...the dream within the dream.....

       Everything in this world has its beginning and almost everything ends. There are only two things I know that seem to be endless...

       The first one - the strange thing that I used to call love before I experienced it. What is it? Obsession, madness... It should end at the moment you part from the subject of it. I know, that's hardly possible, but then it must end - the very possibility of it must end at least with your last heartbeat.
       And the second thing. Death. Death is the only thing you can really be sure of. Death never ends - it just changes form.

       I was sitting on the rock observing the dawn of orange sun. This wasted planet attracted me with its meaningless, desperate beauty. Bare rocks, still green oceans, low clouds coloured yellow and pink and the huge orange sun looking down from the skies at the empty wastelands. No signs of organic life, only dry winds, glowing stones and poisoned waters. Maybe - very long ago - the planet was alive. I liked this thought. Dead planet, another form of death, they seem to be countless...
       I noticed the motion on the landscape but had to look twice to believe it. There was a human being walking between rocks, looking around as if in search of something. A human being - here? A lot of time passed since the last living creature left the surface of this planet. Interesting...
       I followed him, jumping from one rock to another. I knew every inch of this path and could move very quickly and almost quietly. He will not have a chance to turn his head. I could jump on him from the top of the rock, but this way it will be better. He looks strong, and the grace of his movements shows he could manage his body very well. He must be dangerous in a fight. I will not fight him. I'm not in the mood.
       I got close to him - just had to reach the hand - but was not given time to do it. Maybe it's the lack of practising, maybe I really underestimated him. What a fast reaction!
       He grasped my neck with one left hand. His strength was almost inhuman - he held all the hundred pounds of my live weight straight-handed, so I could not reach him, even if I tried. But I did not try, I did not move, I did not breathe although I knew I should. I could not even blink.
       I was not frightened. When you lose the instinct for self-preservation, you can get rid of the sense of fear very quickly. Maybe it sounds funny, but captured by the stranger in the middle of the rocky wasteland I did not put up any fight because I was stunned, shocked, hypnotized by the appearance of this man.

       It's always hard to explain things like that. I do not remember much about the standard measures of male beauty, but he definitely met them, and still - that was not the reason. It was one of those faces that looks familiar when you first see them, maybe because you saw them before in your dreams, one of the faces you can never forget after seeing once. I felt like I could look at him forever and never get enough of it, no matter if he continued squeezing my throat for all that time.
       His piercing eyes ran over me, learning, measuring. But he could not see more than others - only the small neat body, young face and wide innocent eyes... Lonely girl in abandoned place, poor lost soul. Can I be dangerous? Hey, just look at me, do you really think I could be dangerous?
       He let me loose. Just as I expected. I began to massage my neck, waiting for him to begin the conversation. He looks like a person of inquiring mind, he will ask questions. Maybe I will answer. The adventure is turning out to be more exciting than I could hope.
       "Who are you?"
       Yes. I knew it. He should have a voice like this, deep and melodic. It sounded a little harsh, but it was normal for circumstances like these. On another occasion it could sound... Hey, girl, wake up!
       "My name will not tell you much."
       He frowned a little. I liked the way he did it.
       "What are you doing here?"
       "Nothing. Just hanging around, watching the dawn. And you?"
       He turned away from me, glancing along the path that led to the far end of the valley. My body stirred but I remained still. Instinct - or something else within me - told me it was the best moment to attack him. But... he appeared to be not such an easy prey and... It's never too late anyway...
       "I'm looking for my companions. They may be in trouble."
       I smiled. What a strange sensation... When did I last smile?
       "It's not easy to find trouble on this planet. It is completely empty."
       "Empty? What do you mean?"
       Inquiring mind, as I said!
       "It has no civilization, no structures, no people, no organic life at all..."
       "Are you alone here?"
       "Yes." I noticed a sign of disbelief in his eyes and added, "I like solitude."
       He looked puzzled. I never understood that - what's so strange about a girl who likes solitude?
       "How did you get here?"
       "Well..." sure, why not? "There was a vessel of course. I do not remember now it's destination, but when the last man aboard died, I landed on the nearest planet to bury the bodies, and decided to stay here... for a while.
       I answered very patiently:
       "Because I liked this place."
       "What caused the death of those people?"
       "I can't tell you. I'm not a medic."
       "Can I see the bodies?"
       "No. I told you, I buried them."
       "All of them?"
       "I have a great respect for death. And plenty of free time."
       "Show me the vessel."
       "What for?"
       "Will you help me or not?"
       "It's pretty far from here."
       "I have an aircraft."

       The small aircraft looked amazing: I'd certainly have paid more attention to it, if my eyes were not chained to the pilot. His hands lying on the controls of the craft... His dark bright hair, intricately dressed, one loose lock gently touching his cheek... Sitting near to him, feeling this surge of sensuality coming from his body, looking at his strong bare neck, almost touching his knee with mine... All of that made me think that I did not lose so much as I thought during the time passed. It seems that whatever happens to you, if you were a woman once, you will be a woman forever.
       He felt my glance on his face and turned his head to me. Our eyes met. I winced a little but quickly pulled myself together. His eyes seemed to look right into my soul, and for that moment I felt an unbelievable closeness to him, as if I could read his mind as well as he could see my deepest thoughts. He did not trust me, that was obvious, and my behavior was a good reason for that, but he was not afraid of me. Not a bit. I was almost sorry to disappoint him... But maybe it will be me who will be disappointed? Maybe I'll never see any sign of fear in these eyes?
       "Land here."
       He turned away to take over controls and I partly regained the ability to think. Looking at his calm, almost expressionless face I suddenly remembered one very strange thing. Busy with staring at him when we'd just met I did not even realize that his hand on my neck was cold like a stone...
       The vessel looked abandoned. I had left all the hatches opened, and the entrance of the ship was covered with sand. Nobody had been here after my last visit; those mysterious companions of his did not find this place yet. That's nothing. I can wait.
       He entered the ship and headed straight to the control center. I ran after him.
       "Looks like you know much about spaceships!"
       "Almost everything." was his answer.
       The game was becoming more risky, and I enjoyed every moment of this thrill. This could even be my last game. It was pleasant to think that a man like this would end it. Even if I chose from the millions, I could not wish for any better...
       As we came to the control center, he turned to me slowly and said:
       "I hear something outside. Go take a look. "
       "I do not hear anything."
       "It might be my companions. Just check it out, please."
       "As you wish."
       I returned to the entrance hatch and looked outside. Except for his small winged craft there was nothing new in the visible area since I landed this vessel here. Hmm... Our little adventure was evidently coming to an end.
       I hesitated a moment. This was not necessary, I did not really have to do what I was going to. I still was able to control myself, still had enough will power to refuse. Of course, my will power was corrupted by the nature of my condition, but sometimes I really managed to resist this temptation. This ship full of people gave me lots of strength, enough for ages, so I didn't have need of any more. I could just stop this all right now and walk away to the desert, leaving this man alone. But that meant I would never see him again...
       Strange, but this thought was unbearable. I couldn't tell for sure what for or why, but I had to see him once more, whatever happens next. After all, he's not a child, he acts rather like a skilled warrior, and if he still waits for me now, then he certainly knows the truth, then maybe he knows what is he doing.
       I headed back to the control center, walking slowly, listening to the echo of my steps in the empty passages. Just as I thought, he was waiting for me, staying near the lighted terminal. He had had enough time to find the last captain's recordings. The recordings of those last days when everyone who was still alive already knew what was happening at the ship, but no one even tried to stop me - they could only hide and hope not to become my next choice.
       I stopped, looking at him, trying to keep his image in my mind forever. In his eyes I saw something strange. Not the usual things like disgust and horror. Something more like... compassion? No, this can't be...
       He broke the short silence.
       "You killed all these people."
       I did not have the instinct of self-preservation - but the demon within me surely had. He seldom took full control over my body, preferring to torture me with hunger until I weakened enough to let myself murder again. But now I felt my own mind drowning in the dark abyss, dying, falling asleep, leaving me till the moment when the only thing left to do would be to bury the body. The last human thought was about my motivations. What led me back here? Remnants of female instincts, natural attraction to the handsome man... or had I been manipulated by my demon for all this time?
       It did not matter now. I could do nothing to stop myself.
       I rushed to him, preparing for attack. I have not yet noticed any weapon he could use, but it might be hidden somewhere on his body, so I was not too surprised when a powerful hit almost threw me down to the floor. Tearing my skin, crushing my bones, something sharp entered my chest, cut the heart in two and stuck into the spine.
       Ignoring the pain, I jumped to him and caught him into our first - and of course the last - embrace. I felt his hands trying to tear me away from his body, but all his strength was useless now.
       "I'll miss you." I whispered into his ear - and thrust my fangs into his neck...

       What a picture - just imagine it: I am lying on the floor, my shirt is unbuttoned, my breasts are naked, I'm biting my lips trying not to moan, and the most desirable man I've ever seen is kneeling near me, his one hand rests on my shoulder and the other hand is inside my chest...
       I felt his fingers touching my heart. Amazing experience. My heart has never been touched like that by any man. It was not as pleasant as one might think, but not as painful as I expected.
       "That's it." Though distorted with pain, my voice sounded clear enough. "Now put it together and press a little."
       "How long will it take for you to recover?"
       "About ten minutes. Very quickly."
       I bit my tongue and looked at his neck. Deep wounds left by my fangs had completely disappeared already.
       "Hold on now, this might be..."
       He joined the ends of my broken rib and I gasped, clenching my teeth. The pain was unbelievable. My body collapsed unwillingly, but he pressed me to the floor forcing me to lie still.
       "It's almost over."
       "Please, adjust the skin carefully, I don't want to be in folds..."
       The pain began to pass. Through half-opened eyelids I was watching his face, so serious, so concentrated, so close to mine. Wonderfully shaped cheekbones and jaws, lips that could drive any woman crazy, long dark eyelashes. I felt his fingertips touching, pressing, smoothing my skin, so close to my naked breast, and couldn't help feeling the inner shiver that I thought I would never experience again...

       And he is dead. Really, men like him should not die. They must live forever.

       He fastened my shirt and helped me to sit.
       "How do you feel?"
       "Much better. Thank you."
       "I did not mean to kill you. It was pure reflex."
       "That's nothing, I've been wounded much worse. And, you know, it's quite natural for anyone to try to kill a vampire..."
       It's not your fault. You are driven by something that is much stronger than you. I know how it feels.
       "Really? You do?"
       Not looking at me, he began to tell me his story, awful, terrible, the story that would bring tears to my eyes if I still could cry.
       "... They cut out my heart, so I can't even hate them... "
       From the moment I tasted his flesh I already knew he was dead. Now he told me how it happened. I could predict that the story would be like that. He was punished for being a hero, cursed for sacrificing his life, doomed to be a machine of murder for trying to save people. Life is not fair, but neither is death...
       "How long have you been dead?"
       "For 2000 years. But I regained my memories not long ago. For all these centuries I was not aware of who I was and what I was doing..."
       He gave me that strange glance again. Yes, definitely, it was full of compassion.
       "In my memories there is knowledge of beings like you. I can't even think about how would it be if I had my memories and self-consciousness for all that time, but no will power to refuse to follow His Shadow's orders. If I could have understood what I was doing but could not stop...."
       "Things are even worse with me. I have some will power, I try to fight with my vampire instincts and I always fail... And with every new murder I feel my moral principles are changing inevitably... Tell me, did you... did you ever want do end it all?"
       "Sometimes. And you?"
       "Often. I give some of my victims a real chance to kill me: I'm not so hard to kill..."
       "Yes, I assume a certain amount of damage will be critical to you."
       "But my existence is not a never-ending murder. It has some good moments... Like this one."
       He smiled. The smile lightened his face. My heart does not beat, but as he smiled I felt the aching of the fresh wound, as if my dead heart was trying to wince.
       "Of course, I miss some things..." I couldn't resist looking at his lips. "Like... You know."
       "Yes. I know."
       He paused and then began to speak again.
       "One of my companions is a woman. She refuses to understand that I can't give her what she deserves. In fact, there's nothing I can give her."
       "Yes." I clasped my fists. "There's not much that freaks like us can give to the living. Only a dead flesh that disgusts ourselves, a mind on the edge of insanity, a soul full of darkness and misery and hands stained with innocent blood..."
       "Yes. You are the only one who understands."
       "And you are the only one who can understand me..."
       It was the first friendly talk I had for centuries. It was the first time since I've died that someone felt compassion for me. I have never been so close to anyone since I committed my first murder. He knew who I was and could accept me as I am. And his own story... The pain he felt, all the things he's been through... I had no words to express my feelings.
       I put a hand on his cheek and touched his lips with mine. Not a kiss, just a shadow of it. He smiled again, twisted his arm around my shoulders and kissed me back. In sign of gratitude maybe...Well... I did not count on that of course but I did not mind it at all...
       "Nice." I said, touching my lip with a tip of my tongue. "I have not kissed for three centuries."
       He almost burst into a laugh.
       "And I kissed twice in the last year."
       "Wow, sounds like an active sexual life! Can I...."
       This time it was a real kiss, deep and tender: he was cuddling me, stroking my back, his lips were caressing mine, and the gentle touches of his tongue were making me moan. My fingers were wandering in his hair trying not to make a big mess of it, and surges of warmth coming from his cold lips were passing through all my body, making it thrill, shivering, shaking....
       When you die, you have to forget about sex as soon as possible. We both surely did not succeed in it much. I could not realize what was happening to us, presumably we were just remembering the feelings and emotions we had when we were alive. The dead can not feel like that...
       The kiss grew deeper, harder: he pulled me closer and held my body tight, kissing me with fierce passion. I bit his lips, hardly remembering not to use fangs, not able to fight with the growing excitement, my arms curled around him, hands ran across his back, touching, stroking, scratching. I pressed myself against his chest, trying to get even closer to him, wriggling in his arms, sucking his tongue into my mouth...
       Next moment we were on the floor, kissing, caressing, holding each other, clinging together for the length of our bodies. Suddenly I found myself naked. Holy lizards, when did he manage to... His hands were sliding all over me, remembering - or discovering again - the sensation of woman's body under his fingers. The body of a vampire, pale and cold, oh where were you when I was alive, hot, delicious... Does not matter, you are with me now, I am with you...
       I grasped his clothing, ready to tear it in pieces.
       "How do you get that off?"
       "I wish I could remember..."
       But he could. A view of his naked body struck me dumb. More beautiful than I could imagine, he is one of those men who look best without any clothes... There was a large hole in his abdomen with some tubes stuck out from it, but even that seemed cute, everything seemed perfect at this moment.
       His body was a little colder than mine, for blood of my last victims was still seething inside of me. I wrapped my arms and legs around him, as if hoping - uselessly - to warm him, trembling with tenderness as my palms touched his naked back, covering his cold skin with kisses. I felt his hands on my breasts, I felt him kissing my lips, cheeks, neck, shoulders... And than his hands and mouth began to wander all over my body...
       I'm still wondering what was it, just half-forgotten memory of my muscles and nerves or - which I do not dare to believe - my dead flesh is still able to love in the full sense. It happened suddenly and inevitably, like a burst of supernova inside me, like the birth of a new galaxy, melting everything in a stream of unbearable delight. I heard a scream - a scream of my own: I thought nothing in both Universes would make me scream again...
       Then I opened my eyes. We were lying on the floor, his arms were holding me, my head rested on his shoulder. I kissed him on the cheek.
       "Ashes to ashes..."
       He smiled.
       "I was sure I knew everything about death."
       "The Dark Zone is full of surprises." I raised my head to look into his eyes. "I can't tell you how happy I am."
       "I can feel how happy you are..."
       He spent the next few hours with me, more than I could expect. We were talking... well, mostly. At the beginning of the sunset he put his clothes on and made his hair up again.
       "My companions must be worrying about me."
       "I understand. Take care... and thank you."
       "Aren't you going with me?"
       "No." I tried to smile. "I'm not the best company for living people."

       He left and I stayed at the ship, lying on the floor which had not grown warmer under our naked bodies, watching the shadows growing longer as the sun traveled to the horizon, remembering the look of his face, the touch of his hands, the taste of his lips, whispering his name...
       Will we ever meet again? In this huge Universe it is hardly possible. And maybe that's better. He has his own destiny... and his own friends.
       Is there any possibility for him to return to life? With his heavily mutilated body it seems unbelievable, I'd rather believe that a vampire can become a human again.
       What is happening to me? Am I falling in love with him? Oh Holy lizards, I hope not!

© Newkate - March 1999

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