Chapter Two, Part 1

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The next morning I awoke with my thoughts immediately returning to the blood circle. What our collective memory replayed of that night one hundred years ago was but a portion of what happened. There were other events that transpired, the knowledge of which I carefully blocked from my children. They were intimate moments that haunted and shamed me, and I vowed never to share them. In the solitude of my private mind these damning details came flooding back to me...

Stepping behind a table I tried to keep the conversation going. Every minute with me meant more time for my daughters to escape. "I'll do whatever you want, just don't hurt my girls," I said, as I wiped the blood on my lips.

Erdo watched me as I spoke. Startled, he drew his thick eyebrows down in a deep V. "This is unexpected," he said, "although not unwelcome." He smiled at me. "It was you that I came for, not your daughters, not your son or your husband. But I see you have taken it upon yourself to give me something more."

My brain tried to make sense of what he said. Confused and unprepared, he seized the opportunity to pounce. He moved with unnatural speed to my side and braced me by the arms. Cold, powerful hands pulled my body to his. Horrified I fought to free myself, but I was no match for the monster as he held me in a vice grip. He lowered his face to mine, grazing my cheek with desiccated lips, and closed his eyes with wicked delight. The putrid stench of death filled my nostrils. An ugly, black corpse tongue slithered from his mouth. He brushed the leathery thing across my lips. Then with the yearning and passion of a long separated lover, his mouth met mine. Stone cold lips pried me open and his serpent tongue invaded my mouth. I began to choke from the burn in my throat. Nauseous and repulsed by the vile kiss my body retched. I tried to push him away. I felt violated. Helpless.

His mouth then moved to the tender flesh of my neck, caressing it with lingering kisses. He inhaled and hesitated, savoring the moment, not wanting to rush it. "You will be my bride one day."

Paralyzed, I could not speak. I could not protest. I could not defend myself. I was helpless to stop him. And then I felt the inevitable crushing attack. A cry of pain escaped my lips as sharp fangs penetrated my tender flesh. Warm, wet blood began to run down my dress as he consumed the crimson liquid with heinous delight.

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Erdo returned to the living room.

He smiled when he saw I was watching him. "We have some unfinished business," he said as he stalked towards me.

Erdo's voice must have stirred James awake. James grabbed the oil lamp from the table and smashed it across Erdo's back. Oil soaked his threadbare clothing and erupted in fire. James ran to get another lamp. When he returned Erdo was waiting for him. In one giant leap, Erdo attacked, sinking his teeth into James.

I laid helpless while Erdo ravaged my son. All the while, relentless fever began to spread through my body. My heart picked up speed and began a pounding, brutal beat, pumping heated blood through my arteries until it became a full rolling boil. Pain, vast and complete, expanded outward, exploding in every cell of my body.

"Now to finish what we started," he said as he headed towards me. "I believe you have something for me, and I for you."

Raising my limp body from the floor, he cradled me in his arms. Running his hand down my cheek, he began to caress my face. He tilted my head to the side and gently brushed the hair back from my blood stained neck, leaving it exposed and vulnerable. Tenderly, he splayed a hand over my cold, white skin. "You are part of me now," he said as he sank his teeth into my flesh.

The poison began to radiate to my extremities. Bitter neuropathy battled with blistering fever. I grew weak as my life began to slip away. My heartbeat slowed and my breathing took on a death rattle. Erdo lifted his blood soaked mouth from my neck and took my face in hand. He raped me with his feral gaze as he savored my final shallow breaths. Slithering a tongue across my lips, he hesitated. My eyes fluttered. Then he plundered my mouth with his thick tongue. The taste of blood, the blood of my family spilled for me, coated my throat.

He did not stop until my heart gave a final sputter...

Darkness fell upon me. Emptiness filled my soul, infinite and absolute. A gaping hole was all that remained in the essence of my being. And yet a terrifying consciousness that defied the body and denied death remained...

__________

I buried my head in the pillow and fought the tears. I had brought this on our family. Erdo had come for me. The family had been sacrificed without a second thought, so that he could have me. The knowledge of this dreadful fact weighed heavily on my conscience, rearing its guilty head in the dark hours of the night, invading my dreams.

I wandered through the murky labyrinth of my mind, besieged by unanswered questions at every turn. They were numerous, existential questions that challenged traditional perceptions of reality and life. They were questions seldom voiced in our family, arising from a tragedy too painful to discuss. The unhealed wounds had festered with remorse, rage and resentment, ensuring everyone's silence on the matter. And yet, I knew they plagued us all, and whispered in our ears.

We knew the details of our turning, but had no understanding of them. Erdo had made us vampire, but through what specific physiological process we did not know. He fed on us, but it could not have been only in the feeding. For forty years we had lived on a farm over the last century, choosing to feed on animal plasma rather than human, but not once had we ever made a vampire cow or horse.

Why had we become vampires, and not Sam? Erdo had drained the entire family. Yes, the four of us were tossed in the cellar to die and Sam's white-haired, dried up corpse had been left in the house, but this seemed like an unlikely answer as to why he had died and not us.

Another burning question was--were we alone? We had existed for a hundred years and never met another vampire other than the one who made us. Living all over the Western world, we had looked for them, encountering none. We did not know if we were the last of a dying species, if they were hidden from our sight, or if we lacked the ability to recognize them. Unfortunately, I may now know the answer to this question. Only five days ago, flowers and an unsigned note appeared on my doorstep for my birthday. On my actual birth date. I had not shared this information with my children, and had no intention of doing so.

Finding answers to our questions was impossible. It wasn't as if we could walk into a bookstore and consult the reference section, even though the shelves were lined with row after row of vampire tales, How-To books, field guides and historical compilations. With such keen interest in vampires these days, one would think there would be some factual information out there. But such answers eluded us.

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