• Hunting

    The apartment was not big. It was barely able to contain a single bedroom, a small bathroom and a kitchen. From the front door, the corridor led to the right and turned left. Ahead, there was a wide window with a view to the streets below. Underneath the window was a table with two chairs and a small vase of flowers. Looking left while facing the window showed the door to Nathaniel’s bedroom, whilst to the right, the door opened into the bathroom. The kitchen was accessed by turning left while facing the door to Nathaniel’s bedroom. The apartment was plainly and simply furnished, the floor covered in white tiles except for the bedroom.

    Nathaniel sat at the table, wearing a grey t-shirt and jeans, gazing out of the window at the streets below. The sun had not quite risen but already there were the beginnings of a traffic jam. A few lone late-night party-goers stumbled along the pavement, drunk on beer, wine and probably drugs. They would be helpless in their current state, their blood laced with invigorating toxins…

    Nathaniel shook his head angrily and clenched his fists in his lap. He could not let himself fall into the trap of drinking human blood. After a week of being surrounded by the temptation of blood, it was hard to think of anything else.

    To distract himself, Nathaniel glanced at his right fore-arm. Even after all these years, the puncture marks of the white-haired man’s bite had not faded. They were a constant reminder of that day in the forest, and his life afterwards.

    Nathaniel stood up abruptly, the chair screeching as it scraped the tiled floor. It was time to go hunting.

    * * *

    Mirelle stepped out of her car on to the kerb and into bright, morning sunlight. She looked to be in her twenties, with pale, blonde hair, blue eyes and a small mouth. She wore a thin, white, cotton jacket and a yellow dress and carried a small purse on her shoulder. Squinting, she took in the apartment block which was to be her new home.

    The mover’s truck had stopped behind her car and grumbling, burly men began to unload furniture. Mirelle trailed behind the men as they struggled to squeeze into the lift with a sofa. Seeing there was no room for her, she climbed the fire-exit stairs. Her apartment was on the fifth floor, but she took her time. Hearing running footsteps above her, she paused and stood to the side as a young man with short, black hair, wearing a grey t-shirt and jeans, came dashing down the stairs. The man nodded his thanks to Mirelle as he ran by. His footsteps soon faded away.

    Mirelle stood for a few seconds, a thoughtful look in her eyes. Presently, she resumed her climb up the stairs. When she reached the fifth floor, the movers had just managed to extricate themselves from the lift and were taking a brief rest, leaning against the sofa. They quickly picked themselves up when she appeared and followed her along the corridor to her apartment. She unlocked the door and entered the apartment, followed by the men. For the next few hours, she wandered around her new home, trailing her fingers along the walls, gesturing where to place the furniture as it arrived, one at a time. She did not get in anyone’s way, and the movers were quick and efficient. When they finally placed the last chair and left, Mirelle stood in the middle of room and turned slowly on the spot. The room was remained neutral under her silent scrutiny.

    Finally, Mirelle nodded. It will do, she thought. She turned on her heel and left the apartment, again taking the stairs down. A new city awaited her.

    * * *

    Nathaniel walked briskly along the streets in the fading light. His hunting in the forest had gone well and he was feeling calm and content. However, he had stayed out too long. He might endanger others if he lingered on the streets after sunset. Nathaniel’s path took him past several pubs. They were beginning to fill up with patrons and young delinquents, looking to forget life’s troubles through drink or drugs. Night had fallen when Nathaniel was still two streets away from the apartment block.

    A scream pierced the night. Nathaniel’s head swivelled around, his sensitive ears automatically locating the source of the scream. It had come from several streets to the left. A young girl was in trouble.

    Nathaniel ran as fast as he could. He was not one of those vampires who ran fast, but he still had stamina. He soon reached a dark alleyway and paused, peering into the darkness. There was a girl in her twenties backing away from a man wielding a short knife. The girl was facing Nathaniel and he could see that she was wearing pale-coloured clothing. She was clutching her arm as she backed away. Nathaniel inhaled. The man had drawn blood.

    Nathaniel struck like a snake: quickly and silently. He brought his hand down in a quick chop at the base of the man’s skull. The thug crumpled without a word. Nathaniel crouched and examined the man. His conclusion was dismissive. The man was just a thief. Nathaniel looked up…and froze. The girl had gone. He glanced up and down the alley. How had she done it? He would have heard her leave! He frowned to himself. She also seemed familiar. Maybe it was the clothes…?

    Nathaniel’s attention was drawn back to the man. Something was just a bit wrong with him. He sniffed and his eyes widened in surprise. Blood. So it had not been the girl who had bled.

    A sharp click echoed behind Nathaniel. He spun around, still crouched, shocked and angry at himself for not paying attention to his surroundings. He froze. It was the girl. She was holding a gun. Her knuckles were white as she held on to it grimly.

    “Get up,” she whispered.

    Nathaniel stood slowly, raising his hands above his head as he did so. He ran his eyes over the girl’s clothing: white jacket, yellow dress and a purse. Yes, this was the girl he had passed in the stairway early in the morning. Where had she found the time to obtain a gun?

    The girl also seemed to be examining him. “You’re that boy from earlier?” she asked hesitantly.

    “Yes,” Nathaniel replied, warily eyeing the gun.

    The girl’s eyes flicked between Nathan and the thief on the floor. “I didn’t hear you. How did you do that?” Her voice was a terrified whisper.

    “I didn’t hear you, either,” Nathaniel countered in a soft voice. He tilted his head to one side slightly. “And I have very good ears.”

    The girl swallowed. “I…I…” she stuttered, at a loss for words.

    Nathaniel moved quickly. He shifted to the side, out of the gun’s firing path, and grabbed the girl’s wrist. He wrenched the gun out of her hand, surprised at the lack of resistance. Then he noticed that the girl’s eyes had widened in fright, her body rigid, and her hands nerveless. Nathaniel also froze from shock. What…? But the girl had begun babbling.

    “P-please…don’t…don’t hurt me! I wasn’t trying to kill you! Please! Let me go…let me go…” the girl’s frightened whisper faded away into choked sobs. She slowly fell on to her knees, head down, her free arm wrapped around her.

    Nathaniel was surprised. Had he been that intimidating? Or was it a memory from the girl’s past? He crouched down and tried to make eye contact with her. He glanced down at the gun in his hand and froze again in shock. It had disappeared. A thought leaked its way into his head. It only confirmed what he had suspected before. Gently, he took her chin and forced her eyes to meet his. Again, the girl froze in terror. “You’re a vampire, aren’t you?” Nathaniel asked gently. He need not have asked. Her eyes were a deep, blood red with flecks of blue.

    The girl trembled. Without warning, her eyes closed, and she began to fall sideways. She had clearly fainted. Nathaniel moved quickly and caught her before her head could hit the ground. Gently, he picked her up in both his arms and carried her back towards his apartment.

    * * *

    The boy had been taken to a palace, built at the end of a suburban street in a country unknown to him. The boy had then been confined to a room until the numbness had ebbed. Even afterwards, the boy had not been allowed out of the room. His meals delivered to him by an anonymous cloaked figure, so slender he guessed that it must have been female. Whoever it was, they brought a bowl full of a warm, dark-red substance which made the boy feel thirsty once he smelled its iron tang. The boy was too indifferent to care more than that the substance satisfied him and made him feel stronger.

    Occasionally, there were other cloaked figures – male, this time – who visited the boy. They droned on about a king, rules to obey and other less interesting aspects of the place the boy was living in. During these talks, the men finally told the boy who he was, how he had been changed. It was a great honour, they said, to become a vampire. He was superior to other races, for who could best a vampire in matters of stealth, tracking and general athletic traits? He must always obey his master who had gone out of his way to save the boy and turned him into a superior being.

    The boy was impassive during the talks, listening and absorbing the information but not feeling as if he must obey them. He had not chosen this life. Why must he worship someone who had forcefully taken him away from his former life? Even worse, his memories of that life were quickly fading away – a side effect of the transformation, he was told, but not one the boy wanted.

    Some male vampires came with probing questions: had he noticed anything particularly unusual after his transformation? Was he stronger? Faster? Could he hear anything far beyond this room? To the last question, the boy answered yes. Were there any special powers of some sort? The eyes of the boy’s questioner suddenly became sharper, seemingly piercing into the boy’s mind. The boy answered, in all truthfulness, no. The piercing gaze seemed expectant and made the boy feel uncomfortable.

    In-between these visits, the boy explored his room, looking for any possible weakness in its design. It had a small bedside table with three drawers, a plain wooden bed with white sheets, changed daily, and a small chest which contained the boy’s clothes. A tall candle with a brass holder sat on top of the bedside table. The room was made of stone with a sturdy wooden door and a thin arched window which looked out over a vast forest. It was too small for the boy to squeeze through. This room was the perfect prison.

    One day, there was a change in the routine.

    The white-haired man came through the door instead of the usual cloaked male vampires. He looked much the same as he had when the boy had first met him. The boy glared at the man. He hated him for changing him.

    “Hello…Nathaniel.” The boy flinched, for it was not his calling name, it was his true name, and he could not easily disobey when it was uttered by his master.

    The man seemed to find something funny in the boy’s reaction, which only served to increase the hatred in the boy’s glare. The corners of the man’s mouth twitched into a small smile. “It’s rude to stare so,” he admonished lightly.

    The boy continued to glare.

    The man frowned slightly and shifted uneasily, a little unnerved by the unwavering stare. The frown was quickly replaced by a smile. “We’ll be going out today – hunting.” His smile was wider than his previous one. “You’ll like it. A chance to get out of this room,” he added slyly.

    The boy was inclined to be suspicious, but he desperately wanted to be outside. He wanted any chance he could to try and escape from his prison. He only had one chance. The boy turned these thoughts over carefully before nodding abruptly and sliding off the bed.

    The man seemed a little surprised at the boy’s agreement, but hid it quickly. He gestured with a jerk of his head towards the door and led the way out of the palace. The pair soon found themselves in the forest which grew thickly behind the palace. For a moment, the man and the boy stood there. The boy was taking in his surroundings, marvelling at his first trip outside his prison. The man seemed to be listening for something. There was a faint rustle some ways off to the right.

    “Follow me. Quietly,” the man instructed.

    The boy almost thought of running away, but his curiosity overcame him and he followed the man through the bushes.

    “Wait here,” the man commanded after a few minutes.

    The man crept off, leaving the boy wondering even more whether he should run off now before the man came back. Before he could, there was a single, piercing scream. Startled, the boy ran towards the sound. He skidded to a halt at the sight which confronted him.

    Lying on the damp dirt of the forest floor was a young woman, dressed like a hiker. The unnatural way her neck was bent immediately told the boy that she was dead. He stared in horror as the brutality of the killing sunk in, yet he felt strangely thirsty as he saw the woman lying there, beyond help.

    Standing over the body was the white-haired man. The man bared his teeth in a feral smile as he watched the boy’s face. “Care for a taste?” he asked. And in a lightning-quick motion, he leaped forward and tore open the woman’s throat.

    The woman’s blood poured out in a gushing fountain. The boy’s eyes glowed as a deep instinct propelled him forward towards the woman. All rational thought was gone, replaced by some feral animal, as the boy drank thirstily at the woman’s blood…


    Lying on the damp dirt of the forest floor was a young woman, dressed like a hiker. The unnatural way her neck…the boy’s thoughts became scrambled. Hadn’t he just seen this?

    The man bared his teeth in a feral smile as he watched the boy’s face. “Care for a taste?” he asked. And in a lightning-quick motion, he leaped forward and tore open the woman’s throat.

    The woman’s blood poured out in a gushing fountain. The hot tang of blood had drawn the boy to take one step before he stopped himself, staring at the blood in horror, remembering his vision. He could not become one of them. He must not! He had to remain…to hold on to…what was it? It was all slipping away…

    The man was frowning. He had detected a change in the boy’s mood. “What’s wrong, boy? What are you waiting for?” he demanded. A suspicious light entered his eyes, and, strangely, excitement. “You saw something, didn’t you? Was it a vision?” The man’s voice was soft and coaxing now.

    The boy shook his head desperately, his thoughts were jumbled up. He was frightened of the man’s change in manner. He backed away slowly, half in preparation to flee, half to avoid the enticing smell of blood.

    “It’s no use running, Nathaniel,” the man said. “Remember?”

    At the sound of his name and the implied order, the boy froze. His mind was a frenzy of conflicting desires, ricocheting about his mind. He could not run, but he wanted to. He did not want to obey the man, but he had to. The boy’s legs trembled as he simultaneously fought the desire to stay and the desire to run.

    “Don’t run, Nathaniel,” said the man. It was a direct command from his master and even harder to disobey. “Stay.”

    The boy shook his head desperately. “No,” he whispered, and with a final effort, he tore himself away from the invisible shackles of commands which held him and ran deep into the forest.

    It had been in a forest much like this, a mere month ago, when the boy had first tried to escape from the white-haired man. Things were different now. With the unlocking of his new-found power, the boy’s visions flashed through his mind quickly, showing him how to escape. In mere moments, the boy had burst out of the dark, confining forest and into the warm, afternoon sun.

    Go to: Chapter 2, Chapter 4