“Lay with me beauty
Feel me close to you
Take my hand to you
Touch you softly, your warm skin
Cover me with you
Over me under you”
– For you by My Dying Bride
Below the city there are plenty of tunnels and no one really knows how many they are. That one or two extra should appear outside the plans did not raise the least bit of eyebrows. All anyone saw was a door appearing at some point in time but as it always seemed to be locked it soon fell into the background of humanity’s mind. That there was once or twice a light-footed and light dressed creature that seemed to drift through that door never bothered anyone. The tunnels squeak and creak, but once you’ve stepped behind that secret door the silence is overwhelming. Inside, it is as if time had stopped and the air needed no movement because no one in here was breathing. It is dark, pitch black, but there is only one way and it is narrow, if the air hasn’t choked you yet the walls might squeeze you quite easily. No man could ever live in such a place as this. And no man lives here.
The December day is short. When the dusk embraces the streets the young and the foolish dare enter the streets again for a knees-up. Curiosity has sent a group of them across the street. Usually there is only rag men sleeping in the streets, this one has caught their attention because he has a real jacket on. He might even have money. The youth run up and ransack the man on the pavement. They look through his things as was he a hunter’s triumphant prey. They find both money and a flask filled with some sort of posh spirits. Jackpot! One of the boys suddenly gets a sting of remorse and turns to the others and asks. “Is he dead?” His friend who happens to be training as a medic reassures him. “He’s still alive. Probably drunk or somethin’.” And that is the end of their moral discussion. No doubt they had a splendid night with their plunder, however being a fit young man in the nineteen-forties Britain meant death was still hanging on a branch over their head, playing her favourite tunes. Did they know he was Jewish. What do you think?
The smell of blood whiffs through our long tunnel. There is light up ahead. Candles burning as if at mass. The large room had an atmosphere that was somewhere between a man’s club and a church. In the middle a light clothed appearance was drinking from his Gothic goblet. A gift from the old. He is certain he’s alone in the room and not on guard. Even so he remains alert to every movement of his quarters. Feeling each movement in his finely tuned body. He turns round suddenly but finds there’s nothing out of the ordinary. He continues to drink his blood. However a feeling of being watched persists in his mind. Suddenly he moves around in the other direction. But there’s nothing there either.
There is only one way into this place and there’s no other person here. He knows that, still that unsettlement persists. He has plenty of warning systems, he’d know if someone had breached his circle of magic. There’s nothing. And yet there is something. He feels it.
– Who is there?
Still nothing. It has to be his imagination running wild because of his hunger. The ferociousness he used to have is gone. Now he remains ravenous. His mind is not what it was. He lays down horizontally on the great chair. There it is again, a whispering sound. Was it footsteps or wind? In a windless tunnel? Impossible, he could not rest until he knew. His predator senses was keen on the hunt. He got up and walked into the tunnel.
The air is thick as it was supposed to. He don’t breathe exactly but he still feels all of those human senses. He never liked the feeling of being choked even though he had made a career out of it in the old days. There was no sound in the tunnel now. He turned around to go back to his comfy chair. And there it was again. A swish of cloth. He turned around immediately only to see some light extend down the tunnel itself. He ran after it. Again the shine further back. He ran towards it until he reached the door. Outside there was not a sound. Isaac slipped through the door. As he did the sound in his head grew intense. What the hell was this noise?! He looked down the maintenance entrance. Nothing but sound, the deafening sound, ringing in his ears. He opened the door to the dark street and the noise became clear.
He heard songs from the old land and lullabies. He had subdued that hatred for a long time but with those few notes the rage came back in full grace. His green eyes turned rapidly black, the hunt was on. In a rage he bit the first person he met to still the immediate hunger. He gushed the warm blood down his throat with the music still loud in his ears. The Hebrew words feed his fire. He searched the streets for abusers. Making sure he fixed himself up with all blood filled with drugs in an attempt to drown out the songs. Not even vampires are supposed to hear voices. Someone was riding his hate, his emotional nature. Question is who’d know how to do such a thing?
In darkness Nir lay dying, alone on the street with no wallet, hip flask or conscience. His body had started to shut down and no one in the world cared for him. No one even knew he was there.
Isaac left a trail of bloodshed after his feast. In these times there was danger around every corner. The agents of the reich was upon his trail, they had searched for him for years. His legend was strong even in Germany. The vampire with magical abilities, such a weapon cannot be left to roam free or worse work for the other. So far they had no indication that he did work for anyone. They were wary of that juden agency since they were not sure they’ve got all of them under control. They seemed to be an unusually clever bunch of swines.
The drugs worked and the rage had subdued. Isaac was now slowly walking back to his comfy room. The songs were now but faint whispers. He didn’t know if it was because of his drug blood cocktail or if there was something else controlling it. At this stage he didn’t care anymore, he was numb. He walked the streets of midnight. His clothes were drenched in the blood from his feast; in all honesty that was why he dressed in white, so he could soak it in blood. He had ripped the upper part to shreds and was walking bare chested in the cold. He loves the cold. He saw a young girl in a window, watching him. He stopped and grinned at her, teeth showing. Still she watched him. He waved to her. She was transfixed by his body and made no attempt to wave back. Then another shadow showed and she disappeared. The young are getting careless he thought. And I am growing sentimental. I didn’t even once think what she would taste like.
He reached the place; all he had to do was cross the road. He came upon the building from the other direction, the door was on the other side from him. He stopped for a moment; some light high above had caught his eye. He was in no mood for games.
– Who or whatever you are I do not care!
Nothing but silence came in the response. He started to cross the road barely making a sound. Half way over the light switched position and shone on his chest. He stopped suddenly, light on the body was dangerous. He looked down at his chest and saw it shining only on his necklace. It was a heart shaped one and on it he had inscribed “He who holds the key can open my heart”. It was a joke. It was just some old tat he had found when he was… tormenting him, playing with him. A drop landed on his bare chest. Tears. Vampires do not cry?
He held the little heart in his hand. He hadn’t even realised he still had it on. He had acquired a few hundred necklaces in his decadent life. He loved wearing most things. But he usually wore a few crosses to scare the clergy before he drank their fat blood. This was different, much different. He moved slowly forward and he saw a light figure standing by the side of the road. He knew this figure well. He knew what it meant. Wings in the colour of raven feathers and a most sympathetic face. The music had stopped. Not even Isaac laugh at death. He remembers loss and he feels the fear. He carries that within him. Every hour of every day as punishment.
The two watched each other as hawks.
– Why are you always a woman to me?
Azrael smiled at Isaac and patted his head like a child.
– Isaac my love, you have not much time.
He followed Azrael’s eyes down to the ground. And gave out a shriek! He backed away from the body of his beloved. Anger and anguish. Azrael reached for him but he jumped out of its way and kept moving further back. Until someone or something caught his body, holding it firm. No amount of screaming or kicking worked. It was not human then. Isaac’s eyes turned absolute pitch, but the thing lifted him up and carried him back to the body. There was no escape from his deep fear. Tears slowly dripping down his cheeks and mixing in with the blood on his upper body. Azrael put its arms around him, caressing. For death to be kind…
– I am sorry. You got to take him somewhere safe. Lucifer and I will help you.
Isaac was in a haze too weak to move.
– You have to carry him. I know my love this is hard. WE cannot do this for you. Please Isaac, this was not foretold. You did this, Azrael was begging.
– You opened his heart and he forgot who he was.
Something beside him spoke, in a voice so dark and devoid of any compassion that it left a chill in your bones. Now Isaac got a glimpse at this thing that had carried him. He looked like a man, tall, light skinned, dark clothed and on his chest he had some sort of scribbles carved into its flesh. A handsome man and no mistake but something about him made Isaac feel uncertain. As if in answer to his query the tall man said:
– I am Lucifer, ruler of hell.
Isaac looked confused at the man.
– I am sorry my love but there’s no time for ecclesiastical debate; we need to get Nir inside.
Azrael gave Isaac a poke and he mechanically lifted Nir into his arms, still watching Lucifer with amazed dark green eyes. How could he be? And what was he? This question made his task easier and with the help of his mythical friends he took Nir down to his Islington lair.
He laid his boy on the bed. In the light of the lair Isaac saw Nir’s handsome features and wondered how he was able to forget him so easily when he wasn’t around. For when he was there, he held all of his being in his hands.
– He is beautiful Isaac. And he is yours, always was. We did not think he would find you now, we are truly sorry.
Azrael’s words echoed in the silent room. Lucifer was standing on the other side from the bed and he watched them in silence.
– I do not see what I can do for him now you have come? Please answer it. What can I do? Azrael please!
Azrael left the bedside without answering, but a look of compassion transpired between the angels. Azrael walked over to Lucifer and they both stood on the other side in silence. They stood there as if they’d been cut out from some church painting depicting the horror of Hell. Death and Hell. In the same room, in his room and they were somehow weeping. For a human?
– I do not understand what you want from me. Are there no more priests?! Doesn’t he let you speak? Gah! You guys are useless.
Isaac sat down on the bed next to Nir, not sure what to do. He had never actually seen anyone die of his own before. Should he cry? Should he hold his hand? He wanted to hold his hand, just one more time. So he held his hand for a while. Forgetting about the angels in the room he bent over his boy. Yes, his boy. And stroked his cheeks, they were cold but Isaac heard him still breathing. The lips still faintly pink. He kissed them. Still holding on to Nir’s hand, he held it to his chest, raising it once for a kiss. Still no sign of conscience, his Nir lay lifeless on the bed, still breathing.
– You could turn him.
Lucifer’s words rekindled the rage in Isaac. He turned to face the devil. His face enraged and his nostrils flared as if he was about to kill one of the angels. He didn’t because he still had Nir’s hand in his. Love was stronger than the hatred.
– What’s the matter? You don’t want a vampire lover, to live with ever and ever after? Or is that too much of a relationship for you?
Isaac let go of Nir’s hand and stared as if in trance at Lucifer, who smiled, happily.
– You are well known below. The one that set a thousand hearts afire and keep none. Oh, you’re a legend. I mean considering the stuff Erich is telling us, oh boy. You do know how to use them.
Isaac was silent but the stare had gone deadly, his body glowing faintly pinkish.
– So tell me Mr. Vampire. What do monsters have nightmares about? Being told someone loves them? Falling in love? The toil of watching loved ones die of old age discarded as yesterday’s news. How long would he have lasted? A month, a week what?! You’re just a disappointment to all aren’t you?
– Precious words from someone who doesn’t even exist.
– Oh, little Jewish boy is angry at the Gods? Come and get me big boy!
– I won’t bother with your insolent nature.
– What? Oh, come on now. You do fancy me a bit don’t you? I mean, I am devilishly gorgeous.
– I only fancy you gone.
– Now, now… you lie. I’m tall, dark and handsome. Much better than that half dead human one. I mean, come on purple hair… that’s just silly. No, I’d show you a good time handsome.
– He is not dead! He breathes.
– Oh, bless his cursed being. Look again you useless vampire!
They both turned to look at Nir’s lifeless body. Isaac watched his mouth and listened hard but there was no more breath. The realisation hit home and Isaac gave up a primal scream of terror.
– You are not dead! You have to live!
Isaac threw himself down over Nir’s body guarding him from he did not know what. He sobbed repeatedly into his ear “You live, you have to live”.
Azrael gave Lucifer a look, they spread out their raven wings and left. It was done. They left Isaac to suffer alone. Thinking he had lost, lost it all. The painting of his lovers was nearly complete. Instead his greatest fear was now realised. How could he ever be loved and seen by his one, if his one lay there dead?