I walked slowly, savouring the richness of the night. I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that what I did was wrong, and that my very existence went against the laws of nature. But who decides what is "wrong" or "evil", as opposed to what is "right" or "good"? How can it be right for a young lady to be forced to break the hearts of two suitors, or to deny her heart's true desire?
Three men had proposed to me, all of them fine, worthy gentlemen. I had been forced to choose, and choose I had. Arthur I had filled with joy, but I had been able to give only misery to Jack and Quincey. Jack in particular seemed to have taken the rejection very badly. Even Arthur would not have had bliss, had he been able to see into the dark depths of my fantasies, for he could not make my heart burn with passion as sweet Mina could.
I remembered dancing and laughing in the rain with Mina, in a happier time not long ago, although it often seemed as though ages had passed since that night. Indeed, it often seemed as though even more ages had passed since I had last seen her, looking lovely as always and offering to stay with me. I had refused her, sending her away to her waiting fiancé, although I could not now remember why, for he was surely not worthy to even kiss the feet of my darling. Had Mina stayed, I would have made her like myself, an immortal goddess of the night.
None of that mattered now. Mina would surely return, and when she did she would join me in eternity. I was patient; I could and would wait.
I was free from the bindings of humanity. Never again would I be forced to choose between lovers, for I could now take as many as I chose. I would never be forced to break another heart. At any time I desired I could take all three of my fine gentlemanly suitors into the darkness of this beautiful freedom. I didn't think I would, however. Oh, I liked them well enough, but I felt no true attraction towards any of them. Just the fact that I could was enough to keep me satisfied.
I was distracted from my musings by a familiar hunger clawing cruelly at the insides of my stomach. It wasn't human food that I needed, for us immortal breathless ones feed upon the blood of those whose hearts still beat. I stopped near a middle-class house, concealing myself among some trees so that I could not be seen by anyone looking out a window, and then I reached into the house with my thoughts, searching for an unguarded mind.
A young child, maybe four years old, stirred in her bed. She opened glassy, unaware eyes, then slid from her bed and walked out of her bedroom and down the hallway to the front door. The lock on the door clicked, and then the door swung open with a creak of rusty hinges. The child came out through the door and began to move towards the trees among which I was hidden.
The little one stopped when she saw me, a hint of awareness entering her eyes. I knew how I must look to her; a deathly pale apparition clad in a glittering white funeral dress, beautiful and ghostly. Centuries ago a human who saw me may have identified me with Aphrodite or some other goddess or nymph, but in the present day believers in such entities had ceased to exist.
"Angel," the child called out, and I could hear both wonder and fear in her voice. Ah, so it seemed my kind was still liable to be considered divine by the mortals. I laughed lightly, a sound akin the tinkling of bells. I opened my arms and smiled. "Come," I intoned, my voice taking on a hypnotic quality. The young one responded as though I was her mother, or perhaps a much-loved aunt, running into my embrace and placing her arms around my neck when I lifted her up.
Cradling the child against my breast, I began to make my way back to the crypt that I now called home. Even as I walked I lowered my head to nip the child's neck, just hard enough to break the skin and allow a trickle of blood to enter my mouth. The child whimpered, and I shushed her reassuringly. I had no intention of killing this child, or any child. It was blood loss that brought death, not the bite itself, and if I did not take quite that much… well, it was not necessary to slaughter such innocent beings, and so I would not.
Eventually I came to my graveyard. I walked through it, weaving between the graves, until I reached the sarcophagus that I now called home. As I descended the stairs the child in my arms gave a cry of fear, which I ignored. I would reassure her once we were inside, and then I would take what I needed before sending her on her way as the sun rose.
That was not to be, however, for it seemed that my sanctuary had been invaded; there were four men gathered inside. I recognised Arthur Holmwood, who had once been my betrothed (until death do us part), as well as my other suitors, Jack Seward and Quincey Morris. The fourth man, Abraham Van Helsing, was also known to me, although I was not quite as familiar with him as I was with the others, and neither was I anywhere near as fond of him.
I knew that Van Helsing hated my kind, and one look into his eyes not only confirmed that, but also caused a strange emotion to creep into me. It took me almost a minute to realise that I was afraid. I had not felt fear for many nights; there is very little that can overcome even a newborn Nosferatu. Now, however… looking into hateful hunter's eyes, I realised that I may not be top of the pecking order after all. It was then that I finally remembered why I had sent Mina away before I could make her like me. In the absence of fear, I had forgotten this danger to we supposed immortals.
Before I had a chance to defend myself, Van Helsing held up a crucifix and began chanting a prayer. The reaction of my body was both terrifying and unprecedented. The sight of the crucifix induced an unrelenting migraine that made me feel like screaming, and the sound of the chanted prayer caused me to feel as though my eardrums were about to burst. Between the two pains, all I could think to do was cower; I was effectively paralysed.
Through my agony I faintly heard the voice of a man telling me to drop the child. I unthinkingly obeyed, and then shrank back against the side of my coffin, briefly glancing around in search of an escape route. There was none. Helsing continued to advance.
Desperate, I turned to Arthur, who had vowed to protect me. Perhaps his honour would win through, if his infatuation for me did not? "Arthur, love; leave these others and come with me. Come with me," I told him in a voice that was somehow both pleading and seductive. For good measure, I then used my newfound mind powers to project a thought to him; just three words. Remember your promise.
Arthur jerked slightly, and then stared at me with wide eyes. He shuffled one foot forward and nodded so slightly that a human would not have seen it. Suddenly, Van Helsing stepped between us, still holding that damnable crucifix, and chanting a different prayer, one that did not cause my ears to ache. Rather, it caused me to feel rather ill. Bile rose in my throat. I retreated into my coffin, the last sanctuary I had left. Van Helsing continued his chant.
The nausea increased in intensity until I jerked upright, just in time to spew a stream of blood right onto Van Helsing's face. Immediately the clawing hunger returned to my belly, more intense than ever, and every instinct screamed at me to rip and tear and kill and feast until my hunger was sated. Van Helsing, face coated with blood, pushed his crucifix towards me, forcing me to lie back down. All I could do was attempt, albeit feebly, to ignore the hunger and hope that Arthur would be able to save me.
Eyes closed and face blank, I listened as Van Helsing spoke to the other men, turning them against me. I listened as Arthur was given a wooden stake and urged to end my existence. Hope briefly flared within me, but that hope was replaced by shrivelled black despair when I felt the wood been placed on the cloth that covered my breast. The despair was quick to be replaced by anger. How dare he break his oath to me?
I swore to protect you, even from yourself. I was startled to hear Arthur's mind enter my own to give me those words. The anger abated as quickly as it had come. I'm sorry. Tell Mina that I love her, and that I will spend the afterlife looking for a way to come back to her, I told him in return. I felt his grim acknowledgement coupled with much less surprise than I would have thought he would show at those words, and then the stake was hammered into my heart.