Now I was stuck with a horny eighteen-year-old for God knows how long. All because of my big mouth. I really hated myself sometimes.
"Well, Adrienne -" Byran began.How'd he know my name? Oh yeah. I was dead. He'd probably seen my death certificate.
"Rie," I interrupted.
"Don't call me Adrienne. That's my grandpa's name. I'm Rie." I'd only ever used that name in my head, but I had been reborn, so to speak, and I figured that meant I could pick any name I wanted. And if I was choosing, Adrienne Celeste Tyler was so not the name I would pick for myself.
"Okay, then... Rie. When are we leaving?" He had a backpack slung over one shoulder, a cell phone and iPod in one hand and a box of Trojans in the other. So much for not getting the kid's hopes up.
"Not until you write your mother a note explaining why you're gone." I didn't want his parents to sic the cops on me because I took their baby boy away.
"She won't get it anyway. Let's go. I'm eighteen, I can do whatever the hell I want."
Okay, so I had a rebellious horny eighteen year old on my hands. I could deal with that. Just needed to make sure he knew the rules, is all. "Rie's rule number one. No drugs. You take anything stronger than Ny-Quil?"
"Um...no?" He made it sound like a question, and I didn't like that.
"Not anymore you don't. I catch you with anything, I'll dump you faster than you can say 'Argyle.'" Judging from the look on his face, he hadn't understood that I was referring to his fashion sense. Too bad. "Rule two: no girls. Sorry, but I don't want to wake up in the morning to see you fucking some random girl. I'm not a voyeur, and I don't particularily enjoy watching."
Byran laughed. "That's not gonna be a problem. I have one question, though." I gestured as if to say, Continue. "What about guys?" I was puzzled, to say the least. He obviously wasn't gay. "That was the first time I've ever done anything with a girl," he said, as if he'd read my mind. "The first time I've ever wanted to."
"I feel special," I said, and I meant it.
"Honey, believe me, you are." He sounded like he meant it, too. He reached up and touched his neck, one of those awkward things people do when they're nervous. He got a funny look on his face, then slowly pulled his hand away. His fingers were bloody.