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The Raven

The Raven

A Story by Lacie Gray
"

Might be a book at some point, but I don't know yet. If you don't mind vampires and gore, you might like this. I'm just going with the flow right now, so let me know what you think! [updated regularly

"

I liked him alot when I was a nobody. I liked him so much it hurt. But I was a nobody and he liked someone else, so I eventually came to terms with the fact that he’d never look at me twice.

But seeing him now, when everything is different, I can’t help but wonder why the universe hates me.

He’s in the corner of the alley, backed up into it like a cornered mouse. He’s breathing fast and hard. The warm air from his lungs fogging in the air in front of him. He’s hidden in the shadows, but less so than the rest of us, our black cloaks hiding our pale skin. We have no breath to fog up the air and reveal ourselves with. He already has scratches on his face and hands, and the sweet smell of blood is already everywhere in the air.

They’re only toying with him now, sniggering from the shadows. We can hear his heart pounding, making his warm blood flow fast beneath his skin. The adrenaline is singing through his veins, coming out in his sweat. I know they’re revelling in the scent.

They finally begin to approach him, slowly, hissing and chortling. He presses himself farther into the corner, a whimper barely audible from his throat.

I hesitate for a moment, then spring into the air, jumping up the wall to his left at an angle and landing in front of him, facing the others. My back is straight, my jaw lifted slightly in defiance. “He’s mine,” is what my body language declares. I hear some of them growl in contempt. They know they can’t challenge me. I’m William’s favorite. Air whistles between their teeth, and I can smell the hatred pouring from them. But gradually their posture changes to that of submission, and I turn my back. I grab his shirt in my fist and jump, landing on the roof above, hauling him behind me. I make the jump effortlessly, but I’m not surprised when he yelps. I throw him down onto the roof and he cries out faintly.

I’m just standing there, not knowing exactly what to do. He gathers himself, sitting up on his knees, and looks at me. I’m ever so grateful for my cowl, which hides my face from recognition.

“What are you doing?” he asks, his voice surprisingly strong, considering the fact that he almost became vampire food.

I step up to him, jerking him to his feet. “I’m saving your life,” I tell him.

“Why?” he asks me as I pull his hand up towards my mouth. He watches me, and I wonder at how he’s not flinching away from me.

I don’t answer, but instead put a finger to my lips, and then before he can question me, I dig my teeth into his hand. He shouts, and I’m satisfied that it will assure the others that he’s quite dead.

I keep my teeth in his hand long enough that his blood is around my mouth, then I let go. It’s hard to do so, as I want to drain his body of its blood now. But that’s not at option. He pulls his hand away from me and cradles it. He looks at it, still bleeding, and then back at me. Again he asks, “Why?”

I ignore the question, looking around us to see how he might escape. There’s a door on the far side of the roof, and I point at it. “Go through there and get away from here. Be quiet about it too. And don’t come back to this part of town at night. Got it?” He looks at me, hesitates, and then nods. “Good,” I say shortly, then turn and step onto the edge of the roof. I look back to make sure he leaves, and when I see he’s making his way towards the door, I jump down into the alley. It’s empty. I walk out and see a few of them wandering around, looking for anyone else who might be out.

“How was he?”

I look to my right and see Elody, leaning against the wall, arms crossed. She didn’t look too happy. Her small mouth was set and her large red eyes were hard. I didn’t care if she was mad though. As small and simple as she looked, she had quite a temper and we had all learned to not let it get to us.

I lick my lips. “Perfect,” I answer, letting myself all but purr. I make my way down the middle of the street and suppress a groan when she follows.

“You know everyone hates you,” she says, her voice light and almost mocking.

“It’s not my fault,” I say simply, like I don’t care. But I do.

“You don’t have to keep feeding the fire though,” she persists.

I roll my eyes. “Feeding the fire, am I?”

“I wanted him,” she says finally.

I let out a short, wry laugh. “Sucks to be you, then,” I say lightly.

Then she’s in front of me, her lip curled. I stop, looking down my nose at her. Even as a vampire, she’s too small to seem threatening. At least to me. Some of the younger vampires don’t dare upset her, but most of us know she’s just a bully.

“You are detestable, Charlotte,” she hisses.

I have to keep myself from laughing at the irony of that statement. “I am detestable? That’s cute, Elody. Really cute.”

She growls. “You won’t be his pet forever.”

I snatch her face in my hand, crushing her cheeks. Her eyes are wide with surprise, but they also shine with hatred. I squeeze her cheeks so hard that my claws cut into them. I barely hear her wince, but she stares me down.

“I am not his pet,” I growl slowly, enunciating each word.

She continues to glare up at me, and I match her glare. After several moments, I jerk her head back and then let go. I stalk off, and I can feel her hot gaze following me.

I walk down the back alley we’re in, alone in the shadows. I start making my way back home, listening vaguely to the sounds of the others hunting.

We hunt in the corners of town where things aren’t very busy after dark, and usually we take people who won’t be missed. Running into someone I knew before was incredibly bad luck, but it doesn’t matter now. I can still smell him on me, and it’s weird, being so aware of his scent now, when everything is so different, and it wasn’t even something I paid much attention to before.

I climb up onto the roof of a building and travel that way to avoid being seen. Sometimes I like to stop and watching the city lights, but tonight I just want to get back to the Hole and read a book or something.

The Hole is an ancient underground network towards the center of the city. It stretches out beneath one of the busiest blocks in the city. Any record of it was lost ages ago, so only our small clan knows about it.

As I slip through the shadows back on the ground around the entrance, I feel the dread setting in my stomach. When I go out is one of the only times I can get away from him.

William. The leader of our clan, the oldest vampire in the city. The reason everyone hates me, the reason I can’t leave this damned city, the reason I’m a vampire. One unsolicited bite and my life has become a cold, pointless, lonely cycle. For some reason that I cannot fathom, William is enthralled by me, obsessed with me. It’s rare that he even lets me go out without him glued by my side, and even tonight, several of the others were charged with keeping an eye on me. He knows I hate my current existence, so he makes sure I don’t ever get a chance to off myself or run away.

The entrance is in a dirty back alley, behind a massive garbage bin. I effortlessly push it out of the way, duck into the hole in the wall behind it, and then turn around and pull the garbage bin back into place. My eyes adjust to the pitch blackness in a matter of seconds, and I glide down the narrow stone steps, all but ignoring the familiar smell of must and mold. The atrium, as we call it, is little more than a small room with a few heaps of bones and discarded shoes. There are three doors leading out of the atrium, each of them opening into a hallway. Many, many rooms open off each hallway, almost none with a designated purpose; the rooms used for specific things are further back in the Hole, oddly enough. That never made much sense to me.

I can never guess where William might or might not be, so I wander down a random hall, taking my time to get to the library.

We have a lot of books, gathered throughout the centuries. It’s not like the Library of Congress, but there are plenty of options. William is the main purpose for all the books, since he liked reading before being a vampire, and still does. I am grateful for that fact, since reading is my only escape from my cold reality.

I’m not reading for long before Mollie and Abbot burst through the door, tongues down each other’s throats. I lift my book up to eye level so I can’t see them, but my vampire hearing betrays me. Growling, I stand up and leave the room, slamming the door behind me, but I doubt they care. There are several rooms that are all but caving in and don’t have more lighting than a kerosene lamp. I find one that has a few rafters sticking out, and find one that will support my weight, and get comfy.

I manage to read for a little over an hour without interruption, even laughing at some points, until William finds me. I knew he would eventually, but that didn’t make it any less unpleasant.

“You recluse,” he says softly, teasing.

“You know why,” I say, closing my book. I stay where I am and look in his general direction, but not right at him.

“Why don’t you come to bed?” he asks lightly. He always used that smooth tone with me before the bite. It enchanted me before, but now it just irks me.

“If you’re not in it,” I grunt, jumping down and landing noiselessly. “You have your own room, unless you forgot.”

He chuckles lamely, shaking his head. “Please?” His dark red eyes feign innocence and have a puppy-like quality, but it just seems pathetic.

I stay where I am, glaring at the ceiling. “How about this: You want to sleep in my room, fine. I’ll sleep in yours, then we’re both happy.”

He tilts his head sighing, and walks up to me. He touches my face, and I jerk away, hissing.

“Come on, Lottie.” He touches my arm, and I pull it away. “Why do you do this?” he asks me, his voice taught but gentle. When I finally look at him, his eyes are almost pleading.

I think the stubbornness I inherited from my father is the only reason I haven’t succumbed to William’s desires yet. He has a way of very nearly convincing me to give him what he wants, and all he has to do is look at me a certain way. But then I remind myself what he did to me, and being cold to him becomes easy again.

I shake my head, gently pulling his hand off my arm, and walk past him and out of the room.

I know it won’t do much good, but I lock my door when I get to my room. I throw myself down on my bed, still hugging my book. I bury my face in the duvet, growling softly to myself. I don’t know how many times I’ve told him what I just did, but he’s ridiculously persistent.

I roll over, looking up at the dried lilies woven together and suspended on the ceiling. They hide how dirty the ceiling itself is. The walls are also covered in an assortment of paintings, engravings, wrought iron pieces, and other such miscellaneous pieces of art, in an attempt to hide the grime and mold. The smell doesn’t escape our enhanced sense of smell though.

I wrinkle my nose, trying not to miss my clean room at home

Home. The thought enters, unbidden, and I try to shove it away, but, like always, once it’s in, it doesn’t want to leave. I sit up and chuck the book across the room in frustration, but the sound of it smacking into the wall and then falling to the floor doesn’t help.

Someone knocks on my door. “You’re not throwing a fit in there, are you?”

“Aice,” I breathe, relieved. I run to the door and open it, smiling at the kind face before me. “Where have you been?” I demand, but there’s no edge to my voice.

She walks into my room, a tray with three mason jars of blood in her hands. She moves with a perfected grace that I don’t see in any of the others, and it makes her all the more wonderful to me.

She sets the tray down on the table by my bed, straightening and brushing off her skirt - an habitual motion. She turns to look at me, flicking her black hair absently. I walk up to her and we embrace. She rocks a little, and I laugh softly.

“What would I do without you?” I ask her once we let go of one another.

She taps her chin in mock thoughtfulness. “Hm, let’s see. Crash and burn?” She looks at me and we laugh. I throw myself down on the bed, and she follows suit. “Did Will piss you off?” she asks after a few seconds.

“You know he always does,” I answer, my voice absently agitated.

“I pity you for your plight,” she says.

I laugh wryly. “Thank you. I feel so much better.” A minute later, “Is that from your dinner?” I’m referring to the blood she brought in. She nods. “You didn’t have to.”

“And have you starve?” Her voice heightens and she sits up, looking down at me, reprimanding me with her glare. We both know I would rather starve, but she won’t let me.

“Why can’t you just leave me be?” I ask, my voice low. I roll over on my side so I don’t have to look at her.

“You know why.”

“It’s not fair.”

I feel her hand on my back. “I suppose it’s not meant to be fair.”

“Well that in itself isn’t fair,” I retort.

She sighs empathetically, and then stands up. “Make sure you eat, dear.”






It’s just like any other night that we happen to be at the same party; we act no more excited to see each other than we act with anyone else. At one point, I end up outside with a few friends, and we’re talking and laughing when William walks out. My friends must have plotted to do this before, because when William sat down across from me, all my friends got up and went inside.

“It’s a nice night,” William says, looking up at the sky. It’s completely clear, and all the stars are visible. While William is looking up at the sky, I’m looking at him. He’s wearing a long-sleeved, V-neck T-shirt that draws the eye to his sharp collar bone and the exquisite shape of his neck. A leather cord hangs around his neck, and on that hangs a silver crescent moon, studded with small rubies. His long black hair falls gracefully around his face, but I can still clearly see his sharp cheekbones and jawline. His dark eyes glint in the starlight, and his pale skin almost glows in it.

I flush, looking away quickly. I still haven’t quite recovered from my last breakup, even though it was more than six months ago. We had been together for almost 2 years when I found out he’d been cheating on me for six months.

“Are you alright?” he asks.  I look up at him, and my breath catches. He’s much closer than he was before, but I didn’t hear him move at all.

“I’m fine,” I tell him, shifting a little.

“Charlotte,” he says breathily, leaning closer. I’m quite sure what to think, but I don’t quite feel the need to get away. “I can’t stop thinking about you. It’s driving me crazy.”

“I know the feeling,” I say softly.

He touches my hand, and I pull it back, gasping.

“I’m sorry,” he says quickly.

“I-it’s okay. You’re hand is freezing.” He looks away briefly, and I ask, “What’s wrong?”

He looks at me again, our eyes locking for a moment, and then he’s kissing me. I’m sandwiched between him and the outdoor couch I’m sitting on. His hand makes its way under my shirt and up my back, leaving a tingling trail of ice along my spine. I’m breathing hard, not only from kissing him, but from the constant shock of his freezing skin. But I don’t pull away; I don’t want to. It feels right, holding someone and being held.

Abruptly, his entire body tenses and he pulls his mouth away from mine. Before I can ask if something is wrong, his hand is covering my mouth. Our eyes lock, and I see for the first time the deep, blood-red color of his eyes, and my blood runs cold.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers, and then his sharp canines dig into my neck.

It feels like two ice picks have been shoved into my carotid, and they’re melting into my blood. First the ice spreads everywhere, and I can’t move, as if I’ve been frozen from the inside out. Then the fire spreads, starting where the ice picks are still jammed in my neck, and following the same path as the ice. Every fiber in my body spasms, and everything is white-hot pain. If William’s stone hand weren’t clapped over my mouth, I would be screaming bloody murder and everyone on the entire block would hear me. But his stiff, cold body pins me down, even though my arms are flailing and my fingers clawing at his back and shoulders.

I sit bolt upright in bed, gasping. The dream is always as vivid as the night it happened, the pain always as intense.

I fall back onto my pillows with a loud sigh, and lay there, staring up at the ceiling. My clock reads 3 in the afternoon, meaning there’s still at least 6 hours till the sun goes down. I don’t see myself getting back to sleep, so I get up and light all my candles.

I have a wicker basket full of art supplies under my bed. I keep it there because I don’t want anyone finding it; Alice is the only other vampire here that knows about it. The day someone else finds my charcoal art is the day I am discovered as a weak, depressed vampire who would rather just die.

I get a few sheets of paper and three different charcoal pencils and sit down at my desk. I stare at the blank paper for several minutes before I have any idea of what to draw, but once I get going, I’m in a different world.

I’m so zoned out that I don’t even hear William come in. I don’t know he’s there until he touches my arm, causing me to jump and scratch a line right across the middle of the sketch.

I swear under my breath, slamming my charcoal down on the table. I turn in my chair and glare up at William.

“Sorry,” he mumbles, his face the definition of guilt. I sigh, gathering my papers and turning them over so he can’t see. “I didn’t know you had anything to do that with,” he says, maybe trying to make conversation, maybe trying to be nosey.

“There’s a reason for that,” I mutter, walking over to the bed and putting the papers on the nightstand.

“Why’s that?” he asks, sitting on my bed.

“You don’t have that privilege,” I answer.

He makes a face, almost a duck face, but doesn’t say anything.

Not wanting to sit down next to him, I lean against the wall on the other side of the nightstand. “What are you doing up this early?”

“I couldn’t sleep, so I was walking around, and then I saw the light under your door.” Heaven knows I would have nearly killed him if he’d snuck in while I was asleep. I do not take well to someone climbing in bed next to me unbidden.

“I guess it’s one of those nights for both of us,” I say blankly.

“Dreams?” he asks. I nod, and then he asks, “Good or bad?”

“Not great,” I tell him, giving him a pointed look, and he looks at the floor.

“That one again?”

“It’s the only one that doesn’t let me go back to sleep.”

He looks pained when I say this, and he starts chewing on his lip. “I’ll make it up to you someday, I swear.”

“Good luck with that,” I scoff. I think I hear him wince, but I’m not sure, even with my vampire hearing.

He stands up, looking at me apologetically. “I’ll leave you alone then,” he says softly, and then turns and walks out the door, closing it gently behind him.







“God, I hate you!” I snarl.

Elody’s small mouth is set in a firm line, her eyes looking up into mine in disdain. I find myself noticing how her red hair makes the red of her irises look more dull.

She spits back at me, “Screw you, princess. It’s your fault anyway.”

“My fault?” My voice is rising in indignation. “You brought him in here! How is that my fault?”

She scoffs, and it’s all I can do not to slap her. “It’s no big deal, you know. You’re overreacting.”

“No big deal?” I demand loudly. “You broke the rules!”

“Hell if I care,” she retorts. She tries to push past me to get to him again, but this time I shove her. I’m stronger than she is so she almost goes flying. I almost laugh. She screeches as she rights herself, the tendons in her neck standing out. Her claws are ready, but I’m not worried; she’s no good and hand-to-hand combat.

She lunges, but I grab one of her wrists and move it ever so slightly to the side, then slam my palm into her sternum and she goes flying again. Some of the others watching help her up and I almost fling myself at them, knowing they wouldn’t help me up.

“Enough!” I hear the order and am almost glad. William walks into the room, Alice right behind him. She must have fetched him. “What is going on?” he demands.

Elody immediately points a finger in my direction. “The wench brought a child in here!” she shouts, her eyes bulging as she does so.

William looks at me doubtfully and asks, “Lottie?” All I have to do is quirk one eyebrow and look at him like he’s stupid, and then he’s looking back at Elody. “I should throw you out, Elody, for all the trouble you cause.”

She blanches. “B-but it wasn’t me!” she protests.

“Of course it wasn’t,” he says absently, then jerks his head at me, letting me know he wants me to follow him out. I grab the boy, who was cowering behind me, as I go. As I pass her, Alice winks at me, and I mouth a thank you at her.

I follow William back to his room, the boy in tow. He closes the door behind us when we all get in. I let go of the boy’s wrist and then he’s back at clutching at my skirts.

“Ah, geez,” he sighs, leaning against his door. “She’s such a bother.” I don’t say anything, even though I’m in agreement. “What to do, what to do,” he says absently, walking towards me and the boy.

I put a protective arm in front of the boy, giving William an almost pleading look. “Please don’t.”

He looks at me for a moment, then says, “Who said I was going to?” After a moment I lower my arm, slowly, and William crouches down in front of the boy. “What’s your name?”

He doesn’t look much older than 9. He has a soft face and nice brown hair, and his face is covered in freckles. I see why Elody grabbed him though. Well, smell why.

“E-elliot,” he answers, his voice cracking. He’s clutching my skirts so tight I’m afraid they might rip.

“Elliot,” William repeats, using his smooth voice. He could win over a nation with that voice. “How old are you?” He says he’s 10, and then William asks where he’s from. The poor dear is visiting all the way from Ohio. William straightens and gives me a pitying look. “It won’t do,” he whispers, so low a human wouldn’t be able to hear.

“Please,” I whisper back. “Can I keep him?” I have an arm around Elliot’s front now, huggin him to my front. I forgot how much of a mother I can be.

William’s eyes tighten. “You know it won’t work.”

I look down at the boy, who is fixing me with a pleading gaze, and I almost break. I look back at William, my eyes emploring.

He gives me the most piteous look I’ve ever seen on his face, and then looks away from me. I swallow my tears, knowing I can’t cry in front of either of them.

I have to peel Elliot off of me in order to leave, and I know by his protests that he has an idea of what’s going to happen. I don’t look at him again, but leave the room quietly, my heart breaking.

I break my eardrums so I won’t have to hear him scream, knowing they’ll be healed in less than half an hour.





I set my mind to doing it only seconds after leaving William’s room, and even though it’s against my general nature, I don’t think I can cope without doing it, as awful as it is. Redemption isn’t an option for me, so I don’t see the point in trying to be a goodie-two-shoes. It’s pointless.

For 4 hours, I pace back and forth in my room, biting my nails till they bleed, hugging myself so hard I should have bruises. But finally the noise outside my room subsides, and I know mostly everyone was asleep.

Now I’m creeping through the halls, a knife in one hand. Elody is most likely sleeping with Brent and Lewis, who were like her personal guard dogs. Why they do it I’ll never understand.

I find them in the library, squished into a corner, Brent’s hand on her hip, Lewis’ nose in her hair. Lucky for me the boys are heavy sleepers.

I grab the back of Elody’s neck gently, cradling her head and lifting her up towards me.

“Lewis, what are you doing?” she mumbles, stirring a little but not opening her eyes. Deciding it might get her to keep her eyes shut, I wrap another arm around her waist. She’s quiet again. I move my hand slowly up her scalp a little, then grab a fistful of hair, careful not to pull yet. I pull her close to me, gradually tightening my grip on her.

Then in one burst of movement, I squeeze her waist, yank her head back, and dig my teeth deep into her throat. She has time enough to gasp, but any other noise - any scream - is nothing but a weak gurgle.

I mechanically rip through layer after layer of cold flesh, feeling her blood run down my face and neck, feeling it soak into my clothes. Once I’ve torn through half of the flesh of her neck, even though she’s already dead, I yank her head off her shoulders, and it comes with a satisfying rip. Nothing is more satisfying than the sound of her neck snapping.

I lay her body down on the floor, crouching next to it, and check to make sure Brent and Lewis are still asleep. If I didn’t know any better, I would think they had drunk themselves to sleep, they’re so passed out.

I take my time dislocating every joint in her body, even the ones in her hands and feet. I relish every crack and pop, thinking of that little boy the whole time. She knew it would piss me off more than anything, but she hadn’t expected me to go to such lengths to avenge him.

Once I’m done mutilating her corpse, I can’t decide whether I should leave her head or body at Lewis and Brent’s feet. I settle for leaving them with her body, and take her head to the front entrance. I walk through the door, up the stairs, and slowly start pushing the garbage bin. There’s three feet of shadow before there’s sunlight, so I’m safe to step out. I stay half behind the garbage bin, tossing her head into the patch of sunlight. Her skull is nothing but ashes before it even hits the ground.






It’s three hours before either of the boys wake up. I don’t know how they didn’t smell her blood almost right away, but I’m not complaining. They would have torn me to shreds, William’s favorite or not.

Everyone is woken by one of them howling in fury, and it’s only moments before everyone is awake and trying to get to the music room to see what happened. Almost immediately, a thick cloud of hatred and repulsion fills the Hole. I hang back, waiting for someone to point a finger at me. Before anyone can, William is behind me, hand on my arm.

“What happened?” I don’t answer, but shrug and crane my neck so it looks like his guess is as good as mine.

Finally, someone pushes back through and stops in front of me and William. It’s Lewis. His face is so taut with rage that it looks like it might explode. His eyes are bulging, his teeth bared, and his hands in tight fists.

“You!” he snarls at me.

William puts a protective arm in front of me. “What about her?”

Lewis doesn’t even look at William. “Elody is dead!” he spits, and I slowly, deliberately, wipe his spit off my cheek. “We all know it was your spoiled pet who did it!” Now he looks at William, defiance burning in his eyes. “You ought to put a leash on that wench, William!”

“I’m as much his pet as you are a mortal!” I bark. “You were more her pet than I am his!”

Lewis screeches, but William holds up a hand, and Lewis’ mouth snaps shut. He considers Lewis with calm regard, which clearly just pisses Lewis off even more. “No, it’s Elody who I should have leashed, not Charlotte,” he says absently. “Charlotte hasn’t broken any rules. Elody broke plenty.

Lewis howls and launches himself at William. William deftly catches Lewis’ throat in his hand, and doesn’t even hesitate to snap his neck. The motion is so fluid that it would have been nothing more than a blur to a human. Lewis’ body falls to the floor, hitting the wood with the lack of grace you only see in a cadavre. Something like this is a regular occurrence, since William has to reestablish himself as the dominant vampire quite often.

“Throw him outside,” William orders. Then he turns, a gentle hand on my waist, and begins leading me away from the crowd. I follow him absently, not wanting to be alone, and not noticing right away that we’re headed for my room.

“William?”

He doesn’t answer.

I’m screwed.

We get to my room and he closes the door quietly, locking it. He turns, leaning his back against the door, resting his head on it, eyes closed.

“Why do you try me like this?” he asks quietly.

The quiet before the storm. I can’t answer for a moment, then say, “I’m sure you can guess.”

His eyes snap open and I flinch. I hate when he’s mad at me because it feels backwards, but times when I feel almost liberated are the only moments that keep me sane.

He looks at me, his head still resting on the door. “Why did you kill her?” His anger presents itself differently every time, so I never know quite what to expect from him. No doubt that’s what happens when you’re more than 300 years old.

“The kid,” I answer simply, feeling justified by the answer.

His gaze is even, and I can’t read it at all. I hate it when I can’t read people. “That’s a stupid excuse.”

My eyes flash and my bloody boils as anger rising like bile in my throat. “Stupid?” I spit the question. “She brings a child in here to get at me, and I’m stupid?” My voice is shrill, and it’s all I can do not to scream.

His eyes look heavy, like he feels sorry for me at the same time that he’s mad at me. The fact that he would feel sorry for me is infuriating, but also makes me feel guilty. “Charlotte, you are walking a very fine line here.” His voice is hard, and almost cold. I look away, not wanting to see the beast in his eyes. That beast that sleeps in tight coils, almost invisible, but ready to strike at a moment’s notice - the beast that just killed Lewis. “Regardless of my wishes, I can’t keep them away from you indefinitely.”

I sigh heavily, my face set in a scowl. “Let them kill me, I wouldn’t care.”

In the span of a breath, he closes the distance between us, making no noise, a small breeze the only evidence that he moved at all. He takes my chin in his hand gently, and the only thing that keeps me from pulling away is the fact that we’re fighting but he’s trying to be nice. “I couldn’t forgive myself if I let them hurt me.”

My anger spikes again and I smack his hand away. “You couldn’t forgive yourself if you let them hurt me?” I growl. “What about when you hurt me? Don’t tell me you’ve forgiven yourself for that.”

He flinches. “I never said I forgave myself.”

I stare at him blankly, completely taken aback. Where I usually have a snippy retort within seconds, I’m totally lost for words right now.

“William, I-”

“It’s fine,” he huffs. “Just stay here until they calm down.” Then he turns and sweeps out of the room without another word.






                               

For the next week I’m walking around the Hole expecting to be assaulted at every turn. Although I can’t walk through the rooms without feeling like a vat of boiling hatred has been dumped on me, no one tries to hurt me. I suppose their fear of William outweighs their hatred for me.

By the end of week, though, everyone - save Brent - has moved on. Elody hadn’t been around very long, comparatively, and it’s not like she was the first. Vampires kill each other all the time, so it’s not that odd that I killed her. It’s only a big deal because I’m William’s favorite, so I have him backing me.

But then, a couple days after, William actually starts acting like he’s proud of me for doing it. This, of course, vexes me to no end, although it eases the sting of our fight.

Alice has been wonderful since it happened. I haven’t been hunting, so she brings me some of her share whenever she goes. Evidently, she also beats nearly everyone she catches looking at me sideways. She also keeps trying to act like my psychiatrist, asking me questions about what it was like, how it made me feel, do I have any regret, and so on. Most of the time I answer that I didn’t quite feel anything but vengeance for Elliot, or no I don’t have any regret, and sometimes I just tell her I don’t feel like talking about it.

I keep thinking about telling her what William said, but something keeps me from doing it. What happened about Elody doesn’t bother me, but complications with William are keeping me up at night.

Then one day, I decide to ask Alice about it in a roundabout way.

“Alice,” I start slowly, considering the question I want to ask. “Why did Elody hate me so much?

She stands there, stroking the angel for a while, and then finally answers, “Elody and William were a...thing, a little while before he found you. In fact, he found you only a week after they ended it. But they were...just shy of blatantly erotic. I don’t know if it was real love, or just lust. Either way, she hated you because he never looked at her the way he looks at you. I don’t think anyone had ever looked at her the way he looks at you. I think it hurt her, but she just lashed out. Silly, when you think of it, because that kept her from getting what she wanted.”

I just sit there for a few minutes. I was stuck on “he never looked at her the way he looks at you.” How does he look at me? I thought I was just something for him to own and obsess over. But if he does care about me like that, why did he ever bite me? Why didn’t he tell me or give me the opportunity to choose for myself? Maybe I could have come to love him if he had done that.

“Do you think he really loves me?” I ask Alice.

Again, she’s quiet for a long while. It’s longer this time, and I start to get uncomfortable and fidget.

“I think he might,” she says finally, her voice distant and quiet. I sit up, looking at her curiously, even though her back is still turned to me. “But I’ve seen him do this before. It doesn’t always end well, though. It’s usually just infatuation, and that typically hits hard and ends quickly.” She turns and looks at me. “But something about how he is with you is different.” I stare at her, not even sure what to think. I only know that I don’t want to think of what that might mean. “He watched you like a hawk before he bit you.” She’s looking at the angle again. “At all the parties and whatnot, when he wasn’t with you, he observed you. And I do mean observed. He watched how you moved, how you reacted to things, even how you handle your liquor.” She chuckles. “It was as if he really wanted to know what you were like.”

I wonder at how she knows this, as if she’d been there, with him. But I had never seen her around him.

“But I’m different now,” I say. “The bite changed me.”

She nods. “It changes all of us. He knows that.”

“Then why?”

She looks back at me, her gaze reflecting my own confusion. “I don’t know.”






Alice drags me out to go hunting that night, and I know it’s just as much so I will get out as it is so she doesn’t have to share. I go reluctantly, but I can never protect myself from the thrill of the hunt that comes with what I am.

Sometimes we hunt in groups, and sometimes we split up. Tonight we split up. Alice and I head east, walking on opposite sides of the same streets. We both know that as soon as we scent a human, it will be a race. She’ll probably win, partly because she almost always wins, and partly because she’s gonna want all six liters to herself this time.

Most people got smart about thirty years ago and started avoiding coming out at night, but there are always those few stupid people, the drunks, the homeless, or the harlots, who still wander in the dark streets after ours.

About ten minutes in, I scent blood and liquor. I look over to Alice, who hasn’t noticed yet, and then make a dash for it. I hear her grunt and run after me, and force myself to pump harder. One block, then two, round a corner, and there he is, slobbering drunk at the other corner of the block, leaning against the wall of the bar. I push myself even harder, hearing Alice just inches behind me.

We come so fast he hardly notices. I jump at him, seeing Alice’s outstretched hands right at my shoulder. I tackle him to the ground, covering his mouth as I do so he can’t scream. We hit the ground, and he’s so disoriented he doesn’t even fight. I deftly snap his neck and his body goes limp. It’s easier to get them somewhere hidden this way.

I look up to see Alice in the middle of the street, looking at me enviously, but she’s smiling. She nods at me, as if to congratulate me for beating her in a race. I nod back, hauling the man’s body over my shoulder and walking towards a dark corner. He reeks of alcohol and sweat, and I stop inhaling to avoid it, which isn’t a problem since I naturally have no breath nowadays.

When I get to the darker corner, I see a drainage grate and go over to it. While standing over it, I dig my teeth into his throat, and blood spurts into my mouth, flooding it instantly. I revel in the sensation and then taste, my senses blurring together and then sharpening with intense clarity.

The body is drained within five minutes. I throw the bloodless body back over my shoulders, heading for the Hole again, where we have a special way to dispose of the bodies.

When I get back, a good number of the hunting party are already back as well. I dump the body down the shoot right by the door and go straight to my room to change my dress, which I got a little bit of blood on.

I take off the dark Victorian dress, leaving the petticoat and corset on. I pull out a light blue one, which would have made my once blue eyes pop. Before he bit me, William told me all the time that he loved my blue eyes. He hasn’t said one thing about my eye color since they turned red.

I stand in front of the cracked art deco mirror in the corner, staring at it blankly. I probably look passive, standing here, but my blood is boiling. Vampires don’t have a reflection, which is a well-known fact, but what people don’t consider is how it affects us. For those who were beautiful before they changed, it’s not a problem; their confidence is bolstered. But for those like me who didn’t find themselves to be very attractive before the change,  it’s still near-impossible to accept that your features are absolutely flawless, despite the fact that it’s common knowledge that vampires are the definition of perfection. It makes me mad every time, not knowing how my face or hair looks. In a way, it’s easier to be insecure, but at the same time it’s not. I hate what I am, pretty or not.

William tries all the time to tell me not to worry about it, that I looked perfect to him before, and just more so now, but he might as well be banging his head on a wall. I don’t care what he says as it is, so why would I care what he has to say about my appearance?

Moreover, the others know I’m not particularly happy with my looks, so they play on that. “Nice bed-head, Charlotte.” “Your eyebrows on fleek today.” They snigger as they say it and then laugh haughtily when I pat my hair or attempt to fix my eyebrows, but I can never stop myself. I tell myself all the time that it’s whatever, but it bugs me more than I can let myself let on.

Someone knocks on the door and I start a little. “Come in.” It’s Alice. She has blood all over her face and down her front. “Someone had a good time,” I comment, bemused.

She grins malevolently. “Drunk teenagers.”

I nod in understanding. The more intoxicated the person we kill, the stronger the blood’s effect is on our senses, and the more crazy we get while feeding. My “meal” wasn’t heavily drunk, and he was only one person, so the alcohol in his veins didn’t have as much effect on me.

She plops herself down on my bed, flopping back and languishing on the satin coverlet. “One of them was cute.” It’s an offhand statement - Alice doesn’t give a damn about what her prey looks like. She’s not one to turn a mortal just because they’re cute.

“Was he?”

“Mm,” she sighs, resignedly. “Not my type though.” She takes a towelette out of my dresser and starts wiping the blood off her face.

“What is your type anyway?” I ask, trying to be interested.

“I dunno,” she says, looking down her chest as she wipes off her corset, “Tall, dark and handsome?”

“Like William?” I ask jokingly.

Alice is silent. I look at her sideways to see her staring blankly at the edge of her skirts.

“Alice?”

She looks up at me abruptly, almost surprised, like she had zoned out. “Sorry. What?”

I sit down on my bed. “Nothing. Nevermind.” She keeps looking at me for a moment and then goes back to cleaning to the blood off her front. “Why don’t you just go change?” I ask her.

She snaps, “I don’t want to.”

I look at her, surprised by the sharpness of her voice. “Okay, that’s fine,” I say slowly. “I was just wondering.” Confused, I ask, “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” she growls. She’s turned her back to me so I can’t see her face, but her back is straight and her shoulders tense. She’s clearly lying, and I wonder why she’s lying to me about it; we can usually tell each other pretty much anything.

I stand up, intending to go to her, but there’s a knock at the door. From the other side, William’s muffled voice says, “Lottie? Are you in there?”

I open my mouth to respond, but something shatters before I can. Alice makes a beeline for the door, opening it with a jerk and pushing past William. William and I exchange a confused glance, then I look to the table where she’d been standing.

“Alice!” I shout, running over to the table. My favorite misted-glass statuette is in pieces. “That was my favorite!” I howl, knowing she’s long gone and probably doesn’t care, but she’ll still hear me.

William comes up to my side. “Lottie, stop shouting.” I glare at him. He looks at the pieces of glass in my hands. “What is that?”

I look down at the broken glass. “It was my favorite statuette. Alice smashed it.”

“Why would she do that?” he asks offhandedly. He picks up what had been the angel’s head.

Annoyed by his obvious apathy, I reply sharply, “I don’t know, William, why don’t you go ask her?” He looks at me blankly, and I turn to put the remains of the statuette in a box. “You’ll do more good asking her than standing here asking me stupid questions.” I pull out a small brass box that I use for things I don’t want to throw away, but can’t do anything with. There’s a small velvet bag I haven’t used yet in it, and that’s what I put the glass in.

I turn around, and William is right behind me, his hands full of glass. I look at him for a moment, a little surprised, and then grab the bag and hold it out for him. He empties his hands, and then, before I can turn to put the bag down, he takes my wrists gently in his hands.

“I’m sorry,” he says, his eyes soft. “I know you really value your keepsakes.”

I feel myself flush, and turn my head. He lets go of me, and I take the bag over to the table and shovel the rest of the shards and chunks of glass into the bag. When I turn back around to put the bag away, William is sitting on my bed, cross-legged, watching me.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” I tell him.

He shrugs. “I can’t help it.”

I give him a hard look, and then, not expecting any real answer, ask, “What’s Alice’s deal, anyway? She was fine two minutes ago.”

He starts fidgeting, and then starts fiddling with one of my knick knacks - a small snow globe my dad brought me back from a trip to Paris. There’s a distant look in his eyes, which perplexes me.

“I can’t say, really,” he says after a few moments. “Alice is complicated.”

“Aren’t we all?” I huff, leaning against my wardrobe.

He chuckles softly. “I guess we are.”

I walk over, climb over him, and curl up on the bed next to him, but not against him. My back is to him, but I’m pretty sure he’s looking at me, maybe trying to decide whether or not to try to cuddle. I don’t like cuddling with him because it makes me want to like him, and that’s unacceptable.

The bed shifts, and I feel him lean toward me. “Lottie?”

I mumble incoherently in response.

He puts his hand on my hip, but hesitates, which is something he doesn’t do often. “Do you hate me?”

The question catches so off guard that for a moment I don’t react. Then I turn my head and look at him, and I have to stop myself from gaping at the earnestness in his eyes.

I swallow, trying to think of what to say. I don’t think I hate him, but I don’t love him; that would leave me with very strong dislike.

“No, I don’t hate you,” I tell him.

“But you don’t love me?”

I drop my gaze. “No, William, I don’t love you.”

He flops back down onto his back, but I feel frozen.

He asks, “Do you think you could love me?”

I contemplate my answer, and then say, “Not after what you did to me.” I put my head back down, and he doesn’t say anything else.



© 2018 Lacie Gray



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Added on July 28, 2016
Last Updated on February 9, 2018
Tags: vampires, fantasy, gore

Author

Lacie Gray
Lacie Gray

Cincinnati, OH



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Fantasy, horror, gore, a little bit of romance...and a lot of coffee. more..

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