Bitter Blood

Mia sighed as she watched the girl from the shadows of a dark alley. Not only was the poor girl walking alone down the street in the ghetto at two a.m., but also she was jumping at every little sound, looking around behind her every few minutes. She looked like a victim.
Obviously not from around here, Mia mused; She's going to get her throat cut or worse if I don't do something. Mia wasn't from around here either, but people tended to leave her alone. It wasn't that she looked threatening- she was only 5'6" barefoot, and slight of build. Must be the vibes she gave off. Maybe they could sense what she really was.
They would back away from her and not know why, just know that she was not to be messed with. When she was hunting, people that routinely had guns pointed at them would cross to the other side of the road rather than risk making little old Mia angry. She didn't know how, but they could tell. There was the occasional stupid one, the one that would shove a gun in her face or hold a knife to her throat. They always regretted it later. She made sure they did.
She watched the jumpy girl slowly make her way down the street. As she passed Mia's alley, Mia jumped out and grabbed her, putting a hand over the girl's mouth to keep her from screaming. The girl was a good three inches taller than Mia, but try as she might; she couldn't break free of Mia's grasp. She struggled for a minute, her eyes wide with terror, before Mia could get a word in.
"Calm down, girl, I'm not gonna hurt you. I'm the last person you should be afraid of."
The girl stopped struggling, but she was breathing hard and still obviously scared.
"If I let go, will you promise not to scream or run? Because if you run, I promise I can catch you and I won't be happy," Mia said, loosening her grip slightly. The girl nodded. Mia let go.
"What are you?" The girl whipped around to face her. Mia smiled.
"What am I, not who am I. Smart girl, smarter than I thought at first. You could have gotten yourself killed, walking all alone the way you were. You're lucky I happened to be here. I'm Mia."
"You didn't answer my question."
Mia grinned, "I know. That can wait. First, tell me your name."
"Daphne."
"Okay, where are you headed, Daphne? I'll escort you personally."
"None of your business. I don't need you to 'escort' me. I'll do fine by myself," Daphne started to back away. Mia sighed. It always happened at night. They just didn't trust her. With good reason, she thought. This Daphne was in trouble though, if she insisted on going by herself. Mia knew there was a young guy just around the next corner, waiting for someone, anyone he could get a few bucks off of. She knew who he was, and that he'd murdered before without giving his victims a second thought. At the moment, he was broke and desperate. That's not really a great combination. She made a quick decision; she would let Daphne go, but follow her. If Mr. Druggie gave her any trouble, Mia would... interfere. She would enjoy it, too. She liked a fight.
Mia nodded, "If you don't trust me, fine. Go ahead. I don't care."
Daphne gave her a suspicious look, then turned and continued down the street. When she'd gone a little way, Mia slipped silently into the shadows behind her.
"Give me your cash!" Sure enough, the druggie had grabbed Daphne, pressed a four-inch blade to her throat, and, predictably, demanded all her money. Daphne's eyes grew as wide as saucers. The poor girl, two shocks in the space of ten minutes. She was lucky if she didn't end up with heart failure.
So fast, she was a blur to the mortal eye; Mia glided up behind him and put her small hands around his throat. He was at least six feet tall, and he tried to spin around to face her but he couldn't. She wouldn't let him.
"Drop the knife," Mia growled.
He cursed and called her a few unflattering names, trying again to twist out of her grasp, "What are you on?"
She grabbed his knife arm and twisted. With a satisfying snap and his scream of pain, she broke his wrist. He dropped the knife.
Daphne gave a little shriek and jumped back. Mr. Druggie tried to pick up the knife with his other hand, but Mia jerked him back, almost breaking his neck.
"Don't even think about it. Now, I'm already annoyed, since you tried to hurt my friend here, but threatening me with a knife again, that would make me angry. I really am uncontrollable when I'm angry. You don't want me angry, do you?" Mia smiled. The guy shook his head, really scared now. "What's your name, buddy?" Mia asked.
"Jay."
"Well, Jay, I've got a question for you. Do you believe in monsters?"
"Monsters? You're one screwed up chick, you know that?" Jay twisted, and winced when Mia tightened her grip on his neck. He called her another name. He could have been referring to a female dog, but Mia didn't think so.
"I don't like being called that, Jay, true as it may be. Answer the question."
"No! No, I don't believe in monsters."
Mia grinned, "How about vampires?"
"No," Jay was shaking. Daphne seemed to have gone into shock.
"You should," That's when Mia tilted his head and bit his neck. And Daphne passed out.
Jay's blood, the elixir of immortality, flowed into Mia's open mouth, thick, and bitter with his sins. Jay twitched and struggled weakly. It is not a good feeling, having your life drained from you ounce by ounce. A strangled cry escaped his lips, and he went limp in her arms.
Mia dropped him and looked at Daphne. She sighed; she would have to bring Daphne to her apartment. Richard would not be happy. Esmé probably wouldn't care either way. Esmé was the youngest of them, three hundred years old, and she still mourned every kill she made. Mia was the oldest and Richard was in the middle at five hundred.
First things first, though. The body. What to do with her buddy, Jay. She decided quickly, and picked up Daphne and brought her to the car. A very nice car it was too, a black Porsche. Her favourite colour.
She'd been around a long time (a thousand years, give or take a decade), long enough to save a tidy sum of dough, especially when she rarely needed to eat actual food.
As she was laying Daphne in the backseat, she noticed that Jay had bled on her. She must have bitten into an artery; her shirt was stained, and her bare midriff was smeared with blood. She was annoyed. That was her favourite shirt and she'd have to throw it in the garbage. The blood had been bitter too. Hardly worth the trouble.
Mia made a point of never killing an innocent, even though they tended to taste better. Murderers' blood was usually bitter, and it got worse with the number of crimes they'd committed. Jay had killed dozens. She couldn't read minds; that was Esmé's talent, but she got a feeling about people. And she could tell by his taste.
Mia went back to the body, not bothering to wipe herself off. The blood was almost invisible on the black top, and she could simply put anyone who stopped her into a trance. They would not remember her. It was a skill that she had developed over the years, and honed to a fine edge in the last century or so. Besides, considering where she was, people would think nothing of a little blood.
When she got back to Jay, she picked him up with an unnatural ease (but wasn't everything about her unnatural? Vampires were not something Mother Nature could have come up with, they had been created by a mind warped and blinded by grief.), and took off at her fastest run for a nearby river. She wanted to get back before Daphne woke up.
After she buried the body under the river (a favourite spot), she raced back to the Porsche. Daphne was just sitting up and looking around. When she saw Mia, she screamed. Very loud to Mia's sensitive ears. Mia leaned into the car.
"Not to be rude or anything, but could you shut up? I'm not gonna hurt you, how many times do I have to say that? Do you think I saved you just so I could kill you? I have to admit, though, I enjoyed killing him. Our friend Jay was a bad boy. I've seen him around before, but he never bothered me so I left him alone. If Esmé were here, I'm sure she could tell us that not only was he a killer, he was a rapist. He has that look. And that taste, unfortunately," Mia made a face. Daphne just stared.
"Y-y-you're a vampire?" Daphne stuttered.
"That's right, and I am going to take you home for tonight. You don't mind, do you?"
Daphne shook her head. Mia opened the door to her car and slid in. She started it up and smiled at Daphne in the rearview mirror, showing her fangs. Daphne made herself as small as possible in the far corner of the backseat. Mia chuckled, and started home.

* * *

"So, how old are you?" Daphne asked. She was sitting at the kitchen table.
"How old do I look?" Mia asked, coming out of her bedroom with a clean top and jeans on.
"About eighteen. I mean how long have you been a vampire?"
"You're close. I was nineteen when I was made. Now I am one thousand and nineteen years old. I've been around for awhile," Mia turned around, "How do I look?"
"You're beautiful."
Mia glanced into the full-length mirror in the living room. Contrary to the legends about her kind, she could see her reflection. And she had to admit she was beautiful. Long, thick black hair down to her waist. Magnetic stone grey eyes. A sensual mouth and small nose. Her skin was pale and her lips very red. She had a small scar on her left wrist where the one who made her had bled her. It was the only one of the many wounds she'd acquired in her long life that had never completely healed. She was small boned. She looked deceivingly fragile. Innocent at first glance, but if you looked deeper into those beautiful granite eyes you saw the echo of her years. But beware. Don't look too deep. You could get lost. She sometimes put mortals into a trance without meaning to, if she forgot herself.
"Thank you, Daphne. You're pretty beautiful yourself."
She was pretty, though the opposite of Mia's compelling beauty. Daphne had short blond hair and emerald green eyes. She was tall and thin with very long legs. Mia knew heads turned when Daphne walked into a room.
"Now tell me, what were you doing walking through the ghetto alone this late at night?" Mia asked.
"I recently moved out of my mother's house. She... died. She was killed, actually. Along with my brother and father. I saw the killer, I was coming home and he was just leaving. He didn't see me, luckily," Daphne paused. This was obviously painful for her; "I couldn't afford to keep the house, so I moved into an apartment. That's where I was going when you saved me. They never found the killer."
"I'm sorry. No boyfriend to walk you home?"
"No. What were you doing there? It's a long way from your home." Daphne was trying to act normal, but still obviously wary of Mia.
"I never hunt innocents. I can't read minds, so I figure the best place to go to hunt is where there are murderers, rapists and drug dealers coming out of the woodwork. I..."
The door opening cut off Mia. Esmé and Richard were home. They usually hunted together while Mia preferred to dine alone.
"Mia! We're home!" Richard called, stepping into the kitchen. He lost his smile when he saw Daphne.
Richard was handsome, no doubt. He had deep, dark brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was very tall. He was muscular, but a vampire's strength had very little to do with muscles. The older you were, the stronger you grew.
Esmé followed him into the room, "Oh! We've got company. Who's your friend, Mia?"
Esmé was as beautiful as Mia, but in a different way. She had very long, red hair and cool blue eyes. She was pale, as all vampires were. She was tall and athletic looking. They were an interesting trio.
Esmé was the most sensitive of them. She could read minds, a useful skill when you could only hunt evil doers. It didn't matter, to Esmé they were all human and she mourned every one.
Despite being older than Esmé, Richard didn't really have any particular talent. Mia had her strength, age and the wisdom that came with her years, and though she couldn't actually read minds she was sensitive to emotions and personalities. Esmé read minds, but Richard had yet to discover his gift. Mia told him it would come in time.
"Esmé, Rich, this is Daphne. We, ah, ran into each other tonight. She got into a little trouble and I helped her out. She saw me drink," Mia watched Richard's face redden with anger.
"Mia! She knows about us now? That means we may have to kill her," He glared furiously at Mia.
"We'll do nothing like it," Esmé stepped in. Daphne looked as if she had just narrowly avoided a stroke. "Daphne, you can have my room. Second on the left. I'll stay in here," Esmé smiled at the frightened girl. Daphne nodded and fled to the bedroom.
The vampires argued for awhile about what to do with the girl, and it was finally decided that Mia would make her forget and they would let her go in the morning.
Richard and Mia went into their separate rooms to rest. Esmé lay on the couch. They had classes tomorrow.

* * *

Richard, Mia and Esmé all went to New York State College, and, as it turned out, so did Daphne. Daphne majored in Physics.
Mia, of course, majored in History. The classes were boringly easy for the three friends, but because it was what was expected of people their age they went.
On the way to her first class, Mia ran into one of her good human friends. Angel, a gothic girl with hair dyed pitch black and a nose ring looked more like a vampire than Mia did.
"Mia, you heard about the rapist on campus? Be careful walking home tonight. Three girls were raped last week," Angel said, touching Mia's arm as she passed. Mia nodded.
"Yeah, I heard about it." No one had actually told her, but she'd heard girls talking this morning. There wasn't much that Mia didn't hear. She knew enough gossip to ruin half the city. The thought made her smile.
The day flew by, as usual. She passed Daphne in the courtyard, but Daphne, of course, didn't recognize her.
Walking home that night, in the dark, she heard screams. Not again, she thought. Oh well, maybe she'd be able to rid campus of this rapist and save the police the trouble. She dropped her bag, and ran in the direction of the screams.
She came upon a disturbing scene, even for her. A man dressed in black was holding a sobbing girl against the wall with a gun pressed to her head.
"Hold still and I won't kill you," he snarled. The girl shuddered.
"Please don't hurt me," she whimpered. That's when Mia stepped in.
"Let her go, and I won't kill you," Mia hissed, putting her hands around his throat. The man dropped the gun.
"Let me go, little girl. You don't know what you're dealing with," he said. The man had a thick accent that Mia couldn't quite place.
"I know exactly what I'm dealing with. A worthless piece of scum, also known as the campus rapist. Let her go," Even as she said this, Mia sensed there was something more to this man. Something wrong...
The man chuckled, "Fine, little girl," he dropped his hands. The girl pressed to the wall ran.
"I am no 'little girl'," Mia ground out.
"And I am no ordinary man. Foolish girl, take your hands off me." That's when the man dressed in black spun so fast that even Mia barely saw him move, breaking the fingers she had twined around his throat. He picked her up and threw her against the wall. Mia groaned as she hit the ground. Immediately, her broken fingers and back began to heal. The man knelt next to her.
"You see, little girl, like you, I am not what I appear. I am far more ancient than even you are. I would kill you, vampire, but I sense that we will meet again. Besides, I never liked these modern forms of murder. They kill too quickly. I prefer the torture chambers of the past. We will see. I am called Serapis," the name on his lips was like the hiss of a snake before it strikes, "Remember it, little girl. Serapis..." and suddenly he was gone. Mia sat up slowly. Her broken bones were healed, but she had a pounding headache.
Serapis. Why was the name familiar? She would ask Esmé.
On the way home, Mia heard another shriek. She groaned. I can't take much more tonight, she thought. Nevertheless, she followed the sound, somewhat less enthusiastic than ten minutes ago.
To Mia's surprise, Daphne was the source of the terrified screams. She was curled up in a corner of a dark alleyway. Mia caught a familiar dark back heading in the opposite direction. Serapis again. Mia ran up to Daphne and put her arm around the trembling girl's back.
"Did he hurt you, Daphne?" Mia asked.
Daphne shook her head, "How do you know my name?" she asked.
"Never mind," Mia replied, helping Daphne to her feet, "Why are you so scared?"
Daphne began to sob uncontrollably, "He's the one. The killer. Oh, God, he killed my family."
Mia swallowed, "Did he say anything to you?"
"Yes," Daphne looked up, "He said 'You are the one that I missed. I hate to leave unfinished business, but we will meet again.' Oh my God, his eyes. They glowed I wanted to look away but I couldn't. I couldn't! I could feel him in my head!"
"Shhh," Mia tried to comfort her. This news troubled her, though. It sounded as if this Serapis might be vampiric in nature. An extraordinarily ancient, powerful vampire. Mia had thought she was the oldest, when her creator died.
"Come with me, Daphne," she said. For the second night in a row, Mia brought Daphne home with her.

They were sitting at the kitchen table, Daphne with a blanket around her shoulders and a cup of cocoa in her hands, when Mia suddenly shouted, "Serapis! I remember now. Oh god, we're in over our heads this time."
"What do you mean?" Daphne asked.
"Daphne, I want you to answer me honestly. To you believe in monsters? Vampires in particular?"
"Vampires? No, why?"
"I am a vampire. I am one thousand years old. My friends, Esmé and Richard who will be home soon, are three hundred and five hundred years old."
Daphne laughed, "Oh, come on. A vampire? How come I can see your reflection in that mirror?"
Mia smiled, "You cannot believe everything Hollywood invents. Much of what you know about us is myth. We do drink blood, but we can stay out in the sun and we do not sleep in coffins. I don't cringe at the sight of a crucifix and I can walk through running water."
"Prove it." Daphne challenged.
"I will," Mia turned and picked up a small but heavy statue of some goddess off of the coffee table, "I got this in Greece eight hundred years ago. It is marble." Mia squeezed her hand and crushed the little idol to dust. Daphne paled.
"Are you going to drink my blood?" she asked.
"No," Mia answered, "I am going to tell you a story about your family's killer.
"Osiris was the Egyptian God of the Underworld. Three thousand years ago, Isis, his wife, angered him by having an affair with a mortal. His revenge on the man who was her lover was to have him tortured in every way he could think of. Being the Lord of the Underworld, he saw mortals that had died by torture from all over the world. The man suffered a thousand torments. Osiris didn't let the man die until he was finished, no matter how much he begged for the end. When he finally allowed the man to die, Osiris threw his mangled body into the coldest ocean where it sank to the bottom. This upset his Isis. She found her lover's body and fed him her blood. His wounds began to heal and the first vampire was born.
"At first, the man didn't understand the strange thirst he felt. Isis told him that because it was blood that brought him back from death, it would be blood that kept him alive. From every victim he would absorb strength, and the older he grew the stronger he would grow. The man's name was Serapis. It is said that after he was brought back from death, Serapis was not the same gentle, kind man that Isis had come to love. Some believe it was the way he died, in such torment, that made him what he became and what he became was purely evil."
"Three thousand years ago? The man that killed my family was three thousand years old?"
"Evidently, yes. Tell me, Daphne. Given the chance, would you want to become a vampire?"
"And live forever? With your strength? Are you kidding? Of course I would!" Daphne stared at her, "Are you planning on making me a vampire too?"
"Think for a minute, mortal. Living forever is not all it's cracked up to be. It can get indescribably lonely. Sometimes you just get tired of living. But it can also be beautiful, watching the world change and advance. Yes, girl, think carefully before you decide," Mia told her, "There is no rush. Think over night. You can sleep in my room, first on the left. I don't think it is a good idea for you to go home tonight with someone like Serapis threatening you." Daphne nodded and left the kitchen.
Mia was fairly sure the girl would choose to become a vampire. She just had to make sure it was okay with Richard and Esmé. She didn't need to drink tonight, she decided. She would stay in.

"Mia! She's here again? And you want to make her a vampire? Oh... well, I suppose you have far more experience than I. It is fine with me if you choose to create another," Richard grumbled. Mia had not really fully explained the urgency of the situation, just said that the rapist was more than he seemed.
Esmé agreed with Richard.
"Okay. Now, the whole story. Do you know the tale of Osiris, Isis and Serapis?"
"I know that they are Egyptian. Osiris was the God of the Underworld and Isis his wife, but who is Serapis?" Esmé sat down on the couch and Richard next to her. Mia sat in a chair across from them.
"Serapis is Isis's lover and the first vampire," Mia told them. Richard raised his brows. Mia told the whole story, ending with her two run-ins with him that night, "So, that is why I want to make Daphne a vampire. For her own protection."
Mia's two friends stared at her.
"Three thousand years? The first vampire? Mia, what have you gotten us into?" Richard groaned.
"I..." Mia began, but she was cut off by the door flying off of it's hinges. In walked Serapis.
"Children! You think you can defeat me? Fools. It surprises you, Esmé, that I can read your thoughts. Yes, I read you all as open books," Serapis took a long look at them. Mia examined him. He appeared to be about twenty, with bronze skin and long black hair tied into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. His piercing eyes were almost black. Attractive enough to earn the affections of a goddess.
"The girl... there is a human here. Yes... the one I lost. Come, pathetic mortal."
Daphne came stumbling from Mia's bedroom. She screamed when she saw Serapis.
"Silence!" he thundered.
"You," Daphne glared furiously, "Why? Why did you kill my family?"
"Ha! I was bored. Thirsty, with nothing to do. Yours was the first house I came to," an evil grin spread across Serapis's face, "You should have seen them. On their knees, begging for mercy, crying. It was enjoyable."
Daphne was crying, "Evil! I hate you!" she lunged at Serapis.
"No!" Mia yelled. Serapis simply held his hand out, and Daphne collapsed as if she'd hit a brick wall.
"Insolent baby," Serapis sneered, "Perhaps I should kill you the way Osiris punished me. I assure you, there are many more painful forms of torture now than there were then. I could have fun with you. Yes. All of you," Serapis laughed, and raised his hand. Then everything went black.

* * *

"Uhhh..." Mia groaned. She opened her eyes and gasped. She was chained to a stone wall in a large room with her arms over her head. Torches on the walls dimly lighted the room, but she saw enough. The dirt floor was littered with human bones. Around the room were dozens of instruments of torture. She recognized a few, the medieval iron maiden, the rack, a favourite of the Spanish Inquisition in the sixteenth century, and various kinds of whips. Hanging to her left was Esmé, to her right, Daphne. Esmé was awake and obviously scared, Daphne was still out. So was Richard. Suddenly there was a scraping sound, and Serapis came down the steps into the room carrying a torch.
"Well, what do you think, little girl? We are in Egypt under a temple of Osiris. This is where the human Serapis met his end," He said, looking around, "I use it frequently."
That's when Daphne woke up, "Wha... oh my God. Where are we?"
"Egypt," Mia answered through gritted teeth.
"Oh, good. The mortal is awake. Which do you prefer, human? I like the rack. Down we go." Serapis unlocked Daphne's shackles.
"No," she sobbed, "Please, don't."
Mia pulled and yanked on her chains. They were made of some special alloy that even she couldn't break.
"God help us," she whispered. No, wait! Not God, at least not that god.
"O Isis, goddess of the sky, I beg you, stop him," she prayed. Daphne screamed as the rack began to lengthen, "O Isis, all powerful goddess, I beg you, stop this evil!" Mia closed her eyes. Suddenly a feeling of peace washed over her. The shackles on her wrists disintegrated. Serapis looked up.
"Serapis," Mia's voice was not her own, something was controlling it, "Serapis, I am Isis, goddess of the sky and I grow tired of your evil deeds." Serapis's eyes widened and he fell to his knees before her.
"Great Isis..."
"Silence! I gave you the gift of life and so I may take it away." Isis gazed down at him with Mia's eyes. Serapis bowed his head and closed his eyes.
"Serapis, I was so fond of you. Long ago, you would not have hurt a fly. Now I find myself doing this," she shook her head. Then she raised her right hand. Welts appeared on Serapis's face, open wounds and bruises. He screamed. He was returning to the state that he was in when he died. For a long time, the stone room reverberated with his cries of torment. Finally, his screams stopped and he fell to the ground. Rapidly, his body decayed until it was dust that blew away on a small breeze that Isis made. A gruesome thing to watch. Then Isis turned to the vampires still hanging on the wall. Their shackles disintegrated. So did the leather straps holding Daphne down. She fell to the ground, sobbing.
"I now offer you a choice. If you wish to become human, never have to kill again, and live a normal life in this age, you may. I will ask the woman whose body I have borrowed as well." Isis said. All the vampires looked at each other. Isis let Mia have control for a moment. Mia smiled at her friends.
"I want to be human. I have had enough of this life. Enough killing for a thousand lifetimes," she said softly. Richard agreed, though he had lived a far shorter life than she had. Esmé did as well.
Mia's head snapped back and her back arched as Isis took control of her body again.
"Very well," the goddess said. She looked at Daphne, who was gaining control of her emotions, "How about you? Would you be a vampire?" Daphne shook her head vigorously. The goddess smiled serenely and said a few words in the ancient language of the gods...

* * *

"Oh my God!" Mia sat bolt upright in bed. She looked at the clock. Two a.m. she put her head in her hands. What a dream, she thought. Then, on impulse, she looked at the inside of her left wrist. Strange, there was a scar there and she couldn't remember how she got it. Weird. She sighed and fell back onto her pillows, picked her teddy bear up off the floor and closed her eyes.

THE END