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Posted: Dec 30 2011, 09:47 PM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 27-January 05
I feel it deep within, it's just beneath the skin
I must confess that I feel like a monster
I hate what I've become, the nightmare's just begun
I must confess that I feel like a monster
--Monster by Skillet
"Dear God in heaven ... what happened?"
I awake to a burning, deep in my chest, alone, in the dark. Groaning, I slowly pull myself on hands and knees from the pile of refuse where, from the aches in my muscles, I figure I've been laying for some time. The stench at the back of the alley . . .
Oh yeah. The alley. Coming back now.
. . . is sickening.
Smells like I'm not the only thing to have been dumped here, and left for dead.
Shifting about to a sitting position, I press the heels of my hands against my head, eyes closed, attempting to remember what happened.
There was a . . . a man?
My head throbs. Images flash behind my closed eyes, but they don't make any sense.
No one moves that fast. Do they?
I reach back to grab hold of the brick wall, and with a drunken stagger, pull myself up. My whole world starts to spin. The brick feels rough and cold beneath my fevered flesh; all the intricate patterns that criss-cross each block. Its entrancing.
Imagine, all this unnoticed until just now.
As I give my head a small shake and break away from this internal reverie, I finally identify the taste in my mouth. Blood, strangely intoxicating in its coppery flavor. Had it always tasted like this? I can feel where my lip has been split as run my tongue over it, wincing, then savoring the taste for a moment. Shaking my head once again to try and clear it, I walk slowly towards the alley's entrance, leaving the trash, and the quiet rustlings of rats behind.
Wonder why they didn't bother . . .
I start, but then decide not to think about all that unpleasantness. This is a bad enough part of town, I should have known better than to cut through here. But I had been in a hurry to get home after a rough night. Hell, she could have at least broken it to me gently. I’d been jumped by someone. That much I can remember. There's something about the encounter bothers me, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
Those eyes .. . . don't think I've ever seen eyes quite like that . . .
I rub absently at my neck, working out the stiffness that's settled there.
Why can't I remember? He had a knife . . . or was it claws . . .
"No", I say aloud. Surprised at the sound of my own voice, I more breathe than say, "a knife." I fumble for the chain attached to my wallet. Surprisingly, it's all still with me, even my plastic. Well, everything except for the twenty bucks I'd stashed there earlier.
"Dammit." My voice sounds stronger than I remember, more resonant and clearer. Everything seems . . . different somehow. A few good blows to the head can make you think all sorts of crazy things. It's nothing more. Damn lucky that's all it was. I mull over heading down to the station to fill out a report.
Bah. Nothing's broken, and twenty dollars is laughable. My own damn fault.
The streets aren't too busy - must be real late, four, five maybe? I seldom wear a watch. I hate seeing my life tick away in minutes.
Business as usual, I muse. The first person I run into changes my mind about that.
She's a sweet-looking thing, with long legs, silky black hair, and full pouting lips. I can see she's a 'working girl', and that's never been my style. None of that seems to matter right now though.
I can feel a sudden hunger deep down in my chest. It leaps up from the back of my mind, nearly raging as she walks by, painted lips flashing a quick knowing smile. I freeze, following her first with my eyes, then turning my head, then my body twists slowly as she brushes past, hips swaying in that lazy yet practiced way those girls have. A dusting of cheap perfume mixes with the salty scent of her skin. I breathe in, tasting the air as she goes, licking my lower lip. I can smell the scents of other men on her clothes, her skin, down below. And deeper still, underneath it all, the sweet, hot smell of her blood. I can feel the pulse of it, throbbing just out of my reach. There, at the hollow of her throat. I half follow, taking one heavy step forward before my mind reels back from the sheer wrongness of these thoughts.
Blood? Where the hell did that come from?
As her scent fades away, I see I'm shaking now, my breath coming in shallow gasps. Deep down, I still want to, dear god, I need to follow. I stuff my hands deep into my jacket pockets, roughly tearing myself away and walking quickly, with my head down.
The scents and sounds start to pour in, threatening to overpower me, as I make my way through the streets to my apartment. This is the part of town that never sleeps - the clubs, the bars - all filled with those revelers who seem to despise the day, wrenching all they can from the night before it ends. Every face that passes evokes the hunger, and I go from head down and walking, to elbowing my way roughly through where I need to, then outright running, heedless of the curses and shouts left in my wake. The lights seem so bright, the nameless faces so intensely alive. I have to get away from it. Away from the sensory overload, but most importantly, the insane, unnatural hunger that keeps surging up to swallow me.
Bursting through the front doors, I race up the stairs, ignoring the angry shouts of my landlady. I swear that old bag must sit around and wait just to bitch at me. I pull out my keys with trembling hands, pushing through into the apartment as soon as the lock clicks open. Slamming the door behind me, I sink back against it, pressing my palms tightly against the sides of my head.
"What's wrong with me?" I moan into the darkness through clenched teeth.
There's something not right with the silence after that outburst. Something is missing. I take a moment to stop and think, letting things slowly sink in to my already spinning mind. I just ran for a good four blocks. I sprinted up those stairs. First off, I know I'm not in all that great a shape, and I never run too much if I can avoid it. Second off, since I did just pull a stunt like that, my heart should be racing. The sound of it should be drumming in my ears by now. My head should be pounding with the force of it after such a hard run.
But my heart doesn't seem to be beating at all.
"Dear God . . ."
I'm not even breathing heavy. My sides don't ache, and my lungs don't burn. I can tell my skin is cool now. Cold, even. I know that without really feeling it. All the heat I felt back in the alleyway is gone. No flushed skin from the exertion . . . no goose bumps from the cool air circulating from the A/C. I run my fingers up through my hair, down the back of my neck, and over my throat. Nothing. Not the slightest hint of perspiration is to be found. I drop my hands to my sides and slowly sink to the ground, my back sliding along the equally cool metal of the door.
This is not happening. This is not . . .
The only thoughts that will come right now are those of denial.
I know the lights are all out, and the room is dark. For the first time I notice it. I can see. All too clearly. I can see all the way across the room to my little table I have cluttered with odds and ends. An odd looking blue glass bottle I found back home on the ranch rests beside a pewter stein from last summer's jaunt in Europe. The grinning stonework gargoyle I bought last week seems to be staring back at me from the shadows next to a few of my favorite books that I keep handy. My unpaid bills are stacked and ready to be looked through again. The wrought-iron lamp on the table just drives the point home for me. I don't seem to need it.
My mind is reeling from the sights, sounds, smells and realization of the impossible. It all comes crashing down on me at once.
Too much . . .
Stumbling to the bathroom, I flip the light on like I've always done and stare weakly into the mirror.
So pale. Under the weak fluorescent light I run my hands over my face, trying to assure myself that it’s really mine. Those once familiar features have changed. Somehow, indefinably changed. Perhaps it's the bit of hardness that's crept into my jaw. Is it? Were my cheeks always that thin? And those eyes. It's the eyes staring back at me from that face that chill me to the bone. The eyes. So like the ones belonging to my attacker. I'm sure of it. An alien quality lingers in these hazel orbs that wasn't there before. They have a predatory gleam, a visible hunger glowing softly within them.
And that hunger is real. Minutes slip slowly away, and I become more and more aware of it, gnawing at me. It sits there like a caged tiger at the back of my mind, waiting for a chance to leap through an untended gate. And its patience is wearing thin.
A furtive rustling comes from the other room. With a sharp intake of breath, something else I'm realizing is merely reflexive, I spin towards the sound, the hunger surging up. Peering into the room with my unnatural sight, I detect something moving in the corner. Worse still, I can smell it’s blood from here. Not at all the same as that from the people on the streets. This has a musty flavor to it. A bestial quality.
My feet move forward of their volition. Quietly. So quietly I move now, making my way to the corner. Something is wrong with my mouth. There's a tingling in my gums that grows stronger as I walk across the floor. The tingling turns to an ache. I run my tongue over my gums, wincing as the ache increases to a sharp pain. Deep down at the base of my canines I feel something pushing, grinding bone on bone. Blood slowly trickles in as my gums start to pull free of my two teeth. The pain is excruciating.
Crashing to my knees, and clamping my hands over my mouth tightly to try and muffle the sounds, I howl. And when I lack the air to power my voice, I gasp in raggedly and howl again. The blood filling my mouth is . . . exquisite. There's no other way to describe it. In between muffled screams I start to laugh madly, moving between a breathless chuckle and a slowly mounting shriek of agony and ecstasy. I eagerly drink down each and every drop, sucking at my loosening teeth. I grunt as I feel them suddenly pop from their sockets. I continue to gulp down the blood that's rapidly flowing, rolling the two teeth over curiously in my mouth for a moment. I spit the now useless bits out into my hand, probing with my tongue at the two voids they've left behind. I look at them incredulously as they lay there. The blood seems to be slowing. I can feel whatever pushed out my former teeth continue to rise up through my gums. The sensation after all the initial pain is almost blissful.
I pull my tongue back quickly as it brushes over something sharp emerging from where my left canine used to be.
What the hell?
Carefully probing the area again, I feel what seems to be a slick new tooth sliding into place. The other side as well. But sharp, and a bit longer than the others.
Oh yeah, right. Fangs now? What next? I sprout horns and a tail?
I stretch my jaw, working my mouth a bit as the pain slowly fades, and notice these new teeth are more than just sharp. They retract back to level with the others, extending as I flex muscles I never knew I had before.
Crazy. Oh yeah, fucked up is what this is alright. I've heard you can have weird flashbacks, but I haven't dropped acid in years.
I cut off the inner babbling as a sharp pain wrenches my stomach.
The hunger hasn't gone away. It's getting worse. Now that the pain in my mouth has faded there's nothing to hold it back. With the next quiet rustle, I grab the back of the couch with both hands, launching myself over it to lunge at the shape creeping about in the corner of the room. My old teeth fall forgotten to the floor.
The rat lets out a squeal as I pounce, scrambling for a quick escape. I grasp the squirming rodent in both hands, raise it quickly to my lips, and plunge my teeth into its neck. Ignoring its scrabbling claws and the filthy taste of the creature's fur, I bite down hard, and yank the twitching body away from my mouth to brutally tear out its throat. Quickly plunging in to suck at the gaping wound, I gulp greedily as the blood flows hotly past my lips. The flavor is weak, and slightly acidic. Nothing like the taste left when my new teeth tore their way through, but it seems to take the edge off the hunger for now. The fire in my belly dies back to a manageable state, more a distant rumbling of thunder than the gale force winds that buffeted me before.
Disgusted, I fling the now drained corpse away, wiping at my mouth with a sleeve. The dark stain left there only serves to drive home what I've just done. I want to throw up. I want to do anything but think about what I just did. I can see the dark mass of fur laying a few feet away from me on the floor, accusing me. Damning me. Pushing my back up against the wall, I huddle in the corner, an occasional involuntary shiver making me twitch. I draw my knees up to my chest, staring blankly at nothing in particular.
Oh no . . . No no no no no . . . I shake my head back and forth slowly. For a long time that's all I can do.
"What have I become?" I whisper into the quiet room. A sob wracks my body, and a few hot tears streak their way down my cheeks. I wipe angrily at them with the back of my hand. When that too comes away with telltale stains, I laugh. A chilling, unsettling chuckle that echoes through my small apartment. I tip my head back into the corner where the walls meet, close my eyes, rest my hands on my knees and just laugh. This is not the kind of nightmare I want any part of.
"Sure," I gasp between fits of strained laughter. "Why not? I mean . . . a vampire, right?" I have to pause for another fit of hysterical laughter. "This kind of thing happens, what, every day!" I continue laughing, till the fits of giggles turn back to sobs. "Just a dream. Bad dream. Bad trip," I mumble, over and over, a mantra to soothe my raw nerves, and fevered mind.
The sobbing finally slows, then ceases altogether. Once again, there is no shortness of breath. Cold realization seeps in. It's all reflexive. The breathing, speaking. All forced. These lungs are no longer needed for anything but a bellows, like those in an organ, to produce sound. Blood no longer pumps through my veins - it simply fills me. The hunger reminds me that it is a resource to be replenished. Often.
All the old stories flood my mind. The children's tales, the movies, the books - anything to do with the vampire mythos. Hell, even the comics back from when I was young. An image of Bela Lugosi looming over a sleeping woman springs to mind, and I chuckle weakly.
Oh God, you have GOT to be kidding me here. My body begins to feel sluggish. It's getting harder to think. Unnoticed, a soft grey light has begun to creep through the window, pooling on the floor, giving the room a steely cast. Morning.
"Morning!" One theme that seems to have run through all the stories is that whole 'aversion to sunlight' bit. If I am, after all, this 'creature of the night' (another unsteady giggle escapes with that thought), I had best get somewhere dark. Looking about, I can’t see anywhere in the apartment that’s really dark. The bathroom? No windows, I can sleep in the tub if I have to.
Grabbing a pillow and blanket, I stumble into the bathroom, stuff a towel into the crack underneath the door, and settle in for the day.
Damn good thing it's the weekend. Don't know how I'm gonna explain this to the boss. I chuckle some more as a hazy blackness seems to fall over my eyes. I feel like I'm floating somewhere between waking and deep sleep. My body seems leaden and stiff. I can't seem to move anymore. The last thought I can recall is that I'm gonna have such a crimp in my neck from this, and then, blackness.
----- ----- -----
Hungry . . .
I move to roll out of bed and hit the side of the tub with a loud 'thunk'. "What the hell .. . . ?"
Grumbling and cursing I climb out and stumble out to the kitchen, scratching at my chest. I pop the door open to the fridge and peer at its contents, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
Hmmm . . . leftover pizza, cold cuts, beer . . . I grab the jug of orange juice, twist off the cap, and take a few deep swallows as I scan for something to hit the spot.
What a nightmare. That's the last time I leave my drink sitting around . . .. must have been some potent sh** to do a job on me like that. I laugh quietly, wiping my mouth off with the back of my hand.
Crazy sons o' . . . Looks like it's time to hit the store again. Pretty slim pickings. I flip up the top of the pizza box and fish out a slice, alternating between large bites of cold pepperoni, mushrooms and olives and gulps of the juice. Stuffing the slice between my teeth, I grab another for good measure, and kick the refrigerator door closed.
I wander into the front room, flop down on my couch, and reach for the remote. Flipping through the channels lazily, I glance over at the clock.
Past ten? Damn, I slept all day and then some! I groan, and swear out loud just to vent. A whole day wasted sleeping off a rough night.
Nothing on but the news. I hate the news. Gotta see if we can get dish in here . . . I settle on one of the local channels, watching blankly as they read all the crimes from today from the hidden cue screens. The press, with their charming good looks and cardboard-cutout expressions, feeding off the misery of mankind. These people make me sick.
Come to think of it, I really don't feel so good. Maybe that pizza wasn't such a good choice after all. I get up off the couch and head for the bathroom. Good dose of the ol' Pepto ought to take care of this. I flip on the light and peer into the mirror. I look like hell. I run my fingers through my hair and squint at my disheveled, unshaven reflection.
Definitely pale. Rubbing a hand across my eyes I reach for the medicine cabinet. My stomach cramps up and I hunch over the sink in pain.
Man, this is not good . . . My stomach lurches, and I lunge for the porcelain god, and proceed to toss up what feels like a week's worth of food.
After what seems like forever, I pull myself to my feet and clean up. I hang my head over the sink, splashing cold water over my face. My hands are shaking, and I feel drained and weak. And damned if I’m not still hungry. Even after being sick, my stomach is starting to cramp up from the need. I haven’t felt this hungry since . . .
“You about finished in there?” a low voice echoes through my apartment. I start at the sound of it, whipping around and almost loosing my balance as I peer out the bathroom door.
“Who’s there?” I call out, trying to sound gruff. I don’t see anyone as I scan the rooms carefully. The TV sure puts out a lot of light. I can see clear across the . . .
“Oh shit.” Last night’s events come tumbling back over me in a flood. I run my tongue over my teeth carefully, wincing in dismay as my fears are confirmed. As I lean my head against the doorframe and close my eyes, I hear a soft chuckle from somewhere out in my apartment.
“Rough night, kid?” My eyes fly open again, searching for my elusive visitor. “Hungry as hell, aren’t you?” Again, the soft laughter drifts through the rooms. “May as well stop sulking in your bathroom and get out here. There’s things we need to discuss.”
I don’t even know where to start. I flicker back and forth from fear, to curiosity, to anger, a hundred questions springing to mind. Who the hell does he think he is? How does he know?
“C’mon, boy – the night’s young, and I don’t plan on wasting it waiting for you to get it in gear. Now. Front and center, kid. Let’s see what I’ve got to work with.”
There’s more of a command in that rough voice than his casual words warrant – someone who’s used to getting what he wants without asking twice. Furrowing my brow in irritation, I walk carefully down the short hallway, scanning my apartment as I go. The television continues to drone in the background as I look around slowly, seeing no one. The sheer curtains that cover the sliding glass door that leads to my small balcony are rippling softly from an outside breeze. I don’t remember opening it.
As I move towards the balcony door, I hear a metallic ‘click’, and see a tiny flame spring to life on the other side of the glass. The light briefly illuminates the tall figure of a man, cupping his hands as he lights a cigarette. The moon is shining tonight, showing clearly the railing and the little gas grill I have sitting outside, but I hadn’t seen him until he lit up. He leans his shoulder against the brick wall that separates my balcony from the one next door and casually takes a long pull at his cigarette. Hearing my approach, he turns his head slightly and flashes a crooked grin, exhaling slowly.
“’Bout time, kid. Why don’t you step outside here, and we’ll have ourselves a chat.” He turns then, slowly, smoothly, and I’m struck with the image of a predator sizing up its prey. His eyes lock on mine, staring out at me intently from behind stray locks of dark unruly hair.
Those eyes . . . those eyes!
“You!” I manage to squeeze through clenched teeth. My hands have drawn into fists at my sides, and are shaking from the exertion of holding myself back. I need answers first. Then so help me, I’ll kill the bastard.
His cold eyes hold a glimmer of amusement as he looks me over. “ So you remember a bit, do you?” He takes another long pull at his cigarette, taking time to savor, then exhale slowly before continuing.
“Got sloppy with you, boy. I’m here to see if I’ve more clean-up to do yet. Now get out here, and toss them thoughts of killing me for a moment.” He smirks as my eyes narrow, that smoldering hatred clearly evident. “Yes, boy . . . you’re gonna have to learn how to hide your emotions better than that if you hope to make it ‘round here.”
I walk stiffly onto my balcony, never taking my eyes off the dark man. So hungry . . . so . . . damned . . . hungry . . . I grimace slightly, angry at myself for letting it show even before I see the knowing grin from him in response.
“Soon enough, boy. Soon enough.” He leans back against the wall again, one booted foot kicked up against the bottom of my railing. “First we talk. Then we hunt.”