Quite a few of the readers of my last #fridayflash story First Foot said in the post comments that they'd be interested in reading more about the character of that tale (thank you wonderful readers, you know who you are!) and so here, for your reading pleasure (hopefully!) is another story in the same vein. In this tale, which takes place some three years before First Foot, our hero...
No, I won't spoil it. Here we go...
#FridayFlash: A Rude Awakening.
Kat and I had spent the day hanging round the Theatre Royal’s stage door trying to keep out of London’s bitter winter weather. Luckily we got on well with Joe, the stage doorman, and he’d kept up a steady flow of mugs of tea to ward off the cold. A serial tea drinker, our Joe. Now we were looking for somewhere warm to sleep.
So there we were, round the back of the theatre, sheltering from the stinging sleet which had begun lashing down at dusk, and wondering whether we could bed down among the discarded cardboard in one of the theatre’s big industrial bins when that last mug of tea started to make its presence felt to my bladder.
Diving round the other side of the bin, I went to relieve myself while Kat stayed out of the worst of the sleet storm. I was just tugging my zip down when a figure turned the corner into the alley. All I could see in the flickering light of the single, faulty streetlamp was a tall, thin man in full evening dress, complete with cane, opera cape and a top hat. This was the sort of bloke Joe would have called a “proper toff.”
Kat hissed to me from her side of the bin, ‘You seen that knob over there? Bet he’s got a few quid.’
She winked and, as I zipped up thinking the tea would have to hang on a bit longer, I knew exactly what was going through her mind. At least I thought I did.
Did I tell you about Kat? Willowy little Irish thing in her late teens, all pale skin, flaxen hair and delicious curves. Eyes like a spring morning sky that could melt icebergs, if she was in the mood. And as hard as nails. We first met that summer when we were arrested in a police raid after both taking a wrong turn on the way back from separate spots of petty larceny on Oxford Street. I never said I was a saint.
We’d ended up among a crowd of protesters yelling vociferously about something or other - ban the whale, save the bomb, whatever. By the time we were released from custody we’d become friends and had been looking out for each other ever since.
Anyway, back to the story at hand.
As the man drew level with my side of the bin, I stepped out of the shadows slowly so as not to frighten him too much, just enough, and did my best to look pathetic and needy, with just a hint of menacing. I wasn’t too good at menacing, dressed as I was like an advert for ‘Man at Salvation Army.’
He began turning towards me, then Kat sprang at him from the other side of the bin. I thought we were only going to rough him up a bit, I didn’t know she had a knife till I caught a flash of the blade in the streetlamp’s orange glow.
I suddenly had the uncanny feeling this wasn’t going to end well and started forward to head her off, but I’d only moved a step before the man’s arm shot out and, in a perfectly timed manoeuvre, grabbed Kat by the throat, swung her up off the ground, and I heard a sickening crack as he broke her neck with nothing more than a flick of his wrist.
‘No style,’ he muttered as Kat’s lifeless body landed at his feet.
I registered the shock on her face, saw the knife slide out of her hand, then turned and ran. I must have made it oh, a whole five yards before I felt, rather than saw, the shadow pass me, then suddenly there was an iron band round my throat and my feet were the ones windmilling as I was hoisted into the air.
My heart was hammering in my chest as I dangled like a rag doll in his vicelike grip. I struggled for breath and began to choke, all the while surveyed by the most piercing green eyes I have ever seen, framed in a pale, angular face.
Then he sniffed my face, not the snuffling sniff of a dog, a single long delicate sniff like a chef examining the heady aroma of a rare ingredient and, for reasons I still don’t quite understand, my fear melted away in that instant, replaced by a burning white hot rage and I swung my fist at his face. My clumsy punch connected with his right jaw and he grunted. I winced as a wave of pain radiated up to my wrist from my newly broken knuckles. I’ve never been a fighter.
“Spirit,” he murmured with just a hint of surprise, “I like that.”
I didn’t, my hand was regretting it already.
As his eyes rolled back in his head and his fangs slid into place, a couple of things happened almost simultaneously – I felt my eyes widen to the size of saucers and, as he pulled me close and sank his fangs into the side of my neck, I pissed myself all over his shoes.
Then everything went black.
Now, let me tell you something. The entertainment industry has a lot to answer for as they have, en masse, got it wrong. Very badly wrong. There is nothing even remotely sexy or exciting about waking up in the muck and filth of a London alley, in clothes that haven’t been off your back for a month, and covered in your own urine. Just sayin’.
As Lucien introduced himself and began to explain what had just happened to me, it crossed my mind that this was not how I’d have imagined a vampire’s awakening to be, had I ever thought about it. I was still ruminating on this when Lucien pulled me to my feet, slung his arm affectionately around my shoulders, and together we headed down the alley toward his car.
Was that a speck of my blood at the corner of his mouth?
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the story. Please take a minute to visit Ad Astra Poetry and read her wonderful poem inspired by this story.
[Sat 09.01.2010. Edited for clarity and POV following kind comments from Sulci Collective, mazzz_in_Leeds, and Carrie Clevenger. Thanks for the constructive comments - there were a few parts of the story I just couldn't get right, so I'm really grateful for the fresh eyes and the advice.]