I will admit that I like to hear it, even though he wakes me up; he praises me with exclamatory phrases, so much so that if I were capable of it, I would blush.
“If you attack her, one drop will turn you; she doesn’t have to bite you at all!”
I have yet to find out, but if what he says is true, I will get better.
Among my kind, I was a runt; weak, ugly, and thin, to the point of the others making a scavenger of me, drinking cooling, coagulated leftovers, like alcoholics drinking from bottles they find in the trash. It seemed I was never to experience the sweet, heady rush of red hot fluid fresh from a living artery.
I made myself content with my lot, rationalizing that at least they hadn’t killed me outright, though I knew they kept me alive merely to mock and beat me. Many times, in the lonely dark of my sparse room, I thought of suicide, death as a more desired state than being undead.
Other times, I pictured my fangs ripping out their throats, and those of their friends and children too.
They even laughed at my anger knowing it for the impotent force it always became, a hurricane breaking apart over mountains, turning to nothing more than a light spring shower.
One sultry night, I slipped away from them to hunt on my own, and found him, this mortal to whom I owe my new existence. He was old, voluminous in both girth and voice, and walked with a cane to keep him from tilting over to the right.
It was raining lightly, like my anger, and the others walking ahead of me lost sight of me, bored for the moment with their taunts; they neither heard nor scented him nearby.
But I did.
I attacked, but what he lacked in youth he made up for in girth; I underestimated how wide he was, and he struck me repeatedly; his cane was bejeweled, the gem ensorcelled with something that cut, flaring and burning each time it struck my porcelain flesh.
He expected to be hunted; he knew we were here.
His will to live was stronger than my hunger, and as I lay on the ground, a crushing wave of despair overwhelmed me.
Red tears leaked, and the coppery smell of curdled blood was bitter in my nostrils.
He didn’t run away, and stopped hitting me.
“Fascinating,” he said, lumbering to kneel beside me like a mother elephant, leaning forward for a better look at my downturned face.
“You’re hungry,” he said.
I sobbed, wiping red tears away with my pale fingers.
He folded the cuff of his shirtsleeve back, and offered me his wrist. “Here.”
I looked at him, astonished.
He lifted it slightly, like he was handing me a cup of tea. “Go on.”
Hesitant, I reached out, still looking in his eyes.
He winced at how cold my touch was. “You haven’t eaten in a while.”
I nodded, swallowed. “Days.”
My voice was a file on glass, scratchy and wrong.
I pulled his wrist to my lips, and my fangs were barely strong enough to break the skin.
I almost swooned, and he reeled from the intensity.
“Easy, now. Easy,” he coaxed.
As I eased off, wanting to savor my first taste of live blood, I also wanted to drain him. I guess it showed in my eyes.
“I understand,” he said. “But I won’t allow it.”
He pulled his wrist away, and I was too overcome to seize it back. I was so grateful for what he’d provided, that I felt ashamed for thinking it.
Runts, you see, are grateful for crumbs.
I licked my lips as he leaned forward again, his hazel-blue eyes boring into mine.
“I believe I can help you. Come home with me.”