Forever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not also become a monster ... when you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you. - Friedrich Nietzsche



Adrienne de Reims smiled as she sat at the table opposite Count Wilhelm Rudolph von Steuben. It was a long, Victorian affair ... unnecessarily long, in fact, but Adrienne enjoyed the formality. Wilhelm was wearing a black suit, which fit him and his attitude perfectly and complemented his blond hair, pale skin and blue eyes - the perfect Aryan at an apparent age of 40. Adrienne herself was dressed in a formal black dress with shoulder straps criss-crossed in the back and long black gloves. Her hair was long and jet black, her eyes a deep brown, blending almost completely with her pupils. She looked no older than 18. Around the dimly lit room stood ten servants, all formally dressed and ready to come forward at the slightest whim of either of the two.

"I am glad that we could meet," Wilhelm said in perfectly accented French - modern French. "And that we could come under my humble roof in the spirit of friendship."

Adrienne winced at the words - modern French was so ... sluttish. Boorish. She almost took offense, but knew that Wilhelm was trying to accommodate her, and she found his joke amusing. There was nothing "humble" about Steuben manor, and Wilhelm knew it.

Located ten miles north of Bherman on the California-Oregon border, the mansion would have been considered extravagant by anyone. It was towering, situated on a cliff over the Pacific Ocean, and built in the manner of an Eastern European caste with tall spires, double walls, and battlements that looked authentic. Inside it was a little more modern, with plaster walls and electricity, but it still managed to capture the dark nature of a Transylvanian castle. Adrienne couldn't help but wonder if the Count was purposefully trying to make his home and himself seem every bit the dark and evil German, or if he did it to amuse those who came to his home.

"Of course," Adrienne responded in flawless German - a German tongue that had not been spoken for four centuries, and was quite a surprise to Wilhelm. "I've been looking forward to meeting Bherman's true master for a while now."

Wilhelm smiled a bit, "Perhaps I am being boastful ... but yes, I suppose I am Bherman's master."

Adrienne smiled as well, as a servant came over with a wine glass that was not filled with wine. Rather, it had a thick, dark red liquid heated to a decent 95 degrees. Adrienne took a sip, then smiled.

"I am embarrassed. This isn't what I'm used to. You didn't have to go to the trouble of getting this vintage ..."

"No, only the best is allowed in my house," Wilhelm said. "Now, please, I do not mean to rush you, but I'm sure there is a reason for ..."

"Of course," Adrienne said, putting down the glass and wiping her mouth with her napkin. "Basically, my reason is one of simple politeness. I am new to Bherman, and so I believe it would be proper for me to introduce myself to the lord of this city... namely, you."

"Ah," Wilhelm observed. "I see. But I suspect that you are not alone in coming. Someone of your age tends to have a family."

Adrienne shook her head. "No," she said. "No children. I find them far more trouble than they're worth."

Wilhelm shrugged. "As you wish," he said. "Bherman has a population of only a couple hundred of our kind, 30 of whom are under my control and the rest are rogues or rivals. Indeed, I could use help in maintaining the order. So yes, I shall allow you to stay."

He paused, as two servants entered with covered trays. They set them down on the table, revealing a dish fit for a king ... a vampire king, for the dish was a blood-rich heart and several other meats slick with blood. What was more, these were not the organs of animals, which some pathetic, young vampires, ashamed of what they were, fed upon. These were human organs, harvested minutes before and still warm.

Adrienne licked her lips, revealing long, sharp fangs. She took up her knife and fork. Once, she might have balked at this - even as recently as 200 years ago. Now, though, it hardly fazed her. Little did these days.

"You are too kind, Wilhelm," she complimented, as she sliced away some of the heart, blood flowing from it. "It's been a good century since I've enjoyed a dish like this."

***

Adrienne drove herself to her temporary home, an apartment in the suburbs of Bherman She quickly stripped from her formal wear and changed into black pants and a black turtleneck. She enjoyed formality, but in moderation.

She was about to get into her bed - a real bed, not a coffin like in the movies - when she heard something. The vampire paused, listening. Her senses were magnified many times due to her vampiric nature, and she was certain she had heard ...

There. Breathing. Adrienne heard breathing closer than it should have been. In the closet.

A gangster, Adrienne decided. A crook, a robber, whatever. Come to take what he could from the poor, helpless teenager who had just moved in. Adrienne smiled wickedly, even as her nails elongated to become sharp claws. She walked over to the closet, tore open the door and saw a short Japanese girl no older than herself. This invader to Adrienne's lair was dressed in a black tank top and baggy pants, with a light coat - it was beginning to get cool outside in California's late autumn. In addition to an uncapped water bottle, she had a vicious, hateful stare.

"Hello, Adrienne," she said coldly.

Adrienne balked at being addressed by name by this human for, if she was breathing, then she was human. "Do I know you?" she asked.

The human's gaze became positively evil. "Know me?" she demanded. "You b----h!" She splashed the contents of the water bottle at Adrienne. The vampire wasn't about to jump away from water ... until she realized the human's plan. Adrienne moved, but some of her arm was hit by the liquid. She hissed as the water seeped through her turtleneck and touched her skin, burning like acid.

"Holy water," Adrienne said with one hand on her wound. It still burned as she forced the wound to close. The flesh repaired itself with merely a thought but the burning sensation lingered.

"That's not all," the girl said, picking up a duffel bag. "Do you know how many weaknesses a vampire has if you think about all those old stories?" She reached in and pulled out a crucifix. "How about this?" She held it forward.

Adrienne hissed, but merely grabbed the cross and broke it. Crosses, or any holy symbol from the Star of David to a Buddhist prayer wheel, could stop or even repulse a vampire, but only if the wielder had strong faith in the power the symbol represented - and this girl lacked such faith

Adrienne's other arm lashed out, knocking the girl through the thin wall into the next room which was, thankfully, empty.

"Crosses won't work," Adrienne said, stalking forward through the torn plaster and the dust cloud, glaring down at where the girl should have been. "You've hurt me, human, and now -"

She wasn't there.

Adrienne blinked. She had moved? How had that happened without Adrienne noticing? The vampire was getting sloppy. Too sloppy, she realized when she felt something plunge through her back and into her heart. Adrienne cried out as she fell to the ground.

"Arrogant mortal!" she exclaimed, but couldn't do anything more than talk - a stake of wood had been driven into her heart. "I'll - "

"So it paralyzes," the girl interrupted, hefting Adrienne's limp form. "On Buffy, a wooden stake kills."

The girl dragged Adrienne to the apartment's kitchenette and lifted the vampire by her hair. Adrienne glared, but apart from that and talking, there was little else she could do.

"Don't worry, Adrienne, I've got a lot of other things in my bag," she said, pulling out a piece of garlic. "How about this?"

"No," Adrienne said, smiling. "I doubt you have what it takes to kill me.

The girl smiled, lifting her water bottle and pouring its contents onto Adrienne. She grimaced in pain, but would not give this human the pleasure of hearing her scream.

"Huh," the girl said. "So all it will do is burn? No killing power? Either that, or I need more." She went back into her bag, and pulled out a small knife. "Does silver work?"

"No," Adrienne said, but the human plunged the blade into Adrienne's back anyway. Adrienne again grimaced, and when the blade was pulled out she found herself gasping for breath, something she had not done for centuries. Old habits apparently die hard.

"Silver doesn't work. That's what I get for watching Blade for inspiration," the girl said.

"Who are you?" Adrienne demanded to know.

The girl glared at Adrienne. "One night, five years ago, a policeman came to my house and told me my parents had died. Murdered in the streets of Seattle. Can you guess how they died?"

Adrienne paused, then remembered. She smiled a little.

"Neck wounds. Blood completely drained from their body. I remember that night. I'd only barely escaped from another elder and needed blood."

The girl hit Adrienne with a backhand, but the vampire barely felt it. "They were just in the wrong place," she said, laughing.

"A hunter found me afterwards," the girl said. "Told me the truth about vampires. But before he could train me, tell me strengths or weaknesses or anything, he was killed by a gang of vampires. I saw that death." The girl reached into her bag, and pulled out a lighter. "Do you burn?"

"Not very easily," Adrienne said. "So you're just another girl on a revenge binge. How cliché. I've escaped from worse situations than this."

The girl shook her finger, lighting the lighter. "Will it kill you?"

"Only if it's hot enough, and trust me, that's not hot enough. Maybe if you had a flame-thrower," Adrienne smiled. "So you're going to torture me until you get bored? For how long? Days? Weeks? Sorry, but I've just worked out an alliance with the ruling vampire of this city. He'll miss me, and when he does, an elder like me is too good an ally for him just to let die."

"Not days," she said. "Minutes. And I don't want to kill you - something else can do that for me." She looked at her watch. "The sun's gonna come up in half an hour. How about we go to the roof?"

Adrienne's eyes widened, and the girl laughed. "I knew that one had to be true," she said, lifting Adrienne. The door to the roof was already open. Bherman was stretched out before them. The girl lay Adrienne on the roof, and looked to the lightening east.

"Kind of funny," the girl said. "You've been alive for six centuries, right? Since Joan of Arc? And now you're going to be killed by a rookie vampire slayer. You'll be the first vampire I kill. Nice way to start a career, huh? Bad way for you to end it. By the way, my name is Amaya," she said. "So, tell me, to become a vampire. Did you make a bargain with the Devil like in medieval tradition? Or does anyone who gets bitten turn into a vampire? Or does the person have to be willing and drink some of your blood? Or do they have to be a virgin when you suck them dry? It's amazing how many variations of the story exist."

Adrienne swore in old French. It was beginning to get hot as the sun drew closer to rising. Amaya looked at her watch. "I'd say you have three more minutes, Adrienne. And then you'll burn, from what I hear."

"Or maybe I'll just fall asleep like in medieval tradition," Adrienne hissed. "Take me back inside; you're wasting your time."

Amaya laughed. "If you burn, then I win. If you fall asleep, then I'll just go out and buy one of those flame-throwers, but I'm going to kill you, Adrienne."

Adrienne heard something again. Someone coming upstairs, but she couldn't cry out. It would do nothing because if a mortal did get here, he'd assume that Adrienne was already dead, or the struggle would take too long. It was pointless.

Six centuries. Six long centuries were about to come to an end. In a way, it was something of a release for the elder vampire, but at the same time, she wanted to live.

The other mortal was running now. Perhaps a child up early? No, he was running too fast, and up the stairs, purposefully heading for the roof. This meant ...

"Help me!" Adrienne cried out, her voice almost inhuman for the fear she felt for the sunlight. Amaya laughed, about to ask what she was calling out for, when the door swung open. A servant of Wilhelm stood there, holding Adrienne's purse which she apparently had forgotten. He quickly understood the situation, lunged for Adrienne, and removed the stake.

Adrienne was up in a flash, growling and leaping at Amaya. She pushed her through the doorway, and the two fell down the stairs, crashing on the landing with Adrienne atop Amaya.

"Arrogant mortal!" Adrienne roared, as she bit deeply into Amaya's neck. The blood poured forth in earnest and Adrienne eagerly lapped it up, easily holding her down and enjoying the gurgling sound the blood made in the mortal's windpipe as she tried to scream. Within minutes, Adrienne had drained the human of blood.

Adrienne wiped her mouth, then bit open her wrist and let some of her own blood fall into the mortal's mouth, crawling off her after an ounce had fallen in. With a thought, the wrist wound sealed itself.

Adrienne smiled as Amaya coughed and sputtered, moaning and rolling over. She looked at Adrienne, eyes glowing with hate. They literally were glowing blood red. "You'll notice your heart does not beat," Adrienne said, smiling. "And yet you move."

Amaya noticed, as she put a hand to her breast. She screamed in horror when she felt nothing, nor did she feel anything when she checked her wrist and neck for a pulse.

Adrienne smiled at Amaya's distress. "You thought you could kill me? "I'm an elder vampire. I don't die. I rule."

Amaya glared at Adrienne, and then lunged. She had let her instinct take over, Adrienne noticed, for she had the claws and red eyes of a hungry vampire. But she was slow, and weak from lack of blood. Adrienne easily moved aside, and brought a hand crashing into the fledgling vampire's side. She fell through a wall into another empty apartment. Adrienne picked Amaya up by her throat, lifting her high in the air. It was more for show than anything, because she could hardly choke a corpse to death, even a walking one.

"Now you will know pain." Adrienne said, slamming Amaya into a wall. "You thought that you hurt before? You thought the death of your parents was bad? Now you will kill humans. How many children will lose their parents to your hunger, to your lust for blood?"

Adrienne laughed as she dropped Amaya to the ground, standing over her. The young vampire was slipping from consciousness. Adrienne deposited her in the bathroom of the apartment that lacked windows and ensured that Amaya would survive the day.

"Welcome to forever," she said, walking away. "I'll be in touch."

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

VizioDarkly said...
Aug. 5, 2010 at 12:34 am
i like the quote. Stephen King used it in "Misery".
 
*LunaNight* said...
May 31, 2009 at 7:18 pm
wow. that was incredible!!! that was amazing chris of MA!!!
 
layla-clapton said...
Feb. 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm
I loved this artical! I am SO happy that someone has FINALLY written a piece where the good does not always win! Although in this story, it seems as though their was no peticular good or evil, just a thirst for power--and revenge. Even so, that's how I saw it, and I thought it was great! Bwa.
 
rissa bO0 x3 said...
Nov. 5, 2008 at 11:28 pm
maybe it should be a tad bit shorter?
 
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