Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Short fiction: On An Empty Shore II

They Always Ask This Question

Part I

Before the zombies ate nearly all the warmbloods, there was one question people always asked. Sometimes I’d be hanging with another vamp and he or she would be curious.

It’s the thing a lot of vamps get asked. Kinda like when the warmbloods sometimes wanted to know where you went to school or what job you had. Or where you were born or where you came from.

So, Dracula, who made you?

I’m not a complicated person. I was born in Cape Town, grew up in Cape Town, and died in Cape Town. Plain and simple, and not very exciting. The way I was living at the time I should have pegged a lot sooner but some fucking demon watched over me. The smack shoulda gotten me a hundred times over.

Fuck, I ODed so many times it was a joke. And every time my buddies, other junkies, would get me breathing again. Once night they were even driving me to hospital when they got me breathing after I shot up too much smack. We turned round and went home to shoot speedballs.

So it’s sorta funny, now that I think about it, that it wasn’t the brown that got me dead. It was a vampire.

I remember that it was summer because there was a drought, in more ways than one, and there was a whole bunch of us smack-heads left high and dry. We were all scratching and sweating, five of us in a row by the call box there on Kloof Street. All of us waiting for The Man.

We were so damned obvious I’m surprised the pigs didn’t come and pick us up and lock us away for the weekend. May as well wave a big red flag and scream “spot the druggies”. We were all pretty terminal. In it for the long haul. In and out of rehab fuck knows how many times.

A car pulled up―a resprayed Honda with tinted windows like the gangsters on the Cape Flats always drive. You know, the 2 Fast 2 Furious types? Car even had those dinky blue lights in the undercarriage that I guess was supposed to make it look like a UFO or something. Really styling. Not. Even we knew this vibe was so not cool. Our dealer drove a VW Polo, gunmetal grey.

Soft music spilled out, and it was fucked-up weird. Whoever was in that car was listening to some symphonic stuff that had like this horrid eighties beat to it with a synth-pop vibe my uncle sometimes played when we were there for Sunday lunch.

The others all looked to me to go check it out, so I got up real slow to take a peek. It was almost night and the interior of the car was dark. When I leant in, I could barely make out the driver, some coloured guy. I remember he smoked one of those mini cigar things and it smelled like vanilla.

That’s all I can recall.

Next thing I knew, I’d lost a chunk of time and it was almost dawn. I came to in a pile of rubbish in a side street in the Eastern City Precinct. A rat had bitten me. That’s what woke me up. That and the fact that my skin was smoking and I could smell burning meat. And it was me that was cooking.

I’ll never know who turned me into a vampire. Or why. The dude didn’t do me a favour. I went from being a scum-of-the-earth junkie to being a bottom-of-the-pecking-order vampire. No diffs, really. I exchanged my drug problem for a blood problem.

I had nothing to offer the guys at the top unless they needed some idiot to do their dirty work and almost get killed in the process. I didn’t owe them anything. They deserved what they got when the zombies came and ate nearly all the warmbloods.

Rats like me got to slip between the cracks. Guess I’m a survivor.

I should count my blessings, my mother would say. My parents are dead. All the people who said I’d turn up dead in a gutter with a needle in my vein, are dead. For all I know, the vampire who turned me is dead too.

I’m the one who’s left roaming the streets like one of those starving dogs not even the walking dead will touch.

I can only laugh when I think of those vampire movies that I watched when I was still living with Ma and Pa. Tom fucking Cruise, Gary Oldman, that glittery Edward boy. It’s all shit. There is no glory to this life. It’s dirty and, if you’re unlucky, violent and short.

In all the time since the zombiepocalypse I saw only one other vampire―a stranger. We both crossed Strand Street and it was close to dawn, and what caught my eye is that we both hurried. He kept looking over his shoulder, like me, to the east, where the sky got lighter.

Like me he was dirty, his clothes ragged. His eyes bulged slightly when he recognised me for what I was. No human would walk in the open like that. Unarmed. I knew what he was, right off.

I wanted to stop him to speak to me, to tell me his story, of where he came from but he slipped sideways into the shadows and was gone. Just like that.

I’m kak lonely. There’s nothing fun about being a vampire. But I’m a survivor. Tomorrow might get better.

* * * *

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  1. Really enjoying this - I love vampires that aren't aristocrats, who are a bit "down n dirty". Plus vampires + zombies = win.

  2. Great post. Love the name dropping!

  3. Great job, Nerine.. Keep going. I want to hear more.

  4. Thank you for the encouragement, ladies.

  5. like the gritty flavor of this...

  6. Maybe other undead carnivores might not be your MC's major nemesis after all ... his need to make contact with others implies loneliness may claim him before starvation does.

  7. Great opening, nice flow. A real hard place to be in, at the bottom in the mess of of things trying to survive just like the others.