Tear Me to Shreds

An Episode of Not Quite Dead.

Episode Content Warnings
Please bear in mind that this show is a work of horror fiction and frequently places characters in situations which jeopardise their psychological and physical health. This episode contains:
– discussion of violent deaths
– scenes of a sexual nature
– heavy descriptions of blood and blood drinking
– Descriptions of decaying flesh
– Description of violent assault
– threats to kill or harm others
– mentions of murder


In the days after I recovered from what Casper did, things got… worse. The situation with those things, I mean. The half-made vampires. Casper found three of them, gasping husks, fumbling down the sides of buildings, the chewed corpses of rats and urban foxes twitching nearby. If they were trying to eat animals, Casper said, the drive had reached its basest point of desperation, looking for sustenance without consideration, like a man deserted at sea drinks salt water even though only makes him more thirsty.

Whatever was going on, whoever was making them. It was clear something had changed. The pace of production had increased, the state the creatures were turned out with had worsened. It all suggested a kind of desperation.

The other vampires were panicking. Casper spoke to them on the phone in rapid French, Dutch, German and Spanish, moving between languages with a fascinating smoothness. He’d be waiting for me at the door at the end of my shifts at the hospital, and sometimes long before, lurking down the side of the building under the floodlights where I’d go to smoke, to watch over me. I did feel safer with him there but the more he came the more worried I got about the situation beyond us.

Everything was like that with Casper. Is like that still. This push and pull, so many things to make you lean closer, but when you do, there’s something else to make you pull away. It’s like the scales of my life had to be balanced somehow. For the brief moments of ecstatic bliss, when Casper curled around me in the dark, he teeth half an inch into the inside of my my thigh, there had to be a counterbalance, some horrible rotting creature in a corner, fear so deep and keen it made me shiver and shake, panic attacks under tables because everywhere else felt to big and open and vulnerable.

And I still didn’t get it. I still didn’t really understand. Casper had told me enough that I was satisfied I did but I didn’t. He was trying to protect me, I think, to keep me safe, but. I don’t know. I’ve tried to like, parse it out. Is the reality of the situation measurably worse than what I’d thought was happening? Would I have stayed, if I’d have known the whole truth of what was going on? Is there any evidence that at any point in this whole fucking situation that I spent more than five short seconds considering my own safety and wellbeing if it meant I’d never see Cas again? Even when I pushed him away, he was driving me to work every time I went.

It’s this sort of ego-soothing activity, I guess. Imagining I’m capable of making better choices. Better? Are they better? I don’t know. Choices more conducive to living a long and healthy life.

Then again, you never know how you’ll go out. Maybe you get hit by a bus on the way to the shop. You can’t buy immortality.


Unless you know a vampire, that is. And that’s not really immortality, is it? When most of them die in the attempt? Most of those who don’t are dead before the end of their first year, the rest pruned back in their first decade. The number of vampires that live more than twelve years is miniscule. The fact there are more than a couple who have lived into their hundreds is only because they live so damn long.

It’s just sort of sobering, to me, that most vampires have been vampires for less than a year.

They’re potentially immortal. But only potentially.


INTRO MUSIC. EIRA: This is Not Quite Dead. Episode Eleven: Tear Me to Shreds

What am I doing, what am I saying, where am I going with this? I feel like it’s important you understand how I got her, you know? And that means you can’t know things until I knew them, and yet. And yet. At the start, when Casper was just some strange guy dripping blood into a patient’s eye. I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know he was a vampire, that he’d nearly kill me by accident, that he’d save my life, that I would be sitting here, dying, wondering if he was dying too. I can’t perfectly explain it all, either. How much of my experience is coloured by the fact it’s me telling all of this? I’ve left things out, you know. Of course you know, because of course I have. A good measure of blood and debauchery has been pushed to the margins. Mistakes, days lying strung out on my bed, the sun just a glow around the edge of the curtains. Running a hot bath so Casper’s touch was almost as warm as mine.

And there’s a good chance, you who’s listening, whoever you are. There’s a good chance you’re one of them. That you found me. That you have taken this tape which is meant to explain who you are and what you’ve done and at any moment you’re going to throw it out. You’ll listen to it all first, of course, in case there are any secrets in here you can’t learn from slicing vampires open throat to pelvis. There are things here you should have learned. Secrets you ought to have understood already from the number of people and vampires who are dead because of you, because of your ideas.

Vampire blood cannot save lives. It can’t. Not the way you think. It can slam the door in death’s face for a while but it can’t keep her out forever. The change is not the doorway to immortality, either. It’s a different sort of death, I think. And who knows what the life span of a vampire truly is? Nobody. And do you know why? Because something always kills them before they reach their natural conclusion. Other vampires, or hunger, or violence, or people like you. Potentially immortal, yes, but in practice they’re just as mortal as anyone else. They die. They fucking die. I know because I’ve seen it.


Or maybe you’re not one of them at all.


I– I’m sorry… I…


A week or two into this new high alert we were living under, Casper told me he was going to be gone for a few days. It worried me because he’d never done this before, and with Cas, many things were often terrifying. But I swallowed my nerves as best I could and thought about what I’d felt when I’d visited my mother’s and realised the love was still there even though Casper wasn’t. He’d earned my trust, hadn’t he? He would always come if I was in danger. So I didn’t argue and he left, and I was alone.

He was texting me the whole time, and it was oddly typical sorts of texts, about how he missed me, how he was bored, how he saw something that made him think of me. I responded in kind, that sort of giddy delight that always set in for me when Casper was anything close to normal. It made me feel like a teenager, sitting up at night, texting him about how much I wished he was there. It was nice. Sweet, even. He could be so human, sometimes.

After a couple of days though the giddy novelty of it all began to wear thin. I really, tangibly missed him. It was the longest we’d been apart since we’d met. I wanted his skin under my fingers again, his teeth in my flesh. Just texting him this wasn’t enough. I missed him deeply and viscerally and…


It’s difficult when he’s not around.

Anyway. Um.

Yeah. Him being away got old pretty fast, and it was partially because. Well. As well as drinking my blood it seemed like meeting Casper had consumed my life a little bit. How long had it been since I’d spent a whole day with my mum and my sisters? I’d not visited Grace in Cambridge even once. I only barely made it to Tammy’s last school play. My mum invited me for dinner at least once a week and I had been maybe twice in the last six months. She wasn’t mad at me about it, or anything, though she did seem worried. She’d seen me consumed by a relationship before, and things with Ben didn’t exactly work out. Especially considering the last time I’d seen him he was a blood soaked mess, but she didn’t know about that.

So. When I tell you what I did when Casper was out of town, please don’t judge me, because. Well. Circumstances were weird. I felt weird. It was all… weird.

I hadn’t seen much of Haley or any of my colleagues for months either, not even Ambulance Terry, who had given up trying to stage an intervention bar crawl for me as he had so many times in the past. It was in part because I was shit scared half-rotten corpses would shamble out from behind bins and try to tear out my throat but it was also because. Well. Spending so much time with Casper, immersed in his world, it put distance between me and other humans. Not only was I painfully aware that I had information which could instantly move them up the kill list for any local vampire, Casper’s vampire-ness pervaded every aspect of our time together. It wasn’t just that he bit me when we fucked or I had to sleep with hot water bottles if the night was cooler than ten degrees because his body threw off a chill the way a radiator throws off heat. He didn’t eat it but was fascinated with human food and I found myself thinking about what it would be like to eat and feel no relief from it, for it to be something so unrelated to my body’s needs it not only didn’t sate my hunger but made it keener.

Casper could tell me about the sentiment for the Catholic church in rural Spain in the late 1800s, he could talk about the strangeness of seeing an automobile for the first time, the shift from tallow to paraffin, and then to gas and electric lighting. He could smell blood born pathogens and he always noticed when there was something off about my health, showing up with specifically selected smoothies and snacks to fix whatever he’d noticed before it had even had chance to effect me.

I had got used to being around someone who didn’t need telling that I was anxious because of his weird preternatural connection to me, and also because he could smell the spike of cortisol in my blood and hear the way my pulse had changed and had learned the best ways to help ground me. I was also used to being careful. We had found a balance between us, a system that worked, but it made me impractical to be around for anyone who happened not to be the vampire I was dating.

Dating. Is that the right word? We didn’t go on dates, really, because as mentioned, he didn’t really eat much human food, and being in public before dark was costly for him, health wise, and I was shit scared I was going to get eaten alive a lot of the time even when he was sitting directly opposite me. We fucked, yeah, and it was clear we cared about each other, and he lived with me, because otherwise he lived in his car. Dating feels both woefully inadequate and also like a massive overstatement. I don’t know that there is a word for ‘the vampire I’m fucking who lives with me and drinks my blood and protects me from the monsters outside’. Except. I don’t know.

And it was weird, right? Mum knew I was seeing someone, so did Haley, but. I couldn’t just invite them around to meet Casper, could I? What was I supposed to say? How could I explain him? And Casper impressed on me again and again the dangers involved in mixed with the vampire world and I certainly felt it with every panic attack I had, so yeah. What could I do?

It all came into sharp focus when Casper was away, and then. I don’t know. As the days wore on it started to feel less and less… pressing. Like. Oh it’s hard to explain. I’d grown to trust his presence, that he’d be there if something went wrong. I believed him when he said he’d protect me. When he showed up outside the hospital at the end of my shift to drive me home it was like a reminder of that protection, but also, I think, that I needed the protection at all. For all my fear of the half-made things, I had not seen a patient with a torn out throat with my own two eyes for months. The last half-made I’d seen was a burnt carcass in the morgue.

Without Casper I was objectively more at risk but. I don’t know. He’d done such a good job at making me feel safe that without him there protecting me I…

It wasn’t like I forgot there was a risk, exactly. The stakes just felt different. Altered. I know this is stupid, I do, I really do. But it had been well over a year since Ben died.

So I organised a night out, with Haley and Terry.

In my defence, I never claimed to be smart, did I?

It was good, at first. It was nice to be hanging out with my normal human friends, doing normal human things. As things always seemed to with nights out with colleagues, more and more people joined as the night went on, a large pack of almost twenty of us altogether by eleven.

I also noticed Casper hadn’t text me. Would he know I was out? Could he tell I was getting drunk, the way he could tell what I was feeling? Would he also know I was having a good time? Would that even make him… jealous?

The text didn’t come until after midnight when I slipped on the floor of the bathroom in a club, laughing hysterically as others hoisted me to my feet.

‘What are you doing?’ Casper asked.

‘I’m out,’ I told him.


‘In town.’

He tried to call me. I didn’t answer. He tried to call again. Finally he text ‘let me know when you’re home safe.’

I text back ‘k’ because I was angry and drunk enough to have forgotten that Casper was so removed from the modern context that he wouldn’t have know the significance of replying with just that single letter. Haley and I danced, I don’t remember to what, and did shots at the bar until everything was swimmy and strange. I swayed like I was on the deck of a boat when we went out to smoke next, tripping over my own feet as I leaned against the wall.

Haley was talking to this guy, he was pretty, I think he worked in paediatrics, I can’t be sure, and me and Terry were taunting a poor little resident doctor who was trying his best to flirt with me, and was too drunk to realise that this was a fruitless endeavour. I looked over to catch Haley’s eye, but she wasn’t there. It struck through me like a blade of ice. This was the bar I’d been at the night Ben died. My eyes fixed on the alley across the road from the smoking area.

I ran into the bar, my heart hammering. She wasn’t on the dance floor or at the bar, I couldn’t see her at any of the tables. I ran up to the bathrooms, asked one of the women at the front of the queue to see if she was in there, but she wasn’t. I hurtled down the stairs, almost falling and breaking my neck, out into the smoking area, across the street to the alley. There was nothing there. Just bin bags and the sweet stink of rotting food and spent beer kegs.

I walked back out onto the street, breathing heavily. Nobody in the smoking area seemed to have noticed what had happened. Numbly, I walked down the street, my knees shaking as I reached the end of the road, where it opened out into cobblestones at the river’s edge. Haley and the guy from paediatrics were smoking at a picnic table outside a closed pub, laughing, leaning into each other. I slumped against the railings by the river in relief, and without much warning, threw up into the swirling inky depths.

‘Alfie?’ Haley said. She was getting up, walking over to me. I didn’t know how to explain myself. I started trying to formulate an excuse, but it died on my tongue, because from the next street over from the bar, something shambled out onto the riverside. The guy from paediatrics was watching Haley and I, hadn’t noticed the thing’s arrival and approach. I cried out, but he just frowned, and Haley reached out to put her arms on my shoulders. ‘Alfie, what’s wrong?’ she asked me, but I couldn’t answer, I couldn’t help, I couldn’t explain. I ripped myself free of Haley’s grip and towards the guy from paediatrics as the shambling thing was just reaching the edge of his table.

Haley screamed in fright as the guy stood up. ‘You alright, mate?’ he asked the thing. He was drunk too, too drunk to know how to process that the thing’s eye was hanging out of the socket, that the smell of rot was like a corpse, that it was reaching for him with it’s wet fingers, the skin like a glove over its soggy, half-melted flesh. I was running, but I was too slow, and I could see Ben, bleeding out not three feet from where I’d just been standing, just metres from where this other, awful thing was about to tear this poor boy’s throat out of his neck.

In a haze of panic, though, I reached for one of the parasols still standing in the picnic tables. It wouldn’t come free of its stand. The thing was grabbing the guy from paediatrics and he was struggling in its grip as it nuzzled, smearing flesh on his floral shirt, and I remembered how it had been, its grip desperate and absolute as it had held me, and I felt the parasol snap under my weight. It snapped me back into my body too, I could hear Haley screaming, standing back from what was going on, and me, there, on the table, my whole body braced as I pulled and twisted the broken parasol free, a twisted, jagged end of aluminium shedding shards of dark green paint. I jumped down and whacked the thing off the guy from paediatrics. There was blood, and stinking rot, and he was gasping with wet breaths as I shoved the half-made off him with the flat of my shoe and whacked it again with the parasol to a sickening crunch.

The half-made’s hands roamed at the cuffs of my jeans skin sloughing away, and I hit it again, leaving a mulchy mess peppered with bone fragments on the cobbles, but it was still writhing, still trying despeately to hold on as I raised the parasol again and brought it down once, twice, three times.

Distantly I was aware of the screech of tires on the road nearby, of Haley’s pleading sobs, but all ii could feel was my breath and my pulse raging in my ears as I slammed the parasol down on the thing again and again, its hands twitching, and then–

Cool touch on my shoulders.

I rounded on Casper, holding the parasol aloft.

He raised his hands, eyes wide. ‘It’s okay,’ he said.

I turned back to the thing, lifting the parasol.

‘It’s gone, Alfie. It’s gone,’ said Casper.

I could not process this information. I stood there, panting, holding the parasol aloft. The thing’s body was still. What had been it’s head was little more than a smear on the cobble stones. Behind my eyes I saw the growing pool of blood around Ben. I dropped the parasol to the ground.

‘Come here,’ said Casper. He was holding out his hand. I took it, and let him reel me in. I was breathing hard and fast, the air hot in my throat, my heart beating so hard it hurt. Casper stroked the back of my head, his cool fingers a relief against my skin. He kissed my forehead.

Haley was crying.

I pulled away from Casper to where Haley was holding her palms over the throat of the guy from paediatrics. His eyes were wide, glassy and searching. He opened and closed his mouth wordlessly. His shirt was soaked in blood, the plastic buttons looking violently white against the near-black of the blood-soaked fabric in the dark.

I crouched beside them, Haley’s tears and snot running down her face. She was pleading senselessly.

‘Save him!’ I said to Casper.

Casper shook his head. ‘I can’t.’



I tore my shirt wide, tilted my head sideways to expose my throat. ‘Take my blood if you need it, please, just save him!’

‘I can’t!’

‘WHY NOT!’ I yelled.

‘He’s already dead, Alfie,’ said Casper, gently.

I looked again at the still body Haley was crouched over, her hands on his throat. No new blood spilling forth. Eyes staring at nothing.

‘No,’ I said, quietly. ‘No.’

Haley was crying, sobbing, still trying to put pressure on the wound.

‘Haley,’ I said, but she didn’t seem to hear me.

‘I can’t protect her,’ said Casper.


Casper sighed. ‘I can’t keep her safe. She can’t know.’

‘You mean… you mean you’ll have to make her forget.’

Casper nodded. ‘Wait in the car,’ he said.

I got up. Haley stared at me, still all of a sudden.

‘Alfie, what are you doing? We have to help him!’ she said. I couldn’t look at her. Casper’s car was idling, the lights inside on, the headlights switched off. The driver’s side door was hanging open. I climbed inside, shut the door after myself.

Casper walked over to Haley, pulled her to her feet. He leaned close to her, like he was whispering in her ear, and then, she collapsed, like a dropped marionette. He caught her easily and carried her to the car, sliding her onto the backseat. She was completely asleep.

‘There’s some wipes in the glove compartment,’ said Casper. ‘Clean her up.’

I stared at him blankly. He slammed the door shut. I found the wipes and pulled out Haley’s bloodied hands and arms, leaving smears of copper on her skin.

Casper threw first the ruined monster into the river, and then the guy from paediatrics. Finally, he threw in the parasol. By the time he was done, Haley was as cleaned up as I could manage.

‘You know where she lives, yes?’ said Casper.

‘Yeah,’ I told him.

We drove in silence, me on the backseat, holding Haley’s head. We carried her into her flat, unlocking the door with the keys from her pocket, and set her in her unmade bed. There was a ragged, ancient care bear half-hidden under one of her pillows and for some reason it made me want to scream. Casper helped me get the last bits of blood from her arms, then we took off her bloodied shirt, tucking her dressing gown around her, and walked silently out to the car again.

Casper didn’t say a word. He just drove. We were not headed back to the flat. I said nothing, either. When we were out at the forest where he’d first brought me all those many months before, he shut off the engine.

Casper shook his head. ‘I thought I might lose you.’

‘You didn’t, though.’ I put my hand on his cheek and he closed his eyes, turning so his nose pressed against my wrist.

‘Not quite,’ said Casper. ‘Not quite.’

EIRA: Not Quite Dead is written, performed, and edited by Eira Major, under a Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution License. Live, laugh, bite.