The Donor House

Saving Alice

Ever since Nick had left his creator he’d been looking for a place he could call home. The search had been longer than he’d ever expected it to be. It had been over four hundred years since the night he’d walked away. He didn’t believe in the theory that he would only ever feel like he was at home when he was with his creator as his creator was the reason he’d left in the first place. Four years had been more than long enough in the company of that vampire and his other ‘children’. Calling them ‘children’ disgusted him, but it was the only description he really knew for them.
Then he walked into a small village in the year 1973, it was little more than a hamlet really but the church he could see gave it village status, and knew that he’d found somewhere he could call home. He was about three steps past the sign that would have told him the name of the village had it been daylight when his intuition told him that it would be his village. Of course it was never going to be as simple as walking into a village and buying a house. Vampires were disliked by most humans, which was understandable considering some of the things that some vampires did.
Slowly Nick walked through the streets, looking at the houses as he passed. What he was really looking for was a ‘for sale’ sign but it didn’t seem like there was one. He knew it wouldn’t be long before one popped up. People were leaving villages to move to the towns because they believed the towns were safer. They weren’t. Auctioneers would take humans from anywhere they pleased as long as they’d found someone they thought would sell well. Sighing, he glanced around him, knowing that he was in for at least a few more weeks of drinking animal blood to survive.
A scream rang through the night as he took a step towards the nearest woods. He didn’t even stop to think why someone was screaming before he ran in the direction it had come from. When he came to a standstill right in front of a girl who looked about seventeen and an auctioneer he felt a wave of gratitude for his enhanced speed. If he hadn’t been there then the girl would have been swept away before anyone could stop it from happening.
“Let the girl go,” he said calmly, staring at the vampire holding her. As always it was one of his creator’s children, but not one he knew. “This village is under my protection.”
There was a long silence. All Nick could do was let the auctioneer make a decision as to whether it was worth a fight to get the girl. Normally they didn’t. Most weren’t actually trained to fight because humans weren’t exactly a worry and most vampires didn’t get involved, almost always for selfish reasons. They either couldn’t be bothered or they wanted to buy from the human auctions. Finally the auctioneer let the girl go and disappeared. Nick hadn’t even had a chance to open his mouth to talk to the girl when a group of humans, all men by the looks of things, turned up carrying some bits of wood. He couldn’t help raising an amused eyebrow.
“You’re not taking anyone from our village,” one of the said loudly, brandishing a large plank of something wooden.
“I wasn’t going to take anyone,” he replied, sighing. “I’m not an auctioneer.”
There was no doubt in his mind that none of the humans would believe him and he’d lost his chance of a home, but he felt accomplished for the first time in his very long life. Getting involved had meant he’d saved someone from a fate worse than death. Smiling to himself, he started backing away. Being hit with a bit of wood wouldn’t kill him but it probably would make him unconcious and then someone would stab him. That would kill him and as dying was very low on his list of things to do he wasn’t going to take his eyes off the humans.
“He saved me,” the girl said from behind him, startling him because he hadn’t expected her to stand up for him. “There was an auctioneer and he was going to take me, but then this vampire stopped him.” She stepped past him and their eyes met. “Are you really going to protect our village?”
“These gentlemen don’t seem to want me here.” He looked back at the wood-brandishing humans. “Maybe it would be best if I just left.”
“Not for us it wouldn’t be.” She turned to look at the men standing behind her. “We’ve lost people to the auctioneers and I think having a vampire here would be a good thing. He can keep us safe.”
“He’s still a vampire,” growled the man who had spoken before. “They still need blood.”
Nick rolled his eyes. “I need to feed three times a week and really I don’t need all that much. Vampires who kill humans do it for the thrill rather than because they need to.” He thought for a minute. “You have people like that too. They’re called murderers and we don’t like them any more than you do.”
“I don’t mind feeding him if it will keep us safe,” the girl said, keeping her attention on the men. “Maybe some of the other girls will join me.”
One of the men shook his head. “No, Alice. It’s not going to happen.”
“He saved my life,” she snapped. “If I had been taken then I’d either be dead or an addict and he stopped that from happening. There was no reason he had to step in. He could have just walked away but he didn’t.” She looked at Nick. “That makes him a good person in my eyes.”
The group of men all looked at each other before gathering together in a group. Nick could have listened in to what they were saying, but he didn’t really want to. Just hearing snippets of the conversation was bad enough. Alice looked between him and the group thoughtfully. When they had finally made a decision they all turned to look at him.
“It’s not a unanimous decision but we’ve decided that we’d like you to stay. In return for keeping our village safe from auctioneers you will be allowed to feed three times a week from volunteers.”
“No one gets fed from more than once a week,” Nick said, looking at Alice rather than the men because a lot of them were still glaring at him. “Feeding too often can bind a human to a vampire or create an addict and neither of those is a good thing.”
Alice nodded. “I’ll make a rota.” She turned to look at the men again. “He needs somewhere to live.”
They all muttered between themselves again before the man who seemed to have become spokesman said, “There’s a house that’s about to go up for sale. You can have that.”
“I’ll buy it if it’s suitable,” Nick replied. “I don’t want to be given anything.”
There was more muttering and it was possible for him to hear someone say, ‘Apart from our blood’. He shook his head, even though he understood their point of view. Everything had been much easier than he’d expected it to be thanks to the arrival of the auctioneer, which he was grateful for and worried about at the same time.
Nick looked at Alice and found that she was looking straight back, seeming much more calm that she should have been after such a near miss. “Maybe you should go home,” he said. “It’s been a difficult night.”
“I’m not going home until I know that you’re safe.” When he opened his mouth to speak, she continued, “Don’t even think about arguing with me. You saved my life and I owe you.”
He shook his head. “You don’t owe me anything.”
“That sounds like arguing to me.” She smiled at him. “I don’t know your name.”
“It’s Nick.”
“Right, Nick, I’m grateful for your help tonight. If you hadn’t of stepped in then I would be on my way to being auctioned at this very moment, and no one in this village would have been able to do anything about it. Now, if I leave you then I doubt that any one of these men would remember that fact so your death would be on my conscience. Until I know that you’re safe somewhere I’m not going to leave you.”
Nick raised an eyebrow. “They don’t want me here. I should just go and not cause any more problems.”
Alice put her hand on his arm. “If you leave then the vampire you scared off might come back.” Nick saw the fear in her eyes and realised that she wasn’t quite as calm as she was acting. “Stay here, please.”
“We don’t need him, Alice,” a voice said from within the group of men.
“Don’t be a moron, Christopher. Do you really think that you’d have been able to stop the vampire who wanted to take me to be auctioned?”
“Yes, I do.”
Alice ran her free hand through her hair. “Sometimes I can’t believe that I’m actually related to you. You didn’t get to me fast enough to stop the vampire from taking me to wherever it is he was going to take me. Nick did.”
“Why was Nick even here?”
Glaring at the voice, Alice squeezed Nick’s arm. “Nick is right here. If you have a question for him then ask him, don’t ask me.”
“Fine. Why were you here, vampire?”
Nick didn’t know if he really wanted to answer the question, but finally he replied, “I was looking for somewhere to live. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a place I can call home.”
“What made you choose our village?” another voice asked.
“It feels right.” Nick shrugged. “There’s no easy way to explain it, but when I walked into the village I just knew that this was somewhere I could live happily.”
“How many people have you killed?” Christopher asked.
“The word vampire is not synonymous with murderer. I haven’t killed any people, humans or vampires, and I don’t plan on killing anyone.”
Alice squeezed his arm again. “How did you survive?” she asked.
“I mostly lived off animal blood, with an occasional meal of human blood.”
“When did you last have human blood?”
Nick heard the slight tremor in her voice and he knew that Alice was at least slightly scared of him, no matter how she acted. “A while ago, but it doesn’t matter right now.”
“Do need to feed soon?”
He shook his head, lying so that she wouldn’t offer to feed him right there. Nick didn’t think that any of the humans would enjoy watching him drink someone’s blood and as Alice’s brother was stood in the group Nick really didn’t want to do anything that might lead to a smack around the head with a plank of wood. Alice looked at him in a way that led him to believe that she knew he was lying, which made him feel guilty even though there was no reason he should feel that way. He didn’t owe her anything.
Finally she looked at the group of men. “How about we get Nick settled into his new house and then I can get the rota sorted?”
They started muttering between themselves again, before Christopher said, “Do you really trust him not to hurt you?”
“If I didn’t trust him not to hurt me, or anyone else in the village, then I wouldn’t have said anything. I’d have just let you chase him away.”
Nick looked gratefully at Alice, unable to believe that any human would trust him. “Thank you,” he whispered, just loud enough for her to hear.
“All vampires were human once,” she continued, “and I truly don’t believe that the vampire’s personality automatically changes simply because they’ve been changed. If the human wasn’t nice before they were changed then it’s likely that the vampire won’t be nice. I don’t see why we assume that all vampires are going to be evil, when it’s obvious that nice people must have been turned into vampires too.”
For a moment Nick found himself thinking of his creator and why he had originally been chosen to be a vampire. The man had believed that Nick’s love of money and pretty things would make him do things that could easily be called evil, but it hadn’t. Instead it had made him walk away because he couldn’t do the things that his creator had wanted him to do.
“How old are you, Nick?” Christopher asked, his voice seeming slightly less full of hatred than it had before.
Nick raised an eyebrow, wondering why the question had been asked. “I’ve been a vampire for over four-hundred years and I was twenty-five when I was changed.”
“A Tudor vampire,” Alice said, surprising Nick.
“Yes,” he replied, nodding. “I was changed during the reign of Mary Tudor.”
“Would you say you were a nice person back then?” Christopher asked.
“That’s a really hard question to answer.” Nick sighed, knowing that they all wanted an answer. “It’s been a long time since I was human and it feels like it was another lifetime. I know I wasn’t perfect but I wouldn’t say that I was a nasty person.” He smiled. “Then again, who would ever really admit to being a nasty person?” Looking at the men closely he realised something important. “I made my fair share of mistakes and I still do. I’m really not all that much different from you in some ways. I strive to be a good person more so now than I did when I was human, because I feel like I have to make up for being a vampire. It was never my choice and if I had the choice then I wouldn’t have chosen this life.”