For­neʼer­more :—or, my queer Relationship with a Vampire—: in five parts.


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Forneʼermore

A meeting, past secret, exposed ; [ Permalink for section A ]

We—were having a ball.

The location was a bar. It was high⹀⁠end for its location, just north of the vampire district, and more affordable than similar ventures elsewhere in the city—which meant that more of our money could go towards those things which mattered :— music, decorations, and, naturally, our outfits. The theme was Victorian, and its manifestation decidedly Gothic, although our spirits were light—this sort of extravagance only happening once a year.

The pianist plucked out a medley of contemporary, jazz, and show tunes. It wasnʼt exactly in­‑theme, but none of us were about to complain. There were some 30 or 40 of us seated in that room.

The scene was, and despite our best efforts, decidedly queer.

One factor of this, no doubt, was simply the matter of hosting of a formal ball at an establishment with a barcounter. And neverminding the fact that our attire was a rough century out of date and fashion. Forgetting that this wasnʼt even England ; no, none of us had ever visited the place. No, doubtlessly the queerest element was the fact that, despite the frank preponderance of dresses, powder, and wigs to suggest otherwise, none but one of our number actually lived out her days as a woman. This was a crossdresserʼs ball, and we, the aforementioned, had come together ( plus admirers ) for a rare chance to live out our lives—outside the confines of the bedroom, or, as the case may be, closet—in each otherʼs presence for the night.

The dinner was steak. It was a bit bloody.

Of the eight sat around my table, the general stereotype numbered half plus one :— white, middleäged, office types ; three programmers, a systems administrator, an accountant. They were full of relatable anecdotes that I related to not at all. I didnʼt bother learning their names.

The sixth was an admirer—utterly and eminently unremarkable. Hardly worth the mention.

The seventh person seated was a woman. Or, to be more precise, the woman : Openly transexual, of all those present, she was the only one to embrace her femininity full⹀⁠time. She had been a member of our group since before her transition—since before I had joined—and, of course, her welcome had never worn thin. But here she stuck out like a sore thumb : permeäbility written across her features, and at a molecular level the rest of us could only approximate ; dress hugging her body, without the need of moulds ; soft, supple lips, parting against her wineglass ; a lilting laugh. Her name was Lorna.

She had a bandage on her left forearm, from selling blood.

And the eighth person sat at my table was me.

Visible, discernable, productive —: if adjectives such as these described my female friend, my own alterity was antipodal. Indeed, we were—within that scene—peers, only in the sense that we were both peerless. Compared to the others present, I was significantly younger, unemployed, unmarried, and—to the extent possible within our theme—androgynous, not having the disposable income, and nor the inclination, to go all⹀⁠out in a model of Victorian femininity—and certainly not interested in presenting the reverse. So I exhibited little appeal for the men present and little commonality with the girls ; this apathy was infectuöus, and I found myself offering them little regard in return.

Was it any wonder that, against such a backdrop of disaffected performativity, I found my eyes instead drawn to a model of womanhood that few among them held any interest in seeking, a womanhood which—certainly, more than frilled ballgowns—held some semblance of that which I had hoped to claim for myself ?

The meals finished, the dishes were whisked away. The music upped in tempo—I doubted many among us formally knew how to ballroom dance, but that didnʼt stop a few from having a go at it anyway. I watched from my seat with a critical eye and detached aloofness—nevertheless comforted by my ability to do so without anyone present regarding it in any sort of way. Femininity was not merely for when one was feeling amicable ; there was a strange manner of euphoria to be found in performed frigidity.

― Not one for dancing, eh ? Lorna.Our table was among those nearly vacated, and so she had moved to take up seat beside me, protectively cradling her same glass of wine. I provided the requisite friendly glance, then returned my gaze to the floor, made slightly uneasy by her scrutiny now that the tables had turned.

― Eh,I replied. ― Not one for embarrassing myself on a Thursday night. Plus, I havenʼt a partner—I think Iʼm a tad young for this crowd.

― The dancing is easiër than it looks, Lorna commented. ― The partner thing is a bit of a problem, though.

― And you ?

She held up her glass in response. I almost missed the gesture—realizing too late the extent to which communication is made difficult by one not looking the proper way. I set my sights back in her general vicinity. ― I noticed you donʼt drink, she said. ― Are you 21 ?

― Oh, donʼt tell me I look that young, I groaned. ― Iʼm just… not big on alcohol. For your information, Iʼm 23.

Her fingers did the math. ― Thatʼs only… Okay, I guess eight years is still significant, she laughed. Actually, eight years placed her at the younger end of those present—in retrospect, this was less surprising when I remembered that she had never married. She finished off the rest of her glass. ― I actually studied ballroom dance while I was in college, can you believe it ? Certainly not expecting that I would one day make use of it like this.

With that she rested her glass, straightened her dress, and rose from the table, making as if to leave. Although, now with some awareness, I saw that she had actually extended her hand outwards to me.

― Iʼm going to hit the floor, Lorna said. ― Bit of a waste to get all fancy like this and then not do anything with it, no ? My hand is yours if you care to join me.

I hesitated, my fingers hovering above her own. The tip of my middle finger made contact with her palm ; the flesh there was warm, inviting. I realized in that moment that it had been years since I had actually held anyoneʼs hand.

― Okay, I said—and Lorna smiled, her fingers curling to catch mine. ― Okay, she said, and helped me to my feet.

And then the police came.

― Well, it was fun while it lasted, Lorna said, sighing beside me. She abruptly dropped my hand—leaving a soft tingling feeling behind. Whatever it she might have been referring to was lost on me.

So came the megaphone : ― Alright, listen up, you deviants. In the interests of public decency, weʼre shutting this place down. If you resist, we will arrest you, so I suggest you all leave quietly. The man at the door will take your ID.

None of us had any interest in jailtime. And so we left the scene.

The streets were cold and wet from a recent rain, and we hit them like the worldʼs most lackluster Pride parade, dispersing slowly in huddled bunches from the site of the nightʼs premature finale, not having been given the opportunity to first change into our ordinary streetclothes. ― Are you going to be okay getting home ? Lorna asked, hailing a cab. I nodded, replying that I would walk. We both knew the distance to the University quarters, but she didnʼt argue with my decision.

I popped the collar of my jacket as I skirted around the vampire district. I prayed that none would detain me for a bite.

Lost future, and blood ergo flows ; [ Permalink for section B ]

― From the look on your face, I take it this is your first time ? The vampire flashed me a smile as she led me to the chair, which did little to settle my nerves. Her teeth were unnaturally white.

― Well, youʼve nothing to worry about, itʼs completely safe and—aside from a slight prickling sensation—painless. Iʼm going to bite in here— She traced her finger along my wrist. It was frigid. ― and slowly draw blood for about fifteen minutes. Tell me if you start feeling faint, and weʼll end early.

I was seated and made comfortable. The chair was actually quite cozy—if a bit clinical in feel.

The vampire took my hand in hers, kneeling beside me, and I did my best not to shiver. We spent an unnecessary moment staring into each otherʼs eyes. ― For the record, she said, suddenly ( hers were green ). ― Iʼm perfectly content to pass the next quarter­‑hour in silence. But some donors find that a bit awkward, so… If thereʼs anything you need to get off your chest to a complete stranger, a feeding vampire is about the most patient ear you will get. Something to keep in mind.

And without any further warning, she sunk her teeth into me.

I let out a small yelp, but she had been right—there was almost no pain, just the chill of her mouth and lips, and a slight tingling in my fingertips. I looked away and did my best to pretend that she wasnʼt there. That there wasnʼt a vampire, very physically attaching herself to me.

Fifteen seconds passed. I looked back.

She was rather beautiful, eyes closed, hair tucked behind her ear, pale lips against my wrist, teeth no doubt embedded deep into my skin, her Adamʼs apple slowly counting out the swallows as she fed. We both undoubtedly felt my pulse quicken. She was right—it was incredibly awkward.

So I begain speaking. ― I hope this doesnʼt put you off your appetite, I said. ― But Iʼm a crossdresser. She squeezed my hand lightly, and I shivered yet again. ― Or I was. And I explained what had happened that fateful night.

I had been in no rush to return to the studious life.

23 years old, and I had begun my time at University at the relatively late age of 19. For two years, I had studied biology—but was forced into a leave of absence by declining mental health. In fact, I had only returned in the past year—and with a new focus of journalism and literary theory. But even with this new emphasis, my ability to deconstruct Defoe meant little to the vacuöus feeling of aliënation which seemed to pervade every aspect of my public and private affairs, of which gender played no small part in creäting.

So I set about seeking a community which I could call my own. The local Crossdressersʼ chapter hadnʼt been a perfect match, but it was, for a time, well enough. Yet now it, too, had fallen through, with a mark of sexual deviancy affixed to my record for the effort.

I made it back to my apartment without incident. My roommate was, thankfully, away at a night class. So I was able to hide my incriminating Victorian attire without arousing any suspicion. The time was only a little after 8PM, but it was late fall, and the windows were already darkened. For my part, I was exhausted. Something about an evening not going as planned ; I went to bed.

The morning and a message arrived. The police had—of course—informed the University of my transgressions ; they didnʼt take direct disciplinary action—but they didnʼt have to. My scholarship donor was reportedly « uncomfortable with their money beïng spent in such a manner », and had withdrawn funding ; the only surprising note beïng how little time it had apparently taken for them to reach this decision. Without their financial support, this would be my last semester at school.

I didnʼt inform anyone of my at­‑risk attendance—least of all my parents. I knew that my extracurricular activities would not go over well and hoped to keep the situätion under wraps. Instead, I began looking for work. My hope was that if I could at least make rent, I could pretend to still be at school and defer suspicion until I had my affairs better in order.

Of course, this was easiër said than done. An undergraduate humanities major with a black mark on their record was far from the ideal candidate for employment—not that anyone went so far as to confirm that it was why I kept beïng turned down without chance for interview. A few weeks isnʼt much time, but by the end I was already feeling more than a little helpless.

You see, when I had come back to Uni with my change of major, I had done so imagining a future coming from it. It was my vision of that future which had driven me to press forward through my depression, to search for communities to which I might belong, to doubledown on my studies. I had wanted to be a writer, or an editor, or a journalist—was that all off the table now ?

That one night could so severely change my prospects was beyond reckoning, and, in a sense, it was this denial which kept me in the ring.

I started pinching pennies—knowing that if I didnʼt find work soon, it wouldnʼt make much in the way of difference. And I recalled a woman I had spoken to on that night. Sheʼd had a bandage on her wrist, from selling blood.

― And thatʼs what brought me here, I said. Itʼs not much income, but it will at least offset my food costs while I look for something more substantial.

― Mm.The vampire moved to more of a kneeling position, the tip of her tongue flicking across my wound. Then she lifted her head from my wrist, and gave her lips a pop. ― And now youʼre all done. Iʼll just wrap this so that it doesnʼt get infected, and you can be on your way.

Strangely, it was that moment, with me sitting there, and her slowly bandaging a damage her teeth had left in my arm, which felt the most intimate in the encounter ; not a kiss, but a simple wrap and hold. As a gesture, it held something inherently caring which refused any rush, and even her perfected stoïc professionalism couldnʼt mask its tone.

Or perhaps the care was inherent in us, as living beïngs, in a way that even the most financial of transactions couldnʼt help but contain.

― Hey, I said, when my arm was finally released, and once again my own. ― Thanks. You know, for listening.

― Like I said, she replied, grabbing her coat and purse. Her tone was light, even though her posture was entirely businesslike. She smiled at me. ― Thanks for the meal.

― Anytime,I said, and she laughed.

― Three weeks, she told me. ― Before you can give again. Any sooner and you might find yourself on my side of the table.

― Right,I nodded, wincing at the misstep.

― For what itʼs worth, she said, ― not that you asked me : Humans lose their futures all the time. Hang in there, and you might be surprised what new opportunities arise.

― I suppose you probably hear a lot of stories, I said, and she nodded. I paused, realized I had literally nothing to lose, and continued : ― Anyone ever hear yours ?

She gave me a look—and then another. ― You said you wanted to be a journalist ? she asked, thoughtful. I nodded. ― Youʼre low on fluids ; thereʼs a coffee shop just around the corner. Iʼll buy.

But then humour makes kin— [ Permalink for section C ]

« This is highly improper. » Those were the first words J spoke as she joined me, a latte letting off steam in her hands. We were in a small café, down the street from the blood market where we had made our first acquaintance. The latte was for me—J was a vampire.

I asked her what she had meant. « Well, remaining in contact after youʼve fed on someone—after youʼve spent so long with your face on their skin, smelling and drinking and tasting them, and youʼre flush, and… you know. You might wind up forming attachments. And nobody likes a vampire with human attachments. »

But the truth is that the blood markets are the only locations where humans and vampires are liable to meet. Since the chances of them making an acquaintance elsewhere is slim, and vampires are forbidden from running largescale presses of their own, this means that their stories rarely get told.

So when I asked J to share her story with me, she gladly accepted—on the condition that I publish a transcript of the interview here. We chose this quiet, out⹀⁠of­⹀the­⹀way café as our meeting place ; J knew the owners, and knew that we would be undisturbed.

The transcript which follows has been edited for clarity and length.

So, tell us about yourself.

My name is J, and [ laughs ] Iʼm a vampire. I was only nineteen when I turned, and that was about five years ago, which I guess makes me twentyfour now ?

Do vampires celebrate birthdays ?

[ Laughs. ]We do not.

If you donʼt mind us asking… How did you become a vampire ?

Itʼs fine, but itʼs a little embarassing… I was having sex.

Can you… elaborate ? Is vampirism like, an STD ?

[ Laughs. ]Not exactly. It, uh—okay, so, thereʼs this spot on your neck, right here, and when you feed from it—that bloodʼs going to your brain, right ? So itʼs asphyxiating, and—you know, it gets you high.

So itʼs like a whole erotic thing. Gives really good orgasms, like, mindblowing. Not that I have a tonne of experiënce there—I only ever did get to try it the one time.

Obviously, this is like, super illegal, and extremely dangerous—if your partner takes too much blood, youʼll wind up becoming a vampire yourself—as was the case with me.

That sounds like quite the shock. Were you upset when you realized what had happened ?

What ?No.I mean it was a shock—but no. I knew the risks when I asked him to do it. Weʼre actually still friends. [ Laughs. ]A bit easiër to stay in touch, now.

Do you miss beïng human ?

I miss beïng eight years old, but that doesnʼt mean I want to go back. That life ended, you know ? This is what I have now.

Do you enjoy beïng a vampire ?

It has its plusses and minuses. Not having to worry about health insurance is nice. But youʼd better hope youʼre satisfied with your looks, because there isnʼt any changing them for the rest of eternity.

Is anyone ever ?

Yeah, well. Good news is itʼs a lot harder to kill yourself when youʼre already dead ; for better or worse, life as a vampire becomes something youʼre more⹀⁠or⹀⁠less stuck with. Canʼt exactly buy silver with blood credits, yʼknow ?

What can you buy with blood credits ?

Blood.

Howʼs work ?

Hard.They only let us do things which humans canʼt—or wonʼt—so none of it is pleasant stuff. But itʼs the only way to get fed, so.

How long can you go without feeding ?

Technically ?Forever.Vampires donʼt get hungry, exactly—we get cold. Just, absolutely chill. And itʼs not like they give vampire dens central heating, so those winter nights… You humans can just bundle up, like, coats and blankets, and youʼre good.

But vampires donʼt have body heat.

Iʼve heard of people setting themselves on fire. Literally.And that will kill you.

[ Pauses. ]

So anyway, yeah. Work is important. Blood is important. Itʼs fucked, but.

What do you do when youʼre not working ?

Fuck and feed. Feels like weʼve covered it already, yeah ? Itʼs not complicated. Itʼs not like we have a future right, we donʼt have anything more to work towards, we canʼt have children, we donʼt have disposable income for hobbies. Work, fuck, and feed. Thatʼs life—or unlife, whatever. But thatʼs enough ? Thatʼs all it takes to survive.

You mentioned having sex with a vampire as a human. But I assume now, youʼre mostly spending your time with other vampries ?

Yes.Not that Iʼd say if I wasnʼt, but yeah, we get around.

Is anything different ?

Well, you might have been able to guess this, but vampires canʼt have an erection. And we donʼt climax. So it is a little different.

Vampires canʼt orgasm ?

Not in the conventional sense of the word, no.

But you still have sex.

Well, you still want it, right ? And itʼs still fun : desiring another person, enacting that desire on them, biting, eating them out. Why would you want that to end ?

Vampires canʼt have children. We donʼt need an end result. We donʼt have futures to get back to.

But clearly, at least some vampires donʼt mind having sex with humans who do.

Well, if thereʼs blood involved, then you can find someone to do just about anything. Or heat, especially if itʼs winter ; folks will fuck humans just to cuddle with them after. Which is kind of cute, in a way ?

But youʼre right, of course : even without all that, there are those who do.

Would you ?

Speaking purely hypothetically ? [ Sighs. ]Like I said. Nobody likes a vampire with human attachments.

But yes, if the right person came along. I would probably be willing to give it a try with you.

J leaned over my shoulder to stare at the screen. We were sequestered away in my apartment, in my room, away from my flatmateʼs prying eyes.

― Maybe cut out that last bit, she said.

A consolidation— [ Permalink for section D ]

Jʼs body was never warm, exactly, but it was noticably less chilly after copious time with me under the covers. She was a glutton for body heat, hers pressed tightly against mine. She hadnʼt been lying about never beïng satisfied—but, of course, I was only human, myself.

Her skin was soft. Her hair smelled nice. ― How are you feeling, she asked.

― Alive.I had been feeling a revenant all week, mechanically filling out applications, checking in with businesses, studying to finish out the semester. These things to stay alive—but they hadnʼt felt like life.

Nothing like our one transgressive act could provide.

― Hard to get more alive than attempting reproduction, J remarked, lightly. ― Unfortunately for your biological impulse, my gut is not a fertile uterus though.

― Oh, shut up, I said. ― Thatʼs not what this is at all.

And I thought about all the people out there for which it precisely was : sex as reproduction ; life as growing, having kids, building careers. I had thought that was the path I had been pursuïng myself, but now it felt… wrong. Like I had been severed from its destination of peaceful bliss. Like this was already the closest I would ever achieve.

I tried to put these thoughts into words. ― The way you speak about humans, I said. ― Itʼs like you see them as so full of potential, able to grow and produce and have futures and change. But whoʼs to say that all humans necessarily have those options available to them ? All this effort Iʼve been putting in lately, trying to find work, pursuïng my education… It hasnʼt felt like “ building a life ” so much as “ slowing death ”. Whoʼs to say I still have a future left in me ?

― Youʼre beïng awfully melodramatic in your postcoitus, J remarked, not answering the question. ― Arenʼt you supposed to like, lie there and chill out or something ? Enjoy the moment ?

― Sorry,I replied. ― Itʼs been on my mind.

She sighed. ― Well, like I said, humans have futures come and go all the time. Another one will come along. Youʼll see.

― You say that like itʼs some guarantee, I argued. ― Like the universe wouldnʼt let someone starve to death just for a night sexual deviancy. J, it would. For all we know, I might never get offered another job. Much less one to build a career off of !

Perhaps some peopleʼs only purpose in life is to work hard while they die slowly.

― Yeah, well, I donʼt believe in betting on maybes, J said. ― If thereʼs something you want, you should go for it, and if you fail, well. At worst ? Make sure it was something worth dying for.

― Easy for you to say when youʼre a vampire.

― Oh, like I couldnʼt get my ass assassinated just for sleeping with you, she retorted. But her tone wasnʼt harsh ; she pressed her lips to my neck, cold and sweet. ― Thatʼs the liberating thing about not having a future, she said. ― Nothing to live for, to stop you from goïng out and seizing one by the horns. For you, anyway.

I fell onto my back. Closing my eyes, I lay there, listening to the sound of my breathing—and mine only ; J was silent beside. ― What I want, I said, ― is just this, forever.

― Thatʼs not a future, she replied.

― Itʼs what I want.

She splayed my hand before her, trailing her fingers down my palm, over my wrist, and the marks which were still healing there. ― I think what you want are easy answers, she said. ― There arenʼt any. But a future is a heavy thing to lose.

― Only if itʼs good, I countered.

She grimaced, not conceding. ― Maybe.

Small death and a fitful repose. [ Permalink for section E ]

What would it be like, were I to become a vampire ?

There would be some very practical concerns, to say the least. Not the least of all, if J were to be suspected as culprit, she could be in very real danger for her life. Given our very recent, recorded encounter at the blood market, this was obviously a matter of some sensitivity.

Although, if we were to wait a week, we could turn my presence at the blood markets to our advantage. “ I was already low on blood,” I would claim, “ when I was assaulted walking through the vampire district.”Such incidents happened all the time. No eyebrows would be raised.

In the meantime, I would work on getting our interview published in the school newspaper, where I had connections. Predictably, it caused some small bit of fuss. There were those, naturally, who villainized me for sympathizing with “ those who preyed on humanity ” ; after a fashion, I supposed this claim was true enough. But others criticized my emphasis on vampire sexuality as lowbrow and fetishizing.

For our part, J and I would only continue to explore vampire sexuality more, over the coming month.

When it finally came time to report my transformation, the officer who greeted me would be the very same that had broken up the crossdresserʼs ball, so many days before. He wouldnʼt recognize me from there—but that wasnʼt to say he wouldnʼt recognize me at all. He had read my article. “ Serves you right,” heʼd remark. “ Thatʼs karma.”

I pressed my lips tightly together. And I would be put to work.

I could feel the cold chill seeping deeper in my bones, and I knew that this was the hunger which J had described. I would need blood before long—and blood, naturally, meant labour. The work itself wasnʼt difficult so much as tedious—ironically, it was the very same sort of work I had been so terrified of as my future while a human. But it was a future no longer—merely a means to stay alive.

J would greet me at the end of my shift with a kiss and a present. It was a pillbottle, of iron supplements. “ They help,” she would explain to me. “ Not much, mind, but they do help.”

I would accept the gift graciously.

And it would be explained to me how to take blood. Bite in just below the wrist—relax. Your instincts will guide you to the correct spot. Vampire saliva makes the blood trickle thick and slow. Feed for fifteen minutes—absolutely no more than twenty. A clock will be on the wall—although, after enough times, youʼll be able to intuït it. Carefully bandage the wound. Donʼt give the human any reason to complain—the authorities rarely side with the poor, but the exception is against a vampire.

By the time my credit was earned, I would be positively aching with the cold. My muscles were stiff and painful ; my marrow frozen and raw. I was reminded of the phrase rigor mortis. Making my way to the blood market with no idea of what to expect, my step would at least be lightened by the fact that surely, this was the worst things would get.

I was told to be pleasant. I tried to smile.

And my donor was brought in. I was in a back room, so I heard her footsteps approaching long before I saw her enter ; I prepared by trying to look casual, as though I wasnʼt just sitting there waiting to sink my teeth into her flesh, my eyes anywhere but the door, because the last thing anyone needs to see upon entering a room is a hungry vampire staring at them. I knew she had arrived when I heard her voice : “ Oh ! ” I finally turned to look—and to my horror, recognized that I knew her face.

It was Lorna.

I awoke.

I had fallen asleep. As I had rested, J had completely wrapped herself around my body ; she lay there, motionless, clinging to my warmth. I was, myself, chilled through—from the touch of her skin.

I nudged her gently, and she stirred immediately, moving but a little ; despite her previously dormant state, I wondered if vampires even needed to sleep at all. ― Darling,I asked. ― Do you think you can give me a little space ? Youʼre freezing me to death.

She gave an apologetic nuzzle to my cheek. ― Sorry, love, she said. ― Youʼre just so warm.