Thrall (A Vampire Romance)

Thrall (A Vampire Romance)

Abigail Graham

Chapter One

The dead man in the bathroom is beginning to smell.

I’ve slept in this smelly little apartment as long as I can. I lucked out this time. This isn’t the kind of place where neighbors nose in on each other. A three floor brownstone. I’m on the top floor. I’ve been sleeping in the closet for the last three days, since this guy brought me home.

I knew he was my mark when I tasted the drink he bought and felt the gritty texture of the crushed up pill meant to knock me out. I could feel it in his eyes. Hear a little voice whisper this one. I played woozy, let him tuck me in a cab and bring me back to his lair.

I gave him a chance. I controlled myself that long. I played at being drugged, stumbled around, slurred my speech. He could have changed his mind and called me a cab or just put me to sleep on the couch and I’d have been gone by the time he woke up, holed up somewhere else for another day. When I pretended to pass out he started pulling off my clothes. I stopped pretending.

I dragged him, kicking and screaming, into the bathroom and pinned him down in the tub. The look of absolute confusion on his face stings my memory like his hot blood stung my tongue.

I ignored his pleas and protests and the confusion and shock as a skinny, five foot two girl overpowered him and bound him with a belt and opened his wrists with a razor from his medicine cabinet. I caught as much of the blood as I could in bowls, drank some then and kept the rest in the fridge until it started to thicken up. After I drank my fill and licked myself clean like a cat I washed off the rest with cold water and washed him, too. It left a red ring around the side of the tub and a rusty streak around the drain.

Last night I went thirsty.

If I don’t kill again in the next day or three, it’ll start to get me. I feel the thirst in my stomach first. It’s not a rumbling or a sensation of hunger, it’s more a cold place that wants to be filled up. From there, it spreads. It goes to my lungs next, a constant feeling of suffocation, like I’m just about to draw a breath but can’t. Then it gets in my veins. They harden up. I can feel them crack when I move.

Then it gets in my head like my skull is full of cotton balls and razor blades. Then I have no choice but to feed. If I don’t, I make a straight line for the nearest warm body when I wake up. Man, woman, child, it doesn’t matter. I’ll wake up in a pool of blood holding a corpse with its throat torn open and a hole in my memory between the time the hunger took over and the feeding ended.

I can’t fly. I can’t turn into mist or walk through shadows or become invisible by turning sideways. I’ve never seen a bat in person, and dogs don’t particularly like me, much less wolves. There’s only a few differences between me and you. I’m stronger. I have a theory on that. Human beings have a kind of preservation instinct that keeps them from hurting themselves. The human musculature is much stronger than most people realize. Strong enough to tear itself apart if it’s not held in check. I don’t have that limit. I go all out, all the time. Maybe a little more.

That’s the main difference. The other is the obvious one. I have no pulse. I do not breathe. My flesh will eventually cool to room temperature, even if I warm myself up. I’ve tried everything: electric blankets, space heaters, warm baths. Every night when the sun sets I wake up and I fall asleep when it rises. I do not dream, nor can I wake up on my own. If sunlight touches my flesh it begins to smoke and sizzle and after maybe a minute I will burst into flames and die. The touch of the sun itself is the only thing I know of that can keep me awake during the day.

I have no way of knowing for sure, but I’m fairly certain I could be mistaken for a corpse if someone found me while I was sleeping. I don’t have nightmares because I don’t dream, but sometimes when I’m awake I get a flash, an unwanted imagining. In my mind’s eye I see the bright lights greeting me as my eyes open during my own autopsy, my chest spread open in a standard Y-incision as the doctor weighs my organs.

Nothing scares me more than that, except the thought of what comes after if I actually do die, whether I just cease to exist or go to Hell as punishment for the monster I’ve become. I’m not sure which scares me worse.

I get a taste of that every time I try to remember the person I used to be. My name is Christine, but I don’t know my last name or where I was born or how old I was before… this. Looking at myself in the mirror I see the corpse of somebody I’d like to know but will never meet.

Yes, I can see my reflection.

I don’t even have fangs. How’s that for a ripoff? If I want to feed it’s either my teeth or a sharp instrument.

My meager belongings all fit in my pockets. I have a pair of jeans and a t-shirt I wash semi-regularly, usually in the sink. I don’t have much a problem with odors; I don’t sweat, and my hair doesn’t even grow. No other, ah, bodily functions either.

I don’t have any money or identification, but I don’t really need it. I carry a makeup kit I stole a while back and soon I’ll steal another to replace it. After I’ve combed out my hair I go for a goth girl look. I tried to make myself look alive once, put on some foundation and blush and rouge, but I ended up looking like a circus clown. If I go for a dark palette I at least look somewhat alive in the right light. I can’t do anything about the dark veins or the waxy texture of my skin.

The other thing I carry with me is a picture. There’s another girl with me. A tall redhead. I barely come up to her chest. We’re standing together in an airport but I don’t know where it is. I don’t know their names, or why I have a picture of myself with her, how I knew her or where she is now. When I stare at it and try to remember all I get is a numb dull blackness and I have to stop, fold it in half, and carefully put it in the change pocket of my jeans.

Abigail Graham's Books