I crouch near the ground, hand shaking as I ignore the dying rays of the sun above me, casting its unhealthy orange glow across the sun. Without forcing it, a grin stretches across my lips and I snap my head up, eyes locking on the man standing just ahead of me.

Quickly, I push my body up and leap in the air, flying towards him. His arm snatches out, trying to grab me, but I'm too quick; my body twists in mid-air and I land behind him, leg kicking his side, gently, softly, careful don't hurt him he's vulnerable and human and hurt oh so easily easily easily...

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy...

Jack and Jill went up a hill, Jack turned around and bit Jill's fucking neck, sucking the blood right out of that stupid little whore...

"Nix!" The cry is pulled from my throat, desperate to get out and escape and find release in the air as I sink to my knees, hands clutching my head, head pounding throbbing pounding throbbing.

Don't hurt the humans!

Don't you touch the fucking little shits!

That's what the hunters tell us ask us beg of us before they raise their holy water filled guns to our heads and shoot.

"Nix!" I wretch, lifting my head to stare at him, watching as he staggers back, looking scared of me. That's not unusual – I have my moments, periods of time when you can see all too clearly that I am not one of you and that scares the shit out of Nix, my friend, my companion the one who never really knows how he should act around me.

"Shadow," he gasps out, stepping towards me now, seeing that I am in pain.

Vulnerable.

That's a side he hasn't seen of me before.

I'm not vulnerable usually; quick, strong, stealthy – I am gone before anyone can spot the tears that leak from eyelids and spill down my face, tears for a life long gone. I am not human. I am not vulnerable. I do not break as easily as they do...

Humpty dumpty sat on a wall, humpty dumpty had a great fall...

And the egg smashed on the floor and humans break and bleed, red egg yolk spilling onto the pavement and seeing that, seeing the red red red God I'm hungry I need to eat when did I...

"Shadow!" Nix falls to the ground before me, repeating my name as though he can bring me back to sanity just by saying it. He reaches forward, hands grasping mine, ignoring how cold they are, how freezing and lifeless and... "When did you eat last?"

Eat, eat, drink, drink...

You get your milk from cows, you get your meat from animals cooped up in fields their whole lives, ripping their children from their side and shoving them in a fiery pit and push the tortured screams from your head, don't listen to the sound of the lambs bleating or calves screaming, it's too hard, too difficult, too much to face.

And that's why Poison never wanted to make me!

The guilt, it etches into you, buries itself deep inside you and starts to rip you from the inside out but at least our prey live free.

No wonder the older ones go mad.

Because you start to hear the screams every night, start to feel their nails scratching at you begging you stop stop stop stop stop stop stop stop...

"I don't know," I cry, realising that my last victim is in my head now, head snapping up and eyes glaring at me, deep, dark eyes that lead into hell.

His lips curl backwards, his eyes stare into my soul and he hisses at me, swears at me, calls me a lying filthy whore slut bitch...

"Make it stop!" I whimper, feeling Nix's hands grab the top of my arms. He pulls me close into him, whispering sweet words as he tries to calm me down. I can smell cigarette smoke on him, I can smell the city on him, I can smell his blood pumping through his veins, different than the blood of mere mortals, because his blood tastes sweeter than theirs, like the way coke tastes different than water.

"It's OK," he whispers, voice soft and soothing. Phoenix, Phoenix, bright red and yellow, the bird of rebirth and life, not death, so why have I got a Phoenix of my own?

Then I see her.

My mother, lying on her death bed, tubes linking her to machines, beep beep beep we're keeping her alive, barely, just about...

I cry out as Raven bursts into my mind, face twisted and a snarl across her pretty lips, a dark shadow bringing death to me.

Raven.

Now that's the bird of death.

When the hunger takes over, all you see is the colour, the colour of blood, streaking down your eyelids like it's falling down a waterfall. Don't get me wrong; blood doesn't actually fill up our eyes, but it's what you see, what you think about, it presses on your mind, squeezes it until you can think of nothing else, until you see nothing else...

Except the bad stuff.

The bad stuff floods through and weasel's its way in, everything you try to forget, everything you push away to the back of your mind, when you're hungry it comes back. Just one of the reasons we feed; think about someone drinking alcohol, or taking E, or smoking a joint because it eases the pain, it makes life just that little bit easier to deal with.

Blood works the same, but it doesn't help you deal with life.

It helps you deal with death.

(Ring around the roses, a pocketful of poises....

You all fall the fuck down.)

Because that's what you need when you sink your teeth into someone's neck; delirious happiness that floods throughout you and infects every cell of your body, a sensation you cannot beat with anything else. Life-force, life; essence of. It's blood, isn't it? It's magical and strange and hard to grasp and....

And I need it!

Nix pulls down his shirt collar and confronts me with his unblemished neck. "Drink," he hisses, and I don't have to be told twice. He cries out as my teeth pierce the skin and I feeeeeeeeeeeeel it.

Life pumps into me as I push my body against his, body moving in time with his beating heart as I hear it thumping in my ears.

There is nothing like it.

I feel him shudder beneath me, his hand grasping my wrist, squeezing it, his eyes rolling into the back of his head in a weird mix of pain and pleasure.

I once asked him to describe it to me.

He refused, a strange look in his eyes and I'd laughed.

"You like it, don't you?"

His hand reaches up, resting on my chest before he pushes me away. I laugh as I tumble backwards, falling onto my arse and tilting my head back, licking the blood from my lips as Nix, breathing heavily, falls to his knees and turns away from me, eyes closed, ashamed in his bliss.