The Long Game

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

She looked for him for quite time before she found him. All alone in the darkness.

"Alexander?"

His back was to her and he did not turn around or acknowledge her existence whatsoever. That was very unlike him.

"Alexander?"

As she drew closer, something within her whispered to run away. She ignored it with a determination born out of love and enduring hope.

"Alexander?"

She lightly touched his shoulder and his clenched muscles felt like bundles of wire beneath the fabric of his clothing. Still, he did not turn. She moved to face him instead and peered into his face.

It was drawn and pale. He looked skeletal, gaunt. Perspiration beaded on his brow. His blue-green eyes were sickly, hollow pits in his face as he stared blindly at her. His dark, usually glossy hair looked brittle and dull.

"Alexander?"

She was becoming quite alarmed, though she tried to contain her growing disquiet with logic, with reasoning.

"Mina."

His voice was raw, barely more than a whisper. As if words struggled to form in his dry, parched throat.

"Alexander, what is wrong?"

He could have been stone, a statue. For he did not move while she looked upon him. But she saw a fleeting image of him seizing her throat the moment she looked away or blinked. And so she forced herself to meet his gaze, though his stare bore into her head as if tunneling into her brain tissues.

Her thoughts were becoming more scattered, more fractured with each passing moment. A highly unusual state for her. She prided herself on her independent nature and self-possession. Now however, it felt as though something were invading her, mechanically dismantling her intellectual processes, filling her with whirls of confusion and dread.

"Alexander. Please speak to me," she requested. Staunchly refusing to break down and beg, plead.

His eyes were locked upon hers and now she could no longer look away. As if she were becoming entranced, hypnotized, controlled.

And he. He, her lover, her soul companion, her constant, was staring at her in a way she never had witnessed before. Black fury.

Ravenous hunger.

And she knew then that she would die.

But still, Mina Murray was never one to give up without a fight be it emotional, mental, or physical.

And so she began struggling through her sluggish mental processes, seeking a means of escape. It was like slogging through thick, fetid, sucking mud.

Her budding hope wilted upon his silken, liquid words.

"My dear Mina," he breathed, his calm tone contradicting his deathly stare. "I have been abstaining from blood for many days in an effort to become the man you desire."

Her dread thicken her blood to reddish sludge in her veins, weighing her down as she tried in vain to move.

"I have tried to be what you need. I have done all I can," he continued, resentment dripping from his syllables.

She could barely manage a nod. She knew. Oh yes, she knew.

"I have destroyed my empire of lies for you. I have wasted away alone in the darkness for you. I have burned in the sun . . . for you."

She nodded again, her fear slithering its way up her spine and into the base of her brain, squirming, roiling, churning.

"Have you any idea what it is like to slowly thirst, to slowly STARVE?!" he roared suddenly, hands clenched, eyes wild with rage.

And she could not move a muscle. Held fast, immobile. By something not her. And he, her Alexander, began slowly circling her like a deadly predator to a doomed prey.

He hissed his words at her.

"And all the while, you parade about with your sun kissed flesh and your fresh, flowing blood pumping through your delicate little veins. I smell the food upon your breath when you kiss me. And I know that you, you selfish little wretch, do not want for drink, for sustenance, for nourishment."

Tears dropped from her eyes. Not at his words. At the demons in his eyes clawing at her soul with long, jagged talons of acidic hate.

And he, this man she found she knew not at all, continued to circle her, stalking her in her paralyzed, helpless state.

"And then, while I am denied the warmth of the sun, you swan about. Prattling on about the beauty of the stars . . ."

An abrupt, harsh sound ripped from his throat and up through his exposed, deadly-sharp fangs. Something akin to a laugh.

"Those stars, so cold, uncaring. And the big, pale, cold, bloated moon hanging above my head that MOCKS ME . . ."

His voice dropped again.

". . . and my futile hope."

Mina's insides quaked beneath her still outer veneer. She had begun to pray. But even that was splintered, brittle.

I beg forgiveness for my . . . no, there is no forgiveness for me . . . I pray for mercy. . . in the black, yawning void . . . no . . . gnashing teeth . . . heavy chains . . .

"You have offered me a fragile, decaying hope that can no longer withstand my . . . hunger."

And then he stopped circling. Directly in front of her. And stared at her with absolute blackness.

"And I am so very hungry."

He reached out slowly and she could not even flinch away, for her muscles were still frozen. His index finger touched the flesh of her upper chest. Tracing slow lines on her skin. His flesh was cold, clammy, alien.

"And when I . . ." here he used a crass, obscene word that cut her brain, her heart. And was not what she thought they had been doing.

" . . . you, all I could smell was your blood. Hid away in your veins when it should be in my mouth, upon my tongue. Taken into me."

He lightly took hold of her hand, turned it palm up, and raised it slowly to his lips. Once upon a time, that movement had made her tremble inside. It did so as well now for an entirely different reason. Keeping his gaze locked upon hers, this monster that wore her Alexander's handsome face bit into the tender flesh of her palm with his sharp vampiric eyeteeth. The pain was sharp and hard though she could not release the screams lodged within her. She could only stand and watch as he drank from her and continued to stare into her deepest soul with those pitiless eyes.

Then he drew her hand down and away, broke his own flesh and held it up to her, blood dripping down his arm.

"Drink from me. I want you to feel what I have felt."

Her mind and soul struggled and flailed and shrank back. But the trance that held her body commanded her to obey. And so she did. The blood was thick, repugnant. It choked her as it filled her mouth and dripped down her throat.

And then the emotions flooded through her. Threatening to drown her in their swelling tide. Yearning, sorrow, love, thirst, hunger, resentment, hate.

And extreme satiation. In the indulgence of blood. Her blood.

"Now," he whispered, his demon eyes very nearly glowing. "Now do you understand what I have suffered for you?"

She finally broke through the invisible, sorcerous bindings that held her fast.

"Alexander . . . please . . ."

He savagely launched himself upon her, grasping hands digging brutally into the tender flesh of her arms. She cried out in fear and excruciating pain. His fangs tore into her neck, her jugular vein, slashing deep mortal wounds which spurted forth that which he craved so badly.

Blood.

The pain was blinding, a white light of sheer agony. She finally screamed and her body flailed desperately. He growled into her neck like a feral animal on a rampage while her lifeblood gushed free, pouring into his hungry mouth and down her body.

It hurt so much. It was as though he was trying to inflict as much agonizing torment as he could to punish her for filling his head with superficial hopes and dreams of sunlight and humanity.

And for denying him the one thing he needed more than anything else in his condemned existence.

Blood.

They collapsed to the floor as he drank her dry. Her body convulsed, her vision dimmed in and out. He detached and hovered above her, blood dripping onto her face from his mouth as he roared at her.

The last thing she ever beheld was his soulless eyes glowering at her as she died.

"And, no, my love. You need not fear to rise back up again as an eternal vampire. You have become repellent to me with your preachings of hope that I can no longer bear to stomach. And after this moment, I will never spare a moment's thought for you again."

And then blackness took her down, enfolding her in its suffocating arms.


She desperately struggled through the black mire of her dark and bloody dream. Moaning, whimpering deep in her throat. Tears stung at her eyes as her lids fluttered rapidly. Her body trembled and shook in quakes of mortal terror.

She opened her eyes to dimness. Above her, a male figure loomed quite close. She shrieked loudly and jerked away.

"Mina?"

She whimpered again and drew away, clutching at the sheet, holding it close to her defenseless body. Her nightmare was still upon her and she scrambled off the bed and into a corner against a near wall. She was not herself. She shuddered. She wept. She sobbed.

"Mina?"

The figure rose from the bed and moved to turn up the lamp light. In the brightened glow, her vision cleared and she saw him.

Alexander. Her Alexander. Healthy, handsome, loving Alexander. His face drawn with worry, concern.

"Mina?"

He did not move to approach her, for he saw her face. And he knew. Without her admission, he knew her dream. It was written upon her in deep lines of intense, straining fear.

He stood still with his hands down at his sides. He held his peaceful demeanor and a calm countenance for her though his insides churned with emotion. He had hurt her. Simply by being present in her life. He had reached out and molested that most secret, private place with his evil, his curse. The place no one stepped foot save her. Her dreams.

But while yet she trembled and remained defenseless, he could not, would not, leave her alone in the dark. And so he stood unmoving. Farther away from the door than she so that if she chose, she may flee and be done with him.

"Forgive me," he whispered.

They stayed thus for a time. Her thick, dark hair hung tangled, partially obscuring her pale, drawn face as she struggled to regain control of herself.

Eventually, she calmed enough to move. Slowly. Not toward the door. Toward him. He remained still. She continued her slow approach, gripping the white covering around her.

He marveled at her stalwart bravery even as it pricked at his cursed heart.

When she was close enough to reach out and touch him, she stopped. They stood there staring into each other's eyes across a vast chasm of fateful complications.

Finally, she spoke.

"There is nothing to forgive. It was but a bad dream."

Her voice almost didn't tremble.


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