The Eternal Vampire

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Welcome to My New Life

Instead of trying to sleep, I lay I just let myself lay on the sofa, neither asleep nor awake. Eventually, I felt myself slowly losing awareness of where I was. I didn’t know exactly when I did lose consciousness, but I wakened with a jolt when I heard the front door open and shut, and voices speaking softly in French.

I looked at the elegant grandfather clock--the hands said 3:30. Three guys about my age came into the living room and stopped and looked at me.

“Is this a present for us from Tristan?” The one who spoke was slightly smaller than the others, blond, and very Teutonic looking. Too much so--he gave me the creeps. If he had once been a Hitler Jungen I would not have been surprised. His French was heavily accented, and I guessed it was not his native language.

“Hush, Rainer,” a voice spoke in English, “We probably woke him up. We evidently have a new brother.” He came around the sofa, and sat on the edge of the coffee table, facing me. “I am Claude. I met Tristan during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. He saved me, as he has evidently saved you. I have lived with him ever since.”

“The rude one is Rainer Schmidt. We found him in Berlin at the end of World War II. He was alone, scared, starving, and sleeping in alleys and doorways, too frightened to hunt. There was much chaos in Germany in those days. The Russians had come in ahead of the Allies, and people were very afraid. We didn’t know how long he’d been made, or by whom. Tristan took him with us back to Paris. For reasons known only to him, he chooses not to share his past with us: he keeps his memories of his life before coming to us secret.” He cast a look of dislike at the diminutive blond vampire.

They made my acquaintance in Rome.” In contrast to Claude’s plain looks, brown hair, long Gallic nose, and brown eyes, this one could have stepped out of a Renaissance painting. I never noticed whether a guy was good looking, but he had one of those classic profiles, along with curly black hair, dark eyes, and golden skin. He was broad-shouldered and slim-hipped and seemed almost too perfect to be real.

But his eyes and his smile were friendly. “I’m Fabian, I met Tristan and Claude in Rome,” he explained. “I knew what they were the minute I saw them. It was at the end of World War II and my vampire family had been scattered or destroyed. They were some of the many Allies stationed in Rome. I was feeling very lonely when I met them and I felt I could trust them. I was not happy to leave Rome. I am a Roman at heart and Rome will always be my home. Still, when they decided to leave, I stayed with them.”

I sat up, no longer feeling dizzy or sick. “How long have you, I mean how did you, I mean how has it happened that you’re all here? This is so unreal to me. Last evening I was going to a basketball game with my girlfriend, and now I find myself in a house with a pack of vampires, one of whom has a mortal...oh never mind.” Shit, I thought to myself. The more I tried to make sense of it, the less sense it made.

Claude and Fabian laughed, but more with than at me it seemed. Claude pulled out a bottle of red wine out of the cabinet and poured himself a glass. He took a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and lit one, then settled in a chair.

“You might be a Frenchman, but you seem to forget that you’re a vampire.” Rainer’s tone was scornful.

“I keep telling you, idiot, wine strengthens the blood, you should try some. Even Tristan takes an occasional glass or two. We just have to be careful not to drink too much, or be prepared to get very drunk.” He smiled and winked at me.

The little German pointed at me. “You. You have a name?” It wasn’t a question, the tone and emphasis were more like a command. He stood, waiting impatiently for me to answer.

“My name is Steven.” I felt on the defensive with him. Maybe it was his arrogant attitude; maybe he just looked too Aryan with his blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. I dislike few people on first impression, but I found myself wishing fervently that he was not a part of Tristan’s household. There was something about him that did not feel quite right. Not to mention the fact that he made me feel more than a little afraid.

We sat silently, and for the first time in my life silence did not seem awkward. Normally, I would have jumped in and started talking just to ease my discomfort, but I felt no need to. I wondered if this was something, among other things, that would feel normal after my full transformation. I purposely did not allow myself to think about the fact that I had become a killer. It was too early to think about that now.

At last, Claude stood up. “We should leave the newcomer alone and let him rest. I’m for bed myself, we’ve had a later night than normal. Good night Steven.” I watched them file silently up the stairs. I was alone again.

The grandfather clock chimed eight when I came out of my trance a second time. Isolde was coming down the stairs, hair wet from her shower, carrying a large thermos and two cups. She filled one for herself then asked if I liked coffee.

“Vampires can drink coffee?” I asked incredulously, and she laughed. I liked the sound of her laughter.

“Coffee is a fluid. Your body can tolerate certain fluids. And the warmth and caffeine help circulate your blood. Tristan will tell you what is safe and what is not.” She talked about it so easily, as if this life was nothing out of the ordinary. Then I remembered that life for Isolde had begun when Tristan found her. If she talked as if her life was normal, perhaps five years of being a vampire’s companion made it that way.

She shook her head, her smile rueful. “Sometimes I feel like I have been tutored in Vampire 101, 102, and 103. When I found out what Tristan was I asked so many questions, I think it surprised him. Later I realized I did not want to know everything he told me.” She pulled at a lock of her hair, looking thoughtful, “Sometimes I think he wanted to talk to someone, wanted to share what he was. I don’t envy him, not at all.” That last sentence was almost a whisper, a sigh.

I had so many questions I wanted to ask her. I wanted to know about her and Tristan. I wanted to know about the other vampires who lived with them. I wanted to know all I could about what I had become. But most importantly, I wanted to ask her about Rainer.

She stood and poured a few drops of cognac into her coffee, then sat back down. “Do you want to ask me questions while we are alone? The others are sleeping and Tristan has yet to get up.” She lifted her brow quizzically as if to say “I know what you have questions, so ask!”

“Rainer, what about Rainer? I don’t like him and I don’t even know him. Why should I be afraid of him when I don’t mind Claude and Fabian?”

“Because Rainer is not just a vampire, he’s a killer. You may think there’s not much difference but there is, trust me.” Isolde stated this matter-of-factly. “He doesn’t kill for need, he kills for the thrill. He’s made it plain he’d kill me if it weren’t for Tristan. When I tell Tristan I want Rainer to go, he only says, ‘Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.’ Fortunately, Tristan is probably the only thing Rainer fears.”

“Never turn your back on him, never trust him. Never hunt with him; you have no guarantee that he wouldn’t kill you just for fun. Hunt with Claude, hunt with Fabian, hunt with Tristan if he’ll let you, but no matter how he tries to entice you, never hunt with Rainer.” She refilled her cup from the thermos and added more cognac.

“Ah, bonjour cherie,” Tristan came downstairs and kissed Isolde very tenderly. He took the other coffee cup and filled it.

“I was telling our boy here to be careful of Rainer. Do you have anything to add?”

“Isolde, I think you could tell him everything that I could and more.” There was an edge to his voice that he was trying to cover. Had Rainer threatened Isolde? “Listen to her, she knows our boys well. I will teach you all I can to help you prevent a misstep, but you must learn to look out for yourself. Do you have anything you’d like to know?”

“Yeah, why am I awake during the daytime? Is it because the drapes are so heavy? I could see myself in the mirror, was I imagining things? Are there things that can hurt me?”

“Well,” Tristan took a long drink of his coffee. “You have inherited something from me that only a few vampires possess. I am one of the oldest vampires walking the earth. I am what is called a “sun walker” and since you have my blood, now you are, too. Yes, you can see yourself in the mirror. There are things that can hurt you. You can be killed by a stake through your heart--that is not a myth. The same if someone cuts off your head. You can be killed by fire. And contrary to the old legends, you won’t be rendered powerless by a silver crucifix.”

“You mean I can just live my life as if I weren’t a vampire. There’s no big giveaway to alert people to what I am?”

He reached over and poured cognac in his coffee. “No, not quite. You have to be careful around mortals. You haven’t hunted alone yet, so you don’t know the lure of the scent of blood. Once you do, you must learn to hold yourself and your urges back, no matter how strongly your nature dictates otherwise. And remember to feed, always make sure you’ve fed.”

“So I’m not going to be sleeping in a coffin and shunning the daylight, and no turning into a bat like Count Dracula.”

“No, but part of the legend could have originated this way--it is safer for us to hunt at night than during the day. You can hide in the shadows and dispose of a body more easily when it is dark. Darkness provides protection.′

“We are killers, plain and simple. I am sorry to have done this to you, but I did not want you to die. You are too young; you had experienced such a tragedy. I righted it the only way I knew how. You will have to find out for yourself if it was worth it.”

Isolde stood up and stretched. “He needs his things, Tristan. You can tell your housemates you have found a better place to stay. Take Claude and Fabi and then get your belongings. You can ever keep going to school if you want,” she added, a wistful tone to her voice.

Tristan put his arms around her waist and pulled her down on his lap. “He doesn’t need to finish school, cherie. He can stay with us forever if he likes, and he’ll want for nothing.”

“Maybe,” she replied, “but if it were me, I’d want to finish school.”

I realized then how painful it was for her. When Tristan rescued her she had lost her past. Whoever had attempted to kill her had not succeeded, but her memory had been wiped out. She was happy with Tristan, but she must have wanted things for herself that he could not offer. She seemed keenly intelligent. She could have had a college degree, but no way of finding out what or who she was.

I wanted to change the tone of the conversation. I did not want to see the hurt in Isolde’s eyes or the pain in Tristan’s. So, I took a deep breath, it seemed strange that I still breathed. Then I gathered my courage and asked.

“Tristan is it true that you were with Napoleon’s army? ”

“Well, if you want to know, I joined the French army in 1795, under the command of a young lieutenant from Corsica who called himself ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’. I could see that he was a rising star and attached myself to him. I rose in rank and became one of his aides. I was with him on several campaigns, including Italy, Egypt, and Russia.”

“Claude said that you made him a vampire during the retreat from Moscow. Were you already a vampire when you joined the French army? Or did it happen afterward?”

Tristan smiled cryptically. “As I said, I have been a vampire a long time. The fact that I could not be killed helped my career with Bonaparte considerably. But when he invaded Russia, and almost destroyed his own army, I parted ways with him. If you are asking if I was already a vampire when I joined Le Grande Armee, the answer is yes. ”

I wasn’t even half satisfied. In a not so subtle way, he’d dropped a hint that there was much more to him than what he’d told me. I hate secrets, and now my life was going to nothing but secrets.

I tried to act like this was nothing more than a casual conversation. “I hope all my questions didn’t offend you.”

“I’ll answer that,” said Isolde, “No, you didn’t offend him. To find out anything from Tristan you have to ask because he is reluctant to reveal any information, especially when it comes to himself. Whether or not you receive an answer is another matter.” She looked at him, a Mona Lisa half-smile on her face, and Tristan laughed.

“Oh god,” I thought, “What have I gotten myself into? Well, welcome to your new life, Steven.”

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