and the vampire continued growing [story part 39]
November 2, 2012 § 5 Comments
Because of a few e-mails I recently received, I’ve now been put into a dilemma.
The dilemma is that after the last part of the story – quite a considerable time had passed after the actual vampire story picks up. To put it in other words, after Regina left that day, there has been… almost next to nothing happening in my life.
So what’s the dilemma again? Yeah, some readers are telling me “I don’t believe you and you’re full of bullshit because there’s no way you acted how you acted without any emotional response, and there’s nothing about you personally or about your life in the story or in your diary, who writes a diary without writing their own feelings reflecting on their life?”
Well, I do, but my diary and my story does – and can contain that, no problems, but that just makes it that much longer. I initially refrained from posting too much emotional content or personal opinions because, as you can see in comments past, there’s a number of readers requesting exactly the opposite: “Quit the sissy girl emotional drama and just get on with what actually happened.”
What am I supposed to do?
I have a story to tell, and I can be objective or subjective, and I don’t know how to make peace with both sides.
As such, I think splitting this post in two separate parts is the best way to go. First part is a summary that includes little to no reference to any vampire story, it’s just me. The second part is where the story that you’re interested in actually picks up again. You can choose to read all of it, or skip to the THIS IS THE BOLD LINE that you can’t possibly miss if you scroll down.
So here it goes:
It was now the summer of 2007, almost a year had passed since I told Regina to leave forever that day, and almost a year had passed since I was regretting that very same decision, because as soon as she was gone, I started regretting it. I’m not a man of regrets, but that was a bad decision for me to make, one that I couldn’t, and still can’t believe to this day, that I actually made. But that’s not the point.
The point is that for almost a year I was left alone, to return to my life, to recoup if you want, after the things I’ve been through last time I was with her. I actually thought, at the time (before telling her to leave) that I needed the time to recoup, that I needed to be alone, that I needed to get back to my life to return to normal. However, as days passed, I realized that there’s no way for me to return to ‘normal’ and then it got even worse, with me starting to think that ‘normal’ was actually their world, and that all this… modern day-to-day living was a lie, a facade, a veil over our eyes to keep us going, eating, breathing, living… like livestock.
As days went by, instead of turning more ‘normal’ I turned more and more… bitter and angry. I turned paranoid, I stopped trusting in anyone and anything that moved, and by the years end I was almost a completely different person. What I once was at the beginning of high school was no more, I was now just a figment of that person.
Instead of smart I considered myself stupid, I considered myself a coward, evil, paranoid, introvert and all that. I was, by all definitions, into a really awful depression.
I wanted nothing to do with the outside world. I started to considered it petty, insignificant and false. That night in Turkey changed me more than I thought it would be possible, and only now, years later, I realize that I only realized what I had become and how I changed only when I stepped back.
To make it more clear: While I was with Regina I wasn’t aware I was changing, not so much, but as soon as I was given time-off, and allowed to step back, and be alone for enough time, to be able to really take a look at myself and around me, only then I correctly managed to assess how much I had changed. To think about it, I guess it was rather intentional on Regina’s part. But then again, as I was saying in my second-to-last post (special vampires require special tools) it was all part of the grand scheme of things. I didn’t know then… I didn’t care.
So yes, one year had passed and there I was, one year older, and one year closer to what you, the reader, might imagine that the typical vampire might look like. You see, it is a paradox. I started becoming one, psychologically, only after I was removed from their midst. Stockholm syndrome to extreme one would say. I stopped being able to keep myself in check. Up to that point in my life I always felt strongly that people should be their own psychologists as much as they can, because they do have the power to do so, but after that point, I truly understood the need for “outside help”. For me, it got to the point that it was either getting locked up in a mad-house, or going back in their world, because I just couldn’t function as a normal human being. I couldn’t and more importantly I REFUSED TO. I was just a kid and I had enough trouble adjusting to me growing up as it was, not even mentioning having this thing hovering over my shoulders.
I won’t go into much detail about Viktor or Sophia, for their sake. We’ve kept in touch, and they truly helped me immensely during that time. We remained and still remain friends. They really managed to get me through it all the way. Now don’t go thinking I was the kind of… suicidal depressed type, no, I wouldn’t do that, not then, not now, not ever. No matter how bad it gets, there’s nothing worse than death, and I really believe in that. Well, excluding torture and all that.
I just turned into a… shadow of what I was. I turned bad, sarcastic, egoist, mean, locked inside myself, depressed and angry all the time.
The whole year went by like that, and not once did it occur to me that I was like that because I was terribly, terribly missing something. I was in a damned withdrawal and I couldn’t realize it. And what a withdrawal it was!
A withdrawal from what? From everything! From life itself. I needed the adventure, the adrenaline, the fear, the mystery and the amazement and once I tasted all that, I couldn’t go back.
There are people who paint or sing or climb mountains or write books or just really love doing whatever they do. Those that climb mountains really need the adrenaline every now and then, and taking that away from them would be just as well as a death sentence, because they don’t feel complete anymore.
It’s just like those animals kept in a cage all their lives, ducks that never saw water in their life or such. They continue living… but they are just… zombies.
Trust me, it’s one thing to feel incomplete and not know why – because you haven’t discovered it – and it’s a whole different type of pie feeling incomplete and actually knowing what you’re missing.
A duck that never swam will be a sad duck, but will be a much happier duck than a duck that swam for most of its life and then got locked up.
Do you understand where I’m trying to get to?
I was in withdrawal and I was suffering and that exact thing made me realize quite a few things:
1) I wasn’t that well-intended and smart as I thought I was. I realized I was perfectly capable of hurting anyone (notice how I used “anyone” and not “someone”), in any form, just for the sake of it. I know it’s bad, but I accepted it for some weird reason. I still do. I guess you grow used to it.
2) I realized that the very exact thing that I missed, actually turned me into WHAT I missed. In other words, being kept at a distance for a whole year, I turned more into them, rather than returning to normal, and I did so because I guess, sub-consciously, I wanted it.
3) I realized that I might actually be happier having a life like Regina, rather than what I considered before ‘normal’ and ‘moral’ – basically, human.
4) I realized (after 3) that the balance between “I want to live a normal life” and “I want to be one of them” was by the summer of 2007 about equal. Which meant total chaos for me, because I couldn’t believe I actually got to that point, and I also couldn’t believe that I was faced with the mother of all dilemmas. To live and let live, or to ‘die’ and… well… not let live – speaking of others. There was no ‘middle-way’. Not in the long-run at least. It was proven to be countless times that you’re not spared from taking a life, at some point, even as a human living between them – one could only imagine the amount of lives you would take over the centuries, as one of them.
So here I was. Me, Sophia and Viktor, lying on the green, warm grass in front of Blanche’s so-called crypt. This whole area is very, very peaceful, and it’s the most beautiful thing one can see in a summer afternoon. Huge, tall pine trees and oaks are all around the cemetery, and the orange light is just shinning between their leaves touching you gently and warming you just to the point of being not too warm and not too cold. Just perfect. I still feel that there’s nothing more peaceful and pleasant than a summer afternoon under a tree, in a cemetery.
Anyway, there we were, remembering old times, school, friends, jokes. It was Blanche’s birthday, and although we all knew she wasn’t dead, we missed her, and wondered where she was… and how she was doing… we all hoped that we’ll get to be together again someday, just like we used to be. I mean let’s be serious, is there anyone in this world who wouldn’t want to go back in time to be with their loved ones once again, be it friends or family?
THIS IS THE BOLD LINE
“Don’t you think this is a little dramatic?” – A voice from a tree above and behind us said.
All of us froze. It was Blanche’s voice. IT HAD to be. Creepy times, shivers down our spines, especially after a very un-eventful year in which the most excited we got was when Sophia caught her finger in the door.
We turned around and poof, Blanche was standing before us, hands on her hips, majestically taller, more beautiful than ever, deep red curly hair, smiling from all heart, tears in her eyes, but keeping her stance.
All three of us needed about 10 seconds to actually react, and when we did react, we did so violently. We ran towards her and just tackled her down hugging the life out of her. Dino from the Flintstones had NOTHING on us. Yes, we were that good friends.
We got up and she just hugged all of us one by one really tight, mentioned how we changed and all, but to be honest, she was pretty much the elephant in the room. Speaking of change, she was the most changed from all of us. Nothing about her reminded us of the old Blanche, except her… being… her character.
She was much more… grown up, physically. She matured. She was more muscular, her face was pure joy, shining, perfectly smooth and white. She was gorgeous, dressed casually in blue jeans, a black tank-top and some suede boots. Nothing out of the ordinary. To be honest, it would be hard for anyone that once knew her to recognize her now.
“Blanche! What are you doing here?!” I exclaimed. I was happy that I was seeing her, but I knew very well that she was in for a heap of trouble for coming here. She was strictly forbidden to do so. And she was for as long she was under Viktoria’s control – because she was still in her care by what I remember. As long as Viktoria was responsible for her, she wasn’t really allowed to “take matters and consequences into her own hands”.
“I’m sorry… I just… I couldn’t stay away…” She responded and then added “Plus, you shouldn’t be here. I might just ask you the same question.”
“I’m meeting my parents here. I just have to see them. They won’t live forever, and I don’t want to regret letting them die without seeing them as much as possible… because you know I’ll have a long time to regret that.” Sophia smiled and hugged her again.
Viktor was already hinting me at how… “good” (read hot) Blanche turned out to be, in a not-so-subtle way. Which was by all means true. We were all growing up and changing, but Blanche out-paced us by a decade.
“But Blanche….” I started saying.
“Don’t worry, she’s off to someplace really far away. I’m sure we won’t be seeing her.” She was talking about Viktoria, which calmed me down a bit, and seeing as there was absolutely no sign of any “funny business” going on in the town for the past year, we felt pretty safe and secluded there to share a moment. We were well aware that this was a one-time deal, at least for now, and it wasn’t a vacation. We cherished it even more.
“There they are now!”
Blanche’s parents appeared from the path coming from below the hill and when they saw her they just stared running up the path until they got up without a breath and just hugged Blanche for what seemed like an hour.
“Oh honey you’ve grown so much.” Her mother was saying while taking her face with both of her hands and just looking at her intensely and hugging her again, and again, and again.
Her father wasn’t that far behind with the hugging also. It was both heart-warming and heart-breaking. Knowing that was a happy moment, but because of sad reasons.
Then her father made a rather good observation.
“Isn’t this a little… dramatic? I mean we could have just met at home…” He said.
“But in the cemetery, at your ‘grave’, on your birthday, really?” He continued.
“You would be surprised how many people go home to see their parents on their birthday…” Blanche responded.
“I can’t come home, you know that, and I don’t like spending my birthday alone, you know that too.”
They hugged her again.
We all stood there and just enjoyed the moment which lasted for several hours, and in all that time, plus every other time I went by Blanche’s house, I couldn’t help but have the feeling that somewhere really deep, deep down inside, Blanche’s parents were blaming me for taking their daughter away from them. I couldn’t really say anything, because by any definition, it was true. I mean what parent doesn’t want a normal life for his child?
But then again, they didn’t really show it either, because they themselves weren’t really sure that I was to blame or to thank for… They understood perfectly well what Blanche was and in some weird, twisted form – they actually rejoiced. Rejoiced that their daughter would get to walk this earth for over 100.000 sunrises. I mean their dilemma basically boiled down to what I was previously feeling. To be or not to be. That is the question.
But as all good things, this one had to end too, and by nightfall they were already saying their goodbyes, but with joy and hope in all of our eyes. During the talks, Blanche laid out plans how she was planning to spend every last second they have on this earth with them, and promised them that as soon as she gets to be on her own, without Viktoria, and settles for a life, she’s going tot take them away in some other country where nobody would ever know who they are and why they are there.
And to tell you now, it took more than it should have, but it finally happened this past summer. And good for them.
We also said our goodbyes, perfectly aware that we weren’t leaving together out of that cemetery, and that we won’t end our conversation with “See you tomorrow.”
We spent a good part of the evening just doing that, saying goodbye, and we finally parted ways.
And that was it.
For three or four hours.
By 1 AM I was sound asleep, when ahhh all that too familiar sound started reverberating in the room and around me. The ticking of fingernails on my window. One, two, three. Stop.
One, two, three. Stop.
I woke up, I heard it, and my heart fell to the floor. It took all my will to turn my head and look at the window, because I was in that position in which a kid is when he wakes up in the morning without being sure if Santa came that past night. He’s both really excited to go to the Christmas tree, but fears in the same time that no presents might be there.
That was me. I was well aware that only one person in the world does that – at least just one did that too me – and as much as I wanted that to happen, I was afraid.
I turned my head and there she was.
I opened the window and looked to my right and my left.
“Where’s Regina?!” I asked.
“How should I know?!” Blanche replied and hopped in.
“Aren’t you supposed to wait for me to ask you in?” I said.
“Aww crap. I forgot. Can I come in?” She replied.
“Uhmm… sure?” I answered.
“Good.” She said, smiled and sat down on the bed.
I didn’t really care she was still in town, I was glad to see her again.
“So tell me… how is it?” I asked.
We were now on the point in discussing… that elephant in the room. The fact that she was a vampire and not that normal happy teenage girl we knew before. She needed to talk with someone about it, and seeing as we didn’t do it back in the cemetery, with her parents being there, she wanted someone to talk with that could understand her. At least that’s what I initially thought was the reason for her coming there that night.
And we did talk about it, a bit. Small chat really.
She told me that Viktoria really took an interest in training her the best she could, and started considering her more and more like family, because as we both knew, she was the same blood with Viktoria and Regina. That was it. Only three of them of the pure blood that Regina was.
Viktoria and Blanche were, by their definition, sisters. By my definition… anything but.
She told me how Viktoria taught her every little single thing about every little single insignificant fact, and she also told me (quite excitedly) about a whole bunch of perks – but downsides also – that she had.
She talked about how she’s basically forced by Viktoria too much, too fast.
Blanche understood her position and who she was all too well, and she knew she had to live-up to what she was, and there was no “average” for her. Being Regina’s blood meant you had to be an example of… perfection. She had years ahead of her to learn, but Viktoria – and Regina too – both took a very special interest in keeping her 100% engaged all the time. Sometimes as a pet, sometimes as an equal.
Blanche also told me that there was a single thing she couldn’t do. Hunt.
She couldn’t kill, she didn’t want to, and was forced to feed by her own means as a result. She wasn’t given any help with feeding – that is one thing that every vampire has to learn for himself, and she had a hard time adjusting.
I put out some candles in the room and we just both moved from the bed to the window sill just admiring the night sky…
We just stood there in silence for a few minutes and then Blanche suddenly said:
“She’s coming for you, you know…”
I just… I was both terrified and happy at hearing that, but I kept my excitement to me and just looked at Blanche and said…
“Yeah… I know…” In a disappointed kind of way.
Blanche put her hand to my heart.
“I can feel it you know, better than you can… I can hear it…” She said.
I knew that, but I didn’t realize it when I was trying to hide my excitement. After a year spent among humans, ‘faking it’, it’s hard to realize and change all of a sudden. It was harder to ‘fake it’ near a vampire.
“You want it. I can hear it. Your heart doesn’t lie.” Blanche said.
“I didn’t say I don’t.” I replied.
“No, but why are you trying to hide it? Do you really think denying what you feel would just make it go away?” Blanche continued.
“Well look at you how much of an emotional, romantic psychologist you became all of a sudden!” I blurted out and turned around.
“All I’m saying is, that… there’s no point in regretting something that doesn’t need to be that way, that you can change. Look at me. I came to be with my parents because that’s where I wanted to be on my birthday. I know I shouldn’t have, but I wanted it, and I’m not denying myself that.” Blanche said and then added:
“Anyway, regardless of what you feel. She’s coming for you.”
“What do you mean she’s coming for me?” I was asking because it sounded… bad.
“I don’t really know what I mean, all I know is that she’s not staying away for much longer.” Blanche responded.
“When?” I asked.
“In an hour, a day, or a week, don’t know exactly, but really soon. So decide what you want, and either stay or leave. And if you leave, make sure you leave for good.” Blanche answered, and with that she hugged and kissed me goodbye, and off she was into the night… I wondered if I would ever see her again.
tombstones for the living [story part 32]
September 16, 2012 § 5 Comments
It was the night between the 27th and the 28th of January – a particularly cold night as I remember, temperatures can vary wildly in the winter around these parts, and forests freeze and crumble under the weight of the winter’s cold breath.
Sometimes there’s little to no snow, sometimes the snow can be as thick as one meter high. And it’s frozen solid. At -20, and that’s in a good night. In a bad night? Nothing escapes the stillness of the winter. Nothing. Not even vampires.
I fell asleep once again, and for me it felt like I was sleeping for the past three days altogether, which by all means, I nearly was. Too exhausted.
“I let myself in.” Regina said casually, poking the fire.
I opened my eyes hearing that and there she was, in front of the fireplace, shivering. I stood up and didn’t say a single word.
I just went to her in front of the fireplace, on the floor where she was sitting and shivering apparently, sat down next to her and took her under the blanket that I had with me from the bed. I remember this instant particularly well because it was around this time when I was starting to feel less like the protegé and more like the protector. It felt good, and it still does, being able to comfort a force of nature like Regina.
But I wasn’t fooling anybody, we both knew who was what. Nonetheless, there had been several occasions leading up to that point, and a few afterwards, more than a few actually, that gradually built up the feeling of dominance that I had… such foolishness. A “male” feeling I lied to myself, “natural”, I added. Not in her world. But that’s another story.
We said nothing to one another for a few quite pleasant moments. I hadn’t seen her in what felt like ages for me, and I don’t usually lie to myself (although I can name a few occasions), I had missed her, even with all the gritty pictures of my life since I entered under her domain.
“What have they done to you….” She said slowly and tried to bite the back of her palm, where the thumb meets the wrist.
“No, enough blood. They will heal themselves.” I said and stopped her hand. Her figure was now staring at me, fangs not out yet but I could see her trying to hold them back. Once started, I understand the process was rather painful and required a bit of self-control to stop.
“It’s like taking a piss.” I remember Viktoria told me. She was more vulgar and straightforward that one.
“In time… which you don’t have…” – Regina said after stopping her, and then letting her fangs go and doing what she started doing.
To be honest, at this point I was just happy enough that she didn’t point out the fact that I would be better of being a vampire and all that, and that she won’t be around forever to mend me whenever I needed. Both points highly debatable. For the first, she should know better the downsides of being a vampire, and for the second point, why not?
“Oh so you know?” I responded, referring to everything that happened.
“Of course I know. Blanche contacted me.” Regina said.
“Speaking of Blanche, she was in a much worse state than I am.”
“I know, and whoever did this is going to pay.”
“He already did.” – I said, puffing my chest in irony.
“No, whoever was behind this will pay. I’m pretty sure someone carefully orchestrated this.” Regina said while focusing on the fire. It felt pretty artistic for me.
I don’t want to exclude this conversation because it explains quite a bit, but I also can’t remember all of it line by line, so I’ll summarize it.
We stood there and talked for a bit longer. We talked about where she was and why she needed my necklace, she explained everything while putting my necklace back and smiling when I told her about how Viktoria managed to snatch it from me, because Regina knew I wouldn’t give it up easily. Regina told me what she was trying to do with both of them, which will be in the following parts of the story. We talked about who could be behind the attack and the reasons behind it, and what should we do next. We agreed on each and every point, and none of us weren’t making any compromises. We ‘clicked’ that night, and it felt rather pleasant, because the last time we had seen each other didn’t offer a rather pleasing goodbye.
In the end we let the fire die, and fell asleep in the same spot where we woke up the next morning. Synchronized, like never before. She, still tired, like always during the day, continued to sleep until late in the evening. I closed the blinds and left her there, while I went and spent some time with the family, because by now it was already Saturday and we were all home.
Breakfast at 10:00 – father saw me once again on my feet, feeling stronger, and more importantly without wounds. He knew Regina had returned, because she was the only one to cover up the ‘mess’. As in, Viktoria had bitten me and didn’t bother to take care of it. Father noticed that, but didn’t say too much about it.
By the time night was closing in I had already managed to tell Blanche and Sophia that Regina is here, and carefully noted down in my diary what had happened. I have four pages about one single night, most other entries being only half a page about a particular ordinary day. Ordinary for me.
Oh yes, and Viktor. He’s not in this picture, not yet. He was away with some things, can’t remember what and didn’t write anything about it, but we usually went to visit relatives around Christmas, either before or after, so I’m guessing that’s where he was. Although pretty late in winter, it wasn’t unusual.
I went inside the room and Regina was still sleeping. She had enough I figured. It was already pitch black outside and the clock was nearing 19:00. I laid down next to her and she woke then without saying anything. I just felt her grabbing my arm and pulling me closer.
“Wake up. We have to go.”
And she was up.
We spent another half an hour with my family, time in which she actually made herself more likeable towards my parents, and as a token of humanity (I’m guessing here) she even drank a glass of wine with father. After that, we were once again headed for Blanche’s house.
When we got there, Regina was back within her normal “character” acting all bossy and investigative and suspicious, but confident. I remember her change to this day. She always, always did that. Double, triple, quadruple personality. She could change in an instant from very sad to very happy, from very angry to very calm, from really tired to full of energy and so on and so forth. Instantly. Whenever the situation required it, she provided.
In any case what follows next is not easy for me to disclose… I’m still not sure whether I should or shouldn’t because it’s a bit of a gray area for me. It’s about Blanche.
Maybe I should.
When we arrived there Regina entered the house without knocking, without asking permission, without letting anyone know she’s around. She casually entered the house like it was her own, and Blanche, when seeing her, froze.
They didn’t meet that often you see, and for the first time I could see the bond between the maker and the offspring. It shouldn’t be so strong. It’s un-natural. I kept telling myself, and still do to this day, that it shouldn’t be anything special. It doesn’t add up, from a biological point of view, the attachment. But for the first time, I could see that what in Viktoria was long gone, transformed instead into pure submission and respect.
Blanche was just staring at her, without blinking and for a second there I’m pretty sure I saw tears in her eyes. I mean she barely KNEW her but was so happy at the sight of Regina that Dino (from the Flintstones, when seeing Fred) was nothing compared to her.
But instead of pure submission and respect, this was love. This was pure, untamed love and care for her….. I don’t really know what Regina was for her at that time. But I’ll tell you this: the bond that the maker forms with his offspring, that is not easily broken, if ever.
Regina knew. She recognized exactly and was very familiar with what Blanche was experiencing. None of them said anything, until Blanche tried hugging Regina.
“Don’t push it.”
Blanche stopped, but was still having problems controlling her emotions. That wasn’t really a characteristic of a vampire, or Blanche. She was NEVER, EVER emotional, not at that level, with anyone. I mean the girl was entertaining the idea of getting rid of her parents a few days ago…
But enough with that. I just wanted you to understand the bond between maker and offspring, and how it changes in time. How it starts and what it becomes. I also want you to understand that Regina has this bond with all of them. Every single one of them is a descendant of Regina, but the further down you go down the line, the more diluted it becomes, as such, only first degree (her direct offspring) really share a strong connection, as this one, with her.
Regina walked inside the living room where Blanche’s parents were waiting patiently, untied and composing themselves. With one look at them she said: “They can live.”
Her parents were both horrified and tremendously happy with “the decision”. It was that easy for her. That’s how Regina treated life. And you know why? Not because she was a monster. Because she could give it as easily as she could take it. Because when you have the power of destroying while in the same time have the power of creating, they stop looking so special, and you can just exercise them as you please.
Because, if you judge Regina by that logic, then you can also judge any other mother on the face of the Earth. How? By using stupid logic. And the stupid logic here is: The moment a woman gives life to a child, she also condemns him to die in the same time. Because we all die, don’t we? So the one who creates, also destroys, because brining any mortal soul into the world is a sentence to death in itself.
So you see, Regina was no different. She could offer life – be it eternal or saving one in need – or she could take it.
But the parents, they didn’t even know that the option of their demise was ‘on the table’. They were grateful nonetheless, and composed enough to say thank you.
“However, there’s a price.” – Regina added after spirits calmed down.
She was pacing from one corner to the other, until she stopped in front of Blanche.
“Blanche needs to die.” – She said.
I, we all, gasped.
“No. She needs to disappear. Die for you, not actually die.” – She added.
We were still confused.
I approached Regina with the intent of appeasing her, but she didn’t need that. She knew exactly what she wanted, and didn’t let me speak.
“You cannot live as a vampire surrounded by humans who know what you are. We already made that compromise with your two closest friends. Four humans are already too much, and it’s already about time you paid your debt. You knew there was a time when you would need to disappear, from the lives of everyone. That time is now. And rest assured, this moment would have came sooner or later even without my intervention. I say we expedite the process and solve this problem.” Her monologue was over.
We were still looking at her in a very confused way. I couldn’t understand what the hell she meant.
“Tomorrow Blanche will be declared dead, by a legal practitioner, in a car accident that just happened three minutes ago.” She said.
(The accident actually happened much later.)
“You will deny any autopsy and will perform a traditional burial, closed casket because of wounds and everything, or open if you think you can pull that off.” – Regina added.
“Then Blanche will be buried and you’ll never see her again, but she’ll live.” – Regina continued but we were still confused. The idea she was trying to convey was so… alien to us that we just couldn’t wrap our heads around it.
She saw us staring at her and just added casually.
Her parents, naturally, tried opposing and offering all kinds of alternatives but Regina wouldn’t budge. Blanche needed to go, forever. Either now, or five years later, it didn’t matter, because Blanche was still a teenager, and although not a full vampire yet (and still aging) it wouldn’t be long until everybody would notice she didn’t age a bit. Teenagers age rapidly, she didn’t. She had at most three years left to stay, and we all knew it.
“Are you really going to bury me or…?” Blanche intervened.
“Yes. You’ll stay there in a casket and let everyone say their goodbyes, then you’ll be buried and someone will get you out.” Regina said.
And Blanche just… nodded. She actually agreed and trusted Regina with her life. Unbelievable. I wouldn’t let myself buried even if my parents would promise me to get me out, not to mention a girl who I just met not long ago… But then again, Regina did pull me out of a crypt when she didn’t know me at all.
“Don’t worry” – Regina was addressing her parents – “Blanche will live a very, very long life and maybe, just maybe, years from now, depending on how events unfold, you’ll see her again.”
It was a very hard thing to accept for anyone, even for me (although I knew I would see her again), but for her parents? I couldn’t fathom the idea of accepting such a thing as a parent. But they did. And it was done.
The next morning Blanche was declared dead and preparations started to be made. The tradition in Romania dictates that the dead must be kept for three days and three nights inside their house, with someone watching over them at all times. This is a contested tradition with different extensions or modifications depending on the part of the country, but in essence it’s the same. Nobody knows where exactly it comes from, but a few tens of thousands of elders from all the corners of the country in each and every village will somewhat explain that “the dead need to be taken care of so we can be sure they are really dead.”
You need to read this as: “We want to make sure he won’t rise as the undead.” They aren’t afraid that the dead was mispronounced dead and is actually alive, they are afraid the dead might come back to haunt them. Again, see the Petre Toma case, and most importantly, see the movie “Strigoi” – the movie is very good, and although a crude representation of what a vampire is thought to be by some, it shows the “watching over the dead” tradition really well. Bonus points for being a Romanian production, 2009.
Some people play poker on the dead. And I’m not even joking.
I’m not making this stuff up. Go to any Romanian forum, or ask on any website that will give you an answer from someone living in Romania, and they will tell you that this is the way people are traditionally buried in rural Romania. Of course there are morgues and autopsies in bigger towns, where people live in apartments. But in smaller ones, roughly the size of Sighisoara and smaller, the tradition is pretty much alive and few people opt for keeping the dead in a morgue for three days, and instead keep them at home.
But enough with the tradition. Back to Blanche.
The next morning like I said, Blanche was officially declared dead by a medic brought in specially for this, if you know what I mean, and then the next day people started coming in at the house, offering their condolences and everything, hovering above the casket and offering condolences again. Blanche didn’t need to get inside until the day of the burial, which would be performed with an open casket, just before closing it, nailing it shut and walking it to the grave. Everything was by the book and I felt… really awkward. I mean I had heard of fake deaths, and seen a lot of movies, but doing this for a friend, and actually pulling it off, this was something else.
And the accident in which she supposedly died? That was real too, and I don’t really know how Regina took care of it, but she didn’t call anyone or leave my side for too long, I don’t know who contacted her or how this worked, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the first time she did it, or any other vampire for that matter, and I was actually surprised they didn’t have a hotline to call or some “clean-up team”. I was rather confident this was done on a daily basis in the kinship.
Nonetheless, a day before the burial I tried convincing Regina that maybe this wasn’t the best way, that maybe Blanche should stay and enjoy three more years in the town, that maybe, maybe, maybe.
Regina didn’t say much about it really, didn’t agree or disagree. She just casually steered the way (we were having a walk) up the very same steps that we first met. The steps with which this story begins. And as a matter of fact, when I went home this summer, I climbed the same steps and took a video of it.
At the end of those steps, about 50 meters there’s a road to the right at the half of which there’s a big, black, iron gate that marks one of the entrances to the old cemetery. We went in there.
“Regina… I think one cemetery is enough for this week. We’ll be in another one in just two days…” I said while continuing to follow her casually.
She didn’t say anything and just continued walking…
We walked casually, continuing to talk about various things, among which the prevailing topics were who was behind the attack on Blanche… we considered different possibilities but Regina knew better who would have the motive so I didn’t really focus on that.
We also discussed the fact that this was a first, someone attacking a direct offspring of hers, in her own home, without permission, an offspring that wasn’t even fully a vampire yet. By Regina’s calculations, she explained, this broke about every rule in the book, and whoever was behind it, will pay dearly, because this was as personal as it got. To be honest, she seemed to take everything personal.
In any case, the other prevailing topic was the one being pushed by myself, the fact that the idea of Blanche being buried didn’t sit too good in my mind, and I wanted us to discuss alternatives, which we certainly did.
But Regina continued walking, and then she stopped and turned towards me. She waited until I finished talking…
“…and I really think this is un-necessary and you’re just being way too impulsive….” I was saying, when she finally interrupted.
“The problem with humans is that they get too comfortable with their lives and fail to understand that everything changes, and they need to change with it, or become artifacts of the past.” – Regina said.
“And even if Blanche were to stay here, how long do you think it would be until she would be forced to leave because it would become too apparent that she’s not like the others?” – She continued…
“And how do you know that this is better for her, clinging to what once was, rather than looking ahead and preparing for what’s coming?” – She said.
“I would think that of all humans, you would have a better understanding of this. Not because you’re special, don’t flatter yourself. But because you’ve seen the other side of things. You can’t have the cake and eat it too I believe the saying goes, and it’s true. Sometimes. Like now.” – She was still going on in a monologue, but everything she said clicked, and made sense. The more she talked, the better I felt about the situation. But that wasn’t enough for her. Regina was the man with the plan, and she had brought me there for a reason.
“Plus, I wouldn’t do something like this if it weren’t absolutely necessary, and when it is necessary… when life asks you to leave…. you have to leave.” She stopped.
And with that her gaze got lost in the horizon, above my right shoulder… and slowly turned her head to her left… and looked very closely to what was there.
I followed her line of sight… and just when I thought I had seen them all, this thing shocked me more than it should have. The very foundation on which my beliefs about life, death, and the natural order of things, was shaken, by a mere token….
A tombstone.[audio http://k006.kiwi6.com/hotlink/epe1dhpu3d/01_-_prelude.mp3]
“You see my love… sometimes you have to give up what you have and what you love, to continue having them in a different way, in the future… because life… life goes on with or without you anyway.”
And as I laid there with my mouth open, Regina cleared the base of the crypt, and laid the flower that she had with her. One, single, lilac flower. Don’t know where she got it during that season, and there it was. Of all the flowers, of all the colors, of all the smells, she picked lilac. I’m more of a lavender kind of guy.
I still had no words to describe or to respond at what I was seeing and at what she was trying to tell me. I understood everything at that point. Everything that she said earlier, and everything that needed to be done for Blanche.
And laying there staring at an empty grave… I couldn’t help but think…
“The more you know, the more you don’t know” – Aristotle. This guy was on to something.
And there you have it, the story of the city with tombstones for the living.
the town that was once peaceful [story part 31]
September 15, 2012 § 6 Comments
Blanche wasn’t answering her phone and this wasn’t like her. I immediately knew something was up, although not something necessarily bad. I wasn’t that stressed out about it, and this wasn’t a novel. However, something must be going on if Blanche wasn’t answering her phone. Everybody knew that. She was the “phone whisperer”. She was always the one to call all of us, connect the four of us, hold us together, and we relied on her for being available all the time, day or night. She didn’t fail on doing just that. However, Blanche was not exactly Blanche anymore so I didn’t knew what to think of it. I needed to talk to her regardless.
I didn’t leave right away, I figured she might be still sleeping, I patiently waited for nightfall minding my own business, calling Sophia and telling her to meet me at Blanche’s place at around 20:00, she also told me that she tried contacting Blanche and got no answer.
Later on, I got dressed, told my parents where I was going and left in a hurry. Two minutes later I was already regretting the decision of walking over there and not taking a cab. It was freezing as hell.
Nonetheless, by the time I got to the house I was already having three or four scenarios in my head, about how Blanche would react seeing us, if she missed us, how she will behave, if she’s changed and that sort of thing.
I was in front of the house, door wide open. Something is amiss.
I rushed inside the house fearing the worst. I feared Sophia has been hurt. I didn’t even think a second about Blanche being hurt. I already saw her as the invincible one among us.
As soon as I entered the house, sweet sourly and irony smell overwhelmed me. Blood. I knew that smell all too well.
Blood everywhere, blood in the kitchen, blood in the living room, three finger tops cut straight on the table. I got sick. Sick at my stomach, not because of the smell, not because of the sight of three fingers, because of the thought that one of my friends could be hurt. Or worse…
Loud bangs and voices from upstairs. Blood running up the railway, walls, carpets.
I ran upstairs and at the end of the stairs laid Blanche with her throat just ripped apart, barely breathing, if any breathing at all. All fingers in place. It must have been someone elses fingers. A man’s fingers. I knew hear heart was still beating, because there was blood still pumping out of her neck with each heartbeat. I saw her heartbeating you could say. I didn’t knew what to do, which was no surprise.
Take her and run. Go towards the screams and bangs. Decisions, decisions.
I recognized the voices once I got closer, I knew all too well it was Blanche’s parents who were screaming.
Fuck that. I’m out of here. I don’t even want to know who did this, but if it happened to Blanche, then I’m an easy target.
No, said destiny, and pushed me down the stairs, jumping at me from somewhere in the direction of the screams. Destiny was redheaded vampire named… I didn’t ask.
Over the rail, spin, hand at my throat, *thud*.
I felt the hard floor underneath me and that was it. I was out of air. The strength of that fall has taken away my ability to breathe. Just like you first jump into cold water, your body shuts down, your lungs refuse to take in any more air. Your thoracic diaphragm muscle refuses to cooperate anymore.
Above me, mouth wide open, fangs, bloodshot eyes, was a rather skinny redhead man, with a scruff and a burning desire to end me. I don’t need air. I need a mouth guard.
He was between 35 and 40, actually he looked that age, hell knows what was his real age, and he also was a lot stronger than me, that was for sure.
He leaped for my throat, face, shoulder, anything to bite on really, and by instinct I just stuck my hand inside his mouth. Bite on that Lassie.
Ah that was going to leave a scar, like the other one I got in the days where all this started. I think I still have a photo of the latter. Let me see.
Here we go:
The look in his eyes of me not being surprised by what he
is was? Priceless. Offered me the upper hand. He didn’t know, or wasn’t sure of who I was and how come I was making no attempt at running. I guess he was used to people seeing his eyes and fangs, and then immediately proceed on running for their lives. I wanted to do that a minute earlier, but since he changed my mind (read as: threw me from upstairs) I was in for a fight.
I was no match for a true vampire, but this guy, he wasn’t that old. I had learned to sniff them out, based on the look in their eyes, based on the confidence they inspire. He was no assassin, he was no problem fixer. He was more of someone little helper, doing errands and whatnot.
In the begginings I always pondered about how is it that vampires immediately know amongst themselves who is older than who, but now I was starting to get the hang of it. Given, it could be faked, if wanted. You could fake you’re younger, anytime, but rarely managed to pull of a strategy to make you seem much older than you actually were.
Willpower, composure, luck, call it what you want, but countless hours of training with Regina were kicking in, and I felt I had a chance there.
Aim for the eyes. Aim for the eyes. – Regina’s voice – In my head.
I punched him in the nose, with my forehead, and with that he let go of my left arm to push my face back down. That was all I needed. A left arm and two fingers. With the guy almost blind for a few seconds, I managed to get my bearings, stood up and ran for it.
I was aiming for the back door of the kitchen, but the knife on the table was just too out in the open and too good to be true. He was right behind me, one more second and I would had been under him again.
Run, hand on the table, knife. Leap, turn – don’t think. Aim. Instinct. Hear. He’s there. Do it. In a leap and a turn around, I grabbed the knife and did a full 180 degrees turn with it without stopping running. Rambo style, I was scared shitless. So scared I even had my eyes closed the whole time.
Missed? Open your eyes. The knife was deep inside his chest, heart missed. There was no surprise there, I wasn’t even aiming for anything.
He was holding tight to my hand on the knife and trying to leap towards me to bite on something, but I kept moving backwards and backwards, and he kept reaching with his free arm for my head.
He tried punching or clawing me, but I dodged and at that moment I remembered what Regina always told me during fights. I’m too stubborn. That was indeed a fault. Most people, they hold on to their only weapon. They try getting it back. They don’t let go. They are stubborn. I was part of the ‘most people’.
I realized I wasn’t going to take that out and hit with it again. That was just not possible. I let go, barred his left hand with my newly freed right hand, while still facing him, and put myself in Regina’s shoes. How does she do it? How does she fight?
- Make use of the environment.
- Have the upper ground.
- Be the attacker. Even if you’re being attacked.
- Scream. Scream at the attacker. Intimidate your opponent.
Are you kidding me? I’m not prepared to fight a grown up man, vampire for that matter.
Nonetheless, after barring his left hand I turned around and ended behind him. I remember letting go at that point. For the first time, I let go with my mind. I wasn’t in control, mentally. Not anymore. Let your instincts flow.
To be honest, it would have been a nice memory, if it wasn’t for that tiny detail, someone trying to kill you.
I let go and felt a rush through my whole body.
I grabbed a drawer, pulled it out completely, used it as a shield while backing down. I gave that drawer up too. Jumped over the counter, turned, stumbled, fell, got up and of course… he was still after me.
- Be the attacker.
Lids. Yes. Lids saved my life.
One by one I threw three lids at him like frisbee discs, they were by no means meant to hurt anyone, just putting him off guard. And for the first time, I advanced towards him while he was advancing towards me. I screamed my lungs out. I roared. I made little girls noises and I felt like William Wallace (Braveheart). I had no idea what I was doing, but I wasn’t in control anymore. I threw myself upon him, we rolled over and in the pile of kitchen utensils left over from when I pulled out the drawer, there was a knife sharpener, that was pretty much like a stake. Long, thin, but not sharp. I grabbed that in my hand and then I gave up.
I went limp, stopped, tired, neck showing. Everything according to plan. Sure enough, a second later he stuck his fangs deep inside my shoulder and not neck. Good boy. I also stuck something of my own in him. Yes, the knife sharpener. When he was least expecting it, straight behind his head, right in the sweet spot where the skull (the literal bone) begins.
He went limp in under a second, and I felt his full weight over me.
He was dead, or dying, or paralyzed. I didn’t care. It was over.
I pushed him over and ran straight upstairs to Blanche.
Now I have to tell you, this couldn’t have taken more than one minute. It might seem a long thing, but in the midst of it, things were going so quickly that eyes could barely track the whole ordeal. Black on white it sounds like a big story, as I now see it, but being there, it was a heartbeat.
“I need more training”, I remember I was thinking as I ran up the stairs, that and “I hope she’s alive”.
By the time all this ‘happening’ ended, Blanche’s parents were opening the door from the room they locked themselves into, the master bedroom, the room into which this guy was trying to enter.
Blanche was still on the floor, unconscious, not breathing anymore and her heart had stopped. Dead by any definition.
I was over her, shaking her violently to wake up, her parents screaming (still? really?) and not approaching. You would think that it’s like in the movies, when a parent sees his child in such a state he immediately jumps over to try and help him, but in reality it’s not like that. The horror that your child might be dead puts an invisible barrier between you, as a parent, and the child. You just don’t want to face reality, and that’s as human as it gets.
We humans don’t want to face reality, we don’t want to face anything bad or anything that might disrupt our lives. We want it to continue as better as possible, and we refuse to acknowledge the truth before it is too late.
No matter, Blanche was still there and Sophia was just coming inside the house, she had just arrived and was trying to make heads or tails of what happened.
Blanche couldn’t be dead. This can’t happen. Not to her. This was the second time me and Sophia were seeing Blanche with her throat open, dead by all means.
Sophia had tears in her eyes even before seeing Blanche I think, and she immediately dropped to her knees besides her when she saw Blanche.
They have been friends since… forever, since they were born, not even a month apart, they had been there for one another. Friends, forever, a textbook definition. And they really were friends, not the kind you see all the time, friends for a while but arguing for everything in the long run, and then just loosing touch with each other. No, they really were friends, the true kind of friend that’s there whenever you need him, the kind of friend that when you’re with, you feel more comfortable than being just by yourself.
Few things are more powerful than friendship, maybe love, maybe not even that. But you know one that isn’t? Insanity.
They (I don’t know who) say that only the truly insane can bite themselves until they bleed, that you cannot make a conscious, sane decision to do that, that your instincts forbid you from doing so, and no sane person is able to bite themselves until they bleed. In the same way that you cannot hold your breath until you die.
But Sophia did just that. With one look at me, realizing I was bleeding from all over, shoulder, neck, hand, a leg… She realized I was in no position in giving up even more blood. And she was right.
She took her wrist to her mouth and just bit as hard as she could, screaming and squirming in the process, tears in her eyes, which were wide-shut, but couldn’t hold back the tears either way.
Blanche’s parents watching in horror, she took her wrist to Blanche’s mouth and shoved it inside, and then looked at me. I knew what she wanted. Do something, anything, help me.
With two hands on Blanche’s chest, I pushed so hard trying to make her heart beat once again, just for a second even, that in the process I broke all her ribs, or at least it felt like it, because I could hear cracking all over. I didn’t stop. I didn’t care. I knew that if even for a second Blanche could be alive, the instincts would take over.
All I heard was a quick but loud gasp from Sophia, and then saw her smile. Blanche started drinking.
Her parents were watching in horror, couldn’t figure out what was happening, but seeing Blanche move they dared to approach and then look in horror, frozen there besides her, looking and looking at how she was draining Sophia, at her eyes, deep dark red swirling inside of them, glowing, glittering – reigniting the spark that we call life. Good girl.
Her wounds were deep, and were not healing, not visibly at least, not as fast as a full vampire’s would, but she wasn’t bleeding anymore. She drained Sophia dry, and Sophia fainted. Ten seconds or less after that, I fainted too. I was out. All that was still keeping me conscious was the tought of Blanche dying, and with that solved, I could let go and so I did. Adrenaline had left me.
“Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.”
Epicurus, you lying bastard. Here I was, realizing I’m dying, death has come, and I still am. I know that’s not what he meant and I understand the true meaning of that quote, but being right there, in that situation, feeling life flowing away from you, didn’t seem that death wasn’t anywhere else but right there above me.
I woke up to screaming. Again.
As soon as I flinched, Blanche was above me, helping me get up.
“Good! You’re up! Thank you!” Blanche said in a loud voice, trying to cover the screaming of her parents.
“I can’t get them to shut up!” she added while looking annoyed at the loud screams.
When I looked in the direction of the screaming, there they were, both her parents tied up on the sofa, squirming around trying to break loose and screaming their heads off. Good thing they had this remote (mostly) house. Scream as you will, carry on.
“Blanche, what the fuck, who tied them?”
“I did. They were trying to run. I don’t know what to do. I can’t kill them. I can’t keep them alive either. I can’t turn them. They know what I am. What now?”
“Are you seriously thinking about murdering your own parents?” I said.
“Of course not. What the hell, no. But I’m… I don’t know. Help?” Blanche responded in a louder tone and sounding a bit angrier.
Ughh… I had to sit down. I was dizzy as hell, cold and sweating. I sat down next to her parents.
“I’ll set you free if you promise to stop screaming and agree to drink a tea with me. What do you say?” I asked both of them.
They both nodded frantically and just stopped moving, screaming, or saying anything. Good.
Sophia was already on it – thats why I asked – she got up apparently before I did, and even though she could barely stand on her feet, she was making a huge pot of tea with industrial quantities of sugar. Apparently we needed that. I didn’t object. I wasn’t this thirsty in my whole life. Only two hours had past I noticed, the clock was nearing 22:30.
And we all sat down and tried explaining what had just happened, even though we had no idea. We tried explaining to Blanche’s parents what she is and what’s going to happen. We told them she’s not a vampire, not yet, but not human entirely either.
We told them than in less than two or three years, their daughter will be human no more.
They were well aware of everything. There’s not a single person in Transylvania who doesn’t know the difference between a vampire (a strigoi) and a half-breed or the child of a vampire (a moroi).
They were pretty religious, although not stupid nor irrational. And when it comes to the general population in Transylvania, old traditions and myths take precedence over religion. That said, remember the Petre Toma case I presented earlier? About the family that digged up their relative, pulled his heart out, burned it and made a drink out of the ashes? Would you consider that religious? No, not really. However they were all religious people, fearing god and all that. One of them was a lawyer, one a doctor. Still religious, and no matter how religious they were, tradition, myth or belief in vampires still took precedence.
This was the case here. It wasn’t a case of “this can’t be true” it was more of a case of “this can’t be happening to us”.
At the time they seemed to take it pretty well, although still looking at their daughter like it was the devil himself, but in the end realizing it is their daughter and nobody else.
We decided not to untie them, tea can wait.
“Mother, father, I’m still me. There’s nothing different about me. I ate breakfast with you this morning.” Blanche said.
“YES AND TWO HOURS AGO YOU ATE SOPHIA!” her father blurted out. Sophia smiled. She was just that giddy. After all we’ve been through, she still held on to her joyful state of being. Always smiling, always Sophia. She’s still the same you know, I saw her this summer. Still smiling. Good for her.
“Yes, that’s true, but would you rather have me dead?” Blanche responded.
They didn’t answer. They weren’t sure.
We stayed up almost all night, until we (Sophia and I) almost passed out again. We eventually did go to sleep, and Blanche’s parents were still tied up the second day.
When we woke up the two of them were still sleeping on the couch, tied up, and Blanche was sleeping in her room. Sophia was already up and about (again) and in the kitchen apparently making breakfast. Old habits die hard.
I called home and told my parents I had spent the night here and then untied Blanche’s parents.
“She’s sleeping. Don’t freak out.” I told them. And they listened.
After this it gets a bit boring, until three days later when I realized I was still missing my necklace and I had no idea where it is, how to get it back, and where the hell was Viktoria when we needed her.
Blanche healed rather quickly but I didn’t. The thought of my necklace missing made me weak and sick, and I don’t know to this day if it’s self-induced auto-suggestion, if I’m crazy, or what else is going on, but a week without that necklace and I can’t even breathe properly anymore – I just grew up with it. Don’t you have something you care for really, really, really much? Like a ring, a watch, or something else. Something really important for you that only the thought about losing it makes you sick and makes your heart skip a beat.
That, coupled with my wounds still awfully painful and not closed, and a serious lack of blood, anemia 120%, I wasn’t really in a good shape. My parents cared for me every day and for the first time I heard my father saying something along the lines of this needs to stop, although not so directly. He wasn’t keen on seeing his son with wounds on him all the time that’s for sure.
So what had just happened there? Well, I had three days to think about it, by myself, and in those three days none of us spoke to each other, until the fourth night when the story starts again…
We were under attack. By a vampire. In our own homes. That has never, ever happened. Not until that time. The kinship knew pretty well Blanche was a direct descendant of Regina. Nobody would dare attack her. Nor me. But here we were, both a step away from death. We were in this life because we felt secure, we didn’t feel threatened and we didn’t feel we’re part of a movie or a crime novel.
This has never happened under her reign. This has never happened to her offspring. Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?