They say my sister didn’t wash up until three days after. Nothing could be determined for sure. They say that the process is invasive, that her body needed to be thoroughly examined. That our grief could wait but the investigation had to go ahead. This was not uncommon, but it had not occurred to a privileged family- that is- until now. They say if your neck was stained with blood you forfeited your right to be called human. That you were already infected. That the disease had marked you as one of them.
I was no exception. As a girl I was marked in the early years, when parents still allowed their children to play hopscotch, and ride a bicycle beyond the neighbourhood. A hunched stranger stopped my bike with her index finger. The glittery ribbons attached to my handlebars shuddered to a halt. I was picked up, bitten once and when I went home I was ordered to pack my things and was removed from my home, from my sister, and put into special care. Special care was code for a vampire’s beverage or a feeder. Either way I was now food.
I was one of many who was blindfold and condemned to the sewers – to the underground of civilisation.
And once a month, on a Friday at 2:00pm, the volunteers went. Down the rusty ladder and into the dark. Where the cold one sunk their teeth past the skin, and through the vein of a neck. Whose neck? It didn’t matter we were all food to them. All would leave alive. Most of the time. But reality is unkind and what was solved on paper didn’t hold in life. And so every few months, a slip of the teeth may occur. The human would bleed out like a champagne fountain that quenched the thirst and minds of an ancient race. And then so it goes a vampire would volunteer and take the humans place. It would be drowned in as much liquid as it could take, not blood but water. The humans said it cleansed the inside. That because the vampire bled out the human, it was so fitting to quench its thirst to death. And so feeders or volunteers lived closest to the vampires. Without one of the most basic human rights: to call oneself human -or at least not until you died or were killed…
The stream wasn’t even red when they found my sister. I overheard an investigator comment on her sunken cheeks.
Killing a human was not uncommon but for it to be done, above ground, that was unheard of. Not a sound of struggle nor a cry of pain escaped her lips. The doctor said it was quick, as though that was supposed to make it easier. It had not. And as the sound of a bell rang through the air, and I stared at a purple hue on my neck, and the blood under my finger nails of when I fought off my vampire who had wanted more than his rightful share, I thought who’s to say this wouldn’t happen to me too? That my fate would be any different? And who was really in power as we co-existed in this flawed system. Because from where I stood, it wasn’t the living. It wasn’t the humans. I bandaged my neck for the hundredth time and as my own kind shunned me because of my volunteer work, to keep them safe, I wondered if it was really worth it.