I felt the resonance and there was an aroma too. I'm not sure if the smell was truly there. It might have just been in my mind, yet it was so real... a fire, a campfire... more like an ancient hearth, all woodsy and rich. The ghost beyond the pond moved towards me. and I never saw a human like shape. The presence was never more that a softly glowing smear. But it passed over the water. I could see its reflection on the surface. Ponds can be so still. Nothing, no sound save the
crickets. I was alone in the forest with this thing, but I wasn't afraid. Ghosts never scare me. They are not monsters, simply people who've lost their bodies. Soldiers lose limbs all the time. They just lost a little more.
The shimmering, silvery essence moved toward me. Maybe it would be more accurate to say it expanded til I was within it. That's when I knew who it was. We are more than hands and feet and faces and breath. We are more than those transitory things. I (Tomas) know, for I was dead, or something very much like it. The soul is real. And that's the truth.
The twenty eight thousand year old being who made me was back. 'Papa' had returned. I said it. I said the word. I said - Papa.... Barely a whisper, but he heard it and he said my name too. He said - Jonathon... He always calls me Jonathon, the name I was born with.... And at the sound of it he began to condense. The fog that was his essence drew in like an inhalation. I heard the sigh and he was there, seated on the ground right near me, dressed in soft suede garments such as Indians might have worn, or perhaps a neolithic man from ice age Europe... Well, that's what he was.... a stone age shaman. The powerful ones were all life-eaters. They thought it was an honor. Clansmen and clanswomen near death were 'taken in' by the shaman. Their blood became his blood. In that way they lived on, advising, recommending... a day to day presence. Of course the shaman hid from the sun, so the people worshiped the moon. At least she was their major deity. 'The Fire That Doesn't Burn' she was. And the fact that they who were 'taken in' by the life-eater, after the blood was gone, ignited into a cool, blue flame and rose up to the sky as large, papery ashes proved the truth of it. The moon was silvery gray because it was covered by the ashes of all gone before. Life-eaters are consumed in a like manner when their time comes.
In two hundred and seventy centuries 'Papa' had never made another. Jonathon (also known as Tomas) was the first. Thus his blood was very strong and in ten centuries he did many things. But vampires make mistakes. That's why the born-witch, known as Pig Blood Something or Other killed him.
True, he was back as a human. Doctor Franklin and his unique take on science could do that. But he wanted more. The eighteen year old boy who longed for a pure, clean, mortal life missed his powers. Papa knew that. Papa knew almost everything.
So Jonathon (also known as Tomas) looked to the other and said - Where have you been?..... The being inhaled and said - I have been to other places... Jonathon nodded. He knew not to push....But he did whisper - Did Edith call you?... Papa shook his head and said - Shells, bones, incantations mean nothing. Power is power and toys are toys, at least to me and those like me.
Then he said - Come. It must be done..... So there under a cool, September moon, deep in The Pine Barrens, Jonathon regained the power and became what he was. Papa drank from his wrist and he drank from Papa's. Though the ageless shaman drank first, for the mortal link must be drained nearly dry for the magic (if it is magic) to work. And the circle was unbroken for four thousand heartbeats. That which was lost was restored. Jonathon was mortal no more...
Though he still had to go through the shedding of his skin. He still had to go through 'first food.' And before each and every cell of his body was transformed, he could couple with a living woman and create a human line.... if that was his desire.
Then he got up and went with Papa to a cave used by a Piney shaman of sorts... to the place where the 'Talks To God' man lives. That's where he'd wait. That's where it would happen.
And in the hours before dawn the People of The Pines, including The Red Paint families, knew a vampire had been born among them. Those strange creatures known as Jersey Devils knew too. Perhaps it was telepathy, or the cricket song? Who cared?
The Pines knows many things
<more next time>
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