Chapter One: The Night I Died
The night I met Tristan and his lover Isolde was both the best and the worst night of my life. It was the last time I saw Julie, the girl I loved and wanted to marry, if she’d have me. It had been one of those nights that you remember in a relationship. We’d gone to watch the Huskies play UCLA, and afterwards we took a slow, romantic walk back to my fraternity.Our walk was filled with kisses stolen in alleys, our hands all over each other. I was so hot for her at that night that I was ready to drag her into a darkened doorway and have her right there; but I decided I’d wait until we got back to my fraternity.I had it all planned:I’d propose and then we’d do all those things we’d been whispering in the other’s ear.
Maybe that’s what I should have done, but that is all in the past. We heard some people walking behind us, but paid them no mind.Our basketball team was having a really good year and each game practically sold out.There were people walking all over campus, you could hear them talking about the game, or debating where to go to celebrate. I wasn’t worried about the footsteps behind us—not until it was too late.There was an air of celebration that everyone could feel.I expected that whoever was walking behind us would either stay behind or pass us, maybe saying something like, “Great game, man, huh?” That’s the reason I wasn’t panicking until the footsteps came too close.
Everything changed in an instant. There were four of them; two with guns, two with wicked-looking knives. Both Julie and I offered our wallets without a word; then the tallest one smiled, aimed his “Glock” and gut shot me, a guarantee that I’d die if I didn’t get help and soon. That’s what I think he intended, to watch me slowly bleed to death as I lay helpless on the sidewalk. All I knew is that as I lay waiting to die they surrounded Julie.I could not move or cry out for help as I listened to the sounds of tearing clothes and Julie screaming. Then, after a while, there was the sound of a gunshot and deathly silence.
The tall one with the lousy aim put one more bullet in me. I would have appreciated it if he had better aim and killed me. I wanted more than anything else to curl up next to Julie’s body and die at her side.Instead I lay paralyzed and bleeding to death as our assailants took off down the alley and I saw the ruins of my Julie lying there. I began to weep like a child. I should be dead, like her, with her. They had not only taken her life, they had deprived me of being able to die next to her.Why was I still alive anyway?
“You are alive so you can avenge her death.” A stranger appeared at my side, seemingly out of nowhere, and had matter of factly answered my thoughts. He had curly blond hair and in the faint lightof the alley his complexion had a pale luminescence. He squatted down next to me and stroked my forehead.I couldn’t tell if he was French or maybe French Canadian, but though he spoke excellent English, it was definitely with an accent.
Where I should have been frightened, fear had somehow disappeared.He seemed instead like an angel to my dying eyes, an angel who had come to rescue me.
“You’re dying, mon ami, but I can help you if you’re willing to pay the price.” How had he read my mind? He was offering me a chance to salvage the life that was slowly fading out of me? I wanted to live and pay those bastards back more than anything in the world. But what did he mean by “pay the price”?
He ruffled his curls, “I can help you get vengeance, or better still, give you to the tools to get your vengeance. And you will have eternal life or eternal life as I know it. It will be both a reward and a curse, but I think you would find it worth your while. You could even make those barbarians pay. But I need your consent: you must be ready to accept the consequences of your choice.”
“Price?” “Choice?” What did he mean?All I knew for certain was that my life was bleeding out of me and I didn’t want to die.I didn’t know what he planned to do, but I nodded my consent.I think he knew all along that he’d have my consent, whatever he chose to do. I was half dead, and this beautiful angel in the half-lit alley was offering me my life, and what I wanted the most--a way to avenge Julie. I was all for that, if I could truly have it, I didn’t even stop to consider what that price might be.
“I’ll have to be careful, he’s weak,” he muttered to himself, and picked me up as if I were no more than a child, and held me.Suddenly I felt something sharp sticking into my neck. Even if I’d known at the time that he was draining my blood, I was too weak and fragile to care. I was not about to let those scumbags get away with Julie’s rape and murder if I could. I was dying and he was offering me a chance to live.
Suddenly he propped me up, and then bit his own wrist. “Drink,” he urged and pushed his wrist to my mouth. What he asked seemed strange and I turned my head from him.He was insistent, telling me I had to drink or I’d die, so I gave in and began to suck the blood pouring from his wrist.
As his blood flowed into my body I felt my life force returning, I could feel his blood flowing through my veins. The bullets popped out of my body and as my wounds abruptly healed. My strength began to return as if by magic, and life coursed through me. I was overcome with a crazy urge to laugh for the joy of being alive and cry over the loss of my Julie all at once. Tears poured out of my eyes as he pulled his wrist away and bound it with a handkerchief.
I was alive! I felt a force rushing through me; the pain of Julie’s death was still fresh in my mind, but I no longer felt the intensity of it. I could feel the grief, but it somehow had pushed itself to the back of my mind. I had not been able to save her, but somehow someone had saved me.Until you are at the brink of death, then suddenly jerked away, you have no idea how I felt at that moment.
Then the pains hit, pain so intense it felt like a knife was piercing my gut. He laughed gently at me as I curled up into a ball. He laid a cool hand on my forehead and told me to be patient, it would be over soon.
He took my hand and held it.“Your body is changing; it is like a baptism that every vampire goes through when he loses his mortal life.It will pass.We’ll wait for your body to go through the change, and then I’ll take you to my house.” He held up his hand when I opened my mouth to protest and read my mind once more. “No, you can’t go back to your Fraternity. Sooner or later your roommates will know something is wrong. I’m going to take you home with me. If you choose to go back to school that will be your choice. There’s much less risk attending classes than there is living with mortals.”
How did he know about my fraternity, and Vampire?That’s what he said?He’d seemed normal sitting at my side, waiting.I knew now he was some unnatural creature, but the word “vampire” was a shock to hear.I didn’t believe in them or anything supernatural.Yet here I was, experiencing all of it.And my very existence now was proof that such things were, not a myth, and one of them had taken pity on me and given me back my life, a life that had changed forever.
Maybe someone might ask me what the transition was like.All I can tell you is I don’t know.How do you describe being dead and then coming back to life? How did I accept this sudden transition? What was it like to suddenly find myself a vampire?t he made me feel more than a little afraid.
© Marty Reeh, 2017. All rights reserved.