A Different Kind of Holy

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


I feel it all the time now, the cold. Death’s slow march through my body. I can’t feel my fingers anymore, except for this sort of light fizzing sensation, like the ghost of pins and needles. I’m scared to go to sleep. What if I don’t wake up? I. Ugh.


It’s going to be okay, right? Will someone just. Anyone. Please. It’s going to be alright, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

INTRO MUSIC. EIRA: This is Not Quite Dead. Episode Twelve: A Different Kind of Holy.

It’s hard to parse out what’s the truth, now. Casper was precious about the details of what he’d learned while he was away, but it was clear he hadn’t gone far, or he couldn’t have got to Haley and I so fast that night. He wouldn’t give me the location. He said it’d be too tempting for me to follow if I knew exactly where he’d gone to and, well. He’s not wrong about that. I’d have gone.

I– ugh. In my head, I go and find him and he’s fine. He’s lost track of time, or something. He’s forgotten I’m on the brink like this, he’s… yeah. I find him and he’s okay and we’re okay and we’ve found a way to fix this.

This, being me. Being the whole situation.


There had been so many of the patients with the torn out throats by then that it had become normal. That I would barely have blinked if one had come in. I remember the paralysing fear they’d cast over me for months, the way I was too scared to leave the house, but. Something about that night with Haley and the guy from paediatrics, it changed the fear. Instead of something that made me cower it was something that made my blood heat up and bones harden. Less like fear more like, what, determination? I’m not sure how to describe it. But it made me angry.

Casper found all of this very entertaining. ‘You’re like an angry weasel,’ he said, patting my head. ‘So full of rage, but what are you going to do?’

‘If I’m a weasel, what does that make you?’ I asked.

Casper thought about this for a moment. ‘A hawk.’

‘So modest,’ I said.

‘You disagree?’ said Casper.

I ran my hands down his arms, one of which was draped loosely over my hip. He was smiling, watching me with rapt fascination as I traced the outline of his fingers.

‘I think you’re a tiger,’ I said.

Casper laughed. ‘Now who’s being ridiculous?’

‘I didn’t say it was ridiculous, I said it wasn’t modest.’

Casper hummed. ‘I suppose.’

He rolled onto his back, his hair shifting, releasing that sweet, boozy smell of his blood. It was everywhere in the flat, especially in my room. Even when he wasn’t there I could curl up and smell him on my sheets. It’s funny, after he left, I slept on the couch because I couldn’t bear to smell him when he wasn’t there. But. Then I curled into bed and the smell was almost gone. Now I can’t stand sleeping in there because it doesn’t smell of him. How ridiculous am I?

‘Why a tiger?’ Casper asked.

I shrugged. ‘They’re fierce, they have sharp teeth. But they’re endangered. People love them, even though they could kill them. And they’re soft.’ I pressed my face against his shoulder.

‘Ah, of course, you’ve a lot of experience petting tigers as an A&E nurse, how could I forget?’

I chuckled. ‘Shut up.’

‘People love them?’ said Casper.

I ducked my head into the mattress. ‘Yes.’

‘I see,’ said Casper.

A moment stretched on and on in silence. My heart was hammering. Casper was still, not even breathing. After almost a minute had passed I couldn’t stand it anymore.

‘Why did you say hawk?’

Casper turned to me with a wicked grin. ‘Hawks eat weasels.’

There was a pause, a moment that hung still in the air between us, his gaze locked on mine. There was, in this moment, a silent question being asked. This tiny pause shifted the balance of power greatly in my favour. A tiny hesitation that meant, for both of us, that this was my choice. That I was allowing this. That everything that followed was happening with my consent, at my discretion, and at any moment, I could take that away, and Casper would listen.

Then, lightning fast, he pushed me back by the shoulders and sank his teeth hard and fast into my chest, enough to make me scream and writhe under him. It was a safe place to bite, few veins to break. He could bite hard and deep and I’d only lose a little blood. It did have a tendency to bruise afterwards, though. But honestly? I didn’t mind that. It had been years, by then, long enough that I didn’t really need a firm reminder that he was real the way I had in the beginning, but it was nice to carry it. A little badge, worn right on my chest where it’s supposed to go, hidden under my clothes.

Unfortunately if I were to ever try to go shirtless in public again I’d have to explain the many, many scars around my chest, too many of which are identifiably human-shaped bite marks, the canines just a little too deep and wide to be ordinary. I look like I’ve been mauled. Actually, I really have been mauled, haven’t I?

I still think he’s more tiger than hawk. Master of disguise, efficient killer, with a soft underbelly. That’s Casper alright. But he’d never see it that way.

Maybe I’ll feel differently if I’m a vampire, too. Maybe there is something fundamental about the experience that I’m missing, some essential piece it’s impossible to understand unless you experience it. I mean, that’s likely, isn’t it? Casper is so sparing with the details, so reluctant to let me onto the deepest, darkest parts of himself, the things that might scare me. Not the horrors, those he could speak about plainly. The drive to kill, the lust for blood. He explained it all at length in excruciating detail. He did it to try and scare me off him. It didn’t work, obviously.

But. I don’t know. I think he didn’t really want it to. I knew already that some part of him wanted to drink me dry before he explained it all like that, you know? I know what vampires are. I know what they do. Whilst it was scary and horrifying and hard to hear there’s an extent it was just an elaboration on things I already knew about vampires in general, things I knew specifically about him. All things I’d know and decided were forgivable.

Obviously I’m reading into things here, but like. I’m so certain Cas knew that when he told me, knew I would forgive him, knew it would not make me run, or make me want to push him away. And the reason I think that is because of the stuff he wouldn’t talk about. Maybe it’s because it’s not very easy to describe. I asked him if he felt like the same person he was before he was turned, and he just didn’t answer. Was the truth that he did, or that he didn’t? Which, to him, would be more horrifying and harder to admit? Is it that he’s so far removed from his own humanity now that he’s totally alienated from it, that who he was is like remembering someone pretend? Or maybe it’s that he does feel the same as he did then, but with all the hunger and pain on top of it. Maybe the human in him is alive and screaming. Maybe he has to shut him in a box and pretend he can’t hear the nails on the inside of door. Maybe that’s why he cried, when he talked about how he was changed. When he talked about what becoming a vampire means. Always he spoke of it not as a loss, with grieving, but like it was treason. A great betrayal.

Who could he be betraying if it’s not himself?

Maybe these aren’t questions that can be answered. Maybe they’re just feelings that you have. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you’re the same you as you were before the change. But. Maybe it does. I. Ugh. Right now, to me, to me it matters. I want to know. And I can’t know. And maybe even if Casper was here to talk this through with me, if he magically became capable of getting over whatever it is in his head that stops him from being able to and he could just talk it out with me, maybe even then it wouldn’t help.

Maybe there are just not enough answers in the world for all the questions I have about this change, maybe even if there were it wouldn’t help. Maybe none of this matters, in the face of it. But. I don’t know. I have to think– I have to try to— what I need is a way, a way to make this feel like I’m going through a process, here, that there’s some sense of, just, like, serious reasoning at play!

Informed consent! That’s what I want! I want to feel about this the way I felt about Casper biting me, right? That there’s a moment of pause, where we both know I’m informed about the risks, that I know my limits and Casper tries to know them too, that we will stop any moment it becomes too much. I want to feel in charge of this. I want to feel like I know what it’ll be! Because otherwise I’m– I’m a victim of it! And I don’t want to be! I don’t– whatever it is, the hang ups Casper has, will those screws turn in my brain too? Will I be unable to think clearly about the situation at all? I– what if being a vampire ends up being nothing like I think it will?

The chances of it working are low, I know, but. In the past, I’ve had trouble with like. Anticipating success. And I don’t mean I expect to win and then crash and burn, I mean I expect to lose, become so certain of it that if I do succeed then I don’t know how to cope or function. Like, my exams when I was training to be a nurse, I was so ready to fail them. I got in from taking my last exam and sat my mum down and said ‘that went really badly, I think, what am I going to do?’ and my mum, bless her, walked me through all my options.

‘You don’t need to worry about paying rent until you find other work, and if you want to resit the whole year, I can help out as much as you need to me to,’ she told me.

I spent the five weeks between the exam and the results being released painstakingly considering my options, making the tough decision as to whether it would be worth attempting the year again and risking another catastrophic failure. Perhaps it would be best to cut my losses now and try for a career in bartending. At least I knew I could pull a pint and mix a cocktail. There wasn’t much money in it but the social side seemed great, and there were always interesting things happening at bars. It wouldn’t be so bad, I thought, and I could make decent money as a manager.

And then the results came out and not only did I pass, but I passed in the top 5% of students in my year group.

And I completely had no idea what to do. I had a panic attack – the first one I’d had since I was a kind. The first one I’d had since I was old enough to know what they were and what they meant. It was really bad, I had vertigo and everything. I thought I was going to puke up my own lungs. But I didn’t. I calmed down a bit, but. I’d rewritten my whole life. I’d barely let myself even dream of passing this test, and then I did, and not only was I not prepared I’d actively worked to unprepared myself so drastically that I’d applied for a supervisor role at the bar I’d been working in in the evenings and–


This might– it could happen that i– and then what’ll I–


And I can’t even ask anyone what’s going to happen because. Because Casper’s gone and. Fuck. FUCK.


I’d know if he was dead, I’d feel it, wouldn’t I? I’d know it. I can’t feel his emotions but I’d know it. I’m drinking his blood it’s right here he is not dead.

But that doesn’t mean he’s okay. There are worse things than death.

One night, Casper and I, we were, um. We were walking down beside the river, late at night. It was the middle of summer, still kind of warm, even though it can’t have been earlier than three. The goose were all asleep on the riverbanks and old, rocky docks. Barges, dinghies and speedboats bobbed idly on the water, moored on ancient looking wooden posts that rose out of the swirling depths like greasy, algae-haired fingers. We’d been chatting about something, I can’t remember what, when a breeze came across the water and Casper stopped in his tracks.

I’ve seen him angry. I’ve seen him desperate. I’d seen him sad and lonely. But I’d never seen him afraid like that before. He was perfectly still, like a statue with real hair. The only part of him that moved was his pupils, slowly dilating as he stared across the water. I called his name, he didn’t respond. I tugged on his hand, but he wouldn’t move. He just stood there, staring. I followed his gave and saw it; a body in the river.

I couldn’t make sense of why it had frightened him so much. In my first, non-hazy memories of Cas he’s throwing the body of a half-made into that same river. I’d seen him throw another and a whole person into there since then. It was just a dead body, albeit one bobbing face down in the black of the water, hair fanned out in a dirty blonde swirl, undulating with the waves. Without a word, Casper pushed me away and walked to the edge of the river. We were far enough out of town that there was just a slope and concrete lip at the water’s edge. Without pause, Casper jumped into the water.

‘Casper, what the hell are you doing!?’ I asked, my voice in a raised whisper, like we were two naughty kids about to get caught on a part of the school grounds we weren’t supposed to be on. He completely ignored me. I stood huddled at the water’s edge. It was like the sounds narrowed down and I could hear him swimming out to her. I couldn’t have, not really, but in my memory I hear every splash he made as he swam. He stopped just short of the body and, to my horror, it twitched.

The movement was small at first, almost imperceptible, but as Casper extended his arm towards the body its arms flailed, water rippling and splashing. Casper gripped both of the woman’s arms and pinned them down to her sides, in the same movement, swooping her over into his arms so she was cradled against his chest. She was kicking violently with her legs, water splashing everywhere, and making a strange, low gargling sound, almost like a growl, but as though through water.

Casper’s grip around the woman tightened and he moved to grip her with one arm instead of both. With his free hand, he swept the hair from her face and revealed her flailing, flapping mouth, opening and closing, her lips curled back into a snarl. I couldn’t see the real extent of the damage, far away as I was, but I could see she had no teeth. She clamped her jaw over Casper’s arm, finding no purchase with her gums. Casper ignored her attempts to bite him and smoothed her hair a little. He was talking low and quiet in language I didn’t know. He stroked her hair slowly, rhythmically, seeming to be absent from himself and the action.

His fingers tightened in her hair, and there was a loud, sickening crunch.

Her legs stopped flailing.

Casper let go of the body first, let it waft its way down the river a moment before he let go of her head, which sank.

Casper swam back to shore and heaved himself out on the concrete lip, dripping water.

‘What was that?’ I said. Casper didn’t answer. Water dripped from him. I touched his shoulder but it was like touching a dead thing. ‘Casper,’ I said. Nothing.

I didn’t know what to do, so I took off my jacket and draped it over his shoulders like he was someone who could feel the cold. I rubbed his arms through the fabric, kissed his head despite the slightly smelly water he was still slick with.

He lifted his hand, opening his palm. In it, was a coiled IV line.

‘This was in her neck,’ said Casper.

‘Was she a half made?’

Casper looked at me, expression confused for a moment, like it hadn’t occurred to him that I hadn’t had the luxury of sharing his thoughts on that experience, like I should have just known the answer to my own question. ‘Her name was Moira. She was not a half made.’

‘Moira,’ I repeated.

‘Turned in 1992. Missing nine months.’

‘She was a vampire?’

‘Yes,’ said Casper, annoyed.

‘I didn’t know vampires were going missing.’

‘I didn’t tell you,’ said Cas.

‘Why not?’

Casper shot me a violent glare. ‘I didn’t want you to be scared.’

‘You don’t need to protect me from-’

‘Yes I do!’ Casper snapped. ‘Protecting you is the most important thing I have to do. I have to keep you safe.’

‘And you do. But you don’t need to lie to me!’

Casper laughed dryly. ‘They took her teeth.’ His grip tightened on the IV line. ‘They drained her blood and took her teeth. She couldn’t heal. She couldn’t feed. They drained her dry, they took her teeth and they threw her out like she was an old rug.’


Casper shook his head. ‘I don’t know. But it’s something to do with the blood.’

‘The blood?’

‘The blood of the vampires.’ Casper got to his feet. ‘I must speak with Ros and Eponine.’

‘Right now?’


‘You’re soaking wet!’

Casper looked down at himself. He shook his head. ‘Doesn’t matter. Too important.’

‘Cas. Please explain to me what is going on.’

‘There’s no time,’ he said.

‘So make time, you are scaring me.’

‘Good,’ he growled. ‘You should be scared.’ but he didn’t turn away. He just stood there, his fist tight around the IV line. I put my hands around it. He was trembling.

‘Casper. It’s okay,’ I said.

‘It is not,’ he spat out.

‘No, okay, well, yeah. It’s not okay. But we’re not in danger right now.’

‘Yes we are,’ Casper ground out. ‘I don’t know who’s taking them. I don’t understand what they’re trying to achieve.’

‘It’s alright, Cas. We’re safe right now.’

‘You don’t know that,’ he whispered. ‘You can’t know that.’

‘But I do,’ I said, softly, firmly. I stroked the side of his face. His eyes were wide and wild, flickering back and forth between each of mine. Casper raised his hands to cover mine.

‘Who are you, and what did I do to deserve this?’ he asked.

‘I’m Alfie,’ I said. ‘You chose me.’

He laughed and shook his head, pulling our hands away. ‘How are you so calm right now?’

I shrugged and we started walking home. ‘Because I know that won’t happen to you.’

‘Oh yeah, how’s that?’ he asked.

‘If anyone ever came for you I’d tear them to shreds,’ I said.

Casper laughed again and took my hand in his. His smile faded quickly as we walked. ‘I don’t think they’re trying to make vampires,’ said Casper, very quietly.

I tried my best not to respond, to keep walking, even though I know he’d have heard my heart speed up, my breath catch, even if it was just a little stutter that no human would have noticed. Casper squeezed my hand, whether in appreciation of my efforts or because he thought I needed comforting I don’t know. The truth is I wasn’t actually calm, but something about Casper’s horror had flipped a switch in my head and kicked in that same cool, efficient capacity for calm that took over me at work. If it scared Casper, it was clearly bad, and I couldn’t quite process the concept of something frightening enough that he wasn’t just worried about me, but actually, really frightened. Frightened enough to tremble.

‘What do you think they’re doing, then?’ I said.

‘I think they’re trying to make a cure.’

‘For what?’


I stopped dead in my tracks. ‘Your blood heals people.’

Casper shook his head. ‘Just temporarily.’

‘So the half-made–’

‘An accident,’ said Casper. ‘They all have IVs in their necks, thick ones. Some of them had blood in them, some of them had gnawed at it. The blood was a mix of human and vampire.’


Casper shrugged and started walking again. ‘I think they’re looking for a way to make the cure permanent without turning people.’



‘Just the way you phrased that. ‘Make the cure permanent without turning people’.’

Casper sighed. ‘The change will fix any injury, illness or ailment in the turn.’

‘Is there a limit to that?’

Casper was quiet.

‘What?’ I said.

‘Sometimes I forget you’re a doctor.’

I scoffed. ‘I’m not a doctor. I’m a nurse.’

‘Sorry,’ said Casper, with a sigh. ‘You are somewhat less likely to go mad scientist on me.’

‘Oh yes, but more likely to go a bit Angel of Mercy.’

Casper snickered. ‘Heaven help me if that happens. I’m already at your mercy.’

‘Oh yeah?’

Casper grabbed my wrists and spun me around. In a flash, he had me pinned against a tree. ‘Utterly,’ he said, tracing his nose along the line of my throat.

‘Not the neck,’ I whispered. ‘I have work.’

Casper ran his tongue over the skin anyway. ‘I know,’ he said, with a sigh, and he let me go.

I swallowed hard, jogging a couple of steps to catch up with him. ‘You know, technically, death will also cure any injury or illness,’ I said.

Casper groaned. ‘Depends on your definition of ‘cure’.’

‘I guess.’

‘Do you now?’ Casper sighed. ‘I still need to speak with Ros and Eponine.’

‘Go later.’

Casper turned to me, eyebrow raised. ‘Okay.’

‘You should shower first.’

Casper glanced down at his sopping clothes. ‘Yes, probably.’

We got back to the flat and undressed in a tumble. It was easy, to be naked and in each other’s space. More comfortable than it was to be out in the night in our clothes, somehow, or at least it felt that way to me. Though I’d seemingly done well to break the tension, there was an edge to every kiss. Even though we’d been alone by the river, here, in my shower together, we were secret. The rest of the world may as well have not existed. I stopped him, before he bit my chest, and we held each other’s gaze and made that silent acknowledgement of what was happening. I trusted him to do this, he trusted me to tell him how far to go. I could tell he was scared by the way he bit harder, how his hand pulled my arms to his back, silently asking for my nails in his skin. When he finally let go and looked up at me, my own blood on his chin, his eyes swirling scarlet, he was exquisite, and I told him so. He glanced in the mirror, half fogged up with steam. ‘Aren’t I a monster?’ he asked, quietly, touching his mouth.

I kissed his shoulder. ‘What is monstrousness if not a different kind of holy?’


Listen. You, listen to me. Listen carefully. If you’ve hurt him. I will tear you to shreds. Do you understand me?




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