Marianne pouted in an exhibition of scornful coquettishness before leaving a red orchid on the man's forehead. She was unbuttoning his shirt and talking dirty to amuse herself.
"I'm gonna suck it so hard….gonna suck your fear…'
The man was heavily concussed after Marianne had fractured his skull and the majority of his ribs by hurling him against the wall. Oh, the look on his face when his spectral puppet strings were tugged. She immediately regretted her vulgar display of strength as he was too far gone on the way to death to be toyed with and she had the added irritation of having to keep propping him up against the far wall. He presented a bathetic spectacle, now in just his boxer shorts and socks, his head a swollen mess of contusions, black and pulpy like a rotten apple. Marianne only remembered the hurried departure from the night club after he had boasted he was a generous donor to the Conservative party and was friendly with a couple of Cabinet ministers. There was a limit to what a girl could take, even if she had been prepped by Henry to always drag it past midnight, when the streets would be emptier, less eyes and ears. Hedge fund was heavy set and middle aged with a deep tan and neat grey hair. No doubt recently back from the Maldives. And so to this, a burnt out flat over what had been a furniture store before it was looted and gutted by fire. He was an administrator for a hedge fund company. This he told her over champagne cocktails and cocaine. Being a vampire, the alcohol had little effect on her but she found ingesting the cocaine exhilarating. As always. The hedge fund administrator was very rich but not very happy. He told Marianne of his sense of emptiness, his self loathing and his shit marriage. How he paid whores (his words) to smoke crack with him. Some times his self hatred was so heightened he would pay them extra to defecate and urinate on him. The man had frittered away hundreds of thousands entertaining him in this manner but it still hardly impacted on his salary and bonuses. He had then snapped out of his funk and become arrogant and condescending; informing Marianne he'd popped a Viagra and adding cryptically that she'd earn it. Marianne had stayed calm; she had tolerated and become inured to corporate noxiousness over just short of three decades of trolling for blood. Well, soon he would be dead, juiced after a careful evisceration in a charred three storey building in Tottenham, ending his wretchedness. The man smelled of money. Well, did. Now he smelled of piss and shit, filling his pants when Marianne yanked him into an alley way and theatrically flashed her fangs. All for show, he revolted her and she only bit those she found attractive. Marianne rolled the shirt into a ball and dropped it on top of the suit and shoes she'd piled up in a corner. She pulled off the platinum slut wig, revealing her short cropped black hair cut into a severe bob, and skimmed it in the direction of Henry who was convulsing like a King's Cross junkie in a dark corner of the room. Her heels and little black dress swiftly followed. Petite and with skin that was pale to the point of being translucent, years of being undead had denuded fat and accentuated her bone structure, and she was now a somewhat disquieting mixture of ethereal beauty and lascivious ingénue, almost to the extent of being a simulacrum of discerning male desire; full and sensuous lips, delicate perfectly symmetrical features, and wide blue eyes that rendered her both vulnerable and predatory like a bishojo from an anime dating sim. One of the first guys she juiced had described her during a night of weed and cheap red wine as something out of a Henry James or an Edith Wharton novel, porcelain exquisite' were his exact words. Despite his earnest and hackneyed attempt at poeticism, she had still nearly decapitated him and stole his Bauhaus albums. Anyway, the lack of precision in the literary reference had annoyed her. And here she was, gamine and playful in her underwear. Marianne wished there was a mirror so she could see her reflection and admire her hotness. She had no audience, Henry being delirious with thirst and the man brain damaged beyond repair. Marianne sat the man bolt upright again and waggled her bony arse in his face.
They were illuminated by dozens of stout candles mounted on ornate candlesticks. Marianne had arranged them all carefully to create a tableau vivant. There was no electricity supply to the room but that wouldn't have affected the aesthetic co-ordination, this was one of the few situations where Marianne could indulge her predilection for a mise-en-scene with gothic trappings. Not they she needed artificial light anyway; she had her nocturnal sight, which was dreary yet functional. She preferred to be in the light, as her finely attuned optical senses created riots of radiance and colour from meagre resources, so long as it wasn't derived from the sun, which would quickly burn her skin and incinerate her flesh if exposure was prolonged. Years ago with an easy mark that seemed to think showing her 1 Night in Paris on his laptop would be an effective seduction technique (a software programmer called Rick if she remembered correctly) Marianne had told him as they watched the night vision sex scene that was how she saw things. He had stared at her unnerved and laughed nervously at the scene where intercourse is paused so a mobile phone call could be taken. The laughter had been curtailed when Marianne tore his tongue out with her teeth. Hedge fund man started making an animalistic grunting noise that suggested he was drowning in his own blood, disrupting Marianne's reverie and meshing her with the present. Marianne cracked her knuckles on each hand and popped out her scarlet talons. They were scalpel sharp and she carved 'Luv' on his chest with a thumbnail like a dextrous craft worker etching; Marianne had gorged herself all week and was indifferent to the dripping blood, more preoccupied with the portentous rumblings of The Sisters of Mercy's First and Last and Always playing on the MP3 in the digital player dock. Her favourite song was on. (Insert lyric) As a chubby and insecure adolescent who lacked the conviction to develop an eating disorder to facilitate social inclusion, it was a song that had informed and sound tracked many of the romantic fantasies and inner landscapes of her later teenage years and nearly three decades later she was still able to nourish the delusion that Andrew Eldritch had meant the song for her. Well, there was a tendentious connection, she had been named after one of the main paramours of the Rolling Stones and The Sisters had always been in thrall to the mythology of Altamont and the sixties perishing in the effluvia of Vietnam and the Manson family so she guessed that was something. She cut hedge fund's face off neatly and threw it towards Henry who was mewling softly in the corner. The flayed countenance landed folded in on itself. It landed just out of Henry's abject reach; he was too weak to lean forward the necessary foot or so to scoop it up. Henry was so far gone with hunger he couldn't even retain memories of his son, which he tried to psychically conjure when he was in distress. His death seemed like it only happened yesterday, though it was over a century ago. Marianne was rifling through hedge fund's wallet and clothing. She found a wrap of cocaine and shrieked with delight. A Blackberry phone. She hated fucking Blackberrys. Ten missed calls. Hedge fund had it on silent, most likely on the presumption Marianne would have been fellating him by midnight. Well, sucker…Henry is now starting to convulse. It was over a week since he had tasted blood. Marianne decided to starve him. No blood.
Henry had struck up a deep friendship with a ghoul named Charlotte who resided in Highgate cemetery and this had sent Marianne into a jealous flux. Also, she resented Henry's attempts to reign in her blood drenched excesses. They had spent a week holed up in Fleetwood, a forlorn seaside town in the North West of England that Henry harboured an affection for that bemused Marianne. She reckoned it was something to do with his son who died of pneumonia or something like it in the late 1800s. Maybe Henry brought him here. It wasn't that far from Liverpool. He didn't speak about his son much and when Marianne probed he would react angrily, and his powers were greater than hers. Marianne poured the coke onto the back of her left hand and inhaled deeply. She giggled and stretched her arms and waved them euphorically to Throwing Muses' Mania playing on the dock.. So they'd been in Fleetwood for a week, in a bed and breakfast that a funereal gloom that appealed to Henry's saturnine nature. There were a few young Chinese workers staying there, illegals being exploited by gang masters in the shellfish industry. Anyway, Henry struck up a friendship with a pretty Chinese girl. Marianne could see she was the type he adored, petite, shy yet cautiously flirt, pretty in a fresh faced innocent way. Although Marianne, when fed, was flawlessly beautiful, at heart, despite her exquisiteness vampiric authority, was a hopelessly insecure teenager who hated her looks and yearned for unconditional love. So loveless had she been, Marianne had attempted suicide, and serendipity had decreed she became one of the undead. Marianne had so much to be grateful to Henry for and here she was drying him into a husk.
Ever the gentleman, Henry had walked the Chinese girl to work in the evening, while Marianne followed in their wake smouldering with resentment. The girl did nights packing fish in a factory so her hours sort of tied in nicely with theirs and it was dark by four o'clock so Henry and Marianne were early risers, not like summer when they slumbered till late evening. It was a brutal winter, one of snow and ice and brooding darkness, and situated on the coast they also had to contend with the savage wind that blew in. One night, Henry, acting in a distressed and graceless manner that shocked Marianne, excused himself and left the guesthouse. Marianne had been smoking and sulking when the Chinese girl knocked on their room door. No, Henry wasn't here to walk her, but she'd go with her. Marianne was told she was very kind. That night she tore the girl's head clean from her shoulders, juiced her so there was not a drop of blood left, torn her shreds and thrown the bones out to sea. Marianne's ferocity and bloodlust, which extended to flesh eating, had shocked herself. It was all done before the wolf hour. She had been naked throughout the blood feast, the claret that spattered her immediately being absorbed into her skin. Henry returned just before dawn. Marianne was already sleeping soundly before the sun began to rise, bloated and feeling sickly through over indulgence she had fell into a deep post prandial slumber. He had already been to the factory to walk Su-Li Zhen home only to be told by her co-workers she'd not shown up. At that instant he knew what had happened, his instincts confirmed when he had checked Marianne's coat pockets which contained the cheap silver necklace Zhen had cherished. Henry had to contain his fury else he would have blown their cover. One thing Henry held over Marianne was that his seniority meant that over the years he had learned how to tolerate the traditional weapons used to combats vampires. It was all self taught. There was no king of the vampires waiting to dispense preternatural knowledge in the lonely decades that followed his joining the ranks of the undead. He'd done it out of a desire to escape from a curious mixture of an excruciatingly nuanced melancholy and profound existential boredom. What he learned quickly was that crucifixes, silver and the sun were untameable. You just avoided them. However, blessed water and garlic could be tolerated, albeit briefly. At first when he had held garlic cloves in the palm of his hand the reaction had been immediate and devastating. Smoke had risen from his burning flesh like and he had been frothing at the mouth and shaking in the comportment of someone in the last stages of rabies. He had been delirious for days but when he recovered he went out and juiced an elderly pawnbroker who had swindled his family many years ago went back to his squat and did it again. The effect was commensurate to the first time he did it. So the cycle was repeated. Garlic, delirium, juicing. Henry persevered because it broke up the empty days, and the pain and delirium prevented thinking about his wife and son, and after a dozen attempts he could hold a garlic clove for about ten minutes and just experience overwhelming nausea. Unpleasant, but he could still function to a reasonable degree. Garlic mastered, he turned to blessed water. The effects of blessed water were markedly different to garlic. It was a kind of napalm for vampires. The first time he sprinkled blessed water on his palm his hand had dissolved in seconds and he watched with alarm as his arm started to disintegrate. Hubris, he had thought, as the holy water ate away at his forearm, or maybe he had subconsciously already tired of the prospect of immortality. The pain was severe but his experiments with the garlic had trained him to remain his objectivity and he watched with interest wondering if just three drops of blessed water would eat him alive. The disintegration of his arm stopped just after the elbow joint. And that was that. The pain ceased when the water stopped gorging itself. Much preferable to the garlic. Henry didn't know if it would grow back or not and wasn't really bothered. He was undecided as to whether to fill up a bath with the stuff and remove his form from the earth, but he decided to persevere. What was the rush? Henry had nothing but days, decades, centuries, to destroy himself. And he wanted to hang on to see if science could prove there was an after life. He wanted to know the indescribable joy of knowing his beautiful little boy was out there somewhere with his wife. If they were in some heavenly parlour he would never join them. That was the trade off. A regular supply of fresh human blood and avoidance of certain substances and objects meant he could walk this black planet until the sun died but when he was extinct that was it. If there was a heaven he was now denied it. Bathing in eternal splendour was out. It was a unique circle of hell, a doubtful eternity of grieving and hunger, the ultimate parasite on a venal cosmic rock. That night he prowled the docks waiting to encounter someone who affronted his sense of proprietary in the shadows and dark entries. A sailor beating a whore to a pulp was an ideal fit so he juiced and went back to his squat and slept when the sun came up. He repeated the routine for a week, drinking a little bit more than usual as it was clear his regular intake of blood was facilitating the re-growth of his arm. After a week the forearm was back. So he splashed his hand again. This time the flesh eating petered out before the elbow joint. Again, he spent the week trolling and juicing. Due to the transient and violent nature of the docks environment no one was ever missed, he was always extremely careful in the choice of victims, an assiduousness he had retained up till the present day. He spent a year in this fashion experimenting with the blessed water, working on different parts of his body and face until he developed a marked tolerance. A good dousing in the stuff only resulted in what looked like sunburn. Of course, this tolerance had never been remotely useful for him in civilian life. Henry had been stabbed, the intended victim of arson, the recipient of a number of bullets, none silver so not fatal. No one had ever sought to assail him with holy water or cloves of garlic, but the odd accidental glimpse of a crucifix had sent him into paroxysms of agony or scurrying away like a startled rodent. This was simply because only a handful of people he had been acquainted with knew what he was. However, it did come in useful in controlling other vampires. Two to be precise, the second of which was Marianne. They had left Fleetwood a few days after the slaughter of Zhen and before leaving for London, which Henry loathed and Marianne adored, they decided to stay in a burnt out council house, one of many in an abandoned council estate in Salford. There was always a ready procession of crack heads and the dispossessed that would provide them with a steady if revolting supply of blood and they could take it easy and sleep. Marianne knew that Henry knew and was initially puzzled by his reticence in engaging the subject. His reserve had unsettled her but they had moved and started juicing again and that seemed to be it. As dawn approached, following an evening in which they had took mutual pleasure in draining and tearing apart a repellent teenage sociopath who had chosen to wave a replica pistol at the wrong young couple, Marianne was climbing into her sleeping bag for the day when Henry shoved a clove of garlic into her mouth. He let her thrash about for a few minutes before retrieving it. Such were her screams he had to stuff a chunk of her sleeping bag down her throat to quell her screams. Luckily she had passed out before the sun had fully risen. It was a week before she was able to move about properly again, and Henry kept her well fed. When they left for London on an evening coach they did not exchange a word. And here they where. Marianne leaned in close to Henry and was shocked to see him close up; he was a jaundiced colour and his skin was peeling away. At that moment she is tempted to cut short her revenge, feeling a surge of love and pity engendered by his abjection, but she holds it in check. He has to know she can't be fucked with. Marianne coolly informs him that he will drink soon but first he must listen. She is going to tell him about her week and an act of betrayal.