Letting Life Lead
Troy moved to sit beside her seeing only the face of the woman he’d woken up with every morning. She hissed, growled, and grabbed his throat so suddenly that he landed on his knee unbalanced on the floor. She breathed rasps of air through her teeth. He dared not move.
“Do not approach me when I’m this hungry,” she spat, “There’s a point that I won’t know you.”
His Adam’s apple bobbed under her palm and his eyes watered. Size and strength were not an advantage; he’d watched her overpower a man his size with cunning, a wiry power, and relentless determination. He moved not except to rasp a breath and willed himself to not look away; it was in this that she found recognition and comfort. With effort she let loose her grip and he sucked air. The marks left behind shifted from white to red. She sank back on the bed and hung her head between her knees taking deep gulping breaths for several minutes not realizing she was holding his hand until she lifted her head again.
“You are very stupid.” She said, not unkindly.
Troy set down the empty bottle, “How often do you need to–”
“I need prey every three months usually.”
Lately, it had been frightfully often. She’d been forced to hunt farther and feed from familiars in her territory as opportunities arose, but she didn’t want to hurt them by taking too much at a time. But her choices were not ideal. Ill blood made her feel queasy with its lingering sour taste, and alcohol laced blood affected her just the same as if she’d drunk herself. She tried to avoid addicts not because of the effects of their substances — but because they tasted like bile and rotten pork.
“Prey? You mean a person.”
The way he said it felt like an insult. “I’m a fucking predator, Troy, but I don’t kill for fun. I don’t play with my food. If I hunt you to kill you, you aren’t people and we aren’t friends. Prey is what I meant.” Inez clamped her lips together and held her breath for a ten count. He looked unnerved by her erupting emotions, but made no move to leave.
She motioned for him to lay down, “You’ll probably faint,” she explained, “Give me your arm.”
“You read too many stories. I’m not going to cut your neck. And I’m not interested in biting it right now.” She smiled, “That’s for sex. You aren’t ready for that. I can take from just about any vein, but I like the arm. The leg is a good place, too. Would you prefer the groin? ”
“No! No, arm is fine.”
“If you’ve changed your fool mind tell me now.”
“You read, watch TV, you laugh…” He rambled.
“Am I not supposed to do those things? What am I supposed to be like? You’ve taken a life and yet you still enjoy yours.” She put a rolled up sock in his hand to squeeze.
Troy looked away from her then. She’d said that to him before, “You don’t know that. ”
“I know lot of things. You were young. I see how you are. When you are afraid, you don’t run.” He smelled different too when he had fear in him. Soldiers had a similar pheromone profile. Survival dominance: an odor familiar and intoxicating.
“Thirteen. I just wanted to hurt him enough to make him stop–my mother’s boyfriend. He was hurting her; I couldn’t stop.”
She didn’t intend push him more, but then she saw the guilt on his face. Not for that, though. Not for saving his mother, but for liking it. “You owe him nothing,” she said.
He shook his head and relaxed into the pillow then blurted, “Wait! What’s going to happen?”
“I’m going to drink your blood; No, you won’t die. ”
“No, I mean…you know…become–”
“It doesn’t work that way,” she said simply, “I can only make a vampire by having babies just like any female.”
“You seem so normal.”
“I am normal. I’m the same person I was this morning. We aren’t so different.”
“Why aren’t you more…you know…irresistible .”
“Did you just insult me when I’ve got something sharp at your vein?”
“No!” Troy stuttered, “I mean…you’re beautiful…I just mean…aren’t vampires supposed to be not…regular…?” He trailed off having failed at recovery.
“Obviously not all of us,” she chastised and cut him before he could interrupt and placed her mouth over the wound.
(40 years in the making)
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speculative fiction writer, overly fond of commas