She painted her fingers with a close precision. She used to paint them red. Blood red. But they would taunt her. He found her once sat under the dim lamp-light, staring at her nails, licking her lips. She was caught in some sort of trace. He had to shake her rapidly to make her finally blink and look away. After that, he warned her to stay away from that colour. No matter how much she craved it. So now she paints them black like the night sky. The only sky she gets to see.
When she notices the sun rising, she quickly closes the heavy, velvet curtains. Even though he never gets to see the morning light, his body seems to know that it's time to wake up. He stirs under the blankets that cover the bed and his eyes flutter open. She smiles when her eyes meet his and he sends her a lazy smile back. She lifts her glass of scotch to her lips and takes the last mouthful. It's not what she wants. It's not what she needs. But she drinks it for him. She wants to prove to him that she's not the monster he found that night.
It was just over a year ago when they had met. She was lost. She had no family, no friends. It was only her hunger that drove her on. She had killed a child. Drank it dry. But the mother walked in. The look on her face made the pit of her stomach ache. She had never seen anything like it. The mother shrieked like a banshee. So loud and piercing that she fled the house and made a promise to herself that that child would be her last feed. Her plan was working. She had more self-control than she had initially thought. A month had passed without another victim. But there was one thing she had not planned for. Something she hadn't known. That the more she waited, the more hungry she would become, feeding was out of her control. It must have been some sort of survival mechanism. The monster she so desperately wanted to keep hidden would consume her entirely. That was when she had woken in the early hours of the morning behind a restaurant. Her skin was burning in the sun. She screamed and fell back into the shadow of the wall. Blood was smeared over her face. In her hair. Down her dress. She didn't know where it had come from. It was as if she had woken from a blackout.
He passed the alleyway and heard her whimpering. He ran to her and gasped at the sight. But he wasn't frightened. He understood. He took off his coat and wrapped it around her to make sure none of her flesh was showing. He took out an umbrella and held to over her head as he escorted her to his house. They had lived together ever since. He could tell by the fear in her dark eyes that she hated what she was and so he made her a promise that day that he would take care of her until he breathes his last breath.
He got dressed and headed out of the bedroom to do his morning routine of shutting all the curtains she had opened once it had gone dark enough to do so. She liked to look out the window and gaze at the stars, yet she daren't step a foot into the cold, winter breeze.
"It's okay to come out now," he shouted up the stairs. She picked up her empty glass and glided down to meet him. She had an air of grace about her. Her footsteps never made a sound. Easier to catch the prey.
She met him in the kitchen where he was stood at the counter pouring a blood bag into a glass. He worked at the hospital and would sneak out bags for her and kept them in a fridge in the basement. He slid the glass to her. She eyed it longingly then looked up into his bright eyes for permission.
He nodded with a warming smile. "You've done great. It's been almost three months."
A smile rose on her lips, so wide it creased her cat-like eyes. She took the glass in her hand but looked up again at him tentatively.
"Drink," he said and she did. As soon as the glass touched her lips, the liquid had slithered down her throat. She let out a moan of pleasure that seemed to echo around her body like she was a labyrinth of hollow caves.
"More?" he asked. She nodded and pushed the glass back over to him. He filled it and again, the blood was gone in the blink of an eye.
He had to award her every so often because, without the blood, she would waste away. As soon as he would notice the creases deepen in her forehead and around her eyes, he knew it was time to let her feed.
The healthy yet pale glow returned to her face and her wrinkles faded. She sent him a gratified smile, showing her stained red teeth and walked over to him. She went around his back and threw her arms around his neck. She kissed his ear-lobe and softly whispered, "Thank you."
"You earned it." He kissed her on the back of her hand.
She could smell his blood all the time. It would linger in the back of her nose but she had gotten used to it. But there was one night when she could have ended his life. It was in the summer. He had come home from the hospital after a surgery and she could smell the patient's blood on him. He took off his coat and hung it on the hanger in the hallway. She stood by the stairs, nostrils wide, sniffing like a hungry wolf. The clammy, summer air seemed to intensify the smell. His blue eyes widened as they fell on the monster that looked nothing like the girl he had first housed. Her eyes were black, empty pits. Her perfectly manicured nails had turned into talons and were snapping, hungry to tear his flesh. He darted for the basement. She shot after him, baring her fangs. He grabbed a knife and without hesitation, stabbed her in the side. She wailed and fell to the floor giving him time to escape down the stairs and lock himself in the basement. But the knife only slowed her down for a couple of seconds. Soon she was back on her feet and darting after him. The door slammed behind him just in time.
Eight hours he was trapped in that basement for. He scrubbed himself by the sink so hard he was almost ripping off his skin as her talons screeched across the door. He knew he was safe to leave when he heard her voice. It was muffled by tears.
"Andrew?" she whimpered. "Andrew, are you in there?"
"Yes." He ran to the door.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine." He smiled, placing a palm on the door as if to try and contact her.
"It happened again," she sobbed.
"I know. But it's okay."
"But there's blood on me."
"It's yours." he said.
She gasped. She had never seen her own blood before. No wonder she hadn't had the urge to suck it clean off her blouse.
"I had to hurt you for self defence," he added feeling a pang of guilt.
"You did what you had to." She showed a melancholy smile.
They both sat, snuggled up on the sofa watching a film as the sky began to grow dark. She had slept all day and he had gone to work. But every evening when he came home, they both liked to pretend that they were no different to any other young couple.
She had the pop-corn on her lap and her head rested on his shoulder. She loved him and he loved her. That was another reason why he took her home that night. It only took one look at her slim, pale figure; her long, wild black hair and her curling eyelashes to know that there was something in her that he would grow to love. He had been alone all his life too and knew a lost soul when he saw one. That's why they fitted so wonderfully. They needed each other to feel alive.
She picked up her glass of scotch from the table but her grip was too strong and it smashed in her hand. Sometimes she would forget the severity of her strength. She looked back at him with worry set in her eyes. He smiled and stroked her hair.
"I'll clean it up" he said and walked into the kitchen to get the dust-pan and brush. He knelt down beside her and began to sweep up. He hissed with pain and brought his thumb quickly too his lips to suck on the small open wound and mask the smell. But her sense of smell was even stronger than her grip and she could feel the monster inside of her screaming to be released.
"I'll get another glass" she smiled sweetly and left for the kitchen. Her eyes widened as she watched her nails growing rapidly, curling into talons. It was any time now. She pulled open a drawer and took out the key to the basement with difficulty. When he first brought the blood bags home, she told him to hide the key so that she wouldn't be tempted. But he had told her that resisting temptation is how she would be able to fight her true nature. And she had never touched it. Never even looked at it. Until now.
She glided down the narrow stairs and slotted the key into the heavy, steel door. The scratches were still clearly visible and the sight of them always made her shudder. She shut her eyes tightly and tried her best to coax the door to be silent. But the inevitable creak followed. She shut herself in the room and flew for the refrigerator. One. Two. Three blood bags were soon drank dry but her lips still smacked together, hungry for more. After her sixth empty bag, her eyes caught passing legs through the small window at the top of the wall. She ran to it, pressing her nose to the glass and smelling the fresh blood. Her eyes misted over and turned as black as her talons. Her fangs grew and lay over her bottom lip.
She pushed the window open and got out. If she hadn't looked like a skeleton with skin pulled over it, she would have never been able slide her way through. It would have been impossible for any mortal adult. Once out, the fresh air nearly knocked her off her feet. She inhaled the sweet air that smelled like a perfect bloody potion. She could hear hearts beating in her ears like a beautiful symphony. It wasn't long until she found her first victim. The person that had been attached to the legs she had spotted from the window. A young, drunk girl on her way home. But she never made it home. She leapt onto her back and wrapped her knees around her waist, forcing her to the floor. The young girl didn't even manage to escape a cry before he throat was ripped out.
Fresh blood. She hadn't tasted it in over a year. She wiped it from her chin and hungrily lapped at her hands. But it wasn't enough. He had been starving her. She needed to fill the emptiness that had hollowed her out. She needed more blood. The bar over the road was always busy. She smiled wickedly at the thought and strolled in. Drops of blood were speckled over her dress but no one seemed to notice. She had the type of face that any man would gaze upon. And with a face like that, the blood spatters were non-existent. Everyone else in the bar was non-existent. She ordered a scotch at the bar and winked at the nearest man. He smiled giddily and slid closer to her.
Andrew had scooped up all the broken glass and was stood in the kitchen, alone. He scratched his head, and called her name. After there was no reply, he noticed the door leading down to the basement was slightly ajar. He opened it and his heart sank when his eyes found the open steel door. He ran down and straight away it hit him. She had escaped. With his heart thumping against his chest he ran out of the front door and down the street. He gasped at the mauled youngster she had dumped like road kill and followed the droplets of blood to the door of the bar.
His hands clasped his mouth and he nearly fell back at the sight. Dead. All of them. Everyone. Blood was smeared over everything. Bodies were scratched and punctured like pillows in the claws of a distressed dog. But it wasn't a dogs doing. It was her. She was knelt down, sucking the remains of the bartender. Her head bounced up at the sound of the door opening. The black, empty pits stared into his eyes. She was gone. The monster had taken over. She licked her lips and got to her feet. Her talons snapped together and she studied him. Fear was overflowing him. He was frozen on the spot.
"Mona," he said calmly, attempting to reach the girl he knew was long gone.
Her eyes narrowed to slits and her head cocked to the side. He smiled, thinking she had recognised his voice when in fact, she had noticed the tiny cut on his thumb and the bead of blood that was oozing out of it.
"Mona, it's me. Its okay" he lifted his hands up as if to show her that he meant no harm. But what harm could he do? He was completely defenceless and completely unaware that she was mentally ripping him to shreds. She licked her lips and then he knew. He ran and she chased him. Luckily for him, he had an athletic build and was a good match for her.
She woke up, collapsed on someone's front lawn. The sun was just about to make its appearance but it was still dark enough that she wasn't writhing in pain from the feeling of acid being poured all over her. She gasped at her blood covered dress. It had dried and made the material stiff. Another blackout. She pressed her fingers to her temples as if trying to open up the locked box in her mind that the memory was stored in. But it was no use. She needed to get back to Andrew before the sun rose.
She sat up and spun her head around to find her bearings but found the horrific truth instead. She crawled along the dew-covered grass. Tears clouded her vision and she pulled his body from its side to its back. She let out a howl of pain when her eyes hit his pale face. His fixed expression was one of sheer terror. And she knew that it was her that made his beautiful features distort like that. Puncture wounds covered his neck and chest like a gruesome pin cushion.
"Andrew," she sobbed and pressed her forehead to his. She was nothing without him. She was going to be that monster for eternity.
The sun peaked over the clouds and a searing pain rushed through her as the beams penetrated her skin. She could hear her flesh sizzling. The smell of it burning knocked her sick. How could she live without him? Should she live without him?