1: Little Monster
Why is it true life was never like a fairy tale? Or at the very least ended like one. In Cinderella: girl meets boy, boy falls for girl, they live happily ever after. That's it. The end. Case closed, no questions asked, everyone's happy. It seemed to me that the most realistic ending of all was an Edward Scissorhands remake: girl meets boy, boy falls for girl, and conformist mob chases boy back into his castle.
I could definitely relate to him.
I was weird. There isn't another way to tell you what I was like when I was a little kid besides that. I personally believed that I was normal, and I wasn't going to change my hobbies and personality for anyone. And even though my parents respected me for that, others did not. And thus, I became what they would consider 'weird'.
As if being a vampire wasn't already bad enough!
I was born in Bucharest, Romania. I didn't have an extraordinary entrance to the world, as one might expect from a vampire. It was rather dull, actually, being born in an underground hospital made specifically for my kind. No sunlight; no happiness.
My mother had been in labor for two very long nights. Occasionally she would favor me with detailed descriptions of just how much pain I had put her through, in the future. Detailed descriptions that always forced my appetite away.
When I finally cooperated and decided it was time to make my presence known to the world, my parents debated between baby names. They were going to either name me Alexander; after my grandpa, who had passed away years before my birth, or my great-great-great-great grandpa, Barry. I am thankful they picked the first one; imagine spending eternity with a horrid name like that! I would have been teased loads more if I had had "Barry" as my name!
The years flew by in our beautifully ominous mansion. My grandmother had an identical one, right down to the last cobweb, in America. We occasionally visited her when we had time, which I loved to do. Grandma was one of those old people who you forget their as old as dirt. She had a lively spirit. Just like my hippie parents.
Okay; they weren't what regular humans would consider hippies. We are more or less called "vampire vegetarians", which is a fancy label that is supposed to mean they didn't eat humans for ethical reasons. My parents had a philosophy about not destroying human life. They drank animal blood and ate raw meat for sustenance. And it worked very well, believe it or not.
And aside from the obvious, another weird thing about my family, specifically my mom, was that we owned mirrors. My mother loved them, but of course, she couldn't use them, so she tended to collect any mirror she came to pass. We had mirror after mirror locked up in the basement with drapes over them so they wouldn't get dust on them.
So I was raised on a steady diet of fluids that could be purchased from any local butcher, and free spirit. My parents were against the vampire world and were dragging me into their little hippie revolution; my first taste of non-conformity. And I liked it. I also liked the thriving feeling I got when I was hearing Siouxsie and the Banshees, watching Jack Skellington, and staring at a full moon.
My parents had friends of course; just none that were into the vegetarianism thing. They were friends with the Maxwells, a rich and respected family of even weirder people than us.
Everybody in the Maxwell clan had white hair and a malnourished figure. It was like a trait passed on for generations or something. Mr. Maxwell had cropped short white hair, and icy blue eyes that seemed to pierce straight through to your soul. Mrs. Maxwell had long white lochs, metallic green eyes and favored her bat earrings. Both seemed to be suffering from extreme starvation; they were almost as thin as poles!
And their children, Jagger and Luna, were the worst people I had ever had the misfortune to meet. They weren't revolting on the eyes; quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. They were both model children. It was their rotten personalities that got to me.
Luna was alright. She wasn't as bad as her twin brother. I barely saw her, actually. She was the odd man out in their family; she was mortal. It was a grievance of the Maxwells. It had something to do with her great-something or another being a human.
But Jagger was rude, mean and vulgar. I've seen wet cats with a better attitude than him. He was my only friend, and my only enemy.
I'd never forget the moment I realized he couldn't be trusted with my friendship.
I was six when it happened. My mom and dad weren't moving around as much back then. We had gone over to the Maxwell's mansion for a little "get together". All the adults crowded around me and Jagger, pushing us closer together. I was starting to feel claustrophobic.
I stood there, clutching my lucky black paintbrush that Grandma had given me, as if I could use it to ward off the adult's pestering questions. I hoped that everything would just melt away. I was never a very social kid back then, and hated talking to people.
They asked Jagger the first few when it came to them that I was the quiet one, while he talked so much it's a miracle he didn't pierce his tongue with his fangs.
"So, Jagger, what's your favorite color?" My mom asked, cooing over him. I restrained myself from throwing up.
"Black!" He shouted, his voice reverberating off the walls. I cringed and covered my ears, my hearing affected by his loudness. I noticed Mrs. Maxwell mimicking my actions. She turned her electric green eyes on to me.
"And you, Alexander?" She inquired politely.
It took me a few seconds to think up a brilliant response to her answer. "Um . . . black," I whispered shyly. I wasn't comfortable in the spotlight.
"What do you like doing?" She continued.
I smiled for the first time since my arrival there. Finally, we were moving on from the baby questions and on to others that I was happier with! "I like to draw."
Simple answer, right? Apparently, judging by the identical looks of shock they all wore, it wasn't, though. Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell's eyes darted to my parents and then back to me. Mrs. Maxwell recovered the fastest. She twisted her long white hair around her finger.
"What do you want to be when you're older?" She asked.
The smile shifted to an all out grin. All of my prior uncomfortable feelings vanished.
"I want . . ." I started.
"I want . . ."
I took a deep breath. "I want to be an artist!" I said breathlessly, passion coursing through my veins.
Everyone ---except my parents--- gave me an incredulous look.
"Freak," I heard Jagger mutter under his breath.
I spent most of my life hearing that word replay itself over and over again.
My dad had acquired a job as an art dealer, working for the humans, in the years I was teething on Scare Bear baby rings. He toured all over the United States, dragging mom and me from Romania with him. I always threw a tantrum about it though, and locked myself in my own coffin when the time to leave was underway. I loved my dear Romania too much to abandon it. I loved every single dust shrouded banister in my house, the broken windows, and the chipped paint.
It was like I was a movie star. A horror movie star, but a movie star nonetheless.
But I will admit that moving had its benefits. If I hadn't moved, I'd have never found my passion.
My dad was able to commission one of his artists to paint us. It took a long time to create. I was getting fidgety like any three year old would by the time he was finished.
Finally, the artist called over to me.
"Hey, kid, come and see," he commanded. After pushing me several times towards him, my mother almost gave up hope of moving her very reluctant son over to the artist. But I wasn't so sure I wanted to be near him. That beard on his face looked like it could swoosh out and eat me at will.
But my curiosity was greater than my self-conservation. I slowly walked over to the wide canvas to observe his work.
I cannot adequately describe the feeling that ran down my system as I stared straight into my own face. If I could see myself in a mirror, would I really look like this? I saw a small, thin, pale boy, with shoulder length, deepest midnight hair and ebony eyes. I looked warm and happy. The artist had captured my mother's smile that suggested something mischievous, and he even caught my father's kind eyes, something I had recently thought impossible to recreate. I looked up at the artist like he was God.
The artist was my inspiration. I drew in a sketch book I carried everywhere. Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Frankenstein, the Werewolf, and Count Dracula graced the earlier pages of my work.
My grandma was also a huge influence on my artistic world. She was a human, a wrinkled version of Luna.
We visited rarely, but she taught me everything I knew. Even how to mix my own paint.
"Good, good, Alexander!" She crowed. "We'll make an artist out of you yet!" She gave me a kiss on the top of my head with her leathery, pink lips, holding my drawing of the Mansion, a huge Gothedelic place in a small, conformity indulged town that I had dubbed Dullsville the moment I had arrived. It was no wonder that by the time she died, Grandma had gone nearly insane.
As bizarre as she looked ---like a human prune with a cloud of curly gray hair, slightly blind blue eyes and a hunched back complete with unlimited wrinkles--- I thought she was the most beautiful human I had ever seen. Maybe because she understood me.
It hit me hard when she died. I felt like a part of my soul had died along with her. But still, I tried my best to fit in with the other kids. In other words, Jagger.
The adults gradually traded in their conspicuous individuality for flowered or vibrantly colored business suits. I seriously thought that they were going to change us next. No way was I going to give up my cleats and Ozzy Osbourne tee!
Jagger, Luna and I never grew out of our "phase". In fact, we embraced it. Jagger dyed the tips of his white hair blood red, which made him look multicolored because he had mismatched eyes. One was as blue as his father's; the other was the emerald eye of his mother's.
One day, when we were fourteen, we slipped away from the adults and flew off to the mall. It was exciting to see all the humans buying pretzels and talking up a storm. All the vibrant colors and smells made my senses blur. I highly doubted Jagger felt the same way, though; he was striding with a confidence and determination I had never seen before, apparently on the look out for something.
Finally, we came to a stop in front of an abandoned area of the mall. There was only one human there, a woman in her twenties with a black boyish pixie cut. She was guarding an ear piercing booth and wielding the machine in a threatening manner.
I thought I understood what this was all about, so I hopped up on to the stool, choosing a modest set of silver and onyx earrings for myself, while Jagger chose to wear a single skeleton charm hanging from his ear. After a small pinprick of pain, I jumped back on to my feet, smiling at the girl. She blushed, and turned away from me to go to Jagger.
I was thinking about how she was such a nice woman, when it happened. I heard a gasp from behind me and whirled. Jagger had his arms around the woman, and to a human it would have appeared that he was giving her a major hicky. But I alone knew better than that.
"Jagger! Get off of her!" I snarled, trying furtively to grab her away from him. He was stronger than he looked. Although he was thin, he often had the secret indulgence of dreaming of being a jock. Apparently his secret little work outs were working for him. He knocked me out of the way and continued draining her of her life's blood.
The slurping sounds coming from deep inside him were disgusting and mortifying to listen to.
"Do you have to do this in front of a vegetarian?" I asked him, letting my revulsion show in every word.
He shrugged, finally parting his teeth away from the woman's neck to give me a wicked grin. "Want some?" He offered, gesturing suggestively towards her neck.
I gave him a dirty look and turned away. "Is this why we're here? So you can get a free meal?"
"Pretty much, yeah."
I glanced back at him, sitting there with the dead body of an innocent woman in his arms. "How can you live with yourself? How can you be so cruel?" I growled.
He yet again shrugged. "It's the way of life, Art Boy." He said as if that explained it all, and used my nick name in the mix to aggravate me.
"Could you stop calling me that?" I snapped. Why is it I always lost my temper when it came to Jagger? This could not be beneficial for my health.
"I will if you drink the rest," he said quickly. In answer I spit on his shoes.
That only served to spur his anger. He jumped to his feet, sending the body to the ground. "You better watch your back, Art Boy!" He threatened.
"Um, how is it I have to watch my back? I'm not the one who is going to have to explain why I killed somebody to the mall police." I pointed to the fat men in uniform who were huffing and puffing over to where we were.
Jagger let loose a stream of low oaths under his breath. "Run, you idiot!" He shouted, sprinting towards the exit. I was right behind him, the mall cops chasing after us in the distance.
We were in the skies by the time their fat bodies skirted around the crowds.
I could not believe I went through all of that just to get my ears pierced. I hated him. I really hated him.
I was more than grateful to leave Romania after that. Dad got jobs in London, New York and other big cities. The farther away from the Maxwells, the better. I couldn't be around their sadistic son anymore.
My parents were off doing their work, leaving me in the care of our butler and my guardian, Jameson. There was little to do except haunt the playground at night, paint and watch horror movies. I was constantly watching Dracula, alone in the basement of my house. And believe it or not, Bela Lugosi was rather helpful in allowing me to realize something.
That I was alone. There was no one besides Jameson to hang out with. So why would I ever want to be apart of the dark and dreary world of the undead, to be a monster? Being a vampire was a lonely road, hiding from the rest of the world and then hunting down innocent people. Why would I ever want to be a man slaughterer? If I could be more of a man and less of a monster, than maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't be alone anymore. I had never fully understood my parent's reasoning behind the vegetarian thing, but I thought I understood them perfectly clear now.
And the years flew by, more and more monotonous than the last, with me still alone. My hope dwindled, and I hid out in my room more often, listening to Dir en Grey and other metal bands. I painted continuously, growing lost in the rhythmic strokes of the brush against the canvas. I found that I was at my most creative when I came back after a flight. Big Ben with bats flying around the face, the Eiffel tower upside down, my grandparents in a red heart . . . all the things I knew, but not the thing my fingers itched to create. What could it be that I longed for? What couldn't the night offer me? Sunlight; blue skies. Love and happiness. Being a vampire was my personal Hell, something that was tearing me up inside. I was growing jealous of the humans I saw on TV. Why couldn't I have been born human?
The desire for humanity never left. And what little social behavior I had disappeared. All that mattered was losing myself to a can of acrylic paint and my thoughts. And I as happy. Lonely, but happy enough. If there was anyone out there like me I would find them eventually, and we could tour the cemeteries without feeling isolated or tortured by our abnormalities. That's all I could hope for ---especially when hormones kicked in. I found myself wishing for real romance, not the flimsy cardboard relationships that I saw in Mary Kate and Ashley movies. I wanted something lasting. And I wanted it bad.
But I was fully aware of the impossibility of finding love because of what I was. I mean, I'm a seventeen year old Goth vampire with a hidden desire for mortality. It doesn't get weirder than that. I was never going to find love. I would probably never have a girlfriend! And the chance of marriage: zipola.
So I pushed my hidden desires to the back of my mind, focusing on avoiding Dullsville and other places like it for the rest of my existence.
I had no idea that I would be visiting Dullsville so soon. And for such a drastic reason.