Authors: Robin Roseau
I didn't know how long I remained vacuum packed in those sheets of clinging plastic. Weeks? Months? Was it years?
Time passed. A great deal of time. I knew that.
I knew they drugged me, making my senses dull, my thoughts slow, my body numb. I woke. I slept. I woke. I slept. Over and over.
The machines breathed for me. I presume the machines fed me. The machines emptied my waste. The machines accepted my blood.
I understood why they wanted my blood.
Solange is a vampire.
That was my most prevalent thought as I hung there, helpless, a meal for the vampire.
From time to time, she stood in front of me, looking at me. I never knew how long she stood watching me. But then I would finally register that she was there, and my eyes would move to her.
I hated her. If I ever regained my freedom, I vowed I'd spend my remaining days hunting her, a stake in my hand.
Then, after an eternity, something changed. Solange was there again, and she wasn't alone. She spoke to the people with her, her eyes not leaving me. One of the attendants moved out of sight, and still she stood there, watching me. Then over the course of three heartbeats, my eyes closed.
My last thought was simple: is she finally killing me?
* * * *
Of course, no, she wasn't killing me. I think I was awake for some time before I realized it. Things had changed. I could hear the sounds of machines, but they were much different than the old sounds. I had become so accustomed to the sound of the old machines that the near-silence was a cacophony.
I opened my eyes. The light was dim, but it still hurt, and I squinted as I grew accustomed.
, I thought. I realized I was surprised.
'Why am I alive?'
was my next thought.
I think I groaned. I know I tried to move, but I couldn't. I wondered how weak one might become after months -- or even years -- of no movement at all. I had a fleeting moment of regret for all that time spent in the gym, honing my body. My thoughts weren't running fast enough to realize not only was I weak; I was also restrained. I would discover that soon enough.
I could turn my head. I was able to look around. I was in a hospital bed, the sides raised both to the left and right. I could see a few machines, but it was too much effort to try to look everywhere, and I collapsed back.
I didn't see a window, and there was a curtain drawn around my bed.
I wondered what she told the hospital staff when she delivered me into their care.
I closed my eyes.
* * * *
There was a sound, jostling me into awareness. I opened my eyes. I was still in the bed. Solange was standing at the foot, watching me.
"How could you?" I tried to scream at her as I attempted to launch myself out of the bed at her. All that came out was muffled croaking, and this time I realized I was entirely restrained. I could feel the restraints around my ankles, holding them in place. There was a heavy strap across my waist and another across my chest, and my wrists were bound to the strap. I couldn't see any of this; there was a thin blanket pulled over everything. But I could feel it.
I couldn't get words out, but I screamed my hate at her. At first the sounds were little more than mere croaks, but once my throat began to work, I could form words.
"You're a monster!" I screamed. "How could you do this to me? Monster! Animal! Evil bitch!"
She stood dispassionately, watching me, then folded her arms and cocked her head. I continued to spew whatever vile I could muster. She took it all, not flinching, barely reacting at all.
I strained against the restraints, screaming my hatred, screaming threats, screaming at her to release me, screaming at her to give me a stake and I'd let her know what I really thought of her.
She narrowed her eyes at that, but then smoothed her features.
I screamed my hatred until I grew too weak to do more, until I was left hyperventilating on the bed. I collapsed against the mattress, but I didn't take my eyes off the monster.
My former lover.
She moved, just slightly, and my eyes tracked her.
"You betrayed me," she said quietly.
At her words, I stilled. Had I? But I calmed, growing cold. So we were finally going to talk?
"You're a monster," I said.
"You betrayed me," she repeated.
She let that sink in, not saying anything further. Neither of us said a thing for several minutes. I stared to the right, reading the words on the edge of the bed over and over.
"No, I didn't," I replied finally. "If anyone was betrayed, it was I."
She lifted an eyebrow and crossed her arms, but she didn't reply.
"Why am I still alive?" I asked softly.
"Because for now, I choose for you to live," she replied.
"What are you going to do to me?"
"We'll get to that."
It took a while for me to formulate my next question, as simple as it was. "Why am I restrained?"
"So you don't do anything more foolish than you already have." She paused. "You're far too weak to get out of bed, anyway. You wouldn't get three steps."
"I didn't betray you, and if you had talked to me instead of proving what a monster you are, I could have explained. Fuck you." I didn't look at her when I said it, so I don't know if she reacted.
She didn't say anything.
Finally I turned back to look at her. "May I have some water?"
She nodded once and stepped away, slipping through a gap in the curtains. I heard a door, and more noises, quickly cut off. It was a minute or two later that the sound repeated itself, and then Solange reappeared. She stepped to the side of the bed, put her hands on the controls, and said, "I'm going to lift your head higher." She paused a moment, then the bed began to whirr, tilting me more upright.
I thought it was odd the monster warned me what she would do. It seemed almost kind.
She had a glass with a straw. She maneuvered it into my mouth. "Just wet your mouth and wait a minute," she directed. I drew on the straw, taking a little water, then released it. She stepped away, disappeared for just an instant, then was back, standing at the end of the bed where I could easily see her.
"You stole my card key."
I stared for a moment. "I'm sorry."
"I bet you are," she said, and there was venom in her voice. I looked away again.
"What I haven't figured out," she said after a minute, "was how you got my pass code. How did you do it?"
I turned back to face her. "Go to hell."
Her lips tightened.
"You're a monster!" I spat. "All those people! How could you do that to them? How could you do that to me? You told me you loved me. It sure felt like it."
"Every single one of them earned their place!" she said. "Especially you."
We both glared for a while.
"No, I did not. You can go to hell," I said again. "No one deserves that! Monster!"
"Oh no?" She straightened, then stepped around the side of my bed, disappearing from view behind me. I tried to turn to watch, but it was too much work.
"What are you doing?" My voice squeaked when I asked it.
She didn't answer. But a moment later, she stepped past me again and flung the curtains wide. I could see what was clearly a hospital room, but I didn't think this was any ordinary hospital.
She crossed to the door, opening it, and the noises from outside increased. She did something to secure the door open, and then she stepped past me again, out of my sight. A moment later, she began pushing on the bed.
"What are you doing?" I screamed. "Where are you taking me?"
She didn't answer. I struggled weakly with the bonds, screaming at her, half incoherent, but the word "monster" came out clearly every now and then.
It was not a long trip. We went out my room, down a hall, and then she pushed me through another set of doors, and we were in the big room with all the vacuum packed people.
"No!" I screamed. "No!"
"Shut up," she said. "I'm only showing you something. Then we're going to talk, and you're going to answer my questions."
She wheeled me past several rows of the people. The nightmare was real, and I was horrified. She brought me to a stop before turning me in amongst one of the rows. They were spaced sufficiently wide she could wheel my bed right on in.
I began to tremble in fear, and I began keening. "Please don't! I'm sorry! Please don't!"
"Quiet," she said again. She turned me so that I could see two of the people. They were both men, and they were awake. Their eyes rotated towards us, looking at me and then at Solange behind me.
She stepped past me until I could see her again. She pointed at one. "Take a look. Do you recognize them?" She pointed at the other. "Do you?"
"Are you sure?"
"I don't know them!"
"I didn't ask if you knew them," she clarified. "I asked if you recognized them."
"Well, you only saw them in a dream," she said, and it was said gently.
"These are two of the men that were hunting Aubree. If they had caught her, they would have drained her blood and killed her."
"That's what vampires do, isn't it?" I asked with as much of a snide tone as I could muster. "It seems hypocritical to hold it against them."
"Perhaps," she said, "but these two aren't vampires. They were hunting Aubree. They would have killed her if not for you. You liked Aubree. Do you remember how upset you were that night when you woke and warned me? Do you remember how relieved you were when I got back home and told you she was safe?"
I looked away. "Yes," I admitted. "I remember." I looked back. "Why were they hunting her?"
"They are vampire hunters. Or they were, anyway. Unlike you, these two will never be removed from their prisons, and when their blood begins to taint from their situation, I will bleed them dry."
She said it coldly, but I hadn't gotten much past the implication.
They were vampire hunters. They were hunting Aubree. That meant...
"Aubree's a fucking monster then, too," I said. "She helped you do this to me. I should have let her die. I should have let both of you die!"
"You shouldn't judge something you know nothing about," Solange said. "Aubree has never in her life hurt anyone who wasn't trying to hurt her first."
"She drinks blood to survive!"
"Those two statements are not mutually exclusive, Sidney," Solange said. "Look at them. These men would have killed Aubree for the simple fact they wanted her blood."
"They would kill her because she's a monster."
"They wanted her blood!" Solange screamed. Then she spoke more gently. "Did you wonder why we didn't need to change the I.V. or anything else, the entire time you were here? We give you a little vampire blood, just a tiny bit. Not enough to make you stronger, but enough to heal most of the damage this causes. You wouldn't believe what a vial can do. And a cup? A pint? Six pints?" She paused, letting me consider the implications. "Aubree's blood would have made these two rich for the rest of their lives."
I didn't say respond, but after a moment, I said, "You're wrong."
"Aubree never hurting anyone who wasn't trying to hurt her. I wasn't trying to hurt her, but she helped put me here."
Solange didn't react to that. Instead, she waited, watching me, then she turned to each of the men and hissed at them. When she turned back, her fangs were showing. I got a good look at them.
"Why did I never see those before?"
She paused, and I watched as the fangs retracted. She worked her mouth for a moment then said, "You did. Don't get distracted."
She stepped to the bed and began rolling me out of the row of bodies.
"Where are you taking me?"
She didn't answer, but we turned amongst another row. We stopped, facing one of the people. This one was a woman. She was young, and I imagine, she could have been beautiful.
"Who is she?"
"She interviewed as my maid. She came recommended. I should have checked more carefully. I caught her taking pictures here." Solange turned to me. "She seduced one of the guards to get in, then drugged him. On her computer, she was writing a story about me."
I paused. "How did she know?"
"Pillow talk with someone who should have known better. She either expected to blackmail me or sell the story and evidence for a great deal of money."
"You could claim it was faked."
"With photographic evidence, someone would have come knocking on our door with a search warrant," Solange pointed out. She narrowed her eyes at me. "She, like you, betrayed me. But she has the excuse that she was nothing but a hired servant. What is your excuse?"