Red Dreams
a Forever Knight story
by Elisabeth H.

        I had forgotten the pale pinks, blues and mauves of a sunrise, neglected these pastel colours in favour of the deep, rich hues of sunset.  And yet, they all came back to me in a rush as I watched the movie on the television in the corner of the bar.  Maybe if I'd been born in this century, I would join those of us who spend their share of eternity staring at a television set or movie screen, watching technicolour sunrises and trying to remember how to be human.  Maybe not.  I like who I am.  I like being a vampire.

        Like most vampires, I both love and hate killing to survive.  We lose ourselves in the rapture of draining our victims' blood, only to have it trickle away with the rapid cooling of their corpses.  Death leaves a hollowness that the next victim can only fill for a moment.  So we move from kill to kill, trying to recreate the ecstasy of that first experience.  Some kill again and again in a desperate need to avoid the emptiness in between.  After a few centuries, I realized that my hunger would never be fully sated and decided to feed as little as possible, expanding my existence beyond the continual murderous frenzy.  Now, like most of my kind, I drink nothing but bottled blood -- human of course.

        Time is both my friend and my enemy.  I can and have wasted decades investigating and discarding several potential careers.  It takes a great deal of imagination to find enough interests to keep one occupied for centuries.  (Aristotle claims that it also takes a lot of self-absorption and, after watching so many of our kind walk into the sunlight over the years, I have to say I'm inclined to agree with him.)  Some ancient vampires tell me that nightlife has lost much of its glamour in this modern age.  They mourn the loss of freedom, their inability to pick and choose their victims.  Many resent the necessity of drinking bottled blood, and spend hours spinning stories of murder and mayhem to interested (and not so interested) young ones.  Bah!  I have no patience for these decrepit husks.  Life is meant to be lived.  Just because we cannot feed on mortals at will does not mean we have to give up the hunt.  I will not give up the hunt.  It enthralls me--from the moment I choose my prey, through the deliciously tense nights of bat and mouse that follow.

        Tonight my prey has brought me to this bar.  She sits at the next table with a friend.  Sarah is one of those women who fade into the background at parties.  But what creativity lies behind her mousy brown hair and faded blue eyes, underneath skin so pale I can see the blood flowing in her veins.  How do I know, you ask?  All you have to do is find your way into her internet account and read the exotic fiction she writes under a pseudonym.  For five nights I have followed her, watching her every move.  Staring through her apartment windows as she sits at her computer.  Ah...what dreams we will have tonight.

        I almost missed Sarah leaving the bar.  Some young idiot telephoned me, wanting to know what was happening with his money.  Had I managed to transfer it to his new account?  Could he access it in Toronto under his new name?  How could he avoid the depredations of Revenue Canada?  And expecting me to come up with an ingenious and complex strategy on the spur of the moment.  Perhaps I will.  Or perhaps I will lose his nest egg for a while -- to punish him for almost costing me my prey.

        Sarah sleeps.  Flat on her stomach, one leg curled up.  My hand rests on her forehead.  Speaking slowly, softly, I push her deeper and deeper, until her eyelids begin to flicker.  Her dreams have begun.  My voice, carefully modulated, insinuates itself into her mind.  Did you think you had to be awake, eyes wide open to be hypnotized?  Not at all.  Careful research proved that it is possible to control your prey while they sleep.  Their minds open like flowers.  My thoughts twine through their dreams, transforming innocuous dreams into dark fantasies of seduction and death.  Together we travel through twisted dreamscapes -- sharing, then joining and finally separating.

        For Sarah, I choose the ultimate vampire dream.  I chase her down dark alleyways, across black moors.  Sometimes coming close enough to tease her with the ecstasy she seeks.  Always drawing away before we touch.  Her fear and desire are nectar to my senses, bringing gold to my eyes and drawing out my fangs.  We dance silently through the landscape of her dreams, keeping time to the rhythm of her heartbeat.  Until she turns and beckons me close.  I take Sarah in my arms.  We kiss.  Her tongue touches my fangs and her eyes open wide.  My hand moves through the silken tresses of her hair.  Instinctively, her neck arches back, thrusting the vein forward.  My teeth bite into soft, yielding flesh.  Desire and rapture fire her blood with a heat that blazes through my veins, warming my soul.  The beating of her heart slows as I drain out her life.  After only a few brief moments, just long enough to join us together, I move away.  Loss muddies her sapphire eyes.  Bowing deeply, I hand her a single red rose and disappear.

        On her back now, one arm flung over her head, Sarah sighs softly in her sleep.  Before I go, I place a flower on her pillow.  A unique beauty of my own creation, grown carefully beneath the gro lights in a vampire's garden.  And so I relinquish Sarah, as I have so many before her.  I always depart before my prey awakes, leaving behind a thread of darkness in their souls and a single rose, the colour of fresh blood, with black lurking in its heart.  A rose I call "Red Dreams".


Centre Stage Challenge:  Feliks Twist