Inside Drops of Crimson

 
 
   
 

In This Issue

 
 
 
 

The Girl With the White Hair - Lee Bailes

 
 

She had white hair. That’s about all I can remember of her. Ethereal, otherworldly, only half glimpsed; yet I can’t get her out of my head.

If I could just clear my mind, maybe I could remember something more tangible - instead of having thoughts whorl in and out of focus, dancing to the tune coming from the tinny overhead speakers. Where did I meet her? Had I met her before?

This is too much for a Sunday morning in MacDonald’s; sitting here in damp PVC trousers and drinking a really bitter coke. My face caked in cracked, pasty white makeup and a twelve-hour dance sweat. I can’t go home to shower, until Carl decides to go. It’s his place I’m crashing at.

Carl sits across the table from me and tries to put a move on a young Goth girl, who at fifteen is already becoming used goods.

Why do I do it? Every Saturday night he talks me into it, just as he talks everyone into anything he wants. “Come clubbing. I’ll pay,” he’d say, knowing full well that I will just be there to watch his back while he deals speed. I’m the one who has to protect him and reinforce his ego. You wouldn’t think he could do it. You wouldn’t think he could get any self-respecting girl or guy, but in this world the blokes wear the dresses and the androgynous-fashion-toyboys get the trim. Petite, effeminate, boy-girl-club-toy with the soul of a snake; at twenty years old he’s already guilty of almost every crime of love.

He preens his pony tail, in a narcissistic yet disapproving examination. She fawns all over him but he merely bats her hand away from his crotch in affected irritation.

God, this drink tastes awful.

“That’s my fucking coke Carl” she whines, “tell him it’s mine”.

Carl tilts his shades down dramatically and fixes me in his supposed icy stare. I laugh, knowing I’ve made a serious error. He'll make me pay, somehow.

“Tell him Carl” she whines.

I might have felt sorry for her if she hadn’t been such a vacuous bitch.

“You’ve just consumed the last of the speed dude” he sneers, knowing full well that I can’t handle the stuff. Dammit! Being an insomniac, I never sleep as it is. A shrunken penis is nothing compared to paranoia, and I have enough baggage to deal with without throwing that into the mix.

I always think too much. Before I can think of a witty retort or a top class sound bite, the moment has passed. I’m his bitch and he knows it.

The Goths on the table next to me laugh and even though it could be over something else completely, my blood boils. Before he can stop me I’m standing over their table with fists of boiling granite, wired eyes, a half-snarl slightly revealing a glimpse of razor tipped fang and feeling the eerie sigh of the blade in my boot.

“Cut them,” it sighs. “Like you were cut - go on! Do it!” in its soothing siren song...

“Down boy” Carl whispers in my ear. All eyes were on me and unaware of the gravity of the situation.

Too close, I almost let the rage wash over me.

“Can we help you?” a honey-dipped voice asks over my other shoulder.

“It’s nothing love,” Carl breathes, his voice burning with heat. I haven’t heard him like this for anyone in a long time. It cuts through the haze and I realise what I’m doing. My fists are set in stone, alabaster, just like her hair.

Red lips! I remember the reddest lips I’ve ever seen outside of a geisha in a Japanese film. Pillow-soft and alluringly moist.

“Earth to Mongo” laughs Carl, patting me on the back. “He doesn’t get out much, not without restraints anyway.”

“No?”

That voice again, cultured, cool and precise.

I turn uneasily, punch drunk with Adrenalin.

It’s her!

She has the whitest hair I’ve ever seen and those eyes! Twin black slits hiding a presence far more powerful than any woman her age, set in a rounded, yet angular and utterly perfect face. Her skin is unblemished and seemingly without a trace of makeup. The laughter lines teasing the edge of that alluring mouth are the only whisper of reality to detract from the doll-like. I take all this in like a last dying breath, before I go under.

“We’ve met I think,” she whispers breathily. Her words seem to buzz around me and in my brain I fell. In my brain the world shook and I went with it. But I’m still here, standing mute and disconnected. I have to bolt before I completely lose it again.

People are staring, they must be.

Speechlessly, I shoulder Carl out of the way, knocking him back into the booth and dash towards the street. The stairs clear as I make my desperate escape into the rain and the wind, towards the void. The last thing I hear above the clatter of my boots is Carl’s fawning laughter.

“He’s umm, a bit shy” - laughing at me. His laughter is echoed by a shrill girlish cachinnation but I know it’s not hers.

Islington on a shitty winter post clubbing morning is like waking after a soul-destroying nightmare; you can’t make anyone else understand it or share the feeling and you certainly don’t want to be part of it. But there is no shelter. Every single drop of stinging rain is followed by a gust of biting wind that seem to hurl them at me with all the might of God. The power that always lets me know my place here.

I catch a glimpse of myself in a broken, crap encrusted windowpane. I rarely like what I see, unless in a certain angle or a certain light, or with the right mood-enhancing drug, I am someone else; then I might become a confident, proud, sociable and talkative twenty-year-old collection of hormones and needs, a healthy and almost attractive - if not unusually featured - man.

Then one wrong look from an attractive woman, a disparaging word, the flipside of my fucked up self rears up and kicks me in the groin, wrenches my head back by the hair and screams ‘You are a worthless piece of shit!’

It can happen in the blink of an eye and last as long. Or it can last for days or weeks without a single lull or gasp of clean unpolluted air.

Right now, the glimpse of my reflection burns my skin ice cold and renders it scratchy and festering, crawling with swirling phantasmic doubts. Slow creeping hives move rhythmically under my clothes. This is not one of those ‘certain angle’ kind of days.

Her eyes, framed by that Arctic hair, burn themselves into my brain as I ease the demons from under my skin with the blade in my hand. Its edge glints dully with overcast daylight. I slump back against the wall, in the doorway of a derelict warehouse, as contaminated blood oozes free. Fire would be better, perhaps a cigarette burn or two, but right now it will have to do. I work the blade between patches of old, hardened scars near my wrist bone. There is less unmarked flesh to choose from with each passing day.

I sit on the step and feel tears breaking free as they mix with the rain and wash the ooze away. Washing it all down into the sewers where it belongs.

“Look at the turd they couldn’t flush away,” cheers Carl.

I try to think of a witty retort but my spirit is too diluted. I sweep through the mildew-infested hallway into the inner gloom of Carl’s love den. The house is an end of terrace, two-bedroom, unwanted property, adrift in a recent flood of car parks and warehouses. A weird remnant of a past age, already threatened with demolition. Carl plays his tunes excessively loud at all hours, but we rarely have any bother with a drunken landlord and abusive, crack-dealing, couple next door.

It’s strangely comforting to come back to this shithole, despite Carl’s knowing superiority. I feel his gaze as I slink across the room, ducking beneath the bin liner and wall hanging-covered ceiling and flop onto my bed - a duvet and sleeping bag covered floor, with a rolled up jacket for a pillow.

I have been living here for a month now, ever since my criminally minded landlord evicted me and I had bumped into Carl at an illegal rave. My landlord had taken my dole checks and rent money and then thrown me out. He was big, but not so big that I didn’t think twice about giving him a good kicking. However, his baseball bat packing friends convinced me otherwise.

Carl never stopped reminding me of the favour he was doing for me or my end of the bargain. I was his ‘minder’ when he went out and in return I had a place to hide out and some ‘beer money’ until I got back on my feet.

I’m not particularly tall or well built, but I know how to hurt you and make you stay hurt given the opportunity. With Carl I get a lot of opportunities.

Carl always gets hassled. His androgynous looks and effeminate ways are a beacon to thugs, and it doesn’t help when he’ll do anything and step on anyone to get what he wants. But I have a look that makes thugs cross the street, when the knife sighs and my blood freezes. For Carl and me it’s a marriage of convenience.

“You’re sleeping in the kitchen tonight” he brags, “I’m having a guest over”. He pauses for effect, waiting for my reaction and scowls when he gets none, as I settle on my bed. “You’ve met her”.

I watch him primping, kneeling in front of the mirror, touching up his makeup by the light of a single bare bulb and fogging up the glass with plumes of icy breath. The only heating was from an old convection heater, which could never compete with the draft blowing in from a broken windowpane. The hole was boarded up with cardboard and is a reminder of the last time Carl drunkenly tried to sleep with me. He always gets feisty and less fussy, when he is drunk and can’t pull in the pub. It’s bastard cold now - even with the heater on. I’m not looking forward to sleeping in the kitchen later, which has no heating to speak of and is very popular with the nightly squeaking visitors that scamper amongst the dirty dishes.

“Go get ready. We’ve got a lot of stuff to shift tonight.” His words resonate deeply. I am to go out amongst ‘them’ again, the very people I was warned against from the very pulpit of my father’s fucked up love – the heathens, the drug takers and hedonists. I can handle it in small doses, but twice in as many nights? This is the last thing I need. I started because it was a small price to pay and I thought I could deal with the second-hand guilt. I was wrong.

If Karma was a real force and we do get reincarnated, then I must have done some great wrongs in a past life. How long must I keep paying for them? How many lifetimes must I live to tip the balance? Carl’s reflection is framed by the words on the mirror, written in swirling red nail varnish, dripping like blood. It reads: "Bad luck isn't brought by broken mirrors but by broken minds".

The bathroom is placed at the end of a tiny extension, overlooking an overgrown rubble-strewn garden that is just visible through the crusty window. I step gingerly from my shorts, trying to cross the room by avoiding ice-cold tiles, into the cloying steam of the scalding hot shower in one bound.

The window is permanently ajar and with the alternating steam and ice-cold draught, the scabrous paint is always victim to intensely resilient Mildew patches. Without heating, the permanent sub zero temperature revitalises you; telling you you're very much alive whether you like it or not. Never mind the feeling of a coarse brush scraping away the writhing itch-worming skin and leaving the stinging clean layers exposed beneath.

The vision hits me as I'm distracted by the blistering sensation of scrubbing away at my skin. Normally it feels like a buzzing between my ears and I have enough of a warning, but not this time. Before I can fight it or get into a safer position I am lurching down through the Perspex panel and onto the mildew covered wall. My eyes are wide open. White’s rolled up. The other world pours in and dances through my brain. I am conscious of everything, but powerless to act on the ‘real’, paralysed into submission by the ‘could be’. Water patters my goose-fleshed skin and I fall inwardly, ceasing to feel even that.

Standing over a bloodstained floor, face hidden in shadow. The bare light bulb swings in a maddeningly slow arc with blood dripping from its glass. Arterial spray decorates a wall. The blade of a knife, writing, carving furrows that the blood pools into, hiding the writing from view. Darkness washes over...

I lace up my boots with trembling hands. Drops of water cascade from the tops of my shoulders. My chest is tight and my breathing laboured, but I know the sensation will pass. I try not to make eye contact with Carl. I don’t need any teasing about my mental problems now. This time it felt different, stronger as it was stealthy, and much more profound; conversely more abstract and fragmented than the usual sensory fugue.

"How do I look?" asks Carl, adjusting his bulge along the upper thigh of his silver PVC trousers.

"Like shit" I offer, knowing it will just play on his insecurity.

"Really?"

"Of course not" I say "I'm not having you spend another hour getting ready just because you can't take a joke".

"Are you sure?" He whines" I want to look my best tonight".

Distracted, Carl drifts through the town like a queer ghost, aloof and beyond insults from the football shirt-wearing, fashion-clueless drinkers and low-rent clubbing girls. His face comes alive as we near the Flamingo, an original Victorian redbrick pub with a Pink Flamingo weathervane placed up high. The calm exterior belies the fact that once you open its double doors you will be subjected to a crammed pub, full of Metallers, Goths, Skinheads, Bikers, Punks, Hippies and the odd underage girl; all dancing, drinking and making eyes at each other to the music-pollution coming from twin decks at the far end. You'd think this kind of eclectic mix usually results in violence and you'd be right. It's not as bad as it used to be. But when it kicks off, it really gets hairy inside.

As we move through the doors, heads turn, smile and nod in greeting. Bodies are hugged, hands are pressed and cheeks are kissed, but none of it touches me. People either know me enough to stay away or are too shy to approach me. I wasn’t born with the small talk gene. It's my silence that freaks them out.

Carl anxiously scans the crowd, ignoring eager young things, leaping around to some LA thrash core tune. He moves through the sea of bodies effortlessly and heads out into the car park at the back.

This is where the deals are done and money changes hands. A high wooden fence keeps the wildlife inside and the police outside. The cars act as great shielding devices for amorous lovers and toking teens. Wooden benches and tables aid the rolling and the dealing. That is the only reason I am here. To help Carl make me enough money so that I can leave this place far behind.

We take our place at the furthest table from the Pub doors. It’s well occupied by underage teens, but they see me move towards them feigning a Bloodrage and they split. Now I’m just another drinker relaxing after a hard days work; sitting by himself; minding his own damn business, while Carl preens, sorts out his wares and waits. It doesn’t take long before they start arriving in drips and drabs. Eager clubbers after another pill, or wrap, and one step closer to brains like Swiss cheese, in exchange for another high. The rest of the night is a bore, a few pints, the odd Punk trying it on, but no drama.

No drama until she arrives - the girl with the white hair. She’s so gorgeous it’s already a cliché.

I still can’t remember why or how I know her, but she scares me. Something about that girl isn’t right. It sets my heart pounding beyond a cheap physical attraction.

Carl isn’t bothered or aware of anything awry though. He shuts up shop straight away, stashing the last of it within his jacket and moves to intercept her as she makes her way over. She glides, oozing athletic grace and sensual hips, turning every crotch into Barnum’s big top on a packed night at the circus. Even mine. It’s hard to imagine that she is wearing anything under that white silk dress. I bet her skin is cool and soft and perfectly unblemished; her veins, delicate and blue.

Carl rushes in for a kiss and misses as she easily dodges away, sitting at the table, before he can recover his cool. He sits between us, trying to block me from view and dismisses me with a nod. I’m only too glad to get away, relieved even. But my heartbeat tells a different story. I’m aroused. It doesn’t matter that she could never feel that way about a skunk pussy like me, but for once I am too distracted by the hard weight in the front of my trousers to feel the self-loathing.

“Do I smell?” she asks, knowing full well that her smell is intoxicating and delicious - even to someone so out of reach.

“He has to go see someone about something, don’t you Mike?”

I try to think of an ‘out’ but I’m too confused.

“Just as long as it’s not me” she smiles, warming my crotch again with her sugar sweet tone “I’d hate to drive such a quiet soul away”.

I hide in the cubicle listening to the bass bounce off the tiled walls and reluctantly breathe in the pine scented piss fumes. Ever cautious, I fondle the wrap uneasily as I weigh up the pros and cons of mass murder; wiping the unclean off the face of the Earth, starting with this crowd.

But instead I go for the coward’s option and peel the wrap wide open. Desire must be suppressed and oblivion is sought above all else. The powder crystals twinkle under the rheumy light. Besides, it seems to work for others, so why not for me?

Standing in front of a door bathed in shadow. Blood drips from fingertips. A bloody door handle turning.

I stagger into the kitchen, tripping over the old settee that sits back against the wall. I fall to the floor and end up eating dusty carpet, crumbs and God knows what else, in the process. Blood pulses through my veins, making my head throb.

“You stupid fuck!”

“What’s up with him?”

“I told you not to take it” It was Carl! ”You haven’t got the balls for this kind of shit!”

“What did he take?” a girl’s voice - hers!

I feel myself being turned over. I know I can move but for some reason my brain refuses to issue the orders. I decide that I like looking at the world from this point of view. I am childlike, an infant, seeing the world anew. I giggle at the thought that these could be my parents until a slap rocks my head sideways.

Carl is fuming; his scrawny frame is swathed in a beach towel for modesty. I feel the overwhelming urge to rip it from him and expose the lie he feels necessary to perpetuate night in night out by stuffing his PVC trousers with a rolled up sock, but as I reach upwards he easily bats my hand away and tries to sit me upright. I begin to giggle again. A girlish titter bursts forth and my whole body is wracked with a juddering collision of mirth. I try again to pull the towel away.

“He is so cute like this” she gushes, but her eyes give the lie away. She sits on the arm of the couch, stroking my hair whilst the blanket she is wrapped in almost breaks free of her gently rising bosom. There isn’t an ounce of empathy behind those eyes.

Carl moves into frame.

“You dumb fuck!” he spits, knowing it is futile to try and reason with me “You can’t even handle Aspirin, let alone Acid.” Her hand continues to caress, lulling me into the half state. I can’t reach a hand up to stop her.

A boy kneels. A gun falls. Light plays off the swing set as a belt whistles down. A gun fires. A man falls.

“Lost you for a second there didn’t we” smirks Carl, happy I lost control in front of company; happy that I revealed my main weakness in front of his woman, reassuring him that I am no competition. Who’d want a weirdo like me? If I were like the rest I would show him. I would take her until she begs for mercy, begs for more. I know if I wanted to I could probably do it better than him. Maybe he knows it too. “Let him sleep it off”.

The light dies and I am left alone with my spinning brain as kaleidoscopes of strychnine whirl across my eyes and through my body. A bass beat somewhere thumps away. Occasional laughter and then strange silences, distracting me from sleep. What are they doing?

Even without the drug I would normally lie awake, plagued by creaks and sighs, counting long after all my sheep have jumped the fences and seeing sunrays after all the stars have died. No one is more alone than an insomniac making the night safe as every other fuck sleeps.

A door opens and soft footsteps pad closer. A shadow closes in. I can’t really hear anything else because my blood is still rushing around, pooling in my eardrums and deafening me. A soft hand whispers over my thigh and tangles in the zip of my combats, gently tugging with increased determination. Before I can protest, another hand is placed over my mouth. I can’t smell anything, but the hand is warm and slick with perspiration. A soft mouth touches my ear and whispers, unaware that my blood pounds and drowns every other sound out. The blade at my calf starts to sing. I slowly try to will my hand to reach towards my boot.

The hand at my zip finally wins and I feel cold air filling the void, goosepimpling my crotch, making my sack tighten. The head dips and warm breath chases the gooseflesh away, filling my sack with fire. The belt is navigated and the touch of leather is soon replaced by a single delicate caress of gossamer lips.

The blade…

The kiss draws down, strangely familiar, calculating in its bold approach.

The blood…

A sharp nail traces intricate lines down the terrified underside of my cock. All at once the blood ceases to rush, the sound dies and a Technicolor reality gives in to the sensation of moist tongue.

The release-the blade-the blood-the fear-the crawling madness-the everlasting void…

The tiniest pinprick.

-The what!

-She! She…she fucking bit me!

I start to protest but instead of the expected pain I feel a deep sucking heat. It overwhelms me with its pulsing throb. I bathe in its warm glow, as if sleeping before a roaring fire. I do not need the blade; nor shame or guilt. There is only the sucking.

A light flicks on in the hallway upstairs and she is gone, wiping away at a dark trickle running down from her smeared lipstick. She is out the door, into the freezing fog, before Iain reaches the top stair. Thank God for Iain the midnight munch-fiend, stoner landlord, living upstairs. What the fuck was I thinking of? Lucky for me he came before I was any weaker.

Oblivion washes over me.

I am aware of normal sound returning before I feel the light. It’s a struggle to convince my eyelids to peel open. My eyes scream against the brightness, before yielding the blurry 3D streaked vision of a rat skittering around in the kitchen sink, skiing on an greasy plate.

My legs feel leaden and my head is strangely silent. For once I have a brief respite from my inner voice. There is only the drug addled numbness and a strange itching in my pants. But I’m sure both will be gone after a shower. Breath plumes in front of my face in the deathly cold, even though it looks warm and sunny through the grimy window.

As I lean over the sink, blade in hand, I look down upon the writhing panicked rodent. His cold black eyes look into mine for a second but I feel nothing, not even revulsion. He probably regrets ever clapping eyes on such a pitiable excuse for a kitchen.

Carl would freak if he saw it. I know that. But for once I don’t give a rat’s ass - pardon the pun - and I sheath my blade, which is also strangely silent and head for the bathroom.

I watch the steam climb towards the mildew spotted roof bejeweled with a myriad of intricate shapes and colours, living drops of moisture that could be insects or jewels and wonder at the marvel of drug induced perception. I may have to try this again sometime.

The water batters my skin and runs stinging hot rivers down my spine. I can see every vein and contour in my hand, bones show white beneath its taught covering. How easy it would be to stretch my hand so wide that it would break free and I could clean every inch. Would I ever be able to erase every trace of it? If I scrubbed every pound of flesh and every nerve that felt and screamed, would I ever be clean?

The gun falls, the body drops, the blood pools, the screaming starts.

This time I know it is me that is screaming, as I thrash my way back to the surface, breaking free of the memory that always binds me. For once I don’t care if someone heard me. Maybe there is a time when you face your demons and move on. But do you ever truly learn to forget? Should you? Do you ever stop running even though you know it’s futile?

I scratch open the healing cut from the day before and distract myself from negative memory bullshit by watching the blood drip into the drain between my feet. I am panting like an asthmatic racehorse and feeling the world flip-flop in my head.

“C’mon Carl, rise and shine”.

I knock on the door and gently push it open. Curtains undulate in the path of a draught. Murky light reveals the remnants of a night of passion - that’s a bottle of finest bargain bin white wine, a packet of cigarettes, some lube for those hard to access places and an empty packet of condoms, to the uncultured out there - and a foot poking out from under the duvet. Something is wrong. I don’t hear any snoring.

I kick his foot and expect to see it twitch or retreat into the warmth. Nothing. Not even a groan or a rustle of material in answer. I turn on the light and I see that the wall behind his bed is covered in dried blood, as if having received a fresh coat of paint. Before I can fight the cramps of revulsion my stomach is heaving and jerking. The vomit comes up so hard it flies through the fingers of a cupped hand, as a full stomach of bubbling acid sprays over the wall and duvet below.

It’s funny how I love to watch my own blood flow yet I can’t stand the sight of the blood of others. I can beat someone senseless if they deserve it yet I still need to puke when I can get away to a more private place. Now the smells are doubly foul as fresh stomach juices mix with day old blood and intestinal gases.

I’m not sure if I want to see what awaits me beneath the duvet. I’m not sure if my stomach can handle it. I find myself pulling it back nevertheless.

Oh God! Oh Fuck!

God knows what he had done to her or what demons she had driving her, but I’m sure he didn’t deserve this. He didn’t deserve to have his skin peeled back from his groin and pulled over his face like a shroud; his wrists and inner thighs gouged clear open. Such efficient and brutal cuts.

I am forced to dry heave one more time. My throat is painfully dry and my stomach clenches. I throw the duvet back down over the horror. Then I remember the night before. It all comes flooding back in one screaming wave of stupidity. Did Iain save me from suffering the same fate by needing one more Elvis style burger? After she had made me come would she have finished me off exactly like this? Why would she do this? How could she have managed to subdue Carl and completely flay him like this without any commotion?

I had to find her. I had to know.

‘Wraith’ is the height of Carl’s clubbing world. It’s never advertised in mainstream ‘zines and only available to members and their guests, but you always seem to meet someone who has been there or spot one of the regulars wherever you go. If she was there once she will be bound to come back again. It’s dodgy and sleazy but there is no other alternative on a Saturday night for London’s damned and those who prey on them; not if you want to dance in a warehouse with minimal lighting, disgusting toilets, no bar and a smoke machine producing enough of a haze to make even the most pitiable fashion victim look enchanting and sexy on the dance floor. Like moths to a flame, Goths can't resist it and those who prey on them are equally drawn.

There are only a few places she can be, but with the unusually large crowds, deafening music and the smoke it will be a fluke if I find her tonight. There are three floors she could be on; the lower Techno floor usually doesn’t fill up till everyone’s speed kicks in and round about now the music being played on the middle floor is too intense or too crap to bear this early.

There is definitely something wrong tonight. Everyone keeps looking at me, backing out of my way to let me through or averting their gaze when mine falls their way. I’ll have to be more careful from now on. If I wear my Bloodrage so blatantly tonight I’ll never get close enough to her to find out what happened.

The top floor is where it’s at and the bowed and worn stairs before it are one of the best places to meet, chat and catch-up. People often take speed in the loos and end up chatting for hours, before realising they never even made it back for that last dance when the night is over. This is where the real action happens, the casual sex, the drug deals and the lovers tiffs. At the moment though it is only half full with a handful of dancers being observed by a crowd of milling and cheek-kissing fashion victims and has-beens. She’s not here.

There are few rules to observe in this scene that Carl was so fond of. You must wear black, you must never smile or look happy and most importantly of all, you must never sing along to songs whilst you are dancing. Dourness is no problem at all for me.

What am I you may ask? Goth? Punk? Metaller? I don’t know, or care. I missed out on all this. I’m jealous I guess. I’m jealous of their affected style and their girlfriends, even their lives, but I hate them all equally. I never had a normal childhood or a normal growth. I am misshapen inside and permanently void of all the experiences that made their teenage years fun and full of interest.

Instead of learning how to put on makeup, piercing my own ears and stealing my first kiss, I was running from institution to institution, from foster home to borstal. Instead of shocking my parents with transvestitism and black leather, I spent my years paying for my sins – as the resident priest insisted, even though I remembered nothing of my past; fantasising about reversing time and rejecting my birth, staring at white peeling walls and dreaming of a better place, fighting at every waking minute and spending as much time as possible in solitary.

Carl helped me with my look, enough so I wouldn’t draw attention to myself when he was dealing. He dressed me in his hand-me-downs, played me the right music and introduced me to the right people, but we both knew it wasn’t real. I would never be like him but I might grow in my own right eventually. The only problem was when I stumbled across a look that was unaffected and original, a look that was all my own, people started to notice and he couldn’t handle the competition.

I don’t know what messages I was trying to send out with my boots, combats and leather trenchcoat, but I felt comforted by it all the same. I liked the growth of the new me and I wasn’t going to go back to the institution for something I didn’t do, when I could finally fantasize where my new life might take me. If I can find that bitch and clear my name before they find Carl’s festering body - maybe I can one day bear to be touched by someone and put away the Blade once and for all.

I can never seem to find the ability to relax and enjoy the music, in this dark smoky den of vice and pettiness, even if I lurk by the speakers and try to hide in the smokey shadows. I always feel the looks from the people sitting around the edges and the roving female eyes on the dance floor. I can’t stand scrutiny at the best of times but add speed or any other stimulant and you’ve got trouble. But now my head is clearing and I must ignore them, find a seat and wait, as it may take all night for her to show.

This is the floor where I’m sure I met her the first time and I am sure she will return.

Eventually she arrives. She looks skittish, but enchanting in a red velvet cape and hood, darting her eyes back and forth around the door. She looks so feline I almost expect her to sniff the air before entering.

I don’t make a sound, even slowing my breathing and sitting absolutely still, knowing full well that the music is deafening as Siouxsie Sioux shatters ear drums to a warrior drum beat and chattering guitar.

She takes one step within the door and zeroes in on me as if I wasn’t actually bathed in darkness and hiding behind a large group of Goths. Startled, with her lips pulled back in a snarl, in an instant she is gone. The red cape flashes as it slips through the door and down the stairs.

We are on the street and racing between the buildings as if time and distance had no meaning. Streetlights flash by and headlamp beams barely touch us as we stray from the nightlife into the heart of the dark underbelly of abandoned warehouses and burnt out cars; the parts where the police don’t even patrol at night. A place that is virtually untouched since the blitz.

Just as we near the edge of the river and the rotting wooden jetties of the old docklands, she turns and stops me with a beaming smile.

“Do you know where we are?” She asks, smiling ever deeper.

“Do you think I care?” I spit back and close the distance with a steady direct walk.

“We are at a crossroads you and I”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” I demand, incensed by her lack of remorse. “Why did you do it?”

This seems to confuse her and wipe that smile off her beautiful features, at least for a second, and then it is back; accompanied by her clapping applause.

“Stop fucking around!” I scream, “Tell me why you had to butcher him like that? Like an animal for fucks sake!”

“Oh it wasn’t me I think you’ll find,” she grins. “I think you’ll remember that it was you, eventually.”

Just like a woman to fuck with my head. I feel a sensory fugue invasion coming on, but I can’t give in to it yet. I need to make her pay first. I have to hold on for a little while longer.

“Did you know that the true image of the Vampire is nothing at all what Hollywood perpetuates and Stoker in his homosexual repression could ever dream up?” She has her back to me now. Her head tilted down to observe her reflection in the oil tinted, jet-black, slime filled water.

“What’s your fucking point?” I spit out, already reaching for my Blade.

“The point is that they want to believe in something of unnatural beauty and make our condition one of romantic ever lasting life when in reality we’re just as fucked up as the rest of them and what we do is nothing worth romanticising.” She turns her head, sees the Blade and her smile flickers for a second before she ignores it. Her eyes look directly into mine. “The point is that you are not made, you are born and it’s not a disease or a pact with Satan but a hunger. A plain old fashion hunger.”

“What are you talking about? I’m no fucking Vampire and neither are you!”

“What am I then if I drink blood to survive and sunlight terrifies me?” She barks, starting to tire of this meeting, “What are you if you kill your own flatmate and drink his life’s blood?”

And that is when it hits me like a bitch-slap, the memory of what happened after her kiss.

I kneel unsteadily before his snoring form and remove the duvet. I take the knife and press it to his neck, as he almost wakes, before plunging my head down to his inner thigh and ripping the flesh with my teeth. I drink until the pulsing torrent and coppery tang becomes too much and the heaving makes me spray the wall. Other visions of flaying skin and disembowelment start to flood in, but I repress them...

I come to, kneeling, vomiting, and spraying the grass with acrid bile until the heaving becomes dry and painful. I can’t help noticing the smell of blood and I know it’s not my own.

Why would I do it, it makes no sense? Why?

Her laughter brings me back with an adrenalin kick and I’m together again and beginning to suspect the real reason I am here.

I didn’t drive her here. I was lured. I know what I have to do.

“You thought if you changed your name and took a thousand drugs you could erase your past, but you can’t. You’re one of us again. You’re sick but we can help you. You were lost to us, but now you’re back. It’s not too late!”

In the darkness, I can feel the judging punishing eyes of my kin. Just like her eyes, full of pity and the memory of what I have done. They lurk in the shadows. Their uncertainty polluting the air.

“Your parents should have told you what you were before letting you see your first feed.”

I can feel the memory resurface like the last big chunk of bile that’s impossible to shift - a massive rising lump in my throat.

Feral forms hunched over a struggling baby, separated from its mother like her head from her neck. Its eyes panicking, but too young and confused to cry as my Father drains the life from its throat, whilst my Mother feeds from a tiny thigh. They see the gun in my hand.

 

“They should have explained what they were - what you were before you witnessed a culling.”

She speaks to me as a herder or farmer talking of livestock; so rationally and calmly – so fucking matter-of-factly about the taking of human life that it sickens me.

I know now that I have been living a lie. The thought brings me to my knees. I felt that I was unclean and something that should hide in the dark, when it is they who should fear my kind and pray for daylight and it is my kind who fear me now. The killing was driven by a forbidden hunger. My lack of control and hatred of their kind threatens any hope of a secretive existence.

“We are not immortal and we don’t fear crucifixes. But we do feed on human blood. It enables us to live longer and through centuries of evolution we have developed other gifts. Gifts you may already possess.”

I feel someone dancing around the edge of my mind with clumsy urgency, searching for an answer. I feel a hand on my shoulder and look up into the face of a dead man, the face of my Father. But I know it’s not him, as he had been punished by me for what he did to that young family. That was the first day the blade started to sing. That’s why I was taken away.

I know now that I am not the only animal. The real question is - am I predator or prey? Either way I cannot let these abominations continue.

The vision is gone. There is no hand on my shoulder except hers. The girl’s ploy has failed. Somehow she had pulled my past from the deep recesses of my mind and made it real. I’ve not got time to deal with it. I’ll use it as kindling for the fire of my hatred and act now.

The others grow restless so she tries anew.

She kneels before me, placing her lips enticingly close to mine. She whispers and I know what she speaks is the truth; that I am home. I belong.

So why is it that the knife doesn't agree?

Her beautiful eyes close in agony and surprise with the tiniest telltale thrust of the blade. Blood pours from her open mouth. I kiss her, tasting her blood and force my tongue deeper within, feeling velvety soft wetness and wickedly sharp teeth. I feel her pulse grow weaker as her life spills onto my hand. She groans and falls limp in my arms, her heat quickly fading. I flick the blood from the blade with a practised ease.

I rise and turn to face them, to kill a few more before they can escape. But they were too quick, perhaps expecting this from the start and I am alone again.

A wall glistens with wetness in the moonlight. A bloody symbol painted on a bare brick wall. I have seen this before. I used the very same symbol to warn my parents before I took their stinking lives. It is the inverted sign of the cross of the ‘order’. Mistaken for a satanic act of defiance, it is in fact a rendition of justice; an expression of rage and the promise of vengeance. It is the promise of death by impalement. Now I am the hunted. Marked for death.

My eyes are open now. Next time I will be ready. Next time I will do the luring. Fear my blade.

 
 

About the Author

 
Lee Bailes
 

I was a slave to the corporate e-learning world up until the current global financial crisis and try to keep what little sanity I have left in check by writing screenplays and making short films. I used to run the successful 'Rumour Machine' horror film news and reviews website but had to fold it in order to pursue my filmmaking aspirations. I recently charted as a Semi-Finalist in this year's Shriekfest short screenplay competition and I am currently going through the painful birth of a new feature script. I am also producing the 4th short film for Award winning filmmakers Black CAB productions, and a promotional weekly audio podcast ('Roseblood'). 

   
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