April 17, 2012
There it is again. For the last week I’ve been sensing this void following me around where a mind should be, but every time I try to search for the source I’m at a complete loss. The void always disappears faster than I can locate it and it’s starting to make me crazy. Being a telepath has its blessings and curses.
For instance, while getting ready to leave the bar that I work at one night, I could read the thoughts of a robber waiting out in the parking lot. He was hoping to grab the nightly cash drop that Sam, my boss, always runs to the night deposit box after closing. Sam knows about my gift and he’s one of the few people who don’t think I’m a freak for being able to read minds.
Sam was able to call the cops and the robber ended up getting arrested for other crimes he committed. Ever since Sam has a police escort to the bank after we close for the night.
Of course there are plenty of other times when my telepathy feels more like a handicap than it does a gift. It made school difficult, having a boyfriend next to impossible and it scared the bejesus out of my parents. My mother didn’t know what to think. She didn’t want to believe I was telepathic. Mama wanted me to have something that could be cured.
So far there’s no drug I know of that can get rid of it. She dragged me from one doctor to another, trying to get a diagnosis, but the doctors could never find anything wrong with me. Looking back on it now I know my mother just wanted me to be normal. They wanted me to be normal like my brother.
Being a telepath meant I learned too many terrible things at too young an age. It also meant that keeping friends was difficult since I didn’t know how to keep their thoughts away and I sometimes answered their thoughts out loud. It took a long time and a lot of practice to be able to control it the little bit I can now.
It wasn’t until this void started following me around a week ago that I realized I have become dependent on this little disability of mine. Not being able to tell why this person is popping up where I go is bothersome. No one has ever shown much of an interest in me, with the exception of the occasional jealous spouse that suspects their husband might be cheating.
More than one housewife has approached me to see if I could get information for them, but I always decline to get involved. I don’t feel like it’s my place to do such a thing. People are entitled to their privacy and I know too many secrets already. The hard part is when I know a crime has been committed and I can’t do anything about it. Overhearing someone think about a crime isn’t evidence.
My eyes search the darkened movie theater in the hope of finally locating the source of the void. There are a few other people here, but most of them are senior citizens, out to enjoy films from their youth. Gran instilled in me an appreciation for old movies, so when I saw the retro theater over in Arcadia was showing a Hitchcock double feature I could hardly wait to go.
The first movie was The Birds and now there’s just ten minutes left of Psycho. I’ve seen both movies many times before so my wandering eyes aren’t missing anything by searching for my mystery stalker. But just as quickly as the void appears, it’s gone again.
Maybe I really am losing my marbles.
When the movie ends I stay until the credits finish rolling to give the elderly folks in the theater a chance to clear out. My decision leaves me alone in the dimly lit room. There’s a mural painted on the ceiling and the sconces on the walls are lovely antiques from the 1930’s. The theater is absolutely lovely. When it was sold years ago, the new owner restored it to its former glory with the exception of the seats. These seats are some of the most comfortable seats I’ve ever had the pleasure of parking my behind in.
I stand up and make my way out, pausing at the bathroom since I’ve been sitting in the theater for hours without a bathroom break. There was a short intermission between movies, but I wasn’t about to battle little old ladies to get to the stalls first. Even the bathroom here is beautiful. The owner clearly went out of their way to give customers an authentic movie-going experience.
When I exit the restroom I’m drawn to the old movie posters that hang in frames along the walls. Gran would love this place. It makes me sad she can’t be here to see it. The posters are in pristine condition and look like they’re originals. The paper isn’t glossy like it is today.
After strolling along, checking out the posters like I’m walking an art gallery, I decide to get going so the employees can close up for the night. It’s a cool night and silvery clouds are moving slowly across a nearly full moon. My car is parked at the far end of the lot and I’m halfway to it when I sense the void again.
“Alright, I’ve had just about enough of this! Who are–” I whip around and stop talking when I see that I’m alone.
The void is still here but I don’t see anyone in the parking lot with me.
What the heck? How is that possible?
I shake my head, sigh and turn to keep walking to my car only to literally run face first into a broad chest that feels like it’s made of stone. My eyes quickly travel up to look into the face of the person I’ve just run into. Porcelain skin, a chiseled jaw, mischievous blue eyes and long golden hair the same shade as mine.
There’s something menacing about his presence and I realize this is the void I’ve been feeling for days.
Instead of apologizing I demand, “Who are you? You’ve been following me for days.”
A coy smirk lifts the left side of his mouth and his flare. He’s a very good looking man and I have no doubt he knows it. I feel pressure on my brain when I look into his eyes and my instincts tell me to run. Unfortunately my giant stalker is standing right in my path, blocking me from getting to the safety of my car.
I start to back away from him and to my surprise, he doesn’t chase me. So I turn around and run toward the theater, hoping I can get someone to escort me to my car. The box office is closed since there aren’t anymore movies playing tonight, and the heavy glass doors are locked when I try to pull them open.
“Help!” I scream and knock on the glass frantically. I’m not one for panic, but I’ve never gotten the urge to run like I just did. “Help! Please, somebody!”
It takes a moment but a petite blonde smaller than I am appears. She has a curious look on her face that doesn’t go with her khaki pants and pale pink twin set she’s wearing. Her platinum hair is being held away from her face with a ribbon the same shade of pink as her sweater set. She flips the lock on the door and holds it open just enough.
“Can I help you?”
“There’s a man in the lot. He just appeared from out of nowhere.” I paused to suck in a breath.
The woman can’t be more than nineteen or twenty. She peers around me and says, “I don’t see anyone.”
I turn my head and see my would-be attacker is gone. For a moment I feel silly for my panic, but then I feel relieved. I slump against the other door and take another deep breath.
“He must have scared you good,” she says in an accent that’s desperate to be southern, but isn’t quite there.
“I’m not used to strange men appearing in the dark,” I tell her as I straighten up. “I don’t suppose someone could walk me to my car?”
“I can,” she says. “I haven’t been afraid of the things hidden in the shadows for a long time.”
There’s something ominous in her tone but her offer beats walking alone, so I accept.
“Thank you,” I whisper.
“No sweat,” she says with a smile that doesn’t set me any further at ease.
All the same, I would rather be mildly creeped out by the petite blonde than terrified of the menacing giant. Boy was that guy tall.
The woman steps out of the theater and doesn’t bother locking the door behind her before escorting me back into the darknened lot. My car is the only one left so it’s obvious which one is mine. We don’t speak as we walk but I’m fine with that. This girl isn’t going to be my new best friend…
It hits me then.
I can’t hear her either.
She’s another black void.
I stop in my tracks and look around.
It’s dark. We’re completely alone. No witnesses.
“What are you?” I ask from my spot. My feet are frozen in place.
There’s something off about this woman and the same instinct to run takes over, but before I can get anywhere I sense a second black void coming in quick from behind. A hand wraps around my mouth to muffle the noise when I scream, not that anyone would hear me. Arcadia closes up for the day around the same time Bon Temps does.
“Thank you for the assist, Pamela,” a man’s deep, slightly accented voice says near my ear.
My head is jerked to the side and then I feel a sting, as if I’ve been injected with something, but that’s not it. Lips. I feel lips on my neck. I’ve been bitten.
I scream again but it’s all for nothing. My blood is being drained from my body and the man doing it is too strong to fight. Everything starts to go limp. The fight drains out of me along with my blood.
Only one word falls from my lips before the world fades away.
† † †
April 20, 2012
My eyes open again but it feels like they’re being compelled to. I suck in a breath and dirt fills my mouth and lungs. Despite the absolute darkness I can see clearly. There’s this primal hunger clawing at my belly, demanding to be satisfied.
The dirt is quickly moved away and bits of fresh air find their way to me. I panic when I realize I don’t actually need it. No longer do my reflexes work like they used to and when I am pushed upright I’m standing in a hole in the ground. It’s night time.
A full moon hangs overhead and I hear howling in the distance. I can smell the creatures in the forest and when I turn around I do it at an unnatural rate of speed. I’m in my body but it’s different. I’m seeing everything with new eyes.
“She’s a beautiful specimen, Master.”
I turn again and there’s the woman from the movie theater. It all comes flooding back to me. The movie, the void, the man…
There he is!
He rises before me and I feel rage. Pure, unadulterated venom courses through me. My hand lifts and I slap him with strength I didn’t know I had. His head turns to the side under the weight of the slap.
“What did you do to me?” I demand.
His head turns back so we’re face to face and I see fangs. I scream and scramble back from him. While I try to claw my way out of the hole I realize my heart isn’t beating in my ears like it should be.
No heartbeat. No breath.
How can I be dead and still be… alive?
“Sookie, look at me,” the man commands.
“How do you know my name?” I whisper and turn to face him. “Why were you following me? Why did you attack me? Why did I wake up in a hole in the ground and why isn’t my heart beating? Am I dreaming? Is this all just an awful nightmare? It has to be. You bit me and drained me. I felt it. I felt my heartbeat slow down until the world disappeared. I must be in a hospital bed somewhere, dreaming of all this. Everyone in town said I was crazy but now I know they were right. I’ve lost it.”
The hunger hits again and to my surprise I don’t want a Lafayette burger; I want to destroy this man. I want to tear him apart and drink every single drop of his blood. I growl and charge at him with that unnatural speed I have in this nightmare I’m trapped in.
“Pamela, blood,” he commands while easily fending off my attack.
I try to go for his neck like he did mine when he bit me, but it’s no use. He’s too strong–so much stronger than me. I fight him anyway and I don’t notice he’s started to levitate until my feet touch the ground again and we’re no longer in the hole.
“Here, newborn,” the woman purrs and thrusts a bag of blood my way.
“I don’t want it.” But I do. My stars do I want it. I want it more than I think I’ve ever wanted anything in my entire life.
“You need to feed and then I will answer all of your questions,” the man says and releases me from the pythons he calls arms.
I hiss at him which is so unlike me. Gran raised me better than that. I’m so confused about what’s happening. None of this makes sense.
The smell of blood hits my nose and I feel my teeth shift to make room for fangs like Eric’s. Hunger gnarls and cripples me, forcing me to seek out where the smell is coming from. I turn to the woman called Pamela and when she offers me the bag again, I take it from her.
Without hesitating I take the blood bag from her and empty its contents in just a few gulps. More. I need more. I can’t think of anything other than the hunger. It pulls at me, demanding I sate it.
Before the request for more crosses my lips, another bag is thrust at me. It takes four more bags before the hunger tapers off and I can think rationally again. I take breaths I don’t need and watch the man who attacked me fill in the hole we were lying in when I woke up.
“Explain,” I tell him.
My eyes travel the length of his long, lean body. He’s streaked with dirt and he’s completely naked. One look down at myself and I realize that I am too.
“Why am I naked? Did you rape me?” I launch myself at him, but his faster reflexes allow for him to drop the shovel before he fends off my attack.
“As your maker I command you to calm down and control yourself,” he says and I stop fighting him.
“My maker?” I question. What in the world is he talking about?
“Yes, your maker. My name is Eric Northman,” he starts. “I am a vampire, as are you now.”
I laugh. I’m definitely dreaming. Vampires. Ha! What horsepuck!
“You’re lying! This is all just a nightmare. Vampires aren’t real,” I insist.
“Sookie, you just drank six bags of human blood,” he reminds me. “Your heart no longer beats. You don’t breathe. Your senses are keener and your reflexes much sharper than they ever were. Plus, my child, you have a shiny new pair of fangs.”
In the blink of an eye Eric is standing right in front of me. Two of his long fingers touch the new teeth he mentioned and my entire body ripples with pleasure and lust. A different kind of hunger propels me to attack him again, put his command stops me from doing so. It’s incredibly frustrating.
“How do you do that? Why does my body do what you tell it to?” I question.
“Because I am your maker. The memories of the night I drained you are present. Just before your heart stopped beating I replaced your blood with my own. For three nights we have been buried in the earth while you transformed. I am your maker because I made you like me. You are a vampire, Sookie,” he answers.
“You murdered me,” I say as the truth rings in my own head. This isn’t a nightmare, at least not the kind I can wake up from.
“I gave you life,” he says. “A life where a woman with your skills and talents can be appreciated.”
“What are you talking about?” I’m playing dumb to find out just how much he knows about me.
“Two months ago my day servant was a customer of yours at that shithole bar you were working in,” he says, and my ire rises at the insult to Sam but his command forces me to calm down again. “He reported back to me that you brought him bleu cheese dressing without having asked for it. I found it odd, so I did some quiet investigating and learned that you have quite the reputation in that backwater town you grew up in.
“Susannah Lynne Stackhouse born July 1st to Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse. You have an older brother named Jason, born on May 30th three years before you. Your parents died March 8th in a flash flood while they were crossing a bridge. You were raised by your grandmother until her death two years ago due to a post-op infection after heart surgery. You have been working at Merlotte’s Bar and Grille since it opened three months before your twenty-first birthday. You have no romantic history worth mentioning and your circle of friends consists of your boss, coworkers, brother and a shopkeeper on the outskirts of Renard Parish who has questionable taste in men,” Eric rattles off and I’m shocked by all of the information he has about me.
I’m quiet while I let it all sink in. I’m not human anymore, but I’m not dead either. Jason springs to mind and I feel immediate sorrow and anger.
“What about my pitiful circle of friends? Do I get to say goodbye to them?” I ask as my eyes well with tears. “Do I get to tell my brother that I’m not really dead?”
“What we are must remain secret, Sookie. If you wish to visit your brother you will have to erase his memory before you leave him. He cannot know that we exist,” Eric says.
“And what if I don’t want to be a vampire? What right do you have to take my life away from me because you think I deserve something better? You might have found out where I came from, but you don’t know one thing about me,” I rage at him.
Eric steps closer and gently touches my cheek. It takes me a moment to realize he’s wiping up my tears and it shocks me when I see blood on his thumb. Eric licks his thumb, cleaning it of my blood. He groans appreciatively and I feel a wave of lust wash over me that I know didn’t come from me.
“Why can I feel your emotions?” I ask him.
“Your blood is my blood. There is much more to explain but first let’s get you cleaned up,” he says.
I remember then that I’m naked and immediately move my arms to try and cover myself up. Only one man has ever seen me naked that wasn’t a medical professional, and my one and only sexual experience was a bust. It was awful being able to hear his thoughts and not block them out. Touching someone has always made it easier to hear their thoughts. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s made it difficult for me to be affectionate because it means hearing them whether I want to or not.
“No need for modesty, Sookie. In time you’ll forget about the human moral code you were raised with. Vampires live with different standards than humans. Humanity is oppressive,” Eric says as we walk out of the woods.
I keep quiet since I can’t think of anything nice to say at the moment and Eric’s already commanded me to calm down. I have many more questions and I’m definitely furious with him for doing this to me. I doubt he got a choice, but isn’t that a good reason not to do the same to someone else?
Even if there are people that think I’m crazy or freaky, I’ve been coping with it just fine. I’m used to their nonsense. Does that mean I had to die for it?
Eric leads me into a small house that’s about the size of a hunting cabin and points me in the direction of the shower so I can get cleaned up. Like him I’m streaked with dirt and when I look in the mirror I can see my fangs for the first time. I gasp and lean closer to look at myself.
I don’t know how I know how to retract them, but I do it. Then I drop them again.
Over and over I do it.
I can hear Eric and Pam talking like they’re standing right next to me. I can smell the mildew growing on the tile wall. I’d be lying if I say I’m not fascinated by the transformation I’ve undergone, but it doesn’t mean I’m happy either. There are red streaks on my face from my bloody tears.
I look like one of those emo kids who’s pissed off Mommy wouldn’t take them to get a new nose ring and purple highlights.
Once the shower is warm enough I step under the spray and start to wash off. I let everything I know about vampire myths run through my mind. I suppose I won’t need to eat food anymore. I don’t think vampires age so I’ll be exactly the same in twenty years or five hundred. Everyone I know and love will eventually get old and die.
They’ll mourn for me even though I’m not really gone. I make a mental note to ask Eric about the memory erasing thing just on the chance I run into someone I know.
Or is he going to take me away somewhere where no one will recognize me? As much as I don’t want to leave Bon Temps I have a feeling that might be best. The temptation to go visit would be too strong and I’m terrified of what would happen if I feel that hunger when I’m around a living person.
What surprises me is how calm I am. Yes, I’ve flown off the handle but this is a completely unexpected change of events. Instead of thinking about how to escape this situation, I’m thinking about how to deal with it. Gran taught me to roll with the punches. She always said things happen for a reason.
Surely this can’t be any different.
Once I’m as clean as I’m going to get, I get out of the shower and wrap a towel around myself. I have a moment of pure vanity when I realize I’m grateful for the haircut I got two weeks ago. An eternity of split ends would be no good. When I step from the bathroom I see that Eric is cleaned up as well and dressed in a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt.
“Here,” Pamela says from behind me. I turn to see her holding up clean clothes for me. “Eric put me in charge of getting your closet started. We’ll go shopping in a few days.”
“I don’t have money for a new wardrobe,” I tell her.
“You won’t be paying for it. Our maker is a generous one. He’ll take good care of you just like he has me,” she says.
“How long have you been a vampire?”
“I’m coming up on my third anniversary,” she says.
“Three years? That’s all?”
Pamela gives me a creepy smile and says, “Three centuries. Humans think so small. You’ll adapt.”
I want to ask her questions too, but the way she’s staring at my cleavage is making me uncomfortable so I go get dressed instead.
† † †
“This is where we will rest,” Eric tells me when we get to a concrete underground bunker. “We need our daytime resting places to be light tight.”
“You don’t sleep in a coffin?”
“We don’t sleep at all. We die for the day and then rise again after the sun sets,” he explains. “As a newborn you won’t be able to resist the pull of the sun. If you linger anywhere for too long you will die where you are.”
“What if I’m outside?”
“You would burn in the sun and meet the true death,” he says.
So no more sunlight. I sigh to myself and look around the room. There’s only one bed, but it’s enormous. Pam, as she prefers to be called, has gone out to find a meal and is retiring to her own home for the day. I’m alone with a stranger that has the ability to command me to do anything he wants.
“And if I don’t want to be a vampire anymore I can just walk out into the sun?” I ask. “Or will you force me to stay as I am even though I’m miserable?”
“If you choose to meet the sun I won’t stop you, but I don’t believe you’ll do that,” Eric says.
“And why is that?”
“Because I see potential in you to become a very good vampire,” he tells me.
I maintain that he doesn’t know enough about me to make that kind of decision, but I keep it to myself.
“Is this where you live all the time?” I ask instead.
“No. This is just one of many properties I own. I have homes all over the world,” he says.
“Isn’t that a bit of a waste? You only live in one at a time.”
“True, but it’s nice being able to travel. You have that option as well now.”
“I don’t have the money to travel,” I tell him. “I barely have the money in my account to pay the property taxes on my house.”
“You are my responsibility now,” Eric says. “Anything you need or want will be yours. It is my responsibility as your maker to see that you get what you need. Pam is quite spoiled.”
I shake my head and say, “No. I’m not comfortable with that. My Gran raised me to be independent and to be able to support myself.”
“You’re not fit to be left unattended around humans,” he says, and it gets my dander up. “The hunger you felt when you rose overwhelmed you and all that was available to you was bagged blood. Imagine being in a room full of warm humans, their hearts playing a symphony around you, their pulse jumping in their throats… all of them unaware of the danger they are in just by being near you.”
The deep, rich tone of his voice seduces me. It makes my now undead heart flutter and feelings of pure lust run through me. The hunger he mentioned starts to slowly spread in my belly until all I want is blood… and sex. Lots and lots of sex. Male, female, I don’t care as long as I have it.
I’m breathing hard even though I don’t need the air in my lungs. I feel as though I’ve just run a marathon. My clothes and my skin feel as if they’re two sizes too small, and as a result my clothes end up shredded on the floor. Eric watches me and the way I react to all of this but makes no attempt to touch me, even though I can feel his desire for me.
Like the hunger, I’ve never felt lust so potently. I’m sure being able to feel Eric’s desire isn’t helping me. Somewhere in my head there’s a muffled voice telling me to go lock myself in the bathroom until dawn so I don’t do something I regret.
“Are you making me feel this way?” I ask him.
“It’s the impulse all vampires must learn to control,” he says. “Do you understand now why I can’t leave you alone?”
“If I say yes will you tell me how to make it stop?” If he doesn’t I’m going to attack him again. I can’t think about anything other than blood and sex and how much I want them both. Right now.
Eric nods once so I give him what he wants in the hope that he’ll give me what I need.
At a speed I couldn’t have tracked as a human, Eric pushes me against the wall and presses his body to mine. My fangs burst out of my jaw and I want to bite him and climb him all at once.
“Say it,” he commands when I try to lean into him.
I whine. My body wants what it wants and talking isn’t part of the deal. These impulses are incredible.
“Say it or I’ll back away,” he threatens.
My eyes lock on his and my hips start to move at a ridiculous pace against his body. I’m like a kitten with a damn scratching post. Well, I guess there is pussy involved so it’s not a terrible analogy.
“I understand why you can’t leave me alone.” I don’t know how I get the words out but as soon as I do, Eric’s lips are on mine and somewhere in the back of my mind I know my life is never going to be the same.