Chapter 3: Flight
I woke with the sunset. I lay in the dark, still as only a vampire can be, and tried to orient myself to where I was. The place smelled of me, but everything also smelled new. Fur was under my cheek and draped across my legs, and I could smell the dry smell of old books. And just a hint of some other, enchanting scent, redolent of sweetness and sunlight.
I uncurled from the way I was tucked onto the bed, pushing myself up onto one elbow. As soon as I moved, the motion-sensitive lights in the room came up and I threw my free arm up for a second to minimize the brightness against my eyes.
My room. My – and Sookie’s – house.
I listened carefully, but I didn’t hear anyone else moving upstairs and the bond with Sookie indicated she was away from the house, and in a surprisingly calm mood. I waited to feel for any of the anger and frustration that had been constantly rumbling around inside her the day before, but tonight all I felt was … resignation.
Feeling that Sookie was still somewhere other than close to the house, I decided to emerge from my room and explore my new surroundings a bit more. If this was my house, maybe I would see something that would remind me of my past.
I was very confused by the time I had made my way through the entire farmhouse. I had found Sookie’s bedroom on a top floor, a girlishly pretty room with floral wall paper and a family quilt on the small double bed. It smelled of Sookie, but I was surprised that her scent did not seem to be as completely ingrained into the surfaces in the way I would have expected if she had slept in the room regularly. Instead, like the rest of the house, I detected her fragrance as a recent overlay.
And the only place in the entire house that truly smelled of me was my underground room.
I eventually dropped onto the couch to ponder what this meant. The house had obviously been very recently been refurbished and neither Sookie nor I had been living in the newly redone space for any length of time. And yet, looking at the style of the décor, what I saw was Sookie’s influence; my room had a distinct look to it that set it apart from the rest of the house. I thought the rest of the house looked nice, but nothing spoke to me personally the way my room did; the rest of the house was clearly Sookie’s domain.
All I could speculate was that for some reason, I had redone the house to suit Sookie. Maybe I had intended it as a gift? Or maybe I had owed her for something? But why did Sookie act as if I had refused to give it to her?
It was hopelessly confusing. But as much as I wanted to ask Sookie to explain it, I realized I was almost afraid to know because I wasn’t sure I would like what it revealed about my normal character.
My mood was not helped by the realization that I was hungry.
Remembering that Sookie had mentioned providing me with TruBlood, I checked the refrigerator, but all I found were normal human foods. I eyed a pack of hamburger, which was tinged with bloody liquid around the edges, but even I wasn’t quite that desperate. Yet.
Going back to the living room, I found the remote to the TV and put that on for a while, intending to while away some time until Sookie came back – hopefully with something to eat.
I was engrossed in an Asian horror movie when I heard the rumble of a large truck in the drive. I had already sped to one side of the door to see who had arrived while staying out of sight when the doorbell rang.
It appeared to be some kind of delivery man in a uniform, holding an electronic signature pad. He had just set a large shipping box at his feet immediately outside the front door.
I weighed the risks for a moment but then cautiously opened the door. I had more confidence in my ability to protect myself against humans now that I understood my own strength a bit better.
“Delivery for Stackhouse,” the man said disinterestedly. “I need a signature.” He thrust the electronic device at me.
I could see the vein in his neck pumping in the pool of light from the porch light. My fangs tingled, but I fought the urge to drop them instantly. I did lick my lips, though.
Gods, I was hungry.
“Uh…sure,” I muttered, taking the electronic clipboard and leaving a vague scrawl that could have been deciphered as anything, although I had been careful to include an oversized “S” (for Stackhouse) as part of it.
“Here you go.” After I had handed back the device, the delivery man had picked up the shipping box and offered it to me.
I peered at the label: Davis’ Big & Tall in Shreveport. Evidently, I now had something other than Jason Stackhouse’s old gym clothes to wear, presumably courtesy of Pam per her agreement with Sookie.
“Have a good night.” The man had started to turn away and head back down the steps.
“Wait!” When he turned back I caught his gaze and said in a low voice, “You don’t recall any details about this delivery beyond that it was successful. You don’t recall the house, you don’t recall who the package was from and you don’t recall who accepted it. Just mark it as delivered and then forget the rest.”
He nodded his head dreamily at me and said slowly, “No problem. Will that be all?”
Pump. Pump. Pump.
His neck was calling me.
No. If I could just have a sip of you…
And then I pictured Sookie’s reaction if she discovered I had fed on a delivery man on her doorstep.
I’m sure assessments of me as rude and biting asshole would be the very least of it.
Lost in my desire to feed but stymied by my concern about how it would look to my housemate, my fingers slipped on the edge of the package, letting it tumble to the porch floor. The delivery man jumped, jolted out of my glamour. He blinked expressionlessly at me.
“Sorry. I didn’t have a very good hold on the box,” I muttered, stooping to pick up the package again. “Thanks.”
“Sure. Uh, sure…Good night, sir.” The delivery man seemed to shake himself before turning towards the porch steps. I watched the man walk towards his van, his stride growing more certain as he moved down the path, his mind evidently clearing. I closed Sookie’s front door and waited until I heard the van pull away before taking the box into the dining room to open it up on the table there.
It contained some jeans, a handful of plaid shirts, some sort of long-sleeved cotton tops with buttons, athletic shoes, and a denim jacket with a corduroy collar.
No underwear. No socks.
I eyed the plaid shirts with particular wariness; they reminded me of the thugs in Shreveport who had assaulted me. I sighed. I guess that was the point of dressing like a local. I had to admit, having experienced the locals’ reaction to my normal style of dress, this Northern Louisiana camouflage certainly seemed less likely to attract attention.
Uncertain where Sookie would want me to put my clothes since there was not a closet in my cubby, I left the box on the dining room table and went back to the living room to resume watching the movie.
It was a ghost story and there were the requisite long-haired, dark-eyed spirits lurking under furniture and outside windows. I was enjoying it while waiting for Sookie.
But then came the blood.
The humans had begun to have visions of the extremely gruesome ends of the ghosts’ previous victims and the scenes were swimming in blood.
Rationally, I knew it was whatever was used in movies to create the illusion of blood, but my fangs popped out, long and hard at the sight. I groaned with hunger and accidentally cut the edge of my lip on the tip of a fang in my frustration. Using my tongue to lick my own blood off my lip, I grew aroused at the taste and smell. The faint smell of Sookie in the house wasn’t helping. I was so hungry.
I realized I could not stand to sit here and wait for Sookie to come back.
Especially because I suddenly feared that instead of grabbing the TruBlood she had promised when she came in the door, I would try to grab her. And I had sworn I would neither touch nor bite her.
I had to find something to at least have a snack on, and fast, before I was tempted to break my solemn vow.
Sookie – we – lived in the middle of nowhere.
I went out the back door into the yard, trying to decide which way to go. To the front of the house ran the road that we had driven in on and which led towards town; behind the house and to one side were thick woods. To the other side of the house was a more open area that led towards a cemetery. In the distance on that side, I could see the lights of another home. Otherwise, the countryside was dark, except for the light of the waxing moon.
I cursed to myself as I debated about which way to go; if only I had some way to see which direction looked most promising.
And then the most fucking amazing thing happened.
I was standing in the yard, wishing I could see from a higher vantage point when suddenly I was. I was at roof-top level, hovering in the dark above the ground, able to see in every direction around Sookie’s house.
I could fly.
Or float. Or something.
I tentatively rose higher into the air until I was well above the tree tops and able to see more clearly what surrounded me.
The house on the other side of the cemetery was the nearest neighbor and from my new position, I could see that it was extremely large and well-lit.
I could also smell humans. Lots of humans.
My fangs distended and nearly aching with craving, I flew in the direction of the cemetery.
The human smells were definitely coming from the well-maintained but clearly ancient plantation-style home on the far side of the cemetery. Still skittish after the attack in Shreveport, I hovered along the tree line, careful to stay hidden among the upper levels of branches.
There were several humans, mostly male, on the property below. All were dressed in dark, military-style clothing with dark knit hats pulled low over their heads. They were scattered around the perimeter of the land and moving in orderly grid patterns clearly designed to protect the building at their center.
They were all armed.
I frowned, baffled as to why a home so close to Sookie’s would be protected with such a high level of security.
And then I smelled vampire.
I wanted to get closer to the house to investigate, but I was concerned I would be spotted by the guards if I came near any of the exposed windows to peer inside, so I kept back.
Vampires are generally security-conscious, but such an extensive cadre of protectors indicated a relatively high level of status in the vampire political structure. Nonetheless, I was confused. A fully human squad made no sense as adequate protection for a powerful vampire, and I couldn’t imagine why an authority of relatively high rank would be in such an isolated area of the state rather than somewhere more populated. What sort of position did this vamp hold?
Perhaps it was a local political duty, I deduced.
Maybe it was the Area Sheriff.
I felt a small leap of hope at the thought. Maybe the Sheriff would have an idea of what might be done to help me regain my memory. Or perhaps he or she could be relied on to intervene in whatever plans Sookie’s ex-boyfriend Bill had to kill me.
On the other hand…
I frowned as I watched a human guard pace the length of a pathway below me. What kind of Sheriff would need so many sentries, particularly human ones? Not a strong one, which was not reassuring if I was looking for an ally.
And Pam hadn’t suggested taking me to the local Sheriff; in fact, she thought no one should know where I was.
Clearly she didn’t feel the Area Sheriff could be counted on to help me. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where the fault for that would lie – in the Sheriff’s character? Or in mine? Maybe whoever I was normally had left a trail of enemies instead of allies behind him, including the local vampire authorities who would know him – me – best.
I drew back even further among the remaining leaves around me.
I didn’t know who I could trust—besides Sookie. And maybe Pam. Whoever the vampire was who lived in this mansion, I shouldn’t make myself known until I knew more about him or her. And what relationship we might usually have.
One of the armed guards walked beneath the tree where I hovered and I could smell the unremarkable but still hunger-rousing scent of his blood. I had never withdrawn my fangs after leaving the house and now they felt as turgid and eager to be embedded in flesh as a teenaged boy’s morning erection. I inhaled and had to stifle the hungry moan that nearly resulted for fear the human would hear me and look up.
As the man walked past my tree in the dark, I considered whether I could simply overpower him, but ruled that out since I didn’t know what kind of ammunition was in his weapon. There was no way to tell if his bullets were standard-issue, silver or something far more deadly to my kind, like wood. I was fast, but if he was trained and I was even slightly distracted – as I had to concede that I was, due to my hunger – I could be injured or even killed.
Perhaps I should try to glamour him instead. I had been pleasantly surprised at how easy it had been for me to glamour the delivery man just a bit earlier. Apparently, the ability to glamour was, as the human phrase went, like riding a bike: a skill rendered basically instinctual once learned, and quickly regained even if momentarily forgotten. My plan was to zip down at vamp speed, catch his eye and subsequently his mind, and then have a quick bite – just enough to take the edge off –and then release him without having harmed him. At least, not much.
By now, he was a few short yards past my hidden location and I was just about to make my move when it occurred to me. If his vampire employer was someone important and I drank without permission from a guard – even a little bit – that might not go over well.
As much as I wanted to bite the man below – or any of the guards – unless I knew what risks I was taking, it was not safe.
Now the smell of the human seemed almost taunting as he strolled away into the dark.
Frustrated with hunger, I blasted up into the sky to escape the mouth-watering smell of a dinner I dared not have.
I spent some time flying surreptitiously through the night sky over Bon Temps, but every time I saw a human that I considered drinking, no opportunity seemed quite right. They were too publicly exposed; they were not alone; they smelled unappetizingly of alcohol. One was a petite blonde that reminded me of Sookie, which made me feel guilty that I was stalking her neighbors for food, something I was suddenly sure she would not approve of.
I wondered if I normally cared this much about who I ate and why, or whether it was just the result of my reliance on Sookie and her good will. I did not want to offend her and it made me cautious in my choices even when out of her sight. Thoughts of Sookie’s opinion of me – especially her clear assessment that I was normally some sort of threat to her – gave me pause. Already apprehensive about what I had done wrong in my normal state to make her so angry and frustrated with me, I was reluctant to add to what appeared to be my sins as far as she was concerned. And while I suppose I could have lied to her about my actions in order to appease her, something in me resisted being deceitful with her. I wanted to earn her trust and earn it legitimately.
Leaving the small cluster of lights in downtown Bon Temps behind, I flew back towards the woods, reluctantly but resignedly deciding I should hunt other prey tonight.
If Sookie herself ate meat, I thought she would forgive me for pursuing an animal as food in a way she would not if I ate an unwilling human.
I followed my nose and my ears as I flew over the forest, alert to anything living. For the most part, I could sense only small animals, too small to be worth my taking.
I also caught an unexpected whiff of werewolves in one particular clearing, probably some regular meeting place for the local pack. There were none present this night, although I noted that with the moon nearing full, they might be visiting again soon.
In the end, I finally ate a deer I captured in the woods. It wasn’t much, but it was hot and fresh, and as I drank it, I felt the worst of my intense hunger diminish. As I knelt on the ground over its cooling body, I felt a strange sense of identification with my victim. I felt as if I never knew when something was going to come out of the dark and seize me for its own purposes. But unlike the deer I had just consumed, I suspected that I would not be an innocent victim, but somehow deserving of whatever targets were on my back.
When I had finished eating, I thought about returning home to Sookie. I could feel through the bond that she was curious and perhaps mildly concerned, but otherwise at peace. Maybe having me out of the house was a relief.
For all that I couldn’t remember who I was, I suddenly realized that I already wanted to forget who I seemed to be; someone who frightened and angered Sookie, who provoked murderous thoughts in others. It seemed so far from who I was at the moment and I didn’t think I wanted to get any closer to that version of me.
Uncomfortable with the increasingly glum nature of my thoughts, I decided to distract myself for a while longer by exploring the area without any particular goal in mind. I had realized something as I skimmed through the cool October air in search of a meal: I loved to fly. Anxious to leave the increasingly heavy burden of who I might be behind, I launched myself into the night sky again, willfully enjoying the sensation of the air stroking my body and the wind ruffling my hair. I still had an appetite, but it seemed less important as I coasted along on the air currents. And as I soared beneath the waxing moon, I felt increasingly free and maybe even a little bit happy in the moment.
A/N: Poor Eric. He’s trying to figure out who he must be normally, but he’s working through his theories based on the information he is learning from other people – who don’t know the more vulnerable side of him that he works so hard to hide. I don’t think he’s as bad as he is already beginning to fear he is. Thanks for reading and reviewing! XOXOXOXO