Cross your heart (hope to die)


Prologue

The language, you see, isn’t important. It’s the sentiment. Or scent-he-meant, as my maker liked to quip.

It never ceased to amuse him, God bless his tortured soul, whichever dimension it was dispatched to.

Those gurgling screams and greedy, gobbling flames of damnation that silenced them.

How the blaze crackled and spat in fury, claiming back that ‘gift’ which an abomination of Nature has bestowed upon our kind.  For we chosen few, that Trojan Horse has rendered Heaven and Hell places that shall remain as much folklore unto us as we are to you.

My maker’s twisting, clawing silhouette is burnt onto my retina, the roar of the inferno that consumed his immortal soul shall haunt me until the day I… for a very long time.

Was it I who’d built the pyre around his shallow grave in some trance-like pre-dusk hypnosis? I sincerely do not recall. Moreover, it matters not; the deed is did, the demon dead.

But enough of the then and the gruesome echoes from the gateway to the underworld that still resonate around what remains of my mind.

It’s this moment we live – or die – for. Just remember that, won’t you, the next time you ‘wished you were dead…‘?

Paris

The city of lovers. No wonder Lestat is so enamoured with its finery and gay abandon.

From atop its Tower (and I mean its very pinnacle, not the crow’s nest of a gallery that limits public ascent), even we who can pierce the clouds appreciate the awe that must humble you humans as Paris rolls out at points of the compass, neatly segregating this sprawling metropolis.

The Seine idles by, its lighted ferries twinkling, transporting tourists around The Isle, beneath its bridges and past imposing landmarks that hold their breath, scared that the countless tales of wickedness from centuries past will flood the riverbanks should they begin to flow.

The ferry passes by, the buildings sigh and France’s secrets are safe for a short while longer. For that, we remain thankful.

But make no mistake, guilt hath no part to play in our existence, not now.

Our purpose is to release those citizens from the shackles of pain who are too weak to face life’s tribulations, the heartache it serves up in a never-ending banquet of love’s labours lost and who crave for their corporeal existence to be truncated swiftly and mercifully.

We are their angels and archangels. We fly unto them upon the ravenous wings of night itself.

One look into our eyes and the weak, the lovelorn and the destitute know that their prayer has been answered, whether their plea was issued with sincerity or not.

skull on fire
What hell burns beyond those eyes?

For to countenance our being, see us for what we are, for whom we really are, bears sentence more cruel than any revolutionary guillotine.

In that fleeting second of recognition, you are bound, tried and judged.

Before the opportunity to renounce your mortal sins presents itself, your final prayer has been answered.

That gift of life which Mother Nature crafted into your heart, mind and soul is prematurely released back into Her keep, though she thanks us not.

No, that’s just one more reason She hates us for who and what we are and ’tis the reason we are sentenced to the night.

But there are far worse reasons why we shall never be kissed by either the sun’s life-giving rays or Her blessing.

For at the moment we stared death in the face, we neither crumbled nor complied, but challenged the Hell behind those eyes.

Yes, we once suffered the cruel rejection of love, as have those pitiful souls whose angels of mercy we become; yet we survived the kiss of the vampire.

Our hatred of love itself for the pain it made us unwillingly feel and the desire for revenge against the humans who could be so cruel as to inflict it deflected death, bent it to our will and serves to keep us in this neither land.

Ours is a place between worlds, through which only few beings in all of God’s Kingdom have right of passage.

Ours is a haven where Mother Nature cannot touch us; a land where the sun’s rays are not welcome, for only death prospers here; a realm that mortals know exists but, for the sake of their sanity, prefer not to acknowledge.

If you stick around, I’ll take you on a journey into Slippage.  But be warned, I cannot guarantee that you will return here with either your mind, your body or your soul intact.

Powers, thoughts and temperaments exist within our world that would have the most evil of humans cowering for their mother in puddles of their own excretion.

All manner of creatures try to escape its boundaries into the many worlds beyond; only a few have the intellect to do so without getting obliterated.  Trust me when I say it’s a good thing for the human race that this remains so.

So are you up for it, this journey?  Really?  Only your fullest commitment can possibly save you, should you accept my hand.  It is from Slippage that you think your senses pick up on:

  • That ghost of a shadow you see at the very edge of your peripheral vision
  • That glare you feel burning into your back, cast by an empty room
  • That impossible creak-creak-creak edging up the stairwell at twilight
  • That floating gossamer strand tickling across your cheek at sunset
  • That tapping branch on the window pane on a still, silent summer’s eve

And none of it was me, Precious, I cross your heart and hope to die…

…but let me just leave you with this extract while you make up your mind, which personifies our motivation more closely than you know. A UK number one, no less, from thirty years ago. A prophecy realised?

Until next time then, Precious, when I return to see if you have found your reservoir of resolve.  Don’t take too long; I may be back sooner than you think…

“What I want to say – but my words just fail

Is that I need it so I can’t help myself
Like a hungry child, I just help myself
And when I’m all full up I go out to play

But I don’t mean to bleed you dry
Or take you over for the rest of your life
It’s just that I need something solid in mine

Lonely as the moors on a winter’s morning
Quiet as the sea on a good calm night
In your tranquil shadow I try and follow

I hear your distant shoe clicks to the midnight beat
I feel trapped in sorrow in this imagery
But that’s how I am and why I need you so”

© words/music Paul Weller. Precious, The Jam, The Gift, 1982.


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Billy came – the story so far


I’m going to be away for a week or so from tomorrow, if for no other reason than to give these arthritic old bones a bit of a break from this god-awful British summer and seeing if the latest therapy does the trick, or not.

I know a fair few followers of zebedeerox.com have already asked me if I’m going to turn Billy came, the short vampire novella (rapidly growing into a fully fledged novel at the behest of the characters, themselves) into a book…the truth is, I simply don’t know if it’s good enough.  Let alone do I have a clue where Sebastian and Perveen are going to take me next, now that they’ve been plunged down yet another level below terra firma, only this time under the wing, quite literally, of Vlad Țepeș himself.

Some of you have joined the vampire story half way through or relatively close to the point the tale’s at.  When you’re online it can be a bit of a pain in the neck to keep flicking from post to post, which in the case of Billy came, equates to from chapter to chapter, especially when you’ve got other stuff you need to be doing.

Now, I know us bloggers and writers all have extremely busy lives, not only with keeping up with our online presence but also with the stuff we do off-line.  Including life itself.  But if you get the chance, I’ve uploaded Bill came, the story so far as a .pdf file.  This incorporates all of the first three parts of this tentative toe into the waters of creative writing and the beginning of part four.

If anyone gets the time whilst I’m away to cast an eye over the story (approx 50 pages / almost 25k words) I’d really appreciate some honest feedback.  Am I urinating into the wind or is it worth developing further?

Right – I’ll take up no more of your valuable time, only herewith the link:

Billy came – the story so far

Bless you all, and I’ll see you in a week, or so.

Thank you so very much,

Zebedeerox.

Billy came 30


Thirty – A Shift in the Natural Order

“You must not doubt my love for you, Perveen,” I said, this time daring to take her cheeks between my palms, pointy fingernails (the first time I’d noticed them) making dimples either side of her lips, as she had done to me so often already.  It was my turn to try to instil confidence, take the burden of responsibility from those lithe, olive-skinned naked shoulders.

When we looked into each other’s eyes this time around, with me peering down upon her never-to-be-fully-grown height from a seemingly taller perspective than I had been used to, with the blood of Vlad Țepeș still coursing through my veins, there had been a very definite shift in control.  I knew it, she knew it.  And it affected her a great deal more, which is why I had to convince her now that whatever trial lay ahead of us our wedding would proceed as planned.

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Twenty-nine –The trek along the cavern wall

There was something wrong with Vlad.  His whole demeanour had smacked of ill ease in the chamber, a lethargy that belied his usurping of power and conquering of many fronts during his recorded mortal life.  Not to mention his lack of interest in taking human life, given the personal tally of souls he’d sent to the other side, to date.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, even though he’d dragged me in to glimpse his very soul, a thriving version of Hell if not Hades itself; he seemed preoccupied.

As we followed him deeper into the seldom-visited pits of Subterranea, the impression that he was not all there intensified.  Once past the tunnel entrance, the pathway almost immediately opened up into a wide ridge cut into the wall of a gigantic cavern.  The sheer granite wall rose hundreds of feet above us and descended to our right, plummeting into pitch night.

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Billy came 28


Twenty-eight – Revisited: an old trick from my bride’s head

“Sebastian,” Perveen implored, talking through my sister’s oh-so sweet blood to me, implementing the same method by which she had broken into Billy’s thoughts as they had drunk from her mother all those years ago.  I looked up, across my sister’s belly, to see Perveen drinking directly from the same vein in my sister’s opposing forearm.  She was beckoning Marie to join us.  Anger flashed again, but, feeling my sister jump as if charged with a powerful defibrillator, I reined the emotion back in forthwith.

As Marie sank her teeth into my sister’s neck, Perveen started up the blood conversation again.

“Sebastian, I can save your sister, but it will have to be in exchange for you taking the life of your brother,” she said.

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Twenty-seven – Sibling Rivalry: To Die Or Not To Die

I had acquired the taste for blood.  It filled my nose, coated my throat and reddened my peripheral vision.  The fact that it was my sister from whom I was to take the next draught was neither here nor there.  She was now alive to everything that was happening and, although the curse that had held her spellbound had been broken, abject fear was rooting her to the altar upon which she’d been lain for this very purpose – the sacrifice to bless our betrothal.

I turned and smiled at her as I advanced with purpose through the scarlet haze; the candles, too, were glowing crimson as they had before Perveen and I had entered this chamber.  In fact, all colours combined to produce that same angry red that had pulsated as my queen-to-be and I had waited in the tunnel outside, when she’d tried to prepare me for something like this eventuality but my deaf ears had not listened.  Although, I think that even she could not have foreseen this particular eventuality.

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