When I turned on the light, however, it all came back.
A scream came out of my throat, almost animalistic as I saw myself in the mirror. Like her, I was pale as a ghost, my teeth long and sharp, and my eyes dark as night. I looked again, and again, each time unbelieving.
“No. It can’t be real. It can’t be real,” I said. In my pocket, my phone beeped, and I reached for it instinctively. My horror was not at the 69 missed calls, 200 emails and 47 text messages that flashed on the screen. My horror was the date above it. I had lost nearly three days.
Frantically, I opened my contact book scrolling through it. I wanted comfort. I wanted safety. I wanted someone to explain what was happening to me. But as I went through the names, I realized there was no one I could trust who would believe such a wild tale. I didn’t even fully believe it myself. This couldn’t be real. It had to be a joke, a drug laced trip. Perhaps I had drunk more than I should. Perhaps I hit my head and my mind was making up stories.
But nothing explained my appearance in the mirror or the fact that I craved thick liquid to slurp; warm and salty. I craved blood.
I had to find her. I had to figure out what was happening.
I grabbed a pair of sunglasses and a ball cap - the standard garb of celebrities trying to hide. My clothes felt disgusting but I allowed myself no time to change.
I hit the pavement quickly, a light drizzle of rain meaning it was mostly empty. My energy burned inside me, and I felt I could walk the five miles to the club; my last link to her.
There was a man coming towards me, his clothes ripped and his left hand gripped over his right. He was walking quickly, his jaw set in what I guessed must be pain. I could smell the blood coming from the wound on his hand, and I couldn’t help but stop.
“You ok, man?” I asked, clenching my fists. All I could think about was the warm liquid that was pouring from his veins.
“I just got mugged!” he exclaimed. “Bastard knifed me and took my wallet and phone. Dude, do you have a cell phone? Please, I need to call the police.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure,” I said, reaching into my pocket and handing it to him.
“Thanks, dude,” he said, and removed his hand from his wound to take the phone and dial. There were emails with subject lines that revealed my name, and he must have seen it. However, the surprise on his face was not my concern. “Hey, are you…”
I couldn’t control my muscles, couldn’t stop myself from launching forward at him, bearing my fangs and letting out an animalistic growl. We crashed into the alley behind us, his screams echoing through the passage way. With anger I couldn’t explain, I hit him, my hand connecting so hard with his face, it drew blood.
That was too much for me, and my body moved before my mind thought. I sunk my fangs into his neck, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. It was like I was famished, and this man was a buffet. I drank until his body was dry.
Drawing back when there was no more blood, I began to shake again. His body lay, drained, in front of me, so obviously dead that I knew there was no point in calling 9-1-1. Tears began to fall down my face, coming in great gasps, and I couldn’t hold back. I felt sadness and fear wash over me in ways I never felt before. I was cold, the rain soaking through my clothes, and while the external pain of earlier had passed, the tightness in my chest was growing unbearable.
The man’s hand still gripped my cell phone, and I reached out slowly, taking it. The battery was dying, although there was probably enough juice left for one call.
When I moved to Hollywood five years ago, I hadn’t left my home on good terms. My family thought trying to be an actor was the stupidest move I could make. It was a pipedream full of bad morals and worse behavior, and if I left, I left without their blessing. Over the last five years, the angry phone calls from home became shorter, and then stopped coming. They hadn’t changed their minds. They didn’t approve, so contact was cut.
And as the glamorous shiny world of fast friends and faster lovers surrounded me, my friends back home eventually drifted out of my life as well. They weren’t replaced. No, Hollywood wasn’t a place of a tight brotherhood where you shared things. You shared drinks, and women, and strip clubs. You flashed your money around as fast as you could, and bragged, but there wasn’t any friendship.
I brought the phone to my ear, listening to it ring overseas. There was still one person who hadn’t abandoned me; one person, who through it all had told me to follow my dream and listened when I talked. One person who believed every word out of my mouth and gave me the best advice I could have ever received.
“Hello?” came a voice over the phone, gruff with age. That’s when I lost it; the tears turning to sobs and hysterics. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breathe. I was acting like a child instead of a man. “Hello? Who’s there? Liam?”
I took a deep breath, trying to steady myself for a few moments.
“Grandpa? I need your help. Can I come over?”
I heard a pause over the phone line, and a million questions catch in his throat. But he asked none of them.
“Of course, my boy. Tell me when your plane gets in.”
At first, Peter didn’t believe me. Anyone who did right off the bat probably needed help themselves. But it only took one night, one night where he stayed in the room and watched the horrible transformation, to believe every word that tumbled out of my mouth from then on.
Peter took pity on me and allowed me to escape Hollywood; offering me a job as a teacher at the Academy for the rest of the term. I could still be immersed in acting, and yet stay out of Hollywood.
We found out that alcohol stunned the cravings, as it stunned most of your bodies other senses. And, before we figured out that I needed to be tied up every night if I didn’t want to kill anybody, I found Porsche.
I had stumbled upon a redneck high school party in the woods, a bunch of poor kids with beer kegs and bad wine. Drinking from one of them could easily be explained away as an accident. Kids will do stupid things and no one is ever sober enough to remember.
But just as I was about to make my move, Porsche, already 12 years into her dance training and on the brink of her own fame, grabbed me, her confidence enhanced by her popularity. She recognized me, of course, everyone still did, and she knew she wanted to land the superstar at the party. But when she touched me, everything disappeared. My cravings and fangs receded and my body began to warm up. She is one of the most powerful Shields to ever live, and she was unclaimed, living in solidarity as well.
Her identity and skill must also be kept a secret. While supernatural beings can use Shields to protect them and even seek them out, Shields are also mortal and usually their powers intensify in illness, like Porsche. Once claimed by a supernatural being - a witch, a werewolf, a vampire - they usually don’t survive past the first battle simply because their mortality stands out in a room full of immortals.
I didn’t want to go to battle with her. What I wanted was a friend who could understand me and help guide me through this supernatural life. I didn’t claim her, didn’t take her to a witch to put a binding spell on us. There was no need for formalities. Our friendship began on shocked common ground and remained strong on the understanding that we needed each other.
It was Porsche who told me how to survive as a vampire. Together, we figured out everything I needed to know. We figured out when the transformation started and stopped; we figured out that animal blood could do it, if need be. We managed to separate what we thought were myths about vampires from facts. We could walk in sunlight. We breathe, eat, drink and sleep in sunlight. We are alive in the daytime, only cursed at night. At night, we are immortal creatures with no heart beat or pulse; just a thirst for blood. The legends were correct in the weapons of our death. Wooden stakes through the heart and fire were our bane. Decapitation also worked, although that was hard; with our veins hardening and our muscles turning partially to stone every night. Even minor good things, like having a horrid cold during the day and feeling fine at night, didn’t cheer me up.
Selfishly wanting to keep her by my side; wanting someone to understand, I gave her the first scholarship that was mine to give so she could remain at the school and help me. Peter retired at the end of the term, giving me the position of headmaster. He was thinking of doing it anyway, and with my arrival and lack of ability to return, he saw the perfect opportunity. The role of Headmaster suited me perfectly. I could teach the classes I wanted, put on the shows I loved, and I was important enough to blow everyone off at night. My reputation as an arrogant egotistic actor only came in handy, as people gave me the space I needed once the sun went down.
The reputation at the Academy only grew with my presence, and within six months, we were the biggest and the best. We could charge anything we wanted, and people would pay. Our productions became on par with Broadway and the West End. Even when Porsche left for the Russian National Ballet, visiting only occasionally, I thought I would be fine. I had settled into a life that made me happy. I could survive this. I figured out I needed to be locked away. I didn’t want to cause a scene anymore; I didn’t want to kill or leave bodies; or have any more attention. I could live on animals most nights and no one got hurt. Except me.
And that’s when Selene started to show up again. She only came at night when I was locked away feeding on a rabbit or a squirrel. And she was even more irresistible than the first night I met her. By night, both in our demon form, she had power over me as my sire. It was like I was a puppet and she was my master. When she was here, I was under her spell and she owned every inch of me. She asked for the key to the chains and I told her where it was without hesitation. When she appeared, we would roam the streets with my mind under her influence and my hand locked in hers.
I would spend weeks in depression after she left; my human emotions coming strong when the sun rose. Covering up those deaths, deaths that I know I caused, was the hardest of all. Occasionally, I considered turning myself in and giving the families some peace. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it … not with the repercussions it would cause.