The shadows of a life lost to darkness.(A work in progress. Please Review.)
| It seems that at the end we always seem to go back to the beginning. That is what I do now.
I sit here in my darkened chambers, hidden away far below the streets of New York. From overhead I can hear the dull hum of subway cars. I sit upon the satin sheets of my bed, waiting for my ever nearing doom. He has found me, and is, even now, on his way to end my miserable existence. Yes existence, not life. I have not lived for many ages, and when the final death comes I think I may embrace it.
As I wait for the death-bringer, my thoughts turn to the past. To a time before the misery, and then to the day the darkness engulfed me forever. I remember each of the series of endless nights leading up to this one, and the centuries of torture that I have endured. Tears of pure, crimson blood flow freely down my porcelain white cheeks, and stain my gown. The memories so torture my soul that they bring sadness the likes of which only one such as I, who have lived countless ages, can experience.
Hesitantly I rise from my rumpled sheets and move across the room to sit at my emense oakwood desk. Earlier I had laid out my pen and paper, for I mean to write my story. The words are reluctant to come, and I have hesitated long hours, thinking as to how I would begin. But now time grows short and I realize I must begin my tale. I know not what good it will do, or who will ever read it, but I feel compelled to write it nonetheless, and so I will. I take up the pen and with a quivering hand begin to write.
First I must tell you of myself and the girl that I was. I was born in the year BC 243, the only child of a herder. I was given the name Elizabeth. I grew up on our farm in southern Europe. I lived a simple life, never having known riches or prosperity. Funny, thinking back, those years growing up, with most of my time spent with the goats and sheep or running through the forest, were the happiest of my life. Those years, unfortunately, passed much too quickly.
When I was twelve a farm was built about a mile from ours by a man and his sixteen year old son. They were also herders. His son's name was Stephen. I remember thinking him beautiful the first time I saw him. His hair was the palest brown. His eyes were as blue as the sea and danced with light. We became fast friends, and as we grew older that friendship turned to love.
Shortly before my seventeenth birthday we convinced our parents to arrange for us to be wed. It was of course a difficult matter, for at that time young peoples' thoughts were not considered on such matters. No one married for love. You married the person your parents deemed best suited to take care of and support you and the family. But since we were our parents only children and it seemed nothing else would please us, they had finally agreed to arrange the match. How happy we had been, for we wanted nothing more than to spend our lives together. We had great plans for what our future together would be like. Unfortunately, as I have learned, nothing ever turns out the way you plan.
And now to the day that I left the sunny lightfilled world behind forever. It was the summer of my seventeenth year, shortly after my betrothal. I was a young woman, tall with a nicely shaped body. My raven black hair hung below my waist and was allowed to flow freely, as I never took time to bind it. My eyes were a dark chocolate brown with golden flecks that sparkled in the sun. My skin, nearly flawless, held a natural rose hue around my cheeks. Which made it to look as if I had never known sadness. Which, at that time was quite probably true. The day had dawned bright, the sun dappling the forest with her light. Yes, it had seem to bright a day for anything malignant to occur.
I remember well how the grass clung to my pale, creamy legs on that humid summer's day as I stood in the field watching the men thatch the roof on the house that I was to soon share with Stephen. It was to be completed by summer's end, and it was then that we were to be wed.
Sweat ran in small rivlets down my body as the heat intensified with the passing day. Finally I could stand the beating sun no more. I retreated slowly to the coolness of the forest, where I determined to pick some berries and relax in the deep shade the closly packed trees provided.
The creatures in the forest stirred at my approach. I smiled at there quizzical expressions, as their small eyes examined me. They had learned long ago not to fear me, but I believe they were still trying to figure out exactly what sort of animal I might be.
The leaves seemed greener that day. The sky bluer and clearer than I had ever seen it. And the sun seemed to sparkle and almost dance across the sky. I do not know now if these things were really so, or if my own mind only holds them so. For that was the last day that I could truly embrace the light and all that lives therein.
After about an hour of wandering into the forest I stopped for a moment to look around. It was only then that I realized that I did not recognize that part of the woods. I had walked much farther than I ever had before. I did not turn back, although, I now wish dearly that I had. My only thoughts then were that I would get to explore a new part of the forest. And at that time fear was not an emotion with which I was well acquainted.
Late afternoon found me standing on the bank of a large stream. Small shafts of sunlight danced over the water's surface, making it sparkle. The water looked so clear and inviting that I decided that I must have a bathe in it. I removed my sandals and slipped out of my clothes. I left them in a pile on the bank and waded out into the cool water. I submerged myself up to my neck and began sloughing off the dirt and sweat of the day. That done I promptly began splashing, swimming, and generally just enjoying the coolness of the water on my skin. Eventually I grew tired, so I waded over to the bank and sat down.
I felt so peaceful that day, sitting and watching the ripples made by my feet kicking in the water. The flow of the water as it caressed the rocks and the sides of the bank made such a lulling sound. And so it was that I decided to lay down and take a nap. I was certain that I would awaken and be home before nightfall, and so I lay down and pulled my clothes over me as a cover. And it was there on that damp shore, while I watched the twinkling of the water, that I drifted into the most peaceful sleep I had ever known.
When I awoke I did not immediately know where I was. When I came to myself the first thing i noticed was that the ground had grown much colder.I slowly opened my eyes, and what a shock I received. Night had fallen while I slept. Judging by the position of the moon I guessed that it was near midnight. I knew my parents would be worried and more than likely searching for me. So I scrambled up and began to hurriedly throw on my clothes.
When I was dressed I quickly glanced around, trying desperately to remember from which direction I had come. As I was looking I noticed something moving through the woods yo my left. Thinking it might be my parents I moved closer to the trees.
As I moved closer I saw that it was not my parents making their way toward me. It was a man moving with cat-like grace and grace and speed. He was tall and dressed in robes of the deepest midnight black. His hair was seemingly the same shade. As he came closer I saw that his skin was pale and slightly translucent, making a stark contrast to the black of his hair and robes.
He came and stood before me. I lifted my head to look at his face. His lips were pale also. They seemed only slightly darker that his skin. His canine teeth were longer than they should have been and looked savagely sharp. The exposed tips glistened in the moonlight.
Those things truly fascinated me, but it was his eyes that captured my gaze and entranced me. I could not differentiate between the pupil and iris. They were simply pools of darkness and mystery. Staring into them I became mesmerized. At that moment, if he would have led me to my death I would have happily followed. He suddenly looked away, seemingly to break the trance he had cast over me. I stood, confused for a moment, as if I were just then waking. But the confusion soon faded and somehow I found my tongue.
"Who,or should I say, what are you?" I whispered.
"I am what all men dream of. I am eternal life. I am a stalker of the night, a vampyre. I have had many names. The one by which I am known now is Johnathan," he replied.
Quickly regaining my confidence, I asked, "And what, exactly, do you plan to do with me?"
"Normally when I find one such as you, alone in my woods, I drain them of their blood, their very life essence. I drain them until their bodies are mere dry husks lying upon the dirt. For, you see, it is that glorious crimson blood that sustains me. But do not fear, that does not have to be your fate," He spoke these words with a somber eloquence, as if he were speaking of common things instead of death and blood.
"Then what will be my fate," I asked, even though I think that in my heart I already knew the answer.
"In you I see beauty and the potential for greatness as I have not seen in centuries. I wish to preserve that, not destroy it. And so I offer you a choice. You can choose to die, which would be a terrible loss, or you can choose to join me in immortality. Thusly you may live forever, in perpetual youth, and do as you will. I offer this thing to precious few. I also lack patience, so you must decide now and quickly. What path shall you take?" With that he ended speaking and stood waiting for my response.
My mind went to Stephen and I said, "Before I make my decision I must ask one question. If I do decide to become an immortal, a vampyre as you say, will I then, in turn, be able to grant the same to whomever I please?"
"Yes, of course my dear. You may invite whom you will to join you in your immortality," he replied.
I thought of Stephen and I, of the life we would have together. Then I thought of how grand it would be to spend not only a lifetime but an eternity with him. I thought of how glorious it would be to watch the passing of ages, and to share a timeless love. It seemed so perfect, so exciting, and at the time so irresistible. And so it was, with no hesitation that I gave my response.
I said," I have chosen life," and with those simply stated words my fate was determined.
He came close to me then and took me in his arms. He leaned over until his mouth was almost pressed against my throat. He tipped my head to the side, allowing him better access to my tender throat. I wonder if it would hurt when he pierced my flesh with those deadly fangs.
I remember the feel of those fangs, surprisingly cool against the warm flesh of my neck.The needle-like points sank easily into my tender flesh. The pain was neither intense nor long-lasting. It was likened to the prick of a brier, which surprised me greatly.
My blood began to flow from the wound and with it I could feel my life begin to leave me. His lips were soft against my neck as he lapped at the blood flow. I melted into his tight grasp and closed my eyes, wishing only to feel completely what was happening to me.
My heartbeat hastened as it struggled to circulate my ever lessening supply of blood. It was not long before darkness crept around the edges of my vision. I took gasping strangled breathes as the life continued to flow from my body. The cold fingers of death tightened around me.
At the end, with my body convulsing and giving one final struggle for life, the pain came with unimaginable force. Never before nor since have I felt pain comparable to that which overtook me during those last moments of my life.
The last image that graced my vision was of the moonlight glistening off the rippling surface of the stream. How beautiful that image was to have stayed with me all these countless ages.
Finally, the darkness engulfed me. No bright light waited for me in death, nothing to lead me home. I drifted in a sea of black for what seemed an eternity, but was in reality only a few moments. I was seemingly yanked from that dark place and hurled back into my body.
Slowly I awoke. I felt my back pressing against the solidity of the earth and knew I had rejoined the land of the living. A pungent salty liquid was being dripped between my lips. The taste filled my mouth. I found it glorious and craved more. As I opened my eyes I realized that it was Johnathan's blood that I tasted upon my lips. He had used his fangs to tear open the vein in his own wrist, and was letting his steadily flowing blood run into my open mouth.
Acting on some newfound instinct I rose and took his proffered wrist. I lapped hungrily at his blood, which was to me lick a new delicacy. How warm and delicious it was upon my tongue. The warmth soon spread throughout my body as the blood filled me.
When finally he drew his arm from me my body was tingling with new sensations. The main thing I noticed was that my senses were dramatically heightened. The water was a drowning roar until I realized I could choose which sound to bring to the foreground of my hearing. Also my vision was enhanced and the night no longer posed a barrier to me.
My sense of smell was keener than a wolf's. I could smell the dampness of the leaves on the bank. I also smelled the grass, trees, and all the small animals that live in the forest. I could smell there blood. I also picked up a stronger scent. I struggled to determine what it was, but was distracted before I could come to any conclusion. I was torn away from the smells by Johnathan's voice.
"Come child, let me hold you in my arms, for soon the thirst will take you," he said.
I did not know what he meant by those words, but I felt I must go to him. I stepped into his arms and he held me tightly. I did not know what might be about to happen to me, but I supposed that it would be a small price to pay for immortality.
It was but a few brief moments before I felt it. A deep gnawing thirst, the likes of which I'd never known, bubbled up inside me. I felt it fill ever thread of my being. My vision clouded and I lost all reason. If Johnathan had not been holding me I would have ran blindly until the thirst was quench or I perished. As it was I felt him guiding me toward the surrounding woods. We stopped just short of the trees. Through the haze that had invaded my mind I heard Johnathan speak to me.
"The human prey lurks among the trees. Go child, take the mortal, and quench your thirst with the blood of your first victim. Do it now or the thirst will drive you mad," he whispered to me.
Yes, I must quench the thirst, that was my only thought. I could already feel it tugging at my sanity. Suddenly Johnathan released me and I plunged in among the trees. I knew now what the strange scent had been. It was the smell of mortal blood.
The blood scent grew stronger. I was closing in on my prey. I could hear it's heart beating in a maddening rhythm. I glimpsed the human as it moved among the trees. I plunged toward that blurry image. I knew I must slay this human and drink from the font of it's blood. Yes, I knew it was wrong, but the thirst was unbearable and I knew the blood would end it. The thirst led me.
I caught up to and stood mere feet from my victim. Still I could not see it's face, but the smell of it's blood hung heavily in the air. I instinctively knew that the human was looking at me. Strangely it began to move toward me.
I barely noticed it's movement. I lunged, grabbing at it. I caught hold of it's arms and pulled it to me. I held it tightly as it struggled in my grasp. This human was larger than myself and I was surprised that I could hold it so easily.
My first kill was violent, and I must admit, unnecessarily messy. I felt my fangs lengthen as I bent over the frantically struggling mortal. As I used my fangs to tear at it's throat it began to let out horrible strangled cries. There were words mingled among it's cries, but my mind was to clouded to recognize what it said.
I did eventually succeed in tearing open the human's vein. Blood splattered us both as it spurted form the gaping wound. I quickly latched my mouth onto it and drank deeply. It took the last threads of control I possessed to keep myself from stopping it's heart with my first drink. I drank more slowly then, taking the mortal's life into myself. As the mortal's blood filled me the thirst began to subside. I drained ever drop of that sustaining fluid. I felt the mortal's heart slow, then stop completely. It was only then that I released my victim. The mortal fell in a heap at my feet. I stood feeling the thirst disappear and waiting for my head to clear.
When I could think clearly again I opened my eyes and blinked away the remaining fogginess. I felt guilty for what I had done, but felt compelled to look upon my victim. I lowered my eyes to the still, lifeless body laying at my feet. Horror filled my being as I saw the gruesome visage. I fell to my knees ans let out a dreadful screeching cry. Laying on the ground before me, ashen and silent, was my precious Stephen, dead by my own accursed hand.
The pain and horror of it ripped at my soul. I cursed myself for falling victim to such evil as this must surely be. I should be the one laying dead, not him. Bloody tears welled in my eyes and spilled down my now ghostly white cheeks. I took Stephen in my arms and held his lifeless body. I knew he was beyond resurrection so I did not try to feed him my blood. I simply held him and cried, releasing my sorrow, and occasionally wiping away the blood tears that fell upon his head.
I knelt there with him for what must have been about an hour. I morned the loss of both my love and my humanity. For it was only then that I realized what I had given up. I stayed with him until I heard Johnathan's footsteps coming toward me. I could not face him, he that had cursed me with this vile blood. I knew I would try to rend him apart if forced to confront him at that moment. And so I quickly gave Stephen a kiss on the forehead and said my final goodbye. Then I ran.
I ran away from the sound of Johnathan's footsteps, away from the sight of my slaughtered love. I ran with a speed unknown to mortals, and shortly I found myself standing outside my house. I stood there looking at the place I had grown up, the place that held so many good memories for me. I realized I could not go back to the life I had known. I knew I would never again live in that house or see my parents. And in my heart I knew that would be best for us all.
My mind worked quickly, and I soon determined that I would go dwell in the forest until such time as I could find a more suitable home for myself. I slipped into the darkened house to retrieve my few clothes. I assumed that my parents were with Stephen's dad. They would be awaiting his return, and hoping he had found me. I thought of how heartbroken they would be when they realized we were not coming back. My tears came again at the thought. I knew they would eventually find Stephen's body and would notice that my things were missing. I wondered what they would think. Would they know that I had killed him? I tried to push these thoughts form my head as I moved through the house.
I gather the few clothes I owned into a bundle and tied them together with some strips of cloth. I took a few moments to stare at my home, as it would be the last time I would ever stand inside it again. Finally I took up my bundle and slowly walked outside.
As I was closing the door behind me I realized that it was almost dawn. A dread fear filled me and I somehow knew I must not be caught outside when the day dawned. I would have to wait until the next night to make my escape. I glanced around quickly, seeking a place to hide from the suns's rays. I noticed the strips of wood covering the opening to our cellar, and decided that it would be a perfect place to sleep away the day. I moved the boards aside and went through the opening which was really no more than a hole in the ground. I carefully replaced the boards, then moved hastily down the hardened, earthen steps.
I walked to the farthest corner of the dank enclosure, where not the slightest ray of daylight could penetrate the gloom. I curled in the corner, placing my bundled clothes at my feet. As light brightened the morning sky I began to feel a weariness invading my body. And as the sun rose, casting it's rays across the land, I fell into a dreamless almost deathlike sleep.
The sinuous web of shadows had woven it's way back across the land when I finally awoke. Curtains of darkness hung heavy in the musty cellar where I lay.
The smell of mold and dampness were the first things to pervade my senses. Momentarily I was lost, and unsure of where I was or how I had gotten there.
Alas, as I arose the memories of the previous night came washing back. I was filled with a fresh flood of grief and remorse. Utter despair floated close to the surface and threatened to carry me away. At that moment I clung tenuously to my sanity. Guilt alone threatened to shatter my psyche, and a lesser being would have broken. My strong will, however, had only been strengthen by what I had become. I swam the river of despair and pulled myself out.
When the waves of despair has subsided I sat and contemplated my situation. I had, at some point, realized that my plan to simply run into the forest and hide was a foolhardy and potentially dangerous one.
I barely knew what I was. I had heard the tales told of the vampyre, of course, but had always thought them just that, tales. Never had I conceived that they might be more than mere fiction, or that I would one day find myself transformed into one of these creatures of darkness.
I did know that I was no longer a mere mortal. I realized I now had powers the breadth of which were still unknown to me. My next thought horrified me, though I immediatly saw the truth in it. I would have to return to Johnathan. There was no other choice. He was the only one who could help me discover my powers and enlighten me to the ways of what I had become.
I was sure he had known this all along. He had allowed me to flee because he knew I must eventually return. Hatred and rage filled my unbeating heart.
My vengance was born that day. I would return to him, but only to learn what I needed. Then I would have my revenge. I would strive to become stronger than even he could imagine. My loss would be repaid with Johnathan's blood.
With my newfound purpose I arose, and before any could see I stealthily darted out and into the forest, letting my anger propel me.