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Tales of An Unfortunate
Author's note: it's a dual narrative by the way
I’m a monster. I can’t help it. It’s been my nature for hundreds of years, so why alter it now? Humans fear me, fellow monsters welcome me. I have embraced the darkness, and accepted the dark way of life. Why not revel in it? Why not live it to the full? To those questions i have no answer. But I still avoid human civilisation as much as possible. It is too tempting. Oh too tempting. I strive to be part of normality once more, instead of hiding in the shadows, unwanted, uninvited, and unwelcome. It is not possible, though. I have no control over my never ceasing thirst that continues to pelt me relentlessly with the stones of vampire thirst.
“Diana? Diana? Where on earth are you?” Louisa called from the kitchen below my small, shabby room. “Here!” I shouted, pulling on my apron and then running down the stairs. Becky and Louisa were waiting in the kitchen for me with impatient looks upon their faces. They weren’t happy at all.
“Thank the Lord, she’s up!” Becky gave me a disapproving look before lifting her pail and sweeping out of the kitchen.
I tried to smooth my hair and skirts whilst Louisa gave me my chores for the morning. “Feed the chickens, collect the eggs, polish the brass, clean the silverware, light the fires, clean the hearth in the parlour...” the list went on and on, and I decided that instead of remembering it I would go from room to room and do all the chores. It was easier by far.
“Right, I’m off to market although I doubt I will get there in time now.” Louisa gave me a meaningful look as she said it, and I rolled my eyes before nearly knocking into Becky who was coming in the opposite direction carrying a spinnow full of eggs fresh from the hen hut.
“Diana!” she shouted, swerving and spinning to avoid me.
“Sorry Becky.” I apologised.
I progressed through the morning doing my chores and stopped for a simple lunch half way through the day. In the afternoon, Becky gave me my lessons although I couldn’t learn much from them, because I could already read and write and draw better than her if I was truthful. That was because Mother had been teaching me before she passed away and left us. She had become ill two years after Father had been killed in the tragic accident.
Becky told me to go sit outside the house and draw it for half an hour and she would come to check on me when she had finished scrubbing the floors. I began steadily, and then my mind started to drift. I watched Louisa pegging out the washing. She was the oldest of us at twenty- three, and had taken charge after Mother had passed away. I sympathised with her. Most people at her age would be thinking about getting married and having their own life, but not Louisa. She had far too much to do. I watched her then in her white apron and weathered skirt, focusing on her task. She really had taken over Mother’s place.
Two days later I was finishing the drawing of our house outside, adding in a chicken that was pecking at some grains on the floor. It was then that I heard a cart coming down the dusty dirt track. I squinted against the fulgid afternoon sun and saw that it was Mr Carter, the sixty-something farmer from down the road. He occasionally came by to talk to us. Now he stepped down from his cart and stroked his brown mare before being greeted by Louisa who bobbed a small curtsy to him and asked him inside for a drink of tea. Becky beckoned me to come inside also, and I picked up my drawing things and followed.
“Yes, we’re faring well thank you Mr Carter.” Louisa was saying as I came in. She poured tea into a cup for him. “Aye, tha’s good, very good.” Mr Carter replied in his broad Yorkshire accent.
“And you?” Becky asked politely.
“Aye, I’m fine thank you, Miss Becky. ‘ad a bit o’ trouble las’ night, we did.” He said, draining his cup which practically looked like a thimble in his giant hand.
“Oh dear. And what happened?” Louisa asked.
“Some o’ my flock wus attacked, tha was.” Mr Carter replied. “’ad thus throats ripped out, tha did.” He said.
“That’s awful!” Louisa exclaimed. Her face, like Becky’s and mine, was a mask of shock and horror. “How terrible.” Becky commented. “What do you think happened?”
“It’ll be an animal, ‘ats what it’ll be.” Mr Carter answered her. I felt sorry for him, he was very proud of his prize winning flock.
My thirst has been quenched for now, I think. It is so hard to ignore the human scents and focus only on animal blood. It makes me shiver just thinking of it. I have to show some aspect of control, though and have been abstaining fom drinking human blood. I must obey the single law of our dangerous world: keep our nature a secret.
I went up to the woods last night to hunt and found some sheep in the neighbouring field. It wasn’t a desirable meal compared to what I could have had, but it was better than attacking somebody. I doubt I will be able to go back there again, because the farmer found his massacred animals in the morning, and I think he may stand guard to protect his flock from the terrifying ‘animal’ that has been hunting them. Ha. Animal.
I was rather excited the morning after Mr Carter’s visit. Whilst worried there might be a wild animal on the loose, it was my birthday in two days. I would be eighteen at last! It seemed quite a significant age to me. Both my sisters had got a silk dress on their eighteenth birthday, although I would never get anything like that, considering the fact that we were very poor. One might hope and dream though. I went to market with Louisa that morning. I woke up early enough so we were there by a half past six, but already stalls were there and their holders were calling.
“Cress, cress! Buy fresh cress!”
“Bread, get your bread!”
“Milk, fresh from the dairy!”
“Antiques! I’ll do you a great deal!”
“Fresh fruit and vegetables!” I was so mesmerised by the crowds bustling about me and the stalls with things to sell. It pained me to see little thin children begging on the street corners, and I thanked God that I was not as unfortunate as them.
I was so busy noticing things that I forgot to look where I was going and walked into somebody. He was tall with handsome features and eyes like I had never seen before. I swear they were red. He was pale, too, deathly pale. I had never seen anybody quite like him.
“S-s-sorry.” I stammered, picking up my basket. He smiled and it seemed almost tight, like he was in pain. I moved on, but his face still haunted me all day. There was something icy cold about him, but he was handsome at the same time. I wondered if he had maybe come from a different country where it was cold and there was not much sun; unlike the glorious spring weather we were having here in England. I had heard of Teutonic peoples such as Germans and Scandinavians and British who were pale like that. I shrugged and hurried to catch up with Louisa, who was half way down the market and bargaining with a store holder. She was winning, by his expression. Louisa could be very persuasive when she wanted to be.
“Eighteen in two days, Diana!” Becky laughed. The two of us were kneading dough for bread in the kitchen, whilst Louisa sat in a chair at the rickety table peeling potatoes.
“I know, I’m so excited!” I exclaimed, doing a little hop. Becky and Louisa exchanged looks, smiling. “What?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing.” Becky said mysteriously.
Stupid. A vampire with abysmal stupidity is what I am. I had so been longing for a glimpse of human civilisation that I strode straight into the marketplace without even thinking. It must have been about a quarter to seven in the morning. I thought that if I did not make contact with anybody then it would all be fine. That was my first mistake. My second was not even looking where I was going. It was so mesmerising to be able to look at human civilisation again. I walked straight into her, or maybe she walked into me, there is no way to be sure. “S-s-sorry.” She stammered, and I just smiled. It had been so long since I had spoken to anyone that I didn’t want to do anything strange like forget how to use my voice. Besides, if I opened my mouth I would inhale more of her scent and then I would be tempted to hunt her. I did not want to reveal my true nature in this crowded place. That would be even more stupid. She picked up her basket and moved away, and I quickly exited from the marketplace. I would not make that mistake again. Ever. I raced up the hill with vampire speed, and hid in the woods where nobody would find me. I needed to be away from humans.
There was one day to go. One day until my eighteenth birthday! I could barely wait. I did not accompany Louisa to the marketplace that morning, she said she had somewhere she needed to go alone, and so I did not badger her. Instead I continued with my usual chores, imagining what my birthday would be like if we were rich. The dreaming made a pleasant change as I carried on with my work, and I hummed a little tune as I swept the floor. I spun round and round, dancing with the broom until I heard a laugh from the doorway. It was Becky, carrying her pail.
“Honestly, Diana. You are funny sometimes.” She said, ruffling my hair. I blushed red and continued with my sweeping.
That afternoon after a lunch of potatoes and a small portion of meat, Louisa pulled out her quill and a sheet of note paper. She busied herself in writing a note that was one and a half pages long. She signed and sealed it, and then handed it to me.
“Take this across to Mr and Mrs Austin, would you Diana?” she asked. “And change your dress before you go.” I did as I was told, even though the walk was a mile each way and I had to go through the woods which I did not want to do because I was scared I might come face to face with the wild animal that had attacked Mr Carter’s flock.
I was very cautious on my way there, but came across nothing except birds and an innocent little rabbit. I didn’t think they would have attacked Mr Carter’s flock. When I arrived at the Austin residence, it was Mrs Austin who answered the door. She was a plain, brown haired lady wearing an apron covered in flour and a tired expression, but she smiled kindly when she saw me.
“Hello Diana dear. What can I do for you?” she asked.
“I just came to deliver a letter from my sister.”
“Of course dear. Won’t you come in?” she asked, stepping aside to let me past. I accepted the invitation and crossed the threshold. Several of her children were around the house: There was Frank, who smiled at me; Henry, who waved at me; Charles, who said hello; Cassandra who glared at me in stony silence and Jane who was too busy writing in some sort of journal to notice me. There were more children but i could not see them at the time. The Austin’s cousin, Jenny, sat beside Jane. She was plain but beautiful and she too was writing in a journal but not as vigorously as Jane was.
“Now, dear, where is that letter you were telling me about?” Mrs Austin asked me, pushing her husband’s newspaper to one side which roused a muttered complaint. Mr Austin was the local reverend.
By the time I left the Austin’s house, it was about ten to five. Jane had insisted on reading me some of her latest novel (one about a girl called Elizabeth Bennett), Henry had got be talking about horses, Jenny had started talking to me about her wedding to Captain Williams that was going to be taking place in June (“You will be invited of course Diana”), and then Mr Austin had started telling me about a new type of church service he was planning to give on a Wednesday. They were very talkative family, and I really did find them very interesting so it was a shame to go.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like one of the boys to escort you home, dear?” Mrs Austin asked, handing me my shawl.
“It’s very kind of you, but really I will be fine. Thank you for your hospitality.” I replied, then said goodbye to everybody and took my leave. If I could have foreseen what was coming for me though, I knew I would have taken Mrs Austin’s offer of an escort. It was a pleasant walk. I noticed how colourful the spring flowers were, and how green the grass was. I hoped it was like this tomorrow, for my birthday. It was now less than twelve hours until the big day! The birds were singing in the trees and I looked up to name them. Crow, sparrow, blue tit, bluebird... Oh dear. That was not a bird.
Her scent was everywhere. On my clothes, up my nostrils... everywhere. I couldn’t get away from it, and I jumped up a tree to a branch about ten metres high where I could stay still. It was good practice for self-control, I guess.
It was about ten minutes until five o’clock, and I hadn’t move a muscle since I had sat on that branch. Not one muscle. That was when I smelt it. Her scent. The girl in the market place. This time it wasn’t from my clothes, it was right below me. And there was human breathing, and another heartbeat...I looked down, and sure enough there she was. She hadn’t noticed me yet, but already I could feel my eyes turn red and my fangs start to grow to their full size. There was no hope for this poor innocent now, my control wasn’t that good. Our eyes met, and I jumped down onto the ground and landed in a smooth crouch below the trees.
It was the man from the marketplace. Although he was hardly a man any more. His canine teeth had grown to twice their normal size, and his eyes were full on crimson. I remember my mind telling me to run, but my body was frozen in shock, my feet planted to the ground. He seemed to have an inward struggle with himself, and started shaking violently. He crossed the ten metres between us, and he was faster than anything I had ever seen before. So fast that he was a blur. And then I felt a pain in my throat. Pain like no other. I screamed and screamed and screamed for all that I was worth but it was no use.
He had bitten me! What was this monster that would bite and kill like this? Was he half animal, or a character from a horror fiction? Whatever he was, he was killing me. I could not bear it, and just as I thought I was about to die, he broke away. There was an expression I could not place on his face. It was pain, and guilt, both of which did not match his manner.
I bit a human. After two hundred years of restraint, I bit a human. I had no control for a moment, and then I suddenly regained it, pushing the neck away from me.
I had turned her. In less than a day she would be one of mine. A vampire. And I had created her! I felt almost.... guilty. Yes, that was it. It had been so long since I had felt guilty for anything, but now I did. Looking at this little innocent’s face as it writhed in pain, I felt so terribly guilty.
“I’m so sorry.” I whispered. She nodded, although I have no way of seeing how she could have been so kind after what I had done to her. She swayed a little, and then fainted. Realising she was going to fall, I used my great speed to catch her before she could, and gently lay her down on the ground. From my pocket, I withdrew the silver ring I kept around for times like this. It was to protect her from the sunlight when she woke.
Now there was nothing I could do but wait.
The last thing I knew he was reaching out to catch me. It was a strange thing to feel safe in the arms of your killer, but I did. And I was sure he had killed me, because I had felt my heart stop beating.... but I was alive! So alive. Maybe this was the afterlife? I thought as I slowly drifted to sleep.
Sleep? No, Diana! Don’t... don’t.... don....
I woke later. Much later. As I opened my eyes I felt different. Stronger, maybe. My eyes were very strange. They focused better, and instead of just seeing some things, they saw everything. When I saw a tree, they focused on the close up particles and texture of the bark. When I saw a blade of grass, they focused on the tiny patterns and drops of dew on it. I could see for ever, and I knew I would be able to jump and run as high and as fast as him. Talking of him, he was sitting next to me. His face seemed almost kind. Seeming unsure, he reached out a hand to help me up, and I backed away rapidly. He was not going to get anywhere near me. “What happened to me?” I asked in almost a whisper. “You’re a vampire.” He answered simply as if it were a normal thing to say. I just nodded. It seemed almost right somehow, as if I had known all along that was what he had made me. “I’m going home.” I rose gracefully and turned to go.
“Wait!” he called, grabbing my wrist. I noticed the tones and temperatures of our skin now matched. He must have had a grip like iron, but it did not affect me. In fact, I could feel that I was stronger than him. “You can’t go home.” He told me.
“Why not?” I asked, facing him.
“Do you feel thirsty?” he asked, answering my question with one of his own. Strangely, I did feel thirsty if I came to think about it. But I knew what I was craving, and it was not water. I nodded.
“If you go home, you will be a danger to your family and the people you love. You’re one of us now. You can never go back to being human.” He explained, and it was like somebody had broken my heart. To never see my sisters again? I couldn’t bear it. I knew that I couldn’t and wouldn’t hurt them though, and I made a vow. I would never enter the human world again. I was dead to them. I could imagine the town talk. Ha. Dead hours before I reached the age of eighteen. You could almost make it into a book: the tales of an unfortunate.
“I’m Diana.” I introduced myself.
“Liam.” He took my hand. “Just one thing.” He started.
“Actually, two conditions. Mind your strength, and never take your ring off. Unless you want to die. Sunlight burns.” Oh. I hadn’t noticed the ring before. It was a plain band of silver resting on the middle finger of my right hand. On the finger next to it lay my Mother’s wedding ring.
“Okay.” I said.
TALES OF A MONSTER- SIX
The guilt has started to fade now, but it quickly returns every time I see her. I feel so bad for taking the life away from Diana, and I felt worse when I saw the hurt on her face. I guess I’ll be showing her the ropes now. Maybe this could be the start of something? Oh, what am I thinking? I killed her. She is going to loathe me for the rest of her miserable second life, I guess.
I was seventeen then. I’m seventeen now. I always will be seventeen. That’s not going to change. What will change is my life. Everything will be different. I’m going to be an outcast, a vampire bound by her thirst and torn by her fate. But maybe it won’t be so bad? I know Liam feels guilty. I can see it in his eyes, and now I can feel what he felt. The thirst for blood really is uncontrollable.
I guess I was just unfortunate. But I won’t stand around moping for all my second life. I’ll live it to the full and never regret anything I do.