The Vampire

"Thirst tells you when to go, where to go, how to go and even who to go with... This is the most exciting and scary time in any vampire's existence, and it's where I'll begin my story."

Cia craves for blood in the streets of New York, under cover of the darkness she's forced to live in. She's perfectly clear on what she is and how she must take care of her own needs. And to help her, she has her Mentor, the grumpy Lacien. The two of them exist together, do everything together, and it's driving Cia crazy. Until she meets a human, who seems to pop up out of nowhere, knowing all there is to know about what she is and how she manages to remain undead.

And for a while, everything's good. Until things start twisting in directions Cia had never foreseen, which forces her to reconsider everything.

WARNING: Due to request of some readers, there is no age line. However, the story does contain certain elements that younger readers might consider offensive.

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4. The Mentor

 

Sunlight poured into the room from the uncovered window. It made all the deep lines in the old wooden floor stand out very much, revealing that we weren’t the best caretakers the apartment had had. I sat out of reach of the dangerous UV waves coming down on Earth from the universe beyond. Sitting there, watching, I tried to remember as far back as I could. Memories fade over time, though, and it wasn’t much I remembered of my life as a human. And I remember less now.

I grew up in Virginia, while the state was in the process of making a new constitution that would change life for my family as we knew it. Allow my father to vote despite the fact that he owned no land at all. We were living in a small town, and on evenings I would dress up and head off to this bar where the workmen from the fields came to drown their sorrows in alcohol and women. And these men would take interest in my youth and offer me great amounts of money to sleep with them. It broke my parents’ hearts, but we needed the money desperately, because they’d spent their entire savings on sending my older brother to university in New York.

In 1833 I went to visit him in the big city, and as I was searching for the dorm he lived in close to New York University, I lost my way in the dark. A couple approached me, their accents foreign, both keeping their faces turned slightly downward and away from me. They told me they knew the way and led me around for a while until I stopped asking questions. And then they turned into an alley and that’s when I was Turned.

I barely remember the years of constant Thirst, of living off my instincts and not paying attention. My brains, however, seem to have absorbed the passing of time perfectly well, because when I snapped out of that newborn-stage, I was perfectly aware that I was now in the last half of the twentieth century. I spoke perfectly normally to the people I met. Or at least I think so, because no human ever pointed out that I spoke differently, and I had no trouble understanding what they were saying. Adjusting had happened just like that, in all those years I had been out of touch with anyone other than my pray. I had visited Florida once, which I found out after encountering a woman in 1945, who claimed to have met me down there earlier.

And then I lived for some years on my own, occasionally going out of New York to hunt elsewhere so that I wouldn’t draw too much suspicion with all those dead children. I went all the way up to the Canadian border, then down to Detroit, currently the second most crime plagued city in the United States, and over to Baltimore. But I never settled in those other cities, because I’d grown fond of New York City with all its people and lights and nightlife and noise and the comfort of the ever-lasting shadows between the skyscrapers.

I recalled everything after my return to New York very clearly, because not very many years after that, Lacien found me living here. In this apartment. I glanced to the door that led to the stairway. My heart skipped a beat when the doorknob turned and he threw himself inside, panting and grasping at the wall opposite the door for support. My throat tightened and I swallowed the poison that had dropped from my fangs in a moment of anxiety. Then I collected myself and got to my feet, going around the square of light on the floor and pulling the curtains shut without getting in touch with the dangerous light.

And then I turned my attention back to my Mentor, who had come in. He was leaning against the door, still sounding as though he were out of breath, which should be impossible for us. His black hair was tousled, but he had that stressed look on his face that made me realize that if he’d been human, he would’ve been sweating. A thin line of smoke lose before his face, and I followed it to the source. There was a small flame eating at his boots, and underneath I could see his burned white skin.

“What the hell happened?” I demanded.

He shot me an angry glare before bending down and putting the flame out by choking it in the rest of the fabric, careful not to touch it with his hands.

“I thought you should see what happens at even the slightest exposure to sunlight, clothed or not,” he grumbled. “And why, if you’re inexperienced, you should never hunt in daylight, even when it’s cloudy.”

How he’d known that I’d never seen anything like it - never seen the effect of sunlight on our skin and clothes - I had no idea. But the sight shocked me, and I worried about him for a short moment. It looked painful. Our skin should never have that color. It was supposed to be snow white forever.

“Will you be okay?” I whispered, knowing I shouldn’t be soft on him.

“What a stupid question,” he said dryly. “It’ll heal.”

Freeing himself of the wall, he limped across the room and sat down in his usual spot. In the seat of a worn armchair in black fabric. He bent forward then, dragging off his boots and throwing them at the door. His entire foot was different shades of gray, worst around the patch where the hole had been burned and his skin exposed. Through little cracks in his skin, I could see blood coming to the surface, spotting the gray surface.

He swore, got up and hobbled out into the little, dark kitchen area, where he found a first aid kit left by the previous owners long ago. He unwrapped a roll of bandages and went back into the same room as me to sit down. I was mystified and fascinated and horrified at the same time, watching how he twisted the long strip of fabric around his gray skin tightly. It looked too tight, I observed, but didn’t bother asking him. He obviously knew what he was doing.

“Why did you go out at this hour anyway?”

He groaned, leaned back and swung his legs over one of the chair’s armrests, leaning against the other with his forearms.

“Aren’t you chatty today?” he hissed.

“I just want to know. You’re the one who told me never to do it, though I never would’ve done it anyway. So what sort of reason did you have for going out?”

“I needed to feed.”

“So soon?”

Getting home from the hunt the other day, he had told me we needed to stay away from the streets. Let those three hunt, and then wait until they were preparing to leave. Why he wanted to do so I could only make guesses about. I just did as he said. And my Thirst was increasing, too, but not as much. It had only been one night of not feeding, and though I would like to feed, I had no trouble waiting for a day or two more. But that would be it.

Of course he was male and used his body more than I did - dropping from buildings, running really fast, stuff like that - but he shouldn’t be thirsty this soon. I knew he could go at least a day without feeding, and he always made sure to feed every other night.

“The night you killed that cop,” he hissed. “I didn’t feed then.”

“But you -“

“I was still waiting when you showed up, revealing your stupidity. And then those three morons came along,” he explained. “I don’t like to be watched when I feed, and I don’t like to share my pray.”

“But we did that once in -“

“That’s different! I’m your Mentor. We live together.”

“But you don’t particularly like me.”

He snorted.

“Well, no. I hate you.”

I lowered my gaze. Never in my entire existence had anyone told me they hated me. Not even my victims. Not even my parents or my brother when I told them what I did back when I was human. And here Lacien was, the one person I’d suspected hated me all along. I shouldn’t be surprised, and I wasn’t, but the words were harsh to take in anyway. I swallowed, forcing myself to look up again.

He looked like that sort of evil creature which realized that it’d really done something truly cruel this time. Surprise was in his red eyes, which narrowed slightly, and his fangs had retreated into his human canines, his lips slightly parted.

“But I hate you less than I hate Aitor, and I hate you less than I hate strangers.”

This really was no comfort, but I just nodded, rose to my feet and turned toward the door that led to my bedroom. I was stomping, really, but didn’t care. It usually annoyed Lacien, and right now all I wanted was to annoy him. Get on his nerves, be a spoiled little shit like he’d called me so many times. Especially since he probably didn’t want to move around a whole lot with that foot.

“Going to sulk like a little baby again, are we?” he asked from the chair in a humiliating tone.

“Better than to stay in the same room as this arrogant old man who hates me,” I snarled.

“And you’re wondering why I hate you,” he sighed.

“What do you mean by that?” I snapped.

“You behave like a child. You’re careless and egoistic, to the point where it becomes dangerous. And you expect me to be all soft on you and at the same time keep you safe - risking my own existence in the process,” he said coldly. “And then when something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to, in your mind, I’m the one to blame.”

I stood completely still, debating whether to actually enter my room or to sit down on the floor and try finishing the conversation with him. Trying to make him understand somewhere in his heart of stone seemed impossible, but I didn’t want him to call me a sulking child either. Knowing that he was right, I felt humiliation and fury burn in my throat along with the beginning of Thirst. I would probably be going out on my own that following night. And the thought made me both anxious and excited. I hadn’t been out completely on my own since Lacien came along, so this was definitely an opportunity to show that I wasn’t as irresponsible as he thought.

I sat down on the floor, leaning back against the door to my room, which remained closed. He glanced at me, then turned his head away, seemingly focusing on the dark walls with no sorts of decorations on them at all. Not even wallpaper. Just paint that was coming off in places, revealing the concrete underneath.

“I hate when you’re right,” I muttered, wrapping my arms around my knees.

“Must be a lot of hatred in your life, then,” he commented.

I bit my lip and felt my left fang sink through the skin, making a small hole that filled with blood. I sucked at it, just to prevent myself from bleeding. Vampires can’t feed on themselves, so there was no point really in doing it. Humans might suck on their minor wounds to stop the bleeding, too, but that’s because human spit contains stuff that will help heal the wound. As vampires don’t have spit, that would’ve been a hopeless project for me to take on. Luckily, the skin healed quickly.

“Was there a particular reason you wanted me to stay in here?” I pressed.

“Yes,” he said, changing his position so he was facing me. “I thought we should talk.”

“Talk?” I repeated stupidly.

He treated me like crap every single night, and he was grumpy as fuck and silent all day when he wasn’t asleep. And now he wanted to talk? It was hard not to laugh.

“Yes. Talk. You know, when your stomach, throat, mouth and nose make sounds and your tongue shapes them into words.”

“I know what talking is!” I sneered. “Why would you want to talk to someone you hate?”

He rolled his eyes, his favorite thing to do, it seemed.

“I was thinking that I might as well answer some of your many, many questions. That way perhaps you’ll get to know me a little bit, and maybe you’ll start actually listening to what I’m saying.”

My attention was drawn to him immediately, and I angled my body so I was leaning forward, my head a little closer to him, though almost the entire width of the room was between us. So I was allowed to ask him some questions? And he wanted me to listen to what he said to me, rather than just ignoring him? Well, that last bit wasn’t something I didn’t know, but the other part… He had never been one for answering questions. Not the kind of questions concerning his person, anyway.

“Okay,” I agreed. “But you’ll have to promise me you’ll tell me the truth.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“I can make you a promise, but I rarely keep my promises.”

“But you’ll be telling me the truth,” I commanded sharply.

“If it means so much to you, I’ll tell you the truth,” he said in a neutral tone that was unreadable.

I rose, crossed the floor and sat down before him. He pulled his undamaged foot up into the chair and let the other one rest on the floorboards between us. His red eyes were focused and sharp and staring right into mine without the faintest trace of an apology for calling me evil things earlier.

“How old are you?” I asked, wanting to know the truth this time.

He made a face, then flashed a crooked smile.

“Old enough to have met Homer in person,” he admitted. “But the exact number I don’t -“

“Wait,” I exclaimed, studying his young face, squinting, trying to grasp what he’d just told me. “You’re more then two thousand years old?”

His lips curled again, this time taking on an edge.

“You called me an old man,” he reminded me without humor. “What did you expect?”

Certainly not to be talking to someone who had lived close to three millenniums, yet still was completely fit for fight and very nasty. Elderly humans were usually nicer and more cozy than younger adults, but with Lacien that wasn’t the case. Perhaps because he wasn’t human. And perhaps because he’d found that kindness brought him nowhere? I had no idea, and I dared not ask him.

“Never mind,” I mumbled. “How old were you when you were Turned?”

He was silent, looking at something behind my head. I turned to see what it was, but already knew that it was just another wall. Nothing interesting there, which just annoyed me. If he didn’t want to answer my questions, he shouldn’t have said he would. I made a sound of irritation and got to my feet.

As I turned, he grasped my wrist with a firm hand, then pulled back hard until I sat down on the floor again. Then he released me, and I rubbed my sore wrist. Humans couldn’t hold on tightly enough for it to hurt me, but other vampires could. And Lacien certainly hadn’t held back.

“Give me a moment,” he snapped. “I don’t even remember in which year I was Turned.”

“Does that have anything to do with your age then?” I wondered aloud.

“Listen, you impatient child, I’m doing my best here to find an answer to your question, and if that’s not good enough, I’d be delighted to stop our little game right here.”

I bent my head, feeling like a scolded kindergarten kid who’d drawn the adults’ attention one too many times.

“Sorry,” I spat.

He was silent for a while more, then he adjusted his position and sat down on the floor across from me, leaning back against the seat of his beloved armchair.

“In my late teens, early twenties, I would guess,” he said.

“Do you know who Turned you?”

“Yes. Her I’ll never forget.”

“Who was she?”

“Ever heard of the Oracle in Delfi?”

I nodded slowly, waiting for him to continue. When he didn’t it occurred to me why. He had already told med indirectly, through his question.

“An… Oracle Turned you?”

“Yes.”

“How did that happen?”

“I asked her how to make myself immortal. I meant through art, as I was very engaged in sculpturing, but she took that very literally and told me to wait ‘till midnight. Then my wish should come true,” he explained, then added, “This world is full of stupid creatures.”

I ignored his last comment and crossed my arms.

“Then what?” I went on.

He hissed in annoyance, clearly not too happy with the situation he’d brought himself in. It was probably not that he didn’t want to tell his story. Rather, it was the fact that he, too, had been a newborn once. This was, I assumed, the part where he told me how he lost control like the rest of us. Lost his self-consciousness like every other vampire in the making.

“Then,” he started again, “she Turned me and decided that I would make nice company. She was… happy about having me around, though I didn’t pay her much attention. You know why. Every night she would send me fresh pray in my little cave not far from her workplace. I would feed happily, and because I never got into a troublesome or distressful situation, I regained control of myself really fast. Problem with that was, I had it all coming to me so easily, so I never really learned to hunt. Somehow, Hunters came along, and they killed the oracle. I took off and never returned, and then I had to start learning how to do things, other than having some woman serve me a great meal every night.”

He sounded strangely bitter, but his face was neutral, revealing no emotion at all. I was gaping at him by the time he finished the story, wondering how anyone could think he was nice company. But then again, this was almost three thousand years ago, so maybe his personality had changed a little bit.

I didn’t know if I should say something comforting or ask a new question or just wait for him to pick up the thread on his own. In the end, I bit my lower lip again, watching him intensely. His slumped position on the floor indicated nothing. He liked to sit that way, I’d noticed, hanging slightly over one leg with the other one bent slightly. His arms were resting on top of his knee, folded, and his chin found its place where his forearms crossed.

Learning everything after he had exited that place of nothing, of constantly being a vampire ready for hunt… That had to be pretty hard. I would’ve never imagined Lacien to be that kind of spoiled newborn, because he didn’t seem the least bit spoiled now. In fact, he was much like human kids from tough neighborhoods - hard on themselves and the world around them. And he was so very guarded. Nothing ever really got to him emotionally, other than perhaps annoyance, anger, rage, and superiority. At least that was basically what I’d seen of emotions coming from him.

I cleared my throat.

“So… Um… How’s your foot?”

He raised an eyebrow, then tipped his head forward slightly. For a moment he seemed to be considering what to answer to that. Then his gaze locked with mine again.

“Burned,” he replied.

And then he reached backward, dragging himself back into the armchair again. I kept watching him, feeling our little conversation coming to an end soon. Whether I liked that, I didn’t really know, because I did want to get to know him better. Maybe I could find a reason for all that hatred he showed me in his past.

“Did you ever fall in love?” The question flew out of me, and I clasped my hands over my mouth a moment too late.

He snorted.

“You’re not going to let me get any sleep today, are you?” he asked irritably.

“Not until you’ve answered my question.”

“How about this,” he offered, making a floating gesture with his hand. “Take my advice. Don’t fall in love. I’ve seen enough of that to know what I’m talking about.”

And then he deliberately closed his eyes, turning his head away from me and swinging his legs over the armrest. I squinted at him for a moment, hoping he’d change his mind, but also knowing he wouldn’t. That jerk.

So I stood up, brushed the dust off my clothes and took a look around. A small strip of sunlight crossed the floor a little distance from the darkened window, glowing like fire on the dark wooden floor. I took a step closer to the light, narrowing my sore eyes. They were beginning to sting from the intense staring at something so ridiculously powerful. How could something like that - something humans enjoyed so much - be so terribly harmful to us?

When the stinging got too much, I turned away, rubbing my eyes, wondering how on Earth Lacien had managed not to scream from pain at the touch of UV-light. I supposed I had to give him that, too. He seemed capable of enduring great amounts of pain. Taking one last peek at him, I noticed the two fang marks on his neck, which were usually covered by the collar of his jacket.

Three thousand years old… Well, he certainly didn’t look it. Shaking my head, I went into my bedroom and collapsed on top of my bed. 

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