There are monsters

Es ist mal wieder so weit, mir ist danach, euch eines der Fragmente anzubieten, die bei mir in einem Ordner namens „Geschichten“ herumliegen, aber nie eine geworden sind. Viel Spaß allen Interessierten.

Julie felt the same ambiguous quivering in her stomach she always felt when a new customer arrived. Sure, she needed the money, but she hated what she had to do to get it.

When the window moved down and she got a look into the Lexus sedan, the quivering eased a little. The guy didn’t look too bad. Not because he was attractive, although he probably was, but because he looked… civilised. She didn’t think he would be mean to her or that he would want her to do some of the really gross things some customers expected for their money. Of course, looks could deceive, but there was nothing she could do, so she tottered towards the door on her high heels, grinning enticingly and got into the car. Without a word, he pressed a button to shut the window and drove back onto the street.

He looked strangely ageless, although she didn’t suppose that he could be much older than 35. He had dark hair that fell down to his shoulders and somehow managed to look thick and glossy and at the same time somewhat unwashed and oily. His skin was flawless but pale and without even a shimmer of bristle. It was quite possible that Julie had never seen a man so perfectly shaved. His lips were thin, his nose strong and angular. He was wearing Jeans, a black shirt and a dark gray jacket, and like his hair, his clothes seemed strangely pristine and worn at once. Thinking of it, his whole person was quite well described by this contradictory impression.

“Hi”, Julie said. She usually had to be the first to speak. “What do you want me to do?”

There were lots of different philosophies about this, but she preferred the direct approach.

When he turned to her, his pale blue eyes just about stopped her heart. She gasped. Julie had never been transfixed by anyone’s gaze and, until now, she had thought it a bad novelist’s cliché.

“What is your name?” he asked. He didn’t quite whisper, he spoke too loudly to call it that, but his voice was a toneless hiss.

She tried her usual naughty grin and failed spectacularly.

“D-Daisy”, she answered.

“No”, he hissed. “Your real name.”

She knew that there was no sense in lying to him.

“I can’t”, she said instead. “No matter what you pay me, I never tell a customer my real name.”

“I am not interested in paying you”, he said in his hissing whisper, and for the first time, she realized that he hadn’t taken his hypnotizing stare from her the whole time. She was distantly aware that he should watch where he was driving, but it didn’t seem very important to her.

“What is your name” he asked again.

“July Brennan”, she answered breathlessly. “What do you want me to do?”

“I am not interested in anything you could possibly do for me”, he answered.

“Then… Then what… Why?” she stammered.

After a few seconds of silence, he began to speak.

“I am not sure if this is necessary or if it is just a weird obsession of mine, but I want you to know why you have to die.”

“No.” She didn’t scream. She didn’t have the strength to scream. A horrible sinking feeling overpowered her, driven by the knowledge that she would die tonight. She felled tears welling from her eyes.

“Yes”, he whispered matter-of-factly.

“Please, no”, she snivelled, “Please! I-I have a daughter, I – you can’t…”

“Of course you do”, he hissed, “I know that. You have a daughter, and you hate what you do to earn the money to feed her, but it has not broken you yet. You love, and you dream, and you wish for a better life. You know what to live for, I can see that in your soul and that is why I have chosen you. I need that light that I can see when I look at you, and I need those dreams and this love that makes you you. That is what I have to do, and there is nothing I can do to change it.”

“No, please, please, why, you…” she sobbed incoherently while he continued hissing at her.

“If you believe that I have to kill, you probably think that I should kill somebody else. Maybe you would propose that I kill a mass-murderer from some death row somewhere, but I cannot. Their souls are empty, weak, sad, miserable, horrid things and I would rather dine on fresh manure than touch them. So there we are again, at the center point of the argument I feel compelled to lay before you: My choice is to either consume innocent, glowing souls like yours or to die. And that, really, is no choice at all, is it?”

He still had not taken his pale blue eyes from Julie, which held her with a power stronger than steel chains. The corners of his mouth turned upward in a bitter smile and he sighed.

“Why am I doing this? Of course, you cannot agree. Of course, you cannot understand. Does the doe forgive the wolf? Can the lion ask the buffalo to exonerate and bless him while he rips its throat out?”

She was ready to die from fear and desperation, and yet, there was a small part of her that was able to wonder how he could stop at red lights, change lanes and take right and left turns without looking at the road, and how he could do whatever he was doing that kept her from opening the door, jumping out of the car and screaming for help.

“Wh-what are you?” she stammered.

“Well”, I answered, “I rather surmise that my pointless efforts at rationalization have bored you enough as it is.”

********************************

I saw light in his room, so I went over and stopped before his door.

“Hello”, I said.

“Hi. Can’t sleep.”

“Me neither”, I answered, smiling guardedly.

He chuckled.

I just stood there befor the open door, waiting. I don’t like to say it. I am actually not positive I ever told them explicitly, but they know. So I waited. I am good at waiting.

“Come on in, dad”, he finally said.

So I did, and took a seat on the stool beside his bed.

He came over and sat on my knee. He had never done that before, and It gave me the same sort of quiet satisfaction I had felt before on the few occasions when mortals finally started to shed their instinctive fear of me.

I put my hands on his shoulders and thought about rocking my leg a little for good measure but decided to err on the side of dignity.

“Dad, how old are you?” he asked.

“I’m old, Brian”, I answered.

“How old are you?” he repeated. “Are you older than grampa?”

I gave a half-laugh, half-grunt. “Yes, Brian. I am older than anyone still alive.”

I am not technically certain that is true, but I honestly think so.

“How old are you?” he asked again.

It was kind of a game between us. I am not sure why I will not answer his question. Maybe because I doubt he would be able to fathom it. Maybe I am waiting for the day when he finally insists.

I have seen your kind surprised and alarmed by fire, accusing the one who made it of sorcery. I remain unconvinced that you changed very much since then.

“Are you going to die, dad?”

There. Distracted again. It never takes long for you, does it? I imagine it makes sense.

“No”, I answered. “Never.”

“Am I?” he asked.

“Yes. Eventually. But it will seem to you like a very long time.” Until the end, of course. But I did not mention that. I am not a complete killjoy.

********************************

There is nothing erotic about a vampire’s bite. It is not pleasant at all, there is nothing elegant and stylish about it, and it will not turn you into a vampire. It is simply one person eating another.

It is gory, it is gross, and it is certainly more than a little bit ridiculous if you manage to put all those feelings of horror and revulsion to the side, which, frankly, no one ever does. You cannot imagine what lengths I have gone to in order to make my victims look like random dead people instead of, well, the half-eaten prey of some cannibal psychopath serial killer.

Yes, half-eaten. Of course I leave remains. It is physically impossible for one whole human being to fit into another one’s innards. And I do not really need their flesh, anyway. What I really eat is not their bodies, it is their souls. I don’t have a soul of my own, which is what makes me a vampire. It is hard to explain to someone who has been born complete, but basically, I take their soul into me and use it up, slowly or quickly, depending on what I am doing. Directly after feeding, I can deliver an almost perfect imitation of a human being, and even when I’m really starving, I still do an adequate job of it, having had a lot of practice.

So I was really quite surprised when, one evening after I returned from my late walk with the dog, my wife told me she wanted a divorce, and she wanted sole custody, though she would leave me the house. I honestly did not know what to say.

She said a lot of things that night, and she said them very fast, probably because she was ashamed. I did not understand half of it, and did not care about most of the other half. So I agreed to everything, even to meeting her with her lawyer the evening tomorrow, then went to bed. And do not dare wondering if I lie in a coffin.

I could not sleep. Which is a rare experience for me, being afflicted with an insurmountable compulsion to rest at least 10 hours a day. This is probably the reason for rumours about our fear of sunlight. While I don’t know any other vampires, I myself am not hurt by the sun, but I prefer moonlight and would, were I without a family, probably sleep through the day.

Because some time had passed since I had fed, and I felt the stolen soul within me waning, I considered going out to hunt, but decided against it. Hunting had always been dangerous and was becoming ever more so with the continuing progress of technology and forensic medicine. Best not to attempt it while distracted by domestic discord.

The clichéd exit of every grieving husband, the bar, was not an option. Alcohol not only has no pleasant effect on me, it manifestly disagrees with my vampiric metabolism. Most victuals other than living human flesh do.

I could have just taken a walk, but I had just done that before my loving wife had acquainted me with the fact that she wasn’t.

So I decided to call a friend. Since I do not have that many, I did not need to think long on which one to call, especially considering that it was after midnight (leaving two choices, because most of even my friends sleep at night) and that my wife was filing to a divorce (leaving one choice, because a nightly meeting under such circumstances should be with a male friend).

Duncan is – no, not a werewolf – a changeling.

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