“Want some drink?” Aiden said with a smirk on his face, looking at those new ‘donors’. I was already ahead of him, staring at the hemoslugs in the corner, the party, the IceZone as they call it, going on all around us.
“Adrian? You’re with me?” he asked again for my attention.
“Be serious, Aiden!” I looked him in the eyes. I must have put on a disgusted expression, because he hold up both of his hands as some kind of excuse for just bringing up this topic. He knew they voted against me in the council. How could they? And now this… in the opening… where everybody could see them. Even more… get a taste of them. Disgusting!
“You know, at some point this had to happen. The council disagreeing with you, I mean.” He reached for my hand and squeezed it softly.
I wasn’t mad at him. I never could be mad at him.
“Let’s just move on to the lounge and get over with it.” I urged him forward.
Drifting through the masses I had the feeling I didn’t really belong there. As astonishing as it was to see this underground club from time to time, all of them where just ‘young ones’. In comparison to Aiden and me that is… and to my lost family.
While we moved forward, I looked at him, smiling at him and the basses of the ongoing party went through me… through both of us. He was quite comfortable with it. Nodding his head with the golden hair to the beat. His young teenage body perfectly tanned. He smiled back at me. I never get enough of those sparkling emerald eyes when he smiles. They’re shining even brighter when he smiles.
“I love you, Adrian.” He said, leaning forward to give me a quick kiss on the cheek.
“I love you, too.” Giving him an even wider grin. What else could I say than the honest truth? He’s been there at my side for so long now, for more than fifteen hundred years to be exact. About a fifth of my existence, but I never take it as given. What have I done right do earn such a soul. As a matter of fact, what exactly have I done right and not ruined it?
We moved on. Damn, this ‘club’ is even bigger than the last time… and much more crowded. We arrived shortly at our destination, a small wooden door in one of the big walls of the club. The guard recognized us and made way to allow us entrance to the VIP area, or maybe a VVIP area, very very important. As we were passing by, the guard bowed his head and closed the door behind us. Silence. Sometimes it can feel good. And to leave all the noise and the party people behind us was a relief for all of my senses.
Am I getting old? Nah, never!
Aiden and me went down the small corridor leading to a staircase to the upper levels. On the first floor we recognized an unmistakable moaning and…
“Yeah, baby, I told you you would enjoy this with me.”
“Well, I think this is another great part of our so great culture, wouldn’t you agree?” Aiden gave me a smirk. I just rolled my eyes and we headed for the next staircase to the second floor. “Yeah, I think so, ” he continued, “and that human is having a heck of a day down here… away from his loved ones at home, I mean!”
As the mind of the human was an open book to both of us, I knew what Aiden was referring to. The loving family of his, a wife and two children, boy and girl age twelve and nine, was expecting him to return in some days from a meeting with some colleagues from… the senate? Well, that’s interesting, Mr. Senator!
The lounge itself was really something with all the red carpet and perfectly matching couches in the same tone. As a matter of fact, it was mimicking the interior of the white limousine we arrived with earlier.
There were only half a dozen people present. All of them were male humans. And that was some kind of a surprise to me, because I assumed we were expected. I let my senses wonder and could clearly feel the others in the next room. Arguing, from their emotional state.
The humans looked at us, two of them sipping at their drinks. I was not really interested in meeting these ones. I had too many encounters with this kind of race… politicians! They nodded their heads to Aiden and me, expecting some kind of gesture in return. They did get it, though. Always be polite on the political level; always be an ambassador to the humans. And again, disgusting? When did I actually lose my trust in humans? Oh right, I remember!
We sat down on one of the couches, looking out through some big windows on the ongoing party down below. Must be some one sided mirrors to give us view but to lock their views out. Why do these VIPs always have to be treated so very important?
I sensed the argument in the next room had come to an end. The winged doors in the back of the lounge opened. Aiden and me turned our heads in unison to see them walk in. The ‘elder council’-members. The council I’m a part of or maybe was, because their entrance so shortly after my definitely not unannounced arrival was hardly a coincidence. It looked as though, especially with the emotional tantrum they were trying to suppress, they just had a meeting… without me. Aiden must have read my emotions, because he instantly grabbed my hand to calm me down. He knew, as I did, what this was. An insult! How dare these young ones insulting me this way. Aiden hold on to my hand, pressing it hard to make me control my anger. The six of them (psh, six, there’re always seven on the council to make sure there is no stand-off during council vote) came towards us.
My gaze fell on Caroline. I assumed her to be a friend. Although stuck in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl, she was very intelligent and had grown herself a great wisdom during her 121 years in darkness. From just her physical appearance with her long blond hair and her blue sparkling eyes you wouldn’t believe her to be an elder, as a matter of fact. Actually when I had first met her (and after that encounter supported her ‘career’), I thought she was fun, because she had quite an interesting sense of humor, too. This humor was now gone. She looked away from my stare.
The man in the front, Lucas, however smiled at me as though nothing was going on. In his business suit he looked so misplaced and his short brown hair always accurate. For a man in his thirties, he was good looking, although he now was up to one hundred thirty-six.
“Adrian, I’m glad you made it. I think we can be honored to have you with us.” He said and came close to me and we both stood up and Aiden kept his hand in mine.
Bullshit! If you lie any longer directly in my face, I’ll scratch your pretty brown eyes out of your skull! “Of course, Lucas. Your invitation is an honor for me. Aiden loves the IceZone parties.” Sorry my dear. “So, we couldn’t resist. If I had known there is a council meeting, I would have come earlier.” Saying so, I raised my right hand and pointed at Caroline and the other four elders.
“Oh that, now… you know there’s no meeting without you, Adrian!” His emotions were merely screaming the opposite.
Of course I know. But things can change, can’t they. Especially when I would vote against you. He wouldn’t have done that to my brother.
“You’re still upset because of the last vote about the new ‘donors’? Come on, Adrian, I just showed the others some private rooms they can use during their stay. I would like you and Aiden as well to stay for the day. Well, it might be a bit boring as the rest of us are in their sleeping cycle, but you’re always welcome. Maria will give a concert shortly before dawn. Both of you might want to attend to that one.” He said with a grin I was eager to rip from his face. Aiden hold on to me.
“By the way, I like your physics.” He looked at me from head to toe. “What physical age do you have this time?”
‘Be polite’ I heard in my head. Ok, here it comes. I withdrew a strand of my ear long black hair (never changing that!) out of my face and my piercing (but polite) blue eyes looked directly at him.
“Fourteen and a half.” ‘Are you happy now, I’m polite’ I thought to Aiden. ‘I am’ he responded mentally.
“It suits you, Adrian. Now, would you two please excuse me for a moment? I need to talk to our human guests for a while to make sure they feel comfortable. Help yourself with drinks from the bar, would you?” He went off and I sank down to the couch again. Aiden followed, still holding my hand. If it weren’t for him, Lucas would be dead by now for the affront and the lies. We both knew that. As we sat on the couch, I could feel Caroline’s stare on me… and she felt… kinda guilty?
Aiden’s screams brought me back to my consciousness.
Is it day or night? I can’t tell.
I’m feeling weird, now. As though I’m no longer myself.
Where’s Aiden? His screams have stopped? Did they just stop torturing him? Or is he…?
Aleae jacta sunt.
There so many things I’m not proud of during my life. Actually, what is life? I can’t remember any more. But this is insane. They say Rome is almighty. If they just had the slightest imagination of what ‘almighty’ really means. I wonder if they would see things different with my eyes; I wonder what they would think if they had my memories… of different times. Abydos.
I can’t say, that I’m impressed of this city of cities. The center of the world. It is true, it is a big city. The biggest I’ve ever been to, but again, different times. But it’s not as beautiful as everybody refers to it. Rome is itchy. It tickles my senses. There’re so many people around that just have nothing better to do with their lives than giving it away to some miraculous man that should have lived some hundred years ago. Oh, and what did he do… he died. He died like the ones on the plaza in front. I think these crucifixions are odd. Like the reasons are odd, these men, women and children have do die. I will never die though. I’m immortal.
I wandered around. Staring in the dead faces before they were burned. Some of them stared back at me, still alive. The smell of death was everywhere. I read their last thoughts. Nothing really astounding. Nothing I haven’t heard or read before. Let it be quick. Well, I hoped for that young one, that someone heard his prayers; someone he believed in and worshipped.
It was not satisfying to see the death all around me. Because I wasn’t the one who could make it useful. The rumble in my stomach was still there and I wasn’t eager to satisfy it right then. Although the old bishop might have been a nice nourishment.
There were so many people in the streets. Buying food for their own family or the family that owned them, praying to one true God (time has changed that point of view)… and the thing they do throughout all ages… mating. Well, not actually for the given purpose. They were giving in to their most animalistic desires. I would not have been shocked, if they did it right away in the open. As their thoughts were always circling around it. I watched the merchants praising their goods to every possible customer in the streets. Why do they always have to yell like that? I can hear quite well.
It was then, when I saw him. He was a thin and dirty being with golden hair. You could still tell the color despite of all the dirt. I sensed his pain. The pain from the hunger. Not the same hunger I had, because he was human. He was frightened to death when he approached one of the market stands. His eyes where of a green color, that I could see from my observation point. They were observing, too; observing everything around him. He looked in the direction of the merchant and tried to find a way to do what he came for. I knew what he wanted and that made me grin. I decided to walk closer. I walked in a circle that would bring me directly behind him. When I reached my destination I just stood behind him and waited quietly. The merchant turned his attention to one of his customers and the boy made his move. He grabbed some bread that lay on the outer side of the table.
“What are you doing?” I asked him and that nearly shocked him to death. He jumped away from the voice behind him and turned his head in terror. I heard his thoughts. I’m dead, he thought. Not yet, was my inner response to that. The merchant turned his attention to the two of us. He saw the bread in the boy’s hands.
“I hope you can pay for that.” He said looking quite angry and coming around to the front of his market stand. The boy was really scared now, I could sense and read that. I didn’t know why I pitied him but I said “Sure we can!” I threw a coin to the merchant who caught it but was still looking suspicious. First at the coin, then back at the boy and me.
“So we came what we were looking for. Now let’s go!” The boy didn’t believe his ears when I directed my words to him. “Come on.” I took him by his arm and led him to the next dark alley. My stomach was growling now and my eyes got a little darker with a slight tone of red.
I fought the desire back. I looked at him. He was still in some state of shock and disbelief.
“I think it’s safe now. You can eat the bread, if you’re hungry.” What did he see in me when I told him that? I was used to my well-tanned body from the past. Back then I was even a bit older, physically. But now he saw a boy around his age, with the normal roman appearance. He narrowed his eyes and hold on to the bread as though I was going to trick him and take this precious gift back from him.
“Go on. Try it. It must be delicious from the smell.” Actually it smelled far from delicious. But for the normal people of Rome, it was enough to nourish themselves. He looked at me again, but decided to test his luck and he bit into the bread.
I watched him chewing a few times before I asked. “What’s your name?” I already knew it, but that wouldn’t have been such a good starting point.
He chewed again but then he answered. “Aedan.”
“Aedan. That means ‘Fire’, doesn’t it?”
“You know what my name means?” His eyes got really big.
“Of course I do. And ‘Aedan’ is not a roman name, that means you or your family came here from afar.” I assured him, not giving away that I read his every experience in life right from his head.
“And may I ask for your name as well, dominus?” He was really shy I could tell that. His emotions and thoughts were now screaming, urging him to back down, forget the bread and take a run for it. Where he got the strength to even ask the question I couldn’t tell.
“It’s Adrianus. Nice to meet you, Aedan.” I gave him a smile and that soothed him a little. His fear wasn’t gone but I felt another emotion… curiosity. Little did he know how curious I was.
“Wake him up!” I heard a voice. And I could tell, that I knew that voice, but my head was spinning and I couldn’t get a lock on the memory. What the hell?
I slowly opened my eyelids. I saw the light above me. It hurt my eyes. I had to close them again immediately. Again, what the hell? Someone was talking, not with me but about me. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, as though he was far away. But that never happened before. I could clearly identify every sound around me in the past but now everything was quiet. And as a matter of fact, it scared me.
I opened my eyes again and could see a man next to the table I was lying on. Table? Now my memory got back. I had seen him before. It was the same man Aiden and me had met on our way to the VIP lounge. Well not actually met. The last time I saw him, there was a young boy in his lap. Mr. Senator!
Then the voice spoke again and came closer.
“Lucas?” I was stunned. “What are you doing here? What are you doing to me? An where the hell is my boyfriend?”
Lucas came even closer, watching me. “Relax Adrian. Everything will be fine soon.” His voice was cold. He was examining me, I could tell. But I couldn’t read his intentions. What have they done to me? I can’t move. And what’s more important, why can’t I read any thoughts from them? Not even the humans. I was aware there were more people present. I saw some shadows moving in the back but couldn’t identify whether they were vampires or humans.
Lucas spoke again. “What can you remember?”
I had to really concentrate on the last memory. I saw flashes of men in dark suits aiming guns at me. “What?” I tried to say.
“It’s ok, Adrian. You don’t need to say anything. Just think about it”
Was Lucas kidding? Thinking about it. As though that would help him finding my lost memories. He is no match for me. He never can read my thoughts.
Lucas smiled at me. The smile was as cold as his voice had been before. “Just think.”
I tried. Other flashes of short memory episodes came to me. I saw Aiden and me talking. We were talking about an invitation from… Lucas. Yeah, that was it! Some weeks after the meeting at the IceZone a man came to our apartment. He asked us to come with him. He didn’t know why, only the destination was in his mind.
We entered a facility… oh my, I’m still in that facility! We were escorted to some conference room and Lucas was there and… the rest of the council. There were even humans present. The same ones from the lounge.
I felt their emotions. I read their thoughts. All of them. Every thought, vampire or human, is an open book to me. They thought about the war. They thought about the other vampire fractions. And a weapon to defeat them once and for all.
“You know, your venom is more efficient than everybody else’s. We got lucky this time.” Lucas grinned at me. Then… “I’m sorry for Aiden. He wasn’t such a good candidate. We hoped, as though you were his sire, it would be enough. But, unfortunately…”
“What are you talking about?” My head was still spinning. The headache didn’t want to go away. Something I wasn’t used to. I couldn’t understand what he referred to. Aiden? Everything went black again.
Aedan was looking at me from his wonderful sparkling emerald eyes. He lay in my arms in our tiny little villa. Well, ‘little’ from what I was used to before, you can say that. He looked much healthier now, after some months of good nourishment. I kissed him on his soft forehead. I would never forget the time I spent with him.
“What’s on your mind, Adrianus?” He was always so eager to know my thoughts.
“Actually, I’m thinking of you.” I smiled at him and got one big smile in return.
“Aren’t you always thinking about me? Every time I ask you, you give me that answer.” He bit on his bottom lip. Isn’t he adorable?
“Well, but it’s true. Why should I think about someone or something else, when I have you with me?” I shrugged my shoulders. It was clearly a warm day. I love the sun, I always have. Sometimes, days like this made me wonder how our ‘children’ or better to say ‘grandchildren’ can live without the sun. Well, it’s not as they have a choice, isn’t it? Do they hate us for this fate?
Aedan raised his hand to my head. He began stroking my ear long black hear. “You can’t always think about me. There’re so many things you can think about.”
He rubbed his nose with his hand interrupting the stroking of my hair. “You know, what you would like to do with your life, for example. I mean… well…” He was unsure how he should go on. He had taken it quite well though. I just fed once during our time together. It’s not so important for me. Eating or feeding, that’s merely the same. Well, almost.
“Can we go out?” He asked, looking me in the eyes.
“Sure.” I wasn’t as excited as he was when he heard my answer, but I would do anything for him. I would have given him the stars from the heavens if he asked me. They couldn’t be that far to reach. “May I ask you something… before we leave, I mean?”
“Did you give it some thought… to the things we talked about the other day?” I hoped his answer would be ‘yes’. This was the first time I was eager to really ‘hear’ an answer, not to read it in his mind. So I kept my mind from wandering off… from taking a walk in his so sweet (and sometimes brutal) memories.
Oh, come on! Is that everything you have to say to that? “I know the decision is not lightly to be taken. But I would like you to be my love for eternity. You know that, don’t you?”
“Adrianus, the time with you was so amazing. And I never felt so good in my whole life…”
“… You really think I’m ready for that step? Because I’m not sure. I…”
“Aedan, to be honest with you.” I took a deep breath. “I never felt so complete. Being with you made the time stop for me. And not in the way you might think. You deserve better. Better than this waste. I can wait. But can you? You’re aging every day, every hour when the glass of sand is turned. Your time did not stop! And… I don’t want to see that happen to you. Because I love you, my dear Aedan. I really do love you.”
He leaned in to kiss me on the lips and I read his thoughts although I didn’t want to. ‘I love you, too, Adrianus. And I want to spent the eternity with you!’
It was hard to tell, where they were bringing me. I still couldn’t use my senses as I did before. I was in a van lying on my back, from what I could tell. They didn’t cover my eyes with a blindfold. Weren’t they afraid? When I get my strength back, you’re all dead! This thought brought Aiden’s face back to me. Where is he? Is he really…? No, that is not possible! Lucas must have lied. He is not dead!
“What shall we do with him?” A voice asked from the front.
“Orders are to leave him and the body behind.” That was another man speaking. Body? “Maybe he will come up as a snack.” He was laughing now. “That would be a surprise to the wingless bat that feeds on him. I would like to see that.”
My thoughts were at full speed. I couldn’t make any sense of what I heard. The van slowed down. I tried to roll to my stomach to look to the front, but then I realized that every muscle in my body was aching. Hell, I never gave a thought to that. I felt so worn out. The back doors opened and they pulled me out of the van. The next second, I felt a cold underground. It was soft though but really cold… and wet.
“Let’s bring the other one over there. Our colleagues can get rid of him then.” The first voice suggested.
NO. I opened my eyes. They hurt again. I saw one of my ‘drivers’ to drag someone else from the back of the van. I didn’t know I wasn’t alone in there. I couldn’t identify from this position who it was. I was afraid of the answer. One of the men carried the small figure on his shoulders and the light of a lantern fell on…
“Nooooooo!” I screamed so loud while the other man was closing the back doors of the van. He looked at me with a frustration and hatred. He walked over to me, but I only had eyes for my love… for Aiden, whose body hung so lifeless from the man’s shoulder. He threw him to the ground. I got so furious; my fangs should have come down in an instant. Nothing happened, though. The last thing I felt was a harsh kick in my face and I felt the darkness win.
“Can you hear me?” A voice. Darkness.
“It would be better to bring him to a hospital.” Darkness.
I had a terrible headache when I regained my consciousness. It felt as though my head was going to burst open to release the pressure in it. I couldn’t open my eyes. My face burned. My jaw felt numb. Someone was moving next to me. I could hear a faint moving of clothes. Something wet was wiping over my forehead. I moved a bit. Not a good idea!
Something cold touched my lips and then something wet came in behind. “You need to drink.” There was a soft voice. “The water will help you cool down.” I drank. It was water. I tried to open my eyes. They burned. It felt terrible. I felt terrible. I tried to tune the feeling out and raised an eyelid. I saw a flash of light. And then a shadow was leaning over me. I forced my eyes open. I wanted to see. First I had to blink, because the light was blinding me. I stared. There was the figure.
“How do you feel?” The figure asked.
I blinked again and my vision cleared. I saw hazel brown hair in front of me and then two eyes looked at me. Two eyes with an emerald color.
“Aiden?” My voice was so weak it was almost a whisper. I coughed.
“Easy!” It said. No it wasn’t an ‘it’, but it wasn’t Aiden either. It was a boy. He looked at me… worried. “Don’t speak. They really beat you up.” He gave me another drink of water and I swallowed it.
“Thanks.” I said. I was still confused. The memories came back to me. First the kick in my face, then my own scream and then… the tears came out of nowhere. I felt them running down my cheek, down my neck. The sobbing started. He was gone! Gone! This word is so hard. He was there with me for over a millennium. And now what? I cried for my lost love. The last memory of him burned into my mind.
“Honey, why don’t you let him rest?” A feminine voice said. From the corner of my wet eyes I could see the boy turn his head to the voice. He lifted himself up and left the room. Where am I? I felt the pillow in my neck getting soaked with my tears. I turned my head, trying to find out where I had been taken.
Still crying I could see a small room. A teen’s room. There were posters of modern action movies on the walls. ‘Joker’ laughed back at me. I saw the chair next to the bed I was lying in, the glass of water on the nightstand.
I tried to move. Nothing felt, as it should have. I could feel my legs, but there wasn’t the feeling I was used to. Same for my hands. I could feel the fabric of the sheet under my fingertips. But it felt incomplete. As though I was missing an experience.
I heard the flushing of a toilet. The door to my room was left open. Another door opened. I could see the boy passing by in the hall.
Still feeling weak with another tear running down my cheek I moved my legs under the blanket. My feet felt the cold air around. I rolled to my side and let my legs fall down. I tried to sit up. Easy, Adrian! I felt dizzy. I blinked my eyes to free myself from the dizziness. I stood up. I forced myself to steady my shaky position. I took a step forward and had to hold onto the chair or else I would have fallen down. Step by step I was walking. Still, everything around me was different. The colors were not as bright as they used to be.
I reached the open door and hold myself upright at the door lintel. I turned right into the hall and opened the next door. My expectation was rewarded. It was a small bathroom. I stumbled to the sink and looked into the mirror above.
My face was pale. I looked like the young boy I often used for my appearance. I remembered it to be my own appearance from all those thousands of years ago. Almost forgot that. But my tan was healthier than. Something wasn’t right. I looked into the eyes of my reflection. Nothing.
Oh nooo… what have they done to me… I’m human again… I’m a mortal!
My head was spinning. I blacked out.