Friday, December 16, 2011


Lailah began to remember, or perhaps it is more accurate to say she began to understand. True, she described some of the basic imagery to her father, but that was just talk. She was glad to be safe and home in her own bed. Few vampirinas have that. And even though the world, or some of the people in it, now acknowledge their presence, that's only a veneer. Doesn't go much deeper than urbane liberals in big cities and rebellious young people everywhere else. The rest of them, especially now that life is so rotten, would really enjoy a good auto-da-fe. But what about the vampires fighting on the front lines? - you ask. Well, what about them? The military types work with them because they need help and the life-eaters have certain useful talents. If the research and development guys could figure out how to synthesize those 'magical' abilities, new friends would be soon forgotten.

The Chevalier Jean Michel takes Lailah out walking. The City of Jerusalem is oddly peaceful now. Actually, it was never exceptionally violent. The Sacred Mist enveloping the place took care of that. But denominational resentments simmered just below the surface. Each group fantasized about a world without the 'other.'  The feeling laid low in some, but it was still there.

Every street corner had an oil drum and every drum had a fire. Used to call them 'bum' fires in the U.S.. But they weren't the only ones who gathered 'round the warmth. Laborers and guys who worked outside used them too.  They made winter bearable. Now it was winter everywhere. Soon, if things went on like this, it would be worse than winter. But people were friendly. Everybody helped each other. It's like they 'got it' all of a sudden. I guess a good confrontation with death-dealing, indifferent, god-like aliens can do that. But this, after all, is Jerusalem. In other places they were hacking each other with rusty shovels.

Lailah carried a little flashlight. So did her French, vampirino companion. It's not that they needed them so much. Vampires have natural night vision. But it made them less obvious. And you never know what people might do. Why advertise for trouble? She told her father she wasn't 'culling' now, just a little drink here and there. Nothing fatal. Everyone survived. But that was a lie. It's strange. Even though they could not see the moon, they still felt it. Every month came the 'need.' And seventeen hours ago, she felt it. They found a man looting sacred objects. Some were from a synagogue. A few were from a church. Silver goblets used for ritual libations. God knows where he thought he'd sell them. They descended on him in a dark chapel. I don't know who he thought they were. Like I say, vampires were 'around,' but most people didn't 'see' them. Kind of like illegal (human) aliens used to be in the U.S. and France. Was there a vision? Did they see him in a dream? No. But he was bad and they were hungry, whether for the blood, or the life, I can't say. I used to think I understood them. It's me. It's Zebulon, in case you want to know. Only now, I'm not so sure. The guy tried to fight them off.... You know how futile that is? He threw his satchel down on the slate pavers and tried to scramble away in the darkness. But Jean Michel grabbed his ankle and lifted him up, as Lailah cradled his head and tore into the neck. The aristocratic, thousand year old Gallic warrior let her have the lion's share, making due with a few choice bites from other vulnerable areas.When they were done, illumination from the pale, blue flame , the spontaneous combustion that consumes all vampire victims, lit up the little holy place. They picked up goblets, returning them to the satchel. Maybe her father would know what to do with them.

Afterward they talked. She told him the entities did not know how old they were, or how they came to be so omnipotent. They just drifted through the galaxies 'rearranging things.' She asked what they were truly like and she felt the god-like alien version of wry laughter. Corporal 'bodies' were conjured as needed, witness the threatening organisms on Europa. The well meaning manta ray people are so childlike...intelligent, but viscerally simple. They might very well have understood the truth, but why complicate matters? So scaly 'paladins,' not so different than Jean Michel's Crusader henchmen, moved among them. Enough said. On to the next question. What does the 'world' feel like to them? she asked. The answer surprised and troubled her, for they told her she already knew that. It feels just as the world feels to a vampire as he sublimates, however they exist in a permanent state of sublimation. And when she shared this with Jean Michel, he nodded, for he understood it too.....


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