Why is this happening? The thought rushed through Michael's head as he stared at the plate of food set in front of him. It had been over two weeks since he had been able to eat food. Michael gripped the fork and stabbed the meatball with it. He brought it up to his mouth and tried to put it in, the moment it rested on his tongue, he reflexively spit it up. Tears of blood gushed down Michaels face as he rocked back and forth on his chair.
It was not only the food that he could not eat. He felt no need to eat it. He had not known hunger for food in over two weeks. He found it nearly impossible to stay awake when the sun was up. He had set his alarm to awaken during the day, he'd ventured out of his pitch black bedroom with no windows into the hallway several days ago. It had taken all of his willpower to even stay awake to do this, when he reached the door he turned the knob and pulled. The door grudgingly gave in and a ribbon of sunlight rested on Michaels Pajamas and feet.
His feet exploaded in a protest of pain. Michael screamed and lept back while slamming the door with his arm. He rested on the floor next to his bed and cried a moment before slipping back into his daily slumber.
And so the days went. His friends came around, but he wouldn't let them in. When they called the police he only responded to them at night, assuring them that he was just fine. He was able to keep up the facade long enough, until the cops left him alone. Eventually his friends gave in and stopped coming around. It only took three or four weeks for that to happen.
Michael knew what he was. Deep down inside he knew with a certainty what he was. So far he hadn't had to actually go drink blood from somone. Mysteriousley, every night, a goblet full of blood appeared on his kitchen counter. He drank it because he had been told to. He tried not to accept the truth of who was telling him, but he could no longer deny, that his mother, whom had been dead for over 9 years, was much like a mirage, would speak to him and beckon him to what he needed. Michael had even called a psychiatrist and tried to talk to him about what was happening, but before Michael could tell the psychiatrist what had actually happened to him, and what he believed was causing the things around him, the line was cut. Suddenly it had just gone silent. Moreover, the next night the phone had disappeared. So even if Michael had the courage to venture out of his apartment and tell maintainence, he would have to go even further to the store and get a new phone.
It wasn't until a muggy night in June that he learned the cause of his conditions. When he awoke at dawn he went to his usual place in the living room. Michael had surrounded it with pictures of his mom, all staring at the center of the room. He used only pictures that was just his mom, he would cut anyone else in the picture out, then tape it back up.
I wish I had something to read. If I could just leave this stupid apartment. People will know what I am though. They will see me and try to kill me. That's why I wouldn't talk to Brian or Jeremy or Alex. Mom would know what to do. She was smart. I still have that picture of her when she graduated from the local college. I was only 14 then, but I knew I wanted to be just as smart and successful as she was.
When Michael turned to the picture, he was intent on studying it, drawing out every possible feature of the picture, trying illicit some kind of hidden knowledge from it. It was then that he discovered the one watching him. When Michael tried to study the picture, he realized that he could not see the picture from where he was sitting. He started to get up to move so that he could see it when he realized how absurd that was. He moved back to his spot in the middle of the room, but simply could not focus on the other side of the room. He was about to lift himself off the floor again when he noticed that there was a form in the blur on the other side of the room. As he stared more intently at it, the form took more and more actual shape until he could fully see the outline of the man standing on the opposite side of the room. His stare focused more and more on the shape that was forming. Soon he could see the man standing there, like he would be able to see any other human being. Michael opened his mouth.
"Who are you? How did you get in here?".
When the being standing there realized that Michael was speaking to him his face flushed in fear and anguish.
"Not yet! Too Soon!" The man bellowed as he dashed towards the door.
Michael stood to intercept him, he reached his arms in both directions to block the man. Michael never saw the blow coming. He felt absolute pain as his jaw cracked and he was lifted off the floor. Michael sailed across the room to the other side and knocked four framed pictures when he smashed against the wall. Michael wailed in pain and suprise, he gripped his jaw in agony and looked to the door which was open. The man was gone.
Michael barely noticed the pain subsiding as the jaw knitted back together. It was the pictures that was causing michael his true pain. As he brushed the glass away from the torn and bloodied pictures he cried, putting even more blood on them. He rehung the pictures with tape by themselves, no frame and no glass. Though the contents of the pictures were not discernable, Michael felt a little better. Even still, he spent the rest of that night weeping over the destruction of the four pictures.
The trash was slick after the previous nights rain, and it slipped between the huddled figures pale fingers. A huge grey blanket was wrapped around the figure like a cloak, obscuring any features which might distinguish it as male or female. The tiny piece of paper was white and bleeding blue ink across the shiny surface. Only part of a name and the first five digits of a phone number were discernible in the dissolving mess of words and fiber.
The fingers let the paper fall wetly to a puddle on the rough black asphalt. It lay disintegrating in the water, a dark face reflecting on the flat surface at its edges. Two even darker eyes stared vacantly up from the depths. A car roared by the intersection at the end of the alley, rippling the puddle into distortion with sound waves that echoed loudly in the narrow space between two buildings. When the water settled again, the paper rocking gently as it began to sink, the reflection was gone.
The night was dark. It always was. The simple sparkling jewels of leaves lit by the caressing sunlight seemed ancient and uncaring. Only the brilliant white points stabbing through the black layer of night remained. Everything else had changed countless years ago in a little valley in Romania.
Imre stared up at the stars, his fingers still stained with ink like a disease spreading across his light brown skin. The wool blanket fell back from his head as he tilted his face up. Wild curves of shiny black hair stood out starkly, even against the dark backdrop of night. Startled from his thoughtful trance, the wanderer lifted the make-shift hood back up to cover his face in shadows. His footsteps did not make any sound as he crossed through the streets wet with dirty rain, continually seeking to wash away the blood in the cracks.
The window rattled in its wooden frame on the second floor of the Condor apartment complex. Madeleine woke from her light sleep, jumping up from the couch before she knew where she was. Hesitating, she gathered her thoughts, trying to remember why she had suddenly been startled.
Tap tap tap.
The brittle noise of knuckles against glass refreshed her memory. Swiping back her long brown hair, she sprinted across the thread bare carpet to the wide low-set window. A cloaked face stared back at her, recognizable only by the light of the moon curving out his thin sharp smile. Madeleine quickly unlatched the window and shoved it up, the wood creaking in protest.
Imre leapt in from the fire escape, tackling the small woman to the floor. She shrieked in laughter, struggling gamely with him even though he was unimaginably stronger. Once he had her pinned, he gave her a quick kiss on the forehead and backed away.
You can come in the door, you know! she said breathlessly, smoothing her rumpled white pajamas.
Why would I want to do something so boring?
He shed his damp multi-layered clothing onto the old brown knit couch. Madeleine coyly eyed the thin wiry body emerge from the colorless fabrics ripped and faded with time. He preened in front of her, pretending to work his hair between his fingers. The thin cotton fabric of his loose black shirt revealed tantalizing flesh as he walked toward her, offering his hand.
Are you staying tonight? she couldnt stop herself from asking.
He looked away from her in silence as he helped her to stand. The petite woman placed herself in front of him so he could not look away.
You know I cant, he whispered.
He cut her off with a cold, fierce kiss.
I have work to do, he said, turning away from her.
Madeleine's face showed the struggle of her emotions as Imre strode into the kitchenette, leaving her alone in the living room. With her arms folded across her chest, she followed him.
Youre always so busy... Is your work more important than me? she pouted, but with an edge of bitterness clearly apparent.
The exotic looking young man stared at her for a moment before answering, Yes.
Shocked into a stupor, Madeleine stumbled back into the main room. She berated herself internally. She knew he was like this. He had been since she met him a month before in the bookstore she worked in part time. Lavan would come unexpectedly, sometimes for several days and nights, then he would vanish without a word. But his dark eyes held secrets from which Madeleine could never turn him away.
By the time she had made up her mind to forgive his harshness once again, he had already left. The front door hung ajar, and she noticed her coffee maker was missing. Fighting back anger, she ignored the missing appliance and slammed the door shut, tears stinging the corner of her eyes. She hoped he would come back soon.
Michael... Michael... London liked the sound of that. He let it roll out of his mouth a few more times before staring back at the computer screen. It had only been seven hours since he answered the phone for Dr. Raymond. It was something in Michaels voice... something about the way he tried to weave around the problem at hand. London knew immediately what was wrong. The Reverend always said that London was gifted in the ways of the second sight.
The screen glowed red against the boys pale grey-blue eyes. His uncut blonde hair lay neatly combed back, carefully tucked back behind his pale ears. Suddenly the red cybernetic glow turned green. London let his eyes focus and blinked for the first time in over fifteen minutes. The little disk had done its job. He had hacked the police phone directory.
He sighed and leaned back in the warm gray chair, letting it squeak loudly. The Doctor had left the office around seven thirty, it was now two in the morning. If it werent for the Reverend, London thought that he might actually feel tired. Sleep was a thing of the past for him these days. Even on the rare instance when he did dream, the torments of the unseen were too much for the boy. Besides... these days, he was far too hungry to sleep.
There it was! 19:18 - Swanson, Michael N. 356-4589 to Dr. Tony J. Raymonds office 355-9987. Staring at it, London wondered how Michael looked... how he smelled... what must be going through his head right this very moment. Soon enough, he would be able to see Michael clearly.
His boyish fingers flew as the computer shifted and thought like a great old beast. The screen blinked in satisfaction as London kinked his mouth in a smile. The warm computer screen smiled back with the simple words Swanson, Michael N. 2065 South Mills Avenue. 355-4589
No need for a note. London swiped his sleek black v-necked trench coat from off the oak coat rack. He didnt even bother to lock the door. Somehow he knew that nobody would touch the door before he would next visit his fingers upon it. With one simple liquid movement, the long night coat slipped over one arm and up the next. Moving quickly, the coat slid like a cape against the cool night air.
As he moved, he searched in his pocket. The Reverend had never let him smoke, but now he needed something to feed him... something to quell the hunger of the addiction. He slid the match against the book with ease. It popped and lit, the distinct smell of sulfur and smoke caressed his young nostrils. Soon the inhaled the delicious smoke seeped deep into his ravenous lungs.
He didnt even bother slipping by his room at the youth hostel. He thought about picking up some binoculars, but he laughed at the thought of he, London, having to use binoculars. His thoughts had been slipping away too much lately. He needed to feed the addiction soon, or it might be too late. He had only gone this long without it once, and he never wished that upon himself again.
He closed his long lashed eyelids as the computer screen slid up behind them. Again, they brought the words Swanson, Michael N. 2065 South Mills Avenue. 355-4589 into the young boys mind. He smiled as he looked up at the two story house. Only one light was on, and there was a man, peering up at the cold silver moon from his window.
Throwing his second cigarette to the ground, London noticed his hand. It was shaking ever so lightly. It took him a moment to ponder whether it was his need, or whether he was actually nervous of meeting this mystical Michael. London slid his cool tongue along his teeth. He let it stop at his canine, brushing its painfully dull tip lightly. The boy smiled nervously. The Reverend had taught him not to be afraid of people... but he had always told him to be cautious around Michaels kind.
As long as London lived and loved the Reverend, he knew that one of Michaels kind would never hurt him. It had been some time since the great holy man had passed, though... and London didnt even know if anyone besides himself even remembered the Reverend.
Michael began to pace. London felt his sadness and confusion. Michael was so hurt... so alone. But there was something there. As London looked at the solemn mans silhouette, he felt something he hadnt though of in along time. He saw his own mother... but it wasnt his own after all... it was Michaels.
His mother looked kind. She was older than London remembered his own mother, she looked more refined and wise. Her long curly hair brushed against Michaels face. But there was something wrong. Something shook through Michaels thoughts... something dark and cold. London had felt it before with the Reverends police friend. Something was terribly wrong with her, and London could feel the same pain within Michael.
London shook Michaels thoughts away. He needed to confront the strange man. London was sure that he knew more than Michael did about himself and what he had become. Perhaps that would gain him some social power of some sort.
He buttoned up his sweeping coat and straightened his white collar. Running his fingers through his long hair, he took in a deep breath. The night air slid easily into every inch of his lungs. One foot before the other, he thought Michael will understand...
When the boy next opened his eyes, there he stood before the alien door. His fist posed inches above the hard metal surface. His mind raced for a moment. Michael needed to know... and London needed to feed.