PART 2- The Craving
He dragged his bicycle reluctantly homeward, wheels scraping against the tarmac, chain rattling at the sides. Night was falling. Already the sun was low; he could see its darkening plumes through the canopy of trees at the end of the sidewalk. A few neighbors were out, watering plants despite being told to conserve water; the heat of the summer was getting on every one’s nerves.
His blue eyes scrutinized the houses lined on each side of him as he walked, shoulders sagging with each step as the cozy yellow house came into view.
He did not want to go home.
He wanted to race on his bike, feel the wind in his face and see the pavement disappear beneath the wheels.
But rules were rules. The sun was disappearing, and he had to be inside the house before darkness set in, and his father came home.
His father had so many rules imposed…living under his eye was like being in an army boot camp. Secretly, Emil thought that army boot camps must be more lenient than the vigilant mastery of his papa.
Papa had warned him that the darkness had the power to change him, change his nature…that the darkness could make the Thirst overwhelming. He had told him that when Emil had broken the rules for the first, and last, time. His stern eye had burned him as he said ‘Let me not find you playing outside after dark again…darkness will undo everything your mother and I have strived to keep you from doing’
The words had posed a foreboding message: don’t play in the dark. You will lose control after dark. You will turn savage after dark. You will become the vampire boy.
Emil shuddered, remembering.
Once, he had let the darkness tempt him. He had a rabbit, a fluffy white he called Cotton; he had been playing with her when the change had come. He had thrown her into the cage and run out, to escape the bloodlust that had suddenly overwhelmed him; run to his mother, who knew what he needed.
His mother was different from his father. She never cringed from his touch like his father did. She never hesitated to give him what he required.
And the rabbit knew by now to give him space when his brilliant blue irises tinged with ruby.
He didn’t like being feared due to this vampire thing. He wondered why his father had adopted him if he was repelled by the way his son was. Emil still did not fully understand it. Whether it was permanent or not…
At school, Emil was an outcast. The blue eyed curiosity. The freak that was too brilliant at everything. Mama had dyed his white blond hair dark before letting him go to school. Everyone knew that vampires were light haired and blue-eyed. Mama didn’t want them to put two and two together and run away from him screaming.
Only a few people new the truth about him other than Papa and Mama. Emil knew he was adopted, he had faint memories of people- slayers- coming over to see him over the years, to see the oddity he was. He had heard them telling Papa They always go wrong, Iha, always go barbaric…you should just dispose him before he starts sharpening those fangs
There had never been kindness in their eyes. Only disgust. Hatred. They had sneered at him, said ‘Don’t try anything on Iha and Mythri, bloodsucker, or we’ll come around, and stick the Holy Knife in your throat. You’d like that!’
Mama had told them off, but Papa had looked dubiously at Emil.
Emil knew Papa only doubted him because of the vampirism. How he hated being doubted and despised and sometimes feared!
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He walked, lost in thoughts, until he came to the house. The door stood wide and thrown open. Emil narrowed his eyes. This was unusual. The door was always closed.
A sharp noise behind him made him turn.
Suddenly, he was face to face with a beautiful woman with pinkish blonde hair. She was sucking brazenly at red blood smeared on her fingers. She looked at him, into his eyes, at the suggestive blond lights in his silky cap of dark hair and a wide smile split her face, revealing pointed teeth.
‘Vampire boy…’ she hissed, moving closer to him, the curtain of her lovely hair swinging into her face. ‘, Smell blood? Ah, I’m sharing today…’
‘Get…get away from me’ he whispered. He hated his own kind. Hated them. They repelled him. He was not one of them. He would never be.
‘Child…’ she said, softening her tone from the playful arrogance to a more motherly approach. ‘, Will you tell me your name? You seem frightened’
He let the bicycle fall to the ground with a crash and ran from her, into the house, appalled, sick with the sight of her. He closed the door at her shocked face and only then sank to the floor in relief. He knew vampires couldn’t walk through doors.
Because of course, he couldn’t himself.
What had she meant she was sharing her victim? What had she been doing in their house?
The house suddenly seemed too silent.
Emil moved to the kitchen.
Where was Mama?
The empty sink and the absence of his cheery, welcoming mother sent warning bells ringing in his head.
Where was Mama?
He moved towards the closed storage room door.
His ears perked up. There was heavy, labored breathing on the other side of the door.
He froze with his hand on the latch, blue eyes widening as he felt his heart speed up abnormally, the blood beginning to pound deafeningly in his ears.
He clenched his fists into balls, trying, trying to ignore the inexorably penetrating, exquisite scents drifting to him, taking control of his brain. The polished silver dinner plates caught his reflection- he was aghast by his own ruby tinged irises.
‘Blood’ he moaned, with as much longing as revulsion.
A sort of horrific irony, considering what he was.
He could feel his body craving to throw open that door and get to the spilled blood, regardless of whose blood it was, to get to the exquisite elixir he craved.
His lips were dry from the thirst, his mind half-crazed from resisting the memories of the taste that would surely overwhelm him if released.
I can’t run away.
What had happened to Mama? Her blood was spilled in the storage room and he was standing here, here, right outside, unable to go in and help her, for fear he would hurt her. He fought himself with no success.
His hand grabbed the latch, he was about to fling it open, run in, quench the thirst…
He winced in torment as his teeth sank into his own white skin, but didn’t release himself. He madly sucked up his own blood. This reduced the bloodlust; just enough for him to get away from the room, to pull his unyielding self away from the tempting aroma in that room.
What had happened to Mama?!
The question reverberated in his head, again and again as fear choked him.
No. She could not be dead.
He wiped furiously at the blood smears on his lips and hurried to the phone, shaking uncontrollably, tears pouring down his face from acute self-restraint, and the knowledge that any moment he might snap and go hunting for the luscious wine he lusted for.
Papa’s cell phone rang and rang but no one picked up. Desperate, he tried again. Still no answer.
No other way.
His fingers shook as he keyed in the emergency hotline.
If you cant help yourself, if there’s no one here who can help you, call this number.
Papa’s voice rang clearly in Emil’s head. If you can’t help yourself. Meaning if he couldn’t control the appalling need.
He was sickened and nauseated at himself for thirsting something as repulsive as human blood.
Your kind does, his Uncle Jai had leered. His kind. He shuddered, passionate hatred and denial welling up in him. Savage men and women who sank their curved canines into the veins of defenseless humans! Fully grown parasites, freaks of nature, perverse, wild, fearsome, repulsive animals!
No, no, no!
He refused to accept it. He was a good boy, a normal school going boy, not a savage.
He was Iha and Mythri’s son, not a cruel hunter.
He would not accept vampirism.
He would not accept the stories of them being fiercely beautiful.
That was how it was. That was the truth.
‘Uh…I…um…’his throat was raw. Voice would not come.
The voice was female, husky and very witchy in a measured way.
‘I…am…’ he debated whether he should hang up.
‘Need help? In trouble?’ she trilled, tunefully.
‘Y…yes…I mean, …no, I don’t…don’t know’ he sobbed. Time was running out. He was going to snap.
‘Blood trouble?’ she said, with a note of dawning comprehension in her tone.
‘Desperate?’ she asked, sympathetically.
‘It’s not- ’ he cried, dismayed.
‘Oh, baby, isn’t anyone around? You could try your own blood to keep it at bay till you find something to take from – ’
He hung up, shivering and scandalized. What did that woman think of him? Did she think him feral?
The control was growing weaker. He tore the skin off the top of his right hand middle finger, and put it in his mouth, horrified when a wave of pleasure passed through him at the welcome pain.
He felt sick, revulsion sending him into paroxysms of fear and self-hatred.
He called his father again, crying, hopelessness burning him.
‘Papa!’ he cried out through half a mouthful of his own blood.
‘Emil? What’s wrong?’
‘Mama…seems…hurt…’ he gasped, the wave of relief making it impossible for him to speak ‘, Can’t…help. I need… I need…’
His father hung up. Emil knew he was on his way.
He dragged himself to his room, locked himself up. Barricaded his door to hamper him from going out if his senses took over his brain.
He had never been so pushed to savagery.