An experiment in revision

So, what follow is first draft, unedited copy from a work in progress. Later I will post the edited version for comparison. The idea for this story has been rattling around in my head for more than a decade, and I’ve had a number of false starts at it… so who knows when it will get finished. It’s a much, much more literary take on a vampire story than you would expect from a hack zombie writer like me 😉

He glides, a ghost of silk, chrome and steel reflecting his pale, soulless perfection. The pumping beat, the grinding bodies clad in black, they are his element. Every environment needs predators and prey. In this place, at this time, he is the archetype of the predator. He scans a room that is bright as day for him, looking for that one perfect victim, that one who will not be missed, who is weak enough to be separated from the herd but strong enough to satisfy him.

Finally, over in the corner, a sad little girl, lost behind layers of white makeup and black dyed hair. She reeks of desperation, of loss and pain, and none of those around her seem to look at her, seem to really notice her. She is beautiful to him, a lost deer waiting for his jaws to close around her neck. From where he stands he can see the vein pumping blood through her pale neck, beneath the short bob on her head. He flows over to her, the crowd parting before him. He beckons her to him, and she comes drawn by the power that flows through him. He holds out his hand, takes hers and presses it to his lips, a quick dry kiss on the back of the hand, with a bow. “John” he says.

“Samantha, Sam I mean”. She’s flustered, confused, unsure. Exactly as she should be.

“Lets find somewhere a little more private.” He realizes that she is younger than he thought, too young to be in a place like this. She comes with him, no hint of resistance in her stance or in her eyes, eyes that are dark with something hidden, a blankness that seems out of place in her fine features. He knows that there is something coursing through her veins that came from a needle, but that doesn’t matter to him. He draws her out the door and into the alley behind the club. She leans back against the wall, welcoming him to her body, pulling him down to her. He pulls his head back and extends his fangs. She stares at them and then says “Well, fuck.”, her tone dead and empty.

It stops him. He’s heard screams, panic, fainting, even lust a few times, but never the sort of empty resignation he hears from Samantha. “What? What did you say?”.

“Look, it’s been a shit day. Just get it over with.” Still no hint of emotion there.

He’s intrigued. Most of the time when he’s not hunting he’s just bored, but now she’s got his interest. “Not yet. I want to talk to you first.”

She doesn’t resist this either. He takes her to his car, a sleek black European sports car, the kind that draws looks. She gets in the passenger seat, not even looking around, head down. He takes her through the dark city to his building. They go through underground parking to the elevator and right to his penthouse. The furniture is darker and more expensive than the club they left. Chrome and smoked glass again, of course, but a higher grade of it. He guides her to the couch. She sits down and starts to unlace her corset. He lays a hand on hers and says “Stop”. She does, without any protest. “Why don’t you fight? Why don’t you care?”

“I don’t know. It just doesn’t really matter that much. Death, life, whatever. I am a bit curious about the fact that there are real vampires though.”

“So ask. I will answer as best I can.” He doesn’t know why he wants this, this strange interaction… but he does know that he does want it, wants to see her care about something, if only for a moment.

“Is your name really John?”

“Yes, believe it or not it’s Johnathon Smith”.

“How old are you?”

“I was turned in 1978, at the time I was 22”.

“Wait, I’m about to be killed by a 33 year old vampire?”.

“I haven’t decided if I’m going to kill you or not, but yes, it’s actually my 33rd birthday today”.

“So you were alone on your birthday? That’s kind of sad”.

“Well, when I was alive I had people around me all the time. I didn’t really appreciate it then, guess I don’t really miss it that much now.”


“How what?”

“How did it happen, how did you end up being a vampire?”

“Well, I was in a band. We were almost Joy Division or Bauhaus or something. Had a bunch of dark music in a time when people wanted that. I was the lead singer, knew that the world was mine for the taking. I figure if I’d held off on the drugs and the groupies for a few months longer we could have been huge, but I didn’t. I did too much of everything. The band fell apart and I kept trying to go solo. Eventually a producer noticed me. Everyone said he was huge, the real deal, had a stable of acts that was going to set the world on fire and more money than god. He invited me to his place one night, a mansion up in the hills. I went, packed a knife. At the time I said it was so that if he wanted a blow job I could gut him. Looking back I think it was because I thought he might have some heroin I could steal. I got there, it was the nicest place I had ever been. Nicer than this place. Very old world, none of the crap that was everywhere in the 70’s.”

He’s getting lost in the memory, the texture of the place. It’s something that happens to him now, his senses are so much stronger, his memory so much clearer. He can feel the grain of the wood under his fingers as he brushed the wall on his way in, smell the faint smell of wood oil, the stronger smell of smoke. The producer had asked him inside, very civilized, very old world. His accent was faint, eastern European but very hard to detect. At the time John had not even noticed it. There was a fire in the dining room. The producers name was Ivan. He offered John food and wine and then sat back and watched him eat. He didn’t talk, not the way people do when they are eating a meal together, and he didn’t eat anything. He did drink, red wine he said. After the food he offered John a needle full of brown fluid. John’s eyes were fixated on it from the moment it entered the room in the hands of the silent manservant that appeared to be the only other human in the house. Ivan tied off John’s arm, a movement that he seemed to have a great deal of practice with, and found a vein with no effort at all. The needle slid in and he pushed the plunger down. John just let it happen. When he woke Ivan was sucking on his neck. It hurt, it hurt a lot. He felt his body floating, weightless, his life draining out into Ivan’s mouth. He tried to push Ivan away but his limbs were too weak, and his vision was clouded. Finally, everything went dark. Then he felt a burst of something in his mouth, a salty sweetness with a strong hint of copper. Not blood, blood wasn’t sweet like that. He started to drink, drank as deep and as strong as he could. He felt a hand push him down, and the drink left his mouth, left him gaping at air, gaping for more. When he woke he felt strong, powerful. He saw Ivan lying naked next to him, strands of dried blood on his mouth and his wrist. John could smell the individual types of wood that were being burned in the fire, make out when two logs were from the same tree. He could feel the texture of the floor, the movements and eddies of the air. He know that the manservant was one of seven humans in the house, could hear their hearts beating. He was so very, very hungry.

Ivan woke up and caressed his cheek, told him that he was beautiful. The horror of what had happened, the chaos of his new senses, it took hold of him. He smashed his fist into Ivan’s face. Ivan stood up, raised himself to full height. John tackled him around the waist, driving him back to the large fireplace in the room. Running on something primitive, something that was older than him, he drove Ivan and Ivan couldn’t stop him. Ivan smashed his fists down on John’s back, but it was too late, he staggered over the raised lip of the fireplace and fell back into the flames. As he tried to rise John grabbed the poker and smashed him, as hard as he could, again and again. Finally Ivan stopped trying to rise and burned. The manservant and a large man in a suit had come in by that point. The large man rushed John with a pointed stake in his hand, but John grabbed it faster than he would have thought possible and then threw the man who probably outweighed him by a hundred pounds with one hand. The man smashed into the far wall and then fell to the ground with a wet thump. John ran for the window. The manservant told him to stop very quietly. John did, for some reason the man’s voice seemed very reasonable. He told John that it would still be daylight for another hour, and that he should wait until full dark to leave. John waited with the manservant, the wet lump that was the bodyguard and the charred corpse of Ivan for a full hour, then he left into the night.

He recounts this to Sam, leaving out nothing. Not sure if he is trying to disgust her into caring or simply needs to tell someone. She listens, then she asks if he has a kitchen. He guides her to it. She asks him to wait in the living room while she makes something.

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