The smell of blood was thick in the air, metallic, with a faint tang of something else. Alice felt her mouth water, her eyes already scanning the room. There. Josh was nursing a paper cut. The small drop of blood seemed impossibly large to her. She bit down on the inside of her cheek, flooding her mouth with the bitter, salty fluid. The sharp pain helped bring her back into focus, the noises of the room seemed to amplify and become almost unbearably loud, the light grew brighter, making everything shine. Alice breathed steadily through her nose, the smell of blood started to fade, replaced by an the rotting odour of her own blood that filled her mouth. A moment later the bell rang. Alice grabbed her stuff and quickly left, ignoring everyone else. Her friends didn’t bother hurrying after her, she knew they’d joke that she was in one of her moods again and that was fine with her.
The cool breeze outside helped centre her, she no longer craved blood. Though the acrid taste was still in her mouth, she took a swig of coke and swished it around. It helped take the worst of it away. She closed her eyes and lifted her face towards the sun, allowing it to warm her skin and chase away the chill. She always felt cold after something like that happened. Usually it wasn’t too bad, but it had been a while since she had drank. She would have to feed soon to avoid any accidents, like the one a year ago when they had to move. She pushed the thought away. It did no good to dwell on it, and it wasn’t her fault, not really. If anyone was to blame it was her however-many-times great grandfather. Alice knew little about him, only that he was an awful man, who was cursed. She never learned by who, after all it didn’t seem that important. The curse, which could never be broken, would be passed down through their generations. Alice herself had already decided she would never have children, she could never subject them to it.
That night Alice sat in her room, her father had promised her he would go hunting tonight. Her stomach grumbled restlessly, longing for the blood that would soon fill it. Her father wouldn’t bring her hunting, he always refused. Alice herself had heard plenty of arguments about it between her parents. She knew her father had agreed that he would take her hunting on her eighteenth birthday but not before. Alice herself didn’t mind it. She didn’t want to hurt anyone.
Her mouth flooded with saliva, already she could smell the blood as her father approached, he had barely entered the house when she rushed down the stairs and grabbed the jar from his hands. The blood flooded her mouth, she moaned involuntarily, it was still warm. She drained the jar quickly and used her tongue and fingers to get every last drop she could. When it was gone she still wanted more, but that was it until the next time. A voice spoke in the back of her mind, asking her why she should wait, why shouldn’t she go out herself, no one would know. She pushed it down. Someone would find out if she went hunting. She was too young, she’d make mistakes, be sloppy. Besides, she had no control yet, she would drain them dry.
Alice lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling. Her heart beat steadily in her chest, she felt alive and full of energy. She wanted to go out, to run and run until her lungs felt like they were going to burst from her chest. Her legs itched, she needed to move. Slowly she breathed in and out, forcing herself to stay still. It was during one her runs that the accident had happened, she had made sure to stay inside after feeding ever since.
When morning came she got out of bed, though she hadn’t slept she still felt full of energy. She showered and dressed, though she wasn’t going to school today. It wasn’t safe when she was this antsy. Instead she went into the back garden and started stretching, slow, methodical, it wasn’t the release her muscles needed, but it was something. Once she had finished her stretching she went back inside. Downstairs in the basement there was a punching bag, she danced around it, jabbing. A few hours later she stopped. She wanted to continue but this was the third punching bag they had bought in the last few months, she didn’t want to wear it out too quickly.
Alice could feel the energy building, her entire body felt like it was vibrating. She needed to be outside, feel the wind on her skin and the sun on her face. She gritted her teeth and squeezed her hands together, she could feel her nails biting into her palms. She squeezed a little harder and she felt the sharp pain of them piercing her skin. The room quickly filled with the rotting stench of her blood as it oozed thickly from the wounds. The smell was grounding, the energy diminished slightly as the wounds started to close around her finger nails. She counted to ten slowly, then quickly ripped her fingernails free. White hot pain flared in her hands, her breathing became heavy. She repeated this again and again until finally the energy felt as though it was drained away. It was still there, and would be for at least another week, but the burning need to move move move was finally gone.
Alice watched the black blood swirl down the drain as she washed her hands, the thick heavy odour of her blood battled with the light, citrus scent of the hand wash until it faded. She studied her face in the mirror. Her skin looked brighter, clearer, the few spots that had been appearing were gone, her skin was smooth. Her eyes appeared to sparkle with life, her hair was glossier. She pulled her hair back into a ponytail and turned from the mirror, feeling her cheeks redden. Someone else paid for the glow of her skin and hair. She hated the hunger, the need, the way the blood made her appear beautiful. In another night or two she would need to sleep again, then there would be the nightmares. The screams, the feeling of teeth tearing flesh, of hot sticky blood flowing over her skin. She would watch as those before her tore and slashed and bathed in blood. Seeing and feeling every life that was taken by her family, until she finally woke, tearing at the bedclothes, the sound of her own screams filling her ears.