Fang Separately

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

An early Vampire Writers' Group exercise.

Submitted: March 21, 2018

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Submitted: March 21, 2018




By A. Guinievere Kern

Copyright March 1996


I, Helios Praxis, Solitary Vampire, scribed this document in the Year 2112, so that you inhabitants of the future might know what manner of tragedy befell this land, and also to warn you . . . to *warn* you . . .

Beginnings are never defined by the Spectacular it seems. Our leader, Sole Endar, came to me on an ordinary summer night, bearing extraordinary news. So preposterous was his tale, that at first, I blush to confess: I did not believe him.

I was earnestly at labor within our reconstructed Bibliotheke Alexandria, deep underground in the mountains of Southern France, when I perceived his imminent arrival. His entrances were usually subtle, but still detectable by the static disturbance he generates in the surrounding atmosphere.

I had been listening to Vivaldi while in the process of translating a well-preserved Alexandrian text. The strains of his concerto for strings and harpsichord in G major shivered gloriously out of my four speakers and reverberated off of the walls and the high vaulted ceiling of my office. I felt as though I were being massaged by sound. Suddenly the CD player emitted an awful shriek and the music ceased. The ancient globe in the corner spun on its walnut stand, and my computer uttered a serious of its mysterious electronic barks. My white linen robes trembled about my body; even my eyelids twitched in recognition. I keep a genetically enlarged wharf VatRat, named Chiba, (he is two and a half feet in length, not measuring his tail, and weighs in excess of thirty pounds) which rodent I have infused with my immortal blood. He is an excellent guard for my quarters, seeing as I infected him with Yersinia Pestis, and his bite is as deadly as my own. But now he squealed alarmingly, leaped from the leather couch upon which he had been resting, and skid-waddled across the marble floor in his haste to flee my incoming Master.

Thus I waited with great affection, but no little curiosity. Sole rarely bothered with fang-to-fang confabulation, preferring to communicate telepathically with his numerous, and numberless, descendants. Yet now he sought my company; clearly this would be a matter of grave import which he wanted to discuss with me, his firstborn of the blood.

And as I watched, clutching a parchment scroll to my chest, our Sovereign of Deviation processed his rare matter through the charged fields of space and descended upon the mammoth stone sarcophagus of Ramses, which I had long ago placed against the far wall, directly across from my desk.

A disastrous portent was about to be revealed; I knew this at once. I could not have known how feeble a word "disaster" would prove itself when I was left to chronicle these last weeks of my existence.

I noticed immediately that there was a quality suggestive of the Jaguar in Sole's movements; perhaps he had recently fed from a predator. I am, like my Master, a creature of nefarious renown, the rumors about which man has stroked and celebrated with a secret pleasure/dread for thousands of years. But for *me* to experience the sensation of being afraid . . . 

I could not recall a single instance. But when I beheld the countenance of Sole, his dolorous mien, and the expression in his eyes which he attempted to screen by a rapid fluttering of his vellum-sheer nictitating eyelids, I experienced a nearly human-like urge to faint. 

What I did instead was to nod deferentially, and wait for him to speak.

Skeletal, hairless, bald, he sat like a swami upon Ramses's ancient coffin. His cotton garment was covered with embroidered ampersands. I could not guess their meaning, nor the reason for his almost brutal scrutiny of my face. "Still engaged in your historic preservation activities, I see," he said at last, "here in your Idyll, tranquil enclave within the mountains. I have not seen you in more than fifty years." His thin blue lips curled into a mirthless smile. "Helios, my hermit son."

"Sole," I said. "You are always welcome in my sanctuary, you are welcome to my body, and you are welcome to my blood." I made a sacred gesture of obeisance.

He acknowledged that with another brief, enigmatic smile. "So, so, Helios. They tell me you are the finest preservationist in the world."

I shrugged modestly. "It seems I have some ability."

"And they tell me you have stolen the Codex Hammer."

At this accusation I blushed and said nothing, being guilty.

"After Bill Gates died, his trustees could not locate it." Sole winked. "I believe I could find it here in your vast museum of the rare and the priceless, were I so inclined to seek it out."

"The Codex is yours if you want it, Sole. I am your servant, and therefore my treasures are yours for the asking."

He nodded slowly. "I have something to ask of you, my son. But I require complete privacy while we are discussing this matter. Are we alone?" he asked. "Completely alone?"

I responded in the affirmative.

"Then where is that demimondaine of yours? Lucrisa -- wasn't that her name? I had heard that you kept a human consort, and I also heard she's as anti-social as you are. What now, Helios, you and your lady love are not even speaking to one another?"

I laughed despite my nervousness. "She's in Rome, Father. Doing what, I couldn't tell you. Something to do with these new thumbnail computers."

He regarded me sadly and I spoke no more. 

The lids retracted and I could see his enormous eyes in full; obsidian black and threaded with veins like silver ore. His face would seize the heart of any mortal man, but Sole was my God. It is said no Christian could look upon the face of Jehovah without some measure of spiritual anguish and a certain physical peril. My Master's lubricous flesh glowed the cobalt blue of Limoges porcelain, and his anatomy was as nonpareil as his skin. Always, always, the sight of him astonished me. But I could not fear him. There was not a droplet of blood in the whole of my immortal composition that did not write itself from his heart.

"Helios, put the scroll down. There is much to talk about, and very little time."

I did as I was instructed, then stood motionless in the center of the room. The only sound was the skittering of Chiba's nubby feet as he navigated a mound of pottery shards I had stacked beneath my desk.

"I regret to tell you, my son, that there is to be a . . . " He paused, closed his eyes, and raised his right hand, palm up, as if to snatch the terrible word from the empty air and crush it in his fist. "A *catastrophe* visited upon this earth such as we have not witnessed since Noah's flood."

I was shaking my head in denial before he could even finish his sentence. "We survived the deluge, Sole," I said softly. "Whatever this catastrophe is, we'll survive it as well."

"We will not!"

He roared so loudly I stumbled backwards into my desk.

"That is precisely the issue, my son! We will not, because this time *all* manner of life will be extinguished."

I could not conceal my disbelief, but I dare not contradict him.

"Yes, Helios. *All* of our blood sources will be extinct within a month."

"Come now -- " I protested. For a moment I wondered if he had been kissing Morpheus, or perhaps he'd gone fad-radioactive like so many I knew. It was considered chic to hang in the art gallery alleyways and inject oneself with any number of the new synthetic mind teasers. "What . . . ? Blood sources extinct? But, Sole, how . . . ?"

He was at my side in an instant. I gasped when I felt his fingers alight upon my neck. Sole's touch was cool and dry, like a serpent's, and his breath smelled bitter, like grapefruit or linseed oil. "I'm as sane as you are skeptical," he whispered, turning my head towards his. In his eyes, I saw collisions. "We will go now to your astrological observatory, and Helios?"

"Master," I said.

"I will craft knowledge of your doubt."

"I believe you, Sole," said I, but he had vanished.

I met him in my fully equipped Observatory, where he had already set himself to the task of focussing my telescope. For the last ten years or so I considered myself somewhat of an amateur astronomer. The study of the stars demanded only that I observe, since there was no way I could influence or interact with those celestial majesties, even if I wanted to do so. The antiquities of the Past may require my assistance to survive throughout the ages, but the history of the stars is beyond the reach or scope of my expert ministrations. Heaven needs this vampire not at all. The impartial observer: that is the role to which I am most suited by nature. The stars tell me the story; I read their astral code, and I am eternally amazed.

"Here," said Sole, motioning me towards the eyepiece.

I stepped forward and affixed my eye to the lens. Sole stood behind me, amplifying the image so that I could view them clearly.

It took me only a moment to behold the demise of Life. "Oh damn!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," he said. "Damn indeed."

"But, but . . . Surely the astronomers, the scientists . . . are aware . . . ?" My voice trailed off.

Sole released me and began to pace, his blue feet made a barely audible *whissssp* as they slid across the tiled floor. "Of course they know!" he cried in exasperation. "That Hubble craft they sent up years ago must have transmitted photos back to earth."

"Damn it all, Sole! Where will they strike?" I asked. Still in shock, I was clinging to the telescope as if it were an anchor in an intergalactic sea.

Sole undulated over to a large map of the world, a recent National Geographic version, which I had hung up on the wall to my left. He pointed to the Pacific Ocean and grimaced. "Here," he said.

Now I knew that Sole was not dreaming or under the influence.

Asteroids. I had seen them myself. A whole archipelago of space rock moving directly towards our planet. The largest was probably over fifty miles in diameter. When they struck the earth, the resultant earthquake and shock wave would destroy the surrounding areas for up to a hundred miles. The subsequent volcanic explosion would boil the sea into super-heated water vapor, which would rise into the atmosphere. This scalding hot steam would circle the globe, effectively raising Earth's temperature well into the Killing range. There would be molten fallout, followed by a nuclear winter, an ensuing deep freeze, sure to kill off whatever organisms managed to survive the initial bombardment.

Sole was correct, nothing would survive. Not even the bacteria which made the deepest submarine vents their home. All life would perish.

Except for us.

"They knew and yet said nothing?" I mused incredulously.

"What good would it do to alert the masses?" Sole countered. "The humans would go wild in the streets, and still they will die." He sighed and sat down on one of the many chairs lining the wall under the map. "And we shall be left with the consequences of starvation," he continued.

My mind cast about, hunting a solution in a maelstrom of possibilities. There must be a way, I thought. Must be! Immortals cannot die, but without blood . . .

"The emergency reservoir of blood will soon be consumed," Sole said, speaking aloud what he perceived in my thoughts. "Within weeks of the last creature's death, we will have Vampire," here he paused and tapped his chest, "spawn of *my* lineage, going fang to fist over the stores of plasma like post-Armageddon savages. I cannot permit that scenario, Helios."

His forecast seemed likely to me. We are merciless hunters of necessity, and not particularly enamored of our own kind, seeing as we do our own bloodline as competitors. I could easily envision many of our breed forming combat battalions, each with its own territory to defend. Until the last bag of blood had been consumed, and then they'd turn on each other. There would be internecine jugular war.

I had to ask. "Sole, can we . . . is it possible to *drink* from one another? If so ---"

The very notion, to fill my veins with a brother's vampiric blood . . . I could not bear to even consider it. But all of our blood was linked to Sole's, our lives incubated in his life, surely it made no difference into what body it flowed?

He answered, but did not look at me when he did so. "Yes. You can feast upon the blood of your own family, Helios. But you cannot mean to tell me that you would do it."

I dare not translate into sound the devious contractions of my heart.

Sole was still gazing off at some inner tableau. "And that inamorata of yours . . . "

"Lucrisa!" I shouted, suddenly made aware of how *she* would be affected by this impending global debacle. 

He looked at me sharply. "If you've any decency, Helios Praxis, you'll kill her *and* that plague-afflicted rat of yours before those asteroids hit."

With great anxiety I once again pressed my eye to the telescope, searching the heavens for reprieve. But the stars had dissolved into streaks of molten light, for my ancient vision was blurred by my own tears. "I can't kill Lucrisa, Sole!" I cried. "I love that girl!"

I heard him utter a bitter laugh. "She's a *mortal*, Helios. How can you declare love for a deathbound human being? You ought to have developed better judgement than that by now. I'll wager that you've stolen a little of her blood in the past. Sooner or later you'd have killed her yourself."

I had indeed. Even if I closed my eyes forever I would still be able to see her bared throat rising to meet my teeth, still taste her metallic blood as it welled into the delta of my mouth. I thought I would go mad, thinking of it. Though I continued to stare through the lens of the telescope, 'twas not a phalanx of asteroids I watched pour towards me, but a lissome and seductive Lucrisa crawling over a bed of dark space, her hair and her skin aflame and her rutilant mouth opening . . . opening . . . 

And then her flesh began to curl and crimp into reams of fire-lace and her head exploded in a nova-burst of light. My jaw juddered open and I could feel my dogteeth clicking into place.

I screamed. Against God and Sole and Cursed fate and all the Masters there ever had been. I screamed until my voice had degraded into the huskiness of laryngitis. Then I dropped to the observatory floor, bellowing, writhing, thrashing my limbs in all directions like a ghoul in the throes of a seizure spell. While in this fit of fury I bit my own tongue. Blood foamed from my mouth, stenciling the floor with scarlet graffiti.

Sole eyed me coolly. "You profit us nothing by this behavior, Helios."

I stumbled to my feet and rushed towards him, and then I knelt by his feet. I raised my arms in supplication. "But there is *nothing* that can be done, Sole," I replied. "Why have you come to *me*? I'm no Sage."

His habiliments rustled as he turned in his chair. He leaned forward and kissed my cheek, then I felt his indigo tongue snake out and cleanse my face of his life force. "Oh, yes," he murmured. "You are wise, but more than that, you're completely trustworthy. I have a plan, Helios."

Dumbfounded, I waited for him to elaborate.

He resumed his seat, still obviously savoring the taste of his blood. "We are the ablest predators on land. Legends we are, and the vehicles of choice to star in man's pantheon of myths and cults and dark religions. I selected only the most gifted for my sorcerer caste. I will not have us degraded into beasts," he said. "There are several options left. One: a secure underground vault could be constructed, in which many of our kind could remain in a state of suspension, a "coma-sleep" of sorts, until life on earth has a chance to regenerate."

I smiled grimly and added: "You mean until some unfortunate future being discovers the tomb and releases us to once again hunt among the living."

"Still -- it can be done," he said.

I sat back on my haunches and reviewed his strategy. "There are many such subterranean vaults already," I reminded him. "In every country: countless shelters, chambers, catacombs. Let the breed make haste to find each one his temporary resting place. Tis not so strange an idea, Sole. Man has always claimed that we sleep in graves."

"Some may choose to seek sanctuary in them without taking proper precautions," he mused. "Thus I have thought of another possibility."

I sighed. A gypsy lethargy had already begun to camp within my will. Planet Earth was about to be steam-cleaned, and I was going to be dried and hermetically preserved just like one of my Grecian scrolls. For the first time in a very long long time, I wished that I were susceptible to Death. In a few weeks my Lucrisa would be burned into His memory, and forever branded into mine. Of what stature then, my immortal existence, if I awoke two hundred or even two thousand years hence to a torment of recollection?

Sole was speaking. I gathered my energy and forced myself to listen.

"You were first created," he said. "And you shall be the last Vampire."

I rocked back on my heels, stunned. "How so?" I asked.

"I am the unpolluted source from which all Vampire were extracted," said Sole. "You must allow me to exsanguinate you, after which you will drink every liter of blood in my body. This will send me into a Trance-like state. And whither my consciousness goes . . . "

"So goes the breed," I finished for him.

"They will all be warned, of course," Sole hastened to assure me. "They'll be granted ample time in which to find an impenetrable refuge before they are rendered insensate."

"But Sole! Master! This is mass hypnosis," I protested. "A collective suicide of the awareness! There was this human monster once . . . a Jim Jones, but he was not the first . . . "

His sensory blow sent me reeling backwards, and then upwards, to the corner of the ceiling, and there I hung suspended, like a fly trapped by one of those adhesive strips. Outside the Observatory window I could see the heaven's coven of hanging stars, brilliant and ancient, just like me.

"Helios Praxis!" he roared. "How can you equate my concentrated efforts to preserve our species with the vicious act of a psychotic? You have finally shocked me into violence."

"But Father," I pleaded with him, still dangling like a mobile from the ceiling. "In this plan of yours -- what will become of *me*?"

He drew me back with a gesture, and I descended, as if floating along an invisible tether line, until I was once again before him.

"Sit," he said.

When I was kneeling at his knees again, Sole Endor, ruler of the Vampire, divulged this mystic secret: he was truly immortal. He did not have to drink blood, nay, nor had he ever.

"With my blood in your veins, Helios Praxedis, your body will be my Proxy Throne. *You* will survive this holocaust." He grabbed my chin in his powerful hand and yanked me towards him, 'til we were eye to eye. "You will surely be the only being left living. I can only hope you understand the responsibility I am freely delivering into your hands."

At first I did not. "Responsibility?" I gasped. "You are asking me to . . . to *what*? Gallivant across the earth, poking among the smoking devastations, roaming through the wreckage of civilization, looking for memento mori of mankind?" I nearly wept with bitterness. "For who knows how many hundreds of years? Who would desire such a life? No woman with whom to share my soul, deprived even of the pleasures of blood-drinking! Sleeping in the rubble, the odd ruin, the catacombs, the caves? I can see me now, Sole, Master!---curling up during the day beside the still forms of my former blood brothers, talking to their statue faces, desperate for conversation."

"Talk to us, then, Helios." He looked upon me tenderly. "We will be able to hear you."

I had stopped speaking because a terrible thought had occurred to me. "How can you trust me, Father? I could drink from them as they Slept, you know. I could decant the entire reservoir of Vampire blood with impunity. *I* could destroy the nation of . . . "

"Helios! Listen to what you're saying, my son! How can you whine to me about loneliness? When did you *ever* seek the fraternity of your own kind, much less the company of man? You're a loner, a rogue! But, Helios, I have made you and I know your heart. You are not a murderer."

"If you cannot be killed, Sole, and you do not suffer the Thirst, why don't *you* partake of this task you're so eager to set upon my unworthy shoulders?"

He did not answer me immediately.

Then, at last he spoke, in a voice so gentle I had to strain to hear him.

"How do you know that I have not done so before?" he asked.

I was speechless.

"But yes, Helios. I *have* served as the only existing tenant of this earth. And I tell you, my son, I tell you . . . "

I dropped my head into his lap. 

"Son," he said, stroking my hair. "It is simply truth. I am older than you could ever guess and no longer suited to the demands of such a responsibility. Of all of my progeny, you are the one in whom I most trust."

"Yes," I murmured. "I will try to live up to your expectations of me. What must I do?"

"Listen and remember. After we are all entombed, I expect you to catalog and record the locations of each and every hiding place which contains the body of one of our kind. Check up on us throughout the coming years. Search the world for signs of regenerating life. When you find it, guard it, cultivate it, whatever form it may take. Our bodies, our very *lives*, will be entrusted to your care, and this work for which you, and you alone have been chosen. Mark the time; maintain a log of all that transpires. The coming times are part of our history, and must be precisely accounted for."

"Lucrisa," I moaned.

"I will initiate her before we transfer the force from me to you." He chuckled affectionately. "Once she is transfixed like all the rest, place her in a glass coffin and store her near your precious scrolls, Helios Praxis. That should motivate you to attend to your care-taking duties. Look at her often, for her resurrection depends upon your efforts."

Sole was a wise and shrewd leader. I doubted that I could ever replace him with any degree of success.

I gazed up at him, tears in my eyes. "This is a sacred burden I am unfit to acquire, Sole. Why me?"

He laughed, delighted. "Because you are the Historian, Helios! Who better to serve as Earth's custodian? The preservationist. The *preservationist!

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