It’s that time of the year again where the stores are saturated in cheaply made, overpriced heart shaped trinkets in shades of red and pink. Just going through the local grocery store yesterday I had to sift through an ocean of heart shaped balloons and stuffed bears to find my way to the register. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Valentine’s Day. In theory, finding a day in the start of the year to celebrate romance and love is beautiful. In practice, however, it’s become an overly commercialized excuse to sell cards and shoddy trinkets with the underlying notion that you need to do all of this to prove something in the hopes of getting laid.
This is my last Valentine’s Day with my fiancé before we get married. To most it seems like a piddling milestone, something of no real consequence. After all, marriage doesn’t change anything, right? That was how I felt the first time I was married when I was 20 and dumb and didn’t understand a thing about romance, love, or commitment. At 33, doing this for the second and final time -and with the woman of my dreams no less- I know that marriage changes everything. Waking up every morning beside this person, knowing that you have promised your whole life to be with her is nothing short of world changing; especially after being through such a rocky patch in the first stage of your life.
Three years and some change later and I wake up every morning smiling when I see her sleeping so peacefully beside me. In those moments it isn’t about sex, commitment, or anything else associated with a relationship. It’s just love. Knowing that this person, this other half of your heart is lying there with you, warm and soft and perfect there in your arms is amazing to feel in any stage of any relationship. But knowing that you are so totally, helplessly in love with this person, with the thought of the life that you’re going to have with this person, well, that’s something else entirely. For the first time in my life I can see a future with someone, a future where I become a father again, raise a family, and experience a journey in the warm embrace of something that too few people ever really have the chance to try.
Blood soaked after Evil Dead: The Musical.
It isn’t about showing her that today, this one day set aside in the year for lovers, that she means something to me. It’s about showing her the worlds I want to build with her, the futures I want to travel through and explore hand-in-hand. For the first time in my life I feel like I know that love that my grandparents had, that they tried to teach me and my sister to find. The sort of love my parents still know and raised us in. Maybe I’m just a fool hearted romantic, an inarticulate poet rambling on about what it means to feel anything at all? Maybe it’s something more? I don’t know. But I’ll take it.
As I wandered through the aisles of meaningless trinkets and hollow gestures last night, I couldn’t help but notice a themed end cap with movies. Romantic comedies and “chick flicks” layered one on top of the other. That and Twilight. I hope you can hear my eyes roll in my head at mentioning that title. A flat, unemotive tale about a female protagonist written so bland and undefined as to literally have no character or personality whatsoever being the focal point of a love triangle between an underage werewolf and a hundred year old vampire trapped in a teenager’s body. The entire series has so little to do with love and so much to do with falling into this Stockholm Syndrome style relationship with an abuser that it always baffles me when I see people talking about such a “great romance” in their tale. But it makes me think.
Vampires, whether they sparkle or not, have been the topics of love, lust, and passion since the Victorian Era. They represent something animalistic and intangible that appeals to almost everyone in some sense. Tragic characters who have the capacity to love eternally, to literally be tortured to madness by an eternity without that one thing they can never hope to attain. A raw, sexual being whose animalistic lust and supernatural means of seduction and persuasion are only matched by the passion burning inside their heart. The vampire represented a terrifying break in the puritanical facade of Victorian life and, more than a century later, the vampire is still a symbol of that sexual energy and romantic possibility that absolutely terrifies us.
I don’t write much romance and I write even less sex and erotica because, honestly, so much of my work takes a turn for the bizarre that I feel like I’d cross some lines that might not ought to be crossed. But, on occasion, I write a thing or two that stand in contrast to that. Maybe a scene here or a chapter there. In this case, I wrote my own vampire story with a unique twist. There is some romance to it which is strange for me to put into words.
This is my first pass at a vampire story from a while back. It originally ran in Bloodbond Magazine in their Spring 2016 issue. Enjoy.
The Blood is the Covenant
“There are no limits to my true power,” Azazel, The Dark Prince, lisped from across the booth. His chubby, ruddy fingers were wrapped around a wine glass rolling the merlot in a crimson swirl. He had tried to convince me that it was a virgin’s blood he was sipping on but the bartender had been eager to assure me that the only thing bled to quench his thirst were grapes. “My strength is piqued, though, when the moon is full.”
Azazel, The Dark Prince was supposed to be my contact, a guide to the shadowy underground vampire culture that had blossomed in town. My hope as I interviewed local vamps on message boards and chatrooms had been to meet someone involved in the actual psychic transference and blood drinking rituals that would be the focus of the book I wanted to write. What I had found, unfortunately, were a string of socially dysfunctional disappointments all culminating in the meeting I was having with The Dark Prince. The stereotypical, thirty-something virgin nerd sitting across from me in the booth. I had no trouble believing that he spent his days hiding from the sun but in his parents’ basement and not a coffin. If he knew anything about actual vampirism beyond what he’d read on the internet in manga form I’d have been thoroughly amazed. He was easily three hundred pounds, stuffed tightly into a black t-shirt and an off the rack Dracula cape he’d clearly found at Walmart on sale after the holiday. His greasy black hair was pulled into a pony tail behind him and a few loose strands had fallen in front of his smudged glasses. His long, dirty nails were covered in cheap black nail polish almost as cheap as the faux silver crucifix medallion around his neck.
There was a twinkle in his beady eyes as his chubby lips curled up into a smile.
“And you can get me into the scene,” I asked incredulously. It was the third time that I’d asked the question since we’d met and his insistence on deferring to his own alleged supernatural prowess was wearing thin.
He cut his eyes suspiciously around the bar. The Black Orchid had been a cowboy bar called the Hangman a year or so before and, despite layers of black paint and black light posters nothing could disguise the faux Southwestern motif of its previous incarnation. There was a cattle skull nailed on the wall above the entrance to the restrooms covered in red paint and pentagrams. The coiled lasso hanging on horns had been painted, poorly, to look like a snake. Goth industrial music thumped and rattled out of cracked speakers around the room, vibrating in my chest. It made my lungs hurt as I struggled to hear The Dark Prince prattle on about himself. He tried to lean across the booth, was blocked by his own girth and finally gave up, choosing to lean back and spread his arms across the back of the seat he was sitting on.
“This is the scene,” he wheezed triumphantly. “This is my kingdom, my dark domain. This is the hunting ground where I stalk my prey just as the hungry panther stalks through the night. Women are inexorably called to me, craving the sexual aura that I exude. They desperately crave to taste of the night as only I can offer.”
I nodded as if I actually cared about what he was saying and fished the battered pack of Marlboros from my jacket pocket. I was about to spark the lighter when he started waving his pudgy hands at my face.
“You can’t do that in here.” There was genuine panic in his voice. “The owner said he’d kick me out if I caused any more trouble in here.”
“Okay then,” I said as politely as I could without laughing. I really wanted to ask what sort of trouble he could possibly have caused but decided I’d use this as my chance to escape. “I’ll be right back.”
The lie was pretty blatant but I guessed he would sit alone at that booth for at least half an hour before he wedged himself out to come see where I’d gone. I’d wasted an entire night with some chubby dork with a Dracula fetish and had nothing to show for it except a sudden urge to go home and drink myself to sleep over my wasted time. What I needed was an actual vampire, someone who could explain to me the why and wherefore of living this otherwise strange lifestyle but all I could find were posers and imposters like Azazel. Leaning on the brick wall by entrance outside I lit my cigarette even as the burning in my chest continued. I probably needed to see a doctor but, without this book I was broke and not a lot of sawbones worked for free. I contemplated the unpleasant thought that I’d wasted my time, again, running down a lead that was going nowhere. Usually there is some spark of truth in every work of fiction, something real that holds the myth firmly into the ground in our culture. I wasn’t feeling very hopeful about this one, though.
I was startled when she spoke. I hadn’t seen her walk up to me from corner of the building and I jumped a bit at the question. There was an almost immediate calm that hit me as soon as I looked at her though. She was short and slender with long red hair, and freckles that that dotted the perfect porcelain symmetry of her face. With piercing green eyes that seemed to glow in the neon light flashing from the sign above us she was instantly one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen in my life… or at least during the course of the night. Unlike most of the women inside the bar, she was dressed modestly in a black tank top and jeans with none of the apparent “screw you”, daddy issue tattoos or piercings that everyone inside was painted with. She leaned against the wall beside me and motioned at the cigarette in my hand. I pulled one out of the pack and lit it for her.
“It’s been eye opening, I can tell you that.”
She laughed. “I bet. I saw you with The Dork Prince and I was getting ready to swoop in and save you when you came out here. You don’t strike me as much of a blood sucker, though.”
“Yeah, neither does he.”
“Some people lead a rich fantasy life to cope with the fact that they’re just not comfortable in their own skin. Looking at you, I’d guess you’re more of a voyeur when it comes to human behavior. A writer, maybe?”
“What gave it away,” I asked. “The three day beard? The beat up notebook? Was it the look of quiet desperation as I listened to that moron talk about his ‘dark gift’?”
She laughed again. It was enchanting and made me feel a bit better about an otherwise wasted night.
“Yeah, I could hear a bit of the conversation when I came in. That guy is such a loser. I’m Lil, by the way.”
“Allen,” I offered, returning her smile. “Nice to meet you.”
There was a moment of silence between us as we listened to the steady thump of muffled music and conversation from inside.
“Hunting vampires?” For the second time since we met she had caught me completely off guard.
“You could say that,” I answered hesitantly. “A little embarrassing I guess but a man has to eat and I won’t be doing too much more of that if I can’t get this story written.”
“Well, you won’t find any in there, I can promise you that.”
“And I suppose you’re going to tell me where I can find some?”
“I can,” she said. The smile on her face grew just a bit. “For a price, that is.”
I snuffed my cigarette on the pavement and nodded to her before I started walking away.
“Sorry, I’ve already been rolled once tonight. But, hey, there’s a room full of suckers hanging out just inside those doors. Have fun.”
Without so much as a glance back at her I got in my truck and sped away. How stupid could I look to people? More importantly, how stupid did I really have to be? I’d found the bar thanks to some fluff news piece that had come out about it at the end of September. It was meant to get people interested in the weeks leading up to Halloween. I’d found Azazel, The Dark Prince -no, The Dork Prince- on a message board that was sponsored by the International Vampire Church which, seemed even more incredible because the subculture was creating organizations like that to help people meet other like minded folks who wanted to “share the dark gift” with one another. I’d never done as much research on a story as I had this one. Most of my stuff was the generic schlock noir detective stuff and the occasional psycho killer short. I liked things that ended in a twist and, at least when it came to detectives and nut jobs, the research material was laid out pretty nicely every night on the evening news. This was supposed to be the story to move me out of the bush-leagues and into something better.
The check engine light flickered to life as I parked in front of my building. Laying my head on the steering wheel for just a moment I thought about offering a prayer to the Writing Gods, that maybe they could send a muse or some talent my way to raise me out of the depths of mediocrity. I waited for my reply only to realize the Writing Gods were capricious and self-serving. I trudged up the three flights of stairs leading to the Spartan little one bedroom I called “home” and decided I’d just get drunk and pass out for a few days. The only thing I could count on, after all, was that my pillow would still be waiting there, warm and inviting and just as eager to see me as I was it. Instead, I found another surprise standing at my door.
“Believe it or not, I usually take ‘no’ for an answer,” Lil said, unfolding her arms. “But I’m making a special exception for you so don’t disappoint me.”
I stammered, looking for words that just weren’t there.
“Don’t talk,” she said, sweetly. “I’ll explain everything once you pour me a drink.”
So many questions raced through my head, so many concerns darting in and out of every fired neuron. I reached down and unlocked the door.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in,” she asked. “I am a lady, you know, and it would be nice if you were a gentleman tonight. At least for a little while, that is.”
“Sorry. Would you like to come in?”
What was I saying? Why was I saying it? My heart was pounding so loudly I could hear it in my skull. My whole body was suddenly weak and uncertain. How had she found me? How did she beat me here? Better yet, how did she know where I lived?
And why did I invite her in?!
I was losing my mind. I hadn’t seen her following me but there she was, as real as the cold chill running down my spine as she sauntered into my apartment like she owned the place. My blood ran cold as she passed me, her arm brushing against my hand. She sat down on the futon and started to rummage through the magazines scattered across my coffee table. She patted the seat beside her and motioned for me to sit down.
“Lesson number one,” she said, holding up an old issue of Rue Morgue. “Forget every last bit of this bullshit. Garlic and crosses are annoying but they don’t do squat. Stakes, well stakes just royally piss me off. You ever been staked? Of course you haven’t. Now silver is a different story altogether.”
“So, silver hurts you?”
“No, but I look damn fine in it.”
I sat down beside her. I should have been terrified. I had no idea who this woman was or what she wanted from me, but I felt nothing but ease and calm as I sat beside her.
“What are you?”
“I told you, silly boy. My name is Lil and for a price I can teach you everything you could ever want to know about vampires.”
She licked her pink tongue across her pearl white teeth. Something was off about the motion and I focused on her teeth. They were all pointed. Every last molar and incisor was serrated, a shark tooth shimmering in her smile. I swallowed as she tapped one of her canine teeth with the tip of her tongue.
“Okay, I’ll bite,” I said, choking down the fear that was trying to leap out of my throat in the form of a scream.
“No, darling, I’ll bite.” She laughed.
“Let’s say that I believe you and that you can give me what I’m looking for. What’s in it for you?”
She ran her small, delicate fingers across my chest and up to my neck. Her skin was cold, the clammy touch of a corpse as it traced my jugular vein and carotid artery.
“I’m hungry,” she said plainly. “I’ve had the equivalent of junk food for weeks now and I’d like something a little healthier than that. You know, just a nice, home cooked meal. Give me a full stomach and a good day’s rest and I’ll fulfill all your heart’s desires.”
“How do I know you won’t just bleed me dry and leave me for dead?”
“Because I’ve been feeding on you since the moment you came through the door and we haven’t even gotten to the main course. Now, take off your clothes and take me to bed.”
I woke up with the worst hangover I’d ever had in my life. Think of the flu and pneumonia having some diseased little baby inside of your skull and leaving it there unattended while they skip out to grab a smoke. Nausea, fatigue and the worst headache in the history of human suffering almost kept me from being able to move that morning. Lil was naked beside me, covered from the waist down under my blanket and bedsheets and sleeping like the dead… or the living dead. I really didn’t know at that point. She wasn’t moving, wasn’t breathing, wasn’t really doing anything at all but staying nice and cool and pale in the semi-darkness of my bedroom. I reached over to caress the smooth lines of her back and almost panicked when I felt how cold and clammy she really was all over. For the first time since I had come home from the Black Orchid last night I was suddenly thinking clearly and the thoughts weren’t pleasant.
What if she’s dead? What if I killed her? Even if I was innocent of anything wrong how was I going to explain that? I’d been researching vampires and talking to nut jobs on the internet for weeks now. There was no way I was going to have a long and happy life if anyone had seen us together before she died? I was spiralling into a magnificent panic when she lifted her head off of the pillow.
“Coffee,” she groaned and fell back into the pillow.
I jumped out of bed and landed in the floor by the window.
“Don’t sound so surprised,” she grumbled from the pillow. “Seriously, I need some coffee.”
I staggered to my feet, threw on some clothes piled by the foot of the bed and wandered into the kitchen. My stomach was still doing somersaults and my head was throbbing but I managed to brew some coffee and bring it back to the bedroom. Lil was dressed when I came back in and sitting on the edge of my bed playing with my phone..
“You didn’t take any pictures while I was asleep,” she said. She seemed genuinely surprised and just a little offended.
“I don’t do that sort of thing,” I told her. “Besides, do you even photograph?”
“Beautifully,” she said. She raised up the camera, looked in the lense, pouted her lips and took a picture. “Something for later.”
I handed her a cup of coffee. She sipped her it and smiled at me with row on row of serrated teeth. It wasn’t nearly as terrifying as it had been last night. It was even a bit endearing now. Without a word she stood up on the bed, leaned down and kissed me passionately. Immediately my headache disappeared, my stomach was fine and I had more energy and vigor than I could ever remember having. She pulled away and grinned at me.
“And that, darling, was lesson number two,” she said sweetly. “We don’t just take life, we give it too.”
“So, what now?”
“I would love to go downtown and get a big breakfast,” she said, plopping down onto my bed. “Unless you’d like to play some more?”
I grinned. “I’d be happy to but I’m kind of hungry myself. I didn’t think you could be out in the sunlight.”
She sprang instantly from the bed and landed by the window, grabbing the cord for the blinds in her hand. She jerked the thin white rope down and flooded the room with sunlight. Collapsing in the floor she started to scream and convulse. I grabbed the cord from her hand, pulled it tightly and dropped the blinds. The room was dark once again, filled only with the sound of her laughter.
“I thought I told you to forget all that stupid, Hollywood bullshit,” she cried through her chuckling fit.
I was taking a vampire to breakfast. It had to be the most surreal moment of my life. There we were, riding down the highway in my truck with the windows down and the warm June air kissing our skin as we drove through town. Lil was glowing, her eyes hidden behind gaudy, oversized sunglasses and her hair cascading red wine over her alabaster shoulders.
“So, what else should I know about you,” I asked. “I mean, you drink coffee, you’re able to cure hangovers with a kiss; is there anything about vampires that isn’t complete BS?”
“Doubtful,” she said with a smile. “We still eat food, keep our bodies running just like anything else on the planet but we also feed on energy, all that psychic turbulence that people create in their minds and in their souls. If it makes you happy or sad or angry or scared it’s enough to make us strong and give us the powers and vitality that we need. My personal preference is… well, you saw what I prefer last night.”
We both shared a laugh.
“So, what about the blood drinking?”
“The blood is the covenant,” she said reverently. “It is the promise of eternity that we make with one another. It strengthens the psychic bond between the maker and the made.”
“So, you can make other people into vampires if you want to?”
She nodded. “But it’s not an overnight transformation. It takes decades and a level of devotion to one another that goes beyond love. Two souls literally have to share themselves with each other in order to make the transference complete. The blood is just a conduit for the change.”
She made me park in a garage at the edge of the town’s Historic District. We walked down the busy sidewalks, passed bronze placards on brick buildings that told the story of the town’s history. The soul of the city was laid bare in front of us as we passed wall after wall until I was thoroughly lost. Tugging on my arm she lead me down an alley between two old warehouses that were going through renovations. There was a tiny brick building sitting in between the two towering sites with a recessed stairwell that lead down to a large, iron door with a radiation symbol on it. There was a bronze placard beside it covered in graffiti. It was a stylised Bela Lugosi as Dracula with the words “Spiritus Immundus” written on his fangs.
“The Unclean Spirit,” I muttered, familiar with the term from my research.
Lil pushed open the door and pulled me inside. “Lesson three, mister,” she said. “We have a sense of humor. We own our mythology. Hell, we’re the ones who created half the legends about the vampire around the world.”
The door groaned shut behind us.
“This is where Arthur lives. We usually have breakfast together on Tuesdays. I sent him a text letting him know I was bringing you in for a bite.”
I was putting a lot of trust in her which scared me worse than anything else about the entire experience. Arthur’s place was a huge fallout shelter constructed during the Cold War. The walls were covered in neon paint graffiti similar to the front door, all monsters and movie scenes illuminated by black lights down the sides of the wall. The glorified cave meant to protect whatever handful of people could make it there in time had been segmented and converted into a modest little home. Lil was in a rush, leading me quickly through the long, plush carpeted hallway towards an ornate door at the back of the shelter. Without a word she pushed the door open and motioned for me to enter.
I can smell his fear, a voice said inside my head. It wasn’t my usual inner monologue but a deeper, stranger voice. I promise I have no designs for harming you, Allen. You are a guest here. Please, come in.
The room was dark, the lights dim. There was a small kitchenette set up to the left with fresh baked cinnamon rolls and a pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice sitting on the table. Soft, classical music played from speakers in the corners and the walls were covered in more socially acceptable works of art in frames. Sitting in a chair near the kitchenette was a man in a dark robe and loafers. He was short, broad and stocky with a bald scalp. He was normal looking at a glance but a closer look soon removed any thought that he was, or ever had been human. His jaw was broad and square, his skin pale and scarred and leathered by time and age. His ears were pointed sharply at the tips and his lips were full and blue. His eyes were dark ovals at either side of a fat, broad nose that came down from a large, sloping forehead. He seemed like a cross between Nosferatu and Cro-Magnon Man.
“This is Arthur,” Lil said with a smile. “He saved my life when I was young and helped me find my way through the ages. Arthur, this is the man I was telling you about.”
You’re the one who has burned through the internet searching for our kind, he said again in my skull. I expected you to be taller. At the very least better looking.
“That’s not nice,” Lil scolded. “He wants to tell our story.”
“How is he doing this?”
The mind is an amazing thing, my friend. When you stop looking at time as an enemy, you find yourself able to open doors that would otherwise forever be locked.
“Why don’t we have this talk over breakfast,” Lil suggested.
Eating breakfast with vampires had to be the second most surreal moment of my life. Arthur was an incredible man… well, protoman. As we ate, not a word was spoken but within my mind an entire lecture was delivered on human history and the evolution of both mankind and the vampires. Arthur was, in fact, a Neanderthal man who had seen his own race gradually dwindle into extinction as the eons rolled by. He traveled with various groups of early humans, foraging and hunting and gradually building civilization, going for thousands of years without ever aging or even knowing how it was he had survived. The changes that had come over his body had helped him immensely as a hunter. He could track prey for miles, could sense the fear in even the smallest game and both feed from it and locate it from the distance. His teeth had become fangs to help him better take hold of the wild beasts he encountered and gave him a measure of protection against other predators. As his psychic powers had grown, so did his intellect and understanding of human nature. Before the Bronze Age had even begun he knew he would never be accepted by mankind until they too could find the way to consume that psychic power and make it their own.
I could spend a lifetime learning from you, I said inside my mind. And I still wouldn’t be any closer to knowing the whole story, would I?
I have lived a long time, he said. He smiled, showing the old, yellowed fangs inside his mouth. I have watched my own kind fade into the twilight of history and seen your race flourish in the bright dawn. So, if you will permit, let me ask a question of you?
Anything. Please, anything at all.
Why do you wish to know so much about us? What does it benefit you in the end?
I looked from Arthur to Lil. She was staring intently at me, waiting to hear what answer I had. Thinking for a moment I looked down at my empty plate, my hands on the table beside it and sighed.
“Because, the world has too many monsters in it,” I said aloud. “I thought I could take something terrifying and make it more human.”
They both laughed. Hearing his voice, that ancient, guttural voice that hadn’t been heard by human ears in eons sent a chill through my spine. It was hearty and rich and as solid as the stone that his bones must have been made of.
More humanity would only make us more terrifying. What is it that you truly seek?
“He wants a second chance at life,” Lil said. “I tasted it last night and again this morning. How long have you known you were dying?”
“What do you mean, ‘dying’?” I was shocked by the assumption. Then I looked at their faces and realized that they were equally shocked by my response.
“You didn’t know?” Lil’s voice was suddenly softer, more soothing than ever before.
“I’m pretty sure I’d know a thing like that.”
He speaks the truth, daughter, Arthur said, his voice somehow soothing and forceful all at once inside my mind. And you would help him, I suppose?
I could feel the blood racing in my veins, burning a course through my body with every throbbing beat of my heart.
“I’m dying? From what?”
The ancient Arthur vanished and almost immediately appeared standing behind me. He placed his large hands, the nails long and sharp and gray onto my shoulders and squeezed gently. I could feel the same warm surging in my body that I had felt last night as Lil and I made love. The energy of my body, my soul was entering into him and a bit of him into me. He released me and was again sitting across from me at the table.
A cancer in your body, a small, black space inside your bones eating away at your very being. It’s that persistent ache in your chest. You will be dead in a matter of months.
I closed my eyes and tilted my face up at the ceiling. What had started as a way to write a one of a kind story was now a death warrant, narrated to me by the oldest living being on earth. I could spend a lifetime talking to him and he would certainly accommodate me now since that lifetime would be shorter than most. Before any more depressing thoughts could fill my mind I felt the cold, icy familiarity of Lil’s hand holding mine.
“Arthur created me,” she said gently. “I was dying in the wilderness when I was nineteen, alone and bleeding to death. He offered to give me a second chance and he never asked for anything in return other than my company.”
Be certain that this is what you want, child, he said, warning us both inside our minds.
“What are you talking about?”
“Saving you,” Lil said.
“You said that takes decades.”
It does, Arthur continued. But the transference can hold back the hand of death indefinitely until the acolyte can learn to live on his own. It requires that you offer yourself completely to the idea, that you share your soul with one and trust them as an extension of yourself. Do you understand?
“I think so,” I said contemplatively.
No, you don’t. But you will learn.
I looked back at Lil, that sweet, angelic face that had seduced me over night. It wasn’t the same face now. The flesh was contorted and strange, animalistic and horrifyingly predatory as she opened her mouth and exposed the rows of sharp, dripping fangs. In an instant I felt her teeth in my throat, felt the blood draining away and my life slipping towards the cold, inky blackness that lay beyond. There was no fear though, no panic.
The blood is the covenant, I heard her whisper in my mind. The promise of eternity that we make with one another. It is beyond love and beyond loyalty and beyond the illusions of time and mortality.
I drifted in darkness as the night swallowed me and all thought faded into nothing.
I woke up in my bed to the smell of fresh coffee and frying bacon. Slowly, I slipped out from under the sheets and staggered into the kitchen. Lil was standing at the stove wearing nothing but an apron and humming a song. She looked over her shoulder at me, smiled and turned back to the stove.
“Have a good nap,” she asked, still humming her tune.
“I think so,” I said, slumping into the futon. “How long was I out?”
“About a week.” It was a nonchalant remark that seemed entirely inconsequential to her. “Don’t worry though, that’s perfectly normal.”
“Am I… I mean, did you turn me into a vampire?”
“No,” she said, stepping away from the stove. She knelt beside me and smiled. “I made you into a healthy man again. You’ve got a second chance at life and a pretty good shot at eternity.”
“So, now what?”
“Now,” she said, climbing into my lap. “It’s time you earn it.”