Monday, March 9, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: The Vampiric Basics

My position with Shalimar was an odd one. Until recently, I had been the enemy, and I still considered them my opponents. They had done this awful thing to me, changed my state of being. Yet, I was one of them. Was I obligated to the vampires in any sort of way? Should I stay with them because I was one of their kind? I felt an easy answer to that question. No, definitely not. I was a vampire, but I was definitely not one of their kind. My strategy would be caution. I felt no small trepidation about why Shalimar wanted to see me or what she wanted to do with me. Being cautious was my best recourse.

A curt “enter” answered my knock, and I found myself in a study seemingly walled with books. Shalimar was enthroned in a huge chair behind a large desk. The massive furniture shrank her to a less imposing stature than she had been when I’d last saw her and I felt more at ease.

“Welcome back to us, Pauline. You and I need to discuss your future. I’m sure you have many questions.” She looked at me over the top of steepled fingers.

I remained standing because I was sure she would prefer that. “What do you intend to do with me?”

She laughed. “Do with you?” Nothing really. Pauline, I’ve done everything I could with you already. You are no longer a player in this little game with me and Father Stewart and Marie LaVeau. You’re one of us now. You have to start your life over. To help your former allies against us is to destroy your own kind. Does that not sound a tad genocidal?”

I really wanted to tell Shalimar that I felt the quality of life might be better without vampires in its general scheme, but I did not think this would be a wise line of reasoning to bring to her attention. “Yes, it does strike me that way.”

“I’m not stupid. You know, Pauline, you desperately want to be some sort of heroine. There’s courage and stubbornness all mixed up into a delicious chemistry someone might call brave, and all this is churning away in side of you. You will want to betray your own brothers and sisters to your friends. But you’ll find you can’t go against your nature. You can betray us, yes, but when you need some place to go, when you discover exactly what it is that you’ve become, then you’ll need us in ways you can’t imagine yet.

“You’ll kill because you must for survival. You’ll have victims. And don’t fool yourself. Victims can be people you love as well as those you despise. When you need to learn control, you’ll need us. So you might as well join with us now. Don’t endanger your friends.”

Her honesty startled me. “I would never do anything to harm anyone…”

“I hope,” she continued, “that your first victim is your niece. If you don’t claim her, I will. For my yearly sacrifice. Won’t that be an honor?”

“What do you mean sacrifice?”

“Every year I bathe in the blood of a virgin to maintain my youth. I can assume, in spite of your niece’s reputation, that she is a virgin?”

“What a question to ask!” If I’d had blood, I’m sure I would have blushed crimson.

“I’ll take that as a yes, then. After all, I must do something with your niece. Dalia wanted to make her one of us, instead of you, and she still thinks I can. As another vampire she’s utterly useless, but as a blood sacrifice, she’ll be magnificent.”

“I can’t let you do that.”

Shalimar was over the desk in a flash and by my side. She swept me with her arms and took me to the window. “Why not? What has Abigail every given you but trouble? Isn’t that why you’re here with us now? That whole world out there can be anything you want, Polly. Seize it! Don’t worry about your past. It will grow old and rot before you do. Your only concern now should be yourself.”

“What will you do to me if I try to stop you?” I expected terrible action would be forthcoming.

Shalimar turned away from me. “Let you do it. I don’t think you’ll be very effective.”

“That’s it?” I said, astonished. “You aren’t going to make me do terrible things? Or torture me? Or anything?”

“Why?” she purred. “Do you want me to?”

“Oh no,” I said hastily. “I just didn’t expect you to allow it.”

“There are lessons we must all learn on our own. You’ll learn yours soon enough, and then you’ll come back to us, and we’ll see what’s to be done, based on what you’ve done. But be certain of this, Pauline, you will come back. Gauge your behavior accordingly. Be wise, prudent.”

I left the study, feeling strangely muddled. I still despised Shalimar as much as before, but she seemed thoroughly convinced that I was to become like her. True, I had to warn Abby about Shalimar’s plans, but was I putting my niece in more danger going to her than in leaving her unwarned?

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