Tides of Sorrow

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The vampire’s body went into spasm as he slept, curled within his crate of soil. Inner demons tormented him, they had plagued him since the beginning, their persecution, relentless. Whether awake or asleep they’d found him. They weaved their way through his mind, his heart, his soul and caused visions of his past to flare up, engulf him in guilt and grief; the constant tides of sorrow.

From the depths of his mind, ancient memories stirred. None more brutal than the day he was cast out of his village. And the reason why was the most painful of recollections.

The images swam through his subconscious, an ebb and flow of events from long ago. The drama played out in his head yet again.

On the day of the sacrifice, he had returned to the village, angry, sad and confused. He sought out his brother, concerned that the people had seen him in his shift, stained red, hands caked with congealed blood.

No-one, however, seemed panicked or duly agitated. He could only assume, therefore, Havel had headed straight to the small pool on the west of the settlement and it was there he went to find him.

Havel had washed himself clean. Evidence of his sin gone, at least visually. A sodden rag lay on the stones next to the pond’s edge; his shift now a strange earthen colour.

“Why doth thou follow me?” he had said on hearing Qayin approach. “Hast thou nothing better with which to occupy one’s time?”

“What hath consumed you?” Qayin asked, perplexed by the disdain in Havel’s tone.

Havel spun round, his curled hair glistening with water droplets and his skin slick from the pool. Small traces of crimson trickling down his chest was all that remained of the lamb’s blood on his body. “I have merely carried out God’s will!” He boasted as he sloshed more water over his body. “Be it that which you so covet, Qayin? To be favoured as God’s champion?” Havel scoffed. “Thy emulation is begat of pride, thou art impenitent of heart. Ye shalt suffer God’s wrath before I.”

The words, hateful, wounding and as concise as the day they had fallen from Havel’s lips reverberated in Cain’s somnolent mind. The images then blurred and merged, his past actions fighting to remain buried in the darkest recesses of his mind. A desperate form of denial but he had never been permitted such luxury. His very existence was a constant reminder of his evil deed.

Again he convulsed as he relived the moment he cast the killing blow. The sound of the stone hitting his brother’s skull was amplified and it echoed, mercilessly, through his brain. The agony he felt as he then cradled Havel’s limp body was as fresh as the day it happened.

But, his sin did not stop there for although he was wracked by grief at his actions, he had tried to conceal that which he had done by burying the body in the soil. The voice that played over and over offered no comfort nor clear direction - Sacrifice of the innocent. You must right this wrong, Qayin!

Self-loathing and doubt assaulted him after that. What had he done? Had his actions been ordained by God or had they been merely convoluted by a jealous and angry mind? The grief was insurmountable. His own brother whom he had loved since the day he was born now lay cold and bloodied under the earth, all by his hand.

He had not returned to the village for many hours after; his torment, driving him mad. He’d whispered, he’d spoken, he’d shouted - begging for divine supplication, a sign that his soul had not been forsaken. Only his own voice answered him, the echoes ricocheting in the hills and caves.

Utterly bereft, he’d curled up amid the dirt of one of his fields, surrounded by some of the corn still to be harvested. He lay, silenced, hoarse, tears spilling into the earth. They made small wells beneath his cheek, pressed in the dirt. His breathing laboured as he saw the damp earth turn red, pockets of crimson.

Then a voice reached him. Where is Havel thy brother?

Grief and guilt-stricken though he was, Qayin heard a lie tumble from his lips. “I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

A few moments passed before the voice spoke again. Thy brother’s blood crieth from the soil. Know this, he that smiteth a man, so that he die, is surely put to death himself.

Judgement was passed and Qayin knew God would know the truth. As the sun had started its descent, he had all but accepted his fate. An almost surreal tranquillity had befallen him in that time; the enormity of his crime acknowledged. “Then I beg Thee, cast me down now, my Lord. Endeth that which is not worthy of your love nor compassion. I am not deserving to walk of this land.” His voice was oddly steady, calm.

I am but a messenger, the voice responded. But verily I say unto thee, penance shall be exacted and not by smiting thee down.

Qayin pushed himself up from the dirt. A messenger? Clearly, he was not deserving of an audience with God, He had sent one of his faithful to deliver his punishment. Slowly, he stood, dry earth falling from his hair and body in reddish-brown dust clouds. His eyes scanned the corn. He could see no-one.

Thouest will serve Him, and thou shalt do so without requite or vexation. And so shall ye be marked a wayfarer, to walk this earth for millennia, a devourer of sin to purge man of evil such as the one cast by your own hand.

Qayin was stunned. “My punishment is greater than I can bear. End me, let my soul burn forever in purgatory, far from the gates of Heaven, but I beg thee do not maketh me move among the righteous. Every one that findeth me shall fear me and slay me.”

Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken upon him sevenfold. Therefore ye be marked and thou shalt exercise more subtil than any other beast. Thou shalt taketh of evildoers that which they spill. Blood shall be thy life.

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