I followed blue signs with the big white H to a large general hospital and parked out of sight of the institution on a hillside street with wide lawns where nothing stirred. As dusk fell, I blew down the street like a feather.
I cut between houses, a shadow blur through the hedges. Dogs droned.
Under a sky of amber shellac, I entered a maze-garden of dwarf trees and raked gravel. The hospital towered above, every long window lit.
“You can’t get in that way.” This voice of bruised velvet floated from out of a teenager, a girl with pale skin and spiky, pixie hair—skin so white and hair so black she emitted darkness. “There’s always a guard at the terrace door.”
She sat on a stone bench, a low seat round as a mushroom. I had smelled her before I saw her, a blood smoke tainted with medicinal ectoplasm. I had thought it an aura of the hospital and had nearly tripped over her.
Chemo, I established, staring down into those raccoon eyepits.
She regarded me blandly. “You’re a vampire.”
||New recruit.|| My shadowy voice frightened me. ||How do you know what I am?||
“Duh. Take a look at yourself.”
||Can’t. The mirror thing.||
“You look really freaky. Those shades don’t hide anything.”
||I don’t scare you. You’ve seen vampires before?||
I blinked to make sure she wasn’t an apparition, a hallucination of my blood hunger or of my infected brain. ||Vampires will kill you.||
“You can have my blood.” She stood, a lanky adolescent of broad face, high, perfect brow with a faint blue vein down its middle. She wasn’t wearing hospital attire but hip-slung jeans on a razor-sharp pelvis, biker boots, a vermilion halter top, and no make-up.
Something errant in her attitude, a solemn and fearsome lawlessness, empowered her from the afterlife. Had I seen her in my dreaming among the dead?
“Go ahead. I’m a goner anyway.”
||You’re a tough cookie.||
“You don’t want me.”
||It’s the chemo. You don’t smell very appetizing. Besides, I don’t kill people.||
She cocked her head to one side, incredulous. “A vegetarian vampire?”
||Half way. I need blood. First feeding. I’m going to pass out soon if I don’t get it. But I don’t want to kill for it.||
Comprehension brightened in her woebegone eyes. “So that’s why you’re here.”
||I came for the transfusion bags. Can you help me?||
“If you help me.” She stepped closer and placed her hand on my chest. Her warmth made it hard for me to breathe.
I was ravenous for her blood, even if it did stink like paint thinner.
Her voice narrowed to a whisper, “I want to go with you.”
||I don’t know where I’m going.||
“Do I look like I care?”
The girl knew her way around the wards. She went in the terrace door past the security guard and opened a service access entry in the broad driveway on the far side of the garden wall. Security cameras posed no threat.
Blood scent, after a near calamitous detour to an operating theater, eventually led to the refrigeration units. While the girl distracted the on-duty staff, I packed two coolers with 350 ml bags of red blood cells.
A soft whistle announced the all clear, and we skipped back the way we’d come. I felt sadness at this criminal act and relief my urgency hadn’t driven me to murder anyone—yet.
In the capacious, empty driveway with a cooler of life in each hand and an alley of sky above blowsy with stars, I took my opportunity to lose the girl. I didn’t need her anymore. And there was the question of her parents, her family. She couldn’t simply disappear with a vampire.
Small clouds drifted blue as souls. I removed my sunglasses and bolted into the star-spun night. A tiny cry from the girl eked after me like a bat.
I entered the wind, weightless as tissue paper. Perhaps I would see her again in the strobe flicker of the undead’s dreams. She’d be there soon enough, separated from parents and family, with no connection to anything except mystery, emptiness, void, the secret core of us all…
The wind curled, and I boomeranged into the broad driveway where the girl had already turned her back.
||You coming or not?|| She was dead anyway. What did it matter?
“I thought you skipped.”
||Don’t know my own speed yet. Sorry. This is new to me.|| I shrugged. ||Want to get your things? I’ll wait in the garden.||
She dashed to my side, eyes glorious, and hooked her arm through mine. “Let’s go!”
“Investigations of the Fractal Blood Soul”
from Demons Hide Their Faces