I can't remember most of it very clearly. It seems like a really long time ago, but then, time is relative.
I was sitting on the blanket with Jim. We had used it for our picnic earlier. It was beautiful by the lake. The stars were shining, clear and undiminished, the Milky Way obvious in the night sky. Seattle was far away at the moment.
We'd been out here all day, and I was beginning to get a little tired. I yawned.
"Maybe it's time to take you home," he teased, wrapping his arm more tightly around my shoulder.
"Yeah. I guess it is time…"
And then, Jim was gone.
He was there, and then, in the blink of an eye, he wasn't. My shoulder felt the absence of his arm.
I started to get up. "What the…"
But, I didn't get the chance to finish my sentence.
I was grabbed by something cold. It showed no mercy as it dragged me away from the blanket, my arms and legs flailing.
I saw Jim, his lifeless body on the sand by the lake.
I screamed. It didn't do any good.
Something was biting into my neck. The pain was indescribable. It seemed to be drinking the blood that flowed from the wound.
When I thought my death was inevitable, I was suddenly freed. I listened as whatever had taken me was grabbed from behind by something else. I couldn't see what was happening, it was too dark.
I heard one word in a guttural, inhuman voice, "Mine!"
The growling and hissing sounds that followed were terrifying. But, I wasn't aware of them for long. The pain in my neck was increasing.
I felt like I had to hide, so I crawled into the tree line. I felt my neck, but where it had been openly bleeding, suddenly it felt like the skin had been closed. I couldn't understand, I was lightheaded, confused. And it hurt so badly.
But, that wasn't the worst pain I would experience. Not even close.
The fire that started in my neck spread throughout my body. I screamed again and again. Nobody came.
I don't know how long I screamed. It seemed like the sun appeared, but in my pained state, I wasn't really sure if it was the sun. It could have been forever, there was no way to measure time.
At some point, I stopped screaming. It wasn't helping.
Later, I really don't know when, I heard voices coming from the trees around me. I was still in pain, but it was diminishing rapidly, except in my chest. I remained quiet. Some instinct told me that I wanted these people to find me.
They did. I could hear them yelling to each other about Jim, then about me.
"She's alive, but her pulse is too rapid. She can't sustain this beat for very long."
"There's blood all over her shirt, but I can't see a wound."
"Listen to her heart!"
It took all of my strength to lie still.
Then my heart stopped beating and the pain was gone. I couldn't understand. I was alive, but I wasn't, couldn't be.
The scent of his warm breath hit me and the only pain left flared in my throat!!
They didn't have a chance. I took three people down in about four seconds, greedily biting into their necks and drinking my fill.
I understood now.
I sat over the broken bodies, pondering what had just happened. I tried to feel sorry for the lives I had taken, but I couldn't remember why I should. They were just animals, mine for the taking. I was stronger, I ruled supreme over these mere humans.
There was no question about what I had become. But, I had no idea what my limits were. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I was sitting in the trees, afraid to leave the shade.
Wouldn't I die, burn to a cinder, if I walked out into the sun? I'd seen a lot of vampire movies in my other life, my human life. But, the memories were fuzzy, muddied. I did remember that vampires didn't like the sun.
I decided to wander in the trees, check out my surroundings. I had several hours until the sun went down.
I heard a scratching sound behind me as I walked. I turned quickly, flinging my hand into a tree as I spun. The tree broke in half! Wow, I was strong. I spent the next few minutes breaking tree limbs and throwing large boulders into the lake from where I stood.
It was exhilarating.
Then, I heard the noise again. I didn't spin this time. I wasn't afraid anymore. Whatever was behind me couldn't hurt me.
I turned to see what lurked in the woods.
I was stunned. A pale arm pulled itself through the underbrush, the fingers gripping and moving as it went. It was headed toward what appeared to be a torso.
The vampire that had attacked me had either been torn to pieces, or had torn another one to pieces.
I decided that there was a way to see what the sun would do to me. I'd just use the arm. I picked it up and tossed it onto the beach.
It didn't burn; didn't even seem affected by the sun, except that it sparkled like a million diamonds. It was like breaking open a beautiful rock open, one with glittering specks dotting its surface. I knew I'd seen a rock like that in a museum once. But, the picture wasn't clear in my mind.
Well, I didn't have to be afraid of the sun. That would make things easier. But, the sparkling thing could be a problem. Obviously, I couldn't be seen by any person that I would leave alive.
I heard voices coming from a great distance. They were looking for the searchers that had found me. The searchers that lay dead on the beach.
I needed to leave.
I started running, shocking myself with the speed that rushed through my body, flying across the forest floor. The trees flashed past me with perfect clarity.
This could be really cool, I decided.
I ran until I was out of the forest, running along the side of the Pacific Coast Highway. I had covered a great distance in almost no time at all. It was still fully light outside.
I didn't pay any attention to the car that was approaching me from behind. Who cared about the silly human behind the wheel. I was so lost in my exhilaration, I forgot that I couldn't be seen.
But, they couldn't miss me, my skin sparkling wildly with the direct sunlight and the reflections off the water. It must have been blinding, because the car veered wildly, crunching into the guardrail.
I turned long enough to look at the wreck. Steam was shooting out of the radiator and the front of the car was destroyed. The airbags had deployed, trapping the driver behind them. He was frantically pulling at the fabric of the bags, trying to free himself. I could hear him.
"What the hell was that!!" seemed to be the only thing he was able to fully say aloud. I did make out a few colorful words here and there.
I realized then that I had made a mistake. I knew I should not be allowing humans to see me like that. No newspaper article or news story I had ever seen in my first life had mentioned a sparkly being. Oops!!
I remembered the arm I had tossed onto the beach. Crap. That would definitely get noticed!!
I turned around and followed my own scent back into the trees, heading back to the beach.
Whatever needed to be done, that was my plan. I'd already destroyed three humans, what would it matter if I took out a few more to cover my tracks. I would need to eat, and it would be more difficult if humans were on the lookout for vampires.
And, I really had no idea how many vampires there were. Was there only one other? It seemed like they couldn't get along, with all the ripping each other apart over food and all. Could the humans kill me with a wooden stake to the heart, could they repel me with garlic or holy water? These were things I remembered from before, but I didn't know if there was any truth to it – especially since sunlight didn't hurt me.
I had no idea how long I would be able to go between feedings, or if I would need to find a place to sleep. This was so new to me, and there was nobody around to ask.
I flew through the forest, returning to the lake.
Too late. The searchers were looking at the bodies on the shore. There were two. One of the men was holding the sparkling vampire arm, its fingers still bending and moving. The other man looked on in horror.
I had to act quickly. The radio on the first man's belt started to squeal. Before he could reach it to reply to the person on the other end, I was upon him. He didn't have time to react. I dropped him to the ground after snapping his amazingly fragile neck.
The other man saw enough to be frightened, but I didn't give him much time to contemplate what was happening. He died as quickly as the first.
I had truly become a killer. But, I felt no shame, only the desire to crush those things which were weaker than me. And an even deeper desire to quench my unyielding thirst.
There was too much evidence on the beach. I looked around for a solution.
The lake, of course. I knew I was strong, but I was still amazed as I lifted two bodies off of the ground with ease. I wondered how I could get them into the lake, far enough from the shore to avoid detection. I wrapped the first man around my shoulders and waded into the water, dropping to swim.
This was almost too easy! I could swim almost as fast as I could run.
Within minutes, I had the bodies of all the rescuers and Jim (who was beginning to look like a stranger to the new me) deposited deep in the water.
I took a few minutes to gather the pieces of the vampire. They still seemed to have life in them. I really didn't know what I should do with them. So, I carried them deeper into the forest, and buried them in several locations, afraid to put too many together. I really didn't know if it was possible for them to reconnect, but I didn't want to take a chance.
Now, I had to decide what I wanted to do. My human home and family were out of the question. I could obviously never go back. Thinking of what I could do to the people I had loved, I had the first moment of remorse. I wouldn't go to them. I wouldn't hurt them.
I really didn't know a lot about what I had become yet. I ran deeper into the forest, deep enough that I wouldn't have to worry about evading the searchers. I sat by a rather large tree, still dripping from my foray into the lake.
Under normal circumstances, I would be freezing. But, these weren't normal circumstances. I realized that my skin temperature was quite cold, and that the almost freezing water seemed to have no effect on me at all.
I had a new 'normal'.
I realized that this could be the perfect time to try things out. I stood and stretched, testing the agility of my newly changed body. I felt amazingly strong and capable of anything.
I bent my knees and jumped, landing on one of the highest branches of the tree I had been leaning on. Wow! Exhilaration! I spent the next ten minutes jumping from tree to tree and limb to limb, doing aerial stunts that would stun the best gymnasts in the world, spinning, flipping and twisting.
I finally jumped back to the ground. I wasn't winded in the least. Like running, this seemed to be a natural skill of my new vampire self.
When I finally stopped playing to evaluate what I looked like, I was shocked. Between my own neck wound and the humans that had quenched my thirst, I was a mess. My shirt was blood-soaked. The water dripping out of the fabric was tinged with red. I could only imagine what my hair and face looked like.
I decided that I needed to find one of the cabins which I knew dotted the forest. I listened, realizing for the first time that I could hear everything; each footstep of the tiniest creature, the noise of their hearts, their lungs, their blood rushing through their veins. A strange, small noise above me caught my attention. When I looked up I discovered a caterpillar moving along a branch.
And, I could see everything, too. Colors I never imagined were visible to my renewed eyes. I knew it would take some to adjust to this.
I leapt into the highest branches again, and scanned the horizon, looking for the nearest human habitation. There was a cabin across the valley from where I currently stood. I could be there in a matter of minutes. I couldn't see a car in the long dirt driveway, so I assumed that no people would be there. Might be a good idea to stop the killing spree for the day, I reasoned. Someone might notice if more people went missing in this area. The body count was getting pretty high.
I had seen the headline before Jim and I left home. That was Saturday. I had no idea what day it was now. But, I knew there were already about forty people missing or dead in the Seattle area. Now I had figured out why.
I approached the cabin cautiously, checking the breeze for the scent of humans, listening for any noise inside. It was silent.
The cabin door was locked, but I easily twisted the knob, breaking the metal inside. I removed my shoes, trying to keep traces of my presence to a minimum, and left them sitting outside the door. I was still dripping wet, so I also removed my shirt and pants, piling them with the shoes. I hoped that whoever lived here had clothes that would fit me.
I thought about my closet full of clothes in my human home. They were out of reach for me now. I really didn't have an aversion to killing these weak humans, except my family. Strange.
I wandered through the cabin, checking each room to see what was here. It looked like it had been a while since anyone had been inside. There were no groceries in the kitchen, which wasn't a problem for me. I realized now that the thought of food was repulsive. In the master bedroom, I hit the mother-lode. Whoever lived here had great taste in clothes. There were all kinds. I helped myself to some jeans and a blouse. They would do for now.
Then, I headed for the shower. I gasped when I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror. For a moment, I was really surprised to see my reflection. All the old vampire lore was falling away and a totally different creature was becoming apparent.
I was a gruesome sight. My hair was matted and clumped with blood. It was so twisted, I wondered if it would be possible to comb it. The color was new to me. It seemed that all of the chemicals that had changed my human hair color to the one I desired had been swept out of the hair. What remained was my natural color, times ten! The brown that used to distress me was now full of shiny highlights, even under the matting.
My face was surprisingly clean. I guess the lake had washed all traces of blood off of my skin. But, my face was different. I was a totally new creature! My eyes were a shocking color of red. Scary, even to me. My skin had no blemishes, it was smooth and perfect. Every angle of my face, the jaw, the cheekbones, seemed to be exaggerated, refined.
For the first time in my life, I was stunning, and I knew it!
After a few moments of taking in the new me, I decided that I really wanted to get in the shower and do something about my hair. I turned on the water and climbed in.
The warm water hit my body and ran over the surface of my skin. I rubbed soap over my arms, realizing for the first time just how smooth my skin really was. Soap, it seemed, wasn't necessary. Any trace of dirt on me just fell away as the water hit me. The feeling of the water beading up on my hard, marble-like skin was fascinating. Sensual. The warmth felt so good. I could stay here, enjoying this feeling, all day.
Even my hair felt different to me. The snarls and mats fell out without pause, and my hair fell down my back, silky against my skin.
I used every ounce of hot water in the cabin. I didn't leave the shower when the water was cold. Even the cold water was an experience.
I finally stepped out of the shower and dried myself. I grabbed the hairbrush off of the counter and swept it quickly and efficiently through my hair. No snarls had survived the shower.
I dressed quickly and took my blood soaked undergarments out to the pile on the front deck. Every item of clothing from my previous life was in a small pile, which I carried to the outdoor fire pit. I incinerated it all. There would be no trace of my human self left.
I returned to the cabin and snuggled up on the couch, remote in hand. I was going to catch up on what was happening in the real world. The news was on. I couldn't believe that I (well the human me) was the top story. There was a great deal of fuss over the missing search and rescue teams. No sign of me, of Jim, or of the 5 missing men. Great. I still had time before I had to move on.
A small part of me felt a degree of sadness over the loss that my family would feel. It was time to think about what was happening. I really hadn't allowed myself to take everything in.
I muted the television and sat, unmoving, thinking over the implications of my new life. Time was meaningless.
It was fully dark when I started to move around again. I didn't turn on any lights, I didn't need to. It was amazing how well I could see in the dark. I remembered learning about creatures that hunt in the dark, how they could see in a different spectrum of light. Now, I was one of those creatures. Everything was crisp to my new eyes.
I realized that the knowledge I had picked up in my former life was intact. The images of people, however, were blurred, surreal. I knew my name, my address and even my cell phone number. But, my mother's face was fuzzy, incomplete. Didn't matter anyway. I'd never return to her.
I knew what I was going to do now. Obviously, there were other vampires in Seattle. I was afraid of them. I had seen firsthand what one vampire could do to another. I was going to head south. The Cascades would offer me plenty of cover. If an occasional hiker disappeared it wouldn't be as noticeable as the deaths in Seattle. I hoped I could be inconspicuous.
I walked through the cabin, looking for items that I might need in my new life. I found a backpack – not the big bulky hiking kind, but the kind I had carried around my high school. I stuffed a few outfits into it. I grabbed the hairbrush off of the bathroom counter and a fresh towel from the closet. I took a lighter I found in the kitchen, in case I needed to burn more evidence.
I paused long enough to turn off the television, and then left. If I needed or wanted anything else, it would be easy to get. It was funny to me that all of the things that I had avoided before – stealing, breaking and entering, even killing – were just part of my plan now. No big thing. I chuckled at my private joke as I walked into the forest. For now, at least, I was well-fed. I could avoid the killing thing for a little while.
After a few days of wandering around the Cascades, I was truly bored. I had always been a very social person, and the life of a reclusive nomadic vampire was becoming dull. I hadn't slept since I attacked the searchers. I wasn't ever tired.
I ran up mountains, climbed cliff faces and swam in icy lakes. My strength and speed were becoming ordinary to me.
The first contact I had with a human happened on Mt. St. Helens; a lone hiker, trying to scale the face of the scar left by the volcanic eruption. He smelled so good, I just couldn't ignore him. He really couldn't figure out why his ropes started pulling him up to the ledge. It wasn't until we were face to face, and he was staring into my blood-red eyes, that he had any idea he was in danger from something other than a fall. He only had a moment to worry about what I would do to him.
My throat burned with a desire for fresh blood. He broke so easily as I grabbed him, reaching for the carotid that I could feel pulsing from a distance. I drank eagerly, wishing for more when he was drained. I looked at his face, the surprise still there, even in death. Then, I tossed his body over the edge, letting it fall several hundred feet.
I grabbed my backpack, reaching inside for the small mirror I had put there. I examined my face, my clothes. I wasn't nearly as messy as before. I took off the shirt. I'd have to burn it. There was blood down the front. I wiped my face with it and put on a fresh shirt, stuffing the dirty one in an outer pocket.
I moved on, heading to Mt. Ranier National Park. I'd been there several times. It was beautiful. And, there would be hikers and campers if I was thirsty.