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The Looking Glass

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The Oread- Part Two

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About the Author: Mikaela Zemaitis (Creative Writing and English double major, Class of 2018) has been serious about writing since the young age of 9. These days she writes both poetry and fiction, the latter being her main focus and the former being a form of therapy. Currently she is writing a fiction story for the Shires Press program and hopes to continue to publish novels in the future.

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Part 2 — Blood

by Mikaela Zemaitis

 

“Aaralyn, your bags are here.” I said, making my way through the doorway holding a metal tray in my hands. On the tray was this morning’s allotted amount of blood. Three bags. All Aaralyn was allowed per meal was three bags of blood, adding up to a grand total of nine units a day. Upon her change into the nymph-vampire hybrid that she currently was, she had drained a village full of people of their blood. Yet now they expected her to live on a set amount. Frankly it didn’t make a bit of sense. If a village couldn’t satisfy her, why would nine bags?

However, the fact of the matter was that they didn’t care if she was satisfied. It was presumed she never could be, so she had received this set amount of blood every single day since bagged blood came into existence after World War II. Earlier than that was a bit tricky—the humans hadn’t developed a way to package and store blood yet, so there were no blood banks to rob or fake. It essentially meant that we had to abduct humans, often going for those who were homeless as they were generally unwanted. Then we would slice them a couple times a day, fill a bowl with blood, then bandage the person back up. They would only last a couple days at most, due to the blood loss. Though it was less wasteful than just draining the human dry on the first go.

Then again, keeping Aaralyn alive has never been easy, which is why she more so survives than thrives. Thus, I shouldn’t have been surprised by her response, and yet I still was.

“I don’t want them.” She said in a cold, monotone voice, conveying that she would rather continue on staring out that goddamn window of hers than feed. I couldn’t understand the sudden moral stance, knowing that feeding was a natural instinct; it was far from easy to be in the presence of blood and turn it down. Even bagged blood, which was definitely inferior in quality to the live source, was still extremely hard to resist. I often found myself tempted to tear open her bags and drain them of their ruby red contents whenever I made the delivery. As a vampire, blood was simply far too enticing to just ignore it, and yet here Aaralyn was, with an appetite that far surpassed my own, doing just that.

“What?” I said as I stared at the back of her head with furrowed brows, pondering the reasoning behind this sudden change in her demeanor. She was always quiet; her expression more often than not stoic. However this was different. Rather than giving off an air of patient indifference, she now simply seemed to be giving up. Her normal tolerance for the dreary day to day was replaced with an obvious lack of will to live. Was this a strike to get them to give her live source feeding again? I knew she couldn’t possibly be that stupid, as we both knew the rest of the vampires would rather let her die than start catering to her.

“Dakarai, come on, you and I both know this is no way to live.” She said, making it painfully clear that yes, this was a suicide attempt. She’d rather slowly kill herself through starvation than continue to just barely get by. I knew why she was doing this, as much as I hated the idea of it. Unlike the others, I found Aaralyn to be truly fascinating and saw my time as her guard as an amazing life experience. It pained me to think that it would be over so soon just because she couldn’t handle it anymore.

However, I understand why she couldn’t. The day to day was dreary, and it didn’t help that she was withering away. She had been a shell of her former self since the moment she had been changed, but these days she was actually losing body fat. She had always been a small thin, but the recent weight loss was making her appear much more skeletal. I was beginning to wonder if she had slowly begun to starve weeks ago without my realization. There were just so many questions, and so I asked, “Why? Why now, after what, 3,000 years in isolation?”

As I spoke I put the tray down on the nearest surface, a flimsy plastic table with a metal chair by its side. It served as her dining table, though it was obviously a terrible attempt at such a thing. It was a testament for the hatred they still carried for Aaralyn. Looking at the table reminded me that we did this all to her. For while it was ultimately the fault of a newborn, in a way all of Vampire-kind was at fault. For as vampires we had changed her, we had imprisoned her, and now we were the reason for her starvation.

Aaralyn must have heard the tray hit the table, for she turned from her window and redirected her stare at me. Her pure white appearance both haunting and mesmerizing me; something about the way her pupils contrasted intensely with the rest of her just left one wanting to spend the rest of their life staring at her. Something that intensely white ought to have been creepy, but her beauty was one that you just simply couldn’t deny. I thought to myself that it had to be a combination of the nymph’s enticing nature and the vampire’s ability to seduce their prey. If they were to allow her to live in the wild again I knew that she would have no problem luring in victims, for even I felt drawn to her. If a vampire found her mesmerizing, then humans wouldn’t stand a chance.

Finally she spoke, answering my question with a coy little smile playing on her lips. “Oh Dakarai. Haven’t you noticed that the bags feel lighter these days? They lie the bags on their side, which gives the illusion that they’re filled to capacity, but they’re not. What used to be nine full bags is closer to five if I’m lucky. They’re already starving me, I’m just speeding up the process.” If I still had blood coursing through my veins, it would have left my face. They were actively trying to kill her and I was the pawn they were using.

“No…” I said, trailing off as I found it impossible to continue to speak. It was one thing if it was her decision, but to think that I was unknowingly playing a part in her death was unnerving. I liked Aaralyn; I didn’t want her figurative blood on my hands. I also hated to have to come to the realization that she didn’t actually want to die, but that we were leaving her with no choice.

She spoke again, tearing me from my thoughts. “It’s true. Measure it if you must; there are cups in the corner. I think they keep them there to mock me, even if they claim it’s for convenience. Regardless of why, they’re there, so you might as well use them. Normally three bags would produce six cups, but if I’m right it will only produce three.” I just nodded, still unable to find my words as I went and retrieved six cups. The echo of my footsteps on the tile floor breaking the tense silence that fell between us.

After having cut and poured all the contents of the bags, I found that it was even worse than what Aaralyn initially thought, as I didn’t even pour a full three cups. I looked up at her, catching a glimpse of her eyes as a mix of fear and sadness flashed across them. Quickly she pushed it away, faking a stoic expression. However, I knew the truth. For, while she was different than the rest of us, she was still a living creature and feared her demise just as much as I did my own.

“Aaralyn—” I started before getting cut off when she quickly spoke over me, wanting to shush me before I could apologize.

“Don’t. I don’t want to talk about it, I just want to stare out my window.” With that, she turned, facing the window as she tried to pretend that all was well. However, as I stared intently in her direction, I saw the little things, like the bend in her neck as she stared down at her hands. It was that little clue that told me she truly felt helpless.

For while I had only been her personal guard for a short time, I knew Aaralyn well enough to tell that she wasn’t acting like herself. She didn’t hold her head in such a way unless she was feeling dejected, like she did when she reminisced upon her days as a nymph.

“I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, drink your blood.” With that I walked out of her room, in search of a way to get Aaralyn out of this hellhole.

 

Copyright © Mikaela Zemaitis (2017) All rights reserved.

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