Eternal Darkness: Blood King by Gadriel Demartinos
It’s evil versus evil in a showdown of wits and will when the most ancient and wicked of forces challenge the most powerful and ruthless of modern vampires.
Meet Renzo Von Klatas, a proud immortal who across two centuries of blood and death wonders if there still is some shred of human emotion inside of him, when he faces the unexpected by an ancient evil force that seems to be as powerful as he is- an evil force with the perfect bait; the secret of how to turn immortals back into mortals in exchange for Renzo’s soul.
When Renzo accepts the deal he asks; “who cares to whom my nonexistent soul belongs to when I will go on living forever?”
And the answer to his question will take the reader to a surprising journey of faith, discovery, the mysteries of immortality and beyond time itself.
Eternal Darkness, Blood King is a true feast for all vampire lovers, and a new take on the immortal lore with unexpected twists and turns that will leave the reader asking for more.
Enter into the darkness of the world of Renzo Von Klatas; the immortal known as- THE BLOOD KING.
Julia . . . she said her name was Julia.
The image of her standing in front of my desk still burns in my mind. One look at her face, and I knew right away she was not human. But there she was with those gray eyes. Those piercing bright eyes upon me, framed by her beautiful wavy auburn hair.
Somehow she knew my inner thoughts, my secret plans, and my fears. I could tell she did.
Then she spoke. Her voice was soft as a whisper and somehow captivated all my senses; that accent of hers was European, no doubt. Her English was perfect, but that little trace of Georgian accent remained, giving her away in an elegant way, almost intimate.
I was tired. The day had started very early, and I hadn’t eaten, like I usually did since leaving the publishing company to open my own. Life had settled into this pattern: skipping meals, long hours, and not much of anything else.
I looked at her right hand. Her soft skin was too white. She was not wearing any rings, just an expensive watch—Cartier. Then I noticed the black laptop bag slung over her right shoulder. On her left hand, she was holding a leather backpack.
“I want you to take a good look at this,” she said, placing the bag and the backpack on my desk.
She moved with care, neither too fast nor too slow, making sure my full attention was on the two items. I dared to look at her eyes again. They spoke to me. Everything inside me was shouting at me to run out of my own office, but I couldn’t move. I wanted to stay and get closer to her. My eyes moved down her silky-skinned thin white neck to take in her beautiful blue dress. Everything about her was perfect, and yet never before had I felt so much fear.
Then suddenly, my attention was on her face: Almost no makeup. She looked so stunningly fresh and young—twenty-six years old, or perhaps twenty-seven?
Her jawline moved as she spoke, and the only thing I could think of were those pink lips of hers. I followed their movement like in slow motion, understanding every word like as if they were the very first words I had ever heard in my life. Something about “the most important story of my career,” about me making sure it gets published, making sure the world knows.
“One last thing,” she said from her position. “All the credit must go to Kamille Blackwell.”
I nodded without knowing why.
Then everything stopped. There was no time, no other sound inside my head, but her voice and that name—Kamille Blackwell.
Slowly, she moved backward, looking for the darkest place in the room. Then she turned her head toward the glass window to look outside.
“Let everyone who cares read his story,” she said softly, staring out at the night.
Julia. She said her name was Julia.
I felt dizzy. I closed my eyes for a brief moment, and when I opened them, I was alone again, sitting in front of my desk. I looked at my computer monitor; the digital clock showed it was 8:09 p.m. The framed pictures of my kids sat next to the stapler. My eyes rested on the laptop bag and the leather bag. “She’s gone,” I found myself saying out loud in a sad voice. I looked toward the office window, then toward the door, noticing that they were closed. I never heard her coming in or leaving.
Somehow I knew that I would never see her again.
I couldn’t get enough of what I was reading. I passed my fingers over the notebook covers. The engraved details were remarkable, the vintage pages, the odor of old ink, the handwriting.
I opened the first volume for the third time and reread the first entry: “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” It was a simple sentence; yet it carried so much meaning, strength, and truth.
I read about a man, a Gypsy, about the places he had traveled and people he had met, dates and specific thoughts. I read about the night, about blood, thirst, and immortality. I browsed over words, full sentences, and entire paragraphs written in Spanish and Portuguese, or maybe both, then in French, and later in English.
Is this a joke?
I knew what I saw in my office was real. She was real, and I knew now why all my senses told me to run away from her. It was my primal fear picking up on the sense of danger, the possibility of certain death.
I read the sentence again: “To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”
I closed my eyes, realizing that in order to go on, I at least had to consider the possibility that what I was about to learn was, in fact, true.
I opened another volume out of more than a dozen inside the leather backpack. I studied the cover. It was dark blue with the word Diary engraved in a golden font. There was another sentence handwritten in the first page: “Insouciant sui generis.” Next to it was the name Kamille, and then in the bottom-right corner, “Munich 1903.”
I flipped the pages and realized I couldn’t understand what I was reading. German—the entire notebook was written in German, during the years 1902 to 1907.
I found my way to the laptop. The desktop screen contained only one folder named “Gate.” I double-clicked on it, and a series of word documents were revealed to me. I opened all of them and read them over and over. I couldn’t stop. What I was experiencing was both incredible and frightening. There I was, reading in first person this Gypsy’s words, his thoughts, and his confession.
It has been more than six months since I read his diaries, and I still can’t believe it. I have cross-checked places and names. Some of them do check out. Others are dubious due to the absence of public records lost to wars or/and acts of God.
From all the entries I could, and will, publish, I believe the ones you’re about to read are the most faithful to that first entry from the first journal. I will do the transcript word by word.
The following will challenge your senses and beliefs, but it doesn’t matter whether at the end you believe it or not. What matters is that there was once a man who became more than a man, and there was once a woman who forever haunted his dark heart.
The woman’s name was Kamille Blackwell, and the credit is all hers.
New York, March 13, 2011
The Distant Past
These are the words written by the Gypsy. All dates signify when the entry was made.
October 30, 1792
“¿Qué es un dios?” I said out loud. What is a god? I was back in the outskirts of Martorell, holding up a wooden crucifix that was given to me that day by a priest who was visiting the town.
Stevo, my father, kept his distance, thanks to the bonfire between the two of us. The night had turned cold, and the bonfire was the only thing keeping us warm.
Stevo didn’t make any sudden movements; rather, he chose to stay close to the fire while enjoying his cigar. He looked at the crucifix in my hand.
My father was a man of few words, choosing to speak only when he felt the moment was right. I, on the other hand, at twelve years of age, was beginning to show traces of the character that would soon define me. Our trips to Barcelona were getting old, and his patience was running thin; he was fed up with my doings and the ever-increasing claims regarding my thievery.
The country was going through a tough time, and uncertainty was ever present. Government raids against those who were considered subversive, mainly those too poor to pay taxes, those who didn’t serve in the army, or those who were not working were rampant. Public discontent was increasing, and business opportunities, for both legal and illegal citizens alike, were scarce.
Gypsies were never welcomed by the Spanish crown, mainly because as nomads, we never truckled to authority or asked for permission to do anything; rather, we settled in wherever we saw fit. To add insult to injury, we Gypsies were never part of any census, which drove the authorities crazy. I can tell you of entire Gypsy tribes where all males and females shared the exact same first and last names, making any type of established control count or organization impossible. Back in those days, our way of life became a major problem, causing weekly confrontations involving the military, the church, and the Gypsies.
My father had seen it all. His father, Tamás, was arrested, accused, and executed for stealing horses from one of the wealthiest families of Portugal. The fact that there were no witnesses and no evidence, and that my father spent the entire week traveling with him all over Lisboa could not save Tamás from being beheaded. No court or jury was ever needed. The norm was death to all Gypsies, as was what happened countless times throughout history.
My father knew how life was for our kind, and he did the best he could to prepare me for what was to come.
“Who gave you that?” he asked.
My gaze moved with curiosity around the edges of the average-looking wooden cross.
“Back in town, a priest was speaking to a group about a savior. A man called Cristos. He said that Cristos died in a cross just like this one, for us,” I said.
Stevo inhaled and exhaled from his cigar, looking at me silently.
“He called him his god. What’s that?” I asked.
My father stared at the flames for a moment and then looked back at me.
“Do you remember that story your grandmother used to tell you when you were little?” he asked.
I remember sitting down next to my cousins in our tent at night and loving the tone of my grandmother voice while she told stories about legends of ancient times, stories of past relatives and their doings. I remember her long silver hair and the deep wrinkles all over her face in the light from a gas lamp. Among the stories she used to tell us was one that her grandmother used to tell her when she was a kid. It was the story of a Gypsy who led a campaign against the Christian crusaders hundreds of years before my time. His name was Andrzej. My grandmother used to say that we as a clan were blood related. I used to daydream of one day becoming a man just like him.
Andrzej was a typical Gypsy. He was a brother and a son. In no way was he exceptional; nor did he ever wish to be. He was also a father and a husband, until the day crusaders came to his tribe. They came talking about a savior. A man-god called Cristos, a man-god who died for Andrzej’s sins—at least that was what they told him. Those crusaders asked for my people to submit to this god Cristos, to renounce our “pagan” ways. However, we couldn’t do this because what they called pagan was our way of life. Our culture and heritage, passed from generation to generation, was our only true-blueprint. For people like us with no country, no flag, no origin, that would have represented a definitive end to our identity, a permanent death leading to the assimilation of an imposed culture and everything that it implied.
The crusaders came back in larger numbers, this time not to preach but to conquer. Their banners and flags rose as giant waves all over the slopes, covering the entire forest, swallowing towns in a storm of death and destruction. There was no escape for my people. Hundreds of thousands died in those decades of terror.
“Do you remember what she used to tell you about Andrzej?” Stevo asked.
Andrzej, the Gypsy who made an army out of the survivors of the so-called purification of the land. He was a husband who lost his wife. A father who lost his children and a son who lost everything he once held dear by the will of the armies of the “true” religion of the man-god Cristos.
For over three years, Andrzej and his men waged an all-out war against these crusaders—freeing town after town, burning churches, and executing priests. His intention was to get rid of every crusader, every representative of the faith who had brought an end to his way of life. He was indeed a willing enemy of the man-god from Rome. He was declared enemy of the church and an ally of the devil’s. They used to call him Diabolosk, a pagan term for those who had an alliance with the devil. And indeed, for a time, he seemed to have been protected by a “higher” force. Andrzej faced bigger numbers and better-trained forces, but somehow he defeated them over and over, prompting a massive campaign from every angle of the nation. Then Andrzej was forced out of Spain.
He headed toward Asia, where he would continue his campaign with the support of foreign armies.
“Yes,” I said, without letting my gaze break away from my father’s. “I remember Andrzej.”
The Recent Past
June 12, 2006
The nights have been empty since I came back to the big city. Extreme City, I call it. Coming here is always a stimulating experience; but this time, there is no joy. The streets are the same, and so is the energy of the people. It wasn’t hard to adjust. It never is anymore. I have moved back to the old apartment. The kid has done a great job taking care of it.
Several months have passed since I’ve written any entries. I couldn’t. It didn’t feel right. I guess my senses have been numbed since that night eight months ago.
Eight months already?
A long time ago, I was told by the Greek that the night would come when time would lose its meaning. I’m happy to say that night hasn’t come just yet. I have felt all those hours of all those months submerged in my own personal darkness. Life nowadays is a collage of visits to the park, hanging out in clubs, or taking to the streets for the occasional homeless, the taste of the rich, or the always-exquisite young blood.
Despite everything, I wish I could go back to those nights of March, as though by revisiting the events and finally writing about them, somehow, I could remember those whom I have lost the way they were.
Perhaps in doing so, I could remember why it happened, and why it has been so hard for me to find closure. It was precisely this closure that has been missing inside me; and now it has led me to my pen, this night, and this notebook. I need space, a chance to balance things.
I have always been a simple man in a very complicated existence.
Maybe if I repeat that to myself long enough . . .
Instead, I have behaved, as always, without putting too much thought on my actions. I move, react, kill, feed, and I get to live over and over. As though by continuing to live on autopilot I could somehow pretend that nothing ever happened. But something did—to others, to me, to my existence as I knew it.
There’s no question, I love being me. Anyone can tell you that, but what no one can see is that until this night, I haven’t been myself, not since that week down in Vampire City—Miami.
I don’t remember how I got inside that hotel room.
Don’t ask how I got there; I don’t know. Still, there I was. I closed my eyes and I’m there again looking down at the busy avenue through the glass window, wondering if I would ever get a second chance.
Would it matter? It probably won’t. Never ask for or show mercy, right?
Frederick Celtrick was his name. At least that’s the name in the driver’s license I found in one of his pockets. Six feet four and just turned twenty-eight. I turn my head to stare at his body on the floor, trying to summon an image of him upright. It was funny how he didn’t seem that tall when he found me inside this hotel room, when in a swift, effortless movement I brought him down to his knees. I can still hear his sobbing in my ears. It is ironic how size means nothing in the face of true will. Just like me, the man will never make it to twenty-nine.
I sit on the bed and look for more items inside the wallet, trying to find as many pieces from his life as possible, to have an idea of who he was. You’ll be surprised what a wallet can tell you about its owner. I like seeing their pictures and personal items. It makes me feel that I am a part of their story somehow. I even avoid picking their thoughts while attacking them, although sometimes it’s unavoidable. For example, Celtrick here—a typical American kid: loved girls, working out, his friends, football and basketball, more girls, and vintage wine?
Interesting, I think that I would’ve liked him.
There, inside his wallet, I find a VIP card for the club downstairs, his college ID, and a picture of another young woman, no doubt his girlfriend. A beautiful creature, I must add. It makes me wonder how big of a fool she would feel if she found out about all the other girls in the life of Frederick, the dead stud.
Then I see the card that brings me back again to that recent past, when I was enjoying my time in South Beach like I always do during the winter. The ID card in my hand indicated that Frederick was a hotel front desk assistant manager. It turns out that he was studying for his master’s in hospitality management, just like another man I was introduced to years before by my gifted young painter, Lucy—my lil’ Monet.
I haven’t stopped thinking about her since I got back here in the city. I have tried to erase her from my thoughts. Obviously, I haven’t been successful at it, and I doubt I ever will be. She was truly special, and her fate was unnecessary. However, I won’t go
on like this. First, I need to go back to the beginning, or to the middle of everything. Whichever the case may be, the facts are as follows: It was the summer of ’93, the place was Miami, and I was the Gypsy that I have always been.
The Not-So-Recent Past
July 1993 – Miami
The sun had just set, and I was hungry and thirsty again, and happy to be out on the streets of Miami. Long gone were the insane ’80s, replaced by the early ’90s. It was a different time, but the heat was still the same. The airwaves were filled with salsa music from the Caribbean and South America, grunge rock, and Guns N’ Roses. It was my first time in town since the ’70s; and after a decade and a half of absence, I was impressed by all the changes that had taken place, mostly in the diversity of its habitants. I couldn’t get enough of their sultry spice, their music, and their flavor all mixed up with the North American culture.
The Spaniard in me was delighted in the proximity of all this. It almost made me swear that I would find a good place of my own so I could always come and visit, but I needed a good-enough reason to do so.
The Caribbean blood I savored in those nights was not different from any other type; but the scent, the fragile smell of salt and spice in my victims’ skin and in their tears was enough to turn me into an addict.
Miami was growing from being a swamp filled with the oldest population from all over the States into a cultural and entertainment destination. May all the gods that men have created bless all that cocaine money! All that investment capital was turning what was considered at one time a worthless piece of land into an oasis. Just like what the Mafia money had done for Vegas back in the ’50s.
There we were, the city and I. She was the sun capital of the world and me the lord of the night. Yin and yang, a perfect balance.
Always on the move, I avoided the big hotels; I also avoided buying properties in exclusive places. However, I was tempted to go for a top-floor unit in one of the new condominiums over on Collins Avenue. I loved the view from the balcony; I could see the casual cruise liner in the horizon, sailing alone in the middle of the black ocean, flashing its dim lights as if they were a congregation of artificial stars. I love cruises. There was a time when I went on one every other year—until the high percentage of missing passengers started to draw too much attention and made me reconsider my habits. Now having a place in such a great location was more than convenient, because it meant I would just jump on a ship, do my hunting, and the ocean would take care of the rest. That was my version of a drive-through.
Soon I was facing the inescapable fact that I had to move on, and it was on such a night, in such moment when I found my reason to stay. I was selecting my kill of the evening, scanning people’s thoughts, searching through memories and mental images, looking for the one who would fire me up, the one who was dirty, weak and, guilty enough to motivate my inner animal, the true killer in me.
Killing with vice is the best.
Suddenly, my search was interrupted when I picked the thoughts of a young woman. I was on top of a nearby building on Ocean Drive when I felt her hunger, her despair, and her sadness.
My eyes scanned the beach for the source of such essence, and there she was: She had her back to me; she was talking to a couple, a fat woman and a short lanky man. I intensified my senses to pick up their conversation, and I heard the couple tell her that they would not pay the $15 fee for the pencil portrait she had just drawn of them. They were claiming that they thought it was for free, that they didn’t hear her telling them anything about a fee.
I looked at the fat woman talking to the young girl and smiled to myself. I knew she had heard the girl say something about a fee, only to change her mind halfway through the portrait; and now she was making excuses. I smiled to myself, knowing that I had just found my kill, and she was a juicy one.
I watched the couple return the portrait and then walk away. I was about to follow them, but I couldn’t stop looking at the girl. She was exhausted and mad. I saw her expression, and there was fire in her eyes. Anger, pure and silent—the type of anger I could relate to.
In moments, I was standing next to her as she was putting away her tools, stuffing them into a long black nylon bag. It was then when she noticed my presence.
“I’m done for the night,” she said without even turning to face me.
I could hear her Southern accent. Like most of Miami, she was not from there. I did not move; I stood there in silence, my face half turned toward the beach.
“That’s a shame,” I said, “because I truly love pencil portraits.”
This is true.
“I have been waiting for you to finish with that other couple, so I could come and ask you to do mine,” I added.
She turned and looked at me as I stared out at the distant ocean. I slowly turned to face her. Her dirty blonde hair fell over her forehead, giving her a boyish aura; she looked very fresh and young. Her brown eyes move quickly, sizing me up, like women do. I gave her my best smile, fangs and all. She noticed and smiled back at me. In one quick resolution, she unpacked her tools and prepared to do my portrait.
I stood there and chatted with this young creature, being casual as I watched her, studying her. I was delighted with her, admiring her tenacity as she pressed the pencil in a fluid motion against a clean sheet of paper, depicting my features, not faithfully but
according to her own interpretation, like true artists do. We talked about the weather, about music and places I could visit while in town. Afterward, when she gave me the finished portrait and I saw how she had gracefully reproduced my menacing smile, I made up my mind: I would kill her.
I gave her a hundred-dollar bill. Her sad eyes met mine, telling me she didn’t have enough change to break it. I told her to keep it for the overtime, but she refused with such dignity that I couldn’t help but smile. No, I thought, I won’t kill her just yet. Instead, I realized that I wanted to know this girl. I needed time to figure out what was so appealing about her.
I stood nearby as she packed her tools; I was still admiring the pencil portrait. I felt her despair, read her thoughts. I learned that she was alone in the city, and she was struggling badly. I turned toward her.
“I’ll be opening a small galleria in a few months. I could definitely use the help of someone as talented as you,” I said casually.
She stood up and looked at me with interest.
“It will take me a couple of weeks to find the right place, and maybe a couple of months to get the permits, and then more time to find a good collection to showcase, but if you are interested in a steady job in the field, I may have one for you,” I offered.
I had no idea how to go about making good on that promise, but it was the best I could offer.
She was quiet for a moment.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
I gave her my card. She took it, read the information, and looked back at me.
I contemplated the pencil portrait again just to show it back at her. “I’m afraid this one will go to my private collection, though,” I said in a casual manner.
She smiled, looking straight into my Gypsy eyes; and I found myself smiling back at her.
My lil’ Monet, I miss you.
I learned to love her in a very special way. I truly loved her—not her looks or her talent, not the possibility of taking her, but her force, her energy and desire to be great. In all our time together, I always knew how far and how remarkable she could become. I wanted to be a part of that, to be a witness to the birth of a great artist—and that’s what she ultimately was.
Lucy was an only child, born and raised in the South. She was very family oriented and refreshingly honest in her ways. It is not very often that someone like me finds hope in the people he meets, but I did with her. I used to struggle at times when weak and thirsty next to her; but at no risk of being hypocritical, I can honestly say I would have rather fed on rats before I would even consider harming her in any way.
I also knew that her ambition, with the guidance of someone like me, would find the structure and the solid base it needed to go as far as possible. She was smart enough to see that and too naive to have second thoughts.
I will admit that our little arrangement was comfortable. My kind is incapable of producing an offspring and just like with my stepson, Jason, Lucy became the subject of my attention, like a gifted daughter or a little sister.
Her biggest tragedy lay in her lack of confidence. She was the type of creature who could never make up her mind. She wanted to be known and famous but couldn’t follow through. Her attention was divided among too many things—bright, beautiful, and shiny things. On the other hand, after having lived for so long, I knew better; and after a while, I found myself assuming the role of a father figure.
The human frailty never ceases to amaze me.
It is easy to desire the world, but making the leap to actually have it is another thing. To have the world, you need to know yourself and have the capacity to believe. Then dreams stop being dreams and become goals, made even more real with plans, strategies, sacrifices, and fees. Above everything else, you need to have a well-centered heart to carry on.
Lucy had a golden heart. Her capacity for caring was sometimes overwhelming; and at times, it scared the hell out of me, because I know very well what this world does to those who dare to care too much.
I spent every winter and the first weeks of spring with her before returning to the East Coast. I did open a small galleria near the beach, and she worked for me. I found an old house; and after all the redecoration, it became the perfect place to exhibit some of the most amazing private collections in that part of the world, as well as the perfect house for my lil’ Monet. I was careful enough to bring up the idea of moving in such a way that it sounded more like it was hers.
Months later, after some phone calls and interviews, she got into one of the most prestigious art schools in town. I still remember the beaming expression on her face when she told me. She looked like a child who was about to start dancing out of pure happiness.
I watched Lucy blossom year after year. She made the leap from young girl to ambitious woman, and the ’90s came and went. Then came the night right around December 2001.
The North American world was trying to show its best face during the first holidays post-9/11. I was in the city when it happened but didn’t realize the magnitude of the event until almost eight hours afterward. Because the attacks of September 11 happened during the morning hours, neither Jason nor I knew anything about it until we woke up. That night, Jason and I stayed in, like most of the world, glued to the TV set.
For almost a decade, I had been between cities. During the summers, I was in New York with Jason; and just before the winter rolled in, I would go and stay with Lucy in South Beach.
Having not seen her for the most part of the year, I went back one night in December 2001. I took a night flight from JFK International to Miami. I heard and read about the new security measures implemented by the government for all domestic and international flights, but I wasn’t ready for what lay ahead. That night, I had no luggage; and, as always when indoors and artificial lighting is strong, I was wearing shades. My appearance has always been a dead giveaway that I’m not the typical North American–looking man. Not that I’m pretending to be, but since 9/11, in the land of the free and home of the brave, not looking American enough was asking for trouble. My case was even worse, because those who did not know could easily assume that I could be Middle Eastern. My Indian-Gypsy genes are responsible for that. I have also been mistaken for a Latino, and even a Hindu; but that’s another story. The fact is that I had the security checkpoint experience from hell. I was asked to step aside and go through a detailed TSA security process that tested my patience. I cursed the moment I decided to take a plane to Miami, and I blamed myself during all those five wasted hours of my night before I was allowed to board the plane.
It was not a surprise visit. Lucy and I had been talking about it for weeks, and I insisted on her not coming to pick me up. I like Miami during the holidays. Granted, it does not have New York’s epic postcard setting, but you can’t beat the fact that a seventy-eight-degree weather during winter is hard to find anywhere in the mainland. I’m not a fan of extreme cold weather, not only because of the inconvenience of the weather itself, but also because most people stay in under those conditions, unnecessarily complicating my hunting habits. Instead, the nights in Miami are pleasant, and the people love to go out and party. So do I.
When I arrived at the beach house, I found, to my surprise, that my lil’ Monet was not alone. That night, she introduced her new boyfriend to me. His name was Stephen. He was very tall, had a very nice suntan, had the bluest blue eyes ever, and had short dark brown hair. A killer smile completed the irresistible package.
I’m tall. Being European, I’m average at 6’2.” Consequently, it is not common for me to look up at others; but with Stephen, there was no choice. At the time we met, he was a college student finishing his master’s, a basketball aficionado, had a wonderfully unmistakable British accent, and was full of the characteristic freedom of the young. From the moment I saw him and experienced his natural charm, I knew he would be the one who would break her heart.
You see, I haven’t mentioned this, but Lucy, besides all her great qualities, was an impressive beautiful woman with an athletic body and an openness that made her the perfect social butterfly. Throughout the years, I witnessed how men fell for her, and more than one cried for her. I had also watched, with amusement, how she enjoyed the attention but never gave too much of herself. She was always one step ahead of real love.
This time, it was different. Just a quick glimpse of her eyes, the way she looked at him while we talked, told me the truth.
“I really like that he wants to make it by himself,” she said to me, never taking her lovely eyes off him.
I took a quick glance at them and saw her place her right hand on his left thigh, very close to his sex. The gesture was brief, natural, and without any other motive but to express closeness, the type only lovers can express. He looked into her eyes and rewarded her with one of his perfect smiles.
Something was wrong; something inside of me was not right. I began to feel strongly about something that should have been inconsequential in the first place. I realized, to my surprise, that I was not interested in her friendship.
I’m a bad friend. I’m bad.
I felt pure anger, intense and murderous.
Then it hit me: I was jealous. I was merely pretending to care while they talked animatedly. I discovered my true feelings for Lucy. Feelings that perhaps had been brewing inside me for years but never surfaced until then. Or perhaps they had at certain times, but I always pushed them, unintentionally, to the back of my mind. Until now.
Why? I asked myself.
The answer was simple. None of her past relationships had felt as real as this one. I was jealous of that. I wanted that bliss for myself. That love long lost.
My thoughts went back to Kamille.
But then experience kicked in, and my own selfishness took a backseat when I realized my lil’ Monet was under a lust spell that I knew would lead to a dreadful emotional attachment.
If I could get a dime for each time I’ve seen this coming . . .
Stephen, on the other hand, never knew what he had. From the moment I met him until the very end, he never knew what he wanted. Being strikingly handsome fueled his dreams of becoming famous and traveling the world, maybe becoming a male model, or perhaps an actor. I believe that he had what it took to do all that, but he also knew he lacked the most important thing in the equation, which was exactly what Lucy had to spare—a well-centered heart. One thing he had to his advantage, though, was the fact that he, indeed, was in the right city.
I’ve called it Vampire City before, and that’s what Miami really is. Just like any other big metropolis, like Extreme City New York or Lost Angeles, Miami has the very best and worst of what the human fiber can offer; but unlike the other two, you will hardly find so much shallowness anywhere else.
Just like anywhere else, Miami has a way, a social structure unto itself that you have to understand in order to exceed successfully in everything she had to offer. An attitude of monkey see, monkey do; a culture of first impressions first, a nonsense of it’s not who you are but what you have.
I’ll grant that the last saying could be heard pretty much everywhere, but it’s not as evident as in Miami; not even the paper-thin people from California can come close to it.
A culture of physical beauty, perpetual youth, and endless debts, because pretending to be successful is not for the faint of heart but for those willing to put the extra hours and all their income in all things vain.
A city of playboys, gold diggers, models, wannabe celebrities, physical instructors, and starving women—because staying beautiful has a price, right?
Vampires, all of them, pretending to be human. They’re vessels filled with pop culture, judging others, pretending to be more successful.
“Money is the word. Money is the goal. Money calls money.”
The charade goes on for less than two decades before a new generation of empty vessels comes and displaces those who are now too old to be accepted into the “in” crowd. Age, unlike with real vampires, is an issue because once you have decided to worship beauty, you are worshiping youth; and when that is gone, your time is up.
I’ve done the research. I’ve bought my way, very easily, into their circles by flashing my money. I look from above without sympathy; and when I get to kill any of them, their thoughts speak of the horror and disbelief that their existence will end.
“Why?” they ask themselves. “How is it possible? Not to me, not to me.”
Who told them they were different than any damn living creature in this life?
Only then do they understand that nothing they could ever have matters, that it’s who you are that counts at the very end and the only thing that nothing, not even death, can take away.
They all eventually fall like flies.
Stephen and Lucy were not different. Lucy was on her way to becoming one of such vessels learning from friends and now from her lover; but in my mind, Stephen was worse. I could feel the air of superiority in his words, his fake self-confidence trying to hide the uncertainty of a future he couldn’t see or control. Maybe that was enough to impress my lil’ Monet, but it had no effect on me. To me, he had been truly transparent from the get-go.
“You know, and I hope you don’t mind, but with the beard, you look just like Oded Fehr, that guy from The Mummy Returns,” Stephen once told me while we were sharing a glass of wine. This provoked an immediate laughter from Lucy.
My eyes moved from him to her, and then back to him. “The movie?” I asked, thinking of the 1932 Boris Karloff film. “I don’t think I understand,” I said.
“Yes, the Arabic guy leader of the priests guarding the secret of the Mummy,” Lucy explained.
My eyes went back to hers. “Oh! You mean in the new version, the one that came out a couple of years ago, right?”
“That’s right!” Stephen said animatedly.
I stared at him with a serious expression. “I’ve never seen it,” I said, wiping the smile off his face.
Lucy noticed my annoyance. “You should. It’s very good, and you do look—with the beard, I mean—like that guy. He’s very handsome,” she promptly said.
Stephen turned to look at her and then quickly looked back at me. “Yes, it’s very good. And he is handsome.”
If they only knew about the previous airport drama because of the damn beard and what I’m capable of doing once I’m in a bad mood, Stephen never would have dreamed of saying anything like that. But because he had no idea, I let it pass.
I looked into his eyes and held his gaze, which made him uncomfortable. After a while, I finally looked away and drank some more wine.
Lucy quickly changed the subject. She started talking about their plans to go to the Caribbean.
Stephen was not a kid. He was twenty-six years old, had one BA and was working on his master’s in hospitality management. His plan was to run a luxury club, a place where the coolest and the most beautiful people would meet, where great music would play forever, in a nonstop party of sorts—a dream where Lucy had no place because Stephen, like any other vampire, wanted to suck the shine out of her and then move on.
That first night of December 2001, right before I bid Stephen good night, I shook his hand. I could tell he felt my immortal strength, but the kid didn’t flinch a bit. My eyes bore into his, showing no mercy, before I gave his hand one last strong squeeze. This time I saw pain reflected in those blue eyes.
“Don’t hurt her,” I whispered with a smile.
His expression turned serious.
“Because if you ever do, I’ll hurt you back,” I said, widening my smile, showing my fangs.
The man held his own, struggling not to show any more trace of pain. “I think we understand each other,” he said in a low voice.
Slowly, I eased my grip on his hand.
He left in silence, and I stood alone in the center of the living room, daring him to look back once; but he never did.
In the winter nights of 2002, the beach house was full with their friends and whenever I was invited to any of the gatherings, I would watch Lucy and Stephen, so happy together, and I made up my mind that right after the very moment he would break her heart, I would hunt him down and break his neck. That thought alone made me look forward to the future with a smile.
In the meantime, and despite all my complaining regarding the people in this city being fake, I was a hypocrite. Because despite my best efforts, and for obvious reasons, I had to live in a masquerade, forced to stay away, engulfed by the eternal darkness of an existence I could not dare to share with the woman I wanted. And because of it, I had to bear witness to how she gave herself, body and soul, to another man.
I was, indeed, in the right city.
Gadriel Demartinos was born in Catalonia, Spain, the youngest son of five children. Since an early age has been traveling and relocating in several cities around the world with his family. Demartinos is Spaniard/Greek descend from his father’s side and Portuguese/Gypsy from his mother’s. A lifelong film and all things art buff, he is known for writing thrillers with detailed fiction and provocative themes. Demartinos was still a student when he began to draft what would it be his first novel, “Eternal Darkness, Blood King”, about the struggles of a powerful vampire facing impossible odds. The draft became a novel early in the year 2011 when he was finally sure the story he wanted was complete. His crafting of fictional scenarios are realistic thanks to his tendency of mixing current events with historical accuracy. In December 2012, Demartinos published “Eternal Darkness, Blood King” under Gitano Books and he is currently working in the sequel to be release in 2015.
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