It begins at the precise time I awaken, soon as the moon has risen and all fragments of natural sunlight are obscured in darkness.
The craving will not subside until I have satisfied it. That is usually easy enough. Circumstances what they are, it is not difficult for me to find some young and wanton thing attracted to the looks of me, for I have been told I am quite handsome. I am tall with chiseled cheekbones and black hair that falls to my shoulders. But a vampire’s true gift lies in the eyes.
This is not glamour. The vampire glamour you have read about is nonexistent. We have only our own wit to run the game we play. That and our charm.
I was born in the North, the land of midnight sun and well made ships. Before the dark gift I sailed the seas, marauded and pillaged on Saxon shores. I am of the ancients and have lived in every country, every world it seems — for time passes slowly when one knows he will never die.
Now it so happens that I find myself in the city of New Orleans. Oh yes, I realize that is the perfect cliché, Ms. Rice having filled the imaginations of many. It is not unusual to see some young vampire hopeful, prowling the French Quarter dressed in pirate sleeves and a top hat. Myself, I would not dream of wearing such an outfit. A simple Armani suit will suffice, for the allure of money attracts humans, same as blood attracts the likes of me. My existence now is velvet nights, dazzling jazz that floods from open doorways on Frenchmen Street. And constant want, the unsatisfied tapeworm that drives my nightly hunt.
For my residence I keep a permanent suite at the Richelieu Hotel where they are seemingly glad to have me. I am a generous tipper and I require little care, the chambermaids knowing they must clean my room before the crack of dawn, and never to wake me by day. I sleep in a coffin I keep stacked in the closet.
This city, the Big Easy, is the easiest of all I have known. Murders are never investigated. I make sure of it. The day after a body goes missing (as one of my dinners or midnight snacks) a shipment will arrive at the NOLA Police Department; a pink porcelain piggy bank with a removable hinge at its stomach. Inside the pig is cash, cold and hard. No need to make the police fuss with checks and bank accounts. How or when I developed this system of bribery I have long forgotten. I only know it works and as such I can have any human I so choose.
Tonight is a sultry one, August heat framing the magnolia trees, air filled with their heady scent. Only the cool breeze from the river interrupts it. In the darkness I saunter past the French Market, slowly making my way to the piers where the Cajun Queen, a tourist riverboat, will soon dock.
It is strange how women lurk together. They travel in herds like sheep. They assume safety in numbers but there is always one — one in the herd who wants to be ‘different’. One that is secretly hoping, veritably PRAYING to be led astray. That one will be mine. No doubt.
As I watch the Cajun Queen slice ripples through the muddy river, I already know my victim. I can see her in my mind’s eye. A young thing, not more than twenty one. Here to celebrate that very age, American legalities and the drinking of alcohol being her priority.
She notices me immediately as she de-boards the ship. I give her a nod and a wink. She blushes a girl’s blush, not used to being singled out in this manner. I approach closer. With a muted introduction and the intensity of my stare I lure her away from the herd.
I ask her if she would care for a drink at the Blue Nile and she quickly accepts. As she nods to me I lick my lips. Already I can smell her blood. Her menstrual cycle is in full bloom, ripe as the sweet magnolia night. Oh, how I want that blood! I have not fed since the night before, almost twenty four hours prior. I feel my own skin go cold, my legs weak. I must have her soon!
Little does she know, I have no intention of attending the Blue Nile. The girl is a tourist, unfamiliar with the streets and instead I lead her directly to the Richelieu Hotel.
It is not difficult to convince her that the intimacy of my room, soft jazz on the stereo, will be much better than the noisy club. She instantly agrees. My charm never fails me. As we walk along the cobblestone street she leans into me. She apologizes for her giddiness, informs me that she has drank three double shot watermelons, an amount that is, as she says, “Waaay over my limit!” She giggles, sways into me and I promise to take good care of her.
Upon entering my suite she immediately requests to use the ladies room. My nostrils flare at the smell of her overflowed blood. She will change a pad or insert some tube into herself but none of this will matter. I will suck her dry, menstrual blood being the sweetest and she will shiver in pleasure, thinking me generous in my action. She will have not a clue what I intend, for my technique is subtle. My victims are often dead before they realize my true identity. No reason to frighten them unnecessarily. This makes my killing sprees more bearable. I have no guilt.
The girl excuses herself, enters the bathroom, and I wait.
The minutes pass as she shuffles behind the closed door. I cross my arms and pace about the room. The blood craving grows stronger within me. I think of her veins, the delicate way her jugular bulged in the heat.
More minutes pass.
In the twelve hundred years I have lived on this planet I have never been able to figure this mystery: women in the ladies room!
What in the devil’s name do they actually DO in there? Surely the elimination process, or the changing of a tampon could not take this long! I knock on the door, trying desperately to contain my patience. My skin is now ice. My hands tremble in hunger.
“Just a give me a second, I’ll be right there,” she calls.
Damn her! Damn her to hell! More minutes pass and again I pace the floor, knock again on the door. She calls a different version of the same excuse. Finally I can stand this no longer! I kick in the door.
She is running a bath! There she sits, mother naked, lolling in the tub! Well now. We shall surely have some fun, for water sports are not beyond my forte’. I smile down at her, remove my trousers and commence to join her. My body shakes and my mouth is parched but I steady myself, knowing within minutes I will satisfy my desire.
Though the bath water has staunched her bleeding I quickly dive upon her, my head between her legs. I spread her thighs and thrust my tongue to her cavity. With quivering anticipation I lick her blood, but upon the first taste I know it is not exactly right. This blood… This blood?
I pull my face from the water. The liquid she bleeds is not red but green. My first thought is that she has acquired some disease, which makes no difference to me for I am immune to all. But green. It is most peculiar. But yet there is more! What strangeness? Now I see in the water that her legs are no longer legs. They have morphed into a tail, like a great fish! The top half of her body remains human. A fold of waist, pouting breasts, pink nipples that have turned hard in excitement, wet hair falling down her back. She is beautiful.
In my twelve hundred years upon this planet, never have I seen such a thing. She is a siren, a creature of the deep!
“People call us mermaids,” she says casually as if she has read my thoughts. “But our true name is Poseidon’s shifters, as we shape shift to human form and back again. Now listen.” She folds her tail and squares her shoulders. “First of all — there will be no drinking of my blood.” She stares at me, green eyes frozen like two cubes of ice.
My arms are now plastered at my sides. Though I long to bite her sweet neck, split her tail with my fangs and consume her strange blood, something prevents me. She has put me in a spell! That is the only explanation. She has taken away my very will and ability.
“You are correct, vampire.” She tosses her hair. “You’ll have no dinner of me! But I will give you a choice. Option one — I will leave this room. You’ll not remember me, never know you even met me. You’ll be free to roam the streets, search for prey, continue to scavenge on as you have for the past millennium. OR…” She sloshes her tail, wiggles her hips and runs a finger over her own nipples. “Option two — you will remain with me. I will turn you into a Poseidon’s shifter, one of my tribe. We’ll dive from the pier in the Mississippi river and swim to the Gulf of Mexico. We shall dine on fish and kelp and all manner of shellfish. There will be no consuming of human blood. I too am immortal, free and vast as the ocean. This choice is yours.” She flashes her eyes, green as emeralds. In that instant I know my answer.
By morning we have reached the Gulf of Mexico. For the first time in twelve hundred years I see the rise of the sun, a gold ball on the eastern horizon, warm on my face. Slowly, I grow accustomed to my new Poseidon’s tail, it being much less of a burden than fangs. The ocean is cool and tranquil, abundant with fish and kelp. I have fallen desperately, hopelessly in love with the mermaid. For the first time in a millennium, I know joy.
Now it is the mermaid’s body that I crave and often we make love on the beach, blue water rippling our backs. The bright days are an array of color, turquoise skies, red azaleas and my own skin bronze in the summer heat.
Never, ever will I crave blood again.
This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Craving