Wednesday, October 16, 2013
All Hallow's Grim: In Death's Shadow, part 2
That was a long time ago. The groves, the house... the sweet stench of blood and fear, just before he showed me what darkness means... but I still remember it like it was only hours ago instead of years. My memory of some things had faded over time, but that night remains sharp and vivid. He murdered me, and brought me back to life, and my body... well. There is a little flutter inside every human soul that wonders what it's like on the hidden face of the moon, that secretly wants to step over that line and experience it, just once. I can tell you, the touch of that shadow is everything you think it's going to be. It is tantalizing, and thrilling, and the mere breath of it is ecstasy. You can imagine, then, what the taste of it on your tongue will be like, what the caress of it on your skin will do to your insides... That devil killed me, and changed me, and then I surrendered to him with my mother's sightless gaze watching every movement, her cold ears hearing every breath and cry. I abased myself, I shamed myself and desecrated the house I grew up in, the house where my parents lay dead not ten feet from me, and found myself begging for more. I could not help myself, and I could not stop him. I did not want to. Yes, the darkness will terrify you, excite you, make you quiver and moan and cry out, and bring you to peaks you had never thought possible, over and over again, and you will ask for it every time... but you will have to decide if it is worth the price I paid.
The world has changed since then, into something where thriving is only for the lucky, and survival is the only way for the rest... except for some of us, who are something... more.
And then there's me.
Something went wrong, that night. He told me that he'd done that a thousand times in his lifetime, and never had a single failure. He didn't quite count me a failure, but I was certainly... imperfect... as the others saw things. I came away from that night gifted with much of his strength, much of his power, and certainly all of his weaknesses. However, there was one fatal flaw in the execution of his whims; I kept my humanity in the process. Others, when coming down from the first full flush of new life and strange sensation, embrace it wholeheartedly. They have lost something vital inside that defines morality for humankind. He would call it a soul, and smirk, and I would never know if he was joking or not. Others... all the others... lost their soul when they died; I somehow kept mine.
There was no explaining it, and no fixing it; it frustrated him to no end and turned me against him, and all others of our kind. I came to hate what he'd made me into, what he was, and the others. But there are rules to this existence; it is rare for one of us to attack another, rarer still for a murder to take place. Even in this changed and twisted world, we keep the pretty fiction alive that we are nothing out of the ordinary, on pain of excommunication and threat of death. It was not so terrible an existence; the others were intriguing in their own way. The life itself was... thrilling. I had known a new definition of ecstasy since that first night, when he took me for his own, but I still hated it. I loathed it, loathed myself and him and all the rest. But I shrugged, and embraced the life as best I could.
"You will grow into it," he told me a hundred times, and still I hated him with a hot, burning, enraged passion that I prayed to whatever gods still paid attention to this world that I would one day have occasion to express. He would whisper it into my ear as our bare flesh struggled for conquest against one another, and my eyes would turn to stone. No matter what my body felt, no matter how good he was - and he was, very - he told me that my eyes never changed.
Who was he? What was he? Questions easily answered but not so easily understood. He was my murderer and my resurrection. He was my lover. He was a friend, after a fashion. He was a trickster. He was a demon, a devil, a wicked, twisted mirror-image of humanity and all that was depraved and horrible lurking within the hearts of us all. Vrykolakas, strigoi, Nosferatu. Vampire. Yes, damn the last flicker of the soul's fire in me, he was a vampire. Of all the fantasies in the world, why did that particular one have to choose my family's farm? Whim, he said. The word has since become a curse on my tongue, for that creature lives by whims that leave the worst you can imagine in their wake. My story was less terrifying than many I had heard, many I had helped write. None of us are immune to the call of our hunger, whether we retained our souls or not. My illustrious patriarch was not the only one of the Nosferatu... the elders... to turn humans, but he was the only one whose successes were so vast, whose record was so perfect. Until me, of course. But he said that I only increased his fame, his reputation, that somehow he had made a child who had all his nature and something more besides. I told him, with a sneer on my lips, that if it was a success to create a flawed child who hated not only him but herself as well, then he must be the most powerful of all the elders. It was an old, familiar retort, to which he merely told me to learn to keep my tongue in check before one of the other elders forced silence upon me. I smiled through my teeth and let him think I was abashed.
I nursed my hatred as we flitted through the world, leaving broken, tormented lives behind us. I cultivated loathing as others cultivate their gardens when he made new children and taught them, and sent them off into the world to follow in his footsteps. And when I could finally take it no more, I left him behind, sneaked away to try and escape him, but somehow he always tracked me down again. He was obsessed with me, his flawed, rebellious wild child. When we weren't fucking or feeding or turning young, pretty humans, I was in libraries, or closeted with mystics, trying to learn why I was different. I wanted to know why I still had my soul, why I hated my nature when all the others embraced it. It was a fruitless search. I found old references to ceremonial magick, to the names of angels and demons, to energy work and fluffy, feel-good Goddess religions, but nothing that touched on the horrors of my daily life, nothing to explain why a vampire would need a soul. And then one day, when I had run away yet again, I found an ancient, forgotten scrap of knowledge in an equally ancient, forgotten tomb, that made my blackened heart quiver with an emotion I had not known in many years; hope.
It was a spell to summon Death himself.