Few things can bring home the facts to any self-identified Vampyre like the hunger. Nothing else can bring that reassurance that “I am not imagining this” like the symptoms we experience from missing a feed. Few things can reassure me like the body aches and pains, fatigue, and lack of coordination – that this is real.
One day you’re cheerful, healthy, active. Everything feels fine. Then suddenly, out of the blue – though not entirely unexpected – you begin to feel a familiar nasty chill in your soul. You begin to dwell on things that bring you down, past relationships, conflict at work, things which normally don’t bother you. At first it’s easy to put these things out of your mind, but as the week passes it becomes harder. You begin to tire more easily, more physical fatigue than mental at first, but before too long, you lack the motivation to do anything. Your thoughts become dark and your obsession turns to feeding.
The hunger becomes a waking nightmare, and the more it progresses, the harder it is to distinguish from a physical hunger for physical food. You begin to snack – anything, everything. You eat and remain hungry. You drink, and remain thirsty, searching for that one thing that will quench that thirst, still that hollow empty hunger within. You wonder if there are Vampyres with weight problems. Desperate, you begin thinking about a trip to the local supermart or butcher to find a pack of fresh meat with a little blood in it. The taste is off-putting, but the effects of it, though nowhere near as good as the real deal, are all you can think about. An end to this slow deterioration, this sick feeling every time you vainly eat to still this different hunger – an end to this pain and internal torment.
The supermaket is out of really fresh stuff – all they have is three days or older. Useless. You consider taking some anyway as a placebo. Experience tells you it won’t really help – it will just “tease” you and make it worse when it comes back. Gritting your teeth, you realize you will have to wait for them to restock, perhaps another week. You grimace as you realize your clenched fists have driven your nails into your palms and they sting. Apologizing to passersby as you make your hurried yet despondent way out, you feel foolish, embarrassed by your behavior, wondering if anyone even noticed you angrily drop the meat you examined back in the fridge in the wrong place.
Later that night, you dream dark crimson dreams. You may have never bitten anyone in reality, but your dreams become a landscape of horror and red, dripping. In your minds eye you stare at your animated lifeless corpse in a mirror, blood on your face and all over your teeth, like something surreal out of a movie. Dead black eyes stare back at you coldly. You dream of death. Your nightmares no longer terrify you, you’ve been here before, you will be here again. You simply go with it, and nothing impresses you.
In your waking hours you are forced to carry on life as usual, keeping up appearances, doing what must be done, saying what has to be said – though you feel as though you are flogging a dead horse to climb an insurmountable hill. You still help, you still encourage, you still strive to do good, when inside your mind is fading, your soul is stained and your heart is broken.
You become aggressive, you strike out at people close to you, unable to confide in them, tell them why. You are filled with regret, anger, sorrow. The world around you becomes narrow and bleak, taking on that familiar coldness, and once more you realize how alone you really are.
You stare at depression, and it stares back at you – and because you have been this way many times before, your only salvation is the knowledge that although you are teetering over the edge of an abyss of despair – it is not real. You tell yourself you have no reason to feel depressed, you have no cause to feel this tired or weak or miserable, and you cling to it. What is real, is the thing that is causing it. The hunger. The thirst. And when that is satisfied, as before, you know that all will be well again.
Leaving off feeding past this point only makes it worse, denying your need, denying your nature. Pushing the envelope to find out how bad it gets, because finding a donor is not easy, not so simple as just asking. Asking someone for this is a subject of its own, because it involves answering more questions than you have the energy to in return – and the consequences of that are more permanent than the pain and the torment.
A few days more, and the aches and pains return, pain in the joints, the body seems to be injured more easily, almost as if it injures itself. Muscles ache, joints stiffen. Sensation fades. Old injuries nag. The skin seems to dry out. The eyes ache even though you avoid direct sunlight. Balance, both physical and emotional, becomes a memory as you desperately try to find it in meditation and sleep. Life loses its luster, even the things you cling to to make it worthwhile. If you are religious, even that seems a hollow shell that echoes with laughter.
You cling to the knowledge that this is only temporary, that you will be back to normal as soon as you feed, be it from a packet of half-dead meat blood, or from the skin of someone willing to help you – a donor, a rescuing angel who recognizes your need, and takes pity on your suffering. A vacuum-packed beef steak a few hours old still contains enough life in the blood to alleviate the symptoms, and will tide a Vampyre over for a week at least. The taste leaves much to be desired, to say nothing of the smell, but medicine never really smelled good, did it? It all depends on how desperate you are. And you are so very desperate, aren’t you?
The last time you had beef blood, it was cold, almost watery, dark and only half-alive. It smelled like death. But it helped. You chased it with a chocolate to make the taste go away. The effects lasted for 2 weeks. The last time you had real warm, living blood from a donor it energized you for nearly 4 weeks and made you feel so alive you could almost forget that the hunger would return again. It was dark, thick nectar, and it tasted like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. It slaked that thirst, stilled that hunger, and didn’t need chasing with anything. You remember feeling the life creeping back into your soul, your body. Within minutes the weight on your chest was gone, soon followed by the dark mood and depression – and within hours all the aches and pains disappeared as if by magic. Within the space of a few hours, all had returned to normal.
Afterwards, you evaluate the reality of it, the pain you felt, the weakness, and the anguish – and then the relief and the recovery – the facts of it that you cannot deny. The facts of it that medicine and science still do not bear out, or confirm – the experiences that you hold to be true – but which you cannot relate to others who would deny you and your “perversion” and most likely label you as “insane”. You wonder why it is you are this way. You question the facts, you question your nature. You question the wisdom of those who would ask for this should they know, and you question the morals of those who might give it to them if it were possible. And still, in the quiet you admit to yourself that this is all you have ever known life to be – and you are still grateful for it.
In the quiet, you strive to plan ahead for next time, so that you can find someone willing to help you, or to help you sooner. In the quiet, you take it all in, the memory of the hunger, the pains and anguish that accompany it – and the knowledge that it is real – and that it will return.