My Last Breath

Blood. The essence of human life. The essence of my life. It sings to me, a secret, dark, scarlet song, the fruitful notes appealing to my primal nature the way only blood and sex can. The girl hasn't noticed me yet. But she will. Soon.

The club is tolerable, I suppose. Relatively average compared to my other haunts, the clubs and brothels of England. It is best to rotate venues on a regular basis, to avoid unwanted attention and discrepancies, the downfalls of many a brother and sister to the night. The music is loud and thumping, pounding through my body, almost making it feel as if my heart is beating for the first time in over a century. Glass bottles rattle behind the bar, the staff hardly able to hear orders over the music.

I identify the other predators skulking in shadowy corners, using the cover of darkness and intoxication to stalk their prey, though I know they hunt for something else entirely. I realised many years ago with the evolution (or devolution might be a more adequate description) from quiet afternoon soirées to loud, lurid, debauched public displays of sexual prowess and attempts to attract a mate that bars and clubs are like playgrounds for adults, they kiss, they frolic, they dance until dawn before leaving to indulge in the carnal pleasures of mortal flesh. Some can't wait that long. As the night flourishes and the alcohol flows humans forget themselves, forget that they are meant to be civilised and respectful, reverting back to the old days when they were little more than savages shagging in caves.

I am sat by the bar, a favourite haunt of mine, not satisfied with hiding in the shadows with the perverts and thieves. I chose this seat because I am close to the dance floor, treating myself to the best view while in search for a victim. The array of multi-coloured strobe lights flash around me, disorientating senses better adapted to the dark. The humans are dressed in what they consider to be their best attire, sharp suits and alluring dresses that leave little to the imagination. The women are painted up like whores, flashing their breasts and buttocks as they dance and flirt with men that stink of cigarettes and aftershave, all of them dedicated to attracting a mate, perhaps for life, but most likely only for the night. The last thing they are trying to tempt is the vampire prowling in their midst.

As one popular song ends and another begins the traffic around the bar increases. Mortals, male and female, rub their bodies against mine, jostling each other to be served, bickering like children. I hardly notice. I don't care. All I can concentrate on is the girl. I watch her every move, with a feeling I can't describe, a hunger I haven't felt in decades.

She twirls slowly, with her eyes closed as she dances in her own little world, letting the music wash through her and control her movements. The men around her try to catch her attention by smiling and winking but she is oblivious to them all, even me, focused on herself, one of the rare humans there to enjoy themselves rather than enjoy someone else. Her long, silvery blond hair shimmers like a Victorian veil in the dazzling white beams of light she is dancing under. The subtle sway of her curves hypnotise me and most of the males around her. Skin pale and perfect, translucent with thin blue veins pumping the dark spice of her blood around her body. The dress she is wearing is pastel pink, showing daring amounts of that tender, mouth-watering flesh. She is wearing the dress instead of it wearing her, making her appear instantly classier than the harlots parading around her. To mortal men she is a stunning beauty. To me she is delicately delicious.

When the song comes to an end she opens her eyes. This is what convinces me that she is the one I want tonight. Her eyes are emerald green, fierce and full of energy, flaring with a dark flame that singes my senses. She is so alive, pounding with energy, heat radiating from her, blood still hot from dancing. It sings to me, louder and louder, a mysterious song older than time and more dangerous than death. The blood song. It is enchanting to any vampire that hears it and deadly to any human that emits it.

The humans around me attempt to chat over the deafening music. It is pointless. Many words are misheard and meanings misunderstood. For a vampire's ears it is second nature to separate and analyse different sounds, part of the hunting skills and a reliable tool in such environments as these. I tear my attention away from the girl for a while and hone in on the conversation the three young men beside me are having. I hear something that peaks my interest. They are discussing the latest news and swapping local rumours about a series of ghastly murders. The official theory is wild animals attacking but it seems not many people are accepting that. Maybe humans aren't as stupid as I've always believed them to be. One man mentions a girl, her throat savagely mauled as if by a rabid dog, not a drop of blood left in her body found lifelessly floating in the River Freshney.

One of my best and most pleasurable kills.

I look back to the girl I was watching before, the girl I singled out the second I descended the steps into the club and began scanning for a victim. She has left the dance floor now and stands at the front of the bar, a few metres from me, sipping water. Her blood is still bubbling from the dance and her cheeks are flushed, like she has been engaging in hours of violent sex. It makes her all the more appealing to me. The tantalising scents of her young mortal flesh fill the air, mingled with the fragrance of her blood. She isn't wearing any perfume. She doesn't need to. I imagine sampling her sweet blood, with it's spicy edge in the heat of passion, though I know this is only a morsel of the wonderful things to come. I consider, then and there, snatching her into a dark corner and making those fantasies a reality. The abundance of witnesses deters me. I know vampires older and wiser than me that drew too much attention to themselves. I had to hear of their fates from other vampires. Not all humans are clueless. I don't have much self-control, especially when it comes to such rich smelling blood but I have enough self-preservation, much more than humans, to know when to pick my moments.

She doesn't notice me. I would have been offended, had it been any other female. I am tall and handsome with flawless skin, cleanly shaven and with a neat head of shiny black hair. I can blend into the shadows and shine in the spotlight when I'm trying to entice my prey. Humans always give me a second look, sometimes even the males. But I have seen her show no interest in any of the men trying to catch her eye and so I try and keep a reign on my emotions. It isn't me. It's her. And her indifference to me makes me want her all the more.

My mind is drawn back to the thought of killing. I have done it a thousand times, and will continue to do it a thousand more or until I am destroyed. Humans are like cattle, meaningless and short lived, only there for my kind to feast upon. I have no sympathy for humans. No compassion. I have no time for pleading or bargaining or crying and I am encouraged by the screams. The look of disbelief on their faces is one of the most amusing things a vampire can see. To see the shock, the denial and the comprehension that everything they were taught, everything they believe is a lie. The biggest one. There is no myth to the mythical monsters. There is no God to rescue them from the Devil. There is no salvation.

There is only death.

The thought of killing excites me. I am lucky it is dark and the club is brimming with lust because my member starts to harden, straining in my pants as my fangs prick my bottom lip when I envision what I will do to her. I long to embrace her in my arms, kiss her neck passionately; whisper dark promises in her ear while my fangs elongate, becoming sharp and strong before I sink them into the soft flesh of her throat. Then there would be nothing, no club, no people, no music, nothing but the total bliss of blood. I would influence her not to scream. It would be all about the blood, I would swim in it, drown in it, draining every last drop until her beautiful body is nothing more than an empty shell, devoid of life, only a memory of her.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. The girl's scent has weakened. I open my eyes and see that she has vanished, her empty glass left on the side of the bar, stained with her pink lipstick. I can smell the remnants of her luscious scent and it fills me with an aching desire all over again, my teeth tingling in anticipation. Maybe the smell can lead me to where she is. Maybe it will take me where I want to go.

I drain my glass of wine, slamming the glass down on the bar, cringing at the bitterness. Red wine may have the colour and consistency of blood but it has nothing of the taste, absolutely nothing can compare to that elixir of life, the substance I always crave. I only indulged in it last night and yet I am hungry again, hungry for her. The girl's scent is so enchanting that I know this is one meal I do not want to miss.

The trail of her scent cuts across the dance floor. The smell of sex is sticky and sweet in the humid air. I weave between the couples writhing to the music, shoving some of the men out of my way. They turn, ready to confront to me but retreat when they see the dark light shining in my eyes. Nobody, not even another vampire, should challenge a creature of the night when they are hunting. The humans recoil from me. They don't realise how close to death they are.

The perfume of her blood leads me to a fire exit. I glance around, daring any of the staff to stop me from going through it. If any try it will cost them much more than a bruised eye or broken nose. I press down on the metal bar, swinging the heavy door open. I know without a single doubt this is the way she has gone.

The cool air hits me and I sway. I didn't realise before how drunk I actually am. It takes a lot to make a vampire drunk but I know it isn't alcohol affecting me. I am intoxicated by her heady scent. I step out into the alley, closing the door behind me as quietly as possible so as not to startle her, cutting off the blaring music and intrusive lights. The alley is a different world, calm and quiet under a starry sky, the ever watching eyes of the night. They shed light on all the secrets of the darkness. Even I can't deceive the stars.

The alley is like any other. Dark. Damp. Dismal. A scattering of rubbish amongst the forgotten bins overflowing with rotting human waste. Disgusting. And that is something coming from a creature that deals in death and decay. The only light comes from a flickering streetlamp across the road, failing occasionally, casting me into a darkened world that is perfect for my vision. My eyes are designed for darkness.

I can sense the girl.

Something moves to my left, slipping through the shadows. I turn, quicker than any human could. A cat slinks out from behind a bin, golden eyes glowing, black fur standing on end as it hisses hostilely at me, showing it's fangs. I resist the natural urge to display mine in warning. Animals are more perceptive than humans, particularly cats. I take a step forward and the cat scarpers like the coward it is, jumping up on the bins and then scaling the wall, disappearing over the other side.

There is more movement in the shadows. I know this isn't another cat. Though I usually enjoy the thrill of the chase and the game of life and death there is something about this I don't like. As with the cat before me my instincts tell me something isn't quite right. My senses are in overdrive, fizzling, my nostrils burning with the smell of her blood and my fangs itching to taste her. My body tenses, as if preparing for a fight or flight. Which is ridiculous. No human can challenge me and live. No mortal can play me and survive to tell the tale. I come from a long line of vampires, demons that have walked this earth longer than humans. My mind is immortal, by body empowered with the strength of many millennia of blood and chaos. Humans are like flies and ants to those that share the same blood as me; we swat them away or crush them without a second thought. Humans mean nothing to me, less than nothing.

The girl emerges from the shadows by the bins. Her eyes shine, brighter than the stars and I am mesmerised. Motionless. The dark flame in her eyes flickers like the streetlamp across the road, letting the bright emerald shimmer. She is beautiful. Breath-taking. If it wasn't for the human scent of her blood I would think her otherworldly. Ethereal. Her face is inscrutable, her movements slow and controlled and with a hint of seduction. Maybe she is teasing me. That's what I'm supposed to do to her. Maybe she doesn't even realise she is doing it. Humans can be as impulsive as vampires sometimes.

She looks so young. So vulnerable and innocent, nothing like the women I usually pursue. I like the more experienced women, the ones that can give me much more than just a meal. Outside the environment of the club she looks even younger than I first thought, like a child dressing up in mummy's clothes and playing make-believe. Well this time it isn't make-believe.

"Hi," I say, taking the lead, something I am unaccustomed to. My prey usually comes to me. My voice sounds deep and sultry, the voice I use to lure human females. Sometimes it works on the males as well, but I reject their advances unless I am starving desperate.

She smiles, a soft, sweet smile that doesn't quite reach her eyes. Nothing extinguishes that green flame, the symbol of her strength in which I can glimpse that she is much more than a lost child. She looks helpless, as weak as a kitten but that fire looks like it can leave scorch marks if it is played with. That idea excites me even more.

"Hi," she replies quietly, blushing in the faint light. The colour in her cheeks makes her more attractive, heating the blood. Her voice is gentle and with a musical lilt. I assume she must be a decent singer. Her blood certainly sings to me.

"What's your name?" I ask, jumping right into it. I like games as much as the next vampire but I am impatient to get the formalities over with and indulge in her blood.

"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours," she whispers. It seems I don't get a choice of whether I want to play a game or not. She's sassier than she looks. I don't have any problems with that. If she wants a game I will give her one.

She stands there, shivering in her pretty dress. Her warm breath mingles with the cold air, becoming mist, all too human, all too simple. I wonder if she notices that I do not breathe as often and only for the pretence of appearing human, appearing like a mortal man. Being dead I don't need to breathe to survive. Being alive she needs air and food and sunlight…and blood. The only thing we have in common. I can smell the power in her blood and it intrigues me, long enough not just to snap her neck and drink her dry.

"Christian," I say slowly, "My name is Christian."

I frown, surprised at myself. It is the first time I have given my name to prey, my true name, the one my parents bestowed on me. I usually invent a name, whatever I fancy at the time, being whoever I want to be because I know they won't live long enough to tell anyone about me. Telling her my real name means I've broken another fundamental rule but it's worth it for the added excitement.

"Christian," she repeats.

I nod once.

"Do you have a last name?"

"You tell me your name first."

She doesn't hesitate.

"Ella," she smiles again, "My name is Ella."

"Ella," I taste the name on my tongue. It sounds as sweet as her blood smells. It's beautiful. She's beautiful.

I come closer, taking slow steps, moving with the natural grace my kind are gifted with. We can move faster than sound and uproot trees with our bare hands but the best way to seduce humans is slow and careful, letting them see every move you make.

Ella watches me keenly, her eyes wide and childlike. So young. So innocent. So mine. To take. To have my way with. To do with whatever I please. It is a long list of possibilities, all with the same ending. She tilts her head to the side slightly, her emerald eyes fearless. I am irresistibly drawn to her. I have never been obsessed with anyone like this, especially not a human. Apart from the taste of their blood and delicious suffering I hate one human to the next with the same level of loathing. I hate their weakness, their pettiness, their ignorance.

For some reason it feels different with her. The hate is less than it should be, conquered by my curiosity for her, making me want to know more about the mysterious girl that comes to a club alone and does run from a stranger down a dark alley. She either has hidden bravery or very obvious stupidity.

I haven't decided which yet.

"What a pretty name…Ella."

I stop, a few inches from her face. If I reach out I can grab her. If I lean down I can kiss her. If I lower my head I can bite her.

She doesn't recoil. Even though everything in me screams predator to a human she doesn't even flinch at my cold breath on her face. I have to give her some credit. She's stronger than I thought she was. Stronger than I thought she could be.

I tilt my head to the side.

"You're not afraid are you?" I ask, amused. I haven't been this entertained by a human in a long time. They are usually repetitive, predictable and sometimes even the kill bores me. It's too easy, too quick, the element of danger lost over the decades as more and more humans become oblivious to our existence.

"No," she says boldly, her eyes never leaving my face. There is honesty in them, an integrity, something lacking in the eyes of most humans I encounter. I have to respect that.

I smile wickedly. She has no idea. No clue what manner of creature stands before her, drunk on the aroma of her blood, poised to kill. If only she knew…then she wouldn't be looking at me like that.

I close my eyes and breathe her in deeply, letting the cool air wash over me, mingled with the fragrance of her hot young blood. I torment myself, letting it arouse me, denying myself her blood until the last moment, something that makes it all the more appetising. My bloodthirsty nature pushes beneath the surface of my mortal façade. It is almost ready to take over and I am almost ready to let it.

Almost.

I reach out and touch her hand. She doesn't pull away. I stroke her fingers, her palm, her skin warm and inviting to my dead skin, responding to my touch. Now there is more than the scent of her blood in the air. Even the most headstrong human females are unable to resist me.

I grab her hand and squeeze it hard.

"Maybe you will be afraid now."

My voice is distorted. Her smile fades like a dying star and yet she doesn't tug her hand away. Humans either react to my revelation by freezing on the spot and refusing to move or by screaming bloody murder and trying to escape. She does neither. Instead of fear her eyes flood with confusion, diminishing the green flame.

My lips skim back from my teeth, a simple action, but the results are astonishing. I let her see what I am, the monster that resides in my heart, the beast that yearned for her blood the moment it set eyes on her in the club. I let her see it, everything I am, the true me. There it is at last, that fear flaring in her eyes when she sees my two top canine teeth. They have changed. They have grown to a length and sharpness human teeth cannot achieve. She knows what they are, she knows what they can do, she knows creatures like me shouldn't exist. But we do. We always have. We always will.

We are everywhere.

I grip both her wrists quickly, before she can blink. She struggles, gritting her teeth and yanking with all her might. The music pounds around us and sirens screech in the background, though she knows nobody is coming to her rescue. She doesn't scream, using all her energies instead to fight me. Her efforts are futile. She cannot escape. I could influence her into a dream-like state and feed in peace. I know I won't. I am enjoying seeing the terror in her eyes at last. Just like savouring the scent of her blood waiting for something makes it all the more worthwhile when you finally get it. Add her fear to her blood and I am in for a tasty treat.

I lean down, my mouth opening wider and wider. She is small, tiny in comparison to other humans I have stalked in clubs. There will be less blood in her veins which will make it all the more precious. I won't spill a drop. The blood pulsating in her throat pumps faster as her struggling becomes more and more desperate as my fangs get closer and closer to her neck. Her veins gush with vibrant, succulent blood, begging me to empty them. I surrender.

She whimpers, still fighting. My lips touch the flesh of her throat and everything changes in an instant.

My mind is blown away. I am hurled, twisting and turning, spinning and sliding, into a new world. A world that exists beyond my expectations, beyond my very beliefs, beyond the blood I crave. My mind swirls with a fog of confusion, unable to make sense of what is happening to it. My vision shifts, the alley falling away into nothing as I am throw into white light. It envelops me; flowing through me like pure energy, dancing in my mind and making everything glitter and shimmer. I want to close my eyes and my mind against my natural enemy, light, my curse, my only master. But this light does not burn. It doesn't make me feel weak or scared or vulnerable. Instead it does the opposite, instilling me with strength, lending me the sort of energy I can only get from the high of drinking human blood, that single moment of ecstasy repeated over and over, a hundred times better, with no end to it in sight.

I only got to taste a drop of her blood.

I have no idea where I am. I have never been here before. I have heard tales of other vampires that have accidently preyed on witches and paid the price. If this is a revenge spell then something has gone wrong because I am not suffering. I am enjoying the sensation of the light on my skin, my first taste of such vibrant light in over a century. Magic gives off a faint yet distinctive scent and I didn't sense anything magical or mystical about the girl.

The light fades and I know my theory isn't true. She is here too, bathed in the same white light that shines in me, her face mirroring my bewilderment. Something flashes between us and vanishes. I see it flash again, a silvery thread stretching from our hearts, joining them. It isn't just our hearts that are connected, it's our minds too, I can feel her emotions, the first hint of fear and humanity I have felt since I lost my own, leaving the world of mortals behind.

She doesn't know what is happening here. In a bizarre twist of events she is lost in the white light, bereft of knowledge, helpless and human in a world she can't begin to understand. But an idea forms in my mind, an ancient belief of a world long forgotten amongst most mortals and immortals, a single word in my mind that shines with the light of truth.

Soulmates.