The problem was, he didn’t look like a monster.
Actually, if I had to pick one word to describe him, it would be “harmless.” Small for a man, weedy build, watery blue eyes and hair a lank, dirty blonde. He did not possess superhuman strength or a magnetic force to make others do his bidding. If you bumped into him you would expect him to apologise. And yet. I will never know what it was about him that haunted me. To be haunted is a beautiful, terrible madness.
I closed my eyes and his face would burn in my brain. I would catch his scent when he wasn’t around, when he could not possibly have been near. He filled my days and haunted my dreams. He was always with me, at the time a blessing long before I would consider him a curse.
It was as if he burned with a poison naked to the eye but living within him, twisting and strangling whatever decent human traits that marked him as a man.
I met him in the first hour on the first day of my new job working as a lab technician. He was flapping around in a white coat much too long for him, the head of the lab. I watched him. He took particular enjoyment in the live experiments. The rats in the lab that everyone else cooed over and gave nicknames to, I would see him poke them with a probe and burn them in an unnecessary manner, smiling as they screeched in confused pain.
I am not sure when I became his next experiment. One day I woke up in his bed. I’ve tried lots of different versions, in my quest to work it out. One version I tried on for a while was that he drugged me, injecting my veins with the cool blue liquid that was abundant in the lab. When that one became too obtuse, I imagined him to be charming and kind and attractive and maybe I’d fantasised about a monster.
That version didn’t get me very far.
The truth is I willingly offered my neck to the vampire.
The time I spent with him was always the pitch black of deepest night. My horror was his delight and I found myself trapped in a cycle of fear and trauma, which always culminated in him slithering back over me, tears or no tears. He whispered the words of Poe and de Sade into my ear, tracing Shelley’s verse onto my ribs. Even the potential romance of Byron sounded threatening when he hissed it between my shoulder blades. His threats burned me like a probe and eventually, my refusal to acquiesce was nothing more than a formality he decided to overthrow. My body, but more worryingly, my soul, were his to do with as he pleased. Unspeakable night after unspeakable night. He didn’t often sleep but when he did I studied him intently, looking for a mark to prove he was not human; a fang that might protrude or a satanic birthmark. His skin remained milky, only marred with freckles.
The idea came to me in the lab one day. My hands shook as flashback from the previous night crept crudely back to me. I was aching and lost, my mind so full of him that I could not remember who I was. I watched him, taking in the probe, the syringe in his hands and the poor, innocent, lost lab rat he was about to torture.
The look on his face when he woke up was beautiful; shock marrying horror with a touch of fear. I might not have gone through with it but then he smirked at me. Even drugged and bound, he was mocking me; belittling me to nothing. His dismissal gave me the courage I needed.
I whispered the ancient words of the white witch into his ear as I carved him with my knife. I sang him the old lullaby of the damned as his eyes bulged and life left him. I traced the words of Stoker over his arms and trunk, helped by the slick, sweet drops of his blood. I held him tight as he left this life, finding a spark of sympathy for my old master as he journeyed from me to some unreachable place, where the only gateway there was through nightmare. I sent him away and rejoiced at the freedom.
I miss him, yearn for his misery and control in a way that baffles me. I visit his grave and sit and think. Remember. Feel his touch again. Shudder from horror or desire, I’m not sure which. Is there really any difference? Don’t both feelings create the same bodily response?
He had made me his victim. But I became his monster.
Issue #6 CONTENTS
MAKE DO AND MAKE MEND
STORM CLOUD RAIN, GRAVEYARD DIRT
THE BLUE BOY
MURDER AND CRUELTY FREE
S Van Sickel
A PROPER FOUNDATION
Caitríona Murphy lives in Dublin, Ireland. She's had work published in print and online, including The Eunoia Review, RTE's "100 words, 100 books" anthology, "Second Chance" anthology (from Original Writing), Nailed magazine, Rocky Mountain Review, Platform For Prose, The Narrative Journal, The Manifest-Station, Silver Birch Press, Sick Magazine and The Bitchin' Kitsch. She won second place in Mash's flash fiction contest and won first place in Rollick's "Frantic" issue. A story of hers has just been shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Imbas prize.