Scotty and Maria


Scotty is always drunk. He’s used to waking up in strange places, not quite remembering where he’s been, how much he’s had or who he’s been with. But that’s normal for a university student.

What isn’t normal is waking up with a strange wound that only probably came from a broken bottle. What isn’t normal is having vivid nightmares, visions of a woman he doesn’t know and yet feels irrevocably devoted to. What isn’t normal is being unable to sleep, breathe, cry, or feel his heartbeat. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t stem his awful sickness, nor quench his rabid hunger. This isn’t a hangover. This is something else. Something that’s turned him into an animal.

And if he wants answers, there's only one thing he can do: Find the woman who haunts his nightmares.




5. Drip by Drip

After a ten-minute walk that felt endless, Scotty’s apartment block was visible in the distance, and he was feeling sick again. This time, though, it wasn’t the hot sickness that twisted his guts sideways or made his head churn like it was full of acid. It was a cold, watery sickness- the kind that seeped down his spine and prodded at the very edges of his consciousness, never fully coming, never fully leaving. Scotty wasn’t sick with hunger anymore; he was sick with fear. He was scared of Maria, and scared of what she’d done to him, but because that sickness never came close enough to put him out of his misery, he was too terrified to accept the fact that he already knew what was wrong. Nope. Just a hangover. Just a nightmare. Just a bad dream.

It’ll all be better in the morning.

He stumbled up to the front steps, and he was scared. He slammed his body into the door, and he was paranoid. He stumbled along the corridor, keeping one hand on the wall to steady himself as the pain in his chest threw him sideways, and the fear boiled into anger. Who the fuck did that girl think she was? She’d bitten him and then pissed off like it wasn’t her problem- he could’ve gotten blood poisoning and died. Maybe he would’ve just bled to death- there seemed to be enough goddamn blood on that shirt to convince him he’d lost a decent amount. That’s probably why you passed out, actually. Yeah. There must be a completely logical explanation. Maybe you should go to see the nurse after all- she’ll tell you what’s wrong in no time.

A loud BANG echoed from the flat next to him and Scotty jerked around like a puppet on a string, growling at the back of his throat, clenching his fingers into claws and dragging them through the air. Stop. Push yourself away. Shake your head. Keep walking. Nothing’s wrong. Nothing.

Someone else who needed to see the nurse? Maria. She was clearly a few tools short of a toolbox. Not to mention a bloodthirsty maniac who went around biting people for sport. Poor girl- she was clearly delusional. Maybe he should’ve been more patient with her- kept her talking, been kind to her fragile mind instead of widening his eyes and walking away in terror.

He reached his front door, which was ajar as always, but just as he reached for the handle, a stab of pain rippled out from his stomach and knocked the floor sideways, making him stumble. He finally managed to make it into the flat, hoping upon hope that Keith was out even as he remembered it was the middle of the night, and shot a baleful glance towards the kitchen before staggering into his bedroom and collapsing onto the bed. God, your stomach hurts. It hasn’t even been that long, has it? Since you last ate? No, it’s been two days. So why do you feel like you’re about to starve to death? The pain was like a knife wedged between his ribs, twisting tighter and tighter the more he thought about it. Scotty forced his eyes shut, but he wasn’t tired. He lay still for over half an hour, refusing to move and jamming his head deeper into the pillow every time another spike of pain came, but sleep just fucking refused to take him away, even for a few minutes. Was this blood poisoning? It sure as shit didn’t feel like blood poisoning. Instead, he felt like his sanity was slowly draining away, drip by drip, leaving him paralysed and forcing him to forfeit control of his own body. After another hour, he’d managed to sink down into a grey limbo- the sort of restless rest that came to him whenever he stopped paying attention in class. That grey limbo was punctuated by waves of red and orange and white, blasting him awake again every time his body jerked with agony. Eventually, Scotty swore and tugged himself out of bed; he was ready to pace the room, had the whole route planned out- from the window to the door and back again, over and over till he passed out or fell asleep standing up- but then, he stopped and just stood there, frozen with his hand on his neck, staring at a black smudge on the white wall.

There was nothing interesting about that smudge. It was just that he’d heard Keith moving around on the other side of the wall.

Scotty stood there, stiff and brittle, rubbing his fingertips across the remnants of the scab Maria had given him, listening as his roommate opened a drawer, then closed it, then let out a breath of annoyance. Then, the door opposite Scotty’s creaked open and Keith’s shadow stabbed through the light spilling onto the hallway carpet. He was leaving his room- going into the kitchen. Scotty watched, still frozen, even as his muscles screamed at him to move. Move. Move. I don’t know why. Just do it. He didn’t move, though. It wasn’t because he couldn’t. It was because he could feel that mad electric violence creeping back into his nerves.

Move. Just move. You won’t be hungry for much longer.

He’s an easy target.

For what?

I don’t know. Neither do you.

“No.” Scotty muttered to himself, but the word grated on his throat and trickled out as another low growl. He turned towards the hallway and listened to the clattering of cutlery and slamming of cupboard doors, each stab of noise dragging him further away from the spot he was standing in as he imagined walking into the kitchen after Keith, waiting till he had his back turned, and- No. Stop it, you fucking freak. God, he was hungry. Fuck, he was ravenous. The hunger was back and it was digging its claws into his body and ripping holes through his stomach- he couldn’t breathe for it. He couldn’t think for it. Why had it come back now, as he was listening to Keith? He was forced to tell himself he didn’t know.

Even though he did.

Scotty drank in a breath of air he didn’t need and dumped himself back onto his bed, curling up inside his duvet, wrapping himself in stifling heat, trying to forget about the noise.

But Keith’s fiddling kept getting louder.

And Scotty’s hunger kept getting crazier.

The longer he lay there, the more his thoughts tangled themselves into an incomprehensible mess, and the more he sank back down into his fuzzy approximation of sleep. This time, though, his limbo wasn’t grey; it was purple. It wasn’t peaceful, either; it was lively and angry and lurid. He used all his remaining energy to force himself deeper under the surface of unconsciousness, but the more he focused on controlling his mind, the less he thought about what his body was doing. Suddenly, the colours in his mind flashed brighter, the doorknob’s metal sear let go of his hand, and the carpet hardened into plaster under his feet. His feet. He was on his feet.

Scotty opened his eyes, and he was in the kitchen.

Scotty stumbled backwards into the hallway, clenching his teeth and thanking God for the carpet, but he didn’t have to worry about making a sound; Keith had his headphones on. How did you end up here? I don’t remember moving.

Scotty’s blink pulled the plug on all his sensible thoughts, letting the focus wander back to that purple place he visited every time his hunger came back to bite him. This was where the new voice lived.

I do, it said. I remember moving.

Scotty’s stomach muttered again and his body, still half-asleep, took another step towards the table. He dragged himself back, but deep inside his head, that stray voice that didn’t quite seem to belong to him was whispering no.

He stood and watched Keith in the kitchen for a couple more minutes, the pain in his stomach igniting, then burning, then smouldering as he waited for nothing in particular. Eventually, his limbs tensed up and numbed, he froze, and he stopped thinking about moving forwards. He would have gone back to bed, but he knew deep down that if he dared to kick his legs back into action, they’d stop obeying him for good. And then, who knew what’d happen?

I do.

His hunger dug its claws into his head and pushed him forwards, but still, with his fist balled into his stomach, Scotty held on. No. No.



Keith got up from the table. Scotty watched with irritation as he started messing around in the cupboard again, organising all the mugs, each little crack and bump of noise sending shivers of anger down Scotty’s spine. His fingers were clenching and unclenching at his side and his teeth were grinding tighter and tighter together, the roof of his mouth starting to tingle and burn and ache. Something started crawling through his gums, pushing at one of his teeth and making it smart. Scotty forced himself back from the kitchen wall in terror- noticing his legs had moved without his permission, yet again- and hurried back into his bedroom, shutting the door just as Keith switched off the kitchen light and went back to bed.

Lucky for him, said that voice in Scotty’s head that put words in his mouth without his permission. If he’d stayed in there another minute I might just have murdered him.

Wait, what?

Scotty sat down on his bed, shaking his hands and trying to unwind the tightness in his jaw. When he did, though, a pulse of energy shot itself through his gums and his teeth started itching and aching like mad. He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head, lying back down onto his pillow, curling his body up around that burning molten pang in his stomach, and trying to fall back asleep. Trying to forget that something was destroying him from the inside, ripping its way up through his ribcage like it was trying to escape.

Suddenly, Keith knocked something over in his room, the dull THUD coinciding with the bolt of furious hunger that shot Scotty upright in bed and the subsequent swear word coinciding with the mad jolt of agony in his tooth that bent him double again. A jab of pain injected itself into his lower lip, then vanished. Scotty growled under his breath, managing to muffle his scream into a whimper, and clamped one hand over his mouth as something hot started falling over his lower lip and dripping onto his chin. He blinked a couple of times, trying to numb himself to that mad pain, which even now was dissolving like fire in water, and then started to poke around in his mouth with his tongue. He was trying to find the source of the pain, but the pain was long gone now- something just didn’t feel quite right. Then, after running the tip of his tongue towards the middle of his top teeth, Scotty found a gap, leaking the taste of molten metal down his throat. There was hot blood where his tooth had been, and the blood fizzed and bubbled on his tongue, making his nerves seize up and crackle with electricity. The tooth was still in his mouth, and tears were leaking over his cheeks as he swallowed more blood and spat it out into the palm of his hand.

What the fuck?

Scotty forced himself up onto his feet and opened his bedroom door. With one hand over his mouth, trailing blood through his fingers, he stumbled across the pitch-black landing into the bathroom and locked himself in. Shaking, he switched on the bathroom light and walked to the mirror, swallowing more blood and ignoring the feeling of the hunger retreating from his stomach. When he looked at his own reflection, his chin was faintly smeared with dark red, and that little piece in his hand was his tooth, clear as day. He held it up to the light and tossed it into the sink before swearing in a whisper and opening his mouth, poking at the bloodied gap with his tongue. His fucking tooth had just ripped itself out. How? Why?

I know why.

Shut up.

Scotty winced, and the fresh cut on his lip started to smart with pain, dripping more blood over his chin. He forced himself to look in the mirror again, licking at the cut till he could see it clearly. Fucking hell, it was deep; it wasn’t just a split. It had started hurting at around the time his tooth had fallen out, too; a short sharp tweak of pain in his flesh, like an injection, but messier. What the fuck had made it? Coz it had been bloody sharp. He opened his mouth as wide as he could, fingering the new gap, then jabbing at it with his tongue again. Nothing. Whatever had ripped his tooth out, and cut his lip open, was gone now.

It had also appeared at around the time the hunger struck back. But that was irrelevant.


When Scotty blinked, his vision blurred, then heated up, then cleared again as more tears spilled over his cheeks. He was crying, for fuck’s sake. For the first time in years, he was genuinely, honestly crying. He sniffed and blinked again, ripping a handful of toilet paper off the wall to scrub his face clean, but the tears kept coming. They just kept fucking coming. They wouldn’t stop. Something was happening to him; something Maria had started, with her fucking braces and her fucking bite and her fucking purple eyes, something that had ended in nightmares and hunger and sickness and a feeling that was just… well, feral. Inhuman. She’d taken something from him, and left something else in its place, and two days later here he was, wiping blood and sweat and tears from his face like a child.

Vampires don’t have reflections, you fucking imbecile, the voice on the losing side of his internal battle whispered half-heartedly as he threw his broken tooth into the bin and stumbled back to bed. It was smothered, before he’d even closed his eyes, by that same old slew of violence and starvation and instinctual hell that didn’t belong to him, but that had plagued him regardless for the two days since he’d first met Maria.

I know what’s happening to you. And if you let me in, I’ll tell you.

Just let me take over.

“No,” he murmured into his pillow, the word slurred and mangled by the gap in his teeth and the blood in his mouth. “I won’t. I won’t.”

Scotty didn’t even get a second of sleep that night. But it was okay, because until he knew he could trust that voice to stay quiet, he was never going to sleep again.

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