August 15, 2013 § 5 Comments
I got up and before having the time to wipe that stupid expression off my face which I got every time something like this happened, Regina sat down on her knees and leaned forward and picked Sigismund up. Viktoria was still behind him also kneeling down looking at Regina.
They were ignoring me, and I decided to keep my mouth shut for the moment. I retreated in the background without a peep.
Regina leaned closer to Sigismund and said in a low, calm voice:
“Over 150,000 days I walked this Earth up and down, back and forth.”
“I searched for you. I searched for him (referring to me I suppose?) and then I gave up. It was all a lie that you told me. There is no greater order of things. There is no order at all. It’s all chaos! Nobody knows what the hell we’re doing, but we are. We are doing something.”
“150,000 days…” She put her head down and just went silent for a full minute.
“150,000 days and just as many…”
“Just as many hearts, sons and daughters, hearts stopped by these hands and these…” And she elevated her head once again.
Her fangs were fully extended. Her eyes were black and flowing with red, injected and tired, mixed with tears that she held back and with anger. Oh she was pissed, but spoke calm.
I was already thinking I shouldn’t be there. I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to hear a head count.
“And for what?” She continued.
“Viktoria? She lost count long, long ago of the souls THAT I MADE her take. Long ago.” Viktoria’s face was still blank. She didn’t care.
“You lied. And you are still doing it.” She continued.
“No, no I didn’t.” Sigismund added.
“Then tell me, what’s so important that would have you rather spend 400 years trapped in a block of ice than being what you are supposed to be. What I am for Viktoria and what EVERY – SINGLE – VAMPIRE is for their offspring?”
“Don’t worry. I made sure NO vampire steps into this life without at least one person to rely on. At least ONE SINGLE PERSON that she can trust.”
Yeah, Regina was talking about herself.
“You left me with a religious myth, a promise and the hunger to bleed dry an entire village. Which I promptly did !”
“But you wouldn’t know that, would you?! No, because you cowardly ran…”
“So tell me, did you really think I’m here to be your liberator?”
“The world has changed, a lot. And you clearly have no intention to adapt, no idea how to adapt, nor do you want me – nor even you – around.”
“I built an empire. AN EMPIRE based on every single value opposed to yours.”
“Look.” She stood up and took him to the window.
“You see that? There are thousands of us out there.” She said as she pointed towards the greater area of Moscow.
“And hundreds of thousands more across the continent. Soon millions across the globe.”
I could see Sigismund’s face going blank. He was scared shitless, but not of Regina. No. Something about the number of vampires in the world made him shiver from within his very core. I was intrigued.
“There is no greater purpose. No good or bad. Nobody to rule over me or to make me do anything that I don’t want to.”
“And after all that, you still have the guts to tell me that it’s wrong. That I can’t. That I won’t. That I shouldn’t ??!”
“It doesn’t matter what you think or what you want. You don’t believe me? That’s great. Then tell me: Why him?” Sigismund asked, and looked towards me.
“Take the necklace away. Throw it away. Let’s see then how that goes.”
“Have you even STOPPED to think for a second that the only reason you’re still able to walk around wherever you want, do whatever you want, is because it’s only now that you found what you were looking for?”
“And you know damn well what you – what WE need to do.”
“Because this is the worst position we can possibly be in. Almost.”
Regina fell silent for a second.
“I don’t care!” She shrieked. Let’s see what happens! Let me show you that the two of us (referring to herself and Viktoria) are stronger than all of you ever were, in the entire history of our kind. You let yourselves be walked over time and time again. Controlled like little cage rats. For what?”
“Let me show you for what!”
Regina came towards me, ripped the necklace off my neck and threw it out the window. I yelled and I protested and all that, but I won’t bore you with any of the details. It was futile anyway. It was gone and I was fucked.
“For nothing.” She added, ad stopped.
I knew very well why I always wore that necklace. Didn’t need another demonstration.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I yelled.
Sigismund started laughing like a maniac. I ignored him.
“You know damn well I need that!” I continued
“No, no you don’t!” Regina replied.
“Yeah, I know exactly what you’re thinking. And that’s not gonna happen. Not like this. I’m never going to say yes if you force me too.” I replied.
Upon hearing that, Sigismund started laughing even harder.
“Oh, that’s good. You ask for permission now?!” He asked and continued laughing.
“You know, you’re really starting to piss me off with that threat…” Viktoria added from the corner, directed at me.
“Why don’t you do something about it?” I answered, as sarcastically as I could. That was a mistake.
“Alright, alright…” Regina said.
“Well then Sigismund. You know what I want from you.” Regina continued.
“Start from the beginning. Everything that you never told me, now it’s your chance.”
“I already told you everything I know. Have a few of your own. Then find someone like I found you. Pass it on, and then that’s it for you, and your offspring. That’s how is supposed to be.” Sigismund answered.
“Yes, yes. That’s not what I want to hear.” Regina said.
“Everything. From the beginning.” She added.
Silence, blank stares and sadness. Nothing more, nothing less.
“I’ll get to the bottom of it somehow even without you telling me.” Regina added.
“You don’t have time.” Sigismund answered.
“We’ll see about that.” Regina replied as she went into the bathroom smiling.
She came out with a first-aid kit, placed it in front of Sigismund who was looking puzzled at it thinking it’s some kind of torture device maybe. She pulled out a syringe from there, stuck it in his neck and filled it with blood.
He didn’t even flinch.
“Now that I have what I need to get started… it won’t be long.” She continued.
What the hell was she on about? I felt again like I felt the very first day I met her. The more I thought I knew, the less I actually did.
“Viktoria.” Regina said as she gave her a look and nothing else.
“Let’s go.” She looked at me and left the room.
I wanted to complain about 1000 different things. I still remember that probably it was one of the times I felt so tired I just wanted to have a heart attack right then and there.
“Where are we going?” I asked as I rushed to catch her down the hallway like a confused kid.
June 15, 2013 § 19 Comments
I thought about what went on in that room, but I couldn’t really give it more than 10 minutes of my time. I ate everything that I could get my hands on and anything that was offered to me, found an empty bunk bed in a corner under a warm, big, smelly pipe and fell asleep, or rather completely passed out.
I slept for 16 hours straight without waking up for even a second. After I had woken I was pretty sure I had at least a general idea of how Sigismund must have felt when he too woke up two days prior.
In any case, we still had 16 hours or so more to go. We were headed to Novy Port, a small port inside mainland Russia, down a huge river (Ob) and inside a huge bay. The whole trip took just over 30 hours, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I went to check the cabin where I last saw Regina and Sigismund, but it was completely empty as if nobody was ever there. I panicked for just a few seconds, because like it or not, a lonely ship sailing above the arctic circle is a pretty vulnerable place to be for someone like Regina. I quickly went to the upper deck and there they were, both of them, sitting at a table like they were on a pleasure cruise.
“Ahh, so he returns from the dead.” Sigismund said.
“We tried waking you…” Regina intervened.
“You need so much sleep. Like babies.” Sigismund added.
Now, by this point, it was already obvious to both me and Regina that he had more respect for a pet than for a human, especially for me. He wasn’t like the others, he wasn’t like Regina.
“Look who’s talking. And what the hell do you know about babies anyway?” I responded.
“Sit.” Regina said, and smiled.
The ship pulled in the port and things were getting back to ‘normal’. A car was waiting at the docks, empty, no driver but Regina went straight for it, hopped in, keys in contact, already warmed up. This was the way I remembered we left things.
Sigismund on the other hand was left way behind. He stopped every 10 meters and lost his gaze upon common things. The pavement, the gray metal cranes on the dock, powerful lights shining down the docks, etc. I guess the adaptation is not as good as we might see it in the movies. He was amazed, emotional, ecstatic, observant and excited in the same time.
The car was just the last drop. The moment we drove off he was… I can’t describe that expression properly. A kid that sees a theme park for the first time, maybe. The typical questions always included “How?” “Why?” “When?” and “How?” again.
We only drove for about 20km from where we were picked off by a small 4-seat helicopter. Now that was the interesting part of the day for Sigismund. The moment that thing went airborne Sigismund turned white. He couldn’t believe his eyes. I’d love to detail the discussions that we had, but at this point it was nothing more than just asking for random explanations about random common things and stopping in between for more assurances about how this is not going to fall down from the sky.
We flew for about 3 hours south to Nyagan Airport in central Russia, from where we stepped off and took a small private jet to Moscow. Sigismund was almost in Nirvana by now, he just switched from a steel ship to a car then to a helicopter and then a plane all in the same day, without knowing that they even existed prior to that. If time-travel was possible, then Sigismund came damn close to the feeling one might experience when time traveling that day.
Regina dozed off in an instant. We were safe. Plus, flying always made her tired. Even when flying commercially, 10 minutes after take-off she would doze off as if struck by a heart attack.
I went to take a shower. I was expecting this for weeks. You would not imagine the state in which all three of us were. By the time I got out not even 15 minutes later everything was going to hell. The nice lady that left clothes for me was already half-dead, drained by Sigismund. Regina was still sleeping and the plane, fortunately on auto-pilot, was now without a pilot, because Sigismund took care of that too.
He felt insulted because the pilot told him to go back and stay out of the cockpit. None of them were dead, neither the flight attendant nor the pilot, but they weren’t going to wake-up soon.
“What the…? Sigismund what happened?” I shrieked and he smiled.
“You idiot! Not the pilot! Who’s going to land this now?” I shouted.
“What do you mean?” He answered.
“Look, we’re still doing great without him.” He added.
Oh.. the naivety.
“Sigismund, this thing is going at over 500 mph.” I added.
Not a flinch for him.
“That’s over 450 knots.” I explained.
“Impossible.” Sigismund finally acknowledged.
“No, very possible. That’s the speed we’re doing. Look out the window. See that? That’s ‘almost Moscow’ already.” I added.
“Somebody needs to stop this, take it down, put out the wheels, step on the breaks and land it. See all those buttons? The only person that knows what to do with them is lying right there on the floor!” I was shouting by this point, and Sigismund was slowly realizing we might have a slight problem.
All the fuss woke up Regina.
“Morons…” She casually walked past us and straight into the pilot’s place. She closed the door behind her.
Five minutes later the plane turned a hard left and started descending. I went inside the cockpit and sat behind her. I think this was the first time I caught a glimpse of the bigger picture of things in her life and around her. She signaled me to sit in the copilot’s seat. I put on the headphones and laid back.
“RX11 Oversight, contacting Moscow approach on 121.4. Authentication XXX XXX XXX XXX XXX”
“Stand-by RX11 Oversight.”
“Authentication acknowledged RX11 Oversight.”
She then switched what I believe is the frequency, because she was talking with someone else, in Russian this time. I couldn’t make everything from the discussion, but much of it was technical and absent from any ‘street Russian’ and was actually easier to understand.
“Moscow approach, RX11 Oversight, Level 1 inbound.”
“Please repeat that RX11 Oversight.”
“Level 1 inbound.”
I can swear what I heard next was hesitation and weakness of the voice of the controller. I can swear he knew who he was actually speaking with.
“Aaaa, RX11 Oversight. Please confirm.”
“XXX XXX XXX XXX XXX Red. Assistance upon landing required. Inbound 15 minutes.”
“Level 1 Confirmed. Welcome to Moscow!”
“Moscow approach, RX11 Oversight, level 12,000 feet.”
“RX11 Oversight, Moscow approach, turn right, heading 2-2-0.”
“Right to 2-2-0. Down to 8,000, RX11 Oversight.”
“RX11 Oversight, cleared runaway 1-6-left. Intercept (something) 1-6-left.”
“RX11 Oversight, contacting Moscow tower 123.9.”
Then the conversation switched back in English.
“Moscow tower, RX11 Oversight cleared to land on 1-6-left.”
“Confirmed. Cleared for landing on 1-6-left RX11 Oversight.”
After this the landing gear came out and the buttons started flying and I saw Regina take down the thing. She made it seem easier than anything we’ve ever done together, not that I was a part of this.
Sigismund either didn’t care or had no idea how lucky we were that one of us had an idea what to do because this could have ended very, very differently. I don’t care what movies you saw, nobody would survive a missed landing in this thing. Nobody.
As we walked out of the plane, Regina told me “Next time, keep a watch on him.” Which made me think, in what universe was I able to keep a watch on someone like him? But then again, maybe he wasn’t what I thought he was, and Regina knew better. I decided to stick with her instincts for the moment, and put my prejudice aside.
Two people and two cars were waiting on the runway.
“Inside.” Regina said as we left. The two people walked inside the plane but I saw everyone walk out safely out of the airplane just before we climbed inside the car.
“Good thing I was in the neighborhood.” A familiar voice said as soon as we climbed inside the car.
I looked closely and Viktoria was shining a bright smile from the passenger seat.
“Viktoria!” I exclaimed. I was genuinely happy to see her. She didn’t acknowledge me much, except a quick top-to-bottom look towards both me and Regina.
“Rough trip?” She asked.
“You have no idea.” Regina answered.
“Who’s the guest?” Viktoria asked.
“Oh, hello…” Sigismund quickly jumped into action, brought back from his dream world in which he spent every single second since we touched civilization, examining every single thing and being amazed even by the glass from which the car windows were made of.
“I believe you’re Viktoria?” He said and Viktoria nodded.
“Then I must be your grandfather.” Sigismund said.
Regina smiled towards her and Viktoria was in awe. She couldn’t believe her eyes. She jumped from the passenger seat “Move!” she exclaimed to me as she made room for herself inching closer to Sigismund.
“Ahh but this is too good to be true…” She said as she touched Sigismund and looked to Regina.
I took the passenger seat instead and left them with their little reunion, but I felt Regina’s eyes on the back of my head a couple of times. I knew when something was wrong, I learned to read it in her eyes and her smile.
Her eyes were piercing, not soft as they usually were, and her smile was fake, not the one that would mesmerize anyone. Viktoria knew also, she knew from the second we stepped of that plane. I didn’t see it right there, except later when I thought about it, but they had their own little plan going on based on two smiles and three looks.
The car pulled in front of a rather small but nice hotel. I was expecting the same hotel as last time, but this time we were staying at the Metropol Hotel Moscow. I still looked like a homeless person, not to mention Regina and Sigismund but we waltzed inside without anyone as much as turning a head.
Regina was in front, then Sigismund, then me and then Viktoria. We went straight to the room and as soon as we entered the room and the door closed behind us all hell broke loose.
I was pushed aside and managed to break a small table in the process, Regina just took a seat and relaxed and Viktoria…
Viktoria jumped on Sigismund and violently pinned him to the ground.
November 29, 2012 § 12 Comments
A month later pretty much all the paperwork was done.
“I hate flying…” Regina said as we boarded the plane.
After a rather short flight we landed in Moscow.
Russia. Again. I wondered why didn’t we go the other way more often, not that I have anything against Russia, but I’d rather not go into a Moscow during the winter, and yet there we were, going not only to Moscow, but someplace much worse.
It took us another three full days to get there.
“That’s it. This is as far as we can go. From here we walk.” Regina said as she started gathering things from around her and preparing to get out of the car. I couldn’t read in Russian properly, but I could work-out we were in an almost deserted town-port, later I had found it was the Novyy Port.
I wasn’t so keen on opening any doors, windows, getting out or leaving the nice warm micro-climate we had going there. We were basically descending into hell. Once that door was opened, there was no more warmth, no more comfort, just pure frozen hell.
Regina looked at me with a blank expression, as if she was looking through me…
“Are we ready?” She asked.
“You tell me. I have zero idea what I’m doing here. There’s nothing here and we’re searching for someone… that has been gone for a long time. Nothing can survive here Regina. Nothing. Let’s just go back.” She didn’t say anything, but clearly we weren’t going anywhere back.
“For how long do you reckon this food will last you?” She asked looking to her right. On our backseat we had loads and loads of backpacks all filled with nothing but food and clothes. Lots of food. Human food.
“I don’t know, ten days maybe? In normal conditions I guess. But in this cold and with you on my throat I might eat a lot more.” I answered.
“Me too.” She added. I didn’t like that. Like she used to say, “not one bit”.
A boat took us across what seemed to me an entire sea, I was literally thinking we were heading into the north pole and Regina wouldn’t say where we were going. I went anyway. The crossing of took us more than five days although it should have taken one and as soon as we got on the boat we immediately regretted, both of us, that we didn’t board an ice-breaker.
There aren’t many ships lying around that area, and this one shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but after the first 3 hours of continuous walking through the Siberian town port in search for that very ship, the crew of which were more than happy to see us, we were both thankful for a small break. We took the time to sleep. We needed as much sleep as we could, at least I did. I was almost always tired no matter how much I slept or ate. Nothing interesting happened on the boat except sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating… and then getting off the boat without eating. Smart.
As soon as we got off the boat, on the shore of that god forsaken island, I realized that we were alone. Alone in the world. There was nothing around us for maybe hundreds of kilometers except ice, snow and yet more ice. And mountains. This was both heaven and hell in the same time.
“Shut up and grab the rope already!” Regina shouted at me from the top of a 20 meter cliff which she climbed and then threw a rope down to help me climb it too, but I was too busy making sure I explained to her how this was a really bad idea. The whole thing, not just the rope.
This would be one of the many such climbing expeditions, although I’m no climbing expert and those were no mountains. I just held on really tight, pulled myself whenever I got the chance, otherwise pushed with my feet, and Regina pulled from above. I’m fairly heavy and she’s fairly small but she had no problems in hoisting me up faster than you could say “Shit! That’s high.”
We couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 hours in the cold before we had to take our first break. We saw the opportunity to get cover from the merciless winds and took advantage of it.
We were both so cold we could barely speak anymore. In front of us laid a makeshift cave of sorts, more of a hole carved in the side of a rock, we ducked in there, lined everything with snow wherever we could and pulled a synthetic fabric over the whole thing. Even though we were both already hungry with over 48 hours of no food for Regina and nearly 24 hours for me, and with the blistering cold and the walk we just had, even with all that, we still had the power to smile to one another and be optimistic for the rest of the journey.
One thought lingered in both of our minds, the thought of going back because we might just die there, the both of us. There was no escape and no salvation, not even for a being such as Regina. Blood is life and without it – without me – she would be as vulnerable – if not more – than myself. But alas, we were prepared. We were both, combined, carrying over 40kg of supplies ranging from cooking utensils (a basic pot and a mini-gas burner) to spices, among others. Yes, spices. If you’re going to die, you might as well go in style.
I fired up the burner to prepare some food for me – and after I ate and got warm enough – for her too, indirectly. I was her mini-burner and cooking utensils and spices, all-in-one. Pretty convenient if you ask me. Vulnerable, but convenient.
We were almost soaking wet on the outside. As the temperature inside our little hut got to a bearable -10 degrees, we unclothed the first layer and held each other tighter than you could hug your own mother. I slowly felt her turning up her own afterburner, and although she usually was colder than me, she was now burning red. I knew she was trying to keep me warm and I could see her focus on squeezing out everything she had. I don’t know even to this day whether it was the fact that my skin had spent so much time in the cold and now even the least bit of warmth felt like burning, or if she really was that warm, but my skin was tingling with a burning sensation and it felt heavenly.
Later, I would write about this moment in my journal:
When we kiss, your lips still tingle and burn with all of the passion as before, your touch is still fire to my skin. The way your eyes gaze back into mine shows me two things: the love that you feel for me, and the hate that resides just beneath the surface. The hate that you have for me because of what I am and you can never be again. You miss that and I can see it in your eyes. Make no mistake, that is the only thing that keeps you strong – the love you have for who I am – the love and your longing for your lost humanity.
I had no experience in things like these. Up until then I was not into any type of survival situation, ever. I had no idea what supplies would I need, what things would I need to know about survival, I relied mostly on Regina knowing that. I had to learn everything anyway, step by step, before the journey and continuing after. One thing was for sure: I was prepared, physically. I had feverishly trained each and every day and if there was someone prepared to face that cold, it was me.
I was never squeamish about the cold, and although where we were at that time was pretty cold, it didn’t go far from what I was accustomed to. I grew up in Transylvania, and Transylvania has a climate that can make anyone dizzy. It’s nice and fuzzy year round, with four distinct seasons, nothing out of the ordinary compared to the rest of Europe, however there are, just like in the surrounding territories, some small exceptions. The continental climate makes it prone to really hot and dry summers, with sub-Saharan winds arriving on the south-western part of the country and with temperatures in bigger cities firing up in those really hot few days during the summer up to 45, if not even more at street level, made entirely out of black tar, asphalt. It melts. Every summer, it melts.
However in the winters, in the region that I grew up, you experience really harsh winters. Not even 25km away from Sighisoara lies the township of Miercurea Ciuc, known for its beer, high population of Hungarian speaking Romanians, but also for its temperatures, because it is here where winter always announces its arrival, and it is here where temperatures plunge, in those dark winter nights, sometimes to as low as -30 with records of -35. Boiling water, if thrown in the air, falls down as ice-crystals by the time it reaches the ground. Freezing a cup of water on the window sill will take you less than 2 minutes. That is the dark face of Transylvania. It kills the unaccustomed, silently and fast.
Nevertheless, even being slightly accustomed to the cold, like I said, I wasn’t really in the know-how about supplies and the art of survival. Sure, I had read a few interesting books (which I can provide if you want) and that helped tremendously.
My supplies of food were something like this:
A lot of sweets, mainly power-bars and pure sugar. This was reserved as a last resort, high calorie intake, fast burn, readily available, fairly light.
3kg of high-fat cured and smoked salmon meat, ready to be eaten as-is, resistant to freezing (as in it can be consumed even frozen, like beef jerky if you want), very tasty and easily cooked if preferred to be eaten with anything else. Salted heavily.
5 tubes of different types of multi-vitamins, solvable in water or pill-based, both types, ranging from every single type of mineral and vitamin that the human body needs to function properly. This kind of stash would have lasted me at least 2 months under normal conditions, but I figured better to be on the safe-side. I wasn’t going to risk vitamin poisoning by taking too many, but they might (and did) come in handy.
Soup. Packaged, instant soup. This has little caloric intake as you might be aware, but is easily prepared and it beats tea in these conditions. All I needed was snow, the burner and this. Combined with a multi-vitamin and a power-bar, this made for a fast food intake, it was light and I could bring as much as I wanted. I did.
Spices – I don’t eat spicy, but I brought a lot of chilli anyway – I figured that between vodka and pepper and chilli, the latter would be a wiser choice.
Basically all of that, including the cooking utensils weighted about 10kg, so that was all the food. I estimated it to last me for at least 7 days. It didn’t.
The human body consumes twice the calories under such cold temperatures, and the fact that I was feeding someone else too didn’t help with preserving energy.
We must had dozed off for at least 10 minutes with the burner on – not a good start, but I woke up and Regina was already smiling at me.
“Well someone’s in a good mood…” I said as I was getting up in a sitting position.
“I made soup!” She exclaimed.
“Oh thanks…” I said.
“Wait. When was the last time you cooked?” I asked.
“Well, I can’t remember, so that might answer your question, but I wouldn’t really call this cooking, so it doesn’t count. Here, drink this.” She responded as she pushed the soup towards me. It smelled better than life itself.
I drank all of it, almost a liter of it, and then like I said, ate a power-bar and took a multi-vitamin and I was already feeling warmer, stronger and more energetic.
I turned off the mini-burner and it went completely dark.
Between me and you, this might just be the scariest experience one can imagine, but for me it was one of the most beautiful.
I was warm, comfortable, tired and ready to go to bed and the only thing that I wanted most in this world was right besides me. The only sound that one could hear there was the sound of our breath, and nothing else. Not even the wind which had seemed to calm down over the night.
I turned my back to Regina and let her creep up to me, encompassing me between her arms and legs all around me like a black window spider ready to strike. I know this might paint a dark picture of that, but it’s just for the sake of the story. In reality, all of this was set long-before, and we both knew pretty well what each of us needs and we offered it happily and were sad if we were even denied the chance to offer it, like a mother who would offer her own… everything for the sake of her child.
I let her take me in her arms once again, and in the dead dark of the sub-arctic night, I slowly turned my head and leaned it forward, I felt her lips creeping up slowly, touching the bottom of my neck and working their way up. I knew exactly where they would stop, and I shuddered with pleasure just at the thought of it. I pushed my body back into hers in a gesture of “I am yours” and then I felt nothing. I fell asleep and I let my body for hers to take. I wanted nothing more, nothing less, than to be a part of her in any way that I could.
A baby crying. I woke up to the sound of a baby crying.
What in the world was a baby doing here. This was surreal.
I flinched and then I suddenly opened my eyes.