Dancing on the Edge

A modern vampire tale by Sharma Wild

Such a strange tale this is, the one that I will whisper to you… such a dark and decadent story. I see your eyes widen, your pupils dilate. You are intrigued, and perhaps charmed even, that I have chosen you as my listener, my audience. Well then, lets start.

A not so long ago, in a country a short flight away, I lived like many others; I had a flat, a telly, job and friends. I bought food and clothes and books. Mostly I bought books. I filled bookshelf after bookshelf. In my imagination I lived a thousand and one lives, I visited a thousand and one countries. I was a princess, a thief and a killer. I fought evil, or I worshiped it… I lived an ordinary, mundane life, so let me skip ahead in time a little.

One night while walking home from work, I had a strange feeling of being followed. Turning around I saw no one, only the empty, deserted sidewalk. The streetlamps spilled their pools of yellow light on the ground. A cat skittered across the street. A discarded newspaper slowly made its way towards me, carried by the wind. It was empty. I was alone. Except for the cigarette butt, lying on the cobblestones mere feet away from me, its amber glowing red like an evil eye in the dark.

Weird, I thought, watching it. It must have peen perched between someone’s lips only seconds before, but I couldn’t see anyone.

I crossed the street and walked over the little patch of grass where rabbits played and moths danced. When I came to the gravel-path that would take me through the park and to the house where my flat was, I heard the distinct sound of boots against the pebbles behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and thought I saw a dark silhouette slide in to the deep shadows under the threes.

I swallowed nervously and quickened my pace. I reached the safety of the yard without having heard or seen anything else. I fumbled with the lock before I managed to turn the key and slip inside. Home. I drew a deep breath of relief.

My flat was as messy as when I had left it eight hours earlier, but there was something different. It was as if the air had been stirred around and the dust had settled in a different way. It was an elusive, intangible feeling of another’s presence.

I spent the rest of the night wandering the rooms like a ghost, or staring out the window, paranoia like a fever in my mind. I thought I saw a man leaning against the tree in the yard, I thought I saw the glow of a cigarette, but I wasn’t sure, couldn’t be sure. My imagination was running wild.

As the sun rose, I settled in my bed and feel asleep.

A couple of weeks passed, maybe a month, and I forgot about the whole incident. My new books came and I gladly threw myself into the adventures they promised. I might have forgotten the whole strange episode had it not repeated itself: the sound of footsteps behind me as I walked home. The eerie feeling of another’s presence in my flat. This time I was sure some of the books had been moved; pulled out from their place on the shelf, looked through and then put back.

It was strange. Who would do such a thing, and why? I would soon find out.

“Got a light?”

I glanced at the man; a little under average height, light-brown hair, defined features, not beautiful in the Hollywood way, but enigmatic. Dead sexy, and dangerous.

“No”, I said in answer to his question and walked on. I crossed the patch of grass and came to the path that lead through the park. Keeping my head down and my pace brisk, I hurried towards the house.

As I came close to the pond in the middle of the park, I could see someone sitting on one of the benches. It was him. I froze. How? A question my stunned mind did not dare to ponder upon.

I stood motionless. And he sat, the light of the streetlamp giving his hair golden highlights and the smoke from his cigarette a yellow tone. Yellow, the colour of nicotine and fear.

I swallowed.

He turned his head, his eyes reflecting the light. A nocturnal predator.

I flinched but I didn’t dare to run. Cats’ hunting instincts are triggered by the flight of the prey. Perhaps it was the same with vampires?

Vampire. Nosferatu.

I mouthed the word and knew it was the truth.

What did he want? One didn’t have to be a brain-surgeon to figure that one out. Blood. He wanted my blood. My pulse was racing. My heart was pounding hard in my chest. And not just from fear.

Oh yes, I have read the books of Ann Rice and others like hers. I have felt the call of the night and dreamt of what it would be to receive the dark gift.

I wanted to run, and I wanted to stay. I shuffled my feet.

“I wont bite”, he said, his voice like that of a normal man’s; a voice that could be sweet as honey, dark as midnight or cold as ice.

I said nothing. I didn’t move.

“I’ve been waiting for you”, he said, breathing out a cloud of smoke.

“Why?” My voice was a whisper but he must have heard it cause he smiled.

“I like you.” He smiled again, more like an impish grin really. He looked so normal, so not like the vampires in the stories. His smile grew wider and I fancied I could see his fangs, though I was not sure.

I said nothing, my mind was blank. He stood slowly, smoking his cigarette. He must have known that if he moved I would have fled.

“You don’t know me”, I finally said.

“Does anyone really know anybody?” he replied.

“You want to kill me”, I said with a small, trembling voice.

“Yes, and no.” He gave me another little smile. “I want to drink your blood, but I want more than that.”

“This is insane.” Finally my legs began to work again. I started to walk. “I’ll call the police if you move!” I shouted, digging out the cell-phone from my bag. “Besides, this is so not the way you ask a girl to share your endless night”, I spoke the last words under my breath, but a low chuckle told me that he had heard them.

As I walked passed him the survival instincts kicked in. I realised that I was only a few steps away from a creature that could kill me, that would kill me. Adrenaline flooded my system and I began to run.

I reached my house. My fingers shook and it felt as if it took forever before I managed to unlock the door. I ran up the stairs, reached the door to my flat, unlocked that, and I was home free. Unharmed, with my blood system intact.

In the comfort of my hallway I sank down on the floor sobbing.

I spent the rest of the night checking the locks on the windows and the door. I found my old rosary, wrapped it around my hand and that childhood-feeling of the worn beads against my skin calmed me enough so that I could make myself a cup of tea that I didn’t drink. I ended up sitting in my armchair, staring blankly at the telly, while my mind played out the events over and over.

I’ve been waiting for you… I like you… I want to drink your blood, but I want more than that…

“I don’t believe in love at first sight”, I whispered to Jerry Springer. “And I don’t believe in vampires.” I lied.

I called in sick at work. I cancelled my classes. I feign a cold when a friend of mine rang to ask if I wanted to go to the movies with her. I reread all of my vampire-novels. I went through my grandmother’s things found her crucifix and bible, and carried that with my at all times. I was slowly driving myself insane.

The body can only sustain a high level of adrenaline for so long, slowly, slowly I began to relax. I stopped jumping at the sight of a shadow, or at the sound of the wind. Life began to fall in its place again. I started to go to work, although I took the bus home now. I went back to school, and I returned my friend’s phone calls. The vampire with the defined features and the light-brown hair seemed more and more like a strange hallucination.

“Wake up…”

The soft whisper penetrated my sleep and chased the dreams away.

“Wake up, Lilith…”

I opened my eyes, thinking I was still sleeping. Candles where lit and placed everywhere they possibly could, giving my bedroom a golden glow. The air smelled sweetly of sandalwood and something else that I couldn’t quite place. Through the transparent fabric that covered the sides of the four-poster bed I could see a man watching me as I watched him.

The man. The vampire.

He was dressed like a nobleman from the dawn of the 1700’s; wide linen shirt with lace at the sleeves and the neck, a waistcoat in light-blue and gold brocade and a matching frockcoat. He looked strangely androgenys with powdered face, rosy lips and a painted mush on his cheek.

“Lilith…” he purred, and his voice was as soft and sweet as I thought it could be.

“Yes?” I replied. I wasn’t afraid, this was a scene picked from one of the vampire-novels. A dream.

“I have come for you, my dear.” He pushed the transparent curtain away, and suddenly he was so close, so real. I could smell the perfume he wore: vanilla and spices. I noticed the little scar on his chin, the fine lines in the corner of his eyes. He lifted a hand and caressed my cheek, traced the curve of my lips. Every gesture was deliberate, calculated and graceful to the point of being feminine.

“Who are you?” I breathed.

He smiled. “Lord Harrington.” He bowed with supple grace, but there was cheekiness in his eyes that belied the haughty appearance. “You can call me Fredrick, or Freddy.”

“Freddy?” I giggled, but quieted when he sat down on the bed. “This isn’t a dream is it?”

“No.”

I swallowed.

He smiled.

He took my hand. “I came to seduce you”, he said. “To enchant you, but it is you that once again has enchanted me…” He lifted my hand to his lips, so very much like a gentleman from a distant century.

“Why do you want me?” I whispered.

“Because when you walk home at night the light of the stars reflects in your eyes.” It was as simple as that. He bent down, bringing his lips very close to mine. “I am not going to ask you or give you a choice”, he said, his whisper as intimate as a lover’s touch. “You are mine and mine alone. I will have you.”

“Will it hurt?”

“Yes”, he breathed. And then he kissed me. A simple touch of lips, a caress of tongue. And when his mouth sought my throat I willingly exposed it. His teeth were sharp and it did hurt more than a little, and I hade the strange feeling of loosing my virginity all over again.

He drank from me. My body grew heavy and my soul grew light, and when he pulled back I felt empty and cold. I must have moaned or mumbled something for he whispered: “Hush, my love.” Then he tore that fancy waistcoat open, then the shirt. He pressed a small dagger to his chest and trickle of blood spilled forth. Strong hands lifted me, his arms wrapped around me. Like a newborn babe, ruled by instinct alone, my lips found the cut and my tongue found the blood. It was metallic and coppery and liquid fire. It rushed through my body like absinthe, like opium… In an instant I was flooded with memories belonging to the vampire, it was as if the story of his life, and unlife, was whispered straight into my veins.

I woke in a strange bed, shadows long on the wall. My head spun and I sat up tentatively.

They were sitting at the table, as if having tea. Father’s neck was broken and rigor had pulled his black lips back in a mocking grin. But the little girls looked as if they were only sleeping, their dolls clutched in their small white hands. I stumbled forward, feet catching on the worn Persian rug. There were no roses in their cheeks and the lace at their necks was stiff with gore.

I patted the pockets of my coat for my glasses and then realized with a start that I didn’t need them. I could make out every leaf of the roses on the damask wallpaper, despite the gloom. The fire in the grate had gone out, the ashes and coals silent and cold. The only light was the yellow light that came from the windows that faced the street. I peered through the thick green old-fashioned glass and recognized the houses across the street. I was but a few minutes walk from my flat. How long ago it seemed, that I had awoken in my own bed to find my room filled with candles, a nobleman in fine linen and silk sitting at my bedside. How far away it all felt, as if it were some one else’s life I had witnessed ending and not my own. I wondered how long it had been since…

“You’re awake.”

I turned to se him enter the room. The finely dressed nobleman that had taken me to bed was gone and a rock star had taken his place.

“I’m… hungry…” I said and my voice sounded strange to my ears. I realized it was more than hunger. It was a fierce burning need; a mixture of hunger and thirst unlike any craving I had ever known. It was desire.

“I saved you some supper”, he said, rising like smoke from a candle flame. He reached out to caress my cheek. His fingers were cool, but not cold. With a smile like the sun breaking through the clouds, he took me by the hand and led me to the back room where a woman was bound with silk hair ribbons. Her wrists bled where she had struggled against the bindings, but the blood had only soaked the knots, tightening them. The smell of the fresh blood sharpened my hunger to a cutting edge.

She had the same dark eyes as the children in the parlour, but hers were red-rimmed and pleading as my world narrowed to the pulse beating in the hollow of her throat.

She screamed against her gag as I bared my teeth in a growl. The screams stopped as I sank my fangs into her neck and the first gush of hot blood flowed down my throat.

Stolen warmth flooded through me and I dropped the corpse, swaying slightly. It was like having too much champagne. I was giddy with the new strength and life that coursed through me. I touched my teeth, feeling the unfamiliar fangs. I looked about and caught sight of a dressing table in the corner. Snatching up the looking glass, I was startled by my reflection. I didn’t look any different.

Freddy came up to stand behind me. “Did you expect pale flesh and fierce eyes?”

“Yeah”, I confessed, feeling a little embarrassed.

“I’ll take you shopping tomorrow”, he said. “We’ll get you white powder, contact lenses, ankle long black leather trench, the whole kit.”

“So this is it then?” I asked as we left the house through the backdoor.

“Yes”, he replied, taking my hand. “This is it.” We looked up at the tall building that housed my flat, visible across the street. “Have you said your goodbyes to your life?” he asked after a minute of silence had passed.

I nodded.

“Come then”, he said, giving me a smile. “We have places to visit and people to meet.” He put an arm around my shoulders and led me into the night.

And that’s my story. It’s decadent and mundane, exotic and strange. I followed him, Freddy the nobleman from the 1700’s, the modern man with short, spiky hair, jeans worn soft and black t-shirts. The vampire. My father who delivered me to darkness. My friend and my love… And we will dance on the edge of the knife. We will dance for an eternity.

The End.

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