Once Bitten

She can feel me watching her. Her unease has been rising steadily over the 20 minutes I’ve been tracking her, I can hear her heart speeding up, her breath catching a little, the pulse in her delicate, delicious neck throbbing a little faster from all the way across the street, 50 yards or so behind her.

She had been full of bravado as she left her friends in town;
“It’s not far, and it’s not even that late. You guys stay here, I’ll be fine to walk.”

But now, away from the hub of activity in the town centre, the streets are dark, and few cars pass, and the poorly spaced streetlights serve only to give the gloom an eerie orange glow. She clutches at her handbag anxiously. I can see from the tension in her neck muscles that she’s stopping herself from looking over her shoulder. 

The adrenaline of fear always makes the blood taste sweeter. I cross the street and scuff my feet intentionally on the floor. Her heart dances in response. I’m trying to hold back but that sound makes my fangs lengthen involuntarily. Embarrassing at my age really, but there’s no one to see.

She takes her phone out of her pocket and holds it to her ear.
“Yes love, I’ll be less than 5 minutes. Pop the kettle on.”
I smirk around my fangs. There’s no one on the other end of that phone. That means there’s likely no one waiting for her either. Not that it matters.

She speeds up, trying to do it casually.  Women are always so polite like that. Men fight back quickly, but women almost seem apologetic about suspecting you’re a threat, even while you’re sucking the blood out of them.

She draws level with the entrance to the alley just as I can’t hold back anymore. See? Polite.

I cross the distance between us in the space between two of her heartbeats, wrap my arms around her and whisper into her ear;
“Go on sweetie, have a little struggle if it makes you feel better.”

Bless her she does try. Doesn’t realise what shes up against yet. Thinks I’m just some bloke. Kicks her little legs and thrashes her head back trying to connect with my face. I love it when they’re like that, so cute. And it makes me feel like a proper hunter, y’know? Like some kind of animal.

I drag her into the alley and push her against the wall. I lick the back of her neck, slowly. My saliva contains anticoagulants that give me a smoother feeding experience, but it has the added effect of causing her to secrete the most beautiful aroma of fear.

I need her to see. It’s no fun at all if she thinks I’m just a man out to hurt her. I need to look into her eyes as she sees what I am. It’s no sport otherwise.

I spin her round and pin her against the wall.

Her face goes through shock to a glint of recognition as she realises what she’s seeing is, indeed, a vampire, and then to into abject terror surprisingly quickly.

I open my mouth slowly for effect. I want her to fully appreciate the fangs before I slide them into her neck, really get that adreneline pumping.

Then she does what no human has done before. She bites my fucking face.

It shouldn’t hurt, she’s a human, they’re not even strong enough to break my skin with knives, but it really does. My face is on fire. I fling her away from me and she takes a chunk of my cheek with her. She starts screaming and hollering like she’s the one that just got hurt, and doors start to open in the street, so I run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.

Only…as fast as I can doesn’t seem to be that fast. What’s happening to me? I need to get back to my coffin, and quick. I try to dissipate into bats, but instead of bursting into a cloud of creatures of the night, I vomit black blood over some bins. That’s never happened to me before.

I try to hail cabs but they won’t stop for me. Probably the bloody face. I try to throw a glamour over it, but I just get a blinding headache.

I lurch and stagger home, like a drunk, and manage to get back around midnight. Ridiculously early for a winter night, but I feel so drained.

“Can I help you sir?”

Why is there a police officer here?

“No?” I say.

“You seem to be injured. Can I ask what you’re doing in the graveyard?”

I throw all my charm at her.
“I live here. ” I say, in the  mesmeric tone I use exclusively for hypnotism. “And you won’t see anything wrong with that. It’ll seem perfectly normal. You’ll say sorry for bothering me and you’ll go on your way.”

“Oh I will, will I?”

“Um…yes? Without asking any more questions.” Something’s wrong here. She doesn’t look drowsy or have that stupid smile people get when they’re being hypnotised, or anything. Why isn’t she responding?

“Right. What’s your name?”

“What? You can’t ask me that, I charmed you!”

“You charmed me did you?” She took out a tiny notebook and started scribbling something down. “Can you tell me what day it is?”

I hiss and try to bare my fangs. She looks at me tiredly.

“That’ll be a no then? What happened to your face?”

“You’re supposed to be running in fear, can’t you see I’m a bloody vampire?”

“Okie doke. Let’s go have a little sit in my car, shall we?” She leads me, firmly but not unkindly to the police car.

“Where are you taking me? I need to lay in my coffin to get better.  You can’t make me stay somewhere overnight, I’ll crumble to dust when the sun comes up!”

“Sure you will, mate. I think the nurses at the hospital might have some magic…exlixr to help with that. We’ll ask them, shall we?”

She pushes me into the car and shuts the door. I can see her talking to someone on her radio through the glass but I can’t hear what she’s saying. I should be able to hear what she’s saying. What has that girl done to me?

 I grab the grille that separates me from the front of the vehicle and squeeze. It should be like snapping a breadstick, but I can’t even make it bend.

I spend the car ride trying to turn into mist, but it just makes me throw up more black blood, and bile.
The police woman mutters “for fuck’s sake!” and radios ahead to the hospital, before turning on her siren and putting her foot down.

By the time we arrive I’m too weak to do anything, but I do try to fight. It’s getting late,  if they process me I won’t be getting discharged before sunrise. I’ll burn to a pile of ash. All because of a human. I kick and thrash but it does nothing. I slam my head back trying to break their noses but the people pulling me out of the car dodge me expertly. I feel something wet on my neck, and then a sharp prickle. Did they inject me? With one of those little needles they use to puncture humans? How?

My vision swims, and everything goes dark.

It’s bright when I wake up. Not the bright of artificial light either, I can tell before I even open my eyes. I screw them shut tightly and whimper. I’m going to burn.

“Are you awake there?” a soft voice asks.

I half open one eye. There’s a window. A blue sky beyond, a fluffy white cloud.

“How are you feeling?” the nurse asks. She’s old and has kind eyes. Exactly my type actually, I like a nice vintage.

“I’m really thirsty” I say, truthfully. “Hungry too.”
“Well that’s a good sign!” She leans over me to wrap a blood pressure cuff round my arm. I can see a small vein pulsing in her neck. “What do you fancy?”

“I’ve got a such a craving actually. For…tea. Really sweet tea.” Where did that come from?  “And maybe…marmalade on toast?”

“I’ll sort that out for you.” she says. “If you press that button there it’ll sit your bed up so you can see out the window. Back in a tick.”

The bed head rises slowly as I press the button, and for the first time in 400 years, I see the sun.

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Author: Victoria Pearson

Victoria Pearson lives behind a keyboard somewhere in rural Bedfordshire, with her husband, her four children and her dog. She writes very strange stories.

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