I will always savor the taste of blood. Even though I starve myself of its nourishment for strictly selfish reasons I can’t help but crave the bitter embrace of its crimson flavor. There were times when I craved the taste of other things in life, like sweet cakes and candied fruit. That was, of course, before I became one of Satan’s demonic children.
I have heard various terms for this affliction I now suffer, but few carry weight with me. Phantasma. Hemoglobin-deprived. Nosferatu.
I remember being a small girl in West London, my mother desperate to instill her values in me. As the years stretch on it becomes increasingly difficult to remember exactly how those days went, but I’ll never forget the lessons I was taught. Lessons of philosophy, religion, and most notably, pain.
When my mind wanders back to those anything-but-innocent avenues of my life I usually find myself desperate for a way to snap myself back into the present. I’ve often heard tales of humans engaging in self-destructive behavior as a means to this end. Heavy drug use, outrageous outbursts, alcoholic bingeing, and even the cutting of one’s flesh.
The attention a person sometimes seeks through these methods is enough to pull them back from the edge. Unfortunately, my progressed physiology ensures that these practices will be nothing more than an irritation, not to mention the simple fact that I’ve removed myself from anyone to draw attention from which would make the acts redundant.
Cutting oneself continues to intrigue me the most, especially since I assume that not all cases are a cry for attention. Perhaps the sudden rush of adrenaline one gets from the knife slicing into the skin somehow focuses the mind, or maybe it even feeds some perverted nature the person wishes to keep contained. I know all about feeding the beast in small amounts to keep it dormant. A drop of sustenance now will save a soul later.
As I said, cutting myself does nothing more than momentarily aggravate my flesh. The wound begins to heal even before I’ve finished making it. To this end I searched for something similar that people of my nature might find equivalent. There are precious few methods of causing myself real harm but there is one that I find helps ease the pain of my morbid past by replacing it with pain rooted in the immediate present.
I spend my days alone just as I do my nights, although for some reason I sense the depression is greater when the sun is awake. I can’t stand to fully be immersed in the piercing rays but I usually sit beside an open window, my hand outstretched to catch the blistering warmth of light. I imagine that when my skin boils it must be the same mental stimulation a human feels from self-inflicting harm with a blade. I always pull my hand back into the safety of darkness before long, as I’m not anxious to lose my hand completely. Just as soon as I yank my appendage back the pain begins to subside and heal, yet just before then I’ve managed to accomplish my goal. Maybe I’m trying to keep my mind rooted in the present or maybe I want a small taste of the final death. I honestly couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason. I doubt anyone could.
I stare at my pale skin as the boils quickly dissipate and the flesh fills in the tiny smoking holes. I often find myself wishing I could plug up certain pieces of my life the same way. There’s never any blood lost, as my body hasn’t produced its own in decades. What I steal from others is used up immediately and not left within my gangly form to lose. Bits of rotting muscle and tissue turn to ash as soon as the sunlight touches me but even then I’m careful not to let things get out of control.
Control isn’t something I’ve been accustomed to having my entire life. Even when I was a little girl I very rarely had opportunities to call my own.
My step-father was never around but I don’t blame him. My mother was a horrid woman full of wrath and it was not exactly like the money was easy to come by. He worked in the paper mills while I cleaned up scraps for a baker on Milan Street. Oh, how I loved to steal a bit of left over dough when I could.
My mother stayed at home, I imagined lying in wait for me to walk through the door. I had just turned seventeen when she gave me the most unforgiving lesson of my life.
God, in all his glory, hated me.
I don’t pretend to make excuses for myself by way of my childhood, but all of the negative experiences didn’t help my self-esteem. Too many times did I sit silently while my mother berated my psyche with her nonsense. It was all I could do not to cry.
“Those ridiculous Calvinists will never understand what it means to be a proper follower,” she told me. “As if their prayers are any different than mine. Cynthia! That blasphemous baker you work for is one of them, isn’t he? Shut up when I’m talking to you, girl! I’ve never known a child who hated her mother so. I bet you would sooner see me in my grave before showing some respect.”
I told her she was wrong, that I loved her. It didn’t matter how many times I tried to get that sentiment through to her since she always responded with the same accusations.
“Love is something you can’t fathom. You’re just a silly little girl with no respect or understanding of the world we live in. God has cursed me with you.”
Needless to say I refused to point out how she had once been married to a Calvinist, my father. She was now married to a godless cretin, my step-father.
Every night when I returned from the bakery she would rant on and on about something I was doing wrong. If it wasn’t my chosen employer it was my clothing. If it wasn’t my clothing it was the length of my hair. If it wasn’t one thing it was the other. Every night my mother would verbally tear into me and then my step-father would do the same physically.
Pain, both emotional and corporeal, eventually takes its toll on a person.
The night I ran away turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. The final straw that was the catalyst for my leaving was an especially brutal one. My step-father, fresh off an eleven-hour shift at the mill, came home drunk and livid.
The memory of what followed still brings a shiver to my spine.
I tasted my own blood for the first time that night as it dribbled down my cheek from where he had repeatedly struck me. I spat the red liquid out upon realizing what it was, horrified. I stared at the footprints left in the dirt, his footprints. It was then that I realized if I didn’t leave that it would only happen again.
So, I left. I packed a satchel with a few changes of clothes, a bit of bread, and the money I had kept hidden from my mother. Out the door I went, finally experiencing a shred of control in my life for the first time.
The cold night was unforgiving. I ran several blocks without stopping, finally realizing that I had nowhere to go. In fact, the only other place in the world I really knew was the bakery. I turned the corner, ready to quickly move down the stone street so I could gain entrance to my place of employment and work out my troubles in the morning. I had not realized how much easier it was to navigate the city when daylight was abundant. Each block looked exactly like the last, a myriad collection of cobblestone and gas lamps.
One corner, another, three times rapidly…I was lost. The streets were completely devoid of life at this time of night, save one: a staunch man whose eyes seemed to glisten in the moonlight.
“Kind sir,” I implored him. “Might you point the way to Milan Street? I seem to have gotten a bit turned around.”
“My dear,” he responded with a voice as sincere as the night is black. “I would not be able to refer to myself as a gentleman if I allowed a precious lady like yourself to wonder alone is this part of the city. Come.”
He lifted his elbow out for me to grasp, a hint of fortitude in his movements. “It’s not far. I walk there often to this magnificent baker for a loaf.”
I smiled, taking pleasure in the ironic secret. He led me back down the street I had wandered on to and around another corner, his tanned boots striking the cobblestone noisily. I remember thinking to myself that he must have been standing still for quite some time since I hadn’t heard his loud boots before seeing him.
“May I ask what you would you be doing out this late?” he inquired of me.
“My business is my own,” I answered. “But what of you, sir?”
He remained silent, a sneer smoothly forming above his chin.
“Sir?” I repeated.
He led me around another corner, this time away from the streets and into a dark alley. I hesitated upon seeing the darkness but he clasped his arm on top of mine, holding me to him.
“Let me go!” I urged. He paid me no mind.
I did not have much in comparison but his strength was unimaginable. He practically dragged me into the alley, its cold and rigid mouth eager to swallow us up. I wanted to scream but found the cries had somehow lodged themselves in my throat, unable to be of any help. I was at this man’s mercy. A solemn prayer whirled through my head, aimed directly at the heavens.
It was ignored.
The gentleman yanked hard on my arm and threw me up against the red brick wall. I struggled against his powerful arms as he held my own in place, the memories of my step-father still recently burned into my being. I began to beg to him, pleading to be let go and that I meant him no foul.
“Of course you’re scared, my child,” he said. His eyes were glazed over like an animal. “We all are. I can smell the fear; I can taste your perspiration. Tell me: what is it you feel damned over? You’ve been tainted by a man, and recently.”
He shook his head, smiling. “Look into my eyes, child, and you’ll see your answer.”
I couldn’t escape his pupils, even though I attempted to turn my head away. His gaze pulled me in, captivating my attention. It was like a sea of tranquility splashing around an obelisk of pale durability. I felt his presence all around me and I’m slightly ashamed to say that I was not repulsed. I actually enjoyed the warm feeling that he gave me as his eyes pierced to my very soul.
Then, as quickly as he touched that soul, he clenched it and ripped it away from me.
His teeth dug into my neck, two of them sinking further than the others. I felt a hot trickle of blood seep onto my shoulder as he drank my life away. Instead of lashing out wildly in hopes of freeing myself I simply slid closer to him, allowing him to take me.
He drank every last drop of my lifeblood, leaving me cold and hollow on the alley floor. I managed to blink once, twice, three times rapidly…and then there was nothing. Death cast her shadow over me as my vision went blurry. The last image I saw was my unearthly killer standing over my corpse and brushing his expensive coat off, even though there was no dirt on the sleeves.
I’ve thought of that moment every day since, trying to reason if I craved an innocent death or if I had lost the will to live entirely.
The rest, to be cliché, is history.
All I have to keep me rooted in the present and away from that disgusting fragment of the past is whatever cowardly strength I can muster to plunge my fist into the sun’s rays, only to pull it back out again before the pain becomes too much. Perhaps someday I’ll test myself and cast my pale body out the window completely.
I often ask myself if God’s intentions are meant to be known by mortals. Who are we to judge Him? I think the answer is that we are nothing and life is a way of reminding us of that. It’s ironic that in order to realize the futility of life we must comprehend its inception. Why, then, do I cling to it? I’ve come to believe that my own remorse is only a further part of this comical experiment called Creation.
God, in all his glory, hates me.
But that does not mean that I would accept that lowly fact. No, I have tried, despite myself, to gain His favor. Odd, that one of the Devil’s abominations walking the globe would be a Christian.
I pray. Daily. The words burn my lips, but like the sunlight, I enjoy it. It makes me feel alive in a way that I cannot explain. This living death that I experience constantly can be backed away by the infliction of pain, but of course not enough to do irreparable harm.
I take my Christian duties seriously, although for a time I relished in the revenge I sought against the man who wronged me the most. I do not refer to the midnight gentleman, but rather the other man whom I detest thinking of. As far as I know his body has not been discovered, and by now never will be since it has long since rotted away to dust.
Yet, despite that cherished animus, I still feel as though I have been forsaken. I pray, yet no answer has come. Am I insane to continue this praise to He who has forgotten me? Or is it a matter of being so indoctrinated that I know not the difference?
I live on while those around me slip away, possibly joining Him in the afterlife, something I will never know since I have sampled the Devil’s kiss. Perhaps that is why I punish myself with the sunlight…as a means of penance.
Or perhaps I just wish to focus my mind in such a way to think that I do exist even though my maker, the first one, ignores me continuously.
Even though I am to be considered an abomination, I will always savor the taste of blood.
AUTHOR BIO: D. C. Golightly is a freelance writer and audio producer living in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and kids. He loves comics, cookies, and fiction. Keep up to date with him at his blog: http://dave-golightly.blogspot.com/