She should have felt revulsion, loathing and fear, but oddly, Suzan felt excited, stimulated and bursting with curiosity. Curled in Ellen’s embrace, she listened to the woman’s incredible story of everlasting life and of all the people down through history who Ellen had loved...and lost. It was a fantastic revelation, one that frightened Suzan. What if she never grasped the enormity of her Ellen’s admission that she had the power to make others live forever just as she lived century after century? But quelling her fear, Suzan listened intently to all that Ellen revealed, including the fact that Charles had not died in Europe of disease, but had died of natural old age, the process accelerated once the combination of elixir and blood no longer provided the capacity to sustain his life from the day of his death and rebirth: an everlasting thirty years old.
“I witnessed his deceleration,” Suzan confessed with a pang of regret and also guilt, although at the time she had no knowledge of this incredible transformation. “Charles came to me for help but I thought him to be a nut. And then...I saw him later that day, an old man. I couldn’t believe it.”
“Incredible but true,” Ellen acknowledged with a catch in her voice. “It took a week for the process of aging to begin, and one day to complete it. Even as Charles died a natural death, I understood what he went through in the days before his demise. It’s been the same with the others. I’ve tried several possibilities to sustain the immortal essence but nothing has worked.”
That’s why you need me. Suzan felt a tingling of excitement. “Perhaps I can help. Allow me to take a sample of the elixir and your blood. Once I run tests, I might be able to provide an answer...and perhaps a solution.”
Ellen smoothed Suzan’s brow with tender strokes, her expression that of quiet adoration. “You are too beautiful for words, my dearest. I have waited centuries for someone to help me perfect my elixir, but I did not choose you for that in itself. I wanted you before I even knew of your abiding interest in blood disorders.”
“I know,” Suzan acknowledged. “I felt your love before I even spoke of my profession. And I want to help you more than anything in the world. But...” She hated to broach the subject, but she had to if she wanted to share in Ellen’s offer of life everlasting, a prospect that both fascinated and repulsed her. “Why must there be killing? Why must you kill and drink the blood?”
“How can I explain it, dear one? Blood is life, the life eternal. Without it I will wither, although not die. The blood is like a vitamin pill; it sustains me, gives me strength and vitality, renews my spirit so I may go on and live.” Smiling, Ellen cupped Suzan’s face in her hands. “I feel young again, beautiful, free and alive. I feel as if nothing can touch me, not death or violence or any type of danger. Yes, the taking of a life and the drinking of blood is evil and unthinkable to those who have no knowledge of this miracle I offer, but the benefits far outweigh such a cursed need.”
“But have you ever felt loneliness, so deep that you wished you could die?”
Ellen bowed her head for a moment as she weighed her words. When she felt ready to answer she looked at Suzan with eyes filled with bittersweet memories and ancient wisdom. “Yes, I felt totally alone at times, especially after one of my partners left me. The emptiness seemed unbearable, but I waded through my grief and then looked forward to the future where I would, once again, find love and companionship. It is a cycle, like birth and death, but instead of death I have gone through a mourning period where I am insulated in my cocoon to weep and wail by myself. But with time and circumstances, I awaken and become whole again, happy and full of hope.”
Ellen offered a luminous smile. “You will come to understand and share in this life, too, my love, once you accept what I have to give. And we will move forward together, always and forever, with no regrets, sorrow or sadness.”
“And if I refuse such a generous offer, what then?” The thought had occurred to Suzan more times than she cared to count in the last week.
As a scientist, she had to weigh the tangible, the known, solid facts, against the mystical, the fantastic and the supernatural, a task she could not undertake without her own strength and conviction. So many questions whirled through her mind: did she really wish to accept immortality, live forever while some many others around her—friends and family—aged normally and died? This process, this miracle as Ellen called it, defied the laws of nature...and of God. Could she embrace the powers of darkness in order to be reborn as a super woman, one who never grew old or faced death?
Yet as Ellen revealed, she was not totally invincible, death could come to her by another’s hand and at any time. Murder. As Ellen murdered the innocent to sustain her life, someone could take her life just as easily, and do so with cruel intent.
Now as Ellen stroked Suzan’s cheeks with soft fingers, she tendered, “I don’t expect you to accept my offer immediately, for I have yet to reveal the entire picture. You will think in scientific terms, my dear, as you always do, ponder and weigh the benefits against the negatives. But for my sake as well as your own, I hope the benefits win. Then we shall be together for always.”
Her lover’s tantalizing caresses along with such a life-changing decision made Suzan shudder. Had she been sleepwalking in a dream all along, living in some ethereal world where reality had no place? Suzan knew that she had no imagination for something so fantastical and unworldly. Yet Ellen’s touch, so tacit and graphic, proved to Suzan that she still functioned in the conscious world, still thought with lucid clarity, still acted and reacted as she always did, and still found everything normal and familiar—up till now.
A different type of reality had crept into her life, one that would bring both excitement and danger, and one that would promise her extraordinary powers beyond the laws of science and nature.
But for the present, Suzan wanted only to listen, to learn, and to experience the love Ellen offered her, with no expectations other than Suzan love in return. There were times when the woman’s gaze—strong and determined—seemed to bore into her mortal soul and caress her naked psyche, as if Suzan had just been born and Ellen had wrapped her in maternal arms to soothe and love her.
“I will make sure you will never regret your decision to join me,” Ellen continued. “This is my vow to you, my darling. And I will give you things more precious than gold and the finest jewels.” Lowering her voice to a melodic whisper, she brought her mouth close to Suzan’s. “I will give you not only all of me, but all of the world and the universe. I will show you things beyond imagination, take you places you have only dreamed about. You will know joy and ecstasy, love and adoration...forever.”
Suzan could think of nothing more intoxicating than Ellen herself, a feast for the senses. And she could have Ellen and her love forever. The choice seemed so simple now.
“Yes,” she murmured. “Yes, I want all you have to offer, my darling.”
Ellen’s lips touched Suzan’s, soft and warm and promising. “Then we shall begin, my love.”