the red queen [story part 40]
November 7, 2012 § 3 Comments
With actually knowing now that Regina was coming back, I started getting more and more energy to actually do stuff. I still couldn’t believe how much just the mere thought could affect me in every way. Not good, not good at all I remember I thought to myself. Nobody should have that much influence over others, should they?
So I did what any self-respecting person would do when expecting a vampire walking in their house at any point in the middle of the night.
I started wide opening the windows before going to sleep of course. It was summer after all, I didn’t need any ulterior reasons, did I?
But I had forgotten. I had forgotten that Regina no longer used windows, so on the third day of the week, and the fifth day of the month, on a late Wednesday, not far from my 18th birthday actually, Regina casually drove on the same road she was driving off a year before, parked the car on the alley leading to the backyard of the house, got out of the car and said hello.
All this happened while me, my whole family, plus a number of close relatives were in the garden, having a family get-together over a barbecue, some chat and all the other usual things people do in these kinds of setups. It was around 17:00 and the sun was still mighty high on the summer sky, although it had acquired by now that distinct September orange color that we all know and love.
To help you get a better mental picture of this, imagine you and your family having a backyard barbecue with kids running around and people chatting all over the place, not too big, about 10 people, when a stranger just casually drives up your alley, steps out of the car and says hello like he’s been a part of the family all along.
Of course, a my family knew perfectly well who she was, except my brother which knew her as in seen her before, but didn’t actually believe or know too much about it. I had tried to keep him at bay since all this started, although he’s my bigger brother.
In any case, it was clear why Regina had managed to fit in that easily in many situation. Totally uninhibited, she acted just like she was part of the family, and as a result, after small introductions, she became part of it rather fast. We’re friendly that way, the people living in these parts (well, more or less).
She didn’t say much (to me) past the initial “Hello” but as soon as things started getting comfortable I was pulled aside (rather forcibly), taken inside the house, where we could speak freely.
Instead of providing the dialogue line by line, I’ll summarize it because I find it easier to express.
As soon as we gained enough distance between the rest of the people and ourselves, she grabbed me by a shoulder, guiding me gently towards the house, while noting how much I had grown in the past year, and how I had grown into more or less what she was expecting. I wasn’t a late bloomer, but I wasn’t developed that much the year we left behind. However, by now, I was really, really close to my 18th birthday, a matter of weeks really, and it was obvious now that I think about it, the difference in size, aspect and pretty much everything else, between 17-year-old me and 18-year-old me.
She analyzed me several times, from top 3to bottom, not admiring, but more like analyzing, taking notes and just generally calculating whatever she was calculating in her head all the time, because that look on her eyes, the one that we have when we think about something really, really hard, that look never went away for her. She always looked like she was thinking about the answer to the ultimate question about the universe, life and everything else, which, as we all know, is 42.
She told me basically a really detailed history of the past year, something with which I wasn’t accustomed to, because she was usually much, much more secretive and less-detailed, and yet here she was “spilling the beans” without me even asking. Either something was amiss, either something changed radically, in her mind, about me. Whatever it was, although glad I was receiving much more information and was less required to put things together by myself, I wasn’t exactly sure this was a good thing. Time would tell.
I, instead, didn’t have that much to say. I didn’t provide a history of anything, just mentioned things here and there, and to be honest, again, something was amiss, because she seemed more than interested in listening basically to nothing.
In other words: She was willing to waste time on doing nothing productive (I thought at the time), something which didn’t usually happen. All talks, actions or decisions, eventually, lead somewhere. Maybe this one did too and I just didn’t see it at the time.
I’m going to cut this post short, because I’ve been asked not to leave you hanging, and I can’t do that if I don’t stop here before diving in deeper and actually getting to a more solid conclusion, which will happen in the next post.
For the next couple of posts, I’ll keep them coming more often, but shorter, because the nature of what’s going to be told is much, much better explained by separating the story into individual days, and as such, individual posts.
I’m just going to end this post with a few remarks.
We talked well into the night, by which point I realized that my already prepared question for Regina regarding her stay was not necessary anymore, because she was already making herself comfortable in and around the whole house. We talked about the initial subject which basically started the whole year off thing, which was what had happened in Turkey the year before, and we also talked about her whereabouts when Viktoria came in storming asking for the necklace and a bit of blood.
I’ll detail each of those subjects in the story, instead of explaining them, which I’m sure you’d prefer.
The day ended with Regina falling asleep before I did, which was a very comfortable and pleasant thought. Seeing her sleep in my bed with a small candle light lighting the room and barely touching her face was more than enough to put me in a “Christmas mood” in the middle of the summer. That feeling of warmth, familiarity and safety.
I laid in front of her and just before closing my eyes, she opened hers, smiled, and went back to sleep. I did too.
I’ll always remember that smile. It was the only one I got of that kind in all of the years with her.
April 5, 2012 § 7 Comments
as promised in the last post, here’s a nice photo.
a vampire in the sun. [story part 24]
March 3, 2012 § 6 Comments
It was a surprisingly short drive from Arlanda to where we were going. After a mere 50 kilometers and a dash of more conversation we were entering a town. At first it seemed like we were heading into nothingness, surrounded by old and tall mountain trees that looked like over-fed and over-grown Christmas trees. However, as we entered more deeply into the town I could see this was no village.
We were in Uppsala. A town, which at the time I didn’t knew, was the old Viking capital of Sweden and the whole Scandinavia, back in the 1200 if I remember correctly. This holds no true relevance to the story.
We shortly stopped around the town and just… well, Regina seemed like a tourist. She seemed interested, she seemed amazed by the town. It held no special meaning to me, it was just a bigger version, more cleaner I could also say, of my hometown. Old buildings and the occasional cobblestone streets.
“Can I take photos?” I asked.
“Of what?” Regina quickly replied.
“Here, go stay in that bush. I’ll make a model out of you.” I said mockingly.
She laughed loudly and we thought nothing of it. We just kept walking and, what I didn’t knew about Uppsala, was the fact that it also held the biggest church in Scandinavia, and the oldest stone one in Sweden I think.
It was huge. Gigantic I tell you. I had never seen such a big church in my life. I have to correct myself, this was no church. This was a cathedral. And although I had seen the Milan Cathedral (in Italy) previously, somehow this church seemed taller, but not as wide as that one.
As we were walking past it and I was admiring because what else was there to do, Regina pulled me towards it and in no time we were headed towards the door. I didn’t really wanted to know what we were doing, but I was happy to see the inside. I was always a fan of old architecture, and although it seems something of a geek hobby, it wasn’t really a hobby. I just enjoyed watching beautiful things, is that a crime?
I understood why Regina dragged me around town all this time. She waited for the sun to go down, but I think she might have gotten tired of waiting because it was almost past 21:00 and the sun was still shining. I had learned on the spot that the sun in Sweden, during June, does not set until 23 and rises at 3 in the morning. And if you go ever more up north, the sun doesn’t set at all for a few days during summer! Go figure!
A vampire in Sweden! HA! That seemed hilarious. But then I remembered that there’s a winter too, and the same thing happens during the winter. Little to no sunshine. Aha…
In any case, we waited for it to at least dim, because it did. It was a in-between light, and we needed it. We were making a breaking and entering. Into a cathedral. Into the biggest cathedral in Scandinavia. Lord have mercy on my soul if you’re up there and real and watching what I’m doing now, I thought.
Well I have to tell you, that the door was… well, you couldn’t take it down even if you rammed a car in it. No.
Regina had a different technique however. She had a key! A key! I didn’t even want to know how and most importantly WHY would she be in the possession of a key from the front entrance into a world-renowned cathedral. But she was, and we were there. Well, at least no breaking in the “breaking and entering part.”
We went in like two mice, in broad daylight (well almost) with people around us and everything. I was actually amazed that nobody saw us going in. The cathedral was supposed to be closed I figured, by how tightly the door was locked.
In any case, as soon as we went inside I saw the beautiful inside of the church and my jaw dropped. It was out of this world. It really is something, you have to see it. We walked fast down the path leading to the altar and I thought we were going to say a prayer or something, but just in front of the altar, Regina turned a left and went behind it. The altar had some kind of a fake wall behind it and there was yet another room after that.
What I didn’t knew at that time was that the room hidden behind the altar – which by all means was open to the public all day long – was the most important one. Also, creepy wax model staring at you behind the altar. I do have a photo with that if you’re interested, which was taken sometime… later. During normal hours.
The walls around the room were literally taped with Latin texts, white or gold (can’t remember) on a blue background, that I can remember. And in the middle of the room, was the center-piece, of course.
I didn’t even need to ask – I figured it must be someone really important in that tomb, which was all marble and cast iron over it, and in the lid were sculpted three silhouettes. In the middle there was a man, with a crown on his head, probably a king I thought, and on each side he had a woman. Now that was a man who knew how to go into the afterlife.
I took the liberty of reading the texts and I quickly found out that there laid the most beloved (and apparently important) king that ruled over Sweden. Gustav Something. I kid, I kid. Gustav Vasa was his name.
There were little to no windows inside the actual church, which made it dark even with the dim light outside, but above us (well, not us, the tomb, because that was the important thing here apparently) there were nice, big windows which let the mild sun shine over the room. It made everything look even more golden that it already (physically) was.
“Tu esti barbatul asa ca hai pune cotu’ si ridica sau impinge cu mine.”
“Trebuie sa ridicam chestia asta, mormantu asta, sa-l dam la o parte.”
“Tu esti nebuna? Asta-i cel mai important rege al Suediei. Din principiu nu pot sa fac asa ceva, mi-e si rusine de mine daca fac asta.”
“Sa vezi ce rusine o sa-ti fie daca nu faci asta…”
“Rusine ca ai fost batut de o fata.”
“Mai poti sa ma ameninti mult? Daca vrei sa-l ridici, ridica-l singura.”
“Da’ nu pot SINGURA!”
“N-am mancat aproape nimic de cand mi-ai onorat inimia cu un dar, si sunt slabita.”
“Da’ daca nu vrei sa ma ajuti, atunci….”
That talk was in Romanian. I just felt the need to say it in Romanian first. However take notice, that although I write in English, the conversation was, most of the time, in Romanian. About half of the time I would say, and the other half in all kinds of languages which I was trying to understand, like Italian, French, Spanish, English and sometimes Russian, which I know nothing of.
But here is the actual talk for you.
“You’re the man so put a shoulder here and pull or push with me.” Regina said.
“Excuse me?” I replied.
“We need to lift this thing, this tomb, move it aside.” She explained.
“Are you crazy? This is the most important king of Sweden. Out of principle I can’t do a thing like that, and I would be ashamed of me if I did.” I said, trying to convince her to stop insisting. I didn’t want to see a corpse that laid there for hundreds of years.
“You’ll be ashamed alright if you don’t do this…” She said, trailing off and then quickly adding “Ashamed you’ve got beaten up by a girl.” I believed her. She was getting angry. Not angry that I didn’t want to lift it. I couldn’t even if I tried, but angry that I refused to cooperate, almost all the time, not just now.
“Aren’t you tired / Can you threaten me any longer? If you wanna lift it, lift it by yourself.” I said.
“But I can’t do it ALONE!” She shrieked at me.
We were arguing by now.
“I haven’t eaten anything since you honored my heart with a gift, and I’m weak.” She added.
“But if you won’t help me, then…” and she didn’t finish that sentence. Instead she pushed me with a hand towards a wall that it almost cracked behind me. She was in front of me, pushing me harder against the wall in a second afterwards.
She started kissing me.Nnot in a “I need love” way but in a “You’re getting it” way and I knew I was. I knew what was next. I could feel her fangs extending and grazing my tongue, which she bit also, just to toy with me.
And then I submitted, when she stopped kissing, I willingly turned my head and let her sink her teeth in it. No pain, nothing, that was good. She actually, against all her anger, made it a pleasant thing. I swear I could hear her thoughts, I could feel her emotions and I could see her, like she sees herself, in her mind. I don’t know how to explain. This thing formed such a strong connection every time, that you almost felt one and the same with her. I wondered if she felt the same. I wondered if she felt the same with everyone, not just me.
In any case, with a bit of practice, if indeed we felt the same, I was sure this was the key towards telepathy. Rhyme not intended. It was just that strong. I could feel her heart beat, in my mind. How is that possible? That doesn’t even make any sense!
She finished and didn’t even bother to heal me up. She just left me another nice puncture on my neck. Sweet. I wasn’t mad anyway, because what came next, shook my world again.
I swear to you, that tomb could not be lifted by a fork lift. It was massive, marble made, over half a ton. There is no way in hell ten people lift that. It didn’t make any difference if I helped or not. Physically. Well, I did, but not with my muscles.
She ran her fingers across the floor, at the edge of the tomb, trying to find a good spot to grab, and she found some kind of a ridge because in an instant I saw all her muscles tense like they were about to burst. Her face turned red – yes – it turned red like it does for me and you when trying to lift something heavy. She started shrieking and pulling hard on that. I literally thought she was either going to break her back or have a heart attack right there, but the tomb started moving. I couldn’t believe my eyes, she was lifting the damn thing, which was not only crazy heavy, but also untouched and unmoved for centuries. It was practically soldered to the ground from all those years standing there, but that didn’t stop her.
She lifted it about 10cm and then she started pushing it to the side. Then she let go of it, slowly, with no booms and poundings of the floor intended. As she laid it down, I circled around the other side and marveled at what was before my eyes. There were stairs beneath the tomb. Actual stairs, leading into pitch black.
She didn’t say a word, I didn’t say a word. We both knew where we were going and I didn’t have the guts to tell her I’m afraid of the dark. I just followed, and we descended beneath the old cathedral, through a narrow (very narrow, we were on our sides, advancing) tunnel, which was also dripping went and moist and just generally disgusting, and we kept going. I thanked all the saints that I knew and the ones I didn’t knew for not having claustrophobia, and continued going. Should I mention we had absolutely no lights and it was so dark you couldn’t see anything? NOTHING. Not even your finger in front of your eyes. Nothing. It was the darkest place I’ve ever been.
It was so dark that not even Regina could see. She made that abundantly clear several times when she asked me if I’m still there. And I can tell you, she wasn’t happy at all. She was not comfortable being blind after centuries of seeing perfectly. Not a bit. She was getting anxious, angry, frustrated and I truly hoped there’s no such thing as a claustrophobic vampire because that would not only be the most ironic, the most hilarious thing in the world, but also the most unsuitable for the time and place where we currently were.
I think we went through that tunnel at least a hundred meters until we reached (finally) a room. It wasn’t a big room, no. Just a simple two by two round room. Perfectly round I must say.
As we got to the room, she got a lighter and started setting things on fire. Torches. Four of them. It got bright and hot sooner than expected.
“You have light and didn’t say anything?” I asked frustrated towards her “secret.”
“I think you only have about five minutes of oxygen in here with all these torches.” She replied instead of an answer to my question. I was satisfied with it nonetheless.
“What is this place anyway?” I asked in an attempt to change the subject.
“This my dear, is my maker’s vault I believe.” She replied.
“So you’re not actually sure…” I said and waited for a reply, which came sooner than expected.
“Well, before going away, he told me that if I ever needed help, I should come here. I never did, until now, and so here we are.” She said.
“So what are we looking for then?” I said while trying to make heads and tails of the room. The walls were covered in holes, and each hole held either manuscripts, book, artifacts (jewelry), and all kinds of weird things, like dried herbs. I started poking around and kept trying to find something that was actually of a certain value to us, not money wise. But before I had the chance to come through as the victor, she replied to my last question.
“I believe… this is what we’re looking for.”
And sure enough, I stopped searching, because that caught my attention.
“Wait a second… don’t tell me he made the… this…” I said and trailed off looking confused.
“This doesn’t make any sense.” I added.
“Why is that thing here, why is it exactly like my necklace and why is Sigismund related to it – and WHY both of them are the same with Vlad’s seal, The Order of the Dragon?” I asked. Too many questions.
“I don’t know, but I believe this…” – and she ripped the necklace off my neck – “goes here.” She pushed the actual pendant in the middle of the ouroboros which had a perfectly carved inverted pentagram in the middle, just like my necklace. It clicked – it clicked! – right in.
Nothing magically started moving or opening, but instead the metal dragon ( the ouroboros ) jumped back by a few millimeters, we could see and hear it, and Regina rested her hand on it, looking at it confused, and then she tried pushing it back but that only made the pendant fall off from the spot.
She took it off the ground and pushed it back in, making the ouroboros once again jump out by a bit. She again looked at it and rested her hand on it but this time, instead of pushing, she grabbed it tightly and turned. And it started turning.
By god she looked like Sherlock Holmes. I was awed at how exciting this all felt, feeling giddy inside, but had to notice that the whole thing was nothing more than a lock, a clever, but primitive lock. What I did care about was, why the key to that lock, was being worn by me for all these years, with no clue of what’s dangling around my neck.
The head of the dragon turned exactly 180 degrees and then it clicked, but didn’t move. Regina stopped and then ran her fingers across the edge of what seemed a brick, and pulled.
The “brick” came off, rather hardly, but it did. I think it would have never been possible to take it out without breaking the whole damn wall around it, without the key that is.
Inside, there was one, very small and old book. No hardcover, just a bunch of pages wrapped in a thick leather hide – raw leather hide, untreated. It looked so fresh – and so raw – that I was surprised there wasn’t any fur on it still.
“This is it.” She said.
“Let’s go then because I think you were right about the air.” I replied.
“I was just joking, the tomb is still open…” She said.
“Or is it?” I said in an attempt to mock her too. Which worked, very much.
I think there was nothing more scary for Regina than being trapped in a lightless, soundless tomb. Nothing. I think that was also the reason she came back for me and released me from the crypt that first day also, besides the necklace. I really do.
You see, if someone would have been to actually close the tomb, I would have died in probably oh, about two days maximum, after I had run out of air completely. But her… well, she would have lasted much, much longer, even without air, she would have died slowly and painfully, and that was her curse. And her deepest fear. Being trapped.
A human – couldn’t be so scared – you’re not actually scared of being trapped, but you’re scared of death. She instead, was scared of not being able to die – SOON ENOUGH – for it to be acceptable.
I realized my mockery and its effect intended was more than I had planned for. I realized that when I found myself alone in the whole thing, because Regina rushed towards the entrance to the crypt, and when I say rushed, I mean she was there in under ten seconds, when previously it took us two minutes to reach the room.
She was yelling at me from the entrance to hurry up and stop being a “slowpoke”. Didn’t knew what a slowpoke was but I swear to god it pissed me off more than it should have. That, and the fact she didn’t at least have the common sense of leaving me the damn lighter. One crypt in my life was enough for me, seriously. This was just not funny anymore.