Love, Death, Blood, Art


J. Edward Tremlett

Was there a word to describe what she was to him?

Jeremy didn't know what it was: 'love' seemed such a trivial utterance to place against it. He didn't just love her, he was her, and she was he. Time with her was always well-spent. Arguments were short and forgiveness certain and meaningful. When she was happy he was filled with a pure, white joy. When she was unhappy he would have given anything to please her, and often did.

When the days were good she celebrated, and when the nights were warm she came to him. When the days were terrible she comforted him, and when the nights were frantic she calmed him. She was white to his black, and soft to his hard. She made him feel. She made him want to feel.

She completed him. And when he lost her, he lost everything.


It had been a stupid mistake, taking her to that club in the South Side. The dancing was great, and many of his friends swore by the DJ's ability, but somehow he just knew it wasn't a good idea. Still, he didn't listen to himself, and, made giddy by surviving the Machineslave's dance floor, took a few too many chances walking back home with her.

They'd turned into a darkened alley, knowing it was too short to contain anything they couldn't handle. Their apartment was just around the next corner, so what could possibly go wrong? Warmth, comfort and hot coffee awaited. Everything was just fine.

And then there was a single moment of dread, when shadows filled the alley before them.

No. Not shadows - just a single, long one cast by a single, tall figure. Jeremy had one brief, frightened moment to realize this was not good, and then the shadow was moving with its owner.

Jeremy put his hand into his coat to get the knife he'd come to rely on, but before he could take it out there was a hard, crushing blow to the side of his neck. He felt something pop, and then he sunk into the dark, unaware.

He awoke to pain: a vicious, red hot fire surging through his entire body, centering on his heart and his mouth. When his sight returned he saw through new eyes and was made aware of one bright and terrible thing: she was dead.

She lay in the shadows, beside him. Her small body was withered and pale, and her eyes glassy and screaming for help.

She had died screaming, and he had not heard.

Jeremy screamed, bared his nascent fangs and beat his fists on the ground. It was all he could do, now that he had lost everything.

Fortunately no one heard, and in time he was gone.


Life after that point was a dizzying parody of its former self.

His heart did not beat. He did not need to breathe. His skin was clammy and cold and he was pale and gaunt.

He was faster, of that he had no doubt, and stronger, too. He was able to appreciate what his senses conveyed more than he had before, and he didn't feel as much physical pain as he used to.

He didn't want food, either, and while he dreamed of sex he couldn't get anything up at all. In fact, both needs seemed to have been replaced by something else: a terrible, piercing hunger that would not go away. What once gave him pause now seemed easier to think of, but he still hesitated.

He knew better than to go out during the day. When the Sun rose, he felt the need to find someplace dark and quiet to sleep until the Sun fell from the sky. And as he slept the hunger wracked him, making him dream foul, red and bloody things.

That hunger rumbled and quaked in his gut like an indigestible nugget of spoiled meat, demanding one thing and one thing alone. Rats and stray animals he culled from the streets filled the void, but it was never quite happy with what they had to offer.

The hunger wanted human blood. And every night, as he moved through the city, the scent of it filled his nostrils, enticing him to want to do things he knew he'd be sorry for later...


The good, the bad: it was all worthless without her.

He'd left the body where it lay, unsure what to do with it. She received a pauper's burial with a simple gravestone, and he visited her in the downtrodden cemetery every night. Her parents called once in a while but he never called them back, afraid of what might happen if he did. Likewise with his own parents - what could he say?

Their mutual friends shunned him after he failed to come to the funeral. The police kept coming around and pounding on his door during the day, so he had to sleep in the basement lest they knock open the door and expose him to the Sun. He couldn't go to his day job, and after a week he received an automated message telling him he was fired.

And one night, when he woke up, he went upstairs and found that his stuff had been cleaned out. The landlord, who'd been like a second father to the two of them, was no longer there. He'd been replaced by some smirking accountant who gleefully told Jeremy that his stuff had been confiscated and sold. There was some small print involved in the new lease he hadn't been able to not sign for, and that was the breaks.

Of course, Jeremy didn't see it that way, and gave the new landlord a few breaks of his own.

Jeremy hadn't meant to kill him, really. But once he lost his temper he wasn't able to calm down until the other man was in pieces. And during the quick and terrible moments that the other man took to die - too quickly to even scream - Jeremy at last let the hunger have its fill.

He fled after that, stuffing his pants with cash from the dead man's wallet. He didn't feel good about what he'd just done, and didn't know where he was going from there. But at least the hole in his gut was filled.

The hunger was satisfied - for now.


It was a full month after she died before Jeremy met another creature like him: a whole group of them, in fact. He'd taken to sleeping out by the city's edge in one of those condos left vacant for tax write-off purposes, and it turned out he wasn't the only one who'd had that idea.

The seven of them answered a few questions for him, and then started asking him ones that he couldn't answer. They tossed unfamiliar terms around, like 'sire' and 'childe,' and then asked him if he'd seen the Prince of the city. He said he liked that movie, and they laughed and shook their heads.

Eventually, he learned. He was a 'caitiff,' a term that seemed synonymous to 'nigger' as far as he was concerned. Someone thought he might be something called a 'Toreador,' considering how he couldn't take his eyes off the prettiest girl in the bunch, sex drive or no. But no one recommended going to the 'Primogen,' not without knowing the 'sire.'

The terms practically drove him crazy, and they backed off to keep him from going into what they called 'frenzy.' But eventually they figured he was okay and accepted him into their little 'coterie.'

Life after that was a little easier. He had people to talk to who understood, and friends to watch his back. He knew that he was part of something called the 'Camarilla,' but all his friends could tell him was that most of it was just bullshit dressed up in a fancy suit. As long as they stayed out of trouble and kept clear of fancy, well-to-do places and the vampires that frequented them, they could do whatever they liked and no one would tell them otherwise.

And they had fun, and for a time he was almost enjoying being a vampire. The freedom was exhilarating, and after draining the landlord dry drinking small amounts from other humans seemed less and less objectionable. The night was theirs.

The only thing that held him back from total joy was her: her face in his mind, the memory of her kiss on his lips, and that awful, crystal-clear moment when he looked in her eyes and knew all that she was had gone away.


Time flowed by. It was now half a year since that awful, first night, and half of his coterie were dead.

It turned out that they hadn't been quite so truthful with him: those well-to-do vampires could tell you otherwise, and kill you if you didn't obey. One of his group got into a fight with someone's childe, and when that childe died the Prince called a bloodhunt on the whole group.

A team of ghouls found their haven during the day, and dragged the three chief culprits out into the Sun. The rest were paralyzed with stakes, and taken to a lonely room on a surprisingly ornate floor in the Machineslave, a level Jeremy had never seen before.

The Prince was less than pleased with any of them, so much so that he didn't even deign to talk to them himself. The man he had do his talking for him was less cultured than his surroundings, and much more brutal. He demonstrated how a vampire could be hurt very, very badly with just a few matches, and enjoyed every moment of the poor girl's death.

The remainder of Jeremy's coterie - minus one more from the demonstration - got the point, and found themselves groveling for another chance. They got it, but the message was clear: next time there would be no warnings, only death.

Jeremy and his friends parted ways, each figuring that to stay banded together now was to commit suicide. One went to Los Angeles to give the Anarchs a try, one went to Seattle, and the pretty one wanted to go back to Kansas and offered Jeremy a place at her side.

That he said no had more to do with the girl he'd lost than any fear he felt. She understood, and she left, and then he was alone once more.


A month later found Jeremy in trouble yet again. This time he'd broken something called 'the Masquerade.' He'd gone to a concert by her favorite band and started crying at one of the songs. It wasn't until someone asked him if he needed to see a doctor that he realized he'd been crying blood.

After that, a hunt was called out for him, and things were not going well. He just knew that he wasn't going to get off with a gruesome warning this time around, as he'd had to kill two ghouls and a vampire to avoid capture. He changed his hiding place every day and hung out at a different bar every night, hoping his luck would keep up with him.

So it was that one night, at a small, little poetry and cappuccino cafe, he found a way to rejoin her.

He was sitting at a back table, pretending to sip at a cup of java when a fascinatingly ugly little man came over and said his employer wished to speak with him. Jeremy tried to wave the man away, but something else the man said gave him pause: his employer wished to apologize?

So he followed the little man into a little room in the back, and when the door was opened and shut and the lights turned on Jeremy almost frenzied. For there he sat: the man who killed her.

He was crying bloody tears, this man, and begged Jeremy to sit down and listen before he did anything. Jeremy scowled, remembering... but something told him to at least listen.

The man thanked him profusely - maybe a little too profusely - and began to speak.

He was an old vampire, he said. He'd seen the days when Europe was considered the whole of the world, and castles loomed over its landscape.

In the time between then and now he'd been fighting a constant battle with the same beast that Jeremy felt gnawing in his gut, and, as he was old, he was losing that battle horribly. The night that Jeremy's love died was just another in a long, sad string of nights when the beast had taken him over.

It had taken him some time to find Jeremy, and now that he had, he wished to make it up to him.

Jeremy was, needless to say, rather nonplused by the idea. Still, he listened, and as he listened he began to see a certain logic to what the man was saying.

A small charm made from abalone shell and eagle feathers was produced from an expensive coat's lining and handed over. The man explained that this was a special thing that vampiric magic had created. It would locate the soul of a lost loved one, and bring it to the vampire at the very crack of dawn. The vampire could then be reunited with the one he loved forever in death.

In exchange for sparing his life, he was willing to give Jeremy the charm.

There was an eternity of silence, but eventually Jeremy took the charm. He couldn't allow himself to believe it, rationally speaking. But what was rational about any of this? Vampires? Blood hunts? Magic?

Since this had happened he'd had to put a lot of skepticism on the back burner, as it were. Who was to say this was any more outlandish than what he now took for granted?

With that he left the man and his ugly go-between, mumbling a small, trite line of forgiveness. The man seemed overjoyed at such a scrounged-over nugget, and repeated only that the charm should be used as close to the loved one's body as possible, and at dawn.

Jeremy took the instructions to heart, and then took his leave.


The graveyard was deserted, and so much the better. Jeremy figured that the Prince's men had stopped coming here when he had, some time ago, and that the chances of being spotted were nil.

He'd brought the charm, and looped it around his neck. A pair of handcuffs he'd stolen from a dead cop were brought as well: if what he'd been told was true, as soon as the Sun rose he'd try to get out of its rays in a mindless, uncaring dash for shade. A metal ring had been staked by the stone for some odd reason, and he put it to good use.

And he sat, and he waited. The time came closer and closer, and yet so far away. When was he supposed to see her?

Then, as soon as he wondered, he began to feel... something.

Some familiar presence was nearby, but it wasn't speaking.

What was going on? For a moment he thought he'd been cheated, and contemplated finding the man and getting his justly-deserved payback.

And then, he felt it: a single, cold caress on his cheek. He knew those fingers! He knew that hand!

He looked up, overjoyed. It had worked, and she was here! He began to laugh, bloody tears welling his his eyes...

And then he became aware of just how light things were getting. Dark was giving way to light, and this nightmare was soon over. Death was coming and love was returning.

There was a single moment of in-between, and then a familiar, old friend was back: its warm caress painting the ground around him with a hazy, uncertain sheen. He turned and looked to the East, smiling through bloody tears at the ruddy-orange thumbprint of God.

What a moment! He didn't need the handcuffs after all, it was over so quickly. One second he was watching the Sun, and then he could see nothing but fire and flame. His skin went brittle and cracked, his hair crackled and flared like a spray of grease over a gas stove, and a icicle of sharp, intense pain came and went, dragging him down into death with it: hot fire, cold flame, and then nothing but black.

He sighed and smiled with a lipless, gaping mouth, and surrendered, hoping that someone would be waiting to kiss him at the lit end of this long, dark tunnel.


Meanwhile, across the way, a small, fascinatingly ugly man in a long, black car took the videotape out of the camera and smirked; his domitor knew how to pick 'em.

This little piece of art would fetch a good price among his master's jaded cronies, and give him more of that red, sweet stuff that kept him going. It needed a title, but he'd leave that to the boss. The guy'd been around the block a few hundred years, he could come up with something good: he always did, and even if this was the third one this month he would do it again.

{It was a good thing those fake First Nations charms were so cheap over the Canadian border.}

He rolled up the tinted window and drove away, leaving Jeremy to smoke and finish crumbling in peace.

And thus, he never saw it: a strange, wispy suggestion of something white and feminine standing by the stone. Spectral hands beat a tombstone and a mouth wailed. It was all she could do now that she had lost everything.

But no one heard, and in time she was gone.