The Reluctant Vampire
Part 1: The Death of Master Ka'lath
Copyright© 2004 by MasterDavid
Vampires Sex Story: Part 1: The Death of Master Ka'lath - This is a story about death. Many romanticize the vampire and its immortal longing for blood, but pity the reluctant vampire, taken and turned more for spite than any other reason. The reluctant vampire does not romanticize his fate, but sees it in all its stark reality... a life whose passion does not focus on love or sex, but on hunting, killing, and draining the blood of the humans unlucky enough to be considered perfect prey.
We stood on the roof of our apartment building, looking down at the glowing street-lamps and the scattered groups and couples making their way to or from one of the many restaurants and bars up and down the sidewalks.
"Look at them!" Ka'lath sneered, sweeping his arm from side to side. "Cattle is what they are, grazing and lowing in pastures of the city, until the time comes for their masters to feed! Can't you smell their hot blood even from here?"
I refused to give him the satisfaction of answering, instead placing my foot on the parapet surrounding the roof and fixing my gaze on the street below. As I ignored him and his question, he studied me with a raised eyebrow... then let loose with an explosive burst of laughter, his head bobbing up and down, fangs flashing as it caught the light on the roof.
"Still angry, are we?" he managed to ask through his laughter. "I often wonder if there will ever be a vampire created that doesn't think he knows more than his creator when first reborn. And then, when they find themselves in that first hunt, on the verge of their first kill, and find themselves unready for the reality of it... when the prey manages to scream and run, and you find yourself frozen for a moment, unable to give chase... when all your 'Look into my eyes' fantasies suddenly fall away and you know that to be a vampire means to grab, to subdue, to bite, and to drain in one swift and violent moment... that is when you suddenly become like some sullen teenager who blames his parent when they get into trouble." His laughter died, and his visage became stern. "I told you that you should not hunt alone that night... that you needed me to at least go with you the first time, to help and teach you. But no! You wouldn't listen, and in the end their proved to be too much human left in you to kill for the blood you desired! So you went, and you failed, and I was there, and I stopped the screaming girl before she could get away, and I brought her back to you... and now you feel you have the right to be angry?" He grabbed my shoulder and squeezed, a grip that promised exquisite pain if only increased a bit more. "You have NO RIGHT to be angry!" he thundered, releasing his grip and flinging me to the ground. Standing over me, he put his boot to my throat, seeming not to press down at all, yet pinning me more solidly than if I had been tied to stakes. "Like all the young ones, you hear but you fail to listen. Those that have come before have found out, though... they've listened and learned, or found a stake or a ray of sunlight for their trouble." He suddenly removed his foot from my neck, whirling around to return his eyes to the street below.
Without facing me, he muttered, "You will learn, young vampire... or you will die. The choice is yours."
The silence stretched between for several minutes, as I lay massaging my throat. Then, without realizing I had even thought about doing so, I was standing beside him again; my mind was still at odds with my new reflexes, which were so fast that my body seemed to move with a will of its own. Still, I made no sound, no additional movement; I simply stood looking down, waiting to hear whatever he might choose to say.
After a few more minutes he nodded, apparently mollified. "Know this, then. You were right to choose the woman you did, and the time and place of your choosing was solidly done. However, you are yet young, and still coming into your powers. You may feel strong, even invincible, but you are not yet able enough to toy with your prey. Even such as I, a vampire for nearly three centuries, do not often do more than select the source of my meal, and then quickly take what I want from them. We hunt to survive, youngling... and our survival methods are brutal and bloody... catch them, bite them, drain them, and leave their corpses out of sight. These are the rules of the night hunter on the streets of the city."
He paused for a moment, still scanning the sidewalks. When he spoke again, his voice had a distant quality, like he was speaking his thoughts aloud. "But I understand what you did, and why you did it. We hunt, and we kill... it is stark and ruthless and cold, and there is no more art to it than a man with bludgeon hitting someone over the head. Sometimes, we wish for more... more light, more substance, more depth. We wish to take that which merely is and take it to some other level. We wish to stop being hunters, and somehow become artists... artists who emerge from the shadow, the human body our tapestry, their blood our medium, and their death the subject which we wish to elevate to art.
He looked over at me, as my eyes stayed glued on the street. "More than that, I have observed the behavior of our various brethren for years on end, and I have observed that there is something inside us that rarely acknowledge. Put simply, it is that the blood tastes better when given most unwillingly."
I cocked my head toward him, meeting his eyes. "There are far too many in this world who wish they could be what we are, who hope beyond hope that one of us might swoop in and give them the gift, or curse, of eternal life. Others are natural born victims, and, when we move from the shadows to take them, they give up immediately, yielding with no thought of trying to escape.
"But... there are others. Those you see walk down the street, full of confidence and defiance; they radiate and energy that says 'I cannot be defeated!' For a vampire, such a thing is like catnip. It attracts us like no other scent, because, if the aura is real, the blood seems to taste so much better once our fangs have been set. There have been some who, once cornered, turn out to be posers... they beg for their lives and piss their pants when they realize there is no mercy forthcoming.
"But the true fighters... ahhh, their blood is the richest of all. Even knowing that they cannot escape, they fight physically and mentally, not giving up even to the moment their essence fades away. Their blood tastes like triumph, like victory... like conquest. And so, as we watch so many pass by daily, we sense those few who we know will not beg, will not concede, will not cower... and we covet them. We watch them and learn about them, and wait until the time is right...
"And then we take them, draining them until nothing is left, the blood seeming somehow more potent, more powerful, more revitalizing. It sings to us as it flows through our bodies, and we always crave more. Except... these are rare creatures, and, like an endangered species, must be cared for and husbanded and managed, so that they will not completely die out.
His eyes bore into mine like laser beams. "You wanted that, for your first kill. You sensed her fight, her fire, and you wanted that blood inside you. But you weren't ready for how she fought, and you thereby learned an important early lesson." He grinned mirthlessly. "Don't play with your food. Catch it, bite it, drain it, discard it. Wait until you are at least my age before you go chasing after things that might decide to bite... you... back..."
His gaze was captured by someone on the street, and I immediately saw the woman who had caught his attention. She didn't walk up the sidewalk as much as she strutted; her stiletto-heeled leather boots beat a fast cadence on the concrete. In one glance, I took in many things about her... long red hair down her back, exquisite curves at both the breast and the bottom, dressed to thrill in a short leather skirt, leather bustier, and black leather jacket. Her aura, however, held both promise and peril... as she walked, her body exuded undeniable sex appeal, attracting most male and some female glances. But that same body language also plainly said "Look, but don't touch," and promised hell-to-pay if that warning was disregarded.
Ka'lath watched her walk like a human might watch a finely prepared steak on a plate headed for someone else's table, his hunger for the woman radiating from him. Here was the true embodiment of what he had just lectured me about... the aura, the confidence, the attraction. Yet, in his face was a confusion that I had never seen before. He stared as the woman walked up the sidewalk and shook his head, muttering softly, "How can such a thing be?" His fingers dug into my arm like small bands of steel as he watched this morsel stroll toward the cross street... then suddenly turn down the alley between the two buildings across from us. He seemed at war with himself, trying to keep from chasing after the very thing he had just warned me against. Finally, he pulled me toward him, his voice raw and hoarse, and he spoke quietly into my ear.
"Remember what I have told you, young one. Watch and learn. Tonight, you will see a master vampire hunt the ultimate prize.
"Tonight, I will taste again the richness and power of unwilling blood... blood that is not given up... but taken by force. The sweetest blood there has ever been."
Then he was gone, his passage marked only by the slight breeze that brushed my left side as he seemed to disappear.
I stood still for a moment on the roof, letting my enhanced senses trace the path that Ka'lath used to make his way over the street to the rooftop across the way. Then, knowing he wished me to follow, I mimicked his steps, though much more slowly.
He was right of course - I still had a lot to learn, much to adjust to. But, of one thing I was absolutely certain.
I loathe being a vampire with every iota of my being. It would never have been my choice to be forever damned to wander the night, forced to drink human blood to survive. But then, Ka'lath had given me no choice.
As I picked my way across the telephone lines that connected the rooftops, I thought back to the fateful night on which Ka'lath plucked me from my normal existence and turned me into a creature of the night.
It had been a beautiful night for a walk. Mary, my sweet Mary... we had eaten at Luigi's just a block from our apartment, and we decided a short walk around the neighborhood might help us find a way to keep all the good pasta we'd eaten from turning to fat. We had walked many times along these sidewalks, and had no reason to think that this trip would be any less engaging than those others.
Ka'lath told me later that it was Mary's laughter that attracted him that night. I remember still how I told some vaguely funny story, and it caught her fancy to the point she threw back her head and laughed aloud. I saw the gleam in her eyes, and basked in the glory of her love and good humor, and knew all was right in my world.
Except, there was no one on the sidewalk but the two of us, and the light from the street-lamps was dim. And then, suddenly, he stood in front of us.
It is still hard for me to remember much of the detail of that encounter. I saw nothing of our attacker's face, and only had time to register the slight movement of his hand before I was on my back on the sidewalk, my jaw feeling as if it had been broken. Ka'lath told me later he struck me a light blow to the side of my face, aiming to incapacitate me while he fed. Yet, somehow, I was able to raise my head despite the pain of any slight movement. What I saw more than likely would have struck another man frozen in fear.
Our assailant had walked up to Mary and had drawn her into his arms, turning his back to me since he thought I was no threat. I vaguely remember that at one point she had been screaming, but as I looked at her now, she seemed very calm, even placid, her arms hanging limply at her sides. My very first thought was that he had knocked her unconscious, perhaps meaning to rape her. In thinking that, the blurriness in my vision started to clear; in fact, the adrenaline that suddenly pumped its way through my body allowed me to rise to feet and lurch toward the man embracing my woman.
My thoughts raced, seeking to find some way to attack someone who had swatted me aside as if I was an insect. Looking around for a weapon, I saw nothing I thought I could lift that would stealthy enough to catch him unaware. I knew that sooner or later he would sense that I was no longer lying on the ground, so I had to move quickly. His head was starting to dip toward Mary's neck, and the thought of his lips touching her fair skin finally pushed me into action. Like Pete Rose heading for second looking to stretch a single into a double, I ran across the short distance separating us and dived headfirst into the back of his legs.
Our (to that point) unknown attacker fell backward on top of me, pinning me to the ground. However, in trying momentarily to retain his footing, he had let go of Mary, and she slumped to the ground in front of me. Looping my arms over his legs in hopes of keeping him from rising, I yelled, "Run, Mary! Get the hell out of here and get the police! Godammit, get up and run!"
However, instead of moving, she lay still, her body limp, her eyes glazed. In the dim glow of a light above one of the nearby stoops, I could see a faint smile on her lips. It was the very last thing I would remember clearly.
Despite my best efforts, I could not hold the black-clad man more than a few seconds. He easily broke the grasp I had on his legs, springing back to his feet as my hands flailed uselessly for a grip on his pants. He turned around and, with one hand, hoisted me to my feet, using the back of my jacket to haul me up. His free hand grasped me by the front of my shirt, drawing me closer to him until we were nose to nose. In those few seconds it took to go from on the ground to mere inches from his face, I came to know that this was no ordinary street thug. When I looked into that face, all I could think was that a minion of Hell had come to Earth, and now it was about to kill me.
I suppose the romantic image of a vampire is one of wicked beauty and sexuality, movie idol looks that only hints at the beast inside. However, though I did not know what it was that was holding me inches off the sidewalk by the front of my shirt, my first thought was not vampire, but Klingon! To see this face was to truly think of a Star Trek character come to life! The crown of its head seemed raised, with something akin to small spikes sticking from it; the rest of the face was brown and wrinkled, with a black goatee surrounding its mouth and covering its chin. Its mouth, slightly open, showed wickedly gnarled teeth; as it opened wider, two long curved fangs popped into view from under its upper lip. And its breath, hot and damp, smelled like you might expect an old slaughterhouse to stink, the rotten stench of old blood washing over me like a cloud. In that moment - that single instant in which the demon before me seemed to be evaluating me like a butcher might eye a side of beef - I realized that, no matter what, I was going to die.
But perhaps Mary might still have a chance... if I could do something to keep this monster's attention.
So I spit in its face.
A moment later I found myself traveling backward through the air, until my back and head impacted solidly with what must have been a brick wall. I slid down to the ground, unable to move; I felt like a rag doll that had been discarded by a child, as I could not control any part of my body. Somehow I had landed in such a way that kept my head up, so I could see the demon beast coming toward me, wiping my spittle from his face as he did. He looked down at me, broken and floppy, and bared his fangs in what I took to be a triumphant smile. Bending down, he took my chin in his hand and turned my face to lock eyes with him once more. With a sound like two rocks grinding together under pressure, I heard its voice for the first time.
"Did you really think you could do anything to hurt me? You, a puny human being with no higher purpose in life than to become my food, should I choose to take you? You never had any chance, mortal! And what has your foolish action availed you? Nothing! Your body is likely broken in several places, never to mend; if you survive this night, you will always be crippled, a burden either to those who love you or to the state that might shelter you. The best you could hope for is death... which is why I will not give you death. That you dared to touch me means you should be punished, and your punishment will be to not die at my hands tonight!"
As he spoke, I saw movement behind him. Though I couldn't move my head, his stance gave me a clear view between his legs to where before Mary had lain unmoving. Now, though, she began to stir, and I knew that perhaps my hope for her escape might still be realized... if I could keep his focus on me.
I could not move, but it seemed I could use my vocal chords. Knowing I had only one chance left, I did what I had always done before in the face of bullies and braggarts.
Looking him deep in the eyes, I began to laugh. Haltingly at first, and then more easily as I got my breath, I started with a chuckle and managed to work my way up to hearty guffaw. His eyes began to flick back and forth, wondering what kind of madness had overcome me, that I would laugh so at such a moment.
Slowly, Mary got to her feet. She was disoriented and weak, but she could walk. I could see her face, her eyes wide with fear as she saw the beast standing over me in the shadows, but perhaps some part of her had heard my shout earlier. She hesitated only a moment, then turned and starting running toward the nearest cross-street, hoping to find someone... anyone... who might be able to help us.
Perhaps, if she had been wearing sneakers, she might have gotten away.
Instead, the loud slap of her heeled pumps against the concrete of the sidewalk alerted the beast to her escape. I had allowed myself a triumphant grin, thinking that Mary, with a head start, could outrun any pursuit at least long enough to find shelter or, if extremely lucky, a cop. However, the smile was barely formed on my lips before my head was flopping down and to the side, my chin having been released by our attacker. All I could register was that he was gone, no longer standing in front of me, and I had a small hope that perhaps he'd been scared away by thoughts of discovery of capture.
Not three seconds later, I heard Mary yell, "NOOOOOOO!" followed by a shriek of pain. And then there was a stillness, broken only by the sound of something being dragged along the sidewalk, getting louder as got nearer to me.
Much like the first time, our assailant came toward me, bearing its fangs. As it got closer, I could see it was dragging something. It slowly came into focus as it walked nearer: the blond hair that it had wrapped around its hand to use as a handle; the unresponsive form that trailed behind with no reaction despite the abrasion of concrete against skin.
In the space of a few heartbeats, it had caught and subdued Mary. And now we were both at its mercy.
Once he reached the place where I rested against the wall, he knelt beside me, Mary's hair still wrapped around his hand. "Perhaps I underestimated you, human. If your woman had had the common sense to remove her shoes as she ran, she might have been able to escape my grasp. But now, given that you have tried to thwart my desires twice this evening, another punishment must be levied. And this one shall be forever burned upon your mortal conscience."
Turning his attention to Mary, he laid her on the sidewalk on her back, and then scooped her up into his arms. He let her legs fall toward the ground, catching her around the waist so that she was in a standing position, even though her feet didn't touch the ground. And thus, he held her in the same way he had when I tackled him from behind... only this time I could see everything he was doing, just as he intended.
Tilting her head back slightly, he exposed her neck. Bowing his own head, he nuzzled the flesh to the left of her Adam's apple, caressing it with his lips. Suddenly, he stopped moving, as if he found the one particular spot he'd been searching for. Raising his head, he looked down at me, his eyes boring a hole in me with their look of frenzied lust. He opened his mouth until his fangs were fully visible, flashing in the dim light.
And then he plunged them deep into Mary's neck, biting into the carotid artery, and suddenly it all became clear to me. Our assailant wasn't just some madman, nor was he an alien, nor was he a demon from Hell. He was the living embodiment of Bram Stoker.
He was a vampire... and he was feeding on Mary's blood.
It took only a few minutes from first to last. Near the end, she trembled, briefly, and then was still. Not long after, he removed his lips from her neck and turned toward me, smiling. The fresh blood coated his mouth and teeth, leaving trails of red across his beard; some of the excess dripped from his chin onto Mary's white blouse.
He looked at me, but I could only see the gaping wound in her neck where he had sucked her life away. He shifted slightly, and her head flopped over until her chin rested on her left shoulder. Her eyes stared at me, empty of the laughter and intelligence they had always held before. It was like he had not only stolen her blood, but had taken her very soul.
With surprising gentleness, he eased her body to the sidewalk, murmuring some words in a language I could not understand. Still bending over her, he touched his hand to her head and closed his eyes for a moment; then he slid his hand over her eyes, and when he removed it, they were both shut. Her body looked peaceful in the dim light... peaceful, if somehow you could ignore the jagged hole in her neck through which her life's blood had been removed.
While I looked at her, he stood and walked the few steps it took to tower over me once again. I knew I was weeping, but he somehow took my tears as a sign that I was thinking about my own helplessness, instead of how Mary was dead.
"Sniveler!" he snorted dismissively. "Coward! So brave for a few moments, but now you cower and cry, thinking that you might be next. But don't cry little mortal! I'm not going to feed on you like I fed on your woman. No, it would hardly be a good punishment if I didn't let you live with the memories of what I've done to you tonight. Perhaps you'll find some other to end your life, some day when you've convinced yourself that you just can't live with what's inside your head anymore. But that night is not this night!"
As he spoke, I felt my grief being overcome and then completely drowned by a surge of pure, animalistic rage. Moments earlier, I would have thought myself incapable of any movement, perhaps even paralyzed for life. And yet, as the monster taunted and berated me, at least some of my nerves and muscles proved to be still in working condition. Looking up at him... letting myself be filled with a hatred so intense that it threatened to burn me from the inside out... my arms began to wave wildly, my hands formed into claws that sought to hook into anything they could use to get me to my feet.
The vampire was clearly taken aback as he watched the seemingly futile motions I was making. His hard words of moments before were replaced by incredulous silence, and he took a step away from me, as if suddenly desiring to put some distance between himself and my suddenly animated body.
I really did not believe I could stand up; both my legs radiated the kind of pain that made me think there was at least one bone broken in each. And yet, in my head, I had only one image, one inescapable overriding thought... my hands around its neck. And my body was doing its best to oblige me. Suddenly, one of my hands latched onto a metal pipe - a gas line of some type, poking up out of the ground at the side of the building. I managed to pull myself closer to it, inching my way along until I could get a grasp on it with both hands. The pipe ran parallel to the ground for about two feet before burying itself in the ground again, and was no more than a foot high at its highest point. With steady pulling, I managed to get my chest on top of the flat part of the pipe, my body arranged behind me looking like a man on his knees trying to do a very poor pushup. But push up I did! I pushed with my arms until I could swing my knees level with the top of the pipe; I carefully balanced my weight, bracing my hands against the side of the building to keep me in place. I could just reach the edge of a barred window, and I grasped two of the bars and pulled upward even further, until finally I felt my feet touching the ground. Slowly, I eased my weight onto my legs, releasing the tension in my arms until I was only holding on to the bars to steady myself. Though the pain was tremendous, I blocked it out by continuing to feed on the rage that was somehow enabling me to move. By holding on with one hand and shuffling my feet slowly in a circle, I was able to stand and face the monster that had killed the woman I loved.
He eyed me curiously, unafraid but cautious. It was clear that I was not what he expected, though it was clear from his relaxed posture that he felt he was more than a match for me. However, all I could see at that moment through the red haze of my anger was a vaguely human form that I truly wanted to destroy.
"Sniveler, am I?" I asked, my voice quavering from the effort of getting to my feet, as well as the emotion gripping me. "Coward too? Perhaps now that I'm on my feet, I should just run away home, so I can try to forget what you've done to destroy me!" I managed to take a step closer to him, using the window bars to help take away some of the weight my legs couldn't carry. "There is only one thing on my mind right now, monster, just one thing I want from you, and whether I live or die is irrelevant. You have taken the blood of my love. I want it BACK!"
Having braced myself as best I could, I dove forward, hoping to drive him down under me. Perhaps, if I had been able to think clearly, I would have known such a thing was futile, as I could not hope to hold him even if I managed to tackle him.
Of course, I never got anywhere near him. Without even seeming to move, he sidestepped my clumsy lunge, and I sprawled face first on the sidewalk. Suddenly, the rage that had fueled my last bit of defiance slid away, and I lay shivering, waiting for him to step on me and squash me underfoot like some giant cockroach.
What I didn't expect was for him to squat down beside me, turning me over without any seeming effort. As he looked down at me, I could see admiration and contempt fighting a battle in his eyes; ultimately, admiration won.
"I misjudged you, mortal. You likely knew you could not defeat me, nor probably even hurt me, yet you made one last effort to reach me and get some measure of revenge. Such a thing is unique, in my experience, and deserves to be lauded. And yet..." His eyes darkened, and he grasped me by my shirt and pulled me upward. "You have defied me for yet a third time tonight, and again I find I need to punish you. Yet, were I to kill you, it would hardly be a punishment, for you would be at peace, no longer having to think about any of the exquisite pain that has been given and received here. No, the true punishment would be if I allowed you to have that pain every night, not just for the rest of your mortal life, but forever and ever and ever."
He pulled me closer, putting his arm under my shoulder blades; unable to hold up my head, my neck was clearly exposed to his gaze. "I don't know what kind of mortal you were... but we're both about to find out what kind of immortal you might be."
Without another word, he drove his fangs down into my throat. I felt the pain blossom as his fangs tore into my skin, seeking the rich blood just underneath. I remember being surprised that it didn't hurt more, that the sucking of his lips against my neck actually was not altogether unpleasant. Then, my vision began to tunnel, as if I was falling backward through a well, not knowing if I would ever get to the bottom. I knew I was cold, and I could hear my heartbeat slowing... thump thump... thump... thummmmp... thummmmmmp... Then there was something being poured into my mouth, a warm liquid with a slight metallic taste. I didn't want it, tried to spit it back out, but it kept pouring in and I had no choice but to swallow. And, after the first swallow... I wanted more. So I drank... and drank... and drank, until he would let me drink no more.
The last thing I remembered was being picked up and carried away from where Mary's body lay. I could not protest, could not move or speak, but in some way he knew what I was thinking.
My last conscious memory was of the vampire saying, "That is now your past, young one. You know have forever to decide how you choose to remember it."
I awoke the next night in a dark basement, alone. I knew from the moment I opened my eyes that I had changed.
I could see everything in the room clearly... even though there was no light.
Seeing in the dark is a great skill to have, especially when you're trying to track another vampire across obstacle-laden rooftops at high speed. Generally, if a master vampire like Ka'lath doesn't want to be seen, he can seem invisible, even to another vampire. However, it was obvious that he wanted me to follow him, as I would look up from two rooftops behind and see him standing and looking back at me, so still as to seem carved from a single block of obsidian. Then, the moment he knew I had seen him, he would disappear again, and I would work my way toward the place where he had just been.
He had given me life as a vampire as a punishment, he said. Yet, having turned me, I also became his obligation, his ward, and his pupil. It was not a task that really suited him, as I found out the night I first opened my eyes as a vampire.
I heard a lock being opened outside room, and the hinges of the old wooden door creaked sourly as he pushed it inward. Without a word of greeting or concern, he tossed a leather bladder toward the cot I was laying on, saying only: "Drink." Then he left again, locking the door behind him.
I opened the flask and was immediately assailed by the same smell I remembered from the night before... a smell that triggered a memory of metallic-tasting liquid on the back of my tongue. Before, I might have wondered what was in the flask, without the proper sense memory to place it. But now... now, hunger rose within me, an utterly mad hunger that threatened to swamp all logic and sense I possessed in order to drink what was inside the leather pouch.
That was only natural, I reasoned, and in reasoning managed to beat back the ravenous hunger for a moment. Lust for fresh blood is normal... for a vampire.
Then the hunger overwhelmed my reason, and in a few hasty swallows, the container was empty. Its appetite only whetted, the beast that was blood lust grumbled a bit, then settled into watchfulness, perhaps hoping that another bladder of blood would soon materialize. In that, it was thwarted; I remained lying on the bed, undisturbed, until the onset of the natural day forced sleep upon me.
The next night, Ka'lath was already in the room when I awoke, and he handed me another leather flask, which I uncapped and downed like a homeless drunk who has found a half bottle of Thunderbird behind a dumpster. When the bladder was empty, I tossed it angrily onto the floor. Up to that moment, the only sound in the room had been my frantic slurping and sucking at the mouth of the bladder, trying to drain it to the last drop. Now however, an angry, animal growl filled my ears, frightening in its intensity and menace. I quickly looked over at my jailer, searching his face and eyes, but he remained impassive; there was no sign that the sound was coming from him.
And, since we were alone in the room, there was only one other who could be making the noise... me! Looking inward, I realized that I was no longer alone in my head; it seemed like my personality had been cleaved in two, roughly divided into everything that was me BV (before vampire) and the two days since. The AV version of me seemed analytical and emotionally distant; it seemed impervious to things such as sadness or fright, and only sought to bring order to chaotic thoughts and memories. Whatever emotion I might still possess seemed locked behind a wall, housed in what I had been; I could sense that the man I had been two days before was revolted by the growl that had come from my own throat, afraid of it and what it might mean. Yet that emotion seemed like it was wrapped in dozen blankets, muffled and indistinct... an echo of a feeling rather than an actual one. But I could feel something; deeper inside, I sensed a throb within me... a bestial strength, excited and longing for the taste of blood, and growling because there was no more.
A fanciful image suddenly flashed through my mind. I could see myself standing in a walled garden behind an old, antebellum mansion. I was dressed all in black, my skin pale as moonlight. I could hear a banging noise coming from above me and, looking up, I could see... me! The me of BV, rosy cheeked and dressed in khaki and tweed, as I had always preferred. The old me hammered at the window, trying to get my attention, gesturing wildly toward the wall that surrounded the garden. I couldn't hear his voice, but his mouth seemed to be forming the words "Look out!" I turned, and could see a door in the wall starting to swing inward. And though I could not see who or what was pushing the door, I could hear an angry, rumbling growl of the same sort that had so recently come from my own mouth. In my mind, I stood waiting, wondering if what was coming through the door was coming to meet me... or eat me?
My reverie was interrupted by a blur of movement by my captor. By the time my eyes were upon him, he was standing in the same place, but now he had the discarded bladder in his hands. As our eyes met, the corners of his lips turned upward slightly.
"So, young vampire," he began, "the blood beast within you is already awakened? I thought perhaps, given the circumstances, that you might at least try to resist its lure, if only in mourning for your woman."
'MARY!' The thought screamed through my brain, tinged with sadness and anger. And yet, the acid taste of those emotions washed away quickly, numbed as if by novocaine. It was as if I was seeing a photograph of a traumatic scene years after it had happened; I could remember what happened in vivid detail, yet the emotions attached to it seemed faded and out of reach. I could remember Mary's death, and know I was supposed to mourn it and be angry about it... yet somehow it was beyond my ability to do so.
I looked up at my tormentor, wide-eyed and questioning my feelings... or lack thereof. He bared his fangs in humorless smile. "Such a devious punishment, isn't it? If I had left you alive and mortal, at least you would still have your anger and grief and all the rest of the emotions you might have used to remember your good and loving woman. Instead, you now suffer the curse of the vampire... your emotions connect only to yourself. You feel nothing or next to nothing for others' pain and suffering. Your anger or fear or desire for vengeance now all surround your needs and wants - the primal urges of survival. When you get what you want, you feel sated and content. When you don't, the predator in you rises, seeking satisfaction." He looked down at me, his eyes conveying the barest hint of sympathy. "This, then, is the worst punishment of all. To know that you have lost something and that you should feel its loss severely... but to be unable to, for the rest of your very unnatural life. Mortals by the score beg for the gift I have given you, to die only to live again forever at night. But, for you, the kiss of immortality is just what I promised - your curse. You shall always know that I have taken from you something very precious - not just the woman that you loved, but the ability to remember what that love felt like, and the grief and anger that should flow from her loss. You will never forget her... but you will never finish mourning her, because you no longer have a way to do so."
I looked away from him, trying to deny his terse summary... trying to summon some fury for both Mary and myself. But the only anger I could find was that of wanting more blood, and not getting it. To the beast awakening inside me, blood mattered... survival mattered. To care about anything else was useless, a waste of time and energy that could be dedicated to finding more blood... and so it had to be eliminated. Not the memories - only the emotions attached to them. I mean, didn't it make perfect sense? Memories are only a problem if you dwell on them, dredging up the grief and anger and wallowing in the self-pity such emotions often bring forth. But a vampire can't afford to wallow - his self-preservation depends on always paying attention to what's happening around him... to listen, observe, maintaining unnatural stillness, and then striking quickly and silently to dispatch the next victim. Emotions... especially those tied to an already dead past... only get in the way.
Sitting there looking at the floor, I realized that the man I had been was truly dead, replaced by a fanged corpse that only looked like me. At that moment, I understood what the phrase "hell on Earth" might really mean.
I felt something touch my shoulder, and looked up to find the other vampire standing next to me, patting me like one might console an acquaintance at a funeral. "I have taken from you, young vampire... your woman, your blood, your life, and your pain. I do not regret any of it, for I needed the blood to survive, and needed to punish you for your insolent challenge. Indeed, in your hopeless challenge, you became less my prey than my enemy, and I have always thought that one should keep friends close, but enemies closer." His lips parted in a small smile. "But, to create another vampire is to take on a responsibility, at least in my eyes. I must feed you until you have become accustomed to your new body, and then I must teach you to hunt. It falls to me to give you the benefit of my centuries of knowledge in the ways to survive and thrive in the world of humans. No matter how much I wished to punish you before, now I must teach you, so that you will not kill yourself too soon, or expose the existence of vampires to the rest of the world." His grip tightened on my shoulder momentarily, and I suddenly found myself on my feet, my right hand gripped tightly in his.
"I am Ka'lath, a vampire nearly for nearly three centuries, and willing to call myself a master vampire for only a small portion of that time. To answer a question I know you will ask eventually, you are the seventh vampire I have created to this point, and, though you should feel honored, I know you will instead feel only loathing, as all your predecessors have. Just like you, they did not go willingly into this forever night. However, reluctant or not, they all learned, and they all but one still survives... and if you learn, you too may survive." He paused for a moment, looking me over from head to toe, and then looked me in the eye again. "There will come a time when you may wish to choose a name to mark the vampire you are, as opposed to the human you were. But, for now, your mortal name will do. So tell me... who are you?"
I rolled my name around in mouth for a moment, thinking that it seemed to belong to someone else now, a rapidly fading echo from the past. "Robert," I finally said. "My name is Robert."
Ka'lath pumped my hand once in acknowledgement. "Well met, Robert, reluctant vampire. May your days be filled with sleep, and your nights filled with blood."
For the next two weeks, I stayed in the room in the basement of the apartment building he owned. Each night he would bring me a bladder full of blood, though he insisted that I no longer drink from the neck. Instead, he had me bare my fangs and sink them through the leather to reach the warm blood within. Training, he called it.
He also attempted to get me in tune with the power and speed of my vampire body. He sparred gently with me at first, not wanting to overpower or damage me. By the end of the first week, though he could still cut through my defenses at will, he at least had to use the lower end of his vampire strength and agility to do so. By the same token, my own attempts to punch him were futile, but everyday I seemed to move a bit faster, my hands blurring through the air almost faster than I could see.
Once he was satisfied with that night's physical activity, he would tell me things he thought I should know about life as a vampire. Some of the human lore as regards things vampire were true - sunlight, stakes (or any other object, for that matter!) through the heart, decapitation, fire... all these things would result in the physical end of a vampire. We were hard to capture in photographs because we could move so quickly that the image could not hold us. Our reflections could be seen in mirrors, but only if we stood completely motionless. We were stronger and faster than any living mortal, and only grew in our powers as time progressed. If we chose to stand fast in one place, we could root ourselves to the ground more powerfully than an ancient redwood. And, like the legend, we could, as we grew older, cloud the minds of humans, turning aside their resistance and making them into docile victims.
"But then, why didn't you 'cloud' my mind?" I asked, thinking back to that night.
"For one thing, I thought that my first blow had made you unconscious... obviously, a mistake on my part. For another, I was concentrating on your woman, and it is hard to cloud multiple minds at the same time. And, for the most part, once I realized that you were indeed conscious, I decided that I wanted you to see what was going to happen. You see, while a vampire hungers for blood, after a century or so, he also begins to crave something else. While he cannot feel deep emotion himself, he can often sense it in others... it radiates from them, an invisible yet desired well of feeling. So, eventually, it becomes not just about the blood, but about the infliction of pain, and the extension of anguish. The primal emotions - terror and anger - fill some need in us that cannot be filled otherwise. And so, after you've hunted and bled so many humans, you no longer hunt just to feed. You find yourself prolonging the kill, not bothering to cloud the mind at all because you want to look into their eyes and see the terror, want to feel the fear rolling off them in cold waves. You inflict pain, and you sense it inside them like acid, eating away the fear, letting it give way to anger and frustration at being unable to fight, unable to run. And, eventually, you tear into the throat, and feel the life ebbing from them... and, at some point, they simply surrender to their fate, usually voiding their bladder and bowels in the process, as they hang limply in your grasp. At that point, you know you have tasted and taken every bit of them, that you have drained them not only of their blood... but of their very heart and soul. The first time that happens is when you truly ascend to the essence of being a vampire." He leaned closer to me, gripping my leg as he pierced me with his eyes. "When you not only plunder the body," he whispered softly, "but take all that is inside as well."
The next night, he let himself into the small room and dropped a bundle of clothes on the bed... black pants, black shirt, black shoes. "Get dressed," he said quietly.
"Tonight, you will watch me hunt."