Itís your life or mine
I wasnít always this hungry.
My fondness for drinking blood started when I was a kid.
I always begged mom for the poultry drippings left over in the packaging from the butcher.
She always eyed me as if I was crazy and said I should wait for the meat to get cooked.
I sipped the pale liquid when she turned her back, the way a win connoisseur sips wine Ė its sweet flavor satisfying some deep craving I did not know I had until then.
I later sampled the blood from other carcasses: pork, beef, turkey, lamb.
Each had its own unique appeal, if a bit sour from being defrosted.
I learned to attack the package fresh from the market often volunteering to freeze the meat so I could sip the blood before the flavor was lost.
My parents suspected nothing since I did my best to keep my obsession from them.
Perhaps I might have gone on this way the rest of my life, living an innocent perversion I could satisfy easily at any supermarket meat counter.
But alas, I found a dead dog in the middle of the road one day on my way to school.
The poor beast had been struck down by a passing car and still bled from a multiple of wounds, red blood oozing out and brightened by the stark sunlight.
All the packaged blood drinking evaporated from my memory as lust for the richer liquid rushed through me and had me lapping at the oozing flow the way a dog might lap at water.
I staggered the rest of the way to school as dizzy as I might have been had I drunk alcohol.
My teachers wondered at the red splotches on my shirt and jeans (I had licked all the signs of red from around my mouth and would have sucked the red out of the fabric had I noticed the splotches in time).
On night, a few wee4ks later, my father commented during his reading of the newspaper over supper on the reports of missing dogs and cats throughout the neighborhood.
I merely burped.
Perhaps life could have gone on like this with me serving as the unofficial city cat and dog catcher had not fate again intervened.
At school, a girl dropped a book, then hit her nose on the desk recovering the book.
Blood spouted out.
Fresh red blood, some of which splattered on the back of my hand.
I licked it off without thinking.
Until then, I had tasted no human blood by my own.
No taste of other blood remotely compared. So I slipped out of class and followed the girl to the nurseís office.
The girl tried to scream when I approached her, but my hands clamped around her mouth while my mouth fed.
A few weeks later, my father Ė over the supper table Ė noted the reports about the strange disappearances of the cityís youth.
I merely burped.
I barely made it to high school graduation since the class size shrank to such a small number I fear the police would uncover me.
Since then, I have lived my life like a pathetic rock star, circling the country, keeping just ahead of discovery.
I am always desperately hungry and I always need to feed.
Sure, I would love to show some mercy.
But when it comes down to bare facts, itís your life for mine.
Iím just doing this to survive.