You would think that after all of this time in darkness, the pains of that life before, would just fade away to a distant memory, like something out of a half forgotten dream…but that’s not how things ever work, at least not for me. Whenever I reach a point where I believe I’ve found happiness and joy, it always comes crashing back down on me; his voice calls out to me, it calls out for me to save him…save him from himself. Dear God how it hurts, losing him was why I came over to the darkness in the first place…
It was five years ago, back when I still lived in sunlight and had some sense of normality in my life; I was 27 then, though fortunately I looked more like I was 20 or so, and worked as a teen counselor at The Center, Denver’s answer for a GLBT community group. I had been there for a couple of years, and had truly enjoyed it, I always felt like I was actually making a difference I was helping these poor tortured souls to find some kind of meaning in life, and a desire to start really living it again. It was so gratifying to see the faces of young boys and girls, who not so long ago were on the verge of simply ending it all, smiling, laughing and being happy. Then on day I saw a face I hadn’t expected to see, hell to be honest I never in all of my life would have expected to see him there.
He was about 17 years old, 6 foot tall, with tastefully cut dark brown hair, with smooth olive skin, and deep brown almond shaped eyes, his name was Nick, and once upon at time I had been his baby sitter. I could still see him as that innocent looking, but never really quite that innocent, little 10 year old boy. I can still remember him begging me to buy him his first Playboy to look at, what can I say I was a sucker for the kid Needless to say, I thought that there there was no way he would ever be caught dead doing anything remotely “gay” and yet there he was, and there I was. For a brief moment I was terrified that he would recognize me, and even more terrified that he wouldn’t, but it was all gone when his eyes met my, his anxiety and nervousness melting away as he ran over to me throwing his arms around me in a bear hug like he did when he was little.
“Ducky, I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been looking all over for you,” he whispered. Let me clarify something here. No, my name is not “Ducky”, nor did I choose that nickname, in fact it came about when I was baby sitting Nick and his older brother Alan and they decided that I needed a nickname, so they came up with the most random one they could think of. So from that point on, I was no longer Ric Douglas to them, I would forever be know as Ducky. But all of that mattered very little at that point, as all of those distant memories of our happy times together flooded and almost overwhelmed me. I had to take a deep breath to steady myself before I suggested we go to my office and talk. He had nodded in agreement, but refused to release me from his hug, which was quite awkward, considering he was now towering over my little 5’5” frame, but somehow we managed.
When we finally reached my office, I had him sit down on the small second hand sofa I had on had, just for cases like these. While he got comfortable, I went to the receptionist to have my appointments rescheduled, and then joined him on the sofa, where he had suddenly withdrawn himself into “his too cool to care” attitude.
“So Nick, what brings you here? I mean, I never expected to see you here, don’t get me wrong I am thrilled you came, but it is kind of unexpected…“
“I’m not gay.” He replied somewhat coldly. I have to admit he had me fairly confused, but it wouldn’t be the first time something like this had happened.
“I see, so then what brings you down here?”
“I came to see you. I…”
“It’s ok Nicky, you can tell me anything, just like always anything you and I discuss stay just between you and me.”
He got up and paced around the room for a moment then came and sat back down, this time closer to me, the frustration was clear on his face, I was about to try and prompt him and maybe get him to start talking, when he got up and paced the room some more before sitting back down nearly in my lap.
“Ducky, I missed you. A lot…”
“I missed you too Nicky, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to come around more, but you moved on to middle and high school, while I got caught up in finishing my own schooling, and then I started working here…” a faint smile on his face helped stop my diarrhea of the mouth. Fuck ! I was a professional! What the hell was I doing rambling on like this. God, it was like his very presence was fogging up my mind and zapping my willpower.
“Not like I missed you. *sigh* Why does this have to be so fucking hard?! Look, I’ve fucked up a lot lately, and I don’t know what tomorrow might bring…I might not ever see you again, and I wanted to say thank you for being such a happy part of my life.” I opened my mouth to speak only to have him shake his head and continue. “This is hard enough to get out, so please just let me finish and then I’ll be on my way.” He took a deep breath then continued, “I’m sure mom didn’t tell you that Alan got sent to prison, I thought not. That dumb fuck thought it would be fun to hot wire the principal’s car and take it for a joy ride Long story short, he got busted and they really threw the book at him. He got 5 years for it, the stupid fuck. Well, when he got busted mom got really over protective of me, I’m sure you can guess how I reacted to that,” He stood up and paced some more.
“Look, I just want to thank you, and wish you the best for the future. I gotta go,” He had one hand on the door as I turned him around to face me.
“Nick, you went through a lot of trouble to find me. Are you sure you only came here to tell me about Alan, and to thank me? Man, we can talk as long as you want, and about anything you want, I’m here for you. I’ll always be here for you. You know that,”
His eyes welled up a little as a small smile crossed his face, he pulled me into a tight hug and gave me a light kiss on the lips. I was too stunned to react, and he didn’t give me anytime to actually get my wits about me.
“Ok, maybe I’m a little gay, but that’s just between me and you,” He gave me that mischievous smile I remembered well from so long ago. “I really need to be going. You take care of yourself, ok? And thank you,” with that he strode out of the Center and out of my life, for you see the next day I got a phone call. It was from the Louisville Police Department, they wanted me to come over to the station, they weren’t very specific as to why, just that it was very important that I came over.
Nervousness and anxiety had a hold of me the whole drive over, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the Louisville PD wanted to see me, I hadn’t been in that city for at least 2 years, but then I saw her, Suzy, Nick’s mother. I knew then that something was very very wrong. Her face was all red and puffy like she had been crying for some time, and Suzy was a tough single mom who never let life get the better of her, so seeing her such a state, set my nerves on edge. It was even worse when she came over to me and cried on my shoulder while I held her. I was too out of my depth to say anything, I just held her and let her pour out her pain. When the tears stopped I whispered,
“Suzy? What is it? What’s happened?”
“Mr. Douglas? I’m Detective Kelley with the juvenile division, why don’t you and Mrs. Thurman come in my office for a moment,” I dumbly followed sitting down across the desk from the Detective.
“Mr. Douglas, this morning Mrs. Thurman found this note, and your business card in a sealed envelope taped to the outside of her son’s room,”
I felt my throat go dry, and I picked up the note with shaking hands
Mom and Ducky,
I’m so sorry that it has come to this. I just don’t know what else to do, things are so out of control now…it’s the only way.
I don’t want you to think that you’ve done anything wrong, I have never been happier than when I was with you two. But with Alan gone, and my life just making no sense right now…it’s the only way…
Ducky I wanted to tell you the truth, I honestly did, but the words, the pain, it all just refused to come out. Mom, I’m sorry. Good Bye.
“Oh my God,” I breathed as tears sprang unbidden from my eyes. He was gone. Here I was the fucking professional and I had FAILED him! I let my personal feelings cloud my judgment so that I didn’t see the signs. I should have been there for him. He needed me to talk to, to release that pent up pain and anguish…
“I’m afraid we still don’t know where he is—“
“Wait what?” I croaked out giving the detective a confused look.
“Mr. Douglas, the only thing we found this morning was that note. Nick is no where to be found. We have him classified as a runaway for the moment—“
*6 Months later*
Finding Nick had become my sole obsession in life, I couldn’t just let someone I cared for so much, just up and disappear forever like that…no, I had to find him; everything else was just a secondary distraction when it came to finding Nick and bringing him home safe and sound. I had traveled all over Colorado finding only the faintest trails here and there, which really could have lead anywhere, but they lead me to Chicago, to a seedy bar in the not so good part of town. All I had been able to learn was that he had come to the city, he may or may not have actually come into the bar but that was it, no one was sure if they had seen him or not, the trail had gone cold. For some reason, I remember glancing at the calendar on the wall, March 23, how fitting, the day I lose him presumably forever, was the same day he had come into this world in the first place. This was my last lead, another dead end. I finally decided enough was enough, I would go back to my hotel room,get freshened up and maybe that would help me see things more clearly.
Over those six months I guess I had really neglected myself, eating maybe once a day, sleeping in fits and spurts, always traveling on around town foot. I remember the man looking back from the mirror appearing like the scruffy ghost of the man I once was, but yet once I showered and shaved I could see something else. What little I had had of a spare tire was gone, I had become very lean and firm, almost the same runners build I had in high school, and I could have laughed if the reason behind my transformation hadn’t darkened my eyes. It was time to move on. Six months of a wild goose chase was long enough, it was time to put an end to this, I was going to go back to that bar and drink. Drink, yes I can still remember that unyielding urge to drown in a bottle of something, anything really; just something to chase the ghosts away and leave my mind free from the torment that had consumed me.
Before I knew it, I found myself back in that seedy bar drinking silent toasts to the memory of a boy I had failed and lost forever. I must have been there drinking from the moment they opened to the moment they closed, because the bouncer had to escort me out onto the street. I wondered aimlessly through the darkened streets and grungy back allies. I must have traveled some way, because I had become so completely and utterly lost that I started to panic a little, and then there was a change in the atmosphere…something was different…something just wasn’t right. I tried to be alert, but as gone as I was it just wasn’t going to happen. I was going to be someone’s prey and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Maybe that’s what I had been looking for…and easy way out and away from the pain, away from the loss that permeated my being, who knows. All I know is that I had no time to react when a pair of strong firm hands grabbed me from behind pinning me as they tilted me head exposing my neck to one side…and then came the frenzied passing of my life’s essence as a pair of fangs drove deep in my neck taking the last thing in this universe that was truly mine.
It didn’t hurt so bad, not to begin with anyway, in fact it had seemed almost tender the way my murderer stole my life from me, as though he somehow cared for me. I could have sworn that he had even carried me away from the scene of my death, then set me stumbling on a path whispering some kind of instructions. It’s all so fuzzy now, all I can remember was the sudden burst of burning pain, that indescribable pain, I wasn’t sure how could anyone live through such pain. But I knew that I had to get past the pain, it was the only way to survive…But did I really want to survive? Was there any reason left for me to live? There had to have been, otherwise I would have given into the pain hours ago when he first drained me…I can remember thinking how it would be so much easier if the world around me would just stop spinning so fast, then I would be able to follow this path to safety just like he told me to, I was just sure of it.
If I had had a voice left I would have cried out “Dear Lord what did I do to deserve this agony?” But as it was I could barely stand upright without falling over, so running for it hadn’t even been an option…the world had come up for me again, and this time there was no way for me to stop it. “Oh God why am I falling again?” my mind begged as the hard earth came in contacted with my tortured body. I was sure that I’d had it for sure this time…I couldn’t see, the whole world had gone dark. I tried to decide whether it was a good thing or not maybe it meant that it’s almost over, and I would be free of the torment. Maybe I was being called home as the pain was dulling, the darkness taking me for my last sleep. At least the pain was leaving…but then came a voice, I was sure it had to be some kind of trick. Why would I have been hearing a voice at a time like that? The darkness nearly had a hold of me, I still couldn’t understand why I would be hearing voices just then? I can’t remember what it said for sure, but I know that I had no longer wanted to give in to the darkness, No sir, I knew I had to fight, and fight with every fiber of my being otherwise I would lose everything all over again. I couldn’t just give up on Nicky like that, he would have wanted me to be strong and find the strength to stop falling.
“Dawn…dawn is breaking,” another voice had croaked, had that really been my voice? I can’t remember for sure, but I knew that if I could just stop falling I could find my way into the church before dawn and I could be a peace at last. Why did I say those words “Dawn is breaking’? Maybe something inside me knew he should be afraid of the coming dawn, maybe my mind thought it would scare him off….
“He’s been attacked,” came a voice from without the swirling void of pain and darkness.
“Help me get him inside, he’s already started the crossover…dawn is almost here,” I knew it. I had to be dying, but I yet I couldn’t figure out why he would care about the dawn as much as I did? All I wanted was to get into the church and let my spirit pass into the new dawns beautiful light…the pain was nearly gone now, it won’t have been long and I would have passed into the great beyond. I couldn’t believe I was so weak of mind, body and spirit to just give up and die.
“Don’t give up the fight. Your spirit is still strong, you jus have to find the strength within, and you will be reborn,” I can still hear that sweet voice, oh how often I had longed to hear that voice again, these past six months. How could I let him down like this? How could I just give up like this? I’ve got to be strong, strong for him.
“Stay strong and we shall be together again” I was so puzzled by that, had it meant that Nicky had already passed on, and that I would soon be joining him? I didn’t really have much time to consider before a new wave of determination filled me. I would be strong. I would survive this no matter what happened, not matter who I would become in the end. I would not let him down again.
The pain came back, but somehow it was different, somehow it actually felt good, like the blood rushing back into a limb after it had fallen asleep. I could feel the life rushing back into me, the pain was terrible, but at the same time it was so exhilarating.
“JJ! Hurry! I think he’s waking up!”
I bolted upright in what must have been a bed, my breath was coming out in panicked gasps. I was in agony, but somehow it was different. Everything about me just felt different…I was sure I could feel every fiber of the coarse wool blankets covering me, I could even hear the sweat trickle down my face. Terror took me as I wondered what horrors would I find if I opened my eyes, would I be dead and see the face of God? Would I wake up in someChicagohospital with no idea how I got there, or for that matter who I even was? I decided it was worth the risk, I had to open my eyes, and be brave, to face whatever the challenges were that were waiting for me.
“I think he’s going to open his eyes, dim the lights,” a voice whispered, I knew he was whispering but it sounded as clear to me as though he were talking in a normal voice. I couldn’t help but wonder why he would want to dim the lights. Was he hiding something from me? I had reasoned that if they were whispering and changing the lights, I wasn’t going to wake up dead after all.
A gentle hand rested lightly on my shoulder, I could feel the very rush of blood within his veins. “Take it easy, we’ve dimmed the lights so you can have some time for your eyes to adjust. Just open them slowly and carefully. I want you to know that you’re with friends here, and we’re going to try help you. Just remember to slowly open you eyes and stay calm,” Something about the voice, and the hand on my shoulder put my mind more at ease, sure it could have been a trick, but it hadn’t felt like it. I was sure I could trust this person, no matter what.
I had slowly eased my eyes open, only to have them assaulted with brilliant shapes and colors that I never could have thought possible, it was so exotic, so beautiful, that it had hurt to look. I quickly snapped my eyes back shut. A soft laugh came from beside me followed by the loving voice, “It’s ok, just take your time, the shock will be less each time you open your eyes.” I immediately knew he was right, I opened my eyes in a quick succession of blinks finding the pain fleeing after each new blink. It was amazing I could see every detail of everything around me, and all the while I was sitting in near total darkness. I could only imagine what it would be like in the light. Slowly my mind began to function on its own again; I could breathe and blink without having to concentrate on doing them. I moved my body, slowly at first, feeling as though I had just finished running a marathon. But with each breath I could feel the fatigue slowly melt away, I knew I was alive, and for the most part fully intact, it was a miracle.
A smiling face handed me a glass of water, I took it with a smile of gratitude, guzzling it down so fast it hardly registered in my mind that I had drank anything at all. I glanced at my bedside table where two more glasses of water sat; I quickly guzzled them each down in quick succession. I could hear soft snickering around me as I sheepishly put the last empty glass back on the table. “Thanks,” I muttered.
“You are most welcome. I’m glad to see you awake. You’ve been asleep for quite some time, longer than usual and we were getting a bit concerned.”
“How long was I asleep?” I asked still trying to get my brain to cooperate.
“Roughly, six and half weeks, even for someone busy crossing over, that’s a long time…”
“Six and half weeks!” I shouted, which only served to bring new agony to my newly sensitive ears.
The hand on my shoulder gently squeezed comfortingly as the smiling voice answered, “Six and half weeks. A long time for sure, but it looks like everything went well. As far as I can tell your crossover went without a hitch.”
“Crossover?” I asked completely confused.
“Yes, your crossover my friend. I’m afraid you have joined the ranks of those of us living in eternal night, the living undead…in short you have crossed over into the world of vampires.”
I can still feel the utter astonishment I felt then. VAMPIRES! There was no way, vampires were just myths and legends when I looked up at my caretaker, I could hardly believe my eyes, there stood a boy no more than 18 if that, with light brown hair, and easy smile and…and golden glowing eyes. I could feel my jaw drop to the floor.
“Yes my friend Vampires are real, and for good or ill, you are one of us now. But let me say this before you start accusing any of us of turning you, none of us here were sire. I have searched the sanctuary to see if someone popped out for a ‘donation’ and had to leave before they finished the job, but I haven’t found anyone here who could have done it.”
I looked up at this boy seeing the honesty in his eyes, and I couldn’t help but say, “I believe you. Do you know what happened to me?”
“I was hoping you could tell us, when we found you, you were in pretty bad shape. We couldn’t get anything out of you at all. You tried to say something but your strength was so far gone, that even we couldn’t understand what you were trying to say. We decided we would bring you here to, well frankly, either crossover and join us, or at the least pass on in some relative comfort and peace,”
“I see. So none of you can tell me how or why this happened to me? Or even who I am?” involuntary tears began to surge out of my eyes. I was so lost in a world I didn’t understand, and had no real sense of self. What was I going to do?
“Shhh, it’s alright. Sometimes it’s better not to remember who we used to be, if for no other reason than it makes our lives here in darkness just a little bit easier to handle. Let’s think of this as a new beginning, rebirth of sorts, a completely fresh start, so why don’t we see about getting you a name? What name can you remember?”
I thought about it for a moment and for some reason the same name kept popping up in my head.
“Call me Duke,”
He smiled at me and said, “Very well Duke, Today is May 4th, and shall forever be the date of your new birth into darkness. Happy Birthday Duke,” He gave me fatherly hug and a kiss on the fore head. For the first time that I could remember, I was at peace. It was such an odd feeling considering I had no idea who I was or where I came from before that moment, but at the same time I just didn’t care.
* Five Years Later *
It’s hard to keep track of time when you are a vampire, forever stuck in the body of what appeared to be a 20 year old boy, I will admit that I am grateful that I was in as good of shape as I was in, and well, I looked as good as I did when the cross over happened. Whenever I looked in the mirror I was happy to see my hair was just the right length, and just the right color, not pimples or massive blemishes. In fact I looked like I had been all dolled up for a night on the town, who knows maybe I had been when my “sire” found me. I stood about 5’5”, slim trim runners build, just a dusting of hair in all the right places, light brown hair that had once been a dirty blonde, cut short and styled just the way I liked it. My eyes had been an amazing blue-gray color, the kind of color you only see on crazy people ranting on the streets, of course that had been before my eyes found their “glow”. Once again I had been most fortunate that there were some vampires who made optrix who were staying at the sanctuary and were able to replicate my eye color exactly. I’d have to admit there were worse ways to spend eternity, so I was happy that fate had been kind in that regard.
I spent most of my time helping JJ with new comers to the sanctuary; I helped them get their quarters, clothes, and that sort of stuff; that was of course until my extra decided to show up one day. I had been guiding this young 12 year old boy to his room for the day, when all of the sudden I just felt the need to hug him and whisper to him that everything was alright. Needless to say it shocked both of us, but the shock soon faded as he returned the hug and quietly wept into my shoulder. You see my gift came as a sort of emotional intuition; I can pick up on the emotional need that a person at a given moment; at that particular time, he had just needed a big brother to love him and comfort him, and I was more than willing and able to oblige.
When I explained what happened to JJ, he put me to work counseling a lot of the younger new bloods, helping them find their strength, giving them the comfort they needed. It was extremely satisfying helping those young ones grow into themselves, and it felt strangely familiar and comforting. It swelled my heart to know that I was the one they confided in when they started to get hungry, that I was the one that held their hand until they had the courage to feed for themselves, that I was the one to simply hold them when the flood of emotions threatened to over whelm them after their first couple of donors.
To be truthful, I was shocked how easy feeding came to me, maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t remember much about my human life, maybe I was just a cold blooded killer at heart, who knows? I just knew that it ultimately helped me survive and helped me help others to survive.
I could almost say that I was just happy most of the time, which did seem odd to me, but I wasn’t going to complain. I loved our little sanctuary, which was more of a refugee camp than an actual sanctuary with a fix location. We’d travel from place to place only laying down roots when we picked up newbloods starting their crossover and needing a place of safety, like I had. We would always find some old church or mission or some “hallowed ground” and build a safe place to stay. JJ and some of the older vampires would always be on the look out for those in need, and for all threats that may mean our little camp would have to “bug out” in a hurry.
I remember it being my birthday, and I had been headed to our little group counseling area, when I felt it, it was like a presence in my mind and I couldn’t figure out what it was, I tried to ignore it at first, but soon it became like and itch that was just out of reach to scratch. I ended our session early and wandered around our camp aimlessly, then I heard his voice in my head, crystal clear and pleading. I looked over and there he was, in our infirmary, suffering from a number of nasty wounds, but it wasn’t the wounds that drew me to him, it was his face. I knew recognized it, but try as I might I could not figure out why or how I knew him, but then a wave of pain swept over him forcing his gentle almond shaped eyes open wide as he grunted through the pain, the a strange look of recognition had come to his face, something like relief and overwhelming joy flooded him, which threw my emotional balance into a whirlwind, I sat down with a huff right next to his bed as he whispered,