Bloodsuckers

Something happened to him last night, and he’s desperate to figure out what. What are his nightmares trying to show him, with their formless colours and half-remembered faces? Where did this sickness come from? Why can nothing quench his rabid hunger? And, most urgently of all, why does he suddenly feel so… inhuman?
He doesn’t remember much about that night, but one thing's for sure: this is no ordinary hangover.
WARNING: EXTREMELY STRONG BLOODY VIOLENCE AND GORE ARE CENTRAL TO THIS STORY. EFFECTIVELY R-RATED BUT KEPT YELLOW FOR LOYAL READERS :)

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2. Bloody Hell

He’d been on his fifth can of beer when she sat down next to him.

The throbbing pulse of the music burst back into his mind once he’d closed his eyes, the mad beat throwing him around like a fairground ride and sucking every ounce of peace from what had already been a restless sleep. He was drowning in blackness, the headache from the hangover still searing through the haze like a siren, but after a few minutes, the chaos calmed to a lull and memories started trickling back to him. At first, he didn’t see any places, or any people. Just numbers and colours.

63. That had been the number on the door of the house. He didn’t remember what street he was in, or whose house it was; he just knew it was number sixty-three. Silver metal on a red door, the paint chapped and flaking like someone had taken their fingernails to it. It had been a long walk, he remembered, and he’d been alone; Keith had been studying and Olivia had been sulking in the library with her friends. Scotty remembered the weight of the unease pressing down on his nerves as he wove his way through the maze of back alleys, checking over his shoulder every time he heard a fleck of noise bounding at him from a dark corner. He’d been tetchy, that’s all. He hadn’t been thinking of the girl from his literature class, Emma, who’d vanished from her dorm room two weeks ago along with all her belongings. He wasn’t thinking of the news from that morning that they’d found her school bag, torn to shreds and overflowing with a mush of wet paper, floating down the canal in the middle of the forest. Nah, Scotty wasn’t nervous. Why would he be nervous? Three disappearances from his campus in three months? That was bullshit. This was Edinburgh. The city was crawling with simple answers for morbid questions. All he had to do was keep his head down and keep walking. Then, he’d reached number sixty-three and, of course, once he was inside, he was safe.

Numbers and colours. Neon blue and green and pink, blazing from a cheap set of disco lights in the corner of the living-room. Scotty curled up in bed and twitched momentarily awake as the colours jumped into his memory, then vanished. It was coming and going like mist in the wind. One. He’d grabbed a can of beer and dumped himself onto a sofa in the corner; he wasn’t here to talk. It was too fucking loud to talk. He’d ruin his voice. Then again, drinking five cans of Foster’s in two hours couldn’t have been great for his voice either. His throat burned. It still burned, twenty-four hours later.

Two. Three. Four. He’d had to move onto a different sofa, his alcohol-saturated vision lurching sideways as he heaved himself back onto his feet. That place hadn’t been a shitty student flat; it’d been someone’s parents’ house, and those parents weren’t going to be happy when they came home from wherever the fuck they were to find trash all over the floor and mess all over the walls. Wherever they’d gone for the night, it must have been a long way away. In Scotty’s dream, the music was so loud it could have been heard from outer space.

He rolled onto his back and his eyes flickered open for a second as pain seeped from the cut on his neck. Fuck, he thought, then drifted back to sleep.

Five. He’d closed his eyes as he tipped the beer carelessly down his throat; the taste had just been starting to numb his mouth and the alcohol had just been starting to numb his senses. When he opened his eyes again, there had been a girl sitting next to him on the sofa, and she hadn’t been smiling. She’d just been sort of… watching him. The electric blaze coating Scotty’s feverish nightmare burned her indigo eyes and magenta lipstick into a delirious shade of purple, and once he’d focused all his energy on her, the rest of the room and the rest of the sounds had bled to black.

She moved her mouth, but she wasn’t making a sound. Even so, as he watched her, Scotty’s mind started to play her words in a whisper; they were slightly out of synch with the movement of her mouth, slightly too loud for the buttery softness of her voice. She was like a badly dubbed film, sharp where she should have been gentle and sour where she should have been sweet, but for some reason, her memory sung through his drunken thoughts and melted the pain of his hangover into nothing.

His name. She’d been asking for his name. Scotty remembered that, at least. Did he tell her? He didn’t remember. Could she hear him? Maybe not. Even right then, as he felt his lazy heart sinking like a stone in a river, Scotty found himself idly wishing he’d said something smart and impressive. Said hello to her, maybe. Asked her what her name was instead. Acted cool. Acted mysterious. For some reason, even though he couldn’t remember her name, couldn’t remember her voice, couldn’t remember what she looked like beyond a few splashes of purple makeup and blonde hair, he desperately hoped she’d liked him.

“Can we go somewhere quieter?” the girl with the purple eyes had said to him.

He remembered nodding in a shocked daze. He’d always been good at that.

Wow. Whatever the fuck they’d said to each other in the interval between his fifth beer and his sixth, which he’d grabbed for courage on the way out of the living-room, it’d fucking worked like a charm. The door had shut behind them. It’d been dark. He was alone, in the dark, drunk, with a girl.

A girl whose flaming purple eyes glowed red in the darkness.

He hadn’t been scared as she pushed him up against the wall, hooked her thumbs into his belt-loops, and started kissing him. Who the fuck was she? Had he ever seen her before? Did she even go to his university? Maybe. Maybe not. Who gave a fuck? For whatever reason, she’d wanted him. Scotty remembered grinning like a moron through the fuzz of giddy drunkenness. He hadn’t been scared as her kisses travelled down his jaw and onto his neck, even as the memory tweaked at that fucking mess of an injury he’d woken up with. He’d only started getting scared when she dug her long nails into both his shoulders, trailed her lips around to his spine, and then- black. The world exploded with pain and the back of his neck ran hot with blood. She’d gone in a flash. He’d stopped remembering where he was or what he was doing or why. Had he drunk more? Probably. Had he left?

Well, yeah. He’d woken up in a skip.

The black world turned white in a flash as Scotty tore his eyes open and fixed them on his bedroom ceiling. He arched his back as the memory of the pain ripped through his mind, and the crust on the back of his neck throbbed with fresh agony. Fucking hell. She’d… she’d fucking bitten him. Hadn’t she? What the fuck was wrong with his memory? Why was it telling him lies?

Scotty forced himself to smile and sat up in bed, watching the purple night sky drifting past his window. It was the first time he’d been drunk, truly, completely drunk, because he’d never had a fever-dream as weird as that before.

He rubbed his hand across his forehead and lay down, trying to go back to sleep, even as the hot musty heaviness of the room started pressing down on him. As he kicked at his duvet with both feet, Scotty realised he was still wearing his shoes. And his jacket, actually. Oh yeah. He remembered. He’d fallen asleep fully clothed. That was why his skin was tingling with a million degrees of heat in the middle of the Scottish winter.

Tweaking more pain from his neck to turn and check the corridor, Scotty noticed that the hallway light was switched off. That meant Keith wasn’t home. He muttered a couple of curses under his breath as he unlaced his shoes, flinging them across the room to hit the wall with twin thuds, and then fumbled randomly with the zip on his jacket till he managed to rip it off and chuck it aside. The cold air started prying at his arms as he peeled his soaking wet t-shirt away from his chest, fanning himself with his hand before mustering the energy to tug it off over his head. He balled the shirt up in his fist, ready to dump it on the floor next to his bed- knowing full well he’d probably put it straight back on for his classes the next morning- but he stopped as he noticed a dark stain saturating the light fabric.

“Shit.”

Scotty spat out a couple of fruitless breaths before struggling to his feet and stumbling over to the light switch, flooding the room with piercing white light just in time to see the black-and-white fabric turning blue and red. Bright red. The stain had dried to a cardboard-like crust, but it didn’t exactly take a genius to figure out what it was. Blood.

Obviously.

And holy shit, was there a lot of it. There was more red on the back of his shirt than there was blue.

“Bloody fucking hell,” Scotty muttered, fingering the scab on the back of his neck again. It prickled with pain, tugging the hairs away from his skin as he shuddered at the memory of his nightmare. He traced the shape of the wound with two fingers. One bump. Two. They were no bigger than peas, but they were there, and the scabs were thick and raised.

He swore again as he scrabbled in his bedside drawer for his digital camera, praying that it still had some battery power left. He dumped his ruined t-shirt into his overflowing bin as he started to pace the room, waiting for the camera to switch itself on.

Thank Christ it did.

Scotty nervously ran a hand across his bare shoulder, starting in shock as a little pulse of electricity jumped down his spine. His finger ran over a tiny nick on the back of his shoulder, then another, and then another. Four in total. He ran his hand up his other shoulder and found four more. Bloody hell. They weren’t bleeding; they weren’t deep; they weren’t that painful, but they were there.

He’d felt them starting to throb when the girl in his dream had dug her nails into his shoulders.

In that exact spot.

But it was obviously a coincidence.

Obviously.

“Right.”

Pushing his hair out of the way, and wincing as he tugged several strands away from the sticky mess of his wound, Scotty brandished the camera behind his head and looked desperately down at the ground as he fiddled with the button. He almost dropped it twice. Almost. Eventually, the white glare of the flash flooded the wall and he dropped his arms, collapsing back onto his mattress as the last of the strength ran out of his muscles.

If there’s no memory space left, I’m going to fucking scream.

He pressed the camera roll button. There was memory space. He’d taken the photo, and it was in focus.

And bloody hell, he wished he’d never taken it.

The photo he’d taken showed not a couple of cuts, as Scotty had expected, but two deep, round gouges in his flesh, surrounded by reddened skin and leaking orange-tinged blood through half-formed black scabs. The marks were connected by smaller gouges, little more than grazes, which were raised in pinched white ridges of skin in a perfect circle. Bluish-grey veins ran in a network under his skin and the red patch was framed by a couple of purplish smears- bruises, maybe, or something else. It didn’t matter; there was no way to explain this away. No way to draw out the truth for a couple more hours of filler. There was a fucking bite mark on Scotty Pruitt’s neck. A FUCKING bite mark! And he’d woken up freezing cold, with paler eyes, a deadened heartbeat, and seemingly no ability to breathe. He didn’t need to ask what the fuck was going on.

“What the fuck is going on?” he whined to himself anyway as he drew his knees up to his chest and squeezed his eyes shut.

He felt his flesh starting to squeeze him, and the alcohol in his blood starting to freeze in his chest, as he deleted the photo, tossed the camera onto the floor next to his muddy trainers, and curled back up inside his duvet like a frightened child. How could he even hope to relax? How could he even begin to go about falling asleep, knowing that somewhere out there, there was a fucking crazy girl going around biting people for no reason at all? Because, obviously, there was no reason for it at all.

His memory of that party had been hazy and ruined, but Scotty remembered enough to know that he’d met someone odd. Odd, and dangerous. He should have been terrified of her, but every time he tried to think about her, all he could remember was her beautiful eyes.

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