Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Vampire Within

This is a vampire story I started a few years ago and never finished.  I'm considering incorporating parts of it into my new story but not sure.  I would like some opinion on whether I should continue this as is, or make changes, maybe incorporating Jayne into my current vampire story. I'm thinking she could become a 'older sister' to my ten year old vampire and something more to Max, Trina's guardian.  They are both really messed up and could use a vampire influence that can remember being human.

The Vampire Within
by Lisa McCourt Hollar

I never knew I was claustrophobic. Not until I died. You would think I would have realized I had a problem with confined spaces before then; after all, I'd been alive for seventeen years. But then again, I'd never been in anything as closed up as a coffin before. I guess you can't get as confined as that.

That's also about the time I realized I was afraid of the dark and believe me, it doesn't get any darker than the inside of a coffin that's buried six feet beneath the ground. Really black, I can tell you that. Pitch black. And confined. Really, really confined.

When I first woke up my head was foggy and I didn't know where I was. I assumed at first that I was in my room, but then I tried to roll over and bumped into a wall. That's what I thought it was at first, until I tried to roll the other way and bumped into another wall. 'How strange', I thought. Then I tried to sit up and discovered the ceiling was oddly close to my face. That's when it dawned on me that I was not in my room or any other room for that matter.

As soon as I realized where I was, I began to scream. I kept screaming and pounding on the lid, praying that someone would hear me, but then I remembered that screaming used up oxygen and I wasn't sure how much I had left. After all, I'd been screaming for a while. My throat was hoarse, I was scared and I was afraid I might only have a few minutes of air left. I didn't know yet that as far as I was concerned, oxygen didn't matter.

Hours passed in a vicious cycle. I'd flip out, screaming, remember the oxygen, pray, then panic and begin screaming again. I tried bargaining with God for my freedom, promising Him all kinds of things, if He would just send someone, anyone, to my rescue. He could have sent Satan himself and I would have been happy, so long as I was out of that coffin. You know, you really should be careful what you pray for. But at that moment I only knew the darkness and my fear. I couldn't imagine there were things far worse than being trapped inside a coffin, while running, or so I thought, out of air.

As I said, when I first woke up, my mind was pretty fuzzy and realizing I was trapped inside a coffin had almost driven me insane. A few times I almost slipped over the edge into that land where dragons live and demons haunt your every moment. But always, just as I was about to succumb to the darkness, a voice would touch the back of my mind, pulling me away from the edge. Talking to me, telling me that everything would be all right. I wanted to believe that voice. Somehow it seemed familiar to me, so I concentrated on it, trying to remember whose it was. I was sure I knew it and that it was real, not just a symptom of my fragile condition. I concentrated on every syllable of the voice, every pronunciation. I wrapped myself up in the voice until finally it came to me.

Steve. I cried as I recalled the last time I had seen my boyfriend, lying there in the coffin, just before they closed it, locking him in. He was so still. Peaceful. Lifeless. I cried quietly, then, huge painful sobs, as I wondered if he had woken up in the same predicament I was in. I cried, gasping, my body convulsing with emotion, until the thought of oxygen entered my mind once more. Then I forced myself to stop, breathing slowly, trying to conserve air.

It was in those seconds, as I tried to calm myself, that I remembered that Steve's funeral wasn't the last place I had seen him. At first I thought I must be imagining a memory, making it up in my mind, but then it came through, completely clear and I knew, completely real. The lat of the fog had cleared and I remembered. Steve had been outside my bedroom window, just hours after I had seen him buried. I'd been shocked to see him standing there, as though it were just another Friday night, and I rushed to the window, pushing it up and pulling him into my room.

When I saw him standing there, I was sure the whole week, Steve's death, the funeral, all of it must have been some horrible mistake. I'd thrown my arms around him, crying, hugging him, kissing him and wondering why his lips were so cold. But I didn't really care. He was alive and that was all that mattered.

Then Steve did the strangest thing. He bit me. I felt his teeth sink into my neck and I tried to speak, to ask him what the hell he was doing, but I couldn't. I couldn't even pull away as I felt my blood draining from my body, while he sucked it out of me. I felt revulsion, wanting him to stop, but at the same time, a strange desire for him to continue. Then the room began to fade and I knew I was dying. You can only lose so much blood, before your heart stops beating and Steve was taking it all. Just before everything faded he had bent over me, kissing me. He'd put his wrist to my mouth and he must have cut it, because it was bleeding. He'd squeezed a few drops onto my tongue and told me he'd see me in a few days. Then everything faded and I knew nothing until I woke up. In a coffin. A dark, confining coffin, with no one around to hear me scream, but the dead. And God, but He didn't seem to be listening and I was beginning to realize my true predicament. If I was right, I was sure He would never be listening to me again.

Someone must have been listening though because I could hear the sound of digging, coming from somewhere up above. Then I could hear something scraping across the top of the coffin, a shovel, I was sure. I began screaming, begging whoever was out there to let me out. Slowly, the lid was pulled open, revealing moonlight and instinctively I closed my eyes, sensitive to the light. When I opened them again, Steve was standing there, holding his hand out to help me up. He was smiling at me, his teeth flashing white beneath the moon. His canines stood out sharp points, gleaming brightly, menacingly. The fangs of a vampire, and my worst fears were realized. I took his hand and he pulled me from my grave, the one I now wished for longingly, as I realized what I had become. And my new life was begun.


I wanted to die. I couldn’t believe this is what my life had become, as I looked in disbelief at the baby Steve was holding out to me.

“Come on Jayne.” Steve pleaded. “You haven’t eaten in a week. You need blood.”

“It’s just a baby!” I said, horrified at what he expected me to do.

“I told you, you should have left her in the ground.”

I shot an angry glance at the source of that comment. Linda was the vampire who had turned Steve and she had made it clear to me on day one that she wanted him all to herself. She hated me, because Steve had come after me. I hated her even more.

“Linda, back off,” Steve warned. Linda opened her mouth, preparing to shoot off another comment, then seemed to change her mind and, folding her arms across her chest, leaned against the wall to watch me squirm.

“I can’t,” I said, pleading for Steve to understand, “not a baby.”

“And not a rat, not a cat and not a dog!” Steve said frustrated. “I love you Jayne! You have to eat!”

Linda’s face twitched when Steve said he loved me and I smiled at the pain I saw there. I wanted the witch to feel some pain. After all, she was the source of mine.

“Please,” Steve said, holding the baby out. I took it from him, cradling it in my arms. It? No, her. Her eyes were blue, the same color as mine. At least mine had been blue. I wasn’t so sure anymore. Steve’s eyes had been green. I’d always loved staring into them. I used to get lost in his eyes, oh God, did I say that. I sound so sappy, but I did. I loved his eyes. But now they were black, just like Linda’s and every other vampire I had met since being dug up. I imagined mine were probably black too, but I wasn’t sure. I tried looking in a mirror that first night, but the stories about not casting a reflection were true and I couldn’t see my face.

“If you loved me, you wouldn’t ask me to do this!” I said. “If you loved me, you wouldn’t have done this to me!”

The baby started crying as I yelled this at Steve and I touched my finger to her lips, trying to soothe her. Assumingly, I whispered to the baby, but my finger was cold, lifeless and my breath must surely smell of death, and the baby was scared, no, terrified of me. She screamed, her eyes wild and afraid.

“Take her back where you got her.” I said, shoving her into Steve’s arms.

“Jayne, I’m not taking her back.” Steve said. “She’d just die anyway. Her parents are dead. I fed off of her mother.”

“And I killed her Father.” Linda said. “It was very intimate, our shared feeding. Brings two vampires closer to each other, sharing the fate of two people. Draining their lives from them. It’s very arousing.” Linda paused, letting her words sink in, then said, “but I guess you’ll never know.”

“Linda,” Steve warned, but Linda wouldn’t listen.

“She’s not one of us! She can’t let go of her life! Look at her. She’s weak and doesn’t deserve to be a vampire! Not like you. You should have just stayed away from her.”

“Like you should have stayed away from me.” Steve said. “I remember James wasn’t too happy when you brought me here. Something about a covenant being broken. But you did it anyway.”

“Because I love you!” Linda said. “I love you and this was the only way for us to be together. Remember, you didn’t resist. I told you what I was and you offered your blood willingly. You wanted this life.”

“I thought,” Steve paused, and then continued, “Yes, this is what I wanted, but I love Jayne.” Steve said, “and this is the only way I could be with her. It’s not easy learning to be a vampire, but she’ll learn.”

“Learning!” Linda spat. “You don’t learn! You just are. It’s instinct. You had no problem. Remember when I turned you? You knew what I was, I offered you the choice, and you welcomed my bite. You savored it! Then when I dug you up, you took my offering with no question. You sucked her dry, the baby I gave you. You hungered for blood, like any true vampire would.”

I was horrified and could feel the anger rising in me, as I listened to the two of them arguing. Steve had known that he’d become a vampire? He’d wanted it? And he’d killed a baby without any qualms? How could this be? But I knew it had to be true, because here he stood in front of me, expecting me to kill this baby. But how could I? How could he expect me to?

I looked around the room I stood in, the heavy drapes pulled away from the window, allowing the moonlight to come in. It was my room, the one the Council of Elders had allowed me to sleep in after my first night as a vampire. Steve had brought me here to the manor after he had rescued me from my grave. When he’d first pulled me from my coffin, he had offered me a small animal, a cat I think, but my memory’s a bit fuzzy. I’d screamed, cried, begged him to not make me. He had cried too, saying he was sorry; he shouldn’t have done this to me. Then he brought me to the old hospital on Crane hill. It used to house mental patients, but had been abandoned for years. Or so I and everyone else in town had thought, but that night I discovered it wasn’t true.

It was called The Manor, and kids used to dare each other to spend the night there. It had been a rite of passage for years, although to my knowledge, no one had succeeded in lasting the whole night. The ones that were brave enough to cross the threshold and enter the mental hospital would usually come back out within an hour with tales of ghosts and werewolves...vampires, and stories of room that held all kinds of medical equipment meant for torturing the innocent.

Linda met Steve at the door, worried about where he had been. Then she’d seen me and flown off in a rage. Another vampire had been there too and he introduced himself as James. He seemed fatherly and while Linda caused me to feel cold inside, I felt warm under his smile. For the first time since I woke in a coffin I wasn’t afraid.

James had offered me something to drink, and after reassuring me it wasn’t blood, I had taken it. It was some strange concoction, minty, and something else I couldn’t put my finger on. It warmed me. I was grateful. James had told Linda to go; he would talk to her later. “We’ll discuss the consequences.” He had said.

“But it’s not my fault!” she’d argued. “I warned him.” James had turned his back on her then, taking my hand and leading me into another room.

I was tired from a day spent screaming, crying, pounding and he allowed me to sleep on the couch, under his watchful eye. He made me feel safe. I drifted in and out of sleep that night, periodically hearing voices discussing me.

“What are we to do with her?” one voice said.

“The covenant? Can it be saved?” another asked.

Another demanded punishment, but I was too tired to worry if the voice was talking about me or someone else.

Then I heard James. “The damage is already done. There’s nothing more to do than to see to her care and help her adjust.”

James woke me an hour before dawn, offering me more of the drink I had had earlier. Then he had led me down some steps that seemed to go on forever. They led into a series of tunnels, which I quickly recognized as an older section of the sewer system that ran beneath the city. I had done a report on it for school and remembered how I had included the stories the old townspeople had of vampires that lived within them. Apparently those stories were true. Contained within the sewers was a horror beyond anything I had ever imagined. Twenty or so coffins all lined in a row, most occupied by a vampire. Steve stood beside one and Linda by another. I realized that with the coming light, they were preparing to sleep and I was expected to sleep in one. James was holding my hand as he led the way, but as soon as I saw the coffin, I began to pull from him.

“I can’t!” I screamed. “I can’t do it. Please don’t make me.”

Linda had laughed. “Go ahead.” She mocked. “Stay in the sun and see what happens. At least we’ll be rid of you!”

James talked to me in soothing whispers, convincing me to give it a try. “You’re a vampire now, he said, “it’s a bit uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it.” Reluctantly I had climbed in and lay down, but as soon as the lid was closed I knew I couldn’t do it. My heart was pounding wildly as the dark enveloped me. I couldn’t breathe. I screamed, swinging my fist at the lid, which swung back at the force of my blow. I heard Linda laughing.

“James,” one vampire said, “dawn is coming. We have to get in.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” James answered. “No light can reach the catacombs. It’s only tradition that sends us here.”

“But it is tradition,” the vampire said, “and must be observed. It has served us well.”

“If she can’t sleep.” Linda taunted, “then she doesn’t deserve to be one of us. After all, what kind of a vampire is afraid of the dark?”

“One that has been traumatized by thoughtless actions and selfish intent.” James answered, quieting Linda and causing Steve to bow his head in shame.

“Well, what are we to do?” another vampire asked.

“You all, sleep as normal.” James said. “For tonight, I will find another option for Jayne.” He then took me by the hand and led me back up the steps, out of the catacombs.

“We have to hurry.” James said. “Dawn will be here soon and you don’t want to get caught in the open. We ran through the manor, up a flight of steps and into a room, where I could see the sun beginning to shine through the window. I covered my eyes, feeling the sting and burn of the sun and I heard James cry out in pain. Then darkness covered the room and the pain receded. I opened my eyes to discover that James had pulled the drapes over the window. They were heavy and completely shut out the light.

“You may sleep here today.” James said. “Tomorrow we can decide what arrangements to make for you.”

“What about you?” I asked, noticing the burn on his arm, where the sunlight had struck. “You can’t go back out there.

“I will stay with you this morning.” He said. “You probably shouldn’t be left alone anyway.”

And so I had spent my first day in this room I know stood in with Steve and Linda, and every morning since. The Council of Elders hadn’t been happy, “tradition,” they had said, but James was the coven leader and he got his way. But as I stood here listening to Linda argue that I wasn’t a true vampire, I knew she was right. I wasn’t, and I wanted more than anything to die.

"Jayne," Steve said, "are you listening to me?"

"What?" I asked, looking back at Steve.

"I think you were daydreaming." he laughed. "You were always doing that."

"Well?" Linda asked. "Are you going to drink her blood or not?"

"I looked at the baby that Steve was holding out to me once more."

"Come on Jayne," Steve pleaded. I don't know what happens when you get too weak, but I'm sure it's not pleasant."

"It can't be any worse than right now." I said.

"Want to bet?" Linda asked, "I've seen it. Oh, you don't die, but you wish you can. Your skin turns grey, you shrivel into an old prune, your body starts to's great! Back before James became the leader of the coven it used to happen all the time. Lucus, the leader we had then used to starve vampires for punishment. He'd chain you in the sewers, not even letting you sleep in your coffin, but chained to the wall, and he would leave you there for weeks, even months. There was one vampire he kept chained for a year. He went insane! It was awesome. He kept him chained in a section of the sewer that has an opening in the ceiling that allowed sunlight in. Every morning the sun would come through, not for very long, just briefly, and the old coot would get burned. He’d scream so loud they could hear him up above ground. Scared the villagers so bad, they would hide in their homes until it was all over. Then James took control of our coven and put an end to it all."

"That sounds horrible!" I said. "What happened to the old leader?"

"I don't know. James and the other council elders locked him up somewhere."

“They overthrew him?” I asked.

“You bet.” Linda said, sounding disappointed. “James got some stupid idea in his head that we needed redemption. He kept talking about God and Heaven and how we might still have a chance at salvation. He acted as though we weren’t automatically damned for what we were. He convinced some of the other vampires to go along with him. Oh, Lucus put up a fight, but somehow they managed to overpower him. Next thing we knew, James had declared himself our leader and created a new council. At the time they just called themselves The Council, but as time passed they changed it to The Council of Elders. That was about a hundred years ago and Lucus and his followers have been locked in their coffins all this time.”

"Are they starving him too?" I asked, horrified at that thought, even though it would serve him right.

"Are you kidding? This council is too weak to do anything like that. Always talking about mercy. No, he's locked in his coffin somewhere, sleeping, until they decide to wake him. That was the reason Lucus, never let his victims have their coffins. They couldn't achieve a deep enough sleep to escape their pain. A vampire can sleep for however long he needs to when there is no blood available. Plus, he enjoyed torturing them with the sun. ‘No mercy for the weak!’ He would say. I bet he’s spinning in his grave."

"Well there you go," I said, I'll just go into a deep sleep. Problem solved."

"You have to get into your coffin for that." Linda laughed. "And we know you won't do that."

“No, I guess not.” I said, disappointed.

“Jayne, the facts are, you are a vampire now,” Steve said, trying to sound firm, “and you need to drink blood. If you don’t, apparently you are in for a great deal of pain. And it’s not so bad. The first time is a little freaky,”

“A little freaky?” I interrupted. “If I listen to Linda, it sounds like you had no problem at all.” The accusation was there in my voice. “If I listen to Linda, it sounds like you enjoyed it.”

“He did.” Linda said. “Remember how the blood dripped from your mouth and down your chin. I licked it off for him.” Linda said that last bit with a sly grin on her face and from the way Steve looked at her I figured it to be true.

“Really,” I said, the sarcasm dripping from my tongue. “Steve, did I ever really know you, because if that’s true, that you enjoyed it, I don’t see how I could have.”

“Enough!” Linda said, “I’m tired of this debate. You sound so much like James, with his stupid rules; I think I’m going to be sick. If you won’t drink this creature’s blood, then I will.”

Horrified, I watched as Linda scooped the baby from Steve and bent over her, preparing to sink her teeth in. Creature? It was hard to believe Linda had ever been human. And Steve was looking on with an odd gleam in his eye. He licked his lips, as though anticipating her bite. He wanted her to do it. Is this what I would become. I could smell the baby’s blood and it aroused a desire in me to taste it. Why was I fighting this, if eventually I would give in. Would I give in? “No,” I screamed and something inside of me snapped. I grabbed the baby from Linda’s grasp and fled the room.

“Give that back to me!” Linda snarled

“Jayne!” Steve yelled, trying to stop me. I could hear them coming after me as I ran down the hall, cradling the baby in my arms. I made it to the stairs and bolted down them as fast as I could, passing James in the process.

“What’s going on?” James said, trying to grab my arm, but I ran past too fast for him, too frightened to stop. The front door was just ahead and I flung it open and out into the night just as Linda, followed by Steve, reached the bottom of the steps.

It was raining outside and the moon was hidden behind clouds, but despite my new found fear of the dark I kept running. Besides, I was discovering that there was a sort of beauty to the night. With my vampire eyes, I could see things I had never noticed before. If it wasn’t for the creatures that lurked there, I might have enjoyed my new eyes. But ever since I had woken to my new life, I had discovered that the monsters of my childhood imagination really did exist. And at the moment two of them were chasing me. Or at least one. I couldn’t make myself believe that Steve was a true monster.

I ran through the Crane cemetery and towards Franklin Ave. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but as soon as my feet hit Franklin I turned towards town.

“This is a bad idea,” I said to myself, but still, I kept going.

I could hear Steve and Linda behind me. I was afraid to turn around to see, but it sounded as though they were gaining on me. I was weak from so long without nutrition and the baby’s blood was beginning to smell tempting. A part of me wanted to bite into her young neck, ripping it open to drink. But another part of me gagged at the thought and I pushed on, heading for Baker street. I recognized the stores as I passed and prayed that no one looking out a window would see me. Then I caught myself and laughed. What had possessed me to pray, to God no less. Wasn’t He the one who had allowed this to happen to me? And I was counting on Him to help me get through town without being recognized. And even if I did make it to wherever my feet were leading me, what would I do then? Knock on someone’s door and ask them to take me and the baby in and oh, by the way, I am that nice young girl who died last week. Yes, it was my funeral you attended, but don’t worry, I’m a vampire now but I promise I won’t drink your blood. I would end up with a stake through my heart for sure.”

Then I rounded Baker street and ran straight into a brick wall. Well, not so much a brick wall as James, and he had such a firm grip on me that I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

“Jayne, are you alright?” he asked. “Why are you running away?” Then he saw the baby for the first time and his voice changed, no longer concerned, but angry. “Jayne, where did this baby come from?”

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