Antlers do not kill.
Categories: Lost Boys
17 Jan 2006 Updated:
17 Jan 2006
1. Chapter 1 by The MarkReaper
2. Chapter 2 by The MarkReaper
3. Chapter 3 by The MarkReaper
4. Chapter 4 by The MarkReaper
5. Chapter 5 by The MarkReaper
6. Chapter 6 by The MarkReaper
7. Chapter 7 by The MarkReaper
8. Chapter 8 by The MarkReaper
9. Chapter 9 by The MarkReaper
10. Chapter 10 by The MarkReaper
11. Chapter 11 by The MarkReaper
12. Chapter 12 by The MarkReaper
13. Chapter 13 by The MarkReaper
14. Chapter 14 by The MarkReaper
15. Chapter 15 by The MarkReaper
16. Chapter 16 by The MarkReaper
17. Chapter 17 by The MarkReaper
Chapter 1 by The MarkReaper
This story is dedicated to Donna, aka Marko. She has come up with a wonderful direction for this story, but I won't tell you, because then I'd ruin it. ;-D Anyway, this is for you, Marko! Thank you for all your praise and ideas!
And to Carla, whose wonderful feedback has been helping me to overcome a horrible case of writer's block and has kept me going. Thanks, guys!
Max had to laugh at the young half-vampire's stupidity. Michael had looked promising in the past, but now he really saw what brains the young man lacked.
He was wary of their watching eyes, six against one, not counting the young boy which Star clutched to her protectively, but he knew they would make no move to harm him...yet. The shock of his newly revealed secret was still sinking in. Max reached down to where his vampire son David lay, his brows creased slightly in worry, and ran a calm hand along the cold, pallid cheek. Gently, he turned David's head to one side; the eyes were closed in a peaceful calm, an acceptance of death, his face untroubled as if sleeping. A small trickle of blood, dark and perfect, seeped from between the pale, silky lips.
He could live, if they touched him no more. He could hang on and become strong again, an ageless young man, his face still radiating the beautiful cherubic face of his youth, which in reality had long since passed. But Max himself would not be the one to nurse his young charge back to health; for he could already feel deep in his hungry gut his own impending doom.
~They killed our family,~ he thought to himself. ~And they shall kill me, somehow. I will fight it, but I will not win.~ He glanced down at David. ~And you, my immortal son; what is to become of you?~
His eyes cast upward again and he saw in their eyes a sort of troubled confusion as to the tenderness of which he ran his fingers over his (seemingly) deceased subsidiary, perhaps a glimmer of horrible, almost paternal love shining from within his vampire eyes. They all shifted nervously, and taking advantage of the moment, he prepared himself to attack.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
The pain grew greater as David slowly became aware of it. He stirred ever so slightly but found that he could not open his eyes. The sounds of combat in the little room fell upon his ears unheard and unsensed. He was alone in the darkness of his own mind, and it was only then did he come to the agonizing realization: all of his dark family was dead. He remembered hearing their dying shrieks, one and the same, their pain melding with his. Every time one of them died, so did a part of himself. But his anger, his desire to destroy Michael, had led him into a trap. His kin were slaughtered mercilessly as he battled the half-human and now here he lay, utterly helpless, fearing that his opponent's sheer determination and hatred alone had done the damage that would kill him soon. After all, a vampire could kill another vampire as easily as a human could kill another human. But David had a chance. Michael was not full vampire; his powers were not strong enough to kill his adversary instantly, thus leaving him with a chance of survival. But that determination, that hatred...
David was a fighter; his powers were at their apex. He had always fought like a demon and clung just as tenaciously to life; the fierce fire within refusing stubbornly to let him lay down and die, the thought of which stung him insultingly and turned his eyes red with rage. He was fighting, but he began to doubt, in the back shadows of his mind, the prowess of his own powers, which were weakening as he succumbed to his pain.
The agony of his defeat also stung him... just as bad as the wounds themselves, which were red-hot daggers ripping apart his chest. Death was creeping thinly into the borders of his senses.
Presently, he became able to hear again; all was silence in the decimated room. He smelled the overwhelming stench of dust and water, life and death. A profound emptiness inside him told that Max, his leader, was dead. This was no shock, but David felt that much more alone. Slowly, he opened his eyes, and saw that the room was empty. The spires lodged deep in his chest stood up like black daggers; he reached up and feebly tried to tug them from his chest. They stayed fast, and new pain screamed around the wounds. Desperately he curled his hands close at their bases, noting that his right hand was still charred and blistered from the sunlight, and gave a sharp tug, manipulating his minimal strength. Mercifully, they hesitated; them came free with a sickening squelch. He grimaced and threw them to the floor, feeling warm blood streaming down his sides and from his mouth. Death bubbled up in his throat; blood dripped from his lips. He bit them to fight the pain, which left him breathless, and felt his fangs piercing flesh. A distressed, singing growl gurgled in his throat.
He exerted the last of his strength and at last heaved himself from the table, biting back a tormented groan. Shakily he stood and made his way through the rubble, half walking and half crawling, casting his eyes to the fireplace as he passed, where he could smell death and ashes, and the faint, subdued scent of Max. He swallowed and resumed soundlessly picking his way through the debris, and made his way out the gaping hole in the wall, edging around the steaming car.
He smiled as the night breathed vital strength and energy into him; he levitated suddenly and, pushing his temporary strength as far as it would allow him to, flew swiftly through the air.
The wind caressed his face as he soared close to the ground, hugging the concealing landscape. Over the mountains in the east David saw the faint light of dawn, and hurriedly he located his destination. He reached the mouth of the cave and fell to the ground, exhausted; crawling deep inside the cavern and feeling blessed sleep begin to settle over his weary limbs.
David fell asleep upon the stone floor as the rays of the rising sun kissed the town of Santa Carla.
He was alive.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
David stayed in the cave for more than a month, nursing himself back to health and feeding his seething fury, which gnawed at his stomach like a deep hunger. When at last he regained his strength, his loneliness made itself even more prominent.
Set with a new determination, he set out one night to visit the boardwalk.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
Alex Stern was new to Santa Carla, but he was not worried about his reputation. He had moved from the suburbs of Ohio and had, over time, learned that being reclusive was the best answer to life's little social problems. His mother, Edie, often argued with him about his choices, but he found her to be just another burden in his life and paid her no real heed. After the death of his father he felt somewhat freed; the man had been abusive and he could not understand why his mother was so torn apart by his passing.
Edie was a workaholic, which is what got them transferred to Santa Carla in the first place, and Alex was the only child. She loved her son almost as much as she loved her job: manager of the restaurant Moonbeams, which had grown very popular at an amazing rate. Edie could not have been happier; it had been her life's dream, though raising a son had not. Alex had come unexpectedly, and from the start of life had been left to make his own choices.
He was a street-smart kid, as much as anyone growing up on Ohio could be. He thought he knew it all, and he did know a great deal. He was a loner, liked to walk his own paths, and wasn't worried about making friends. His thoughts were all the company he ever needed, his mind the constant companion.
But tonight, as he sat a ways off from the other young adults on the boardwalk, his mind was strangely silent. His eyes scanned the moon-enchanted ocean, the black night waters lapping gently at the silvered sand, reflecting just slightly the lights of the shore. Voices echoed in his ears. Nearby, a young man was having a dispute with his girlfriend, and his raucous, drunken shouting reminded Alex disturbingly of his father.
He suddenly felt thirsty and heaved himself off the walk with a grunt, striding quickly to one of many concession stands dotting the beach. He ignored the glances stole at him from many of the young people, obviously knowing a new face when they saw one, and welcomed the artificial glare of the concession stand's dirty light bulbs as he approached.
The vender was muttering distractedly to a dark figure to the right, who was so much in the shadows that Alex could not make out what he looked like. The vender was obviously afraid, nervous, and as Alex drew closer he heard the low, cold voice of the figure telling the old man that if he wanted advice, he would have asked for it. The vender averted his eyes and caught sight of Alex.
"Hi," said Alex as he approached the counter, trying to keep his eyes away from the unknown figure. "I'd like a Pepsi, please."
"Sure thing." The vender opened the portable refrigerator and took out a bottle, handing it over with sweaty hands. "You new?"
"Yep." Alex took a sip and savored the cool liquid as it flowed down his parched throat. "From Ohio."
He reached forward to hand over the money, but the vender pushed it gently away.
"Naw, you're new. No charge." He smiled suddenly, showing what few teeth he had left in his mouth. "Welcome to Santa Carla!"
"Thanks." Alex shook the man's hand and discreetly wiped away the clammy sweat on the back pocket of his Levi's. "I hope I get used to this place soon. I've never moved before."
"Well," said the old man, "I know you'll get used to it soon enough. It's a pretty friendly place, Santa Carla is. I hope you find some worthy friends around here; you seem like the smart type. Ya gotta watch out for the rabble, though...they'll drag you right down." He shook his head. "Right down."
Alex took another sip and pondered the old vender's words.
"Well, isn't this heartwarming!"
Startled, Alex whirled as the cold voice he had heard previously came again from the shadows, and its owner stepped out into the light.
He was very thin, carrying his weight with animalistic, fluid grace. He was slightly short and clothed in black, his face cherubic and chillingly intelligent. His hair was a white-blonde, oddly matching the pure, flawless ivory of his skin. His feline eyes were cobalt, illuminated by the harsh halogen bulbs, which seemed to light them from within, making them glow like spirit lamps. They were narrowed, and in his black-gloved hand he held a bottle of Tequila, half-emptied.
He glanced briefly and pointedly at Alex, assessing him, then turned to the vendor, who stood stiffly.
"I'm tired of hearing you flap your gums, Willie," he growled threateningly. "I've been here for almost a damn hour. Hand it over, old man. I'm tired of waiting like a damn dog for his supper. I'll have no more of it."
"I really don't know if this is right..."
"Shut up and stop thinking. You don't have a choice." He extended a long arm and reached across the counter, his hand open expectantly. "Gimme."
The hand darted forward suddenly and seized the Willie's striped shirt, yanking him forward and banging him against the counter edge with strength unfathomed for someone so thin. He brought his face close to the old man's and bared his teeth, turning slightly to the left so that Alex could not see.
"Goddammit, Willie, give it here or pay the price. Stop cowering or so help me I'll rip your head off your shoulders. Hand it over...that's a good boy." He smiled in cold satisfaction as Willie, panicked, dug a small zip-lock bag out of his pocket and placed it in his waiting hand.
"There," the figure said, quickly putting the bag in the pocket of his trench coat. "That wasn't so hard now, was it?"
The vendor shook his head tenuously, too terrified to speak. The figure leaned in close to him again, hissing, "I gave you your life for this little bit of meth. How much is that worth to you?"
"N...no charge, David. T...take it. Go sell it or whatever you wish to do with it. I..." A frightened tear spilled down the old man's stubbly cheek. The figure, evidently called David, reached up and caught it gently, almost tenderly, on his gloved forefinger.
"Good," he said soothingly. "Now, now, Willie; don't weep. You're alive, aren't you?" He wiped his hand distastefully upon the old man's rumpled shirtfront. "Of course you are. For how long, I don't know. But you survived me. So chin up."
The vender stepped back shakily and David turned, approaching Alex with that chilling feline grace, looking him over carefully. His cobalt eyes darted quickly over him, taking in every detail with profound interest and observation. Slowly, they came up to meet Alex's own eyes, and David blinked.
~Is it just my imagination,~ thought Alex, ~or did I just see a third eyelid?~ He shivered as David took another step closer, and blinked again.
"So," he purred. "You're new here."
Alex nodded, the Pepsi bottle clutched nervously in his hand, which was beginning to sweat uncomfortably. "From Ohio."
"Hmm. Well, you'll learn how things work around here real quick." David nodded to himself thoughtfully, then said, at length, "Everyone does." He watched Alex looking down at the ground.
"What's your name?" he asked abruptly.
Alex looked up, startled. "Huh?"
"You're name, genius. To what name are you referred? Or shall I have to make one up?"
Alex grinned sheepishly. "Oh. My name's Alex. Alex Stern."
"Alex Stern...Hmm...I see." A nod. "You look like someone I knew once." A scowl flitted across his features, then was gone. "I am called David."
"Nice to meet ya," Alex said, and then almost groaned at how lame it sounded.
"Likewise." David tilted his head. "You seem alone," he observed.
"Well...I guess I just don't get along with people very well," Alex replied. Strangely, he felt he could tell this to his new acquaintance, though it had been considered a secret in the past. But David seemed like the type that would really relate. He did.
"I know what you mean," David replied easily. "And you're best to stay to that. People around here are shallow as puddles in August. No depth whatsoever. Not worth knowing." He tilted back the Tequila bottle and gulped half the remaining liquid without a wince.
"It seems like everyone's like that, nowadays." Alex began to feel less and less threatened by this new presence, despite what he had just witnessed at the concession stand. "Hey, you wanna go take a walk or something? Show me around? I hate standing in one place."
"All right," David said, squinting up at the lights. "Those lights are really starting to bug me anyhow."
They walked off in the direction of the beach, David sauntering slightly ahead. Alex cast one last glance back at the vender. The old man was shaking his head knowingly, a sad expression stamped upon his wizened features.
Chapter 2 by The MarkReaper
The walk around the boardwalk was brief. There was nothing to really get to know about it; shops here, a carousel there, many concession stands and throngs of people having fun all day and nearly all night.
"It's all the same, never changes," David remarked carelessly as they made their way down the beach, by the tide line where the lights were not so intrusive. "This town's so small people seem to think this place actually has some entertainment value." He snorted derisively. "So how late do you stay out?"
"As long as I want. My mom never notices I'm gone; she just gives me money and forgets about me. I love it."
"I'll show you my place, then," David said. "How did you get here?"
"To the boardwalk," David answered patiently. "Did you come by car? By bike?"
"Oh. Um...I walked." Alex was almost bursting with embarrassment.
"Oh." David made his way under the boardwalk, where light filtered in dimly from between the board slats overhead. He led Alex to where a motorcycle was parked, concealed far under the boards, leaning against one of the wooden posts. "You can ride on back, then."
"Wow," Alex breathed as he ran his fingers over the strange markings painted on the fuel tank. "A Harley. Your old man must be rich!"
David grunted. "Something like that," he said, and jumped on the bike, patting the seat behind him. "Well, get on, then. We haven't got all night."
Alex climbed awkwardly onto the back as he started the engine with a coughing roar, and then tore off at a high rate of speed. The bike leaped under them and Alex reflexively clung to David's thin waist for dear life.
"Hey..." David said in a strained voice. "Ease up, okay? You're squeezing me too tight."
"Oh, right. Sorry." Alex relaxed, embarrassed, as they tore up the boardwalk and onto a back road that went parallel to the beach.
"Never ridden on one of these before, I take it," David said, a hint of amusement creeping into his voice.
"Didn't know what you were missing, huh?"
"No way." Alex felt exhilarated as the bike roared powerfully onward, slowing down slightly as the road became quite steep, taking them high up onto a cliff. He peered to his left and saw the shoreline far below, the wave tips silver and breaking in the light of the moon. It was breathtaking, and Alex felt almost sad to leave it as the bike suddenly veered downward on another, smaller dirt road. Ten minutes later David shut down the engines outside a massive cave, surrounded by debris.
"Home," he said brightly, and jumped nimbly off the bike, helping Alex as he clambered off. "C'mon; I'll show you around."
* ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
"This is your home?" Alex asked incredulously.
"Yep," replied David proudly as they traveled farther down the chasm, finally arriving in a large room decorated with various cloth hangings and a huge picture of Jim Morrison. Fire burned in garbage cans, providing light inside. "Used to be a fancy-ass hotel, but in the San Francisco quake it fell right down into this crack. Now, it belongs to me."
"Wow...You live here all alone?"
"Yeah," David replied quickly, obviously trying to evade the subject as much as possible without seeming rude. Alex decided that it probably wasn't wise to inquire about his parents. He felt a strange sensation that something wasn't right as his mind related what he had said about David's old man being rich. He swallowed and quickly thought of something else.
David plopped down on an old, worn couch that was covered in blankets and drew the small bag from his pocket. He reached over to a small chest that was collecting major dust on the right side of the couch. It was wooden and atop its splintery surface sat a half- burned candle, white wax collected in shriveled rivulets down its sallow sides, void of a holder. The wax, which looked like it had been suspended in time, interrupted in its melting process, puddled around the base and sealed it to the wood of the chest top itself. David opened the lid and the candle stayed fast; he dropped the baggie inside and shut the lid again, sending up a puff of dust. He waved it away distractedly and reached behind the box, drawing out a decorative bottle that looked like it contained some sort of red wine.
"Thirsty?" he asked, grinning wickedly.
Chapter 3 by The MarkReaper
"What is it?" asked Alex tentatively as he peered at the bottle, whose gold gilding glittered in the firelight.
"Wine," answered David simply. Alex suddenly reached forward and grabbed the bottle, startling David so that he could not pull it away.
He brought the bottle opening up to his nose and gave a cautious sniff. He did not smell wine; Alex could not quite make out what the thick liquid smelled like, but it certainly was not wine. David watched him tensely but made no move to grab the bottle back.
Where had he smelled that odor before? Alex sniffed again and tried to place it. All of a sudden, the shock hit him like a tidal wave.
With a strangled cry of revulsion, Alex hurled the bottle. David reached up, and with impossible speed, snatched the bottle from midair and held it in his lap, smiling calmly.
"Blood..." Alex choked, "That was blood! Why is there blood in that bottle?!"
David's smile faded and he set the bottle on the chest top, leaning forward towards Alex. His eyes glittered in the firelight.
"Alex," he said slowly. "I am not like you. I am not...human." He watched Alex's terrified gaze with an expression of regret and almost sadness.
"What are you?...." Alex stammered.
David grinned suddenly, baring his teeth, and Alex cried out again.
His canines were long and jutting, pristine white and deadly as they shone in the half-light. His cobalt eyes had turned blood red and now radiated the keen, cannibalistic air of a killer. He reached out with his long-fingered hands, now devoid of gloves, and Alex saw catlike claws curving from their delicate tips. Gently, David stroked his cheek, and Alex was too terrified to pull away. David's voice was seductive, chillingly final.
"I am a vampire, Alex," he said simply.
"My God..." whispered Alex, aghast.
"Interesting choice of words," David hissed, and thrust the bottle to him again.
"Drink!" he snarled, his awesome fangs glittering in the firelight. "Be freed from mortality and old age, be whatever you wish to be forever and own the very night itself, own the people of Santa Carla! Alex..." he said, softer now, almost pleading, "...be like me."
David sighed again. "Alas," he said, his former fierceness gone, "I am alone. It is a long story and I do not think you are ready to hear it."
Alex was suddenly angry. "You don't think I'm ready? What the hell do you mean?! David, you took me here and tired to make me drink blood...Blood! And then you tell me you're a vampire and that you want me to join you....What makes you think I'm not ready?!?!"
"Because you are weak." David replied coldly. "You have much to learn. You did what should never be done and let your anger consume you; I did that once and it led me into a trap. As a result of my anger I am alone, or I was alone until this night."
"Why did you choose me?" Alex hissed.
"Because you are not like the others, Alex. You know how wicked people are, and you know how to walk your own path. I need someone like that to be my companion."
There was no reply from the shocked young man. David sighed. "Well, I suppose I'd better let you in on my story, even if you aren't ready."
"Once, there were six of us. We were living a life that everyone dreams of, untouched of all worries and always free to do as we pleased. Among us was a girl, Star, and a young boy who we wished to become one of us. His name was Laddie. They were only half-vampires, because they had never taken a life to satisfy their hunger."
"Star met a young man by the name of Michael. He was new to Santa Carla; we wanted him to be Star's first kill. But things changed; we knew she would not dare kill him because she was loved him as she once loved me. We made Michael a half-vampire, tried to make him full but he was too strong. He resisted his urges. He and Star, who always kept Laddie with her like a son, joined with Michael's younger brother and two boys who clamed to be 'vampire hunters'. They killed one of us, Marko, as we slept here in the cave. That was when my anger took control of me. I nearly caught the younger brother as he fled the cave but I went too far and the sunlight set me aflame."
"That night the three of us that were left came after Marko's killers. My two other companions were killed, and after a battle with Michael I was stabbed and left for dead. Our leader, Max, came and tried to take Michael's family as his own but he was also defeated. Star, Laddie, and Michael became normal again when Max died; as I said they were only half and half-vampires return to being human when the head vampire is slain. I survived and now here I am, alone. But Alex, I cannot live long without a companion."
"And now you want me," Alex croaked hoarsely.
"Yes," David answered. He cast his eyes to the floor. " I'm sorry, but if you don't wish to join me I'll have to kill you."
Chapter 4 by The MarkReaper
Outside the cave, the ocean waves broke and crashed furiously against the sandbar, the waves sometimes hitting so forcefully that beating spray slapped the cave stones with a hissing, roaring clamor. The moon pulled a blanket of clouds about itself and its glow was subdued, almost nonexistent, as the waters of the sea turned black as the night that embraced it.
A storm was coming to Santa Carla.
Alex Stern stood at the mouth of the back entrance watching the tempest, outwardly stoic; his hazel eyes unflinching as spray battered the walls around him and soaked his clothes. If his body was chilled from the wet and the night air he did not feel it. Outside himself, all was numb, but inside he was filled with roiling emotions. They pried and yanked at his brain, screaming ~Look here! Pay attention! ~ His stomach felt as if it were encased in a slick rubber glove, and his mind was filled to bursting, as turbulent as the sea he observed with a quiet sense of dread. But he did not move, and he did not blink. In his thoughts Alex had become a zombie.
Inside, David had seated himself on a high ledge overlooking the main room, his knees drawn up and his head resting upon them wearily. He could not see Alex from where he rested, but he could feel him, feel Alex's sense of betrayal and fear.
It was not supposed to be this way.
David felt ashamed that he had taken the young man in the first place. Surely Alex had big plans for his life, was going to actually ~be~ something, but in his loneliness David had cast that thought away. He had jumped into a decision that had, in a matter of minutes, changed Alex's whole life forever. And Alex had not even known, not even expected. He had just come to the stand to enjoy a soda. Nothing else.
Selfishness alone had done this, David's selfishness, his eagerness to no longer be alone, to be rid of the terrible emptiness inside that threatened to rip him apart at every waking moment, and even when he was asleep. It haunted his thoughts and dreams, and would not let him think of anything else. Except his Lost Boys. Their memories were all he had left, his only escape from his plague of sadness. All he wanted was for it to go away, to fade away forever into nothing but a hollow and meaningless memory. But instead, it was stronger than ever, and now inflamed with the guilt of what David had done to Alex Stern, who was only nineteen years old.
A solitary tear, crystalline and shining, slid down the soft, pale, childlike face. David made no attempt to wipe it away; it fell to the stone floor of the ledge and quivered there, sparkling in pristine, unequalled perfection. David looked down at it slowly and saw reflected on its tiny surface the faces of all his lost companions, smiling with the joy of living just as they always had. In the air the faint sound of their joyous laughter swirled about, thin and delicate as butterfly's wings.
David shuddered and looked away, hearing the laughter die away and the faint, soft sound of the tear vanishing finally into the stone.
"What have I done?..." he whispered brokenly, his shining eyes cast upward as if to seek redemption. But there was no one to give him an answer.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
The storm hit in the wee, heavy hours before dawn. The sound of the pounding rain and surf and the howling winds echoed throughout the cave.
Alex had come back into the main room and seated himself in one of the chairs. He saw the ledge where David huddled still, dozing or perhaps just lost in his own little world. Alex looked upon him and hated him in a hot and terrible way, a way that he had never felt before, not even with his father. It scared him, because this hate was different. It was not human.
He gazed for a long time at the silent vampire, and the more he did the more his hate was blended with a kind of horrible, deadly curiosity. What would it be like to be a vampire? What would it be like to be a companion to David, who just hours ago had fiercely threatened to kill him, but was now lost and brooding, seemingly regretful?
His hate was shining bright within, screaming at him to escape, to kill this wretched creature who took human lives to feed his own dark hunger. Alex looked up again and suddenly felt strangely resigned.
"David," he said sharply.
David opened one eye and started at him mutely.
"Would you really kill me if I wished to leave?"
"I would be forced to," David replied. His voice was hoarse and painful.
"No one can know of me."
"What if I swore I would never tell a soul, not anyone? What if I moved far away?"
David shook his head. "It is vampire law. If you refuse to become a vampire you must be slain. I've already told you everything."
"And what if I decided to become a vampire?"
David continued to watch him and said nothing.
"I mean, why do you need a companion?" Alex pressed. "And why me?"
"I've told you that already. I have nothing more to tell you. All that is left is for you to make your decision. And please do it quickly. The dawn will be here in two hours."
Alex clenched his fists and fought the wave of fear that swelled up inside of him. The time had come.
"David," Alex said, his voice heavy and final. "Make me a vampire."
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
The bottle rested undisturbed in Alex's steady hands. He sat upon the couch and stared at it as the firelight flickered and waned. His face was stiff and unreadable and his gaze did not stray from the gilded carafe. David sat pensively in a nearby chair, watching Alex's tormented face with grim sobriety. He did not hurry him, though the dawn was quite near and David could feel the terrible sleep that entranced vampires pulling him down again. He fought it with all his strength and continued to sit silently, his cerulean eyes filmed over slightly, dimming as the minutes crawled by. They did not reflect the firelight as Alex's eyes did; instead they seemed to absorb it like dry, hot soil soaking up a light summer rain.
Slowly, Alex brought the bottle to his lips. He inhaled, gave a small, almost imperceptible shudder, and held it there, his breathing quickened. He remained for several seconds that way before taking a deep breath and quickly bringing the bottle to his lips, letting its contents pour straight into his throat.
He gagged and choked for a moment, almost losing the blood in a spray that would have covered David, for he had leaned forward slightly and was scrutinizing Alex with dead, sedated eyes.
Alex got control of himself and brought the bottle up once more, drank, paused, and drank again. Each time he did the blood became easier to handle, even became sweet and almost desirable. Soon the world became a blur and all Alex was interested in was drinking the contents of the gilded bottle, whose intoxicating constituents seemed never to run out. The next thing Alex knew of the world was when he felt the bottle jerked powerfully from his grasp and he found David looking at him, speaking to him gently.
"...must stop now; you'll take too much," he was saying, corking the flask and storing it away in the chest. "Don't overdo it."
"Whoa..." muttered Alex as he stared fixedly at his hand.
His nails had begun to grow before his very eyes, darkening and curving into short claws. His skin had paled and, like he had noticed with David, he could see tiny veins mapped across his flesh. Images began to swim in front of his changing vision; colors became brighter and more vivid, and Alex could now smell a myriad of things he had never been previously aware of. The dust on the couch, the dull, heavy smell of the storm wetting the stone walls outside, the blood, his own sweat, the dirt floor, and the deep, incense smell of David.
And David...With his new vision Alex was taken aback by the appearance of the young vampire. His skin was white as paper, milky and smooth, and his lips were like silk. He seemed to glow in the fading light of the fire. His eyes, previously brilliant, were now truly breathtaking. He was watching Alex calmly.
"An angel...are you..."
"Hush," David told him quietly. "Don't say anything. The dawn approaches; we must sleep." He watched Alex's heavy eyelids for a moment and shook his head. "Don't fight the sleep, Alex. You need it."
He rose from his chair and flew to the ledge again; his sleeping place. David no longer slept in the back cave; there were too many memories, and the corpse of Marko, now a skeleton, still lay like a disjointed doll upon the floor. He could never bring himself to enter that room again and had sworn to himself that he would not.
As sleep overtook him he thought of his new vampire companion, and all the hardships he would have to face in the coming months. David said a silent prayer for him and closed his eyes.
Chapter 5 by The MarkReaper
The next night came as silently as death; the storm had raged throughout most of the day and had subsided by nightfall. The moon bloomed from behind its blanket of thin, spent clouds, and shed its sweet silver light upon the surface of the restless ocean and upon the hallowed stones of the Lost Cave.
Alex woke slowly, at first not sure of where he was. Reality set in with no particular hurry and he squinted at the barrel fires, which seemed never to burn out, and ran his hands through his short black hair. David was huddled still on the ledge, his eyes closed, the long lashes nearly brushing his cheeks.
Alex sat up, the muzziness of sleep quickly fading, drawing the silken haze from his senses, and stretched, hearing his joints crack satisfyingly. The noise was unexpectedly loud in the cave, and as the sound bounced crazily off the walls it woke David. His eyes opened languidly and fixed immediately on Alex, and he stared at him silently.
"Hi," Alex said.
David continued to watch him, without saying a word, unmoving from where he sat.
"I think the storm's through," Alex persisted.
"I can't hear it any longer."
No answer. Alex sighed and heaved himself off the couch, pacing about the cave to stretch his legs. Finally, David dropped gently down from the ledge and sniffed the air carefully.
"It will start again soon," he said at length, noticing how relieved Alex looked that he was finally speaking to him.
"It's okay; I like storms, anyway. It just has this delicious air of chaos about it..."
David smiled faintly. "You are beginning to think like a vampire as well as look like one, Alex."
In the dirty light of the fires Alex could really see how thin and worn his companion looked; nothing at all like he had seen at the concession stand. His forthright, fierce manner had deserted him, replacing it with a tired, almost sickly, suffering. His high cheekbones cast odd, distorted shadows upon his angelic features. His brilliant eyes were sunken.
"David," Alex said, walking slowly to him. "Please tell me what's wrong." He reached out to touch his shoulder, which rose and fell slightly with his shallow breathing.
David jerked away and he shook his head violently. "I don't see why you worry about me; I have no need for it." He stopped, and his eyes found Alex's, holding them fast in a piercing, cogent gaze. "Alex; tell me something. Why did you choose to be a vampire instead of choosing death?"
"Well...I didn't want to die, I suppose..."
"No," David growled abruptly. "You did die. Your mortal body died and now you have begun a whole new existence, here, in this corrupted place. It has no semblance to your pervious life. You tell me you didn't want to die...But tell me this, Alex: is your fear of death so strong that you would give up your whole existence for something unknown just to escape it?"
Alex's eyes were wide and confused. "Why are you asking me this? You're the one who gave me this huge choice; either way I could not have gone back to my original life." He watched David for a moment, then said, in a slightly mocking tone, "Or are you having regrets about making me a vampire?"
In a fraction of an instant, Alex found himself thrown against the stone wall with tremendous force, knocking the air from him. David's red-misted glower filled his vision and he was almost overcome with terror. The white-haired vampire held him firmly by the throat, his long, powerful fingers threatening to choke the life from his trembling body.
"How dare you speak to me in such an insolent manner!" he snarled. "I regret nothing, and if you ever so much as think of speaking to me like that again I'll kill you where you stand, do you understand?"
Alex nodded vigorously. David's eyes gradually returned to their original color and he dropped Alex to the ground.
Alex gasped and rubbed his throat, looking up at David, who watched him for a moment longer before whirling around and furiously striding up the left chamber path. His footsteps made no sound and he left no prints in the fine dust that coated the floor; though his trailing cloak stirred it up and sent a cloud swirling into the main cave. Alex felt the weals left on his throat and swallowed painfully. He had learned a valuable lesson.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
David stopped at the threshold of the back cave, his hands trembling. He had not been in the old sleeping quarters since the night of the disaster, and he had sworn to himself he would never return within the chamber. But now, an odd heaviness had blanketed his senses and some unknown sense urged him to enter.
Slowly, David let it consume him, and after several minutes of hesitation, took a deep breath, and stepped into the room.
Moonlight filtered in from a crack in the ceiling, illuminating the tiny, airborne bits of dust that eddied about like tiny bits of silver. Its rays kissed the reddened stones and pooled onto the floor, which was tinted with crimson as well. In the far left corner of the cave, in a puddle of moonlight, lay the skeleton of Marko.
Breathless with grief, David sat himself in front of the skeleton and let the moonlight illuminate his satin skin as his eyes drank in the sight of Marko.
The stake was still buried in his rib cage, standing up like a crude grave marker. Deftly, David reached out and plucked it away, holding it up for examination. It was evil and cold in its simplicity, stained with ancient blood. Its point was dulled and splintered; with revulsion David threw it away, hearing it clatter off the stones.
"Marko," he whispered. "In death you have become an eternal Lost Boy." He shook his head sadly and gazed at the corpse. "But it doesn't have to be this way forever. I..." He took a shuddering breath and clenched his fists. His eyes blazed in the dim light.
"Marko, I can bring you back."
Chapter 6 by The MarkReaper
The dusty, yellowed pages of the ancient book flapped noisily as David ruffled furiously through them. Its cover used to be a brilliant, supple claret leather, its title, Historium Des Vampires, scrolled elegantly in shining gold. Now, as hundreds of years saw the book to many different owners, the leather had become cracked and faded, the gold tarnished and chipped slightly, the pages crisp and delicate. David tried as hard as he could to avoid having them crumble and flake beneath the light touch of his fingers. Despite his efforts the occasional corner chipped off, with David grunting in annoyance.
Max had given it to him long, long ago, and he had never really read it; just leafed through it with slight interest, stopping to gaze at the beautiful, macabre artwork that was inked directly onto the pages. It was original, no other book like it had been produced, and Max had handed it over with great reverence and much ado. David personally had thought it a bore, but kept a straight face as Max had preached about it for nearly three hours. After which Max took his leave and David stowed the book away on a ledge in the Back Cave, where hardly any light would reach it.
Alex sat opposite of where David perched on the couch, watching him with cautious interest. Oddly enough he was not afraid of David, despite what had happened no less than four hours before. He had merely crossed a boundary best left alone and he accepted the fact with no ill will.
Outside, the storm had started up again, as David predicted. The squall sent heavy, large drops of rain and spume from the sea splattering on the stone surface of the Lost Cave; thunder boomed majestically at intervals like an immense celestial lion. It sometimes startled Alex with its unexpected fervor; he would jump slightly as his vampire hearing amplified the clamor. In his nostrils dwelled the acrid scent of ozone, alarmingly strong, and the heavy musk of rain-dampened soil.
David paid the storm no heed; he was sitting Indian-style on the couch with the huge book resting in his lap. He was absorbed in the strange tome; flipping frantically through the pages until at last he seemed to find what he was looking for. He growled triumphantly and stuck an old piece of paper between the pages as a marker, then shut the book with a muted *whump!*.
"What were you looking for?" Alex inquired quietly.
"Something," David replied, not unkindly, and set the book upon the chest. It balanced precariously on the tabletop as it shared its space with the old candle. "Some...history."
"Oh," Alex said mildly, relieved that David was no longer upset at him. "I suppose now that I am a vampire I should learn a little about our history as well."
"Only if you wish to. Some things are best left alone, for they are depressing and sometimes frightening. Vampires have a very turbulent history."
"I can imagine."
"One day I will let you read this book," David said, touching its surface lightly. "But not now. Right now all you need to know is some simple rules of survival: Never drink from your prey once the heart has stopped, stay away from sunlight and wooden stakes, and, most importantly, sleep when the urge takes you. A vampire who had lost too much sleep may simply slip away and never wake up again."
Alex pondered this with slight horror, then decided to change the subject. "What about the old traditional myths about killing a vampire? Can we be killed by garlic or crosses, or things like that?"
"No, not garlic or crosses. Holy water can act like acid if you were a Christian or Catholic when you became a vampire."
"Whew," Alex said, relieved. "I'm Buddhist. Never was into that God crap."
David smiled. "I was Pagan," he said. "Lucky for us. But wooden stakes can kill us, if we are taken through the heart."
"I'm not quite sure. Some say it is because wood is natural and pure; magical, almost. As vampires we are corrupted, for we have seen and inflicted much death to humans of all ages, innocent or not, both to feed and to curve our overwhelming rage. And we feel no regret for what we do."
Alex somehow doubted that if he killed someone he would feel no regret. However, he kept this fact to himself and instead thought about everything David had told him. "But...what if we're hurt badly, like say from a fall or some other injury?"
"Then you are wounded for some time, and eventually you heal. But, like humans, our scars do not." He held out his left hand for Alex to see. The flesh was knotted and twisted. "This is what sunlight can do," he said, allowing Alex to run his fingers gently over it. "You must avoid it at all costs."
"I will.... But, David?"
"What about one vampire killing another? Can you die as easily as if your were mortal, or are you still immune to death from injuries?"
David smiled faintly. "A vampire can kill one of his own kind almost as easily as one mortal can kill another. Even a half-vampire can do the damage, be he determined and strong enough, though it takes a very large amount of damage. I have told you about Michael; he very nearly killed me. But I was too strong and he was too weak. I was lucky, if you can call it that."
"Did he kill...your friends?"
David sighed painfully. "No," he said after a long pause. "Mortals killed them. And I wasn't there to stop them from doing so. I was too focused on Michael...My fury was so strong that I..." He trailed off.
Alex watched his pained expression, then said gently, "You really do miss them, don't you?"
"Yes, Alex. But it is my fault that they are gone. I should not have let my rage cloud my judgment so. If I had been more careful I would still have my Lost Boys."
"No," Alex said firmly, and grabbed David's hand. His companion looked up at him, startled.
"No, David," Alex continued. "It wasn't your fault. You told me the story and it wasn't your fault. Please don't ever think that. You did what had to be done, you were doing the right thing."
David smiled again, sadly. "Sometimes I still hear them, laughing and shouting. Marko's body still lies in the back cave. I cannot bring myself to remove it."
"I understand. And I only wish I could do something, anything, to ease your suffering. If only there was a way to bring at least one of them back..."
David looked at him, his smoldering eyes set. "There may be."
Chapter 7 by The MarkReaper
The storm grew increasingly worse as the night progressed, and, as if the tempest's agita had been a kind of omen, David developed an acute case of unrest which grew rapidly into a kind of distraught torpor. He had been ready to explain to Alex what it was they had to do to bring the one called Marko back, was even beginning, vaguely, to bring it to light, but something seemed to stop him and he suddenly stopped himself. He sighed and shook his head at his own words, murmured something as if scolding himself, said no more of it. Alex coaxed him, scrutinized him, confused at his companion's sudden change of heart, but David only shook his head firmly.
"It's not right," he insisted. "Not right. Forget I said it; I can't believe I even thought of it. What rubbish."
Alex decided to leave it at that; David's eyes were beginning to redden and his teeth were clenched. He decided it was best not to anger his counterpart and instead occupied himself with one of the many ancient books lying about the cave in no semblance of order. There was an abundance of Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Trotsky, and many others, along with some Alex had never heard of before. Modern, artsy lit, probably; Alex had spotted some Kerouac amongst the novels scattered on the floor.
He had a nagging feeling that the information David was about to relay to him concerning the reanimation was in that huge book of vampire lore. But he could not get near it; David kept it by him at all times, reading through it occasionally but mostly just holding it, seemingly grappling with himself and his decision. He would open the book to the marked page, read it over, and chew his lip pensively before shutting the book again and drumming his fingers on the cover. Once, he opened his mouth to say something, but he stopped just as he got the first part of the word out and transformed it into a growl instead.
Both Alex and David drank from the bottle of blood; David refused to leave the cave and Alex could not bear to satisfy his hunger in traditional vampire fashion. What he found most interesting was that the blood in the bottle never congealed, never ran out, and, quite oddly, was always warm and fresh, "Like drinking straight from a vein," as David put it. He felt thankful for this; as long as the bottle was around he had an excuse not to kill for his nourishment. He cradled it in his lap like he had done with a hot cup of tea merely days ago, sitting by the big picture window at his new home, watching the azure waves break against the shores.
Only the sound of the rain and the occasional grumble of thunder permeated the cave's silence. David was lost in his thoughts and Alex was lost in his book; even the sea was quiet despite the storm. For once Alex was at peace.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge blast of thunder ripped the lid off the sky. Alex yelped in alarm and flew from his chair; David looked up from the book, his arched eyebrows raised slightly. The smell of ozone was biting and sharp, and mingled with something else that Alex could not identify.
David gave the air a cautious sniff and rose from the couch, motioning Alex to take his seat again.
"I think the cave's been struck," he said calmly, and trotted off down one of the passages, following the scent.
Now alone in the huge room, Alex used his opportunity and tiptoed to the couch, quickly taking up the book and, opening it to the marked page, began to read hastily:
~* Reanimation *~
~* With the blood of a new Vampyre comes life within death; a conquering of a Vampyre's own mortality. With blessed Liquid poured upon the remains of the deceased, be they intact, life will flow again to his tissues, light will shine again within his Vampyre eyes, and thought will once again dwell within his brain. *~
The sound of David's cloak swishing against the stones jerked Alex away from the text. He shut the book quickly and set it down in its place where David had left it.
Seconds later his counterpart entered the room, slightly damp from the rain but otherwise unaffected.
"Lightning hit the rocks," he said. "No biggie."
"Good," Alex replied airily, and patted the chair he was seated in. "But good thing vampires don't pee; I'm sure I would've pissed my pants all over your nice chair here if we did."
David shot him a black look, then grinned. "Well, a good thing for it, then," he said with good humor, and curled up on the couch again, this time selecting a small black book from within the little chest. He opened it and was instantly absorbed in whatever he was reading. Alex went back to his own book, but he noticed that David kept the book right beside him, perhaps guarding it against Alex's eyes.
But it was far too late for that. Alex Stern already knew.
Chapter 8 by The MarkReaper
One night, long after the storm had subsided and the sea was calm again, Alex decided to explore the cave.
The urge was sudden but not unexpected; being stuck in one room for nearly three weeks now would sooner or later take its toll, and on this night it did. Besides, his mind had been toying with and poking furtively at the idea of reincarnating the Lost Boy who's skeleton was still in the back cave. Marko was his name, Alex remembered. It would be a surprise for David, he was sure of it. But whether or not it would be a good surprise was one of the problems, and what if Marko was entirely different when brought back? Changed, his former personality gone, evil maybe...There were a lot of things that could go wrong, and the book didn't help in the least. All it gave were bare facts.
Plus, would it be the right choice to fool with such a serious thing? After all, David himself had been ready to get on with it, but he had stopped himself before relating the information to Alex, and then almost subconsciously kept the book from him. There had to be a good reason why he changed his mind. And then there was what Alex had read in the book, about sprinkling his blood over the remains of the deceased...But the book had stated that the remains must be intact.
This was one of Alex's main worries. By intact, did the corpse have to be freshly dead, or did it mean simply that the vampire in question merely had to be all there, not blown all to hell and back by some untimely, violent end?
That was a good, legit question. And there was only one way to find out, but supposing it did work? Alex was not entirely sure his counterpart would appreciate having his dead friend brought back to life, especially if the outcome of his personality was unknown. Risky, Alex thought. Very risky, indeed.
He forced himself with a strong will to stop worrying about it before it depressed him, and instead rose to his feet and draped his book over the blue velvet arm of his chair.
He faced David, who was curled up on the couch with a giant collection of Edgar Allen Poe, and said brightly, "I think I'll explore the cave tonight."
He waited for a few seconds before David finally gave a noncommittal grunt, which was slightly surprising; Alex had almost been sure he would object for one reason or another.
Pleased, Alex turned and headed across the room towards the forked hallways, almost reaching the left passage when David stopped him.
"Oh, and Alex?"
Alex looked over his shoulder. "Yeah?"
David's eyes bored into his, suddenly serious. "Don't go down the left passage."
"Oh, right. The left passage." Alex nodded confirmation and took the right instead, vanishing rapidly into the enveloping darkness.
"Hope he's used to his new sight," David muttered to himself. Suddenly, almost as if on cue, there was a large crash in the corridor followed by a few shouted expletives and a lot of banging about.
"Take a lantern," David shouted, trying hard to mask the amusement in his voice. "They're in the room to your left; feel along the wall till you touch the door handle. But be careful!"
There was a bit more cursing and banging, and he shook his head in silent mirth. Vampires were supposed to be able to see in the dark.
A few minutes passed when finally a faint glimmer of light from up the passage told him that Alex had found the lantern. Breathing a sigh of relief, David turned his attentions back to his book.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
Alex glared at the lantern in his hand, its dirty, spluttering light throwing grotesque shadows on the walls around him.
"Jeez," he muttered. "How fucking embarrassing." Irritated, he kicked aside the remnants of the mirror he had knocked off the wall during his mad scramble in the dark. They tinkled and flashed as he sent them flying with the toe of his boot, burying themselves in the worn red carpet, which over the years had been trodden flat by the cave's inhabitants. Patches of the stone floor glared through the tattered shag and Alex took great care not to slip on the nylon threads that sparsely covered some of the holes. Despite his care he slid occasionally and cursed softly under his breath.
There were a few rooms to the left and right of the hallway, whose walls were papered with a pattern of read streaked elegantly with gold and silver. Some of the mahogany doors opened and some did not; many of the rooms had collapsed in on themselves and the piles of stone pushed against the doors, bowing the damp wood into slight arcs that gave the hallway a very surreal quality.
~ Almost like a Dali painting, ~ thought Alex as he curiously opened doors and peek inside, holding the stuttering, spitting lantern aloft, bathing the inside in light.
Nothing much was in the rooms; some old furniture, paintings, things very dated and obviously rarely accommodated. But Alex was sure they must have gotten some use; there were quite a few Lost Boys and surely they didn't want to spend their entire time in the cave sitting in the main room. Dust sat thick as winter snow over everything; Alex was awed at just how utterly beautiful everything would be if properly restored.
He had made it just about to the end of the hall when a certain door caught his eye. It was the very last door on the right side, and Alex immediately noticed that it did not have a knob; instead it had a large bar that suggested it as a public room instead of a private suite. Curiously he pulled it open; the timbers of the door creaked and groaned, shedding a fine haze of dust.
Alex stuck the lantern inside and looked around.
He was surprised at what he found. It was a passageway; the door on the other side was ajar and Alex could see a hallway on the other side of it just like the one he had passed through. He stiffened suddenly and almost dropped the lantern as the realization hit him: It was an alleyway leading directly to the left passage!
Chapter 9 by The MarkReaper
Cautiously, lantern held high to illuminate his way, Alex stepped into the passageway.
The floor was littered with broken furniture, and the dust here was worse than anywhere else. It was all he could do not to trip over the bits of wood, chair cushions, and upholstery; often times his foot would come down upon one and he had to jerk it upwards quickly and grope for the grainy wall to keep from falling over.
Thankfully, the journey was short, and within a few minutes Alex had carefully picked his way across and was soon standing in the left passage.
Excitement gripped his stomach in an icy embrace and his breathing came short and fast as his eyes roved around and took everything in. The left passage was not as well preserved as the right: the threadbare carpet was almost nonexistent, and on this side a mossy slime coated the walls and the floor. Moisture dripped from the ceiling and landed upon the stones with a hollow *plip plip plip* that echoed and gave the chilly hall an eerie feeling.
A cold draft blew in often, raising gooseflesh on Alex's already clammy skin, and the dilapidated, flaking doors guarded rooms from which whispers emanated vaguely, voices from the past which could be heard but not understood. Oddly enough, Alex was not afraid. He felt the pronounced, long dead energy swilling about in the stifling air, and was convinced beyond a doubt that the left hallway, unlike the right, was haunted. Big time.
The left corridor was much longer than the right; and it did not end with a wall but instead with a narrow, dark passage that seemed to lead somewhere accessible. Alex slipped and slid on the damp stones as he thrust his lantern into it to get a better look. The wall ended here and the natural formation of the cave took over; the slimy stones led down into a small room whose entrance Alex could just see from his vantage point.
~ Wow, ~ he thought, and without a glance back or a second thought began to make his way down the tunnel.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
David looked up from his book as an unusual draft blew softly into the room. He could not tell where it came from; it was a cold, whispering breeze that swirled around him but did not disturb anything, like it wasn't really there. It seemed almost to be warning him of some impending happening, but what?
His brows furrowed slightly and he cautiously gave the air a halting sniff. He could smell nothing out of the ordinary, but he listened to the sounds of the cave with an intent ear; head cocked in an odd, inhuman gesture of concentration. He blinked quickly and sighed , dismissing the whispers and the shadows that played on the wall. Normal cave stuff; he just supposed he was more in tune to it because for once his mind was slightly less troubled tonight.
A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and he returned to his book. Nothing could have warned him what his companion was about to discover.
Chapter 10 by The MarkReaper
Strangely, there was no dust along the slippery passage. Alex supposed it was because of that damned wind which constantly circulated, full of those tormented whisperings and stale despite its coldness, as sickeningly stale as the air of a tomb.
~ Maybe the ghosts don't like their home dusty, ~ he thought darkly, and continued slipping and sliding his way down the path, which was beginning to steep downwards as Alex neared the entrance of the room. The going was rough and soon a heavy sweat was beading his brow. The lantern light bounced crazily off the walls as he bumped along.
Alex got there eventually and paused at the threshold, setting down the lantern and leaning against the slimy wall trying to regain his breath. As he stood panting, he felt his new, acute vampire senses picking up things that he had never noticed before: the drips of water from far below the cavern, tiny little shufflings and scratchings of creatures he didn't want to even think about, and various smells.
Out of nowhere, a feeling in his gut suddenly sickened him; hitting him without warning. It wasn't really a physical feeling, but one of extreme foreboding and something else that he could not decipher. It was foreign, as if something was doing it to him, trying to warn him out of the cave, to push him back before it was too late.
He doubled over and began to tremble violently, his eyes bulging as he fought harder than ever for breath. He made weak cawing noises in his throat as he tried to fight off the asphyxia of terror, his clawed hands scrabbling blindly, agonized, at the wall.
And then the visions came.
They were like nothing he had ever experienced, even with his former days of rashly experimenting with acid and mushrooms. While those had made him oblivious to reality and absorbed in what he saw, made him certain they were palpable and real as could be, these were entirely different because he was sober, alert, and aware of his surroundings. He could not be sure whether they were playing out in his mind or if the translucent scene in from of him was actually there; but he could see the walls of the cave glittering in the lantern light, as real as they had been a few seconds ago.
It was a grisly scene: a young vampire with curly, golden locks and a cherubic face writhing on the floor in agony, a wooden stake protruding from his chest like an appalling flag staff. His fangs were bared in a scream and blood was everywhere; painting the walls and puddling out onto the floor where he lay transfixed in his death throes. It poured out of him in great heaving floods, out of his mouth, his nose, his ears. His eyes rolled back and, as death blessedly ended his torture, a single tear, tainted with scarlet, trickled form the right one, and then they closed forever.
As Alex watched, sickened, the deaths of all the Lost Boys played themselves out in front of him, and even David's own horrible stabbing. Their shrieks were bursting in his ears and Alex would have screamed his own pain and terror if he hadn't felt like something was squeezing his throat.
He pitched forward, choking and whimpering, unable to see where he was going and unable to care, until finally the visions began to fade and within a matter of minutes all was still again, calm as it ever was.
Alex had sunk to his knees and was slowly regaining his breath, not to mention his sanity, when his hands, stroking the floor as he wept silently with fear, brushed something cold and hard. Confused, Alex wiped the tears from his eyes and looked down, then voiced a low moan of horror as he saw what his hands had been touching.
The bones lay perfectly intact, held together by the tattered remnants of the garments that had been worn when the victim had died. Alex knew immediately who it was lying long dead upon the cold, unforgiving stones.
"Oh..." he whispered, and ran his trembling hand along the curve of the skull, his horror fading rapidly away into sadness and sympathy for the young vampire. "Marko..."
Suddenly, the thought came to him, about what he had read in the book. Kneeling before this skeleton, feeling in a way that only other vampires can this Lost Boy's pain and suffering, Alex found that he was no longer unsure of what he was to do. He had made up his mind, and there was no changing his mind.
He would bring Marko back. This very night, right here and now.
Chapter 11 by The MarkReaper
David looked up again from his book, and once more he sniffed the air. Alex was so far back in the cave that he could no longer smell the smoke from his lantern, which sent a pang of warning shooting through his stomach. There was no sound, and the stirring breeze came suddenly again; swirled around him and plucked at his long coat with a sense of urgency that was not there before, the whispers escalating and growing louder. He could almost make out what they were saying.
It was from deep within the cave, it seemed. It carried with it the musk of the caverns, and the slight, acrid tinge of the lantern smoke, which relieved David a bit because he had been fearing Alex had possibly fallen somewhere and his lantern had gone out.
"Alex?" David looked around him in confusion. He rose from the couch, closing his book and setting it down on the cushion.
Slowly, he approached the right side of the tunnel, a frown tugging at the corners of his silken lips. He peered into the dark tunnel and his eyes glittered with worry.
"Alex?" he called, more loudly this time. He stood very still, listening, when something very suddenly yanked sharply at his coat, nearly pulling him into the passage.
He looked down, startled, but there was nothing there. The breeze with its indecipherable whispering surged around him more strongly than before, and as its whooshing filled his ears a small, almost soundless voice murmured softly to him,
He drew back from the oddly familiar whisper. "Alex?..."
His coat was tugged harder this time, jerking him all the way into the passage. He stopped as the feeling vanished again, his eyes taking in the darkness with the sight of a vampire, allowing him to see clearly. He continued on his own after a moment, going deeper and deeper into the chamber, alarmed that Alex was nowhere to be seen. He opened every door he encountered and peered inside; nothing. What was going on?
"Alex!" he called again, his voice tinged with anxiety. The hallway grew shorter and shorter as he quickly strode its length until he was standing in front of the wall that dead-ended the corridor. Confused, he turned and let his eyes sweep again over the distance he had traveled. He cocked an ear and listened: not a sound could be heard save for the usual night noises of the cave. The doors of the corridor had all been shut when he came through, but...
Suddenly, his whole being sank as his eyes fell on the door leading to the left passage. He drew in his breath sharply and his eyes widened with a mixture of shock, terror, and fury.
It was open slightly.
"NO!" he shouted, and flung it open with all his considerable strength. The door was supposed to have been boarded up!
Roaring with rage, he bulled forward and leapt over the debris in the room, making it across in only a few seconds, flying now, his fury burning inside him like a horrible acid. He sailed through the corridor, eyes glowing red, until he reached the seemingly dead end. He knew Alex would not be in any of the rooms of the left side.
The stone passageway leading to the back cave was too small and rocky for him to fly through; instead he charged down it, avoiding the stones and rocky overhangs with the grace and ease that only a vampire could possess. He did not have far to go before he reached the entrance, and came face-to-face with Alex, standing calmly in the doorway, his hand trickling blood.
"I told you never to come down here!" David snarled. His clawed hands flew out to Alex's neck, but he stopped cold as a low voice came from within the cave.
"It's all right, David."
Chapter 12 by The MarkReaper
David froze as he realized the voice had not come from Alex. Wild-eyed, he stared at his counterpart, trying to make some conclusion through his shock.
He didn't have to. After a moment, a figure stepped up from the cave and stood behind Alex, slightly taller than he was. Alex stepped to the side, his face tight with apprehension, as the young man reached out for his former leader's shoulder. He smiled serenely, his hazel eyes brimming with joy.
"David, it's me." His gentle voice was soft with emotion. "It's me, Marko."
Wide-eyed, David staggered back against the cave wall, all his fury gone, replaced with a stunned weakness. His eyes were fixed on Marko, their cobalt depths huge, sparkling pools of disbelief.
Marko smiled again; that same, serene smile. "Yes. Alex brought me back."
David jerked his head toward Alex, who stood looking like a child expecting the wrath of his parents. His hand was still bleeding slightly; David could see the bite marks at the fleshy base of his thumb as he nervously kneaded his shirt, twisting it in his fingers and spotting it with blood.
"No...no, this isn't...isn't right...isn't..." David stammered, backing down the passageway. "No!"
He turned and fled, his whole being gripped with panic and unwanted emotions. Leaping over stones and debris, he ran the length of the passage and into the main room, where he collapsed onto the floor by the ledge and lay shaking.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
Alex turned a frightened gaze to Marko. "Is he okay?"
"He's upset," Marko replied softly. "And rightly so. I'll have to ease him into this."
He placed a hand on Alex's shoulder, his eyes warm and friendly. "Alex, you must listen to me and do as I say. Please do not involve yourself with David right now; he is dangerous and obviously in quite a bit of shock. It's my job to make it like it used to be. Okay?"
Alex nodded dumbly. "Marko?"
"Did I make the right choice? I mean...it's weird asking you because you're the one I brought back...but...I just dunno if it was right..."
"I think what you did was drastic, but your heart was in it and it may be the right thing in the end. It just does not seem like it right now; how would you react after seeing someone, a friend, that was dead for so long?"
"I can't imagine."
"Exactly." Marko smiled. "But everything is going to be okay. I promise."
Alex smiled back at Marko and slowly they began to make their way down the passage, headed for the main room.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
David looked up from his half-sleep as a hand rested softly on his shoulder. He knew the feel of that hand; he had felt it before, long ago, and its gentle touch sent waves of misery through him. He groaned.
"David," Marko's voice came mildly. It sounded the same as it always had, but this time around it was less wild, wiser and serenely benevolent. It was thick with emotion; sorrow and joy mixed together in an agonizingly familiar tone. David had felt that sorrow and joy before.
"David," Marko continued, "Alex brought me back because he could see how badly you were suffering. He found the cave purely by accident, but when he found my remains he had made up his mind that it was the best thing to do."
He helped David sit up as the young vampire watched Alex fixedly. "You read the book," he said flatly. It wasn't a question.
Alex nodded nervously, and at a nod from Marko, haltingly explained himself. "When the lightning struck the cave that night and you went to check it out, I saw that you had left the book behind and I ...I read what you were going to tell me in the first place." He shook his head. "You had stopped so suddenly, just as you were about to tell me, and it peaked my interest. I wanted to find out what the big deal was; you had hinted at it before but I could see that you were fighting with yourself and you weren't going to tell me. So I just...found out for myself."
David continued to stare at him, absorbing what he had just been told, but Alex noticed his baleful glower fade gradually until at last he sat expressionless, looking worn and haggard. Marko's pale hand was still on his shoulder, patting gently.
He sighed suddenly, and looked up at his long lost friend. "Okay," he said, resigned. "What happens now?"
Chapter 13 by The MarkReaper
The next week was uneventful, at best. There was much talk among the three, mainly between David and Marko. Alex, proud of himself but unwilling to show it, merely sat back and listened with an interested ear for a good portion of the time. Granted, he did speak a little, about his past and what he thought of his life now and then, and about how he didn't miss his mother at all, though in secret he did, very much so. Mainly, though, he was content to just listen to David and Marko as they held deep, involved conversations.
The past history of the two sounded like a wonderful dream; the carefree days of the Lost Boys, and stories of the two other vampires, Dwayne and Paul, of whom had been part of the pack. After all the stories about them Alex began to sorely wish he had known them. They sounded very special and a lot of fun to be around, just like David and Marko had been. But those days were lost now; they were broody and often totally enveloped in their mourning of the other two Lost Boys. But it wasn't solely of them that they spoke of.
Alex was intrigued at the mention of the girl, called Star. But as the hatred radiated from the two vampires as they spoke of her, Alex began to absorb it and soon loathed the very mention of her name, which wasn't always referred to as Star but often as 'the Traitor'. They rarely spoke of Michael and his ilk, the ones who had slain the whole pack and caused the misery that had transformed David from an energetic, powerful young vampire to one that was frail and brooding, and quite often malevolent for no reason. But in the whole, David and Marko poured over their pasts fondly, and it was clearly shown in their voices, despite all they had gone through, how glad they were to be together again.
It seemed, to Alex, that he had done the right thing in bringing Marko back.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
One evening, about a week and a half after the fateful night of Marko's reanimation, the sunset came with the ominous rolling in of thunderclouds over the craggy black outline of the mountains. In the light of the setting sun the undersides of the silent giants were colored a bruised purple, with occasional crackling shrieks of lightning flashing them briefly to a thick, heavy gray. Another storm.
David woke to find Marko standing at the mouth of the cave, looking out at the sea and the clouds beyond. Alex was still asleep in his chair and David uncurled himself quietly from off the couch; long past were the days of hanging upside-down. He rose and on silent feet made his way across the room to stand next to his friend.
Marko felt the slight breeze as David came to him and he turned with a slight smile. "It's all like it used to be," he said softly. "All of it; never changed a bit. Except..."
"Except that now we're the only ones left," David finished for him, and placed a cool, comforting hand on his companion's shoulder.
"They'll never come back," whispered Marko, his large eyes liquid with pain. "We'll never be a pack again."
"I wish...I could have done something to stop them. I should have smelled the humans in our cave, should have woken up before they..."
"There was no way." David shook his head firmly. "No way. None of us sensed them, none of us expected them. It was no one's fault."
"You did good to bring Alex here," Marko said with a sigh. "I cannot imagine having to bear this mourning alone." He turned and studied David, frowning. "And yet, look at you. Bottled up inside this cave, thin and frail as a little bird. This torture has changed you so much."
David looked at the floor. "I can handle it now. You're here; I know now that all is not lost. We've still got each other, and Paul and Dwayne live on within us."
"And their spirits in this cave," said Marko. "I hear them when you have gone to sleep and I am just drifting off. I hear them whispering and laughing."
"They're happy again," David smiled suddenly, something he had not done in some time. "We have each other now and they're happy again."
Marko smiled as well, and both remained silent for a time, gazing out at the sea, which was becoming restless with the onset of the storm. Thunder rumbled in the distance and lightning frequently lit up the newly darkened sky like a flashbulb. The sun had retreated behind the horizon of the sea as if seeking shelter from the thunderheads, now swollen and turgid with rain..
"I love storms," Marko said at length. "I just love the chaos of them."
David turned to him and grinned.
"What?" asked Marko, confused.
"Nothing," said David.
Marko continued to study him for a moment before turning back to the sea. "I'd like to go out hunting soon," he said airily. "I'm getting a little bit of cabin fever in the cave. I'm not used to it like you are. Besides, I never could stay in one place for long. You know how I am."
David nodded his agreement but said nothing.
"Anyway, I'd just like to see the docks again, and get a nice fresh meal, something young," he continued, and then, a little more quietly, said, "...and I'd like to take Alex with me."
"What!" David spluttered in surprise. "Take him with you? You mean to feed?"
"Well...yeah. I think he'd enjoy it. I mean, we both get along really well and I'd like him to see how wonderful it is to be among humans who don't know what you are."
David shook his head slowly. "Well, I suppose I can't stop you, but I have to say I don't think it's a good idea. I don't think he'd enjoy killing."
"I dunno." David shrugged. "I can just...sense it. He's young, Marko. Innocent."
"Well, I'd still like to ask him," Marko said firmly. David could tell that his mind was made up. He sighed and gave up the fight.
"Well, all right, you can ask him, but I still don't think he'll be up to killing."
"We'll see." Marko watched the fast approaching clouds contemplatively. "You never now 'till you ask."
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
Inside the cave, Alex had awoken and was sitting up, wondering where his friends had gone to. He heard the thunder and smelled the approaching rain, and with a little sigh he figured they had gone out to watch it arrive.
He rose from his chair and reached behind the chest by the couch, drawing out the bottle of blood. He unstopped it and took a long, hungry gulp, let it settle for a moment, and took another. After he was finished he set it down and glared at the book perched on the arm of his chair. Books were very fast wearing out their appeal; the Alex had to face the facts as he plowed his way uninterestedly through another volume of Shakespeare: he was bored.. Terribly bored.
He was just beginning to toy with the notion of throwing the accursed book into the sea when the voices of his two companions echoed down the main passage, and they strode smoothly into the room.
"You're awake," David said with a little smile. "Good."
Alex returned the friendly gesture, touched by the odd display. David usually addressed him unsmilingly, but lately, with the arrival of Marko, he had become a much more pleasant vampire to live with.
"You slept late," Marko said. "Were you kept awake?"
"For a while," answered Alex. Then, leaning forward and speaking in a low voice bordered with excitement, he said, "There were whispers. I heard them clear as moonlight. Whispers, coming from the left passage."
Marko and David turned to each other and smiled serenely. "You needn't worry about that," Marko said, walking forward and placing his hand on Alex's shoulder. "They'll do you no harm."
"Then you've heard them, too?"
Another secretive smile passed between the two vampires. "Yes," said David. "Don't concern yourself with them."
Alex nodded and dismissed it, his attention drawn to Marko, who had seated himself next to Alex on the couch and was looking at him intensely.
"Alex, I've got something to ask you," he said.
Chapter 14 by The MarkReaper
"Go out? You mean leave the cave?" Alex was surprised at Marko's offer. He looked to David, who stood off in the shadows, his face unreadable.
"Well, I'm not one to stay bottled up in one place for long. I want to go to the boardwalk, and I was just wondering whether or not you'd like to join me."
Alex thought for a moment. "When?"
"Tomorrow night, if the storm's not still active," Marko said, his voice a little lighter now that he knew he had won. "You game?"
"C'mon; it'll be fun. I can tell you're getting bored of reading."
"Well...um...I guess." Alex smiled. "Yeah. I think that'll be fun."
"Good!" Marko happily got up from the couch, seized the bottle of blood, and took a deep swig. David continued to watch expressionlessly.
"Are you going, too?" Alex asked him, beginning to get excited about going out.
David shook his head.
"I don't really like to leave the cave anymore," he answered. "I only go when I have to."
"Too many memories."
Alex found this strange, as he thought the cave would hold more of those than anywhere else in Santa Carla. But he didn't question it; it wasn't wise to question David and he had learned that valuable lesson already. Instead, he averted his attention to the thought of going out and seeing all the people, of the thrill of taking in the world with his new vampire senses. The sights, the smells...he already felt the heady, intoxicating rush of it all and sat dreamily for a time before snapping out of it and realizing he had been sitting with a goofy leer of pleasure plastered all over his face. David was still leaning against the wall, and was now grinning at him with obvious amusement. Sheepishly, Alex got his facial expressions under control and felt himself blushing. Thankfully Marko had not noticed and was instead busily flipping through a large, illustrated version of Edgar Allen Poe's greatest works, happily enthralled in the detailed pen and ink pictures.
"They go with the whole story so well," he murmured to David. "Everything looks like I imagined it would have. This must have been Max's; it's very old but it looks as if it's rarely been looked at. Figures." He grinned and handed the open book to Alex. "Have you seen this one?"
"No," said Alex, taking the book. He looked at it and immediately fell in love with it. Every poem, every story he had loved by Poe was in there, and Marko had been right when he said the illustrations matched them perfectly.. It was as if he and the illustrator had shared the same brain. The sweeping lines of the blade in " The Fall of the House of Usher", the bold, thick strokes accentuating the deliciously evil look of the bird in "The Raven". Everything was so...perfect.
David noticed his eyes shining with enchantment and stepped forward, sinking into Alex's chair with a contented sigh. "You can have it, Alex, if you like," he said at length.
Alex looked up, startled. "Huh?"
Both Marko and David were smiling at him. "The book," David said patiently. "The way you look at it tells me that it is something special to you. So, you may have it."
Alex gaped at him. "You mean, it's mine?"
"Sure, if you want it."
"You're welcome," David said, nodding with satisfaction. "For a change of pace, Marko is taking you out with him. Consider this my contribution to the fun."
Strangely touched, Alex ran his fingers over the slightly yellowed pages and absorbed the happy rush that came in knowing that the magnificent volume was his, and his alone. He was aware of that goofy grin creeping up the sides of his face again, and quickly got it under control. He could almost feel his eyes sparkling.
David watched him, pleased that Alex was so happy with his gift. He looked to Marko, who was also smiling with quiet joy, and felt himself relax. Maybe things were going to be all right after all.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
David had one concern, however. They sat around the room for many hours, reading quietly. It was an hour before dawn when Alex, transfixed in his new book, dozed off quite suddenly. David motioned to Marko to meet him outside and the two rose quietly and went to the cave opening.
It was raining now, big, cold drops vibrating with the grumble of the thunder. However, it was not a huge storm and the sea was quite calm, as there were no strong winds to batter it about.
They stood watching the lightning for a while before David spoke up.
"You didn't tell him you were going to kill," he said, his eyes still raised to the sky.
Marko sighed. "Well, I didn't want to mention it right away. I mean, did you see how happy he looked when he said he'd go with me?"
"Yes, but that's because he doesn't know you're planning to feed."
"Well..." Marko paused, his eyes never leaving the sky. "I want to really ease him into it."
David shook his head. "Marko, doesn't part of the easing process involve telling him what you're easing him into?"
Marko grinned. "Well...I don't want to scare him. And look, if he really doesn't want to kill, I don't want to spoil his good time. I'll just forget it and go out on my own the next night."
David looked at him. "Do you promise?"
Marko sighed again. "Yeah. But I just want to show him the thrill of killing and how different fresh, warm, living blood and flesh tastes."
"He's still a half vampire, you know," David said quietly. "He has never killed before. If he agrees with you he'll become full."
"So?" Marko shrugged. "What does it matter? As it stands now he already thinks he's full. He won't know the difference."
David frowned, disturbed by the absolute lack of control Alex had over his own existence. But he knew that Marko's case was solid, and there was no use arguing with him about it. If possible, Marko was even more stubborn than he was.
"All right," he said, giving in. "Fine. But you have to swear that if he doesn't want to do it you'll leave it be."
"I swear," said Marko, grinning with his second victory of the night. "Don't worry."
But David was worried. Very much so.
Chapter 15 by The MarkReaper
The following night saw the storm clouds still heavy over Santa Carla, but at a momentary lull for rain. The boardwalk was occupied again, filled with people as varied as the gaily colored banners and flags being sold at the Reggae crafts stand.
It was here that Alex and Marko stood, beaming with the sheer joy of being out in the world again. Marko was conversing with the stand owner, a tall Jamaican man with a rich, friendly voice, as Alex looked around with interest at all the things for sale in the tent.
A little paraffin lamp was lit and hanging, its flame sparkling merrily, flooding the little tent with its bright, cheerful light. Necklaces of hemp and leather hung like odd fruit from the cross-post of the little tent, their pendants swaying and tinkling in the slight ocean breeze. The smell of incense was strong and pleasant in its unburned, fresh state, lying out in rows beside sandalwood burners. There were huge banners of Bob Marley and several other artists, including the same hanging of Jim Morrison that was mounted on the wall of the main room back at the cave. Alex smiled serenely at it and turned back to Marko, who was had just finished his conversation and had bid the vender a fond farewell.
"Old friend?" asked Alex.
"Yup. I haven't seen him for..." Marko grinned at him. "Well, you know."
They walked on in silence, along the Boardwalk, where the teeming throngs of people partied and laughed and generally had a good time. Alex could smell them and in his gut he felt a strange hunger; he looked to where Marko strode along beside him and noticed he had an eager, tight look on his face.
They strolled for a while more, seeing all the old sites, reveling in their memories, but Alex found his odd hunger growing and suddenly Marko pulled him aside, under the boardwalk where no one stood.
He looked intently at Alex, his face pale and his eyes burning in the murky gloom beneath the boardwalk. "Alex," he said softly. "I...I'm hungry. I'm going to feed."
Alex stared at him a moment, then, slowly, comprehension spread across his features. He swallowed hard, fighting against his own burning hunger, and felt himself begin to tremble. He was so hungry, and the smell of all the people, their bodies warm, pulsating, flowing with rich, hot blood...
He shook his head violently and turned away from Marko. "Is this why you brought me to the Boardwalk tonight?" he asked thickly.
"No, this isn't why." Marko's voice was slightly hurt. "I brought you here with me to see everything again, to live again. But Alex...we're vampires. We cannot control our hunger. We must feed."
"Are you...going to kill someone?"
Marko didn't answer. After a time Alex felt his hand rest gently on his shoulder.
"Join me, Alex," Marko whispered. "Taste fresh blood. It's time you found what real bliss is....feeding on living, rich blood."
"Alex, please. You won't regret it. Please feed with me."
Alex wrestled with himself, his hunger, and soon found that he had lost. He turned back to Marko, who was watching him with wide, anxious eyes.
"All right, Marko," he sighed. "I'll feed."
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
David sat in the entranceway of the cave, watching the moonlight turn the whirled clouds into silver spun sugar. They were moving slowly across the sky, scudding nose-to-tail in the pristine, starry night, letting the moon itself peep through often. Its light was everywhere; everything it touched seemed to drink it up eagerly, begging for more.
The ocean, too, was as restless as David felt. It licked and smacked at the shore, seeming almost agitated, the black waves cresting and rolling uneasily across the dark sand. David sighed deeply and drummed his fingers on the book he was reading. The breeze flapped the pages against his fingers and as he moved his left hand slightly the edge of the page caught his flesh and cut it.
David looked down with a startled gasp, and brought his hand up. Blood dripped from the side of his index finger and he watched the drop as it oozed slowly from the wound. He shivered and licked it away, his uneasiness growing as the sudden image of Alex flashed across his brain.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
The young man never knew what hit him.
It had taken one swift bite to the neck and all his teenage angst was at an end. His Walkman tumbled from his hands and landed with a soft thump on the sand as Marko held him, extinguishing his burning hunger with relish.
Alex watched, strangely numb, as blood seeped from the corner of Marko's mouth, still locked firmly on the teenager's throat. The feeding vampire let a soft moan of ecstasy rumble in his throat and he held his prey firmly in his deadly embrace, and suddenly Alex envied him.
"Wait, watch how I do it and then it'll be your turn," Marko had told him, his voice tight and eager for the kill. And now, Alex could hardly wait for his turn to come. His hunger screamed through his veins and he longed to feel the ecstasy his companion was experiencing.
Despite his longing, however, he stood silent and observant until Marko was finished. The area was deserted along this far stretch of beach, and when Marko was done he quickly hauled the body to the water's edge and threw it into the sea. The oily waves bore it away cleanly, without a trace.
He walked back to where Alex stood, in no real hurry. A smile was lounging on his bloodstained lips and he dragged an arm across them, wiping it away.. His smile widened into a grin very much like David's, baring his fangs, and he reached out and took Alex firmly by the arm.
"Your turn," he said gleefully, and they began to run back to the boardwalk, where the masses of people had begun to dissipate. They walked without difficulty across the trodden sand of the beach, both grinning now.
After a short time, Marko stopped suddenly and pointed.
"Look there," he said in a low voice.
Alex looked, and he saw what Marko was pointing to.
Another young man sat by himself near the water by the shore. He was separated from his peers and obviously high on marijuana; a smoked joint lay on the sand a few feet away form him, smoldering. Alex could smell the scorched leaves and see the glowing orange ember of the tip, and he wrinkled his nose in revulsion.
"What luck!" Marko whispered excitedly. "He's all alone! You can feed right there; no one can see!"
Alex breathed heavily, his eyes glowing with anticipation. His hunger was stronger than ever and he could hear his heart beating, drumming hotly in his ears.
"What do I do?" he asked breathlessly.
"Go up behind him, turn him around. Like I did. It'll be easy; he won't fight if you bite him hard enough, right here." Marko pointed at his own throat, indicating where the bite should be placed. He gave Alex a little shove and whispered, "Go for it!"
Alex let his hunger overcome him and he flew across the sand, making no sound. Almost without thinking he took the young man from behind and whirled him around; the boy looked up in muddled, friendly confusion, his eyes momentarily locking with Alex's, obviously thinking whoever had grabbed him was one of his friends. Alex hissed, jerked the boy's head back, and with a strangled cry of triumph, sank his fangs into the throat.
The blood of the jugular spurted immediately into his mouth, flooding it, saturating his whole being with its rich, sweet taste. It was thick and hot and a beautiful scarlet that Alex could see out of the corner of his eye, splattered on his hand which was entangled in the boy's long punk-rock hair. He drank as if he would never drink again, his vision fading, senses fading; all of him fading away until all there was...all that mattered, all that was real, was the taste of the blood and the feeling of it flowing into his veins. He was engulfed with a rapture that did not fade until, after what seemed like an eternity, the blood began to run cold and his senses returned to him.
He could hear Marko laughing delightedly off to the right of him; could see that his pale flesh was now a wonderful, healthy pink. He could feel the terrible hunger gone and he knew the blood was dead now; it was all over.
He dropped the body to the sand and looked down at it; the boy was lying on his back, arms wide as if embracing the night. His open palms were full of moonlight.
He was dead. Alex Stern had made his first kill.
Chapter 16 by The MarkReaper
David was lying on the couch, trying his best to read but being quite unsuccessful, as his thoughts plagued him and plucked his attention away. Exasperated, he threw the book down and glared at the ceiling.
He hoped with all his heart that Alex had not given in and fed. He was too young, too compassionate to be part of a true vampire's dark longing. He was a new vampire, only a half-vampire, still very human in almost every way.. When the hunger was gone and the excitement wore off, his human emotions would surely kick in, and that was what worried David the most.
Now that Marko was back and he wasn't so desperate for a companion, David could see that Alex did not belong with them. He had left behind a life, and his mother, who was probably utterly destroyed over the loss of her only son. But there was hope for Alex, as long as he didn't feed...There was a way he could be made human again, be returned to his mother and his home, his normal lifestyle.
David thought about this feverishly, but his dim hope was extinguished instantly when Marko and Alex returned home.
Marko came in first, no blood on his clothes but his skin was flushed and glowing with life, a sure sign that he had fed. He was smiling happily, almost oblivious to his surroundings, infatuated with the bliss of his first kill since he had been brought back.
But it was the sight of Alex that took David's breath away. He stumbled in after his companion, his lips and clothes stained with fresh blood. His eyes were shocked and remorseful; he did not mirror Marko's potent joy.
David rose from the couch, shrugging off Marko as he threw a friendly arm about his shoulder, instead going right to Alex.
"You killed..." he said softly, and felt the leaden weight of dread sitting heavy in his stomach.
Alex nodded slowly as if he could not believe it himself, his eyes wide and full of pain.
"I killed," he whispered. "David, I killed..."
He stepped forward and dropped his head onto David's chest as the vampire's long arms enfolded him, wanting to ease his pain but not knowing how to. Alex began to weep softly, almost inaudibly, and David looked over his shoulder at Marko, who stood watching the spectacle in startled disbelief. Obviously he had not noticed Alex's lamentations and had merely thought his friend was sharing in his own peculiar happiness. David saw his confusion and gently motioned him away; Marko, understanding, headed off down the left passage to let the two be alone.
"I was so hungry," Alex sobbed. "The boy was sitting alone on the beach and I..."
"Shhh. Hush, it's all right."
"I wasn't even thinking!"
David patted his back gently. "Alex, that is a vampire's way. When the hunger takes over you are powerless to resist."
"But I could have," Alex moaned. "I could have fought it, but I didn't and now that boy is dead..."
"He didn't even do anything!"
"Alex!" David took him by the shoulders and held him at arm's length, wiping away the streams from his tearstained face. "Now listen to me," he said firmly. "You could not have stopped yourself. Do you understand? The hunger is too strong for any vampire to resist. You did what your instincts told you to do."
Alex regarded him doubtfully, sniffling. "But how come you never get that hunger?" he asked.
David sighed and led him to the couch, where they both sat down. David began to explain.
"Alex, if I were to come across a living human then yes, I would have the same hunger," he said patiently. "But I live off that bottle of blood because after I saw my friends killed before my very eyes and found myself alone I could not bear to take another life to feed myself."
"Is that why you stay here?" The dull light of understanding began to shine in Alex's eyes.
"Yes," David sighed. "I don't want to subject myself to that. I want to stay here because I know I would not be able to resist my hunger, either. No one can."
"Not even you?"
David shook his head. "Not even me."
Alex did not look like he felt much better but he stopped weeping and furiously scrubbed his bloody fists into his eyes, smearing away the last of his tears. He looked up as Marko entered the room again, almost meekly, and sat in Alex's blue chair.
"Alex," he said softly. "I'm sorry I put you in that position. If I had known..."
"It's all right," Alex said, and he found with some surprise that he meant it. "Neither of us knew that I would feel this way."
Marko seemed to be satisfied at this but he still had a guilty air about him that Alex felt he could do nothing to pacify, just like David's soothing words could not pacify the guilt and horror that had seared itself into his brain.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
The rest of the night was uneventful, with all three sitting around the cave reading, as they had done for so long now. Alex had gone off a side passage, David leading him, into a little room where a deep underground stream trickled from the rocks and formed a small lake.
"This place has been a secret of the Lost Boys for a very long time," he had informed his companion, leading him by the arm down the steep slope that took them far underground. "I haven't been down here in ages."
In the cool, clear water Alex cleansed away the blood that covered him, washing away its smell, thankful to his friend for showing him the way down, for he did not know what he would have done if the crusted blood had remained on his skin. The water was quite deep towards the middle and he took a short swim in its black depths, breathing deep its freshness.
He finished after a long while, lingering for a time in the purity of the water, which had never seen the light of day, and then reluctantly rising from its silky shroud feeling cleaner but no better inside. David had left him to his own and headed back to the main room, and Alex could tell he was worried. As he put on his clothes and sat on the bank he found that his friend's concern was the least of his worries. There was something far greater that was tugging his thoughts away from everything else.
He remained on the bank, time lost to him and he wept again, silently. After a while he heard David's gentle, soft voice calling him a little further down the passage. Alex tucked in his thoughts and rose to his feet, heading in the direction of his companion's voice.
Chapter 17 by The MarkReaper
"He's really upset, isn't he?" Marko asked David. Alex was still heading up the tunnel and it would be a few minutes before he got back. David cast an anxious glance towards the dark opening. His chiseled face was drawn, his cheekbones exaggerated with his near emaciation, casting long shadows along the lines of his jaw. His brilliant eyes, gleaming uneasily in the light of the can fires, were hallowed and sunken. A frown tugged the corners of his lips as he answered at length.
"He'll be okay," he replied thinly.
Marko obviously did not believe this. He stared at David for a moment. "Do you think he resents me for it?"
"No." Another abrupt, unsure answer.
"Do you?" Marko's voice lowered.
After a long pause, David slowly shook his head. "I don't blame you for anything. As Alex himself said, no one knew he would react the way he did. No one could tell how it would turn out."
David looked up, startled at Marko's heavy words. He listened carefully as his companion continued, leaning forward, his dark eyes smoldering with understanding and regret.
"You knew how he would feel if it happened, didn't you, David? That's why you were discouraging me. You knew."
"I had an idea. I didn't know for sure."
"What led you to that idea, then? You were trying to stop me from getting him to feed, and I saw that you meant it. How did you know?"
David drummed his fingers absently on the arm of the couch. "I thought about it. He's still human in many ways. It seemed logical that if he were to have killed he'd feel human remorse."
There was no more talk after that. Marko was silent but his face was a picture of pained remorse and it hurt David to see it, but for the second time in his life as a vampire he was unable to do anything to help. All he could do was sit back and let Marko wrestle with himself.
After a brief time, Alex reappeared at the mouth of the tunnel. His short black hair was still damp and he smelled of the deep water of the spring. He was clean and rested now but he looked like he felt no better. Without a word he crossed the room and sank into the blue chair, ignoring David's gentle, quizzical looks. He turned on his side, away from the couch where his two counterparts sat, and let the dark sleep overtake him.
David watched him for a long time, long after Marko had fallen into a restless, shifting sleep. He thought about what was happening in the young man's head, what he could be feeling. David did not remember his human days at all and he was morbidly fascinated by what human grief was like, but as he sat gazing at his young friend the longing to experience it for himself disappeared like so much smoke in the wind. Across his sharp mind the picture of Alex's tortured face the moment he walked in the door that night was indelibly stamped. It played across again and again, the young man's handsome face so terribly distorted with the horrible combination of grief and remorse, of guilt and a deep, numb sadness that was not at all foreign to David himself.
~ No, he can't be going through what I did, ~ he thought, ~ Or is he?...~
David shook the thought from his mind and closed his eyes. As the urge to sleep overtook him, he cast one final look at Alex, whose back was still turned.
A warning flashed across his darkening mind, fleeting but sharp and piercing, as the spirits had been warning him of Marko's return, but before he could address it the sleep was upon him.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
Alex woke up before his companions, which was a blessed relief because the task he had planned was at hand and would be unhindered with them unknowing. He could smell the air of the early evening, sharp and clean but still holding the warmth from the heat of the day, the smells of the Boardwalk. His plan...he had given it much thought while he lay the night before, feigning sleep. It seemed the best thing to do and he was eager to ease his tortured, turgid mind. The pain within him was like nothing he had ever known and it had to stop or he felt would explode.
He rose carefully from his chair like he had done for many weeks now, thinking for the millionth time about his mother, whom was fading from his mind more and more as time passed. This frightened him, the way his whole mind just embraced his new, odd lifestyle, and forgot about what he had left behind.
The book David had given him was lying in a small, hidden compartment under the chair, protected from the dirty, smoky light of the cave. He bent and retrieved it, drawing it forth and noticing with satisfaction that there was no dust upon it and it was exactly the same as when David had handed it to him. He opened the black leather cover and flipped through the pages reverently, running his trembling fingers over the drawings and the hand scrolled words. With a sigh, he shut it and brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply; it still held the lingering aroma of deep sandalwood, the smell of David.
It was a good smell, comforting, and he paused for a time before drawing away and tucking the book under his arm. He cast a glance at his two friends, still sleeping very deeply, and his heart twisted in his chest.
They lay in the strong, seductive trance of vampire sleep, and in the light they looked like two porcelain dolls propped up on the red velvet couch, flawless and pure. Their smooth, delicate vampire features were achingly beautiful and serene, long lashes nearly brushing their alabaster cheeks; fragile, refined hands draped gracefully beside them with the long fingers curled placidly.
~ Together again, ~ Alex thought fondly. ~ Like it always should have been. ~
Another pang wrenched his heart and he had to turn away. Something inside wanted to be with them forever, longed for it so badly that Alex nearly turned back, but his misery was too great. He seized his book tightly and walked quickly out the main entrance of the cave.
The smell of the outdoors brought back painful memories, both of his past life and his new ones. Head bowed, he walked quickly to the cliff overlooking the sea, where below the waves crashed furiously upon the craggy rocks.
And as the water battered them again and again, everything came back. How much he missed his mother, how much he had come to love his two friends, and how horrible it had been to take a human life without control. And to savor the blood that flowed like rich dark wine as the young, innocent body died with a gentle sigh in his arms...
Before he could stop them, hot tears began to stream from his eyes and flow down his cheeks. He raised a hand to wipe them away, and as he gazed at it a new sadness flooded him.
It was delicate and white, as graceful and resplendent as those of his companions. And with a sickly new bout of sobs shook him and his tears flowed anew, he realized that now he, too, was a real, full vampire, as beautiful and perfect as David and Marko.
It was what he had been feverently wishing for the moment he became a half-vampire and saw David with his new sight. The beauty of his counterpart had taken his breath away, and deep inside he longed to be the same way, and now, it had come true.
But it was too late. It was far too late for that now.
He looked over the ragged edge of the cliff again and down at the roaring, angry water, but instead of chaos beating upon the smooth stones he saw only peace and purity, a promise that the inner torment inside him would come to an end forever. The clarity of the sharply spiked rocks and the dark water soothed hi, bringing a blessed sense of peace within. As he gazed down his sparkling eyes lost their pained look and as his face relaxed, a small smile of satisfaction took its place.
And without another glance back, Alex Stern soundlessly hurled himself over the edge, his book still clutched to his chest.
~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~ ~*~*~*~
As soon as David jerked awake, he knew what had happened. His sixth sense was strong in him, a gift given to him by his creator, though sometimes he longed to be without it.
He hurled himself from the couch, the dream that had awakened him still vivid in his memory. The muzziness of sleep faded quickly and he looked frantically around the room.
Alex was nowhere in sight, and with a deepening sense of dread David walked quickly to the main entrance. As he thought; the scent of Alex was strong; he had passed by here about two hours ago.
David no longer felt the need to hurry. He knew now exactly what had happened, and as he exited the cave he knew where to go. He reached the edge of the cliff as a light breeze whipped his cloak about his ankles, and, looking down, moaned softly.
Alex lay at the bottom, pierced by the rocks. Tattered pieces of paper floated around him and were plastered wetly to the stones around him. His arms were spread wide and his head was thrown back as if he were offering himself to the soft, star-strewn sky.
David stood silently, tears coursing down his cheeks, and after a while he heard Marko's frantic footsteps crunching up the dirt behind him. He turned mutely to face his friend.
"David!" Marko panted. "I've been looking for you everywhere! I can't find Alex!"
David's voice was calm and strong as he replied, "You don't have to look for him any further, my friend." He pointed down.
Marko looked over tentatively, then jerked back with a sick noise and stood for a moment, shocked.
It hit him like a tidal wave, all at once. With a sob of despair he slumped against David, sobbing. It was a horrible, gut-wrenching sound, and David concentrated on the sound of the waves so he would not have to listen to his friend's heart breaking.
"It was my fault!" Marko sobbed brokenly. But David just patted him and shook his head.
"Is he gone forever?" The question sounded as if it had been asked by a grieving child, a youthful innocence that did not quite understand the meaning of death.
David nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid he is. He died by his own hand; it is as lethal as anything else. But Marko, his pain is gone."
"I can't believe he killed himself over guilt like that..."
Again, David shook his head. "It wasn't just that, Marko. Alex was not happy; I could feel it in him, sense it in the way he spoke and the way he sat so deep in thought all the time. He missed his mother dearly, and he had a lot of wishes that he knew would never come true. He had a hard life, Marko, but it's all over now. He is at rest."
Marko had recovered slightly listening to his friend's calm, strong words and reassurance. And this time, he believed everything. When David had told him that Alex's death wasn't his fault, he did not doubt him now, for it had become obvious that David knew Alex as well as he had known himself.
So of course he believed him. With all his heart.
Marko pulled away from David and stood on the cliff edge again, saying a silent prayer for his lost friend, who had died so young. When he was finished, he turned back to David, his lips curving into a rueful, sad smile.
"Well, David," he said. "I guess it's just you and me now."
David smiled back at him, the same sad smile. "You're right. Just you and me."
Together, they turned back to the cave and went inside, the darkness swallowing them up as they went as one, walking side by side, friends reunited for eternity.
And the moonlight was silver upon the black waters of the restless sea, catching the embers of young Alex Stern's spirit, now at peace, which rose from the craggy rocks and slipped silently in the direction of the town of Santa Carla.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.