Gone From Daylight: Dead Language 2
I awoke the following evening with the disturbing echoes of a vampire dream in progress, vanishing into thin air like fading wisps of smoke.
Thinking back on the one who sired me, the one I gave my heart to all those years ago…I realized that the pain of his loss has never left me. Perhaps it never will. A love like that…you only get once. Even in an immortal’s lifetime.
I rubbed my eyes as my sleep cycle came to an end and my limbs began to loosen up again. Then after a short ritual of washing my hands and face in a basin that I kept next to my bed, I journeyed through the darkness of the underground monastery to do some quiet, early evening, reading in my study.
Removing some of the oldest and most troubling texts that I owned from the dust covered bookshelf, some of my most engaging projects…I sat at my desk and carefully traveled through the worn pages of old parchment. The confusing lore, a mystery to me. Even my practiced mind could only catch a word here and a word there. Sometimes close enough to guess at a certain phrase or passage of some meaning. I began to wonder if this new visitor of ours could help me catch a glimpse…just a glimpse…of the ancient knowledge and theories that these vampires had left behind. To decode the messages of the iluminirae…would be a gift beyond words.
I was grateful for the silence that night. My mind was buzzing with activity, but the soundless surroundings of candlelit darkness was what allowed me to enjoy these moments of isolation.
An isolation that was soon interrupted….
The knocking at my chamber door was so soft that I barely recognized it as any sort of deliberate signal. A bashful knock. Diffident, but somewhat needy.
I looked back over my shoulder to see Shiloh standing at my door. His angelic face peeking ever so slowly into the light.
We were both silent for a moment. Shiloh attempting to overcome his fear of a stranger, and me gasping at the sight of his gentle beauty. Clearing my throat, I said, “Come in. Come in. It’s alright?”
“Are you sure?” He said, his voice cracking just a little bit at the end of his sentence. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why a vampire would want to crossover while his voice was changing. It must be hell to live through that after a few years.
I motioned for him to step inside, and he closed the door behind him. Not all the way…but close. “You’re up awfully early, Shiloh.” I said.
His frightened eyes looked upon me as if I was fingerprinting him for a lengthy arrest. But though all his boyish trembling, he said, “I can’t sleep late. Not like the others do. I always wake up early.”
“It’s quite alright. It happens more often than you might think with crossovers as young as yours. There’s a lot of youthful energy left over. You’ll get used to it.” I told him. He was looking around me, seeing the stuff on my desk. Nearly forgetting my manners, I offered him a seat.
“You mean…you don’t mind if I join you? I’m not bothering you, am I?” He said.
“I promise to let you know if you do.” I smiled.
The boy smiled back at me, and while it may have been a simple and carefree gesture to him…the absolute glory of it nearly caused my heart to stop, mid beat. He was wearing a cheaper brand of optrix to hide his eyes from the public, and the vampire glow was penetrating through them despite their design. The very graceof him…..it was captivating beyond measure.
He reminded me so much of my beloved….
Not physically, but in spirit. If I believed in such a thing as reincarnation…Shiloh would be my proof. My concrete evidence that my love was willing to defy time and space to come back to me. I couldn’t help but to stare.
Feeling a bit more confident from my invitation, the curious boy began to look around at the shelves in my stud. “Sooooo many books…” He said softly.
“Yes. I collect them. I try to get as many as I can.” I told him. “I believe that all of our knowledge, all of our emotion….our very purpose for being here….it is contained in the art, the music, the images, and the stories that we have to tell. If you don’t tell your story, then you allow it to die with you. As they say, you won’t find greater treasures anywhere than you can in a graveyard. Poor souls who never took a chance. And we all suffer for it. Because that piece of the puzzle can never be found again.” I felt myself babbling,wondering if this young newblood was going to suddenly get tired of my preaching and walk away. But he didn’t. He absorbed every word. And he actually answeredme. I was truly impressed with that.
“So you try to learn stuff from them all?” He asked.
As his shyness began to slowly melt away, I could feel my heart inflating with the very sweetness behind those beautiful eyes of his. I attempted to keep my infatuations under control, but his blond hair and soft, sweet, lips seemed to call out to me. His golden locks weren’t straight, nor were they curly…but some hybrid of both. Hanging in shiny wet ringlets over the tips of his ears, concealing his slightly elfish features…but not effectively. I sighed to myself as he looked through my books, and I didn’t dare let my gaze drop a single inch below his shoulders. It was not my intention to ogle the boy, or save any mental details for some sordid sexual fantasy once he was out of my presence. But his beauty was undeniable. And despite my inner conflicts….I couldn’t help but stare.
I nervously cleared my throat. “The scriptures? Yes. I try to learn and marvel at every last one of them. The older the scripture is, the better. Ancient texts are my specialty.”
“Why?” He asked. His voice, so delicate and cute. His face so sweet. Just hearing him ask the question sent a pleasurable shiver down my spine. And it was merely a single word.
I was surprised that I was able keep my focus as a few of his bright blond locks slid forward into his dazzling eyes. “Well…the older scriptures were written in another time. Back when the authors looked at the world very differently from the way we do today. It was during a time when the world wasn’t so full of mindless distractions.” I said. “I think people contemplated the mysteries of life more clearly back then. They gazed up at the stars above, and they fantasized about the wonders of creation. The meaning of their existence.” Shiloh was looking over at me, as though he was trying to understand. So I smiled, and said, “Of course, that was WAY before reality TV and the latest iPhone apps. Nowadays…if something doesn’t immediately stimulate the insulting simplicity of the five senses, people figure that it simply doesn’t matter. I try hard to teach my students that the deeper meaning in life is more than what they can see, or taste, or touch, or purchase with a credit card. It goes far beyond that. And it’s their job, their duty, to find that chosen path for themselves.”
“But aren’t they just musty old books?” He asked, now moving to hop his bottom up on my desk, and pull one of the books into his lap.
Seeing as he was handling the old book with the roughness of a quarterback handling a pigskin football, I gently took it back from him and set down on the desk. “No. No not at all. Words are magic.”
“Yes. As an essential part of vampire culture, we realize that the written word is the truemeaning of immortality. These thoughts, these ideas, will outlive us all. They resonate with all of us on some level. No matter what age or era they pass through, they will always maintain a certain level of significance. Once they’ve been brought to life by the author, they will be an inspiration and a guiding light for centuries to come. The power in that…is immeasurable.”
Shiloh seemed impressed. His eyes looked at more books on my desk with interest. “So that’s why words are magic?”
“Indeed. Words alone could be used by the lowest peasant or field worker to fell kings. Create revolutions. Or to woo the heart of a loved one. Words aren’t just made for entertainment. They’re meant to create an awakening in the human spirit. You can use words to change consciousness itself. If you look in the right places, it is believed that you can find just the right passage, just the right phrase or quote, that will ultimately change your life forever.”
The boy looked away for a moment, then he asked, “Have you found ‘your’ phrase or whatever?”
To think about it, I answered honestly, “I have found some marvelous stories and ideas, some incredible philosophies and fantastic commentaries on societies both in daylight and in darkness….but…I’m afraid that one perfect message hasn’t come my way just yet. Perhaps if I keep writing my own scriptures, I’ll be able to write it myself someday.”
“How will you know when you find it?”
“You’ll know. There will be…a sudden ‘unraveling’ of the mind. Followed by an overwhelming joy, and the courage to do almost anything.” I said. “That’s why I am never selective with my influences. I absorb everything I can. Listen to every kind of music, watch every kind of film, read every kind of book. Because you never know where your message may lie or what direction it might come from. The most exhilarating collection of words that you’ve ever heard might be wrapped in a song that you were sure you were going to hate. The point is to listen. Experience. And never allow your horizons to contract small enough to fit into a tiny little box. Wisdom shouldn’t have a limit. There is far more power in what we don’tknow, than what we do.”
“Hmmm, that’s cool, I guess…” He said. I wasn’t sure if he fully grabbed the concept, but as I saw his fingers fidgeting, and inching toward my book again, I decided to give his boyish curiosity a rest.
I stood up and told Shiloh to sit in my chair. I figured he might take care more care if the book was spread out on the desk and I was there to supervise. He scooted closer and reached for one of the books in front of him. “Hold on, hold on. Careful now. This is not a ‘comic book’. It is very very old.” I leaned over him to slowly open the book to the page where I had it bookmarked with a small sash of purple silk.
Inside the book were passages written in verzpertillio, a much older dialect than anything that I was used to. It had taken me the better part of 15 years to decode what little I had, and even then it wasn’t enough to make sense out of it. I kept coming back to this page, as a picture had been drawn into the parchment that was an almost exact replica of DaVinci’s ‘The Last Supper’. I never figured out how the scripture and that drawing were related. I would spend days trying to make a connection, but to no avail.
“Are these magic words?” Shiloh asked.
“They might be. No one really knows for sure. The writer of these passages was rumored to have been tortured to death for his message. These texts have been studied by some of our greatest scholars but they’ve never been fully translated. I’m not sure what it was that he said, but he angered the whole of his community, and he was murdered for it.” I leaned closer and said, “I’m not quite sure what his theory is, but after years of trying to put the pieces together, I think it may be about…”
“It says that Jesus Christ wasn’t the son of God.” Shiloh said. I found myself gasping at the idea, and the ease with which he said it.
“That’s what it says. Right here. See?” He pointed to the page, but I couldn’t make any sense out of it at all. What was he seeing? What was his mind translating the scriptures into? “That’s funny. It says there’s 12 planets in our solar system. I wonder what the other three are…”
“Wait…slow down. Shiloh…are you telling me that you can read something as old as this?”
“Well, of courseI can.” He smiled. “Um, I mean not literally. I mean just looking at the page it all looks like scribbles and gobble-dee-gook to me. But it still makes sense.” He scooted over to give me more room to look at the book, and although I couldn’t read the text, I followed his slim finger on the page anyway. “It’s a calendar.” He said.
“Yup. A big cosmic calendar. According to this guy, the original Aramaic text translation wasn’t ‘the son of God’, but the ‘sun of the gods‘, plural. Gods being the planets. The sun, giver of life and light. The source of creation. The calendar was made from star positions and planetary alignments….” Fascinated, I found myself wide eyed as he went to the other page and kept reading. “The DaVinci picture isn’t just Jesus at the last supper…it’s a depiction of the calendar itself. See? Jesus in the middle. The sun. That’s not a halo, it’s a glow. Surrounded by 12 planets. 12 planets, 12 disciples in service of the sun. But it says the disciples in the pictures are positioned in such a way where they lean toward or away from each other to leave spaces in between them. It breaks them into four groups of three, six on either side of the sun. 12 months of the year, split into four clusters of three. Four seasons, three months each. With Judas being Winter, the death of the sun….”
“Where are you getting all this?”
“I don’t know. I just…look at the page and I just…know.” He said. “I guess it’s not all that different from the Mayan calendar, except many of the people around the area couldn’t read or write. So the aspects of the calendar were told as stories that people would remember. Predicting plagues, volcanoes, earthquakes, great floods. By keeping them as stories, people could remember the dates and seasonal changes without having anything written down. I take it the religious people of that time didn’t take too kindly to somebody writing this stuff down. Certainly not one of ourkind. That’s blasphemy of the worst kind to them. But to me, it sounds kinda cool. Say, do you mind if I keep this? I always wake up early and it would be cool to have something to read.”
I was staring off into space. He had been so excited about the texts that he was reading that he hadn’t even noticed that I was hardly paying any attention anymore. All those years, all of the hard work that I put in trying to decipher some kind of meaning from this particular set of vampire scripture…and a newblood walks in and cracks it in a couple of minutes. Part of me was jealous. Part of me was hurt. But most of all…I was absolutely overwhelmed by the magic this boy had inside of him. Fascinated, first by the beauty of his appearance, and now by the beauty of his mind. It created a spark in my heart that I haven’t felt since…since…
“Mr. Vicke?” Came the soft voice from below me.
“The book? Can I keep it for a while? I’ll give it back. I promise.”
Shaking myself from my daze, I looked into his eyes, and quickly found myself lost in another. “I’m afraid that the books in here aren’t allowed to leave this study. But, if you like, whenever you wake up in the evenings during your stay, you’re more than welcome to come back and read them any time you like. I will leave the office unlocked, as long as you promise to be careful with everything you touch.”
“Awesome. And I’ll be good. I promise. These are magicwords.” He grinned at me, and I was breathless with the radiant allure of him. Something about him just made me smile.
“I hope I’m not ‘interrupting’ anything…” Came a grumbly voice from the doorway’. There stood Charlemagne, the boy’s so-called protector. And here I was leaning over Shiloh with our faces only inches apart, reading from the same book. Suspicion blazed in his eyes with bonfire brilliance, and I straightened up to put some distance between us. Instantly, I saw Shiloh’s head drop, and that wonderful light within him seemed to dim greatly in Charlemagne’s presence. “What I have told you about wandering off by yourself before I’m awake to guide you? Huh?”
“I’m sorry. I got bored.” Shiloh mumbled under his breath.
“You got bored? Well, you’re going to find yourself a whole lotof action if you keep this up. What part of ‘Termination Order’ do you not understand?” Charlemagne barked at the young boy, and he got up from my seat at the desk to leave.
“Thanks, Mr. Vicke.” Shiloh said with a gentle pout in his lips.
“Please, call me Mason.” I said. Charlemagne instructed the boy to go back to his room and wait there, but he remained in the office with me. I looked this killer in the eyes but kept my calm. “He’s just a boy, you know? He’s not a soldier.”
“And just what do you know about protecting him from the horrible things he might have to face if he’s discovered here? huh?” I turned to slide a few books back into the empty slots of my bookshelf. I kept my back to Charlemagne. The look of the gritty scowl underneath that tattered mustache made me sick. “Your job is to translate the texts we give you and help us find their true meaning so that we can get enough leverage to convince the Elders to call the dogs off. Once that’s taken care of, we’re out of here.”
“Shiloh has a gift that goes beyond anything that I was prepared for, but the scriptures that you brought with you are too complex for even hisextra to comprehend. This won’t be easy work. It will take time.”
“Yeah? Well, from now on, I think it would be best if your little ‘library sessions’ were supervised by a third party. Call it a personal precaution.” He said.
The insult of it hung thick in the air. His message, far from subtle. But I wasn’t about to let him antagonize me into losing my grace. “You don’t like me very much, do you, Charlemagne.” I asked him.
“Can’t say that I care much for you, no.” He answered. “Not for you, and not for what you stand for.”
“Meaning what, exactly?”
“I think you know damn well what I’m talking about.” He said, his voice still grainy with restrained anger and mistrust.
“I take it you’re talking about the boy, then?”
His tension seemed to increase, but he hid it well. “It’s my job to protect him at all costs, Preceptor. Even from you. I expect that your Mage made that clear upon my arrival?”
“So you think it’s my intention to hurt him? Is that it?”
“I know more about you and your halflife sire than you may think. I saw the look on your face when that youngster entered the room. I know that look.” He said. “When it comes to that fourteen year old’s protection, you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t stand on the side of some pedophile who believes that it’s perfectly alright to rapechildren.”
Still calm, I said, “Pedophiles don’t rape children. Rapistsrape children.”
“Funny…I don’t see much of a difference.”
“Most don’t.” I said. “You like women, don’t you?”
“Damn right, I do…”
“Well, tell me, Charlemagne…have you ever thought about rapingone?”
His face folded up into a look of utter disgust. “No. I’m not some sick freak, like you are….”
I turned to look at him, scars and all. “Well, how do I know that? I mean you have an attraction for women, right? Isn’t that your goal? Your ultimate fantasy?” I asked. “Isn’t that…what you stand for? How can I feel safe leaving you alone with any woman on the planet when I know that you’re attracted to them? Aren’t you the potential bad guy? Aren’t you willing to commit any vile and disgusting act to satisfy your carnal needs with someone that you find beautiful, even against their will? Aren’t you dangerously close to violating each and every single woman that is in your immediate vicinity, simply because you find them alluring? You must be some sort of an untamed monster. If your attractions were to be judged by the same standard as mine, the local villagers would be chasing you out of town with torches and pitchforks right now.” Charlemagne seemed unmoved. He stood there in silence, his eyes still burning an angry hole right through me. “People who fear my attraction do so because they think that it comes from a place with a totallack of self control. An attraction is just that…an attraction. I want love and affection and just as much of a mutually satisfying relationship as anyone else does. It’s not about power or stealing innocence or manipulation or violence. It’s about appreciating beauty and having beauty appreciate me in return. But I guess people like you will never understand that.”
“You’d guess right, sweetheart.” Charlemagne said. “Great speech. You rehearse that?” He turned to leave my office, but not before saying, “The boy is hands off. Got it? From now on, you want to talk to him, you talk to me first. Stick to that…and you and me have got no problems. I’ve got a job to do, and I don’t need to be looking over my shoulder for some underwear sniffing pervert with a deluded sense of ‘love and affection’. I only give one warning. Stay away from him.” With that, he left my office and shut the door.
Sometimes, words can move mountains. And other times…for some people…the mountains are just too big to move.
I finished cleaning up my study, and walked out into the hallway, only to feel a light tugging on the back of my shirt.
I turned to see Jericho’s smiling face behind me. “Preceptor Vicke…I’ve been working on some new ideas. I wondered if maybe you could read them over for me. I want to know what you think.”
“Certainly.” I said. “Leave them on my desk, and I will definitely get to them this weekend. I’m in the middle of an important project right now, and I’m afraid that I can’t spare any time over the next few evenings.”
“But…I want to be there when you read them.” He said. “You know…I was thinking that…maybe, one night…when you’re not busy…” He blushed slightly from embarrassment, but there was still an aura about Jericho that was so mischievous that I wouldn’t be surprised if he had taught himself to blush on command. “…Well…maybe I could come to your chambers one night, and we could read through them. Together. I amyour star pupil after all, right?”
Nervously, I searched my mind for easy ways to turn down his offer. But it was at that moment that I saw a figure walking out into the middle of the hallway. He was too tall to be one of our halflife students. He had long, greasy looking, brown hair, hanging down to the collar of a long black trench coat. He had a rather full five o’clock shadow on his chin, and he stood still once he saw that I had spotted him.
“Excuse me?” I said. “Can I help you?”
The man didn’t say a word. He simply walked forward again…and when he came to the door sealing off the next wing of the underground school…his body became a soft gelatinous liquid….and he slid right under it.
“Who was that?” Jericho asked me.
“Listen to me very carefully. I want you to hurry over to Mage McClaren’s office as fast as you possibly can and tell him that we have an intruder. He’ll know what to do.”
“GO! Now!” I said, and watched as Jericho took off running towards the Mage’s office. I went back into my study and took a hold of my scribe. The bladed one, not the one used for traditional practice. I knew that I was going to need it. As I said before, after all I’ve been through…
…I know an assassinwhen I see one.