I came up behind him on silent feet. Or maybe not? I wasn’t listening to my own footsteps, it was too far gone for that, too deep, all I could really hear was the beating heart. Awash in raw, unfiltered sensation like a sea of boiling glass. Grating on my skin and fire in my throat, so sharp so hot so overwhelming.
Haven’t we all been in that situation before? Don’t we all know how crazy even a second of it makes you? How desperate you get to douse the fire of Everything with anything?
Only one thing puts that fire out, though.
Anyway, even if I wasn’t being as stealthy as I should have, he wouldn’t have heard me. He was panting. He could probably only hear the pounding of his shoes on the cement and his own pulse. Loud to him as it was to me. Could be. But I doubt it was any louder.
Blood pooled in his skin. Physical activity flushes the meat with blood. Blood to take the acid and to give the air. I remember drawing a picture of what I thought my teacher’s tits looked in the margins of my notebook when we talked about the circulatory system. The craziest fucking things get stuck in your head, don’t they? I can’t even remember what she really looked like. But I remember doing that awful thing when we learned about the blood.
I wish something other than me being a teenage shitbag was connected to my memory of that most vital facet of existence. I wish I’d been a good student. I wish I’d been a good person. I wish…
I wish I hadn’t followed him down the jogging trail on silent feet.
His breathing heated the air around him. That air wrapped around me. Felt like it was melting the ice around me, like I left puddles when I chased him, quiet as I needed to be. Felt like there was rain in my mouth as I opened my jaws, and—
And doused the fire of Everything. And slicked my limbs with the blood of some guy stupid enough to jog alone at night so the sea of boiling glass slid off. And soothed the burns inside my throat. And turned the brittle, ragged flesh of my corpse into something that, for a moment, felt the press of all existence against its skin. And, for a moment, was happy with that.
And, for a moment, was warm.
But the hunger faded and with it, the heat of his life. The blood I’d spilled—it crystallized in a second, froze to ice against the frigid dead meat I’d smeared it across.
Beneath me, a crumpled thing with bites taken out of its neck, the rags of muscle and skin like the pulp of an orange. I’d chewed on it to extract every last drop of blood. To feel it squish between my teeth and coat my teeth with every life-giving substance. Their original owner mutilated. A dead and near unrecognizable thing.
I wish that when I looked down at what I’d done, I thought ‘person’ instead of ‘thing.’
I wish he’d turned around and seen me. What would I have looked like in that moment? Unrecognizable as a human, like he became? Gaping mouth, white fangs, eyes wide and animal in their hungry stupidity?
I wish he’d gotten away. I wish I… I wish… I wish the fire of Everything really was a fire. And that one day it would get so hot it would burst through the ice and boil me alive in all the blood I’ve spilled to keep that fiery hunger at bay. I wish that if I waited long enough, if I just held out long enough, I could get so hungry, so hot, that I consumed myself and left nothing but ashes behind.
But it’s not really a fire, Everything, and the blood douses nothing, and there is no ice, no melting. There is no warmth. No warmth at all, except that little moment you live vicariously when you steal it from a living thing.
A person. A living person. Not a thing.
I wish I could still remember that.