I suppose my story starts in a bar. Very original, I know, but here we are. My friends and I are what I like to call Drinkers. By the way, I hate the word vampire. It makes people think of Nosferatu and Twilight and Anne Rice and it isn't really like that at all. We're not ugly, we're don't sparkle, we're not gays — well some of us are, but not me, and we can't shape shift into fucking bats. We party and we can't get hangovers because we can't have straight liquor. I mean, I've been in the party scene since the twenties. We're just normal people who happen to require additional sustenance.
Anyway, my friends and I have this little pub we frequent because buying people drinks beforehand really helps with the "extraction" process. It's sort of like getting a girl liquored up before trying to get in her pants. Everybody is calm and relaxed. They don't frighten as easily which is great because scared blood tastes like battery acid. Also you can just leave them in an alley and as long as they're still breathing no one bats an eye. Besides, there's this nice little after effect of drunk girl and that is drunk me.
After decades of not being intoxicated, finding that little tidbit out was a fucking delight. It's like a best friend coming back from the dead Lazarus style. God, it was good. Naturally, I told my friends and we started hunting together at seedy little bars.
Which is what brings us to last night.
“Let me buy you another drink.” I grinned a toothy smile, shouldering up to the pretty blonde at the bar. “And something stronger than that.” I motioned to the bartender with two fingers outstretched and a nod.
“I didn’t say yes,” she mumbled coyly, darting her eyes at me.
“You didn’t have to. Your smile said it from across the room.” I paused for a moment, examining her and then outstretched my hand. “Bernard.”
She took it quickly and shook it, replying “Darby,” with a smile.
Two glasses of whiskey clinked on the bar top in front of us. I picked up my glass and held it to Darby. “To new friends.”
She obliged, clinked glasses, and took a large gulp of the amber liquid I bought. As I watched her, I held the glass to my lips and pretended to sip. There was no way I was going to get sick before sinking my teeth into this piece. I eyed my friends over my shoulder, inviting them to join us.
As Darby lowered her glass to the bar, she saw my friends approaching and grinned. "Apparently a lot of new friends," she said. "I didn't think it was that kind of party."
Leon's eyes widened as he nodded to me. Happy hunting; Darby was going to be fun.
"Are you here all alone?" Connor asked. While this was one of the things we always asked before extraction, I think this time he was asking if she had any friends for him.
"Jeez, way to descend like a bunch of wolves," Vixie shouted, slapping Connor playfully. "Let her have a drink in peace." Vixie's presence was almost as relaxing as the booze to these targets.
Do you know anything about lions? I always thought we hunted like a pack of lions. Vixie subdued them, Connor flattered them, and Leon and I attacked from both sides. An attack on all fronts, physical and psychological. We were gods.
"The faster I finish this drink," she placed her hand on my shoulder and leaned in to whisper in my ear, "the faster we can get out of here."
'Too easy', I thought. 'I might even bed this one.'
As we walked out into the street, Connor, Leon, and Vixie were already moving to the next bar. Darby and I ducked into an alley, as was customary for me sealing the deal. The night was young and I usually fed first. That's just how my group worked.
I pinned Darby against the wall and nibbled my way from her lips to her throat. She stopped me.
"You'd have better luck at the hospital," she breathed.
She pulled out a nurse's badge from a local hospital. She tugged where it had been stuffed in her cleavage, tightening the lanyard around her neck, and held it up to my face. How did I miss that?
"You're a Drinker right? If you want blood, you'll have better luck at the hospital." There was a forcefulness in her voice now.
I smiled, pressing my mouth back to her neck. "If you think I'd rather drink from a bag than your bosom, you are terribly mistaken. The bagged shit tastes like rot and plastic and you probably taste like honey whiskey by now." I licked a line down her chest. "Besides, it's not like I'm going to kill you."
"I'm not talking about the blood bank. I'm talking about getting high." I paused, lips that were locked on her flesh now falling slack. "That's why you get people drunk right? You want to get high?"
I laughed a cold breath onto her skin that sent shivers. "I'm listening," I pulled back and looked into her eyes. They were very determined shit-brown eyes.
"Morphine drips, comas, no one would ever have to know," she panted.
"And you're just going to let us?" I asked, brushing a lock of hair behind her shoulder. "Why?" I finally demanded.
"You're charming," she smiled tentatively, almost holding her breath.
"Not that charming," I added hostilely. "What's in it for you? Do you think you're going to get me high and I'm going to think you're pretty enough — for now — and just let you join my friends and I? Just like that? Is that your plan?"
"Something like that, yeah."
I glared at her, eyes locking in a stalemate as she stared back. When she squinted, the constellations of freckles that dusted her nose conjoined into one large mark that looked like an ugly splotch of discoloration.
I turned over my shoulder, still holding Darby in place against the wall. "Change of plans, folks," I shouted. "Tonight, we drink together." When I looked back at Darby, a sly smile stretched across her face; she looked proud of herself. I slapped her on the ass as degradingly as I could to shoo her out of the alleyway and back to my friends.
Once we got to the hospital, we let Darby go in first. It's always a little easier that way for a lot of reasons. As Darby crossed the threshold, Leon tried to grab the door quickly before it closed. He barely missed.
"Hold the door for us, would you?" He asked, pacing in front of the threshold nervously.
Darby's face lit up with an enlightened grin. "That's how you skirt invitations, isn't it?"
I shook my head to Connor and Vixie. 'Don't say a word,' I thought. I didn't need this girl to know anything about me and my friends. How we work, what we do, who we are. Nothing. I just wanted to get in, get out, and get on with my night.
"Don't be a tease, Darby," I cooed in a sing song voice until she held the door for Leon. We all rushed in, holding the doors open for one another, awkwardly dodging armpits as we crouched under the other's arms. And there we were, in a hospital with free reign.
Darby took us to the elevator and brought us to the third floor. Apparently this was the ICU unit.
"It's where the good shit is," she promised, twirling her hair in her fingers as we waited for the crisp ding of the elevator to signal we had arrived.
"You guys hang out here," Darby pushed us out of the elevator and started walking down another hall. "I'm going to go grab stuff from my locker and look more official."
Eyes shifting, Vixie shied away from the walls and curled into Connor. As we heard Darby's heels click down the hallway and into the distance, Leon gave me a severe and suspicious look. Connor joined him.
"I think we should just drain her," Connor whispered. "All of us together, you know. Team building or whatever."
"Maybe," I added. I would have been lying to say I hadn't considered that as an option. She was a bit too... blonde. "Let's see what happens first. If she doesn't deliver, we'll drain her. Deal?"
Vixie pouted. "We always drain girls," she complained. "I want to team build on a lumberjack next time."
Connor looked at her with a grimace twisting his features. "Ew. No."
"Yeah, that's a hard no from me too, sweetie" added Leon.
Vixie's eyes rolled so hard that I am confident she could have seen out the back of her head.
"So I guess we each just pick a room?" Connor asked, breaking the silence as he stared down the darkened hallway.
"Can we share? I promise not to drink too much." Vixie tugged on Connor's sleeve. "I don't want to be alone in here. This place creeps me out."
"Sure," Connor placed his hand on the small of Vixie's back and they wandered down the hallway together, their boots clicking on the linoleum.
"I'm out," Leon turned to me and flipped me off as he walked backwards a few steps down the hallway. The automatic lights created a very specific halo around him as he disappeared into the distance.
I watched as my friends dispersed, considering what I should do. What kind of high I was wanting? Should I just extract from Darby, stay sober, and call it a night. 'Drunk babysitting' is the term for that, isn't it?
As I was thinking through all of this, Darby walked up behind me and placed a gloved hand on my shoulder. 'Rubber gloves and scrubs,' I thought. 'Nice touch.' She smelled like desperation and who was I to say no, right? She started to kiss me, her hands moving to grip my face, gloves making that latex slapping sound as she dragged her fingers over my skin. She pulled me into a supply closet and locked it from the inside. Things were cramped and dark but we managed to... well, I don't need to explain what we managed to do. You either know, or you're too young for me to tell you. Gloves were involved, I assure you.
"Now go get what you came here for, cowboy," Darby smiled as she unlocked the supply closet and moved into the hallway, nodding towards the myriad of hospital rooms.
This was turning into quite an extraordinary night for me. Sex, drugs, all I was missing was rock 'n' roll. I stalked down the hallway as Darby watched, lights clicking on and off as I passed the motion sensors creating a dark abyss between us. She looked horrible in this lighting. 'I might break my rule and drain her anyway,' I thought. 'It could be fun.'
I peeked into the rooms as I walked past. Most of the people were old, dying from something or another. They didn't have much time left by the smell of them and I'd probably kill them if I extracted even a little. Not many options suited my taste, to be honest. And then I came across a room that hosted a young woman with dark hair, morphine drip hooked into her like an HDMI cable. There were so many wires she looked like a god damned Best Buy. Yahtzee.
As I approached her, she stirred. Her eyes fluttered open and she stared at me with heavy lids.
"Are you a doctor?" Her voice was quiet and her words were slurred.
I shook my head and took a few more steps towards her. She looked as if she could barely keep herself awake.
"Are you death?" She asked, following my movements with drowsy eyes.
I shook my head again, this time with a small grin as I sat on the edge of her bed. "No." I brushed some of the stray locks from her face. She was cold, even to me. "I just want a little thing from you. You won't even notice. Go back to sleep."
She nodded and closed her eyes tightly, the dark row of lashes kinked under the pressure. I picked up her arm, which was limp and heavy like dead weight, and I held it to my mouth. I placed my lips above the morphine drip on the meaty part of her arm, so I could get the quickest high without taking too much. The morphine would be as undiluted as possible. Kind of like liquor versus beer. She flinched a little as I bit down. I tried to be gentle, but no matter how gentle I am, it's still going to hurt. That's just how extraction works.
It only took a mouthful before I felt the effects. I think anymore would have made me sick, so I stopped. I applied pressure on the girl's arm and cleaned up the red ring I had left on her skin - it looked like a lipstick kiss. I felt good. No, I felt fucking great. This bed was suddenly the softest bed I'd even felt. This girl was suddenly the prettiest I'd ever seen. This hospital room was fucking Eden and I was in paradise.
It is incomprehensibly trivial for me to describe what it felt like to someone who has never felt it. All of the best orgasms in the world combined would feel about one tenth this exhilarating. Smack is just that good. You forget about everything and any pain you have ever felt in your lifetime washes away in a warm, yellow glow. Nothing matters but you and this moment and this feeling. And it feels so good that you almost want to give up because you now know that the rest of your life will be a meaningless shadow to this joy.
It kind of feels like that.
And I hadn't felt it in a very long time.
I sprawled out on the foot of the hospital bed for a few moments, moving against the comforter like a cat in heat, just enjoying sensations. Then I heard Connor and Vixie in the hallway giggling, holding on to each other as their balance teetered. Their laughter faded into quiet, breathy moans as they let the drugs take control.
I pried myself from the bed and walked into the hallway to greet them. They were all smiles and they were a lot higher than I was. I looked down the hallway and saw Darby standing spotlighted, watching as if she was taking inventory of us. She moved towards us in slow, purposeful steps.
I heard Leon suddenly, in quick, stumbling feet running down the hallway. I turned to look at him. He was out of breath and falling into the walls as he ran. His face was yellowed and the veins down his neck looked like they were about to burst. He looked like he was choking.
"Shit," Connor spun weakly to look at Leon, "what did you get into?"
Leon collapsed onto the floor, hands frozen like claws as he tried to pull at his skin. I rushed to his side and started panicking, trying to calm him by patting his shoulder. "What's wrong?" I whispered. "What's going on?"
"I don't know," Leon choked out. "Bernard, I'm not doing well. I'm not okay." His voice reached a frantic pace as he tried to squeeze out words. Bile came out instead. He spat strings of fluids onto the linoleum, some of the yellow tissue clinging to his chin.
"Where were you?" Darby asked as she reached us, her figure casting a looming shadow over Leon's face.
He tried to point behind himself, but his arm seemed to pop out as he outstretched it. He growled deeply and collapsed into a tightly knitted ball. He was shaking all over.
A smile stretched across Darby's face. "You didn't go to the cancer ward, did you?" She cackled.
"What does that mean?" Vixie whimpered. "Is Leon going to be okay?"
"I don't know," Darby said with a caustic grin. "Does chemo kill vampires?"
"I don't think so," Connor mumbled.
But I fucking knew better. There's radiation in chemo. It's the radiation in the sun that does the trick, isn't it? It's not like we're fucking magic, there has to be a science behind this. You can't heal after radiation poisoning.
"You idiot," I nudged my head against Leon's, trying to steady his shaking. I could feel his skin slipping under my touch, it was peeling off like a wet sheet.
"No," Darby corrected, "you idiot. You brought your whole pack here." She pulled out a stake from her pocket and looked at me. "I was just going to get you high and stake you, but you brought everyone. No one else has been that fucking thick. There's a reason you don't feed together. This was the easiest it's ever been for me."
Leon was now starting to sweat, the same yellow tissues and strings leaking out of his skin. He was melting in my arms.
"Hey! I didn't know chemo did that to you guys. I had a suspicion but boy, oh boy, am I pleasantly surprised. Not only do I get to kill all of you, but I even got laid in the process. Thank you for making this a night I’ll never forget. "
Leon's skin dissolved into a pile of fluids that dripped between my fingers. There was no saving him, and there was no saving Connor or Vixie. There was only saving myself. As I pulled my arms away from Leon, chunks of his skin pulled away with me. He screamed but all I could think about was that supply closet. It locked from the inside. I pushed past Darby and ran as fast as I could. I locked the door in time to still hear Vixie's last panted breath and Connor crying out. I take some solace knowing that the pain was at least numbed a little by the drugs. I hope I never know what that pain is like, because even dulled, it sounded excruciating.
She can't wait out there forever, can she? I should be okay, right? I’ll make it… but my friends are dead because I had a fucking idiotic lapse in judgement. There's a psycho bitch hunter out there and I had to be the dumb fuck who fell for the con. I fucked her for Christ’s sake. Where there’s one hunter, there’s a hundred hunters. We’re all fucked.