Archaic Envy: Chapter 1

The dark, cobblestoned street was absent of the usual hustle and bustle that occupied it while the sun shone, along with the stalls that littered the sidewalks. My stomach growled as I thought of all the delicious foods that the stalls offered during the day. Food was a commodity that I, like many people, failed to receive much of in such difficult times. Of course, whether these were the most difficult is relative, but it was still challenging for a person in my position, when I can only beg and steal to survive. My mother and father abandoned me long ago, they were afraid of me, afraid of the consequences. So now, whether or not I am one by definition, I consider myself an orphan. Every decision in our lives has a consequence and it seems the consequences in this case didn’t work in my favor. It all happened such a long time ago now, the memories of good times become foggier and foggier and one day I fear they will be gone altogether.

A cool evening breeze continued to eat away at my face until I once again, succumbed to a feeling of numbness. The cold seemed slowly to consume the rest of me until anything that I couldn’t cover with my rag-like clothing was exposed and raw with icy cold. Nighttime was a time to reflect, but this sometimes means that emotional baggage steps forward in my subconscious. Silence can be so appealing, but not when you’re alone to wrestle with your demons. These demons cannot be quashed with a simple thought, as human psychology dictates; the more we try not to think of something, the more we will think about it. Our memories define us; they make us who we are. What we truly want to forget, those moments stick in our minds forever, a tool of our subconscious, ready to torment us when the lights are dimmed and we’re staring at the back of our eyelids.

However, in this case, fortunately, the calm and numbness seemed to comfort me, I felt emotionally numb and maybe, just maybe, I would get some sleep tonight. The whole scenario was cruel really; it was cold enough so that I was freezing, but not quite cold enough to freeze to death, a torturous limbo in-between. Alas, however traitorous they can be, now darkness and silence were my only companions. I lay slumped against a cold stone wall; a black-haired boy of only 14 years who was going to be in darkness for so much longer than one evening. As if in answer to my stomach’s repeated calls and to my yearning for warmth and emotional comfort, a hand appeared in front of my face, holding a piece of bread that I was dying for, literally.

“Take it,” said a voice that, after a slight turn of my head, I saw belonged to a tall gentleman crouched down beside me. At least in the beginning, his smile and demeanor beamed with an honesty and radiance that for some reason made me trust him. His brown formal attire with a white button-down shirt and general clean appearance, suggested a man of the upper class. This in many ways, made sense to me as those at the top of the social hierarchy had a general social obligation to be charitable while sustaining their own wealth. For in those days, the upper class were landowners and often inherited their land and wealth with minimal effort in their day-to-day lives.

So predictably, my hand almost involuntarily jumped out and grabbed the morsel of food from his palm. It was almost as if my body wasn’t going to let logic or reason dictate or tell me what I was going to do. Even if I entertained the idea of some sort of foul play on his part, what possible motive could he have for wanting to harm me? After all, to him I was naught but a street urchin, of little to no importance to someone as important as he was. I needed food and at this point, I was willing to do anything to get it! I munched and chewed at it hungrily until breadcrumbs were the only remnants of the former piece of bread that had been in my hands seconds earlier. A piece of bread might not sound like much, but it was oddly satisfying, although it felt like I had signed away my soul to get it.

“…and what would you be doing out here, all alone, on a night such as this one?” he asked with a patient smile. It was almost as if he was in no rush at all to get back to his place of residence; he didn’t mind dragging the whole thing out. Time was not an issue and he waited silently for my inevitable reply. I mean, come on, what about his family? It’s after midnight. That alone should have raised the red flags, but again, I was blinded by my need for comfort and warmth.

“…uhm I’m an orphan sir and I just can’t go back to one of those orphanages… they work us to the bone. I just couldn’t handle it anymore and it defiantly wasn’t worth the miniscule amounts of food we were getting,” I croaked with my school boy-styled, British accent that would have sounded pitiful and pathetic to anyone that might have heard.

“If it was agreeable, you could come warm by my fire for a time; it is too cold to be out here on a night like this by yourself. These winter nights can be …deadly…” he continued, with an ominous grin that made my skin crawl. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me. I grabbed his hand and he easily pulled me onto my feet. Every part of my body at this point, told me to run and hide, there was just something unnatural about him, every one of my primal and evolutionary instincts told me to run in the other direction. It is important not to indulge our gut instinct because if we act on impulse, without thinking, it can be disastrous. In the same way, it is also worth taking heed of our instincts because we wouldn’t possess them if there were no purpose behind them. Besides, after almost six years on the streets, you learn that you do anything to survive and you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, as my father used to say. My father… to think I would ever learn anything from him; he must be what the inventor of the word ‘scum’ envisioned, a true monster with questionable sanity.

It was several minutes before I was in front of the mysterious stranger’s crackling fire as promised. What followed was the unmistakable sound of the only door being slammed shut with the metallic grind of a large bolt securing the door in place. That’s when fear hit me, it took hold and shook me to my core and left me without any hope of movement, I was like a deer in the headlights of oncoming traffic. The whole thing is reminiscent of horror films I watched in later days, oh yes, I had a future, but whether I would have been better off dead is the real question. I always find it funny that the damsel in distress doesn’t try to run straight away, but I came to realize that it was the fear, a fear many humans possess, a fear of the unknown.

My last moments in humanity’s grasp were a total blur; he was obviously well practiced in feeding, if only a feed had been all that he was after. The main thing I remember is the sound of hurried footsteps as he approached me with scarlet eyes and large fangs, like some foul demonic creature of unimaginable evil. It wasn’t long, however, before I felt a sharp pain in the side of my neck and the inevitable pull of my blood, my life’s essence leaving me. The warm fluid soon began to flow down my neck as he had his fill and he let it flow down simply because he knew it would scare me more. Some people use fear to control people, some use fear as a mechanism for their own ends, but this was so much worse, he was getting off on how scared I was. The irony is, he didn’t lie, I was warm by his fire and these winter nights can be ‘deadly’. After what felt like an eternity, everything started to lose its color, my head throbbed and I fell into unconsciousness. From that point on, I lived in darkness and was permanently Gone From Daylight.

Startled and with the sound of my heart beating in my ears at a million miles an hour, I awoke in the dark interior of my room. I was in darkness now, by several definitions of the word. Darkness like that night so long ago, a moment in time I thought was long forgotten. Since my accident and resulting memory loss, parts of my memory return at night when I rest. The mind is obviously a part of the body that is difficult to repair, if at all. I still can’t remember how it happened, how I lost such a huge part of myself. Memory incases one’s personality and without our memories and experiences, we aren’t the same people. I am a different person without them, and I feel lost and like an empty shell. Fortunately, I was given a lot of information on myself, so I can only go on the information alone for now. It’s not like it was a recent accident though, it happened many years ago, but much of my memory has yet to return. Many years were lost; some have returned to me, but so many have yet to return.

I can recall now that, even before my crossover, I always felt like a creature of darkness. I doubt it would’ve been prudent to have mentioned that in my own time. It’s the sort of thing that would get you strung up. You’d get a noose around your neck and a prompt gift of being drawn and quartered. That is about as pleasant as it sounds. This recent memory, however, has given me a clue about how old I really am and by the looks of the clothing my sire was wearing at the time of my crossover; it was quite some time ago. I now know how many dreaded years I have spent walking this earth in darkness and shadow, ruthlessly slaughtering its inhabitants to ensure my own survival. Darkness has been my constant companion through it all. It is just so tranquil, peaceful and easy to cover myself in shadow so that I can hide from everything and anything that pursues me.

Of course, my true enemy, my own subconscious mind, is impossible to escape. That old saying, you are your own worst enemy, has some meaning now. One sleep cycle at a time, I will regain my memories, I will remember every atrocity, every life I have ended and my subconscious is going to torment me every step of the way.

I have to hope that I can overcome that inner-darkness, spawned from my terrible past, maybe there is some good within me and if not, I refuse to take on the mantle of my past memories. My actions here and now will define me, nothing else; I am in control of who I am. However, I cannot afford to see everything in black and white because there is certainly a grey zone to many things.

So many of our kind complain at the loss of light to our lives and they forget that they gain darkness, darkness that was previously spent in slumber. That grey zone in our lives reminds us of the balance we all need to try to sustain in our individual lives, either in the light or in darkness. Some argue that darkness cannot be created unto itself; it is simply the absence of light and everything good in our world. I disagree; my years in darkness, that I can remember, have taught me that neither can survive without the other. Don’t get me wrong, I have a clear bias for darkness, but sometimes one must see the bigger picture. Balance is the essential equilibrium that both of our species need to adhere to, we must co-exist as we need to sustain that crucial balance in our world. There are always two sides to everything, whether it be yin and yang, male and female, homosexual or heterosexual, hot and cold, darkness and light, or, as the case may be, human and vampire.

I silently left my windowless, blacked-out bedroom and entered into the main living room of my new apartment. I can’t say I ever imagined that an entire apartment complex would be built and designed just for vampires. The main differences however were the light-insulated rooms as well as extra electronic security that locked down most of the building during the day. My apartment was a congratulatory gift after my new promotion, because I wouldn’t have been able to afford the luxury otherwise.

The moon is just so beautiful on summer nights like this, even with the ever-increasing pollution that seems to be enveloping our world. We can only truly appreciate the moon and the stars when they’re in shadow because that contrast, that perspective, that diversity is what makes everything beautiful. My continued downward spiral into darkness would, however, not wait for me while I stargazed out of my window. The rumbling and growling of my stomach reminded me that I hadn’t fed recently and a late night snack from the refrigerator wasn’t going to suffice as sustenance for me. The ominous noises from my gut were almost an omen of the murder that was going to take place. In my own time, sleep under the moon or being exposed to it for too long was frowned upon because they thought the moon made one turn insane, hence the terms “lunacy” and “loony”. Following their logic and tradition, I guess, after my lunar exposure, I’m committing an act of insanity. I will bleed some poor soul where he or she stands without mercy, without remorse, a crime of desperation. It may be insane, but it’s a necessary evil in a world filled with unnecessary evil and death.

I sighed deeply and made my way back into my room where I got dressed and donned a long black trench coat that would be less memorable or conspicuous to anyone who saw me. After looking myself over in the mirror and assuring that my short black hair was in place, I made my way out to the front door. My keys awaited me on the wooden table near the door where I had left them the night before, along with my cell phone, another necessary evil in modern times. I grabbed them both, then proceeded to slam the door behind me and made my way to the elevators at the end of the hallway. Several minutes later, I felt the evening air hit my face as I made my way out to find myself some dinner. That same cold that had felt so very real in a dream of a night not unlike this one, that I wish I could forget. Some memories I guess I will regret getting back, but so far, very few have been positive.

I simply started walking and hoped my natural instincts would find me what I was after and while I waited, I could immerse myself in the soap opera that is humanities thoughts and emotions. Trained vampires, such as I, have the ability to read the minds of any human that he or she desires. Humans are so different in the way that they think and feel, everything is so physical and easy to interpret. The ability to read a vampire’s mind, on the other hand, is a rarity that is reserved for a select few.

The first man walking past me was cheating on his wife with his secretary; the next was stealing money from his business and the next ‘accidentally’ killed his business partner to gain control of their company. I really didn’t even have to look for filth among the human populous, it seems it’s everywhere, sticking to the preverbal shoe as such. To think that they actually look down on us, it’s quite hypocritical really, considering their own disgrace. They slaughter animals to eat and they even kill more than what they have to, it’s not about hunting to survive with them anymore; it’s about competition amongst themselves. Don’t get me wrong, my memories so far have shown me my own disgrace, but at least the majority of my wrongdoings were justified in some way.

Still… even with these disgusting people around me, I needed someone who truly deserved to die, someone who I could slaughter without a second thought or worry. Deep down I think I was creating a profile for someone who didn’t exist, an evil someone who was so terrible, so bad, that I would never find him. Maybe then, if I couldn’t find someone bad enough, I wouldn’t be able to feed and my own chain of destruction would end. However, as luck has it, humanity always finds a way to exceed my expectations. It wasn’t long till I had found a part of the city that wasn’t so pleasant. In fact, there wasn’t anything pleasant about it, it was the sort of place you would expect a murder or something terrible to take place. Let’s just hope something terrible DOES happen because I’m hungry.

The hunt is almost too easy now. Without the cat and mouse dynamic, it just doesn’t have the same appeal to me anymore. Within a tenth of a second, I can have my hand around my victim’s throat, with my teeth bared, ready to feed and the resistance is so laughably pitiful. It’s always the same, the thrashing back and forth, with what they perceive as a quick flaying of arms, at one point in time it would have been fast for me as well. Now though… now it’s as if he’s moving in slow motion and any resistance whatsoever is futile. Unlike our former human counterparts, we can improve ourselves without aging, time truly cannot wary us. My natural abilities, it seems, are one of the few things that I didn’t forget, I guess it really is like riding a bike; you never forget.

My first feed is another of the more influential memories I can recall. I remember wondering if I was ever going to forgive myself for ending another’s life. For a time I wept after every feed, not for the loss of the human lying at my feet, but for the loss of my humanity and innocence. It should never be easy to end someone’s life. I think it’s much a like the memories of my human life in the street, I am numb to it; I can strike, be vicious and truly feel no remorse. I remember enough to know how many people I have killed and most of the time I did it without a worry. My humanity is in tatters, ripped to shreds by vampire instincts as well as the pain and suffering that still consumes me after more than two centuries in darkness. At the beginning, when I first lost my memory, I thought that maybe as everything returned to me, it would lessen the blow. Another old saying said that time heals all wounds, obviously not in this case. I think my worst fear is that these are the GOOD memories and the bad ones are to come. How terrible would it be to find that I had been the cause of some great travesty or injustice that affected millions of people?

When I walk down these dark back alleys of town, I have to ask myself if it’s really worth invading the mind of my prey. Those who lurk in these alleyways are just waiting to prey on an unsuspecting victim, whether it is for sexual pleasure or to rob them of their belongings. I plan to rob my lucky donor of so much more than his belongings.

After walking a couple of steps, I spoke without even turning my head because I could feel him lurking in the shadows. He, no doubt, thought he was being clever and stealthy, but he couldn’t have stood out more if he had tried.

“Hmm… I can see you, you know…” I said with a sly grin.

Before the words had even sunk into that thick skull of his, he was instantly up against the wall of the alley with one hand of mine on his chest to hold him in place. The switchblade in his hand fell to the ground and he was shocked into silence. What a strange sight it would be for anyone entering the alley, a young teenage boy restraining a grown man with no more than one palm against his chest. Oh, they better hope they don’t enter this alley because cattle at a slaughterhouse have more chance of escape. I have to say, the hunt is the best drug out there, it takes away all your inhibitions and leaves you with what you want.

Humans are truly so effortless to read now, I barely have to push my consciousness against his. My victim couldn’t hide from me, not even his thoughts are safe or off limits. As I suspected, he had been planning to mug me and the intention of taking whatever I possessed was in the forefront of his mind. There was more though, so much more, a primal desire that disgusted me, I could see the images of what he had planned and of what he wanted to do. All it did however was add kindling to my already burning temperament, he was giving me the excuse I was after, an excuse to end his existence. I sifted through his other memories as easily as I would shuffle through the pages of a book. I saw flashes of his privileged childhood. This was no misunderstood criminal who had known no other way; he had been given everything he had asked for and more. I ruthlessly pushed and shoved in his mind even when he showed signs of obvious discomfort; it was almost like ripping the metaphorical pages of that same book. He had the opportunity to be somebody, but he refused to take advantage and now he’s going to lose his life.

My instincts told me to bleed him right now, to show him how inferior he was to me in every possible way, but that would just be no fun at all. I eased back so that there was nothing holding him in place and it didn’t take him long to notice the pressure pushing him against that wall was gone. Well… not long for him… it took just about three seconds for him to realize and throw a punch in my direction. Unfortunately for him, that is far too long to be able to hit me and I simply side stepped the head-level punch as if it was nothing. He snatched up his switchblade in a lame attempt to try to regain what he saw as the advantage. My victim desperately started to lung at me, out of fear, out of necessity, those wonderful human instincts were starting to take control. It seems he didn’t need much persuasion to let the animal take over and to think, I was actually once concerned about losing something as primal and primitive as my humanity. Funny, humans are so complacent about how their nature and feelings are superior to any other creature. They’ve even gone as far as to name one’s good nature their humanity. In older times, they perceived animals as biological machines that felt no pain and, as a consequence, they dissected them alive without worry. Someday soon, vampires may finally get our chance to put these complacent human beings in their place.

As I sidestepped, ducked, swayed and dodged everything he struck out at me with, the smile never left my face. That same smile just infuriated him so much more. Who needs a weapon to make someone feel afraid? My smile and giggling already suggested what was going to happen to him. This wasn’t the first time he had used terror to try and steal from others, but it would be his last. This time, it was his turn to be afraid.

My ‘extra’ was another piece of me that I had maintained, even with the loss of all my memories, although it took me time to adjust to it once more. This bumbling sack of meat wasn’t even worth using my extra on; I didn’t want to remember this idiot anymore than I had to. I mean seriously, I was having enough trouble grabbing a hold of my own memories; I had to be careful not to introduce too many others to the mix. To me, he was simply an overly complicated life support system for a blood supply I hadn’t sucked dry. At least some of the memories that have returned have given me access to a select few of the extras I accumulated over the years. I might as well use this idiot as a chance to perfect my use of a few of them. A vampire’s ‘extra’ is a special ability that is developed after one crosses over into darkness. Each extra is unique and is based on experiences, personality traits and emotions during a vampire’s previous human years. In most cases, it’s widely believed that you can’t duplicate another vampire’s extra because you don’t have those experiences and traits, but with my extra, I come close. No one can use an extra in the same way as its original owner, not even the legendary vampire mimic, but my extra allows for the next best thing. My real worry is that until I regain the majority of my memories and experiences, I will not be able to use my extra to its full potential.

It was almost time to end our little game; his movements were becoming sluggish and slow. The enhanced speed… now that is definitely one of the more interesting extras I picked up. The level of speed I was exhibiting seemed to scare him enough without much use of that particular ability. It almost seemed unfair to use my extras on him. On the other hand, it was rather fun to scare him, much like how my sire had enjoyed my fear. I doubt he would have realized that his own desire was what fed the telekinetic force that had shoved him up against the wall.

“What the fuck are you?? This isn’t possible…” he said finally, as he fell to the ground panting and gasping for air.

“I’d tell you…, but then I’d have to kill you… oh wait…” I giggled and joked at his expense. I have to admit, I’m rather sadistic at times and I loved the sense of power and control I had over him. “Don’t worry baby, you know that pleasure you were looking for? Well, you’ll feel good real soon, because pleasure is coming your way. I won’t give you the chance to beg for mercy, you’ll be gone into the ether before you know it.”

I could still feel the desire at the forefront of his mind, the desire to stop me, to push me against the wall, playing out every one of his fantasies and then ending my life. Using his own desire against him, I used the same extra; I turned that desire into a telekinetic force that pushed him back up against the wall. Apparently, the feeling of desire and wanting something is far more powerful than ever getting what we want, so maybe those who never get what they want are happier. An understanding of that one fact, I think, is what helped to master my control of that particular extra. I don’t think it’s just about technique, but more than anything, I think it’s about understanding the philosophical meaning or purpose behind an extra. The raw emotions, the lesson and the sacrifices made by the extra’s owner in his or her previous life.

Regardless, this time there was no fighting it, he had totally exhausted himself, like an animal who gives up on the verge of death. He was defeated and worst of all he looked it, that fearful look in his eye, he may think I’m a monster, but I’m a better man than he will ever be.

I have to wonder if it’s fair for me to continue to feed on such easy targets, but doubt wasn’t part of me anymore, I acted without hesitation. My eyes turned as red as the blood that was about to be spilled and my fangs shot down from my gums, ready to assist me in doing the world a rather large favor. His screams and yells would no doubt fall on deaf ears down the alley as my fangs penetrated his neck and filled my mouth with the glorious red nectar I craved. He will finally understand the pain and fear that he has inflicted on others.

Feeding on a living, breathing, moving person as their life force is smothered before you is such a religious experience. The indescribable ecstasy of every mouthful as it slowly makes it’s way down to my stomach is breathtaking to the point where my knees start to buckle. I’m a man of my word, however, so I used one of my many extras that I managed to remember, to release massive doses of dopamine and other chemicals in the pleasure centers of his brain. An overdose on pleasure, personally I thought I was being rather generous, at least it stopped his screams; he probably didn’t even know where he was anymore. It was soon over, however, the light in his eyes disappeared and he was no longer there.

A quiet thud echoed down the alley as I made my way elsewhere and the telekinetic force lost its source of desire. Somehow, I seriously doubt the world was going to miss him. I’m only disappointed I couldn’t have ended it before he had the chance to start another chain of hatred. Those he hurt, the families of his victims, they won’t forget and some will go on to hurt others. Every act of violence and torment has a consequence, the effects of which can be unforeseeable right away, but killing one person can destroy so many lives.

However nostalgic my feed tonight was, some things in my past are best left dead and buried. My slow walk back to my apartment was reasonably uneventful; it’s funny that no one even looks sideways at someone covered in blood. Most people probably wouldn’t run around covered in blood if they had committed a murder, I suppose.

I stood under the hot stream of water, contemplating what I would do for the rest of my evening; the night was still young after all. I really have to enjoy every moment that I’m not called to work. I could have spent all night in that shower, that slight burning feeling of hot water cascading down my back and steam rising around me is so gratifying. It’s one of many sensations that reminded me that I’m still here, that I haven’t faded away, even if I have few loved ones left.

An hour or so later I found myself in front of a few dozen alcoholic shots that have names I’m not even going to try and pronounce. It’s sad, that my line of work, I, in both the past and present, have lead to such an isolated existence, even among my own kind. Attachments are just another weakness; they just give others the leverage they need to coerce information or favors out of me.

“Meeting at midnight tomorrow. Use the usual channels,” said a voice that sounded like it was coming from right behind me. As always, I remembered it was delivered by thought projection, a high-ranking ability known to only powerful vampires in our order. It is similar to the ability to walk on walls, which is common among mafia-trained vampire fighters. This particular extra was a favorite of my employer because of how hard it is for a reader to pick up on. All vampires can pretty easily read a human’s thoughts, but only a select few can read a vampire’s; they are known as ‘readers’. Readers are extremely rare and have a rather tarnished reputation. They are known largely as ‘mind thieves’ who steal extras right out of their owners’ heads. I would say that they’re despicable creatures whom we should have nothing to do with, but I just killed someone, so I can’t really take the moral high ground on this one.

“Are you going to sit there all night gorgeous? Or maybe you want to come have some fun?” questioned a teenage boy from behind me that looked around my age. Well, he LOOKED around my age… not my REAL age. He had short blond hair with the most adorable grin with two subtle dimples that held my interest. Of course, looks can be deceiving, especially in a vampire nightclub such as this one. In reality, there’s little chance he’s as old as I am. He was such a cute one though. As far as I can remember, I haven’t been in a relationship for an extremely long time. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to try to broaden by horizons, it’s not as though he would find out my secret, as long as I’m careful.

“Hmm… I might be persuaded…” I commented briefly, as though I didn’t really care either way. As if in response, he grabbed my hand and pulled me out into the dance floor. It took me a while to get into it; I have to say that this style of dance isn’t one I’m entirely used to. It’s one of my favorites, compared to the more traditional dancing I know. A while passed and we sort of gyrated and grinded against each other under the swirling colored lights and rave music. It kind of concerned me that he had somehow KNOWN I was gay… but I soon let my guard down and tried to have a bit of fun. Well I ASSUME he knows… At that point, he started kissing and biting my neck. That just felt so good. It’s seriously one of the most intimate things you can do, in my opinion. Sadly, those in my situation can’t afford to let their guard down, though I just hope I don’t live to regret it.

After a while, at his suggestion, we went out for a ‘walk’ to get some fresh air. As soon as we were clear of the nightclub, however, he commented briefly as a cute teenage boy, who looked around our age, walked by. “Mhmmm, he looks yummy, fancy a snack?”

“Uhh, I’m good… I don’t go after his type,” I said with an obvious hint of distaste.

“Oh geez, you actually feel sorry for humans still, how pathetic,” he said with a smirk and a sneer.

“It’s not that! If you read his mind you will notice he’s actually a decent guy. Why would you remove a decent one when there are so many others who deserve it?” I said simply and logically.

“Well for starters, he’s young, hot and going to taste really good!” he said with a giggle.

Before I knew what was happening, he ran over and jammed his fangs into the teenage boy who mirrored our age. I hurriedly removed him, using his own desire to telekinetically slam him against a wall, knocking him out. But the damage was done. I had a decision to make, but the bigger question was, why had I saved him from one of my own kind?

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