Originally posted in 1998 or so.
Stare at the stars through coffin dirt
Whoever knew dead bones could hurt
Narcotic blossom of an impure desire
claw out of the crypt and flee the pyre
Tear the shrouds from my eyes
I am reanimated
Death had tried to take me
And death is none less hated,
Life rebreathed into me,
I am reanimated
Awake with lustful hunger,
demanding to be fed
Compelling visions twist and burn
deep inside my head
Tearing away the stitches,
Whatever it’s demise
Hands firmly clawing
Ripping death’s disguise
Death had tried to take me
And death is none less hated,
Life rebreathed into me,
I am reanimated
“Yes,” Brel thought to herself, “he’s going to make a most interesting victim.”
Brel stood off to one side facing the stage as Nosferatu’s Revenge thundered through their encore, “Re-animated,” the song that propelled them to the international spotlight more than two years ago. Although swirling, writhing bodies slammed and moshed all around her, she maintained her own space amongst the sea of sweaty kids. They instinctively avoided her as she studied the lead singer. And despite Brel’s diminutive stature, when a stray crowd surfer did invade her space, it was with a casual, almost indifferent shove that Brel tossed the girl back on her way.
Occasionally Brel would take her eyes away from Robert to observe the cavorting youths around her. “Exuberant dancing to primitive, simple beats dressed in exotic melodies,” she observed to herself with a private smile; despite all its advances human kind wasn’t as far removed from its roots as it liked to think. But it was back to the tall, wiry Robert, front man and creator of Nosferatu’s Revenge, that her gaze always returned. Robert, who combined his knowledge of the occult and talent for music. Robert, who took advantage of the current pop-culture fascination with the romanticized notion of the vampire and turned it into a marketing empire. Robert, who was rumored to have a blood fetish. Robert, who sang of awakening to undeath.
Subliminally I push away
The very things I need to stay
Ripped the heartbeat from my chest
Hollow claims never rest
An everlasting bloodlust cry
And I am reanimated
Death had tried to take me
And death is none less hated,
Life rebreathed into me,
I am reanimated
The stage lights had dimmed the cavernous arena to a dull gloom as Rob sang the last verse that accompanied the melodic coda of Reanimated. As his last syllable faded away, and the band scampered to get off stage, the crowd erupted in an appreciative roar. As he walked to the side of the stage he removed his earplugs and turned to wave to the crowd once more as the house lights began to come on. That was when he spotted her.
She stood a few feet from the corner of the stage, just beyond the crowd control barrier. There was no doubt in Rob’s mind that she was staring directly at him, despite the distance. She stood with her arms folded beneath her breasts and her feet planted wide, as if with a self-satified air of impudence. Long red ringlets of hair cascaded down the sides of her pale face. Rob gazed back at her with open-mouthed captivation. After a moment she realized he was staring back at her and gave him the slightest of smiles and cocked an eyebrow.
Then Melody grabbed him as she marched off the stage. “Come on, Robbie, you can groupie gaze from the limo. It’s time to blow this popsicle stand.” She tossed the last of her guitar picks into the crowd.
“Jesus Mel, did you see that woman?” Rob asked as they marched down the steps off the stage. “She — “
“Yeah, I saw about 6,000 of ’em,” Mel replied, laughing. “Come on, let’s get the fuck outta here before we get mobbed.”
The suburban Cleveland record store was mobbed.
While impressive in itself, given the unseasonably freezing temperatures, the blocks-long line out the door was that much more impressive. Cleveland was the last stop on the North American tour, then the band had the whole month of December off. Then the January 3rd date in Buenos Aires kicked off the South American tour, followed by the European leg. Then another month off before Nosferatu’s Revenge hit Japan and selected dates in the Far East. That was how the band helped build their following without radio airplay or MTV: constant touring.
“Who should I make that out to?” Rob asked, taking the CD liner notes in his hand without even looking up from the table.
“To Brel.” Her accent sounded vaguely European. He looked up.
It was the red-headed woman from the show the night before in Cincinnati.
Rob opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. Brel smiled bewitchingly, unconsciously imitating her stance from the night before, arms folded, legs firmly planted. After a moment she unfolded her arms and leaned over the table in front of Rob, who sat transfixed, mouth agape.
“That’s B-r-e-l,” the woman said slowly. Rob did nothing. “And you can close your mouth now,” she added softly, finally dropping her gaze and standing back up, still smiling.
Rob closed his eyes and shook his head. “Sorry, I zoned for a second. To Brel, right?” He wrote on the CD sleeve: Brel, come to Gate C at the arena tonight and tell the security guard your name. He will have a floor ticket and a backstage pass for you. Rob.
“Here you go Brel.”
She read the inscription and laughed. “Contrary to legend, Robert, I don’t need invitations to go where I wish. But thank you just the same. I’m flattered.” And then she smiled that bewitching smile.
Rob stood at the edge of the stage for a moment after the rest of the band members had left. He scanned the crowd, looking for the red-headed woman. Because of his presence, the crowd kept chanting, despite the glaring house lights and members of the road crew swarming the stage, quickly tearing down equipment. He finally turned and wandered backstage, absently accepting the glass of champagne Keith handed him.
“Fucking-A!” exclaimed Keith. As the drummer and one-third of the three founding members of Nosferatu’s Revenge — he liked to claim Kieth Moon as his namesake — he was already on his way to being happily drunk and pleasantly stoned; his forbear would have been proud. “Every fucking show, sold the fuck out, man.” He raised his glass and everyone around him, band members, girlfriends, boyfriends, their manager, June, and her assistants, local musical dignitaries and such followed suit. “To Nosferatu’s Revenge. We be kickin’ that ass!”
Rob obediently raised his glass and smiled at everyone as if on cue, tossed back the Dom Peringon, and looked around for another glass of something. He spied Brel on the fringe of the backstage crowd, a glass of champagne in her hand, untouched.
He squeezed through the crowd of reveling hangers-on and made his way to her. “I didn’t think you were going to make it,” he said when he stood before her. She smiled and offered him her glass of champagne. He gulped it down, feeling shy, chasing his pleasure and relief. On a whim he tossed the empty glass over his head, where it shattered behind him. The whole time she never took her eyes off his.
“I … had a problem with my dinner,” Brel said, with her soft lilt. “It … disagreed with me.”
“I take it you are feeling better?”
“Yes, quite. Thank you.”
“I, uh, don’t suppose you might want to have dinner with me, then?” Rob asked awkwardly, absently wiping his sweaty palms on his thighs.
“To be honest, I’m no longer hungry,” she said, a note of apology in her voice. Then she smiled brightly. “But it would please me to keep you company.”
They stood on a hotel balcony later that evening looking over the lights of downtown Cleveland toward the inky blackness of Lake Erie. Rob was pleasantly drunk and felt perfectly comfortable in his ragged denim jacket despite the chill late November air. Brel stood next to him, her arm in his, a drink in her other hand, untouched.
After talking into the wee hours of the morning in a small downtown bar, they decided to check into the motel around the corner at Brel’s suggestion, in order to continue their discussion.
“Well, if you look at the original vampire myths of eastern Europe, vampires were those persons that committed suicide or suffered some other untimely death, or were buried on unconsecrated ground,” Brel was saying. “And they didn’t have fangs, they — “
“No fangs?” Interrupted Rob. “Then they didn’t suck blood?”
“These beings had forked tongues used to pierce the flesh of their victims,” continued Brel in her quiet lilt. “The extraordinary incisors were the embellishments of western authors such as Rymer and Le Fanu, and later of course, my countryman Bram Stoker.” She paused and turned her head to look up into his face. “But then, many legends get twisted and embellished with time.”
Rob returned her gaze, shaking his head with a wistful smile. Brel continued to fascinate him, as she had all night. “You know, all the reading and research I’ve done, I’ve never come across that, about the forked tongues. It’s not often I meet someone who knows more about history and the occult than I do.”
Brel returned his smile. “You’ve certainly picked a rather curious manner in which to indulge your scholarly interest.”
Rob looked away and laughed a self-conscious laugh. “I suppose the whole Nosferatu’s Revenge business seems rather ridiculous to someone steeped in knowledge of the occult and the darker side of history, such as yourself,” he said.
“On the contrary,” Brel said, stepping away from him for a moment to lean against the balcony railing and turning her gaze to the skyline. “I find the occult imagery and historical content of your lyrics both fascinating and appealing.” She paused and turned to him with a smile as he stepped up beside her. “And sometimes the music itself is downright enthralling. I … think it hearkens to something tribal and instinctive.
“Furthermore, it naturally appeals to peoples’ interest in the unknown and the unknowable, which naturally increases as we head towards the end of the millennium. Art is but a reflection of life.”
“Even art that some critics would say is merely cashing in by reflecting peoples –“
“I’m surprised at you Robert,” Brel said, interrupting and turning to look at him. “You don’t strike me as someone who often concerns himself with what the critics have to say, and furthermore, you don’t strike me as someone who is in it just for the money.”
“I’m not,” Robert said, turning away from the balcony, embarrassed, and not sure why. “It’s just … you’re the first woman I’ve met in a long time that seems to share my interests, and … aw fuck it, I’m drunk.”
Brel walked up behind him and put her arms around him. “Robert, the question of artistic legitimacy as it relates to making money and popular culture has been around for centuries. Besides even art that is made with commercial intent to capitalize on what is popular at that given moment is still nevertheless a valid expression: it still imitates life.”
Rob turned inside her embrace and kissed her.
They stroked the backs of one another’s legs as they lay entwined on the bed in a sweaty, post-orgasmic lull. Even though they had only just met, Rob felt that he could trust her, that he could ask her for what he wanted. After a few quiet minutes, he did.
“Yes.” Her voice was quiet. She knew what was coming — had expected it, of course, But then things were taking a turn with this Rob that she hadn’t expected or anticipated.
“If you’ve followed the band’s career, you’ve probably read about my blood fetish.”
In the dark, on the surface, Brel didn’t say a word. She didn’t move to get up, nor did she stop stroking his thigh. But inside her mind raced as she considered possibilities, and then rejected them one by one. After a moment she stopped stroking his leg and raised her wrist to her mouth for a moment. Then she offered it to his lips. “Just a small drink for you, my love.”
In the dark, before he even realized what was happening, the drops of blood fell on Rob’s tongue. It tasted like blood had tasted before, but somehow different. It tasted stronger, much more stronger, coppery and sweet. And it tickled and burned in his throat. His head swam as he felt himself become aroused once more. He grasped her wrist and pressed it to his lips, sucking greedily.
But after a moment she pulled her arm away violently, and then quickly and forcefully pushed him down onto the bed as she climbed on top of him and straddled his body.
“That’s enough for now, my love. Now it is time for you to provide me with succor.”
With that she began kissing and nuzzling his throat as his arms went around her, embracing her. Rob lifted his head to return her kiss when something hot and hard pierced his neck.
Brel moaned softly and Rob gasped as his blood blossomed in her mouth and flowed into her throat. Almost instantly the pleasant fire in his neck seemed to flow throughout his body tracing its way back along veins and arteries to his heart. It began to race as his thoughts began to whirl; he could hear Brel’s heart racing with his as she took his blood into her body, and somewhere in the fog of his mind he could hear her thoughts, as if she were flowing into his head as his blood flowed into her body. Don’t worry love, I won’t take all of you.
His heart continued to race as his mind descended deeper into fog. From a distance he felt himself climax; it was if he were detached from his body somehow, and his own orgasm a mere pale shadow of the delicious pain he was feeling. Just as he felt himself losing consciousness, he felt her withdraw from his neck and the fire almost immediately began to subside. “No,” he whispered. “No.”
“Yes, my love,” answered Brel, as she cradled Rob in her arms, “not just yet. But I’ll be back for you.”
Rob opened the window and let the warm night air of Rio de Janeiro fill the hotel suite. He savored a mouthful of scotch for a moment before setting his glass down on the windowsill and taking a lung full of moist air tinged with automotive exhaust and sea salt. The lights of the Brazilian city were spread out before him. There was a knock at the door. The South American promoter had provided bodyguards; it must be one of them, he thought, or someone with the band. “It’s open.”
A trapezoid of light spilled from the doorway, invaded the darkness and landed at his feet. “Moping in the dark again, Robbie?” It was Melody. “And is that my Beethoven CD I hear?”
“Fuck you,” Rob replied quietly. “I’m not moping. And yes it is.”
Mel switched on a table lamp beside the couch and plopped down. With the invasion of light Rob turned from the window, retrieved his scotch and sat down next to Mel.
“Then what the hell are you doing?” she asked.
“June asked me why you weren’t at the party last night. And the guy from Spin — “
“Is a fucking asshole!” Rob said, finishing her sentence and standing up to return to the window sill, suddenly angry. “And I wasn’t in the mood for a party. If the suits were pissed off, then too fucking bad!”
He waited for her to blow up; he fully expected her to jump his ass for jumping hers for no reason. They’d been best friends since they were kids and rarely quarreled, but when they did, it tended to be hell breaking loose. He was surprised when she replied quietly.
“Look, Robbie, we’re all on the same team.” She sighed softly. “June told me what that specialist said.”
Rob drained his glass before replying. “Oh?” He turned from the window and looked at Melody. He spoke softly. “Did she tell you everything? That I’m not anemic? In fact just the opposite? That my T-cell count is off the chart and no one understands why? That there are fucked up what-do-call-it, leukocytes in my blood? That they can’t identify? That he doesn’t have any explanation for it all? Aside from the fact that I’m now an official freak.”
He walked back over to the couch and sat down next to Melody, set his empty glass on the coffee table and placed his head in his hands. Melody put her arm around his shoulder and hugged him. “I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me, Mel,” he said from behind his hands. He massaged his temples and sat back on the couch. “Just when I thought I was starting to forget about her, this shit pops up with that blood test.”
Rob turned and looked at her. “After that night in Cleveland, I thought maybe I was crazy — that maybe it was a drunken fantasy … Christ, now I don’t know what to believe. And the crazy, fucked up dreams.”
Mel put her hand in an inside breast pocket of her leather vest and produced a joint. She lit up and held a deep breath of the sweet smoke before slowly exhaling. “At least now you can have a hit, that all the tests are over.” She offered it to him, but he refused.
“Nah. No thanks. I don’t know whether it’s been so long or what, but I don’t have much desire to toke anymore, just like food tastes so fucking bland.” He reached over and turned off the lamp.
“You seem to have developed quite the taste for that scotch — LaFrog or whatever the fuck.”
“Laphroig,” he said absently. He reached for glass and crunched thoughtfully on some ice. “It burns and tickles my throat,” he said slowly. “I like that.”
He watched the spark of her joint rise to her lips and burn brighter for a moment. Throughout the past month she had heard all about the fabulous Brel — too much, she in fact thought, but she would never admit that to Rob in his current state of mind. She knew him better that anyone, naturally, and as such she knew to tread lightly on all things Brel. Nevertheless … “Maybe it’s true,” she said, her voice raspy with pot smoke. “Maybe she is a fucking vampire.”
Rob got up and wandered over to the window once more. The distant sounds of laughter, music, and automobiles drifted up from the street below. “Jesus, don’t let June hear that,” Rob said with a sigh. “Then she’ll think we’re both fucking loony.”
They both sat and talked for awhile longer until the conversation drifted off into a drunken and stoned silence. Mel eventually fell asleep with her head on Rob’s shoulder. After a time he stood up and gently laid her on the couch, gingerly removing her snakeskin boots.
Rob looked at her for a moment, smiled softly and recalled — for about the millionth time — the one and only time they had had sex. It was no secret that he carried a torch for her — he had pretty much from the time he five and moved onto her street — and even now, mixed up with Brel and blood, that torch was still lit. He was 15 and she was 16. There had been band practice that night, in preparation for what would be the first gig of the first version of Nosferatu’s Revenge, although back then they were called Graf Orlock Loves You. Mel and Rob were alone in his parents house; they were gone for the weekend ans he and Mel had left Keith snoring quietly and drunkenly on the porch. For the last hour he had pleaded with her to let him go down on her and give her head, since she was on her period; she had at last agreed despite her drunken misgivings.
That was almost 20 years ago now. “It’s been all downhill from there,” he said gently, laughing softly at the old joke. Melody had never slept with him again — she had had strict rules about sleeping with band mates even then — but had become his first regular blood donor after that night. And while they had already been best friends for years, after that night they were something more. At the sound of his voice she murmured something unintelligible and curled up into a deeper ball of sleep. Rob smiled fondly down at her once more before returning to the window.
“Brel, come back to me,” he said softly. He closed his eyes as he reached out to grasp each side of the window frame. The night breeze brought the final verse of “Reanimated” from a passing car on the street below.
Awakened and reliving
Amidst what does fall.
But sometimes life cannot be kind,
Sometimes love … doesn’t conquer all.
As the sound of his own digitized voice faded into the distance, Rob imagined the feel of Brel’s forked tongue piercing his skin, the flow of his blood, his self into her. He imagined his thoughts flowing out of himself and seeking her, calling to her as he had for the past five weeks: Brel, come back.
He opened his eyes and contemplated the pavement far below, bathed in street lights. Lately he had been wondering what would happen if he were to slit his wrists, letting his perverted blood spill out. His death imminent, he fantasized that Brel was near, watching him, and would be forced to act. He dreamed that she was connected to his mind, now that she had drank from him, and would be forced to come to him. Why did she not come? He couldn’t fathom why, nor could he: he only wanted her back. He leaned out of the window as far as he could and gently let himself tumble out.
The ground came rushing up at him as he fell head first. “Oh-shit-oh-God-she’s-not-going-to — “
But she did. Brel knocked the breath out of him as she caught him, meeting his plunge two stories above the street. He gasped for breath as they quickly ascended to the roof of the hotel. She set him down roughly between two large air conditioning units, the loud hum of the fans only slightly muffling her angry voice. “Gods Wounds, Robert! Are ye fucking daft?!” She shouted, standing above his sprawled form.
Rob lay on the asphalt roof gasping for breath and staring up at Brel’s face. Despite the shadows and shafts of light playing across her, he could make out the fresh blood on her chin, and he realized instinctively it wasn’t hers. As if reading his mind, she pulled a bandanna out of her pocket and began wiping her chin.
“God damn it, do you realize what you could’ve — ” she broke off her invective as she suddenly whirled around. She paused, cocked her head as if listening, then began to stride towards the edge of the roof. “Och, he’s still alive. I’ve got to — “
“No!” Robert croaked and lunged at her, grabbing her leg. “You can’t … you can’t leave me,” he said, still trying to catch his breath. Brel turned around and looked at him, her face a mixture of anger, annoyance and concern. As she did, he said “I’ll just jump again if you do. We need … we need to talk. You, you changed me somehow. Did something to me.” He paused and took a few deep breaths. “What are you?”
As Brel listened to him, her anger and annoyance melted away. She put her arms around him as he sat up and cradled his head against her thigh. Slowly, hesitantly, he returned the embrace.
“I’m sorry Robert, so very sorry,” she murmured softly. “I … I let you have too much of my blood. And I spent too long taking from you. I never intended this but — ” she suddenly broke her embrace. “I’m sorry but I do have to go. You interrupted my feeding and my victim still lives. I have to go back and finish.”
“Why! What the fuck happens!” Robert shouted, suddenly angry, trying to grab her again. “Does he turn into a freak like me?”
Brel whirled to face him again, and pushed his arms away as her eyes flashed angrily at his once more. But then her gaze turned solemn. “No. He’ll alert the authorities as to what attacked him and how. Or worse, he’ll turn into a freak like me.” And with that she was suddenly gone.
“No Wait! Wait God-fucking-damn it! Fucking take me with you!” Robert screamed to the sky. And before he realized it he was soaring above the hotel.
Even as Brel set him gently down inside the park six blocks away, Rob heard the feeble cries for help. Through the trees a young man stumbled towards him, clutching his neck; his white Nosferatu’s Revenge t-shirt was soaked with fresh blood. Before Rob could even react Brel was standing between him and the youth; the kid abruptly stopped and his eyes grew wide at the sight of the vampire who had just attacked him a few moments before was suddenly standing before him once again.
He whirled as if to run but Brel grabbed his free arm and jerked it behind him. There was a loud crack as his upper arm popped out of its socket, and he began to scream as he fell to his knees. With a quick jerk of her hands Brel snapped the kid’s neck with a second loud crack, abruptly silencing him forever. Rob watched with horror, stunned and shocked into silence as Brel sank to her knees, lowering the corpse to the ground. Her long forked tongue snaked out of her mouth, seeking the blood still flowing slowly from the youth’s neck. Rob heard her moan softly as she planted her mouth to the wound and began to suck.
After a moment the corpse was dry. Brel raised her head with a gasp, letting a rivulet of blood run from the corner of her mouth. She dropped the head of the corpse and let it fall roughly to the ground. Wild-eyed, and with her breath heaving, she raised her hands and cupped her face as if to catch the blood running from her lips. After a moment she slowly rose to her feet and turned to face Robert, who still stared at her, mouth agape, in stunned silence.
Brel walked over to him slowly, her hands still held to her face, until they were only inches apart. Rob continued to stair open-mouthed as if frozen with fear. Slowly she took one of her bloody hands away from her face and gently brushed a fingertip around his lips, wetting them with blood. In spite of himself and what he had just witnessed, suddenly he gripped her hand with both of his own and began greedily sucking at the blood on her fingers. She giggled and went to embrace him.
But as she did so, Rob glimpsed over her shoulder the corpse on the ground in front of them. It lay on its left side with its back to them, the right arm twisted around behind and underneath it. The head lay twisted unnaturally as if it were looking back over its misshapen shoulder at them. One eye stared glassily at Rob through its half-raised lid. And then he smelled the odors of death; with the muscles of its bowels and bladder forever relaxed, the corpse had soiled itself.
Rob suddenly pushed Brel away, dropped to his knees and began to retch violently and uncontrollably. Brel stood and watched him for a moment. Her giggles stopped, her smile gone. Her eyelids slowly began to brim with unshed tears. Then she was gone. Rob looked up after a moment, gasping for breath, and saw that the corpse was gone too. He stared at the blood stains on the trampled grass for a moment, crawled a few feet away from his vomit and collapsed face down in the grass. When Brel returned a few minutes later, he was sitting up, waiting for her. Without a word she picked him up and they were soaring high over the evening lights of Rio de Janeiro toward the sea.
They walked along a deserted beach north of Rio for a while, not speaking, the only sound that of waves breaking on the sand. The moon was high above the eastern horizon shining off the waters of the Atlantic, providing a soft gloom. After a while, Rob stopped and sat down, gazing out over the ocean. Brel sat down beside him, following his gaze out across the water. It was he who finally broke the silence. “So, why did you bring me here?”
“To talk,” she said softly, not taking her gaze away from the water. “I didn’t think you’d want to remain in the park.”
“That’s an understatement,” he said, without laughing. “So talk.”
Brel turned to look at him. “I’m 2,700 years old Robert. It’s been … a long time since I felt the way I feel now towards you. At first, you were just going to be my victim.” She paused to let that sink in, then turned her gaze back to the water before continuing. “I thought it would be fun to take the lead singer of a band that calls itself Nosferatu’s Revenge, of all things, as a victim. How fitting. I was thinking, ‘You think you’ve got a blood fetish? I’ll show you a blood fetish.’
“But then as I got to know you … I don’t know … I didn’t want to kill you. When we made love, I — I never should have let you drink from me. I didn’t think you drank enough for my blood to have such a profound effect on you, but then I forget sometimes just how old and powerful I am.”
She suddenly stood up and picked him up by his armpits and lifted him effortlessly to his feet. “But let me finish what I started that night, Robert,” she said excitedly, “let me give all my blood to you. I can — “
“You can finish turning me into a vampire?” Rob said, grimly. He pushed his way out of her arms and walked a few steps away from her before whirling around to face her again.
“Is that really what’s been happening to me? Why my blood is so screwed up? Why food doesn’t taste good? I can’t sleep at night? Why I’ve been so fucked up for the last month?” He stopped and sat back down in the sand. “I never imagined it would be like this. … This is insane.”
Brel walked over to him and sat down beside him. “I’m sorry Robert. After all this time, I should’ve known I’d fall in love again with a mortal like you. I guess I’m still capable of being … human after all.”
“Is that why you didn’t kill me?”
“Then why didn’t you finish making me over into a vampire right then and there back in Cleveland?”
Brel stared into his eyes for moment without speaking, then turned her gaze away. “We can read, or at least sense thoughts Robert. Pick up emotions or impressions of them. But when I shared blood with you, I came to know you like no mortal person ever could. I … you are too beautiful a being to turn over to an eternity of this existence.” She turned her gaze back to his and he saw the tears in her eyes. “You have the heart and soul of a poet. You are an artist. Not a killer. You saw me back there in the park, saw what it is that I am, what I do.” She paused for moment and turned her gaze back to the ocean. When she resumed there was a thoughtful yet sad tone to her voice.
“Your reaction now only proves me right. You know, It can be a wonderful existence, immortality. I’ve watched a world rise up from savagery to take its first tentative steps towards the stars. Of course, it’s a two-way street; I’ve watched cultures become more close-minded, banal and insipid. But the people I’ve known, the history I’ve seen unfold — I can’t begin to describe to you what it is like. But it’s not the lonely existence so many authors describe. At least not for me. I have no moral qualms with what I am, and I’ve had hundreds of friends and lovers across the ages, both immortal and mortal.
“But make no mistake Robert,” she said grimly, turning her gaze back to his, “we are predators who need human blood and human death to live and reproduce. The smell of blood is the ultimate narcotic for my kind. It’s an upper, downer and aphrodisiac all rolled into one. The need, the hunger is a hundredfold more powerful than mortal appetites for sex and food, and its satisfaction is that much more as well. It’s not just a high, it’s survival. I do what I do to survive, as is my right. To be like me, to live this existence, is to be a killer.”
She stopped and raised a hand to his cheek, which he covered with his own. Her question hung between them, unspoken.
“You’re right Brel,” Robert said, his voice catching in his throat, as tears sprang to his own eyes. “It’s an intoxicating idea, to have all the time in the world to experience what you have, to see what you’ve seen. And as surely as you fell for me I’ve fallen in love with you, and frankly I never though I’d ever love anyone but Mel. … But …”
He dropped her hand and turned away from her. “I can’t … I can’t kill people. I … I can’t get the picture of that dead kid out of my mind, Jesus, his screams and I — “
Brel interrupted him with an embrace as he began to sob uncontrollably. With tears streaming down her own face, she held him as he cried. As his sobs slowly began to subside she gently lowered him to the sand and sat down beside him, her arms still around him. After a while he turned his head and looked at her somberly. He held up his wrist to her mouth. Slowly, never taking her eyes from his, she grasped the proffered wrist with both hands. She raised a questioning eyebrow. He slowly nodded his head once, his grim, somber face never changing.
Rob gasped and closed his eyes as her tongue pierced the veins of his wrist and the tendrils of deliciously hot pain crept up inside his arm. Brel followed him as he lay back on the sand. Greedily, she sucked drought after drought of his blood. As Rob felt his heart fall into sync with hers, he felt his thoughts touching hers. “Take me … kill me …”
Her pain and anger cut through his mind like a knife as she violently tore herself away from his opened wrist.
“Nae Robert!” she cried, still clutching his bleeding arm. “I’ll not,” she said between gasps of breath, “I’ll not … kill you. I’ll make you … one of us.” Rob slowly opened his eyes to gaze sadly into Brel’s face.
“Please,” he said softly, his voice barely rising above the sound of the surf. “Brel. It’s the only way. This way … I will be with you always.”
Tears fell from Brel’s eyes. She said nothing, but shook her head, still sensing his thoughts. She shook her head yes.
Robert smiled slightly, looking at her. “You’re so lovely. I wouldn’t have thought vampires could cry.”
“Aye,” Brel smiled back through her tears, “when we hurt. It’s been … a long time.”
Keeping her eyes locked on his, she took his bleeding wrist between her lips and began to suck once more, not violently, but slowly and gently.
Within moments, Robert was gone, and for the first time in centuries, Brel openly wept as she clutched his body. When the tears dried up she turned her eyes from Robert’s face and looked out over the ocean. The horizon was aglow with orange light. Brel slowly smiled sadly to herself as she gazed at the cursory light of the coming dawn. It would be so easy, she thought to herself, to watch the sun rise for the first time in more than two millennia. But there had been others, and there would surely be others still.
She committed Robert’s body to the surf and watched as the waves carried it away. Then she fled west even as the first rays of the sun tickled the tips of the waves.
She was out of the saddle, the banana seat chaffing the insides of her knees and her legs pumping as madly as her lungs as they propelled her bike down the street, the homes seeming to whiz blurrily by. As she approached the four-way intersection above her cul-de-sac, she looked both ways but didn’t bother to slow down; she would catch hell if her Dad saw her, but there was no way she was letting this new kid on the block, this Robbie somebody, catch her. Besides he was only five while she was six; she just had to win.
As she bounced up over the curb and into her driveway she braked hard and then put her left leg out to pivot and spun her bike around, leaning to the left and leaving a patch of rubber as she stopped. A little way behind her Robbie the new kid came coasting up. She figured he would be mad; she could beat all the boys in the neighborhood and no one else would race her anymore. But Robbie peddled up staring wide-eyed, the race to see who was first forgotten. “Whoa! That was cool!” he said breathlessly, smiling up at her. “Can you teach me how to do that?”
She started at him for a second, momentarily confused, and then smiled back at him, feeling suddenly bashful. “Sure.”
She blinked —
and they were playing music again, just the three of them. The big room around them was dim and shadowy, but as she looked around at Rob and Keith — those two blazed with light and energy. They were running through Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” for the fourth or fifth time and she couldn’t stop smiling, even though Rob’s voice was beginning to crack after several hours, and the case that surrounded her creaky ‘ole amp was starting to vibrate apart — again. She couldn’t stop smiling for two reasons. One: even though she was just 16 years old, she knew at that moment that beyond doubt they were going to make it, this band. Two: for the first time in a decade — for the first since her Dad died — at that moment she was truly happy.
She blinked —
and she was in Rob’s room, on his bed, his head was between her legs, and oh God oh God oh God she was coming. One hand was ground into the top of his head and the other was clamped tightly over her mouth and his sweaty t-shirt to try and stifle her ecstatic moaning. As she gazed down at him, he suddenly stopped and looked up, a sloppy, shit-eating grin on his face, his long hair wild and all over the the place, and his lips and chin smeared with her menstrual blood — and she busted out laughing. “You look like a heavy metal clown,” she said.
She blinked —
and they were sitting on the beach at sunrise. They were facing each other, her hands in his and almost 20 years had passed. An old boom box sat near by; Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was playing softly, just above the gentle sigh of the surf. He smiled sadly. “I have to go now,” he said. “I’m afraid it really is all down hill from there.” She opened her mouth, but no sound came out, just sudden heartbreak and wretchedness. She reached out to touch his face, but he was already miles away. “I know, and I’m sorry,” he said, his voice coming from all around her now. And then for a brief moment he was in front of her again, standing, and he was 15 years old. “For what it’s worth, I did love you, you know.” And he smiled that lopsided grin —
She woke up to a morning breeze blowing the curtains around, framing the early morning sun on the horizon. Beethoven was still playing softly on repeat. Her eyes were already brimming with tears as she looked listlessly around Rob’s hotel suite. Clothes and whatnot were scattered around, as if he had just stepped out.
But she knew. She knew.
“G’bye Robbie,” she whispered. “I love you too.”
And then she began to weep.
Author’s Note: Some readers may realize that this is a companion piece of sorts to Jessica’s True Nature. Like last time, I thought it would be interesting for a vampire to meet someone who has a blood fetish — a regular person who happens to like drinking blood. Of course, this story ends considerably differently than Jessica’s.
I should also note that I changed the ending not long after I originally posted this; I never felt comfortable with Brel watching the sun rise one last time. She was 2,700 years old; surely she had fallen for a mortal before now — probably many times. Either I had to make her much younger, or else she had to live.
Plus I fleshed out Melody’s character a bit move, and gave her an epilogue.
One more thing. I used to hang out on a message board called Pathway to Darkness once upon a time, back when I was into this vampire/goth aesthetic about a million years or so ago. At the time I was having trouble with the lyrics to “Reanimated,” the song in this story. I turned to my Pathway friends, particularly Gabrielle and Lamya, for help; once I explained what I needed, they, among others, took a stab at it. I couldn’t decide which one I liked more, so I combined both; the result is what you see here. A bit … juvenile, I guess, but then there you go.
Anyway I have long since lost contact with anyone from that board years ago and Pathway to Darkness is now the URL for some winery (albeit a vamp-themed one). So Gabrielle and Lamya, wherever you ladies are, I salute you.