Here’s an extract from the start of my vampire novella, just to give you a flavour.
Asher hasn’t fed for a week. Now he just lies on our bed, staring at the wall. He grows paler each day, taking on an unhealthy tone like grey mould smeared across white walls. It sickens me. The dry dusty smell of him seeps into the corners of the flat, permeating everything with the stink of death. His despair taints my mood, until I mistake it for my own. If I had a weaker mind, it would break me. I don’t know when it began, his despair. One day he looked at me, and in his eyes there was fear and disgust. My touch repelled him. He shrank away. And then he began to shrink from existence too, to withdraw into himself.
“Come on, boy,” I say, pulling him over by his shoulder. He falls back limply. His blank eyes look through me.
I slap him gently across the face and hold his jaw, forcing him to meet my eyes. His lids snap shut.
“No,” he says in a low whisper, paper thin, as if simply uttering that one word tears his throat. I look away. It is hard to bear, even for me. He’s mine, after all, my own creation.
“Let me go,” he rasps.
I look back and his eyes meet mine, haunting pale green, unnaturally so. When I turned him, they took on the strangest shade, lightening from the muddy moss colour they’d been, to iridescent jade. I saw the potential in him, but I couldn’t have predicted the masterwork he became. At first, he thrilled in his new strength and speed, and pushed himself to new limits, testing himself like the sportsman he is. His muscular form was exactly what I’d always wished for myself, and I desired him all the more for it. I’d preserved him in that perfection, unlike the skinny kid I’ll always be, teetering on the edge of unfinished adolescence. Eighteen forever.
I thought of Caravaggio, and Asher spoke of university rugby clubs, still clinging to his mortal world, and those youthful pursuits I’d robbed him of. I wondered then, if I’d made a mistake. He wasn’t the boy I’d thought he was when I’d found him on the streets, desperate for food and money, wounded at heart, like a fallen angel.
Now he decays, wilfully.
It is an act of will, what he does to himself. At first, the hunger wracked him. The nail marks down the lining paper above the bed bear testament to his battle. At his young age, it’s much stronger, that need, but it passes quicker. A few days, and he weakened. I could have forced him then. I could force him still. But I can’t bring myself to do it.
I trace my fingers down his torso, following the contour of his muscles. It’s hardening with lack of blood, assuming the texture of marble. Cruel irony—he’s fast becoming one of the Greek statues he so resembles. If I do nothing, that will be his fate, to be little more than a statue, not yet dead, but dead to sensation— it is existence only in the slightest sense.
He asked me, a month ago, to give him release. To drive a stake through his heart and take off his head, to expose his remains to the sun, to leave no doubt as to the completeness of his annihilation. He imagines me without emotion, that I could end him so easily. There was a time when I was capable of such an act. I’ve put my children to death before—those that rose up against me. I made the mistake of recounting those tales in moments of anger. But I’m unwilling to undertake that course of action now. Not for him.
My eldest child, the only other one who still lives, mocks me for these street boys I choose. He knows I was a street boy once. He was not. I turned him purely for his money, and he’s prospered, as he did in life. I should hand Asher over to him, trust my boy to a more capable man than me.
I pull the switchblade from my boot and flick it open, tracing a red line down my wrist. Asher shakes his head weakly, as I raise my hand to squeeze droplets onto his lips. He turns away at the last minute, and the deep red blood splatters against the sickly grey of his cheek. It takes strength of mind to resist this long, to ignore the overwhelming pull that blood holds. A particular kind of stubbornness, at least. I don’t understand the drive in him for annihilation. Perhaps he believes he has no other choice.
“Damn you!” I snap. I lick my wound closed, and pull away from him.
I slip the blade back into my boot.
Time to hunt.
(c) A.Hall, 2016