He looks so weak now: a pathetic insult to his former glory. He has lost too much blood. He struggles furiously against the leather restraints of his uncomfortable bleach white hospital bed, but it is to no avail. They hold him unwavering. Nurses and doctors anxiously gather around him, whispering to one another. He waits until they've all siphoned off into the corridors and we're finally alone. Then he seems to curve his dismal mood, calm himself, shut his eye lids, and drift back to other times, immersing himself in a narrated past. He knows I'm here though our eyes never meet. I scribble down the details as he recounts them in a controlled, well articulated monotone. He speaks mostly in paste tense, third person narration but occasionally lapses into present tense first person as he describes the thoughts of his protagonist. This is the story he tells me:
There was once a man, of sorts. He was a true child of the darkness, eternally tearing his desolate path across a macabre theatre of the damned; against the mediocrity, the commonality of patterned life. Alike to none other, he existed on the intangible borderline of a thousand conflicting states; always cutting against the grain of normality, against the flow of natural order. Not long ago, on a cold emotionless night he moved through this very city, resolved and ravenous.
For time incalculable it seems I've walked this world a ghost, a shadow. Past falling skies of creeping thought and sickly clouds that bleed in vain. Through dying worlds and murdered dreams that spill into the waking hours. I haunt the darkened corners of life, away from the burning sun that never welcomes me. I am damned; too far down the dark road to look back on anything better.The name I take of late is Seth.
He wrapped his knuckles on the worn hardwood door until, above the sound of beating heart and drawn breath, he heard movement and the slow scamper of human feet. Lights inside flickered, held and imposed a dull synthetic glow through the gaps of curtained windows. The door opened slightly.
"Wha tha fuck do you wan?" before the last syllable left the owners dry lips Seth effortlessly forced the door ajar. The man flew backwards onto the filthy carpet floor with the impact of wood against his stunned face.
"Hello Alex" Seth said as the left corner of his lips curled slowly upwards into a warped half smile. It amused him to see a repeat rapist instantly reduced to the helpless state of every innocent victim he'd forced himself inside. A deep incoherent moan left Alex's rising head before Seth, blurring color with speed, shifted across the room. He stood behind his victim, looking down, as he drew an antique straight razor from the pocket of his black dress shirt. A necessary tool when teeth marks left too much suspicion. The polished silver blade quivered with refracted light; with thirst that matched Seth's own. Two still workers of retribution; both craving the touch of clean skin. Alex pried a small crucifix, rusted with the sweat of desperate pleas, from beneath his singlet and held it defensively out before him. Seth smiled, tore the steel ornament from around Alex's neck, and fastened it to his own. His pale hand gripped the soft flesh of Alex's shoulder and pulled him to his feet. Seth opened the artery pulsing in his victim's neck. The rush of death played upon the surface of wet eyes. He locked his mouth to the wound. Alex's heart worked against him as it quickened with panic. He drained almost every drop of malignant life from its receptacle of meat and bone. No spills and no remorse.
Indifferently he let the pale blue corpse slide absently from his grip, and fall down amongst the empty beer bottles and other waste that lay littered across the beige carpet floor in a seemingly random pattern. It became just another marker that reflected upon the uncleanly habits of the houses former occupant. Seth would come back later, dowse the body in gasoline, or some other accelerant, and burn it to ash and bone. It was harder to discern mass blood loss from ash and bone. For now though, he had a pressing social engagement. He attentively flicked the deadbolt over and locked the door behind him as he left.
Seth was not devoid of empathy or compassion as the ease with which he callously served the fraying threads of life might imply. In fact there was a time when he felt these things in excess. He simply had to feed. The thirst demanded it, pulled at every nerve ending in his cold body and drowned his every thought in a vast ocean of fluent red. As a compromise between these two conflicting states his own personal twisted code of morality became a necessity. He choose his victims carefully, meticulously, ensuring they met his uncompromising standards. They had to have frequently and intentionally inflicted suffering upon innocents for personal gain without remorse or guilt. Seth hunted those who harbored monsters almost equal to his own, with one significant difference: his victims where never innocent, he had never tasted innocent blood.He had known only one other who lived by this code. His brother on the dark road. Gabriel: the black hand of god.
In the last century Seth had become empty; the numbness suffocated every birthing emotion before it reached screaming infancy. He was a disassociative sieve, detached and ostracized from every living thing. He despised his own kind and he couldn't bear the company of another fragile human lover, knowing that they would die while he remained. They were blessed with their mortality; never to taste the vacuum of eternity. Not once had he let another soul taste the liquid fire running through his veins. Instead he sat as an absent, disinterested audience, moving only to embrace death and recoiling from life as it danced upon the stage before him. And so Seth lived and didn't live, unattached, disconnected, resolving to remain so until he could do nothing else but walk into the daylight. His resolve remained unmoving. Until her.
I begin to fray and unravel; fighting it with every needless breath of polluted, sticky air. All I can think of is her. Caroline. She courses through my veins like honey poison, a sweet euphoric sickness. I try to push away the cruelty of empty hope as it slithered up my spine and coils itself around my thoughts. I fail miserably.
He set off towards their regular meeting place with a graceful inhuman stride, floating across the intersecting rivers of black asphalt, opposing the winds harsh blow. His foot steps were accompanied by the occasional careless, crisp crunching of dry leaves and other unfortunate debris beneath his polished black boots. As he moved through the city on that night he became unbalanced: his mind unhinged. He slipped from vigilance to complacency and dwelt there a while. She teethed on the fringe of his mind, persistently demanding the full weight of his thoughts. And so he thought of her and how he longed for nothing more than to fall into her completely; to have her breath him in like the air in an act of loving desecration; to hear every thought that pulsed through her vibrant, artistic mind; to take her in his cold arms, uncaring that he might never be able to let her go.
She understood little of what he was, or so he imagined. How lovely it would be if she could gaze into the dark, twisted corners of my soul and not turn away. If she could see oblivion in my eyes and not be blinded. If, if, if. He laughed a little. Acceptance? Understanding? Is that what I crave? He doubted it was that simple. Not after decades of pushing these things aside like the food that fell ashen, opaque and tasteless upon his tongue. Still he could find no better explanation for why, after so long with the sweet sting of solitude's blade twisting in his back as the only company he cared for, he wanted hers. He needed her. A little more with every brief encounter, with every word that flowed so eloquently from her plush lips and kept perfect rhythm with the beat of her heart; together a symphony that Mozart could not have matched.
A crowd of tall, stocky, well-built young men, spinning instantly from self-assurance to fear, backed off and made way for Seth as he passed the neon lit entrance of a modern day club. Their routine response to his presence amused Seth briefly and a sardonic half smile spread slowly across his pale, impassive face. The night club was a popular, trendy place, packed with devotees like the faithful at their church in past times. Mind numbingly repetitive music suffocated the sound of conversation within, as wasted bodies writhed in time, and ritual colored lights squeezed through the gaps of boarded up windows. It was exactly the kind of place he'd sooner burn to the ground than step foot inside.His eyes flashed over a party of three relatively attractive young women. They wore a fa�ade of the latest fashion trends and queued impatiently at the door. For little more than a human breath they made him think that it might be a base instinctual thing with Caroline. It wasn't, even though she was indisputably beautiful.
He focused back on the voices of those women through the clutter and brick walls of buildings that had passed him by, in a pitiful attempt not to dwell on thoughts of her.
"We're gonna have fun to-night!" the young girl pronounced the last word of her statement with excessive emphasis; slowly sounding out each syllable as though it might anchor the passing sentiment.
"I'm happy long as I find a hot guy to hook up wit" Her friend replied and then all three simultaneously emitted the same rehearsed, school girl giggle.
"Do ya this shade of lip is still in?
They were just plastic, faceless, happy young people, entrenched in superficial mirth, masquerading about with empty minds. They had tasted no real pain in their lives and thought on nothing of any meaning or significance. That part of the world was brimming with their kind, each as un-appealing to Seth as the next. He found them, and all their pretensions, as suffocating as poison gas stealing through the clean air of isolation.
He stopped still a moment, under the faint yellow glow of a street light that reflected eerily off his flawless porcelain skin. He looked up into the wisps of an over hung cloud as he drew an unnecessary breath, watching the magnified specks of dust and weightless smog move as he inhaled. Despite his resistance his mind fluttered back to Caroline. Why am I so enamour…
"Get out of my fucking head" he roared so loud that the very asphalt beneath his feet quivered. But it was an empty sentiment. He never wanted to part with this feeling. As fate would have it he happened to be in a relatively vacant part of town when it unwittingly slipped from his mouth with the condensed force of a lightening bolt.
Why do you entrance me so? Why is the pain of your absence as intense as the pleasure of your presence? Why do I crave your company? I who was once the systematic death of almost every remnant of my own kind, uncaring that this meant discarding all possibility of an honest companion. They took innocent life. That I could not permit.
As thanks for what his sire Isabella had given him, two decades into immortality he murdered most all of her children, and countless generations after them. An ungrateful child he orchestrated mass genocide against his own species. Truthfully he had doubts about his motivations for this, wondered at times as to whether it was not simply himself he had killed over and over again. He spared only his brother Gabriel who dis-communicated him for the act.
He stopped deathly still in the alley across from a familiar restaurant, coalesced with the darkness around him. His black trench coat blew up behind him and waved in the wind like the burnt wings of a fallen angel. She appeared like a vision, a ray of light cutting though the darkness with every forward step. He watched her approach and stop outside the entry door. Suddenly the rest of the world seemed to dissolve, dispel, to pale, become dull, and burn with static like bad reception on a cheap television. The hypnotic beat of her heart drowned out all the noise of life: the sounds of people, rats scurrying through trash, the wind and the sound of everything light enough to be moved by it. All of it was suddenly silenced. Is she a hallucination? A vivid dream? Am I asleep deep beneath the earth, mixing memory with imagination? Is this merely an affliction gnawing hungrily at the edges of my sanity. I… I don't… care?
She wore tight faded black jeans supported by a grey belt, a sleeveless pale pink top, and worn sneakers that were stained with multi-colored drops of acrylic paint. Her chewed finger nails where painted a glossy black, her right wrist adorned a modest silver name bracelet and her left a cheap metallic watch. Her burning green eyes darted about the place superstitiously, squinting to see through the night's veil. She glanced down at the slow winding hands of her watch, looked around again, and then folded her arms defensively. Seth watched her a while longer. Her fingertips brushed back dirty-blonde hair as it blew in her face with non-compliance. Her foot tapped nervously against the dreary pavement. Finally he approached, casually with heavy human footsteps. She welcomed him with a warm smile and a wave of her hand.
"Wait." I interrupt him "Is this story about you or someone else?"He meets my gaze for the first time since I entered the room.
"I'll leave that for you to decide" He replies and then, needing no further prompt, continues his dark tale in the same narrated monotone.