New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve short story by Iris Carden

There’s a story that traces the vampire heritage back to Judas Iscariot. The story goes that after Judas betrayed Jesus, he attempted suicide, but God wouldn’t give him the mercy of death and turned him into the first vampire. I don’t believe that’s true. I couldn’t imagine any kind of God wanting to curse not just that one person, but the generations that would descend from him and the innocents they would feed on.

Given the choice of curses, I would have preferred to have been a meal and nothing more. But the one who created me took pity on me and saved me for immortality.

At first I tried not to feed. I simply refused. The hunger drove me insane, and in the ensuing rampage I slaughtered an entire village. Over the centuries I have tried again and again to avoid taking human life. The blood of livestock just makes me sick. I’ve learned that one feed a year can keep me from killing indiscriminately.

For the past thousand years, I’ve moved from small village to small village to small country town to small country town. I move often enough that no-one notices that I don’t age. I keep mostly to myself. I find work I can do during the night. I work in inns or now hotels. I’ve tended bar, waited tables in the restaurant, or cleaning work places out of hours, any work I can do during the evening. Daylight won’t kill me, but will weaken me significantly.

In a thousand years, it’s possible to save a significant amount of money, but I always live humbly, in a way that does not attract attention. If I am ever caught out, I have the money to run and start over, easily.

Things have changed over the years, technology has eased some work and created more. Honestly, I work harder now, and more hours, than I ever have before, for less reward.

One thing that has dramatically changed is the construction of the mirror. I could never see myself in a mirror when they were made of glass backed by silver. Modern mirrors use aluminium behind the glass, which reflect me in the same way as they do other people. That’s great if I have to be somewhere in public where there are mirrors, but it’s also why I avoid museums, antique stores and very old houses.

Once per year, I come to the city. Any city will do. All I really need is a hotel to stay in that has windows that can open, or better yet a balcony.

I’m in the city for New Year’s Eve. It’s easy to catch deserving prey in the city on New Year’s Eve. I go out during the day, covered up as much as I possibly can, and leave a set of clothes somewhere, like a back alley, tucked inside or beside garbage bins, close to one of the most dangerous parts of the city.

Before midnight I take the form of a bat, and fly to the clothes, get dressed, and then find where people are over-celebrating. I pretend to be drunk, and incapable. When the fireworks are over, I continue my act until a man follows me. I lead him back into the darkness. When he tries to assault me, I know he doesn’t deserve to live, and I feed. On a night like New Year’s Eve, when lots of people are drunk and inhibitions are lowered, I can find half a dozen candidates for my meal.

When I am well fed, I dump my clothes in any convenient rubbish bin, and fly back to the hotel. In this day of security cameras and electronic locks, I never left the room. No-one ever notices a bat. It’s more complex than an earlier time, but on the other hand, more food is drawn to one place than ever before.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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