Damon Salvatore

          “Where the hell have you been?” Solape demanded as soon as I walked in the back door. I cursed under my breath. So much for hoping I could go in quietly and avoid this confrontation until morning. It was going on four o’clock already so technically, it was already morning. I cursed under my breath again, wondering how I’d gotten myself into this situation in the first place. I’d never stayed out this late before, not in the two years that we’d lived together before getting married or the 18 months since then. I wasn’t that man, I’m not that man. Sure, there was usually a little flirting here, an escapade or two there, but I always came back home to Solape. Last night, I had no idea what happened or how time had slipped away from me.
I’d left work early and had planned to spend just a couple of hours with Cynthia, the hot youth corper who’d joined the IT department six weeks ago. I should have been home before ten, counting traffic and all, but somehow, I’d started awake in the room at Four Points at past three in the morning. Cynthia was already gone by then and a part of me was almost doubting the whole night had happened at all. I couldn’t really remember much of it. Yeah, we left work separately and met up at The Four Points. We’d had a few drinks and then everything else after that was a blank.
          “I’m so sorry.” I said, my mind spinning. All through the 22 minutes it took to get home, I’d racked my brain for a plausible excuse to give her but maybe I’d had a little too much to drink because I’d felt woozy and hadn’t been able to think.
          “I got caught up with work and didn’t…” I started lamely. Even I knew just how ridiculous I sounded.
          “You’re such a liar!” Solape screamed. “I saw you, you bastard!”
          “Stop shouting, you’ll wake the neighbours!” I said reaching out to calm her.
          “Don’t touch me!” she slapped my hands away. “I saw you drive off with that dumb slut!”
          “Solape…”
          “You think I’m stupid? How long has it been going on? How many more are there?”
          “I didn’t…”
          “You didn’t what, sleep with her? So you were busy discussing how to help Buhari salvage the naira in that suite at Four Points, bah?”
Shit!
I bet my stunned silence gave me away, that’s if she’d believed anything I’d said anyways. Seeing the caught-with-your-hand-in-the-cookie-jar look on my face made her go from angry to livid in a heartbeat.
          “You’re just a man-whore!” she spat. “
          “I…I’m sorry…” I didn’t know what else to say. I truly was sorry. I’d had no intentions of sleeping with Cynthia, at least not so soon, not to talk of spending half the night with her. Sure, there had been a lot of flirting going on between us for the last few weeks, nothing harmful, just a bit of fun. I honestly have no idea what came over me, I really don’t.
          “Sorry?” she narrowed her eyes at me. “That’s all you have to say?”
Funny how the weirdest things come to you in the weirdest moments. Right then, all I could think was how really beautiful my wife was and I was reminded of all the things I loved about her; her feisty spirit, her leggy 5’ 9’’ frame, her intelligent mind and how deeply passionate she can get. I guess you can say that my life was sort of flashing before my eyes because my very passionate wife grabbed the wrought iron skillet from the top of the cooker and took a swing at my head. I had another stunned moment and I didn’t react quickly enough to dodge the blow. Vegetable oil that smelled like dodo flew onto my shirt a split second before the skillet connected with the side of my head. I didn’t feel a thing. My lights just winked out, like a switch had been flicked.

                                                                                *

Instantaneous death by severe trauma to the head might be painless, but I tell you, coming back to life after a wallop like that hurts like a bitch. My heart starting again felt like a lorry ramming into my chest. I felt the blood pushing through my atriums and ventricles and forcing its way through collapsed blood vessels. Next was the indescribable pain from all the pressure in my brain. Think of your worst migraine magnified a thousand times over and then some. When the skillet had connected with the left side of my head, it had sent a crack through it (damn, Solape does pack a good wallop!) and ruptured several blood vessels in my brain before sending it on a waltz towards the opposite side of my skull. My brain continued that dance back and forth a few more times, during which blood and cerebrospinal fluid started to leak through the crack in my skull. I felt every single bit of that process in reverse waking up, probably because I was gaining consciousness rather than losing it, and let’s just put it this way: there’s a good reason dying was designed as a one way street.
As my brain came to life and sent signals to my lungs, I took in a breath of moist earth and that caused me to choke, taking in more sand. My eyes flew open and it was dark around me. The panic that engulfed me escalated the excruciating pains already in my head and chest and in almost every reawakening cell in my body.
I tried to scream but my mouth became filled with the same moist earth that was burning through my airways. I grappled and grabbed at the earth all around me, desperate for escape. I kicked my feet beneath me and pushed myself into a half standing position and then finally, my face rose out of my shallow grave and I gulped in lungful after lungful of air.
I crawled out of the ground and discovered that I had been lying in my backyard. Someone had dug the patch of dirt in which the neighbours’ children usually played about four feet or so and dumped me in it. The grey pants and light blue shirt I’d worn to work on Wednesday were filthy with dark soil stains on them. I had no idea what day of the week it was. I’d come home in the early hours of Thursday when I’d had the confrontation with Solape but had no clue how much time had elapsed since then. It was dark and quiet in the backyard and there didn’t seem to be anyone about. I pulled myself out of the ground my mind reeling. I expected to wake up at any moment and discover I’d had a really bad dream, talk of a really wacky episode of The Vampire Diaries or any other one of those soaps Solape loves to watch so much.
I stumbled to the back door, my banging head in my hands. Weirdly, the one thing on my mind was the bottle of Jack Daniels in the cabinet above the sink. My throat was parched and I felt a thirst like I’d never felt before and it was like I would lose my mind if I didn’t have a drink immediately. I pulled the back door open in desperation and then rammed into an invisible wall. What the heck? The barrier stunned me and sent waves of pain through my entire body again. It was like there was a force field in the way stopping me from walking over the threshold to my house.
Damn, when am I gonna wake up from this weird dream?
          “Lara?” Solape called out from the living room.
Lara is Solape’s sister who by the way hates my guts. Always has, always will. Lara lives in Abuja and I didn’t know she was in town. Just great, like I wasn’t having a bitch of a day already.
          “The door is open, come in.” Solape said.
I heard her footsteps rapidly approach the kitchen.
In an instant, the invisible barrier seemed to melt away and I practically fell through the doorway into the kitchen.
“I’m so glad you’re finally here.” Solape was saying. “I’ve been so scared…”
She trailed off and froze when she saw me. Her eyes went wide with disbelief and her lips started to tremble. I started to understand for the first time what ‘looking like you’ve seen a ghost’ really must look like. The look on Solape’s face was one of such incredulity it was almost comical.
          “Kayode?” she gasped, one hand clutching at her chest like she was on the verge of a heart attack. “You’re…it can’t be…what…you are dead!
I pulled myself from the floor grasping at the chest freezer that sat by the door.
          “What do you mean dead?” I croaked and spat sand out of my mouth.
She seemed to recover from her shock at the sound of my voice and she stumbled away from me, her face now a mask of raw terror.
          “I…you were dead…I…”
I shook my head to clear it.
          “What are you talking about!”
          “You were in there for over 24 hours, you couldn’t have…”
In where!
          “You buried me in the backyard?” I said in confusion.
Solape turned and fled then and I went after her, more out of confusion than to do her any harm like she seemed to believe I would. I still didn’t understand why my wife would think I was dead and then burry me and then be terrified of me. I guess coming back from the dead does scramble a few of your wires.
          “Stay away from me!” she screamed and ran for the stairs.
          “What is going on?” I asked making a grab for her.
Damn, I really needed that drink. Could she just stop this drama long enough for me to have a little chat with Jack, pretty please?
She screamed again and tried to kick at me and lost her balance on the stairs. She fell and hit her head on the bannister.
          “Oh my God, are you alright?”
I ran to her and helped her up. She had a little gash on the side of her head and it started to bleed down the side of her face.
She started to scream hysterically and tried to fight me off. She kicked and scratched and kicked some more and all that just made me thirstier and it felt like if I didn’t have a drink soon, I would explode. I felt the blood rush to my head and my pulse quicken. My heart started to pound until the sound of its thudding filled my head, drowning out Solape’s pleas not to hurt her. Through the haze in my head, I looked at the blood dripping down her face and I could feel its salty, metallic taste on my tongue. I felt a sweet ache in my gums and an euphoric sense of exhilaration filled me as I sank my now protruding canines into her neck and took a deep, deep drink.

                                                                                *

I tried to stop. I honestly did but the thirst was too strong for me. I really didn’t mean to drain all five litres of blood from Solape’s body. I meant to have just a little drink to quench that awful thirst but once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop until she was all dry. Even then, I went ahead to lick off every last drop from her face and head wound.
I was aware that my heart had stopped beating and my lungs had ceased to function. I didn’t need them to anymore. I was finally undead. I guess that first drink of blood from a living human had been the final step in my transformation. I had become a creature of the night, an abomination of the natural order of life, a vampire. The thought made me want to whack myself on the head, hopefully un-cross my jumbled wires. A vampire. How ridiculous. That’s just some hocus pocus writers and TV producers made up to captivate impressionable viewers like Solape. Everyone knows such nonsense doesn’t exist. I’m a vampire. The notion is so ridiculous that I almost burst into laughter. But Solape’s lifeless body in my arms sure wasn’t finding the whole thing funny.

Everything came back to me then. The little rendezvous with Cynthia, how a little fooling around had turned into the night that would change my life forever. I remember telling her it was getting late and that it was time to leave and that we would meet up again soon. She had smiled and looked directly into my eyes. I remember her big brown eyes being so hypnotic and how I’d felt like I was drowning in them. I’d felt light headed looking into her eyes and I’d felt, rather than heard her voice in my head.
You won’t remember any of this she’d said as veins bulged around her bloodshot eyes and her lips pulled back to reveal fangs. You won’t be scared of me and you’ll do exactly as I say.
All my fear and confusion had melted away then and I’d felt safe and secure with her. At that moment, I would have slit my own throat for her had she asked. I felt a twinge of pain as she bit into my neck but that was alright. I wasn’t scared at all. She fed on my blood several times during the night and it seemed like the more of it she had, the more breath-taking and exquisitely beautiful she became.
Do you think I’m beautiful? I haven’t done so bad for a girl who’s going on 180 and has moved around a lot.
Even though I knew that this beautiful creature would most likely kill me, I was calm as a cucumber, just like she’d asked me to be. I didn’t seem to have any will of my own, I was a puppet on a string.
No I won’t kill you sweetie. I like you very much and I think we’re going to be really good pals.
I must have passed out at some point, maybe from exhaustion or the loss of blood. I woke up to find Cynthia kneeling over me, a syringe in her hand.
Don’t worry sweetie, just a little bit of my blood to help you get your strength back.
I’d smiled at her. I felt more alive than I’d felt in my entire life and the dull throb that had been in my busted knee for over four years was gone.
Yes Baby, I might be dead but my blood can heal you puny humans. Just make sure no one wrings your neck in the next 24 hours. We’d both laughed at her joke and I hadn’t understood then what she meant. I guess dying with vampire blood in my veins guaranteed that I wouldn’t stay dead.

I sat on the floor at the foot of the stairs with Solape’s limp body still in my arms. I realized belatedly that had I stopped myself before she died, my blood would have been able to revive Solape. Looking down at her horror death-mask, I ignored the urge to check to see if there was still possibly any dregs of blood left in her body. Just a little taste to rid me of the dryness at the back of my throat. The curtains in the dining room to my left were pulled back and I watched the sun start to rise through them. I made no attempts to run for cover as my skin started to sizzle and blister. Knowing I’d failed Solape in every way possible, I dropped a little kiss on her grey lips just before I finally burst into flames.

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