My name was Luke.

I never really got out much. I was a nerd, the kind who'd rather stay in and read a good book than go out and party with the other kids. I got good grades in school, but I really never knew what I wanted to do with myself. I had this innate curiosity, this desire to understand the true nature of the world around me. I tried studying science, but found its explanations cold and inadequate. Then I got into the occult.

At first it was just idle fantasy; time spent on forums, reading odd books, occasionally drawing pentagrams on the floor. I'd been out of school for years, had my own place, a secure job, and I was bored as hell with my life and the world. I started getting more and more into it, if only to meet new people, have something interesting happen in my life. I started showing up to weird meetings, having people over for séances. My whole social life became this strange quest for the true nature of the world. At first I told myself it was just a joke, just a thing to pass the time, and I imagine most of the others felt the same, but still… The lack of any major results from our spells and studies, our careful replications of Crowley's diagrams, began to make me bitter and cynical. I was ready to quit and go back to being a responsible adult. Then I met Serena.

She just showed up to one of our meetings out of the blue. There was something indescribably fascinating about her. She was attractive, sure, her thin face radiating a regal beauty, her black hair flowing like liquid night down her shoulders, though her thin pale lips didn't fit most people's idea of gorgeous, I found the knowing smile on them to be engrossing. But what drew me to her were her eyes. Green and piercing, they stared through her glasses and into my soul. It was like she knew each of us better than we knew ourselves, and she seemed to see things, things none of us were aware of. No one knew how she got there, who invited her. Everyone assumed someone else had brought her along. She listened quietly to our plans for the next few weeks, the spells we'd try. Then she laughed. She told us that we were doing it all wrong, that no spell could produce results without blood, lots of it, and that we'd have to get serious if we wanted to part the veil and see the truth of this world.

She unnerved a lot of people and was asked to leave. I was fascinated. I was enthralled. Here was someone who clearly had SEEN this other world, the one I just KNEW was there, even though I couldn't find it, had no evidence of it, just an intuitive knowledge that there had to be more to this world than cold science and dull routine. I went out of my way to talk to her after she left, to ask her about what she knew. At first she was dismissive, but she eventually deigned to make some suggestions. She gave me instructions: symbols to be drawn in blood, incantations to be muttered, and then I would begin to see beyond the veil. And so I was introduced to blood magic.

I tried a number of times, with no results but blood loss. I thought that I must have been the victim of a prank, that this was all bullshit, but some small part of me refused to give in to cynicism, and desperately needed some hope of connection to a deeper reality. I redoubled my efforts, focusing on the images and concepts Serena had told me to keep in my mind as I drew the symbols. When I achieved success for the first time, I was struck dumb. Had it actually worked? Had I actually… cast a SPELL? At the next meeting, I decided not to share with the group, but to talk to Serena separately. She showed up, was asked to leave immediately, and I followed her out. She told me she'd only come back for me, to see if I'd managed to achieve anything. When I told her what I'd managed to do, she smiled seductively and said, "Why don't' you come over to my place and show me?"

Her apartment was intriguing. Bookshelves stuffed full of tomes that ran from Manly Hall's 'Secret Teachings of All Ages' to papyrus scrolls that looked like they might have come right out of an ancient tomb. The walls were decorated with arcane symbols and old relics. Excessive numbers of candles provided the only light. Serena brought me over to a rough wooden table that looked stained, like a great deal of blood had been spilled there. I knew that this was the real thing, that I was finally going to begin to understand. We sat on opposite ends of the table. She handed me a knife and simply said, "Demonstrate the spell."

Hesitantly, I cut open a minor vein on my arm. With the blood trickling out, I drew the symbol she had shown me, the Egyptian eye enclosed in a circle with symbols at four sides and the weird warped pupil. As I did so, I muttered the odd phrases, one in Latin, the other in Aramaic. Most importantly, I WILLED myself to see. My deep desire to understand, to grasp the truth, was poured into that willing. And I was rewarded.

An awareness filled me. My senses became sharper, expanded. I became aware of spiritual energies. I saw auras. Even though I couldn't physically see it, I knew Serena had a cat that was quietly sitting under the couch. "I can see your pet through solid objects." I told Serena, to demonstrate my abilities. "I can see its aura." It was barely visible, and I can see now how weak the spell was, but it was working.

Serena smiled, her otherworldly eyes fixed on me. "What color is its aura?"

"White." I replied. The answer satisfied her.

Then she stared intently into my eyes. "And what color is my aura?"

I stared at her. I knew the aura of living beings was generally white, and could be tinged with other colors, but hers was a dark black, a swirling emptiness. I looked at her in surprise. "Dark." I answered. "Dark Black."

And with that, she said, "Very good, Luke. Very good. Come here, I have a secret to share with you…"

I don't remember what happened next. I knew it felt amazing, like we made love, but far better than any lovemaking I'd ever experienced. She gave me that pleasure many times, but the pleasure was always hidden away behind a fog of forgetfulness. What I did know is that she was my world. I wasn't just drawn to her beauty and the pleasure; I was drawn to her by curiosity, by wonder. I stopped going to the groups. She quickly showed me how foolish they had been. She had real magic, real power, real understanding. I wanted it desperately. She would have me study certain tomes, then report to her what I learned. If she wasn't satisfied, I would go back to my studies. I fantasized about her all the time, my domineering teacher, my mind slipping into twisted bondage scenarios. I was troubled by the fact I couldn't remember the sex I was certain we were having, but I remembered the pleasure well, so I was happy enough. We would practice spells, with her drawing with my blood to demonstrate, and I drawing with hers. Our lives interwove, she spilled her secrets into me and I spilled my life into her. She showed me whole new worlds. Not just through books. She took me to clubs, showed me how to be social, how to free myself from my shell. She showed me a whole new life, one free from mundane struggles, one where I was constantly expanding the horizons of my understanding. I quit my job. I quit my life. She was my life now.

One night, she came to my apartment. What followed can only be described as an orgy of magic and blood. We both got naked. There were so many symbols drawn in blood, so many carved into my skin that she rubbed her blood into. I don't remember it clearly, as my mind was constantly cloudy. One of my greatest regrets is that I don't' remember our last night together. She opened herself to me. The last thing I remember was lying in bed, exhausted, confused, amazed, happy and in love with the woman next to me. She leaned over, then whispered in my ear, "I want to show you something." She opened her mouth. I noticed, for the first time, how long her canines were. Then they extended. My eyes widened in horror. Then her fangs were in me. She fed slowly, so I was aware. I thought, This is impossible! even as I knew it was true. She was a vampire. It all made sense now. I felt pleasure and forgetfulness spreading from the bite and understood what our lovemaking really had been. And then my mind faded into that cloud of pleasant forgetfulness that overcomes those who are fed upon. And that is the last memory I have from my time as a living human.