Archaic Envy: Chapter 2

There they lay in front of me, two teenage boys who looked to be around the same age. One was there because I had failed to act in time, and there is no doubt in my mind that I could have intervened if I had truly had the inclination. My hesitation, it seems, was my, and ultimately his, undoing. Why did I care so much about this baby-faced teen? I knew the evolutionary reasoning behind it but I couldn’t honestly believe that I had fallen victim to that alone. The young in many species are given certain ‘cute’ characteristics so that a predator is less likely to want to attack and a mother and father are more likely to want to protect their young. For a moment, just a moment, my instincts must have kicked in, but then again, shouldn’t they have vanished when I crossed over?

Most worrying of all was that I lashed out at one of my brethren, one of our own, for the life of a human. Maybe I had subconsciously reasoned that my companion was being reckless; feeding this close to a populated area is dangerous. At least that is one possible assumption.

“What the fuck is with you?” the vampire erupted as he spat what looked like blood onto the pavement.

“I am so old now, so very old and I have so little patience. I suggest you stand; you walk swiftly in the other direction and pray… pray that we never meet again. I may only voice my distaste at your choice in humans, but if your choices in feeding grounds threaten our secret, I won’t hesitate to act.” I said this in a monotone that needed no angst or ferocity to emphasize.

“Whatever man, you fucking mental case, he’s all yours to feed on. I’ll find myself someone else for dinner… Wait… You aren’t going to keep him as a pet, are you?” He pouted slightly and shrugged it off as if I was just too greedy to share, but after a giggle and a few hurried steps around the corner, he was gone.

The only real problem with that telekinetic extra is that the source of the desire can sometimes be unstable, as it automatically feeds on whatever desire is around. Every extra, like most other things in this world, has its weakness. I obviously had only knocked the wind out of him for a moment, instead of knocking him out as I intended.

This human, this boy, had such an innocence about him, his straight brown hair blanketed his forehead and over half of his face so that you had to look close to see into his eyes. He was just so enchanting to look at. Don’t get me wrong, the blond vampire now around the corner was great, but this human boy had so much more. I knew that with the blood loss and shock, he would find it difficult to say anything, so I stayed silent and entered his mind.

Strangely enough, he accepted that he was dying. He was still afraid and beyond consolable, but he somehow accepted what he saw as the end result. This level of maturity is something that most people take years to achieve, and yet, he has it so young. Most vampires never come to terms with it; they stay frozen in time and in suspended animation until they decide to meet the sun once more. What a waste. He was dying in front of me, slowly and painfully. The slag hunters would soon be on their way; they cleaned up our messes so that the endless killing stays out of the papers and people just disappear. It’s strange that people disappearing is somehow more accepted among the humans.

After a time, I felt something that I haven’t felt in a very long time – I was afraid. Not of what could happen to me, because I felt untouchable. I can’t cry for myself anymore; there is so little of my soul left and what’s left has been swallowed by the darkness. I was afraid of such innocence, intelligence and such a unique beauty leaving this world before his time. Empathy is one of the few paths I have left open that lead to any emotion at all. A silent sigh escaped my lips and a subtle smile appeared on my face as I chuckled to myself.

It seems that there are remnants of my humanity that even I don’t want to admit are there. Psychologically, people cope with anxiety and trauma by going to the opposite of what they dislike about themselves, which has been proven in many situations, including with a study focused around homophobes. Those who lash out at homosexuals, those who are homophobes themselves, harbor the same attraction as those they persecute. Instead of dealing with those feelings, that attraction, they bury them because they dare not face them, they cannot. I was exhibiting something that was so very human; something I understood and yet by it was entrapped. The heartless decisions I make for my job require that I have no humanity and yet here is proof that it is still there, just waiting to leap out. I obviously have a lot more humanity than I thought.

Even with such a brief bite, his consciousness was getting hazier and harder to read, which meant, of course, that he was beginning to fade away. If the slag hunters arrived when he was beginning to crossover, it would all be over for him. What was left of my soul ached for me to help him, but maybe death was the welcome help he needed. At that moment, I remembered that as a living, conscious entity, he should have the right to decide his own fate.

“Can you feel it? Can you feel everything that you are, your very existence, disappearing before your eyes? You’re dying my young friend… but I can save you, I can give you a life where you now have none. Trade the inevitable death, darkness and nothingness for an eternity of walking through this world with me. I won’t leave you alone. While I’m here, you will never be left alone until you decide to meet the sun once more. If you agree, you need only think it and I will hear you,” I said with an eerie, but calm, voice.

“I… I don’t want to die,” he thought to himself and as his thoughts weakened I bent over, picked him up and held him in my arms as I began the short trek home. I stopped walking for a moment as I contemplated the blond vampire who I could now hear feeding round the corner. I was tempted to try to use one of my extras on him to eradicate him as a problem, because the last thing I need is a rumor involving me to spread. I have to stay in the shadows, at all costs. I just shook my head at the very thought of it. I had already proven once tonight that my feelings and judgment at this point in time are impaired. Memories of my own crossover were still far too fresh in my mind. Maybe this was my way of keeping my own demons at bay.

For some reason, no one questioned the fact that I was able to carry a boy of roughly the same weight and height as myself as I walked by many humans. I think the truth is, they just didn’t care. I have to say that even I was unsure which extra was helping me to carry him. I just knew that one of them was doing it and I was glad that it was. I continued to walk with a purpose, block after block, towards my apartment complex. Dawn was quickly approaching and even I had no protection against the rising sun. If we were still in the open, it would surely end in two bright bursts of flame.

As I slowly persevere, I can’t help but notice the subtle beauty of the vegetation which seems to clone itself again and again throughout the small and unkempt gardens outside a row of red brick style flats that no doubt belong to busy students. Their allure ascertained during the day with a glistening like signal to all who walk by and an unhurried, uninterrupted sway against an invisible force, under a layer of deathly cold. I miss that morning glow that can only progress into a dazzling shine as the morning moves on. I can only hope that this young one won’t hate me for taking it away from him.

Any other person might dismiss this plant life, especially if in contrast, because they aren’t colorful, sought after, or taken care of by their unappreciative masters. It’s so disappointing that we truly only appreciate the little things in this world once we are no longer a proper part of it. They lay amongst an assortment of brush, vine and wild flower, which slowly entwines and ensnares them in the vegetation, like a pair of hands around their neck, or a virus slowly infecting and destroying its very roots from below, just as a virus destroys human cells from within. Even such a diverse and seemingly unimportant piece of plant life such as this has a truly admirable charisma. Much like us, it is constantly under attack, yet it does not yield, though it doesn’t fight back. It is forever peaceful without any conflict. It simply accepts the futility of any outward attempt of defiance and accepts its fate with an unrivaled dignity. They reminded me so very much of the brown-haired, hazel-eyed boy in my arms, so fragile but so willing to accept his fate without question.

In our complacency, as human beings and vampires, we see ourselves as the masters of animals, land and of matter in general. The obvious fact that no one seems to acknowledge is that we are mortal; we have weaknesses and, much like this plant life, one day soon we will be in the ground, fertilizing daffodils. Our intelligence and our greater lifespan seems to give us the power to deem these flowers that entwine the plants more important, more beautiful, so we refuse to help what we feel to be the lesser of the species. We could save both, but in our arrogance we feel that our lives are too important to possibly endeavor to save this vegetation, just as that blond vampire had failed to spare this young boy. To think, I didn’t even know either of their names. No matter, I’ll find out this one’s name eventually, when he wakes up.

I soon arrived at my apartment building and, as usual, a human opened the door for me to enter and with a smile said, “Cutting it a bit fine tonight, aren’t we?” I simply smiled and walked inside the elevator, which took us to the appropriate level in the building. I walked down the corridor to my room, unlocked the door and heard an electronic thud as the door swung shut. No doubt the building was going into lockdown to prevent any mischief while we were sleeping. My curtains and blinds also made an electronic swish as they closed automatically to prevent anyone caught in other parts of the apartment from getting exposed to the sun.

I stopped and lay him gently on the sofa where he would remain, for now at least. I continued into my room, stripped down and got under the covers as the sleep took over and another night in darkness ended.

Like clockwork, I fell deeply into a total sleep that I wouldn’t awaken from until darkness covered the sky once more. A dream ensued and another long forgotten memory was slowly wading its way to the surface of my mind. I found myself blinking furiously to make out my surroundings in somewhere I can only describe as a dungeon. It was made of the same large yet crude bricks that were used on the streets in wealthier areas of London. The room was blanketed in darkness with the exception of a subtle but flickering light of a fire coming from the other side of a hatch-like wooden trapdoor at the top of a steep set of stone steps. The hatch would probably be the way back to that room… THE ROOM. The realization and the memories came flooding back like I was being hit by a horse at speed and I felt the skin where I had earlier felt the bite, tinge and burn in a form of phantom pain; I had been bitten by that man… that animal… that monster… that THING.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and the events sent a shudder of pure terror down my spine. I immediately tried to lift myself from the ground but my body was so weak, so sore and, for some reason, paralyzed. I couldn’t move an inch. A soft whimper escaped my lips, but that’s all I could manage. I wanted to scream… I wanted to yell… but my body wouldn’t work properly anymore. It had given it’s allegiance to another because I knew the minimal pain I was feeling wasn’t bad enough to be paralyzing me. I tried again and again to yell or scream to make myself heard but no noise would come. A clink of chains revealed that not only was I locked away but I was tied down to prevent any kind of escape. My rags were blood soaked and I lay on the same cold stone that had been the reason for following that stranger in the first place. Amongst such a sinister setting, there was, fortunately for me, a beacon of hope.

“Don’t fight against it, the more you fight, the more it restricts you,” said a calm voice from within the darkness which would have made me jump, but I was paralyzed. “Calm down, let go and remove any thoughts of escape from your mind, it’s the only way you will be able to move again… it’s your only hope of escap—”

“Rias… Rias… Rias… what are we going to do with you?” my attacker said with a baleful grin. He had quietly opened the hatch without us noticing, a flaming torch in hand, and easily made his way down the stone steps after silently shutting the wooden trapdoor behind him. “You still have hope, Rias? Good for you! Just don’t give our latest arrival any undue expectations of his own because you saw what happened to the last boy who lay where he is now.” After an inquisitive glance in my direction which implied that he was expecting me to talk, he continued, “Ah, it seems my power is keeping you from saying anything, my mistake.” His hand moved in a swift brushing action, like he was gesturing to an invisible person to move away and I felt whatever was retraining me leave.

“W-What… what are you?” I said in a squeaky tremble.

“You don’t know? Haven’t you heard of the myths? Dark and demonic creatures of the night that rip open your flesh with their bare fangs and suck away your life’s essence until nothing remains. I am a vampire and now, so are you. I will use you to scratch an itch, I will feed on your innocence in more ways than one for as long as I can and then I’ll end it. Have no fear, by the time I’m done with you, you will welcome death with open arms.”

If I was scared up until now it was nothing compared to how terrified I was after hearing him say what he was, what WE were. He must be jesting; vampires are a myth, a legend, a fairytale to scare small children into doing their chores. What if it was true? If so, he had taken away all I had left in the world.

“Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no such thing as vampires and there is no way you can keep me down here so close to town against my will, I will scream until those above us hear…” I said in desperation. I don’t even think I believed what I was saying anymore.

“I thought we had already established that I can use my power to overwhelm you so that you can’t move an inch. You see I have the power of persuasion, a rare gift that allows me to push my wishes and desires onto those around me. There is no other power on this earth, possessed by any vampire, that matches mine. However, in the end, whether you believe in vampires or not is irrelevant. You need not worry about what you are becoming because you aren’t going to experience life as one of us, nor will you get the chance to feed on anyone because you will be long dead before that happens.” He said it all with a light demeanor and the whole thing stunk of normality; it meant he did this all the time and obviously got away with it. “I’ll leave you both to get acquainted; you might as well get to know each other while you can. Rias’ time with us is coming to its conclusion and it’s almost time to say goodnight… forever.” He said the last part with a grin and stifled giggles as though the entire thing was at a whole new level of hilarity that neither of us could understand. After a moment or two he turned with flaming torch in hand and made his way back up to the surface and the hatch door closed with a bang.

“We all have one, you know” said the boy from within the shadows, or ‘Rias’, as he had been called.

“What do mean?” I asked inquisitively.

“One of those powers he keeps talking about. I don’t think he realizes that I’ve figured it out, but if he has one, all other vampires must have one eventually as well. I guess I’m just hoping that mine comes through before it’s too late. I figure he’s had enough fun playing with me now so he’ll feed on me for the first time since he turned me and drain me dry. The funny thing is I think he’s afraid; he’s so scared that one of the little boys he catches will end up gaining a power that exceeds his own. I think it’s more than that though, I think his power only works on humans and us by extension because we are so new into our crossovers. So after a while, he won’t have the same control anymore.”

“Wait, does that mean he brainwashed me into coming here in the first place?”

“I would think so, it’s not like he can control all of your actions, just persuade you to do something you might usually not. He can force his desire onto you and that in itself is powerful enough, but fear seems to amplify it, which would explain why it paralyzed you originally. I’m not afraid of him, as well as the fact that his desires are continuously being fulfilled, so that power itself is lessening,” he said in a quick but quiet tone that kept me focused on the sound of his voice.

“…but what’s my power going to be and what does he want with us? What is it he desires from us? I mean he has trapped us here and told us tall tales of creatures of nightmares, but I still don’t understand,” I said with a hint of uncertainty and worry as I queried as much as possible while I could.

“There’s no way of knowing what your power is going to be, just hope it comes sooner rather than later,” he said hesitantly, in an obvious attempt to avoid my second question.

“That didn’t answer the other part. Why does he have so much desire? What does he want from us?” I asked hesitantly, because the truth was, I don’t think I wanted to know the answer.

“He’s a homosexual…” he said in a voice just above a whisper.

“What?” I said, although I had heard him perfectly.

“He’s a homosexual; he’s sick in the head and does terrible things to boys of our age… things that I’m never going to forget.” The whole occurrence sent a shiver down my spine at the thought of the horrors that no doubt awaited me.

The dream, however, mutated and shifted forward in time. My consciousness obviously sought to spare me the horrors of regurgitating some of the unnecessary memories. Unfortunately, the dream brought back the abuse without any real assistance or effort.

I found myself once more in the desolate and dungeon-like cavern that was no doubt under the structure where I had been originally victimized. The same man who was the source of this pain was hovering over Rias, ready to turn him into another casualty. It seems that Rias’ hope of gaining his power before his time was as futile as my hopes that I may escape this place. My friend was about to be devoured, which was made worse by the fact that he would be feeding and sustaining the monster that would ultimately end my life.

The emotional pain continued to burn inside me, my breathing steadily quickened and I was so angry. I wasn’t just angry at him but at all the adults in my life who had let me down, thrown me out in the cold because of their own fears, their own inadequacies and because of things that were out of my control. I’ll never forget that gaunt look of utter terror on Rias’ face, the whole moment was in a form of extreme slow motion where Rias attempted to push him away, but our captors fangs dripped with saliva and those glaring red eyes would wait for no one, no one would interfere.

As his head shot forward to feed, my mind entered a kind of trance-like state where life itself turned into a surreal experience. I felt detached from my body, like I was looking on at the actions of another. My hand shot forward and grabbed at whatever body part of our captor I could grasp, which in this case was his leg, with my chains this was enough of a challenge. The palm of my hand began emitting an ominous red glow which kept my hand attached to his skin. It became so clear what was wrong with me in this detached state. My anger remained not because I was angry at how I had been wronged, I was angry because of my envy, I wanted what my father had, my mother, my siblings and my captor. I wanted control of my life. Why should such a monster get to control such a dangerous power? My consciousness buried and immersed itself among his, I couldn’t read his mind directly, but I could see all of the memories that made up his life. These were the building blocks of his power, the gears and triggers which kept him in control. I saw an option to only reproduce these memories and the resulting power within myself as my own, but there was also another option. I could take the memories from him so he would be left with nothing, not even his life if I so desired. His wants and desires may have fed his power, but my envy for those around me fed mine.

The red glow began to move across his skin and spread through his entire body, making it clear that my power was nearly through with him. As quickly as I had entered the state it ended and our captor fell to the ground. He was alive, but this was only because I had changed my mind at the last second. He could keep his life but not his memories. His fangs retracted and he lay on the ground in his own trance, stunned, until he eventually lost consciousness. Now that the threat was over, my mind returned to its normal state, but everything was different, so much different.

“I… I can’t believe you saved us, what did you do?” Rias trembled quietly.

“I think I took his memories away…”

“How could you? If my power hadn’t developed, how come yours has?”

Before I could say that I had no idea why it had happened, an answer came to mind, but I had no idea how I knew. Slowly I began to notice I had memories which didn’t belong to me but it was a curse to have all of the terrible things he had done, floating round in my head. I had his regrets, his feelings and his moods. His personality and his experiences were having an effect on my own. I found myself, dare I say it, less disturbed at the idea of being with a boy. In fact, it almost sounded… nice. I shook my head quickly in an attempt to remove the thoughts from my mind and gain clarity but it obviously did nothing to sooth my inner-anxiety.

“Theodore… he researched possible situations where a vampires power could manifest itself early. Apparently someone who has just been turned into… a vampire… they can call on their power under extenuating circumstances, but only briefly. I can’t believe how much knowledge I’ve picked up for those brief moments I was touching him.”

“Theodore?” Rias asked, a little confused.

“That’s what his name is,” I said simply, pointing to the body at my feet. I pulled a large ring with keys off of Theodore’s belt and unlocked our chains. We slowly pulled ourselves off the stone floor of our prison and made our way up the stone steps, where we promptly opened the hatch and entered darkness. We walked for a time, in front of houses where families were enjoying themselves, shops that were now closed and passed by people who were in a hurry to get back to their families. As we passed many buildings, Rias whispered softly in my ear, “It must be true what he said, we MUST be vampires because I can read their minds! I wonder if that’s my power.”

Sure enough I focused on the individuals in the houses and I could hear their thoughts, of lust, of love, of greed or other such insignificant things. “No,” I said simply, “according to what Theodore knew, all vampires can do it, including me.”

“So we get TWO powers?!?! That’s wicked!” he said with a grin as he continued to walk past other humans, reading their minds and getting a kick out of knowing everything about people without having to utter a single question.

I heard it before I saw it, the clacking of hooves on solid concrete as the royal carriage took its occupants home to Buckingham Palace after a night out at the opera, at a play or dining with some distinguished noble or lord. I quickly attempted to turn in another direction but it was too late, Rias had already seen it and stopped.

“Wait! I want to see!” he said with the mischievous grin of a boy who was about to receive a treat of some kind.

“No! Come on! It’s only some over dressed snobs—”

“So what? We can read their minds! Think of all the secrets we could uncover.” I looked over and saw the concentration etched in his face as he read the mind of the gentleman in the carriage; he was with his wife. The gentleman looked out of the window, fixated on me with a questioning yet sad look, as though he was seeing something that he hoped was real, but knew wasn’t. His thoughts easily flooded into my own mind.
“That boy looks just like my Octavius… but alas it can’t be… my dearest Octavius is long gone. He’s with Our Lord now, in a much better place.”

My rage, my anger and my suffering returned. Why is he in such anguish? It was his fault that I had been thrown out in the first place. Rias’ face first showed confusion, but he needed to only look at the hurt on my face to understand, Rias now understood why I had been hesitant to stick around.

“Ah… So that’s why you didn’t want me to see him. I finally understand; you didn’t want me to know his secrets because I might find out your real name. My father always used to say that a name has great power and yours is certainly no exception. After all, not everyone is Prince Octavius, eighth son of his majesty, King George the Third.” 

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