BLOOD & LOVE
Yulia Volkova sat on the barstool and tapped her nails impatiently. She had painted them black, and black was what she was wearing, from head to toe. The nail-tapping wasn't enough to call the waiter's attention, so she took off her little leather jacket and dropped it noisily on the stool beside her. Nothing; the waiter seemed to be deaf, or busy with something. She began kicking the stool's iron legs with her dangerous-looking boots. What was wrong with him? She was plain, damn thirsty, and if he didn't come soon enough she was going to jump behind that bar and snap the guy's neck. Oh yes, she would. He wasn't very strong, so it would cost her no effort. Smiling dangerously, she let the guy know this; what would she do to him.
The waiter received the silent information and chuckled, but he came over to Yulia. There was a grin on his face while he wiped the bar before the girl with a rag. Yulia was furious and losing control over herself; that was what happened when she was that thirsty. One of her hands squeezed the other and, without noticing, her nails dug too deep on her skin and slashed a deep cut.
She held her hand before her face and stared at it. Blood was beginning to gush from the wound, and some heads turned to look at her. But, just as easily as it had came, the cut disappeared before her eyes. Indifferent, Yulia rubbed a bit of dry blood off her palm. There was no scar, no trace of the wound. The curious heads returned to their drinks.
"Look" Yulia sighed, clawing at the wooden bar instead "Do you enjoy driving people nuts? I'm thirsty, you serve me, I pay you. It's easy, isn't it? So come on."
"Weren't you going to snap my neck?" the barman asked teasingly, but he placed a glass in front of the girl "You can't, you know the rules."
"Yeah, I know that I can't kill you -or anyone else- in here. But I swear that I'll wait for you outside and gut you like a fish on your way home if you don't give me something fresh to drink right now. You know I can do it."
The menace worked. Yulia didn't let anyone mock her. Anyone. She watched the waiter smile uneasily while he asked what she wanted to drink.
Let's see... Yulia stretched her arms and hungrily looked behind the barman. In a normal bar you would expect to find all kinds of bottles of different drinks, but this wasn't a normal bar. Not by far. No human could step inside this place. In fact, no human knew about this bar or any other place like this one. Therefore, there was no need for alcohol here, but there was a desperate need for blood.
Instead of bottles, the wall behind the bar was covered with transparent plastic -or glass- cabinets, each one full of alive little creatures. What to choose? That night, Yulia had quite a lot of money; when you didn't have enough cash, the cheapest thing to buy was a glass of already dead blood, kept fresh inside a refrigerator. The next cheapest thing were rats; Yulia knew that they didn't even have to buy them, just send someone to hunt them down in the streets and trashcans. After the rats went the bunnies, which were very sweet and popular, as Coca-Cola was with humans.
"What's that?" Yulia pointed to a cabinet she didn't know the contents of.
She had never seen that. The barman had been filling it while Yulia had tried to call his attention some minutes ago.
"It's the new fad" the waiter said "I've tried them, and they aren't such a big deal, but you know how the rich kids are. It's the image, not the taste. Believe me, you'd rather just buy a rat."
"But what are they?"
The cabinet was dark and packed with breathing, blackish, rope-like creatures. Oh. Snakes. Nothing in the world would have convinced Yulia to try them. She ordered a common drink: bunny mixed with rat. The barman nodded, and picked the two furry things from their cabinets. Yulia forced herself to watch while the guy slashed their tiny throats and squeezed them dry of blood into the glass.
"Drink fast" he said, while he took the money.
"Drink fast" was the common thing to say. She knew she had to; blood got cold and died very soon. Also, she devoured it quickly because of the thirst that was driving her crazy. She ordered another drink and consumed it at the same desperate speed. Now she felt much better, warm inside, and her cheeks had gained a bit of color.
There were many people in the bar that night. Bars like these were really more similar to pubs, but they called them that way. Their size varied; this one was quite large; it had several "areas": the bar, little tables with candles, a dancing floor, and a place with cushions and rugs where you could lay down.
Yulia dug inside the pockets of her jacket and took out a cigarette. She didn't really have the need to smoke; nicotine was nothing to her now, but it was a very human habit she didn't want to abandon. Her body was immune, vampires couldn't die of cancer. So she inhaled deeply and then exhaled, throwing all the smoke out.
Enjoying her cigarette, she strolled around the bar, watching the people chat secretly in their tables, leaning onto each other. But you couldn't stare at anyone for too long, or else you risked getting someone angry. Reading other vampires' thoughts was considered extremely rude, and normally they wouldn't let you, unless he or she was too young and weak to know how to hide them and prevent the reading. So Yulia let her gaze travel around, not letting it pause on anyone in particular, and closed her mind tightly.
She felt awfully bored and lonely. Everyone was either with someone or wearing the face of "leave me alone if you know what's good for you". Damn! And she had thought that touring the bars was a good idea... she had only gotten herself exhausted and thirsty. There was no chance of finding someone, a friend, in this depressing bunch. Look at them. The ones in the dance floor languidly moved to the rhythm of the music, which was somewhat oriental, and they raised their arms as if they weighed a ton. This was unbearable.
Before she knew it, she was out of the bar. Those places had secret entrances. The bars that were in the city, in normal streets (like this bar), were hidden inside and under buildings, sometimes carved in rock. In most cases, the possessor of the bar owned the whole building too, so they could do whatever they wanted with the space. But there were some cases in which humans lived in the flats with their families, unconscious of what was happening underneath them.
Yulia lifted the collar of her jacket and dug her fists inside her pockets. When there was no fun around her kind, she liked to fuse with humans, young boys and girls that happily partied in their pubs. They were so innocent and unconscious of everything, and they felt so smart...
She peered down the street she was walking. It was deserted. There was no one that could see her, so she covered the distance in a couple of seconds, at an unnatural speed that was quite natural to her. She could do those things very easily: jump and reach the third floor of a building, run, walk and do things at higher speed. And there was also the strength. Yulia loved her strength.
The pub greeted her with indifference. No one paid special attention to her. Reading the drunk minds around her, she saw what they saw: just an attractive girl. No one wondered about her white skin or glowing eyes. Good. Carefully, she moved, stressing her senses to avoid touching the people, because bumping against her would be something like crashing against a brick wall. She didn't want to break anyone's bones... yet.
Most of the kids were dancing, and the smell of sweat shot directly to her brain and all her senses, flooding them. Her thirst appeared again, demanding to be drowned in blood. God, how she wanted to walk around the dance floor, taking a sip from one, then a sip of another... until she had tried them and savored them all. Very like plucking petals off a flower. But what she really desired was to taste the death of every one of them, to swallow their lives and feel warm and loved. Unfortunately, killing them all wasn't an option.
Somewhat deceived, Yulia sat alone on one of the sofas scattered around the pub and waited. Soon enough, someone sat down beside her, just how she had expected. It was a boy that looked eighteen years old, good looking, but the typical snobbish, rich kid. He gave a last gulp to his glass and looked at Yulia, smiling anxiously.
"Hi", he said.
Very original. But all his mind was now open for Yulia to read if she chose to do it. Like an apple sliced in half. All his stupid fears, his secrets, and what he thought of her. He had immediately fallen for her shiny blue eyes, her incredible features, and her hair, which was straight and black, sticking out when it reached the back of her neck.
"Were you waiting for someone?" he asked, trying hard to sound casual.
In reality, his mind was screaming: <<tell me that you aren't, you have to tell me you aren't with someone, because I want you, bitch!>>. Typical daddy's boy, straightforward little brain! I want this, I want that, as if he had a right to have anything! It didn't offend her because hunger took her far away from that. Besides, this boy was too weak and stupid to consider him worth listening to.
"Yes, I was waiting for someone" she whispered in his ear as seductively as she was able to make it "I was waiting for you."
A dirty smile spread across his face, and in a moment he was all over Yulia. She had seen him coming, and let him kiss her and run his hands over her body. Yes, come closer, little human. He was too distracted to notice the coldness of her skin, and Yulia let him cling there for some minutes, enjoying the warmth from his bulky body. When those minutes passed, she gently pushed him away and suggested that they'd might as well go to the bathroom.
Vampires were basically neat drinkers, they didn't wipe rivers of blood off their chins, like most of the movies liked to show. Yulia could have taken care of her prey there and then, and no one would have noticed. But that night she felt like getting loose and doing nasty things to that boy.
They walked to the bathrooms; here, there was a small conflict that almost made Yulia yank impatiently at his arm and probably brake it. He wanted to go inside the gent's, but Yulia opened the girl's room. There were always more girls that went to use the bathroom (or only go along with their friends), but it was a safer place. She poked her head inside and miraculously saw no one, so she profited this to shove the boy. Quickly, he got in one of the little cubicles, too anxious to notice how roughly Yulia was treating him. She was more anxious.
The dark-haired girl closed the door, and her smile and frown became malevolent. She pulled the boy to her and found his mouth once again, this time to give him her very special kiss. Now there was no pretending to be human, it was just the vampire, pure and untamed. Yulia hugged the boy's body against her and closed her lips around his. There were no particular feelings towards him, just an uncontrolled wanting. His tongue toyed with hers, and she kept pushing it away, for him not to discover the two canine little fangs. Finally, she took his lower lip between hers and quickly dug her fangs into it, moaning at the taste of blood running against her teeth. She opened her mouth and savored it, sucking at that tasty lip as if it was a sweet.
At first, the boy attempted an escape, trying to pull himself away from Yulia's iron grip, but after a while he understood that it was impossible. And soon he didn't care. He felt as if he was falling down and down some kind of tunnel or well; a tunnel of pleasure where he didn't know or care where he was, he only felt sucked away. Indeed, Yulia was sucking him away, sucking his life along with his blood.
The boy was losing his balance, and leaning completely on the little dark-haired vampire. She smiled and pushed him away to make him sit on the toilet. His head hung lifeless, but he was still very alive and full of blood. And Yulia was going to prove it. She lifted one of his arms and bit his wrist with accuracy. Now this wasn't a little rivulet of blood running into her mouth, this was nearly a torrent. The boy was moaning, but she didn't care much; the pub's music was efficiently swallowing any sound they were making.
Enough. She had been enjoying little nips from here and there. If she left the boy like that, he would die anyway, no hospital would save him, so it was time to finish. Grabbing him from the collar of his shirt, she pulled him up, although he couldn't keep himself standing straight: his feet seemed made out of rubber. She smiled, grabbed him by the hair, and exposed his throat.
"Goodbye, little boy", she whispered.
Her head went down, and her fangs, as if by animal instinct, knew exactly where to stab, which artery. Her lips covered the wound to prevent any little drop spill and go to waste, and her mouth was instantly filled with a gulp, a slosh of pure blood. Now she also felt as if she was disappearing, the only part of her body that existed was her mouth, removing life from that other body.
He was dead. His heartbeats had gotten slower, and now they stopped. Yulia dropped him on the toilet quite carelessly and leaned on the door, closing her eyes. There were two people in the bathroom. Two girls. Good, they were obscenely drunk, so it would be very easy getting out of there.
Working quickly, she grabbed the boy again and located all the wounds that she had caused him. Now she was going to close them all. She bit her tongue and dropped little specks of her own blood over them. Like the cut in her hand, they all disappeared before her eyes, even the big one in the neck. This was what Yulia called a neat job.
The two drunk girls didn't even see her when she went out of the booth and closed the door. One of them, with long, dark brown hair, was busily trying to comb it, but she kept tottering in all directions, rumpling her hair even more. The other girl, blond and even drunker, was too wasted to know where she was. Instead of painting her lips, she was trying to paint the lips of her reflection, and was dragging the lipstick all over the mirror and laughing hysterically.
Yulia smiled and walked to them, enjoying her own reflection in the mirror. Yes, she had a reflection, and she liked to see that her skin color was nearly normal now, very human-like, with rosy cheeks and lips. The warmth she felt inside was delicious, and her head was almost drunk.
"Who are you?" the girl with the brown hair asked her.
"No one", she answered, peering first into this girl's eyes, and then into the other girl's "I'm just a ghost, and you won't remember me."
And they didn't. Yulia went out of the bathroom and the girls continued with their drunk beauty parlor job. Great. She left that pub as soon as she could; although no one was paying her attention or remembering her, she didn't feel comfortable staying in the place where she had killed someone. Besides, if someone sober enough discovered the body of the boy, there would be police calling and trouble she didn't need.
Jamming her hands inside her pockets, she dove into the streets and headed home. She had no interest in arriving early (no one was waiting for her and there was still time), so she didn't walk specially fast: just like a normal person would do. Sometimes she liked to do things normally, trying to remember how would she act if she was still... well, a human. And from time to time, she forgot that there had been a human Yulia, a little girl, a baby. It was as if she remembered the life of another person that had her same face. Hadn't she been a vampire all her life? No! That had only happened a year ago! Scary... she had lived seventeen years, and sometimes she forgot.
The streets were completely empty. Still... She stopped walking and lighted a cigarette, pretending that she needed it, although she didn't. it was an excuse to keep still and listen around her. People were sleeping in their houses and, if she paid enough attention, she could know what they were dreaming. But that was useless, she wasn't alert because of some stupid dream, so she shut down those "voices". There was something else. Like a humming of bees, impossible to read. It had to be another vampire.
"Come out... or leave... if you know what's good for you", she whispered.
There was a slight stirring in the air, and she looked up. It was moving fast. From that building top, to the end of the street, then back up, and then it stopped. Behind her, some ten meters away. She took a drag of her cigarette and turned around.
The vampire was a guy. He wore black too, but specially impressive was his long, leather coat. It reached his feet and had cloak, which the vampire wore over his head. His eyes were concealed behind black sunglasses, and he was smiling.
"I wonder" Yulia said out loud "I wonder when will y'all grow up and get over the Matrix fad. Who do you think you are? Neo?" there was no need of shouting, but she wanted to sound defiant.
He smiled more and crossed his arms. <<You seem lost, little girl>>, his mind said to Yulia's. Lost? No, she just wanted people like him to leave her alone. What was wrong with him, was he searching for trouble? Vampires liked to be left alone most of the time. Their moods were very sensible to changes, specially Yulia's. And what was that "little girl" thing? Did she seem a little girl to him? "Lost"? Maybe, all that happened was that she had entered what he considered his territory. She hated when vampires thought that a street was theirs... it was childish.
"Leave me alone" she said in a normal voice "You don't impress me. I'm not gonna hunt here, okay?"
She saw the vampire nod and disappear into the rooftops. Alone again, she walked a little faster than before, but still enjoying the fresh wind against her still-warm cheeks.
This was her building. She waited for a couple of minutes, listening if there was someone around. When she was sure, she jumped and clung to the balcony of the third flat. Then, she jumped again and found herself on her balcony. Digging her nails, she opened the glass window just a crack and slide in.
Her flat was almost empty. The kitchen was closed, Yulia never went inside it. What for? To eat what? The bathroom was another matter; she needed the shower and the little cupboard jammed with hair products, make up, nail varnish and things like that. Apart from the bathroom, there was only two rooms she used: her "bedroom" and the living room. She went to this last one and turned on the light. There was a TV, a music player, a sofa, and an impressive stack of magazines.
She slumped on the sofa and turned on the TV. Great, a vampire movie, how fitting. Normally, she hated watching those movies because they either made vampires seem like beasts, demons, or animals, or they made them so depressingly sad and philosophical that it was sickening. This film was the first kind; it was about some cowboy-like guys that hunted vampires for a living. Couldn't someone get real? They stuck wooden stakes into their hearts and waved crosses before their faces... God, and the rat-like shrieks of the vampires...
Yulia wished that those cowboys would come to her and try to kill her. Try. She would laugh at their stakes and use them as toothpicks, and then give them a sermon. Who the hell did they think they were, waving crosses as swords? Did they consider themselves sufficiently good and saintly to say that vampires came from the devil? Please! Yulia hated when someone tried to judge her.
After watching the whole movie, cheering every time a vampire killed a human, she chain-smoked a couple of cigarettes. What made those film directors think that vampires lived packed in houses like rat nests? At least she didn't. If she could kidnap one of those directors and bring him to her house and show him how she lived, he would think that she was exactly like a human being except for the blood drinking part. Well, except quite a lot of things but... still! Still, she was no animal! And no demon either...
Why was she worrying about this? There was nothing she could do to change people's opinions, and the only way to be safe was to let them have all those legends... all those stories no one believed in. Maybe Dracula, Lestat, and Buffy were saving her life.
Thinking about this was useless... Loneliness was surely driving her to madness. All that year, she had been completely alone, learning how to take care of herself. The thing was... she liked being a vampire, she enjoyed everything about it except the solitude. Not every one of them was a loner, but Yulia was the prototype of the perfect vampire: a loner, merciless vampire, with no fear, an obsessive and compulsive observer. When she got interested in something she examined it until her own hands destroyed it. Then, she passed on to another thing.
The curtains were open. The living room was the only place in the flat in which Yulia left the curtains like that for the night. She could sense when dawn was near, but she liked to watch it too. It was an extra twinge of emotion: the burning light in her eyes, the weakness in her limbs, and the sleepiness. She walked to the window and listened to the first birds waking up and chirping. There were still things to check on; she closed the curtains, mashed the cigarette stubs against the ashtray, and unplugged both the TV and the music player.
Now that there was no crazy chance of a fire, she stumbled to her bedroom, which was immersed in total darkness. She closed the door and bolted it from inside. Then, she kneeled before the double bed and opened a compartment, which shot out like a drawer. Lifting the bed, she crawled into that big space, closed the "drawer" and got inside her beautifully polished coffin.
Her limbs arranged themselves comfortably while she listened to the bed fall into place. Several times she had slept in that bed; there really was no danger, but that morning she felt like sensing safeness all around her. The coffin was cozy, and she embraced herself, almost praying to have someone that would be hers, just hers.