Don’t You Remember?

Drawing of a bat flying past a full moon. Caption reads "Don't you remember?"

Don’t You Remember? short story by Iris Carden.

“Don’t you remember?” Sasha asked, “The Master told you we’d have a party, for your anniversary. A hundred years in the blood is a milestone.”

Bella looked out the window at the expensive cars pulling into the driveway, disgorging their extravagantly dressed, repulsively undead, cargo.

“I remember saying I didn’t want to celebrate it,” Bella said. “I remember I never asked to become this. I remember I was happy as a human. I remember the way my stomach turned the first time starvation forced me to feed, as it still does.”

“Don’t be dramatic,” Sasha replied. “If you were still human you’d be long-dead by now. The Master gave you eternal life. You should be grateful. You’re still young in the blood. When you get to be about five hundred or so, you will have completely forgotten your old human life.”

“I had a child.”

“Who by now is old and feeble, if it lives at all, while you are still strong and in your prime.”

“I had a husband who loved me.”

“Who is now dust. That’s the fate of humans. They die and decay. They’re not fit for anything but food. We, in the blood, go on.”

“‘In the blood’, is a weird identifier for vampires, don’t you think? Humans who eat meat don’t call themselves ‘in the steak’, and vegan humans definitely don’t call themselves ‘in the lettuce’. But vampires are ‘in the blood’. Not even you, who have been ‘in the blood’ for a thousand years can just say what we are, what evil, cursed, disgusting things we are. Vampire. It’s a legitimate word. It says what we are, but you can’t face using it, can you? Not even you. Not even the Master, who never says what we really are, but pretends we’re some higher form of life, not just parasites, not just carriers of a supernatural disease.”

“Bella, this depressive contrariness will not do you any good. The Master has decided to hold a party in your honour, and you will attend.”

“The Master has decided! That’s my whole life isn’t it? Yours too. The Master, an ancient evil beast, decided to take away my human life, decided to force me into being this depraved creature like him, and now decides how I will act and where I will go and what I am allowed to think and feel. It’s been a hundred years. It could have been a million. I’m never going to be happy to be like this, and I’m never going to be willing to celebrate it. The Master can decide anything he wants. I’m not complying any more.”

Bella threw open the window, stepped on to the balcony, and jumped, turning into a bat mid-fall, and flying away from the country estate, over the nearby city, and on.

After flying for hours, she was exhausted, but pushed herself onward. She flew across the coastline and out over the ocean. She was going, not to a place, but to the ultimate state of defiance.

Eventually, the dark night sky began to turn to a slowly lightening shade of grey. Then the pink streaks came through the sky. She hadn’t seen a sunrise in a century, but she was determined to see this one.

Then the first beams of sunlight broke over the horizon. She saw it, and with gratitude gave herself to the excruciating, but short-lived pain, as her tiny bat body burst into flame.

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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