“He who fights monsters should look into it that he himself does not become a monster.
When you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
I cannot recall what caused the clarion bell to sound an alarm through my psyche, but all at once the haze shrouding my world began to lift. Time froze and an epiphany struck in all its horrible glory.
I had completely and utterly screwed up.
Blood covered my hands. I gazed down at the knife I held, both fixated on the sight and yet failing to see it. A thought echoed over and over that this was some twisted nightmare I would wake from, but I could not help trying to piece together facts until reality could finally set in. Recollections jumbled into a mosaic I focused hard on deciphering with wide eyes and furrowed brow. It left me naked before my own scrutiny, lost with the unpleasant reminder that my life thus far had been filled with more than a fair amount of calamity. Except this event trumped any which preceded it.
Lifting my gaze from the weapon poised in my palm, I spied them lying there. Two people, a man and a woman. And both of them were dead.
My knees gave out. I slid down the bedroom wall. Settling on the floor as the knife dropped from my slackened grip, I brought both hands to my head and rocked back and forth. I had walked in on her, this was true. She looked at me and screamed; yes, yes, I recalled this as well. It was when the other person shot out of bed that my memories seemed to shatter like a pane of glass. I struggled to replay the events, my head throbbing and the sensation of the knife’s hilt lingering on my skin.
The knife. I fetched it from the kitchen. Oh God, what had I done?
Curling up with my back to the wall, I hugged my knees and winced. The dam of shock buckled under the weight of too many images crowding in at once. Too many images, such as her calling out, “No, Peter! This isn’t what you think!” and me spitting out the words, “You selfish whore, what did you do? What did you do?!” An involuntary laugh suddenly broke the silence when I remembered the bastard she had been fondling. He fell to the floor, tripping over his own jeans, and barely came to a stand by the time I rushed upon him.
Tears clouded my eyes. Hysterics burst forth from my lips. Neither convinced me I yet possessed my right mind, but did nothing to make me feel justified in what I did next either. Rather, I plunged deeper into the abyss while crimson tainted the black and white movie playing in my mind.
He was my first victim. I did not pause to ask his name. I gave no warning of what I meant to do. Instead, I charged forward with the kitchen knife and sank it deep into his stomach. His face contorted in pain, but as he looked up at me he revealed a sight I found strangely delicious. My gaze focused on his neck. I licked my lips and slashed the blade across his throat. Whatever he had been struggling to say, the gash ensured he would speak no longer.
My senses should have come screaming back when he hit the ground, but my lover of two years looked at me with glassy eyes and her tears were not for me. Enraged, I closed the distance between us and tore her gold chain away from her neck. The knife plunged through her chest with sickening ease and I held it there while we stared each other in the eyes. Moments ticked by as hers dimmed and became vacant. The instrument of her death slipped from her body when she crumpled to the floor.
“I have to get out of here,” I whispered, swiping at my cheeks as recent memory converged with the present. Two dead bodies lay before me. A lifetime of remorse loomed on the horizon. My fingers left bloody tribal war paint smudges where I had touched my face, but I did not care. In fact, I was amazed when my weak knees supported my weight and allowed me to pick myself up.
I stumbled down the hallway to her front door. The thought occurred to me that her neighbors may have heard the screams emanating from the apartment. They might be gathered outside, a lynch mob with pitchforks and torches to carry off the monster I had become. When I swung open the door, however, I saw nothing more than an empty corridor. So I trudged forward, not knowing where I intended to go yet realizing I could not stay there.
Images assailed me again.
I saw the look in her eyes as our gazes locked, her brain not yet dead from the lack of life-giving oxygen. “Peter... I’m sorry.” That miserable bitch. Why did she say she was sorry? Why did she rob me of a pure lover’s vengeance by staining my actions with her repentance?
My walk became a run.
I remembered the scowl of hate I shot her in return. “Burn in hell,” I muttered. How could I say that? Did I not realize what I had just done? Even if her love for me was cast aside with such callousness, mine for her still burned strong.
Hysteria threatened to claim me. I dashed for the door to the outside and slammed through it, but recoiled when the cold of January rushed headlong into me. Once again, the idea of being lost – vulnerable – struck me.
I ran toward the street, trying to escape the guilt pounding heavy through my head. The angry mob might not have been following me, but my conscience was gaining and its feet moved swifter than mine. I passed beneath awnings of upscale apartment buildings, raced across a dimly-lit park, and when a patch of Philadelphia asphalt suddenly stretched before me, I darted across it without caring one iota for the traffic.
One car swerved, then another, but I did not remain on the street for long. The urge to disappear from view became too overwhelming for me to ignore, so I dodged down an alleyway still running from the pain threatening to tear me limb from limb. I heard its footsteps closing in. I felt its breath prickle my skin. I sensed its presence enveloping me. None of which prepared me for the abrupt way my sprint came to a halt.
It was as though my conscience obtained corporeal form; or so I thought at the time. Ignorance converged with my own frenzied panicking and prevented me from understanding when one hand grabbed me, followed by another. I struggled wildly against the grip, screaming, “I was going to marry her! It isn't my fault! Oh God, why did she do this to me? Why did she make me kill her?!” The pair of hands kept firm grasp of me through my manic attempts to break away, and I continued shouting pleas for understanding until my attackers silenced my rant with a swift smack against my throat. Suddenly, I began to realize I was not being held back by my conscience at all.
The second clue was even more painful.
I felt a tongue slide against my neck milliseconds before a set of sharp teeth pierced my skin. Hollering as an afterthought, I gasped while blood ran down to my chest and mingled with the sweat already present. The lips pressed against my flesh pursed and drew inward. A sickening sucking noise resonated in my ears and the hands around me tightened.
My eyes fluttered shut. My head bobbed. I could not see the face of my attacker, but had little desire to as my pulse became faint and my knees threatened to buckle again. Whoever held me prevented me from falling over while my brain commenced the same shut down I had witnessed when Lydia had collapsed at my feet.
“... Lydia.” I whispered her name as though remembering it for the first time through all the chaos. It formed all the apology my dying breaths could manage before I was robbed of the chance to add any further words of remorse.
Instead, the cool flesh of somebody's wrist touched my lips. It silenced even my thoughts and focused my fleeting attention toward a viscous liquid which ran into my mouth. The moment I tasted blood, a foreign notion stirred my senses the same way seeing the exposed throat of Lydia's lover had. A feminine voice spoke in a soothing manner. “Drink,” she said. “Take it in, Peter. Because tonight, we will fulfill your destiny.”
I drew inward once, compelled by the woman's command. It restored enough of my strength for me to drink again, wanting more without knowing why. In fact, I became more and more ravenous with each mouthful of blood and did not realize I'd grabbed hold of her arm until a violent pulse of pain caused my fingers to tighten. My mouth lifted from her wrist so I could cry out in agony. Before I figured out what was happening, another wave of fatigue struck.
My body slumped into a set of arms. The world drifted from my consciousness while voices spoke around me in a dissonant manner. My breaths became shallow, then ceased altogether, and I drifted to sleep.
Little did I know, as my heart stopped its rhythmic beating, that the blood I drank belonged to a vampire.
I had just lived my final night as a mortal.