This was my entry in Random Fandom's "Every Picture Tells a Story" Challenge. It didn't win, by any margin but I did plan out a multi-chapter fic from it. I wanted to explore what vampires might be like before the Great Revelation.
Characters belong to Charlaine Harris. The wonderful Chicpea is acting as my beta for this story. If you haven't started reading her story, full of demony goodness, "Birds of a Feather," I suggest you go do that. After you finish this chapter :D (Her's is longer.)
Chapter 1: We know what we are, but not what we may be.
Approximately Three years before the Great Revelation
It was a new year. I'd celebrated with Sam and the other new waitresses in Merlotte's after all the customers had left. It was a great night for me since I'd made enough tips to counterbalance the massive headache I'd accumulated being around so many people. This was our first New Year's working for Sam at Merlotte's.
"Resolutions?" Arlene asked.
"The same as every other year." Danielle rolled her eyes. "Lose ten pounds."
"Find a new man," said Arlene and Lafayette together. We all laughed.
"Get the bar to a more stable place," Sam said as he poured us each a little shot of some sweet blue concoction he made. "Dawn? Sookie? What about you two?"
Dawn turned to me and said, "Maybe I'll finally get that fool brother of yours to settle down." She was thinking of the last time they were together and I got a sharp view of Jason full monty. Eww.
I gritted my teeth. I didn't like Dawn. And I wanted to hit my brother over the head for ever having slept with her. "Maybe you will," I said, smiling sweetly and a little too wide. When pigs fly, I thought. Then I admonished myself. Maybe Dawn and Jason would work out. Maybe they'd settle in together, have two children; one with blond hair like ours and one with dark hair like Dawn.
Yeah, right. I shook my head.
"To be a better Christian."
The drive home was a short one. There were no street lights along Hummingbird Road. Few roads in the parish that weren't main thoroughfares had lighting. In theory, I could see why, but when you're driving home at three in the morning, more lights would be nice. That's probably why I almost ran over the man lying in the middle of the road.
I hit the brake hard. I said a quick prayer in thanks for remembering my seatbelt. The man illuminated by my headlights wasn't moving. He was lying face down and he was wearing a too-small, dirty and frayed looking white t-shirt, and dark pants that looked equally filthy. The shirt was strained over large muscles, like he'd borrowed it from someone half his size. His feet were bare.
I zipped my jacket and got out of the car. I wasn't sure if it was the illumination from the car but he looked dead. His skin was terribly white and more importantly, there was a void where his mind should be. His hair, if it had been clean, would probably be even lighter than mine. As I leaned over him I realized the dirt on the formerly white t-shirt wasn't dirt at all. At least not all of it was dirt. Some of it was distinctly blood. The pants looked caked with mud and bits of grass.
My fingers went to his neck, ready to confirm what I already thought. I didn't want to leave him in the middle of the road but I would have to if I was going to get to a phone and call the sheriff. As I touched the icy skin I wasn't prepared for his sudden movement.
He was on top of me in an instant, pinning me to the cold ground. His face was warped in a snarl with two fangs protruding from his mouth like a snake. I sucked in a breath and screamed. A hand clamped over my mouth as he pushed my face to side and struck.
The word came to me before I could fully process it. Vampire. I could feel him drinking. I tried to push him, to kick but I might as well have been trying to lift my car. After a moment I realized the struggling was exciting him and a stopped. I was afraid I might have to fight off a different kind of attack. The pain was terrible and burning. I whimpered, feeling tears escape, and said a brief prayer for Gran and Jason.
He stopped drinking and extracted himself from my neck to look at me. For a moment our eyes met and I had time, in my lightheadedness, to think his eyes were beautiful and incredibly bright on a face that was equally as dirty and blood spattered as his clothes. Maybe he was a messy eater. He leaned down and licked the tears from my face. I shut my eyes, waiting.
"Look at me."
My eyes shot open at the sudden words. He moved his hand from my mouth to my hair. I felt him brush off the strands that fell on my forehead when he tackled me to the ground. He didn't take his eyes off mine.
I felt a slight tickling, like a dozen spiders were crawling over my head. "You won't tell anyone of this."
I shook my head. "No. I promise." I felt my heart race and the strange feeling in my head increased. He grabbed my hair in a fist.
He repeated himself, practically growling it out. "You will not tell anyone about this."
"I won't tell anyone, I promise. Please," I said, realizing that my whole body was absolutely freezing. "Don't hurt me."
He sat up suddenly. "It's not working." I saw a fleeting expression of terror on his face as he looked up.
"Um, what's not working?" I risked asking.
He focused his gaze on me again, assessing. "My…" and he paused like he couldn't figure out the right word for whatever he was trying. "My will." He said in the end.
I thought about what he'd said and what I knew from vampire movies. "You were trying to force your will on me?"
"Is that…normal?" Maybe it was the lightheadedness but now I was curious. Vampires. I wasn't the only weird thing out there. And there was also the tiny, tiny chance that that if I kept talking, maybe I'd see tomorrow.
"It has worked on everyone so far."
Well that wasn't very good for me. "So what does that mean?" I tried to probe his mind for the answer but there was nothing. An empty head.
"I don't know. Your blood is…sweeter."
Like candy? I wanted to ask him what that meant too but decided against it. "Are…" I hesitated. "Are you going to kill me?"
It looked like he couldn't decide. Did vampires kill the humans they drank from? This vampire didn't look like he really needed to…not that he wasn't a level eleven on the scariness meter. But his skin was visibly less pale now. Mine was probably blue.
Several tangible seconds passed and he still hadn't answered. The wind kicked up suddenly and I started to shiver. I really wanted to get off the ground. But of course, he was still sitting on me.
"What's your name?"
The vampire was lost in thought and my speaking had visibly startled him, as if he'd already forgotten I was there. "I don't know."
Oh, boy. "You can't remember your name?"
"Do you remember how you got here?"
"I was running west."
"It is faster than walking."
I had a moment of hysterical laughter. I knew I should be terrified. I knew there was a good chance of getting hypothermia or at least a chill in my back from the weather. I also knew there was nothing funny about the situation I was in. Perhaps the threat of impending death, when so few things of interest had ever happened to me had, made me delirious. "Yes," I said. "It is." My delirium also made me braver. "If you're not going to kill me, can I get off the ground…please?"
After a tense moment of further staring he was off me faster than my eyes could see. I scuttled back until I felt my car behind me and stood up. My car had been idling all this time, which felt a lot longer than the couple of minutes it probably was, and the hood was very warm. It felt good against my back.
"Thanks." I said as I tried to get my heart rate to even out. I touched the side of my neck and felt where he'd bitten me. "I'm not bleeding," I stated, registering that numbly. "Why?"
"I can stop it. After I drink." He was standing at a distance now but I had no doubt he could be on me again in half a second.
"So you don't remember your name but you seem to know you're a vampire and how to drink blood and force your will on someone." I said, summarizing this very odd interaction we were having. "How is that possible?"
"I do not know. All I can remember is everything since the snow."
"The Snow? It snowed almost two weeks ago." There had been a freak snow storm in mid-December that had the entire town buzzing since we so rarely saw snow. "And you've been running around Northern Louisiana ever since?"
"Is that where I am? Yes." He was thinking hard about something. "I was on a road in these." He looked at his bloody t-shirt and filthy pants and so did I. Yes, they did appear the worse for wear. "I ran until I saw someone; a human and realized that I was not." He shrugged his shoulders then, "I was hungry and I knew what I needed to do. I could feel it."
I was so engrossed in the story he was telling that I almost forgot to be frightened. It was obvious he wasn't from this area. He had an accent; not a heavy one but something that I couldn't place, like it was a mix from a half-dozen different places. And I was both thrilled and completely irritated that I couldn't read his mind. "What happened to the human?" I asked, tentatively.
He moved a step closer and I stood up rigidly against the car. "I drank until I felt full. I could hear his heartbeat. I knew when to stop." I felt my own heart pick up at that and he looked at my jacket covered chest like he could see right through it. I was afraid to move now.
He put a hand on my neck, covering the fresh bite marks. I breathed in and felt a sudden silence I had never felt before around another person. I thought that no matter what this pitiful creature had done, this peace around another person was nothing short of wonderful after a lifetime full of nonstop blathering. Despite all that, when he grazed his thumb over the fresh bite marks, it didn't stop me from thinking he was about to break my neck.
"I am sorry I hurt you when I bit. I was…I realized that it could be…pleasurable for the human if I do it correctly. I was hungry."
I felt myself shudder with sudden relief. No, Sookie. The giant, slightly feral vampire wasn't about to snap your neck with his super strength. He just needed a snack!
"That's why you were laying in the road," I said. "You were waiting for someone to pass by and stop."
I had a thought about vampires picking off people from the side of the road because some poor person was trying to be a good Samaritan.
He seemed to realize what I was thinking. "And you did."
Yep, that was me, Good Samaritan Sookie. "What have you been doing all this time?" I asked. "Aside from…" and raised my hand to my neck to touch the bite. His hand was still on my neck and it felt awfully intimate. More intimate and only slightly less scary than when he'd been chowing down on me a few minutes ago. "Eating."
"Looking for others," he said, "like me. So far, I am alone."
"Surely there are more," which I only realized as soon as I said it. There couldn't be only just one vampire, could there? If he'd been made one like in movies, someone had to make him. If he'd been born one…same thing, right?
Were there others like me? No one in my family was and so far I was a singularity…but where did it come from? I tucked those thoughts away when the vampire responded. "If there are, I have not seen them yet. I am worried about finding one."
"Why? Oh…oh. Yes, I see."
"I have…persuaded some answers from humans. No one seems to know of vampires. It is a logical conclusion."
I really wanted to ask him about this persuasion thing. Was it instinctual? Was it hypnosis? Why didn't it work on me? If he couldn't remember anything about his life, it had to be instinctual, or something very close to it. Gran liked to watch Soaps during the day. Wasn't this a common theme among them? They forgot everything about themselves but it didn't stop them from knowing certain things, like what clothes were and what they were for or what a house is. "If you haven't encountered other vampires," I began to ask, trying to fit my brain around the concept of an amnesiac vampire, "and you are stronger than a human being, how did you come to be covered in blood?"
"Wolves." He said.
"Wolves? There are no wolves around here."
"There are." He removed his hand from where it rested on me and to his shirt where he stretched it down near the bottom. What I thought might have been a snagging on a tree branch was distinctively claw marks. "Four of them surrounded me in the woods south of here, two nights ago. I killed one of them." The first signs of confidence and triumph formed on his face.
"Wow. With your bare hands?"
"Yes. I am very strong." Yeah, I kinda got that memo already. "They tried very hard to bring me down but I am faster than them."
A harsh wind kicked up and my teeth began to chatter. "I have so many questions to ask you." I said and wanted to smack myself. This guy was on the verge of killing you! My mind was telling me "Get out while you can!" But the other less logical part was screaming "Holy crap, vampires are real!"
"You are cold. Do you have shelter nearby?"
Shelter? This didn't look any older than his mid-twenties, but shelter? I hesitated for a moment. Obviously I had to live nearby since there were so few homes this way. And old Jesse Compton wasn't likely to be out this time of night. "Yes," I said, "down the road." He wasn't wearing a coat…or shoes. "Aren't you freezing?"
"It doesn't bother me."
"Do you have somewhere safe to stay? Is it true, vampires can't go out in daylight?" I wasn't going to offer him one of the extra bedrooms at Gran's but now, when he wasn't being frightening and he just looked so unsure of himself it was really kind of sad.
"It's true. I will be safe for the day."
After a tense second or two, I eased away from the hood of my car. He was watching me very carefully, reconsidering maybe if I was some kind of vulnerability. I didn't take my eyes off him until I got into the car and started driving. I watched him get smaller and smaller in my rearview until the turn off to the old Stackhouse homestead.
Parking in the back like I always did, I ran up and unlocked the back door. My shields were down fully by now. I'd let them go as soon as I was clear of Merlotte's and since I couldn't hear the vampire anyway, I'd never put them back up. Gran's mind was a comfort in its dreaming state. What wasn't comforting was the vampire's mind I could feel just inside the tree line. He'd followed me. My heart rate picked up again as I entered the house and turned to face out. I hoped the myth about invitations was true. I waited for a full minute but he never came out from the tree line.
I chided myself. Maybe he was scared? He was all alone, as far as he knew and had no memory. But there wasn't anything for me to do about it. Except it wasn't right to be out there in just a t-shirt and jeans on such a cold night, even if he said the cold didn't affect him. I didn't know what vampires were; if they were some creation of evil, of God, or something else entirely. But, I thought, here was something I could do as a good Christian by helping someone who so clearly was in need.
Quietly, so as not to disturb Gran, I went upstairs to the room Jason sometimes stayed in. There were some clothes there, though Jason was a good deal shorter than the vampire. I took some sweatpants, socks and a big sweatshirt from his old dresser and grabbed a big blanket from the closet. I didn't think any of Jason's old shoes would fit. I folded everything up in a neat pile and brought them downstairs and out onto the porch. The back porch was screened in so I left them on the top of the steps that led to it. He was out there still.
After relocking the door, I got ready for bed. Brushing my teeth in the bathroom was the first chance I got to see the bite marks that were plainly visible on my neck. They weren't big and they looked…clean? I put some Neosporin on them and would figure out a way to cover them up tomorrow.
As I started to drift off, my mind wandered back to the strange creature I'd met and hoped he would find himself again. I felt his mind move closer to the house. It stopped and I waited for something to happen. Nothing did.
Eventually his mind drifted back into the trees and I fell asleep.