A young woman wakes up in the middle of the night only to find a vampire having an existential crisis sitting on her bed.
I laughed as I watched the two girls fight with each other over the fancy mint chocolate bar they had just received. The house had had only one left and naturally, they decided to give it to the pretty young princess. But the older girl, dressed age-appropriately in black tights, a black t-shirt and cat ears, could not accept the fact that for once, her younger sister had something she wanted.
"Raanu, I'm older, give it to me!"
The princess named Raanu, holding the chocolate bar behind her back, shook her head vigorously.
"No way Mali. You always get what you want. I want something for a change."
Mali groaned as she attempted to reach behind Raanu's back.
"Raanu, I'll give you ten dollars."
"Come on, this is the last house and I haven't gotten anything good! You got all the good candy."
"Can't help it," Raanu said happily as she began to unwrap the bar. Mali shrieked and tried to grab the bar out of her hand. Figuring I should probably put an end to this fight before it escalated, I stepped between my two younger cousins.
"Guys," I said calmly, "this is stupid. It's Halloween. It's just candy."
Mali opened her mouth to protest when I interrupted.
"Mali, you're freaking fourteen years old. Raanu is ten. Leave her alone."
Mali gave me a cold look.
"Fine, take her side. You always do."
And with that, she pulled out her iPod from her candy bag, put on her earphones and began walking five feet away from Raanu and me. I rolled my eyes. Hormonal teenagers. Raanu, chewing happily on her chocolate, fell in step with me and slipped her hand in mine.
"Mali is so mean. It's just candy," she said.
"Halloween isn't about candy."
She looked at me as though I had just told her the sky wasn't blue.
"Yeah, it is."
I rolled my eyes as we continued walking towards the last building on the street.
"It's about scary stuff. Duh. Kids these days have no backbone. It's all about cute, happy things. Even on Halloween."
I looked down at her pink princess costume.
"Your costume mocks everything Halloween is about."
"Hey!" she cried, clearly offended. I suppressed a giggle.
"It's true. Halloween is the one night of the year where the creatures of the dark come out to play."
"There's no such thing as ghosts."
I raised an eyebrow at her.
"Is that why you're still scared of the dark?"
Raanu swallowed the last piece of chocolate and licked her lips.
"I'm not scared of the dark."
"Oh yeah? Don't let the creatures of the night hear you say that. They might want to make a new friend."
"Shut up, Akka," Mali said, turning around, clearly annoyed by the conversation. I stopped walking and looked at her, a teasing smile on my lips.
"I'm not scaring you, am I?"
Mali glared at me.
"Well, if you're not scared, why don't you invite them to play with you?"
Raanu dropped her hand from mine and stared at me.
I nodded as I walked to the gate of my apartment complex. Flashing my ID to the guard, I beckoned the two girls to follow.
"Say it. Hold your arms out and say 'Creatures of the night, come play with me'," I said as we got into the elevator. Raanu giggled while Mali rolled her eyes.
"Then say it," I challenged her as I dug through my purse, looking for my keys.
"Why don't you say it?" Raanu retorted. I shrugged as we got off on the fifth floor. The hallway was quiet and empty and the lighting seemed to flicker ominously when I put unlocked my door.
"Fine," I said. I turned to look at the two girls, both now spread out on the couch next to each other, all traces of their fight forgotten, and turned back to the empty hallway. Taking a deep breath—and feeling slightly stupid for speaking out into nothingness—I spoke.
"Creatures of the night, come play with me."
The two girls waited with bated breath. Nothing happened. Sighing, I shut the door, turned back to them and shrugged.
"That was lame," Mali said. Raanu nodded in agreement.
"Told you nothing would happen."
I glanced at the clock, yawning. Eleven thirty four. I was tired. Taking my cousins trick-or-treating had been more exhausting than I thought it would be. Probably because I spent the better part of the evening mediating more fights than worth counting.
"Don't get too cozy," I warned as Mali turned on the television, "your mom should be here to pick you up soon."
Neither seemed to hear me for they were now fighting over watching Sleepless in Seattle or The Incredibles. Deciding that this was one fight I most definitely did not want a part in, I sank into a chair and waited for the doorbell to ring.
The zombie opened its mouth—a large, gaping black hole—wide as it lunged towards me. My heart racing, I held my sword steady when I heard a familiar laugh. Turning around, I saw Raanu dressed as a monkey (I thought she liked princesses?) laughing at the zombie. When I turned to look back at the zombie, I understood why. It was now in a clown's outfit. What. The. Hell. Oh well, this made my job easier. With a battle cry, I ran at the zombie in the clown outfit, raising my diamond-encrusted sword (wait, when did the diamonds appear?) and plunged it into its heart. Or at least, where its heart should have been.
"You killed, you killed it!" cried Raanu, now jumping up and down, three chocolate bars in her hand.
I raised my sword in victory when I felt a cold shiver pass through my body.
Not just a shiver. It was cold. I was freezing.
My eyes flickered open and I sat up in bed, breathing hard. It wasn't cold anymore, though I could still feel goosebumps on my arms. What had just happened? It was almost as if someone had opened the window…and then shut it quickly. But that was ridiculous.
Yawning, I started to lie back down when I realized I wasn't the only one sitting on my bed. I froze. What was I supposed to do? Scream? Pretend to get up to use the bathroom and bolt for the front door instead? Did this person even realize that I was awake?
"Hello," a rough voice said.
Run, my mind commanded. And all of a sudden, I couldn't move. Okay, scream. But nothing came out when I opened my mouth.
"I won't hurt you, don't worry. If you'd just listen, instead of trying to run, you'll realize that."
Some crazy creeper was in my bedroom and I was supposed to calmly sit and listen?
"You don't really have any other choice," the voice pointed out.
Shit, did this guy just read my mind?
"No, I'm not that special. Reading minds isn't possible. The mind isn't like a book you can read. Actually, you said that out loud."
I felt panic rise up inside me. Was I going to die? I felt my eyes water up. I didn't want to die. Or get raped. It couldn't end like this! Why couldn't I talk? Maybe I can reason with Mr. Creeper. Maybe it's not so bad. It wasn't so bad. So some weirdo was in my bedroom in the middle of the night. This didn't necessarily mean I was going to die, was it?
"If you promise you won't scream, I'll give you your voice back."
I swallowed heavily, breathing heavily and feeling my heart beat faster than it has ever beat in my life. Calm down, I told myself. This guy was clearly a lunatic and I was never going to save myself if I panicked. He wasn't violent at this moment. Maybe I should try to talk to him. But what should I say? I opted for the obvious question.
"What the fuck are you doing in my room?" I asked.
"I just want to talk. I won't hurt you. I won't touch you. Promise." This guy was good. He sounded so…sincere.
"Talk about what, exactly?"
"Well, you see…I have this problem."
Oh, fuck. He was probably crazy. Maybe he wanted someone to talk to.
"Okay, I understand," I said slowly, deciding that showing empathy was probably the best way to keep him calm, "if you want, I can call up my friend. She's a therapist, she'll listen to you."
"No" he said, sounding frustrated, "she wouldn't understand."
And I would? I took a deep breath.
"Look, sir, I understand that you're—you're probably going through a tough time right now but…but sneaking into some stranger's bedroom in the middle of the night isn't the way to solve it."
He didn't say anything. Maybe he was autistic. Didn't I read somewhere that autistic people have trouble telling right from wrong? Because breaking into someone's house was most definitely wrong. And if that was the case, I probably wouldn't be able to convince him to leave. I tried moving my legs but to no avail. So scream, my mind told me frantically. I opened my mouth to do so but the next thing I knew, a hand clamped over my mouth while another forced me back to lie down. This was it! I was going to be raped. I couldn't stop the tears now. They flowed freely down my face as my body shuddered.
"I told you not to scream," the voice hissed, "and now look, I've had to break my promise to not touch you."
I shook my head desperately, not really sure of what I was trying to convey.
"Let me lay this out for you. You can sit here and listen to what I have to say…or you can die. Trust me when I say that I can kill you faster than you can scream for help. I really didn't want to threaten you before because I didn't want to scare you but you forced me to it. But believe me when I say that all I want is to talk. It'll probably take several minutes and then I'll leave. You decide what sounds better to you."
He removed his hand and backed away. I was shaking with fear. Drawing my blanket up to cover everything but my head, I scooted to the other corner of the bed.
"Ready to listen?"
I whimpered in response. He sighed and sat back down at the foot of the bed, as far away from me as possible.
"Let me start with one, simple fact: I'm a vampire."
He paused, as if expecting me to say something but when I remained quiet, he continued.
"I'm a vampire without a cause."
Do vampires need causes?
"All free-thinking beings need causes," he answered matter-of-factly, "You're always living for something…even if you don't know what it is."
Still, I said nothing.
"Aren't you going to say something?" he asked, sounding annoyed.
No. Maybe he'll keep good on his promise, rant, and then go away. I heard him sigh.
"Fine. I'll just talk."
He let out an exasperated groan and fell back onto my bed, spreading his arms out.
"It all started on that camping trip. That stupid, stupid camping trip I should have never gone on. There I was, minding my own business and collecting firewood when snap, this thing comes out of freakin' nowhere and…" he paused, as if debating on whether to continue the stream of thought, "…and I became what I am. Most vampire literature makes vampires (the important ones at least) all glamorous and fucking romantic, as if I'm supposed to be an eternally young Danish prince from the middle ages or some shit like that. That I'm supposed to have history or something. But I don't, I just don't. And it's the most boring shit in the world, doing the same thing over and over again. You know how long I've been a vampire?"
I didn't bother answering him, knowing he'd tell me anyway.
"Seven years. Seven years. And I'm already tired of this. And to think that I only have eternity to go!" He let out a scoff before continuing. "It's ridiculous. I mean, I can do anything anytime I want. If I wanted to get to Paris like, right now, I could but what's the point? I live forever. Maybe I'll save Paris for a particularly boring year maybe three hundred years from now. But now, there's nothing to do."
He looked at me again, seeing if I was going to react to his outburst. Like hell I wasn't.
"You really don't want to say anything?"
I sank deeper into my bed, pulling my blanket up past my chin, and stared at him with wide, fearful eyes. He sat up suddenly and snapped his fingers.
"I get it! You don't believe me, do you? You don't think vampires exist, do you?"
Oh my God, was he going to…
"I'll prove it to you. I'll prove to you that I'm real."
He stood up and came closer. Instinctively, I leaned back as far as I could, only to meet with the wall.
"Please don't suck my blood or anything!" Vampires didn't exist but even crazy people who believed themselves to be vampires were capable of biting.
His face moved in front of the shaft of moonlight streaming through my window blinds and I could see his features clearly for the first time in my life. My first thought was that he looked particularly unhealthy. He was pale, incredibly pale, though it seemed that his original color was perhaps a deep tan or a light brown. His hair was black and his dark eyes were accentuated by heavy, thick eyebrows. His cheekbones were especially prominent, giving his face a gaunt appearance, and his jaw was angular. But perhaps what was most striking about his face were his lips, which were thin and bright red. The color seemed to almost glow amidst the gray, black and white hues of the rest of his face. And when he smiled at me, two sharp canines poked out and onto his lower lip.
"I'm not going to drink your blood. Don't worry, your blood isn't particularly appealing. You're type O."
I must have looked immensely confused because he felt the need to suddenly explain himself.
"Do you know anything about the molecular biology of blood? Of course you don't. Not many people do. Your blood type—A, B, AB, or O—is characterized by the presence or absence of certain antigens. So Type A would have A antigens, type B would have B antigens, AB would have both…and O doesn't have any. It's these antigens that give blood a certain, shall we say, flavor. Your blood would probably taste like…uncooked tofu. No offense but it's kind of gross."
Somehow, I wasn't feeling too offended.
"What are antigens?" I squeaked out.
He raised an eyebrow at me.
"Why don't you get that gun you have in your nightstand?"
Has this guy been stalking me? Breaking into my apartment when I wasn't home and going through my stuff? How the hell did he know about my gun? Maybe he was like Superman and he could see through the furniture. That was ridiculous. I swallowed, feeling a lump rise up in my throat. He couldn't be serious.
"Seriously. Better yet, I'll do it for you."
He reached over, opened the nightstand drawer and pulled out the gun I kept in case of emergencies. He examined fit or a moment before holding it out to me. I gaped at him.
"Take it. Go on," he urged.
This had to be some sort of trap. Maybe he was only pretending to give me the gun. Maybe he would grab my wrist as I reached out for it and then…I didn't even want to think about what would happen after that. But it was a weapon and it was loaded. Wasn't there some sort of clause in the law that said I could attack someone in self-defense? Sure, he wasn't being too threatening right now—apart from being where he most definitely was not supposed to be—but no one had to know that. He attacked me in the middle of the night, I grabbed the gun and I indiscriminately shot him. I accidentally killed him. In self-defense. Okay, that would be my story.
I made sure to keep my face as expressionless as possible and waited several seconds before, without warning, reaching out and snatching the gun from his hand. Without hesitating, I immediately pointed it at him and pulled the trigger. The shot was loud, much louder than I had anticipated, and I immediately dropped the gun to touch my ears. My eyes closed for a moment from the shock—I'd never had to use it before—and when I opened them again, he was slumped over, looking down. I wondered where I had shot him but, just to be safe, picked up the gun and shot at him again, this time better prepared for the sound and force with which the bullet erupted from the barrel. I didn't drop it. My heart thudding against my chest, I jumped out of bed, making sure to keep my gun pointed at his silhouette, which was now lying face-down on the floor. For good measure, I shot one last time and through the moonlight, saw his body shudder as the bullet pierced his skin. And that was it. I turned my back to him and ran towards the bedroom door, felt my fingers wrap around the cool metal of the doorknob, feel myself pulling open the door by a couple of inches…and then felt a heavy weight slam into me. The next thing I knew, my body was pinned on the floor by another body, vastly heavier and stronger than mine, and a hand covered my mouth.
"You just won't listen, will you?" a voice said angrily, "How many times do I have to tell you? I won't hurt you if you just sit and fucking listen. The next time you try to escape, I will kill you. Understand?"
It was over, it was all over. He must have sensed my surrender because he loosened his grip. I clambered out from under him and jumped back into bed. How had he survived? How was he still so strong? I shot him three times. I know I didn't miss because I had seen his body react to each bullet. He should be bleeding excessively on my carpet right now, not sitting on my bed, running his hand through his hair as if I had thrown a pillow, and not shot a bullet, at him. Oxygen, I needed oxygen. This was crazy. I was terrified. I wanted to throw up. I felt sleepy. Things started spinning. For a minute, I thought I was going to faint. No, my mind said firmly, if you faint, your body will be left at the mercy of whoever this creep is. You need to stay conscious. You need to fight back. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Okay, so this guy was fast. Really fast. I probably couldn't outrun him. But he couldn't stay here forever. He'd need to leave eventually. And when he was in motion, when his mind was focused on leaving or on something else, that's when I would spring into action. Okay, that was the plan: play along with his little game and at the first sign of violence, unprovoked violence, it would be a fight to the death. I would conserve my energy for that. I would look for weaknesses. He could ramble all he wanted. I would devise a battle plan in my head. But now I had to distract him.
"My bullets didn't hit you, did they?"
He had moved back into the darkness, away from the moonlight, and I could no longer see his face but when he spoke, he sounded almost amused.
"No, they did."
"Are you wearing a bullet-proof vest or something?"
"Oh, they punctured my skin, all right."
"Why aren't you bleeding? Why aren't you dying?"
"I heal fast."
I didn't say anything. I didn't need to. Anyone could see that that was a ridiculous claim. He knew it and moved closer to me. His wore an unreadable expression on his face—was it excitement?
"One hit me right here." He pointed to a tear on his shirt near his left shoulder. I squinted to see clearly and in the moonlight, I could see a small dark spot against his pale skin. Blood. But the wound was no longer bleeding. What?
He then moved to take off his shirt and instinctively, I leaned back away from him, my senses on high alert.
"The second hit me here," he said, pointing to a place just left of his navel. Sure enough, there was another dark spot of blood that was larger than the previous. And also like the previous spot, it was not bleeding. There was no way blood congealed that fast.
"And the third bullet hit me in the leg. But I really don't want to take off my pants."
And with that, he pulled on his shirt and looked at me expectedly. I gaped at him, my mouth open. This could be a trap. Maybe it was make-up. Maybe none of my bullets had hit him and he was making me believe that they had. I tried recreating what happened in my head. Three shots fired. The first, I supposed, could have hit him in the shoulder. The force would have caused him to reel back, exposing his entire front side. The second bullet, then, could have easily hit him in his stomach. And I fired the third from several feet away in the dark. In hindsight, I realize that I had been aiming for his back but in the confusion, could have easily hit him in the leg instead. His story made sense.
But then, it didn't make sense. How could someone survive three shots? This had to be some sort of trick. It had to be.
"You still don't believe me, do you?"
Sighing, he reached over and took the gun from my lap. He held up his hand to me—large and pale, it was—and then pressed the barrel of the gun against his palm. Before I could say anything, he pulled the trigger and shot himself. I jumped in shock. My eyes wide, I leaned closer. Somewhat flinching but smiling just the same, he held his hand up. I could see the bullet embedded in his skin. It was disgusting. There was blood surrounding the area. I felt the urge to retch. And then to my absolute horror, he dug into his own hand, pulled the bullet out as if it was a small splinter, and tossed it on the floor.
He held his hand out to me again and through the moonlight, I could see the skin almost shift and move until, somehow, there was no open wound anymore. It was just…gone. One minute, there was a hole that previously held the bullet and the next, nothing. Impossible.
I couldn't help it. I laughed. It started as a soft giggle and I tried to suppress it but the urge was too strong. Mr. Wannabe Vampire stared at me incredulously for a moment before joining in.
"Haha! It's—it's—just—too—funny," I gasped in between breaths.
"Tee hee! I don't know why you're laughing but it's makin' me laugh, too!" he said, slapping his thigh as he let out another roar of laughter. I took a deep breath and tried to keep myself silent long enough so that I could speak but even when I did, I couldn't control the giggles that escaped my lips periodically.
"It's just too funny. I wake up in the middle of the night, and there's some creep sitting on my bed! Haahaa! And what does he want? Not money, no. Not to rape me, no. No, that would be normal wouldn't it? No, what this creep wants is someone to talk to. Why? Because—ha ha—he's a vampire."
"I know, it's hilarious!"
"I know! This is the best dream ever. So realistic!" I cried happily. His expression immediately became sober.
I inhaled deeply and leaned back against my pillow, smiling.
"You know. Most of my dreams are bizarre and have this sort of ethereal feel to them but this one! It's so real. So brilliant."
"This is no dream."
"Of course it is. In the real world when someone gets shot, they tend to bleed and die. No one's invulnerable."
I rolled my eyes, no longer feeling afraid of this man in my room. After all, this was my dream. And bad things don't usually happen to me in my dreams. So what was there to fear?
"Of course you are. Because you're in my head."
"My God!" he said, sounding exasperated, "what will it take for you to believe me?"
"I do believe you. You say you're a vampire so you're a vampire."
"But I'm real."
"None of the other figments of my imagination ever insisted that they were real…" I thought out loud. Suddenly, his face changed and he leaned away from me, rubbing his jaw thoughtfully.
"Actually, you may have a point."
"What if I'm not really real?"
"Aww, don't say that! You're real enough."
"What does that mean?"
"I'm not really sure," I admitted.
"No, but seriously. I mean, I'm new at this. I've only been dead for seven years. I know shit about this. What if I only exist on some other plane, like…like a Dream World or something? And because I'm, you know, part of the undead dead, I can cross over to your universe and stay in mine?"
"There's really no scientific evidence that suggests multiple universes exist."
"Oh, yeah?" he challenged, "what about the multiverse theory? That was real."
"The theory was real. But just because someone said it doesn't mean it exists."
"Aren't there someone people who claim that we can will something into existence? And that quantum physics proves this? Something about non-locality?"
"Who the hell taught you about quantum physics? Because let me tell you: what you're saying? All bullshit."
He seemed a bit taken back by the confidence with which I spoke.
"Who made you an expert on quantum physics?"
"I majored in physics."
"No shit! Really?"
"Oh," he said, sounding defeated.
There was a brief silence.
"Well, what about uncertainty?" he asked.
"What about uncertainty? You mean, like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle?"
"Yeah. Wouldn't that suggest that we don't exist?"
I scratched my head.
"What?" was all I could muster.
"Think about it. Heisenberg said that we never know the exact location of an electron, right? That we can only predict either its speed or position but never both. And because of that, we can only ever know the probability of an electron's position—how likely an electron will be in a certain place, right?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Well, if electrons are always moving and we never know where they are…and our bodies are nothing but electrons, protons and neutrons, then are our bodies really here at all?"
"Don't tell me you're one of those crackpots that like to take scientific sounding things and turn them all…philosophical."
"What's wrong with that? Philosophy and science don't have to be exclusive."
"No," I admitted, "but a lot of the philosophical things people like you say are based on a flawed understanding of science."
"Enlighten me then."
"When you talk about uncertainty, you're talking about electrons. Subatomic particles. But if you look that closely at a system, you miss the bigger picture. You're missing the atoms, the molecules, the cells, everything else. People aren't just made up of thousands and millions of electrons. That's not all we are. That's like…trying to understand a painting by looking at just the colors."
"Why can't you look at just the colors?"
"Because! A painting isn't just color. It's brush strokes, tones, shades, geometric angles, shapes…"
He shook his head, not understanding.
"Okay, bad analogy," I said, "here's another one. Take the word love. It's just four letters. L-O-V-E. But think about all it means, if not to you then to other people. You can't understand love by just looking at the letters. You'd probably need to look at psychology, sociology, history, literature, you know."
He was silent for a moment, and then chuckled.
"You're a nerd aren't you?"
"I always thought I was a nerd. But I don't think I am anymore," he said in resignation, "now, I'm a murderer."
"You could be both," I pointed out.
"You think so?"
"Yeah. People aren't archetypes like they are in the movies."
"What's a non-nerdy thing you like, huh?"
I thought for a bit before answering.
"I take my cousins out trick-or-treating."
He shook his head again.
"Nope, nerdy. Suggests a lack of friends. And a non-interest in partying."
I couldn't think of anything.
"Yep, classic nerd. I rest my case."
Something he had said before finally registered and disturbed me.
"You're a murderer?" I asked.
"Yeah, I've killed people. I mean, I don't want to but fuck, I need to drink to survive, y'know?"
"What about blood banks?"
"Ever killed something yourself before eating the meat?"
"Tastes a whole lot better than some store-brought shit."
"No shit, really? That sucks."
I cocked my head.
"Not really. I don't have any moral baggage from having to eat something that's been killed."
"Oh. True. I definitely have moral baggage," he said, his shoulders slumping, "What am I, really? I mean, I could never kill anyone before I was turned. Does becoming a vampire somehow change you as a person?"
I remained silent. He sighed and flopped backwards on my bed, crushing my legs in the process. With a yelp, I moved my legs out of the way and allowed him to lie on his back with his arms behind his head.
"Makes me wonder what people would actually do if their survival was threatened. It's not so easy to resign yourself to death, let me tell you that. I mean, if it's gonna be me or you, I'd rather it be you, y'know? But damn, what's the point of living if you're not really alive?"
"What does it mean to be alive anyway? I can't go back to my family or my friends—they think I'm dead. I can't get a job. I can't do shit."
He turned over on his side to look at me, his head resting on an arm.
"Because I can't talk to people."
"I—can't—talk—to—people," he said very slowly. His eyes swept over my face intently, waiting for my response.
"But you're talking to me."
"Because you invited me to."
"Wait—what?" I asked, now immensely confused.
"You know how humans can't talk to dogs or how, I don't know, beetles can't talk to cats and stuff? Species can't talk to different species. I can't talk to humans. It's like, when I try to, nothing comes out."
"Then how are you talking to me?"
"You invited me. I don't know how it works, it just does. Vampires need to be invited into someone's house, but that's part of vampire mythology, isn't it? But I need to be invited to do anything with a human: go into a human house, talk to them, touch them, anything. So I can't start up a conversation unless someone talks to me first, can't touch someone unless they touch me, get the idea?"
"But I didn't do any of those things. I didn't talk to you or touch you first."
"Yeah, but you said 'play with me'. That…encompasses a lot of things."
"You were listening?" I asked, shocked.
"There wasn't anyone in the corridor," I thought out loud.
"I'm good at hiding, especially in light." he said.
"Yeah, it's really weird. You know how humans hide in the shadows when they don't want to be seen? For me, I hide in the light."
Well, there was certainly a way to test that theory. I leaned over to my nightstand and turned my night lamp on. Suddenly, I was all alone in the room.
"Hello?" I called out tentatively. I nearly jumped as I felt a cold hand wrap around my own.
"Turn off the light," his rough voice whispered. He seemed a lot closer to me than he was just a moment ago. Slightly shaken, I reached over and turned it off. This time, I couldn't help but give out a startled cry once the room was dark. He was sitting right next to me now, his hand still over mine and his face only about a foot away from mine.
"I think I might need some time to get used to that one," I said slowly, wrenching my hand away and adjusting myself to get further away from him. I saw a flash of disappointment pass across his face before being replaced by an unreadable expression. This dream was getting more and more bizarre.
"So if you can't speak to or touch humans, how can you drink their blood?" I asked.
"I'm pretty active at night. For obvious reasons. Sometimes, people talk to me. When they do, I have no choice. I have to snatch every opportunity to drink. They're mostly homeless guys, crazy guys…all that shit. I like the inner cities. They're crowded. People bump into me and then, I can get them. Don't matter who it is as long as they're not Type O. I hate Type O."
"And…and you get blood that way every night?"
"Nah, not every night. I'm not like a human, I don't need to eat or drink three times a day to stay alive. About once a week is enough."
He looked down for a moment and smiled.
"You know, when I heard you say those words earlier, I was planning on drinking you dry."
I felt a little twinge of fear. This dream was definitely taking a turn for the worse.
"So what happened?"
"Well, I snuck into your apartment while you guys were going inside and I was watching your cousins argue with each other and…I don't know, guess it reminded me of my own family."
"Oh. I thought it was because you don't drink type O."
"Oh yeah, there's that too. But it's really not a big deal. I mean, if I haven't drunk in a while, I guess I can stomach type O."
"So when was the last time you drank?"
He gave me a sly smile.
"About a week and a half ago."
Oh, shit. Was I going to die in my dream? I've never died in a dream before. Wondered what it would be like. Hm, interesting.
"Like you wouldn't believe."
"That's why you look so…unhealthy."
He seemed taken back.
"What? No, this is how I look all the time. "
"Oh. So does this mean you're going to kill me?"
"Haven't decided yet. I wonder: are you the kind of person who's going to blabbing my secret to the world?"
"But I'm dreaming," I said.
"But you're not."
I gave him a hard look.
"Yes, I am," I said firmly, "and you know, even if I wasn't, I don't know why you insist on convincing me that I'm not. Isn't it better for you that I think I'm dreaming? That way, no one's going to believe me if I do tell."
"True," he admitted, "but it kind of makes this whole experience a little depressing."
"What do you mean?"
"I have my first real conversation with someone in years…and she thinks she's dreaming."
"I told you: every time someone talks to me, I got to take advantage of the situation. I need to kill them. There's really not a lot of time to chat."
"Aren't there others like you?"
"Well—yeah. But they're douchebags, all of the ones I've met."
"They've all been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. They think they know everything. Racist fuckers." He sounded almost…bitter.
"Yeah, they're all old vamps. They're old-fashioned…and not always politically correct. I am—I was—a Jew. But a lot of them are anti-Semitic."
"There aren't any new vampires like you?"
"Not a lot of vampires have the ability to make more of us. Only the really, really old ones do. And they don't do it often because you can't kill someone. But that's really hard to do once you start drinking. Almost impossible."
"So…why did the person who turn you stop?" I asked curiously.
"How the fuck should I know?" he said, sounding angry, "maybe he felt like being an asshole, I don't know. All I know is: I woke up and he was gone. And I could never be truly alive again."
I felt a surge of sympathy for him at that point. Sure, he was a figment of my imagination, in my mind, but something about his story struck a chord within me. To not be able to talk to anyone, to have to abandon your life, to not know anything about what you were…it sounded terrible.
He drew his legs up and rested his elbows on his knees as he leaned back against the wall, breathing deeply.
"My life sucks. I hate living week to week, not knowing if I'm going to find the blood I need. No friends, no family. And when I go out into the sun, I'm invisible. This…this is the loneliest existence a man could ever imagine."
There was a brief silence before he spoke again.
"You know what I do all day? I sleep. And at night, I roam the streets, looking for blood. And I get it. And I don't have to worry about it for a couple of days. So I go and visit some of the places I've always wanted to see. New York, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, all these places. I sneak into libraries and nighttime porn theaters and purposely get into fights in dark alleys, just for a bit of fun before I kill them. I'm tired of it. What's the fucking point of being immortal if you can't really live?"
"Immortality must suck then," I said.
He turned to look at me and chuckled.
"Look at you, you're hanging on to every word I'm saying."
I blinked. I hadn't realized that I was leaning closer and closer to him to better hear him. My face flushing, I pulled back.
"Well, it's interesting," I said defensively. He peered at me, scrutinizing my face.
"You know, you're kind of cute when you're blushing."
"I'm not blushing!" I said hotly, just as I felt another surge of warm blood rush to my cheeks. He ignored me.
"I didn't think you were that cute before, when I saw you and your cousins coming out of the elevator. Or when you were sleeping. But you're definitely growing on me."
"Probably because I'm the first woman you've actually spoken to in years," I muttered. He mulled over my words for a moment before agreeing.
"That's true. I usually kill men. They're more likely to be homeless, you know. Though, I've had my fair share of whores. They're easy, they yell out to you first."
I felt something churn in my stomach when he mentioned the prostitutes. I knew he could see the disgust in my face but he continued anyway.
"They call out to you, ask if you want some. It's easy. All I have to do is walk up to them and smile. Maybe hold out my hand. And they touch me, they take my hand. And she'd ask me what I wanted and I'd tell her. And I'd agree to whatever price she asked. I mean, it's not like I'm actually going to have to pay right? If I'm really thirsty that night, I usually can't wait. I lead her to an alley and drink her right then. But most nights? I get my fun out of it first. A guy has needs, you know?"
I remained silent, my face now stony.
"I mean, I'm never going to find anyone to love, you know? Girls I actually like aren't the type to be lingering outside at night. But that's ever the only crowd I get to interact with."
"So when they—they finish what they need to do, they ask you for money and…and you kill them."
"What? No, it never gets that far for them. I like to get kinky…blood and everything. But most whores aren't down for biting. They usually want out."
It took me a moment to understand.
"So you rape them?" I asked, mortified.
"That's a word for it, yeah."
All of a sudden, I felt hot. And not in a good kind of way. What kind of sicko did I dream up? I couldn't be near him, I couldn't. I made a move to get up from the bed when, quick as a flash, he was kneeling in front of me, both arms next to either side of my head. Trapping me. He smiled, his teeth glinting in the moonlight. Something about his face didn't seem normal. His smile…it was wrong.
"What are you doing?" I asked, sounding calm though I felt anything but. This crazy dream had gone on for long enough. It needed to end. I needed to wake up.
"You're not scared of me now, are you?"
I let out a nervous laugh.
"No, why would I be? You're a dream."
He raised an eyebrow.
"A dream that's turning into a nightmare."
I swallowed. He was right.
"I need to use the bathroom. Let me go."
"Look at you! You're terrified of me. Funny. You seemed okay when I was talking about killing people. But rape bothers you, huh?"
He was right again. I didn't understand it. Him describing how he killed people truly hadn't bothered me. It had been interesting, like listening to a monologue in a movie. But him talking about raping those woman…in the worst way possible…when he probably didn't even need to…that had been too much. But there it was! Was that the answer? He killed because he needed to, not because he wanted to. But with those women…he'd wanted it. What kind of sick person would want to do that to someone? Only, of course, an imaginary person my fucked up mind thought of. Either way, I knew I no longer wanted to be sitting there next to him anymore. I needed the dream to end.
"What you just said…" I said, my voice shaking, "it's sick."
"Yeah, I'm a sick person. It sucks but it's the way it's got to be."
"Nothing has got to be."
"Some things do, babe. I'm a vampire who can't die. If I can't die, what other choice do I have but to live?"
He leaned closer to me then, almost burying his face in my neck. For a wild moment, I thought he was going to kiss me. I unintentionally let out a whimper of fear and he laughed, his hot breath washing over my skin.
"Damn, I wish you weren't type O. I'd love to drink you. I don't normally get close to girls like you. Normal girls, I mean."
"You promised," I choked out, "Don't you remember? You said all you wanted was to talk and then, you'd go."
"Did I?" I could feel the tip of nose slide along my throat as he spoke.
"Yes, you did."
"Sometimes, babe, dreams break their promises." And then I felt his lips gently press against the hollow of my throat. I couldn't take it anymore.
"Get away from me!" I cried and, placing my hands on his chest, I shoved him away with all my strength. Evidently surprised, he fell back and I let out a cry of pain as I felt his weight crush my legs.
"What the fuck?" he said angrily. He sat up quickly but didn't move from on top of me.
"My legs, you're sitting on them!"
He looked down.
"Whoops." He finally moved. I let out a deep breath as I felt his weight lift. Wincing, I pulled my legs up and wrapped my arms around my knees, massaging my calves. That had hurt.
"That's what you get," he said huffily, "for shoving me away."
I glared at him.
"You were sexually assaulting me. What else was I supposed to do?"
"That wasn't sexual assault. It was one fucking kiss."
"You stay away from me, you hear?"
"Or what? You'll shoot me?"
Of course. I had no defense against him.
"Look, you promised."
He cocked his head to the side and through the moonlight, I thought I could see a small trace of a smile dancing on his lips.
"Why do you care what happens? This is a dream, remember? It ain't real."
"I thought you said this wasn't a dream."
"It's not. But you think it is."
I swallowed heavily.
"And what if—what if I don't think that anymore?"
He looked surprised.
"What if I'm beginning to doubt myself?"
A smile slowly spread across his face. I didn't like it.
"Why would you doubt yourself?"
"I want to wake up. But I don't know how."
His smile grew even wider and he moved closer to him, his face leaning into mine. Instinctively, I leaned back against the wall.
"I'll tell you how you can wake up."
"How?" I croaked out. God, he was so close.
"Let me kill you."
"It's simple, really. You die, there's nothing more for you to dream about, the dream ends and you wake up."
It made sense. Kind of. But there was no way in hell I was willing to die…even in a dream.
"Not a chance."
He reached up and fingered the neck of my t-shirt. And then, without warning, his fingers wrapped themselves around my neck in a choke-hold.
"What if I just kill you anyway?"
"Please don't," I whispered, my eyes now watery. This was definitely turning into a nightmare. He paused for a moment and then, his hold on me slackened. I breathed out in relief.
"I never told you my problem, did I?" he said, touching my cheek with his fingers before finally moving away, "I'm a vampire without a cause. I can't take it anymore. I can't live week to week like I'm doing now. My life has no meaning, no direction, no fucking purpose."
"That is a problem…" I said slowly but he held up a hand to interrupt me.
"I'm not done, yet. So I have no goals and no dreams and no plans for the future and things are getting boring. Now, here's where the problem comes in."
His voice was so quiet now that I had to strain to hear him.
"This girl comes along. I didn't really think she's that cute, totally not my type, but she ain't a whore either. She comes along and says certain words, words that can mean anything and all of a sudden, I can do whatever the hell I want with her."
My heart was beating wildly. I knew where this was going…and it terrified me.
"I could talk to her, touch her, anything. No need to wait to be asked, no need to linger around, hoping she'll talk to me. Girls don't usually talk to strange guys at night anyway. There was no need. I could make the first move. The ball is in my court. And I have no idea what to do."
He turned and looked at me.
"What should I do?"
I think he should leave me the fuck alone, that's what he should do. But somehow, I didn't think that would have sat too well with him. Oh God.
"Well, what are your options?"
"My options? Almost infinite. I could so easily have my way with you and then kill you. Totally indulge myself. Because, like I said, I don't get to be with girls like you often. Nerds don't often become whores," he chuckled, for some reason finding what he was saying funny, "But…over the course of this night, I've come to realize something: this is a golden opportunity. This! This is God's gift to me."
What the fuck was he on?
"W-What?" I stammered.
"You. You're God's gift to me. Or, rather, the possibility of what you could be."
"And what could I be?"
"A friend, maybe. Someone who knows my secret, knows I'm a vampire…and helps me deal. Someone to watch movies with, to make fun of people with, someone to travel with, someone…someone normal I can respect. Not a homeless guy or a pimp or a whore or some drunk sorority chick who's made the mistake of being out a little too late at night. Someone…someone real."
"Yeah. Sometimes, it feels like…like everyone else I meet at night. They're just shadows. They're just shadows, cheap imitations of who they are during the day. They don't feel all that real. The night's a real depressing thing, you know? Everyone only wants one of two things: money or sex. No one gives a shit about your political opinions, no one cares for good conversation, no one wants to listen to you talk about your feelings. But this! Tonight's been so different, you couldn't even begin to understand. To actually talk about things! To have someone listen to me rant and ramble! I didn't meet you on the side of the street or in a dark alleyway or in a seedy little bar or in some stupid club. You have absolutely no idea how normal you are, sitting there in your PJs, talking to your cousins, and all that shit. How human you are. And the fact that you're type O? All the better. I don't feel the need to suck you dry every second. It's been amazing. And I really don't want to go back to my stupid, pointless existence after tonight."
"You were going to kill me."
"It was a joke. It was funny, don't you see? I wouldn't kill you. Not when you're the only thing tethering me to humanity." This guy had a sick sense of humor.
"You were going to rape me!"
"No I wasn't. It was one kiss and it wasn't even a proper one, get over it. I just wanted to see how you'd taste. Your skin tastes good. Though, I'm sure your blood wouldn't be nearly as appetizing."
I bit my lip, not knowing how to respond.
"So will you do it?"
"Will you agree to be my friend?"
Fuck no. There was no way I was going to befriend a serial murderer and rapist.
"What if I say no?"
He couldn't mask the disappointment on his face then.
"Then…I really am going to have to kill you."
Finally, one tear escaped from my eyes and rolled down my cheek. I wasn't quite sure how to feel. Or why I was crying.
"Would you really?"
He gave me a hard look and was silent for a while. I held my breath, waiting for his response, for the confirmation of my death, waiting for the fear to wash over me. But something in his face broke and his shoulders slumped.
"No. I wouldn't. But it would drive me over the edge."
"Why should I care?"
I regretted what I said immediately. It sounded so…heartless.
"No, I didn't mean it like that—" I began but he silenced me.
"Yeah, of course, why should you give a shit about a total stranger? But listen. I know you're not like me. You're a good person, you can feel empathy and…and sympathy and all that. So take pity on me. Please." It was as close to pleading as he could get.
"What would happen if I did become your friend?"
"Then we'd do what friends do. I'd do my thing, we'd meet up every once in a while, catch up, you know."
"You can't force friendship. Friends actually have to like each other."
He thought for a moment before speaking.
"I do like you."
I thought about that for a minute. Sure, he snuck into my room while I was asleep. And he essentially forced me to stay here with him. And he kissed me when it was most definitely not welcome. And he threatened to kill me. Multiple times. And yes, I did not exactly favor dying in my dream. But this was a dream. Or was it a nightmare? I had a feeling that the line may have been crossed sometime during our conversation. Either way, it wasn't real. This was definitely the most vivid dream I've ever had. But if it wasn't real, why wasn't I waking up? An even bigger question: if this was a dream, what could I lose by saying yes? What could I gain by saying no? Nothing, my mind told me, nothing is the answer to both questions. But what if this wasn't a dream? What if this was actually, God forbid, happening? I was so convinced several minutes ago that I was dreaming but now, I wasn't too sure. It was too vivid, the sensations too overwhelming. My skin, the spot where his lips had touched mine, still tingled unpleasantly and my throat still throbbed from his tight grip. I could barely entertain the thought. I felt weak, dizzy.
"Just go," I begged, "I just want to go back to sleep. Please. Just go."
He shook his head.
"Not until I have an answer from you."
"I—I can't give you an answer. Is this real? This feels very real. But it can't be."
He smiled at me.
"Now you know how I felt. And still feel. Life doesn't seem real anymore, does it?"
"No, it doesn't."
Still smiling, he got up from my bed.
"Can I have a piece of paper and pen?" he asked. I nodded. I walked over to my desk and fumbled around the messy desktop in the dark until my fingers brushed against a Post-It pad and a pen. I handed it to him.
"I'm gonna go," he said, writing furiously, "but I'm going to leave you a note. My last way to prove to you that this was all real. Every, single moment of it. And I'm going to come back tomorrow. I need an answer."
He stopped writing, peeled off the Post-It and pressed it into my palm. And then, without warning, he drew my face to his and his mouth crashed over mine. I froze. Stupid, my mind screamed, do something! But I couldn't do anything. My body wouldn't budge. It was a very deer-in-headlights sort of thing. And like an idiot, I did nothing as this lunatic gripped my upper arms tightly and pulled me closer to him, his lips moving incessantly over mine. My heart beat frantically as my mind continued to scream at me to do something, anything and I wondered with growing dread if he would take it any further than this. I felt sick just thinking about it. But to my surprise, he stopped almost as quickly as he started, resting his forehead against mine.
"Fuck, that felt so good," he groaned, "I haven't kissed anyone I actually like in years."
Feeling slightly disgusted, I pried myself out of his grasp.
"Don't ever touch me without my consent again."
"Don't worry, I won't. It's just that—this might be the last time I see you. That's why I did it."
I couldn't think of anything to say.
"Read that note tomorrow when you wake up. You'll realize everything then."
And just like that, he was gone. I couldn't figure out where he went; my window was still closed and I hadn't heard my door open. For a wild moment, I wondered if he was still the room but invisible somehow. Then, I realized that even if he was, there was nothing I could do about it. I yawned. I was suddenly very tired. Sighing, I dropped his note onto my nightstand and crawled back into bed. With any luck, I'll wake up tomorrow and realize that this bizarre night was all in my head.
The shrill beeping of my alarm on my cell phone woke me up at exactly 6:45am the following morning. Groaning slightly and my eyes still closed, I reached over and felt around for my alarm. Why was my alarm even on? It was a Saturday. I probably turned it on last night out of habit. It happened often. Where was my stupid phone? I opened one eye sleepily and looked at my nightstand. There it was, my green and black Samsung phone, now slightly obscured by something yellow. I opened my other eye and looked more closely at the strange, yellow object. A Post-It note.
With a jolt, I sat up in bed and the memories of last night came flooding back into my mind. Oh. My. God. Had it been real? My arm shaking, I reached over and picked it up, afraid of what I would find. Looking at it, I realized that the handwriting was mine. It was messy, barely legible in some parts. But the overall message was very, very clear.
Last night was no dream, babe. What's your answer?
Too many thoughts, too many emotions cascaded through my body as I tightly gripped the note. It had been real. My, God. I needed my gun. Where was my gun? With a shock, I saw it on the floor next to my bedroom door. Made sense. I had dropped it when he had grabbed me and prevented me from escaping. Taking a deep breath, I got up, picked up a pen from my desk—probably the same one he had used—and wrote down my reply.I then carefully placed it back on my nightstand and looked around, trying to decide what I should do. In about a minute, I had decided.
An hour later, I stood outside a small cottage with a large suitcase in one hand and flowers in the other. Taking a deep breath, I rang the doorbell. A young, Asian woman in a bathrobe with long, brown hair and soft eyes answered. As her eyes swept across my person, her face broke into a smile.
"Oh my God! What are you doing here? You know what time it is?"
"Hey Jiao, I thought I'd come see you."
"Yeah? Those flowers for me?"
"Oh, yeah. Congrats on the new house." I handed the bouquet of tulips to her. She took them, her eyes lighting up. I knew she loved tulips.
"So what's up?" she asked as she stood aside to let me in.
"Can I stay with you and Derek for a while?" I asked.
"Of course, but things are still really messy. We've only been here for two days," she said, shutting the door, "what's wrong?"
Somehow, I didn't think she'd believe me if I told her that a crazy vampire who could now enter my house without my permission was quite possibly stalking me.
"Oh, um, the complex is doing some remodeling and wants everyone out for a couple of weeks. Sorry, I would have told you before but the my plans backfired and now I don't have a place to stay."
And like I expected her to, my best friend nodded understandingly and led me into the kitchen for some breakfast.
Late that night, a dark figure twisted the lock on the doorway to Apartment 579 in Building H of Honeywood Suites. He knew it immediately: the place was deserted. Feeling a rising sense of disappointment, he made his way to the bedroom. Empty. He let out a cry of frustration and punched the wall next to him, creating a deep hole in the plaster. He didn't care. She was gone. He spied a sheet of paper on the nightstand and angrily picked it up.
The answer is no. Sorry, I don't think I'm the kind of friend you're looking for. If you really like me, then you'd leave me alone.
His jaw tightened and he tossed the paper aside. Not the kind of friend he was looking for? She had no idea, not even after all he had said to her the night before. He laughed bitterly. It was a natural response. He'd been stupid to imagine anyone would be crazy enough to say yes. He had gone to her that night with the hope that talking things out with someone would help him understand his cause, his purpose. He had come out wanting so much more. And now…now that he had his answer, he knew. She had sealed it for him. She had confirmed it all. He wasn't human. He couldn't be friends with humans any more than humans could be friends with chickens. Fear was the only emotion any human would ever feel towards him. She was scared of him. It was natural. He'd be scared of him if he were her.
Taking a deep breath, he gave the room one last, sweeping glance before walking out. It could have been so much more. He touched his lips lightly, reliving the feel of her soft lips on his. He had been so close. Maybe I should have just taken her, he thought to himself. But he squashed the idea immediately. No, he did not regret the conversation they had had last night. It, along with her response, had taught him that the human world was forever behind him. And life would only ever amount to this. It wasn't really a depressing thought. It was almost…exhilarating. He knew the truth now, he knew what he was now. She had sealed the deal he had made with the darkness. He was not quite real. Definitely not as real as she was. He was a parasite in the shadow, living only a half-life. And there was no going back.
Whistling softly to himself, he walked along the deserted sidewalk in front of her apartment. He had a plan now. To enjoy whatever he could. He liked drinking. And man, was he thirsty now. He liked her but he couldn't have her now, he knew that. Another girl would do for the night. She probably wouldn't have a degree in physics. She probably wouldn't give up her Halloween to take her cousins trick-or-treating. And she probably wouldn't be a vegetarian. (The last thought made him laugh…a vegetarian? How ridiculous.) But she would do. And tomorrow, another girl would do. Yep, he would enjoy life for as long as he could. And maybe one day, when the blood started tasting the same and the girls no longer satiated him, he would end it all himself. Immortality sucked. Things were meant to die. Including him.
" Life's a bitch and then you die," he muttered as he spotted his meal for the night. A middle-aged man pushing a shopping cart into a dark alley. Probably where he made his home. He laughed and the man turned to give him a suspicious look. He raised an eyebrow at the man and eyed his shopping cart. The man fell for it.
"Now, look here. This here is mine. You come any closer and I swear I'll run you through," the man called.
Perfect, he thought as he watched the man disappear into the alley. He stalled for a moment before following, still laughing to himself.
"Oh yeah, life's definitely a bitch."