It was a cool, clear evening, uncharacteristic for August. Michael took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He’d expect to cry, and worse, he’d expected Steph to cry. Neither of them had. In fact, the break-up had been easier than he would have dared to hope. He wondered why he felt so disappointed. Steph and he had discussed a possible break many times – perhaps they’d desensitised to the subject. Still, he felt as though something was missing. Something to close this chapter of his life – something definite. He wasn’t about to go back inside though. Amiable though it was, they’d split up for a reason. He needed to move on.
Michael slung his rucksack over his shoulder and looked back at the house. Stephanie had closed the door, so all he could see now was his reflection in the window. He straightened his short blonde hair and took a step back to admire himself. His swimmer’s body was complimented perfectly by his outfit. A tight tee with the arms cut roughly, hugging his biceps. Dark blue jeans and white leather belt with matching bracelet. Michael gave his reflected self an approving nod. Time to put this stud back on the singles market.
He prised his eyes away from himself and inhaled deeply again. He loved walking on summer nights. That was the reason he’d chosen to talk to Steph tonight. If it had turned out to be emotional, at least the walk home would lift his spirit. As it was, he hoped the light breeze might take away from this feeling of disappointment.
He took his time, elongating the trip home as much as possible. However, he reached his street much sooner than he’d wanted. He hesitated, then crossed the street. Not quite ready to go home, he’d postpone it by taking a walk through the park.
Vandalism had hit the park hard lately. Almost all lights had been broken, making it virtually impossible to see. Michael guessed there were some dodgy deals happening at night. He didn’t venture into the park after dark much anymore, even though he’d certainly be able to stand his own if he ever did get into a fight.
Tonight though, he was thankful for the darkness. Not being able to see around you meant you had to look at yourself more closely. It gave him a chance to be alone with his thoughts. Michael found a wooden bench which hadn’t been wrecked, though the lantern next to it was on its last leg. He threw his rucksack on the bench and sat down next to it. The flickering light next to the bench annoyed him, so he emptied his bag and placed it over the lantern. He was now engulfed in darkness.
Everything seemed so different in the dark. Michael got lost in his thoughts, losing all sense of time. The line between fantasy and reality seemed to blur; everything seemed possible, if only he knew how to take the first step.
Michael didn’t know whether he was asleep or not when he first heard the whispering. He opened his eyes and saw the world in flickering light. He must have been asleep, or he would have noticed his bag being stolen. He dozily looked around – no one to be seen. He had no idea how much time had passed, but it was still pitch-black out. Still not fully awake, Michael closed his eyes and listened intently. There was nothing to be heard – no whispers, no people, not even the crickets. The silence felt unnatural. Then he heard it – a voice. He couldn’t recognise any words, but the voice was perfect. It was deep and smooth, inviting you to relax and forget all your cares.
Michael had almost completely fallen asleep when a sudden body spasm brought him back to the conscious world. He jumped up from the bench and said ‘Who’s there?’ in a loud and gruff tone. There was no answer. Michael straightened his stance and called again.
‘Look, I know you’re there, I could hear you whispering. Return my belongings now and I promise you there won’t be any repercussions. Don’t return them, and we’ll see just how many kicks it takes to break a human skull.’ Michael flexed his muscles as he spoke, determined to intimidate whoever was hiding from him.
‘I did not take your belongings.’ The voice appeared to be coming from all around him.
‘Belongings aren’t important to me. They are to you as well, but I’ll let you decide on the reason.’ ‘What do you mean? Show yourself, you coward,’ Michael said, squinting around to spot the man.
At that moment, the light flickered violently and died, throwing Michael and the unknown person back into total darkness. Michael felt the wind flutter around him – something was moving.
‘There are two paths before you,’ spoke the man. His voice hadn’t changed at all, but Michael was no longer comforted by it. In fact, it now froze him to the spot.
Michael felt cold fingers on his shoulder. He wanted to turn around, but the man spoke again.
‘Once I’ve bitten you – yes, I will bit you, there are two possible outcomes. One; you die, plain and simple. I’ll feed on your flesh and blood and go about my night. Or you can choose to become like me; living at night, forever young, untouchable by all living, moving creatures. I don’t usually offer my food this choice, so think carefully before you answer. It’s an honour to be asked, after all.’
Michael weighed his options. If this was some loony tramp, he’d probably stand a chance in a fight. If the guy had a weapon, his chances of winning would be a lot slimmer. No way of finding out, it was too dark for that.
Then again, this guy could be telling the truth. Vampires belong in folklore, but folklore itself was usually based on truth. If this were the case, fighting would be futile. Joining him would be the obvious choice. Besides, if it was a nut job, this would give Michael the best opportunity to find out if he had a weapon. He tried to sound disinterested when he answered.
‘Alright, I’ll join you.’
As soon as he’d said it, he felt a sharp pain in his neck. He would have buckled over, if the grip on his shoulder hadn’t firmly kept him up. He felt a hot liquid drip into his mouth. The man told him to drink, and Michael obeyed. He’d barely swallowed his first drops when the darkness became absolute and Michael lost consciousness.