I remember from before my change the stories about the blood sucking monsters. My mother used to tell me about them all the time, always warning me to never be caught out at night. I had always thought that she was just doing it to scare me to be safe, but still the fear was something too strong to be ignored.
I remember from before the stories about the man across the dry land that could help the blood suckers if they wanted him to. It was wild news that captivated the village I lived in that a man, leader of a larger village, would be willing to help the monsters. There were rumors that he could cure them.
I remember the hunters from before too. There were several times that they would come into the village for supplies or a place to sleep. They wore heavy leather clothes with metal sown onto it. Large brimmed hats shielded their faces from sun, but not from our eyes. There was a sorrow to them that drew me in. It was that sorrow that made me brave enough to ask one what the little pouches were hanging from their belts.
"When a vampire dies flames consume their bodies and all that's left is ash. Each pouch is the ash of a vampire I have killed."
I remember the awe I felt for how many of the monsters this one person had slain. It made me even more fearful because I knew then that the stories my mother would tell me were true, and there were monsters that lurked in the dark. That meant that death haunted this land with a thirst for blood.
I remember how it happened too vividly. I was with the others hunting, and the herd had spooked and stampeded. I had moved into position to cut off a few form the herd when they came barreling toward me. Only quick reflexes had saved my life, and now I wish it hadn't.
Right as they reached me I leapt from my hiding place. I knew I wouldn't spook them to a new direction, but that's not what I was trying to do. Instead I snagged my rope around the horns of one of the massive wild beasts, and swung up onto its back. I held on for dear life until they ran themselves out.
My legs were bruised from the collisions they had suffered, as I slid off the animal. It snorted at me as I lay in the grassy area by the lake, and moved in to get water. I looked up at the sky and the sun behind the cloud for a long moment before I sat up startled staring back the way I'd come.
I was at the lake, and it was past midday. There was no way I could make it back in time before the sun set even at a full run. Terror gripped my heart, and I knew that come sunset I would be written off as dead anyway.
I got to my feet and looked around over the herd. They ignored me as I tried to figure out a way to stay alive through the night. There hadn't been any vampire hunters through too recently which meant that the blood suckers weren't likely to be in the area. Still I needed to be on my best.
My eyes were drawn to the rocky hills to the north of the lake, and I set off at once. I knew there were caves there that others had stayed in when herding before. I just needed to find one of those, and I'd be ok. Then at sunrise I would head back to the village. At a good pace I could make it before sunset, but I'd have to push myself.
I reached the first hills, and began to climb. I wasn't even to the top of that rise when I spotted the first cave. It was a tiny crack between two boulders. If I could barely fit, then who else would? My skinny frame had me at an advantage here.
I managed to squeeze into the crack, and stepped to the side to let my vision adjust, and the sunlight filter in. I was amazed at how big the cave was, and could tell that it went much further back. There were various things scattered around, and I knew that his must have been one of the caves the herders used.
I settled to one side of the opening, and opened a food pack. I nibbled on the bar as I watched the light move slowly across the cave.
I hadn't been in there more than an hour when I heard a shuffling. I was on my feet before I knew I stood edging closer to the crack. My eyes were trained on the dark back area where I was sure the scrapping had come from.
"So rare for my food to come to me," a voice said echoing out from that deep darkness.
Fear shot up my spine, and stepped in front of the crack already sliding a leg out. My eyes were still looking back, and saw him as he moved forward to grab me. He pulled me away from the crack, and I screeched. I lashed out with everything I had. I kicked, punched, bit, anything to get that monster to release me. I didn't stop when he gripped my neck, or licked my neck. I didn't stop as I felt his mouth on me and then the searing pain that followed.
I was confused when I woke up. I didn't expect to ever wake again. I sat up feeling my neck where he had bit me, but there was nothing there. I looked across the cave, noting the light was still streaming into the cave, but it was faint. The sun was setting.
What had happened?
"A nice quick change, I chose a good one."
I looked at the man, and I could see him. His hair was long and ragged, but clean. There was a grin on his face, and I could see blood at the corner of his mouth. He was crouched watching me closely.
"Why- why didn't you kill me?"
The man grinned at me. "You fought well, so well I thought you might be a hunter, but you carry none of their weapons or protection. Now you will fight for me."
Terror and panic curled in my mind. "I won't" I replied automatically.
"You can kill any hunter now if you are wise. You can get into those villages and feast. Will you go say hello to your family before you pillage the rest of the village you came from?"
I shook my head in horror, my hand still on my throat. "No! Never."
He grinned wider, and licked at his lips smearing that bit of blood- my blood. "You feel it already- the dry throat, the gnawing in your belly." He tossed me one of my food packs. "Human food will never do again."
I took the pack and tore it open. I bit into the thing, but it tasted so wrong I spit it out. "You- you- you," I couldn't get the words out.
"I made you like me. Now you're a vampire too. Now you'll need human blood to survive."
I scrambled away from him and pressed to the rock. This couldn't be happening! "No," I wanted to cry.
"Yes," Could that maniacal grin get any wider? "You are now my child. You have my memories. You are mind, and I made you. Now go kill." He pointed outside as the sun was still lighting the sky almost refusing to let go of its hold on the sky.
"The sun," it was my first thought. I'd never kill, but he would never believe me no matter how many times I told him.
"My blood is strong enough, and so will yours, to protect you from a bit of light. Now get out!" he snarled.
I scrambled out of the cave and away from the monster within. I was a monster too as I moved away from the lake. At first I followed the tracks of the herd back toward the village, but once halfway there I stopped dead. There was nothing there for me anymore. I was now one of the monsters that roamed the land.
My feet made the choice of where to go before my mind could. The next thing I knew I walking toward the dry land and toward my (hopeful) salvation if I could have any.
I walked for most the night. Sometime before the sun came up I came across the first of the mountains. I would have to cross them to get to the dry land. I stopped and looked up in awe at the rolling hills that grew into tall mountains that were impassable in the winter.
I had never seen them before. It was too dangerous to travel this far from the village, and there were large animals thaw would eat men there. Only the hunters ever dared to pass these mountains.
I began walking forward again looking for any place to hide for the day. As much as I hated what I was I was still scared to die. How pathetic is that? I wanted to live even if I was a monster.
I began to get worried as the sunrise approached, and then I spotted a tree that had uprooted to fall, but never fell completely. It had collided with other trees, and stayed there. The roots left a small gap before the ground, and I headed over to it. It wouldn't be the greatest protection, but it would be better than being out in the sun.
Crawling in I instantly knew that some animal had been living there, but was gone now. The little cubby smelled rank. There was a bed of sorts in one area, and it was there I retreated to knowing it would have the most protection.
The day passed slowly and if the animal that lived in the place I hid ever came back it never entered its den. Likely it had smelled me and known that I was death. I wanted to sleep despite the danger, but I couldn't I found no need to, but there was little else to distract my mind from the growing discomfort in my stomach.
As soon as I was able I was out of that place, and heading deeper into the mountains. Several time through that night I thought I had heard something rustling in the nearby bushes, but when I stopped to look there was nothing. I had seen no wildlife, and I was beginning to wonder if the tales of great vicious beasts were true.
Well before sunrise I found another cave with a much wider, but more squat opening. Still I went to it, and ducked inside. Once again I had found a home which was empty. Regardless of leaving another animal without their safe haven for a day I settled in.
The need to eat something was near unbearable on that day. I considered running out into the light just to end my misery. I was trying to psych myself up to it when I heard the growl and snort.
The occupant of the home I was in had returned, and wasn't as dismayed as the other had been. In moments I understood why as a large fat bear entered the cave. I kept my eyes on the beast as it eyed me.
It let out a roar and charged me before I knew what was happening. Instinctively, I think, I launched to meet the thing.
The world kind of black out after that, but I do remember screaming. When I came to I was covered in blood, and night had fallen. Before me was the corpse of that poor bear. It had been mauled, but there was nearly no blood around except on me. I had ravaged the unfortunate animal with my hands and teeth.
To say I was horrified would be an understatement. If I had done this to a bear, then what would I do to a person or a village? I was disgusted with myself, and wanted to die more than I ever had before.
I fled that place, and ran as far away as I could. I dropped into the first lake I saw, and tried to drown myself unsuccessfully. I was at least clean, physically, or the blood, but mentally it was all I could see. The rest of my life would be coated in blood, and I wanted none of it.
As the sun began to rise I felt a bit of elation. In my panic I had traveled many more miles than I had anticipated. It led me to find a canyon that dropped to the valley below for more than a hundred feet in un-climbable cliffs.
I sat at the cliff edge watching the sun slowly come up. If I didn't fry then at least I would fall to my death on the rocks below. It was perfect, and I was glad that that would be the last sunrise I would ever see.
I watched that glorious ball of fire rise up and peek over the horizon all the while fighting the need to run and hide. I fought that need for self-preservation until the sun was licking at my worn shoes. I stood and edged back as far as I could. I had pinned myself to the only shadow was down that deadly decent. I would fry or fall, but either way I would die.
As the sun once more licked at the toes of my shoes that instinct took over, and the next thing I knew I was falling. I smiled into the wind whipping past my face to tangle my long dark hair. I was sure this was it and my life was over and I felt a peace steal over me.
Then the world went dark as the ground stopped my decent.