Prologue, part 2
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Content warning: depression, dysphoria, suicide attempt

The year was nineteen eighty-eight.

There was no internet, no websites. Those things may have existed in some form, but the general public didn't know or have access to them. And there was definitely no social media. There weren't even cell-phones, just really expensive car-phones that rich guys had if they wanted to look important.

Some folks had computers, there were BBS's that you accessed over dial-up modems and phone lines. But for most people, they got their information from newspapers, television, radio, or books. Stuff we take for granted today was unheard-of then.

For the average middle-class suburban kid, you basically only knew what you got from your parents, from school, from your friends, or from whatever books you chose to read. And your friends were the people in your neighbourhood who were the same age as you. So odds were they knew the same stuff you knew, because you all grew up in the same place, went to the same schools, and your folks were all generally in the same social circles.

This story is about just such a teen. His name isn't important, but to make this simple we'll call him Greg. He lives in the suburbs, in the east end of Toronto. His family's typical middle-class, they have a little house in a quiet neighbourhood. There's really nothing remarkable about him at all, except for one detail. Greg's trans.

The kicker is, he doesn't know that's a thing. He doesn't know there's a word for how he feels, what he wants. He doesn't know there's others like him. He doesn't know any of this stuff, because that information's never been made available to him.

All he knows is he desperately wishes he was a girl. He wishes he'd been born a girl. He'd do literally anything, pay any price, to be a girl. He hates being a guy. He hates the way his body looks and feels. The dysphoria is slowly killing him, and he doesn't even know what it is.

He's depressed. His grades are down. He's an outcast, he feels like he doesn't fit in, doesn't belong anywhere. He's not comfortable with 'the guys'. And as much as he wants to be one of 'the girls' he can't do that either. He knows he's not one of them, and that knowledge is draining the life out of him.

It's the May long weekend, Saturday night. Greg's eighteen now, he's expected to finish grade twelve next month but he doesn't plan to live that long.

Last night Greg was hanging out with his one and only friend. They were drinking, underage but his buddy looked old enough so he rarely got carded. And Greg told his friend how he felt. His friend laughed at him, teased him. Greg quickly pack-pedalled, played the whole thing off as a joke. He laughed as well. Wouldn't it be funny right? Him, in a dress. Ha ha ha. And he died a little more inside.

Now he was alone. He told his folks he was going over to his friend's house again. He told his friend he couldn't make it, his folks wanted him home tonight.

Instead, he sat by himself under a tree in the woods next to the creek in Thomson Park. He was well away from the path and the cleared fields. Well away from the lights and the road. Nobody would see him here, nobody would find him till tomorrow.

He had a twenty-six ounce bottle of Southern Comfort in his right hand, and three boxes of sleeping pills on the ground to his left. The bottle was still three-quarters full. Greg had a good buzz going but he hadn't yet made up his mind. He was scared, but he was slowly working up the courage.

It seemed like a good decision to him. Throw the dice, maybe in his next life he'd be born right. Either way he couldn't bear this life anymore. As far as he could see it was just going to get worse.

And that's when she came along.

Her short dark hair was done in a cute pixie-cut, framing her pale but beautiful face. Her eyes were dark green, and her lips were a deep dark red.

Her clothes looked out of place here. She wore a pink ankle-skirt, a pretty yellow blouse, and flat polished leather shoes. She looked like she was dressed for church or some kind of semi-formal party, rather than walking through the trees and bushes in the wild part of the park.

Greg couldn't guess her age, but he figured she was a few years older than him. Mid-twenties maybe. She was pretty though. Seeing her filled him with longing. He hoped he might be as pretty as her in his next life.

"Hello," the girl called out to him. She sounded happy and friendly, like she was in a good mood. "I see you're about to kill yourself. I was wondering if I could help?"

Greg frowned at her and took a moment to try and understand what was happening. "What? No, go away. I don't want to be saved."

The girl laughed, "That's not what I meant. I can help you on your way. I'll make it quick and painless. It'll actually feel kind of nice in fact."

"What are you?" he asked with a confused frown. "Some kind of angel or something?"

"Hardly!" she grinned. "I'm a vampire. We don't normally hunt or kill humans, but we'll take suicides. It's an ethics thing? You're going to die anyways, you want to die, so it's ok for us to feed on you. Otherwise we just get blood from an abattoir or the blood-bank. It's not as nice, but it does the job."

Greg stared at her for a few seconds then finally asked, "Are you fucking with me?"

The girl smiled wide, and this time he could see her fangs. They were long and looked sharp.

"Holy shit!" he gasped as he stared. "Are those real?"

She was still smiling and still in an up-beat mood as she replied "Very real. So what do you say? There's just a little sting, then it feels really good, then you fall asleep."

"Uh," Greg frowned. He still hadn't quite made the decision, and he almost wondered if he'd passed out and was dreaming now. Or if this was all an hallucination.

After a few moments some questions came to him. "So if you kill me won't I turn into a vampire too? The last thing I want is to spend eternity in this awful fucking body."

The vampire frowned and tilted her head slightly, "No, if I drain you that just kills you. Turning you is a little more involved. You've got me curious though. What's wrong with your body? It doesn't look so bad to me."

His face went beet-red as he realized what he'd just said. Greg raised the bottle up and took a deep swig from it, then shuddered as the cloying liquid burned on its way down.

After a few moments he sighed, "Fuck it."

He told her, and as he spoke the tears started flowing again.

"I want to be a girl. I should have been born a girl. I hate this body, this life, everything. I'm going to die, and hopefully I'll be born a girl next time around."

The vampire's eyebrows both rose upwards as his confession sank in. Then she sighed, "Wow. Ok, that's a lot. I'm sorry, that sounds really rough."

He wiped his eyes and sniffed, then asked "So if you kill me what happens? Do I get sent to hell or something? Or can I still come back again?"

The girl smiled and said "You know what, I'm going to break some rules tonight. I can help you out, I can guarantee you'll come back as a girl."

Greg's eyes lit up and his heart started beating faster. "Seriously? You can do that? How?"

The cute vampire swept her skirt under her as she sat down on the ground in front of him. When she spoke, her voice was hushed, as if she was worried others might hear what she had to say.

"One of our rules says female vampires may only turn women. Male vamps may only turn men. It's complicated but the short version is, when we turn someone we're sharing a part of ourself with them. Making them become like us. If I turned a man, he wouldn't just become a vampire. He'd be a vampire who looked a lot like me. And you know, most guys wouldn't appreciate that. But now I'm thinking, what if there was a guy who actually wanted that?"

Greg's heart was almost racing now. He gulped "Seriously? Is this for real?"

"Seriously and for real," the girl replied in a solemn tone. "There are downsides though. You wouldn't just be a girl, you'd be a vampire. You'd feed on blood. You'd never age. You're what, seventeen? Eighteen? That's the age you'd be stuck at."

"I'm eighteen," he replied. His voice was wavering as he set the bottle aside. The booze and pills were all but forgotten now, all his attention was on this strange attractive vampire in front of him. "My birthday was two weeks ago."

She nodded, "Well, you'd be eighteen plus two weeks forever. You'd be undead. And you'd have to leave your friends and family behind. You'd have to come with me, you'd become part of my family. I'd be responsible for you at first, until you were properly trained. And you'd be bound by all of our rules. If you broke them, you'd be killed."

Greg gulped but he'd already made his mind up. "I don't care. I'd do anything to be a girl, you're telling me you can make that happen. I'll do it. I'll do whatever you want."

"Ok then," she smiled. "If you're ready, let's do this."

He was so excited he was shaking now. He nodded, "I'm ready."

The vampire moved over to him and wound up sitting in his lap. Her left arm wrapped around his shoulders while she brought her right wrist up to her mouth.

Greg's eyes widened as he watched her bite into herself. Dark blood started oozing from the veins in her wrist, and she quickly moved it to his mouth. He realized she was a lot stronger than she looked, as she forced his mouth open and his head back. The hot sticky metallic taste filled his mouth and he had no choice but to swallow.

It burned a lot more than the booze ever did, and it was way more intoxicating. He barely noticed when she tilted his head to one side and moved her mouth to his throat. He registered the sting of her bite, but it quickly faded as he was forced to swallow another mouthful.

After that everything started to spin, then the weariness overtook him and everything went black.

• • • • •

By the time Samantha finished her story we were sitting side-by-side at the edge. My feet were hanging over the river alongside hers. I was leaning back though, I was no longer focused on the darkness below me, and for now at least I wasn't interested in jumping.

I sighed, "It's an imaginative story, I'll give you that. But there's no such thing as vampires. And it seems a little farfetched and a little too convenient, that girl vamps could turn AMAB people into girls."

Sam suppressed a laugh, "I suppose so. It does sound a bit weird when you put it like that. But the world is full of strange coincidences. I mean what are the odds that a vampire girl would encounter a suicidal trans girl right at the last few minutes of her life? And said vampire girl was not only able but willing to give the trans girl what she wanted? And what are the odds that whole scenario would happen twice?"

"Well yeah," I shrugged. "That's why I'm saying it's a farfetched story. It's way too unlikely to really happen, even if you ignore the impossible elements. What do you mean about it happening twice? Have you got another story where the same thing happens again?"

This time she actually giggled out loud. She grinned at me, "I suppose so, except I don't know yet how the second story ends. That depends on you."

Samantha's expression became serious again as she looked at me. "It's true Tara, it's all true. That was my story. I was 'Greg'. The vampire girl was my Dame, the vamp who turned me? Her name's Isabelle. Thirty years ago I was exactly where you are. I was trying to work up the courage to take a few dozen sleeping pills and chug half a bottle of booze. I thought maybe I'd get reborn as a girl. Isabelle came along planning to feed on me, and instead she wound up saving me. She gave me a second chance, a whole new... Well I can't call it a new 'life', but a new existence."

She gave me a sad smile and finished, "Now I'm offering you the same thing. How old are you? Twenty one? Twenty two? You'll be that age forever. You'll wind up more my size, but it's not like we'll be twins. You'll still be blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Honestly you'll look adorable. But you do have to die, and there's the whole vampire thing."

I frowned as I stared at her. Either she was a really good actress, or she actually believed this stuff herself.

Sam got to her feet and gestured, "C'mon. We can go round back of the art school over there. It's nice and private, sheltered with the trees and everything. And they have some benches and picnic tables, we can be a little more comfortable than sitting on the asphalt and cement here."

I still didn't believe her, but I'd lost the urge to jump. I'd begun to sober up while she was talking and my nerves were back. And I didn't like sitting at the edge by myself.

As I started to get up, the bridge suddenly shook and rumbled as another subway passed a couple meters below me. It was just enough to throw my balance as I was standing up, and I felt that lurch of falling as the blackness of the river swung into view.

It was over almost before it started. Sam moved faster than humanly possible. My left arm was held in the vice-like grip of her right hand, her left hand gripped part of the bridge structure, and she was supporting my weight. I had to outweigh her by almost two to one and this petite little teenage girl was easily holding me with one hand as I dangled over the river.

She raised me up and hoisted me back onto the bridge next to her. I wound up on my knees, I was shaking too much to stand. Meanwhile Samantha hadn't even broken a sweat.

"Are you ok?" she asked in a worried voice. "I'm sorry, that looked like an accident. I hope you don't mind that I caught you?"

It took me another two or three minutes before I could speak. I finally nodded "Thanks. I... You..."

Sam gave me a sympathetic smile, "It's ok Tara. Take your time. My offer still stands though. If you want to live, let's get a little further away from the edge, then we can part ways and you do what you can to make your life work for you. If you want to join me, we can go behind the art school like I said."

I slowly got to my feet. My hands were still shaking and I felt nauseous. My emotions were all over the place. I gulped and asked "It's all real? Everything you said?"

"Yep," Sam replied calmly. "All of it."

I gulped again, "And you can... You can do that for me too?"

She nodded slightly, "I can, if you want it."

I took a couple deep breaths then made my mind up. "I want it. Please."

Samantha smiled, "Then c'mon."

A minute or two later we were sitting together on a bench, surrounded by trees. I watched with a mix of excitement and anxiety as she pulled a small knife from her jacket pocket. She calmly cut into her own wrist, then stuffed the knife back into her pocket.

She looked up at me and now I could see her fangs. I hadn't noticed before but suddenly they were obvious. She wasn't frightening though. Her expression was one of compassion and care. She held her wrist to my mouth as she leaned in like she meant to kiss my neck.

I didn't try to resist or struggle. I had to fight my gag reflex though. The harsh metallic taste of the blood was disgusting, and it burned worse than the cheapest liquor. I was aware of the brief sting as she bit into my neck, but that faded almost immediately. It was replaced with a rush of endorphins and I felt my lips turning up into a smile. I swallowed a second time, as a sense of calm and peace came over me. My eyes closed, and I allowed myself to relax.

The last thing I was aware of was Samantha's lips at my neck and the last thought on my mind was next time I woke I'd be the real me. Then I drifted away into darkness.

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