Whitfield walked up to the front door and knocked, he waited a few minutes and knocked again, louder this time and heard movement within the house, footsteps coming towards him then the door opened. “Thanks for coming over Whit, Kitty is already here, do come in I’m just getting some coffee ready.”
Whit followed Mateo down the hall, Matt turned into the kitchen and Whitfield carried on into a large airy living room, he sat down in an armchair that faced a large patio door dominating the far wall and admired the view. He had seen it thousands of times but never tired of the beauty of nature, the green and gold hills that stretched as far as the eye could see, a patchwork quilt that only ended as it met the cornflower blue of the summer sky. Sighing he pulled his eyes away from the view and greeted his long-time friend Kitty Grey “Darling it’s so wonderful to see you!” she exclaimed, “How have you been sweetie?”
“Fine Kitty, just fine and how have you been?”
“Oh you know darling, bearing up. What do you think of this little predicament that Matty has gotten himself into?
“I’m not so sure it is as bad as he thinks, we would have heard something by now if it was, don’t you think?”
“Ah sweetie, it’s always better to be safe than sorry don’t you think?”
Mateo entered carrying a tray of coffee and accompaniments “Thank you sweetie I’m parched, simply parched! Let me be mother and then we shall get down to business yes?”
Kitty poured the coffee, she knew how each of them liked it, they had been friends for many years, and both men had been her lover on more than one occasion. Currently she was entertaining herself with a young man in his early twenties, it wouldn't last long. She would get bored sooner rather than later, having little time for those she perceived to be below her. despite being several thousand years old she looked to be in her late twenties/early thirties and styles herself on actresses of the forties, her favourite decade, she is a little over the top by design and theatrical be nature, that’s what people love about her.
She handed out the coffees then settled back on to the sofa that she had been lounging on. “So Matty, Darling what do you propose we do?”
“I think that we need to find him Kitty but I can’t remember, I don’t know who he is but you are sure that I know him from somewhere?”
“Personally I don’t think we have to worry too much Matt, we know that nothing has been reported to the police or press and it has been over a month now.”
“Yeah I know Whit but I would be happier if there was no possible threat of exposure at all!”
“Whit sweetie, Matty does have a point.”
“But do we really have to drop everything to search for this guy?”
“Not everything but Kitty and I are going to spend a lot of time trying to remember who he is, then I will better be able to find and track him to give us an idea as to whether he is a threat or not. Any help you can give us would be great but we don’t expect you to put your life on hold for our quest.”
“Of course I will do anything I can to help; I just think that after all this time we don’t need to worry too much.”
“Probably not but better safe than sorry I always say darling!”
“Yes of course you’re right Kitty. What can I do to help you remember?”
“Well Kitty knows him from somewhere so she will just have to remember where from.”
“Well let’s start in the alley where I last saw him sweetie and if that doesn’t jog our memory then we should visit all of the places that we go to regularly.”
“Okay that’s a plan, but I don’t remember anything about that part of the night.”
“Of course you do darling! You mentioned a scent that you caught that night, if we revisit it might bring it back to you!”
After sorting out when they would start, they put the problem to one side and had a pleasant afternoon catching up.
Franc awoke to a pounding on his front door he grabbed his phone to check the time, 7:00am! He rolled out of bed to see what was so urgent and to open the door before the neighbours started to complain, not many of them worked Saturdays or had young children to get them up early so they probably enjoyed a lie in.
“Rub the dust out of your eyes sleepy head; I’m sure you have lots of questions for me!” Whitfield breezily announced as he swept his way in to francs living room.
If there was one thing Franc disliked, it was morning people especially early morning people! “Don’t you people sleep?”
“Yes we sleep, I’m an early riser, always have been! I’ll make coffee while you wake up a bit.”
“Uh yeah, sure, okay.” Franc yawned and dropped onto the sofa. “Is early rising an affliction of um vampirism?”
“We have no afflictions really and no it isn’t, we retain all of our standard human traits when we change, minus your weaknesses.” Whitfield explained as he bought the coffee in from the kitchen. “Think of it as an upgrade with added virus protection, you will still be you, a stronger, quicker and more resistant you but still you. Did I mention that your eyesight and hearing will be infinitely better than it is now?”
“I see and no, you didn’t and I haven’t said that I will do it and I’m not convinced that last night wasn’t a dream!”
“Do dreams leave bruises on your neck or scuff marks on your wall?”
Franc quickly went into his bathroom to check his neck in the mirror, seeing the bruises clearly on his pale skin he couldn’t deny the reality of the previous evening.
“Okay so I can’t deny that I was awake last night when you visited but that still doesn’t mean-“
“No, I know, you want your questions answered first.
“Even that’s not a guarantee!”
“Of course, of course!”
Franc ran his fingers through his hair that was standing up all over the place and sighed as he returned to the sofa. “Where to start? You don’t seem to be affected by sunlight what other myths are just that, myths?”
“Most of them really, we made them up in order to protect ourselves mainly after Christianity was invented, but that’s another story. Sunlight obviously does not affect us, neither does silver, garlic, nor religious artefacts.”
“So the living dead part is made up? If the answer is no then I can give you my answer right now!”
“Yes it is made up; we do not die when we convert from standard humans.”
“Can you die?”
“We can, it is difficult to kill us but not impossible.”
“What about old age?”
“I have lived for millennia, watched the birth of civilisations and watched them die. I was one of the first ‘intelligent’ humans to convert. I have not known of any of my kind to die of old age.”
“Intelligent humans? What is that supposed to mean?”
“I mean those of your species that came after Neanderthals and their like, nothing more.”
“Ok, okay then. So you are immortal?”
“Yes as long as we feed, prolonged abstinence from blood will result in starvation which will eventually kill us. That is why the Romans invented crucifixion, a convenient way to kill us till they realised that they didn’t always starve us for long enough so that when our ‘bodies’ were returned to our families they could feed and revive us. Once they worked that out they started to use a spear pushed in through the side and up into the heart.”
“No he wasn’t, they used crucifixion for everyone to be on the safe side.”
“So the old stake through the heart will kill you then?”
“Would it kill you?”
“Well yes of course!”
“Removal or irreparable damage to essential organs will kill us as will removing our head.”
“You said it is difficult to kill you, it doesn’t sound that difficult!”
“With our speed and strength it is difficult; do you think you could get close enough to chop off my head?”
“Um no I guess not. What if you were taken by surprise?”
“My hearing, sense of smell, and eyesight are all infinitely better than yours, standard humans are clumsy creatures and make their presence known long before they are close enough to do any damage, even when you think you are being quiet.”
“Oh. So blood, you have to have it, does it have to be human?”
“Yes, some have tried to survive on animal blood and some using blood banks, all have failed. It has to be living human blood, we don’t know why.”
“What happened to those that tried other blood? How often do you have to feed?”
“They died of starvation if they managed to avoid human contact when the need was greatest or the were hunted and killed after draining every standard human they came across when the lust was too strong to resist. It’s best to drain a person at least every six months, any longer and the need becomes too great and you risk exposing yourself to standard humans.”
“If you are so much better than us, as is implied by you calling us standard humans, why not take over and rule the world? At least then you wouldn’t have to worry about exposure!”
“We refer to you as ‘standard’ humans purely because we are also human; we are an improved version of yourselves and refer to ourselves as ‘advanced humans’ rather than vampires. As I have already mentioned, we are a different evolutionary branch. We don’t ‘take over’ as you put it because we have seen the mistakes man has made over and over again and have found that a symbiotic life in which you don’t know the truth of our existence is the best way for the continued survival of both our species.”
“Murder is better than willing sacrifice?”
“You kill people to drink their blood, which is murder is it not?”
“Ah I see put like that in all honesty, yes it is in a way, we only take those that threaten others, violent criminals, rapists etc…etc…or those that are terminally ill with no hope of a cure.”
“And that makes it right?”
“Not in standard human terms but it is the best compromise we have.”
“So you want me to become a murderer?”
“Is it murder when you kill a cow for your steak?”
“That’s different, they don’t have the same intelligence as us.”
“How do you know? Do you speak bovine?”
“No of course not.”
“Then you don’t know if it is the same or not but that’s beside the point, do you have any more questions?”
I still don’t understand why you picked me?”
“When you went out of your way to find and read a copy of 'The Evolution of Vampires' there are five copies only and when a standard human expends great effort to find a copy they come to our attention and we watch them to see if they have the qualities that we desire in our species. Did you find what you were looking for in that book?”
“It claimed that vampires are an evolution of humans as old as we are and that they have always lived among us undetected! I found that hard to believe.”
“But you believe in the vampires of myth?”
“Well, it’s a romanticism isn't it? People always want to be more than they are and vampires are strong, fast and commonly, in this age, sexy. Who wouldn't want that?”
“I see and the book described them as something different, not the creatures you were looking for. “
“Yes kind of, but the theory was still interesting. It didn’t cover a lot of the things that you have told me though.”
“If we revealed everything in the book then it would make it more difficult for us to ascertain which of those we watched are suitable candidates, they could pretend to have the qualities we desire and we may not find out until it’s too late.”
“Do you ever make mistakes with who you change?”
“It has happened, there have been some over the years that have become power hungry once changed, Hitler for one. Your history doesn’t tell it true, for obvious reasons.”
“Oh okay. Do you have to kill the people you drink from? Can’t you take some blood and let them live?”
“If we did that we would have to feed much more often and would have to reveal ourselves, you tell one standard human and they tell another and another and before you know it we are hunted and persecuted again!”
“Can’t you make them forget?”
“That is TV and movie fantasy stuff, we don’t have super powers.”
“How many of you are there?”
“I don’t know, we don’t register anywhere.”
“Oh okay, this is a lot to take in.”
“I understand, let me give you my phone number, call me if you have any further questions, I’ll give you a week to think about it then I will be back for your decision.”
“What if I go to the police?”
“You won’t kiddo.”
“I might try to kill you when you come back!”
“You’re funny kid, I know that you’re not going to do that either.”
“Okay then, what will happen if I decide that I don’t want to become an advanced human? Will you kill me?”
“I can’t force you, the decision must be yours. No I will not kill you if you choose to stay as you are.”
“But don’t I know too much now?”
“How many people do you think will believe you if you told them what you know?”
“I could get proof.”
“There is no proof to be found. You aren’t going to tell anyone anyway.”
“You seem very sure of that!”
“I am, I have watched you for a long time, I am pretty confident that I know what your decision will be and I know that if you decide to stay as you are you won’t tell because you have long desired to meet a person like me, if you tell, even though no one will believe you, you will lose all contact with my world and I know you don’t want that now that you have found it! I must leave, you have a lot to think about kiddo, see you in a week.”
Franc opened his mouth to respond then closed it again when he realised that he had nothing to say, he watched as Whitfield let himself out pulling the door closed behind him. Franc sat in dumbfounded silence, it was a lot to take in, unbelievable that vampires or advanced humans had been living amongst them for millennia.
Real vampires, so they aren’t the stuff of movies but maybe that’s a good thing, supernatural powers would have been too much to believe.
"Kitty are you sure that this is the right place?"
"Yes Matty darling, look here is my compact mirror, it must have fallen from my bag when that rogue dropped it!" Kitty indicated a small silver object hidden under an old rag.
"Are you sure that it's yours?"
"Look here it has a message and my name engraved, do you see? It was a gift from a dear man that I spent many wonderful years with, I thought it was lost to me forever!"
"I'm not sure about this alley, it doesn't seem familiar."
"You were deep in the blood lust Matty, I'm not surprised you don't remember!"
"I do recall the day that you say all of this happened though, I remember the guy I fed on, I remember the rain, I remember disposing of the remains and I remember running in to you but I don't remember the would be mugger that I apparently scared off."
"Do you always remember every second of a kill?"
"Normally yes, I don't normally leave it so long between feedings so I am usually more controlled."
"Well then sweetie, that's why you can't remember everything that happened!"
"I guess, I have an olfactory memory, I'm not one hundred percent sure that it is from that day but maybe if I can find the source or at least smell it again then maybe I will remember more?"
"What scent? Describe it sweetie, maybe I can help you identify it?"
"I can't, I would recognise it if I smelt it again but I can't describe it."
"Oh, I take it that you can't smell it now?"
"No, all I can smell here is ordinary alley smells."
"That's good sweetie!"
"It is, why?"
"Because it must be him that you remember the scent of, that will make it easier to identify him!"
"Yeah I suppose so, if only we knew where to start looking!"
"Let's start in the town, see if we can pick up his scent."
Whitfield sat in the window of the coffee shop, he watched the lunch crowd rushing past trying to run their errands and eat their sandwiches in the half hour or hour that they got for lunch. They reminded him of a colony of ants, always rushing somewhere, their lives so short, just a blink of the eye in the grand scheme of things.
Someone like him could think them Insignificant but Whit didn't, he understood the worth of every individual whatever species it may be. He had watched species evolve and watched as they had died out, knew they all had had their role to play in shaping the world. In his lifetime empires had risen and fallen, wars fought and won, battles lost. He knew the truth, there were no winners, not really, and he also knew that it would never stop, human nature wouldn't allow it to.
"Whit darling you're here!"
Kitty's exclamation startled him out of his reverie. She kissed him on both cheeks as he rose to great her and Mateo.
"Well we did say that we would meet here Kitty, any luck? He inquired as he shook hands with Mateo and the all sat at the table.
"I know we did sweetie but I thought that you might still be otherwise be engaged."
"I see, I concluded my business quickly in order to assist you both."
"Ah well that is super, we had very little luck, although I did recover my precious compact mirror and Matty has remembered a smell!"
"Well yes I can kind of remember a scent from the night in question. I don't know for sure that it is his and I can't describe it but I can smell it in my mind. Does that make sense?"
"Yes Matt, it does. Can you think of anywhere that you might come in contact with the scent?"
"No. Kitty he ran into you when he snatched you bag, did you get a look at him at all?"
"Um not really, he had dark blond or light brown hair I think, maybe your height Whit, I'm not sure!"
"Okay so he may be six foot one inch or so tall dark blond, light brown hair, what about his build?"
"It was dark and happened so fast Whit, I just don't know!"
"Was he fat?"
"No, no definitely not fat."
"No I guess kind of average but not soft, probably not a body builder but still fit and young."
"No, well I don't know it's hard to tell but I don't think so, twenties, thirties maybe?"
"Okay so we have some sort of description now."
"It's not much Whit, I mean how many people fit that description?"
"I know Matt but it's more than we had yesterday!"
"I suppose but what do we do now?"
"We need to see if we can trace his scent, jog your memory into putting a name to it or a place where you smelt it."
They ordered coffee, as they sat and drank Kitty and Whitfield continued to suggest places and smells to Mateo. It was decided that coffee, cut grass or old spice cologne were definitely not what they were looking for. Mateo said that it was earthier, musky with a hint of Christmas and something else that he just couldn't put his finger on."