yet knows it is only
cold breath. Eternal mercy. Eyes glinting on the window looking in.
Please read Part Two here.
I stare into the black water, thick with mud and sludge. The night is cold, wind whipping in icy gales. People think Louisiana winters are mild, but here in New Orleans we get the worst of it, boxed in by the drafts of Lake Pontchartrain and the river.
It has been five years since I left Shreveport. I only laugh when I think of myself back then, silly, strong willed, flippant. How stupid I was, to create a fiasco with Eric Northman. I’d succeeded in nothing, only embarrassing myself by trying to attain the unattainable. I was a laughingstock, known all over Shreveport, not as a mere fangbanger, but as something worse. An impostor. A pathetic loser. Shunned and ostracized from both the vampires and the humans.
All of this means nothing now.
My stomach clenches in nausea as I think of the doctor’s voice, deep, slow and methodical. His sympathy was surely feigned. He did this every day, it was part of his regular work week, a routine.
“Mina I am afraid you have breast cancer.”
I remember the examination room, the distance of the doctor’s face like a tiny oval in the white wall. I remember the terrible shudder that went through my body. Tears welled in my eyes and I fiercely scrubbed them away.
It had happened. This, the same disease that had taken my mother and my grandmother and who knows how many other females in my blood line, had now come to claim me. My choices, the doctor informed me, included a complete mastectomy followed by treatments of chemotherapy, countless medications and a rehabilitation process. “This is not an automatic death sentence,” he assured me.
Choices? He has the audacity to call them choices? Little did he know. I’d not undergo the knife, nor would I endure those dreaded treatments. I am not some guinea pig, subject to their silly games! I have witnessed the worst of it; my mother, wasting away on her death bed, head bald, cheeks sunken, nostrils bleeding. I have never been able to figure out, just what sort of ‘cure’ makes one go bald?
After my mother’s death I left Shreveport. There was no reason to stay. Oh, sure, I could have continued to petition Eric, but what good would it do? Northman would not budge. Besides, I no longer had the strength nor the inclination.
I then found myself with nothing. No family, no job, no money. I was not even speaking to my best friend Lucy. Well, can you blame me? It was I, not she who was supposed to be transformed that night. But no! The smug Eric Northman had foiled my plan. Then, to add insult to injury, Pam decided to take a bite out of Lucy and bring her into the fold. Oh the sick irony of it! It was my pride as much as my sorrow that forced me to leave Shreveport.
My life in New Orleans had been sporadic at best. A barrage of makeshift single rooms, community toilets and lumpy mattresses, none of which I would ever call ‘home’. I took one meaningless job after another. The visions of blood and death and bald cadavers haunted me. My anger overwhelmed me. I could not eat or sleep. In my desperation I even saw a psychologist who diagnosed me with ‘depression’. Oh yes, that was genius! It did not take a psychological evaluation to know I was depressed!
My disease was thought to have a chemical cure. I devoured prescriptions of Lexapro, Zoloft and Xanax. I then graduated to Depakote and Oxycodone, enough drugs to anesthetize a small horse. But it meant nothing. A mere doling out of chemicals which served to make rich pharmaceutical companies richer and turn humans into drug dependent zombies.
All I needed was a good excuse. I have known for a very long time I do not belong in this world.
The river is deep and churning. Many a body has gone missing here. I wonder if anyone would even come looking for me. I doubt it.
I feel in the pockets of my trench coat for the rocks I have packed in. Large and smooth, heavy as boulders. I cannot swim but I am told the human body will automatically float to the surface. I have taken precaution against this. The rocks will sink me. Down, down to the depths of the muddy Mississippi. An elegant and much desired exit. I will sleep with fish.
I rise to my feet, stand on the bridge where patches of ice have formed. My mind is calm, blank as the slate sediment. One foot, then another slips off and I land on my back with a plop in the water.
Like a frigid blanket the waves encompass me. Hypothermia will soon set in. How fortunate for me that the season is winter! I sink quickly, boulders weighing and pulling me, down, down to the river’s ebony depths. Cold fades to numbness and then to nothingness.
* * * * *
“Blood pressure ninety over seventy. She’s slowly coming around.” I hear the voices but cannot recognize the blur of my surroundings. My body aches. Crisp cotton sheets cover me. I try to move but my legs are lead. Slowly my vision clears and I begin to see the outlines of their heads. One tube has been inserted down my throat, nearly gagging me. Another pricks at my arm, a needle attached to a plastic bag of liquid. A nurse moves to further inject me, rubber gloves sliding against my skin.
“Welcome back to the world of the living Mina.” The nurse smiles. “For a while we thought we might lose you. You are a lucky woman, first spotted by the riverboat captain, revived by paramedics, and now your blood pressure fully on the rise. You had a bit of trouble breathing and you needed potassium, but I predict you will be fine.”
“I’ll go inform Doctor Bombay!” another nurse calls excitedly. “Oh this is the best news we’ve had all day.”
Best news they’ve had all day? If I were not so weak I’d spit in her eye. Another plan foiled! Was I doomed to walk this earth, stuck in my diseased body, not even a whole human? How dare they? I wanted OUT. Damn the river boat captain, damn the paramedics. Damn the hospital.
The nurse removes my throat tube. I sink back to a twilight sleep, awakened sporadically by vague thermometers and the squeak of blips on a monitor. I am, I suppose, still alive. I do not know how many hours have passed when I hear the next conversation.
“The patient is resting, doctor. Her body has undergone quite a trauma. Maybe you had better – leave this interrogation for another time?”
“This will only take a minute, I assure you. I’ll do nothing to jeopardize her recovery. The questions, I’m afraid, cannot wait.”
“Very well then.”
I hear the plodding footsteps as the doctor enters the room. Probably here to discuss my treatment options. Why oh why can’t they let me die in peace??
I do not look but listen as he closes the door behind him. He pulls up a chair, sits beside me and shines a beaming light into my closed eyes. Why do they always shine a beaming light into your eyes? What, exactly do they hope to find? Dilated pupils? Crazy ocular activity? Signs of my own insanity? I am sure they would find it all. I wish they would just leave me alone!
“Mina,” he says. I am starting to hate my own name.
“Mina, you must open your eyes.”
Very well. Like peeled lemons I raise my lids. “You should have let me die,” I moan. Even my words are an effort.
“Oh no. That would be too easy.” There is a mockery in his voice. I widen my eyes. Now fully awake I see him. The outline of his head, the blond hair, the ice blue eyes. He wears green hospital scrubs, sleeves rolled above his elbows.
“What are YOU doing here?” I try to shout but my voice is weak.
“I am Doctor Northman. I have been assigned to your case for the purpose of a special interrogation. My questions will be brief.”
“What the fuck, Eric! Is this supposed to be some kind of joke?”
“Shhh, calm yourself.” He lays a hand across my forehead. “None of this will work if you become overexcited.”
“What the fuck!” I repeat. “You’re no doctor. How’d you get in here? Where’d you get those scrubs?”
He smiles. “Mina, I am twelve hundred years old. Do you think it is so very difficult for me to masquerade as one of the medical profession?”
I stare at him. He has succeeded one more time in making of fool of me.
“What do you want?”
He shuts off the light beam and pulls his chair closer.
“You once asked me for the dark gift.”
I nod. It seems a century ago when I asked it. Too much has happened since then. I have become a cynic, the worst kind of cynic, bitter and beaten. I would not even make a good vampire. Eternal life no longer interests me.
“If you still want it, I can offer it to you.”
“Now? Now you come to me? Northman, your timing is terrible. I am attempting to get OUT of this world, not stay here eternally! I will ask you — not to turn me but to kill me!”
“I won’t do that.”
“It would be immoral.”
I scoff. Morality! Coming from him that is rich. Since when does the great and powerful Eric care a lick about morality? I study him. There is more to this offer than meets the eye. He is up to something. This is one vampire who never lifts a finger unless it is to his own benefit.
I peer at him, narrowing my eyes. “What’s the real story Eric? Out with it.”
He sighs. “If you must know, I am bored.”
“Yes, bored. You see, I have released Pam from her bondage to me. She is quite fond of her protégé Lucy. Your friend I believe?”
“Lucy is no friend of mine!”
“Be that as it may. The two are Siamese twins, joined at the hip, a youngling and maker, no separating them. Pam no longer needs me and I no longer need her. “
“What about your Sheriff-dom? Surely that should keep you busy.”
“I have given my office to Pam. She will do a much better job with it. Shreveport is tedious. I am leaving to travel the world. For the first time in one hundred years I am free, no obligations, no dependents, and it occurs to me I would like a companion.”
“Because you are strong willed. You have proven yourself. It is only a human who attempts to take their own life that is worthy of the dark realm. I once told you I would never turn a mortal without good reason. I now have good reason.”
I stare at him. Five years ago I would have been elated, but now he only angers me.
“Make your decision quickly.” He stands, towering over me. He glances out the window. The wall clock reads 2AM. “I’ve not much time. There are only a few hours until sunrise and I am leaving tonight.” He crouches down, presses his cheek close to mine.
“You once told me you’d stop at nothing,” he whispers, breath hot on my face. “Now prove it. Or are you too much of a coward?”
Prove it? Coward? He has challenged me! Oh the unstoppable arrogance of him!
“Go ahead then!” I hiss. “Do it! Turn me into a monster. Make me one of your kind and I will destroy this miserable world, drain bodies one by one, leave a wasteland of corpses and endless death behind me! I will not give a damn about any of them!”
“That’s the spirit.” He smiles and lifts the tubes from my arm. He bares his fangs and bends down to bite my neck.
The feeling at first is not unlike drowning. I could just as well be in the murky Mississippi, sinking under the sheets of cold gray water. I see nothing but vague darkness. But then. I feel his open bloody wrist pressed to my mouth. The blood! It does not taste like blood but like something marvelous, something delicious. A sweet liquid. Chocolate? Tiramisu and hazelnut. Oh! Leave it to Northman to hold the sweetest of temptations! My teeth, now canine fangs gnaw his flesh. I cannot stop myself and I drink, drink, drink, filling my entire body, filling every inch of my bloodstream.
“That is enough!” He pulls his wrist away. I am satiated, my body warm, blood pulsing through me although I can no longer feel a heartbeat.
The nurses are knocking on the door. “Doctor? Doctor Northman? Is everything alright?”
“We must depart,” he says. He lays a hand on my shoulder. In the blink of an eye we fade from the room, leaving my bed empty, tubes and circuits lying in a tangled mass of sheets.
Within seconds we are flying through the night sky. The air is crystalline fresh, vast masses of fluffy clouds below us.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
“Lapland is nice this time of year,” he says. “Very few hours of daylight with winter set in. We could make it our home. For now.” He glances at me, gives a hint of a smile, wind whipping his hair.
I cling to his back, dig my nails to his flesh. Lapland. Our home? Had he said “Our home’? Ours. The idea is enticing, enthralling, almost surreal.
In the distance I see a glittering of stars. They spill in muted colors like a magnificent ribbon, a night rainbow of red, green and purple. “The Aurora Borealis,” Eric says. “It is — but one small vision of the many you will now behold.”
I stare silently. Its beauty stuns me, colors richer than any I have seen before. The twinkling Northern Lights beckon as we ride the black sky, delving deeper and deeper into its velvet abyss.
In this instant I feel no sorrow, no regret, no anger, no link to the past nor to the future.
I am what I am.
Please read Part One here.
The silver chain inside me is painful, nearly unbearable. With each step I feel it rub, shredding the walls of my vagina. I had envisioned it to be no worse than a tampon or a diaphragm, but this? It is thick, akin a chain link fence or a bicycle’s lock. Yet I’ll need its weight, the rough grid of it, to bring him down.
I plan to wrap it around his neck, tie it in a knot if need be. Under such duress the great and powerful Eric will certainly do my bidding. I have not spent a lifetime studying vampirism only to be turned down but the illustrious Mr. Northman!
Finally darkness falls and the moon appears in the sky, a waxing crescent. I drive my car to Merlot’s. First stop on the adventure. Here I will pick up my friend Lucy. Lucy, although she does not realize it, is going to be my secret weapon.
Getting past the strong-arm bouncers at Fangtasia will be no problem; this I know because they are human. They apparently get a kick out of working for Eric and Pam, hanging out in that atmosphere of death and ripe blood. Oh, but they are cowards compared to me! For all their brawn and bravado they would never imagine crossing the line, asking Pam or Eric to actually turn them permanently. They do not intimidate me in the least. Best of all they will have no inkling of the silver I hide inside myself.
But also there is Pam. Bothersome little bitch. Nothing gets past her.
She could be a problem. I have, of course thought of a solution.
My friend Lucy is beautiful. More like cat-walk gorgeous. Long legs, silky red hair and cheekbones to die for. When Lucy enters a room, she turns the heads of men and women alike. And Pam? Queen of the lesbian vampires? She’ll never be able to resist Lucy.
Lucy, of course, thinks this whole thing is a game. I have offered to pay her one hundred dollars to seduce Pam. It won’t even be difficult. All Lucy has to do is walk into Fangtasia, toss back her hair, catch Pam’s eye and it will be as good as done. With Pam thus engaged I will smuggle in my silver chain and approach Eric. I will then make my offer. It is, as I have become most fond of calling it, ‘An offer he can’t refuse.’ A brilliant scheme. My own cleverness surprises me.
With delighted anticipation I drive to Merlot’s. Lucy waits for me in the parking lot. Ever the fashion icon, she is dressed in black hose, stiletto heels and a filigree blouse, breasts pouting through the lace and gauze. I nod approval as she tumbles into the car. “Easiest hundred bucks I’ll ever make,” she quips.
If only she knew. When we leave I will not be driving her home as a human being, but as a true creature of the night. We pull up to Fangtasia. “OK Luce,” I say. “Just remember, Pam must be NOWHERE near the door when I enter.”
“Will do!” Lucy nods and gives me a mock salute. “This will be fun.”
“You have thirty minutes. That should be plenty of time.”
“In thirty minutes I’ll have Pamela whisked away to the Isle of Lesbos.” Lucy winks. She loves every minute of this. She walks away from the car swinging her purse and strutting her heels.
Impatiently I watch the hands of my dashboard clock. Ten minutes. Twenty Minutes. The silver chain scrapes inside of me. I can’t wait to get it out. Finally the clock reads 10:30 pm and I open the car door. I wince as I walk to the entrance, chain snagging at the tender skin of my vagina. Damned thing! I plaster a look of stoicism to my face. Never let them see you sweat.
Smoothly I flow past the bouncers. One frisks me, big meaty hands against my rib cage and ass. Another peeks inside my purse. “Clean,” he mutters, and I pass through. Once inside, I glance around the club. Goth kids stand in groups, whispering like secretive birds, mascara streaming across their eyes, faces powdered pale.
A band called Night Prowl plays on the stage, the lead singer clearly a wanna-be Lestat. He is dressed in French cuffs with a lion’s mane of blond hair that hangs to his waist. Girls jump and gawk at the front of the stage, nearly fainting before him.
In the middle of all this chaos, Eric Northman sits upon his throne. (Yes a throne. That ought to give you an idea of his arrogance.) He looks at me, slightly annoyed but also amused. “What brings you back?” he asks. “I thought I deemed you unfit! Don’t take that personally, of course. I am just not in the habit of turning mortals into vampires without good reason.”
Oh the stubbornness of him! But still. I gaze into his glacier blue eyes and imagine what it will be like to spend eternity with him. I long for his darkness, his eclipse of my own humanity. I must have him! That is final.
“I have given up on the idea of being turned, Eric,” I answer flippantly.
Folklore claims that one can never lie to a vampire, but I have practiced this routine time and time again in my mirror. I am able to actually slow my own heartbeat, lower my own blood pressure, and convincingly lie through my teeth to anyone. I return him the same cool serene look he gives me.
“Then what brings you here?” he asks. “The band? You are partial to Lestat Lioncourt? Or perhaps you require a shot of V.”
“I am no junkie, Eric Northman,” I say, pressing my face close to his. “I come bearing good news. Tidings of great joy. Something you may be quite interested in.”
“I am seldom interested in the dull affairs of humans.” He smiles, one side of his mouth dimpled in sarcasm. He looks at me as if I were a lost dog.
“This is not news of a human affair!” I peer at him, narrowing my eyes. “I was just at Merlot’s. The local vampire council had a meeting there. I heard rumors. It seems you are being considered for a promotion. That is — if you play your cards right — you may be moved from Area 5 Sheriff to President of Louisiana. The position right under the Grand Vampire King himself. What do you think of that?”
Eric arches an eyebrow, now fully interested. I KNEW this would get him. Eric Northman may be able to resist my feminine charms, even my blood itself, but one thing he CANNOT resist is a chance at acquiring more power.
“Would you like to hear more?” I tease.
He rises from his throne. He leads me to the same underground chamber where we had been the night before. Ah, but little does he know. This time the result will be much different.
As we walk down the corridor I feel the chain move, now near to my uterus. Somehow, Eric has not yet figured this out. I have the silver buried deep, and mixed with the secretions of my body fluids he cannot smell the poisonous metal. Not yet. But Eric is clever, with a thousand years of vampire sensitivity under his belt. It will only be a matter of minutes before he detects it. I must act fast!
Secluded in the basement chamber I bolt the door. I reach to my crotchless panties and in one millisecond I pull out the chain. It stings, but like a quickly pulled bandage, I ignore the pain. Then, while he is still gawking at me I wrap it like a lasso around his neck. His eyes bulge in terror.
“Sneaky fucking bitch,” he hisses.
“Now will you do it? Turn me into one of your kind! I command you.”
He lowers his head. The silver has already begun to make a mark in his skin. It has weakened him and he is now powerless under my grasp. He sinks to the ground, long legs splayed yoga style on the concrete floor.
“Will you do it?” I persist.
“You have no idea what you ask,” he says. His voice is dust.
“Oh but I do! I have done my research Eric. Immortality is my goal, no matter what the price.”
He glares at me, a blood tear falling from his eye. “You ask for a living hell. You ask to be a predator, a killing machine with no choice but to prowl night after night with an endless hunger that will only be satisfied by another’s death. And for us there IS no death, only the disgraced wasteland we leave behind. You think this is some game, some lark, some — fashion statement?” He spits the words. “Do you realize I have been upon this earth for twelve hundred years? This earth! And it gets no better. An endless barrage of human stupidity. Wars and fighting and sex and bloodlust. All to no end, all for what? I am only an observer. An observer of hell, who night after night is forced to feed on the likes of you.”
I watch the blood tears trickle down his cheeks. My throat clenches and I fear I too may cry. But no. I will not show him my sorrow, will not show any emotion. I tighten the grip of my chain. Large welts have now begun to form on his back and shoulders. “Remove it!” he groans. “Please remove it.”
“Give me your word!” I shout. “Say you will turn me! Say it!”
(I also happen to know that once a vampire has given his word to transform a human, he cannot take it back. This is a little known fact that only those privy to the grand teachings of Vlad Dracul would be aware of. As I said, I have spent a lifetime studying this stuff, and with good reason.)
He looks at me in astonishment. “How do you know that?”
“You think you are the only one who reads Vlad’s Sacred Book of Secrets? Come on now Eric. Just about anything is available on the internet these days.”
He scoffs in anger. I force him to lie on the floor. He stretches beneath me, his six foot four inch frame cowering like a beaten animal. “Say it!” I scream.
He says nothing but only nods with a sigh of resignation. That is fine. I do not need the words, only the action! I know he is too weak to puncture my jugular, so I reach for a razor blade in my purse. I slash my own neck and bend into him. Finally! I will now enter eternal life, bound forever to this glorious Scandinavian god.
Just then the door bursts open with a flash of white light so powerful it knocks me to the ground. Near blinded, I squint through the blur. This is not sunlight, of course it is not! But what? A rich silver glow, such as could only come from the stars or the moon. In the platinum mist I see her. The outline of her hair, Merlot’s waitress uniform, her fingertips radiating the light.
Sookie Stackhouse? Sookie Fucking Stackhouse? The fairy girl. What is SHE doing here?
“I read your thoughts a mile away,” she says coolly. “Hell, I even read Lucy’s thoughts at Merlot’s two hours ago. But I didn’t think you’d have the guts to go through with it. No one has ever defeated Eric Northman.”
I feel nauseous, still half blinded by the fairy light. I squirm on the floor. Sookie kneels and removes the chain from Eric’s neck. Lamely, I reach to stop her but the silver light holds me back.
Within seconds Eric’s welts disappear. He is restored to his former strength. Standing, he towers over me, extends a hand to help me to my feet. “I think you’d better go now Mina,” he says. Oddly, his voice is patient, not unkind. This is the very first time he has ever called me by my name. Mina.
Oh, he is KILLING me. The wheels of my brain churn. It cannot be finished, it cannot be over!
Sookie then nods in agreement. “You’d better go,” she repeats. She waves her fingers and I know if I do not leave I am in for another dose of her fairy light.
Dammit! After all my meticulous research, only to be defeated by that mind reading fairy? Ha. That is what they think. I will go now, but Mr. Northman has not seen the last of me. Reluctantly, I plod upstairs. I walk toward the exit door. In one dim cobwebbed corner I see Lucy and Pam, shamelessly groping one another, back buttons of Lucy’s shirt undone.
“Hey Luce!” I shout. “If you want a ride home you’d better step to it.”
But no. Lucy looks at me, her eyes half lidded. I see the trickle of blood where Pam has taken a gouge from her neck. Lucy parts her lips in a smile.
Then I see them. Lucy gapes her mouth wider. They glint in the darkness, white as pearl and sharp as my own razor blade. Proudly, Lucy displays her brand new set of fangs.
To say it sent a shiver down my spine would be trite, although it did. This place was amazing, a world unto itself. It was ‘the underground’, the obscure, but not as you know it. A club with a basement chamber beneath, hidden like a speakeasy, like a best kept secret, although its name should have certainly given it away. Stupid people. They had no clue.
What I remember most is the loud pulse of music, the sound that seemed to fade like an underwater silence as he approached closer. “Whereabouts are you from?” he asked as if I were some kind of foreigner. Which I suppose I was, from his point of view. He led me through a black corridor to a small drafty room, dark except for a few flickering candles.
There he stood, looking me over, a strange seriousness in his eyes. I grew impatient, wished he would just do it! I willed my veins to bulge upon my neck, to tempt him. But I only shivered in the cold, my blood probably gone thin. He was plodding and reluctant. I wanted to scream: Get it over with dammit! But my words were only a squeak in my throat. No matter. Soon it would be done and I could stop obsessing over it. His fangs popped like a cobra’s teeth and I lifted my hair from my neck. I closed my eyes, braced myself for the bite.
But no. “Unfit,” he said, backing away. He studied me as if I were some rare but dejected specimen. Unfit? After all that? A visit I’d planned for months and now Eric Northman had the audacity to say “Unfit.” Smug bastard.
Next thing I knew the morning light glared bright in my eyes and the patch of grass beneath me was my pillow. My body was stiff, every limb enveloped with the hunger that clung to me like a disease. The obsession had not left me. I still wanted — longed to be one of them.
Persistence, I have heard, is the key to success in achieving any goal. Most people do not realize that joining the undead has been my single greatest ambition. I am no amateur, no wanna-be. “Turn me, turn me!” a lot of them say, but me? I have studied this stuff. Made it my life’s work.
When darkness falls I will return to Fangtasia. I’ll petition him again and he won’t deny me. This time I’ll have a secret weapon that will make even the great Eric Northman cower.
Like a betraying Judas I shall carry in the silver. How so, you might wonder. With security cameras and strong armed bouncers frisking at the door, how will I pull this off? Well. You underestimate me. Do I seem like a fool? I will hide it in my vagina of course. Slip it in unnoticed and when I get my chance, I’ll make Eric an offer he can’t refuse.
This time, Mr. Northman will be most surprised to see I have brought along a chain of the most venomous metal, enough to poison any vampire and certainly enough to force him to do my bidding! Then he will turn me into one of his own kind. He will be my maker, bound to me for eternity. And he will think twice before he ever calls a human ‘unfit’ again.
Please read Part Two here.
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