Biloxi is the story of Alice's change told by the vampire who changed her.
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It was another quiet night in the morgue. Outside I could hear the crickets chirping and the raccoons searching for a meal in the trash cans. My meal was waiting patiently on table three. The scent of Luminal mixed in the slowly pumped blood was mouth-watering. To the nurses on staff, he appeared dead, and they were far too overworked to check carefully. And so my meal was served up on a long metal platter. My shift had just ended, and no one would be coming down here all day. Humans avoided the morgue when they could, these bodies were never claimed, and no one else would be dieing today. My dear little Mary would have warned me if any were.
As the warm blood poured down my throat, I began to relax. Once he was drained, I curled up in a corner to enjoy the ride. If others of my kind had seen me like this, they would have thought that my speech was slurred and my movements were slow, but to humans I still appeared smooth and beautiful. Back when I was a human, opium had been my drug of choice. After I became a vampire, I fed indiscriminately on any drug addict to recreate my high. Overdose victims were the best. The high was strong enough that my indestructible body could really feel it. The Luminal given to these mental patients was delightful, and the passed out overdose victims looked dead enough to be delivered to me. Over the past four years, Mary had given me a steady stream of them. I fed like a king.
I remember the day she was brought to the asylum. She was only fifteen years old, and she was terrified. The doctors assured her that this was just a normal hospital, and she would only be staying a few weeks – standard lies – but somehow she seemed to know. The Biloxi Sanitarium more resembled a prison than a hospital. In fact, Mary's little room didn't even have a window. Few people left without passing through my morgue. I assumed Mary would be no different. Strangely, she came to be much more useful to me alive.
That day I was helping the other attendants distribute medications to the patients. When I got to Mary's room, she took her Cannabis extract willingly, but she tried to hide her Luminal pills. We attendants were supposed to make sure the patients took all their medications, but that day I really didn't care. The night before I had removed another addict from a local slum, and I was still in a good mood.
Over the next weeks, she continued to hide pills, and I continued to look the other way. I became curious to know what she would do with them. I thought perhaps she was planning to commit suicide by taking them all at once. Well, she wouldn't be the first, and her blood smelled quite sweet already. I would thoroughly enjoy it after her overdose. However, it was not to be.
Finally came her day to go outside for a few hours in the little patch of dirt called the garden. Despite the fact that it was spring, the garden was a dreary place. The patients rarely left the building, so even though the sky looked like it would storm any minute, they were eager to get outside. Any time the patients were out, their rooms were searched, and I expected to hear Mary get beaten when her pills were found. When I heard nothing, I became suspicious and walked outside near the garden. I found that Mary had hidden the pills in her sock, where the attendant on duty would never look, and she was offering them to a patient named Carol. The naïve child had no idea how valuable extra pills could be in an asylum, and she wanted nothing in return. She probably didn't even know she could overdose on them. At that moment I knew I would have to keep a much closer eye on the girl.
The thunder rolled in, the sky opened up, and the patients scrambled for cover. That was the last time Carol was seen alive. As expected, she overdosed that night, and became a wonderful meal for me.
While the number of overdose deaths continued to increase, the superintendent demanded a crack down. Patient and room searches doubled, but no one could catch Mary. I didn't see why it was such a big deal. The institution still had a problem with overcrowding and a waiting list of people to be admitted. The extra deaths were helping the situation. The superintendent should have been thanking us.
One wonderful thing about working in an asylum was the ever-present apathy. After about six months, the increased death rate seemed normal again, and life continued without many questions. For someone with unusually pale and cold skin, bright red eyes, and erratic working hours, apathy was a blessing.
Throughout her first year, Mary's mental condition deteriorated further. She never had any visits from family although she had asked about them frequently, when she dared to speak at all. She had been admitted for seeing visions or hallucinations, and any time she spoke of those things, she was slapped, kicked, or otherwise discouraged from speaking her mind. Predictably, she soon learned to keep her mouth shut. She also began to block the memories of her former life, as many patients did. On bad days she hardly seemed to remember her own name. Of course, the Cannabis was probably helping with that too.
I had always made it a point not to get to know any humans, even the other staff members, but Mary was so depressed that I was afraid of loosing my food source. As I persuaded her to open up to me, I discovered what a real treasure she was.
“Oh, Samael,” she cried hoarsely as I entered her dark room one day. Her light had burned out a couple of weeks ago and had yet to be fixed. It was bad enough that I had to pass out drugs when the staff was shorthanded; maintenance was not part of my job description.
“What's wrong?” I asked, pretending to care as I handed her the daily supply of pills.
“It's Paul! He's going to die tonight, and no one believes me.”
I looked at her face and could see the faint red shape of a hand across her cheek. She had obviously been slapped for telling another attendant this. I remembered the hallucinations she had originally claimed to see, but I never paid any attention to them before. Now, however, I was curious to know if there was any truth to her so-called visions.
“Don't worry, Mary. I'll keep an eye on him tonight.” I swallowed back venom at the thought.
“Really?” She looked up timidly from where she had been cringing on the bed, expecting me to strike her as well. Ha! If I struck her, her head wouldn't stay attached to her shoulders.
“Of course. Don't worry about a thing.”
Sure enough, Paul tried to kill himself that night. I was waiting unseen just outside his door with the paperwork in hand. I listened while he ripped his bed sheet into strips and hung himself from the industrial light fixture. Just after he passed out, I took him down, signed the papers, and carried him down to my morgue. He was delicious.
The next morning I went to Mary's room again. When she saw me, she sat up quickly, setting a cloud of dust free from her straw mattress. It shimmered in the dim light that followed me in from the hallway.
“Samael, what happened to Paul?” were the first words out of her mouth.
“He's fine,” I lied smoothly. “You were right. He tried to hang himself, but I saved him in time.” In time to keep his blood from cooling, that is. “He's recovering at the state hospital now.”
“Thank you! Oh, thank you! You really believed me. No one has ever believed me before,” she gushed.
That was a bit much, but for a free meal, I could tolerate it. “No, thank you, Mary. Any time you see something like that, I want you to tell me.” Next time I would slip my victim a higher dose of Luminal first.
She looked up at me with a puzzled expression. “You know, you really surprised me, Samael. I usually know what someone is going to do, but I can never quite see you.”
How convenient. I just smiled at her, being careful not to show too many teeth, and left to make my morning rounds. This little human girl was worth her weight in blood.
That was four years ago... four years in which I fed as well as the Volturi. During that time, I had become quite fond of Mary. I would have been quite content to continue this lifestyle, but such was not to be. It was one week before Christmas when circumstances forced me to consider an alternate solution. The Biloxi Sanitarium was sparsely and depressingly decorated, painted paper wreaths and paper chains hanging in various places. After all, a string of lights could become a noose, broken ornaments could become sharp weapons, and even pine needles had creative uses. Paper ornaments were the only approved decorations left, provided they were made with tape, not staples.
I was hiding in an old storage shed that overlooked the garden, waiting to see who Mary's next victim would be. However, I was not the only vampire watching her. I saw the slight movement in the forest bordering the asylum. I recognized the smug grin on the pale face as it leered at the oblivious patients. I had met James about fifty years earlier when he was little more than a newborn. Even then, he loved tracking, and it was apparent that he planned to track one of my patents soon. The breeze blew their scents toward him, and his smile widened as he chose his next meal. Sweet-scented Mary.
Fifty years ago, James had ridiculed and humiliated me for my choice of victim. Sure he was faster, stronger, and more coordinated than I was immediately after feasting, but that was my choice. Even so, he couldn't let it go. This time, he didn't know I was watching him; therefore, I had the upper hand. It was time for revenge.
I had heard rumors about James' accomplishments: once he decided to track a human, that meal never escaped. His plan would likely involve stealing Mary from the asylum, setting her loose in the woods, giving her a couple of days head start, and then tracking her. The only way I could stop him would be to take her first.
I could easily kill her before he did, but that would not sufficiently humiliate him. I wanted a witness to his defeat. I wanted Mary to survive.
I watched Mary slip the handful of Luminal pills to another patient named Gloria. How like Mary to provide such an easy path to my revenge. She really had a knack for this lifestyle. I wondered if she would still like me once she knew what I was. Maybe she could even be my mate. That would be the ultimate revenge.
That night after Gloria was declared dead, I listened to her faintly beating heart as I wheeled her down to my morgue. I prepared a place for Mary and then covered Gloria with a sheet. I wouldn't want Mary to recognize her friend.
I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to say to convince Mary to come down to the morgue with me, but I should have known that she would take care of that for me. When I entered her room, her face was pale with shock.
“What's wrong, Mary?”
“Help me, Samael! I saw myself running through the woods. Something was chasing me, but I couldn't see what it was,” she begged with tears in her eyes.
“Quickly, come with me,” I answered, barely containing my grin.
Once we were downstairs, it was ridiculously easy to overpower her. She never even had a chance to scream before I sank my teeth into jugular. I enjoyed several decadent swallows before I pulled myself away. Mary's blood was scrumptious, but the Luminal in Gloria's blood called to my inner addict.
Gloria's body was empty when I curled up in my favorite corner to enjoy my high. Mary thrashed on the floor in her corner. I wondered if this was the first of many nights we would spend together. While she grew still for a few moments, body spasmodically arched in breathless pain, two crimson streams ran down her neck, staining the name tag in the back of her shirt. Her first and last names were blotted out, leaving only Alice.
As the venom progressed, Mary's cries faded. The next morning, I used the empty office to file the papers on her fabricated death. When I returned from my rounds in the evening, she was silent and unmoving, dead except for the dull thudding of her heart. During the night, my mind began to be troubled. Although moving her was a risk because James could catch our scent, I began to realize that changing her in the asylum had been a foolish decision. First, James was coming here anyway, and second, a newborn vampire in a building full of people would be a disaster. I made my decision to run with her while I still could.
My footsteps crunched through the frosted grass. Fortunately the asylum was far out in the country where normal humans wouldn't have to think about its existence. After running about five miles, humans were no longer a concern. My only worry was James. How long would it take him to realize she was gone? Then how long would it take him to find us? We needed to keep moving, but with Mary in such a state, it was impossible. I laid her on a soft patch of dry leaves, and she curled into a ball, seeming to cringe away from the soft gray light of dawn.
I heard a rustle of leaves behind me, and I spun around. There was nothing there. I let my senses range outward, searching for any sign of danger. I heard nothing but Mary's racing heartbeat, muffled by the soft leaves beneath her. I smelled nothing but Mary's sweet new scent.
There was a gentle crunch from the other side of me, closer this time. I spun again, but there was still nothing. This was ridiculous. I was getting paranoid.
I turned back to Mary, whose now crimson eyes were fluttering open. There was one more rustle, teeth on my neck