Blood and Darkness

We lay naked, spooning, on her four-poster bed, the silk sheets having been thrown back during our nocturnal activities. I curl my body up, trying to avoid skin contact, but she curls more tightly around me, not letting me get away, this time.

“It will only hurt for a second, my love.” Her voice is nearly a purr in my ear. I tuck my hair behind my ear to keep it in place, to keep her breath from making it dance, tickling me.

“I don’t care about the pain.”

She traces a finger along my side, and I force myself not to flinch.

“What is it, then?”

I take a measured breath to avoid sighing. “You know what.” I may not be afraid of pain, but I am afraid of death.

“Oh, dear heart. You shouldn’t fear that. You are strong enough.”

Her tone, rather than making me feel better, makes me feel worse, like she’s talking an ignorant child, lying about how bad the day’s rations were going to taste. We always knew.

“How can you be sure?”

Her hand goes from tracing circles on my arm to cupping my breast. “Because of what you’ve endured thus far.”

Her voice smolders with lust, her hand showing her possessiveness of me. I should be afraid. I should feel cold. Used. Put off. But the claim she’s laid on my body is seductive. I have some power here, after all. My skin flushes and my lips part.

She chuckles deep in her throat as she senses my body respond to her, and she nuzzles my neck. I allow it, for the moment, letting myself get lost in a wave of passion. She’s right. I’ve been through a great deal to get to this point, to be the bed mate of a brood mother. I’ve pleasured dozens of these super-human beings, but that’s not even the worst of it. I’ve been hunted, beaten, bitten, nearly drained of all my blood, and forced to watch friends fight for their lives and still die.

All for the chance to become one of them. To be young forever. To never get sick. To be inhumanly strong. To become immortal, nearly impossible to kill. To never fear the night again.

The nights are long, now, the daytime grimy and pale under the burned sky. And there are things in the darkness that will kill you quicker than thought.

So yes, I endured a lifetime of suffering to get here. To be offered this chance.

One I may have become too afraid to take. For not everyone survives the change. I have fought so hard to live all my life that it terrifies me to now put my life in the hands of chance.

In her hands.

Her teeth graze the skin of my neck, and I do flinch this time. It’s a mistake, a show of weakness. She may have once been human, but now she’s a predator. She wraps herself around me tightly, making sure I can’t escape.

“I am tired of your games, Lana. You will become one of us, or you will die, but it will happen tonight.”

Her voice chills me, and I don’t move, like a rabbit caught in the light of a night rifle’s scope.

She sighs. “Come, now. I would rather you do this willingly. It increases the chances of the change taking root.” Where her tone was banded iron only a moment ago, now it’s back to talking to a child. I suppose we are children, to them.

I close my eyes and think about my mother. She died giving birth to me. I never met my father. He went into the dark and never came back before I was even born. A common enough story that the midwife didn’t think twice before handing me off to the super-humans, to be raised like cattle until old enough to be slaughtered.

I escaped several times, but they always caught me. Or I always came back. The super-humans meant safety, of a sort. Only they were strong enough to fight back against the other creatures that live in the dark.

And I want to fight more than anything, except live.

But the brood mother won’t want me when I’m old, having lived a good, long, human life. She’s right. If I shun her, if I don’t accept her bite that will fill me with her brood mother poison and hope that it turns me rather than killing me, they will turn me out of the complex. I might not die tonight, but I will die within a week. Exile is worse than a death sentence.

I turn to face her, searching her face for something, I’m not sure what. Love? Compassion? There’s neither of those things there. Just the cold, hard eyes of something not human.

But the lust is back in her eyes and her voice as she looks me over.

“You came to me, Lana. Isn’t this what you want?”

Whether I want it or not, her hands are on me again, her animal need taking over.

I want to be able to fight back.

“Yes. Yes, I want this,” I murmur as she clutches me to her.

The pain rips through my neck as she feeds, and then the pain gets worse as the poison fills me. And as my heart thuds to a stop, I grow furious. She promised I would survive! I don’t want to die!

Through sheer force of will, I push myself up, away from her, away from the poison, away from death.

I sit up and look at my hands, then down at her, where she lays with her hands behind her head, smug smile on her face.

“You lied to me.”

“I didn’t lie. The change took, did it not?”

The change did take. I am powerful. Full of energy. The dim light in the room now seems incredibly bright. I can hear the noise of the complex outside. I smell blood, and realize it’s all over the sheets. My blood. My life blood. Every last drop that was in me.

Yes, the change took, but the horrible truth is, despite the power the super-humans wield, they had to die to get it. They’re not super-humans. They are vampires. They are the creatures in the night.

“You said I wouldn’t die.”

The brood mother gives me a calculating look. “I never said those words.” Her expression softens. “You are lovely, Lana. Come to me.” She holds out her hand, cold but inviting, her flawless skin glistening in the lamp light.

She’s right. She never said I wouldn’t die. She said I would survive. She said I was strong enough to endure the change.

But I did die, and something else is born inside of me. I still want to fight, but now I also want to kill. Need to kill. Need to kill to survive.

So with my newfound power, I lurch forward and rip the brood mother’s head from her body.

I hold her head in my hands, staring into her vacant expression, and realize I no longer have anything to fear in the dark but myself.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.


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