I knock. Aloofly.
Emmett Collins. My name is Emmett Collins. I’m mysterious. The brooding, magnetic, mysterious, new kid at school. There’s pain behind my eyes, no one knows why, but everyone longs to. My interests include—
The door flings open.
Light and laughter flood out. Beyond the back lit girl in the threshold, staring at me, waiting for me to speak, kids of all colors and blood types are crammed together, red plastic cups in hand, bump n’ grinding to the music. I smell booze, and sweat, and lust.
Mostly I smell blood.
“Yeah?” The girl sneers. She has a nose ring, too much make-up, a comically padded bra. Her party dress glitters like my inspiration. Her blood type is AB negative, her expression, just plain negative.
Remember, my name is Emmett Collins.
“Hi,” I say aloofly. “My name is Emmett Collins.”
Awkward silence, red-eyed stare.
Remember, I’m brooding, magnetic, mysterious.
“I’m new in town, just started school here yesterday. You probably heard. I was in the neighborhood, you know, just wandering around, contemplating stuff. Anyhow, I thought I’d make an appearance.”
“BRITTANY!?” Wails an unseen banshee. “WHO IS IT? COPS!?”
“NO!” Brittany yells back over her shoulder. “IT’S THAT ALBINO KID FROM GYM CLASS. MEMBER? GINGER FRO? OLD MAN SOCKS? YOU SAID HE NEEDED A BRA MORE THAN I DID?”
“No.” I say aloofly. “No, that’s not me.”
“That was totally you,” Brittany says, scrunching up her nose. “Totally. What’s your deal kid? For the first half of dodgeball you were wearing an eye patch.”
I thought the eye patch made me look dangerous.
“No. No, that wasn’t–
Brittany laughs, harsh, barking, and point blank right at me.
“Ew, and what’s with that smell? Don’t they have deodorant where–
Before she can finish the insult, I unleash my gaze upon her. Not the new aloof, sideways gaze. The old gaze. The powerful gaze. Brittany freezes, almost instantaneously vomits—clam chowder chunky—down the front of her glittering dress. An unfortunate side effect of my pheromone release.
I wave away the green mist like I’m shooing flies.
Also unfortunate, my strategically spritzed Axe body spray is wasted, completely snuffed out.
“I’m mysterious, brooding, magnetic,” I tell her. “You want me to join the party.”
“Yoor meeerious, brooring, egetic,” she hiccups, mumbles, hiccups, “You wanna join da pardy.”
“Why, thank you,” I say, “be a dear, and step aside would you?”
I don’t want to get vomit on my satin shirt or leather pants. The sales girl at Forever 21 assured me they were flattering, but I’m not entirely convinced. They’re a trifle tight. There’s bulges in a few unfortunate places. I have thirty days to exchange them. The receipts are safely tucked away in my fanny pack inside my coffin.
Brittany brushes passed me, stumbles down the front steps, shambles into the neighbor’s hedge where she falls over giggling.
This isn’t how I imagined this going.
My nerve endings might be dead, but they still feel a trifle frayed.
This isn’t how it went in the movie. Not at all.
I take a deep breath, purely as a relaxation technique of course.
I didn’t plan on using my power, didn’t think I’d need to. It drains me, makes my face break out, my hair frizz. It irritates my irritable bowel.
I ease shut the door, sit down on the front step to let it pass.
My mind wanders. I extend a canine, scrape it free of plaque with the point of a nail, wipe it on my shirt, resume scraping. I’m doubting myself. I can’t help it. Part of me wants to just morph into a bat and fly away. I can’t though. I mean, I can, it’s just that I know I’d regret it. Also my bat form has mange, which makes flying exceedingly uncomfortable. I make a mental note to consult a veterinarian about it, maybe get some kind of topical ointment prescribed.
My mind wanders deeper, back to some of my earlier, more notable embarrassing experiences.
My poisoning in Macedonia for instance. That was humiliating. My bowels voided in front of Aristotle. My bludgeoning in Carthage wasn’t much better, neither was my lion-rending in Rome. That one was witnessed by Caligula and ten thousand laughing Romans.
“Hey dude?” Cracks a voice behind me. “Got a smoke?”
I growl, just a trifle. Lion snarl through a megaphone.
The smoke-seeker vanishes almost as fast as I can. Almost.
I surge forward through my memories, roughly a dozen centuries or so. To Main Street, Moose jaw, Saskatchewan. To the Galaxy Cinemas Movie Theater. To my coffin-sized, bachelor apartment amongst the rats and earthworms beneath. To that fateful fall night in 2008, when I decided to venture upstairs. To the movie I watched awe-struck from the shadows. The movie about a town in the Pacific Northwest. A town called Forks, where vampires were rich and gorgeous, glittery and fashionably dressed. It was called Twilight. It captured my imagination.
I’d seen dozens of vampire movies before Twilight.
Nosferatu in Germany, 1924.
Dracula in Chicago, 1935
Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Sheboygan, 1993
They were all the same, and they all scared the mist out of me. Malevolent vampire gets executed by benevolent human at the tip of a pointy stake. That was pretty much every vampire flick in a nutshell. Until Twilight that is.
In Twilight, the vampire was the good guy. The shining hero. The romantic leading man.
After watching it for the eighth time, the seed of a plan began growing in my mind.
I would go to Forks.
I’d abandon Bertram Bjorn, club-footed vampire with eternal acne, immortal muffin-top, and self-esteem issues older than the pyramids. I’d become Emmett Collins; a brooding, mysterious heart-throb. Just like Edward Cullen. Only real difference would be our reaction to sunlight. In Twilight, Edward sparkles in the sun. Me? In the sun? Well, I’d promptly explode like a spaghetti-filled Tupperware left in the microwave too long.
Good thing Washington State is cloudy.
My plan was almost complete. I was in Forks. I’d enrolled in high school. I asked a kid from a nearby reservation if he was a werewolf (he didn’t answer, just looked at me funny). I’d spent four hours trying to make my hair look like I just rolled out of bed. I was cinched into a girdle I dug out of a dead ladies grave. I had orthopedic lifts in my thousand dollar shoes.
Now I just needed to get up. To get my confidence back, to get in the game. To get into that party. To enchant them, seduce them, earn their love and respe—
“You lost, loser?” Says the Forks Spartans defensive lineman as he empties his beer over my head. Flanking him, the running back and wide receiver snort like drunk hyenas.
O positive, B positive, and ooh, yummy; AB negative.
Napoleon was AB negative. So was Elvis.
The beer is cold, fizzy. It stings my eyes.
For an instant, I forget myself. Forget all about my plan, my sparkly Forks future.
Unfortunately, an instant is all it takes.
I don’t drain them romantically ala Edward Cullen, with a longing gaze, gentle caress and powerfully pronounced cheekbones.
I dig right in, no dinner manners.
Jugulars fly like silly string.
As the blood lust subsides, two things immediately cross my mind. One, I only have seconds before someone comes out of that house and sees what I’ve done. Two, I’m never getting my money back for these clothes, receipt or no receipt. Entrails drape off me like tinsel on a Christmas tree.
You know what? Screw it.
What was I thinking?
My shoulders slump. A dogs leash length of large intestine plops off my collar.
This was never going to work.
I’m not Emmett Collins. I’m not even Phil Collins. I’m certainly not Edward Cullen.
I’m Bertrand Bjorn. A vampire. A real vampire. Not sparkly and gentle and beautiful, but vicious and cold and deadly. There’s no use fighting it. It’s my nature. Who am I kidding? I’m a killer. A Tyrannosaurus Rex, a killer shark, a Bengal tiger.
I’m completely drenched in blood.
I’m knee deep in a cord wood stack of body parts.
A girl with braces and a Taylor Swift t-shirt just spotted me through the living room window. She’s screaming and pointing, pointing and screaming.
You know what? There’s really only one thing left to do.
Embrace my nature. Embrace the evil. Embrace the vampire.
Why fight it?
I’m going to go inside that house, lock the door behind me, and eat every single last one of—
I smell burning meat before I hear the bacon grease sizzle.
I look to the East.
Hmm? How long was I wandering down memory lane.
Too long, apparently.
It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful, cloudless morning.