The car screeched to a halt, with the bumper just a few inches from my legs. I stood still with my arms covering my eyes. It only offered slight relief. I could still feel the burning sensation throughout my body. It hurt to move even slightly, including my legs—I was riveted to the spot. The most I allowed myself to do was let out a loud shriek. Later on I realized that the sound was like nothing I have let out before my Reawakening, or since. The driver hurried to get out of the car and run towards me. “Jesus Christ,” he said. “Are you okay?”
“The lights!” I said. “Turn off your lights!”
“What?” He stood there, confused.
“Turn off those damn lights!”
He rushed back in and turned off the headlights. It felt as if I had just stepped out of an oven into the Arctic, yet without the shock that I assume the “Normals” (the term I’ve learned that my kind tend to use for mortals) would feel in their bodies. Instead, my relief was instant, and my wounded skin healed quickly. It’s a feeling that I’ve learned to replicate at will and without any permanent damage to my being. Much like how some people turn the heat in their shower just slightly hotter than they can comfortably handle for a sense of pleasure, I’ve come to enjoy the sensation of healing my burnt skin.
The driver came back out to me. “Are you okay, man?” he said.
“Yes, I think so.” I lowered my arms and looked myself over. I wasn’t a large man but I was surprised that my voice was so deep. Was it always so?
“Dude, I’m so glad I didn’t hit you. That was close. But you shouldn’t run out in front of moving traffic like that.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just… a bit disoriented right now.”
“Ah, drank a little too much, did you?”
I thought back to the man I had just fed upon. I did feel a little full and queasy. “Yes, I suppose I had.”
“Hey, it’s okay. We all have those nights once in a while. Do you need a ride? Do you live far from here?”
“Where am I, exactly?”
“Well, this is the waterfront. Harmon Street.”
“No, I mean, what city is this?”
“Are you serious? You must be out of it more than I thought. This is Port Town, man.”
I thought for a moment. Something about the way that he talked struck me as significant.
“Your accent. It’s quite intriguing.”
“Yes, the way you lazily drop the r’s at the end of words.”
“Oh, my Maine accent, you mean.”
“Ah, yes, Maine. I’m in Maine.”
A series of fragments of memory flashed through my mind just then. I remembered that I was in Maine, that I was in fact from here. I don’t think I was from Port Town, exactly, but I remember being from Maine myself. Yet my accent wasn’t quite as pronounced as his. I chose not to dwell on manner of speech any longer. I got the information that I wanted.
“Wow, dude. Are you staying with anybody that can take care of you?”
“I, uh… no. I think I live alone.”
“Listen, I would love to figure this out with you, but I’m kind of parked in the middle of the road here. I know it’s two in the morning, but I’m technically blocking traffic. Do you know where you need to go? You look harmless enough. I can give you a ride, if it isn’t far.”
“Which way are you headed?”
“Yes, that’s it. I was headed there, myself. I’m staying with a friend there.”
I lied, of course. There was something about this man that intrigued me. If I hadn’t fed already I probably would have thought of him more as my next meal. But there was something about him that felt familiar. But even if he wasn’t, and that line of thinking was a dead end, I grew fascinated by him. His height, his slender figure, his dishevelled brown hair, his loose clothes…. He was everything that I wasn’t, or felt that I wasn’t. Seeing him in person made me realize what the contrast of his style would be, and I wanted to adopt that style for myself. But at the same time it worked on him. I felt drawn to him.
He looked at me suspiciously. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. Once you mentioned the street it came back to me. I have a friend that lives there. I can’t remember the address but I’m sure I’ll find it. It’s not that big a street, is it?”
“No, no. It’s only a side street. Well, come on, get in.”
I got into the passenger seat while he sat down next to me. The car smelled of stale cigarettes and coffee, both of which sat in the cup holders next to me. He must have seen me look down at them, so he smiled apologetically.
“Sorry if you don’t like the smell. Bad habits, you know.”
“Sure, no problem. It doesn’t bother me.” It really didn’t. I would discover over time that no smell or taste truly offended me. Bright colors bothered my eyes a little, but otherwise no sensory data bothered me. I could shrug off even pain if I knew in the back of my mind the cause didn’t threaten my life.
He turned on the car and put it into gear. He turned down a radio station that played some sort of electronic music, although he didn’t replace the noise with talking for a while. Instead we went along in the small town in darkness. He took a left that took us up a steep hill. It turns out that the waterfront was the most built up area of the town, which was mostly sub-rural until one got to the highway, where there were a few shopping plazas. The closest Green Street had was a convenience store that was apparently open all night, as they were still serving customers when we drove past. He slowed down to a crawl.
“Does anything look familiar yet? ‘Cause, my house is right here.”
“Vaguely. Go ahead and park. I’ll recognize the place when I come to it.”
He parked outside his building and got it. I followed suit.
“Well, hey, man. Have a good night. Get some sleep.”
“Of course. Sorry if I was such a bother.”
“No bother at all.” He walked up to his front door and disappeared into an old, dilapidated apartment building.
I turned and walked further to avoid suspicion. I doubt anybody could be watching, however, as there were no street lamps. I could see perfectly but I didn’t want to risk somebody turning on a light and seeing me. I quickly turned into a parking lot for another apartment building. I climbed up the side of the building with great, but by this point not surprising agility. I got to the roof, turned around, and watched his. A light came on and I could watch him in his bedroom. He began to undress. I licked my lips, then remembering that they were still covered in the other man’s blood. But I didn’t feel hungry.
To be continued.