Prelude to Infection
Tyler awakened with a start. His head was aching, spinning like a top. Sweat beaded on his brow, his sheets soaked and clinging to him, and all he could seem to hear was the beating of his heart drumming in his ears. Rubbing his head he tried to recall what he had done and where he had been the night before, but right now his head was one big ball of pain, his mind cloudy, and the events of last night a blur. His mouth was parched, as dry as a desert in the middle of a drought, and tasted like an ashtray full of cigarette butts. Sitting up he felt a wave of vertigo come over him, the world spinning all around him. Slowly his memory began coming back to him, though he only had vague recollections of what all had transpired.
Graduation had been three weeks ago, and Tyler and his best friends Ian and Michael had decided to take a trip to Europe to see all the sights and sounds it had to offer. They were all set to attend different colleges come fall, so this would be the last time they would get to be together for a while. During their two week excursion across Europe they stopped in all the biggest cities and visited all the hottest bars and clubs they had to offer, ending the last leg of their tour in Prague. Knowing their vacation was coming to an end, they decided to make the last night in Europe count. Tyler had been to some wild parties when he was in school, but last night had been something different altogether, so much so that he could hardly remember anything about it, which was probably for the best.
Turning towards the edge of the bed, Tyler placed his bare feet down on the soft plush carpet that was the color of dark red wine. Tyler had stayed in some nice hotels before, and this one was no different. His parents had insisted on paying for his trip and booked him rooms in all the nicest hotels as their way of rewarding him for graduating with honors. While Tyler's parents were well-to-do, he never took what he had for granted and appreciated everything they did for him. All they asked for in return was that he strived to be the very best that he could be and encouraged him all throughout school, and now that he had finally graduated and had been accepted into the very college his father had attended, they decided to reward him by funding his trip in full. Tyler hadn't expected it or asked for it, but he was grateful all the same.
As he sat with his hands on his face trying to make the pain in his head go away, Tyler happened to glance down at the sheets on the bed and noticed several red splotches staining the soft white fabric. For a moment he dismissed them, assuming he had spilt something he was drinking the night before, but then as he ran his hands down the sides of his face and neck, he felt the torn flesh of a wound on the left side of his neck. Wincing as his fingers passed over it, he held his hand out and found fresh wet blood covering them. He was on his feet in an instant, his heart pounding in his ears as he turned and found blood smeared all over the bed. Rubbing his arms and the back of his neck he felt the same sticky feeling he'd felt when he'd first woken up, except now he realized that it wasn't sweat, but rather blood. He didn't know how he had gotten the wound on his neck, but he was certain it wasn't his doing. Running into the bathroom, Tyler turned on the lights and stood in front of the mirror over the sink to see just how bad the wound really was. It was hard to tell with all the dried, crusted blood around it, so he turned on the water and ran it over a bath cloth so he could wipe it all away. It looked bad at first, but once he had wiped most of the dried blood away he saw that it wasn't so bad at all, just two small, round puncture wounds.
Puncture wounds. How on earth he could have gotten puncture wounds he wasn't certain. He looked closely at the two holes on his neck, both no bigger than the head of a pin, when suddenly he recovered a fragment of his memory from the night before. He saw two glowing red eyes, like the bloody red holes on his neck, and stumbled backwards into the wall. What had he seen? What could have done this to him, made such perfect round puncture marks on the side of his neck? His head was still aching and cloudy, his mind unable to focus. Surely there was some indication, some clue as to what had transpired last night in his room, but where, or what?
Staggering back out into the room Tyler stood over his blood covered bed and tried to recall, tried to think back to what he had done last night. He remembered going to a club with Ian and Michael, but after a certain point it all blurred together and became an incoherent mess. Surely he hadn't been alone, but there was no sign that anyone was or ever had been there with him. Unless…
There was a garbage can next to the bed. Tyler got down on the floor and dumped all the trash out, only to find a used, blue latex condom amongst the contents. Scrambling around on the nightstand he found his wallet and pulled out a fresh condom, tearing the plastic off to make certain they were the same kind. Sure enough, they were the same color, same brand that he used, which could only mean…
A memory was coming back to him. He was on the dance floor with Ian and Michael, surrounded by beautiful, exotic women as they took turns taking hits of ecstasy. The music was thumping and bright, colorful strobe lights flashed all around him, but through the crowd of bumping, grinding bodies Tyler spotted her, the most beautiful woman he thought he'd ever seen. She was tall, thin, and wore a tight purple party dress that left much of her smooth, tanned back exposed. In that moment time stood still, and as Tyler stood gaping, he caught her eye and she stared back at him. His head swam, and he went to meet her.
"Hi," he said, his tongue feeling heavy and awkward in his mouth. "I'm Tyler."
There was something otherworldly about her eyes. Tyler had never seen such bright green eyes before, as if they were glowing almost. Staring back at him, the girl smiled crookedly and looked him over from head to toe.
"You are an American?" she asked in some strange accent Tyler couldn't place. At least she spoke English.
"Yeah," he replied, his heart racing, blood rushing to his head. He swallowed and licked his lips. "Can I buy you a drink?" he asked.
The girl smiled and bit her lip.
"Maybe. But first you must dance with me."
Tyler smiled, swallowing again, harder.
"Alright…" he said, taking the girl by the hand as they headed back to the dance floor and started dancing.
More and more of Tyler's memories about the night before were coming back to him. He remembered dancing with the girl and seeing Ian and Michael watch him with equal parts encouragement and jealousy. He also remembered feeling the flesh on the girl's back against his hands as they danced, noting how cold she felt. But at the time he was too intoxicated to care or comment, only focusing on the girl with the mesmerizing green eyes in front of him.
"You smell good," the girl stated, leaning in to breathe in Tyler's scent. "I could just eat you up right now."
A smile tugged at Tyler's lips as he leaned in close to the girl and smelled her, noting an odd, metallic scent.
"I could do the same to you," he said, nuzzling the girl's neck playfully.
"Maybe you will," the girl replied mischievously. "So tell me, what is it that brings you to Prague? Have you been here long?"
"No," Tyler replied. "I'm on a trip with some friends. We just graduated high school. Tonight's our last night here."
"Oh?" the girl replied, raising a brow suggestively. "So you will be going home tomorrow then?"
"Unfortunately," Tyler replied.
The girl looked at him for a while without saying anything as they danced. Finally she leaned in close to him and whispered in his ear.
"I've never been with an American before," she said in a seductive tone. "What say I make this a night you never forget?"
Tyler was taken aback, surprised by how forthright this girl was. Then again, he was in Europe where the women were known to be a bit more open with their sexuality than they were back home. Still, to have a woman propose what he thought she was suggesting at that very moment gave him a moment of pause before answering.
"Um… uh… er…" he stammered, licking his lips anxiously. "Uh… are you… sure about this? I mean, I don't even know your name."
"It is Sasha," the girl replied, smiling slyly. "And if I were not certain, I would not be asking. When will you be coming back to Prague?" she asked, raising a brow. "Probably never. So why not make your last night here unforgettable?"
A lump formed in Tyler's throat as he considered Sasha's offer. He'd been with a fair number of girls throughout high school, but most of them weren't anywhere near as attractive or exotic as she was. And she was right, when would he come back to Prague? This was the last night of his vacation, and soon he would be heading off to college to become an architect. It was unlikely he'd ever get an opportunity like this again, so why not take it?
Taking a deep breath, Tyler nodded and felt Sasha's hand on his.
"Let me show you how we make love here in Prague," she said as she guided Tyler out of the club.
Tyler's memory was becoming fuzzy again after they left the club. He assumed that they came back to his hotel to do the deed, but that didn't explain the marks on his neck or the blood all over the bed. As he sat trying to piece together the remainder of his night, there was a sudden loud banging noise coming from outside his hotel room. The noise made his head throb, and as he covered his ears and pushed himself to his feet, he heard Ian's voice calling out to him from the other side of the door.
"Tyler, get up! We gotta be at the airport in an hour! I'd like to stay in Prague a little while longer too, but I doubt our parents will appreciate us missing our plane. So send that pretty little piece you picked up last night on her way and get your ass in gear!"
Tyler perked his head up suddenly and furrowed his brow. Ian mentioned a 'pretty little piece' he had picked up. Could that have been Sasha? Quickly, Tyler found a pair of briefs that were left lying on the floor and slipped them on before running out to answer the door before Ian walked away. Unlatching the chain, Tyler opened the door and found his friend waiting outside for him.
"There you are. I was beginning to think you'd been murdered or something. What took you so long?" Ian asked.
Tyler took a deep breath and ran his hand through his messy brown hair, sticking his head outside the room to see if anyone else was around.
"Sorry, I just… woke up with a wicked hangover," Tyler replied, breathing a heavy sigh.
"I bet. With all the booze and E you took I'm amazed you're even up and functioning," Ian replied, giving Tyler a quick once over before furrowing his brow. "Jesus, you look like shit man. Maybe you should take a shower before we leave. I sure as hell don't want to be stuck sitting next to you looking like that."
Tyler nodded and smiled weakly.
"I will," he replied, running a hand down his face. "Hey, do you know if I left the club with anybody last night by chance?" he asked.
Ian stared at him vacantly for a moment before blinking and slapping a hand on Tyler's shoulder.
"Dude, do not tell me you were too fucked up to remember that hot piece you brought back with you last night," Ian said.
Tyler swallowed and licked his lips, remembering Sasha's bright green eyes and long, slender body.
"No. I just… I'm just having a little trouble filling in the blanks. I just wanted to make sure I hadn't hallucinated the whole thing or not."
Ian snorted a laugh and shook his head.
"I think I may have hallucinated seeing you with such a babe. Seriously man, that chick you left with last night was hot."
So he did leave with Sasha. That was good, at least he knew that much was true. But that still didn't explain the marks on his neck…
"Dude, what the hell?" Ian said suddenly. Tyler was too preoccupied with thinking about Sasha and recalling their night together to realize Ian was looking at the marks on his neck.
"Oh, you noticed those marks?" Tyler asked, slapping a hand over them to conceal them. "Yeah, I woke up with them this morning. I have no idea how I got them though."
"Yeah, that's great and all, but they're bleeding," Ian said.
Tyler crinkled his brow and took his hand away from the puncture marks, looking down at it to find fresh wet blood covering it.
"What the hell did you do last night, role-play as that chick's vampire slave or something?" Ian asked.
Tyler was about to come back with a retort, but just as he was about to speak he remembered seeing red eyes again as he felt two sharp needles pierce the side of his neck. His face went numb and his heart skipped a beat all of a sudden, and apparently Ian took notice that something was wrong because he was looking at Tyler with a wary expression.
"Ty, you okay?" Ian asked. "Do I need to call for an ambulance or something?"
Tyler shook his head, covering his hand over his neck to stop the bleeding as he receded back into his room.
"No, no, I'm fine," he said. "I'm just gonna take a quick shower and get packed up. Then I'll be down to meet you and Mike when I'm done."
Ian gave Tyler a skeptical look and nodded before he started backing away.
"Alright man," he said. "Just page our room if you need anything, alright?"
"Will do," Tyler said, closing the door after Ian left. Once he was alone, Tyler hurried back into the bathroom to check up on the puncture wounds. Fresh blood was still oozing from the holes as red streaks ran slowly down his smooth, toned chest.
'Vampire,' he thought, echoing something Ian had mentioned a few moments ago. 'No, no, that's not… that's not possible. There's no such thing as… as…'
He found himself staring at his reflection in the mirror. His skin had taken on a white, washed out pallor and his eyes were surrounded by deep, dark circles that hadn't been there previously. His head still ached and swam, his stomach grumbled and churned, and the wounds on his neck continued oozing blood slowly and steadily. The memory was coming back to him now, the events that followed after he'd left the club with Sasha. There had been lots of making out and touching, hands traveling to places they'd never been before. Upon arriving back to his room, they disrobed one another, removing each other's clothes piece by piece as they took turns kissing and sucking and licking each newly exposed body part. It wasn't until Tyler was naked and sprawled out on the bed that Sasha climbed up on top of him, mounting herself on him like a person riding a horse. She was like an animal, something wild and untamed, and when he was close to climaxing, he sat up and wrapped his arms around her, thrusting up into her as he kissed and bit her neck. When he came, there was a tremendous sense of euphoria, of ecstasy, and when he fell back onto the bed all hot and covered in sweat, his body glistening in the darkness, that's when he saw them, her eyes glowing as red as hot coals. His mind was still under the influence of the drugs and alcohol, but somehow he knew that what he was seeing wasn't a mere figment of his imagination, but as real as the orgasm he'd just had seconds before.
Suddenly, he felt her mouth on his neck, her tongue licking his flesh, and when the touch of two fiery needles pierced his neck, a cold tingling sensation spread throughout his body, and then he passed out.
'Vampire…' he thought to himself, staring at his pale, naked body in the mirror. The blood on his hand had dried, but the marks on his neck continued oozing blood. Could that truly be what happened? Was Sasha really a vampire? Tyler had watched his fair share of vampire films in his day, from Dracula to Underworld, and he was familiar with all the traditional vampire lore. But they couldn't be real, could they? Surely if they were someone would have found out about it by now.
But despite his attempts to reassure himself, the word kept echoing in the back of his mind, haunting him, taunting him. If this was what Sasha meant by making his last night in Prague unforgettable, then she had certainly done just that.