Alexander. Dawn, and with it the restless dreams of the dead.
There is a search, a vital one, and I have forgotten why.... The family does not know where, where, what, why.... Urgent, it is urgent. The college does not know either. Nobody knows where.
I plunge into depths of memory, of depression, of loneliness. None of the others need company, none of the others need anything but blood. Occasionally, an accident brings about another, like me. I should be dead, really dead, not trapped in this in-between, monstrous, ravening state. I want to either live or die.
Deeper sleep comes, more hell, more separation. I was never one for fitting in, anyway. I am the only one of my kind who needs another. I was never good at being human, and I make a lousy vampire. I hate to kill to continue my miserable existence. I hate sleeping through the day. I'm lonely.
The maddened face of Somebody, crazy with the bloodlust, haunting my dreams. His mouth trickling his own blue gore as he traps me with his eyes. That was when I was alive. That evil blood that caught me in hell.
My dreams are the worst. Accursed, blood-ridden things. And when they're not, they're from when I was alive, which is depressing. Alexander.
Green eyes, flecked with gold and brown. A shock of unruly dark hair. A smile at some forgotten joke. Ghosts in my head.
A vampire cannot fall in love, they told me.
If he refuses, I will go into the sun. I can't live like this. Hell, I can't even die like this.
Death is a drag.
More dreams. More evil dreams. Shades of evil, of loneliness.
Can I justify bringing anyone into this?
I wake to sense the last rays of the sun fading over the horizon. I am awake.
I have an appointment. I found him, I sent a letter.
Expect me in two days at your room. I will be there about fifteen minutes after sunset. I have missed you.
I put on a long black skirt and a satiny violet poet's shirt. My vanity demanded a bit of ornamentation, so I found a black enameled panther on a silver chain. For the final concession to my flair, I slipped on a thick black cloak.
Sunset. I love the last colors of day as they fade into twilight.
I am hungry, but I will not feed. I have an appointment. And if I am going to die anyway, when he won't come, there is no point in taking life beforehand.
The wind is strong, and easy to float on. It should make for a dramatic entrance. The wind, blowing my long black hair out in front of me. And the cloak rippling in the gusts. Excellent entrance.
I see him pacing the rooms. He's taller than I had remembered, but the handsomeness of his features has grown over the time he's been lost to the world. Alexander.
A mental command, and the doors on the balcony open. I settle down, happy to get my feet on the ground again, letting the cloak swirl about me.
"Hello, Alex. It's been a long time."
He spins on his heel, his green eyes meet mine. I close my eyes. Alexander, don't look into my eyes. I don't want to entrance you. I want you to decide everything on your own. Choose independently, for me, not for this eternal death, not for the money I've gotten in the last few years, not for pity. I have to love you.
"Cat. I've been looking for you, but you dropped off the edge of the earth."
"So did you, Alex. It took me months to find you. You're out of touch with everything."
He smiles, even a little sheepishly. "I always hated everyone we knew. But when you vanished, I had to find you. Dropped everything and came looking for you." He pauses, worried. "How'd you get onto my balcony."
It's my turn to be sheepish. "Alex, I have to tell you something. Two years ago, I- I died." I broke down, and turned away, so he wouldn't see the tears. "I've been so miserable. Death is so lonely. None of the others need anyone. But I was never good at 'fitting in,' at being 'one of the guys.' You'll remember that I wasn't. I wished to see you again, to talk to you."
His hand is on my shoulder. It's warm, I hear the hot blood running through his veins. The bloodlust is rising in the pit of my stomach. I will not hurt him. Not for the world, unless he decides to join me. The blood is unbearable in its proximity. I break away, and wipe the tears from my face with the edge of the cloak. Only then will I turn and face him, avoiding his eyes.
"Look at me, Cat." Well, that blows my cover.
"I can't. Alex, if I look you in the eye, I will enspell you. I can't help it. And then you will do whatever I want. I need a free choice from you." I can't justify bringing anyone into this living, or dying, hell unless it is a free choice. The bloodlust will be controlled.
I cannot let another come into this limbo unfreely. To kill for blood is bad enough. But if, as happened to me, my own blood were to contaminate my victim, there would be another miserable creature in the world. I am always careful.
If Alex joined me, he would be the only vampire to decide to come. He would not be an accident of nature, like the rest of us. But I will take nothing from him that he will not give.
"Cat." He's not afraid. He never was afraid of anything, that I could tell. But I can smell the fear on him, with my foul senses, that he is so skilled at hiding. I will not look into his mind. I will not look into his eyes. Alex....
"Cat. I loved you. I looked for you to tell you, but you were gone. And now you are back, in this form-"
"I am a beast now." Monster!
"You are not, you never could be. You always cared too much, that was your problem with people."
I know. I love you. "I died. And by a horrible accident, I didn't stay. And misery follows those that don't stay where they belong." A pause. "Alex, I loved you. I realized that a few months ago. So I went to look for you. Your family, your college, they hadn't seen you in three years. It is so hard to find a single man, a particular person, when there are so many."
"Cat." He was trying to reassure me, now. Me!
I began to hum, quietly now. ...from the garish light of day, turn your heart away from cold unfeeling light, and listen to the music of the night. I had loved Phantom when I was alive, and now it was just ironic.
"You came to ask me to join you, didn't you." Not a question. I nod.
He begins to pace again. The bloodlust is rising. Don't touch him! Unless he says yes, don't touch him!
"Does it hurt?" A real question.
I have to think. "No. But all of us were forced into this false immortality. Nobody chose, nobody wanted it. Most go off on their solitary way." Some destroy themselves.
"How is it done?" He is seriously considering this!
"Usually, a victim is contaminated, swallowing some vampiric blood, or having it come in contact with their own. Once they die of the feeding, they transform." Never walk a dark alley in a place inhabited by vampire-kind, especially the reckless. That face will ever haunt me.
"I have to think about it. Come back, Cat. Tomorrow?"
He'll be gone tomorrow. He'll run away from the monster that is me.
"Tomorrow, Alex. Sometime in the night."
He nods. I turn, I step to the balcony. Drama- how to make a dramatic exit.
I step onto the railing and turn to face him. He looks up, and there is a tear on his face.
Damnit, Alex, did you have to do that to me?
What's another memory?
I let myself fall away from the ledge, drifting out into the night. He has come out onto the balcony, and is looking into the sky.
Are you looking for guidance? Let me tell you, there's nothing out there. Just cold and stars. Or are you looking for me? Well, in a few days I won't be out here either.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast.
You're not human. You probably never really were.
I have no appetite left. The bloodlust fades, and I want to do nothing but think.
I glide into my little cavern, my burrows, my little hutch. It is dark in there, blindingly to human eyes, but it is my place, my darkness, and I see. I wander the catacombs until I come across a little room, preserved from the dampness of its surroundings somehow, a room with books and papers and pens and all of those little things. Nothing important, but now I need to write something down. Anything. It doesn't matter.
A little effort of the mind, and I light an oil lamp. I always found them interesting, and they fit the effect of the caverns. Everything is for effect, now.
But yet I cannot write. The need is in my gut, as strong or stronger than hunger, but there is nothing left to say. I set pen to paper, and write,
And where's Fortinbras, come to look over the dead? Horatio, tell me your story. Something to keep me alive until tomorrow. I can always hope. And when the hope goes, I will die. Finally. With no more half-measures. I want many things. I cannot be alive again. I will not get my love sorted out. I'll settle for oblivion.
The day is coming. I can feel it in the distance. I am safe here, in this little cave below in the dark. Go on, do it now. Why suffer through another day of dreams when you're just going to die tomorrow?
I said I would come.
Thieves' honor. I said I would be back, so I retreated to my little chamber, settled down.
Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.
Sleep like the dead.
The leering face, madder than most of us. Blood running down its chin, lust in its eyes.
Death was welcome then. But I came back. The poison in my veins brought me back, tied me to this world. If there is another. The agony of the denial of oblivion.
I guess I always wanted out.
I feel the light of the sun ebb out of the world, and my consciousness comes back. Hunger is rising in me, the bloodlust almost enough to make me bite myself for sustenance.
You're going back in this state? He'll be lucky if you don't rip him apart.
I dissolve up through the ground to witness the last few rays of sunlight vanish.
Go on. Chase the sun. Follow Death.
Death abandoned me two years ago. Let it come to me, if it's going to take me.
Where was Death when I wanted it?
So I decide to go differently. They say you can turn into a bat or a wolf. You've already done the cloud of mist bit.
Wolf. I'll try the wolf.
I retreat to the cave again to scrawl a message. This will be wonderful drama.
The form-change is not difficult. With the note twisted around my throat, I run swiftly into the city.
The door of the hotel is guarded. The sign says, "No pets allowed on these premises." I bark, a strange sound to hear from your own throat. The guard looks down at me and scratches my head.
Condescending. I'll eat him.
"You lost, pup?"
I paw the piece of paper off my neck and nudge it at him. Wow, what a smart dog.
"What's this?" He unwraps the paper and mutters it out loud.
It's your turn to deal with Fangs here. You'll remember that she's a nice dog, if a little persistent. If the hotel complains about my sending her, let me know and I'll forward them enough money to cover the liability. Keep an eye on her- she has a tendency to do odd things once in a while.
All my love,
The elevator is cramped with people. Even in this form, the bloodlust is rising to almost intolerable levels.
Don't bite the passengers. That'll get you and Alex kicked out right quick.
The guard knocks on the door, and Alexander opens, with a hopeful look on his face. When he sees the guard, the expression dies.
Could he actually be wanting to see me? Me, the monster?
The guard gives him the note, and he reads it quickly. An odd expression comes over his face.
"This your dog, then, sir?"
" What? Yes, yes, of course." He crouches down to look in my eye, then blinks away, remembering something. "Hiya Fang. How's Cat? I was hoping to see her. Maybe later, eh?"
The guard, satisfied, vanishes.
"So. Where'd you come from?" He looks at me oddly. "Does Cat know I took this room another day just to see her? Cancelled reservations on the plane, and at a hotel in New York."
No Cat didn't, actually. Cat is surprised.
He sits on the rug in front of the fireplace. I trot over and settle with my head in his lap.
Get this damn collar off!
I exert my mind, hard to do in this form, and the rope loosens. I shake my head and it falls off.
"Where did she get you, eh? What do you mean here?" He begins to scratch my ears. "You're a beautiful creature. Did she really know I loved her? That I would do anything for her?"
She does now. I never knew anything. Damn.
I stand, shaking myself loose. With a force of will, I wish to be myself again. Alex is in shock.
"I never did know, Alex." Drama!
Pray he's not mad for being deceived.
"Hm." I help him to stand with one cold hand. His blood is so near to me I can hardly stand it. Even so, I give him an embrace that I had always wanted to give when I was alive and never had the courage to. I shove the raging lust deep down into the recesses of my mind, ignoring it as much as possible.
Do you love him? Or do you just want his blood?
I need him to live. Or to die, however you put it. I need love that I never had.
I'm dead. Perhaps I can live in my own way, now.
I whisper that I love him. He turns away.
You've betrayed him. He won't come.
He is only thinking. I haven't been rejected yet. "I will come with you."
I am shocked utterly. I bare the fangs, and face him full, taking care to close my eyes. "Are you absolutely sure?" No rushing. Today is the first day of the rest of your death.
"Yes." No hesita tion.
I bite into my wrist, and see the blue blood well up slowly. "Alex, drink this, and you will be able to join me." A pause. "If you touch that, then you'll become one of us when you die anyway, no matter when. It's the point of no return."
Past the point of no return, no second glances....
He takes the hand and holds it a moment. His blood is so close it's torture. And then, in a moment filled with- something indescribable, he takes the blood.
The deep-buried, repressed bloodlust surfaces in a passion. "My turn, love." I whirl around behind him, and put my other arm about him, embracing. I kiss him lightly on the cheek, and he starts. The pulse in his throat is a throb in my mind.
Think, think. Before you go mad, do something right. The more blood he has, the easier the change will be. That first.
I open the artery in my wrist with a mental effort. Ouch! Never do that again. Alex chokes a moment on the rush of blood. Don't die, don't die before you're ready.
Come on in, the water's fine!
SHUT THE HELL UP!
He freezes a moment as my fangs touch his exposed neck. A moment, just the right for drama, even now, and let myself hit oblivion. At last....
He sighs, and relaxes against me, the tension going out with his blood. I settle onto the floor, cradling him, loving him. See all he gives for me. His blood, his life, his existence here.
The lust is gone. I stroke his cheek, growing cold with death, and wait.
Then his eyes open. Their green is absolutely beautiful, with death behind him. The golden flecks are dancing like sparks. I am of this kind, and he can nearly enspell me. He opens his mouth, to take a ragged, if unnecessary, breath. His short fangs are already grown. I think I love him even more dead. He is ever so much more handsome as well.
He stands, a little unsteady at first. Then he looks at me, in my pool of night that is my cloak.
"My lady." And he offers me his hand, and I take it in mine. There is a scar across my left wrist, already healed. He helps me up.
"I love you." Vampires do not fall in love, they said. Your existence was an accident, they told me. Nobody would choose this living hell, they explained.
So there, I say. You can go to hell, I continue. This is not hell, I go on, because Alexander is here, and I love him, and he loved me enough to die. Go and write that in your little books on vampire psychology, and don't tell anyone I've thrown you for a loop.
Because I don't care. I never was one for fitting in, and I'm not going to start just because I'm dead. It's not worth it. And I can spend my own bit of eternity with Alex.
"What would you have done," he asks, after we return to my own little cave in the darkness, behind layers of doors and catacombs of stone, waiting for dawn. "What, if I had decided not to come?"
"I would have ended myself. Two years is a lonely enough eternity." Neither fish nor fowl.
And he understood that, and we made history for our kind then, because we didn't care what they thought.
And dawn, with dreams. Only the dreams are more pleasant, less blood, no more images of that leering face that was my death. Dreams that are, for once, bearable.
Return to the Book of Shadows.