Chapter 3: Vampire evolution
Copyright © 2013 by Brian Bixby.
I wake up. Still bound in the coffin.
I don’t have much time to consider my situation, because I am feeling very thirsty. Thoughts of drinking the blood of my near and dear ones rapidly take control of my mind. I can’t believe how I’m thinking of my sister Nora. It’s way too close to rape. Hell, it is rape. Being a vampire is turning me into a rapist. Worse, I’m enjoying it. At least it’s only in my thoughts.
A voice interrupts my thoughts. “I’d ask if you’re daydreaming, Ned, except it’s after dark.” Mother Fokker, sitting by my coffin. I was so caught up in my fantasies I didn’t even notice her come in. If she came in, and hasn’t been sitting here all the time. Can’t ignore that possibility, Ned. Come to think of it, I can see her, but the light’s not on. Guess vampires have good night vision.
I answer. “Yeah. Great dreams, Mother. Thanks a bunch.”
“You want to tell me about them, Ned?” she asks in her cheerful voice.
“Then let me tell you about them. You’re thinking of drinking the blood of all your lovers, past and present, your family, your friends, anyone else you were ever attracted to, and maybe even other people, too.”
“You’re telling me this is normal?”
Martha shakes her head. “Only sort of normal. You become a vampire overnight, Ned, but you don’t start thinking or acting like one immediately. You don’t remember your first three nights, right?”
“Two things, Ned. When you become a vampire, you lose your soul, and that means you temporarily lose all your higher mental faculties. And you have to be completely drained to become a vampire, and that means you go through the First Thirst. All you want to do is drink blood. You’re too mindless to do much more. Heck, some vampires are so stupid during First Thirst that they go out into the sun and die. And then, hours, days, or, if you’re really unlucky, weeks later, your brain restarts.”
Makes a kind of sense. And unlike her telling me about how she drained me, this doesn’t open up a flood of memories. Which, according to Martha, it wouldn’t.
Let’s get back to the point. “But what does that have to do with all these weird fantasies I’m having?”
Martha shifts position, gives me an honest smile. “You are bright for a cop, Ned. It’s fun talking to you. Well, once your brain kicks in, it’s confused. You still think like a human, but your body and brain start adjusting to being a vampire. You being a guy, you probably were dreaming about sucking the blood of every girl you knew, maybe even your mother.”
“My sister, thank you, Mother Fokker.”
“Is she good looking? Forget I said that. Your brain’s still wired for sex, Ned, but vampires don’t have sex. We have the blood lust, and that’s it. Sucks, doesn’t it?” Martha giggles again.
I’d already kind of given up on being normal, but somehow I guess I was still hoping there was some sort of life possible with me and Eileen. Yeah, there is: the fantasy of sucking her blood and killing her. Great.
Martha gives me what I’m amazed to say is a tender look. “There was a girl, Ned?”
“Want me to bring her here so she can join you?”
“NO! Mother Fokker, if you so much as . . .”
She cuts in, raising her voice for the first time. “SINCE I don’t even know her name, not very likely is it, Ned? Calm down. You want to suck her blood and you don’t, right?”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
“You’re not sure which right at this moment?”
I admit defeat. “Yeah.”
“Good.” Martha stands up. “You’re still too new at this to understand and regulate your hunger, Ned. I’ve been underfeeding you, because most people when they become vampires only prey on the opposite sex, at least initially. It’s the sex-blood lust confusion in your brain. You’re desperate enough now . . .”
I hear some heavy steps come down the stairs. The light goes on. A big guy, bigger than me, comes over, kneels down, and gives me his neck. Like the woman the other nights, he already has holes in his neck. Before I sink my teeth in, I briefly savor the fact that I’m taking prey away from Martha.
I drink. It tastes absolutely wonderful. I keep drinking, well past the point I stopped with Linda. I expect Martha to yank my head back, but instead hear her say, “You can take just a bit more, Ned.” So I do. I can feel the guy’s about reached his limit, and in fact he faints as I pull out of him. Martha pulls him out of the coffin and onto the floor.
Once she’s done with that, she turns to me. “No problem?”
“Not with me. Is he going to be OK?”
Martha grins. “You’re thinking about the welfare of your prey, Ned. Good for you. Could you tell as you were drinking from him?”
“Eh, I think so.”
“With experience, you’ll know. He’ll be OK. Up and about in an hour or so by himself. Wiser not to drain them much more than that. And he’ll be a bit giddy when he comes to. Note carefully, Ned: you can take more blood from big people, especially guys. Don’t let your sex-driven brain make you stick to women. Oh, and now that you’ve had a fuller meal, you’ll find the fantasies subside. Your brain’s learning that it’s enjoyable to suck blood, and will spend less time on sex.”
“Charming.” I can’t keep the sarcasm out of my voice. My sex life has just been ended before it was ever supposed to officially begin. But why is that? I mean, sex is for reproduction, but my drinking blood is to keep me alive. I say as much to Martha.
She puts on a thoughtful smile. “Keep it up, Ned, and I’ll have to stop saying you’re smart for a cop. You might just be smart. Well, anyhow, how do you think vampires reproduce?” She pauses, thinks for a moment, then continues, “Let me phrase it another way, Ned: how does a vampire create more vampires?”
Put that way, the answer was obvious. “They suck blood until the victim is out of blood, according to what you told me.”
Martha nods. “Yep. Survival of the species, Ned. Vampire evolution. When you first rise, the First Thirst ensures you create a lot more vampires, even if you get killed soon. If you survive for long, you change to ensure long-term survival of yourself and vampires as a species.”
“What the hell are you, a professor?” I realize I’m sounding rude. “Sorry, Mother Fokker, but you just sound like one.”
Martha comes down with a fit of laughter that lasts for a few minutes. Finally she stops, wipes the tears out of her eyes, and gives me a broad smile. “That’s funny, Ned. I never even went to school. Didn’t have them for people like me back then. The only reason I even learned to read and write . . .” She pauses, as if she had meant to say something, and then changed her mind. “Well, I had to. But I’ve hung around with a lot of smart people in the years since. Unlike you, my parent vampire didn’t stick around to give me lessons, so I’ve been making up for it ever since.”
I put my suspicion into words. “Some reason why you don’t want to tell me the real reason you learned to read and write, Mother Fokker?”
Nine times out of ten, you ask someone a question like this, and they’ll evade the subject or try to fob you off with an untrue story. Not Mother Fokker. She gives me a wry look, and then says, “Yeah, there is some reason I don’t want to tell you, Ned. I promised I wouldn’t lie to you, but that doesn’t commit me to telling you everything. And that’s all I’m going to say on the subject for now. If I ever think it important for your welfare that you know, I’ll tell you.”
I can tell that’s about as far as I will get with Martha on that score. The guy I drank from makes a noise. Martha looks down at him as if she’s concerned, and does something I can’t see. I think about her comment about my caring about my prey. I don’t like what it says about me, that I’m already beginning to look at people that way. And I have to wonder about Martha’s attitude. I ask her, “You care what happens to your prey, Mother Fokker?”
“Of course, Ned. They may be food, but they’re people, too. I don’t want to see them hurt, at least not more than I absolutely have to.”
This sounds entirely rational to me, until I remember how I became a vampire. I roar, “Then why the hell did you kill me?”
Martha doesn’t reply at first. Then she says to me, “Your sister Nora knows who your girlfriend is, right, Ned?”
Before I can say anything, Martha goes on at a rapid pace. “I could bite your sister and she’d tell me. She’d tell me anything. And then I can go enthrall your girlfriend and bring her here and you could watch as I drain her.”
What I say next I don’t remember. I am too enraged. Martha gives me almost a minute before she reaches in and breaks my left thumb. That brings me up short.
Once I recover, I say to her, “Touch either my sister or my girlfriend and you are dead, Mother Fokker.”
She gives me a long, penetrating stare, shakes her head. In a louder and clearer voice than she normally uses, she says to me, “I never intended to go after them, Ned. They’ve done me no harm. But you cops hunted and killed my friends. You even burned some of them. Compared to what you did to them, what I’ve done to you is merciful.”
Martha’s face turns shadowy, old, and vicious. She abruptly gets up and leaves.
I spend the next hour or two talking to my prey when he wakes up. Homer Johnson is a divorced father of two, as it turns out. He’s divorced because he cheated on his wife, and she found out one of the times. He complains quite a bit about alimony and child support, hopes he can get the alimony reduced when his kids are older, because his wife has a B.A. and should be able to find work. Cubs fan, so we have something in common to talk about.
I’m chatting with him when I realize this guy is in my thrall. He’s my prey, my meal. And yet I’m chatting with him as if we’re friends. I begin to understand Mother Fokker’s attitude toward prey. I wouldn’t mind having a beer with this guy. Well, if I could still drink beer. I know I can’t drink water.
And then I have a revelation, and kick myself mentally for not thinking of it sooner. Homer is in my thrall. He’ll do anything I tell him to do. And oh, boy, do I have something I want him to do. Mother Fokker has made a mistake, and it will be her last.
I say to Homer, “Homer, please untie the ropes holding me.” I could have ordered him, he may be in my thrall, but he’s a regular guy. He deserves some consideration from me, especially after what I’ve done to him.
Homer reaches over, touches the ropes, and jerks back. He tries again, with the same result. I can feel there’s something in the ropes that’s repelling him, but I don’t know what. Homer tries a third time, again with the same result. He gives me a bewildered look. “I can’t seem to actually grab your ropes, Ned,” he tells me. The poor sap is disappointed he can’t help me, the guy who took his blood.
I can feel my heart sinking. I want to lash out at Homer, but I know it isn’t his fault. “Never mind,” I tell him. “If you can’t, you can’t. Get along about your business. Make sure you find out who won tonight’s game.” ’Cause I’m sure not going to be able to find out on my own.
Homer gives me a smile. “Sure thing, Ned.” And he leaves.
I spend the next few hours trying to study the ropes that bind me. I know there’s something strange about them, but I don’t know what it is. Clearly, Mother Fokker has anticipated me. I don’t know whether to be annoyed at her, or admire her thoroughness.
I think about having Homer take a message to the outside world the next time he comes, and immediately discard the idea. Mother’s got me checkmated there, too. If Homer tells anyone, I’ll end up with a stake in my chest in short order. And much to my surprise, I realize I don’t want to die that way. I don’t quite know what to make of it. I want to remain a vampire? I guess so. That makes me unhappy. I remember asking Martha to kill me, because I didn’t want to live as a vampire. Now I want to keep living? I don’t know. I do know I don’t want to court my death for nothing.
I don’t want to die for nothing. That’s it. If I’m going to die, I’m going to die for something. I’m a cop. Dead and disgraced, disowned by my own, but I’m still a cop. I mean to destroy Martha Fokker for what she’s done. If I can sell my life that way, bring her down even if I die myself, I’ll be happy.
Or am I just kidding myself? Do I just not want to die, and go on living as a vampire? I turn the matter over in my head, over and over. I don’t come to a definite conclusion.
The other thing that bugs me is how Martha said sucking blood is the equivalent of vampire sex. Yeah, the way she puts it, it makes sense. But now I understand why she wanted me desperate before she brought in Homer. ’Cause if drinking blood is the same as sex, then drinking Homer’s blood makes me one of those guys who’s a bit light in the loafers, a . . . fag.
I try to think about sucking the blood of men and of women, and I don’t feel like there’s much difference. I try thinking of having sex with a guy, and I’m so disgusted I can’t even imagine how they do it, though I’ve heard tell. And I like the prospect of seeing a woman nude, but however much I enjoy it, it doesn’t do anything to me . . . except make me want to drink her blood. Great: being a vampire seems to make me want to drink the blood of the people I was sexually attracted to. Thanks, Mother Fokker.
Martha finally turns up close to dawn. (I can tell now when dawn is coming.) She’s looking happy.
Between wanting to kill her for what she did to me, and feeling she mucked up my being a guy, I try to slaughter her good mood. “Got the viciousness out of your system, Mother Fokker?”
I fail. She laughs. “Yep. Took down another cop, in fact. I usually wait longer, but nothing else would do tonight. Homer get out of here all right?”
The thought that she’s killed another cop makes me mad. But I don’t say anything about it. I don’t want to raise Martha’s suspicions, have her find out I tried to escape, let alone that I hope to kill her. So I go with her question instead, trying to sound innocent. “Yeah. We had a nice chat about the Cubs. He’s in my thrall, right?”
“Yep. You can summon him down tomorrow night if you want. I have to attend to the new cop-vampire, so won’t be back until he’s through the First Thirst. Could be several days. But you’ve got Homer. Don’t drain him, Ned. Just take what you need, what he can tolerate.”
Just like last night, I find myself saying something I hate myself for. “Now that I’ve drunk from a guy, could you send a woman down, Mother Fokker?” I can feel myself blushing, as if I’ve asked Martha for a whore.
Martha looks at me with an unfathomable expression on her face. And then she shakes her head. “You a good guy, Ned?”
“Rescue stray cats, help little old ladies across the street, hold open doors for ladies?”
“So do you think it’s really nice and chivalrous of you to want to drink blood only from women?”
My face flushes with embarrassment. I’d not thought of it that way. Now Martha’s made me feel really ashamed of myself. “Forget I suggested it, Mother.”
“Not so sure you’re a good guy anymore, are you, Ned?”
I don’t even want to answer. I just close my eyes.
And then she says, “Even though the fact that you’re ashamed indicates you really do care about people, Ned.” She leaves, turning out the light on the way.
I lie in my coffin, miserable. I don’t know what I am anymore, what is the right thing to do, or even if I can do the right thing.
End of chapter three.