“If you want to join us,” he said, “you’ll find a human, half-turn them and call the number.

Then we’ll talk.

Perhaps you’ll be desperate enough in a few days of trying to survive alone by yourself… Remember, the trick is to stop before you feel you’ve started.” I looked at him in confusion.

Before I could ask him anything else, he bent down, picked up the human again, and followed the others.

I stared after them as the group disappeared into the trees.

I had no idea where they were heading.

And I had no idea what I would do now that I’d been left alone again.

I breathed more freely as they rushed off, the scent of human blood becoming fainter and fainter.

But I was beginning to feel the burning again.

The agony I’d endured in the sun had taken a lot out of me.

Once they’d disappeared, I looked down at the phone, then slipped it into my pocket.

I didn’t know what I was going to do now.

But somehow, going with them didn’t feel like the right path.

I was giving into darkness enough as it was.

Something told me that their company might make it settle permanently over my eyes.

I was better off trying to figure myself out on my own.

What they did to humans and the way they managed wherever it was they lived—it seemed to be everything my parents had come to fight against.

Besides, I didn’t know them.

They could have been enemies of The Shade for all I knew.

As I made my way across the hot sand back toward my submarine, trying to run as quickly as I could beneath the sun’s rays, the craving for blood returning full force, I felt glad that I hadn’t told them my real name.

Not just for my own safety, but because I didn’t want to mar the name of my parents.

Chapter 4: Ben

In many ways, returning to the submarine was a foolish move, especially since I’d already detected my hunger coming back.

It wasn’t more than a few hours before my eyes became clouded again and my bloodlust took over my brain.

I found myself navigating back toward shore and arrived by the time it was evening.

I had reached some South American coast.

As I climbed out of the hatch, part of me dreaded what I might find, while the other part of me was trembling with anticipation.

For the rush that would once again fill my veins with ecstasy.

The beach I’d landed on seemed quite empty.

I stalked along for several miles, but on still finding nobody, moved further inland.

I walked through a tree-lined path, sniffing the night air for any sign of human proximity.

I stopped abruptly as I reached a main road.

The occasional car whizzed by, but otherwise it was quiet.

But it didn’t take long for me to find a square full of people.

Young people, not much older than myself, hanging on the swings and smoking.

As soon as I laid eyes on them, I was a lost cause.

I sped into the center of the square like a flash of light.

They barely knew what hit them.

I rushed off, a man in my arms, my fangs already burying deep into his neck as I ran.

The screams of the others drowned out as I lifted him up a tree and finished sucking out every last drop from his veins.

Then I let go of the body, letting it smash against the concrete below.

The pleasure was still lighting up my brain.

It was still too early for the horror and guilt to kick in.

I’d expected to feel full after consuming that man.

But I didn’t.

I had room for another.

Perhaps it was the sun that had drained me, or perhaps my bloodlust was increasing, I didn’t know.

I didn’t care.

I just knew what I wanted.

And I took it—a young woman this time, from the same square.

Scooping her up in my arms, I raced with her back toward the beach.

I stopped outside the vessel, finishing the last of her blood before discarding her body in the waves and climbing in.

I closed the hatch above me and leaned back against the metal wall, closing my eyes and relishing the fresh rush of blood flowing through me, nourishing every cell of my body.

I felt so strong I could crush a ball of iron with my fist.

So drunk on blood I felt invincible.

I’d had no idea that blood could make a vampire feel like this.

It satisfied their hunger, the burning in the stomach, that I understood… but this? It was like a drug to me.

I couldn’t remember even my father describing bloodlust with this much intensity.

I pulled myself to my feet and staggered toward the control room, putting the vessel into reverse and moving away from the shore.

I stopped about three miles out, lying back down on the floor, staring up at the dark ceiling.

It felt like I was in the early stages of an addiction.

The more I killed, the more I felt the urge for it.

It seemed to be easier and easier each time I tried.

Each gulp of blood I drank came with less guilt.

Less hesitation.

It was only after five hours of sitting alone in the submarine that the slightest flicker of guilt resurfaced in my dark mind.

I can’t keep killing like this.

And yet I knew that I would as long as I remained alone in this submarine.

I had nobody to hold me back.

Even when I tried to stay away from the shore, once the darkness clouded my mind I just found myself returning again.

I walked over to the bathroom and stared at myself again in the mirror.

I almost yelled in shock.

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