A voice resonated through the blackness, stretching toward me as though echoing down a long corridor. At first I could not understand what it said. Its cadence was far too dream-like and my thoughts were too fragmented to assemble the pieces. It took several moments, but eventually the voice gained volume and purpose.
“Peter, dear,” she said. “It’s time for you to wake.”
I struggled to ignore her as she continued trying to draw me out from void. Already, I knew something was different and there seemed to be too many alterations for my rational brain to take in all at once. Even the air about me felt changed. So, I twisted my consciousness away from the woman calling me, but her voice persisted. “Come now, young one. Rise and embrace your destiny.”
It pushed me another step closer to the surface. As I stumbled forward, the host of strange sensations began overwhelming me, contradicting the romanticism of her words. Rather than being some pleasurable entanglement with ‘destiny’, waking brought with it nothing more than excruciating pain that threatened to strangle me. I gasped for breath, but the act of breathing stung and the air sat useless in my lungs before being exhaled noisily. Every sense and synapse in my body fired simultaneously. The initial pangs of awareness were not to be the worst of it, though. They built to a crescendo when I opened my eyes.
The burning intensified and localized. I screamed, struggling to keep my eyes open while the light filling the room waged an assault against them. Turning my head to the side, I discovered I lay on a bed, and found myself being subjected to the scrutiny of three strangers - two men and one woman. Their piercing eyes regarded me in silence, watching me tremble, and apparently unmoved by the sight. In turn, I studied them, knowing something about my sight had changed, but unable to place it before the agony became too much for me to bear.
I clenched my eyes shut and flipped onto my stomach.
“Peter, calm down.”
My fingers clawed at the sheets. I buried my head into a pillow to block out more of the light. “Make it stop,” I said. “Fucking kill me if you have to, just make it stop.”
“We can’t kill you, Peter.” Her voice stayed eerily calm while issuing the response. The woman who brought me into this hell in the first place walked closer and sat on the edge of the bed. “What is it that hurts, dear child?”
“My eyes.” I moaned. “My fucking eyes are burning.”
“Michael, turn off the lights.” The sound of fabric rustling preceded a series of footsteps pacing to the other side of the room. Tempted to furrow my brow at how distinctly I heard each action, I instead lost myself inside a flood of relief once darkness crashed over me. Still, the rest of my body continued to tremble.
“What...” A pained breath punctuated the one word I managed. I swallowed more air and waited for something - anything - to feel familiar, but even inhaling could not provide me that comfort. I coughed out the wasted oxygen and regrouped. “What... did you do to me?”
A hand reached forward, attempting to settle atop my head, but I flinched away. It retreated at once. “Peter, the woman said. The calm in her voice felt contagious, threatening to soothe me regardless of how little I wished to be soothed at the moment. “Don’t you remember our discussions? Do you know who I am?”
“I don’t know who the hell I am right now.”
“Look at me, dear. It’s alright. The lights are out now.”
I wanted to look at her about as much as I wished to be calmed by her, but something told me I would have to face her at some point. Slowly, carefully, I pushed off the mattress and lifted my gaze toward the woman talking to me. The sight of her started an immediate debate, one I indulged while taking a moment to evaluate her.
Did I recall her? Yes, there was something familiar about her. Her flowing red hair fell over strong shoulders and her suit accentuated a curvy, slim body. Middle-aged in appearance yet still quite attractive, her face stirred the recesses of memory but left me with nothing more than a fleeting sense of déjà vu. She gazed at me like a mother and I found myself regarding her as a son. “Who are you?” I asked, my voice reduced to a whisper.
She smiled. “You know who I am and yet, you have no idea.” She reached forward, her fingers grazing past my cheek. This time, I did not flinch. “My name is Sabrina. I'm sorry, this part is never easy, dear. It will take you some time to adjust.”
“Adjust,” I said, trying to decipher the word and its relationship to me. The riddle too much for me to unravel, I allowed my eyes to wander toward the others. I sensed no sort of recognition; nothing like what I experienced when I first laid eyes on Sabrina. Instead, I was left to clinically observe what I kept thinking of as a silent jury.
A woman in sensual, Gothic dress remained seated next to a dark-haired man in a finely-tailored suit. Her hair blonde, it flowed down her shoulders and framed a face with pale, green eyes which looked terminally bored. The man sighed, his blue eyes shifting from me to anywhere else as though avoiding my gaze. The third onlooker, however, stood against the wall, close to where the light switch was. He scrutinized me with the most disdain, his long hair tied back in a ponytail and a three-piece suit hanging from a wiry frame. The corner of his mouth was curled in a condescending grin, and I vaguely recalled Sabrina calling him Michael a few minutes beforehand. Without one word exchanged between us, I knew he loathed me. The sentiment was rapidly becoming mutual.
My gaze returned to Sabrina. “Why does it hurt?” I asked, with the pitiful frailty of a child.
Sabrina smiled. “Young one, you have just risen from the crossing,” she said. “You are facing this harsh world as a newborn again.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I brought my hands to my head. The riddle of Sabrina’s words looped in a nonsensical manner. Crossing? I did not have the foggiest idea what a ‘crossing’ was. “How long have I been asleep?” I asked. “A few hours? A day?”
“A bit longer than that.” Sabrina paused. “Do you remember what happened before you fell asleep?”
I blinked, trying to recall anything prior to the pain of waking. That was when one memory came crashing through the haze. “I remember a knife,” I said, my eyes gazing into the distance. “I had been holding a knife and then I ran. I stabbed her. I stabbed Lydia.”
She frowned. “Yes, I’ve never seen one so covered in blood prior to the conversion. Such violence doesn’t make this transition any easier, but you have been given the gift you asked for...” The next words caused me a start, as though Sabrina read my previous thoughts. “… my new son.”
I perked an eyebrow. “Gift?”
“Yes, gift.” Sabrina's frown settled into a more even expression and her eyes drifted away. I shifted into a seated position, forced to take a few seconds to get my wits about me when a slight wave of dizziness followed the effort. Glancing down at my body, I regarded the simple pair of khaki slacks and black, button-down shirt which hung from my frame. It occurred to me for the first time that I was feeling weak.
My gaze shifted back to Sabrina as she continued speaking. “You told me about your parents,” she said. “About being a doctor. Do you remember? How everything in life seems so transient and how you wished to be part of something more permanent?”
I struggled to recall the conversation. Familiar though it was, the words echoed at me from the other side of an impenetrable wall. I closed my eyes and shook my head. “I want to remember, but I can’t.”
“No reason to be concerned,” Sabrina said. “It’s all part of the process. Some vampires have a hard time recalling much from their past lives, I’m afraid, until the initial shock wears off.”
The word forced my eyes open. “Vampires?”
Sabrina smiled wide, baring a set of pointed fangs. “Yes, my dear. You have become one of us. Just as you asked to be.”
The sight of her ungodly daggers frightened a shout past my lips. I backed away with such sudden force, I fell off the other side of the bed. Struggling to my feet, I fought past another bout of dizziness while finding the wherewithal to retreat. Sabrina came to her feet and walked toward me as I backed away, her steps slow and cautious. “Peter, don’t be afraid...”
My back hit a wall. “I don’t believe you,” I said, frenzied, “I don’t believe any of this.” My eyes shifted toward the others as they peered at me with upturned eyebrows. “Who are you people?!”
Sabrina did not allow them to respond. “Those are your brethren.”
I shook my head once more and edged along the wall until I stopped by the corner of the room. This beast of a woman I initially found captivating came closer to where I stood and I, in turn, pressed against the wall. “No,” I said. “I don’t know you. I’ve never met any of you. This is a nightmare I’m going to wake up from when I...”
“Peter,” Sabrina interrupted. “This isn’t a dream. You’ve been asleep for almost a week...”
“No I haven’t...”
“... and during the course of that week...”
“No. Stop. I’m not listening to you.”
“... you’ve died and been reborn again.”
“Stop saying that!” I shouted with a hiss, but the death knell to my denial sounded its toll when I felt something cut into my lower lip. Although I had closed my eyes to holler, they shot open when I realized that whatever the ‘something’ was, it was coming from my mouth. One shaky hand relinquished its hold on the wall and lifted, hesitating at first before tracing the contours of a sharp, pointed incisor akin to Sabrina’s. My hand recoiled in shock, but the wall of truth had been broken. Curiosity took the reins away.
I raised my other hand, touching a complementary dagger on the other side of my mouth. Inhaling another breath amplified the silence in my chest. My fingers lowered to my neck, searching for a pulse, and met with nothing but cool flesh without the normal rhythm of a heartbeat. I was dead and yet, there I stood with fangs exposed. “It's true,” I said, my voice just above a whisper. My eyes found Sabrina again. “I've become a vampire.”
She smiled with relish. “Welcome to the coven,” she said. “Don’t worry, all of the answers will come in time.”
At first, I nodded in semi-acceptance, but an unfamiliar shiver crawled up my spine that no amount of reservation could stand against. A litany of symptoms blossomed with greater intensity the longer my fangs remained exposed. I felt dizzy; my throat felt dry and an infantile thought brought me face-to-face with my first entanglement with bloodlust.
I was hungry. So very hungry.
Sabrina’s voice broke through my senses. “Are you alright, my new son?” she asked. When my eyes opened, however, her look of anxiety morphed into a wicked smile. “You’re hungry.”
I leaned my head back and stared toward the ceiling. “Yes, I am,” I said, although the term ‘hunger’ did little to capture the all-consuming thirst overwhelming me. “I need something to eat. I don’t think I’ve eaten in a while.”
The grin on her face broadened. She turned toward the man standing on the opposite side of the room. “Michael, bring in the girl,” she said. “It’s time we taught your brother how to feed.”
“As you wish, Mistress,” Michael said, emphasizing the term of address in what struck me as a disdainful manner. He flashed a condescending smirk at me again before departing, and I fought the urge to sneer back at him. If he was to be the solution to the problem I faced, I did not wish to raise his ire. Still, I choked back a sizable amount of contempt as I shut my eyes and waited for his return.
A few moments later, the door opened. An intoxicating aroma emanated from the doorway and my eyelids lifted to behold a woman, hands bound and mouth gagged. She regarded me with panic-stricken eyes as Michael forced her further into the room. The sight of her fear intrigued me and the steady pulse I heard summoned a craving unlike any I had ever experienced before. Where once I would have looked at her and seen a human being, hunger reduced her down to little more than the means to sate my need.
Michael held her steady. “Come here and observe me,” he said.
I nodded and stepped closer, my gaze shifting to my new immortal sibling. Michael’s fangs slid down, forcing me to shiver while he pressed his nose against the girl’s neck and drew in a deep breath. She squeaked pitifully.
He ignored it, as did I.
“You can always tell where it is the sweetest by their scent,” he said. Michael closed his eyes and ceased his pursuit at a certain spot. “Those sharp teeth you possess cut deep enough to reach it. I will demonstrate.”
I watched the girl jump when Michael’s fangs pierced her skin. Blood ran down in rivulets, staining her shirt and producing a sight which unnerved and excited me all at once. Her eyes brimmed with tears, but again I found myself strangely apathetic to her plight. Instead, the viscous, red liquid running from her veins held my interest captive.
Michael pulled away and lifted his eyes to regard me. “Now, your turn. Don’t think about it, merely do it.”
Nodding, I approached the woman, her potent scent tangling me inside an enchanting web. I wrestled with the notion of ripping her apart and imbibing whatever did not spill to the ground, but images of Michael’s fangs driving into her flesh lulled me into a fledgling form of temptation. I rather liked the way that bite looked. So sensual – intimate, even. A communion with this frail being for fleeting seconds before she had nothing left to offer.
Without further thought, I allowed my senses to become saturated with her and ran my nose along her neck until that golden spot gripped me and forced me to pause. With that, I did what I had seen Michael do.
I drove my teeth into her neck and spilled forth the first drops of human blood I ever consumed.
The taste was exceptional, slipping past my tongue in rivers of ecstasy which stirred to life the most primeval of urges. It was reminiscent of the pleasure I had experienced while drinking from Sabrina's wrist, but this time the fire of human blood filled my veins and lit an inferno of all-consuming need. I drew inward with dire urgency, swallowing mouthfuls in a lusty manner, taking her in until she had to be held upright.
Her pulse wavered before ceasing altogether. My fangs retracted and the heat of blood warmed the chill of my body, filling me with sated contentedness. I pulled away, my eyes closed, and allowed my victim's depleted body to crumple to my feet.
“Very good, my son,” Sabrina said, her voice ebbing toward me through the haze of afterglow. “It’s like you were born to be a killer.”
I turned my head to look at her, still ignorant of so many things as our eyes met. I could not remember who I was beyond the vision of a knife and flashes of imagery centered on confessing the death of a girl named Lydia, but the lack of memories from my past life failed to bother me. I could only think of how it felt to drain that girl dry.
“I could get used to being a vampire,” I said, allowing my gaze to shift away from Sabrina and the others. A sinister grin overtook me and my own voice rang peculiar in my ears. The being speaking now was a different man; I had no need of remembering my mortality to be certain of that much. With one mere feed I had transcended even the frightened being that woke with his eyes blinded by pain. Something squeezed away that fear and dread, replacing it with an enamored state of euphoria.
I smiled as its ghost left a mark on my psyche. Its caress was cold and calculating; sadistic and enchanting. “Yes, I enjoyed that very much,” I said with a nod. “In fact, I’d like to do it again.”