This story is Copyright 1999, Krystoff Vagabond.
It may be freely redistributed as long as it remains completely intact and unmodified (including these headers). I welcome comments and criticism. Please send any thoughts you have on the story to email@example.com
One last night skulking in the shadows. One final flight over the city, leaping from rooftop to rooftop. One final watch from a fire escape in an unlit alley.
I was born into slavery, on a plantation in what would later become Virginia, over three-hundred years ago. Another place. Another time. I have seen the birth of a nation and its rise to world power. I have witnessed man's mastery of science, the ability to create and the power to destroy. I have walked side by side with men whose brief lives have shaped history. I have defeated death and laughed in her face and yet I have accomplished nothing. A man's life is measured by the mark he leaves on the world. Yet I walk in shadows, invisible to all I wish not to reveal my presence. A soul is weighed by the lives it has touched, but I forfeited mine on a hot summer night in 1685. I have ended a hundred-thousand lives for no purpose other than my own continued worthless existence. But it ends tonight.
I watch down below as a woman leads a man into my alley. She pulls the bands of fabric that pass for a top off of her shoulders and he immediately buries his head in her bosom. His hands reach for her ass and pull her skirt up around her waist. With a thrust, he is inside of her and a single moan escapes her lips and rises up to my ears.
They don't see me. They don't see anything. I can see into their minds. His lost in his own pleasure and hers locked on the money she is making, tuning out the event as it takes place. The laws of the jungle skew as each become both predator and prey. Hunter and hunted. Neither considers the other anything more than a means to an end. A quarry to fuel their continued survival. Yesterday, both would already be dead.
Dawn will bring a new day and end my last. My flesh will burn to ashes and my bone will fade to dust. My very essence falling into oblivion, for I traded away my afterlife an eternity ago. I welcome it. Eternal nothingness will be a blessing when weighed against immortal emptiness.
"Do you truly believe that?"
She's standing beside me. For how long, I don't know. Tonight, I don't even care. I pause to appreciate the irony of the moment. For centuries, I have walked the night. I have hunted. I have stalked -- stood a heartbeat away from my victims and remained beneath their notice -- killing between breaths. Tonight, the last night of my existence, for the first time, someone has skulked near me.
"Do you truly believe that?" she asks me again.
"Do I believe what?" I don't know why I answer her. I have no reason to. I have no reason not. She's young and, I suppose I would think, beautiful, if I still had any appreciation for such things. I speak in a low monotone, expecting her to flinch. She does not.
"Do you truly believe that oblivion is better than eternal life?" She gently brushes a lock of auburn hair from in front of her face with her slender fingertips, but the wind places it back in the same spot.
"I believe oblivion is better than eternal pain."
She wraps her arms and embraces herself as she considers my words. Her leather jacket tightens around her long skirt and the sash around her waist us caught in the same breeze as her hair. "What if there was life without pain?"
"There can be no life without pain." I turn away from her and again look down at the prostitute and john below. He holds her in his arms, her legs wrapped around his back. He grunts as he hammers away at her body, slamming her back hard against the brick wall. She screams. Is it pleasure? Is it pain? I look at her face for the first time. She closes her eyes tight and grinds her teeth as she waits for her back to numb. "Survival is pain."
The girl leans against the rail next to me, her small white fingers grasping the bar a hairs distance from my own dark hand. "And you fear pain?"
I remember my transformation. I remember my heart burning, exploding as it pounded towards its last beat, but clinging to life. Forcing what blood it had left through my veins in utter agony with each beat for the sole reason of doing it again a second later. The smell of strawberries in the mistress's hair as her teeth sank into my neck. Her fingernails digging into my back. My heart beating its last against her soft breasts. My last living breath slowly sliding from my lips. I remember the countless screams from each life I have ended in the years since. Minds anguishing in torment as I took their lives the same way I might take a breath or blink an eye. And I have lived with it. Every day for over three-hundred years, I have lived with it. I close my eyes and grit my teeth. "I fear stagnancy."
"Death is stagnancy," she whispers into my ear. Her breath is soft and warm like that of a kitten or a small child and I find myself experiencing a kind of anxiety; almost a fear. An emotion so long forgotten that that it is totally alien to me. I want to tell her she is wrong. Prove to her she is wrong. I want to take her hear and now. Grab her throat and rip it inside out. I want to show her that death is the price of life.
"All things die," she tells me as she leans back over the rail. "It is the way of things. Animals eat plants, plants thrive on the decaying flesh of creatures that have fallen." She picks a flower from a near by pot smells it then begins pulling its petals off one by one and discarding them to the ground.
"To what end?" I ask her. I'm almost begging.
"Life. To see what the next day brings."
"And when each day is the same?"
She looks up from her flower and I meet her eyes. Large, innocent and full of life, and yet, in their way, as old and traveled as my own must be. I sense an understanding. I feel a chill and yet my body is on fire as if she has reached inside of me and touched something I long since thought dead. "Then you try something new," she tells me.
I look away, afraid that she might somehow see what she has done to me. "How?" I ask quietly, under my breath.
"Take my hand." I turn back around and see that she has reached out to me. "Take my hand and become a part of a whole new world, different from any you have ever known."
I look over the rail. The man is gone and the prostitute is straightening her outfit to get ready to go back to work. I turn back to the girl, her slender fingers reaching out towards me. Her smile seductively drawing me in like the light at the end of a tunnel.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath and grasp her hand in mine. She draws me close and touches her lips to mine. They part and as our tongues touch I taste life. Strong. Sweet. Warm. Her arms wrap around me and I am embraced. When I open my eyes I see the sun rising over her shoulder.
©1999 - K.Vagabond Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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