I woke up one morning, feeling different. Still cold, but the ache was gone. I was hungry and thirsty, and felt as though I could never be full.
I tried to eat. Even my favorite, a mushroom omelet, didn’t make a dent in my hunger. I felt full, uncomfortably so, but not satisfied one bit. Nothing I drank helped with the thirst.
Stumbling into the bathroom, I finally saw my reflection, and stop cold in my tracks.
“What…what…” I stammered.
I had changed. I was deathly pale, but had a strange glow. Even my eyes seemed to glow.
“Like those people,” I whispered.
The people from the bar. All pale, with luminous skin and eyes. Some I had recognized, I began to remember. With a growing sense of fear, I suddenly knew why.
They were all people whom I had recently treated for…
“Bit wounds to the neck,” I said aloud, horrified. I briefly touched my neck.”Chills and aches, and then…they disapeared.”
They had become what I was now. I didn’t know what, just yet. What had the police called the serial killer? The Vampire?
The bites. The blood draining. The surivors attacked and killed, or just disapearing altogether after displaying strange symptoms.
I let out a strangled cry.
It couldn’t be, it just couldn’t! Vampires didn’t exist, really, they were just creatures of horror stories. It was impossible that they existed.
And yet, they did. And what was terrifying to me, was that I was…now one of them?
“It’s impossible!” I sobbed, collapsing to the floor.”It can’t be true! It can’t!”
I shrieked and sobbed, fat tears rolling down my cheeks.
Because I knew what vampires ate. The one thing I’d avoided since my sister had died.
I didn’t know what to do. I was due back at work the next day, and I didn’t know how to hide this from my friends and co-workers. And on top of that, I was slowly starving. The pain in my stomach was getting worse, and it was clear I wasn’t gleaning any nutrients from the food I ate, and I was damned if I would consume blood. I would rather starve to death first.
From the window came a tantalizing wiff of something…delicious. It set my mouth watering. Even 18 floors up, I could smell it.
Stealthily, I made my way downstairs and out into the night air. It felt invigorating. I followed my nose to the mouthwatering smell.
A small food truck was parked almost next to my building. The smell was emanating from there.
“What smells so good?” I asked the man in the truck.
“Depends on what you want,” he winked.
I studied to menu. I didn’t think it could be any of the greasy items, like burritos; the smell and sight of them actually made me feel sick. Plasma fruit soup? What was that? The delicious smell seemed to be wafting from a large bubbling pot.
“One plasma fruit soup, please,” I said, trying to control my drooling.
The man raised his eyebrows at me, took a closer look, then ladled out a portion into a disposable bowl.
After paying, I took it to a nearby picnic table, and tried not to throw myself face first into the bowl in hunger.
It was divine! Just what I needed. The hunger pains and thirst disapeared as I spooned up the luscious soup.
I almost licked the bowl clean, but even now I remembered my manners, and settled for just scraping the bowl out with my spoon to get every last drop. Satisfied, I threw the bowl away and went back upstairs.
My curiousity got the better of me, and I found myself researching plasma fruit on my laptop. If I could get myself some of these fruits, I could avoid starvation. Surprisingly, they were available as a specialty food, for people with anemia. I could get some from the grocery store, or have them ordered special.
But that didn’t solve my work problem. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. To work in a hospital, surrounded by…by…I swallowed against a rise of nausea. Anyway, my boss and co-workers, and most especially my friends, would notice something was wrong by my appearance alone.
It would take a miracle to pull it off. But I had no choice.
Surprisingly, I didn’t receive a lot of questions. I was pale because I was still recovering, they said. I had been ill. I wore sunglasses because my eyes hurt. I couldn’t really explain why my skin seemed to glow ever so slightly, or my sudden revulsion to blood, which made working in E.R. and Trauma extremely difficult.
So difficult, in fact, that when I was stitching a patient’s palm, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the blood. It was almost calling out to me, “Eat me, eat me!” I managed to finish what I was doing, but not before I noticed her veins.
“Drink me, you know you want to, I’m so plump and juicy,” they seemed to say.
Swallowing hard, I bandaged the patient’s hand, called a nurse to take over, then ran to the nearest washroom to vomit.
It was unpleasant.
I was so full of plasma fruit, and it had done nothing to help except make a mess.
And I was disgusted with myself, craving blood. I wanted it so bad, but I couldn’t bear to consume it. I was fighting with myself, instincts against psychological revulsion.
I was a monster. A horrible, terrible, disgusting monster.
“Layla?” Camryn’s voice was soft, outside the door.”Can I come in?”
Silently, I unlocked the door, and Camryn slipped in.
“You’re not well, are you.”
It wasn’t a question. I could see the knowledge in her eyes. I shook my head. Camryn opened her mouth to say more, then caught sight of my vomit, deep red against the restroom floor where I’d missed the toilet.
“Oh my God, Layla!” she all but screamed. I winced. Knowing what it looked like to other people, I’d guess she probably thought it was blood.
“It’s not what you think-” I tried to explain.
“I didn’t think you were that sick,” she continued, not hearing a word I said.”You could be bleeding to death, that’s why you’re pale!”
“Will you hush?!” I cried.”People will hear!”
“Good!” she snapped.”Then they can help!”
“I don’t need help!” I snapped back.”I just ate a lot of-”
I stopped, suddenly. How to explain this to her? Would she reject me outright?
“A lot of what?” Camryn was staring at me.
“Why are you eating that?” Camryn frowned down at me.”I can understand maybe eating it right after you lost all that blood, but not now-”
She stopped speaking all of a sudden, and stared at me. Did she know something? Did she suspect?
“We need to talk,” I said, pulling off my sunglasses.”But not here.”