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?
where have you been?
September 13, 2012 § 8 Comments
Like I’ve been telling my readers (the ones who contact me) I was planning to go home in Sighisoara, back where it all started. Not for good, just for summer.
I used to consider it too dangerous to go back, which might just be true. However, something happened (which will be in the story as soon as I get with it to the current year) but all in all it has proven to be a fruitful journey.
I’m very, very tempted to give away free spoilers here, but I’m going to refrain myself. I’m just going to say that the whole point of this was, among others, the fact that I haven’t been there in years, the fact that I haven’t talked with anyone back home in years, the fact that I didn’t know anything new about Viktor, Blanche or Sophia.
That was until I got an e-mail from Sophia asking me to come home as soon as possible. Which I did.
Next up, story part number 30, from where I left off, which is more precisely the winter of 2006. We’re closing in here, just six more years to go.
power corrupts even the innocent. [story part 28]
March 19, 2012 § 3 Comments
I was back in Sighisoara and I couldn’t have timed it better – or worse – depending on what I wanted, because I wanted two things in the same time, that were opposing one another.
I wanted a normal life, but I wanted adventure. I wanted a quiet and peaceful life, but I wanted Regina.
I got none in the end – the chasing two rabbits in the same time saying proved infallible once again.
As I walked past my front gate, made of cast black iron and opened the front door I was greeted with smiles and sounds of relief from my mother and father which were both home, waiting for me to come back, knowing that I should arrive any minute because apparently Blanche told them. Go figure, how did she knew?
I spent the day in the garden – the whole day – walking past tall grass and re-connecting with my two beautiful German Shepard dogs which were happier than ever to see me. I took the time then and just laid at the base of the old nut-tree in the back of the garden and the smell of fresh nut leaves just surrounded me and from time to time, took me back into my past, in a childhood without knowledge or fear of my future.
I switched, for a day at least, from writing to reading, and I stopped writing in my diary, but instead started reading it. I’ve went past all that I had noted down over the years. And maybe you do not keep a diary, but I did since I can remember, in all forms.
Even as a four years old, before even knowing how to write, I drew paintings (well, attempts of) of days past, and then progressed to little notebooks, scrap books, photos, diaries, and then the laptop. My body was now a diary, with the scars I had on it, to stick with me for life.
Even the old nut-tree that was keeping me company and providing a place to rest at its base was more than just a tree. We had been friends since childhood and he too knew my stories (Talking with a tree is a bit crazy, I know, but I love connecting with everything, a tree, a book, a horse or a human. Plus, you do realize that almost everyone talks with their car, right?)
The tree held the markings of days past, it held names of loved ones which I carved, it held scars of my feet trying to climb on top of it, and it even held (or lacked) the branch that gave way under me when I was eight. I think we both had a bad day back then.
So I’ve went past my diary and just did what I was supposed to do with a diary – read it and rejoiced.
The night proved to be more lonely than I’ve previously expected. It’s curious how in just a month I’ve grown accustomed to sleep with someone in my arms every (almost) night. It’s also interesting how the human mind (soul?) craves for passion, blood pumping, fear and adventure, adrenaline maybe in one word, when there is none around, but rejects them all when there is plenty. Adam and Eve again – even though that’s complete non-sense, it does say something very true about human nature – we will always desire that which we cannot have.
The next day around 19:00 I was set to go and meet up with my friends, Blanche, Viktor and Sophia. I walked all the way to Concordia, took the route that I’ve avoided since it was the route that started it all – the old stairs through the woods that led me to the citadel square, and I was more than happy to be able to walk on the same roads that I once did. But like I said earlier, there’s no miracle in walking along the same paths over and over again, they might be smoother or more straight, but in the end, they lead you to the same destination. That was my desire at that point anyway, lead me back to my life.
By the time I got to Concordia it was raining and I was the first to arrive. As I stood inside at the table in the corner which we always
take, a square table with a little wooden flower in the middle, a toy flower, with glasses prepared on it waiting for its guests and napkins inside the glasses waiting to be laid down underneath them, I turned my head towards the window which spans from top to bottom and for a moment there, looking through that window with drips of water flowing slowly and then accelerating in a second and stopping just as fast as they started, for a moment, it was like I was looking back at my childhood. Sure, everything looked distorted and twister, changed maybe a bit, but I knew that at its core, it was all the same.
Soon enough Viktor and Sophia arrived. I hugged them both and we sat down, our coffee soon followed and as we stood there sipping a hot coffee in a previously hot summer day now turned chilly, we looked at each other and said nothing. We were just glad we’re back together again.
“Where’s Blanche?” Sophia asked.
“What do you mean? Isn’t she here…?” I asked in return. And then before their faces contorted even more into confusion, I remembered.
“Oh, you’re right. I forgot. She’s taking care of Viktoria.” I added quickly.
“What do you mean? That… thing can take care of itself.” Sophia was pretty much frustrated with vampires at this point, and I could understand that, ever since that day I told them, everything fell apart. But for me, it wasn’t necessarily for the worst.
“What happened? Where have you been?” Viktor asked me.
“You didn’t even bother to make a phone call, we thought you were both dead.” He added.
“I was with Regina this whole time, we just had a nice holiday.” I wasn’t really prepared to tell them everything, I didn’t want to anyway, and later one, when I did, I didn’t have the chance anymore, so here I am now, telling the story to the world, but failing to tell it to the people who would most likely be the ones with the highest interest in it. Not to mention they would deserve it the most.
“Viktoria had a little accident and needs a few months to recover so Blanche is taking care of her until then.” I added.
“What accident?” Viktor pushed.
“Regina ripped out one of her hands.” I replied casually.
Sophia looked to her right and to her left before tuning down her “volume” and asked: “Will it grow back?”
I answered in the same style, but with a faint tone of mockery, imitating her and adopting the same tone and position: “Yes.”
The look on both of their faces was priceless, and that alone made me feel great. I don’t know if I was being proud or whatever, but it felt good.
“So she’s like a lizard.” Viktor added.
“Oh, I think Regina is better in that respect.” Sophia replied, and I nodded. She was, by all means, spot on. Regina was indeed the snake of the two, if you stopped to think about it for a second.
“What about you? Are you ok?” I asked.
“Yeah, everything is fine here and boring since Blanche left.” Viktor replied.
“She sure was more fun to be around since… you know.” He added.
I wasn’t sure Sophia agreed, but she didn’t seem displeased either.
Our conversation went into a blur around this point, I know we continued to speak of the same subject for maybe a couple more minutes but then we went back to our old subjects that we never got tired of. Pointless chit-chat, which felt heavenly for me at this time. I was sick of “serious talk.”
Just after 21, when things were settling down and we were pretty much down at picking random subjects to keep the coffee going, I took the liberty in looking out the window again and just watching the lights go on around town which is always a nice thing to see, because the lights around this town are old-style 17th century London style. They look exactly like those little poles with a small glass box on top in which you lit the candle, but now light bulbs are used, and the glass is a bit yellowish and opaque, making it look and feel exactly the same. Not that I know how it felt back then, but Regina seemed comfortable around them and not squirming her eyes like she usually does under neon lights.
I saw a shadowy figure at the corner of the terrace and nudged both of them to look at that but by the time they turned their head it was gone. I dismissed it quickly and went back to the chat, which was nearing to an end.
Me and Viktor walked Sophia back home and then we both walked for a while together before splitting up in separate directions, but in the little time we spent together he said to me something I’ll never forget.
“Hei man, listen… I know you’ve always felt like you can do anything, that’s what I always liked about you anyway. But this thing that you’re doing right now… I’m not sure it will end so well, for any of us. I’m just saying… you always knew deep down inside that things are not what they appear to be, and you’ve taught me that too, but what if they are? What if Regina and all of it is just what history taught, or tried to teach us, that they are?”
At the time, I told him exactly the opposite of what I thought…
“Maybe you’re right.”
And my answer hasn’t changed since then – my answer to him – but over time it kept feeling less and less opposite towards my thoughts.