I remember how it all began.... there's a vision I have, about promenades along the sea wall and water-ice socials on warm summer days. Everybody all spiffed out and polished. Whole families doing the 'Four Step' as (what you would call) Ragtime issued forth from pianofortes placed out on the verandas of stately homes along the way. Odd how such different organisms developed such similar aesthetics. I suppose the universe has a set number of themes and they just recycle them. I really don't know.
My mother was so fussy. She'd go - LadyBug, get in there. Do me up good!.... And her little beetle-like maid hopped around, polishing that carapace til it shone. She had such a smooth, even, green apple surface and a regal carriage. Her people had money, you know. An uncle was a flyer and flyers were very rare among Praying Mantis People. She wore hats... jaunty, little, specially made hats, created by a milliner to Senatorial wives and all that. Some had beautiful feathers. Such a bright, yellow tongue she had too and eyes like the finest cabuchon (smooth polished) emeralds.
Please don't think we were nudists. We were not. Each wore cunning, little form fitting snoods over our external genitalia in powdery creamy oranges, yellows, or pinks. Garter-like ornaments decorated other parts of our bodies, some trailing long addendums of ribbons.
And then we marched. A cake-walk, you might call it. Families waved as we went by.. an afternoon constitutional along Mulberry Avenue. Mulberries were quite the delicacy to our kind. My father was a banker and as rich as he could be. Though what could be the point of it is quite obtuse to me. He worked so much. sisters need dowries, you know. And the traditional dowry among our kind was a house... a substantial, three windows wide, four story tall, red sandstone townhouse in The City. Believe me, they did not come cheap.... The scene I relate to you now... The Promenade, took place not in the city, but in Sea Bright, the place where we summered.
That was my life, a young, mantid boy. I sailed on the bay. I remember that. And I remember my consecration. I remember The Chapel. We marched in, all of a certain age, festooned with white ribbons. Fourteen made The Ascent with me... eight boys and six girls. I almost remember their names. The Prayer Leader called us up, one by one, presenting each a small Book of Scripture. We linked fore limbs, tongue-wagged and sat down. Then came hymns and 'the preachings.' Each of the Consecrated returned to The Rostrum and delivered a sermonette detailing all we'd learned in consecration class, plus a recitation of our good works. Families were so proud. Seven hundred and fifty thousand of your years and I remember it. I know that now... Seven hundred and fifty thousand years. I remember so much, yet still can't find my name
But I know how it stopped. I know how it ended. One day, as we frolicked on the beach, a second 'sun' broke off from its parent and plummeted toward us. No one moved.... a great, fiery, orb, expanded to the size of an incandescent island, til every part of the sky grew white as liquid iron. Steam rose all about us, as the sea itself boiled away... And then we boiled too, as our world was erased.
Why am I here and not where other faithful go? What keeps me in this place, adrift among the islands you call planets?
My 'new suit'... the one known as 'Billy' sits there tapping out the keys, though he knows not what he writes. The house is quiet. The others, being vampire are immune to the icy cold and free to haunt these old, old streets, engaged in other things.
I work the Billy thing like a puppet. Soon he'll be my coat. No, more than that. He'll be my skin. I'll see the world through mortal eyes and therein lies the prize.
<next time --- the possession>
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