Once a normal man, Anton Severin is now a creature of the night. Condemned to wander New York between dusk and dawn, the gnawing lust for blood compels him to roam the city streets for sustenance.
He stands in the deep recesses of the doorway to the old manse that once housed his family for two hundred years. The dark purple shadows shield him from the final orange sliver of sun that finally drops behind the horizon, plunging everything into darkness.
Having never felt compelled to usher his loved ones into that dangling existence between life and death, he stares into the darkness, remembering a century away:
Simone, his wife of one year, is pitifully weak after trevailing for hours. To him, her screams are blood, dripping from every wall in the house. Unable to withstand another moment, he flees his home and the “murder of crows” gathered around his wife’s birthing bed. He cannot tolerate the women with their mysterious mid-wifery.
The “crows” bring Severin’s only child into the world the same night he is cruelly snatched from the human race. A drunken dalliance with a woman he thinks a whore, proves to be the literal death of him. She is Nosophoro–disease carrier.
As the “crows” clean and swaddle the newborn infant and place him at the breast of Simone, Severin stumbles out of the old hotel and into the street. Red thick blood fills the spaces between his fingers as he vainly attempts to staunch the flow streaming from his neck.
The Nosophoro follows him; her inhuman laughter fills the air already heavy with moisture and the sound seems to cling to his skin. He pleads, he begs, he prays, but to no avail. The Nosophoro is upon him just as he believes he has found safety in an alley.
The gas powered lamps throw long shadows against the walls of the buildings on either side of the alley. The Nosophoro shadow lengthens until it seems it will cover him completely. The thing whispers, “You will be mine.” There is no time to scream.
His eyes shine with tears as the slow moving memories replay like an old movie reel. His cherished wife and child grow old and die, thinking him dead.
Tall, firmly built, his face angles and shadow, he is aristocratic in his bearing, dark and brooding. The thick curls on his head are the color of raven’s feathers and curve luxuriously over his long fingers as he runs a hand across his head.
His mouth curves easily into a smile exposing perfect teeth with canines that are only slightly longer than normal. His lips are full, the color of garnet, holding promises of eternal pleasures or eternal terror.
But it is his eyes that capture and possess. They are deeply set and slightly wide apart and are black, fathomless, hypnotic, disquieting against the pale color of his skin.
Severin no longer possesses a soul, but he knows grief. His long-dead loved ones still hold him in a woeful grip. He shakes off his memories, straightens his spine in preparation for the hunt ahead.
Stepping from the shadows, he listens to his shoe heels echo through the empty streets. Rain has driven most of the human prey inside and choosing wisely will be the cynosure of this night.
The pavement shines beneath the street lights like black ice. He looks down, turns his heel. His body rises from the ground for the length of a man’s arm, then returns. Flight is something that is not foreign to him, but he chooses to walk, to connect with the firmness of Earth.
As he nears a street bright with the lights and noise of restaurants and nightclubs, he tilts his head up, sniffs the air. Human souls are gathered in these places–the rhythm of their hearts reverberate in his head. The scent of their blood is warm and inviting, and makes the hunger yank ferociously at him so that he must briefly close his eyes. Gain some control.
He enters a small, expensive restaurant with few humans. He has made himself a valued patron here because the hunt is easy. The servers spy him at the door and clamor for his attention and the promise of a substantial tip.
“Monsieur Severin…good evening sir…your…usual table?”
The host is appropriately ingratiating. Severin condescends to give the host a slight smile and nod. As the two men pass through the dining room, several pairs of female eyes stare openly at him. He can almost taste the lust. The males seated with their women appear to pay little attention however he senses their discomfort, their envy and anger. After settling into his chair, he snaps his napkin from the table then murmurs,
“My usual please.”
Directly across from him, a woman sits alone at a single table, contemplating the glass of wine before her. He smiles. She looks startled. He orders a Merlot, the color of which is very much like his beverage of choice.
The woman glances over at him twice more, and he captures her gaze. Her creamy skin takes on a light rose blush. She runs a delicate hand nervously over the tablecloth. Severin can almost taste her.
The woman bears a strong resemblance to his beloved Simone. Slight of build, chestnut hair that whispers across her shoulders, hazel eyes that are clear and guileless beneath pale brows. She gives him a nervous smile. Her lips are full. She even possesses a slight overbite. He must suppress calling to the woman by his wife’s name. She lifts her head and the tilt of her small nose is nearly arrogant. The smooth column of her neck is…
She will be his tonight.
His server arrives, sets a plate before him.
“Steak tartare sir. No spices, raw egg.”
At the exact same moment, the woman’s server returns with her order. The two eat in silence, occasionally stealing glances until the end of the meal when he plucks up his wine glass with two fingers, rises and approaches her. He bows at the waist.
“May I join you? If you would allow, I would be eternally grateful to pay for your dinner.” When she hesitates, he adds, ”I assure you, I have no ulterior motive.” His voice weaves into her mind.
I am no harm.
She surprises herself by quietly agreeing, motions for him to sit. He sips delicately at the Merlot, and watches intently as she enjoys a slice of chocolate cake covered in a rich chocolate ganache with a raspberry drizzle. He smiles at a small pool of red drizzle on her plate, then lets his gaze travel slowly until he sees the pulse at her neck pushing her skin. When she finishes eating, he offers to walk her to her car because…
“There are terrible things out there that go bump in the night.”
He places a hand against the small of her back and guides her outside. She points in the direction of her car, and the two stroll slowly, talking and laughing quietly. When they pass a darkened store doorway, he urges her into the shadows. He slips his hands into her hair, studies her beautiful face, and lowers his head to kiss her.
His kisses are a practiced skill to give the illusion of spontaneous passion; she yields to him easily. His lips move from her mouth to the perfect column of her neck, at the spot of her pulse. She doesn’t notice that his breath is cool and dry against her skin. She sighs quietly.
“So sweet…so perfect…” he whispers just before his teeth pierce her skin.
He blanches. Her blood is…peculiar to his tongue. It is as if she is infused with an abrasive substance. As he swallows, the caustic scratches his throat and he coughs for a moment. He considers leaving this ill-tasting thing slumped in the doorway, but the hunger is too strong and he continues to feed.
Satisfied and sated, Severin shuts himself away from the rays of the dawning sun. After daylight surrenders its hold and night takes over, he prepares to hunt again, but this time something is very wrong. He feels…irritable…he feels angry…unreasonably so.
A dull ache travels across his abdomen. He rubs his hands over it trying to ease the discomfort and discovers with alarm that it is quite bloated.
Though the large mirror in his room is useless to him, he can tell by touch that his face is bloated. This really annoys him. He searches his tall wardrobe for pants that will fasten around his middle so that he can move comfortably.
He finally settles on an old pair of fleece pants with elastic in the hems that he removed from a male many months ago. When he slips the pants on, his ankles suffer from the pressure of the elastic. The running shoes he procured from the same male barely tie since his feet have swollen. This is unsettling. This is more than unsettling. It is infuriating. His fingers brush across his face. Sudden facial eruptions dot his forehead and nose.
“Skin complaint?!?” he roars, ”This cannot BE!!”
He looks around. This horrible house annoys him. The lack of furniture annoys him. His family dying without his permission annoys him. He is startled by the sudden desire to eat chocolate, and the overwhelming urge to hunt M&Ms.
The vampire hurries into the night. The hunger for all things cocoa nearly drives him mad. He takes flight to the nearest late-night convenience store, grabs several large bags of M&Ms, and devours half before exiting. Using his mind, he convinces the clerk that the candy has been paid for. The clerk chuckles, “Hey fella, take it easy on those.”
The creature, now condemned to wander the earth from dusk to dawn by the gnawing lust for chocolate, whirls around and shrieks, “Why?? Do you think I look FAT??”
He hisses at the clerk before storming into the night. The clerk stares after the strange man in the tight fleece pants clutching the M&M bags as though they were giving him life.
“Geez…he acts like he’s got PMS.”