The man wriggles and screams in my hands as I hold him down. His neck pulses with his terror, and my mouth aches for the promise of that pulse. But this is not for me. This is for you. I look at you, cringing in the alley, cold and pale, tears running down your face.
“Do it,” I say. “You’ll have to eventually.”
I know you know it too. I know you’re hungry. The hunger comes often when you are cold. In the early days, before I was taught the way I am teaching you, I would scream from the hunger, biting my wrists in an agony of frustrated longing.
You back away from me.
The man’s lips fumble beneath my hand in a prayer or a promise; it makes no difference which.
“No, no, please,” you plead.
There was a time when I would have reached into your mind and simply made you, but I can’t do that anymore.
I soften my voice. “This is what you wanted.”
Your face crumples. “I-I didn’t know. I didn’t know. Please, please stop.”
I sigh in frustration and decide to end the man’s agony.
Your sobs sour the sweet as I squat in the alley.
“Come on,” I say when I’m done.
“I loved you. Why did you do this to me?”
“Because you asked me to,” I patiently remind you.
You sob harder. You cannot dispute this fact.
I wipe the blood from my mouth.
We awake with the sunset, lips dry and cracked, stomachs empty. You look at me, eyes all scabby with sleep, and run your tongue across your lips questioningly. I shake my head. It’s too soon. You knew that, but you had to ask. Even now I am winning. You cannot deny the hunger twisting in your belly. We make our way out of our earthen shelter, pushing up sod and earth until we are above ground.
I try to brush the dirt from your hair, but you flinch away, your inhibitions returning with the night. I shake my head, but I let you dust off your hair yourself. It is long and red, sleek like an exposed muscle. I always loved your hair.
“Sit down,” I say. I feel that somehow you have turned simple, become a child who must be guided through the world.
I wonder if you are still afraid of me. You shouldn’t be. I’ve done my worst; you just don’t know that yet.
We watch the sun set. It is a brutal business, this dying of the light. There is blood in the sky, swirling and churning in delicious filth. It lingers long enough to make my stomach clench before the red of the sun seeps into the clouds and night falls in earnest.
You stand up and go get your shoes, which you left behind as we fled from dawn’s light.
I watch you walk across the dry grass in your bare feet. Small and white as bone, your feet flinch against the hard stubble as if you were walking on hot coals.
I absently wonder why you took your shoes off at all. Perhaps your feet ached after the chase. Perhaps you wanted to feel the pain of the grass on your feet to know you were capable of still feeling something.
I want to tell you that you shouldn’t worry about feeling. That there is more to feel now than there ever was. But you still haven’t talked to me since I did what I did. I think you’re being childish, but I hold my tongue. I know you will talk to me eventually. You wouldn’t have stayed otherwise.
You lace your shoes carefully, like a child, your fingers numb with cold. Again, I open my mouth to tell you that the cold is a small price to pay for the warmth of hot blood in your mouth, but I keep my silence. You do not yet savor the thrill of the hunt, the brush of flesh against your lips, the drunken euphoria of liquid iron coursing down your throatBut you will.
The sun finally sets, and it is time to hunt. I rise, dusting off my jacket.
The city lights burn in the horizon, beckoning.
You sulk behind me as we walk through the busy streets. I make my way to the park. There is something dirty about eating in an alley, but nothing is more satisfying than supping in the dark grass under the moon.
Finally you speak.
“I thought you loved me.”
“I thought you loved me. All those professions of adoration, your dedication. I’ve done nothing to you, but what you asked.”
I don’t tell you that you have done something far greater than what I have done to you. You have broken my heart, and I didn’t ask for that.
“I know,” you say softly, “but I didn’t realize it would be like this. So brutal, so cold.”
“You said you understood.”
“I thought I did.”
I turn to you.
“Be grateful,” I say. “Be grateful that at least someone tried to explain it to you. Be grateful that you brought this upon yourself. Two centuries ago, some blood-hungry demon left me for dead in a dirty corner, choking on my own blood. There was no one to coddle me through the cold, the hunger. Be grateful.”
I am angry. Angry that I believed your lies of love, angry that I shared my pain with you and all you can think about is yourself. I turn away from you. The shadows beckon me back into the blackness of the anonymous, unloved monster.
“Don’t you love me anymore?” I hate to plead, but the words spill unwanted from my cold lips.
“No.” You turn toward me, suddenly brutal. “I could never love a creature like you.”
I laugh in your face, my heart fracturing and crumbling until it is nothing. It takes a monster to know a monster, I realize. You never loved me, you only loved the alien mystery of me.
I turn from you, wordless, but you follow me. There is blood in the air, and you are hungry.
It takes me only a moment to realize I could never love a creature like you.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.