The Books of Darkness
by Robert N. Stephenson
|Table of Contents|
Sunlight streamed through a small window above the bed, the black of the room absorbed its light, magnified its warmth. I lay naked, my right wrist bandaged with black cloth. What I’d seen hadn’t been a dream.
I eased into a sitting position, legs over the side of the bed. My dress and underwear were gone. On the end of the bed sat a track suit, in black. I pulled it on, a little too long, Sarina was taller than me. I felt less exposed dressed. My wrist ached.
“Sarina,” I called walking into the front room. The window now alive with the scene of breaking waves on the white sands of the beach. Outside I knew it would be cold. The vision, coupled with the clear sky, created a sense of summer warmth.
“In the kitchen. Down the hall, first on the right.”
In the day the black looked sad, heavy and depressive. It had lost its emotional appeal. Now I felt how I always felt: down, defeated. Sarina had bitten me, drawn blood. The realisation, mixed with emotional instability, made me angry. How dare she.
I entered the kitchen and came face to face with Sarina, sitting at a small table. She wore a black pants suit. I held up my wrist. She stared at it for a moment, then looked me in the eyes.
“Does it hurt?”
“What did you do to me?” It wasn’t the answer I’d been expecting. I crossed my arms. I knew I blushed and it became difficult to keep in check a sense of anger. I felt violated.
“Sit down, Diana, there is something you need to know.” Sarina gave off a calm manner; her eyes displayed impatience.
“Who are you?” I didn’t want to sit. “More to the point, what are you?”
“Sit down and I’ll explain. Please.” She pushed out one of the four chairs with her foot.
I sat, but felt tense and confused. I knew what I was thinking was absurd, then I did live with a ghost, so it might not have been as weird as I thought. “Are you a vampire, or something?” Even in my own ears it sounded like a stupid question; what else could I possibly think?
Sarina placed her hands on the table, long fingers spread, nails painted black. She sighed, weariness obvious in her body language. “This all depends on what context you view vampirism,” she said, looking into the glossy surface. “If you mean blood-sucking, sun-fearing, soulless dead who can live forever, and sleep in coffins, then no, I’m not.”
I unfolded my arms and looked at the bandage, a small blood stain had seeped through the gauze. What I’d seen last night certainly looked like blood sucking, felt like it, and the euphoria fit with what I’d read, and seen in movies.
“If you think of a vampire as someone who lives off other lives, draws light, the life energy, physically and mentally from people, then yes. I am that kind, though the term vampire isn’t really what I am. I am a Uttuke.” Sarina looked up, face unlined, young, eyes old. She spoke with a slowness that indicated time meant very little to her.
“Then what is this?” I held out the wrist again, “and what the hell is a Uttuke?” I resisted folding my arms, and gently interlaced my fingers on the table. Remain calm, I thought, everything will have a logical explanation.
In the darkness of the kitchen, the blackness of the small world around Sarina, only the slow tapping of her finger nails on the table made a sound. Silence hung heavy for several minutes. Her stare seemed to lose focus, disconnect from me. Like the cold from Steven’s last visit, I shivered, goose bumps prickled my skin.
“I took from what religious folk might call a small piece of your soul.” Her words were measured, careful. “Your blood carries the light, the energy which is your life, the thing that makes you who you are. I need this to survive. Not much, just a little every day or so.”
“You drink blood?” I was incredulous.
“A little, but mainly I feed from your light.” She reached across the table and took my bandaged wrist. I resisted the urge to pull away. She unbound my wrist. No wound, no scar, no evidence she had bitten me at all. “I would need to do this again in a few days, if you let me, of course.”
“You want to do this again?” I had to admit to feeling a little shocked, and drained, which made me laugh.
“I am a Uttuku, not a vampire; vampires only exist in humans.” She ignored me. “Uttukes have walked the Earth with Gods, Pharaohs, and Kings.” She became serious. “Diana, I’m am over five hundred years old.”
I laughed. “Bull!” I had never heard so much crap in all my life. Sarina sat back, face neutral. I’d done the drug thing when I was fifteen to seventeen, The Stainless Hammer of God was about my needle-using days. A five-hundred year old woman who didn’t look a day over twenty-five. I laughed again, this time malicious.
“You’re one screwed-up chick.” I’d believed in a lot of weird stuff until I turned to writing. Hell, I’d made up enough weird stories about alien invasion and brain wiping to almost have me certified. I held up my wrist. “You didn’t bite me at all, there’s no scar. I don’t know how you made me believe it, and I don’t care. You just turned a good night into a damned joke.”
“I have no reason to lie to you.” She sat impassive, eyes fixed on mine.
Sarina must be using something strong to believe her own story so seriously. Last night had been great, I’d needed it, and Sarina did make me feel good, but I didn’t want deal with anyone else’s mental problems, I had enough of my own. The fact there was no scar told me I had dreamed the whole blood sucking thing.
“I think I’d better leave.” I’d heard enough. “You can keep that weird stuff to yourself.”
Sarina stood, the chair scrapping across the black tiled floor. She walked passed me and out of the room. I followed. I still needed my clothes, my computer. This was a story I had no intention of writing. She stood before the lounge room window looking down on the beach. I joined her but the view wasn’t my interest. I wanted my stuff.
“See that man just under the jetty?”
A man dressed in a black stood close to one of the pylons. A couple walking a dog were heading his way, and a jogger ran by. “So, he a vampire as well?”
“I am not a vampire, nothing like it, and the man down there is Orlando.” She hugged herself. “He followed me here; he’s been following me for over fifty years.”
“A stalker.” Crazy or not, a stalker is always bad news. “Call the cops; there are laws to protect you.”
“He’s a Ta’ibah. Probably sent to kill me.”
“That’s your problem.” I didn’t want to get involved. I had a ghost to worry about. And what ever a Ta’ibah was I didn’t want to know.
“He knows you stayed the night. He might come after you. Diana, Ta’ibahs will kill anyone to get to me. It is their way.”
“If he follows me, I’ll call the cops, simple.”
Sarina turned on me, her eyes piercing. I couldn’t read her face or judge her mood. I felt uncomfortable. This woman was weirding me out and I could feel my anger towards her growing. I slowed my breathing, counted ten and ten again. She reached for me. I jumped back; she was quick. Her hands gripped my shoulders. I struggled. Grabbed her wrists; too strong.
“Let me go. Let me go, bitch!” Struggling was getting me nowhere. “Hell with you!” I screamed, trying to pull free.
“If he thinks you’re with me, if you want to stay alive, Diana,” Sarina gripped me harder. It hurt. “You might need my help.”
I slapped at her hands, once, twice. She let go and I staggered away.
“If you think I’m believing that crap, you’re crazier than I thought.” I was yelling. I wanted to run, get out of the place. “Where are my things?”
Sarina pointed to one of the living room chairs. My bag, coat, dress and shoes were in a neat pile. I grabbed them and ran for the door. I shouldn’t have called. Story or no story, this was a situation I just couldn’t deal with.
I threw the locks and pulled on the door, twisted the handle, it wouldn’t open. Sarina slowly walked towards me. I pulled and pulled. Panic. She came closer. I felt like crying. I was crying. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want be killed by some crazy vampire bitch.
Sarina reached passed me and threw back the slide-bolt. The door opened and I rushed into the hallway. Lift or stairs, lift or stairs.
“If he follows you, come back tomorrow.” She closed the door.
I shook so much I could barely walk. I pressed the lift button and then waited, tears streaming. Tomorrow, I though. Not bloody likely.
Copyright © 2009 by Robert N. Stephenson