by SG Wilson of Earth 84
The moon was like a silver dagger gleaming in the moonlight. The darkness like a devil’s claw, seductive, fragile. Cranston emerged from the tangle of vines onto the grounds of the moss-covered ancient manor, his immortal heart exploding in his pale chest.
He paused for a moment to catch his breath. One was not late for a meeting of the Council of the Damned, but neither did one arrive for a meeting of the Council of the Damned short of breath and sweating blood.
Imagine. Him, a respected Peer, forced to run to make a meeting. But no matter his immense wealth and influence, his standing among men, his special powers, he knew better than to be late. Members of the Council of the Damned knew better than any creature of this world that time was of the essence. The essence of everything.
He would have arrived much sooner, had his motorcycle not broken down just outside the mossy gates of New Orleans. Silly modern humans and their newfangled technology, he thought. Still, he looked dashing on it, a perfect compliment to his outfit of black boots, black leather pants and tailored white shirt of Egyptian cloth with a jaunty blood-red silk ascot and matching cufflinks. His long hair had flowed handsomely as he rode it, white like the streak of a dagger striking its victim. And then it broke. He made a mental note to murder the motorcycle dealer who sold him the contraption. His kind had excellent memories.
Cranston collected himself and headed for the manor. He glided along the grass like an infernal amulet over virginal cloth, thinking about how good it would be to see his fellow brothers and sisters of the damned. There was Dundrick, whom he hadn’t seen since the period the humans called “The Great Depression.” It had been wildly fun for them – such willing victims. He and Justinian went way back, since the Revolution. French, of course. Or had it been American? Either way, those were passionate times … It had taken Justinian 125 years to forgive him for leaving his embrace for the arms of Von Sebranek. Ah, such a beauty, Von Sebranek. Cranston had Made him, out of boredom, really. A young officer in Napolean’s army was he, so gorgeous in his gilded uniform, with his blonde curly locks; he couldn’t resist forcing him to join the ranks of the Damned, imparting an eternity of pleasure and torment with his unholy blood. Thinking of that reminded him of Matilda, and a chill ran down his pale spine. She who had Made him would be here for sure ‑ it was her manor. He remembered the handsome young rake he had once been, a carefree lad drinking himself into obscurity in merry ole’ England, until she invited him to kiss her in that alley … He grimaced and thought no more of it.
Lost in his reverie, Cranston continued up the yard this way, walking slowly like the trickle of blood from the punctured neck of a compliant victim, when he saw a bat hanging from a tree. “Hello, brother,” he chuckled. Of course, the bat was not his brother, because he could not turn into a flying mammal any more than he could change into a cloud of mist or a violent wolf. He scoffed at the very thought of it. Crosses, yes, they could hurt him. Holy water, too. But sleeping in a coffin? Not unless it was lined with designer linens, he quipped to himself. Stakes through the heart? “That I’d sooner avoid finding out,” he thought, chuckling. He was what he was, a being that looked like a human, but was so much more. Oh, so much more. He was … a Vampire!
He had no time to muse further. Voices called in the distance. “Cranston! Help me! Cranston!” He heard them not through his ear, adorned as it was with a blood-red ruby earring, but in his mind – like witch telepathy, or the cries of a dying goddess. And he knew the voices to be those of Von Sebranek, Justinian, and Matilda. They stopped as suddenly as they began, silenced like a blood-red candle put out after a witch’s rite is over.
With his preternaturally-powerful muscles, Cranston bounded to the manor more quickly than any human being ever could. It was only then, as he raced so blindingly fast, that he realized how strange this summons of the Council of the Damned had been. His kind usually kept to themselves. The Council of the Damned only met a few times each century, and only then to ensure that the newer modern vampires kept in line, that they played by the rules and dressed as vampires should (designer clothing, preferably custom-made by a tailor who worked late hours). In fact, their last meeting had only been a few decades ago, in the 1950s, mostly for administrative purposes and to put a ban on vampires wearing jeans and tank tops like the humans. (Vampire Ruling XXVII.)
He reached the door, heard the dying moans of the already-dead. Could it be that a young turk had gathered other younger vampires and rebelled against their old and crusty sires, calling this meeting of the Council only for the purpose of killing them all?
Cranston decided against finding out. He turned his back on the door and walked very quickly back into the wood. He then began to jog, and then to run very, very fast. After tripping over a wood log, he picked himself up and then continued on his way.
Truth be told, he didn’t need this aggravation. Didn’t need it at all.
* * *
Later that evening, nestled in his expensive hotel room, with a glass of port in his hand and a young lad in a yummy leather ensemble bleeding at his feet, Cranston thought: “To choose whether or not to join the Legion of the Accursed or to remain dead forever is a difficult decision, my young one. Choose wisely . . . choose wisely.”
With that, he closed his eyes and fell asleep. He was exhausted, and the glass of port wasn’t helping.
He began to snore loudly. The young lad picked up his belongings and hurried his young way out, never to be seen again, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing:
Although good-looking, he was not what one would call “beautiful.”