This story is by David Heald and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
My name is Jeanette Tanner. I’m 16 years old and I’m a dhampir. You should know that term means I’m the product of sex between a human and a vampire because you’re the cause of this. That vampire would be my father, NYPD Detective Cody, though I didn’t find out he was a vampire until recently. I never met my mother; she died during labor. As I’ve sadly learned, this is common among children conceived between vampire fathers and human mothers. For several years, my father refused to discuss her death, a pained expression on his face whenever I dared mention the subject. Pain from you.
Though I went several years without knowing my father’s secret, I did notice strange occurrences. First, he did his best to avoid going out during morning hours. There were rare instances where work required him to take day shifts, but he almost always worked during the night and, when he did go out in the sunlight, he always came back lethargic and drained. However, I never associated that with him being a vampire as the vampires I was familiar with from popular media would burst into flames in sunlight, unless they were any of the vampires from Twilight who did the whole sparkly bullshit. Gag me.
Another peculiarity was that, as I got older, I gained this weird craving that I couldn’t possibly understand at the time. It was mostly mild, but always emerged whenever I was around other students. I figured I was experiencing hunger pangs associated with growth spurts. I’d pack larger lunches for myself and the craving would be satisfied, though only temporarily. I never would’ve thought that my craving was for human blood.
The final red flag came a few days ago when I was on a class field trip to see Phantom Of The Opera on Broadway, a far more crowded area than even I was used to. That many people in one place, my classmates, other theater attendees, the cast, was overwhelming. It was then that my craving got stronger, much stronger than normal, whereupon I felt my top and bottom incisors grow longer, aroused by the abundant presence of fresh blood. The craving became borderline unbearable. After a quick trip to the bathroom, where I saw in the mirror the horrific change coming over me, I immediately ran home, doing my best to avoid people before I did something I might regret. It was all I could think to do in my terrified state.
I came home in tears before confronting my father.
“What’s happening to me?!?” I questioned, trembling out of fear.
He realized he couldn’t keep the secret any longer and told me everything, holding me in a loving embrace while drying my tears.
“Years ago,” he began, “before you were conceived, a figure, shrouded sinisterly in shadows, attacked me from an alley one night with primal fury. I tried landing a blow in self-defense, but he was too swift, punching my chest hard enough to incapacitate me, drinking my blood, then fleeing, leaving me there. Next thing I knew, I was back home with your mother. I thought I’d dreamt it, until I went to shower and found ‘these’.”
He then showed me bite marks on his left arm, still appearing fresh years after you’d inflicted them.
“I realized my attacker was a vampire, my own feral nature emerging swiftly. Sunlight fatigued me, I craved blood, and my reflection in mirrors vanished entirely. For weeks, my blood craving increased. I tried leaving your mother for her safety, but she revealed she was pregnant with you. I was terrified, unsure whether my vampirism would be passed on to you.
“My fears were confirmed when she finally went into labor, dying shortly afterwards with a sickly pallor, while you were stillborn.”
Tears came to his eyes and his voice cracked, catching me off guard.
“I’ll never forget the overwhelming grief I felt, holding your delicate, lifeless frame in my arms as I thought I’d lost both of you, before you came back to me, a common occurrence for dhampir children. Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean I love you any less. I’ve raised you alone as best as I could while trying to keep this from you. Even then, I knew this day would come, though I wish it didn’t have to be so.”
“How did you go all these years without… drinking blood?” I asked, mortified at the possibility.
“I didn’t,” he explained. “I resorted to drinking my own blood, ‘self-medicating’ if you will.”
That statement was something I’d never known was possible for vampires. After he explained all that to me, I felt a mixture of emotions. Sadness, horror, disgust, pain, guilt, and, strongest of all, rage towards you for turning him and, in the process, shattering our family. If it weren’t for you, I could’ve known my mother, could’ve lived normally instead of being this… abomination!
“Can you remember anything about the monster (you don’t even deserve the decency of being called a person) who attacked you?” I pressed further.
“All I remember is that he had a tribal flame tattoo on his left hand,” he started, “but I urge you, don’t seek him out! Revenge won’t bring you peace.”
“Pfft. Like I’ve never heard that one before,” I’d scoffed.
Personally, I don’t care anymore. I’m determined to find you and make you pay for what you’ve done. If you’re out there reading this, I, Jeanette Tanner, swear on my mother’s grave that I’m coming for you. If need be, I’ll tear apart the entire city until I find you and I will make sure you suffer til you’re begging for death. The sins of the past can be a real bitch, can’t they? But, let me assure you, I’m even worse. You won’t know true pain or true terror til I get my hands on you. God have mercy on your pathetic soul. Oh. I forgot. You don’t even have one.
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