A Vampire Genie, normal in so many ways, finds a little Russian boy
His name was Erebos and he found some sort of weird thrill being named for the primeval god of Darkness, some twisted kind of irony. He was not born from the literal Chaos nor did he breed with his sister (Gods back then could do what they pleased) who was Goddess of Night. He did not beget Light and Day. Nyx herself had fascinating history beyond her involvement with Erebos and the production Light and Day. She spawned the dark spirits, the three Fates, Sleep, Death, Strife and Pain. Alone she was the beginning of the primeval universe.
Erebos had little to do with his time, and he had quite a lot of it, so he thought a lot about those sorts of things. He would have liked to meet the primeval gods of the Greek myths. He thought he would have liked them, and he was probably right. He speculated over such things as the gods of long ago and far away, and of his own existence when such things simply could not enthrall him.
Born of smokeless fire they said, they being a long history of a race of humans that survived mostly in the desert. They did it better then anyone too, better then anyone except the others born of smokeless fire like him. Erebos didn't know if that was quite true or not. He was still young as his people came, and could not remember the dawn of time, nor had he ever spoken to anyone who could remember such times. Perhaps he was born of smokeless fire and a god or gods from long ago. But that was only part of his existence of course, there was something lacking there.
Shape shifters, animals spirits, that was what his people were. They were a race of genies, jinn, mystical creatures that wandered the desert mostly, but ventured to mountains, water, anywhere and everywhere, most following the wind. Omens of good luck, bad luck, happiness, death, depending on the Jinn and the stories. Erebos liked the desert best though and stayed there most his life, whenever he could help it. He himself could shift to smoke and mist, dark in color. It was a trick easiest at night and helped him escape a few ordeals over the years. Mostly though, the stories were simply that, stories. Other then that... well perhaps he was an omen of luck... or an omen of something else.
A vampire, that was another thing they called him, a vampire. He read stories on vampires, from the long lost tales of bloated creatures, purplish in color from all the blood they drank, evil and witless, to the more modern tales of pale, charming individuals who captivated young women with their eyes. Perhaps it was the genie in him (the jinn, he liked the desert name better for himself) but Erebos did not fit either of these descriptions. In fact, if not for a few rather difficult to explain traits, he may have passed for human (in fact he had).
He was not a particularly tall individual, perhaps 5'7'' or so. It was a pretty average sort of height given the fact that he appeared around 18 by human standards. He had tan skin from the desert sun, though it was still rather pale by most respects for a desert boy. He was a creature of the night after all and did avoid the sun whenever he could. His hair was long and black, as was the standard in the area. He had high check bones and long fingers, which somehow seemed to fit the vampire thing quite well. His lean frame had a subtle sort of power to it, though he concealed it rather well behind the white clothes.
There was the matter of his ears and his eyes. His ears were reminiscent of a jackal or some large sort of cat (he often went with the jackal option though, he was still young after all) and stuck up from the top of his head. They were easily concealed by a cap of some sort. He had eyes like an opal, almond shaped, containing fire and lightening and rainbows, all shimmering and shining bright in his eyes. There were reds and yellows and oranges on a backdrop of purple and blue, pink and white. He concealed his eyes as well, behind a pair of mirrored lenses, except of course at night when it hardly mattered.
He did not seem to retain many powers of the supernatural, except for perhaps his extended, nearly immortal life. He was also impervious to hot and cold in the sense that neither could kill him. He did not like the sun, but it was not lethal and for the most part it was simply his immortality and his odd physical traits that set him apart from the humans. He was not overtly attractive, did not have any sort of ability to enchant anyone, woman or not. He was unremarkable, a lonely child, a wanderer, but otherwise unremarkable.
He was a desert creature, Erebos, and one of darkness like his namesake, though he was no god. He was not like the jinn of legend, calling out haunting songs at dusk, luring children out into the far reaches of the desert. He was not like the vampires of myth, either long ago or modern day. He was a new creature entirely, though he did have some of the unpleasantness the stories mentioned. Myths and legends started in facts after all. He did have a need for blood, though not a true lust for it. It was a necessity, like a child eating his greens, not very desirable, but necessary.
Thankfully it was not a necessity that needed to be carried out very often and he selected his... well he didn't quite know what to call them. Victims seemed appropriate, but it lacked any sort of emotion, which was perhaps all for the best. But he didn't want to be thought of as a monster. Meal seemed an inappropriate term to assign a living, breathing, intelligent creature. The ones of whom he drunk their blood was entirely too long and there were probably all sorts of grammatical errors with that term as well. The source of his replenishment was also quite long, but it was the best term he could come up with so he kept it until a new way to describe them arose.
He chose his sources of replenishment carefully, selecting those who lived on the fringes of society, or who found themselves in the desert, alone and lost, scared and near dead. It was at least better than the desert animals calming their body, and often they were delirious enough they didn't know what was going on. That was always best.
He was a desert creature, it was the Jinn in him, he was certain. Vampires in the myths and stories seemed not to be desert creatures but Erebos was a desert creature. He stood in the sand and watched the wind blow, picking up bits of grit like dust, catapulting them into a new place and time, always changing the landscape. It was pretty, even during the day when the sun was harsh on his skin and his eyes were not nearly well enough protected. He often retreated to the shadow and shelter of a burrow or a cave near the mountains. The mountains were best for him, close to the desert and yet full of places for him to stay and sleep so he was not merely a strange supernatural dark fog on the sand.
He ventured from his desert every now and then. He always thought of it as ‚Äėhis' desert. Teenage arrogance perhaps, an entitlement to the world. Of course he was not, technically, a teenager, he had passed that long ago in his infancy at the beginnings of time. But for developmental purposes, and appearance wise, he was definitely a teenager. And he carried himself like one, proud and tall and arrogant. It was his desert and anyone who dared infringe on that was sure to have a fight on their hands. Mostly he was left alone, which was fortunate, more so for Erebos than the other party.
He ventured once far past his desert, wandering aimlessly, curiously, like a lost explorer. He had fed, he would not need to for another few years (an incredibly short space of time for one who has lived as long as Erebos) he had decided an adventure would do him some good. The desert would always wait for him, yellow and orange and brown like one of the many tints of his eyes. He spent some time in England, bartering for a passage on a boat with stolen goods and promised favors (which he never intended to deliver and never did) and liked it well enough. The stories there were different, for jinn and vampire alike and behind his mirrored lenses his eyes sparkled with mirth. He never smiled, really smiled, the teeth were a bit hard to explain.
He left England and spent some times in Spain and watched the country revolt for a while, wishing he had the hunger he did when he didn't fed, for there was no shortage of death. It was not as bad as those sorts of things could get, but there was still death. He witnessed the exile of the Queen. The called it La Gloriosa and he liked the way it rolled off his tongue, beautiful and tinted with hope and aspiration and blood.
After Spain he spent time in Germany, France, Italy, all the way up to Poland, Finland, always moving never staying in one place to long. He'd hitch rides with fellow travelers, always going, never stopping. He didn't need to sleep but he remained in a rather fixed point during the day, an abandoned barn, an inn basement, somewhere dark and cool and damp. At night he'd walk and walk and walk, never really stopping.
Perhaps he was looking for something, something his desert could give him, something the sands couldn't tell him, something, something.
He eventually found himself in Russia, mostly farmland the population on the rise and yet everything remained rural and quiet and cold, recently emancipated serfs with land but still ages of struggle ahead. The cold was perhaps the most noticeable thing about Russia, for a body that has grown up in the desert sun. Though the English wind had bitten him like a million tiny sand bugs, this was a cold unlike any other.
If he truly was looking for something, Russia was where he found it.
It was dark a lot of the time. The dark came with the winter months and he was reminded of him contemplations of Erebos God of Darkness. Perhaps he should have been born in the dark and cold of Russia, Vampire and Genie, cold and dark and fire in his eyes. He thought that it may have been quite fitting. Perhaps his soul would then long for the sun and sand and fire of the desert. Then he would have something to look for, something to find.
He wandered the empty lands of Russia, through the farmland, the newly freed, the ones who were still lost and alone. He liked it in Russia despite the cold and the call of his soul for return to the desert. Perhaps he knew there was something waiting for him in the snow on some subconscious sort of level.
He wandered for a while, lost in Russia but feeling no need to be found. Then there was Kostya. His name was Konstantin but he went by Kostya, his pet name, his nickname, Kostya. Erebos found the boy by accident, he was simply passing by the boy's farm, it was dusk and the boy did, quite literally, run into him.
He was shorter than Erebos, small and fragile looking, not a farm boy, even though he was. He was 16 perhaps, 17, though he could pass for much younger, the age was written in his eyes. His had a mop of unruly brown curls set on a round smooth face. His eyes were round and dark, looking at Erebos with shocked eyes and something undefined and sweet and wanting. He greeted Erebos in Russian "Dobryj večer" with a smile and Erebos was tempted to smile as well, tempted to draw back his lips and show his fangs and smile at this boy who seemed all youth and innocence.
They conversed for a moment in fluid Russian (languages never put up any sort of barrier for Erebos, and the words all simply rolled off his tongue) and eventually Kostya invited him into the farm house, admitting that they didn't have much, but he and his mother would be happy to share. It was simply Kostya and an older Russian woman, a round and kind sort, in the house. They were poor by all standards, scarping together a few bits of meat and vegetables for food and Erebos knew instantly it wasn't fair.
They fed him and though he did not need to of course (though contrary to the stories, there was no real harm in it) he ate politely, commenting on the delicious taste and the wonderful smell and the generosity, all of which was true. He and Kostya stayed awake after his mother retired for the night, talking in low voices and grinning in the candlelight, albeit closed lipped for the Genie Vampire. He did not remove his mirrored glasses, though the boy asked him to, curled his fingers around the wire arm. Erebos laughed to quiet the beating of his heart at the proximity to danger and the closeness of the boy's touch. He griped the boy's wrist gently and said his eyes were very sensitive. Maybe one day Kostya would see. It gave the boy hope and he was happy.
He could not explain it, this growing feeling that perhaps it was quite a good thing he had come to Russia, found this boy, stumbled on this farm. Perhaps it was more then just a good thing. Confusion was thick though and Erebos couldn't quite categorize all his feelings and thoughts. Kostya seemed to be enjoying himself though and chatted about little things, big things, anything and Erebos responded in an equally cheery manner, thoroughly enjoying himself as well, despite the confusion.
He left the boy late at night when the moon was high in the Russian sky, though he didn't travel far at all. He walked until he found a tree on the landscape, his shoes crushing the snow beneath them. The cold got under his skin and though it was very uncomfortable, especially when he curled up under the tree to sleep, it was not deadly. He was not human and though he could definitely be killed, his death would most likely be due to time, not cold, not nature, just time.
He sat there and thought, through night and day and no one found him. His didn't particularly like the sun and the tree offered little shade, but the days were short and Erebos put up with it. He speculated, considered, deliberated, reflected, all other manners of thought and eventually came to a rather startling and somewhat surprising conclusion that lead him back to the little farm house and the little Russian boy.
Kostya's mother greeted him happily, albeit with puzzlement and escorted him inside the little house. She was dressed in bed clothes and quickly left the room once she left him with Kostya. The boy's dark eyes lit up with excitement and joy and he smiled so brightly that Erebos forgot himself for a moment and allowed himself the first real smile within the presence of another not like himself. The boy didn't notice the fangs and when he began to speak Erebos let his smile fade, hid his teeth, looked on with amusement behind his mirrored lenses.
"I did not think I'd see you again... you are a traveler aren't you?"
Perhaps it was bad manners and displayed terrible tact, but he simply could not be bothered with niceties and little things when the words were fairly bursting out of him, threatening to devour his very soul. So he said nothing for a long moment, only stood their and then removed his lenses, shutting his eyes for a moment before opening them in the candle light.
The effect was immediate and expected. Kostya's eyes widened in shock and he stepped back, his mouth hanging open slightly. Erebos's opal eyes, red and gold and pink, glittered in the light and he shut his eyes. He picked up on the faint muttered upyr'. Upyr'. Vampire. It was never a terribly ugly word, just an unfortunate word. But this boy... this boy changed things.
Perhaps if he could cry, he would have done so in the moment, squeezing his eyes shut, bringing back the glasses to cover his eyes, a little ember of self hatred burning inside him and growing rapidly. Rejection does that to a being, human or otherwise, anyone with a soul. Love does that to a soul.
But he was stopped by a hand on his wrists and his eyes flew open immediately and he saw Kostya's eyes, darker then before, glinting ever so slightly.
"Ya teby√° lyubly√Ľ." Erebos's voice was a mere whisper in the little house, in the Russian cold. I love you. Such words have destroyed people, ripped them apart, wasted away their souls. I love you. Kostya's eyes were cloudy.
"Upyr'?" It was a question and Erebos nodded slowly, not daring to lie, not daring to hide it, not wanting to. His snaked his free hand between them, lifted up his lip, showed the little Russian boy his fangs. Kostya's eyes flickered down to his mouth only briefly before returning to his eyes. There were days that Erebos wished that he possessed some of the powers that so many scholars and story tellers attributed to his kind. There were days where he wished he could control mortal's minds, project his thoughts to them, make them obey his will. There were days where he would have done nearly anything to be charming and desirable and seductive.
Today was not one of those days, or rather one of those nights. That wouldn't have been fair, and this seemed quite an important thing. When dealing with important things, it needed to be fair.
Erebos waited as if he had all the time in the world, which, in comparison at least to Kostya, he did. He could do nothing except wait, he did not poses many powers that would do him much good in a situation such as this. So he let Kostya hold his wrist and look into his eyes and just waited... waited.
Eventually something did happen and Erebos's heart may have broken, if he had a heart, which he wasn't entirely sure he did. He had a soul and an actual heart, but for metaphoric purposes in regards to love, he was not sure. He supposed if he could love he would have to have a heart, but that was all mere speculation anyway.
Kostya dropped his wrist, uttered a soft "upyr'" and was gone from Erebos's sight, disappeared into another room. Erebos's fled as quickly as he could and it did indeed feel as though his heart were breaking. He wished for flight, for a shape other then a dark sort of cloud, for something that could take him to the ends of the earth and back again, to the bounds of Nothingness, to Hell, to true darkness, back a million years ago, somewhere lonely and empty and blank.
Of all the millions upon billions of people who had ever lied or were ever going to live, and Erebos found the only one he ever needed. And the boy had broken his heart.
He went back to the desert to his home, forgetting the cold plains of Russia and what he had found there, or trying to anyway. Something like that can not be erased from the mind. But he tried, in his desert sands, oh did he try. For a short time (short by any standards) he became what the stories said he was: a monster. It quickly disgusted and ashamed him and he returned to his state of mourning as per the code of teenage angst.
To say he never went back to the land of ice and cold and dark would be a lie, because he did go back to Russia. Two year by all mortal clocks, a very short space of time for Erebos who was already looking pale and sickly. He hadn't fed since his return from Russia and his broken heart, and even for one who did not have to fed often, it was not a very good idea. Love sped things up, made a body waste away, especially if it was a dark and broken and unrequited kind of love.
It was as cold as he remembered and he found his way to the little Russian farm like the map was burned on the inside of his skull, which it was, or it might as well have been. He needed to find his little Russian love, and he did. Or he found the house at least. He knocked on the door, once twice and for a moment he thought perhaps something dreadful had happened. It was the time after all, of reform in this land of ice. But the door opened and Erebos recognized instantly the face of the boy at the door. Kostya's eyes were blank for a moment.
Then the boy kissed him and Erebos could do nothing for a moment before he responded, eagerly, willingly, amazingly. The boy had grown in two years, perhaps a few inches and suddenly he was the same height as Erebos and the Vampire Genie was not quite in control. Thin arms wrapped around his skinny, hungry frame and there was a hand on his pale cheek. His eyes were closed but he felt like he could see galaxies imprinted on the back of his lids. His glasses were discarded though he did not know when or how and the hand on his cheek pushed under his cloth cap, into his hair, There was a moment of brief panic when his furry ears were discovered, his jinn ears, but that moment passed like it had never existed in the first place, and maybe it never had.
It was tongues and teeth and skin, warmth and want and everything all wrapped up into one moment, with shut eyes and darkness and cold and brilliance. He felt like he finally understood, for the first time in his life, what it all was, what it all meant. He felt like he understood everything in that one moment.
And in that moment, his hands pulling Kostya so close he could swear they must be occupying the exact same space in existence (and may be that way forever), he understood, inexplicably, why the stories of Vampires being creatures of blood and lust and desire came about. He could feel that all in his blood (or the acceptable equivalent) and perhaps it had always been there, waiting for this one moment to get out.
There was the taste of blood in his mouth and they stopped, Kostya prodding his tongue where the little bite marks were. Erebos had been careful though not gentle. It was an accident, one with no consequences except the fear in Kostya's eyes. Erebos quickly assured the boy it was alright, he was a vampire it was true, but there was more to it then the pricking his tongue (or any other portion of his anatomy for that matter) and the slight taste of blood. He refrained from mentioning all those he had fed on without turning them into what he was. He knew how to do it; it was encoded on his genes, that knowledge, as clear as the knowledge to breath.
And for a while that was it. Erebos gave up the desert for his Russian love and they lived like that, on the outskirts of everything, cold and comfortable and safe, with his mother and what little they had (and what Erebos could steal without suspicion). His secret was well kept by Kostya and his mother and he didn't bother wearing his cloth cap or his mirrored lenses around either of them, though they were always on his person.
Once Kostya talked to him, late at night in the flickering candlelight. Erebos was weak and thin and pale, lacking blood, lacking nourishment. Kostya's eyes were set and determined and he held his Vampire Genie by the shoulders, telling him harshly he needed to feed. Erebos shook his head and protested. The action of feeding, drinking someone's blood, taking the life of someone, never entirely appealed to him. It particularly disgusted him as of late when all he could think of was Kostya and his little Love's blood and life, and wishing so hard they could truly be one life, one being.
Kostya refused to back down, though the idea frightened him terribly and Erebos could see that in his eyes."You're not human," He said firmly and there was no venom in his voice, it was just a fact, a reminder. "Stop acting like it... I don't expect you to be human... I just don't want you to die." It was so simply, so sweet and maybe that was the fear in his eyes, the fear of losing his Love.
He wished so terribly that he was indeed mortal, that he lived by their restrictions of time, that things passed quick and life was fleeting. He wanted that existence so badly, he didn't want to return it the way he lived, the way he simply existed. He didn't want to go back to the desert and the sands and the endlessness. He wanted this forever, he wanted mortality.
Erebos left that night and returned in a few days, fortified and healthy looking, tanned and smiling and happy. Kostya hugged him fiercely and that was the only time they spoke of such a thing. It was the only time they needed to.
Time passes slow for those who live as long as the earth itself, but for the mortal (technically the Jinn and the Vampires were mortal to though in a different respect) time was quick. Life passed by in an instant like a heartbeat. But for a while Erebos lived in time with the mortals, with his Love, and he aged as such. And for a time things were beautiful and perfect.
Some things are universal, not specific to any thinking species, Vampire, Jinn or Human. One such thing is the foolish belief that good will last, that love will overcome anything. It is indeed a foolish idea.
It started with the death of Kostya's mother from a sickness that had no cure. And it ended with the question that Erebos knew in whatever he had as a heart, was surly coming.
They lay together in Kostya's bed, bare under the thick covers, in the fire heated home, warm from it all and from each other most of all. Kostya's hands ran up and down Erebos's bare spine and the Vampire Genie pressed soft wet kisses to the boy's collar bone. It was intimate and laced with sadness from a death, softness from each other, love and care and cold from the Russian winter. Their hearts beat in unison as if they were one being, one entity. It was beautiful and perfect and Erebos's loved every little moment, even the ones tinged with sorrow like this.
And then Kostya's hand tangled in his hair, his fingers brushing his ears and looked into his opal eyes. Erebos's saw the question written there and griped the boy's shoulder gently. There was a whispered "take me" and it was not... like that. They had done that before. There was no desire, no lust, no edge the boy's voice. It was determination, sadness, grief and Erebos hated it. He looked into his love's brown eyes and shook his head.
He wanted to, oh how he wanted to. It was deeper than the blood lust and the desire to feed, it was deeper than love and the need to heal his only love. It was cruel combination of the two, twisted and mixed together, harsh and mean and feirce like the Russian snow and Erebos hated it. He hated it because he wanted it and he refused. No one needed to be like him, to have his existence and he refused to subject his only love to that.
He realized, perhaps for the first time in his life, that he would truly be alone, forever, and nothing could fix that. Of all the millions upon billions of people in the world, he had found the only one who mattered and he would not be able to keep him. Mortal's lives were so short and he... he may not live forever, but he might as well. It would certainly feel like forever.
If love, true love, could speed time up and make a year feel like an instant, a forever feel like a moment, make it pass with as much detail and clarity as this, then heartbreak slows time down to a steady crawl, a trickle, empty and numbing and blank.
"Ti Ochen' nuzhn√° mne." It was a plea and there was desperation in Kostya's voice. I need you, I need you and Erebos understood, oh he understood. But he still could not do it, not for anything, not for love, not for selfish desire, not for Kostya.
He kissed the boy long and deep and hard and he knew Kostya took it as rejection, he could feel the tears on his cheeks. Perhaps he was crying too, though he was uncertain still if he had the ability to do such a thing. He would certainly like to, and now seemed like an appropriate time to start.
"Bez tvay√™y lyubv√ģ mne sch√°st'ya net." It was a sad statement, a finality. There is no happiness without your love and he brushed away Kostya's tears as he said it.
Three days and nights exactly from that moment, Konstantin died. His arms were opened from wrist to elbow and the blood pooled around him in a thick puddle. The room smelled of copper and blood and despair and Erebos longed to stay there one more moment, one more moment with his Love and the blood. But he had a home to return to.
This is, perhaps in many ways, the end of the story. But leave with this last image.
There is a young man, for all appearances not a day over 19, skin the color of the sand, eyes like opal, burning red and pink, orange and yellow and gold, long black hair flowing down his back. From the top of his head protrude two points that may be the ears of a jackal or perhaps a large desert cat. His frame is lean, powerful and yet there is an inescapable sadness in his eyes. He stands in the desert dusk, an image of so many myths, stories and fairy tales, not fitting concretely into anything at all. He watches the shifting sands, longing for a colder sort of place though it is clear he belong here in the fire and the sand and the sun. Perhaps it is something in his eyes.
There is a subtle motion, perhaps a flicker of the light. Maybe the sun sinks a little bit more and then there is nothing. The desert is empty save for the sand and the wind and a shapeless dark smoke that gets caught up by the wind and is whisked away, perhaps far away, perhaps to a place where a young boy is waiting, angry red scars on his arms.
Perhaps a figure will raise form the smoke, sadness gone.
" Ya znal, chto nayd√ľ teby√°," Russian words. I knew I would find you.
Perhaps that is merely the wind.
AN: Now there are several translations of this poem, all of which are just slightly different, a word or two here and there, and as far as I can guess, the poem does not have any discernible name. But it was my inspiration for this story so I wanted to share it with you.
Also I've done all my translations from English to Russian online and I apologize to anyone who truly does speak the language if I have ruined something horribly as I do not speak it myself.
‚ÄėBlizost'' in Russian translates to mean intimacy, closeness, or, interestingly enough, nearness to death. I thought it was fitting for this story.
In human closeness there is a secret edge,
Nor love nor passion can pass it above,
Let lips with lips be joined in silent rage,
And hearts be burst asunder with the love.
And friendship, too, is powerless plot,
And so years of bliss with noble tends,
When your heart is free and known not,
The slow languor of the earthy sense.
And they who strive to reach this edge are mad,
But they who reached are shocked with anguish hard --
Now you know why beneath your hand
You do not feel the beating of my heart
- Anna Akhm√°tova
- translated by Yevgeny Bonver, October 1995