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Authors Note: This is an older story of mine, but if you havenít read it yet, then itís new to you. Enjoy!
"I am a monster," I declare to the woman, "It is ok, you can say it if you like." She stares at me blankly, but she does not respond. We are roughly the same age, both in our late 50's with graying hair and wrinkled flesh.
"I did not choose who I am anymore than you chose the color of your eyes or the shape of your nose." Her only response is to blink.
"When I was young, I was a good man. I was a cop actually. That is how I found out what I was."
Still, she says nothing and I continue, talking more to myself then to her and as I speak I am transported back to the day I lost my humanity.
Frank and I had been partners for three years. In that time together, we had never encountered anything more dangerous than a disorderly drunk. Which is probably why we developed so many bad habits. This ignorance of basic police protocol would cost us dearly when we arrived at the white house on Elm Street.
We were responding to a neighbor's complaint of an extreme odor emanating from the two-floor Cape Cod. As we exited our cruiser, the musty smell of rotting flesh struck our nostrils and Frank said, "I'm glad we haven't eaten yet, or it'd be on the front of my uniform."
That is about as much frailty as Frank ever displayed. He was a six-foot 220-pound block of thick muscle mass that probably trained harder than most professional athletes. While working out, he was famous for saying, "Everybody has a weakness. I'm just trying to limit mine." Then, he'd drop more weight on the dumbbell and toss it around.
When we were approaching the wooden front porch, Frank said, "Maybe a cat or a raccoon or something died under his porch."
"Yeah probably, but why wouldn't they get rid of it? Christ, it freakin' stinks out here."
"Maybe they like it," Frank laughed.
"Hell, I bet they got use to it and they can't even smell it anymore."
Frank took the three steps to the porch and was about to knock on the door when we heard the woman's scream. It was short and full of fear. Immediately, Frank drew his pistol from the holster, and with his usual tank-like approach, he kicked the front door in taking most of the doorframe with it. Frank entered the house, but he stopped almost instantly.
When I caught up to him, I saw why and I wished we had brought our radio with us.
A staircase rose before us, and near the top stood a horrifying figure. The man was naked and every inch of him was covered in what appeared to be blood. It looked as if he had just swam in a pool of it. Whatever color his hair normally was, it was dyed reddish black from the dark, red fluid that was soaked into it. Only his teeth seemed to be a normal color, but they looked freakishly white against his ghastly skin color. Unlike Frank, the man had more of a swimmer's build, which was muscular without bulk. He appeared to be the perfect combination of speed and power.
From his perch, he asked, "Have you called for back up?" He spoke in a dry, low voice that was commanding and without fear.
Our hesitancy answered his question and he began moving toward us. He took the steps four at a time with his hands held high to protect his face. Instinctively, we opened fire. A bullet slammed into his forearm and it took a hunk of flesh with it, but he continued toward us. Other bullets struck his legs and chest, but they also seemed to have no effect. When he reached the bottom of the steps, Frank fired a bullet point-blank into his chest. Almost simultaneously, the Redman shot a straight right hand into my partner's face. The punch shattered Frank's nose while sending him flying into me and knocking us both out of the house. The bullet made a dime-sized red hole in the center of the Redman's chest, from which a small stream of blood oozed out of, but he behaved as if it were a fleabite.
The Redman smiled at us and said, "Death is near." Then, he turned and leapt back up the steps with the grace of a gazelle. When he reached the top, he turned left and vanished from our sight. At once, Frank got to his feet and began reloading his pistol.
I said, "Let's go to the car and call for assistance."
"Go ahead if you want, but that son of a bitch went upstairs to die and I want to get one more shot in before he does." With that, Frank took to the stairs. I hesitantly followed and when I was half way up the staircase, I heard the sound of glass breaking.
"Hurry," Frank yelled and he raced down the second floor hall.
After finishing my ascent, I followed Frank into the room, which resembled a butcher's shop. Blood was sprayed on the walls and the red liquid stained most of the hardwood floor. To the right, sat a large bathtub. It was not hooked up to any plumbing, but it was filled with a thick, red solution. A rotten stench filled the room. Only the fresh air from the broken window made it bearable. I went to the window more for oxygen then to see if the Redman had escaped this way. Frank walked to the tub for a closer inspection.
As I reached the window, I heard Frank say, "How many people would it take to fill this up?" However, the question was left unanswered. On the ground below the window, was a headless woman. We had forgotten about her, but since she was outside, the Redman must still be in here. This realization had come too late.
The Redman had emerged from the tub as silently as he had taken the steps and he held Frank with a red hand over his mouth and the other around his waist. The monster's teeth had already removed a bite of flesh from Frank's throat and his blood was shooting from the wound.
As startling as this was, I was more disturbed by the changes in the Redman. His bullet holes were closing before my eyes. Disturbingly, bathing in blood must have a healing effect for him. When the bullet holes in his chest and legs closed, his skin looked as if it had never been injured. The flesh that was missing from his forearm rejuvenated last, and then he said once more, "Death is near."
As he stepped from the tub, he let Frank fall to the floor. I was considering a jump through the window, when Frank's saying came to me, "Everyone has a weakness...." And, I recalled that the Redman had guarded his head when he first attacked us. Instinctively, I raised my gun and fired a shot into his forehead. The Redman's head flew back and he staggered as if he might fall. Then, he stood up straight and charged me. Before I could squeeze off another shot, he bit into my hand. The gun dropped to the floor as the sound of my breaking bones filled the room. I was howling in pain when the Redman released my hand from his mouth. For the first time, he looked scared.
With my blood oozing from his mouth, his lips started to dissolve. First, they turned gray, then his flesh began to crack, and finally his lips turned to dust and fell away. The rest of his body followed the same process as if a wave of destruction was emanating from his mouth. Layer by layer his skin, muscle and bone melted away until all that remained of him was a pile of powder.
In a state of shock, I ran to Frank and with my mangled hand I tried futilely to stop the bleeding from his neck. His blood soaked through my fingers and it covered my exposed bones as if it were skin. Dreadfully, my own hand began to heal. I stood, staring at my hand as if it were alien.
"What am I?" I screamed.
Then, as if I was in a dream, I stumbled to the tub and submerged it in the thick, red fluid. After a few moments, I withdrew my fully repaired appendage. My hand was healed completely, but my psyche was lost forever.
To the old woman, I say, "That was 28 years, 3 months and 14 days ago and my flesh has not tasted blood since." Still, she does not respond, but I don't expect her to. Being as drugged as she is, I'm surprised she can hold her head up. I took her from the cancer ward of a local hospital after she had received her nightly painkillers and sleeping meds. If my flesh is to drink blood again, I would rather it was from someone in her condition then someone younger with a life ahead of them.
I continue to explain myself, hoping that she will understand. "You see, I didn't choose to be this way, and trust me if I could change, I would. However, I'm getting old and without blood I will die. Which is what I planned to do originally, when I still had some courage or dignity. "
She does not react when I reveal the long, silver knife.
"If there was a cure for cancer you would take it, wouldn't you?" I ask in a pleading voice.
I look away and do what must be done. She doesn't flinch or speak as the knife severs her jugular. I cup my hand below her open vein, and when my hands are full I splash the red liquid onto my face and hair. My head grows hot and I feel my skin tingle as it returns to a more youthful version. My flesh absorbs the blood like a sponge. When I glance in a mirror, I see that my hair is again dark brown and my skin is as tight as a drum. However, it is my image's expression that holds my stare. It is full of hatred and loathing, and I couldn't agree with it more.
If you have no questions or fears about your abilities, then you will learn nothing from your mistakes and know nothing about your limitations.