Fourteen – a loony vista
We commenced our descent of the surreal spiral staircase into the turbulent mist, billowing as if somehow cognitive, yet being restrained by an even greater will. They, the ‘clouds’, were so cold my immediate thought was that they had to be concocted from a water and nitrogen mixture to form a dry ice, emanating from some hidden source. Yet, as the droplets settled on the skin the sensation sent shivers through my spine. The very mist seemed furtive, furthermore burrowed beneath this leathery vampire coating that would have passed as epidermis on humans, yet offered (us) a much more durable outer layer of skin.
Thankfully, the clouds were neither thickly-layered nor dense and we were out of the malleable mist before too long. The further we broke from the veil and twisted downwards, the more of the vampire world came into view to greet us – if any scientist from the mortal world above had set eyes upon this technological marvel, they would have happily died here. As I was to discover later, there were many that had done just that, or at least sacrificed what passed as human life, to wile away eternity in this happy play-den.
A commotion kick-started below as we approached the halfway point. It was as if a hypnotist had clicked their fingers to break the awe-inspired stupor that had beset the community below when the clouds had parted to announce our arrival at the head of the stairs some minutes hence.
The light grew (thankfully) weaker the further we meandered downwards, forever downwards, affording a better view of what I could only assume was to be my new home. Or at least base camp. The clouds above us had reformed, filtering the glare to luminosity that one would associate with a common-or-garden 100-watt bulb and for the first time I truly beheld the ingenuity, glimpsed this Eden and the potential it unwittingly proffered, stretching for mile upon impossible mile in every direction beneath the earth.
The 360° rotunda of our downward advance afforded me mesmerising vistas of the whole breath-taking world that these creatures had created or inherited or taken by force from a far more technologically advanced, or at one with nature, species than they. For whatever reason, I assumed the latter to ring truest. And I had my reasons.
The vampire community, for all I’d read of them in lore (and that was volumes), were not communal beasts, rather lone predators whose arrogance and self-import leant itself to a life of isolation and seclusion. Although sects and covens did exist and, in all instances, the strongest individual became the figurehead, the deity, of the brood.
As yet, I was still at a loss if that was or wasn’t Perveen in this instance.. If yes, then how had she achieved such prominence in the relatively short space of time that she had walked the night? As all had bowed in her path whom we’d encountered thus far I had no reason to doubt otherwise; if there was another greater, I was yet to meet them. There would surely be a leader if the scripts I placed so much unproven faith in were at least a half accurate.
I needn’t have worried; I would be the troubled scholar not much longer, now.