Rain fell in torrents driven sideways by fierce, gusting winds making the October night cold and vicious. Thunder rolled as lightning arced across the dark autumn sky. Lightning scared Luca Romero to death. It always had. Wind driven drops pelted Luca’s face like icy shots, stinging his cheeks and blinding him as he slogged through the deserted streets near the university.
Emma Stewart somehow enticed Luca to come out. He’d promised Emma, a girl from his Political Theory class, that he would help her study for their upcoming test. He went a little weak in the knees the moment he first saw Emma. Not many girls did that to him. Emma had honey-blonde hair and sparkling green eyes and the whitest, prettiest smile he’d ever seen. Luca was way out of her league. Emma was beautiful, confident and outgoing. Luca was shy and tended to be socially invisible—a dork. If he fell into a hole, it would probably take a week before people noticed that the shy kid whose name escaped them, the one with the black-framed nerd glasses, had disappeared.
Emma probably had a boyfriend—a jock with more muscles than brains—exactly the type that Luca didn’t go for, not since his sophomore year in high school when a varsity football player named Brian Murphy forced Luca to give him head in the boy’s bathroom.
It’s true that Luca thought Brian was hot and fantasized about sucking his dick, but not in the way it went down, not on his knees on the dirty floor of the boys bathroom, eyes watering and choking because Brian was pushing down on his head, forcing his dick down Luca’s throat. Luca almost threw up when the tight end—hmm, there’s a bit of irony—shot his load, which thankfully happened only two minutes later.
Despite that awful first experience, Luca sucked Brian off whenever Brian was horny. Which was always. He liked Brian, a lot, but all Brian liked was getting a blow job and since his girlfriend wouldn’t do it, that left Luca. Brian liked to call Luca Lucy. “Mmm, suck that cock, Lucy!” Luca hated that name.
Brian was a closeted homo who was too much of a chicken-shit to come out and even more scared to admit, even to himself, that a nerd like Luca could make his dick hard and not his so-called girlfriend. “You like suckin’ that big dick, don’t ya, Lucy?” Brian would tease. It wasn’t that big. Luca had had bigger.
Luca came to hate Brian who graduated that year. He moved away and Luca hasn’t seen him since. Luca has been with other men, but gay guys are such fickle bitches. All they care about is fucking and moving onto the next bed. Luca didn’t know what he was—gay, bi…straight? Ha, not straight. Luca wanted to be straight, but…shit, he’d never even been with a girl. All he knew was he’d really rather not be gay. That’s why he desperately hoped the planets would align and he’d have a chance with Emma.
Luca almost hyperventilated when Emma approached him the day before yesterday and said hello. It shocked the hell out of him when Emma called him by name. Luca looked over his shoulder then back to Emma, pointing to his own chest with his thumb and mouthing the silent question, “Me?” to make sure Emma had the right Luca, despite the fact that he was the only Luca in the entire school.
Luca became so flustered that he dropped his books. He and Emma bumped heads when they knelt in unison to retrieve them. He thought Emma would get mad and call him an idiot, but she giggled and asked Luca if he was all right. He said he was, stammered an apology and asked if Emma was oaky—yes, he’d said oaky. Emma laughed and said she was. He thought he sounded stupid. She didn’t roll her eyes and walk away so it couldn’t have been too stupid.
Emma needed a tutor and thought Luca fit the bill. She offered to pay Luca for his time, but Luca told Emma he would tutor her for free. He vowed to do anything else she asked, too. This was the first time a girl had taken any interest in him. Luca rarely ventured out at night, but Emma had to work until nine-thirty and this was the only time they could meet.
Lightning ripped through the sky and briefly illuminated the street in a brilliant blaze. Luca readjusted his backpack. He squinted through the gloom. For an instant, he thought he saw a man ahead. He jumped when another brilliant flash lit up the street. The spot where he thought he’d seen the man was deserted. A loud clap of thunder made Luca jump again. He let out a nervous laugh and shook his head, chiding himself as he lurched forward. “It’s your imagination, dummy.”
Boston was awash with stories of the city’s darker side—tales of ghosts, murders and mayhem. Imaginations ran rampant, especially walking Beacon Street, so near the streets the Boston Strangler once prowled. With only a few blocks before Emma’s apartment, Luca would cut through the park and cross Charlesgate to Marlborough. It would be quicker.
Luca dropped his head and trotted through the puddles. He told himself that he hurried not because of ghosts or serial murderers, but more because of the soaking rain. That’s what he told himself. He nimbly leaped over the biggest puddles although it really didn’t matter, he was already soaked to his skin. Maybe Emma would insist on drying his rain soaked clothing. That would require Luca to undress. That thought brought a smile to his lips and a hotness to his cheeks.
Someone struck Luca from behind, intruding into his fantasy and knocking him to the ground. He fell onto his hands and knees, landing into a huge puddle of grimy water. The unexpected contact shocked Luca. With his nose inches from the asphalt pool, Luca became enraged and twisted around. “Why don’t you watch where the hell you’re…” Luca stopped short. The path remained completely deserted. Luca jerked his head left, then right, but saw no one.
Luca stood as more lightning flashed through the night sky. His breathing became shallow and his heart raced. “What the fuck?” Luca shoved a wet clump of hair aside—a pointless effort. His glasses fogged, making it difficult to see. “Hello?” he called out timidly. “Is someone…is someone there?” Only the thunder replied
Luca adjusted his backpack a second time and spun on his heel. This time he ran faster, not caring if he dodged puddles. His heart raced. It was difficult to breathe. What the fuck had just happened? Luca had no explanation, but he was not about to become a victim.
Luca hated ghost stories and psychological thrillers. He’d snuck into the den one night when he was twelve to watch one. He wet himself that night. Luca lay awake for hours with the covers pulled over his head. He avoided them at all cost. He couldn’t even read Goosebumps.
Two more blocks to Emma’s. He’d call the cops from her place, but frowned at the thought. “And report what, exactly, that an invisible person mugged you? That the Boogie Man knocked you down? Moron! They’d think you were some kind of a nut case.” His frown deepened. “Just another Boston ghost story—that’s what they’d say.”
Then it happened again, someone hit Luca from behind, sending Luca sprawling onto the wet pavement. He landed hard onto his right hip and hit his head on the unforgiving asphalt, sending a shockwave of blinding pain like shards of glass through his brain. His glasses went flying somewhere to his left. He lay dazed.
Luca shook his head to clear the cobwebs and dragged himself onto his feet. He shrugged the backpack from his shoulder and balled his fists, bracing for a fight. He wasn’t physical, but if someone was screwing with him, by God he’d go down fighting.
“WHO’S THERE?” he screamed, spinning around. As before, he saw no one. “Show yourself, you shit! You fucking coward!” He turned once more to face the direction he’d traveled and heard the voice directly behind him. It was smooth, lyrical—like music itself.
“Humans never fail to amuse me,” the melodic voice remarked, each word precise, articulate.
Luca gasped and whirled to face the most frighteningly beautiful creature he’d ever seen. He was a man, but no ordinary man, with alabaster skin and dark ruby lips. Even in the pale light from the street lamps, his teeth glistened. The wind whipped the tendrils of the creature’s raven hair about his head, but he remained still like a millpond. He seemed unaffected by the wind and rain. He wore dark slacks and an open collared shirt. The garments contrasted with his porcelain skin. A Celtic cross drew Luca’s eye. Ironic considering Luca believed he faced the devil incarnate.
The creature tilted his head slightly left, gazing at Luca with a mixture of curiosity and hunger. His eyes entranced Luca. They were like mercury—and seemed to bore through to his soul. The demon terrified the young college student, Luca wanted to flee, but he couldn’t. His feet would not move. His whole body seemed frozen. What was he?
The devil smiled. “You have questions, Luca.”
The 22-year-old whimpered. His heart thudded in his brain. The creature knew him. Knew his name. How? Even more frightening, the voice was not physical—it was inside Luca’s mind. The monster could read his thoughts. Luca’s brain insisted on naming his terror. Luca wished his brain would shut the fuck up. His brain won the battle. Vampire!
He…it spoke again, this time his lips moved with the sound. “You are wondering how I know you and…what I am.” A slow smile parted the ruby lips displaying glistening teeth. “My name, dear Luca, is Kieran Callaghan and I am exactly what you suspect. Ask your question, I will allow it.”
Luca felt the relaxing of his vocal chords as if the grip of a powerful hand had released his throat. He gasped and choked out the words. “How do you-how do you know my name?”
“As you have already surmised, I have the ability to read your thoughts.”
Luca swallowed hard. “Wh-what…are you?”
“You know what I am.”
A single tear streaked down Luca’s cheek.
The creature laughed. His terrible voice resonated in Luca’s brain. “Yes—I feel your terror, Luca, your heart beating furiously in your chest, pumping your blood. It is sweet nectar to me Luca. I must have it.” A seductive smile touched Callaghan’s lips. “Tonight your life is required of you, for I require your blood.”
Luca gasped again. He felt wet hotness run down his legs. “Please don’t kill me,” he pleaded.
Callaghan adopted an expression of false pity. “I know, Luca, you did not expect this to be the final night of your life.” The creature glanced upward and chuckled. “I regret that the weather is less than hospitable.” he said, returning his gaze to the doomed man. “It might have spared your life to have others on the streets.” Callaghan gave a nonchalant shrug of his shoulder. “No matter.”
Tears flowed down Luca’s cheeks. He was never religious, but he prayed—earnestly—for God to spare his life.
“God will not save you from me,” Callaghan murmured.” His teeth appeared razor sharp as he inched closer to the young man’s neck. “It will be swift, Luca. You will not…feel…a thing…”
A sudden commotion nearby distracted Callaghan. The creature whipped his head around, annoyed at the disturbance. A dog had knocked over an aluminum trash container, spilling cans, bottles and other debris onto the pavement. The beast growled and the dog scampered away.
Luca felt the bloodsucker’s hold on him weaken, as if a weight had lifted. He whirled around and fled, screaming for someone’s—anyone’s—help. Callaghan’s head snapped back. The vampire locked his quicksilver gaze onto the fleeing man and, with a feral growl, launched himself forward.
Sheer terror propelled Luca. He ran fast, faster than he’d ever run before. His heart trip-hammered. Terror gripped him. ”Do NOT look back!” he told himself. “Run! Run like hell!”
“This could have gone easier for you, Luca. Now I will show you no mercy!”
Luca screamed. “Oh God!” He tried to block the voice, Callaghan’s voice, from his mind.
The creature leaped onto Luca’s back and threw him to the ground. “I told you,” Callaghan snarled, “there will be no help for you from above!”
The monster’s strength was inhuman, his body hard. The last thing Luca heard was the creature’s terrifying growl, the creature’s glistening teeth flashing toward Luca’s neck was the last thing Luca saw. Luca Romero’s last thought was for Emma as the vampire ripped into his jugular.
At 10:37 pm, Emma Stewart checked her cell phone. Late! Emma was pissed. She got home at 9:45 and changed into dry clothes, expecting Luca no later than 10:00. She had an 8:00 am class and the later they started studying the later she’d get to bed. Luca was a nice guy, but he was a dork. Well, at least he was cute.
Emma checked the time again. Only a minute had ticked by. Felt like an hour. She huffed. “Where the hell is he?” Cute or not, it was no excuse for being late. Maybe he forgot the address. He was probably wandering Marlborough Street right now, looking for her house. The thought made her smile. A loud thump at the front door made Emma flinch. Finally! She’d make him regret making her wait. Emma flung the door wide, ready to harangue Luca. “About time you…”
The words caught in Emma’s throat. She let out a blood-curdling scream. Luca Romero’s corpse lay sprawled on the steps of her brownstone. His body lay unnaturally twisted, his eyes fixed into a terrified, lifeless stare. The rain washed what blood remained in Luca’s body down the stone step waterfall where it joined the gutter river. And still, Emma screamed.
…that isn’t quite the way it went down. The night I died, or rather, became undead, was pretty much how the story went up to the point Kieran showed up.
“Humans never fail to amuse me.”
The voice was inside my head! Each syllable was precise, like musical notes, but somehow seemed to come from behind me where no one had been a second before. It freaked me the fuck out! I gasped and whirled to face the most beautiful being I’d ever seen. He looked human, but I knew this cat was as far from human as he could be. Pasty white skin—he’d kill me again if he heard that—and dark ruby lips. Even in the pale light of the street lamps, his freakin’ teeth glistened.
The wind whipped his hair, but he acted like it wasn’t even blowing. He was like stone. I remember seeing that cross hanging around his neck. It blew my mind ‘cause I knew this dude was a vampire. I knew he was, but I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t writhing in pain. Why didn’t the cross have any effect on him? It should have burned his flesh. Goes to show you all that stuff in the movies is bullshit.
Crosses and holy water have no effect on us. We can go out during the day without being burned to a crisp. That part’s BS though. I love the sun, love tanning, but even my Latino skin turned pale when I died…undied…whatever. Well, at least I’m not as fish belly white as Kieran. Ha ha.
Anyway, Kieran looked at me with this sort of seductive look. His eyes like hypnotized me or something. They were like mercury and I thought they’d bore a hole right through my brain. I won’t lie. I was scared shitless. Kieran terrified the hell outta me and all I wanted to do was run, but I couldn’t. My feet wouldn’t move. My whole body seemed frozen.
Kieran smiled…and actually, if I hadn’t been so scared, I would have seen that he was, well he was kinda into me. I don’t know why. I was nothing special then. I’m a hot mother fucker now, though. Being immortal fixes all the imperfections, ya know? I mean I’m like super sexy. That shit just oozes from my pores. I don’t need those stupid glasses anymore, either. My eyes are better than 20/20. I can see really far and I got this, like really awesome night vision. It’s so god damned cool. But back then, I was nothing to write home about. Guess Kieran saw my potential. Anyway, Mr. Creepy says, “You have questions, Luca,” except the shit’s in my head again. Like, totally freaking me the fuck out!
I whimpered. I did. I was such a fucking girl. My heart was pounding in my brain. He knew me. Knew my name. How? Well, duh, he could read my thoughts. That part in the story that says, “Luca’s brain insisted on naming his terror. Luca wished his brain would shut the fuck up.” Dude, that is so true. I was like, “Don’t you say it, brain. Don’t you fucking say it!” And my brain is like, “Vampire!” Augh!
Kieran spoke again, this time his lips moved with the sound. “You are wondering how I know you and…what I am.” A slow smile parted the ruby lips flashing those glistening teeth. Mine glisten, too, by the way. “My name, dear Luca, is Kieran Callaghan and I am exactly what you suspect. Ask your question, I will allow it.” What a drama queen, right? Oh, and I have like total recall now so that’s how I can remember everything word for word.
I felt the grip on my vocal chords loosen and demanded to know…okay, I was scared stiff, so I asked what he was.
He’s like, “As you have already surmised, I have the ability to read your thoughts.”
I swallowed hard. “Wh-what…are you?”
“You know what I am.”
Right there is where things got super intense. Kieran’s like, I can feel your fear and your blood is calling to me and you’re gonna die.
I kinda started to cry and pleaded with him not to kill me. Not that it would have mattered. I barely had any friends and people everywhere just walked all over me, used me and then threw me away, so what was the big deal about dying. He’d be doing me a favor.
All these things flashed through my head in an instant. Almost at the same time, Kieran got this really weird look on his face. I know now that he was reading my thoughts. I’m not sure why, and he has sworn never to tell me, but he changed his mind…well, sort of. He stared at me for, like, a full minute and then he walked behind me. He ran one of his long fingernails across the back of my neck like you would on a chalkboard. It had the same effect. A chill ran down my spine.
I closed my eyes, waiting for him to strike…but he didn’t. When I opened my eyes again, he was standing face to face with me. He said, “I am not going to kill you Luca. Your human life will end. However, the life I will give you is far superior to any existence you would have had in the mortal world.”
I was still freaked out. He knew that, of course, but he did something to my mind. I don’t know how, exactly, but Kieran can read a person’s thoughts and manipulate emotions. He’s unique, even in the vampire community, but…he, like, mellowed me out. What he did next, changed my life.
“She is deceiving you, Luca.”
“Wh-what!?” I had no clue what he was talking about.
“Emma Stewart. She is toying with you, using you. She has no intention of becoming friends with you and certainly no intention of dating you. She is…a kind of vampire herself. A psychic vampire and she is preying on your pranic energy.”
“My what? What the hell is Pran…pran…
“Pranic energy as in prana, your life force. She is feeding off of you in a different way, Luca. She intends to use you and throw you away, to drain your soul of its life essence.”
“I don’t-I don’t believe you,” I said. “Emma wouldn’t do that.”
I was still frozen to that spot on Marlborough Street, so it’s not like I had a choice, but to stand there and listen to what Kieran had to say. Then he did something that totally blew my mind.
“I was near your precious Emma today.” My eyes got big as dinner plates. The ruby lips parted in an amused grin. “Do not fret. She is alive…for now. I was, however, near enough to hear her thoughts. Would you like to know what is going on inside your beloved Emma’s pretty little head?”
I was stunned, speechless.
“I will share her thoughts with you.”
He did. It was bizarre. Without further warning or fanfare, I was thrust into another time. I was seeing my world, Emma…or what I thought was my world, through Kieran’s eyes. I was in Emma’s apartment. Even though I’d never been there before, I knew it was her apartment. It was earlier that day. She was talking on the phone with someone.
“Oh, you know that dork in my poly-sci class?” Pause. “Yeah, well he’s coming over tonight.” Pause. “Ew! No! I’m not letting him touch me. Are you fucking crazy? I’m using him so I can pass this test…and maybe this course. And when I don’t need him anymore, sayonara ferret face!” Another pause. “Well, if he doesn’t get the hint, I’ll have Jason fuck him up. I mean, what good is a boyfriend if he can’t do your dirty work, right?”
The images stopped abruptly and it was back to the present. The experience left me dazed, but when my head cleared, I was beyond pissed! “That bitch! That fucking whore! She is using me!”
It was true. Emma was using me like Brian had used me, like everyone had always used me. To feed off of me. This was going to end. Now! I looked straight into Kieran’s eyes. In that moment I think I understood Kieran and knew why he changed his mind. He had once been me. I found my voice and said, “Do it!”
It wasn’t at all what I expected. He was gentle, seductive. He moved close and embraced me. I was vaguely aware that my fear had disappeared. I don’t even think he was controlling my emotions anymore. I felt his teeth sink into the flesh of my neck, but there was barely any pain. It was…euphoric. I surrendered completely to Kieran as he fed and within moments I felt my life ebbing away.
I thought about praying before leaving the human world, but then I thought what’s the point? My vision had dimmed, closed to a pinpoint. Through the hazy light from the street lamps, I saw Kieran slit his own wrist with his fingernail. His blood began to flow and he held his wrist to my mouth. I understood immediately and drew Kieran’s wrist to my lips, drinking his blood. It felt sensual, erotic. I think I moaned. I have no human memory of events after that.
My eyes flashed open. Kieran had laid me carefully onto the ground. The storm was as fierce as it had always been, but I was unaffected by the rain and wind. Kieran’s face came into view. “Master,” I greeted.
“Luca,” Kieran nodded.
I leaped to my feet. I felt strong. My body surged with energy, strength like I had never felt in my previous life as a human. I also felt something else. It was…
“You must feed.”
Yes, that was it. The sensation was different from human hunger, but that was it. I craved blood, human blood. And I knew exactly who’s house I was going to for dinner.
Kieran nodded. “Go.”
I was away in a flash. Not, like, super speed or anything. And I didn’t turn into a cheetah or any animal for that matter. We can’t really do that—turn into bats and wolves and shit. That part bites. Ha ha. I wouldn’t want to turn into a flying rodent anyway, but a badass wolf would be cool as fuck.
Emma checked her cell phone. Ten thirty-seven. Late! Emma was pissed. She got home at nine forty-five and changed into dry clothes, expecting me no later than 10:00. She had an 8:00 am class and the later we started studying the later she’d get to bed. Luca was a dork.
Bitch! Yeah, I had the power, somehow I inherited it when Kieran created me. I totally hijacked Emma’s thoughts.
Emma checked the time again. Only a minute had ticked by. Felt like an hour. She huffed. “Where the hell is he?” She thought I forgot the address, that I was probably wandering Marlborough Street right now, looking for her house. The thought made her grimace. I punched her front door with my fist. The thump at the door made Emma flinch. Finally! She was going to make me regret making her wait. Ha! Emma flung the door wide, ready to blast me.
“About time you got here.”
“Hi Em,” I greeted.
“Yeah. What’s the matter? You act like you never saw me before.”
“I’m-not sure I have. You look…different.”
Emma sighed. “Oh fuck, here we go,” she thought and turned on the charm. “Sorta. Did you get contacts?”
The human Luca would have fallen for that act. “Un-unh, but my eyes see everything really clear now.”
Emma channeled her inner slut—she didn’t have to reach far—and rested her hand on my chest. “Do they?”
“Yeah. And they see right through you. You’re gonna die tonight, Em!”
Nervous laugh. “Luca, what’re you…”
The words caught in Emma’s throat. She let out a surprised scream as I seized her wrist. I felt her bones snap in my grasp. She cried out in pain. My strength shocked her. My eyes hypnotized her. She wanted to look away. She wanted desperately to flee, but she couldn’t. I held her there like Kieran held me. There would be no salvation for Emma Stewart though.
“Emma, Emma, Emma,” I growled, shaking my head, “you tried to use me.”
Her eyes bugged, her heart played a bongo rhythm in her chest. Through her tears, she lied. “No! Luca! I like you! I really do.”
“Bitch, please! ‘If he doesn’t get the hint, I’ll have Jason fuck him up.’ Sound familiar?”
She gasped. In her mind she was trying to figure out how I knew. She thought her friend betrayed her and even in this desperate predicament she was in, vowed revenge. “Luca, I can-I can explain.”
“No you can’t,” I sneered. “By the way, does Jason know what a fucking whore you are? Sleeping with his best friend? Tsk. Tsk, Em. You’re just a common slut.”
Emma whimpered when my other hand closed around her throat. “Luca, please,” she rasped. “I’ll do whatever you want. You want to fuck me? You can fuck me. C’mon, we’ll go inside. We can fuck all night.”
Wow. She actually thought that would work. I saw in her mind what she planned—mace me and then club me over the head with a lamp. Part of me thought of going through with the charade just to toy with her, but no. This was going to end. Now. “Oh, you’re gonna get fucked tonight, Emma. Don’t you worry.”
The last thing Emma heard was my terrifying growl, the last thing she saw was my glistening teeth flashing toward her neck. I ripped into Emma’s jugular and drained the life blood from her.
Kieran appeared beside me, silently appraising my handiwork. He was pleased, like a proud father. Emma’s corpse lay sprawled on the steps of her brownstone. Her body lay unnaturally twisted, her eyes fixed into a terrified, lifeless stare. The rain washed what blood remained in Emma’s body down the stone step waterfall where it joined the gutter river. I laughed. My thoughts turned to Brian Murphy. Won’t he be surprised to see me? I laughed again. Yeah. Payback’s a bitch.