The Gift of a Curse

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Vampirism is a curse, right? That's what Kelly thinks. She's been a vampire for two years now, and has hated ever second of it. Now it is time to make a new vampire. Can she live with herself when she spreads this curse? Can her victim forgive her?

The Gift of a Curse
Kelly strutted across the crowded marketplace, her head held high. She knew what she looked like, and she wanted everyone to know that she didn’t care. The ratty, stained gray sweatshirt and torn, dirty jeans she had been wearing constantly for a year now hung over her small, thin frame, accenting how her bones stuck out from her face. Her wavy mahogany hair, which had once been thick and bouncy, now hung in limp, dirty strands that hadn’t seen water in a month and only served to exaggerate how deathly pale she was.
In spite of how she looked, she walked straight, her shoulders stiff, her head high. She was not looking for pity or charity. She was looking for food.
Younger than most of her kind, Kelly still used basic methods of finding food, ones that her creator had thought to teach her. She played to her strengths; she looked like a starving street girl, so she used that. She pleaded like the famished woman she was for food, and sometimes for clothes. She thought it was time again to ask for clothes.
Beth, her creator, was somewhere in the marketplace. A human woman now, Beth didn’t often see Kelly. Beth had gotten lucky. A freak chance had changed her back into what she wanted to be only two years ago, at the aligning of the moons. Kelly was the last person she had turned before that fateful night.
Kelly wanted to hate Beth, but she knew that what she was wasn’t Beth’s fault, not really. Beth had just done what she needed to do to survive, as Kelly was now. The only problem was that now she needed Beth to help her. It was time to turn another, and Kelly needed Beth to help her choose someone who could survive her life. Beth had always helped Kelly when it was time, choosing the strongest, the fittest, the one who would survive. It had only happened twice before, but Beth had helped then, and she had even taken the time to help Kelly learn to hunt, so why wouldn’t she help now?
Kelly snorted at her own callousness. Beth might not have anything to do with Kelly anymore because she was human again. She even had a fiancé, Jonathan. She would probably refuse to help for the simple reason that it was not her problem. Or she might refuse because Kelly was a vampire trying to turn another person into a vampire. But Kelly had to ask. She did not have a very good eye for who would best survive. She would never do this to someone who would have trouble surviving. She wouldn’t do it at all if she had a choice. But she didn’t, so she would do it.
Kelly had been introduced to this life gently, so that was how she intended to introduce whoever was chosen tonight. She would not abandon her vampire to learn on his own, as Beth had been abandoned. She would teach him what he needed to know and help him until he could survive on his own. Just like what she had done for the last one. Small, hyperactive Katherine was four towns east doing just fine. Kelly hoped she could find another who would adapt as well as Katherine had.
Ahead of her, Kelly caught sight of a blonde head with long, straight hair. Flashing green eyes swept past her. It was Beth. She had finally found Beth. Not a moment too soon, she thought, assessing the burning thirst and lightheadedness she was experiencing.
“Beth,” she said when she was close enough. Bright green eyes flashed in her direction and widened, then cleared.
“I knew you would be along soon. It’s time, isn’t it?” Beth said. Kelly simply nodded. “Well, first let’s get you cleaned up. Jonathan, you remember her sizes?” she asked her fair-haired fiancé. He nodded. “Good. Go buy her a new outfit, something simple and nondescript. Then meet us back at the apartment. Thank you.” She kissed his cheek and sent him off. Then Beth wrapped her arm around Kelly’s shoulders and led her in another direction.
A few minutes of walking took them to a very nice apartment complex. Beth led Kelly to the second floor and unlocked a door, then ushered her inside. She turned on some lights so Kelly could see the tasteful décor of brown and gold that made the place seem warm and open. She glimpsed a bedroom through a door that was done in the same chocolate brown and rich gold, earthy colors that matched Beth’s personality.
“Ok, let’s get you in the shower. Take all the time you want, and wash your hair twice, and condition. Jonathan should be back by the time you’re done. Then we will go out and find you some food. I’ve actually had my eyes open for you and for someone for you to turn. I’ve found a boy that would be perfect for our- your life. He’s even an orphan. Homeless, I think, but strong and capable. His name is Ethan, and he will be easy to teach. I’ll tell you all about him after you shower.” Beth fussed around in the bathroom, making sure that Kelly had everything she needed, and even set out a comb and a robe for her, then shut the door and left Kelly to her shower.
Kelly had every intention of luxuriating in the hot water. She turned the shower on hot, peeled away her disgusting clothing, and stepped in as steam filled the room and fogged the mirror. She did exactly as Beth had told her, shampooing her hair twice to get rid of all the grease, and conditioning it with the sweet-smelling cream in the shower. When she finally stepped out and put the blue robe on, she couldn’t see herself in the mirror for all the steam. She rubbed a spot clean and worked the tangles out of her hair. It took awhile, but eventually she her hair hung in dark, straight waves.
When she left the bathroom, Beth was talking to Jonathan, who was sitting on the couch with a shopping bag next to him. They looked up when Kelly came into the room. Jonathan wordlessly handed her the bag. She took it and mumbled her thanks. Then she retreated back to the bathroom to change.
The clothes Kelly took out of the bag were basic undergarments, a plain grey t-shirt, blue jeans, and a grey-blue jacket that matched her eyes. She ripped the tags off and threw on the clothes. Then, with a last satisfied look in the mirror, she went back out to the living room.
“Thank you,” she said as soon as she was near. Beth smiled at her warmly.
“In a way, you are my child, and I could never abandon a child,” she said, then took Kelly’s hand and pulled her onto the couch.
Jonathan spoke up before Beth could begin. “It’s late,” he said. “I’m going to bed.”
Beth smiled at him and said, “I’ll follow as soon as I can. Before you sleep, could you make up the guest bedroom please? We are going to need it.”
Jonathan didn’t look at all troubled by this, and nodded, then went about the task of finding sheets.
Beth sighed and sat back. “How I love him,” she said, softly enough that Jonathan would not hear. “He takes this so well. Savannah came to me two months ago. You know she is only a year older than you, and she still asks for help every year. He did the same thing then, and had no problem with it. He knows that it is what we- you must do to survive. He still loves me even though I help to create more vampires. He still loves me even though I have created five hundred vampires myself. I think he loves me because of the way I treat them and teach them.” She sighed again.
“That is wonderful, Beth. I am happy for you. But I am in pain right now. Will you tell me about Ethan?” Kelly tried not to sound like a whiney child, but didn’t know how well it worked.
“Of course I will. Yes, you must be very thirsty.” She sighed. “Well, let’s see. Ethan hangs around downtown. He looks very much like you did when you found me tonight; ragged clothes, greasy hair. I spoke to him, learned about him. His parents died in a fire when he was ten. He was an only child, so he’s been alone ever since. He is probably a good eight inches taller than you, which puts him at five foot ten. He is slender but muscular. He has the most vibrant blue eyes, and black hair. It would probably be very beautiful when it’s clean. He is strong and stubborn, adaptable, and very handsome.” She said the last with a smile. “He will adapt very well to your life. You will teach him, yes?” Kelly nodded. “Good. I will help you. He is a good boy, and needs support. Would you like to find him now?” Kelly nodded again. “Good. Let’s go. I know where he will be at this hour.”
Kelly stood when Beth did and followed her out of the apartment and down the street. They walked for fifteen minutes before they got to a very run-down part of town. There was trash in the streets and graffiti on the walls. More than one of the stores were abandoned.
Beth walked without pause. She strode through the streets, her posture daring anyone to challenge her. No one did. They walked until they reached a bar. Beth did not go in, but instead went into the alley beside it. It was remarkably clean, considering where it was. Of course, they’d had to squeeze through a tiny gap in the wall to get into it, so few people probably even knew it was there.
Beth walked all the way to the end of the alley, where a little light came from a window in the bar. The six moons could not be seen from the little alley. Beth walked to a dark spot in a shadow and kicked it gently. It jumped. It was a man. He stood up.
“Beth,” he said, surprised. “What are you doing here? How did you even know I’d be here?”
“Hello, Ethan. I’ve brought someone I thought you might like to meet.” Beth gestured to Kelly, who stepped forward obligingly. “This is Kelly.”
Ethan turned sharp blue eyes on her and held out his hand. It was caked with dirt. “Hello, Kelly. I am glad to meet you, but I’m afraid I don’t understand. Why didn’t you come at a more civilized hour?”
Kelly didn’t answer. She looked at Beth over her shoulder, who nodded, her mouth set. She didn’t like this any more than Kelly did, but like Kelly, she understood that it was necessary.
Kelly stepped closer to Ethan, not releasing his hand. She used it to trap him gently, without letting him realize that he couldn’t get away. She put her other hand on the back of his neck and pulled him towards her. He was held in a trance by her eyes and didn’t protest. She tipped his head back and pressed her lips to his dirty neck. Then she let her fangs slide into his flesh. He tensed, but still didn’t make a sound or move to protest. She drank, and kept drinking. Her head cleared and the burning in her throat disappeared. Soon she was holding all his weight as he collapsed into unconsciousness. When she was done, she gently placed him back in the shadows where he had been when they found him. Then she looked at Beth.
“I’ll stay here so that he doesn’t wake alone,” she said. “You go home and get some rest. I’ll need you tomorrow. You can soothe him better than I can.” Beth nodded.
“Yes, that sounds good. I’ll be back before nightfall so that neither of you will be alone. If I’m right about him, he will learn fast and adapt well. He will be all right,” Beth assured her. Kelly nodded.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Beth nodded and left, and Kelly sat down next to Ethan. She settled into the shadows and stared at the wall, waiting for dawn and the dreamless sleep it would bring to her.
Kelly woke to the sound of soft footsteps. She was instantly alert, but stayed on the ground, waiting for whoever it was to come close. A figure crouched in front of her, and Kelly recognized Beth.
“Hey. How are you?” Beth asked.
“I feel better.” Kelly looked over at Ethan, who was still in the dreamless sleep of the day. “It won’t be long now. Will you help me?”
Beth smiled. “Of course I will. You know I will.”
Just then Ethan stirred. Both of their attention was instantly on the figure encased in shadows. He took a deep breath and opened his eyes. When they fixed on Beth, they were confused. Then they moved to Kelly, sitting next to him, and suddenly fear replaced the confusion. He was afraid of her. It hurt her heart, but she couldn’t blame him. Sometimes she was afraid of herself.
“What did you do to me?” he asked. His voice was soft with fear, and just as musical as it had been the night before.
Kelly sighed, enjoying the sound of his voice even though it was laced with fear, and said, “Come. We will take you somewhere you can clean up. And you can have new clothes. Come with us. We will not hurt you. I swear.”
“What did you do?” he asked again. This time Beth answered.
“We will explain it in scientific detail and you can ask whatever questions you wish. After we get you cleaned up. All right?” Ethan still looked wary, but he nodded. There was nothing else he could do.
Beth took his hand and pulled him to his feet, then led the way out of the alley. Kelly let Ethan go first, and walked behind him all the way back to Beth’s apartment. She was making sure he didn’t run.
When they got to the apartment, they shut Ethan in the bathroom with the same instructions Beth had given to Kelly. Once they heard the spit of the shower, Beth left to buy some new clothes for Ethan. Kelly was left to wait for him to get out of the shower. He had the robe that Kelly had used for a few minutes to retrieve her clothes earlier.
Fifteen minutes later, Ethan stepped out of the steaming bathroom wearing the robe, and Beth was not back yet. Kelly smiled at Ethan and gestured to the chair across from where she sat on the couch. He looked wary but took a seat. He looked like he wanted to speak, but he held his tongue.
Kelly sighed. “Go ahead, ask your questions. I will answer as well as I can.”
Ethan took a breath. “Where is Beth?” he asked.
Kelly raised an eyebrow. An interesting thing to ask, especially for his first question. “She is getting you clothing. You know you need it. She should be back in a few minutes. Are you more comfortable with her?”
“Not really. Especially not after last night. What did you do to me?” This was the question Kelly had been waiting for. She barely knew how to answer. She decided on the brutal, absolute truth.
“The complete truth will scare you, but I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you. You deserve to know the absolute truth.” She took a deep breath, bracing herself for his reaction. “Last night I drank you blood. All of it. You are now exactly what I am.”
He was silent for so long that Kelly worried that he might not speak at all. Then he asked, “And what are you?” He spoke quietly, as if speaking any louder would shatter the air.
Again Kelly took a breath. “I am a vampire. And now so are you.”
He was silent again, staring at the wall. “Why did you change me?” he asked.
“I didn’t have a choice. Either I choose someone who can survive this life and change them voluntarily or I deny my nature and end up falling upon whoever is closest when my hunger overcomes me. It is not pleasant and usually the new vampire cannot survive.”
He took a breath and sat back, still tense. “Is Beth like you? Us.”
Kelly shook her head. “No. But she used to be. She got lucky. Some freak chance two years ago made her human again. We don’t really know how. But we are sure it can only be duplicated at the alignment of the moons, which will not happen for almost another hundred years.”
Ethan nodded slowly. “Why are you being so honest with me?” he asked suddenly.
Kelly was taken aback. Why wouldn’t she be honest with him? “It is your right to understand about your new life. This is your world now. This is who you are.”
“Why are you here?” he asked.
Kelly frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“Why are you here explaining this to me?”
Kelly looked down, then back up at him. “I am not like others of my kind. I will not abandon someone who needs me. And you do need me. You need me to teach you, to help you. You need me to train you to hunt.”
Ethan took a deep, steadying breath. “How often will I need to hunt?”
“You need to hunt tonight. You feel the burn in your throat, yes?” He nodded. “That is thirst. After your first hunt, you need to hunt every week. You do not need to kill, nor do you have to create a new vampire more than once a year. We only take enough blood that the human gets a little lightheaded. That is all.
“The hunger of needing to create a vampire is different from usual thirst. You will know it when you feel it. But you will not have to feel it for a year. Beth is my creator, and she can and will help you when it is time. Until then, I will help you hunt.
“Have you noticed yet that you are stronger than humanly possible?” He nodded. “You are also faster, you can see better, especially in the dark, and your hearing is much better. Every sense is heightened, every physical ability greater. You no longer have to eat food.”
“Just blood,” Ethan said dryly. Kelly smiled.
“Just blood,” she agreed.
Just then the door opened and Beth bustled in, carrying a shopping bag. Ethan looked relieved, staring at the bag. He was not comfortable wearing nothing but a robe. When Beth offered him the bag, he snatched it and disappeared into the bathroom, leaving both women staring after him.
“Well. How much have you told him?” Beth asked.
“As much as I can, I think. We should go hunting soon. I think you should stay here. It will be easier with just two.”
“Of course. I am tired anyway.” And with that she went into the bedroom and shut the door, joining Jonathan, who was already in bed.
When Ethan came out of the bathroom, Kelly was still sitting on the couch, but she rose as soon as she saw him.
“Do you have any more questions?” she asked. He shook his head. “All right. Then I think we should go hunting. Do you have any friends?” He looked worried, so Kelly tried to be soothing. “It’s all right. You don’t have to kill them. You won’t even harm them. A little lightheadedness is the worst they will experience in the morning.” He nodded, looking reassured.
“Yes, I have a few friends. I know of one who likes to be on her own. I know where she will be right now.” Kelly smiled. He was already adapting.
“Good. Come on, then. Let’s find your friend.” Then she let him lead the way out of the apartment and down the street. She followed him as he led the way back to the part of town where they had found him, and down another, wider alley. They saw a shadow in a shadow.
Kelly grabbed Ethan’s arm. “When you look at her eyes, will her to be still, will her not to fight you. It will happen. You must catch her eyes for it to work,” she whispered. He nodded, then gently kicked the figure in the shadows. She jumped.
“Ethan? Why are you here?” she asked as she stood.
“Lee Ann, I need a favor,” he said, but he didn’t continue. Lee Ann went very still, staring at his eyes. She didn’t move when Ethan wrapped a slim hand around the back of her neck, or when he moved his face to her neck and kissed it. She didn’t move when his fangs pierced her skin or when he started to drink. As he drank she slowly went limp, until she fell into unconsciousness. When she did, Ethan pulled away and gently laid her back where she had been when they found her.
When he turned towards Kelly, his eyes were bright. “I didn’t want to kill her. I didn’t even want to drain her. I only wanted what I needed. It was amazing.” Kelly smiled at him. He was adapting so well. Her smiled died as she realized that very soon he wouldn’t need her.
“You did very well. You even captured her. That took me a week to learn, and a month to master. Come, now. Let’s go back. We can talk until dawn, then we will use the extra room for sleep. The curtains are thick enough not to let in any light. Let’s go.” Ethan opened his mouth to speak, but Kelly held up a hand. “Not here. Wait until we get back.” He nodded and followed her.
As soon as they were seated back in the apartment, Ethan asked, “What would happen if the sun touched us?”
“It would burn. Our skin would turn red and raw, then blister, then blacken and fall away. Dying by sunlight would be the most painful way for us to die. I have been caught by the dawn once, only for a moment, and it was excruciating. It took twice as long as a normal human would take to heal, when we usually heal so fast. I don’t recommend trying it.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he said. “How do we sleep?” Kelly smiled that he was already thinking of vampires as “we.”
“When dawn comes it brings with it a deep, dreamless sleep that we cannot be woken from except by the sun. We sleep every day from first light to dusk’s end,” she said.
Ethan was silent for a while. After about five minutes of staring beyond the floor, he asked, “How long have you been a vampire?”
“Three years.”
“Have you been alone the whole time?”
“Except for when Beth was teaching me, yes. Why?”
“Do you like to be alone?” he asked, ignoring her question.
“No, but it seems to be a necessary part of this life. Sometimes I think it might be easier to bear if I had someone to share it with, but I don’t.”
“You could,” he said quietly, not looking at her.
“I could what?”
“Share it with someone. You could share it with me.” He glanced at her startled face and quickly added, “You don’t have to. I understand it you don’t want to.”
Kelly recovered herself and moved to sit next to him. Then she laid her hand over his fidgeting fingers. She smiled. “I would like nothing more than to be able to share this burden with you.”
He smiled back. “You have been so honest with me, so kind to me. Why?”
“I suppose it is just who I am.”
He nodded. “Then I am going to do something I probably shouldn’t,” he said. Then he wrapped a hand behind her neck and gently pulled her towards him. He didn’t try to hold her eyes and was being very gentle, moving slowly so she had time to pull away. She didn’t. His lips gently brushed hers, ghosting over her, barely there. Then he kissed her with more force, more passion, until his arm was around her waist and she was pressed against him. She moved her hands until they were wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer.
Maybe this life isn’t so bad, Kelly thought. Maybe it could be a blessing. It will be a blessing as long as I can stay with Ethan. I won’t have to be alone anymore. This doesn’t have to be a curse.

Submitted: July 05, 2009

© Copyright 2021 Christine Chapman. All rights reserved.

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