From the Unlife and Curse of Sean Becker
I can’t sleep.
I know that most people occasionally have to deal with insomnia, but I’m not most people. My name is Sean Becker and I’m a vampire.
As near as I can tell, vampires are severely allergic to natural sunlight. One of the effects of this is that I become lethargic as the night wanes and dawn approaches. By full day, I’m out, you should pardon the expression, like a light.
Except I fell asleep in my little shelter fashioned in a crawl way of an abandoned warehouse four hours ago, and now I’m wide awake.
Stranger than that, I’m hungry.
Normally, I have little or no awareness during daylight hours. This means I have to find a very secure place to sleep in order to avoid discovery. I’m absolutely helpless while the sun is up and if anyone should find me, they could do anything and I couldn’t stop them.
I remember bouts of insomnia during my first lifetime, the one I had before I died and woke up again as a vampire. I’d usually get up and read a book or even go for a short walk…anything to settle my mind down.
But I didn’t wake up because I have anything particular on my mind (more than usual for a vampire, that is), I just woke up.
I stir from my resting place, move the chunk of concrete blocking the only entrance to my lair, and look out.
I can see diffused sunlight filtering into the larger warehouse space. I can’t hear anything except car traffic in the distance.
Hesitantly, I crawl out of my shelter and stand. Then I remember.
It’s been two nights since I met the man who calls himself Adam Franks, the man who tells me he’s the real life version of Frankenstein’s monster. I believe him. I’m not sure why…instinct maybe…but I believe him.
We’ve forged a friendship at lightning speed, probably because we have so much in common including having so much to hide.
He’s leaving soon. He’s booked passage on a freighter to Asia, Macau I think, in another two day’s time. But he’s offered me a precious gift for as long as he’s in Oakland…his blood.
He can afford to lose what I need, thanks to his enhanced stamina, and I don’t have to go hunting for a few nights. There’s always a chance of me being caught during my forays out for my evening meals, and this way, I’m kept safe.
I almost didn’t take him up on his offer. After all, who voluntarily becomes the victim of a vampire?
A very good friend who knows what it’s like to be a living nightmare, that’s who.
Last night was my second “sampling” of his blood. It tastes a little strange, but I can’t place the flavor.
You’d be surprised to know that not everyone’s blood tastes exactly the same. I think I can taste the difference between blood types, plus differences in blood chemistry. I can do a quick assessment of a person’s health by how their blood tastes. Too bad I can’t offer my services. I might be able to earn a little semi-honest cash instead of taking what I need.
Adam’s blood tastes different from anyone else’s. He’s not exactly an artificial being, he’s the result of experiments to reanimate dead human biomatter, flesh, blood, nervous system, the works.
Something about the reanimation process makes him not quite human, more than human maybe.
It’s done something to his blood, the blood I’ve been drinking for the past two nights.
What’s it doing to me?
I’m blinking. It’s so bright. My eyes are adjusting. Without realizing it, I was walking toward one of the empty windows on the ground floor of the building. I look around and I’m standing outside in that broken ruin of a parking lot.
I’m outside standing in broad daylight. Usually sunlight burns if I’m exposed to it, like a severe sunburn.
This time nothing. Once my eyes adjust, my vision is just fine.
What is Adam’s blood doing to me?
Adam. He told me where he lives, a rooming house. It’s not far.
What is his blood doing to me? I feel almost…human.
“Who’s there?” He answers me through the door after my third time knocking.
“Adam, it’s Sean. I need to speak with you. It’s important.”
I hear nothing but silence for several seconds. I’m sure he recognizes my voice, but the dissonance he’s experiencing must be terrible. It’s half past noon and he has a vampire knocking on his door.
I hear rustling inside, like clothing. He’s covering up, just in case.
The door opens. “Sean? How can it be you?”
He’s put on a hoodie and the hood puts his face in shadow.
“Come in, come in.” He opens the door wide enough to let me enter, then closes and locks it behind me.
“How? How are you here my friend?”
I turn to face him. He’s thrown back the hood. If it weren’t for the scars, that patchwork quilt face of his might even be handsome.
“I was hoping you could tell me that.”
“I? But how could I…”
He pauses as the thought occurs to him, the same thought that occurred to me.
“Of course, those unusual blood elements.”
“Please, let us sit.” He indicates a small table with two chairs. I take the one nearest the window.
Before he seats himself, I impose. “Do you have anything to eat around here? I’m starving.”
“Starving? Oh, I see.” I keep giving him these awkward surprises. A vampire who can go out by day. A vampire who is hungry for something besides blood. What next? Maybe I’ll do a song and dance.
There’s a mini-fridge on the far side of the room. He opens it, looks around for a second, and pulls out half a sandwich. “You are welcome to this, Sean.”
He puts it on a small plate with a chip in it and hands it to me. I tear into it like I ravenous tiger. Bread’s stale and I never really liked pastrami on rye, but it tastes delicious.
When I look up, Adam’s just seated himself and is offering me a glass of water. I was so intent on eating, I hadn’t noticed him getting it for me.
“Thanks.” I take the glass and gulp it down.
When I’m done feeding with the manners of a two-year-old, I look at him. “What blood elements?”
“As you might imagine, over time, I have become curious about exactly what makes me different from everyone else. Of course, I cannot simply submit myself to a medical exam as most others might.
“I have found a few doctors over the years who I can trust, however it was only recently that medical technology allowed my current ally to determine some specifics. For instance, some unusual blood elements that cannot be positively identified. They may be responsible for my atypical regeneration abilities and longevity.
“Sadly, they cannot heal my outer scars, but I do have superior strength and stamina, and if I’m vulnerable to aging, it is at an extremely slow rate.”
My mind is racing like crazy with the possibilities. “What if, when I drank your blood, something was passed on to me, something regenerative? What if drinking your blood is making me human again?”
“Then I would be extremely happy for you, my friend.” He smiles. He genuinely is happy. For a monster, he’s one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met.
“Would that mean then that you might return to your former life?”
A surge of excitement courses through me. A chance to go home again, to my wife Janet, our children, Aaron, Jill, little Lizzie. Then all that comes to a screeching halt.
“I died, Adam. I was buried. There was a funeral service. I left my wife a widow over a year ago. How could I go back now? How could I explain?”
“I see your point, Sean. Still, could you return to some kind of life? I could help. Certainly you would need a new identity.”
“I don’t know. What would I do? Where would I go?”
“Come with me. We could explore the world together. I would welcome an understanding companion.”
“I’d be living off of your charity.”
“Isn’t that what friends are for?”
I’m trying to concentrate but my thoughts are colliding with one another in jumbled confusion. Where can I go now? Not back to that hole inside the warehouse. I’m tired of sleeping like a rat. Without the abilities of a vampire, I’ll need food and shelter. I’m a homeless man without an identity. I’m a dead man whose heart is still beating.
“I need time to think.”
Abruptly, I stand and head for the door. I unlock it and pause before turning the doorknob.
“I’ll be back. I just need to sort this out.”
“Of course, my friend. I’ll be waiting for you.” He’s standing now, concern on his jigsaw puzzle face.
“Oh, thanks for the sandwich.”
“Please, it was nothing.”
I face away from him, open the door and I’m gone.
This isn’t the greatest neighborhood in the world. When I was a vampire, I never gave danger a second thought. Who could hurt me? Men have punched me and I’ve barely felt it. I’ve been stabbed more than once and after a momentary pain, I healed. I could probably survive being shot.
Now, I’m scared of everyone. I look ahead and try to avoid making eye contact.
A park and a public restroom. I’m suddenly aware of a full bladder, which hasn’t been a problem in quite some time.
After using the facilities, I find an empty bench.
The sound of birds singing. Warm sunlight on my face. It’s autumn and fortunately I’m wearing a light jacket. The breeze is cold but it’s nice to have the sensation again. It means I’m human, just like everyone else around me. I’ve missed seeing and hearing children play.
I don’t know how much time has passed. The sun was getting low in the sky when the nausea hit me. I realize I won’t make it back to the restroom in time and rip off the lid of the trashcan I’m next to, vomiting half-digested pastrami and rye on top of the garbage.
It tastes awful and not just because it’s vomit.
I wash my mouth out at a nearby water fountain and leave the park in embarrassment and bewilderment. I walk back the way I came, back to Adam’s rented room. There are more people around now. It’s hard to look at them.
Wish I had a pair of sunglasses. Everything’s too bright. Wait. The sun is going down. This isn’t right. My eyes. They’re more sensitive to light again.
My skin. It was itching, now it’s starting to burn, like a mild sunburn, but it’ll get worse. I have to get inside.
I’m running now. I’m close. I turn the corner, run up the stairs, force myself into a fast walk once I’m inside and knock frantically on Adam’s door.
This time he opens up without asking who it is. He takes one look at me and knows.
“It is not permanent.”
“No. I threw up the sandwich. Light burns my skin. I’m reverting. Whatever your blood did to me didn’t last.”
“Then I offer myself to you again, Sean. Perhaps in time, the effects will be more long-lasting.”
The faint taste of vomit and disappointment burns the back of my throat.
“It’s no use. We don’t know how this works.” All my hopes, dreams, and fantasies have been crushed like a rose under the boot of a relentless dictator, my own vampirism.
“We could have it researched, Sean. My doctor friend.”
“Where is he?”
“She, actually. Dr. Chen lives in Macau, my next destination as it turns out. Now you must come with me.”
“What, and dine on the Captain and crew of the freighter every night until we arrive?”
“You know better, Sean. I will always be available.”
“Two nights of feeding from you and I start turning human again. How long will this voyage take?”
“About fifteen days. Two weeks.”
I think it over. Two weeks, no hunting, just Adam. Two weeks, that funny tasting blood with the atypical elements that regenerate vampires back into human beings. What have I got to lose?
“Will there be room on board?”
“I’m sure there is still at least one more unoccupied berth. I can phone the Captain to ask.”
Two weeks in close quarters with twenty or so people. No, that can’t be a problem. Adam likes seclusion, so the crew won’t be a worry.
I can “feel” that the sun has set. I only had a few hours sleep and expect to feel drowsy, but just the opposite happens. It’s like I’m invigorated.
I’m hungry. No, I’m starving. This isn’t the usual blood hunger. I must be rebounding from whatever Adam’s blood did to me.
“Sean, what is happening to you?”
He looks worried and he should be. I suddenly become aware that I’m baring my fangs to him. I have an irresistible urge to strike, to feed, to kill, to dismember.
I lunge for his throat and he throws me off of him like a rag doll. I knew he was strong, but to do that to me. How dare he.
I leap at him again, but he easily moves aside, grabs me, and uses my momentum to send me out the window. I don’t care right then, but when I finally remember all this, I realize that I’ve destroyed Adam’s last few nights of shelter and anonymity.
I pick myself up off the sidewalk and brush broken glass casually from my jacket. I look back up at him with anger and disdain. Then deciding there is easier prey about, I run off into the night.
It’s a week later and I’m hundreds of miles away from that all-night diner where I first met Adam.
The AP news reports that the Oakland Police are still searching for the man called the “One-Night Serial Killer”. In my frenzy, I took the lives of three people, a construction worker, a chiropractor, and an art student. I killed three people by draining their blood, but that’s not the worst of it.
I created three vampires. They’re out there now. Taking victims of their own. It’s all my fault.
Fortunately, no one got a good look at me except my victims, and they’re not telling. Why would they? I’ve got two new brothers and a sister now. Yeah, that’s bitter sarcasm.
I don’t know how to reach Adam once he arrives in Macau or even if I should try. I know him well enough to realize he’d still talk to me, even try to help. He probably realizes that something about the effect dissipating caused all of my inhibitions to evaporate like a puddle in a heat wave.
For a night, I was an animal, a vicious, bloodthirsty (literally) killer. I didn’t care who I hurt. Now others have to pay. Not just my three victims and their families, but everyone the three vampires take.
I know it’s not my fault, except that it is.
Wherever Adam goes in his travels, I wish him well. Perhaps we’ll meet again. I hope so.
It’s getting late. I’m near the USC campus. My stomach is growling. I’m sure there’ll be some straggler out there, a student, faculty, someone. I don’t know what to do with this so-called life, but I do know how I’m spending the next hour.
After that, I’m at the mercy of God. So are all of my victims, may Heaven spare them and forgive me.
This is the fifth story of the “unlife” of Sean Becker and a direct sequel to the previous story The Mysterious Mr. Franks. I introduced Sean in the tale Even Coffee Doesn’t Help. I’ve created links at the end of each story to the next one so you can start there and click-through to read them all in order. Enjoy.
The next story in this series is You Can Never Go Home, Especially If You’re a Vampire.