Drink it or die. The choice seems so simple. It’s the one thing standing between you, and a nice, black coffin. Most people make their choice without ever really thinking about it. They take the simplicity of their lives for granted. But when you’re like me, the choice is harder than anyone could possibly imagine. You see, when the drink is water, the choice is easy.
When it’s blood, not so much.
My name is Oliver Nelson, and I am a vampire.
That was the one thing I would never get used to saying. Vampyre. Blood-sucking, soulless creature of the night. Well, sort of. Apparently we are neither soulless or blood sucking.Vampyres are alive - technically - but lack life force. The thing that makes all other creatures of this world unique, and, as the name suggests, alive. So they - we - have to steal it from others. We do this by drinking blood, and our digestive system separates the life force generating sells from everything else, and we are good to go. The more we drink, the more life force we acquire, and the more abilities we gain.
It’s really a lot more complicated than I ever imagined.
Not that it was my choice by any means. It’s not like I just woke up one morning and thought Hey, you know what would be super awesome? Becoming a vampyre! Best summer plan ever! Nope. I’m just an idiot, plain and simple. Now, I’ve been 15 for 2 years.
I pulled my hoodie further in front of my forehead, when I felt the hot sting of the sun beating against my skin. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: If we don’t drink human blood, no sunlight for us. Don’t ask me why. I guess there is something in human life force specifically that helps us survive in the sun. I’m not totally sure what it is. I never exactly had a vampyre mentor or anything.
Anyway, every morning before class, I stand in line at the Pyre Cafe on 9th to get a nice, hot cup of blood. That way, I could at least make it through the school day before anyone could figure out my dark secret. Vampyre and humans don’t exactly have a long, thrilling history of getting alone. After giving my hood another tug to make sure my face was hidden, I stepped up to the counter and pained cash for my little morning pick me up. If Mom and Dad found out that I got myself turned, they would kill me. Again.
That would not be pleasant.
I took my drink from the cashier and sighed a little. Part of me felt like I had gotten way too used to the blood thing. But what else was I supposed to do? It was just how my life was, and there wasn’t anything I could really do about it. As I sipped the warm, thick liquid, I felt a rush of power flow through me- as if every cell in my body had suddenly become energized. I almost hated how much I loved the feeling a hot, fresh cup of blood gave me. It was unlike any high I had ever felt. Actually, it was the best high I had ever felt. And that was saying something, because I had felt a lot of highs in my late Middle school and early High school carriers.
But that wasn’t the point.
The point was supposed to be more along the lines of “don’t get high off of reVamp and accidentally kill yourself and get stuck with the life of a vampyre forever and ever.” Besides, being a vampyre kind of sucked. Even worse, I couldn’t even blame anyone other than myself for getting turned. I was the one who bought the reVamp. I was the one who pressured the people at the party to take it. I was the one who drank a bunch of alcohol on top of that and decided to walk home, only to find myself so high and drunk I literally walked right off a cliff because I thought I could fly, only to become overly acquainted with a tree branch.
I didn’t even have a cool death story. It sounded more like one of those cautionary tales they tell you to convince the kiddies that drugs are a no-no. You know the kind of person I’m talking about.
I took another sip of the hot blood, resisting the urge to moan in pleasure. That was the other annoying thing about vampire hood. Drinking blood was almost like getting into a hot bath after a long day at work. You could feel everything- you could feel the instant power it gave you. You could feel your body get stronger with every sip.
As I finished off the last few drops, the hunger started to set in. The intense, unbearable need for more that made you want to suck someone dry. I had to squeeze my eyes shut and count to ten to clear my head. As childish as it was, that was how I beat the hunger. It wasn’t like I could just go to town and have as much as I wanted. There were rules- regulations.
Plus, I had to go to school.
Yeah, that’s right. Becoming an honorary member of the undead did not get me out of my usual responsibilities. Maybe that was because I was still trying desperately to make people think I was still human. Thankfully, no one was with me when I died. By the next morning- when I was found tangled in the tree branches I had already woken up from the turn, which healed me, and made me look like I was just an asshole stuck in a tree and not a teenager who had fallen off a cliff and gotten impaled. No one knew where I spent my mornings, either - and no one was ever going to find out.
Admittedly, there were some perks to being a vampyre. Obviously, there was the whole bit where drinking human blood gave us the ability to walk in the sun- at least for a little while. It was like a build in cheat. That was how vampyres had stayed hidden in the shadows for so long. We blended in more than humans expected. It wasn’t until we exposed ourselves that the humans discovered us.
We. I scrunched my nose up in disgust as I threw the spoiled cup in the Bio-hazard waste bin. In the 2 years since I became a vampyre, I had both become one with my new life, and resented it. Saying we, as if I was part of some vampyre club, was honestly throwing me off a little. I wasn’t really part of the club, but at the same time, I was.
But I wasn’t going to worry anymore about it. At least evolution had given us other tools- besides the whole walking in the daytime thing. I had it down to a science- 1 cup of blood a day in the winter, 2 in the summer, and that was all I needed to go outside and still age like a semi-normal human being.
Oh yeah, that was the other thing. We age. Contrary to popular belief, but then again, it was a newly discovered thing. Vampyres who have never drained a human of all their blood can still age. Well, it did require basically starving ourselves, but at least it helped me blend in a little. I don’t quite remember how it works, but it probably has something to do with life force. Everything has to do with life force.
I do remember some of the basics. We learned about it back in freshman Mythology, and since I was now in Myth 3, it was a bit hard to recall the details. Basically, life force is what keeps humans young. As humans age, their life force slowly disappears, and that is what causes aging- and, eventually, death. So vampyres, with our lake of life force, actually age a lot faster than humans.
Drinking human blood prevents that. It used to be a vampire custom to drain a human of all their blood right after being turned. Legend says that draining a human not only gives you the permanent ability to walk in the sun, but also gives you immortality- keeping you at the same age forever. I’m not really sure if I bought it, but it wasn’t like I was going to go out and test it.
Aging was a little bit tricky, though. It required some debugging. Life force doesn’t make you younger, so once you age, you can never go back. When I first turned, I tried to age to at least finish puberty by starving myself for a full week. Let’s just say that’s when I had my “growth spurt.” I was very close to being discovered that time.
Honestly, I’m still pretty sure my parents are at least a little bit suspicious. But, at least I was getting away with it. For now.
I pushed my hoodie off of my head after I had gotten a few blocks away from the Cafe and shoved my hands in the pockets of my black jeans. At first, when I turned, I heavily rejected the stereotype that vampyres wear all black all the time but getting rid of every single piece of black clothing I owned. Since then, I’ve realize that that was stupid, and I should be able to wear whatever the fuck I want.
I watched the little shops pass as I walked to school. I had gotten used to going way out of my way to walk ten blocks in the opposite direction of my school just to get blood. I guess the perk of being a New York vampire was that walking an extra ten blocks (20 if you could both the walk there and the walk back so I could actually go to school) actually took less time walking than driving. Sometimes, when I was feeling particularly lazy, I could take the subway.
Even if i had to wake up at 5 and leave the house at 6 to still get to school on time, it was worth it.
I hopped up the steps to my school when suddenly someone wrapped their arm around my shoulder. They literally reeked of cologne - a downside of being a vampyre, you smell everything. “Oli! You’re looking paler than a Vamp today. Are you trying out a new look? I wasn’t aware “mindless member of the undead” was in this year!”
I rolled my eyes and shoved the arm off my shoulder. “Ha ha. Very funny, Matt.” I snipped, looking at my best friend as he snickered and raised his eyebrows up and down like he’s just caught me making out with someone in the janitor’s closet.
Matt and I had known each other since the first grade - and somehow, despite his crappy sense of humor and me being made entirely of salt and snark, we had managed to stay friends. He laughed and patted my back. “Ok, but seriously, though. You look really pale. You getting enough sun, bro?”
I shrugged. I was both surprised and bummed that he had noticed. I had been trying to lay off the blood a little to age - since I was mistaken for a freshman in high school just last week. I had been skipping a cup here and there which, unfortunately, made me look pale and, well, dead. The more I starved, the more I looked like a corpse. But I aged. So there was at least an upside. “Homework has been brutal. Myers assigned this crazy long research paper for Myths and I’ve been pulling all nighters like crazy to finish it.”
Matt raised his eyebrow at me, moving his hands to his sides and grabbing the straps of his backpack as we walked inside the school building. “Why are you even taking Myths 3? They only require two years, you know.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, I know. But I like Myths.” I said simply, hoping that he wouldn’t press me. Myths was the only outlet I had to learn about my kind - which was a little sad, but at the same time, I wasn’t actively searching for vampyre outreach communities.
Matt shrugged. “Alright, whatever floats your boat, man.” He said, adjusting his backpack as we walked inside the builing. “But you know they say that all the freaks end up in myths. You’re not a ghost or something, are you? I mean, with how pale you are…” He did finish, because we both ended up just laughing.
And another day began.
“Mom? Dad? I’m home!” I called out into the empty house as I pushed open our rather flashy read door. We owned a pretty small house- since it was the city- and it was part of a duplex. But it was home. I set my backpack down on the floor, frowning when I didn’t get an answer. “Mom? Dad? Dylin?”
Still no answer. That was weird. Normally, at least my annoying older sister was hanging around. Maybe they were in the study? I walked up the narrow stairs that lead to our small second story and pushed open the dark, oak door that lead to my father’s study. Normally, we weren’t allowed in there, but it wasn’t like I was trying to steal something- or break something. “Dad?” I called into the empty room, sighing as I opened the door fully and looked around.
It was a pretty small room, and the walls were lined with bookshelves. On the left wall- underneath a stain glass window in the shape of a dark, red rose- was a little oak desk. There were papers strewn anywhere- which made sense, since my dad was both an editor and a writer.
I walked inside the room, the floorboards creaking a little beneath the weight of my feet. “Dad?” I called again- which was stupid, since he clearly was not in the room. I walked over to the bookshelf, looking at the all the books he had lined up and sorted alphabetically. I rarely had the chance to see my father’s study, so it wasn’t a chance I wanted to pass up. Besides, how cool would it be to see a real, actual manuscript? He never let us near those until the book was published.
As my eyes drifted across the shelves, I found one book that caught me off guard. It was different from the others- it looked much, much older, and there was gold lettering on the side that simply said And The Hunter’s Rain. What a strange title. Either they spelled Reign wrong, or it was some strange pun.
I reached out and took the book off of the shelf, inspecting the cover. All there was was a simple insignia of a bow and arrow and a tagline that just repeated the title. Behind me, there was a loud noise, causing my heart to fly into my throat as I jumped and turned around. Oh, no, I had been caught. He was going to kill me. “Dad, I’m sorry, I-” I stopped when I realized I was still alone. I frowned looking around dumbly before I finally found the real culprit.
A fake wall.
Ok, that was weird. Not many normal families had a fake wall that was pretending to be a bookcase. I set the book down on the desk, finding myself walking over to the mensing hallway. If this was a horror movie, I would surely die. But it was real life, so what could possibly be the harm.
The door took me into a little, cobblestone covered and dimly lit hallway that opened up into a large room that I had never seen before. The room was dark, and it took me a few moments to struggle and find a light switch. When my hands finally brushed against the switch, a dangling yellow light sprung to life, illuminating the room with a soft glow.
And I went pale.Well, as pale as I could be, seeing as though I was a vampyre.My eyes traced the back wall, which was essentially a large display case. But what was really strange was the contents. Stakes.
Actual, real, wooden stakes.
“Oliver? What in the world are you doing in here?” I spun around to look at my dad. His face was pale, and his eyes were as wide as saucers.
“What the hell is going on?”