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History of Madness

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They say I’m insane because of my blood. Because I’m a childe of Malkav’s line, and thus tainted by that alone. I suppose I should not contradict them. They have seen centuries worth of nights, while I can still remember a childhood playing out in the sun. And there are some of my own line who claim that I was already insane before the Embrace, and that was what drew my sire to me. But since my sire decided to watch the sunrise shortly after my turning, I can not ask him. I only know what I have experienced myself, and I think both opinions are right. And wrong. Confused? Well, I am a Malkavian, what did you expect? No, that’s rude of me. This is one of the things I can explain, so I should.

It starts, like all the really good stories do, in my childhood. I know a lot of my kin don't remember their childhoods, and even more of them try to forget everything about their mortal lives. But none of us would be who or even what we are today without who we were then, right? Honestly, have you met some of the elders around here? Even the ‘nicest’ ones are all weird and disconnected from night to night concerns, right? And it makes them super hard to deal with because they just don't understand what it's like for people like us. I'm pretty sure it’s because they’ve forgotten, or convinced themselves that they've forgotten their mortal lives, especially their childhoods. You meet mortals like that every so often; people who try to pretend they were never children and never played silly games or made stupid mistakes. And sure enough, they're as power crazy and weird as any vampire elder. So I think that proves my point.

Oh, I got distracted there, didn't I? Sorry about that. You wanted to hear about me, not my musings on the vampiric condition or whatever. Like I was saying, it begins in my childhood. I grew up in the suburbs. Which ones exactly aren't important. What is important is that I was the only girl on my street in my age group. For some I supposed this would have meant they became tomboys and just played with the boys, but I was a sensitive young girl, and the neighborhood boys wanted little to do with me; except occasionally to tease me and taunt me until I cried. So I avoided them and learned to play by myself. But that wasn't as bad as it might seem, because I was never actually by myself. They say most children have imaginary friends, and I suppose that's what mine were, but they always seemed so very real to me. Why did I need to play with the stupid neighborhood boys when I had Kassias and Selena the fairies to keep me company, and Brighthorn the unicorn to lead us all on our own secret adventures? No one else could see them, but that didn't ever bother me. Kassias once told me that most people were too boring and unimaginative to see people like her and that they were all glad that I wasn't like that. With all the self-assurance of a child, I assured her that I would never become boring like that.

Maybe I wouldn't have, if my parents hadn't intervened. They'd been understanding and indulgent of my ‘invisible friends’ for a while, but I made the mistake of talking about my friends to my second grade teacher, and apparently got very upset when she tried to tell me they weren't real. Well, she talked to my parents, and they all talked to the school counselor, and one thing led to another and through the all of that I kept insisting that my friends were real. Because they were. I knew they were. I could see them and hear them and touch them and everything. But because no one else could, they sent me to a doctor, to attempt to ‘cure’ my ‘delusions’.

My parents sent me to see Doctor Anderson twice a week. Every time, he would force me to go over and over practically every interaction I'd ever had with my friends with him. And every time, he would pounce on any little detail he claimed was ‘too fantastical’ or that contradicted something I'd said before to ‘prove’ that my friends weren't real. At first I would get very upset whenever he would say that, but it would just make him use his patronizing voice, telling me that he was just trying to help, and that he wanted me to grow up into a good big girl, and didn't I want to be a big girl, not a little crying child? I hated when he used that voice, so slowly I learned not to show that he'd upset me. And then I learned to lie and tell him what he wanted to hear: that my friends weren't real, they were just things I made up because I was lonely. And then I slowly started to actually believe that. They had started showing up less and less often since I'd started seeing Dr. Anderson, so I think that made it easier to believe my own lies.

I'm pretty sure they were lies. I forgot about them and became a perfectly normal, middle class white girl, with all the normal, everyday middle class white girl dreams.

Then I went away to college. I was going to study history and become a teacher like my mom, but the whole experience turned out to be a lot harder than I'd bargained for. So much reading to do and essays to write. Everyone thinks of college as being all drinking and parties and sex and fun, but I was still pretty shy, and very focused on getting good grades, so I was never involved in any of that stuff. So I didn't exactly have friends to talk to when I started seeing shadows out of the corner of my eyes, shadows that seemed to be stalking me. I know, I know, you're probably thinking it was my sire trying to make me crack. That's what Malkavians do after all, right? But it wasn't. Or at least if it was he was far more clever than I ever knew him to be. Because just as I was getting used to the shadows I started hearing whispers. Whispers that sounded a whole lot like Kassia’s and Selena’s voices. I hadn't thought of them in decades, but I knew it was them, even if I couldn't see them. But they were no longer talking to me like the friends I oh-so-vaguely remembered. No, now they were whispering accusations and dire threats, blaming me for abandoning them, and giving gruesomely detailed descriptions of what they were going to do to me in revenge. And their whispering was constant. No matter if I was alone or with others, no matter if where I was was quiet or super loud, I could always hear them. Whispering. I'm sure you're thinking that I was going crazy, or had gone crazy at this point. After all, that was when my sire grabbed me and dragged me into the woods to Embrace me.

I've heard some say that the Embrace was frightening or terrifying or some other really bad type of experience, but for me it was almost a relief. Like when you're watching a horror movie and the protagonist is creeping through the house, and the music is building all this tension, and then the killer jumps out and you scream, even though you knew he was there the whole time. That kind of relief. At least the anticipation was over, even though it hadn't led to anything I'd been expecting.

My sire wasn't one of the more stable members of our bloodline, but he managed to pass on the basics to me over those first few months. I learned how and where to feed, I learned how to hide from the sun, and I learned a bit about my own clan and the wider vampire society. But I still heard the whispers. They were quieter now, and not as constant. Slowly I realized that they were afraid of me, but trying to hide it. I remember laughing when I realized that. Laughing long and hard and then calling out “Come face me you cowards!” There was a sudden silence as I bared my fangs at the darkness around me.

And then, they came. Creeping out of the shadows. Kassias and Selena and Brighthorn and others I suddenly remembered having met on our adventures. But t they weren't the pastel friendly creatures I remembered. They were monsters with twisted limbs and mouths full of razor sharp teeth. Before my Embrace they would have terrified me. But now I was a monster too, was I not? When they snarled at me, I just snarled back louder. And once we got all that posturing out of the way, we made… an arrangement. They don't threaten me anymore. Now they work for me. Tell me things. Secret things.

Oh I see you trying to hide your smile, trying to stifle your laugh. You think my parents and the doctor were right, that they are just delusions, figments of my imagination. Just another deranged Malkavian’s delusions. Maybe they are. Maybe I'm just crazy and none of this is real. Maybe they're not the reason I know you're here alone tonight. Maybe there isn't one standing behind you right now waiting for my signal to strike so we all may drink deeply of your blood. They're all just delusions of my cracked mind.

Or maybe they aren't. How's that for a comforting thought?