Prologue - A Thirst for Imperfection
I never liked P.E: everyone scored top in it so it wasn't as if it measured who was better. But apparently it was a necessary requirement for when we left boarding school to hunt in the outside world. That was the purpose of a vampire.
We were all born that way, or so our parents told us, and as soon as we hit six years old, we were shipped off to our nearest Vampire Training Academy. There we were taught the history of our species, our talents and basic survival techniques to get by in the harshness of nature.
It was in P.E that I began thinking more about something my Grandma had said which raised a few questions. We were being told our assessment results, and as usual, the first twenty or so were the expected 100%. But as the list came to Mandy Sykes, we all received a nasty shock, most of all her. 98%. Her score was 98%.
At first we didn't understand. Nobody scored under 100%, especially in P.E. It was just normal, just natural for us to pass every test perfectly. Nobody could get 98%, it just wasn't possible…then how did Mandy Sykes manage it?
Every one of us stared at her in disbelief, watching as one of the Commanders dragged her away for punishment. She kicked and screamed and struggled, but it was no use. Nobody dared say a word in case they ended up with the same fate as poor Mandy. We'd never see her again.
This set me thinking about something my grandma used to say before she'd been taken into hospital. I'd always wondered why she'd want to stay looking forty years old when most preferred to stay twenty, looking their best.
She'd said that my generation had it easy. We'd been given our ability on a plate, so we could never do anything other than perfect. Her generation had apparently had to work to get used to their new abilities, that they didn't automatically get perfect results. At the time we'd all dismissed it as the crazy ramblings of a thousand year old who'd drunk too much in her time.
However, as I stood there looking at Mandy being pulled off to her doom, I began to wonder if we really were unnaturally perfect as my Grandma had said. I shook off my doubts, focusing on the Rabbit Hunt to distract myself. It worked, only until lunchtime in the library.
Research projects were a pain, though there was no getting out of R.E, especially when I had the honour of finding out about the author of our Holy Book; Vincent Johnson. There was an entire section in the school library dedicated to him, which just so happened to be right at the back, near the 'Burn Immediately' chute.
It caught my eye and I couldn't resist the temptation to look. Any books in the trolley of books to go down the chute were strictly forbidden to even be touched. They were usually confiscated from the oldest students who had a habit of sneaking out at night to steal illegal items to smuggle back to school. It seemed that someone had abandoned those forbidden books to be burnt there. Looking to see the librarian with his nose buried in a recipe book, I 'accidentally' let the book, entitled 'Dracula', fall into my bag.
Everyone else was busy with their projects that night, while I sat in the dormitory, absorbed in the book I'd taken. It was nothing like the portrayal of our species: it showed vampires as seductive, savage creatures who feasted on the blood of an ancient race called humans. These vampires were cunning, devious and evil, and yet I loved this notion more than the reality.
As I reached the final pages, a piece of paper fell from the back of the book to the floor. Curious, I picked it up and unfolded the yellowing page, finding myself read aloud:
'January 13th 2056
There are things that you must be told, my love. Dangerous secrets I cannot keep forever.
We are not vampires. The Government twisted us to fit that fool Vincent Johnson's vision of a perfect creature which he stole the name vampire for.
We alone have no hopes of reverting the world to the way it was. They know our every strength, our every weakness.
There is only one hope left to break their control:
If I should die, he will help you continue our cause.
Good luck, my treasure,
I fell silent as I stared in horror at the signature. Avery Dare had been the enemy of society over a thousand years before, trying to rule the country for his own selfish ends. We'd learnt that in History. So why did his letter seem so…truthful? Before I could ponder over this question, I heard a sound behind me and felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It was the sound of laughter: a cold, chilling laugh.
"When I heard someone call for me, I didn't expect a lonely little schoolgirl." The voice behind me was snide and uncaring. I turned to see a pair of cat-like yellow eyes staring holes right to my core.
"Who-who are you?" I demanded unconvincingly, "What do you mean, I called you?"
These queries were greeted by another cruel laugh, "You're the one who said my name. Figure it out yourself."
The book I'd stolen captured my gaze and it suddenly clicked, "Dracula."
"Precisely." The shadows made it difficult to view his spine-chilling smirk, "The original vampire."
I shook my head, "That can't be true. I'm a vampire and I'm-"
"You, a vampire?" Dracula interrupted, "Don't give yourself the credit. You're all still human, despite having taken the liberty of advancing yourselves."
"How do I know you're not lying?" I asked the most clichéd question possible, spotting the broken part of my bedpost, which was now held up by my textbooks. If he was who he said he was, I knew exactly what to do.
"How do you know you know the truth?" He said mockingly, "Think about it. How else could you all have such skill at hunting? Why else is there little detail of me in any other books you've read? How do you all look so immaculate? Face it, g-" He stopped in mid-sentence, looking down with a mixture of horror, enmity and a hint of being mildly disturbed at the bedpost I had just impaled his heart with.
Just as I was beginning to feel relief wash over me, the room rang with his laughter as he carelessly tugged the bedpost from his chest and casually tossed it aside. The blood began to rush back into the wound, all evidence of any sort of attack slowly disappearing.
I smacked my forehead, murmuring, "Of course, forgot to cut his head off…"
He snatched my wrist, lifting me off my feet a few inches so I was level with his face, snarling viciously like a beast, "You've got admirable courage to pull a stunt like that, you little runt." He moved his arm slightly so my face was close to his as he spoke, "I like that in a girl."
He tossed me aside like a child would a broken toy, and I slammed into the wall, feeling as if all the bones in my body had just shattered. Or at least, that's how I imagine it would've felt had I been able to feel it at all.
"I'm just lucky you chose the wrong one to do." He said, more a statement to scare me all the more than to express relief, "You see, with our kind, we don't go through all those ridiculous rituals to die like you mutations, oh no. We simply have to lose the connection to our brains, and that would involve locking the severed head in a box made of six inches of reinforced steel to cut off the mental connection between the head and the rest of the body." With each sentence, he darted about the room, showing off his incredible speed compared to mine.
"So what're you going to do now?" I glared at him, trying to display some amount of bravado whilst the dread was creeping through my mind to ensnare all rationality, "Kill me?"
Again, he laughed, which left me wondering if everything I did really amused him so much or if it was more of his scare tactics, "You'd be no use to me like that. No, I have a much better idea." He darted right in front of me, towering over my paralysed form to emphasize how intimidating he was, "I propose that you join the legions of the true undead."
"Wh-what?" If I'd been standing up, no doubt I would've stumbled backwards, "You want me to…but why?"
"You've got pluck, and know enough about your kind to find a way of restoring the balance of the world." He smiled, but it was less than friendly, "Besides, you're too much fun to have around for me to leave in such a state."
I frowned, "But I'm a mutation…couldn't the result of me being turned into a true vampire end up with something really messed up?"
More laughter escaped his lips, before he shrugged, "There's only one way to find out. But I must warn you; you'll never be the same once you've turned. There's no turning you back, and you'll have to leave this place, your friends, your family. Wouldn't you rather stay where you know you'll be accepted?"
I shook my head, "I can't stay here. Not while everyone thinks everything's fine when I know it's not."
"Very well. Then I'd have to take you somewhere with less of your kind, one of the last havens of the true vampire, and I would have to train you until you were at the peak of your power." His tone was becoming lower and more dangerous, "And if you were to make one step out of line, I would have to punish you so swiftly you'd barely know what you'd done wrong. Am I clear?"
I nodded, swallowing, "Understood, sir."
"So be it." He smirked, "Are you ready to leave everything behind that you knew as real to enter the reality of the matter?"
I paused for a moment, considering what I was about to do carefully. There was a chance that I'd die trying to fight the Government and convert everyone back into to normal humans. Was it worth leaving this cushy, safe place where nobody could be anything other than perfect?
After a long while, I nodded, "I accept whatever fate may befall me when I choose this path."
"Good." He dragged me up, face right next to my ear as he whispered, "This would sting a bit, if you could feel pain."
He sank his dripping fangs deep into my flesh, awakening some long lost pain receptors, causing me to gasp with the pain, unable to scream it hurt so badly. I wanted to change my mind, wanted to stop the agony of this newly found sensation of pain. I couldn't go back now. He'd warned me of that.
At last, when he'd finished draining me enough and the proper chemicals had been injected, he withdrew his teeth, the elongated canines coming out with blood running down them, staining my shirt from pure white to deep crimson.
"How do you feel then, little girl?" He asked, breathing heavily with a crazed, animalistic tinge to the glint in his eye.
"You know, Master." I said, a slow smirk playing about my features, "Kind of…thirsty." For a moment I felt somewhat rejuvenated, but this was short-lived and I fell to the floor and lay there dead to the world.