The Eternal Vampire

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Part One: Tristan

Book One: Tristan

Chapter One: As I Lay Dying

The night I met Tristan and his lover Isolde was both the best and the worst night of my life.

It was the last time I saw Julie, the girl I loved, the girl I wanted to marry. I had no idea that this was the night she would be taken from me.

It started out as one of those nights in a relationship. We’d gone to watch a basketball game and afterwards we took a slow, romantic walk home. We strolled slowly, kissing in alleys, our hands all over each other. I was so hot for her that I was ready to drag her into a darkened doorway and have her right there. I had it all planned: I’d take her back to my frat house, we’d make love, and then I’d propose.

We heard some people walking behind us, but paid them no mind. Our basketball team was having a really good year and each game practically sold out. There were people walking all over campus, you could hear them talking about the game, or debating where to go to celebrate. I wasn’t worried about the footsteps, not until it was too late.

Everything changed in an instant. There were four of them; two with guns, two with wicked-looking knives. As Julie and I offered our wallets the tallest one smiled, and aimed his “Glock” and gut shot me, a guarantee that I’d die if I didn’t get help soon.

I lay waiting to die, helpless, as they surrounded Julie. I could not move or cry out for help as I listened to the sounds of tearing clothes and Julie screaming. Then, after a while, the sound of a gunshot and deathly silence.

I wanted more than anything to curl up next to Julie’s body and die at her side. Instead I lay paralyzed and bleeding as our assailants ran down the alley and I saw the ruins of my Julie lying there. I began to weep like a child. I should be dead, like her, with her. Why was I still alive anyway?

“You are alive so you can avenge her death.” A stranger appeared at my side, seemingly out of nowhere, and had matter of factly answered my thoughts. He had curly blond hair and even in the alley his complexion had a pale luminescence. He squatted down next to me and stroked my forehead. He seemed like an angel with his pale blue eyes, an angel who had come to rescue me.

“You’re dying, mon ami, but I can help you if you’re willing to pay the price,” his English had an accent—French? Who was he? How had he read my mind? He was offering me a chance to salvage the life that was slowly fading out of me? I wanted to live and pay those bastards back more than anything in the world. But what did he mean by “pay the price”?

He ruffled his curls, “I can help you get vengeance, or better still, give you to the tools to get your vengeance. And you will have eternal life or eternal life as I know it. It will be both rewarding and a curse, but I think you would find it worth your while. You could make those barbarians pay, if that is what you want. But I need your consent: you must be ready to accept the consequences of your choice, and there will be consequences.”

“Consequences?” What did he mean? All I knew for certain was that my life was bleeding out of me and I didn’t want to die. I didn’t know what he planned to do, but he was offering to save me. I was only 20, I wasn’t ready to die. I was half dead, and this beautiful angel in the half-lit alley was offering me my life, and what I wanted the most--a way to avenge Julie. I was all for that, I didn’t even stop to consider what that price might be.

“I’ll have to be careful, he’s hanging by a thread,” he murmured, and picked up my dying body like I was a child, and held me close. Suddenly I felt something sharp sticking into my neck. I didn’t know what was happening, the pain was intense and I fought him at first, but I was too far too weak and gave in. And I wouldn’t have cared if he was the Devil himself, I was dying and he was offering me a chance to live.

Suddenly he propped me up, and then bit his own wrist. “Drink,” he urged and pushed his wrist to my mouth. What he asked seemed strange and I turned my head from him. He was insistent, telling me I had to drink or I’d die, so I gave in and began to suck the blood pouring from his wrist.

As his blood flowed into my body I felt life coursing through my veins. The bullets popped out as my wounds abruptly healed and my strength was returning if by magic. I was overcome with a crazy urge to laugh for the joy of being alive and cry over the loss of my Julie all at once. Tears poured out of my eyes as he pulled his wrist away and bound it with a handkerchief.

I was alive! I felt a force rushing through me; the pain of Julie’s death was still fresh in my mind, but I no longer felt the intensity of it. I could feel the grief, but it somehow had pushed itself to the back of my mind. I had not been able to save her, but somehow someone had saved me. Until you are at the brink of death, then suddenly jerked away, you have no idea how I felt.

Then the pains hit, pain so intense it felt like a knife was piercing my gut. He laughed gently at me as I curled up into a ball. He laid a cool hand on my forehead and told me to be patient, it would be over soon.

He took my hand and held it. “Your body is changing; it is the baptism of fire that every vampire goes through. We’ll wait for your body to go through the change, then I’ll take you to my house.” He held up his hand when I opened my mouth to protest. “No, you can’t go back to your Fraternity. (how was he reading my mind?) Sooner or later your roommates would know something is wrong.

Vampire? That’s what he said? Vampire? The word “vampire” was a shock to hear. I didn’t believe in them. Yet here I was, experiencing all of it. And my very existence now was proof that such things were, not a myth, and one of them had taken pity on me and given me back my life, a life that now had changed forever.

He picked me up as easily as if he were lifting a child. He ran through the streets so fast that buildings flew by me in a blur. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t be sick, and when I finally opened them, we were standing on the porch of an old home in the Ravenna District, not far from Children’s Hospital.

The door opened. “Tristan”. A tall, slender woman, middle aged but very attractive, stood there as she were expecting us. She stepped aside to let us in. “Bring him inside and put him on the sofa,” she said, “And get him some clean clothes. Yours ought to fit him.” She laid a warm hand, so different from the cold of the vampire’s, on my forehead. “Are you all right?” The expression on her face was both welcoming and concerned, like a mother’s might be.

She had no accent like him. The inflections in her voice were pure Seattle, like me. And there was another thing, I could tell by the warmth of her touch that this was no vampire I was looking at, but a mortal woman.

She smiled, pushing her short auburn hair back in a gesture that mirrored Tristan’s. “You’re right; I’m not like you. Tristan and I have lived together for many years, so many now I’ve lost track.”

“Hush Isolde, you’ll scare the boy. And don’t read his mind, it’s not nice.” Tristan came into the room and laid slacks, a silk shirt, underwear, and socks on my lap. “You’ll feel better when you change clothes. Take a bath and change into some fresh clothes, you’ll feel better.”

As I headed up the stairs I heard Isolde say to him, “Has he fed yet? You know he needs to feed; you need to take him out. But take the car this time, Tristan. He’s too weak to be out on the street just yet.”

The bathroom was huge, with male and female toiletries strewn about. I took a bath in an old fashioned claw-foot tub that could easily have fit two people. I lathered my body with olive oil soap and used shampoo that smelled like fresh apples. The bottles all had labels printed in French and my inadequate high school French was barely enough to let me guess the ingredients. I dried myself off with the softest, thickest towels I’d ever seen, and put on Tristan’s clothes.

Everything about this house said “money”. I was wearing cashmere slacks and a silk shirt under a cashmere sweater. The t-shirt and shorts were of pima cotton, as were the socks I slid on my now-clean feet. I felt guilty when I put on my dirty Nike Airs over them, it seemed disrespectful somehow.

Isolde looked at me and gave me smile of approval that made me blush. I felt strange all over. Healthy, well, but strange. It was only thinking about Julie that brought my mood down and Isolde saw it.

Tristan kissed her. “I need to take him out now, but we won’t be long. He can meet the others when they return. And don’t worry, I’ll take the Jaguar.” He put his hands behind her head and pulled her close. “Lock the door, cherie. The boys have keys.”

I followed him downstairs to the garage. There was a silver Jaguar sedan, a black Porsche Boxster, and a red BMW. I would have given anything to own one of them. Tristan seemed not to notice. He opened the door of the Jag for me, then slid into the driver’s seat. He pressed a button on the key ring and the garage door opened, then closed when we pulled out.

He seemed to drive aimlessly, but I noticed we were heading towards the University District. His keen blue eyes flicked back and forth, looking for something. He found a parking place on the “Ave”, then parked and motioned me to follow him out of the car.

“Come,” he commanded, and I got out of the car and followed him. “This is your first lesson,” he said, “You’ve become a killer, but it is up to you to choose what kind of killer you will be. For me, the only way I justify doing what I do is to never kill the innocent. Some day you may decide to give up hunting humans altogether. Some of us do. It’s a noble way to live but not an easy one. For right now it will be best if you stay close to home and do your hunting here.”

We walked along the “Ave”, the main drag through the University District. He was elegant in his raincoat, silk pants and shirt, compared to him I felt gauche and awkward. He was more than handsome, he was elegant and beautiful—but now I knew he was also deadly.

To a passerby we might seem like two people casually strolling the streets at night. We left the street and started exploring the dark alleys—places I would never have gone before. There were bums sleeping on sheets of carboard, wrapped in coats and blankets barely adequate to keep them warm. Tristan dropped bills next to them, not caring how it might be spent.

He seemed to be looking for something, what I did not know until we came upon a girl being robbed at knifepoint. The perpetrator didn’t even seem to notice him, but the girl did and a look of hope lit up her face. It turned to almost joy as she watch Tristan grab him by the back of his neck. His grip must have been powerful because the creep started wincing, saying, “Ow, ow, let me go.”

“Go,” he said to the girl, pushing her away from him, “You do not want to see this.” She looked with terrified eyes, then turned and fled, not looking back.

“Now watch,” he told me and sank his fangs into the hood’s neck at the jugular. I watched the muscles in his neck contract as he sucked on the precious blood long enough to weaken him, then he beckoned me and directed me to pick up where he left off.

I was both horrified and fascinated. Something must have been changing in me that was affecting my mind as much as my body. I should have been repulsed by what I saw yet I walked slowly over to the thug trapped in Tristan’s arms and sank my teeth awkwardly into his neck.

It wasn’t the easiest thing I’d ever done, I didn’t have a vampire’s fangs yet, but I managed. Part of me felt aghast at the fact that another part felt exhilarated.

As I finished, I felt his blood flow into my veins and his life force pour into me. I did not know what this was, but I did not want to quit. Tristan gently pushed me away and instructed me to stop when his heart stopped beating. I swore I could hear this guy’s heart beating in my ears, the sound almost hypnotic, seeming even to continue even after he was dead. Tristan told me it was best to learn to feed until just before the heart stopped.

Had I become a killer? Was that what I was now? I took one last look at the body lying on the sidewalk and wondered how it was me who could have done that. I had a feeling that my old self was slipping away from me. I was as distant from my old self as that body was from its life. Tristan looked at me, sympathy on his face.

We got back into the Jag, and he warned me that I may not feel very good by the time I got home. It was my first time, but after I made a few kills and got used to it, the nausea would go away. When we returned home, Isolde held my head while I got sick in their elegant bathroom, helped me onto the couch, and threw a soft afghan over me.

A fire was now burning merrily in the marble fireplace. She and Tristan sipped cognac in companionable silence and watched as the flames flicker, sending shadows around the living room. When she finished her cognac, she stood up and kissed him good night.

That left the two of us alone. Tristan threw another log on the fire and sat back, stretching out his long legs.

“How do you feel?”

I didn’t feel really bad now, except maybe my stomach felt simultaneously crampy and queasy, but no worse than having a mild stomach flu. I shrugged my shoulders. “Terrible, but maybe not so bad as all that. Tell me about Isolde, who is she?” I wanted to know about her. She was so warm and human amongst these vampires, she felt like my mother. I wanted to know more.

He was quiet for a long while, staring into the fire, then started talking.

“Isolde is my companion, my soul mate. She’s beautiful and incredibly sensitive and intuitive. When I found her, she was beaten so badly that she was near death. Whoever hurt her assumed that she’d die, because they left her for dead in a dumpster. I hadn’t fed in a while and here were ripe pickings, it would been so easy to take her, her pain would have been over.

“But her mind touched mine. ‘I don’t care, do what you will.’ she said. Her eyes looked dead, she had endured so much that she had given up. But somehow, with that sentence, she touched me. Maybe if she’d begged and pleaded, or screamed, the outcome would have been different. But her plight touched something still human in me. I nursed her back to health and she has lived with me ever since.”

He stood up and bid me goodnight. I watched him disappear up the stairs then lay back down on the sofa. Instead of sleeping, I lay awake, wrestling with what had happened. I now found myself in the middle of something I didn’t even believe in and I didn’t want to think about it. I thrashed around, sleeping for a while, only to wake up, aware of my surroundings yet wondering if this were all a bad dream.

I wanted to lose consciousness, and certainly the comfortable sofa, the warmth of the afghan, and the fire now burning low seemed to invite it, yet somehow sleep kept eluding me. I craved the release of sleep, but it flirted with me like a fickle lover. I wondered if this was part of what I had become.

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