Twenty-six – A Glimpse into Hell
Whether Vlad had been a little rusty or he was just not used to such disruption in his presence, I know not. If my brain was struggling to process any one single line of sensory input before my brother had slain Billy, with the spell broken that had held my sister in paralysis and my vampire bride-to-be and tutor thus far seemingly not knowing which way to turn for the best, I could feel my brain starting to turn into, for want of a better word, mush.
That haunting choir from whichever chasms of the Earth they inhabited beyond this chamber struck up their malevolent melody once more, as if Vlad’s anger was the conductor to their tempo and choice of refrain. In a whoosh, my brother’s clothes burnt to a cinder and he was left naked as Perveen and I had been not so long beforehand.
What struck me as odd about my brother was that there was no sign of life behind his eyes. The last time I had seen them alive, or they had seen me in fact, was prior to the evening I saw him being escorted out of our room by two henchmen under Billy’s command on the other side of the grave. He neither seemed to acknowledge his current state of disrobement nor had he recognised mine or our sister’s presence in this chamber before, during or since he had spliced Billy’s head with the vampire’s own throwing axe. Not on a perceptible level, at least. All I can suspect is that, as the eldest sibling, a sense of human responsibility not vanquished through whatever metamorphosis had caused his current flux had risen to the surface to protect us in our hour of need.
Yet even now, his vegetative state remained – the lights were on but Mr Brain’s inhabitants were either off on a picnic or had circumvented my brother’s passage to this side of the grave somehow. Perhaps he had been made a trampire, as Perveen had described happens when inadequate linger too long or extract too much of ‘the juice’ from their victims. If so, his attack on Billy may have been motivated by revenge and had nothing to do with either of his siblings’ predicaments. On this latest evidence, I am glad that trampires are not extinguished as soon as their condition is recognised, but offered refuge in Subterranea. Given the atrocity he had just committed, however, and under in whose presence we were, I had an ominous feeling that his life as a trampire himself would be short-lived. This was confirmed just seconds later as, reminiscent of a scene from Star Wars, my brother started choking as if being strangled by some invisible hand and his body levitated just far enough to convince me it was a death grip that held him. Yet, he did not struggle.
Vlad was doing that thing again, looking at all of us but none of us at the same time. Despite my desperation to help my brother, the Master was calling for me. His silent command was so powerful, it conveyed what may happen should I not obey. Not in a direct image or explicit words or demonstrating any pathway of events, but through the medium of colour. It was not one colour, but a horrid hue of many, like a fresh bruise surrounding a stellar nebula but emanating the threat of anger and violence. That colour combined with his reputation were enough to know that should I not obey, there would be torturous carnage. I yielded.
I see now why vampires eyes are often depicted as hypnotic. They say that our eyes are the window to our soul. How I wished that Vlad had a veil of cataract net curtains. Looking deep into his pupils I was dragged past the retinal wall in a very real and somewhat psychedelic trip, an outer body experience to play with the burning souls and dance with the daemons in the fiery pits of hell to which his eyes were a gateway. Scorched by suffering madness, daemonic delusion and ferocious flame, it was more than sanity could stand. I was on the precipice when I, erm, well, popped back into my Undead body and back into this chaotic inferno.
I had been gone but seconds yet felt aged beyond count of years. Time is just a way of measuring between appointments, a way of ticking off the corporeal days of decay from cradle to grave. I, of a sudden, understood why vampires were eternal – refusing to bow to time, that gene in the blood that gets transfused through the kiss of the vampire – they are coded to live outside of time. For all time. It is only on an earthly plane when the gene is young and needs fresh blood to truly embed the code into the Undead’s DNA, that the mortal and immortal realms overlap. I was about to be given that gene – the choice (as if I had one) was still mine; forsake it and die right there or accept it and be welcomed beyond. What was a boy to do?
Without giving myself the second option, I thrust my neck at Vlad. For one tantalising moment, I thought he would refuse it. I brought to mind the orgasmic convulsions that both Perveen and Billy had undergone upon first tasting my blood in my bedroom and on the winter bridge.
Next thing, he was inside me. Had I just controlled the lust of the most celebrated vampire of them all?
I had felt neither Billy nor Perveen pierce my flesh, even when Billy used his axe to puncture my forearm, but this was brutal. Anyone who has undergone general anaesthetic and had a cannula inserted into their vein and the instant tooth-ache effect that rips through your limbs as fluids are forced into your bloodstream will know what I mean – this was akin to that, only it was not adrenalin and anaesthetic I was being blessed with.
Up until that point, I thought I had beheld many of the attributes of this ethereal existence; however, Billy’s blessings and Perveen’s promises were but child’s play compared to this. After he had transferred the gene, Vlad drank from me, perhaps to sustain his own never-ending cycle of eternal life. I then drank from him, my first blood as a true vampire, from Vlad himself. The horrors he committed are not for this tale, suffice to say that I knew of them. I was complete.
With his blood came the essence of eternal life. Also, further instruction; to be executed with immediate effect.