A pair of boots clicked lightly on the cobblestone alleys that formed a labyrinth of paths weaving through the city. Donned in a deep red coat and black trousers, he scanned the sidewalks as he walked, taking note of anyone he passed. Most of what he saw were women out late, trying to seduce men with deep pockets to take shelter in their bed – for a price. Business dealers of a particular sort, slipping substances casually into palms in return for wads of cash.
Overhead, the sound of a clock tower chimed to signal the tenth hour of the evening. Every bell was a sharp reminder to go inside, lock the doors, lay down to sleep, prepare for the day that would come tomorrow. Not for him. The crisp note sounding in his ears was a welcoming call, embracing him as he entered the night. Red, full lips curled up into a sinister smile, flashing for the briefest moment the point of a porcelain white tooth.
Clicking boots turned into a muffled step as the cobblestone path gave way to the dirt road he took. On the outskirts of town, he hardly worried about wandering eyes catching him in the midst of his personal business. Striking blue eyes set into his alabaster face scanned through the trees that thickened as he strolled. Small plots popped up in the grass, a stone defining each space, flowers of optimistically bright colors laid delicately at each designated spot of land.
He turned his direction off the path, weaving through the maze of gravestones. It was fascinating, a phenomenon found without fail at every graveyard he'd ever step foot in: elderly couples who had passed on were more often than not dead within a year of each other. Humans speculated that they'd died of a broken heart, willing themselves to die to chase the other and join them after death. The simple, naive idea put a sneer on his lips. It was delusional, to a degree he could not fathom. Yet, he envied it. The idea of willing death upon oneself formed a knot of frustration in his chest. They wanted so badly to make sense of death. They hoped love would conquer all. They turned desperation into belief, and had faith that joining their former love in the after life. They materialized a notion in their head through sheer stubbornness, insisted it was real. It was a fantasy.
He knew what was real. He was real.
Soft cries floated on the wind. Turning his attention to the delicate sound, he walked in the shadows of trees to locate the owner of the voice. From the back, she was a small curled up ball, sobbing into her knees, brunette hair shrouding her face from view. Silent as the dead, he crept up behind her. With a flip of his wrist, a handful of hair lodged itself in his grasp as he yanked her to her feet. His other arm slid around her middle to keep her upright as her knees buckled under her.
Suddenly, something struck him as odd: The silence. There were no screams coming from her, just the constant whimpers as tears streamed from her eyes. He furrowed his brow, staring at her profile. She might as well have been ignoring him for all she cared of his existence. He lowered his lips down to her neck as he pulled her head to the side. Just as he opened mouth, he heard whisper through shaky breathing, “Please...” she paused. He thought she was pleading for her life until she continued, “let this be real. I don't want to wake up tomorrow, alone.”
He pulled away from her in shock. His gaze flitted to the gravestone she had knelt in front of. On it read the name of a man. He'd died young: tragically young. She was mourning him, as a good widow should. His hand grasped tighter on her hair. She was beautiful, he could see that through her blotchy red face that was drenched in sorrow. And he hated her. “Beauty was wasted on you,” he hissed vehemently. “Life was wasted on you for asking such things.”
This woman had the rest of her life to find someone else to give her heart to, and she'd rather see it cease to beat. If she could be so fickle with her own life, the he'd be glad to deliver her from it, but not before showing her the life she could have had. His teeth sank into the soft flesh of her neck like a knife slicing through warm butter. The hot, metallic flavored blood rushed into his mouth and set his senses ablaze. His body tensed and relaxed against her frail frame as he lost sense of time, space, and reality. His desire increased twofold, and the more he drank, the more he lusted for.
His mind fogged over with visions their minds' eyes shared together. Her thoughts became his, and his hers. Their memories blended into an indistinguishable film roll that their consciousness witnessed simultaneously. He showed her images that could have been, but wouldn't necessarily have happened, had she chosen to live on. The woman in mourning, comforted by her friends and family, finds solace in the company of others; she finds hobbies to entertain herself in the lonely hours. While reading in a book shop, she drops her bookmark and a stranger picks it up. They start slow, friendly; years later they get married. There are kids, a house with a yard and white picket fence, and a career of her own. Later, they're retired. Her hair turns gray; she's plagued by energetic grandchildren. The woman, very old now, lays sick in her bed, surrounded by family. She reflects on a time when she almost gave all up on a lover long since passed on.
Above this hazy awareness the vampire and girl shared, he could hear her moan in pain. He detected a sense of sorrow in her voice. Tears rolled down her cheeks more quickly now. “No,” she choked out weakly. “Stop!” The girl's delicate hands pressed against him in a vain attempt at escape. She regretted her decision to end her life; she wanted to take it all back. But it was too late. She'd dug her grave, and now she'd have to lie in it.
He grasped his arms around her tighter, rougher as he lost himself against in drinking. In his clouded mind, memories of his own started appearing in flashes. He saw himself, years ago, mourning over his recently passed on wife. He knelt at a graveyard, not unlike the one his present self was in. The silhouette of a man walked out of the dark towards him. They were both dressed in 1800's Victorian clothing, which was the current fashion of their time. Donned in top hats, canes, coat tails, and vests, they were the picture of class. The man approached him, and that's when details began to pop out. Deathly pale skin, perfectly kept auburn hair, shockingly bright green eyes, and fangs.
“What's your name?” the figure asked.
“Morris,” the memory of himself replied. He remembered being scared, apprehensive, and strangely curios.
“I'm called Thaddeus,” he replied softly. He smiled down Morris with sympathy as if comforting a child. “Why do you weep, sir?”
He told Thaddeus of his wife, and losing her. Thaddeus stared at him all the while with intent focus.
“What will you do now?” Thaddeus asked.
“There's nothing left to do,” Morris replied sadly. Depression had taken him over wholly and completely. In his eyes, there was no life without that of his wife.
At Moriss' reply, Thaddeus frowned deeply. He looked at Morris as if with deep contemplation. Then, a look of decision crossed his features. He nodded his head at Morris. “I understand your pain. If you'll allow it, I'd like to relieve you of your suffering. I will take you away from this world.”
Morris accepted his offer, and allowed Thaddeus to bite into him and drain him. In that moment, he was more grateful than he ever remembered being. That feeling was short lived as a foggy memory came into him at his last moments of life.
“Live life forever as a monster,” Thaddeus hissed menacingly, his empathic facade completely melted away, “then tell me your petty moral problems.”
Along with Morris' innocence, died his mortality. His slipped into unconsciousness, only to awake alone. He lay sprawled across the floor of an empty house. The white dress shirt draped across his chest was coated in dried, purple blood. He remembered how he felt, all those years ago. An overwhelming sense of physical pain, nausea, disorientation, abandonment, and helplessness washed over him. Every movement he made was an extreme effort that ached in every inch of his frame.
It was light out, but all the shades were drawn. A small sliver of light cracked through the shades. He seemed to be in an empty house. The blade of sun laid across the house's floor with calm tantalization. As he moved himself to sit up, his hand passed momentarily through the spot of light, and he threw himself back with shocking force. A burning, unlike any he'd ever experienced before, passed through the delicate skin of his hand. He drew his hand to his face. It shook uncontrollably from his blazing nerves. A black, ash streak, the same width of the blade of sun, marred the top of his hand. The skin was dried and flaky.
The despair of the situation was almost too much to bring back to memory. He didn't want to know the answer to his question, a question he feared he already knew the answer to, but refused to acknowledge. With his unwounded hand, he brought his fingers up to his teeth. His heart sank as he felt the long, pointed teeth in his mouth. He shot to his feet and screamed. “Thaddeus!” He searched every inch of the house, but couldn't escape beyond the walls of the house where the sun sat up in the sky, blazing down on the earth below. “Thaddeus!” His screams echoed off the empty walls, penetrated every corner of the house, but he was nowhere to be found. Morris was alone, and would remain that way the rest of his life. Thaddeus had punished him for giving up on life by forcing him to live it forever, alone.
Morris snapped back to reality. The girl was slumped against him, unconscious. Her heart beat was faint, the color of her skin drained of all blood. He forced himself to let go of her neck, to stop drinking. He saw tears dripping onto her chest, but it took him a minute to realize it was coming from him. He stood there, shocked at the emotion coming from him. He knelt to the ground, still holding the girl. There was no saving her, now. He had drank too much, and she was too far gone. He refused to turn her. Sobs bubbled up from him, and the tears flowed faster. He embraced the girl against his chest and sobbed into her dying form. He would grant her mercy: the mercy of death Thaddeus had refused him all those years ago.
This short story from 2012 ended up not turning out at all the way I wanted it to. That, or the way I wanted it to turn out just wasn't actually that great of an idea. I'd love to go back to this story and rewrite it as a comedy using the same plot. Maybe channel a little bit more of Christopher Moore's vampire trilogy into it instead of Anne Rice's vampire chronicles. But as it stands now, the stereotypes, the melodrama, and the messy ending that I wrote in a hurry are not working out for me. A project that's disappointing, but certainly not dead.