Black Dawn

Chapter 1

She opened her eyes slowly. Her head was pounding and her body ached unmercifully. Charisma James sat up and glanced around. She was in a small clearing surrounded by tall redwoods and pines. The air smelled fresh and cold, the scent of pine heavy and abundant in her nostrils. The sky, barely visible through the thick treetops, appeared dark with impending rain clouds. A storm was coming. Soon.

Ignoring her aching head, Charisma moved to stand up, but a wave of nausea crashed over her, forcing her to sit back down. Her breathing ragged, she sat for a moment, fighting a deep feeling of panic rising in her. She felt hypersensitive to her surroundings, which unnerved her. She could hear distant birds chirping as though they were right next to her. Her sense of smell seemed heightened as well. Ignoring these strange changes, she glanced down at herself and frowned.

Her jeans were filthy and torn in places and her white tennis shoes were completely caked with mud. She noticed her hands, usually so delicate and perfectly manicured, were scratched and bleeding. Her pale lavender sweater was also a mess. She could only imagine what her face looked like.

It was then that the hunger struck her like a bolt of lightning. It was a hunger unlike any she had ever felt or known before. It was raw, painful, and it consumed her. She felt an acing need, a thirst, yet she knew not what for. Somehow, Charisma knew no soda could quench it. To her left, a twig snapped and she jumped to her feet, or rather, and odd crouching position. She sniffed. A rabbit. Dear Lord, she could smell a rabbit? What had happened to her? Before she had time to ponder that thought, the rabbit took off running and Charisma found herself chasing it. Her heart pounding, she reached out and grabbed for it, clutching at the small, white body. Holding the struggling animal in a death grip, she struck at the soft belly with her teeth, drinking, drinking, sucking the life out of the creature. She couldn't be disgusted with herself. It didn't taste like blood. Instead, it tasted like cherry preserves or raspberry wine. The marvelous liquid drifted down her throat and she felt her nausea, her headache, and the pain in her body, melt away.

She raised her head and looked at the defenseless, dead rabbit in her hands. Charisma quickly dropped the tiny corpse and shrank away. Now that she could think clearly, she was frightened. Oh, my God! I just drank blood, only it didn't taste like blood, but it was blood! I liked it! What has happened to me? Charisma thought frantically, despairingly. She felt like weeping. She tried to think. She couldn't remember much. Only the face of a boy. A beautiful, smiling face.

He did this to me! She thought. It's that boy! She was beginning to remember…