Taylor's life changes forever when she meets a mysterious young man called Darren.
It was the summer holidays. There wasn't anything special about that. They weren't my last to be preceded by school; it was my last before a September in which I'd have school. Just a normal set of summer holidays. What happened during them, however, completely changed my life.
"I'm just heading out for a stroll in the park," I called, as I put on my trainers on in the porch.
"That's fine," my mum called back. "Be back before 6, though, otherwise your tea will get cold."
"Okay. Bye, then."
I stepped outside into the warm afternoon sun. The sky was beautifully cloudless and the lovely blue of a dream. Indeed, I felt as if I were in a dream as I ambled along. I was content and light-hearted, and I felt like I was floating rather than walking.
I was nearing the traffic lights at the road between the shops and the park when my reverie was suddenly shattered by a sudden obstacle in my path. My vision was filled with a handsome young man who had stepped in front of me. He was unusually pale for this time of the year. His pallor contrasted with the dark shock of hair on his head, a half-shade lighter than black, and his brown eyes seemed to change hues occasionally, varying from a light and almost golden brown to a dark reddish brown with a gorgeous chocolate colour in the middle. I found I couldn't look away from them. I tried to sidestep the man, but he quickly stepped so he was directly in front of me again.
"Isn't it funny how your legs just suddenly feel heavy?" he asked, quite randomly. I was bewildered by this question and stopped trying to move so I could hear the rest of what this queer man had to say. "One second, you're walking along and next, they're dead-weights. And no matter how hard you try, you just can't seem to move. Isn't that weird, now?"
"Er, yes," I said, just replying randomly so he'd get out of my way. "I have somewhere to go now, so if you'll just excuse me."
The man looked as if he were fighting a smile as he stepped aside. "Go ahead."
I tried to move, but I found I couldn't. My feet wouldn't budge an inch.
"Having some trouble?" the man asked, looking amused.
I glared. "I don't know if this is some circus trick, but whatever you've done to me, it's not funny!"
"Why do you think I've done something to you?"
"Because I can't move. Now, let me go!"
"I've forgotten how. Sorry."
"Oh, you jerk! Let me go! I'll start shouting for help!"
"Do you really think anyone would believe you couldn't move?"
I considered for a moment. I had to admit, my situation looked hopeless. The most I'd get from shouting ‘Help!' would be several strange looks.
"They might," I replied, so he'd get worried.
The man looked unfazed. "Nice bluff. But, seeing even you think it's ridiculous that you're suddenly paralysed from the waist down, I think I'll take my chances. Now, isn't it also funny how you find your arms can become heavy at any random time?"
"Stop it!" I shouted as I realised what he was doing. "Shut up!"
"Well that's not polite. I was merely commenting upon a daily occurrence. Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Darren."
He held out a hand. I wanted to slap it away but I couldn't even do that as I found my arms incapacitated.
Darren grinned, withdrawing his hand. "What's your name?"
I continued to glare at him.
"Fine, then. Give me the silent treatment. I don't care." He lifted his hand so that it was about the level of my face. "But, before I let you go, just watch the finger."
His index finger began tracing patterns in the air in front of me. Something about the way he had last spoken compelled me to obey him. It was terrifying to find my will being overpowered by the tone (which had had a slightly menacing edge) as my eyes followed the man's finger as if it was a bee to be wary of. His finger moved upwards, downwards, from side to side, drew spirals and finally settled into a pendulum's action. I was helplessly transfixed as the finger swung from side to side.
"Wh-what are you doing?" I stammered, confused and scared as Darren ducked his head down. I felt something cold come into contact with the skin on my neck. I shivered as cold fingers pushed my head sideways so it was tilted. I was horribly familiar with this position. I'd seen it dozens of times in horror movies, read about it even more times in books. But this couldn't be happening! Those stories weren't real. Such monsters did not exist. "STOP IT!" I yelled. "GET AWAY FROM ME!!"
I was surprised that no one was paying attention to my distress. "HELP!" I cried. "SOMEONE! PLEASE!"
The terrifying man chuckled. "No one can hear you, or even see you for that matter."
What was he talking about? We were in a street in broad daylight, standing in full public view. "That's impossible!"
"Well, many people think I'm impossible. But the truth of the matter is that we're surrounded by an invisible, soundproof bubble and you can only see and hear me because I'm allowing you to."
I gasped as the fingers which had been tracing lines on my skin withdrew to be replaced by two needle-points of pressure which briefly disappeared before suddenly sinking down into my neck.
"OW!" It was like two simultaneous beestings and all the pain was centred in my neck. I felt his mouth on my skin as he started to suck out my blood.
"WHAT ARE YOU?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?! GET OFF OF ME, YOU FREAK!"
I felt my blood being sucked out like a drink from a straw. It was uncomfortable as the icy fangs were located hypodermically where I was much warmer, and so felt the cold more, and the pain continued incessantly. I felt weaker and dizzy but I couldn't even collapse as my legs were still immobilised.
"STOP!" The man ignored my cries and protests, seemingly oblivious to my discomfort and pain. To make things worse, I couldn't even move my head because of the strange hypnotic motions of his finger. It was the single most terrifying experience of my life.
Finally, after what could only have been a minute, but what felt like an age, the man - no, vampire, I realised - withdrew his fangs. I felt like I was swaying slightly and I couldn't focus on anything without my vision blurring. He stopped drawing things in the air and put his hand down as he raised his head to examine me. I had no strength left to shout. In fact, I was sure I should be on the floor.
The man seemed satisfied with something as he gazed upon my face and brought his arm up to his face. Horrified, I watched as he bit his arm and blood spurted out. "Open your mouth," he commanded in the frightening voice he had used before. I felt my lips parting without really allowing it to happen. The man put his bleeding arm to my mouth. I tried to dart my head backwards but the hand of his other arm pushed my head forwards from the back. I was forced to drink the cold, disgusting liquid as it threatened to choke me if I didn't swallow.
Strangely I felt better. The blood appeared to have healing properties. I was able to see more clearly and my surroundings remained still. After about twenty seconds, the man withdrew his arm and I was able to spit out the liquid still in my mouth.
"Well, that's nice," the man said, sounding offended. "Your blood was delicious, and as a thank-you, I let you have some of mine, and you just spit it out like it's toilet water!"
"You're disgusting! How can you drink other people's blood, you foul creature? Leave me alone now." I would have been yelling if my throat hadn't been hoarse from the shouting I'd done earlier.
"What? After only one exchange?"
"Yeah. You've fed, now, haven't you?"
"You think I was just feeding? Oh, dear, no, I was doing more than that. And, don't you think that if I did leave you alone, you'd still be stuck?"
"What are you talking about? What else other than feeding were you doing? And, of course, you'd let me go. You owe me that much."
"I don't owe you anything. I think I'm giving you enough as it is."
"Giving me? Oh, no..." I trailed off as the thought continued in my head before I put it into words. "You're not ... changing me, are you?"
The man smiled and began applauding me. "Well done, well done! That's exactly what I'm doing!"
"But why?" I spluttered. "What have I done to you to deserve this? Why would you change someone into one of you? Don't you think one vampire is enough? Anyway, I don't want to be a vampire! I've got my whole life ahead of me! I've things I want to do, ambitions, dreams! You can't just take that away from a person!"
"I've already started. And as for you not wanting to be a vampire, that's irrelevant. It's my choice, and I want you a vampire."
"But why? And why me?"
"Well, life gets a bit lonely sometimes. And well, why not you? You're young, intelligent and pretty."
"That's all I'd want from a companion. I bet you're funny, too. Cor, the fun we could have together. Hunting... Cracking jokes..."
"You're crazy! Why would I want to hang around with you?"
"Well, there is the small matter of you technically belonging to me after the transformation, but I don't have to take advantage of that unless you make some very unwise decisions."
"Belonging to you?! What do you mean, belonging to you?! I'm not a slave! I'm a person! I have rights!"
"You're fairly brave, don't you think? If I didn't think your protests were amusing, I could quite easily be hurting you."
He suddenly gripped my wrists in vice-tight grips.
"Ouch!" I complained as he squeezed them quite hard.
"You're tempting Fate by standing up to a vampire, Taylor."
"How d'you know my name?"
"I think you should be quiet. That is, if you value your life."
I gulped as his eyes darkened and became cold.
"Now, you will let me transform you, and you will belong to me, and you will do everything else I say, understand?"
I shook uncontrollably as those eyes seemed to pierce through me and direct the threat at my heart.
"I said, ‘Do you understand?'" he growled.
I nodded, unable to talk for fear of stammering and slipping over words which might have angered him more.
"That's good. Now, seven years I've waited for you to turn an age at which you'd survive the change. I reckon I've been quite patient. How this is going to work is we're going to do two more blood exchanges - I give you my blood to stop you from dying after I've drunk yours - and after the third drink, I give you the Kiss of Death and you'll be a vampire."
Tears fell down my face at the thought of being forced to give up my whole life for an undead creature that was turning me into one of his kind so he wouldn't be lonely. I was petrified by the thought of belonging to this monster, but what could I do? I was a helpless human, considerably slower and weaker than him, according to all the books I had read. I wished that this was some horrific nightmare: that none of this was real and I would wake up sweating and shaking but safe; safe and secure in a world I knew and could trust.
"Th-this can't be happening," I whispered to myself.
"Well, tough luck, it is. Now, before we proceed with the second exchange I need to know you won't spit out my blood again. That could potentially prove fatal, since my blood prepares the cells in your body for the change and slows your heart so you can survive with less blood in your body. Are you going to co-operate?"
"Is there any point when you could just force me?" I asked weakly.
"Do you want to be forced against your will? I've heard that that degree of mind control is extremely unpleasant."
I was trembling violently, but I tried to be courageous as I asked, "What does it mean if I let you? That I didn't put up a fight? That I gave in? Where does giving in get anyone?"
"Well, you don't really have a choice in your transformation, so if you accepted it, you could be seen as brave?"
"But also cowardly for surrendering," I pointed out. "No, I'm not just going to let this happen. I'm going to resist you as much as possible."
Darren shrugged. "All the more pain for you, then."
"Are you threatening to make it more painful?" I asked, in disbelief.
"No. It's just there's the pain of having your mind controlled in addition to the pain of your blood being sucked out."
I bit my lip. "It hurts to have your mind controlled?"
"Well, not physically, but there's the sensation of your will being overpowered and the mental conflict if you try to resist, and it's like a headache if you're completely unwilling."
"But, if that's the way you want to do it..."
I could tell he was leaving it hanging because he expected me to change my mind. When I didn't say anything, he shrugged again.
I closed my eyes, expecting him to start hypnotising me with his finger again.
"Open your eyes," he commanded. I shut my eyes tighter as they threatened to fly open. "Open your eyes," he repeated, with some kind of undertone that compelled me to listen to him. My eyelids fluttered open without my permission. Just as I'd expected, he let go of one of my wrists and started drawing shapes with his finger. Up, down, up, down. I quickly looked away, but he commanded, "Watch my finger."
My head was helplessly drawn to face forwards and my eyes followed the finger which was moving away from and towards my face as well as vertically and horizontally. He moved it backwards in a curving motion until it was at the maximum point I could see it without moving my head and then forwards and downwards towards my nose. My eyes closed and I felt my head slump forwards as my conscious thoughts stopped.
When I awoke from what must have been a trance, Darren was biting his arm. I tried to back away from it, surprised to find I could move my legs again, but he grabbed my arm, saying, "You will die if you don't drink this."
Reluctantly I opened my mouth and swallowed down the metallic, chilled liquid. I was forced to swallow a lot and I almost thought I was going to throw up afterwards.
"Right. As you've noticed, you're now able to move. I'll see you at 7 tonight in the park for the final exchange. If you don't turn up, I'll come to your house and fetch you from there. Oh, and don't try telling anyone about what happened because they'll think you've gone mad."
"I hate you," I muttered spitefully.
"I don't care. You'll have to like me at some point because you'll have no one else to talk to when you're a vampire."
"I'd rather go insane."
"Well, we'll see how it goes."
I gave him one final glare as I started to walk away. I stopped as he coughed politely. "Wouldn't you like to be able to move your arms?"
I turned around. The vampire smiled and said, "Isn't it a relief when you're joints feel all relaxed and you're able to move them again?"
I cautiously attempted to roll my shoulders. Finding the movement successful, I turned and wordlessly walked to the park to go and contemplate what had just happened.