The Iron in Blood (Chapter 1, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 1


I'm not a believer. I'm pretty sure I never really believed in Father Christmas or the tooth fairy or any number of magical creatures that litter childhood like so much detritus from earlier darker wierder times. Let's face it, the idea of a tiny person sneaking about taking children's teeth while they sleep is just creepy. I've never been a member of any of the current world religions or their derivatives either. I don't believe that invisible pixies populate gardens, or that aliens spend their time cruising the skies looking for the worlds' most intellectually challenged individuals to deliver messages of goodwill and try out their latest in probes. And I'd certainly never have dreamed of believing in vampires.

I do read books, though, and watch movies, and I've noticed that one of the common theories about vampires is that it's a condition that is somehow transferable between two individuals, like some kind of freaky infection.

Turns out vampires do exist. But they're born, not made.

The story of how I ended up, not believing in vampires, but knowing without a doubt that they live and breathe, started a couple of weeks before my eighteenth birthday. I was walking home from school at about three one gloomy Thurday afternoon, watching the familiar cracks in the pavement glide by below my feet, when the sound of a car engine being revved made me glance up at the car hurtling towards me. I guess I should have known that it would never be able to stop on time, but I just stood there watching it, right up until it clipped my left leg and sent me flying through the air.

I landed painfully on the road, and slid for a few feet, adding various unbelievably painful grazes to my growing list of injuries. I lay there on the tarmac, stunned by the unfamiliar pain shooting through my body, while people started gathering around me, shouting for help and collectively dialling 999 on about eight mobile phones. A skinny woman wearing a purple jumper loomed over me, and pushed me back down every time I tried to sit up. I lay on that road, embarrassed and aching, and hoping against hope that nobody I knew would ever find out about this. Teenagers hate fuss, and I hated it more than most.

Next thing an ambulance had arrived - a huge yellow blob-shaped vehicle with a blue light flashing away on top of it. Two paramedics jumped out of the front of the vehicle, one really short with a big pervy grin, and one really tall with a vaguely sour expression. I wondered briefly if I was going to be continuously sliding down an incline between the two of them as they carried me into the vehicle, but fortunately they came equipped with a stretcher that was balanced beautifully on nice even wheels. They made sure I was breathing and conscious, and then they asked me loads of awkward questions before they lifted me carefully onto a hard board, and strapped the world's most constricting torture device around my neck. They picked up the board, yep, definitely an incline; and slid it onto the stretcher, where it turns out I had a great view of the tall guys nostrils. As they shut the doors behind me I tried to see what had happened to the guy that hit me with his car, but he was nowhere to be seen. The police later told me that he had driven off without stopping, and as nobody had gotten his number plate, the likelihood was that he would get off scot free.

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