By LM Dewalt
Central Avenue Marketing Ltd. Copyright © 2012 LM Dewalt
All rights reserved.
Baboom, baboom, baboom.
Over and over it played like an annoying song you wish would end.
If being a vampire was as romantic, exciting and perfect as movies made it out to be, I would be happy. But I am not. I refer to myself as a person out of pure habit. I am far from a person. To be considered a person you have to be human. I am not. You have to eat food. I do not. You have to sleep. I do not. You have to have a beating heart. I do not.
"Enough of this self pity!" I said as I walked away from the window toward my dresser. "This is your life. Deal with it!" I realized as I opened the top drawer I had said this aloud. What did it matter? There was no one to hear me. If I did not speak aloud to myself, I may forget how to use my voice. That would be strange.
It was time to get dressed and go out. Anything to sate this burning thirst. Besides, I couldn't stand the sounds coming through the thin walls. They made my mouth water.
Looking in the bathroom mirror, I decided to wear my hair down. It was a good place to hide from staring eyes. So what if I look like a madwoman hiding behind a veil of hair? That was my business. My brown eyes looked almost black, showing my hunger. I needed to do something about that, fast.
On my way out the door, I grabbed my black leather jacket off the back of a chair. I'm not sure if I wore it out of habit or for the sake of appearance since I never felt cold. I was a good actress, doing things because they were expected, but I usually didn't bother because it wasn't always worth the effort, pretending to be human. Don't get me wrong, I was human once. But when I spent most of my time alone, what difference did it make?
As I went down the stairs to the front door, I couldn't help but notice the mailboxes. The names of the tenants were neatly taped to the bottom of each box. There were four: Clara Warren, the old lady across the hall; me; Samantha and Paul Worthington; and Jack Collins. The other tenants were here long before me and would be here long after — as always. I could imagine people thinking of me and referring to me as "the lady that left."
Just as I grabbed the doorknob to step into the brisk night air, the door was yanked open and Jack walked in with his dog. The dog shook himself before he realized I was standing there. As usual, he let out a growl from the back of his throat. The fur on the back of his neck stood straight up. Jack tightened his grip on the leash and looked at me with embarrassment. The dog continued to growl and sniff. I stood motionless.
"I am so sorry. I don't know what's wrong with him. Silly dog! He usually likes everybody." Jack looked back and forth between the dog and my feet as he spoke.
"That's okay. He doesn't mean any harm. He's just being protective." Keeping my eyes on the dog, I tried not making any sudden movements.
"Let's go, silly dog. Leave the nice lady alone." He squeezed past me and around the side of the banister. He rushed down the hall but glanced back with an apologetic look. I turned the knob and left the building as fast as I could manage while appearing as if all were normal. If I moved too slowly, he might take it as an invitation to talk to me and that's something I didn't want right now. I didn't want to know anything personal about the people in the building. I didn't want to hear their thoughts. Besides, quenching my thirst was more important.
Walking down the street with no particular destination in mind, I looked at the houses nestled along perfect yards or hidden behind picket fences and imagined what it would be like to live in one. What would it be like to have a husband, children and a job? What would it be like to have dinner with a family at a table with fresh linen and place mats instead of in some dark alley? I let those visions run through my mind as my feet carried me around the corner and in the direction of Joe's Place. The local corner bar would be full of possibilities tonight, despite the frigid temperature.
I reached the door just as someone was leaving and she held it open for me. Avoiding her eyes, I thanked her as I passed. I felt her tense and knew she sensed something about me. That is how most humans react to my presence. They keep their distance but they never really know why. It is an internal defense mechanism they are equipped with, even though their minds are too closed to notice.
Looking around the smoke-filled room, I noticed a handful of tables open and chose one in the back corner. The table wobbled, though there was a matchbook under one of the legs. The ashtray was filled with butts and there was a crumpled napkin next to it. Oh well. Not the classiest of places but it was best being concealed behind a cloud of smoke. Besides, if I was going to feed tonight, this was the best place, besides the police station, to get the kind of meal I desired.
"What can I get you?" The waitress, a petite blond with blue eyes and a pony tail grabbed the ashtray and the used napkin as she looked at me. Her eyes filled with questions her lips refused to ask. Lucky for me that she dismissed her thoughts as crazy. I did not want what was on her mind tonight. That would be a distraction and while most days it is what I enjoy to pass the hours, tonight, I needed something different.
"A glass of white wine, please." I kept my eyes on the table.
"Would you like a menu?"
"No, thank you. Just a glass of white wine," I repeated as if she would have forgotten in the past two seconds. Sometimes I think I underestimate the human mind's potential.
"Sure thing." She carried the trash away.
In my years of hanging around dark, smoky bars, I discovered white wine is the easiest thing to pretend to drink. I could dump it into a plant or under the table before anyone noticed there was a puddle. It was also a scent I rather enjoyed. Hard liquor had an overpowering, medicinal scent that was distracting to my overdeveloped sense of smell. Beer reminded me of the day after a frat party with its stale aroma. White wine had a mild, flowery scent.
She set the glass and clean ashtray in front of me and turned to walk back to the bar. She appeared to have no desire to spend an extra second by my side. It was apparent by the look on her face that she had no idea why she couldn't be affable toward me. But she wasn't rude.
Sitting with my fingers around the glass, I let my mind start to open and search the thoughts in the room. It was something I learned to control over the years, listening when I wanted and turning it off when I didn't. The only time I had no control over it was when I went long periods of time without feeding. People's thoughts flooded my mind then and there was nothing I could do to stop it, except feed. It wasn't just thoughts I could hear. It was also whispered conversations. Sometimes it was hard to distinguish what was thought and what was spoken without seeing lips moving. Not that I needed to be too close. My eyes could pick up the smallest movements from great distances.
The couple at the end of the bar was telling the bartender, who happened to be Joe himself, about the new vampire movie they just saw. The man said it was too farfetched. The woman said she loved it and thinks vampires are sexy and she wished they were real. She would love to have their power, their looks, and their sex appeal. Of course, movies make vampires out to be very sexual beings with superhuman qualities. As the man spoke to the bartender about other horror movies, the woman's thoughts were about her desires. I wished I had an excuse to talk to her about it. It's not like I could walk up to her and say, "Excuse me, I was just eavesdropping on your thoughts and I think you couldn't be more wrong!" She would think I was insane. All I could do was laugh.
Looking around the room, I concentrated my energy on other thoughts. As I looked at the seated figures, it was hard to ignore the deafening sounds of their beating hearts and the blood rushing through their veins. My mouth watered and my throat was on fire. At first, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing interesting. Nothing condemning anyone to the inevitable death that awaited.
"Can I get you something else?" I jumped, startled as the waitress stood next to me eying the untouched glass of wine. I was concentrating on everyone else in the room and did not hear her coming.
"No. It's fine, thank you. I guess I'm just not that thirsty," I said without looking at her. I stared at my glass so she couldn't see the panic on my face. Damn! I had been distracted and not tuning in on the whole picture. That could be dangerous. It wasn't often someone was able to sneak up on me.
"Well, if you change your mind, let me know. I'm Lori." Now she had a name.
"I will," I replied, picking up the glass to show her I was about to take a sip and put an end to her worry. Of course, I would not.
"I can take the ashtray away ... guess you don't smoke. You're one of the few I ever see here who doesn't. Everyone else ... Oh my God!" She stopped talking and focused her wide eyes toward the entrance. My curiosity piqued. A hulking figure had just entered. At first glance, I pegged him as a truck driver. Many truck drivers stopped here on their way through Washington, probably headed to Alaska. He had the typical beer belly. His graying hair was stuffed under a dirty baseball cap and his beard looked unkempt.
"Something wrong?" I asked Lori without taking my eyes off the man. Her right hand was on the wobbly table for support.
"Oh my God! Oh my God! That's my ex! How did he find me? I gotta go. I'll tell Joe I'm sick. I gotta go." The color drained from her face as she backed away.
My eyes returned to the man, who was taking a seat at the bar. I wanted — no, needed — to get in his head as soon as possible. I shut out everything else in the room for the time being and focused. After listening for a couple minutes, I knew. I wanted him.
I looked around the room for Lori and noticed Joe pointing to some tables while another waitress looked on. She was safe. She would always be safe.
I wanted the man at the bar to come to me. It was easier that way. I felt less guilt if it was their choice. I thought about him sitting with me, laughing, my hand on his knee under the table, leaving the bar together, inviting him into my mind. He turned and scanned the room. One woman sat alone but was reading a menu. Then, his eyes reached my face. He turned away, for a second. After a deep breath, he turned his gaze back to me and stopped. I smiled. He picked up his glass without looking away and all two hundred plus pounds of him walked toward me without hesitation. I had my catch of the day. It was too easy.
As I shoved his barely breathing body away from me in the cab of his truck, I thought of Lori. She would probably try to run again. After all, he had shown up here, in Olympia, Washington. She didn't know that it was only a coincidence that he was here. He did not know she worked at Joe's Place. That was just a coincidence. He stopped driving because he was hungry and wanted a beer. It just so happened, I was hungry too.
I looked at his limp, lifeless body with both satisfaction and disgust. Disgust because women could love someone as vile as him, because someone like him could manage to get away with something like that. And Lori did love him in her own way. She was afraid of him but she loved him. I looked at the wounds on his neck. I would love to leave them there as a mark of triumph, like a signature on a work of art, but that would cause chaos. Imagine the news headlines. VAMPIRES IN OLYMPIA. No way!
Time to cover up my trail. Making sure he was no longer breathing, I bit the tip of my tongue until I tasted blood. I grabbed his cold neck and rubbed the blood from my mouth over the tiny wounds. In seconds the wounds closed as if they had not been there at all. He looked like he was asleep. If I hadn't killed him myself, I would have thought he was. Even if they performed an autopsy all they would find was that he was missing blood. With no possible explanation as to how the blood exited his body, they would have no choice but to presume he died of "natural causes." Too bad. And at such a young age. "What a waste," I said aloud as I climbed out of the cab, my appetite and conscience fully satisfied.
Humans held a certain fascination for me. The criminal type, like this Frank Carver, uncaring, selfish and ignorant, I had no use for. This animal had begged for his life. Should I really have listened to his mind when he remembered how he killed Lori's unborn child after shoving her down the stairs yet again? God he was delicious!
As he'd taken his last breath, I looked at him and smiled. "This is for Lori," I'd whispered. His eyes grew wide with fear then rolled back in his head. I had avenged her and she didn't even know my name.
While channel surfing, I realized how bored I was. Maybe it was time to move on. New place to live, new address, new faces, new thoughts, new criminals. But it didn't matter how it was disguised — it was still the same, lonely, boring life. Not life. That stopped in 1938. Existence is the right word. I could bring up a list on my computer of the cloudiest cities in the country, maybe even the world, close my eyes and point to one. Without doing research on the police activity and crime rates, it would be like a challenge.
Challenge wasn't something I had much of, at least not anymore. It was a challenge in the beginning, when I became what I am doomed to be for all eternity. The only difference being that I was not alone then, at least not for a while, a short period of time in which I knew love ... or so I thought. I shook that thought from my mind as soon as it popped up, shaking my head as if the memories would fall out. Now wasn't the time to think about him.
Maybe I should start writing again. When I was a child, I loved scary stories. Stories about vampires were the most intriguing. They sounded magical. I read anything I could find on the subject, from fiction like Bram Stoker's Dracula to tales of legends and myths in the newspapers or magazines. I even tried to write my own stories until my grades suffered and my parents put an end to it.
Through my teenage years, I spent most of my time at home. As an only child, it was my responsibility to take care of the house and cook the meals while my parents worked in their store. Once the housework was done and my school subjects taken care of, I went to my room, locked the door, and wrote. I made up all sorts of worlds where vampires lived happily ever after. Since I was not supposed to be writing, I hid the stories under a floorboard by my bed.
My fantasies were always the same. A handsome, beautiful vampire came through my window at night. He walked to the side of my bed to tell me he had been watching me for a long time, loving me from a distance, and could not stay away any longer. It had to be now, on this night, that I became his and joined him for all eternity. Then he would get down on his knees and put his arms around me. He would look into my eyes and brush his lips against mine before moving on to my neck. We would fly out the window together, with me in his arms, and live happily ever after.
In my dreams, I never imagined the details between his lips touching my neck and us living happily ever after. I never thought about the "after" either. Maybe if I had, I would not be where I am today. Had I contemplated what it meant to be a vampire, I would not have become one. Not that I had a choice in the matter. It was what it was and there was nothing romantic or magical about it.
I heard my parents talking through their closed bedroom door one night. "It's not normal for a girl her age to be home all the time," my mother said.
"It's not normal for a girl her age to have no suitors either. And have you noticed she doesn't have any close friends?" My father replied.
"I don't know, John. She is a little shy but she seems happy enough. What ever happened to that girl, Elizabeth?" My mother said in a hushed voice. "She doesn't even mention her anymore. It's as if she never existed."
What happened to Elizabeth? Good question. Elizabeth, the one girl at school I had something in common with, grew bored of me.
"What do you think of the new boy? I think he's kinda cute!" Elizabeth admitted, excited, one afternoon as we walked home together.
"I think he's alright. I wouldn't bite him though," I replied, kicking stones as I walked.
"What in the world is that supposed to mean?" She stopped to glare at me. That was the first time I saw anger in her eyes. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Lily by LM Dewalt. Copyright © 2012 LM Dewalt. Excerpted by permission of Central Avenue Marketing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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