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 Eternally Lost, but neither did one arrive for a meeting of the Council of the Eternally Lost short of breath and sweating blood.
Imagine. Him, the highly respected assistant treasurer of the Council of the Eternally Lost, forced to run to make a meeting. But no matter his immense wealth and influence, his reputation, his special powers, he knew better than to be late. Members of the Council of the Eternally Lost knew better than any creature of this world that time was of the essence. The essence of everything!
Cranston 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. Plus the beloved leather riding gloves with which he came in a magnificent tenth place at the 1931 Monaco Grand Prix. Then as now, he flew through the wind on the sleek metal, his long hair flowing handsomely, white like the streak of a dagger striking its victim.
And then the motorcycle broke down.
Or maybe it just ran out of fuel. Where was a station of gasoline when you needed one? Cranston 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 the finest silk, thinking about how good it would be to see his fellow brothers and sisters of the damned. There was Von Dundrick. A young officer in Napolean’s army was he. Once. But that boy died so long ago, while the man, the thing that became so much more than a man, lived on. Cranston realized he hadn’t seen Von Dundrick since the period the humans called “The Great Depression.” He never knew why they called it that—he’d had an absolute blast.
Then there was Justinian, with whom he went all the way back to the Revolution. French, of course. Or had it been American? Mexican perhaps? Had Belgium ever had a revolution? If so, definitely that one. Either way, those were the days. Unfortunately, Justinian still hadn’t forgiven Cranston for turning his sister into a fellow Creature of the Night. Cranston didn’t see was such an issue—he’d only changed her because he needed a last minute birthday present for Justinian. It had all been done with the best of intentions, like everything Cranston did.
Honestly, if Cranston had one gripe about his kind, it was that they were all so touchy about the way they’d been transformed. What was the big deal about receiving an eternity of pleasure and torment through the eternal kiss of a Forever Lonely One? He’d never given the matter a second thought since that first meeting with Sophia. A chill ran down his pale spine just thinking of the day she had turned him. He, a handsome young carefree rake of merry ole’ England with a zest for life, an insatiable curiosity and a keen desire to never die. Sophia had told him every time he’d tried to visit her in the ensuing centuries that his transformation had been an accident, that she hadn’t meant to impart on him the gift that kept on giving and taking in equal, infernal measure. She claimed she’d actually only bitten Cranston for a light snack before dinner.
Such the kidder, that Sophia.
Lost in his reverie, Cranston continued up the yard this way, walking slowly like the trickle of blood from the punctured neck of a victim, when he saw a bat hanging from a tree. “Hello, brother,” he chuckled. Of course, the bat was not his brother! Cranston 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, certainly. 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’d have to share that joke with the others. He was such a wit! He was also so much more than that. Oh, so much more. He was … a Vampire!
Cranston 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. He knew the voices to be those of Von Dundrick, Justinian, Sophia and the other members of the Council of the Eternally Lost. 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 Eternally Lost had been. His kind usually kept to themselves. The Council of the Eternally Lost 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.)
Cranston reached the door and 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 of the Eternally Lost 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.