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The Nightlife: descent

I told myself that it was self-preservation. But by the fourth night even I couldn’t believe that lie. Not entirely.

I knew that if I tried to run he would find me. He would probably even kill me. I couldn’t be sure. I was never sure of anything with Hades. If he had some other way of making me suffer worse than a violent death at his hands I couldn’t know. But I didn’t put it past him. So I was on my best behavior, a model prisoner.

But there was a point when even my confinement began to work on my mind. Every conversation was with him. Every small reward or simple freedom came from him. He was the first one I saw when I rose and the last one when I died each night.

Was it really that simple? I look back now and it seemed like some kind of spell.

He spoke to the darkness inside me, the deeply buried hunger my human frailty refused to acknowledge. I was horrified by the way we had fed before, by the way he had killed those people and my own unvoiced satisfaction in witnessing the end of their fragile lives. It was as if there was this subtle whisper in the dark hollow of my heart saying “yes….this is what we are…this is how we hunt.”

I’ve heard that lycanthropes feel their beast like a separate instinct, another consciousness almost, one that wants to take over when they are hungry or hurt. Mine wasn’t like that. It wasn’t a beast. It was power and hunger, and it came from me, some part of me that human rules and human morality had tried to tame.

Hades saw all of this and used it to move me like his own puppet, tangled up in his strings,

One night his mood was particularly unreadable. I had learned he was at his most dangerous then, like an unpredictable tide waiting to drown the unsuspecting swimmer. And even though his change in mood caught me every time, my body had become attuned to the risk, the threat that would end in sex or violence or both.

He kissed me and I felt the sting of his fangs on my lower lip, slicing my skin and teasing us both with the taste of blood and pain. It had been a long time since I had felt disgust at the taste of blood, forever since the taste and the pleasure were entwined in my senses. But Hades had started to change all of that. Hunger became pleasure, pleasure touched with pain and dipped in risk. And when he had me primed, my senses attuned and my body ripe. He delivered the final test.

I was eager for him and he knew it. With his mouth against my throat, whispering insidious things to incite the vampire in me, and his hand up my skirt to stroke my body into eager acceptance, I barely noticed the presence of another in the room. Two others, actually. One of them a human who did some work for Hades and another, a young woman, with a glazed expression so typical of one that had been rolled by a powerful vampire.

Hades’ voice was a whisper against the skin of my throat, his fangs drawing yet more pain and pleasure and blood from me as he spoke. ‘I am going to fuck you tonight, and it’s going to hurt. But if you drink enough from her, she might be the only fatality.’

I couldn’t dredge up the appropriate horror for those words. Even now they make me shiver with anticipation, not dread. Because it was the moment that I stopped resisting. I accepted my fate and the whim of my master, the death of the girl could be anything I wanted it to be. And so I asked for the one thing that had fascinated and frightened me - to feed from the femoral artery.

Femoral arteries are dangerous for vampires who would rather not kill their victim. It take control and precision not to bite too deep. Because if you bite too deep your victim bleeds out very quickly, dying in a pulsing rush of blood too hot and thick to be anything but gluttonous.

He asked me then if I thought to kill the girl to spare her from him or if I wanted to feel her die beneath my mouth, her life exploding against my tongue. I could feel him waiting for my answer, urging me to let the darkness loose. I didn’t lie. I wanted her death. And that was my answer.

But I also wanted mercy for the girl. The only mercy that was in my power to grant.

That night I fed, drenching myself in blood and feeding that blood from my flesh and into the kisses of my master. And as he promised that night he took me and it was painful and pleasurable.

In the evening I awoke, having survived my night. The body was gone, but the rug remained.

I was violently unwell for the rest of the night.

The Nightlife: truth and consequences

I am sure you have guessed by now that Hades wasn’t his real name. That’s my attempt to protect myself. I shouldn’t be putting these thoughts anywhere. I should forget them and move on. But something happened…something that makes me frightened I will become a monster myself. And I want to remember why that was and who I was when it first worried me.

Maybe then I won’t be so seduced by the possibilities.

I called him Hades because in my own mind I was Persephone. I knew my time with him would be short. There was a fatalism about him when he took, some knowledge that the games he had played had dealt him a hand which he could not win with. But he refused to put the game down and walk away from the table.

But I’m skipping ahead a bit. I should go back.

In the nights after I came to be his…I’m not sure. I don’t have a word that could really describe what my role was in his life. Not a slave, but certainly not lover. A companion, perhaps. Or a curiosty?

In those night I spent with him it was as though I balanced myself on a tightrope. We spoke and every conversation filled me a sort of steady, quiet dread. His moods were dark for the most part, but when he asked a question it was as if he waited for me to try to lie. Somehow, inately, I knew that if I tried to conceal myself from him the punishment might well be fatal.

And though I treated him with all the caution one might give a poisonous snake, he seemed to understand and tailor his questions so as to test my resolve not to lie. I didn’t care for his questions, they always felt as though he was peeling a layer away to see if he could reach inside and find some piece of me that made me tick. But his curiosity kept his interest in me on something other than our time in bed and imagining the many ways he might enjoy killing me. We both knew it was a dance, so I allowed myself to move to his lead, delicately posing my own questions and searching for some truth in this ancient man.

He was cruel and cold. He was a ruthless man and a more ruthless teacher. I think he saw himself in that role, as my mentor and my guide. He called me ‘pretty’ as though I was a pet and asked about why I had become a vampire, who had made me, what he had taught me. He challenged my answers, my morality and my body.

Everything about the man was a threat to me. And he treated me that way for a purpose I can even now only guess at. When he touched me, even then, I felt threatened. He never forced me. He never needed too, he had a way of turning fear into unwilling pleasure that always had me responding. But the way he gently touched me, or used his fangs to drag shallow lines against my throat or thigh, there was always a promise in that touch. Be good, pretty. Please me and I will keep you for another night. That’s what it felt like.

Perhaps I was Scheherezade and not Persephone?

The Nightlife: Hades

How to explain what happened in a way that anyone would understand? I suppose I have to start with the context.

Vampires hold territory. Humans know it. They know there are Masters of a City. But they have no idea what that really means or how anyone even becomes Master of a City. It isn’t like being voted in as the next vampire mayor. Nothing with us is that democratic. Nope, usually the incumbent dies and usually at the hands of the one that wanted to be Master of the City.

Next relevant piece of information is that not all Masters of the City are created equal. Big cities tend to have big powers, because let’s face it, lots of humans in one place is like owning a bigger cattle ranch than your neighbor. Provisions have always equalled power, why should it be differed with us?

Now, I live in a city that was a small power. Sure we have people. A few of them actually, but we are close to another city, one with a lot more in terms of provisions. So we became a stepping stone. Except we had no idea that was the case until Hades showed up and the oldest of us started dying, killed off in challenges or cold blood.

My maker was one of those. The second to die and when that happened I was bound to the new Master of the City - Hades.

There were so few of us then. None of us with the power to even wake ourselves up at sunset.

It was frightening. But oddly it wasn’t terrible. For the most part we avoided Hades and Hades spent his time causing problems for the other master, the big power who was the true target.

We existed that way for nearly a year. But towards the end of that year I made a mistake. I had been so careful, so good about staying under the radar. However, a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time meant I was the bearer of news to Hades. News he didn’t care for.

I though he didn’t know me. But I was wrong. He knew my name, knew my fears. And when he dragged me into the dark to deliver my news I thought he was going to kill me. I am sure he thought about killing me. I was so sure he was going to that I did a stupid thing, I tried to use my power on him.

God, I knew it was stupid even as I did it. He was so old, extremely powerful, but I was frightened out of my mind. He knew, of course. He knew the moment I tried and that was when I knew I was trapped. I stopped trying to escape. I couldn’t escape.

The only way to survive was to play his game.

That night he took me to bed, myself and two humans. The carnage was…

I don’t have words. He didn’t merely feed. -I- didn’t merely feed. We glutted ourselves until we were sticky with blood and then he gave me the retribution he had promised me.

I never tried to influence him again.

The Nightlife: the big suck

I died and didn’t stay dead. I knew I wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean that I was looking forward to actually dying. Even if I was only going to stay that way for three days.

I’ll admit, I had a couple of cosmos before we did the deed. If I was never going to have anything but blood to eat and drink ever again, my last memory might as well be of my favorite cocktail. It also helped take the edge off the fear of being a corpse.

I told my parents about my decision. They were less than supportive. Not because they are super religious or anything, but they believed that at twenty four I couldn’t possibly know what I wanted for -eternity-. They were right about that. I didn’t know quite what I wanted. I only knew what I didn’t want. And how could giving myself all the time in the world to turn things into what I wanted (once I decided what that was going to be) be a bad thing?

So decision made and deed done I woke three days after my death at sunset.

I’ve heard stories about vampires rising without their maker there, fresh baby fangs with only one thought in their head and enough strength to fight to get it. I even knew a girl who had the misfortune of biting the wrong person. The law is unequivocal on that. She made a mistake, or her maker made a mistake, and she died for it.

I was lucky. I was taken care of, but my luck ended there. Within the first week I knew three things conclusively:

One- vampires lie.

Oh, do they ever. And not in the very obvious way that you would get with a human guy. A human guy will lie to protect themselves. A vampire lies like writing a piece of fiction out of your life. Dreams and desires are woven into conversation, held out like low hanging fruit that would be so easy to pick if you just gave in a little. Every night another little lie, a little relief and another piece of fiction until you are slipping and you had no idea you were even on uneven ground. A vampire lies because of the other thing I learned conclusively…

Two- vampires are bored.

Eternity is an eternity. I wanted time and I got what I wanted, but I started to understand that only a few vampires ever lived to be really old. Most of them, the older they get, the little bit crazier they get. It seems to be true that if you stop growing you die. But how can a vampire grow, how can they keep themselves from wanting to die. I’ve discovered that a lot of them play games. They play games and try to become more powerful.

I am almost sure I was just another game for my maker. Something to ease the boredom for another few decades. Except he never got the chance to play with his new toy for that long. Someone with a much more dangerous game came along and took him off the board.

Three - hunger is the new black

I knew this within twenty four hours. I was hungry. Almost always hungry. I remembered food, the taste of it, the way it made me feel but it was like I was stuck on some stupid celebrity liquid diet that mentally disgusted me, but it was all I could think about. Every waking moment I thought about blood. I dreamt about real food, but the daydreams always turned to blood.

But this hunger wasn’t just for sustenance. It wasn’t like I was craving a burger. I was craving something more elemental, something living and breathing and warm. The idea of cold blood disgusted me. Blood bags from banks made my skin crawl. And standing in a crowd full of humans, even having stuffed myself only hours before, it was always the same…I was hungry.

So my new life wasn’t quite what I was led to believe. There were rules I knew nothing about, punishments I hadn’t even dreamt could exist and one very large badness that I hadn’t considered…I belonged almost entirely to my maker. I couldn’t rise at full dark without him. I wasn’t powerful enough to control my own body any longer and likely wouldn’t be for a century or more.

Let’s just say…if I had a chance to do it all over, I might read the fine print on that sale of bullshit that my maker offered me. Because it wasn’t what I signed up for. In fact, it sucks…a lot.

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