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by Brian Stableford
Description: A vampire who calls himself Maldureve comes out of the shadowy borderlands of existence in response to the unvoiced desires of philosophy student Anne Charet. By choosing to see him she gives him substance; after feeding him, she too begins to hunger for blood. Maldureve becomes Anne's lover and mentor but he cannot protect her against his own enemies, mysterious creatures of light who call themselves owls because they believe that theirs is the highest wisdom of all. Anne's boyfriend, psychologist Gil Molari, worries about her health and state of mind, although he knows nothing about his supernatural rival. His anxiety is magnified when he becomes convinced that one of the mind-altering viruses with which he works has escaped from the laboratory. Gil refuses to believe in Maldureve but his refusal to believe cannot save him from becoming the victim of a fierce hunger that he cannot satisfy, which drives him in the end to an unendurable extreme. Anne believes that her experiences are entirely real; Gil believes that his are the products of an infectious madness. Whichever of them is right, they are both in deadly danger, and so is everyone around them. Once they have started on their strange journey, there is no way back. But what can possibly lie ahead of them, when death itself no longer seems to be an end?
eBook Publisher: E-Reads, 1992 e-reads
eBookwise Release Date: October 2002
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [534 KB]
Reading time: 369-517 min.
I let it happen. I wanted it to happen.
I could say that I was under some kind of magic spell, or that I was mesmerised, that I couldn't help myself, but Dr Gray would call that fudging. According to Dr Gray -- and he's right -- words like 'magic spell' and 'mesmerised' aren't proper explanations at all; they're just empty concepts, lame excuses for not looking any further for real explanations.
I let it happen, even though I was afraid. I wanted it to happen. I wanted him, more than anything on Earth... I mean, more than anything else on Earth.
I wanted him, and Maldureve took me. He drew me a little way into his own world, which overlaps with ours but isn't really ours. He came out of the shadows and acquired flesh. He needed blood, and the blood he wanted most was mine, and I gave it to him. Knowing that it was impossible, knowing that he was impossible, I gave him my blood to drink. I can't really explain it. I have no excuse, if an excuse is what I need. I wanted it to happen, desperately. I needed it to happen. Why an ordinary person like me should need something like that, I don't know, but I did.
Maybe it would have been more appropriate, in a way, if we had done it out of doors, while dark shadows lay upon the world like a great blanket of mystery. Perhaps I should have laid myself down in that soft leaf-litter which carpeted the ground beneath the gnarled trees in the Marquis of Membury's Garden: the exotic, foreign trees which didn't really belong there. Perhaps we should have made love in the heart of the moon-shadow cast by one of the gabled attics of Wombwell House.
If he'd been hungrier, more desperate, I suppose it might have been like that. But Maldureve was very patient -- even more patient than Gil. He was a gentleman, very scrupulous about touching, pressuring. I suppose he had to be, when he was only shadow and hadn't yet found substance, but even when he'd put on flesh, he didn't pressure me. He knew that I would give him what he wanted -- what he needed -- in my own time, and he wanted to wait, for my sake. He lived with his hunger until I was ready to appease it.
We did it, in the end, in a very ordinary place, which seemed to me to be a million miles away from the shadowy world from which he'd come, but wasn't. The borderlands are everywhere. By that time, he could tolerate dull daylight. Even the glare of the electric lights wouldn't have hurt or dissolved him, but we steered clear of those anyhow.
It was in my room in Brennan Hall, which wasn't even in the old part of the campus, although it was on the edge opposite to the science blocks. We used the same bed on which I'd sweated and wriggled and shuffled and shoved with Gil without -- as yet -- going all the way. The light was off, but the curtains were half-open. There was a yellow sodium light just outside, and although the bulb was below the level of the sill, and had a hood on it to reflect its light downwards, it still leaked a muted fiery glow into the room. So we weren't exactly doing it in the dark; once my eyes had adjusted to the dimness, I could see the contours of his face.
I went into it, you see, with my eyes open. I knew exactly what I was doing. I wasn't hypnotised.
It was very different from what I had expected sex to be like, and from what sex eventually turned out to be like. It seems slightly absurd to say that, given that it wasn't sex at all, and there was no reason to think that it should be in any way similar -- but it was similar, in some ways. It wasn't sex, but it felt sexy. In fact, although Dr Gray might consider it an incoherent thing to say, it felt much sexier than sex. Perhaps what I really mean is that Maldureve made me feel all the things that sex is supposed to make you feel, whereas being screwed by Gil, when I finally let him do it, didn't. Being screwed by Gil, even though we were civilised and gentle about it, felt much more like what I'd imagined Sharon must have felt, being screwed up against the back garden wall by some scrawny sixteen-year-old goth. She'd told me that it wasn't so bad, but she'd also confessed that she was high on ecstasy, so I knew that she probably hadn't a clue what it really had been like.
I'd never taken ecstasy or anything else. I valued my clarity of mind too much.
There was no real need for us to be naked, but we were. We both wanted to be. It must have been like sex for Maldureve too, although he didn't get excited in any recognizable way. He didn't have an erection. He didn't do anything with that at all -- but he caressed me with his silky hands, lightly, affectionately. He touched my breasts, my shoulders, my back, my thighs, but he didn't touch me between my legs. It wasn't actual sex, but it was unbelievably sensuous.
His body was as silky as his hands: smooth, flawless, beautifully shaped. It wasn't soft, but its hardness wasn't coarse, like Gil's. Maldureve's body was like a work of art: something patiently carved out of some strange, exotic substance; like wood, but not wood; like marble, but not marble. He was massive, but he didn't seem oppressive. Somehow, he supported most of his own weight, the way Gil tried to but couldn't ever quite sustain, even when we were only messing about. I didn't feel uncomfortable under Maldureve -- pinned down, yes; imprisoned, yes; but not trapped. It was like being tied up with rope so gentle and so velvety that the restraint was sheer delight.
I kissed him a lot, mostly around the neck and the shoulders. I think he liked being kissed on the neck best of all. I think that meant more to him. He kissed me, too. Eyes, mouth, neck, breasts -- nothing lower down. His kisses were very gentle, but not weak. He didn't try to force his tongue into my mouth, but there was nothing damp and feeble about his kissing. They were strong kisses, insistent in their way.
I got very hot, I burned... long before he actually did anything... anything that could be thought of as a climax, as it... I was swimming in supernatural heat, in fervour, in tides of pleasure, the way I never had done in damp and distant dreams, or when I brought myself off. Long before we got to the actual point of it all, I felt that I was in another world, and that it was a better world, where it felt better simply to be... the kind of world we ought to be in all the time.
I don't mean to imply that I wasn't frightened. I was. But the fear -- even the thought of my blood being let -- was just part of it. I thought it would hurt more than it actually did, but the thought of being hurt was just part of it, another dimension of excitement. The fear was part of the thrill, as it always had been with Maldureve. That was Maldureve's magic, if he had any magic at all: the ability to transmute fear into something welcome, something sexy.
I had never felt like that before, but once I'd had a taste of it, I didn't ever want to go back. I felt that I was only just waking up from a lifelong sleep.
When you think about it, there's no real reason why ordinary, everyday consciousness should be as dull, as empty, as desolate, as near to being nothingness as it is. We might be permanently high on our own endorphins, if only natural selection had made a better job of shaping our minds; but we're not, and that's why we have to go searching for sensation, even in the most absurd places: in pills and powders, mushrooms and weeds; in the further reaches of the imagination; in relationships; in sex.
Maybe sex does deliver, for some. Maybe Jackie Collins really can scale those heights of ecstasy she writes about. Maybe Barbara Cartland really can get blown away simply by being in love. Maybe I could have followed that route, if only I had found the right man (not Gil), but I don't think so. I certainly don't think that Maldureve was simply the right man: my Lord Byron, my Rhett Butler. He got me to where I wanted to be not because he was handsome, charming or overpowering, or because I was 'in love' with him, and certainly not by virtue of the awesome power of his utterly uninterested phallus. I was hot and high long before he did it, but that was because of what he was, and because of what it was, not because of the masculinity of the form he'd taken on when he came out of the borderlands.
Maldureve really made me live, the way nothing ever had before.
I have to say all this now because I still have to make it clear in my own mind. A lot has happened since that first fateful night in Brennan Hall, but I have to be certain that the memory I have of it is true and accurate and insightful. I have to be quite certain that I know what I did, and how it felt, because I have to be quite certain about what I am. I have to understand what happened to me, and how, and why, so that I can carry my life forward positively and authoritatively.
Being with Maldureve, and making love to Maldureve, was the peak experience of my life. It was so infinitely pleasurable, so fabulously intense, that had I been able to anticipate it in advance it would inevitably have become the only worthwhile goal of my future existence, even if it had been necessary for me to override all moral considerations, and all considerations of sanity and reason. Maldureve accomplished my awakening purely and simply by virtue of what he was and what he did.
I didn't know, at first, exactly what it was all leading up to. I knew what he was going to do, but I didn't know precisely how. I only knew that what I thought I knew -- derived from all those stupidly gory books and ridiculously camp films -- couldn't possibly be right. Vampires have no fangs.
Recording that, even now, seems like a descent from the sublime to the ridiculous. But it only seems that way because the words come trailing tattered clouds of association, like dusty cobwebs, which can never entirely be shaken off. Write 'vampire', think Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi or -- these days -- any one of a hundred others. But it isn't like that. Not really -- if 'really' is a word that I'm entitled to use here. Dr Gray would say not; but Dr Gray doesn't know. I do mean 'really', and I don't just mean 'real for me' or any other weak and cowardly evasion of authentic assertion. I mean really. Maldureve was a real vampire.
Maldureve came from the shadows and put on substance by slow degrees, but when he first drank my blood he was no longer a shadow, and he certainly was not a dream. He was on my bed in Brennan Hall, faintly illuminated by that inconvenient sodium light, holding me down and bringing me up... up as high as a kite, as high as a shooting star, as high as Heaven itself.
Cliché, I know, cliché, cliché, cliché... but what other words do we have for talking about our emotional ascents to the limits and beyond, except those which have been crudely hacked to death by romantic novelists for hundreds of years?
That's irrelevant, of course. It doesn't matter how others have abused the words; I must do the best I can to describe how I felt, and what it meant to me. I need to remember, to analyse, to understand.
At first, it was like a long kiss. He did use his teeth, but they were perfectly ordinary teeth -- white and neat, with canines no longer or sharper than the average. And yes, he used the side of my neck, where -- I suppose -- the jugular vein is. But he didn't puncture the vein with his teeth, and he didn't shoot in any kind of hypodermic syringe, mosquito-fashion. What he did was to make my flesh change. By means of the teasing of his teeth and the seductive pressure of his lips he reconstructed my tissues so that they would yield what he wanted, what he needed, what he couldn't live without.
I felt my flesh changing, but it's difficult to describe because there's nothing to liken it to. I suppose a man might think of his prick becoming erect, but that's just a matter of inflation; this was much more complicated. If I'd been able to see what was happening, I could probably have organised my sensations better, but I couldn't see -- not then. I could only lay my head back to bare my neck and study the delicate play of light and shadow on the ceiling.
Vampires can change their shape, within limits. It would take enormous effort and artistry to become a bat or a wolf, but lesser changes are easy enough. The flesh of a vampire isn't as fixed as human flesh, and when one feeds, he or she can communicate that relative fluidity, that power of change. Under the pressure of Maldureve's special kiss, the flesh of my neck seemed to flow, like some viscous liquid.
The sensation of flow was absolutely delicious.
When we speak of melting into someone's arms, we're trying to express the inexpressible by means of metaphor, but on those magical occasions when our world is infected by the world from which Maldureve emerged, we really can acquire the ability to melt under the pressure of a lover's kiss, and it really is a passionate experience: hot, beautiful, like floating beneath the surface of an ocean of pure calmness.
It must be wonderful, I thought, to melt like this entirely: to become lava, pure flux, glowing with internal fire...
I don't know what men feel when they come -- when the semen spurts out of them -- but it can't be smooth. It's spasmodic, interrupted, jagged. My orgasms tend that way, too, when I bring myself off. The flow of blood, when Maldureve began to feed, wasn't like that. Not only was it perfectly smooth, but there wasn't any sensation of expulsion through a channel or duct. However Maldureve's kiss had restructured the flesh of my neck, it hadn't turned it into any kind of tap or fountain, or even a tit, although it must have been something not too unlike a tit. Perhaps the process is more like a kind of osmosis, with the red blood cells migrating across some specially constituted membrane. It didn't feel as though he were drinking my blood; it felt as if my blood were somehow reaching out to him. The manner of our connection was quite unique, nothing at all like what you read in Dracula or see on the screen.
It was infinitely better, of course.
It was as if that connection -- which was sustained, I suppose, for seven or eight minutes -- affected all the blood in my body, and hence all the places in my body that my blood could reach while my heart pumped it round and round and round. The feeling filled me up, from top to toe. I can only call it ecstasy, though I certainly don't mean the stuff that Sharon and her goth had popped at the party; I mean the real thing.
I don't know how much blood Maldureve actually took -- maybe less than a pint, maybe more -- but he gave such an unimaginable thrill to all that remained that I couldn't have cared even if he'd taken it all. Even though it felt better simply to be than ever before, I think I could have been content to die while he was feeding off me.
Afterwards, of course, it was different. Afterwards, I felt good in a more relaxed sort of way, and though I knew that I'd want to do it again, eventually, there was nothing urgent about the feeling. But while it was happening, I was out of this world, untouchable by any fear of pain or injury or death.
I remember thinking that when I died, I wanted to die in that way. I instructed myself, quite earnestly, that I was to make certain that I died in the arms of a vampire lover: weighed down but not oppressed; imprisoned by gentle, sensuous bonds.
If I died, that is.
While I lay beneath Maldureve, that night, I didn't want to die for a long time. Being had become so intoxicating, so lovely, so full of pleasure, now that I actually knew how to be...
That's what I learned, that night in my room, while Maldureve made love to me by the mute overflow of the yellow light that was supposed to make the pathway beside the Hall safe -- safe from the kind of predator that waits in darkness near places where succulent young girls live and sleep, with the bright, sweet blood pulsing through their satin flesh...
That's what I learned, when I let the vampire feed on my blood. I learned to be. Maybe I should have known that before, but I never had. In spite of all the practice I'd had, between birth and being eighteen, I never had. Even Sharon had been better at it than I had, despite the fact that I'd had two years start on her; but I'd certainly made up for that now. I was way ahead of the field. I'd gone from last to first in one single, devastating swoop.
And I never looked back. If I'm looking back now, it's simply because I need to understand as fully as I can, before I can go forward again into the terra incognita of experience.
In spite of all that was later to happen -- and I had already sensed, even then, that Maldureve knew fear as intimately and as keenly as he knew joy -- I never once regretted what I'd done. I never for an instant wanted to be what I'd been before.
Copyright © 1992 by Brian Stableford