Prologue

He warned me it would be painful; like I was being set on fire. But I was not afraid. Fire was my friend, my only loyal companion in the world where I didn't fit in. I felt the piercing sting of his teeth as he bit through the delicate skin on my neck. Tears sprung to my eyes and leaked down my cheeks. But then the fire started. Its warmth swept through my body and caressed each minuscule vein. The flames licked at each of my cells, leaving no part of my body untouched. I could feel the fire altering me as it gained force. I didn't feel pain, though. I felt power. I felt my body gaining strength and my mind gaining depth. It surged through me and wiped away any trace of lassitude. I embraced the fire as a lover would embrace a soul-mate. Time passed as the inferno altered me. It could have been seconds, days or years. All that existed was the fire, and me.

Then everything changed. The fire dissipated from my extremities and concentrated in my chest. I had no need to mourn the loss because the strength of the fire in my chest blocked every thought out of my mind. It was sheer ecstasy, and it kept getting stronger. The pressure was building and I didn't know if it would ever stop. I couldn't find it in me to care. With one final mind-numbing surge it hit breaking point. It was as if the fire exploded within me, racing back through my body. It was stronger now than it had been before as it filled me. The fire remained concentrated in my throat, though. Instincts that I never knew I had told me it was hunger. It didn't matter; it was glorious. In a motion more graceful than I had ever been, I sprang to my feet. I opened my eyes.

The world was different than I remembered, as if I had lived with a veil over my eyes without knowing. There were colors I had no name for and details I had only seen through magnifying glasses. I spun around in wonder, taking in the sights with awe. I imagine I would have been content just to look for quite some time, had I not been interrupted by a flood of memories from my human life. I gasped as they bombarded me.

The early years of my childhood all wove together in a tapestry of faces, colors, and emotions, none of which I could match with an event. Soon the memories became clearer. My previously high spirits hit the lowest of lows as I recalled the last years of my life. I shut down my mind; put up that solid wall against the memories that caused me so much despair. I couldn't block the emotions though. I wasn't prepared. They crippled me. The guilt and hatred I had for myself brought me to my knees. I knelt with my palms on the ground and my head bowed as I slowly fought back the emotions. My improved mind was harder to control. There was so much space, the ability to think so many things at once, that it took me so much more effort to push everything away.

It took a long time. I recognized that even though time no longer had an affect on my body. After a few more moments I slowly raised to my feet. The world retained the same magnificent beauty, but it had somehow changed for me. It was as if my misery had cast a shadow over everything. I shook my head slowly and pushed the memories farther into the recesses of my mind.

I was utterly alone; alone with only my thoughts to keep me company. I skimmed over the memories that I could handle- the ones right before my change. My thoughts paused on the red eyed man.

I was alone in the forest, wallowing in self-despair, when he stepped into the clearing. His eyes locked on mine. They were a crimson color, and they were glowing. Fear did not come. I no longer valued my life, so I had no reason to fear its end. In a flash, he was in front of me, within two feet of my face. I blinked. He looked surprised. I suppose any other human would have reacted, but I was way past it. Being the way I was, I had no choice but to believe in the supernatural. It was quiet for a measure of time as he studied me intently. I grew tired of waiting for him to speak.

"What are you?" I asked in a monotone voice. I couldn't bring myself to care.

"A vampire," he replied equally as casually, though I could see the hesitation in his crimson orbs. I suppose he thought that would elicit a response. He got one, but I don't think it was what he expected.

"Shouldn't you be burning to death?" I questioned with a slight glance at the sun peeking through the trees.

He paused and searched my face for another immeasurable moment. I don't know what he was looking for, but whatever it was I guess he found it in my expression. He started talking again. He told me that he was nothing like the vampires in novels; he was not hurt by the sun, wooden stakes, or garlic. He was super strong, amazingly fast, and immortal. He said he drinks blood. I absorbed it all on the inside but showed no outer reaction to the information. With another wary glance he continued on to tell me that some vampires have gifts. His was the ability to sense humans that will have gifts. An invisible pull drew him to the humans, and he had the intense need to change them. I remember being confused at that point, wondering what change he was referring to. It must have shown on my face because he told me I would find out shortly. Then he told me to be ready, that it would be painful…

"Vampire," I thought in my head. "I am a vampire. I drink blood. I kill." I violently cringed at the thought. I could not kill another innocent human being. I refused. I would rather die myself than bring about the death of another. I tried to kill myself. For endless hours and days I tried to end my life. Nothing worked. My body was as strong as the toughest stone, incapable of being harmed in any way.

I thought of the crimson-eyed man. I thought that I deserved this fate. That it was my punishment to never have the sweet release of death. Anger built inside of me. I could do nothing to stop it. It gained force like a giant wave crashing through me. It was the same as when I was human but millions of times more powerful. As a human I learned to stop the tide in its tracks, to control my emotions before the fire escaped out of me. I had no control over my new mind. The fire grew until the energy inside me was at breaking point. I screamed mightily as the fire exploded from inside of me in a giant fireball. I heard the sounds of destruction, the trees crackling and turning to ash all around me. I heard birds squawking as they tried in desperation to escape the inferno. The sounds knocked sense into me and I was able to gain a semblance of control. With a deep breath, I summoned the fire back to me. It was easier to control than when I was a human, the flames bent so easily to my will that even I was amazed. In no time at all the fire was contained inside me again, smoldering lightly through my body, as was the norm. I was scared to open my eyes and survey the damage, but I did anyway. Ruins encircled me in a radius of around a hundred feet. I was shocked.

As a human, I was well aware of my influence over fire. I was drawn to it, and it never harmed me. I remember the shriek of my mother as I coaxed the flame from the candle onto my palm. I remember her growing dreadfully pale as I stretched my fingers and it swelled to double its size. And I remember her fainting when I threw it back onto the wick of the candle. That was the day that I showed her my ability. She was more supportive than I had ever hoped for. Her love for me didn't change, though she often looked at me with confusion, wonder, and even fear. I don't think she realized she was doing it. It didn't bother me; I knew I was a freak. And nevertheless, we grew closer still. She finally understood why I never had any close friends, why I didn't act like a normal teenager. She didn't try to convince me to go out on weekends anymore; instead we stayed inside and kept each other company. She meant so much to me, she was my best friend; my only friend.

The thoughts of my mother brought on another wave of despair. I cursed myself as the memories tries to break through. It was another long stretch of time before I had them under control again. Never before had I had this much trouble with control. I learned from a young age to have power over my mind. It had been a long process, but I had eventually conquered it. Now it looked like I would have to start from scratch. I knew it was necessary though, as I surveyed the damage I had done to the forest. I owed it to my mother to control my ability.

So I vowed to stay in that desolate clearing until I once again dominated the fire. The days and nights rolled by, but they had no effect on me. It was a faster process than before, I had no need to eat, sleep, or go to school. My body never wearied. It was easier now too; it seemed the fire wanted to cooperate. It bent easily to my will. The more power I gained over it, the stronger it became.

I spent time getting to know my mind as well. As a human, my mind had many limits. How many things I could store, block or think. This brain had infinite space; infinite capabilities. But I still had to control it. Each part of my brain controlled a different part of my body, my emotions, or my thoughts. By understanding each individual part, I gained the skill to utilize each one separately at my will. I finally had complete control.

During this process the fire in my throat was building. It was controlled by one section of my brain, the section that measured my need for nutrition. It was a difficult section to control; the most unruly of them all. I could tell that it could easily overpower rational thought if I allowed it to. I didn't allow that. Instead I let the fire grow. I was an amazing feeling; the fire was so powerful. Had it not affected everything else, I would have been content to let it grow forever. But, it seemed as if the fire in my throat sucked energy from the fire in my body. As it grew stronger, the fire in my body grew weaker. That was not acceptable. I closed my eyes in concentration and focused on the part of my brain that controlled the fire in my throat. I forced the fire to dissipate, and it trickled back into the rest of my body. It took enormous strength of mind, and I knew it would be easier to just satiate my hunger.

I needed blood. There was no way I would kill a human, so that left one option. Vampires in books only drank from humans, but the crimson-eyed man said he wasn't like those characters. I figured that blood was blood, no matter the source. And on all sides of my desolate clearing, the forest was teeming with wildlife- animals with blood running through their veins. The thought of killing still made me cringe, but I remembered all the steaks and chicken sandwiches I had eaten as a human, and knew it was the same in principle. I would have to deal with it.

I slowly walked from the clearing, though I knew I could go at immeasurable speeds. I focused on the part of my brain that controlled my sense of smell and hearing. I let them have power, but made sure I could still think rationally. I closed my eyes and let my senses guide my feet. I glided over shrubs and trees and moved silently through fallen leaves. Soon I smelt the blood. I could hear it pumping through the deer, and its smell permeated the air. When the smells and sound assaulted my brain, that unruly part that controlled my nutrition tried to take over. I was prepared, and fought it back. I didn't close it off completely though; I needed the instincts to guide me.

With one mighty leap, I had my hands on the deer. Before it knew what was happening, I snapped its neck; I couldn't stand to see it suffer. My teeth tore effortlessly through its skin. In was an automatic, uncontrollable action to drain the blood. The effect was instantaneous. The fire surged to new heights and I felt more powerful than ever before. The fire in my throat spread through me, adding to the energy. It was glorious. It took my breath away.

I was eager to experiment with the new strength of the fire so I ran back to the clearing, away from the highly flammable foliage. I took a deep breath and focused my mind. I started out slow. I stretched out my palm and let out the smallest bit of the flames inside me. They kindled on my open palm, dancing merrily along my skin. I let out more. Soon my whole body was ensconced in the flames. The heat was glorious, the feeling indescribable. I let it blaze for a long time. It was amazingly soothing, like the sound of music and the embrace of a friend. Peace surrounded me.

I began to wonder, for probably the millionth time, why the fire didn't harm me. I examined my skin. My sharp new eyes picked up details I had never noticed as a human. The flames danced along my skin, but it was as if they never touched me. It was as if there was a film covering my body. Now that I was focused on it, it seemed to have a light of its own. I sorted through my brain, wondering if I could control it. Indeed, I found a small part of my mind I had overlooked previously. It was difficult to manipulate, but not impossible. It acted almost like a muscle. I flexed it and the film grew stronger, glowed brighter. It was such like a muscle that I wondered if I could move it. I focused, and silently commanded it. The film stretched away from my body. It was an amazing sight. The flames followed it, never passing through the border of the film. I pushed it away more; creating a halo of flames surrounding my body. I admired it for quite some time before relaxing my brain. The film snapped back into place; once again molding to my skin. I called the fire back into my body and it disappeared, leaving a trail of smoke. The film was still there; easily visible and I wondered how I had overlooked it before.

I was proud, energized, and in control. Had it not been for the ever-lingering despair, I may have actually been happy.