I walked into Darren's flat, muttering about how some people were just so annoying.
"Is that me you're referring to?" Darren asked, steeping out of his bedroom, smiling faintly.
I shook my head. "Some jerk who doesn't care about right or wrong."
"Oh, really? You didn't scare him off with your fangs?"
"He had fangs too."
"A vampire? Oh dear." Darren cringed.
"What's wrong? I told him to go away."
"I haven't registered you as one yet."
"So he might have been an official checking that all vampires are registered."
"I doubt it," I said. "He had no morals."
"Sometimes, they can be great actors. I've heard some like to annoy people enough that they have something to blackmail them with."
"Blackmail? That sounds right down his street."
"We'd better go and get you registered now."
"All right. I'm pretty sure this guy wouldn't listen to authority, though."
I waited patiently while Darren gathered up his keys and a wallet. I followed him out of the front door and down the countless stairs to the ground floor where he unlocked his car to let us in before driving us to a town centre.
"So what did this guy say to annoy you so much?"
"He said being psychic was useful to see if someone you loved was compatible and if they were, you could hypnotise them to like you."
"Oh dear. Some vampires actually do that."
"Tell me you don't."
"Well, of course. I love you, don't I?"
I sighed in relief.
"He said vampires live for two millennia," I mused.
"Yeah, that's right."
"Well, he's middle aged then. I couldn't believe he was 12 centuries old. I mean; what must he have lived through?"
"War seems to be a recurring event in human history."
"Yeah, that's a shame, that."
"At least some humans are nice," Darren said, smiling at me.
"Ah, no, you no longer have evidence of that. I'm counted as a vampire, now."
"Doesn't eradicate the life you had as a human."
"You mean the life I had at all. This is death, isn't it?"
"No, not quite."
"You know what I mean. We're not living, respiring organisms who grow or reproduce. A bit like viruses."
"Oh, don't compare yourself to a virus."
"I notice you don't mind me comparing you to one."
"Well, no, because maybe I deserve that comparison for changing you against your will."
"You're not that bad. You're scary and dangerous, but not completely bad."
"I love it how you didn't actually say anything positive about me, there."
I grinned. "You're not especially good either."
He smiled back. "That's a good summary."
"You know what the scary thing about Matt was?" I asked, thoughts returning to this infuriating scoundrel.
"The vampire who affronted you?"
I nodded. "He said he wanted to be in your position so he could ... own me. I told him you couldn't own a person but he seemed to think otherwise."
Darren looked uncomfortable. "Human rights activists would like to think you can't. As would vampire right activists. But the fact of the matter is: you can. Now, I'm sorry for how this sounds but technically, you belong to me. I haven't taken advantage of that yet - I've only given you instructions that will keep you safe and even then I didn't fully use my power over you - but if I ... wanted to, I could force you to do stuff. It's become part of your ... purpose to submit to me."
I was chilled to the core with fear. "My... purpose?"
"Yeah, it's an awful side-effect of the vampire blood."
"I don't get it. I don't feel ... submissive."
"I don't want you to. I'd feel uneasy if you did. But this ... authority I have over you is why you wouldn't meet my gaze yesterday."
"Oh." I paused. "But then why can I look you in the eye today?"
"You wanted to challenge me. Thankfully, I think the effect is wearing off a bit. But, if I hadn't wanted you to ‘win' in your challenge, I could have put you back in ‘your place'."
"Thanks for not doing so," I murmured.
"Oh, by the way, how come I can't read yours or Matt's minds? Is it because you're handsome guys?"
Darren burst into laughter. "Oh dear, is that what he told you?"
"No. I was asking and he said that it was maybe because of that."
"I'm flattered you think I'm handsome, but no, really it's just because vampires can stop people reading their thoughts."
"Oh," I said, feeling embarrassed.
"Don't worry about it. This Matt sounds very deceptive."
"I'll put a wooden stake in him next time I see him," I growled.
"That won't do anything, Tay. Try getting hold of some iron."
"Would steel do it?"
"No, you want pure iron. The sort that rusts."
"It's not pure when it rusts though, is it? It's iron oxide, then."
"Yeah but the rust forms a layer over the rest of it preventing further reaction with the air, so that, when scraped off, you have a very dangerous weapon."
"Clever. Wait, I didn't know Chemistry was taught in the 1920's."
"Oh no, I picked it up when I went to a sixth form college to learn more about the world around me. I took Chemistry, Maths (though that was really tough), History and Politics."
"Did you need History?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
Darren laughed. "I wanted to see the modern day perspective of it."
In town, there were no people around. I was surprised that any building could be open at this time in the morning. It was only about 4 o'clock. I voiced this concern, but Darren waved a hand dismissively and said that it was better for the office to be open at all hours in case there was an emergency and a conversion had gone horribly wrong.
At the council building, I was horrified to see Matt standing outside, leaning with his back against the wall.
"Thought you'd have to come here some time," he said. "I noticed you didn't have any recollection of such a place."
"What are you doing here?!"
"I came to arrange it with the vampire who changed you so that I'm your owner."
"Anyone who calls it that definitely does not deserve the responsibility." Darren appeared behind me.
"You sound like a vampire rights activist. Do you perchance go round knocking on the doors of the mansions of wealthy vampires and ask them to free their slaves?"
"No, but I can tell Taylor would admire me if I did."
"Careful. Don't state her opinions else she might feel she doesn't have a voice."
"Oh shut up," I said. "You wouldn't care about my voice. You joked about being a chauvinist."
"Ah, well chauvinism has a valid point. Women can't do everything a man can do. Can you imagine a woman's wrestling match?"
"I'm sure it's done," I said coldly. "Or if not, can you imagine a man replacing actresses in really romantic films where they'd have to stage-kiss another man?"
"I believe that used to be done on stage."
"Well, I think the very fact men can be chauvinist makes them less than decent people."
"Cool. I'm not a chauvinist, so you'd be fine submitting to me."
"I don't want to submit to anybody."
"You partially submitted when Darren gave you that order to stay in the flat while he hunted and it was very submissive when you averted your eyes last night and this morning."
"Will you stay out of my thoughts?!"
"Why? Scared you'll think I'm handsome again?"
"Do you enjoy being full of yourself?"
"I do, actually."
"I'd love to put you in your place."
"Go on then. Criticise me, hurl insults at me: slate me. I promise by the end of it, you'll either be blue in the face or kissing me because you can't deny any longer that you secretly like me."
"Where did you get that idea, you deluded vampire? You're going senile in your old age."
"Hey, that's a great idea! Now I can justify my lack or morality. Thanks, Tay."
"Don't call me Tay! You don't deserve to have friends."
"Oh, but things were going so well! Don't you remember before the chauvinist joke?"
"We briefly talked. We didn't say anything particularly exciting."
"But I wanted to know if you were all right."
"I'd hate you even if you swept me off my feet. In fact, I'd hate you more if you did that."
"Sorry, romantic's not my style."
"You know, I'm not surprised."
"Let me guess, little could surprise you when it comes to me."
I nodded. "You've got it." I frowned suddenly. "Where's Darren?"
"Still behind you," Matt replied.
I turned and groaned. Darren appeared to be in a trance.
"Can you wake him up?" I asked, turning back to Matt, annoyed.
"I can but I don't want to. I've got to make you mine."
"You know, you're almost sounding romantic. I'd be careful if I were you."
Matt grinned. "I love your sarcasm."
"And not my free will," I stated.
"Nah, that's just annoying."
"Did I tell you I hated you?" I asked sweetly.
"Yes you did. Did I tell you I was ignoring you?"
Matt closed the gap between us and gazed deep into my eyes. I couldn't look away from the indigo portals to a fate worse than my current situation.
"So, how are we going to do this? Are you going to allow me to do this or make me have to do things the difficult way?"
"No, I'm going to find a way to wake Darren up."
I clicked my fingers. Nothing happened. I clapped my hands. No effect.
Matt smiled widely. "You were saying?"
Wincing at the thought, I bent my knee so I was on one leg and aimed a hard kick towards Darren's groin.
I put my leg down. "Sorry," I murmured, without succeeding in looking away from Matt's eyes.
"What was that for?! I know you hate me, Taylor, but that really was unnecessary. Did I forget to mention that you're stronger as a vampire?"
"Er, tell me later. Matt wants to make me his."
I shivered as Matt, unfazed by Darren's awakening, leant towards me and aligned his fangs with a blood vessel on my neck.
"Get away from her!" Darren yelled.
I was violently pulled behind Darren. I sighed in relief. I saw Matt roll his eyes and cross his arms.
"Did no one ever tell you to respect your elders?" he said to Darren.
"They did, but said nothing about not protecting young girls from becoming victims of changing symptoms," he replied.
"Protecting? I'd never hurt a girl; well at least not physically. The ones who fancy me just don't understand the whole concept of leagues in different spheres which don't cross each other's paths."
"You sicken me," I said, feeling glad of the barrier Darren had formed between this monster and me.
"Well, that'll change someday. I'm really not in the mood for a fight right now so you should thank your lucky stars you could kick your boyfriend hard enough. I'd personally never allow you to do that, but your actions aren't dependent on what I want and don't want yet. I'll give you an insight, though. You'll have proper respect for me and you'll be fully submissive and we'll never have an argument because you'll know I'm always right."
"In your dreams," I muttered.
And with that, he turned and strode off into the distance.
Darren turned to face me. "Are you okay, Tay? Sorry about how I reacted - you were just trying to ask for my help."
"I'm fine, and don't apologise. I kicked you pretty hard."
"You know," he mused, reaching out to caress my hair, "I think we're getting closer."
I nodded. "Yeah. I somehow don't feel so doomed and gloomy because of my encounters of something worse. I might have the feelings you want me to have for you by the end of the week."
Darren smiled. "That would be nice. I don't mind if you never feel that way, though. You're a great companion and the time we'll have together will be rather less short-lived than the time I had with my various pets."
"What was the most unusual?"
"A snake, actually."
"Wow. Was it big?"
I imagined this while we walked in and collected an application form from the lady at the reception desk dealing with ‘Special Needs Enquiries' which I found quite funny. I could picture a vampire walking in and complaining that there wasn't enough freely available blood in the town and that blood-mobiles should be set up to feed these seriously deprived people.
We returned to Darren's flat after filling in the form with all the right details and handing it back in. The woman had smiled at me and welcomed me to my new life as if I'd just bought a new house. Seeing her kind expression made me feel at last that things weren't so bad after all.