Gretchen pulled her bloodied body up the stairs. Four days had passed and George had left her so damaged that it almost killed her. Her body barely back to normal now, she struggled to walk. Clover watched in tears from the landing. Gretchen was not crying, however. She was used to the pain. She was used to George eating her alive. He was growing stronger the more he fed on her, he was also beginning to feel for her. If there was to be a next time, he would finish her for sure. She thought. As appealing as that was to her, Gretchen was afraid of dying in her moral state. She wanted to live. She wanted to defeat Olivia. Each day she grew stronger and hopefully a little wiser. It angered her to know Olivia always maintained the upper hand. How? How was she to defeat her? It plagued her mind to ponder it.
“Here child, let me help you get cleaned up.”
“Yes. She fed again last night. You must finish it this time. If you don’t she’ll finish you.”
“We’ll see about that.” Gretchen answered quietly.
Clover began to cleanse her with antiseptic. She wanted to leave no trace of George in her. He was full of venom and she was still an innocent. But it was too late. George’s violent attacks were making Gretchen stronger as her blood did him. His venom was becoming an antidote inside her. She felt it. Gretchen’s gift of regeneration was only due to Olivia’s transfer but her true gift was one of absorption. Gretchen was beginning to understand her life now. Though she was still in limbo, thanks to her sister’s jealousy, her gifts were slowly growing making her stronger. Maybe strong enough to defeat Olivia, to kill her. She was adapting and she felt the invigorating power inside her would have to remain hidden, for now. Her first conquest? Soon she thought looking at herself in the mirror but not in a way Olivia expects.
The reflection in the mirror revealed a new woman. She was a new person. New skin, new hair, new life. Clover smiled. She loved Gretchen like a daughter. It was pride she felt. Gretchen was sweet and had an air of innocence that made her beautiful and irresistible to all who encountered her, even Olivia. Gretchen smiled. She was transformed, changed. Confidence. She had become something else, unexpected being, powerful. She was becoming stronger every day and her beauty more enchanting. Olivia would not be able to handle the rivalry much longer. Gretchen needed a plan.
Berkley could not stop thinking about Olivia and couldn’t sleep. He was getting weaker by the minute. He would have to give in soon or else. Images of her naked body sprawled out on his bed flooded his brain bewitching his tormented body. Olivia had made it clear that she did not want him and was unwilling to share her life, if one could call it that, with a being so vile it would take all pleasure out of the equation. Berkley felt differently on the matter. Olivia was his match. Olivia had withstood the worst from him and survived. His dead lungs filled with air remembering just how much pleasure she had given him. It echoed in his brain making him exclaim with anger. He threw his glass against the wall and threw the dining room table clear across the room. He pulled on the curtains and shrieked, feeling the natural morning light hit his wrist. Garret, his pet, came running to the scene.
“Master! Please! We must get you to bed!”
“I must have her! Whether she likes it or not! She will be mine! She must!”
“Yes. But now you must rest. I will summon the dogs and have them keep a close eye on her for you. You’ve worked so hard all these years. You deserve to get everything you want.”
“Garret, you’re such a devoted pet. You may take the rest of the day off. Do as you please for a change. But hurry back. I think I may need to pay my good friend, my beloved friend Olivia, a visit.”
“Yes Master. Thank you Master.”
Garett made sure to blacken Berkley’s room just the way he liked it. Berkley loved looking at himself in the mirror. His arrogance made up for his vanity though. He was a very intelligent and handsome figure. His true age unknown. He was taken at twenty-five by a Countess in Wales over two-hundred years ago. His tall frame, dark eyes and wide jaw line had made him irresistible to her. His raven hair seduced her. He was a servant at her estate, new to the county. His mother had also been a servant there. How he loved the Countess’ affections on him. She promised him immortality. He thought it was a figure of speech. Without a warning when he visited her in her room on the tenth night, she fed on him and had him feed on her. Berkley did so willingly but he hadn’t realized what it meant. When he finally did, it was too late. He woke up to his mother’s broken neck in his arms and her blood dripping from his mouth. The hunger he had to quell had been too powerful. The tears flowed out naturally as the Countess laughed at the sight.
Berkley had fed on his own mother and all the servants in the estate. He had behaved like a child without guidance and without discipline, a young vampire. His black heart, though cold now, could not reconcile what he had done to his mother. His mother who had raised him on her own. His mother who had sacrificed all for him, her only child. Berkley rushed at the countess in a fury. He threw her against the ceiling surprised at his power. He realized somehow what he was then but he was hungry for revenge. Berkley gave the Countess the power to travel. If she killed Berkley, she would lose that power. She loved how he made her feel with her new power. Not only that, but even with her 400 years, she loved him. She enjoyed him. She could not kill him. Berkley, however, had the intention of doing just that to the Countess for turning him and for murdering his mother.
“Master…” Garett prodded softly waking Berkley from his memories.
“Kind Garett, bring me… my… amulet.” Berkley asked rather weakly.
The memory of his mother rendered him weaker still. The amulet had been a gift from her on his twenty-first birthday. She had stolen it from one of the royal court’s chambers. It was too beautiful for the horrid master she had worked for at the time. At least that is how she felt about it. Her beautiful son would wear it better. Berkley adored it and he felt his mother’s comfort while holding it. Odd, for a vampire to have a token of security, just as a small child would.
“Sleep Master. Rest your tired soul. All will be well and you shall have your Olivia.”
With that, Berkley closed his eyes and went into a deep death-like slumber.
Gretchen put her favorite dress on. She wanted to look her best for what she was about to do. Her mind working, scheming. Olivia had taken her young, nineteen. It had only been forty years but it seemed like yesterday. Olivia liked her physically and desired her sexually. She had decided to keep Gretchen between life and death. It was convenient. She could feed off her whenever she wanted and turn her at some point in the future. More like never.
Olivia had no idea of the consequences of gifting Gretchen with such a life. She was growing jealous of Berkley’s attention. Any visit was always followed by an encounter with Gretchen in her bedroom. Olivia’s ego bruised each time others chose Gretchen over her. But Gretchen was warm, tasty and very beautiful. Her youthful state and warm skin reminding them of a time when they held such attributes. Olivia was no different. She was greedy though and kept Gretchen hidden most of the time, unaware of how Gretchen was changing. Gretchen herself was just realizing the curious effect of being a live and dead at the same time. Her powers, her strength, quickly surfacing. And now… her plan.
It was 10AM and she walked slowly so as not to wake Olivia. Olivia had her sleeping chambers separate from where she fed. It was only right. She was a very clean vampire. Gretchen’s heart was racing and with every ounce of new muscle, she clenched her hands almost drawing blood. Her eyes once again to look at bloody tissue, not yet a corpse. Olivia had challenged her many times hoping to turn her but alas, Gretchen could not find herself to kill a man. All these years and she still couldn’t do it. She suffered years of torture, of agony, because of it. More than that, she had survived. She was strong. She opened the door to Olivia’s chambers slowly. The whimpering sound of a man in pain, faint in the silence of the bloody scene.
“Shh… don’t try so hard.” Gretchen said swallowing.
She had grown used to the blood, the gore. Olivia had maintained his face in tacked. He was too beautiful. But his skin had been completely removed from the rest of his body and only some tissue and all his organs remained. Olivia was an expert. Gretchen knew that if she was to get on Olivia’s good graces she would have to kill him and her death was certain then. She couldn’t. She felt sorry for him as he looked at her raising his bloody arm, pleading for mercy. He couldn’t talk from the shock he was in but he tried.
“Ugh… ple… p… hel…”
Gretchen got a little closer. She knelt on his blood-soaked clothes. It no longer bothered her to feel, see or smell such things. It was normal.
“Tell me. Do you want to live?”
“Ugh… hel…p…” He did his best but he was not coherent enough.
“Please. I can help you but you must agree. Do… you… want… to live?”
Gretchen demanded slowly and strongly. He nodded barely.
“Hel… he… lp…”
“You have to do as I say. It’s going to hurt you even more than you’re hurting because the power is so much stronger than the shock you’re in right now. I’m just warning you.”
Gretchen raised her left sleeve all the way up. Olivia had left her venom in him. She could smell it. It would be enough for him to turn if he fed on her. She was a mix of many vampires having fed on her and she figured that strength would create an ultimate power. At least that is how she saw it. She would soon find out.
“Bite as hard as you can and drink from me.” She demanded softly. But he shook his head faintly. She found her voice. “Do you wish to die! Do you wish for your life to end! Or… do you wish to live, to live forever! If you’re wish is to die, I cannot help you. But if you wish to survive, this is what you must do. Feed on me, take my blood as your own. I gift you my gifts and my strength.”
He shook his head trembling from shock. He took a breath opening his mouth and bit Gretchen’s arm as tight as he could. His desire to live giving him the strength to sink into her. His bite was weak in comparison to what she was used to but he did draw blood. He began to suckle the arm like a baby suckling his mother’s breast. Gretchen felt him now in her. Her mouth open, her eyes closed. He… he was in rapture and as he swallowed her blood, Olivia’s venom mixed in. He let out a growl, wrenching in pain. Gretchen fell back fixed on him. If this was to fail, she knew Olivia would end her. But if it was to succeed, she had, in this beautiful young man, an ally with which to defeat Olivia.
“Ah! Ugh!” He contorted and exclaimed.
Gretchen didn’t worry that Olivia would wake rather that she would hear the screams of Gretchen’s first kill. It was a death she gifted after all. A living death. Gretchen’s mouth widened and she gleamed as his skin grew anew. He was beautiful, glowing. She knew it had worked. After the feat, his new body collapsed on his own blood.
Gretchen approached him looking for signs of his new life. He was even more beautiful than Olivia had described him. Had it worked? Her fears left her. He could smell her flesh as he opened his eyes wide. He was awake now, awake from his nightmare. His new hunger for flesh overwhelmed him. He looked into her eyes. She smiled. He grabbed her, ripping her clothes off, scratching her body. He took her, penetrating her and feeding off her. He was fast, strong and gave her so much pleasure. She reveled in his embrace, in his bite. Such pleasure she hadn’t felt before, not even with Berkley. He was out of breath but felt invigorated. He looked at Gretchen curiously.
“What are you?”
“I’m your savior, your love.”
He smiled and kissed her passionately. He accepted her words and took her again but she stopped him, in the middle of it.
“Paolo.” He said smiling.
“What am I now? Now that you’ve saved me.”
“You’re dead, but alive. You’re strong, stronger than any living man. You will crave raw things and you will survive on me.”
“I could survive on you all day.”
“Days… months… years… eternity. But listen to me dearest Paolo. You are now my love. I will watch over you and be forever faithful to you. We belong together. Olivia’s victims. Doomed together forever.”
“Olivia! I’ll kill her! She hurt you like she did me?”
“In a way. It’s a long story. No need to work yourself up now. It is I who will kill Olivia. You feed only on me and no one else. If you do, I will lose you. Promise you will feed only on me.”
Paul shook his head. The feeling, the affection he felt for her now, powerful, strong.
“I never felt such love, such passion than I do now. You’ve brought me back to life and I feel million times stronger, better. I love you… Gretchen.”
She smiled hearing her name flow from his mouth. They had never met before now. He could read her.
“My Gretchen. My Gretchen forever.” He kissed her violently. She felt his strength and exclaimed.
“Stop! We must hurry. She’s bound to a fit of rage and you must leave. I will meet you at your place tomorrow.”
“My place is with you.”
“I promise my love. I will be there first thing.” She read his mind and smiled. “Did you feel me in your thoughts just now?”
“Yes. Yes! Can you feel me in yours?”
“Michael? Peggy. Jennifer. I feel you. Lovely Paolo. You must go now. Your family will be looking for you.”
“They know I’ve been out.”
“It’s been four days dearest.”
“Yes love. Now hurry. I’ve a lot of cleaning to do before night fall.”
Gretchen handed Paul a robe. He kissed her again and smiled. Paul opened the door to find a fragile, ugly thing dressed in black in the doorway. Clover gasped in horror. Gretchen swallowed fearing her disapproval. She was not so innocent anymore having created a monster.
“Child! What have you done!”
“Clover please. He deserves to live and I deserve to have a love. I’m free of her. I will vanquish her now. I will.”
“Gretchen who is this creature?” Paul demanded rather arrogantly. He seemed to take to his new self quite well.
“She’s our pet. She’s taken care of me since I’ve been with Olivia.”
“She smells. Come with me. Don’t stay in this wretched place. I’ll protect you.”
“I can’t. There is something I must do before I join you.”
“I won’t survive without you.”
“You will. I created you. You will survive.”
© 2017, 2018 Mel Gutiér