• As I lay beneath the house, my drifting thoughts wandered back to the night I met Haarold. It had been snowing then, just like my intense hearing told me it was right now...

    I didn't know where I was. I'd climbed up into the heavens, jolted myself forward, and plummeted down again, finding the house I was now under, and dug with my bare hands until I had buried myself completely. It was November, and where ever I had landed, it was snowing.

    I thought back again to that night we first met. I was breathless as I ran from him- the creature, the demon. I hated him the second I came to. I hated him as he forced his heinous, acidic blood into my mouth. I had screamed, or at least tried to, as my mouth was full, and as it seemed as if I was drowning on his blood, I could feel it being absorbed into my being no matter what part of me it touched. I had become an ever penetrable sponge, and suddenly the thirst awoke in me so intensely that he had laughed almost joyfully, as if it was the most brilliant thing, my newfound lust, even though I nearly crippled him for eternity from draining him so.

    I shifted in my filthy burrow some- bits of root from above falling into my already mussed hair and I sneered as best I could. I was disgusted. He had been thrilled that night.

    He. Him. Haarold, who was probably out looking for me right now. No, he'd never find me. Not anymore. I'd cut myself off, and I was determined to lay here and sleep the sleep of the little death until I found a reason to rejoin the world again, if that was even possible.

    I had been an intellectual before that fateful night, brighteyed and fresh-faced, newly graduated from my alma mater. My life hadn't been exceptionally dynamic, but it was never dull. I'd found the simple joys in things, and my curiosity was never satiated. Even now that was true, although in a much more veiled, and perhaps even repressed, way.

    I drifted again, but this time not into thoughts but into oblivion. I slept, finally. My tortured mind blessedly blank as it still kept track of the hours, minutes, and seconds that passed- an everlasting timepiece did our minds become. Such things are double-edged swords.

    The sun had risen.


    Scuffing, a shuffling outside. I tried to block it out. I didn't want to have any conscious thoughts to myself at the moment. If there were people living in this abandoned pile of logs, they wouldn't be able to find me- I covered my entry too well. They'd never find any evidence of the grave I'd dug for myself.

    By my reckoning, many moons had passed since I first came here. I drifted again.


    Something grabbed my foot and pulled me up by it roughly. I felt my face scrape against the rootfilled earth and my arms suddenly above my head as I was pulled out of my hiding place. My first thought was that they were wolves or dogs of some sort, even though I knew the idea of them potentially sniffing me out was ludicrous. I had no scent.

    My reflexes and reactions were slow. It was like moving through deep water. I'd been without a kill for so long that I could feel how emaciated I was as my senses finally began to awaken again. I moved only slightly and could feel the muscle under my unnaturally thin limbs writhe and twitch as my system tried to jolt itself into action to combat this new threat.

    I could hear breathing. Human breaths. This was it, I'd been found. I knew I was already moving slightly, so it was too late for me to play dead, and it was becoming clearer and clearer to me at every passing moment that I was not going to be able to muster up enough energy to get up and save myself.

    Suddenly there was a hand on my face. Whoever it was had just found my delicate teeth and would understand them for what they were any second. Some had said to me in the past that humans today were stupid and too skeptical, that even if we flaunted who we were in front of them to their very faces that they would not accept the truth of us. It was a sentiment I never believed. I knew they were smarter than they looked, but this was a hell of a time for my stipulation to be proven right. I was going to die. Again.

    The hand seemed to gingerly touch my cheek now, the flesh so tight and thin that I must've surely looked a sight. The breathing became heavier and closer. Maybe if I could just reach up to grab them.....

    That's when the waterfall of sensation came. Blood, pure blood, was pouring into my mouth. On reflex, I began to swallow again and again as it filled my mouth, some of it even flowing down the corners when I couldn't do it fast enough. Without my knowing, I reached my hand up and grabbed a handful of hair, yanked it roughly towards me, and finding the source of this miraculous feast, latched onto the wound and drank deeply.

    It was bliss. I could feel my being fill out again. The muscles weren't so tight, my limbs not so thin, and with every swallow my face began to take on its customary softness again. There was something familiar about this taste, though. Something too much my own....

    I released my victim and cried out in anger, unsteadily bringing myself to my feet. The restoration was not complete, but I would not finish it- not with him, I refused.

    It was Haarold.

    "How did you find me??" I cried.

    Haarold was still bent over the place I had just occupied, one hand clutching the dirt there as he panted, catching his breath after being my willing victim.

    "I did everything!" I shouted at him. "There was no trace of me! None! I cut myself off from you! How in the hell--"

    "Because you cannot hide from me........Evangelista," he said, quietly.

    I blinked. I was mildly taken aback at his calm tone. I was expecting a shouting match, to be ranted and raved at for my 'disobedience' and non-compliance with his wishes and requests. Instead, he was now knelt over the ground, examining it closely with his hands laying palm up upon his knees.

    He closed his eyes, still not looking at me, and rolled his head to the side.

    "Finish it," he said.

    I shook my head. "No. I'm not taking it from you."

    "Please," he said, a slight agitation apparent in his request.

    "No," I whispered.

    He continued to sit there, eyes closed, unmoving. His heaving breathing had gone down to something resembling a human inhalation, which would soon return to our regular breathing-without-breath movement. We both remained silent.

    "Do I have to get a human for you?" he asked slowly. His voice was low and calm as he put his question to me. It was a tone he rarely employed with me, but one that I'd somehow grown to like immensely on the few occasions he used it. Maybe he knew this? It had no precedent at the moment either way.

    "No," I responded.

    He sighed, and slumped his head forward. "I don't want to look at you when you're like this. It....bothers me. Please drink. I don't care who you get it from."

    I arched an eyebrow and looked at him although his eyes were still closed. "Oh?" I said in a rather incredulous tone. "You don't....like.....this?" My voice was tinged with a silent fury.

    I glided up to his kneeling form instantly and seized a handful of his tousled, dark hair again, wrenching him to his feet. I jerked his head back, and as I eliminated the remaining space between us, I flashed my teeth at him.

    "You don't like it?! Look! Look at your creation, Haarold! Look at me! This is what you've done. You've done it!"

    I screamed at him. I didn't sense anyone nearby who could possibly hear us, but even if I did, I didn't care who was around. I tugged at his hair again and could feel some of it come loose from the scalp from the sheer force of my grip. I had never physically treated him this way before- mostly because I was too afraid or didn't think I could do it if I tried. Well, I was doing it now, and even if he was letting me, it didn't matter. He had it coming. For 80 years, he'd had it coming....

    "Open your eyes!!" I shouted. He winced under my grip and seemed to shut his eyes even more. "Open them!!" I ordered.

    His lip twitched, and very slowly he opened his eyes. His jaw seemed to drop slightly as he got an eyefull of me although his mouth remained closed. A mournful expression overcame his face, and in the reflection of his eyes I saw my monstrous self. I was worse than I'd ever imagined and nowhere near restored. My lips were almost non-existant and my teeth were in full view. My eyes were bulging and bloodshot, as there was not enough of my eyelids there to cover them. I was completely shriveled, save for the few veins that had managed to reignite the healing process from my initial feast. Still, I couldn't waver and I ignored the hideous echo of my face in his eyes. The worse the better, I thought to myself. Perhaps he'll finally see.

    I tried to read his face. As my maker, I couldn't determine his thoughts and he was unable to determine mine. How had he found me then? That is what I couldn't understand. However, his comment to me saying I should go and feed because he didn't like seeing me that way....it was too rich.

    He sighed again. I could see him warily examining my face. I only hoped he saw this horror for what it was. There had been times where he claimed he loved me, only to leave me in various places, forcing me to seek him out for weeks and then simply greeted with a, "What took you so long?" amongst other things. It was abuse. I don't know why I stayed with him. There are others of us, of course. I'd been offered places amongst some of them as well, as my maker seemed to have a reputation as a sadistic bully and master manipulator. "It's why he has always been alone," they'd say. Until he forced me with him. Had he ever made others to be his companions? I didn't know, nor did I care. I just didn't give a damn about him. So why did I always stay? I didn't really know. It's why I finally left.

    He heaved a sigh again, and this time raised his hands to my waist. I jerked his head back as hard as I could manage this time, I could feel the hair rip from his head, and his wet blood collected underneath my nails. It was tempting, but no...I didn't want his blood. His blood was like acid to me. His blood was tainted with my mortal death.

    He winced again, rolled his eyes back in a semblance of pain, and then looked down again at me with a fixed gaze. The look he gave me seemed to ask for permission to touch me, as he had started to do before he got a clear 'no' from my actions. He had never asked for permission before. I was almost amused.

    My grip on his tortured patch of hair lessened, and taking it as a 'yes', he raised his hands again and rested them on my lower hips. My clothes, not to mention myself, were caked with dirt, bits of root, and even dead bugs who had found their way into my clothing right before they expired. The poor things- they would have found no comfort in their last moments against my cold flesh.

    Suddenly his eyes were level with mine and he moved, it seemed, delicately to his knees, his hands moving down with him, along the sides of my thighs and finally resting them behind my knees. He sat back on his heels as he stared straight ahead and the greatest look of sorrow passed across his face. His brows were knit close together in intense emotion, his mouth slightly ajar in anguish as he shifted his weight to his knees again to move up and wrap one arm around my legs and another around my waist. I nearly lost my balance as he did this, burying his face in my ruined clothing. This was certainly new, I concluded. I blinked best I could with what little was covering my poor eyes in surprise, and in an instinctive move I tried to move back from him and escape from his grasp. I pushed at his shoulders, but his grip tightened.

    "What are you doing?" I asked awkwardly, trying my best to sound composed.

    "I thought you were dead!!" he cried.


    "I thought you had left me!"

    "I did, you fool! I hate you!"

    "No, no! I thought you had left me...to end your life."

    I paused.

    "I thought I'd never find you," he continued. "I thought all I'd find were your ashes or less.....no one would tell me if they'd heard from you."

    "I cut myself off from everything."

    "Yes, I know that now."

    His last sentence almost sounded relieved. I was in a very vivid disbelief.

    "Why didn't you just leave me on my own? You do it all the time, but when I don't come running back you actually care, is that what you're trying to say?"

    He didn't answer. He just knelt there, clutching me like a lost child to his mother. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't break free, and I'd humiliated and even injured him earlier. He could destroy me if he wanted to, and would have every right to as my maker if he decided it was in his will that I die. I began to silently panic. Haarold was insane, but even he never acted like this. Perhaps he didn't want me to kill myself because he wanted to do the honours? And like an idiot, I let him get this close. Maybe I was doomed again after all.

    That was when he released me. I stumbled backwards out of his reach and again he sat there dumbstruck, arms at his side from where they'd slid themselves from around me. I still wasn't strong enough to escape from him. Escape from humans, yes, but from another of my kind more than a year old? Probably not. Not in this state. I needed to feed, and the thirst in me was beginning to crest to dangerous levels. It would over-take me if I didn't find a victim quickly, and I really did prefer having my wits about me.

    "Go," he said, looking at the ground.

    "What?" I said lamely, surprised by his command.

    "I said....go."

    He dragged himself up, pulling his body to stand in a sort of boneless way that made me cringe to watch, but he didn't notice my reaction.

    Still, I didn't answer. I wasn't sure of his intentions, and I was more distracted trying to quell my hunger than focus on his inane hidden meanings.

    "Go where?" I demanded.

    He waved a hand dismissively. "Anywhere. I don't care. You're safe and alive, that's....that's all I care for. If you wish to be on your own that badly, then go. I release you. You'll hear no more from me."

    And with that, he turned on his heels and began to amble off. I frowned after him, standing there like some lost creature, when he paused mid stride, turned his head to the side, and said to me, "But just remember to feed soon....please. I won't be there to pull you off whatever poor soul happens to cross your path should the thirst over-take you," and with that Haarold vanished, into the early morning mists that had begun to gather, and I could see him no more.

    I turned around blankly and headed immediately for the line of trees about half a mile away and ran as fast as I could manage in my depleted form. I could smell a nearby township, and hear one unfortunate soul calling out to me- calling out to Death. I found her laid out in her bed of cardboard just on the edge of the town's lake, homeless and starving. She'd not eaten for over a week, but I had not eaten for months. She had called out for me, and she would do.

    I took her lightly to myself, careful not to crush her delicate form and drained her of everything she had to offer and placed her back upon her disheveled bed of rescued trash, and, using the blood, covered the wounds I'd made into her skin. Her sacrifice had helped. I looked at my reflection in the water and I had visibly improved. A couple more like her and I would be very nearly back to normal. However, the sun was rising, and I had to find someplace safe to stay until nightfall again.

    I didn't return to the shack I'd been hiding under for months from Haarold. Instead, I went back into the woods and created another hiding place beneath the earth, carefully concealed the entrance, and lay down my weary head, thinking about the events of that night. He had told me to leave, that I could go, and was free of him. I didn't buy it, but time would tell. I think though, perhaps, that for the first time in a long while, I was legitimately afraid for myself. As abusive has he had always and forever been to me, he still made sure I had everything I needed- clothing, a hunt, even that I bathed although I always insisted it was pointless and he'd have to drag me kicking and screaming to lock me in the bathroom just to get the job done.

    I smiled to myself. For once, I could use a bath. The ground here was much more moist than it had been in my previous residence. I would look in an even worse state than before. I reminded myself that with more blood, however, it wouldn't matter how I looked once I was recovered, because then it would be nothing to get fresh things to wear. Wouldn't it? I could survive on my own, couldn't I?

    I closed my eyes and frowned slightly. I could feel the sun finally ascend into the sky as my limbs became stiff and adverse to movement. I settled in for another long rest, but not too long this time....once the sun set, I would have to rise.