It's been centuries, far too long for me to even want to remember to count. I age the equivalent of a year for every mortal decade, but even then, 50... 100... 400 years, I do not die. How exhausting, how dismal. I've remained for some purpose - though I have never realized that purpose. So here I am, in a world I do not fully comprehend with an ambition I know nothing of. (What am I? Am I real?) I look down and I see my starved physical body but I see no image reflected in any mirror... in sunglasses, windows or even aluminum foil. I don't have the luxury of primping as you mortals do, I've never been able to properly groom myself before I descend on the unsuspecting world. I find this detail distressing as I am really quite vain. I can only hope my natural beauty is enough to make my presence acceptable, whatever I am. Vampire...immortal...inhuman...something... I have no point of reference, I have always been this.
As near as I can guess, it's the forty fourth decade of this misfortunate reality. I am bored. I am sluggish and sloppy. Though I never actually kill my victims as a proper vampire should, I feed..and am fed up. I dine as often as required to continue but hardly care whether I do or not. (THIS is living?) I often contemplate forgoing a few meals, could the consequences be any more distressing than what I now experience? Something unknown inspires me to perpetuate this existence though I am intimate with apathy.
Another endless night, a frigid evening as I begin my search for that which prolongs this contemptible animation. I don't experience the cold, yet instinctively I draw my shroud tighter around tired bones. I degrade this life even further by peering into anonymous windows, a common 'peeping Tom'. No worthless mortal is safe - inside or out.
I approach a small but well-kept bungalow. As I gaze
through the window I realize the structure and its contents are antiquated.
The gauzy curtains I look through are, upon further examination, nothing more
than years of cobwebs resembling delicately exquisite lace panels. The furniture
and accessories inside are from a time past, carefully preserved no doubt, by
the heavenly creature that sits on the floor admist the earthly posessions.
I squint my reddened eyes to look deeper inside, to study the gauzy form that
dwells within. From the shadowy sidewalk she is milky porcelain, delicate and
youthful, yet I smell anguish and desperation in her life-giving blood. The
creamy lace dressing gown she wears contrasts beautifully against her long dark
hair and is appropriate for the purpose she has intended it, her death shroud.
She is dying, cheating the future of her presence. A creature so beautiful,
what right has she to take her beauty from this decrepit, repulsive earth? I
watch in horror and fascination as her right hand leads an already bloodied
triangular shard of glass across her left wrist. She seethes with determination,
trying hard to sever
her performance, dancing with her demons in a final grandiose ballet of despair. The tiny blood droplets on her delicate wrist quicken my dead heartbeat and stimulate my insatiable need, I must get to her! (For what purpose?)
I search for an entrance and happen upon a Morning Glory - choked rear walkway that connects the interior with the unhospitable exterior. Morning Glories, how ironic. I easily enter the house through a door at her back. Though I am stealth in my approach, she senses the encroachment and turns to see who or what has distracted her from the task at hand. The distress in her features is replaced by a sudden and vital fear. Does she comprehend what is emerging out of the shadows - even though I do not present the appearance of a monster - or is it just the sudden unwelcome intrusion that induces her terror? I enter her mind to calm her fears and I realize that her fear has subsided as quickly as it arose to be replaced by some foreign emotion - however archaic - a kinship of sorts. Am I familiar to her? She does not fear me, she was 'waiting' for me somehow. Perhaps I am her savior. I am prepared to intervene because she hopelessly intrigues me, yet also prepared to take what I require from her superficial wounds, without the consequence of her death. She does not want her life so I will borrow a small part of it from her, with gratuities. Then I look into those eyes.
"My God! OH MY GOD, I can see myself in your eyes!" Her alarmingly dead eyes look into mine and I see life in them - MY life, and I am mesmerized. I've endured hollow centuries to see the face that now gazes back at me through the eyes of a fragile child! I need her! I need her more than any pitiful thing I have ever posessed.
I drop to my knees both in reverence and to meet her gaze. Something very unusual overwhelms me, she has no human odor. Ahhhh, I recognize that she was bitten once. Though obviously spared the second and third contact which would have transformed her forever, she is corrupt and soulless nevertheless. Was this the reason for the flirtation with fatality? Is she as unentranced with this proposition as I? I must be extremely careful with her. I need to see what I see only in her eyes. I reach out to her with my will, "Come with me darling girl, please do not be afraid. I can create your happiness. Happy beyond the things you have dreamed. I only need to touch you. A great future lies ahead for us and one day, if you so desire, I will release you from your bleak mortality. Someday when my beautiful reflection no longer intrigues me." The girl fears death just enough to give herself to me, and I take.
I observe the seasons change rapidly as a calendar
year passes with a speed I have only wished for. In this short time, my lovely
girl child blossoms into an elegant woman. We spend all waking hours together
except for the time I must be alone to pursue. She easily adjusts to my nocturnal
schedule as we preternaturally slip into the activities of a 'couple'. It's
as if we were destined to be together though I put no faith in destiny. Things
happen for a reason, fate is not a factor. Within this year, I come to trust
her enough to share certain mysteries of my existence. She, in turn, shares
her mortal empathies with me. I reexperience the human feelings I lost in my
transformation - through her. We compliment each other in every way and she becomes the reason I anticipate rising every night. I find myself requiring her presence - her gaze - almost obsessively, for when I am not in her sight I am never sure. I can never be certain. I need the reflection to verify my existence. Without her, am I real? Complete? Vital? Essential? I can only speculate...We have no physical contact other than eyes.
As we enter our second mortal year, I am becoming restless. In this span of time, curiosity about this special woman has overwhelmed me, continually gnawing at my lucid thoughts. Why her eyes? What is it about her, though I've come to need her, she is - in reality - just another mortal vascillating on the edge of becoming. Am I fated to only see myself in the eyes she posesses?
To unravel this enigma, I know I must consult with
the wizened patriarchy of my kind, the three ancient masters of our ancient
race known appropriately as the Elders. Reluctantly, I realize I will have to
leave her side for a time, though I have no idea how long this interval will
be. This journey must be on my own. Mortals, even those with the essense of
our blood coursing through their veins are forbidden from any conversance with
the Elders. This is mine alone to do.
"Please wait for me," I plead, looking into the familiar near-black eyes which now shine with a life of their own. "I shall only be gone a short time. I need you to be here, waiting, when I return."
I do not say the words to let her know she is the
stabilizer of my being, my optic fetish, and that I cannot imagine life without
her. No one, especially her, must know the weaknesses she creates in me. I touch
her velvet face and find it nearly impossible to gaze into those mirrors that
reveal my reflection, disguised with indifference, looking deceitfully back.
I do not see a 'sincere me' in those trusting eyes. I feel an overwhelming tenderness,
uncharacteristic, and I kiss her for the very
first time. There is an unexpected and unfamiliar need to touch her, to cause a fire inside her. My hands fall from her face to sketch the outline of breasts, then lower, to roam her body caressing the warm flesh between her thighs... oh to gain entrance! But I must not. I will wait for earthly pleasures, if this is something we are destined for, after all, eternity is mine. I must have my questions answered first.
The journey I face ahead is not one of miles but of dimensions, traversing the space-time continuum. I've never been to the dwelling place of those called the Elders but I know I can rely on my instincts to guide me to my final destination. A deep coma-like unconsiousness is required to enter their realm, and I know this can only be achieved by burrowing deep into the dead soil I once came from and grew to detest. I find a place where the ground yields easily, a churchyard of all places, and claw with my thin delicate hands at the dirt. Deep. I must go as deep as I can, down into the cold, rotting earth. When I finally quit, exhausted, I close my eyes and the soil envelops me like a cancerous womb. Putrid soil enters my nostrils and small earth creatures investigate this intrusion. I lay there for countless hours as I feel my body and mind slowly shutting down. The suspended state of animation I find is a welcome respite and I drift into nothingness.
I am violently awakened by complete airlessness and the ultra discomfort of my thin body being stretched unnaturally in several directions at once. How long this goes on, I have no time frame... I only know I am thankful when it ends. I take a gasping breath with dirt-clogged lungs and open my eyes to the vision of a grand palace. I must be here.
The Elders anticipated my arrival, though expecting me much sooner by the expressions on their unlined, unemotional faces. The triad of two men and one woman are not what I had anticipated, elder is in direct opposition to the demeanor of the three as they appear much younger than I. Their youthful beauty has been retained through their centuries of existence. They did however have all the formal accouterments of what's expected of sovereignty, a cavernous and exquisitely furnished expanse, gloriously adorned attire, beauty beyond any mortal pretense and the allusion to a lavish unearthly lifestyle. I sensed they were not entirely comfortable with the personification that was theirs.
I shake off disorientation and am allowed to approach the Elders only after a servant of sorts prepares a submission of my blood, a DNA status test for the undead. The Elders know my question before my voice utters a word, but they graciously let me speak.
"Elders of my race, I bow before you with my miserable existence but I have traveled quite uncomfortably to ask of you a question. To know why this is so? What makes her the one person, her eyes the objects I see a reflection of myself in? Why am I invisible otherwise? I am no longer content to comb my hair, paint my face or metamorphose into a creature that can walk among the living without the furtherance of her gaze. I must see every nuance of myself in her, with her. I am afraid....if she is transformed, will I - or, will she - lose that attribute? Would I disappear again? She is inherently human and yet I am afraid to feed from her, I could not bear the possibility of losing myself again.
Their answer, as I knew it would be, was concise and unadorned, Elders spare no words. The woman looks directly into me and speaks in a voice that echoes angelic.
"The reason is beyond any you are familiar with. It’s
a complicated yet simple answer. Love. To be truly loved by a mortal gives you
the capability of vision. You can see your image in her eyes because she is
your one true love. There is, and will always be, only one genuine instance
of total devotion in your extended and lonely life. You're fortunate, you have
found yours while she is still young, she has life ahead of her. You have years
of perception. Treat this girl well, she is your religion, the one companion
who will never betray you, your love or your trust. But consider, in your new
found emotions there are unsettling consequences. Though you will have weak
moments, never attempt a physical love, to do so you will sacrifice much. She
will lose the quality that allows you such pleasure. And never, never, never
feed from her, not a single drop. She will become a dead thing like you and
you will only come to loathe her presence. Now return to her, keep her amused
unharmed, that is all you need do. She will reciprocate and you will be safe in her care."
I feel a sad smile cross my face as I digest the truth
and I close my eyes. I want her. I must go back.
I emerge from the earth in the exact place I entered. It is as if I journeyed nowhere. I swiftly return to the dwelling we share, our home...and she awaits. I recall what the elders have said and, though sadly, I accept that I can never consummate a physical bond with her. I must be content to know that she loves me and will be with me her entire mortal life. I will see myself through her lovely eyes for as long as she remains on this earth. I can't wait to share these things I have learned. Relating the consequences of a deeper liaison will be a bit of insurance in a fragile moment.
I slowly, and with much theatrical drama, open the old iron - embellished door to our shared space. The few lights are low, an ethereal darkness saturates the air though it is quite near dawn. The innermost chamber is where I find her. My beautiful princess is sleeping, perhaps she is dreaming of me. I shall lay next to her and tonight we will rise, intoxicated to be together again.
I silently approach the bed, shaking off the remaining
dirt that clings to my clothes, looking down lovingly on her as she breathes
the deep, slow breath of sleep. I perceive the scent of her, the life blood
that flows through her delicate veins. So lovely she is, so intimate she smells.
I again feel the infinite sadness that I can never posess her entirely. Her
pale face is framed by dark curls which fall across the lovely red gown she
wears. RED?? My love owns no red garments. I reach down to
touch her and recoil in disgust. She is ice in the dense humidity of the room. And the stench! Her gown is soaked in blood, her blood! And she is not breathing. NOT BREATHING!? My hands grasp her shoulders - she is as cold as I. Pulling her up to me, I feel the sheets slip from her body and
fall to the floor. I see the deep red outlines of vertical slashes on her arms, her thighs, her beautiful neck. Her final determination.
"NO! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! Open your eyes, I have returned. (Have I?) How long have I been gone? What has happened? Who has done this to you? OPEN YOUR EYES! Do you hear me? OPEN THEM! How can you do this to me? I need you! Can you look at me? LOOK AT ME! What has happened while I have been gone? What will happen to me? I need you. I need you if only to know that I exist! I need to know forever. You were to be mine. Forever. This life, I do not want this without you. I do not want this."
Tears I've never shed escape my eyes in the form of blood droplets, they mix with the carnage that envelops her body. Red on red on red.....
I lay her unyielding frigid corpse back down on the bed where she was once so alive. She has abandoned me. She's gone. I still cannot resist the urge to scream at her. "You TRULY loved me, ME...who cannot be loved! I am adored by the woman I adore. I can see myself perfectly in the eyes of the woman I love. Hold me, let me look in your eyes once more. I need... I NEED....."
But her eyes remain closed. Closed to me forever. My image is erased. My mirror is gone. "How could you do this to ME? I took care of you, I never violated you but now you choose to violate me. You mock me, you've betrayed me. I trusted you... Open your eyes and love me. Come back. I NEED to feel. I NEED to see. I NEED to want. I only NEED... you". But it's gone, everything. I feel desolate, alone...blind once again.
I sit for hours at her side and try not to look at
the lifeless body lying upon the bed we shared. I will never know all of her.
I will never know all of me. All we could have done, all we could have been.
What was supposed to have been. Just like they told me, just like I was promised.
My bedside mourning is rudely interrupted by a sharp intrusive knock at my door. "Yes? What is it?"
"I'm here for her," the low voice on the other side intones. HER? I jump from the bedside to see what manner of demon can be opposite that door, causing the chasm of my despair to widen to its fullest.
"Come for her? SHE'S GONE!" I shriek as I forcefully pull the rotted door from its hinges. A tiny, elderly Italian gentleman in an outdated, wrinkled, blue pin-striped suit invades the threshold of my dwelling. His features are ancient though ethnic, almost a transparent swirl as he remains undaunted by my show of power. There is no fear emanating from his soul. There is no soul.
He smirks as he says - in what I perceive to be a Chicago accent, "Ahhhh, she's not gone, at least not recently, she's been dead for ages. She's only satisfied her purpose, her time in purgatory and is finally allowed to leave. She never knew purgatory from a hole in the fabric of time...but she was aware of something. Ahhh, she didn't really know. No one ever knows. I'm the one who has come to claim her, it's my job."
"Purgatory? Is that where I exist? Purgatory? That Christian concocted slot between heaven and hell? No, I do not believe you for I have existed here an eternity. I have lived though despising every second of it, until I found her. I've journeyed to the Elders and learned many things. She is not dead, she was full of life and she belonged to me. The Elders can only speak the truth, this is their nature."
"The Elders you are talkin' about are a product of your freakin' imagination, a daydream. You should have learned long ago not to believe in dreams, dreams disappoint.”
"You are a liar! There is no place such as this. You are creating a nightmare where I once had a dream. I can't, I don't believe your words. The elders are real, I have seen them with my eyes.”
“Do you have any evidence that you actually met with anyone other than the people in your mind? If you don't know whether you exist or not, how can you be so sure they're real? Purgatory creates psychedelic visions,crazy visions, some as real to you as if they happened. Got it?"
“No, I believe nothing you say. Who are you? What are you?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know me. You‘ve already called me by my Christian name. But if proper introductions are necessary, I am the Father of Lies, your father. I have guided you through the centuries, creating your past, directing your future. I am the one who allowed you to taste this bittersweet happiness, the one who also took the food away.”
“I have no father, and I know I belong to no one such as you.”
“Think what you want, I have no time to sit here and
argue with you, I an a very busy man. For what it’s worth, I’m kinda sorry to
have been the one to spoil all of this but she's done with her purpose here,
it was only a temporary position. I'm the one who gets her now. I get her, you
get this lovely eternity behind door number 3. Fair enough I think. You live,
she burns in hell. Excuse me....we really gotta go." He seemingly glides
to the bed and raises her body up with a slight
gesture and a swirling whoosh of heavy, dead air.
"WAAAIT! You say you are the Father of Lies and yet you expect me to believe what you tell me?”
“Sweetheart, personally I don’t care what you believe. I could be telling the truth, but then again...”
“If you say you are my father, then I am ready to believe that there is a seed of truth in what you tell me. If there is hope for me in the words of a liar then 'temporary' means I shall see her again soon, for no one deserves to leave this place more than I. No one has suffered more than I."
"Naaahhh, even though it's a temporary place for humans until their fate is decided, vampires don't have the luxury of leaving. Your kind can never get into heaven or hell, there's no atonement, this is it."
"THIS? THIS is it? No, this can’t be, it’s unbearable, I can't live this way. Not after experiencing my true love and knowing there will never be another. I do not exist without this, without love. She was the only thing that kept me from wandering out into the exposure of the searing daytime sun or becoming careless when I ventured out into the mortal world. I can not imagine an existence without her by my side. She was the one who kept me alive.”
“You know, I always figured you would be the one to disappoint me, you never had the instinct in you to get rid of these messy pennance spouting Purgatorians. I should have dispensed with you long ago, but I kept hoping. She was put here as your final chance, like maybe if you had something to live for, you’d become the child to make me a proud parent.”
“I’ve never been happy with this life, if that’s what
you call it, until her. She changed all that and now it’s gone. A final chance?
No, I am not a murderer, I never could be.” I literally fall back down into
my chair, head in hands, resigned. I know somewhere deep in my soulless but
highly perceptive body that this man of untruths has handed me the one truth
I can never exist with. My time is over, my future is cut short. “I never imagined
I would desperately want this, but if it is in your
power, let me die, let me feel her eternity. I desire to blaze brilliantly until I am an assemblage of black cinders that will be easily scattered by one breath from the living. If I cannot exist with her, then I cannot exist without her.”
And in the eloquent words of the great father of legions, he just looks at me, “Whatever”, he offers. The fallen angel has only to sweep his hands in my direction, “It’s your funeral, so to speak.”
A great ball of fire brighter than a thousand suns
escapes his gold-ringed fingers. I suddenly feel the heated breath of his legions
caress my feet. The caress I now welcome.
(I was alive until she closed her eyes.) The fires reach my knees.
(Now, as she, I will be dead. Truly dead.) The flames lick my vagina.
(Oh sweet death, I do not fear you.) Hot fingers pinch my breasts.
(I welcome you for I did not exist.) They kiss my beautiful feline face.
As I disappear forever, the demon turns back to watch the fire devour me. My father, my destroyer, the bringer of death holds my loves’ beautiful lifeless body. He smiles, tips his fedora, walks a few steps into the future, turns back to me for one last verification.
And she opens her eyes...
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