A Letter from the Dead

Transcribed below are the contents found within a letter inside an unmarked envelope. I found it atop the nightstand at my bedside, leaning against the broken motel clock radio. The letter itself was written on plain computer paper in a messy half-cursive, half-print handwriting.

Dear Ms. Claudia L. Emmot,

You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone. I know it’s a cliche and you’re probably rolling your eyes having read it, but it’s true. And it’s, sadly, a truth that only seems appreciable in hindsight. But I’m hoping that maybe… just maybe… you’ll consider my words fully and rescind the decision you’ve made before it’s too late. Because it is not too late. I am here to offer you my help.

We are not yet acquaintances but I know of you. Indeed, I know a great deal of you and why you wish to make the choice you have. I had hoped you would have rejected the offer forthright but, seeing as that is not the case, I feel it is necessary I step in and intervene. The details I shall share of myself will no doubt destroy me if you share them, and I hope understanding the gravity of that and knowing I still wish to reach out to you shows you just how serious I am.

You see, I live in a world of darkness–and I don’t just mean the night sky. This change, it does something to those of us unfortunate enough to fall to its curse. I fear it will change me utterly in due time. My morals shall slip away as the tide laps at one’s feet, pulling one further and further out. You don’t realize you’re about to drown until it’s too late and a final wave envelopes you. I will lose myself to the monster I feel clawing inside me with every night I refuse to give in to it.

Your beloved books and films will have you believe a beautiful man or woman shall invite you into bed, kiss your neck tenderly, and the brief pain as the fangs pierce your flesh will soon subside to pleasure. The sensation of your life drawing from you into this other being will be enjoyable, that you shall reach a new peak of pleasure as you feel your consciousness slowly slip into the ether before tasting the blood of your maker returning you to life. But of course the films tell you that, for we have written those manuscripts and directed those scenes. No one would want it if they knew the truth.

There will be neither pillowy bed with satin sheets nor tender kisses. You shall be taken to a remote place: an abandoned warehouse, a shuttered mine, perhaps the city dump. It doesn’t really matter where so long as it’s secluded enough that no one will hear your screams or stumble upon your corpse during the day.

For you shall scream.

That bite will immediately activate your sense of self-preservation. Your body will fight to live and override any thoughts you have now of wanting this. You will struggle and your attacker will subdue you by throwing you to the ground or cracking your extremities. If they have no use of you beyond a meal, they may just snap your neck. If they decide to keep you, they will bring you to the netherworld and then back again.

Here is where the screams begin.

As their blood flows into your mouth, your bones will crack and mend hundreds and hundreds of times over several nights. The sinew weaving your muscles and bones will stretch until it snaps. You will feel every. last. second. of this and you will scream until your throat is raw and your lungs have dried and shriveled. Your skin will peel away as the acid of this new blood bursts through your veins and coats you in a translucent cocoon.

On the second night and all subsequent nights, your maker–if he or she has any shred of decency left–will cut your cocoon and feed you more of the blood. But if you’re not as lucky–as I was not, as most are not–you shall suffer a hunger that gnaws at you with burning fangs from the inside. The hunger shall grow with each passing night until finally you emerge from your prison.

When I emerged, I had not eaten for many, many nights. And my maker in his generosity had left me a gift to welcome me into this darkness. A man. He sat in a chair, his arms bound behind the back and his legs bound to the front legs. A paper bag covered his face. He was unconscious. I could hear his shallow breathing.

A maker’s duty is to teach. My maker’s first lesson was that you cannot ignore your hunger.

I tore the bag off the man’s head. He was a stranger to me. Fifties with a bald patch on the crown of his head and a mole on the tip of his nose. He smelled of sweat and old cologne and blood. And I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to hurt him. But I couldn’t stop the thing inside me. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t stop when it grabbed him, pushing his head backwards and sinking all of my fangs into his throat.

He struggled until I tore out his Adam’s apple. His heart kept beating even after he went limp. Blood poured down his white buttoned shirt and I covered my entire mouth around his gaping wound, sucking greedily from him until there was nothing left to take. Once my bloodlust had been sated, the monster allowed me to take back control of myself.

This is the reality of becoming one of us. You shall be a monster driven by bloodlust. You will be immortal. You will be a hundred times more powerful than any human. Perhaps you will be lucky and you’ll retain your beauty and youth–though I was not. But you will pay the dearest prices for all of these things.

All that brings you happiness now will do nothing to stir the numbness of your continued existence. Only the blood can bring you joy and you must murder them to feel wholly satisfied and silence the nagging pangs of hunger.

I present you–at great cost to my own well-being–a second path: leave this motel. Get in your car and drive far away. In your glove box is a purse with a new identity, a key to a new apartment, and instructions on how to get there. Let me save you from the mistake I made. Burn this letter and go!

– A friend in the night

The envelope also contained a matchbook with a single match. I briefly considered burning the letter as the writer had requested, but the contents were too valuable to my research to simply destroy. I buried the letter beneath the clothes of my suitcase, pocketed the matchbook, and considered my options.

flash fiction

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