Weep Not For The Vampire
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by William A. Veselik
Category: Horror/Fantasy EPIC eBook Award Finalist
Description: A vampire, weary of his undead existence and haunted by his recent slaying of an innocent child, returns to his rural Virginia hometown planning to find some method of destroying himself. He unexpectedly discovers a daughter and granddaughter he never knew he had and learns--to his horror--that one of his own kind is now preying on his grandchild. Before he confronts the rival undead, the vampire manages to make his final peace with the wife he left behind and free them both from a love that has survived both the passage of time and the darkness of the grave.
eBook Publisher: Mundania Press LLC/Mundania Press LLC, 2006 2006
eBookwise Release Date: December 2006
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [298 KB]
Reading time: 194-271 min.
The vampire arrived on the midnight Greyhound bus from Roanoke.
The driver and every passenger that was awake on the bus--at least those who bothered to take notice of the vampire--saw only a paunchy, balding man in his mid-fifties dressed in a rumpled business suit and carrying a single black leather valise. The vampire had the kind of face that was easily lost in a crowd, and more easily forgotten by the casual passerby.
As the bus' airbrakes hissed loudly and its door snapped open, the vampire stepped into the cool mountain air of a Virginia night in late March. The bus terminal, which was little more than a covered aluminum awning attached to a dingy convenience store, was deserted except for three old wooden benches that were slowly rejecting seven layers of ancient paint.
The night clerk at Ferguson's One-Stop rarely paid much attention to the few Greyhound passengers who came and went, unless they entered the convenience store to escape bad weather, use the restrooms, buy cigarettes, or ask directions. And even though the latest arrival did none of these things, the clerk noticed him just the same.
Feeling a slight chill climb up his spine and tickle the base of his neck, twenty-year-old Vernon Hill slowly looked up from his hunting magazine to see what he first took to be a handsome, dark-haired man in his early twenties who was carrying a black leather bag. The new arrival glanced around the parking lot, his eyes darting and probing every shadow outside the One-Stop, until suddenly his gaze came to rest squarely upon the clerk. If anyone had thought to ask him later, Vernon might have said that his mind went blank in that instant. But as quickly as he had seen the young man, Vernon had forgotten him utterly. As far as the clerk could see, the only passenger who had departed the Roanoke bus was a lean, sandy-haired gentleman in his late forties. He was wearing a tweed jacket, an open-collared shirt, khaki slacks, and scuffed boots. The man was carrying a black leather valise.
Vernon Hill shook his head abruptly, scattering the half-imagined memory of a dark-haired young man. He refocused his eyes and spotted the sandy-haired traveler, who only smiled benignly in his direction. The clerk returned the new arrival's grin and even managed to raise his hand and offer a lazy wave in greeting. He went back to reading his magazine at the convenience store counter, the incident already forgotten.
The vampire glanced about again, this time taking in the buildings and streets of the surrounding area. He already knew there were no threats in the darkness beyond the lights of the One-Stop's parking lot. No humans lay in wait for him in the deep shadows there. The only other creatures were a few night birds that were resting in the low branches of the maple tree that overhung the rear door of the convenience store. Sleeping squirrels were nesting in the higher boughs of the same tree. He had also spotted a scrawny raccoon scurrying through the unlighted parking lot of an old warehouse across the highway from the convenience store. And then there were the assorted field mice and other small vermin that populated the grassy areas nearby.
The vampire could hear the beating of each heart, however small, however distant. He could see and feel the heat of their bodies, sense their soft breathing. He also knew that the night watchman was dozing in the warehouse's rear office and there was a man drinking liquor from a bottle in an alley a hundred yards distant. The man in the alley was dying of emphysema, slowly. The vampire could hear each shallow, raspy intake of air as the man struggled to breathe.
These survival skills the vampire never took for granted in the way that mortals rarely appreciated their own five senses. Vampires, denied any daylight existence, could instinctively focus every fiber of their beings on the night world around them. They were predators, highly intelligent and possessed of superior strength and reflexes. A vampire had no need to analyze the subtle reverberations of a distant sound or pause to distinguish between the patterns of heat shapes he saw in the dark. The vampire simply knew the source and direction of a particular sound ... saw the species and exact numbers of those shapes.
It was not necessary for the vampire to switch on these senses. They were always with him, feeding both vital and trivial information about his environment and his intended prey. But neither could he simply turn them off to escape the incessant flow of sensory input. The vampire could close his eyes, but he still heard the heartbeats. He could plug his ears, but still the smell of fear or desire permeated the air. He could pinch his nose and yet still he felt the stirrings of air currents brush his skin as others approached.
Nothing but a frenzied hunger for blood, born of long deprivation, could overshadow or block these senses. A vampire starved for blood gave no thought to any sensation but the taste of fresh, warm blood, and no vampire voluntarily sought that state. For regardless of whether a vampire might be able to ignore the onslaught of his own senses--at least for a while--during such a feeding frenzy every vampire also knew he was vulnerable.
In the blackness of a moonless night, despite his heightened senses, the only thing a vampire couldn't tell was whether another of his kind stalked nearby. Vampires had no beating hearts. Their body heat was usually based on air temperature alone. They did not breathe for respiration, but only mocked the action to give the illusion of life to the mortals around them. In the world of his night senses, other vampires were unreadable voids, dead spots on his personal radar screen. And he was also unreadable to other vampires, which kept them on an equal footing.
Vampires were, by nature, lone hunters and very territorial. But they always knew each other by sight. Whether in the glare of a streetlamp, the soft glow of a candle-lit restaurant, or profiled in silhouette against a night sky, any vampire recognized another of his kind. It was not so much what he saw in such instances as what he did not see.
The vampire standing outside Ferguson's One-Stop this late March night had no idea if others of his kind hunted the dark streets and dusty country roads of his childhood home. If he had been a religious man in life, he might have prayed that he was the only one. However, he wasn't a religious man, even in undeath.
As the door of the Greyhound closed softly, the driver carefully folded and tucked his timetable inside his jacket pocket, switched out his map light, and put the bus into gear. He glanced around the interior of the bus, but no other passengers were preparing to depart. All were seated. Most were sleeping. The driver then surveyed the parking lot of the convenience store but spotted only a single traveler under the aluminum awning. He gripped the handle of the lever that opened the bus door and pushed firmly. The door hissed as it yawned open.
A sandy-haired man in his late forties stood only five paces from the entrance to the bus. The paunchy, balding man was long gone, he assumed, although the driver did notice that the younger man carried a black leather bag identical to the one carried by his departed passenger.
"Sir?" asked the driver. "Are you waiting for this bus? We're headed on to Knoxville."
The vampire turned to face the driver. He shook his head slowly. "No, thanks," he replied in a dreamy voice. "I'm already home."