John's unlife was at an end. He had been denying it for several years, but it was so. John was young in years, as vampires view age, a mere stripling of 500 solar cycles. And as his master had always told him, he still had much to learn of his kind's ways.
Oh, sweet master! His master, Piero dell'Aventuri Marcelli, who had finally done that which he had sworn never to do: fall for a mortal. But fall he had, in the most romantic way, and in the process, broke the one unbreakable rule of the nosferatu, to never reveal one's true nature to a mortal.
John tried to take the loss of his master stoically, but it was impossible. A mortal could never know the infinitely close connection between childe vampire and the master who brought said childe across. If one could imagine a bond as close as telepathy, bound by close joint experiences, finely-joined emotions, and a love beyond the scope of normal expectation, that would be a tenth part of what John held for his beloved Piero.
And now that love was gone. Now, in a relative sense, since some two-score years had passed... yet what is a handful of years for one whose existence has no limit in time?
That is how John found himself crouched atop a building in a metropolis, at midnight, starving. No city in particular, at least not to him, for he had seen so many. The blurred strata of his memories, though visible as crystal-clear snapshots when he engaged his total recall, smeared together into a jumble of human and vampire existence. What was one more human city to him? A pile of dust, really, if one were to consider Biblical implications of human nature. Hell, if one were to were to believe Sartre. And a savage garden, if he were to quote the painfully close memoirs of a (supposedly) fictional vampire. Though, upon meeting the original inspiration, John had not been impressed.
The past was simply that, however. Dwelling on lost times was a luxury quickly bred out of his kind by the heightened laws of evolution that they faced. At present, John could only focus upon the hunger that gnawed at soul and body.
One had to credit the writer for being true to detail, in naming the feel of the Hunger. This was hardly remarkable, as the true writer(not that flashy mortal front for the original) was of his ilk. Dian had felt no pain in explaining why she had expressed the stories through a mortal medium, when easily she could have writ down the tales for her own kind. "My dearest John," she had purred, always with that stinging irony that made her infamous in the circles she ran in, "I had no choice but to expose what is ours. It becomes so... so... BORING to rehash one's life with such predictable companions as my friends!" John smiled slightly, enough to convey his incredulence that Dian could ever bore. Being who she was, Dian saw to the heart's-blood of his smile, and told him, "Ah yes, my young, pretty childe. Your Piero has never told you how the un-life's sweetness can pall. Perhaps he means to conserve your last scraps of innocence. Regardless, it is true. And that is why I did as I have."
Dian left him quickly and silently, as was her wont. She was as swift and mysterious as her namesake huntress-goddess, and as equally like to kill you if you got on her extensive "bad side". She left him alone to confront his thoughts.
He was alone now, in as many senses of the word as his mind could give thought. It was comforting, in a frightening way, that his world had come full-circle. Before Piero opened his eyes to the full breadth of the cosmos, he had been alone. The poor youngest son of a German merchant prince, Piero had found him wandering the streets of fifteenth-century Florence. Johann von Kergmann, as he had called himself then, had been scouring the busy streets in the shadow of Il Duomo in search of his beloved Pamela. When Piero took him away from his endless quest of unrequited love, the emptiness of Johann's soul had finally been filled.
With Piero gone, his dear friends Dian and Lucius scattered to who-knows-what corner of the world, and a growing sense of his own futility, John rediscovered his loneliness.
The object, now, was to end this useless pretense of a life. God knows, there was nothing left for him now! By refusing the slightest drop of blood, by denying himself the nectar that revitalized him and gave him powers beyond mortal ken, he would slowly rot away. Blood tears slowly dripped down his ivory features, adding especial ache to his hunger with the scent of his desire. He would...
He felt a tap on his shoulder. Shuddering within his ragged clothing, not from mere cold but from internal angst, he imagined that some putrid scavenger bird had come to roost on his pitiful frame, as if he were a motley scarecrow for the whole city. Ironic justice for a mere shell of a creature, he thought.
Then it came again, more insistently.
John wondered if a whole flock of birds chose this high spot for their nightly roosts. Unlikely, but possible.
Then John realized that he was over 30 storeys above the ground. What mighty bird could climb such heights? An eagle? Some crazed seabird, thinking the towering skyscraper some magnificent sailing vessel? Or some other, unheard-of thing? John had glimpsed many wonders in his time, things that most mortals would discount as fantasy.
Turning at last, what he saw surpassed all.
Pamela was making her daily rounds of the city, when she saw something which surprised her. Being a super-human alien to this planet, this was a notable experience for her. She narrowed her blue-green eyes as she wove with great speed between the skyscrapers, focusing in upon a brownish-gray and white speck on the Emerald Building.
Could it be a person? That was hardly possible. The Emerald Building had no adits onto its crowning spire, and even if one found some way to get there, the air was so thin up there that no human could survive for long.
She came up short in the air as the next possibility entered her mind. Some poor person had become stranded there, somehow, and was hurt, unconscious, maybe dead! She had to try to help, or at least, give the person a proper burial. Even on Homeworld, the rites for the dead held a crucial importance for the living.
Listening closely, she strained to hear a heartbeat, a breath, some sign of life. There was none.
Eyes slowly filling with tears, she gently swooped in to land behind the lately-deceased person. A man, if a quick inspection proved true. She blinked her beauteous eyes shut, letting her tears fall in memorial to the poor, fragile Terran. How easily they fell prey to the dangers of this world! A light toss of her golden locks cleared her eyes for another glimpse of the corpse. She would try to remember this sight, as an impetus to try harder to protect her charges in the future.
Then the corpse began to shake a little. Pam blinked her eyes a little, thinking that perhaps a few laggart tears were distorting her vision slightly. But no, her liquid testament had passed over the edge of the building with her hair-toss.
She realized that the high winds at this altitude, which of course did not shake her footing in the slightest, would of course shake the battered remains of this man with their gale-force. One would hardly expect that a corpse would begin moving, that a dead man would...
Then she heard the sobbing. If it had been any other mortal being on the planet, the minute sound would have escaped notice. Her alien ears, however, could tune to the slightest detectable sound with ease. And this was definitely the heart-rending sobbing of a man who had lost all, and was in full knowledge of his loss. And the sobbing was coming from the corpse!
Immediately, her training stopped her from rushing from the scene. As guardian of this world, she was obligated to investigate any strange circumstance, to prevent catastrophe from befalling the human race. Clearly, this was one of the strangest circumstances she had ever encountered! Her homeworld's myths told of supernatural, living dead, and of course she knew all the cultural variants that Earth could provide, but this... this was somewhat more real than any myth.
Struck with a strange impulse, which set up a tingling internal vibration somewhere just below her rib-cage, she stealthily crept up to the sobbing corpse, and tapped it on the shoulder. At first, there was no change in the shaking cadaver's behavior, but she knew that she was not hallucinating. So she tried again, with a bit more force, understanding that a bit of force would definitely not bother a dead man.
This time, she was rewarded with a different reaction. The shaking and sobbing paused for a few, terrifying seconds. Then, with the slight rustling of moving fabric, the body turned to look at her. A beautiful, though haggard face beheld her, and she had to restrain a gasp at its strangely compelling exotic features. The body's skin was shockingly pale, a smooth ivory color just like that of an elephant's tusks. Deep brown-black eyes gazed up at her, with a strangely haunted surprise marking them clearly. Tousled brown locks battled for space across its forehead, a few making their lonely way down a noble brow and finely-sculpted nose. If it weren't for the fact that it was a corpse, this would appear to be the most captivating man she had ever seen!
John was no less impressed with Pamela's visage. It was not every century that one could find perfect beauty in the female form display before oneself. If the old tales were true, Helen of Troy's direct descendant stood before him, in the most outlandish garb. The sensual curves of the woman were arrayed in a tight, obviously modern fabric. The cloth clung to every line with the grasp of an eager lover. And what lines! A bodice without the slightest sag, a neck more swan-like than a swan, legs which would have put the most graceful ballerina to shame... He could not grasp how every inch of her could make perfection seem imperfect!
The face of an angel, as well! John's lapsed religious memories easily matched her ideal features to that of the angels he had heard tell whereof. The angel's hair was of purest spun gold, or so it appeared, cascading wondrously over delicately expressive features. The piercing stare of her most cerulean blue eyes seemed to penetrate through his shell of a body to his pitiful soul. Never had a mortal so instantly and fully captivated him, not since his long-dead beloved in Florence!
If his had heart could beat, it would have felt as if destined to fly up into his throat. Long forgotten instincts arose, and he gasped air into his lungs, starting backwards, stumbling onto his rump in his amazement. Instantly recovering his vampiric balance, he rose to his feet in one smooth motion, and whispered to himself, "Who are you, my mysterious angel?"
John was astonished when the angel slowly blinked as if she had heard him. That was clearly impossible, no mortal would have heard the delicate sigh that had escaped his pale lips. And yet, she shook her head as if in negative reaction, and said in dulcet tones, "I... I'm no angel. But the real question is, WHAT are YOU?"
To be continued in Chapter Two - Revelations and Harsh ConclusionsSharon Best