Feel free to add anything - not really sure where I can go from this first bit!
I used to think about vampires a lot. I wasn’t obsessed with them or anything, but they were interesting, different, and surprisingly common in teenage media – or the sort that I exposed myself to, anyway. So I knew about the different kinds, like the ones that burn in sunlight, the ones that can never be killed, the ones that have an allergy to garlic, the lot. But it was all fictional, you know? It was like Halloween. A good joke, you get scared, drunk, whatever, but it is fake. And for its fakeness, it somehow thrills you all the more.
Not when it’s real. The reality is cold, bitter, brutal, and above all devastatingly and apocalyptically painful, in body and mind. You don’t get the chance to abstain, because the lust for it consumes you. Physical cravings can be fought, denied, but when the mist is inside your very head, creating logical arguments and persuading you with your own mind that it is the right thing to do, you have to succumb. You just don’t have a choice. And maybe I’m weak, I won’t contest that, and God knows I loathe myself for the things I’ve done. But you can’t judge me until you’ve lived a day in my body, and I wouldn’t ever wish that on anyone.
* * * * *
I was sixteen. School was okay, boring but survivable. Lived in a nice middle-class house with a nice middle-class family - tzatsiki, Radio 4, the lot. Wanted to be a doctor – the irony! Very literate, loved reading and television, and as far as I was concerned, the real world was as dull as beige carpet. I wished for all sorts of things, ranging from a burning desire to crew the Swallow, right through waiting for the letter from magic school all the way to fantasising about falling in love with a tortured vampire. The usual list. It got to the stage where I would actually invent scenarios in which I was in deadly peril. Example; walking home from school one day, I heard footsteps behind me. I didn’t dare look behind. As my imagination went into piston-crunching, steam-screeching overdrive, I contemplated whether to fight or fly from my could-be assailant. Flight was settled on, as I had no actually experience in hand-to-hand, and I started to walk faster. So did the footsteps. Panic constricted my chest. What did they want? My schoolbag? My battered old phone? Or something else? God only knew what kind of weirdo you got in that town. The burn on my muscles was intensifying as I walk-ran faster and faster. Houses flew by, each one a forbidden sanctuary. The footsteps were still there! I sprinted round a corner, ducked into an alleyway. I don’t know what I planned; trip them up or something? Kick him where it hurt? Of course, when a puny thirteen-year-old sprinted past and yelled for the bus driver to hold up further down the road, I could have melted into the ground, my stomach heaving with a mixture of relief and self-contempt. Point is, I had pretty much never encountered the real world.
That changed. A couple of months later, I went out with a couple of mates. Armed with fake ID and all the brazen confidence of shielded youth, we sallied forth into the bars of London. We drank, and giggled, and flirted, and danced. A lot. Anyway, I met this guy, as you do. He seemed really sweet, brown hair, grey eyes you could lose yourself in, and suspiciously perfect teeth. Unfortunately, suspiciously for me then meant sneaky orthodontic treatment. God, my naiveté was something else. So, I stood him a couple of drinks, we moved from the bar into a nice quiet corner, and then from there out along the street, heading to a bar he knew. We turned into a dark alley – a short cut. God knows what I was thinking, but to be honest I must have been so pissed by then I’m surprised I remember anything at all.
So, you can probably tell from the title what happened next. He didn’t bother with any of the toying or flirting, just went straight for my neck. The sensation was ... strange. Not exactly painful, although so terrifying that the fear would have masked that anyway. It felt like going to sleep, like the energy was slowly slipping away from my body. Then as it so often does, the sleep dragged me down into its dark embrace, and I knew no more.
And that was it. I woke up, and black was all around me, in my very soul. More than that, it was on my eyelids. I couldn’t see! Panicking blindly, I stretched my eyes open as wide as they would go. The absolute blackness stayed solid and stubborn, and the pain that was somehow entwined with it began to caress me. This was my worst fear, losing my sight. It was a dream, it’s a dream, I will wake up. But I didn’t. I pushed myself up against the wall, and flailed bizarrely forward, reaching for anything that would reassure me of ... I don’t know, existence? I found something. A doorknob? Yes! Oh sweet Lord! I pushed it. It squealed in protest. I pulled it, and dragged the unwilling door open. Light! I could see! But it felt strange...the light was beautiful but at the same time repulsive. It made the pain worse. I stumbled back down into wherever I was as the spears of sunlight dragged the room into view. It was a grotty little basement, black tarpaulin over the tiny windows, and no furniture. The floor was littered with the souvenirs of a hundred different lost cheeseburger-eaters who had taken refuge here. It was disgusting. And yet, being in here was somehow better than being under the sun.
The light that was slouching in through the door illuminated me as I looked down. My agonised-over outfit was in ruins, covered in god knew what and ripped all over the place. What had happened last night? Something else was different though. I felt hungry, and kind of strange...
The memory landed with an almighty crash, and dragged me to the floor. Clear as acid I remembered the guy, the eyes, the drinks, the alley, and then... oh lord. No. But I knew what happened now. As the pit dropped out of my stomach, I placed a trembling hand on the left side of my chest. Nothing. Oh god nothing. I pressed harder, it wasn’t gone, it wasn’t. I pressed so hard my ribs hurt, but my chest stayed cold and silent. The dread coursed through me and around me as I tentatively explored my mouth. My less-than-perfect teeth were suddenly sharp and strong. This couldn’t be happening. I wouldn’t allow it. No. NO. Vampires were not real, they just weren’t. There wouldn’t be so many books and stuff about them if they were. This just was not real.
The next part, I don’t like to remember, and I have no wish to inflict the details on my innocent reader. Someone walked by the door, and suffice it to say that within thirty seconds I was no longer hungry.
Thus began my existence as a predator.