Rite To Live

I lifted myself away from the dead clutches of the corpse I’d met the night before.  He had been more than a morsel and his ample weight had carried plenty to quench my thirst.  Whilst lean and fit men have the most delicious blood there is something about the fat ones that always puts me in mind of sweet, clotted cream.

I moved across to the washbasin and began to clean my face with water, watching the liquid run down the drain pulling long, crimson strands with it.  I was jolted from this cleansing ritual by a strange feeling.  The unnatural rhythm of my heart began to beat faster.  It was as if something had brushed against the thin hairs of my arm, pulling them back.

I moved through the dingy room of the inn, past my forever sleeping companion and pulled open the grey curtains.  The sun was not yet up but the darkness was beginning to give way to a pale blue.  I attributed my nervousness to the approaching dawn and decided upon a breakfast snack.

It was then that the feeling struck me once more and I turned thinking, for the briefest moment, that I saw a figure sat upon the chest of drawers.  Closer inspection revealed nothing and my tongue was beginning to tingle.

I pulled back the darkened bed covers and placed my hand on the dead man’s furry belly, running my fingers through the hair.  He was like a hot water bottle in the morning, possessing a soft warmth.

I trailed one hand down his thigh whilst my tongue ran across his stubble.  Then I rolled on top of him, gripping his unrestrained head and tore at his jugular.

I do so like to indulge myself.

*****

Michael this one was called.  We had met at a masquerade ball.  It was full of snobs and inbreds.  The evening had firmly set in as we entered his home.

“Come my darling,” his speech was slurred yet I could still hear that masculine tone to his voice that had first aroused my attentions.  His entire body leant on me so that I supported his weight.  He did not seem to notice this as a supernatural feat.

We began to ascend the red velvet stairs of his manse.  Michael had spoken to me of his history and ancestry, at length.  It meant I had some idea of the high quality of life he must have, but it was on seeing this richly ornamented entryway that I knew for certain I was going to enjoy the last of the evening.

“I bet you can’t wait to see the bedroom?”  He had lost almost all of that original charm.  I smiled to amuse his alcohol laced veins and helped lift him up the stairs.

Given the near unconscious state of him I doubted he could fulfill his earlier suggestions, a disappointment for some random tart he might have encountered on this night.  But I did not need such soldierly attention, the sensual contact of a hot-blooded being was enough.

We reached the top of the stairway and as he began fervently licking my neck like a loyal dog I glanced at a set of portraits that lined the hallway beyond.  As we moved along, closer to the bedroom, I studied each one.  They were evidently the ancestors from whom Michael had inherited his estate, he bore a strong resemblance to them.  I recognised another portrait and remembered it as a quite satisfying experience.

Michael was desperate now, he exuded a passionate heat, clutching and grasping at me with his soft hands.  He moved his lips up from my neck, trailing them across my cheek.  Then it was my turn to lose control, no longer could I contain my urges.

He was as rich in taste as in life.  Succulence permeated through his blood.  It was doused with fine wines, the blood thinned to little more than water.  That was fine, this night that refreshing, intoxication was what I sought.

We satiated our thirst, both of us fulfilling a physical urge.  I marveled as his fine suit became drenched, a darkness spreading through the fabric and staining his shirt beneath.  The power of alcohol and adrenaline amazed me, this man, this meat, had no idea how his tender grip of life was slowly draining away.

An oval mirror hung on the wall of this hallway, it attracted my vanity.  I enjoyed seeing the event almost as much as experiencing it.  Two figures stood in the mirror, one steady and proud, the other frantic and lustful.

I watched the slender figure of Michael as it slowly gave way to unconsciousness, slumping over an invisible force, life-blood dripping through the air, yet curving over that same invisible force.

A second figure!?  I had not noticed, so enraptured had I been.  But certainly something else had been reflected in that mirror.

I dropped the dead weight and began my exit from the manse.  My pleasure scared away by the unseemly presence.

*****

I released my caressing grip of its shoulders.  Lying it back down upon the bed and running its long black hair through my fingers.  Untangling myself from the romantic embrace I began to gather my clothes.

The fundamentals of the room were no different to before.  Drab carpets and grey curtains.  The washbasin was now made of white enamel, though a single black line arced through its surface.

I pitied the thing in the bed.  It had brought me to this hotel, eager to impress, eager to pleasure.  The place and purpose were the same.  The intent and the result were the same.  The carpet was still stained with old blood, though decayed and faded.

Once again I washed myself in the cold water.  I watched the crimson strands coalescing into a red mist as it filled the sink.  Once again I felt that strange presence.

This time it did not leave.  The feeling persisted, as though turning the air to treacle, cloying my senses.  There was something so alluring to that presence.  I laboured to breath, an unnecessary habit, I had never broken it.

“Immortality.”  The voice was deep and ominous.  It reverberated through the room and seemed to seep into my bones.  Calmly and slowly I dabbed my face dry with a nearby towel.  I knew better than to show fear.

It waited patiently in the room, unaware of the intrusion to privacy it caused.  I turned and gazed at it, maintaining an aloof air.  He, for that was at least the shape it assumed, sat cross-legged upon the chest of drawers.  He resembled a youth, quietly innocent in physical appearance but the way he carried himself betrayed an insurmountable confidence.

“Can I help you?”  I said.  He stared at me, unblinking through two pale blue eyes that resembled moons.

“You are not mortal.”

“Perhaps that is true.”  I said, moving to sit on the edge of the bed.  He continued to watch me, a silence filling the air as if only the dead were present.  I met his gaze though I feared for how long I could.  I counted time by the beat of my heart.  Though I felt he was watching it, following the rhythm.  Waiting patiently for my hourglass to empty.

“You must not exist.”  He said.  He had not moved since his appearance and when he spoke his mouth seemed to move slower than the words, as if only repeating them.

“What do you mean?”

“You have no life.”

“I learnt long ago that life itself isn’t necessary, I have no life and yet I exist.  I exist because I want to, you have no right to decide my fate.”  He turned his head, his lean form revealed the movement of every muscle and sinew, I could see the tendon in his neck.  He was looking at the thing I had left in the bed.

“What is to be his fate?”  He said, bronzed skin standing out against the muted colours of the room.

“He is dead,” I said.  “But it was necessary.”  Something twitched beneath the bedcovers at that moment, I barely noticed it focused as I was on the intruder.  I was captured within his pale gaze, nestled within the silence that emanated from his being.

It was broken in an instance as the man left in the bed sat bolt upright, his lungs bursting with the scream that hurtled forth from his throat.  His hand clutched his neck, feeling the sticky, half dried blood.  The pain seemed to give him strength and his fingernails dug into his neck, tearing at the wound.  It enlarged and burst forth great globules of blood.

The beauty of my conquest transformed into a tortured demon risen once more from Hell.  I could not allow him to continue.  I had to kill him before others heard his torment.

I snatched at his neck, squeezing his breath away with a single, forceful hand.  His long hair became entangled in the viscous blood that continued to pour from his neck.  He grabbed desperately at my hand, trying to pull away my fingers.  It was in vain for he could not hope to match my strength.  As his last strangled gasps issued from his gullet I watched his eyes roll back in his head, revealing the intricate, red web of veins that fueled them.

He was dead.  Cold murder.  It was too late, I heard shouts and movement in the hotel, probably the whole town was awake after that banshee howl.  Footsteps resounded in the corridor beyond the door.  This was a mess.  I fled into the night, an open window behind me.

 *****

“Mother!  Mother!”  The little boy cried as he stumbled through the wood.  His small feet dipped in and out of the snow.  I stood, listening to his pathetic pleas.  He moved in and out of the trees still unaware of my presence though I made no effort to conceal it.

“Mother!”  My memories were bubbling forth in my brain.  It was a long time since I had recalled an event from before.  The boy wore a scarf, pulled up over his face to protect him from the cold.  Whenever he called out he would pull the scarf to reveal a pair of small pink lips.

I had been pregnant.  Felt another life within me.  Now I could not even feel my own life.  This boy was awakening maternal instincts within me.

“Here boy!”  I called out into winter air, though my voice seemed hollow.

“Mother?”  Tears appear on the boy’s cheeks as he saw me.  His small frame ambled through the deep snowdrifts and he threw himself at my waist.  Embracing me as best his small arms could.  I knelt and returned his embrace, stroking his cheek, he did not notice the lack of natural warmth.

I had given birth.  The child I had then loved.  I didn’t know what had happened to it.

“You’re not my mother,” the boy realising his mistake attempted to untangle himself from my grip.  I stared at his face, it flushed with fear, replacing the pale blue skin with a vibrant pink.  My first child was gone, I would have another, feel the intimate connection of blood.

I ripped the scarf away and covered his mouth with my palm.  I do not know if the boy struggled, I wouldn’t have noticed, he would have been insignificant.

“You have no death,” the voice returned, shattering the pristine winter scene the same as scarlet now stained the white land.  I let the small thing fall from my hold to the cold earth.

“I know you are a god.  But I do not know who you are.  Will you not tell me?”

“You have no death,” The voice repeated.

“I do not need death,” I said, standing.

“Death does not need you.”

“I am fine with that.  I resist death more successfully than any other being.  Death calls for me daily and every time I forbid it to take me.”

“You trade whole lives for your false life.”  I could see him now, stood in the shade of a tree.  He stood still, bronze skin revealed in the harsh wind.  His hair was wild and shaggy like a wolf and his pale moon eyes watched me unceasingly.

“That is survival, all creatures do it.  The plants are eaten by the animals, those animals are eaten by bigger animals.  The humans are no different to me, they kill those animals to survive.  I kill the humans to survive, that is the way of life.  Predation is existence.”

“You are not life.”  He said.

“Neither are you,” I replied.  “A god is the same though, you live…or exist forever, taking lives as you please.  We are no different.”  I was looking down at the empty, human shell now.  I did not notice the immortal leave.  Instead I watched the snow settle over the corpse.  Then I stepped over it.

 *****

The station was devoid of life.  The heavens hovered above us, an array of power and beauty, guiding the lives of mortals.  The train tracks stretched into the distance, disappearing beyond my vision.  I was beginning to feel that science had a greater place in this world.

“You must not exist,” he said.  Standing on the opposite platform.  Brick and mortar where the order of the day, uniform houses built in blocks ruled the landscape.

“But I do exist,” I said.  We embodied history itself, imposing on this new reality.

“It is time to remove you.  You neither live nor die, you are an abomination.”

“Why have you allowed me to exist this long then?”  Grease and oil laced the air, snaking into my nose.

“I was…curious.  I watched you.”  He did not move but I could feel his presence grow stronger.  A series of howls sprang up throughout the city.  The dogs called for my elimination.  My body weakened, I could not move.  It felt as though a hand rested on every inch of my body, restraining with minimal effort.              “Who are you!?”  I uttered, barely capable of facial contractions.

“I am Anubis.”  In the starlight the youth looked older, tired.

“Then you must understand.  You know the path of all creatures.  I kill because I must.

“Creatures have a choice, though you and they regard death as an end, it is but a beginning.”  He turned his gaze heavenward for a moment.  “You however, have passed death.  You have avoided your beginning.  You should not exist.”

My skin was dry.  My heart had stopped.  I was numb.  His power engulfed me within a void.  A train approached, humming as vast quantities of energies flowed through its mechanical veins.

“You are the one who should not exist.  Judging these mortals.  Choosing their fate for no reason.  Killing indiscriminately and unnecessarily!”  My words were cut short as the train blocked my vision.  Carrying the wind with it, which snatched at my figure.  Pieces of me fell away, crumbling into the air.  A scattering of ashes.

“It is necessary.”

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