A SHADOW OF A DIFFERENT KIND
Am I still here?
That’s the question that I keep asking myself every night, when the sun goes down and I recover my senses. I don’t even remember how I came to be like this. I don’t remember when or why. There is nothing science has brought forward to study the phenomenon for which I still roam the streets, looking for some warmth. Am I so different from the living?
All I know is I died for love on a night like this. The city sparkles with the lights of clubs and cars, it contorts with the loud voices of the euphoric, the drunk and the angry. Strange looks pass through me like darts through the air. They can’t see me, for I don’t consist of any perishable matter. Only when I want to be seen do I come to exist in the minds of the living ones.
They are so young, so innocent and oblivious to their inevitable future. Something in my non-substantial heart tells me everything about them, as if I have known them before. Past lives, past people maybe? It is so cold tonight. I don’t remember to have been this cold ever. The only thing that can fix that is the human warmth that cheap love can offer. Fast love, disposable love, plastic love… you can call it any way you want. It is not true love for all I can tell but it feels so good when I manage to get it.
I walk around the area around Bethnal Green station. There is nothing special about it except for a bunch of studios where the bohemian, artistic and creative gather some of their work. I always thought artists are the most generous kind of creatures. There are so many feelings inside them, and such a struggle to bring them out to share with the rest of the world.
Finally, through a dark, damp street with cobbled floor I get to the area where some of the studios are open to people at night. Many different types of parties are held there for the decadent amusement of a few. I wait at the door until a bunch of girls open it and I get through with them. It is a good thing that it’s open to everybody, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to come in without an invitation.
Inside the studio there is a lot of people. At the back of the room is a bar with a sign saying “Fangtasia” in neon red. There is a stage and some stairs leading to the top floor, which is half the size of the ground floor. I have the feeling that there is a photo shoot going on since there are some standing lamps, the ones which professional photographers use.
I ponder what my image should be like before I make myself visible. After looking around and in order to fit with the crowd I take what seems to me beautiful and attractive from what I see. There is so much to choose from, so many pretty faces, so much debauchery. I feel like I am inside a fairy tale for adults, a carousel of beautiful libido’s nightmares.
There is one thing that strikes me, though. There are lots of people dressed like vampires. Some of them have enormous fangs; some of the girls have blood on the side of their throats. It makes me wonder if I would rather be somewhere else. What were the chances? Did they know I was coming? Is this a joke? It cannot be. I have never met anybody like me. I don’t know how long I have been like this but I am aware that it has been a long time.
I decide to have long, black, wavy hair with a middle parting. I want to look tall but not a giant, and with a slight build. I can never help but to have my face as my main mask and I wear dark Georgian clothes.
I sit in a corner and wait. I make it look like I am drinking. Some people are holding red bottles where you can read the label “Tru Blood”. I wonder what that is but nonetheless I find it very amusing. After a while I find out that the whole club is inspired by a television series that has gained popularity as of late.
A show is about to start and I pay attention to the stage. A girl comes into stage and announces herself as Lydia Darling, the host. She is there to present a performance. The dancer is a girl with black hair and rubber clothing. The music is a mixture between blues and rock. I decide to get closer to the stage. People move away from my path when I touch them but I know I am just touching their souls, so they move without even noticing me. She starts dancing and taking off her clothes until she is only in her panties and suspenders. The music gets louder. A man comes on stage with a frock and a mask and starts tying her up with ropes. He moves like a magician. After a few minutes she can’t move at all. He showed such a beautiful display of skill. He shows such passion, such dedication and the result looked more like a garment worthy of a queen than a nasty way to make a slave submit. All of the sudden he lifts a wand and a black, fabric screen comes between them and the audience. Once second later the screen falls and they have swapped places. The magician is tied up and the girl is free. She smiles and shows her fangs to the people. She starts to undo the knots and as the music dies down they bow and get their well deserved applause.
The DJ continues with his set. It is past midnight and I decide to approach a girl I have been looking at for a while. She has black hair and is just wearing lingerie, a fishnet dress and high heels. Her figure is slender and is well proportioned. There is a long pearl necklace hanging from her neck, and she is wearing a black feather hairclip. She looks at me and smiles. I introduce myself and she seems somewhat flattered by my manners. After kissing her hand she seems bemused that I am not warm to the touch. She asks me if I am a vampire, almost with the same eyes children have when asking the man in the beard and the red suit if he really is Santa Claus. I tell her I might be but I would rather let her guess. That seems good enough and she smiles to herself.
I have never been told I am cold at all, just merely not warm. I don’t really have a body. I am a being of illusion, half-dream, half-reality. A whim of nature to make things crooked and queer. A hump on existence to complicate things beyond the animal processes of life, killing and death. I wish there were a god and a devil to blame, but I know well there aren't. I have never seen anybody like me either, so I am not sure if I am alone in this world. Maybe there are others but I can’t perceive them, the same way they probably can’t perceive me.
We keep talking and for what I can tell she truly likes me and she lusts for me. I don’t have any glands anymore so I can’t really lust for anybody. All I can still feel is that horrible cold. The cold of the soul. That cold that loneliness brings and is worse than hunger. I want to reach for her to alleviate my soul with her warmth and any invitation to closeness is very welcome in these circumstances.
There is a fire breather on stage which we go and watch together. She holds my hand close to her heart and I can potentially feel her breast. She is warm and so close and beautiful. So innocent, unaware of the hunger that corrodes me. She is also excited by playing with fire, like the analogy that is happening on stage. They all are, somehow, on the same page here. Flying free from fear on the wings of passion. But they are all like children playing pirates to me. They fall for the blood drinking myth and they are happy to create a whole culture about it. What would blood be to me, when there is no stomach or body to feed? There will never be a day, I say, that humans will be free from the curse of lusting after vampires and until then they can but guess what we are like.
A dancer with a white snake on stage, a Mississippi blues band, a Delta blues guitarist… the evening goes by and she can’t help but offer me to come back to hers. She gets her coat and we leave one hour before the club night was over. The place gave me great amusement and everybody there seemed to have lots of fun. I wished I could join them, get drunk on happiness, get carried away by lust and sober up in beauty. It makes me sad that the only thing left of myself is my mind.
We get on a night bus. I don’t have money so I make the bus driver believe I did the same thing she did with her purse on that machine of his. We sit down for the journey and some drunk men walk onto the bus. They are joking and swearing and they are very loud. My companion seems uncomfortable by them and as soon as they look in her direction they point at her and start making remarks. After a few seconds she is getting upset and I take it as an indication that this tends to happen to her on a regular basis. Nobody should have to go through this.
I stand up to them and let them think I am taller than any of them.. I bring out sadness in my eyes. They freeze, they go quiet and after I look at their faces they sit down and start sobbing like little children. I just needed to conjure up something which I have and I wish I didn’t. My sadness is as deep and as wide as the sea and just giving others but a little glass would reduce them to this formless mass of tears.
We fear the darkness in our bedrooms when our mothers went to bed. We can never forget the corner where we went to cry when we were children. We cherish when others acknowledge us in our moments of need and we feel lost when we feel rejected. But the worst kind of sorrow is when it is mixed all together with guilt, as this would mean, in full awareness, that whatever terrible sadness is staring us in the eye is something which we have brought upon ourselves.
We get off at her bus stop and she asks me how I manage to walk over cobbled stone in heeled boots without making a sound. I laugh and tell her that I am very skilled at that.
She opens the door of her house and urges me to keep quiet. She immediately invites me in, which is a step I always find awkward for the obvious reasons. There is a musty feeling about the house and, by looking into her mind, I know there is also a bit of a humid smell in every corner. The walls need new paint as it looks like it is peeling.
After, we go into her room and she pours a glass of wine for me. I make her think I drink some of it without even moving my hand, just by looking into her eyes. The room is decorated mostly in black. It is not very tidy and there is a little rack where she hangs her clothes. There is a big poster of “Twilight” on one of the walls. I have never seen it but I have heard people commenting that it’s an awful vampire movie.
We start kissing. She takes off the shirt she had put on when leaving the club and she takes off her shoes. We lie down in bed and I start hugging her as we kiss. My so-called body starts pulsating and I notice that I am getting warmer and warmer. I even feel almost like I am made of flesh and blood again. She tries to take off my shirt but there is no real shirt for her to remove, so I take it off myself. She takes off her underwear and we are left with nothing but ourselves. At this point I touch her forehead and she goes into a trance. After I look at her body I start crying for what I am about to do. My hands reach for her chest, my middle fingers forming an inverted v over the edge of her ribcage. I start pressing slowly, up and down and I feel how her energy comes out of her body and goes into mine. She starts sweating. In her mind I am still making love to her, in a way that no man or woman has ever done in her life.
How many lives have I taken this way? I don’t know. I honestly can’t remember. All I know is that if I keep feeding on her for a few days she will die. Not by my hand, though, since she will just grow weaker and weaker, and any other human illnesses which could otherwise be easily treated would be lethal to her. It makes me enormously sad but I can’t help it. I am so lonely and all this lust, all this cheap love, this fourteen percent alcohol passion that is being given to me is like the life that I don’t hold in me any longer. It brings me memories of my childhood, of ice cream and candy, and bubbles flying into the sky. It brings me memories of my first kiss, my first love, my first broken heart and the support of my friends. Youthful madness, freedom that was so taken for granted, not knowing that death awaited me an arm's length away. So much laughter wasted, so many dreams not yet formulated. Life stolen, breath stopped, heart's desire interrupted at half-spoken important words. Did I say “I love you” enough? Did I throw away enough emotions? Did I find the one for me, who destroyed everything I was and turn me into this? I keep telling myself that it is so, for I have nothing left to console me.
I let her sleep after a couple of hours. She has been dreaming of a night of passion, when all her sensual fantasies came true and now, finally, she is truly asleep. Dawn is upon the city. I need to be careful because if the sun touches me it will make me disappear until tomorrow night. If she sees that happen I will not be able to see her again, she will not be able to see me either. I would cease to exist for her.
But do I really exist...?