Don’t play with your food. Unless she’s sexy and tastes like heaven. Harley tastes like life itself. Humans are rare, animals are gone, and we’re starving. It’s my job to secure her so we can breed her with a male human and make a food supply, but one taste of her blood and the feel of her luscious curves has left me with quite the dilemma. Do I let her go to him and save my race, or do I keep her for myself and suffer the consequences?
“Yeah. Like that. Suck it,” I hissed.
My fingers twisted in her crimson hair, and I tugged hard, making her cry out with pleasure.
“Stop fucking around. Use your fangs.” I snarled, giving her another quick tug.
A growl burst from my lips when her fangs punctured the shaft of my dick.
Being sucked off and sucked on at the same time was indescribable. Heaven in hell—bliss in blackness.
The darkness had filled me years ago, and sometimes, I let it consume me and rode the wave of sin.
Resting my head on the back of my black leather couch, I released her hair and grabbed the sides of her head, directing my aching cock between her plump lips.
Closing my eyes, I imagined she was warm. Imagined she was a hot-blooded living female with a fiery mouth and a beating heart. If I focused hard enough, I could almost hear her non-existent heartbeat.
It had been over twenty years since I had been with a living woman. One of my favorite things to do was fuck ’em and suck ’em at the same time. That was back when there were more blood bags than we needed, before the living became practically extinct.
I referred to those days as the good ole days. We could go out at night and eat a hardy meal. I could bag two or three fully grown men or women in less than four hours and go to bed that morning feeling full and happy.
Pulling the vamp tramp from my cock, I pressed her into the couch, flipped up her easy access skirt, and fucked her with full force. She looked up at me with red eyes and an open smile. She screeched her release and bit into the side of my neck as she came. I followed behind her with an orgasm that made venom leak from my fangs.
Rolling off her, I pulled up my slacks and buckled my belt.
“The money’s on the counter by the door,” I said.
It was the fifth time I’d had this particular woman. She had tried in the beginning to tell me her name and get to know me, but no name was needed. She was already starting to bore me. When I fucked her, her cheeks would sometimes look pink and remind me of a living girl; it was the only reason I kept fucking her.
I poured myself a glass of homemade absinthe, my friend Rhys’s recipe, and downed it. The burn down my throat soothed my hunger for a brief second or two before it came back even stronger.
Once she was gone, I checked my phone. There was a message from Rhys telling me to come to the hospital as soon as possible. I wasted no time showering and heading out the door.
The alarm on my silver Concept One chirped loudly, and the concrete wall in front of where I was parked lit up when my headlights flashed.
Driving a fast car meant making it there in no time. I could have gotten there faster on foot, but I enjoyed driving places, much to Rhys’s dismay. He preferred the strength and speed we possessed over trivial things like feeling human for the ten-minute drive to a location.
The large, imposing building towered over me minutes later, and I closed my eyes, not looking forward to going inside.
A hospital was usually useless for our kind, but the government had managed upkeep on the old building knowing one day it would be necessary.
I parked out front and handed my keys to a guard standing in wait for me.
“Scratch it and die.”
He nodded his understanding before folding into the driver’s seat and shutting the door behind him. The engine roared to life behind me as my eyes moved across the stone building in front of me.
Ignoring the strange ache inside my gut, I went inside the cooled space and took the elevator to the second floor.
Guards dressed in full black were stationed outside the room I had been called to, letting me know what I was there for. Keeping records of death was depressing, but someone had to do it. Gathering my wits before entering, I took a cleansing unneeded breath.
One thing I always despised was the smell of a hospital. It hadn’t changed a bit over the years. The acrid scent of death, a smell I should be all too accustomed with, somehow seemed thicker in the hallway outside a dying man’s room.
The hospital had been closed for many years, but with deaths now occurring, it was reopened. Vampires who needed hospitals… it was unnatural. Almost as unnatural as we were.
I had spent a lot of time in hospitals over the past couple of months since I was put in charge of keeping track of the losses. It was my job to report the ghastly details of the absolute death, and today was no different.
The woman in room 213 was experiencing her final end. As vampires, we weren’t supposed to know death. We were supposed to be immortal, but as the pale flesh literally melted from her bones in front of me, I knew no one could truly outrun the grim reaper.
The horrid screams of a dead woman dying filled the small hospital room. People crept around outside in the hallway with looks of absolute horror upon their faces. They were all thinking the same thing; it was unnatural for our kind. It struck fear in the unmoving hearts of the fearless.
There was nothing anyone could do but watch. We observed, knowing in a few years—possibly a few months—we too would experience that torture. We too would slowly liquefy. Dead cells can’t continue, they must go away, and that’s all we were—dead cells.
She reached out to her husband and screamed again when her muscles gave way and began to droop.
“Somebody please. Please do something. Help me!” she shrieked.
Her husband’s face was smeared with bloody tears. Crimson glistened down his pastel cheeks and dripped from his chin onto his crisp white shirt. He tried his best to soothe her, whispering calming words to her that never made it past her blood-curdling screams.
It was really happening. The government knew it was possible one day, but we had no idea it would be so soon. Vampires were dying one by one, which was exactly as nature had intended, but it wasn’t fun to wait for it to happen. We’d exhausted all our options, and as a race, there was nothing we could do to stop it.
She died twenty minutes after I arrived, and as I marked her name and time of death onto her file, I knew things were about to get a whole lot worse for us.
Later that morning, close to dawn, I sat at a large conference table in a dimly lit room and listened as the council tried to come up with ideas. Everyone was on edge trying to find any way to prevent death.
In reality, it was the way it should be. Technically, we weren’t supposed to even be alive. We were a crime against nature, and this death, the one that was starting to bang on each and every one of our doors, was right.
“It’s reported that twenty-eight more vamps met their final end tonight, sir. Five more entered a comatose state and are probably going to die, as well. We must proceed with the plan to breed,” David Powers said to William Rhys, the leader of the United States.
I had always disliked David and his rat-like features. His greasy hair plastered to the sides of his face in rounded out shapes had always disturbed me. Most men wore their hair like that, but I refused to run around looking like a total idiot. I was trapped in the twentieth century, and so was my style.
“Other nations are willing to help with funding. Russia even agrees that breeding humans is our best bet,” Sheridan said.
She looked over at me and pleaded with her eyes for my help.
Sheridan should have been a man. The hard angles of her harsh face held no feminine appeal. I expected her Adam's apple to bob up and down when she swallowed in a panic.
The fact that her hair looked as if someone held her down and chopped it up against her will with a razor blade didn’t help. It was the style, but it wasn’t attractive as far as I was concerned.
I remembered when a woman’s hair held a certain power over a man. There was nothing like running your fingers through the long threads of a woman’s sweet-scented tresses; the feel of the softness against your face when you leaned in for a stolen kiss.
Rhys’s eyes found mine from across the table. As his lead consultant and guard, everyone looked at me. They thought I was the only vampire capable of persuading Rhys into anything. They assumed I was the only bloodsucker never to feel the thirst that was starting to drive them all mad.
They were clueless.
They had no idea how severe my thirst was.
The room went still as they waited for me to respond. Outside, the sound of rioting reached my ears and was an even bigger push in the back. Something had to be done, but the idea they had was making me ill. I would never admit it to anyone that I gave a shit, but it felt wrong.
The plan to breed humans was introduced ten years before. It was bound to happen once the predators, like me, became the top of the food chain and anything with a pulse began to go extinct.
The world as we all remembered it was turned upside down. Our lives were inverted, flipped so that we were even more dominating than we’d always been behind the scenes.
Twenty-five years before, humans consumed the earth. Twenty-five years before, they easily outnumbered vampires, and we could feed on anything we liked.
After killing and turning too many humans for our own sick desires, we were faced with one simple fact. We, the vampires, outnumbered the humans, and we were starving to death.
In years past, we played all night and slept all day. We fed randomly and filled ourselves with the blood of anything with a beating heart. We drank vigorously without regard for our future, without the knowledge that one day, after all had been sucked dry, we would be without humans and their blood; without a food supply.
In the past, humans were the workers, the inventors, and the law, while we lived the lives of kings behind closed doors. There was no work and all play for us, and we definitely played. We were gluttonous, greedy beings, and we took any and everything we wanted until there was no more.
The humans soon became aware of us, and news stations all around the world reported on the bloodthirsty mythical creatures killing mankind. Governments around the world fought back. They sent out troops to try to kill our kind.
The army men became known as the Fang Hunters. They tried and failed to eradicate us, and in the end, all it did was anger the errant vampires, if there was ever any other kind.
Those wayward vampires were referred to as the wild, and they were the reason for our current predicament. While some of us started to realize our food supply was dwindling, the wild remained the same.
They went on killing sprees and changed lusty women and men into vamps in exchange for death. Little did these humans know they were accepting death, just a much more malicious kind; one that was never supposed to occur, an unhurried death that happened to the mind slowly over the years.
These delinquent vampires killed more and more. They turned army men into vampires just to watch them try to kill each other. It was a game, a form of entertainment for the ones that had lived for too many years with no new amusement.
The humans that remained became more guarded. Still, vampires continued to ransack random homes to feed our insatiable bloodlust, pushing the blood bags into hiding.
And that was where we stood.
The humans hid as we took their place in the world. We were the workers and the inventors, we were the law, and we did what we had to in order to survive.
I had watched the world become what it was, a world where vampires were the dominant species. I remembered the times when we, as vampires, hid in the dark corners of the streets and waited for a fresh kill. I remembered the joy and the exhilaration of finding fresh blood, but since we dominated everything around us, fresh blood was a thing of dreams.
Eight years before, the Blood Bond laws were passed. These laws made it illegal to turn a human into a vampire; five years after that, we passed another law making it illegal to kill anything with a pulse.
The Blood Bond laws were passed to keep the humans and animals from becoming extinct; they were passed so vampires could feel like they had some kind of future because, without them and their blood, we would surely become extinct too.
“James, our worst fears are coming to life. We’re becoming immune to Hematonin. Say something, damn you,” Sheridan yelled across the table.
Her heavy man-like palms landed on the wood in front of her and echoed into the room.
Hematonin, a small pill produced fifteen years before by Ralph Singleton, was the miracle drug we vampires had been surviving on. It provided the much-needed nutrients that human blood cells would usually provide to our bodies without the kill and the feed.
The miracle drug was made in mass quantities all over the world. We didn’t eat. Instead, we took a pill every morning before bed to sustain us. But the hunger never went away. The thirst still burned our throats and drove us partly insane. To feel the effects of starvation yet never die was enough to make you crazy.
“We knew this day would come, James. Are you even listening?” David Powers asked in a panic. “Tell Rhys this is for the best.”
It was whispered throughout the world that Hematonin would not keep us alive forever. At some point, whether it took ten years or fifty, our bodies would become immune to the miracle medication. The vampires who succumbed on a daily basis were proof of that matter.
I was going to have to go against my gut and agree with breeding humans like dogs. After one hundred and thirty-seven years of hating myself, of feeling like a murderer, I was going to agree to the production of humans just so we could suck on them and feed our thirst.
Memories of being alive made it difficult to consider the breeding plan. I could still so vividly remember the first time I had ever made love when I was alive. Memories were supposed to die, but even after a hundred years, those memories were still clear. It felt like I still had my heartbeat not long ago.
“It’s now or never. We must search out what humans are left in the world and start the breeding processes immediately. If we don’t, we’ll die,” Sheridan said across the large meeting table.
“James?” Rhys, our leader, looked at me with concern in his eyes.
Rhys always remained calm, though his tall frame and charcoal skin were intimidating. There was nothing like a huge black giant haunting the night. I could remember the fear in the humans’ eyes when we would feed together.
But I knew his calm was a front. It was his job to prevent widespread panic, and he did a damn good job of it, but I had seen him crack a handful of times over the years.
“I think it’s time we move forward with this plan, don’t you?”
His composure was admirable, considering the circumstances.
I looked around the table full of scientists, consultants, and guards… all vampires, and I knew it was inevitable.
I nodded, guilt filling my chest and rushing up the back of my throat to choke me.
“There’s no other choice. We have to do what we have to do,” I responded.
“Okay, then it’s settled.” Rhys looked around the table to see if anyone else disagreed. “James, your new job is to lead the search. I don’t trust anyone else not to feed on the first human they find. This isn’t going to work if the ones searching can’t control their thirst long enough to bring back anything alive.”
I nodded my understanding.
The burn in my throat intensified with just the thought of being near fresh blood.
William Rhys might have been the leader of the vampires in America and the oldest documented vampire in our government, but he was also my best friend. I would go to hell and back for that man. Being around a human and not being able to feed on them was every vampire’s idea of hell.
As the sun came up later, I was back at my condo, and I pushed the red button on the remote that controlled everything. I watched as the thick tinted shields slowly dropped down to cover the windows, keeping out the fire of the morning light.
I relaxed in bed and watched TV as I waited for sleep to take me away. The songs of morning birds chirping filled my dark room. Birds were mostly safe from us. Vampires could do a lot, but flying wasn’t something anyone had mastered.
Flipping onto my stomach, I stared at the clock. The first round of searches was set to begin once the sun went down. Anything with a pulse was to be captured and taken back to the lab. Again, the burn grew in my throat, prompting venom to leak onto my tongue. Sleep took me away an hour later, and dreams of my past haunted me.
The next night, after a long, restless day of sleep, a small group of guards and I began our search. We started under bridges and old decrepit buildings; any place where a human or animal might be hiding. We honed our senses in and searched for hours. All we managed to collect were a few stray cats and dogs, but no humans.
At four a.m., the group separated to go home before dawn.
“Get your ass home, James. The sun’s coming up soon,” Jessie, one of the guards, said before he flittered away into the night.
I nodded before I started back toward my car. I had parked it away from the search area since I was sure the purr of the engine would send anything we were hunting deeper into hiding.
Instead, I ran on foot with the group as we hunted with plans to return to my car once we were done.
I hadn’t brought the Concept this time, opting for a much quieter black BMW. I slid my finger over the flawless paint, enjoying this part of my collection. No other vampires I knew held on so tightly to things that used to belong to humans, but I did. Thankfully, no one asked why. Otherwise, I would have to admit I missed the beating of my own heart and the movement of the blood in my own veins.
I wasn’t sure how well that would sit with the others, but those thoughts stayed planted in the back of my brain, always pushing the memories of my past to the front like an old black and white movie.
My car rushed past the outskirts of the city, old buildings that once held so much life left crumbling in disrepair. I was about to turn and enter the city when I passed a building we had missed. It was still holding strong, even though it looked as though the grass and weeds had made it their home.
The soft hum of my car radiated in the stillness of dawn. With my windows down, I could hear the night as it came to an end and the creatures that crept through the black went back into hiding. A moist dew-filled breeze blew through my dark hair. Taking a deep breath, a scent that I could never forget filled my senses.
Immediately, I slammed on my brakes, my tires squealing into the haze of the impending morning. My fingers dug into the steering wheel before I slammed the car into park.
I was inside the building before my car had even turned off. Not often did I use my vampire speed, but that moment was a special occasion. I sniffed the air around me, and the pungent sweetness of human blood expanded through my senses. It was then the repetitive heartbeat sounded. It wasn’t far away, I could tell by how loud the beating was.
I worked my way farther into the building and came to an open door. I sensed the human before I saw it. The beating of its heart sounded like it was a part of my eardrum. I flinched at the sound and blocked it out. The dilapidated building around me smelled of mildew, but even with the strong odor, I could still smell the richness of its blood.
Fear that I would lose it and feed rushed through me. I held my breath, but the smell was so strong I could practically taste it on my tongue. The constant pulse of its heart called to me, and the scent of blood pulled me forward. When I finally saw her, I took a deep breath and prepared myself.
She was sleeping on an aged cot on the side of the old broken-down room. With one arm slung over her eyes and the other arm flung across the bed, she snored loudly. I stepped up to the side of the cot and held my breath again. I knew what would happen the minute I breathed her in, and I knew I either had to get it over with and suck her succulent nectar or I had to control myself and help my race.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath letting her essence fill me. The age-old desire to sink my teeth into the nearest and largest artery took over me. I had to step away and remember that not taking her, not sucking the life force from her body, could possibly save vampire kind as I knew it.
The room began to swim around me, and I felt a dizzying wave attack my senses. The burn in my jaws was unbearable, and my fangs dripped acidic venom into my mouth. I repeated in my mind to relax, hoping I could listen to my own conscience. I silently prayed to a God I had long forgotten that the desire to feed would pass soon.
The wind blew through a broken window close to her bed, and her scent invaded my senses again. The burn in me intensified, and I knew I was going to snap and kill her at any moment. I would selfishly end all hope for the survival of me and my kind. The breeding plan rested on me, and my obscene desire to rip the girl’s throat out.
I blinked rapidly and swallowed over and over again. Extreme panic rose in me, making me feel as if my heart had kick-started again. That was all in my head, of course, but stranger things had happened.
To gain self-control, I stepped away and debated whether I should go back to my car and try again after I had calmed myself some. I knew then that my senses were coming back to me. No other vampire in his right mind would think twice about feeding after going so long without blood, yet there I was, thinking three times.
Finally, the monster in me won. I took a step closer to where she slept. No one would ever know she had been there. No one would ever know I had thirsted for her and then finally drank every last ounce of blood from her body. I could get away with it easily.
I reached out and pushed a thick shock of black hair from her face. She shivered at the touch of my cold, dead fingers. It was then I noticed her wide brown eyes staring fearfully back at me. I backed away from her, my eyes never leaving hers. She sat up slowly as if being faced by a hungry lion. Only in truth, a hungry vampire was much more dangerous.
“Get out,” she hissed.
Her heartbeat increased, and the sound of her blood rushed through the room like a freight train. I tried to remain as calm as possible.
“I can’t do that,” I said quietly.
“Fine,” she said.
She stood from the dirty cot and then courageously walked up to me, shocking me. She stood proudly face to face with me, and I couldn’t help but feel a small of amount of awe at her bravery.
I stood stoic even though I was panicking on the inside. If she got any closer, just one more step, I would suck her dry.
“What are you doing?” I asked, my voice sounding much calmer than I felt.
My mouth was on fire, and the room was starting to spin. It took all the willpower I owned to keep my hands to my sides.
“Does it hurt?” she asked boldly with her chin in the air like a brave soldier.
“Does what hurt?” I asked confused.
“To die. Does it hurt to die?”
A memory of my body slowly dying flashed through my mind. The memory of the pain of every organ inside me stopping while my brain still functioned stabbed at me. The feeling of the blood in my body coming to a complete halt still managed to take my breath away. Those were things I was sure never to forget.
“It hurts like hell,” I responded.
She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head like she was working up her nerve.
“Just make it quick,” she said.
Her wrist cracked when she pulled down the collar of her shirt to make her neck more visible. I noticed the dry, cracked dirt on her hands and the black curved lines that formed her cuticles.
She stared fearlessly away from me, and again, for a moment, I appreciated her bravery.
She sighed and swallowed hard.
“I only have one request—don’t turn me. Don’t make me what you are. I don’t want to be a monster.”
I stared at the deadness in her eyes.
How could a living person seem so dead?
How could she not enjoy the breath and blood in her body?
How dare she take advantage of the wonderful parts of her body that still functioned?
It angered me that she didn’t appreciate her life more—that she was tossing away the one thing I longed for.
Then I took a deeper look into those wide brown eyes and understood.
She was done.
She was giving up.
She wanted to die, and I was her form of suicide.
She intrigued me, and at that moment, I needed to know more. I wanted to understand why she wasn’t frightened of me—of death. I wanted to know her struggle. Not as bad I wanted to suck on every succulent inch of her flesh before sucking her dry, but still, bad enough.
“Why don’t you want to live?” I asked.
A sarcastic huff of laughter rushed out of her as she shook her head in annoyance.
“I’m tired. I’m hungry. And I’m just flat out sick of running and hiding. Let me ask you something.” She turned to face me, the deadness in her eyes shocking me yet again. “If everyone you ever loved, if everyone that ever loved you was dead, would you want to live?” Her eyes watered a bit. “Everything that made me happy in my life has either died by the hand of your people or died of starvation. Put me out of my misery, stop my suffering—please.”
She whispered the word please like a silent prayer.
Like a wish she’d had for far too long.
Her voice was dehydrated and raspy; her lips cracked and ready to bleed.
I pushed down my sick desire to lick them for just one small taste of the old blood. The burn in my throat was still there, but now it was bearable.
A single tear slid down her dirt-streaked face, leaving a semi-clean line of tanned flesh in its wake. I was fascinated by that tear; that single glistening production of the human body jarred me.
I remembered tears.
I especially remembered happy tears.
They were wonderful.
Suddenly, the memory of the family and friends I left behind after my change flashed through my mind. I remembered watching those family and friends from afar as they each died one by one.
The memory of my mother dying from fever and then my father from heart failure after my mother’s death flashed. The memory of my little brother, Charles, who died in World War One; the memory of Sarah, the girl I loved deeply, as she eventually married and had children. She died during the birth of her third child.
She was so young and beautiful.
“How old are you?” I asked the girl who stood before me.
If you could get past the ratty old clothes and dirt stained face and hands, she was beautiful as well.
She was tall and lean with dark hair and alert brown eyes. I watched as she lifted her hands to push back her wild tangled locks of hair. She was in need of a bath and a brush, but other than that, she was the prettiest human I had seen in many, many years.
Her full bruised lips pulled down into a confused frown.
“I said… how old are you?”