Vampinore: I - Victor
Captivated or Captive?
What one would believe that it is from love, I tell you it is from the most unfathomable fear: the gasping of air that my lungs do crave in dire need that I let the presence of time and space catch up with the rest of my shaken core. No one can explain to you the true essence of terror. No diagram or textbook can make you experience such a rush of strange curiosity and that utmost deepening horror. The muscles weaken to a lesser good. The heartbeat drastically increases until it extinguishes all external sound in your ear, replacing it with a gradually increasing pound. The brain in its greatest form overloads and ceases normal function of comprehension, leaving one blinded by the shadow of hysteria.
Out of the blur of my senses filled with the toxic of horror, the images of my surroundings begin to materialize. I can see I am inside a very shanty den of a makeshift apartment. One that would exist in a typical artist’s space rented out of an extinct warehouse, but so much colder. Wood panel floors stretch out from underneath the blackened walls and even blacker ceiling, both painted in a shade that even makes darkness seem bright. The tall windows are heavily draped over so that no city light might intrude. I sit at some round table which was designed for multiple companies, but the construction of piles of books and papers form as impenetrable castle walls enveloping all but for one seat, which suggests she must be the loner she appeared to be.
She! My god! I remember now! The spray of blood along the wet, cracked pavement this very night; the small, stringy bits of flesh flung through the air; the brief screams made into wispy, frozen fog; and now I am here with my fate still undetermined. When I look up from the table, I see her staring right back at me.
‘Cold and calculating’ does not describe her butterfly knife eyes drawn through me like eager sabers. Her stillness I find more frightening. You can barely see her breathe, if she even is at all. What some would call a living statue, I find her more to be a careful, intellectual predator. I can start to see it in her expression. Whatever may be come of me, I feel it will have more of an impact on her than those sorry fools who mistook her mercy for weakness. Then again, I mistook her for quite a few things.
Let Me Tell You About . . .
Me. I’m Victor Kauffman, a 26-year-old archaeological student by day and a musician by night, nothing grand of which to speak. I work during the day on my post-graduate studies in hopes of going into the field soon. You see, I have quite an addiction to ancient mysteries. I’m not one of those crazies you see on TV talking about ancient aviators or inter-dimensional gateways. Nevertheless, civilization I believe developed methods and technologies that are lost to us. Maybe one day we can recover them and understand our world better.
Work like that comes with a price, and a price I pay with my night job as a musician and a bartender for a small city club. Letting off the frustrations and psychosomatic induced stress-pains by screaming on a microphone is very rewarding therapy. The busy nights are profitable from behind the bar; however, I find the slower nights to be more interesting. Conversations you can develop and progress, especially with the intake of liquor makes for more intimate, more informative dialogue.
Earlier tonight, I wasn't working, nor was I taking up mic time. The stool by the far end of the bar by the window held my ground. A heavy storm had rolled in and the sound of rain crashing against the glass and outer wall brought a soothing to my mind. The rumbling of the water breaking against the pane quickly overcame the mindless chatter that normally engulfs the large room. With a glass of rum and Coke due north of my notebook, I scribbled out my latest thoughts.
The archaeological marine expeditions I've been following have recently begun more research on that grouping of submerged structures just west of Cuba. It appears to be the makings of a small city of roadways lined with broken columns and partial temple structures. These incidents are becoming more and more frequent as of late. It doesn't beg the question. Rather, it implants another long shard of painful screams in my mind - the sort of screams that deprive me of proper rest late most nights. “Questions! Clues! Follow and find!” This is the part where the rum comes in. I have to drown out my thoughts at night just to succumb to a brief coma. Some nights the opposite occurs, and I stay up longer writing in my notes. I looked down at tonight’s notes in hope of finding a solution to my torment.
A Shadow Glided By
A dark figure caught my peripheral, taking a seat at the bar a meter away - a girl who I've seen at the campus numerous times, coincidentally only on the gloomiest of days. One would refer to her as your typical gothic creature: complete black attire, from her Doc Marten boots up to her chin-length hair. The only brightness to her appearance is her pale, lifeless skin. Painfully stereotypical, but I can’t alter the truth of her fashion faux pas, or how mysteriously magnetic she is to my eyes.
I much enjoy watching her, not for what you might assume, but for her attitude. At campus, I've seen her at the library a few times from a distance. Her passion, her determination, her desire to complete whatever project she is working on makes her appear as an automated machine. It’s as if in her world no other person exists. She makes no eye contact, gesture, or greeting to anyone. She hurriedly moves from one text to the next, making her notations in her books, and then leaves to wherever her next task awaits.
One day, I found myself brave enough to walk by the desk she was working on. I stood by waiting for the moment she went on her hunt for the next text to prey upon for its hidden knowledge. As she got up, I pretended to be on my own hunt. Passing by, I glanced at her work briefly and saw a name written near the top – “Lily”. Was that her name? Was it part of her research? I mustn't stand about in thought, I need to keep moving. By the time I turned around, she was already near, approaching. My body locked up, overcome by a nervousness I've yet to experience. I broke view of her, keeping lock on the floor as I walked by her back to my desk.
As I attempted to excuse myself and move around her, my sense took in an air not of this world. It was devoid of warmth and lifeless, much like the dead air of space. It was as if everything radiant or expressive about her was securely contained within, and was not for any other’s tasting. I wasn't scared, but more intrigued of her by this very moment. As I reentered the realm of everyday, I glanced back to notice she did not make a slight change in course, in breath, or in sight of my presence. I, too, was non-existent in her world.
More Chilled Than the Glass in Her Hand
She finished off her drink quicker than it was served, not similar to the times I've waited in other establishments, because it was rather quiet this evening. I didn't have time to ponder what she ordered before she was money down and moving toward the exit. By then the desire to finish my glass was removed, for my curiosity of her became my new thirst.
Not a moment to waste, I had to pack my things as quickly as possible. I jammed my notes into my messenger bag, paid down my tab and hurriedly moved in pursuit. Tonight, I was going to finally get some answers I needed. What courage comes when one lets a little rum relax one’s insecurities.
Into the pouring tropical rain warming up the cool, late winter air, I came to a stop to look down both ends of the road. I nearly forgot how fast she moves until I saw her silhouette two blocks away as she cut through the fog rising from the rain hitting the icy concrete. I didn't want to startle or scare, so I merely made my way in her direction with as fast as a walk as possible.
What would I say? Should I wait until she dropped something or needed help with a door? Should I catch up and use my papers to shield her from more of the rain? No, I feel that she quite enjoys this kind of night. Maybe it’s why I saw her come out tonight against any other night in recent memory, a night where there were very few people, if any out walking the streets. I almost mistook the light roar of thunder in the distance for the pothole popping sound of trucks that drive through the area during the day. My thinking has slowed me down, for she has gained another block ahead of me. Not surprised from the way I see her move around the library.
Into That Unforgettable, Unforgivable Alley
She made a sharp turn between two of the older buildings in the slum side of town. Before I could catch up, from across the street, I catch a glimpse of two tough looking guys whispering to each other, and then jogging across the street into the alley right behind her. What was I getting myself into? I’m not much of a fighter, but I got enough sense that something bad was going to happen, and I might have to step in.
I slowly make my way to the corner of the last building. My shoulder meets with the wall and hugs it to the very edge, so that I might peer around the corner. The lack of street lights makes it harder to see, so I have to rely on the dim flashes of lightning that have recently started. If there was no trouble, would I still keep following her and thereby be walking right behind those guys? They might think I’m following them and confront me over it. Then again, if there was trouble, what would I even do about it? Regardless, I had lower my head out and glance down that alley.
Surrounded by the guys that followed her in and two more in front of her, she’s trapped! I waited a moment to listen. Maybe she might know them and are meeting up with them.
“Hey, sweetheart! If you wanna stay dry, I can help you with that,” slyly grumbles the stockier of the two in front of her. She remained motionless and speechless. I couldn't see her face so I didn't know what she might have been thinking.
“Hey, bitch,” loudly came from the skinnier, shorter of the four. “My friend here was offering his services, for a very cheap price.”
It was getting serious! I have to stop this!
“Whoa! Whoa! Leave her alone!” I shouted.
The short guy with his two other friends came walking down toward me carrying looks to break me if I spoke another word. I couldn't tell you what made me walk to meet them halfway, but that could have been the wrong reaction.
“Listen asshole! This doesn't concern you, so get the fuck out of here!” yelled back the short one.
“Like hell I will. Let her be on her way,” I said.
“Say that again with a broken jaw,” he said has his two other friends grabbed onto me.
I struggled to make myself free, but my face was met swiftly with a sucker punch from the short one. I couldn't see, just feel the uncomfortable shock of the next few hits meeting me across the jaw. Each blow felt worse than the last. Thankfully, he was done. I gave up trying to break loose, for my returning vision and hearing focused back on her and the mastodon in front of her.
“Now about that offer,” he said, raising her chin up with the crook of his index finger.
“I have a better one,” she replied in a stronghold of confidence, without a whimper or a shudder in her speech. “How about I suck you all dry for free?”
He began to say, “That sounds like a good . . .” until he began to choke on his own words. She gripped on to him tightly. What I first assumed was a whisper in his ear quickly became apparent. The rain repelling through the air off of him was thick and deep red. Blood gushed out of his mouth as he reached up around his neck. She took a step back as he fell to his knees, clambering over his last few breaths. He lowered his hands to reveal two deep slices into his neck, squirting out his last bit of life. His hulking mass, lacking any bit of strength left, slumped over into a puddle.
She turned toward us with the most frightening visage revealed by the white flash of lightning behind us. Her mouth was open wide with two lengthy canines drenched in that cretin’s foul blood. It ran down her chin, and then slowly mixed with the rain rolling over her throat, allowing nature to get rid of the evidence.
The three others left me fallen onto the pavement in an attempt to gain some kind of vengeance for their fallen comrade. From that moment everything I witnessed came from the powers of the sky allowing me glimpses of their fates.
The first, the shorter one, made it within a foot of her before I saw him looking back at me in an odd manner. His head had turned to face me, his eyes locking with mine and telling his final thoughts of regret for a misstep he might have taken. Only when I took in his whole image, that I realized his head did turn toward me, but his body didn't as he fell like a broken mannequin to the ground.
The other two were just as unlucky. One was immediately dispatched before I see what had happened. I can only assume it was that girl that so delicately placed his right arm on the ground a few feet away from his motionless corpse. The remaining integer of this problem pulled out a hidden knife from his back waistband. My reaction time was quicker than I would have thought any other time. I neglected my pains, and sprinted at him with great haste.
I reached out for his left shoulder and pulled him around to face the demon in me. I reached for his right hand and stepped in to wrestle the blade away from him. As I pulled up his hand into my view, the next flash of the sky revealed his hand empty of any weapon. I quickly turned elbow first into his jaw for payback to what his friend had done to mine. He went down, and she lay down behind him with the knife in her stomach. My god! He killed her!
The demon took on a new rage. He didn't save her. I didn't save her. Thought lost from mind, only reaction. We climbed over this vile waste of human to keep him from trying to crawl back from whence he thrived. Within reach was a rock the size of a softball, one perfectly fitting in our hand. We grasped onto it, making it an extension of our hammer of justice. The thunder rolled directly overhead to add to this theater of anguish. Smash after smash after smash, thuds turning to sounds of cracking, screams turning into gasping, and then all in one, the sound of flesh and bone being pureed into a glossing over our hand.
The sounds of my exhaustive breathing stopped us - stopped me from continuing on in this savagery. In my horror, I saw what I had done. No witnesses! No one to say it was self-defense! No one to say I tried to save her . . .
My programmed mind expected to find her lying in the same place she fell, only to find her standing, holding the knife, giving me a glare of pure hatred. At that moment, when we looked at one another, as we were awaiting for the other to make the next move, the sound of sirens could be heard in the distance. Maybe someone had heard or seen what I had done.
“You’re coming with me, until I decided what to do with you,” she said, picking me up off the ground and putting me on my feet as if I was a weightless toy.
I don’t remember anything after that . . . until being here in this place. What is to become of me?
DO RETURN FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER OF VAMPINORE . . .
Would Victor have been better off not following the girl into the alley?
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