Tides of Sorrow

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Few people could track a vampire when it was in heightened mode, be that during the day or night. With articulated movements and an unequalled ability to move at speed, scale heights and distances in a blink, some people believed the blur they’d witnessed had been nothing but a figment of their imagination.

This was apparent on a few visitors’ faces as Cain settled into pretending to be a tourist amid the ancient ruins. He grinned at their bewildered expressions. It was the one thing which amused him about his ‘condition’.

It had not always been the case. After first receiving the ‘mark’, he was still like his original self. He had been strong, yes, working the land had made him so, but that was nothing unusual and otherwise, he was like any other man.

Banished from his village for his crime, he’d travelled to the land of Nod, where he’d lived for over 700 years. He’d took a wife, they’d had children but he’d outlived them all. Their passing had been painful at the time, but he did not lament them as the centuries passed. Strangely, he was more accepting of his punishment back then.

His longevity was questioned among those who knew who he was, although they became fewer as the years passed and he continued to wander throughout the land. More though feared his evolving appetite.

Along with metabolic changes, other physical ones emerged. Canines became prominent just before he fed; he ingested flesh as well as blood back then. His jaw would dislocate, eyes flood crimson and black. He looked demonic.

He could sleep for extraordinary long spells and on waking he’d appeared emaciated and weak. He’d looked leprous many a time and people shied away fearing they would be infected. But the reality was far more horrific and as he’d devoured those who’d abused, brutalised and caused mayhem to others, his skin adopted its normal hue after he’d fed sufficiently.

His ageless features made him look like any other man in his thirties. He’d pushed himself to the limit completing impossible feats of speed and strength, his agility having also increased considerably. His senses had heightened, vision improved, sense of smell - but only for corruption, depravity and all things violating others.

As he’d passed through history, his demeanour, sense of purpose, the measure of guilt, sorrow, self-loathing had constantly fluctuated. He had almost gone mad on many an occasion, the result was always a feeding frenzy; a bloody blur in a pit of vipers. He had brought down corrupt individuals, families, as well as evil monarchies and unjust governments. And always more would rise up.

But, even with his evolved abilities, he would tire, need rest and then he would evaluate his ‘life’. Haunted by the past, his slumber was seldom peaceful. He was broken. Unfixable. He tried to dismiss all those memories, but they were never far beneath the surface.

Now, as the autumn breeze rippled across the grass and through the ruins, he waited for the woman who had plagued his mind since he’d first saw her late afternoon of the previous day. Unsure whether he welcomed this ‘distraction’ or not, he was helpless to resist it. His eyes focused on the glass door which led the paying visitors through to the Abbey grounds.

The door opened and out came a family, a few couples and a group of costumed individuals all giggling and happy.

Next out was another couple. But they were unlike the others for all they were in costume.

Cain’s nostrils twitched. An involuntary growl sounded in his throat. These two were not - human. He concealed himself behind an arch and observed the odd-looking duo. The woman, clad in black leather was petite, her features sharp, eyes almost iridescent. With her a man in colourful garb and an oversized top hat.

The sensations he had experienced at both his secreted cellar and at the bandstand seemed to meld with that which he was sensing from the two figures approaching the Abbey. A voice resonated in his brain, “There are others, but they walk a tenuous line for they are not as strong as you.” Yet, these two were not like him at all. Something triggered in his head; a deep-rooted realisation, perhaps even dread. It was ancient power he sensed.

He slid around the arch as they moved parallel to him. He continued to observe them as they moved on through the Abbey to the far side.

His attention was then grabbed by a voice nearing the arch where he hid.

“You forgot I had a key? You were banging some nightclub tits-and-ass and you think you were just stupid?”

With a cautious eye towards the place the couple had vanished, his hearing honed in on the woman as she clasped her phone tightly to her ear. She was agitated, angry and upset. He switched off from the odd couple and looked at the woman.

She was wearing casual attire; jeans frayed at the knees, ankle boots, a petrol blue top and long length cardigan. She looked cold, pulling the cardigan tightly around her. She wore her hair in a ponytail, pulled to one side. An unbidden smile stretched Cain’s lips.

Whoever she was speaking with was annoying her. He could see the lines around her eyes scrunch, tears welling, mouth tight.

"Start? No! It’s the fucking end!” She threw her phone. In that instant, regret crossed her face but tears flowed too.

Without hesitation, Cain vacated his hiding place. He reached out and caught her phone, preventing it smashing against the old stone archway. It pained him to find that at that moment he wished he could smell more than just her pain. For a mere heartbeat, he wanted to smell her perfume, her hair.

She was blinking madly, pawing at her eyes to clear them of her tears. He stepped closer. “You may need this,” he said, handing her the phone.

An almost inaudible gasp escaped her lips as she focused on him. He fought a smile as he noted recognition in her eyes. “Take it.” He inched nearer.

As her hand reached to the rose-gold metal casing, the urge to close his fingers over hers was overwhelming. But a change in the atmosphere suddenly drew his attention over her shoulder. He was vaguely aware she had taken her phone and she’d shifted slightly as she’d turned to follow his gaze.

The unearthly couple had moved back into view, his vision zooming in on their faces and heightened hearing capturing their exchange.

Do you feel it, Xathan? The woman asked, grabbing her companion’s arm.

They stopped and looked around.

Yes. He’s here! The man answered.

Cain wasted no time. He vanished before the couple or indeed the woman in front of him turned to where he’d stood. Above the grounds, he watched from a vantage point at the apex of the Abbey blending in against the ancient stone out of sight from prying eyes and snapping cameras.

What were they, he wondered. He knew them not, but he sensed they were both wondrous yet portentous creatures. Something was building here, there were too many strange disturbances in the air for it to be merely coincidental. He was inclined to feel the odd one from time to time, but this had now amounted to 4 instances in two days. Were there more? And who were they looking for? Could it be him? Why? What did they want?

His eyes drifted to the woman with the phone. She looked perplexed, staring around herself, searching the expanse of the Abbey grounds. He felt regret that he had to leave her so abruptly. He noted fresh tears had fallen.

Glancing back at the couple, he was alerted that they had now focused on the woman. Every sense he possessed came into play, sharpened, keen to the point of impossible clarity, even for a creature such as he.

Something was going down.

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