After a person is changed into a vampire their human memories begin to fade. Blame it on the trauma of the change or a different way of storing memories, but from the moment you wake up as a vampire you remember every thing you see in detail and those already mottled human memories you had just become murkier and harder to piece together. I don't remember anything about when I was a child. All I can really remember is being a sixteen-almost-seventeen year old boy living in an overheated area of Houston, Texas, desperately wanting to escape my overbearing daddy.
A cattle herder by trade, my daddy expected I would inherit his lands and keep renting it out to cow farmers and taking care of the stock. It wasn't much of a living. We got up early, worked hard, rode around, and went home. My momma had been gone for a long time, so my little sister spent the day at home cooking. I can't remember what her name was, or anyone in my family's names, but I do remember I thought she was a strong girl that she did that every day for us. She said it was her job; she wanted to take care of us. Me, I wanted excitement in my life, I wanted recognition. Mostly, I wanted to get out. I had never even been to the other side of my own state.
There had been a lot of unrest in the states at that time. Americans were a young and proud people, everyone wanted to be left to their own devices, run their own little countries. Then the war started. It wasn't something I had thought long and hard about, I just up and decided to join the fighting one day. My daddy had been yelling me to go into town to get something or other, and when I arrived there was a rickety wooden booth set up next to the market. The men running it handed out news about the new war between the states, what areas had joined what side and so forth. They also shouted at passing men to join the cause, fight for freedom from the Northern aggression and the right to be an independent slave state.
Now, I didn't give one way or the other on slaves. My family was too poor to own any and I didn't know any personally. I had seen them walking about town getting things for their masters, which I just assumed had to be similar to me getting stuff for my daddy. When I walked by that booth and the man with the tacky yellow overcoat called me to him, my life changed. He didn't have to say two words before my mind was filled with thoughts of tent life with soldiers, riding my own troops to some grand victory on the battlefield, and traveling across the country.
"Sign me up, sir," I told the man in front of me.
His baffled face turned quickly to elation. "Shore thing, son! Now, ye know ya haveta be eighteen to join the fight. Y'are eighteen, ain't ya, boy?"
I sent him my brightest smile, "O' course, sir. I've just gone twenty." My daddy always told me I had some charisma and when I flashed people my smile I could get them to do anything. Besides, I was tall, I could pull it off.
He looked down at his papers and pulled out an inkpot. "Put yer name an' home right here an' come on back tomorrow with your rucksack. We'll send you out firs' thing."
After I signed my name careful as I could I looked him in the eye. "Next time you see my name you'll be shoutin' it to the passerby's telling 'em how I won you this war."
"Good luck to that, son," he said to me as I shook his hand. "See you in the mornin'."
The hardest thing I had ever done up till that moment had been telling my daddy I had enlisted and was leaving. Some fathers would be proud to have their son defending a cause, fighting a war for them. Some fathers would be anxious for their son to be in battle, worried he would get hurt. My daddy was just going to be sore pissed that I was leaving him with twice the work and abandoning the family.
I knew my best option was to tell him and my sister at dinner that evening. I hoped my sister would take my side, give me some help. I hoped it would give my daddy time to sink it and accept before I left in the morning, that maybe he would see me off and I wouldn't have to leave them in poor spirits. As it was I chickened out, I didn't know what to say. I spent the whole meal fidgeting and crumbling my biscuit.
"Jasper, what's got you so preoccupied?" My sister asked me.
I just sighed and told her, "Nothing that needs being said right now," and the meal continued.
The next morning I awoke earlier than normal. It was still plenty dark outside. By the time I had my pack filled with what I was told to bring, things the army wouldn't outfit me with or couldn't afford, the sky was just turning a hazy blue-pink. I dressed and went out to the kitchen area where my sister was just coming in from outside.
"Jasper! You're up before poppa. I just got some eggs from the chickens."
I know the few chickens we kept had names, but for some reason names have been the hardest for me to remember.
"I thought we would have a nice, big breakfast today. Eggs, I've got a loaf of bread in the oven now, and some fresh cream, of course. I wish poppa had let you get some pork at the butcher yesterday. We couldn't afford it, I s'ppose," she sighed.
She had been planning to continue rambling, but the moment those words tumbled from my lips her mouth stopped, her head turned, and her eyes widened. "That sounded awful definite, Jasper. Are you...tell me you're just going to visit someone and you'll be back for dinner."
"I'm sorry." I didn't know what else I could say. She was so young but already with so much responsibility, and I was leaving her alone to do it all. Daddy would be angry and everyone's workload would be doubled.
Was this a mistake? I knew I was being selfish...but I was already signed up. What would happen if I just didn't show up to the recruiters? No. I had decided and I couldn't go back. I got a small payment for being in the army; I would just send it home to them. That way I could help a little bit still.
My sister had since sat down at the table, still cradling the fresh eggs. I wondered if I shouldn't just hug her and leave before I had to go through it all again with my daddy. I knew he would let me leave, regardless. I was signed up, after all, and he knew as well as anyone how important it was to keep the commitments one made. He'd let me go, but it wouldn't be without some reprimanding disappointment.
I walked over to my sister and sat next to her at the table. Daddy would be in soon; all the activity had surely awoken him. Right then he came, stocking feet still rumbling loudly on the floor as his thick frame marched in. He eyed his depressed looking children sitting quietly at the table before he caught sight of the rucksack I had set by my feet.
"You plannin' on goin' somewhere, boy?" He gave me a stern look, demanding an honest answer.
I couldn't match his gaze. I concentrated with all my might that he wouldn't be angry, that he would just let it be. It was now or never. "I'm joining the war, daddy."
My sister's head whipped around to stare at me incredulously. "War?! You said you was leaving! You didn't say yer going to fight!"
I looked back at her and repeated, "I'm sorry."
Daddy sighed and plopped down in the chair across from us. At that I turned my head to stare at him.
"I'm shore you had some big fight in mind, and it ain't that I'm not angry, I jus' don't have the energy anymore." He reached his big hand across the table and grabbed mine that was sitting on the tabletop. "I see you every day and how unhappy you are here, Jasper. I feel like we're fightin' all the time. I suspected somethin' was goin' to have to change. I didn't expect to be losing you to the graycoats, though."
I started to tear up. I had prepared somewhat for a confrontation, to defend my need to be a man and go on my own. I hadn't prepared to be filled with the guilt and pain my sudden leaving would bring.
"I 'spect you'll be back one day with a title and a few tales to tell us small folk. I know you'll do us good." He let go of my hand and faced the little window over the washbasin.
After letting the uncharacteristic emotional display sink in, I knew it was time to leave. I grabbed my sack and stood up. "I'm heading into town now."
My sister hopped up and grabbed me into a hug. "Please be careful, Jasper. Write me!" I promised her I would.
"Daddy, I'm going to be sending back the money they give me to you. I know I'm leavin' you with all the work and I want to still help," I told him.
He pursed his lips, but nodded. He shook my hand and then pulled me into another hug. "I'll mi--...well...do good, son. I love you."
Their eyes watched me out the door and down the road until I was too far to see anymore. That was the last time I saw them.
My memories of the war itself are hazy. I remember showing up that morning and being thrown on a buggy, the one other recruit and the man in charge both eager to leave. We didn't go far; just on the outskirts of town was a hastily composed training camp. The newly dubbed Confederate Army was just setting up and trying to get its bearings.
On the way I made small talk with the other who had signed up, meaningless nothings I couldn't care to remember even as a human. The camp was small, but growing. The war had only just begun. Immediately I was sectioned into a group of young recruits, yellow-bellies who didn't have much experience in anything. Many of the men looked apprehensive while a few others, myself included, were eager to learn.
The Lieutenant in charge of our group seemed to be good-natured. He really had a passion for what he was fighting for and riled us all up to be the same. I can't remember many of his speeches, though I do remember him teaching me how to load and fire a rifle for the first time; I didn't have much use for one with the cows.
As I gained some knowledge and skill my daddy's words came back to me about returning with a title. I knew I wanted to be more than a private the rest of my life. I started making friends with the officers. It wasn't hard, people liked me, liked to listen to me. I got a few odd jobs here and there over the other privates, and before I knew it I was a Lieutenant in my own right. I'd been there barely two months and it was a literally unheard of promotion there, but the troops needed training and leading fast and quick. The Union Navy had already blockaded the port of Galveston and the war was quickly heating up in the rest of the states as well.
A lot of the credit for my rise in ranks I gave to that charisma my daddy said I had. I was good, sure. I had a lot of dedication and want to be somebody, do something, and that pushed me to do better than some of the others. However I felt like the way the people around me seemed to just act how I wanted them to was as if I had the best luck in the world, that couldn't be all my own doing.
I didn't know what I believed in, if God was real or fate was really in charge. I think my momma had taken us all to church before, but I really can't remember when I was human if I had decided to follow any one way or the other. Either way, something was on my side. One year later I was given the title of Major, the youngest Major in the Confederates in Texas. Granted, they thought I was twenty one years old by then, so if they knew I was actually just gone eighteen, I probably would have been the youngest in the whole Confederacy.
Whatever it was that got me to where I was, I must have overused it. Not much had happened in the year that it took me to get to Major. I trained others and myself and I traveled here and there throughout Texas. I wrote back and forth with my family. Infrequently, as I had opportunity to visit the house whenever I was at camp. Not many battles occurred where I was needed. I heard a fair share of horror stories through the grapevine of bad battles, and even a few troops passing through had tales of death. I had never had to kill a man, and after hearing those stories I hoped I would never had to. Then I was asked to go to the First Battle of Galveston.
It had been a hot Fall. I think I remember the heat because it had been so unusual. Texas didn't usually get cold, but by September we usually expected some relief from the overbearing Summer heat. Galveston's ports had been occupied by the North for some time, and they had finally chosen to battle us over its control. My command had been sent to Galveston to evacuate women and children from the immediate area, hoping to keep casualties at bay when the attack began.
My men and I helped people prepare to leave, packing bags and useable food, and simultaneously destroying any extras that would benefit the North should they end up occupying the city. We were taking refugees back to Houston where some would stay in the army camps or with relatives and kind neighbors. It had been a long journey just getting the group to Houston, but more was yet to be done. I saddled my horse and headed back.
Almost there, I ran across three women walking the road. I assumed they had gotten left behind, lost in the chaos of the evacuation. I dismounted and approached them.
"Ladies?" I called to them.
They turned and the moonlight illuminated their faces. All three shared skin as pale as death and I feared they must be faint from need for food. I rushed forward a few steps closer before taking in the rest of their countenance. Pink lips, devilishly smiling; arched eyebrows, quirked in interest; deep ruby eyes, piercing the night darkness like the blade at my hip. Two had straight blonde hair that wafted behind them in the breeze, sisters, I thought.
The other, a small but powerful looking woman, obviously having come from Mexico. The sisters wore dresses in light colors, much like the wear I had seen on the evacuees. This smaller brunette was dressed brightly, as if to differentiate herself as more important. She was draped in as many colors as cloth came in, folded and fluffed around her thin frame.
They each spoke in turn, making fun of how stunned they had made me.
"He's speechless," one of the blondes commented. Her other half leaned toward me a took a deep breath.
"Mmm," she moaned as she exhaled.
The three spoke to each other in voices like church bells, bells that resounded in my head. Who were these women? Angels? Ghosts? Demons? Red eyes and inhuman beauty, they were completely disinterested in the soldier worried for them wandering around at night. I was worried, but too curious to walk away.
"He looks right for us, Nettie. He's strong. Can you feel that? He has a gift, I'm sure," the brunette told the shorter blonde. "I want to keep him."
Keep me? Surely these angelic women couldn't be propositioning me. Maybe they were demons.
The smaller blonde, Nettie, frowned at her. Her sister interrupted, "If he's important to you, Maria, then you should do it. I'm afraid mine end up dead half the time." She sniffed and turned her head.
Dead? Definitely demons. God was becoming more and more real to me as I took in their conversation.
"Yes," the tiny Mexican, Maria, breathed. "I like him. Go away with Nettie, won't you? I'd prefer to enjoy this." The girl nodded and grabbed Nettie's hand. The two whisked away, like a scarf blowing in the wind they were far and fast from my grasp.
I didn't know what was going on. It seemed like threats and promises and improper behavior were all being thrown about in banter, then suddenly I was alone with the women the other two obviously submitted to.
Maria turned to face me and asked, "What is your name, soldier?"
I stumbled over my answer. "Major Jasper Whitlock, ma'am," I told her.
Her hand ghosted over my face as a smile touched her lips. "I hope you survive, Jasper. I have a good feeling about you."
I made to pull away. This women, I couldn't tell if she was forward or crazy, but I knew something was wrong. Her hand reached behind my neck and her grip tightened, holding me in place. She moved closer and I worried she was making to kiss me. Instead her head turned and her white smile of straight teeth dove sharply into my neck.
My eyes widened in shock for mere seconds before the pain hit. The unimaginable, fraying, heartbreaking, wretched, torturous, agonizing, never ending pain. I couldn't tell time, I didn't know if I was even breathing let alone the moon's position in the sky. Maria was there, her hand was cold, ice concentrated on the fire that was slowly devouring my skin. I barely remembered the heat of the Summer and Fall compared to the boiling in my body. Was this a punishment? Retribution for lying to get into the army, for leaving my family, for tricking people into promoting me despite being unworthy? This was hell, I decided, and the Mexican demon had brought its justice upon me.
My ears heard things as if they were filled with water, just mumbled echoes. Maria was saying something, I couldn't tell what. It sounded comforting, but her voice was deceptively beautiful. I screamed. I cried. My limbs flung about, cracking my bones and splitting my skin on the hard ground. I couldn't control anything. I tried to still myself, to stop my screams. Nothing worked. My thoughts spun, my family, my troops, this woman, did they all hate me that they would leave me to this torture? But then, how would they even know I was here, dying in the dirt. Dying. Was I dying? Perhaps I was already dead and this was penance. Maybe I was asleep and dreaming everything and would awaken refreshed but scared in the morning, eating fresh chicken eggs and drinking cream.
Still it went on. A moment of solace would be followed by blinding pain. I noticed light, sun? A fire? I couldn't tell. Maria picked me up as though I weighed but a feather a carried me deep into the wet forest. She hid me in the brush, covering me with brush from the surrounding area that pricked my skin, though I didn't even acknowledge its sting as it was nothing compared to the constant burn. If I was alive, I wished for death. If I was dead, I wished for redemption. I wanted anything that would make it end.
Maria left. She patted me on the head, a brief flash of relief in her iced palm, muttered something and left. I didn't know where she was going, I didn't know if she would be back, I just knew the pain.
The light left and came back. I simply lay where I was hidden. I heard shouting and gunfire in the distance, I knew the battle must have started on the port. I didn't care. None of that mattered anymore. I spiraled into delirium. My screams turned into incoherent mumbles. My head swam and my thoughts flew away as I knew nothing but the fire in me.
The light left again, but the cool night did nothing to soothe me. When the sun came back, so did Maria. She was hidden in the shadows of the forest when I first noticed her. My head whipping about in a frenzy, I had caught her shape in the corner of my eye. She stepped forward into a swathe of light and my eyes snapped shut as the brightness reflected off her skin. I forced them open slowly, hoping to concentrate on something other than the pain. She was beautiful, how could I have ever called her a demon? Her skin shone, glittered like the light off drops of dew in the grass.
She smirked at me, drawing my gaze up to her face, and then I was reminded of why I considered her evil. Red eyes, bright this time, alight, bore down on me. She was the cause of this. She did something, bit me, and now I was dying in a slow burn. She floated down on the grass next to where I was hidden and rested on her bottom, tucking her ankles under her. To any passerby should would simply look like an ethereal beauty taking a rest while out for a walk. Not that anyone would be by here, we were in the dense forest.
My hearing had cleared, so I heard her voice chime, "You're almost done, Major," with a light laugh. My heart pounded, over and over, faster than a hummingbird's wings. I hadn't even realized it was still beating until that moment, and somehow I knew it was my last. I tried to hold on, wanting that movement of my heart to continue, to tell me I was alive, even if it mean the pain would stay. Slowly the fire cooled, starting in from my fingers and toes. As the fire became contained in my heart I listened to it with a clarity I shouldn't have had, listened to it beat so fast I couldn't tell the rhythm apart, and then it burst.
The apex of all my pain was contained in one single spot in my chest. It constricted and tore and pounded. Maria laid a hand on me and laughed, but it was in the back of my mind and this shocking burst of pain ripped through me.
Then there was nothing.
My eyes slid to the form next to me where Maria was giving me a curious look.
"What's just happened?" My voice should have been a whisper, it should have cracked and been raw from my screaming, it should have hurt to talk. Instead my mumbled question came out like a strong proclamation.
"Why, Major, look at you!" Maria ignored my question. "You're better than I would have imagined."
I made to stand and realized it was easier than it had ever been. Had that been a cleansing fire, ridding me of my inequities? The brush fell away, its sharp thorns and dry, pointed twigs not affecting me. I repeated myself to her. "What happened? What did you do to me?" I was surprised to hear my voice held none of the malice I assumed I would have toward her when I was whole again.
Maria held her hand out to me, urging me to clasp it. It was then I noticed her first flaw. Peppering parts of her arm were bite marks, so obviously in the shape of a mouth they could be confused for nothing else. I lightly grasped her fingers and she pulled me in some direction only she knew. Gripping my hand tightly, she pulled me with her as she began to run. I felt like the hummingbird in my chest had taken me over, and this was what it was like to fly. How could any human possibly run as fast as Maria? Nettie and the other one, they had similarly run away that night, I remembered.
All these thoughts took but a moment before I looked down and noticed my own feet, in ragged, stained boots, were keeping equal pace with her. My eyes looked forward again and I was seeing. As we ran faster than the birds could fly I saw everything as if it were a leisurely stroll. The detail on each leaf, the bark on each tree I moved out of the way of, the rabbit-- Suddenly the fire was back, scorching. This time it was in my throat, and I let go of Maria and raised my hands to wrap around it, hoping to soothe the ache with pressure. It wasn't helping.
I came to a dead stop on the forest floor. The fire was incapacitating. I looked to Maria with wide eyes. She chuckled and grabbed my hand again, pulling me in the same direction. "You're hungry. Don't worry, I'm taking you to get some food," she told me.
This burning was hunger? Was it from laying in a ditch and being tortured for three days? I'd never felt a hunger that had this intensity.
Soon we reached the dirt road I had ridden my horse in on. I briefly wondered what happened to the animal, if it had run off or gotten picked up by another traveler. Maria held us back in the tree line; I assumed we were waiting for something. It wasn't long before I saw and heard a horse cart coming down the path. My sharp new eyes saw a man driving the horse and a girl riding in the cart along with some cargo. They made their way steadily closer, though they were still much too far to see us hiding in the trees. The wind blew towards us, carrying a smell on its breeze, a sweet smell which invigorated my senses and took over my mind.
What seemed like seconds later I was standing over the body of the man. His face was frozen in shock, his skin was pale, his eyes were blank. He was dead. He was dead and I had killed him. I didn't understand what was happening. How had I done that? Why had I? My thoughts were broken by a stifled scream from a few feet away. I looked up to see the little girl staring in horror at the man who may have been her father lying there unmoving. Her eyes moved to me and she began to scoot away, trying to inch herself away from danger. I was hit by what I had just done, I was confused and afraid. Maria was instantly behind the girl, halting the girl's movement as another cry escaped her lips. Maria inclined her head to me, "You must still be hungry, Jasper. Take a deep breath."
I didn't want to. I knew, somehow, what she was asking me to do, even though I was still so confused. Eighteen years of bodily instinct was still driving me, though, and so I inhaled. As soon as I caught wind of that sweet scent I was again lost to it. I took three quick steps forward and latched onto the girl's throat. I was afraid, so afraid. What was happening? Then my head lowered in the same motion Maria had done to me all those days ago, and my teeth sunk into her neck. My mouth was filled with the richest candies sister had ever baked, the smoothest cream I had ever milked, the fullest meal I had ever eaten. I was drinking her blood. I was drinking her life away and it was the best thing I had ever tasted.
The girl became dead weight in my hand and when I released my mouth from her neck I dropped her body to the dirt and stepped back. Maria walked up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder. "Feel better?" she asked.
"I...what...I don't understand," I mumbled dryly to her.
"Yes you do, Major. You just don't want to accept it. You're a vampire now," She stated it harshly.
"This can't be real. I killed that little girl. I ate her." It was sinking in to me.
Maria scowled, "She was food, Jasper, of course you ate her. It's what we do, it's who we are. Get over it." Obviously the time for understanding was over. She grabbed my hand again and pulled me in a new direction. "We're meeting the others. You're here for a reason, it's time for work."
She wanted me to work for her? Was I turned into this to serve her? I wanted to say no. I wanted to scream at her for what she'd done to me, but I couldn't. I knew I couldn't go back to my family, I would probably accidentally kill them. I couldn't go back to my troops, what would I say? I'd been missing for at least three days, I ran like the wind, and now I was covered in the blood of an adolescent girl. I couldn't go back to what I had before. I was a vampire now.
That's all she wrote, folks. I've had this portion done for a long while. It became obvious to me this was going to turn into a massive story, one I didn't have the time or energy to write. It's not a natural conclusion where I've left it, but it's good enough. Maybe someday I'll come back to it and continue onto the next part of Jasper's life. That may be dependent also on the reaction to this part. It's not a very pursued type of Twilight fanfiction, so I don't even know that anyone would care to read more. Either way I do hope you enjoyed it, I had a ball writing it.