I was a vampire. Nothing more, nothing
less. Yes, vampires do exist. Yes, vampires do drink the blood of mortals
for sustenance. NO, I am not crazy. And yes, I am writing this from beyond
two graves, for I perished from the species of mortals over 440 years ago,
and perished from the species of vampire 11 years ago (or so I believe;
that may be incorrect).
However, unlike most of my kind, I did not choose to be a vampire; it was thrust upon me by a vampire who did not wish to seek permission to replenish his clan. I never even knew his name, as he was killed by members of his clan for breaking vampire law. And I was therefore pushed most violently into the realm of the undead. Death by vampirism does not come quickly; in fact, if you are unfortunate (or fortunate; it depends on your point of view), you will live until the sun goes nova and demolishes the planet. For with vampirism comes immortality, and with immortality comes the bereavement of the loss of those you once loved (unless, of course, they are also vampires). And, eventually, you must avoid them, or, better yet, fake your own death. For they will grow old, and a vampire, true to legend, never ages. If you had seen me while I still had possession of my vampiric body, you would have seen a normal 30-year old man. But, had you grown to know me, you would quickly have realized from any conversation that this could not be more false. After all, I have the accumulated knowledge of more than four centuries of mankind, and I possess a very keen mind. For I am--was--nearing my 429th birthday. But I digress. Where was I? ah, yes, I remember. As I was saying, I did not choose to become a vampire. As such, I frequently longed to be mortal again, to feel age weathering my flesh, to grow old, and, finally, to die.
By mere coincidence, I had been mulling over any such prospects of becoming human again the night I first felt the presence of the man who took my second human life. I was sitting in my library, when I felt a burst of absolute cold pass across my soul. And yes, we vampires do indeed possess souls. It is one of the very few things we retain from our human lives. But anyway, I threw down my book and dashed out into the street, and began to run frantically down the pavement, peering into every dark alley (which in New York, where I lived, is sure folly for any mortal) within a radius of about twenty city blocks. Even in New York, such eccentric actions do not go unnoticed. Needless to say, I returned to my apartment with as much dignity as I could muster under the circumstances.
Then next night I was stalking my midnight meal. One of the few vampiric pleasures I allowed myself is that every month, I chose a large, evil crime lord or mobster, and followed him around for a month. And near the end of the month, at some time when his guard had dropped, I feasted upon him. And on the first of the next month, I chose another victim, and the cycle renewed itself. I called these victims my "Big Fish." This particular man was a Mafioso from Queens, who sent his enforcers to collect "protection" money from the people who lived in his area of business. His deal was "I protect you from me for a fee." He liked that phrase; it suited his twisted sense of humor.
And there I was, following him around his jaunts like a shadow, waiting for the moment when he would drop his guard that I might strike. Somewhere past 23rd Street, I felt that same inexplicable frost pass over my soul again. However, this time, I had the strange sensation that someone--or something--was trying to part my body and soul, bypassing death. As I felt the sensation pass, however, I whirled my body around and struck out blindly with my unnaturally fast arms--and then I connected suddenly with the shoulder of a wizened old man. The blow caught him unawares, and he spun into the air, crashing into the snow a few feet away.
I quickly realized my error, and, reaching into my pocket, withdrew a large handful of bills, which I thrust at him.
"My apologies," I stuttered, "I mistook you for someone else." He nodded and quickly hobbled off, as I searched in vain for my Big Fish . . . and discovered that he had made his getaway in the confusion.
It was nearly dawn, and I still had not fed, but since none of the twelve apartments I possessed in or around the city was close enough presently to allow me to feed, with time to return, I decided to forego my meal, and retire to my coffin. I walked swiftly to my apartment on East 47th Street, and I entered the building just in time to see a dark shadow flee from the general direction of my apartment. I briefly considered giving chase, but decided against it. The sun would rise imminently, and I wished to be in my coffin well before it rose. Besides, I had thought, there would be enough of his/her scent in the room to trace him the next day. And as I entered the room, the absence of a scent made me frown; only vampires and other such beings--extremely skilled human magicians and werewolves--can conceal their scents as such. Enough of this, I thought. I will consider it in the morning. Until then, I must rest.
The next evening, as I awoke, there was a human standing in my coffin chamber.
"What are you doing here, human?" I growled. "Come to try and kill me? If so, you're far too late. I died well over four hundred years ago."
"No," he replied,"I've come to make a deal with a devil. Yourself, namely. For you can see, I've learned of your desire to become human once more. And I can offer you that opportunity," he stated smugly, a wide grin spreading over his face.
"All right, you have my attention," I admitted. "How?"
"It's fairly simple, really. All you have to do is let me push your soul out of your body. Then, you can enter the body you see me in, and I'll stay in yours. We can do this for as long or as short of a time as you like," he said.
"What's the catch?" I queried.
"It'll cost you five million dollars, U.S. funds," he said, "and don't pretend you don't possess more than quadruple the amount. I hacked into your bank files via modem and saw your account status."
"All right, you've got me there," I remarked casually, "but how do I know you'll give me my body back when I want you to?"
"I thought you'd never ask," he said, grinning again, "so I've come up with a plan. You introduce me to your banker, and tell him that after the date we make the switch, the person in the body that I'm in, and only that person, may remove the five million, and again, only five million, from your account."
"Sounds foolproof for the both of us," I admitted.
"So you'll do it?" he asked eagerly.
"Maybe. I'll think about it. But if I do decide to go ahead, I'll pay you three million. Not a cent more."
"All right," he replied. "For three million, I'll switch bodies with you three times if you want. Any more flip-flops will cost you one and a half million more."
"Okay," I said. "By the way, that was you in here last night, and those times I felt a shadow over my soul, wasn't it." I made it a statement, not a question.
"Yes, it was," he sounded shameless.
"If you ever pull those stunts again, I'll do more than take a quick snack," and with that I launched myself at him, and sank my fangs into his neck. I took a quick drink, then closed up the puncture holes. I pulled a bottle of cheap whiskey out, dragged him into the hall, and poured it all over his face and torso. I then placed the bottle in his hands. Now anyone who passed by would simply assume he was drunk. I then departed, being careful to lock the door to my apartment, and went in search of my Big Fish.
I caught up to him on the outskirts of Little Italy, his stomping grounds. Unfortunately, he been up to his elbows in bodyguards, and I not wanted to draw attention to myself after what had occurred the previous night. It would have been an awful idea to spend a night in jail, where I might fry from the sun in the morning. That would be extremely unpleasant.
And therefore I was forced again to move off and look for easier prey. I sought out the pickpockets, the petty thieves, and the purse-snatchers to relieve my blood lust. When I was satiated, I returned to one of my apartments (I'm not sure which) and found the human, who had showered and changed, but was still looking weak from loss of blood, waiting for me. His name had somehow never seemed to be of importance, but I felt my curiosity surge, and I greeted him with an abrupt question.
"What's your name?"
"Any name will suffice, but call me James," he replied with an air of casualness his body language belied.
"Very well, James, come in."
He broke the silence that ensued with "Have you come to a decision yet?"
"Yes, I have," I replied. "I've decided to take you up on your offer for one day. Twenty-four hours, and no more, to begin in one week, one hour from sunrise. After that day, I may choose to become human again for a longer period of time. Think of this one day as being a 'trial run', so to speak."
"All right," he said, "When will you introduce me to your banker?"
"Right now," I replied, rising swiftly from the couch I was seated upon, and grasping his elbow, tugging him to his feet. "I've made arrangements for a special meeting in twenty minutes. He keeps special hours just for me, and will probably not think our arrangement too strange. He's extremely open-minded."
Once we arrived at my banker's office, he quickly sat up from his slumped position on the desk, and managed a bleary-eyed smile.
"Good evening, sir. I take it this is the friend you mentioned on the telephone?" he inquired politely.
"Yes, this is Mr. James. Eight days from now he'll be withdrawing three million dollars from the Paris account," I replied casually.
"In eight days, you say, sir?"
"Yes, that's right. In eight days. And if per chance it's not withdrawn by then, you are to move it back into the account. In order that it will be accessible only on that single day. All right?" I said.
"Fine, sir. The instructions will be filed at the beginning of the next business day. Will that be all?"
"Yes, I'm sorry to keep you so late. Thank you for your time, my friend. You may go home to your wife and children. And here, take this as a small token of my gratitude." I withdrew from my pocket a diamond necklace, the many faceted gems sparkling in the soft glow of his office lamps. I handed it to him. "Give this to your wife. And, as I have no gifts for the children, Tommy and Alex, aren't those their names? Here, take this money and buy them something they like. You know their tastes far better than I." I took $500 from my billfold and pressed it into his hand. His jaw was slack, for my presents grew more expensive with each time I met him. With that I turned to go, and bade James follow. Having tried to protest on several previous occasions, and failed, my banker simply nodded his head and showed us out. James and I then proceeded back to my apartment in order to discuss how we would handle the switch.
When we arrived, I gave him a cup of coffee, and we sat down in opposite easy chairs. "Now, remember," I said, "you must be very careful with my body. You should be in the coffin at least twenty minutes before sunrise. You are not to use the body's full strength or speed. I can punch through three inch solid steel, and even bumping into someone will doubtless send them sprawling. You are not to feed off of anyone. Is that understood?"
"Perfectly. We shall make the switch in one week at five a.m.?"
"Yes. I'll see you then. Goodbye," I dismissed him.
"Cheerio, old chap," he remarked, and left.
The rest of the week passed in a blur. I only remember gorging myself constantly so that James would not have even the slightest urge to feed. I did not want a warrant for my arrest, which he would probably earn my body if he tried to feed.
At last, the night had arrived. I awoke five minutes after sunset, and went out, heading in the general direction of the apartment where we were to make the switch. I was not even remotely hungry, but I took six victims on the way, making sure that any bloodlust would be sated for a week. I arrived hours early, and stepped into the shower, cleansing myself, and then cutting my nails, which are considerably longer than normal human nails. In short, I did as much as I could to make my body as inconspicuous as a six-foot, pure white (and I mean white, like paint) being could become.
When James arrived, I was ready and willing to make the crossover from vampire to human. He ordered me to sit on one of the opposing twin beds, and he sat on the other. He closed his eyes and folded his feet beneath himself, like in one of those third-rate martial arts movies. Then he began to chant. Softly at first, in a low, guttural language, and his voice suddenly crescendoed into a dull shout. And suddenly I felt an invisible cord I had not known was being tugged on snap, and then I was up, floating, and I looked down and saw my body lying on its back on the bed! I thought of a command I had not known I knew, and suddenly I was looking at my body through human eyes! And then my body sat up and James's oddly British lilt rang back at me from my body! It was the largest shock of my five lifetimes! To hear, "Hello, old boy," in a completely different voice from my own emanate from my lips! And then he said, "Well, I'll see you tomorrow!" And with that, he was gone.
Well, I thought. No sense in wondering where he's off to. Probably some remote habitat where he'll hide out until nightfall. I think I'll open the drapes, and watch the sun rise. Now, that's a sight for sore eyes, something you haven't seen in over four hundred years! And it was the most beautiful sight I had seen in all of my lives.
I sat watching the sun until my eyes hurt. After I ceased to look, I began to realize that I was hungry. I went to the pantry to look for food, but, this being a vampire's home, there was nothing but several kinds of coffee and hot chocolate. I then walked down to the corner grocery store, and bought enough food to supply a human family of four for a week! I fixed myself a sandwich that I thought I remembered liking in my childhood in Spain. Of course, I had not eaten food in four centuries, so I nearly choked! The meat was so strong, and the vegetables so sour, I thought I had taken a bite of pure poison! I threw the rest of it away and went for a walk in Prospect Park, near the duck pond, which is next to the bicycle path. When I arrived, I came upon a group of young boys having a snowball fight. At first I ignored them, but after I was struck repeatedly enough for me to realize that it was no accident, I quickly jumped into the fray. I beat the boys, of course, with my superior speed and strength as an adult, not as a vampire. I knew then that I did not want to become the monster I had been again. By the time we were finished, it was dark out, and my fingers and toes were cold. I went home to warm up, and found James waiting for me at my door. He asked to come in to discuss something with me, and of course I said yes. I spoke first:
"I have no desire to become a vampire again."
He seemed relieved, and the reason was obvious from his words. "I do not wish to become human again either. I was hoping that I would not have to ask you to give up your body. However, and I regret this course of action, I cannot take the chance that you might later want to be a vampire again." He looked despondent. "So let me offer my sincere apologies, and say that were it not necessary, I would not do this." And with that, he swung his fist--my fist--up, and struck me in the temple above my right ear. I reeled backwards, laughing inwardly at the irony of being destroyed by my own body. And then I was falling, plunging into the white light at the end of the tunnel, just like all those people who claim to have had near death experiences. And then the angels in white lab coats surrounded me, and claimed they had heard my screams. I believed them, and they helped me into my wings, which resembled a shirt with extra long sleeves, and buckles that helped pinion my arms to my body. And then they put me into a wagon that strongly resembled an ambulance, and they carried me off to the rubber-walled rooms of Heaven. The only times I ever removed my wings was during the time it took me to chronicle the events which I have described here, which led to my passage here into Heaven. I am content in my rubber-walled quarters, and I have no desire to leave.
Patient Summary, Bellevue Mental Hospital
Name: Moriarty, James
Physical Characteristics: Six feet, zero inches. Black hair, green eyes
The patient was discovered muttering incoherently on his apartment floor after the neighbors reported hearing a scream coming from his apartment, and called the police. He had struck the area of his right temple on the corner of his desk. He is suffering from strong delusions, believing that the hospital is Heaven with rubber-walled rooms, he is dead, and an angel. He also believes he is a vampire who traded bodies with a human by the name of "James". He claims that this "James" also took his life, and as stated before, believes that the hospital is Heaven. He substantiates his story with his uncontrollable urge to consume blood in large quantities. He has not responded to drugs, therapy of any type, or any other known methods used to calm patients. He refers to his restraining device as wings, which we permitted him to remove, under close supervision, in order to write the fantastic tale which preceded this summary. It is the recommendation of the Board of Review, New York Section, Bellevue Chapter, that this patient be kept in solitary confinement until determined sane, pending further reviews.
Joe Slade, 11975 State Park Road, Athens Ohio 45701
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