no good deed goes unpunished [story part 6]
January 18, 2012 § 6 Comments
November 18th, around 11:00.
I looked more impressed than I should have been, not by the house, but by the location. This was rather ironic, if not funny at the least.
We were in the house which always puzzled me. The house in which the guardian of the cemetery gates lived. I was always puzzled by this house because here it was, the only house on the top of the hill, surrounded by a church, a high school, a morgue, a crypt and then flanked on the backside by an old cemetery.
Who would want to live here? I always asked myself.
The house is not creepy at all, and in the spring-to-summer days there were often red roses at the windows which made it seem kind of romantic. Until you gazed at the cemetery behind it.
Me and Regina were in the little tower like structure attached to the house, in the attic, which had two windows, both facing the cemetery. There were was a jacket and shoes she had managed to get from somewhere, and I was all set to go out.
As soon as I stepped outside and felt the cold breeze of a November morning, although a sunny one, I heard the bell from the high school. Between this house and the actual high school stood a big old church, which meant I couldn’t see the high school but I heard the bell and the laughter and voices of tens of teens which were outside in the yard.
I remembered I was actually supposed to be in school at this time, my friends were by all means, just 200 meters away from me. Unaware of what was near them. Unaware, like I was just days before, that a 500 year old girl, which could easily pass as a student here, a deadly one that is, was just seconds away from them.
I decided not to ponder much about it and started going down. As soon as I did I felt a hand on my shoulder and I knew it was Regina. I turned back.
“We will meet again.” She said and, before I even had the time of opening my mouth, she turned back and started walking casually towards the cemetery. I decided to leave it at that and continued towards the high school.
The following hours went by really slow. I couldn’t get her out of my head, but to my surprise, I was more mesmerized by her beauty and I was thinking (like any teenager would) more about her lips, rather than the fact that she had just made it clear who she is. I wondered, and still do, to this day, why me. Why should she choose to tell me something that hasn’t been told to anyone in hundreds of years. I felt humble and proud in the same time.
My friends and classmates all made it rather clear how worried they were for me, some of them joked about how I returned from the dead. I remember I found that rather ironic, given the fact that I knew about Regina, and they didn’t. Only if they did… I wonder how much of a joke would that be for them then.
I remember that I went home that day with a clear goal – asking my mom about the necklace.
As soon as I entered the house, I called for my mom and without even a hello, I immediately asked her: “Where did you get this necklace?”
Her reaction was rather unexpected. I was expecting her to tell me she bought it, or she found it or whatever lame reason. Instead her eyes flew open. She wanted to say something but stopped herself before making a sound. Then she tried saying something else, which had the same result.
I couldn’t tell if she was picking a lie, or she was dismissing lies and headed for the truth, so I added: “I need the truth.”
“Why? What happened?” – she was really curios.
“Nothing happened, I just want to know.”
“Why now? Why all of a sudden? After all these years…” – I knew from her gaze over my shoulder and her tone that she was remembering something, something was amiss here and that sparked my interested.
“Listen.” – I said. “It’s related to what happened with me being locked in that crypt.”
She came closer to me, and raised her hand to my neck, me thinking she wanted to touch the necklace. Instead, she immediately saw the two bite wounds I had on my neck which were just under the collar of my shirt.
She knew what she was searching for and she immediately gasped and tears ran down her face instantly.
“We just wished this day would never come…”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – my mom was aware of everything. She was the most normal person in the world, but she somehow knew about vampires and this damned necklace.
She called for my father and told me they will explain everything. In that respect, I believed her, because they always explained what was needed when it was needed and they always let me decide things on my own and play the game on my own. They were always liberal, never set limits for me or for what I want to do.
My father came soon enough from the other room and with one word, his face changed from curiosity as to why he was being called, to pure horror. That word was: “Báthory”. Said in a perfect Hungarian. I always knew my mom spoke Hungarian, but I didn’t know she did this good. She said it exactly like Regina had.
My mom spoke Hungarian because she apparently had learned it in the six months she stayed with me in the hospital in Budapest, when I was just 1 year old and was diagnosed with leukemia.
They sat me down and told me:
“You are our son, and we love you more than we love our lives. We love both you and your brother the same, but…” – my mom trailed off with tears in her eyes.
“But you are special.”
I didn’t knew what that meant at the time. Was I retarded? Is that what they were trying to tell me?
“When you were 6 months old, you got sick.”
“I know that.” – I said.
“Yes, but what you don’t know is how you got healed.” – My dad was completely serious. I know his ‘Luke, I’m your father’ face and this was the case.
“In Budapest, in the hospital where you got treated, there were 96 children which suffered from leukemia, and you had the most rare form. Doctors themselves said they never seen such disease, but it looked like leukemia, and you have less that 1% chance to survive. And yet here you are.”
“You have to understand we were desperate to save your life” – My mom said. I figured something should come next because I already knew this story.
“What you also don’t know, is that you were in the newspapers when you left the hospital. You were the only child out of the 96 to leave the hospital alive.”
At hearing this, even now, my body sends me shivers all over. I cannot fathom the idea of escaping death that close. Not even after being locked in a crypt for three days.
I tried pulling myself together and asked: “What does this have to do with the necklace or Báthory for that matter?”
Without going into further dialog because it’s too much to remember line by line, the story goes like this:
After three months of chemotherapy and half of the children in the hospital dead and with no signs of me improving, my heart almost giving out several times, with more than three episodes of fever over 42 C – the kind that kills you – and more baths in ice water that one would want, my mom was pretty devastated. That, plus seeing me almost weekly getting punctured by long, thick needles, which went through my bone, in my feet and my back, to check for affliction to the bone marrow, was bringing my mom almost on the verge of giving up – dying out of a heart attack – herself.
You have to understand, a one year old baby getting punctured in his bones and getting blood transfusions 24/7 is not exactly pleasant and as unlikely this sounds, I remember flashes of that happening. It seems to me that bad memories get impregnated in the memory much better than good ones. I remember the needles being stuck in my back, I remember the pain. I remember how my tongue was swallowed and full of blisters that I couldn’t eat. I remember how I was being dipped into ice water at 2 in the morning, yanked out of my sleep and put into ice water. I don’t remember everything of it, all my memories of those 6 months are maybe about 15 seconds long. But it’s more than enough.
One night when my mom was in the yard of the hospital having a smoke, which apparently she did often, two boys about 12 years old approached her and over the fence, in a perfect Romanian, they told her: “We need help.” to which she responded “Me too.” – the boys then turned around, looked her in the eyes and said “We know.”
My mom told me every fiber from her body told her to run, run as far away as she cold. Run back home. But how could she? I was on my death bed, inside the hospital. The boys looked normal, except the fact they had deep, dark eyes. Dark as in everything completely black, it was as they were missing completely [the eyes]. They had no white, no pupils, no retinas. Nothing. Pure darkness.
My mom told me she wanted to run, but at that moment she hardly believed anything worse than me dying could happen. She just hoped this wasn’t a joke and that’s it. She didn’t care whether they were demons or angels. She just wished it’s not a sick joke.
“Let us in.” They said.
“It’s open.” My mom responded.
“Invite us in.” – And she did.
“Bring us the child, and we will cure him.” They said as they walked in.
My mom told me everything happened so fast she hardly remembers the actual facts or her mind is trying to put things in the story, things that weren’t there, to explain what happened to herself maybe. But the she told me that she went up, took me from my bed, went down and opened the front door from the inside, let the boys inside and gave me to them.
One of them looked at me and then kissed me. On the lips. She wanted to scream and take me away but the other was blocking her. She told me she felt at that exact moment this is crazy. But she also told me that I have to understand how desperate she was, and I do. Anyone would, anyone who would remember how painful it is to have bone marrow extracted from your feet and from your back when you’re just 1 year old.
As soon as the boy kissed me, the other one pulled out a necklace. My necklace, and told her: “Make sure the boy wears this necklace at all times, until the day he dies, which won’t be in your lifetime.” – My mom told me she was already feeling giddy just hearing those words. After hearing doctors telling her to prepare “everything” for my “departure” everyday, this was a welcomed turn of events.
The other boy gave me back to her, and just like that, they were gone. My mom put my necklace to my neck immediately and went inside.
Now I don’t know how accurate the next part is, but apparently the next morning I was crawling around the floor. Like any toddler would at that age, which was a miracle, because I was supposed to be 90% dead, like the night before. But I wasn’t.
My mom told me she didn’t care, and still doesn’t, who those boys were and what they did to me. She only knows that the only thing she cares about is the fact that I got healthy in under a week and I’m a normal boy.
By all accounts, by now I was either shaking out of fear or out of… I don’t know. I was shaking all over.
My dad was a bit speechless, because he only heard this story once before, and what could he say anyway, he wasn’t there.
My mom only asked the boys: “What is this necklace for?” And was expecting clear instruction of “use”. Instead she got one word from one of the boys before disappearing: “Báthory.”