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Sacred Rituals

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One Year Before

The night was still very young and Sai finished an early shift at the bar, ready to get home and finish his painting before he could start a new one. There was a festival continuing that night in the town and he challenged himself to speed paint the crowd beneath his balcony. He loved festival weeks. They were the best time to be creative. He was glad that he lived in a town that had festivals very often. He was also glad that the town had such an active nightlife. Most events in the town were held at night. He never questioned why but he just loved that it was like that.

The crowd had not yet come out as everyone was probably just getting ready for the night. That gave Sai enough time. He made his way through the streets, taking back alleys the closer he got to his apartment on the other side of the town. Just a few more minutes and he would be home.

As he turned into one of the last few alleyways, he felt something shift in the air. The nice feeling of a festival turned dark quickly. His steps halted for a moment before he shook his head and continued on, thinking it was just his imagination. He did just work a whole shift after barely sleeping the night before. After a few steps, he felt something move behind him that quickly disappeared. The sudden movement caught his attention and he looked back, seeing no one. He was almost home, though, so he thought nothing of it.

Sai continued walking, only to be startled by a shadowy figure standing at the end of the alleyway, right where he needed to go. He could feel a dark aura coming from the figure. “Who are you?” he asked, taking a step back. The shadow did not answer. “What do you want?” Again, no answer. Sai took a deep breath and turned to run.

He only made it a few steps before he was tackled to the ground, his jaw hitting the ground hard. He could taste a little blood in his mouth. His attacker growled, pressing their hand hard against the back of his head and shoving his face into the ground. Sai struggled against them, trying to break free but they were oddly strong. As soon as he was about to reach back at his attacker, he felt a stabbing sensation in the bend of his neck.

He struggled some more, letting out a pained grunt that turned into a weak yell for help and no matter how much he moved, they did not release him. He could feel himself getting tired and weaker. He dropped his hands, unable to move them much from how weak he was becoming. After what felt like forever, once he could not move, he was sure he was going to die. He hoped he was going to die. It would be a release from what was happening to him.

However, just as he started to hope, he began to feel the worst pain he had ever felt in his life. It was as if he was being stabbed internally by icy shards. He tried to scream but he was too weak to actually let anything out. It became unbearable and not too long later, everything went black.

* * * * * * * *

Sai woke up with a gasp. His head hurt and for some reason, so did the rest of him. As his vision cleared, he realized he was still in the alleyway and then all the memories of what happened just before he passed out started flooding back. He quickly sat up, holding his head as his headache pounded hard. After a few seconds, he honed in on a small hissing that was dangerously close to his ear. Once the pain registered, he realized it was his skin burning. The sun had risen. Sai had always been abnormally pale but the sun had never burned his skin off when he was in it before. He quickly moved to the shadows in the back of the alley. That did not help at all. He needed to get home quickly.

He bore the pain of the sun rays for a few more minutes as he ran through the morning street crowds on his last few turns home. He could not get inside fast enough but once he did, he slammed the door shut, pressing his back against it. He had not realized he was breathing heavily. Everything hurt, his throat was dry, and he had a very intense craving for something he never had a craving for before. Blood. “What is wrong with me?” he muttered softly to himself. He looked ahead at the staircase that led up to his apartment. There was no way he could go up there. His apartment let in a lot of sunlight. He was not sure how much of it he could handle before the rest of his skin burned off. He let out a heavy sigh, tilting his head back and resting it against the door.

He took a few minutes to calm himself down. Though he had hoped for death when it was happening, he thanked whatever gods existed that he was still alive after being attacked like that. The crime in the town was never much of an issue as long as he had been living there so he never thought he had to worry about anything like that. He wondered, for a moment, if what he had just experienced was a vampire attack. He knew vampires lived among the humans in the town but they hardly ever attacked and they were very discreet about their existence for fear of being hunted. Maybe this one was a rogue? Or maybe it was not from the area and came from somewhere where vampires and humans cannot coexist as well as they did in the town.

He looked around the small area between his front door and staircase, looking for something he could cover himself with while he closed all of the curtains in his apartment. He opted for a coat that hung on a hook on the wall beside him. He put it over his head and slowly started to make his way up the stairs to his apartment.

The coat only worked but so much and he realized it quickly when he could feel his skin still burning a little bit. He made quick work of closing the curtains as best as he could. Once his apartment was dark enough, he let the coat fall to the floor. The first thing he needed to do was inspect his body and injuries so he went into his bathroom.

The pain from the sun almost made him afraid to use his bathroom light so he hesitated hard for a few moments, debating on whether or not he should risk it. He took a deep breath and knew he would not be able to figure out if the light would hurt him if he did not try. So he turned it on, flinching hard and bracing himself for the pain.

But there was none.

He sighed deeply in relief and continued on into the bathroom toward the mirror. His face was dirty and had a few nasty scrapes from being shoved into the ground. He could see the parts of his skin that were burnt severely from being in the sun. He tilted his head slightly and saw the spot where he thought he was stabbed and was coming to the conclusion that he was bitten.

The next thing that Sai noticed was his eyes. They were very different. They had gone from their usual black His pupils were also constricting into a vertical shape. “What the hell?” he mumbled. “What was that?” He was not very experienced with vampires but he never knew of any type of vampire with golden eyes and slit pupils. He started to think that it was not a vampire that got him but maybe some other creature that lives discreetly among the people of the town. Then he got another craving for blood. The puncture holes in his neck and the heavy craving made him lean heavily toward a vampire attack. But he needed to figure some more things out before he could decide on that.

Sai had one single book on vampires. He went out to his bedroom and straight to his bookshelf, scanning the spines until he found it. He let out a disappointed sigh when he realized it was not an informational book about the creatures and just a reference book on how to draw them. He needed to find a library or a bookstore in the town that would give him the information he needed. However, that was going to have to wait until the sun went down. With another deep breath, Sai sat down on his bed and ran his fingers very gently over the new burns on his skin. The fatigue started to hit him hard and he wondered if he would heal quickly or if the burns were going to leave nasty scars.

There was no one to go to for his dilemma but he was not going to feel discouraged by that. He was going to figure out how to get through it. He knew there was no possible way to be turned back into a human. He was now a vampire. He was on his way to accepting that fact and it was all a matter of assimilating to his new life and working around the obstacles that came with being a vampire—whatever those may be.

He laid back on his bed as his thoughts drifted to what kind of obstacles vampires even had to go through. Then it dawned on him—hunters. He knew they were around and now it was going to be a part of his life to have to avoid them. Which would be hard to do since he worked in a public bar which happened to be pretty popular.

Sai yawned, letting his thoughts carry him to sleep. “I will figure out how to deal with all of those problems tonight,” he mumbled to himself as he drifted off to sleep.

* * * * * * * * *

When the sun finally went down and the noise of the crowds below started to become the white noise in the background of Sai’s life, he finally opened his curtains and windows, greeted by the fresh air he needed so much. He had off from the bar and he was going to spend the whole night figuring out what happened to him. The craving for blood had grown more intense throughout the day and he tried to suppress it. He pulled a chair up to the window and sat back, trying to get through the feral feeling of wanting to feed that washed over him. As he sat there, he noticed he could smell the different blood types of the people that walked by and it only made it worse for him. He quickly closed the windows and sat back down.

Sai felt like he was trying to get over a case of the flu with how much pain his body was in. However, instead of vomiting, he just wanted to feed. He had no idea how to even do that but he was sure if it happened, the vampiric instincts would kick in and he would know how to.

He sat still for a long time, trying to feel every new thing about his body. From the new blood to the puncture wound in his neck to the weird thing he could feel growing in the back of his mouth. He pushed up against it with his tongue. It was a bit squishy. He was sure he was going to grow a set of fangs as well. “This is not what I expected my life to be like,” he muttered to himself. He stood up and moved to a mirror, looking at his eyes again. They were quite interesting.

Sai knew he needed to get to a bookstore or library and read up on what he was turning into. But he knew he could not go outside so soon. He could not trust himself to not attack a human. He did not want to repeat what just happened to him on someone else. He had no idea how long it was going to take him to get over the assimilation process but he knew it was going to be hard and it was going to feel like forever.