Quick pulses of harsh electro drum beats pounded inside the darkened nightclub. Laser lights spun and tumbled over the crowd, mostly goths, clad in black, who filled the fog covered dance floor, dancing separately and rarely touching each other. Yelena danced alone among them. She had her hair down and had traded her pencil skirt and sleeveless blouse for a full-busted corset and a short skirt which showed much of her pale thighs over which she wore wide-ribbed fishnet stockings. Her black boots ran up the length of her legs to just below her knees. Her six inch platforms appeared difficult to walk in, let alone dance in, but Yelena brought a grace to the industrial music blaring as her body writhed and became wholly enveloped by the music so that she appeared lifted, her steps cushioned by the fog below her feet.
Yelena longed to feel tears well up in her eyes as she danced to the angry music, but they never came, and that was a good thing as her blood tears would have been conspicuous. She wanted again to feel herself cry for killing Andre, for she knew him to have a good heart, a heart that loved her very much, but she couldn’t help what she was no matter how long or how hard she fought it. Yelena was an immortal with the desperate need to kill, surrounded by a public of unsuspecting prey, filled with those who would choose willingly to enter her life and love her.
Killing randoms was obviously easier than killing those she loved, but even so she still hated herself for it. Because she did not know her randoms and her self-esteem was so low, she had to assume all her victims to be better souls than she. She didn’t want to kill them. She didn’t want to kill at all. But there was her thirst. It had to be satisfied. As for those who loved her, she didn’t have to assume—she was certain they were more worthy of the lives they possessed than she was worthy of hers.
In addition to the bloodlust Yelena had to contend with, there was also the need for love and loving, for neither yearning left Yelena when she became a vampire. Instead it was her love who left—Marcel—the vampire who had made her part of their damned species.
This need for loving is what periodically brought victims close to Yelena’s heart. She could begin to find love for them, as she had with Andre, but she could never have brought herself around to remain with him forever. To do that would have meant making Andre a vampire as well, and she cared for him and each of her previous lovers too much to relegate any one of them to the same fate as her own. Every single one was better off dead, held in her embrace. Worse, Yelena knew in the depths of the most hidden places within her heart there was still no room for anyone other than Marcel, and she had not yet finished lamenting his abandonment of her. And so although Yelena had spent over a hundred and thirty years with Marcel, her subsequent relationships never made it past the three-month mark.
It was the first kiss of a new lover that turned the hourglass over, curtailing the relationship as a whole and effectively shortening the life of her head-over-heels inamorato. With his lips upon hers, she could taste the blood pumping inside him and it would take vast amounts of strength to resist her bloodlust and let him live through another night of lovemaking. And though Yelena proved to have more willpower than most of her kind, considering the vast majority didn’t care to resist at all, ultimately she would always succumb to her hunger and lose her lover through her own teeth, adding him to the pile of beloved corpses that was the foundation of her guilt and what she disguised to her therapist, Dr. Sloane, as an eating disorder. And as part of that disorder, once Yelena fed, it was more likely she would binge, embarking upon a killing spree because, with the taste of blood still fresh on her palate, her resistance would fail her until it was finally outweighed by the self-reproach that followed the inevitable self-reflection.
I didn’t know any of this yet. I only learned much later how Yelena hated what she was because of the guilt that resulted from the murders required by her appetite. But by the time I learned and understood, it was too late.
Many pairs of eyes, both male and female, followed Yelena off the dance floor as the song changed to something less preferential. She headed to the bar where a bartender placed a black square napkin before her.
“Scotch, please,” Yelena said without yelling, but was still heard clearly between the ears of the bartender.
Without asking, the bartender pulled a bottle from the top shelf, which was still a lesser quality than what Yelena was accustomed to at home, but she appreciated him offering his best stock, even if the brown liquid was to be poured into a plastic cup.
As the bartender placed the cup on the napkin, Yelena’s eyes shifted to her right, in the direction of the man she felt approaching her from behind.
“Can I buy that for you?”
He had a nice voice. Yelena turned to him. He was young, probably early twenties, good looking, slightly androgynous, and wearing a tight fitting black shirt to ensure everyone in the club saw just how thinly delicate he was.
Still, Marcel was more beautiful.
“No, thank you,” Yelena said in response to his offer.
“I insist,” he said and slapped a twenty dollar bill on the bar. Yelena found that cocky and disliked him immediately. She knew at the very least he was hoping to get his dick sucked tonight. She picked up her drink and took a sip as the bartender took the twenty to the register and brought back four dollars in change, of which the young man put three in his pocket and left one on the bar for the bartender.
“My name is Blake,” the young man with the hopeful boner in his pants said. But even to him, Yelena was polite.
“Yelena,” she said and extended her hand, which he took, and in a most affected and dramatic fashion he kissed. He released her hand and she drank the remainder of her Scotch. She let it mingle with the warmth provided by Andre’s blood, and held onto its smoky oaken taste, before allowing it to slide down her throat, where the effects of the alcohol would warm her body.
“I’ve seen you here before,” Blake said next.
“Thank you for the drink,” Yelena said, and began to head back to the dance floor.
“Wait,” he said.
“Can’t we talk a little bit at least?”
He probably thought Yelena was a bitch.
“No? We can’t talk?”
“We don’t have to. You can just kiss me if you want.”
Blake’s expression changed positively as he placed his hand behind Yelena’s head, lacing his fingers through her hair. He pulled her prepossessing face toward him. His lips met hers and as his tongue probably tasted Scotch, Yelena’s tasted blood.
“Wanna get out of here?” Blake asked.
They drove separately, with Yelena following behind his black compact car, which was covered with bumper stickers of gothic and industrial bands. They ended up outside Blake’s apartment building before the club closed. Blake couldn’t stop kissing her, even as he struggled to get his key in the lock and guide her upstairs to his apartment. Though Yelena felt nothing for him in her heart, she responded to his kisses and made herself appear as anxious as he to get his apartment door unlocked and into his bedroom. Not loving someone was a blessing to Yelena; it would be simpler to kill Blake and feed a second time in the same night.
The door opened and Blake flipped the lights on. His apartment was small and decorated almost entirely in black except for the tan carpet and white walls which undoubtedly were standard in his apartment building. One wall was covered in crucifixes, but Yelena felt sure Blake wasn’t Catholic—the crucifixes were just a goth thing to him. There was a framed photo on a low bookshelf that Yelena assumed to be a family portrait. His mother, father, brother, and sister all looked relatively normal and were dressed colorfully, and then there was Blake, dressed in all black and wearing heavy black eyeliner. Still, the entire family smiled and appeared happy. Blake must have open-minded parents, she thought. Good for him.
A poster from the film Let the Right One In hung on one of the walls. Yelena enjoyed that film as well and had watched it more than once. A framed diploma from the University of California, Santa Cruz hung on an opposite wall. Blake had majored in Linguistics and graduated only a year earlier.
Two blue parakeets sat perched in a birdcage. She wondered what their names were but didn’t ask. The cage appeared cleaner than his apartment, which was far from neat. Empty alcohol bottles stood on the kitchen counter beside boxes of sugary cereals and a sink full of dirty dishes. Clothing was draped over much of the furniture. There was a faint odor in the room as well. Blake was in the habit of burning nag champa incense.
Yelena took all of this in as she continued to kiss him and he guided her toward the back of the apartment where she assumed his bedroom was located. She closed her eyes. She didn’t want to see anything more of the surroundings as it was filled with things that suggested a full life beyond the shallowness of a nightclub hookup and that might begin to weigh on her conscience and thereby give her second thoughts on killing him.
A knock at the front door stopped Blake in his tracks.
“What the fuck?” he said. Frustrated, he let out a deep breath. “Excuse me a sec.”
“I’ll wait in the bedroom.” Yelena said, and retreated in the direction he had been guiding her. When she passed through his bedroom doorway, she didn’t turn on the lights. She could see perfectly well in the dark and illuminating the room would only make her visible to whoever was knocking at the front door, which would make Yelena an identifiable suspect when Blake disappeared.
The knocking became more desperate.
“I’m coming, dammit!” Blake shouted before opening the door.
In the doorway stood a young woman, pretty and very pregnant. She appeared distressed.
“Oh god. Blake, you’re home. My water broke. I need you to take me to the hospital.”
“He’s on his way, but I think I should just go already.”
“He’ll be here soon, Nicole. You should wait for him.” And with that, Blake began to close the door on her. Nicole put her hand on the door, keeping it open.
“Wait. Don’t go!”
“I know Tim. I know he would want you to wait for him.”
Yelena watched the scene from the darkness of Blake’s bedroom. She was relieved he was being his asshole self again now that he was being cock-blocked. Yelena bit her lip softly as she anticipated the taste of Blake’s lifeblood in her mouth.
“Please, Blake. I need you.”
“Look. It’s late. And I got a good parking space. Trust me. Just wait here for Tim. Have you talked to him?”
“Yeah. On the phone. He’s hurrying.”
“There, you see?”
“Can you at least wait with me?”
“I’m kind of in the middle of something. Just be patient. Tim will be here.”
Nicole let out a pained groan and gripped her enlarged belly.
“Just go back inside and sit down. He won’t be long. I promise.” Blake began to close the door again.
“Stop,” Yelena said in a calm tone from the bedroom, but they both heard her clearly. Blake turned around and Nicole looked over his shoulder. Yelena stepped out of the darkened bedroom into the hallway and walked toward the front door.
“I’ll drive you,” Yelena said.
“What? Are you fucking serious?” Blake asked.
Yelena didn’t respond to him, she responded to Nicole instead. “My car is right outside.”
“Thank you. Thank you.”
Yelena walked out the door and Blake slammed it behind her.
“Do you have a bag or anything?”
“Yeah, right inside the door,” Nicole said and reached inside her own apartment, which was directly across from Blake’s, and picked up a bag that was already packed. Yelena took the bag from her and helped her down the stairs of the apartment building.
Out on the street, the headlights of Yelena’s Mercedes flashed as the doors unlocked. Yelena placed the bag in the back seat and helped Nicole into the front, shut her door, and then went around to the driver’s side and got in and started the car.
“Thank you again,” Nicole said. “But please hurry.”
“I will,” Yelena responded, as she pulled away from the curb and floored it.
They sped through Hollywood and got lucky with the green lights. Nicole breathed quickly.
“How are you doing?”
Nicole just nodded her head and kept breathing.
“We’ll be there soon,” Yelena said, and she was right. Within minutes, Yelena’s Mercedes whipped into the hospital parking lot and sped to the emergency entrance.