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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3. The Strangers

Meeting Lacien for the first time wasn’t any funnier than it was now. I was minding my own business, satisfying my thirst when I needed to, avoiding human contact at other occasions, and slowly learning how to work things out for myself. And then one day I wasn’t alone on my hunt in Hoboken. Out of nowhere came this figure, dropping from the sixth floor. He said nothing, though I could see that he wanted to. His eyes were burning as he regarded the human before my feet, my blood-stained white dress, and at last my face.

“Oh,” he said then, narrowing his eyes. “So you are one of those.”

“What do you mean?” I asked naively, having absolutely no idea what he was referring to.

He pointed to the figure before me. A black boy, perhaps thirteen years old, resting in a pool of his own blood. Precious blood I had spilled because I hadn’t known exactly how to kill him without wasting anything. I know now that Lacien was referring to the boy’s age when he said that, and I know he disapproved of what I’d done because it was written all over his face.

“Children,” he said. “Taking their lives at this age is troublesome. They produce the future generations for us. Without them, we’ll starve.”

I wrinkled my nose then. I hadn’t thought about it like that. The only reason my pray was children, was because I wanted to look bright and young and innocent forever. I suffered from a severe case of vanity at that time, some years ago, when I first met Lacien.

This I might have to explain. Humans seem always to point out that vampires in books and movies can be born vampires and then grow up until a certain age and then age no more. This, of course, is untrue. Vampires can’t have children, and we don’t grow up. In theory, we stay exactly the same age after we’re Turned. For eternity. But in practice it’s a little different. Our looks depend on the pray we choose, and that is why children usually seem to grow up. They’re still children on the inside, but young adult human blood is easier to get a hold of, and thus their appearances will change to those of young adults.

I had discovered this during my first years of slowly coming out of the trance-like state I’d been in since my Turning. And, being fifteen when I was Turned, I still had the mind of a fifteen-year-old, now more than a century old. I wanted to look cute and childlike so people would think of me as pure and innocent, the ideals of a girl from the time when I lived. I was a little older than I’d liked for that look, so I prayed on children and teenagers for a long time, changing between the two age-groups in order to reach the appearance I was striving for.

Killing children and teenagers only had been a bad idea, and it had gotten on Lacien’s nerves for a long time, because I couldn’t get used to the taste of mature human blood at first. Then he had forced me to drink it anyway, and slowly I developed a more mature appearance that I was actually satisfied with, despite the lack of apparent purity and innocence. I was now a young woman of body, physically geared to seduce any man into his death. I was a killing machine.

And yet my mind was still the mind of a young teenager, and I still made mistakes that got on Lacien’s nerves. Just like my mistake did it after I went back to East Harlem after feeding. He was there, on the top of the building, waiting for me. I told him about what I’d done, because he usually wanted to know. And usually he would just sigh and roll his eyes before starting home. That night, however, he made a face and bared his fangs at me while he locked eyes with me.

“You killed a cop?” he hissed. “You useless little piece of shit!”

“What’s so wrong in that? You’ve killed firemen, judges, lawyers and whatnot without thinking about it twice!” I snarled.

“They don’t have emergency radios or phones or buttons or whatever it’s called!” he roared.

“So what? He was only one cop! I would’ve been long gone by the time anyone got there! Besides, even if he had yelled vampire into the microphone, no one would’ve believed him. They would think him insane and assume he killed himself.”

“Don’t be so naïve,” he groaned. “Yes, humans are ignorant, but they’re curious. Especially with all this fiction about us and other supernatural creatures flourishing. Especially young people will be curious, and we don’t need that. Got it?!”

How exactly he managed to shout at me with a lowered voice, I had no idea, but that’s what he was doing. The thing with Lacien was, he wasn’t the kind of person you wanted to be around when he was pissed - which was more or less always. You didn’t particularly want to be around him when he was in a lighter mood, either, which rarely happened. But sometimes I had to stifle laughter when he was really angry with me.

It wasn’t intentional. Often, when he wanted to point out what I’d done wrong, he got a little frustrated, and funny stuff came out of his mouth. Not the kind that humans would think was “ha-ha”-funny. But funny to me because I knew he had trouble finding the exact words because he was ancient.

He might as well have said, they don’t have emergency radios or phones or buttons or whatever it’s called nowadays. And I thought that was hilarious. Most vampires adjusted to the different ways of calling things over the years, but sometimes with Lacien, it seemed like he couldn’t quite do the same thing. It could be that I’d never been around any other vampire as long as I had with Lacien, and thus couldn’t really tell if they had that problem, too. Or it could be that Lacien was very, very old.

“Say, Lacien,” I said, aware that he was still breathing fire from outrage, “How old are you actually?”

“Didn’t listen to a word I said,” he sighed, turning his back on me. “I should’ve known. Stupid fool.”

“I can hear you, you know,” I informed him.

“Did you hear the part where you’re a careless fool, who doesn’t consider anything before feeding on people, too?”

Not tonight, I thought. But it was something he’d said often before when I did something he considered especially stupid. Usually I didn’t pick a fight with him when he was in one of his moods, but that night I’d had just about enough of him, and the rush of blood in my veins just sharpened my feelings a little bit. Enough that it actually stung when he called me things like that.

“Would you give me a break!” I screamed at his straight back. “I heard you, and I’ll keep it in mind in the future. But I can’t undo something that’s in the past, so stop nagging at me.”

A single snort of laughter escaped him, though I knew it wasn’t because he was particularly amused. He was just expressing how pathetic I was to him - enough that he had to laugh at me, despite my attempt to avoid laughing at him.

“It shouldn’t be necessary for you to wish to change the past. And it wouldn’t if you’d just think before you act once in a while,” he drawled, then turned quickly, his gaze fixed on something behind me. “Bet you didn’t notice that we’ve got company, either.”

I spun on my heel to see what he was talking about. There, at the edge of the roof, stood three long, slender figures, all in black cloaks. I shuddered involuntarily and stepped backward toward Lacien, who reached out a hand to keep me from walking into him. I stopped as he stepped up beside me, coming to a halt and stiffening, even though it was obvious that there was nothing really to be worried about.

The three persons had eyes under their hoods, and these eyes were glowing the same scarlet color as mine and Lacien’s. They stood impossibly still on the edge of the building, only millimeters from a straight forty-eight yard drop to the ground. Their cloaks were blowing peacefully in the wind, wrapping around the frames of them, the moon sending its pale silver light down over their hooded heads and shoulders.

“No need to be so tense,” a male voice said suddenly, from the one in the middle. “We’re not looking for trouble.”

“Let me see your faces,” Lacien demanded.

I glanced at him. He had some nerve, commanding three other vampires around like that. Me he could do it to because I would probably not survive a real fight with him, but these were three, seemingly together. And yet he sounded completely calm, the same scary way he was always calm. Standing at his side, I felt like a stupid child, looking up at a parent or an older sibling. It made me feel sick.

I deliberately took a step forward, opening up my arms in a welcoming gesture.

“Don’t listen to him. No one ever does,” I said.

Behind me, Lacien whispered loudly,

“And look at the messes you always find yourself in because of it.”

This I ignored, by face turned to the strangers, who reached up simultaneously and let the hoods fall back, revealing three faces. The one who had spoken was male with high cheekbones, dark hollows at his temples and underneath the cheekbones, a sharply angled jaw and a pointy chin. His black hair was cut very short, and he had a businesslike attitude. He was by far the tallest of the three, broad and muscular and straight.

To his left stood a girl. Or… well, I didn’t really know how old she was, but she looked like she was in her early twenties. Her hair was twisted up on her head in a loose bun, and her lips were painted a bright red, the color of blood. She had a soft, beautiful face with sort of blurred features, which wore a kind expression. Almost like a young woman watching a baby crawl on the floor before her feet, wanting to pick it up, but restrained by the people around her.

On the opposite side of the man stood a boy. He looked to be around sixteen, with shiny hair that seemed to be a little too long for his pale face. Otherwise he looked exactly like the girl, revealing that they were probably related in some way. Which meant that someone had Turned a set of siblings or cousins or even a parent and his or her child or something like that. Something like that seemed a little too deliberate to be an accident, which made me feel kind of sorry for them both. Except they would have each other for eternity instead of one part losing the other to the night.

“Lacien, Lacien,” the man in the middle said, startling me. “Always so vigilant. Calm down, old man.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. The man talking to Lacien looked at least ten years older than Lacien did, and though I knew that made no difference, it was odd to hear. Lacien looked so very young, the age of someone ready to start college the following fall. Calling him “old man” didn’t really seem all that appropriate to me, but then again, he probably didn’t care.

Instead he sighed audibly.

“What brings you to New York?” he asked with a sort of dangerous curiosity under the very genuine question.

“Did you think I would stay in Spain after what happened back then?” the man asked.

“I suppose not,” Lacien muttered, stepping forward so he stood next to me. “Who’re your little… friends?” He spat the last word out like it tasted sour.

“Oh,” the man said. “I discovered a homeless pair of twins once. During the French Revolution. This is Cécile and her brother, Louie.”

I blinked. The French Revolution was in the late eighteenth century, not long before I was born. Which meant that Lacien had lived then, too. He had to have lived then, because it seemed he’d met the man before the twins came along. Assuming the three were always together, of course.

“And you Turned them yourself?” Lacien drawled, dissatisfaction visible in every inch of his straight, composed body.

“Why yes. They’re pretty interesting company,” the man laughed softly, surprising me.

I was under no illusions that even for a vampire, Lacien was unusually bad. But seeing that he was actually capable of treating this man with a hint of respect had made me wonder if the man was even worse than Lacien. Which, obviously, wasn’t the case. I felt myself relax as my eyes drifted over the buildings ahead of the one we were all standing on. I could see straight to the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan, the lights growing ever brighter with every moment I watched them.

Wake up, said Lacien in my head.

I glanced back to the three on the edge quickly, not sure if they expected me to be present of mind or not. They were all staring at me, as though they expected me to say something. When I glanced sideways to Lacien, he rolled his eyes and sighed deliberately.

“This is Cia,” he said coldly, revealing nothing more about why we were together.

“Cia?” the man in the middle repeated, then smiled mildly and stepped forward, hand extended. “A pleasure to meet you, Miss. My name is Aitor.”

I hesitated briefly, and Lacien gave me a push, sending me stumbling forward. Utterly ashamed and embarrassed and angry I straightened up and forced a smile. Slowly shaking his hand, I watched his face for a bit of that cruelty Lacien always carried with him, but found no trace of it. He was smiling brilliantly instead, his pale face lighting up.

“Pleasure’s all mine,” I said hastily and retreated to stand beside Lacien.

“She’s a nice one,” Aitor commented, obviously not talking to me, but locking eyes with me anyway. Then he gestured to the ones on either side of him, “My children, you may find a fine friend in her.”

The way he said it made me shiver. Almost like I was potential pray for the two of them, even though that seemed ridiculous. Some of us enjoy feeding on other vampires - keeping the population in their areas down, I assume - but that didn’t seem to be the case here. Perhaps he really did mean it. I should be grateful. No one had been that nice to me since the day I met Lacien. Unless I counted humans in, then it was a completely different situation.

Both of the younger vampires - still older than me - came closer, gliding at first, then changing into a normal walk. Their heads were tilted to opposite sides, and their eyes were fixed on me. I suppressed an urge to step backward and remained where I was.

And then, very suddenly, the girl snapped out of her soundless approach and rushed to stand before me, taking my hands in hers.

“Oh, you’re so cute! You look like a little girl, so naïve, so unprotected, so amazingly brilliantly cute!” she fussed, moving from side to side in small jerks, taking me in from different angles.

Behind me, I heard Lacien’s voice repeat some of the words,

“Yes, a naïve little girl.”

The girl - Cécile - didn’t seem to notice and continued the rain of adjectives describing how perfectly cute I was for quite some time, just like a teenage girl might talk to a cute pet or child. I was positive that I was blushing. And yes, vampires can blush, because we, too, have blood in our veins, and even though it’s not rightfully ours, it serves the same purpose as our original blood.

“Now, wouldn’t you agree, Louie?” Cécile asked her brother, turning her head to look over her shoulder.

Louie stepped closer, his eyes very big and very soft suddenly. Almost like those stupid anime characters that humans liked to watch on TV.

“Indeed,” he breathed softly. “She’s like a most rare flower, being blown randomly around in the wind until she settles on the clear surface of a large lake.”

“So now she’s a flower?” Lacien muttered. “Well, I guess you could call her a dandelion.”

“But dandelions are weeds,” I interrupted.

“Exactly.” He nodded east, then snapped into movement, taking a couple of steps toward the edge. “We have to get going now,” he said sharply, leaving no room for me to want something else.

I watched him skeptically as he went close to the straight fall to the ground, watching his feet. No one said a word as I started climbing the fire escapes all the way down. He stood above me when I glanced up, then made a face and leapt into the air, much like he’d done it when he crossed the road earlier. Except now there was a long way to the ground. He curled slightly in his fall, and I saw a flash of black and white as he went straight past me, soon to be connected with the ground.

Staring, I didn’t move a muscle, despite my awkward position with one hand on the iron bar above me and the other one stretched out for the one that my feet were resting on. I gazed all the way down, where Lacien landed perfectly, briefly going into a kneeling position - absorbing the pressure from the collision, no doubt - before straightening up and letting his red eyes flash over me.

This probably meant I’d have to hurry, so I went back to my project of climbing down, until I felt at a safe enough distance from the ground to jump. I went into a crouch and then stood up next to Lacien, who was watching me like I was a boring toy he didn’t want to play with anymore. What an attitude for a Mentor, who had chosen this life himself. Had chosen to live with me and teach me to be a “real” vampire. That’s the way he’d put it, anyway, and I wondered what a wrong vampire was.

“Cia!” sang a voice from the top of the building. Cécile’s. “We’ll see you soon.”

Raising an eyebrow, I waved to her and Louie before turning my attention to the Mentor beside me. He gave me a quizzical look before shaking his head resignedly.

“You’re beyond me,” he declared, though I knew per instinct that he didn’t mean it as a compliment. Rather the opposite.

But before I could think of some insult to throw back at him, he was running, and I was hurrying to catch up with him. The sun was starting to rise in the east, and it’d be best to be locked up in our flat by the time it climbed over the horizon and crept into the skyline. We had to hurry. 

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