Taylor takes a long hard drag on his cigarette. It burns the back of his throat and he likes the feeling. He has finally found a spot, three blocks away from that night's venue, where he can no longer hear the screams of fans echoing in his ears. It is three days until Halloween and the air has a chill to it. He wraps his arms tight around his chest and stomps his boots against the pavement. One good shiver rattles his frame and he watches the cigarette fall from his fingertips and land with a disappointing sizzle in the only puddle around. He should just turn around and make his way back to the bus, but he's treasuring these few moments alone.
He hears her footsteps before he can see her. She isn't a fan. Taylor is certain of that and he lowers his guard just a little, doubtful that she will think of him as anything more than a random guy smoking on the corner of 5th and Elm. To his surprise and frustration, she does not pass him by. She stops right in front of him. The first thing he notices is her eyes and he ponders how they can possibly be so dark; the streetlight doesn't offer much illumination, but Taylor is quite certain that this girl has black eyes. The next thing he sees are her lips, swollen and deep red like dried blood. He opens his mouth to ask what she wants, but the words catch in his throat.
She does not falter as she takes her steps closer to him. Taylor shivers a little when he realizes that he cannot feel her body heat even in such close proximity. She smirks and it unnerves him. Her left hand snakes around his neck. Her touch is soft but forceful and Taylor dares not try to wiggle away. She licks her lips and moves in closer. The streetlight behind Taylor illuminates the sharp points of her teeth.
That's where his memory fades out. Taylor is standing in a hotel room and Zac is staring at him with wide eyes. He is no longer cold.
"Where the hell have you been? Are you okay?" Zac asks and his voice sounds miles away.
Taylor shakes his head, "I'm fine. Just decided to go for a smoke."
"That was hours ago," Zac replies.
Has he lost that much time? He flops down onto his bed, not caring that he is fully clothed and laying on top of more clothes, his laptop and God knows what else. His mind is blank, full of dead black space where the last few hours of his life should be. He remembers the street corner. He remembers her dark lips. He remembers the spicy burn of his cigarette. Now his mouth tastes of copper and he licks his lips to savor it. Sleep comes easier than he expects and he wakes in the morning with no memory of his dreams.
It is dark. The concert has ended and most of the fans have dispersed. But one girl remains in the dark, lurking behind the venue in hopes of seeing the band. He smiles when he sees her; he can sense her nervousness and excitement from where he watches. Her back is to him and for that he is thankful.
With unnaturally silent feet, Taylor quickly covers the distance between himself and this girl. She looks like she is only 16 or 17. His smile widens at this realization. He is only inches from her now and she is still blissfully ignorant of his presence.
In one quick motion, he grasps her arm tightly. Taylor does not know where this strength came from, but he is certain she will not be able to escape his grip. She begins to scream and he clamps his other hand over her mouth. With this hand, he pulls her back to him, her warm body pressing against his cold one. He presses his lips against her neck. He plants one soft kiss against her tender flesh and feels the small wave of relaxation wash over her.
This moment is perfect. He wants to stay in it, suspended in time forever.
This is foolish. He knows this. Taylor sinks his teeth into her skin, feeling the resistance and fighting back against it. Her skin gives way and Taylor tastes the salty tang of blood in his mouth. He sinks his teeth in further, the lust taking over. He laps up the blood until she goes limp in his arms. With one last lick, he tosses her to the ground. She will wake up soon. He hopes.
Taylor wakes with a gasp. He is thankful that Zac is a heavy sleeper. For nearly two weeks these dreams have disturbed his sleep and he does not feel up to discussing them with his brothers again. He wants just one night uninterrupted by nightmares. One night when he does not wake up to ice cold skin and the taste of blood in his mouth.
He hasn't smoked for three weeks. Everyone has noticed, of course, and they aren't sure whether to be relieved or concerned. Taylor himself isn't sure how to take this change. It hasn't set his nerves at ease, and the nicotine does nothing to take the edge off that uneasy tingle in his spine. He needs something... something else. He dares not say it out loud, even to himself. The lapses in his memory are increasing at an alarming pace, and the nightmares keep trying to fill in the gaps.
"How long have these blackouts been going on?" Dr. Marley stares at Taylor over the top of his tiny spectacles and Taylor wants to laugh at just how absurd the therapist looks. He knows better, though, and regains his composure.
"A month. Maybe a little longer. It's hard to measure time when I'm missing such huge chunks of it, you know," Taylor replies, his tone more sarcastic than he had intended.
"Of course," Dr. Marley says, "Do they last long? Tell me exactly what happens."
"Hours, I guess. It's mostly during the evening or the night. Sometimes I wake up in bed but don't remember going to bed. I'll wake up fully clothed. Or I'll come back to my hotel and not remember where I was before that."
"I see. Any other symptoms?"
Taylor sighs. "The dreams. I keep dreaming that I'm... well, it's really weird."
"You can tell me. That's the point of this arrangement. I won't judge you."
"I keep dreaming that... I'm a vampire."
"I see," the doctor replies, and scribbles something onto his notepad. "And is this troublesome for you?"
"Not in the dream. I mean, it seems a little strange but I keep doing these horrible things. But when I wake up, it's terrifying. The dreams feel so real," Taylor admits.
Dr. Marley nods slowly. "That's very telling. Perhaps your subconscious is telling you that you've become something that you don't want to be. Your adverse reaction to it is proof that whatever it is, it isn't truly what you want to be."
"But what is it? How can I change?"
"That's up to you," the therapist replies. "You're the only one who truly knows your heart and knows if you're doing something that goes against your beliefs. Once you've figured that out, you can begin to change. We'll talk about the blackouts again. They are most likely stress-induced, and once you've dealt with you current stress, they may clear up."
Taylor nods, but you doesn't truly understand. He hasn't changed. He knows that. But no one else seems to agree.
He has walked half a mile from the bar, desperate to get away from the screams and the closeness of so many bodies. Then he sees her. She is walking quickly with her head hung low and it frustrates him. He has to chase her, expose her. With long strides he is able to close the distance between them.
He needs this.
Taylor takes hold of her hair and pulls her to him. A streetlight flickers and darkens, concealing his action from anyone who might be watching. She screams and Taylor makes no attempt to silence her. He wants her to fight back. She struggles to free herself and he digs his fingernails into her arms. He rips at her skin as she wiggles and writhes under his grasp and the scent of her blood makes his head swim.
Time is wasting. He plants his nails in the back of her neck and drags her to him. She screams again and the shrill sound grates at his nerves. He does not sooth her first, but instead dives straight in, sinking his teeth deep into her flesh. When the first taste of blood hits his tongue, he realizes how weak he was. When had he last fed? He licks and sucks at her flesh, wanting every drop of her for himself.
When he is sated, he releases his grip on her neck. She feels like a rag doll and he drops her to the pavement. She won't wake up.
Taylor wakes with a scream caught in his throat. He does not remember going to bed. The moon shines in through the room's window and he sees his blurry reflection in the mirror. He swears under his breath, wishing he had not looked. He looks down at his hands. Even the dim moonlight cannot hide the bloodstains.