DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to me and are products of my imagination. Any resemblance to any person(s), living or dead, is purely coincidental. There is some mention of violence.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm sure you'll figure it out on your own, but it's always good to have a little help. All of the actual dialogue is being said by the same individual.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

I Ask, You Answer
By R.D.Wylder


"Hello? Ah, yes….Evan. Please come in."

"Can I get you something to drink? A little wine, perhaps? Or maybe you would prefer a stronger beverage?"

"Very well. You seem a little ill at ease. Would it help if I sat over there instead? At the risk of sounding clichéd, I promise that I will not bite."

"Of course…let's get on with the interview then. What would you like to know? My life is an open book. So to speak."

"No, it wasn't always that way. I'm afraid that I closed myself to the world a long time ago. Recent events have led me to…rethink that position."

"Hmmm…yes, I suppose that recent would be a relative term for me."

"I am much older than you are, my dear. If you must know, I am about to enter my fourth century."

"I doubt very much that I could prove it. I have a vast knowledge of the past few centuries, and I am sure that I have some relics hidden away somewhere, but it is nothing that can't be gained from study and online auctions. The only ones who can confirm any personal details are of my kind, and I gather that you would not find them altogether reliable. Besides, I doubt that many of them will consent to speak to you as I am doing."

"Thank you. I designed everything myself. I do so appreciate the modern conveniences. I suppose that I could follow my film predecessors and live in a draughty old castle, but why would I want to? I suppose the atmosphere does come in handy when I'm looking for inspiration but, other than that, I find it quite depressing."

"Are you certain that I cannot get you a glass of something? I must confess that I hate drinking alone."

Once again I decline. I am not sure that I can drink without choking, even though I long to feel that familiar burn in my throat. I didn't know what I was expecting when I agreed to come here, but it wasn't this.

I came across her quite by accident. I work, you see…not because I have to but because I want to. I have always enjoyed the written word so it seemed only logical that I should join the staff of a prominent magazine as a book critic. I was paid to indulge in my passions and I made quite a name for myself. Not everyone appreciated my opinions, especially the authors I so ruthlessly made an example of, but most looked forward to reading my words. For a while, I was in heaven. Perhaps I did my job too well. My editor called me in and requested that, not only should I do a review but I should also try my best to land an interview with an elusive upstart.

Lane McAllister…the author whose first novel had gained critical acclaim and whose sequel was being rabidly awaited. Lane McAllister…the woman who had never granted a single interview before this. I had no reason to believe that my request would achieve a different result, and I was right. I was politely, but firmly, informed that Ms. McAllister was in seclusion working on novel number two so I could not be granted a meeting with her. I hate being told that I can't do something It just makes me more determined to do it. I would not be thwarted. I made her my mission.

"Are you quite alright? You seem a bit…lost."

"There is no need to apologize. My mind often wanders as well. Maybe I am not quite as interesting as you had hoped?"

"That was my attempt at humor. I merely seek to put you at ease…and myself as well. As you well know, it is not often that I allow anyone the opportunity to interview me. I am as nervous as you are."

"Perhaps I simply thought that the time had come. There is so much that needs to be righted…so much that is just accepted and not questioned."

"No, not trouble exactly. Most are aware that I am talking to you. A few are, undoubtedly, not thrilled at the prospect of having their secrets exposed to the world, but there is little they can do about it. None would dare attempt to harm me. Do not be alarmed. You are safe as well. To touch you would be to invite my fury, and that is not to be desired."

"I am well respected…and I suppose I am a bit feared as well. I have proven myself many times over and I am not given to reckless action, but I have been known to be somewhat ruthless in my past. I have already passed my decision by those who need to know and I have their blessings. As we have agreed, my name shall not appear and, forgive me for saying so, but few will believe that your work is anything but fiction."

"No, I am nowhere near to being one of the 'elders', as you say. Maybe in a few more centuries, but for now I must content myself with being…well…almost middle-aged."

"Certainly you may ask. That is the point of this interview, is it not? If there is something that I do not wish to answer, I will surely tell you."

"Let me refresh my drink first. There, that's better. My story is not the happiest of tales, but it is not the saddest either. I was born the daughter of a farmer. I know…to look at me now is to see no trace of what I was then, but is true. My father worked the land and my mother loved him very much so she was always by his side. Between them, they cared for and raised six children. I was the youngest so of course I was the most spoilt by my parents and the most tormented by my siblings. Still, I loved them dearly. We didn't have much, but we had enough.

It was the night of my eldest sister's wedding. Drink flowed freely, as it usually does on such occasions, and as night-time progressed more and more of the men became intoxicated. My brothers rarely drank for it was not something that my parents approved of, but they were allowed their freedom for a change. That was a mistake. Andrew, no more than two years older than me, had developed a bit of an infatuation with a girl who felt much the same way for him. Sadly, her family was quite wealthy, very violent, and would never have condoned their relationship. I suppose it was the alcohol that made him forget his place, but I will never forget the look on his face when they were found in a…compromising position."

"You are quite right. Nowadays that would usually result in no more than embarrassment and a quarrel that eventually passes. You must remember, though, that mine was a much more brutal time. For my brother, it meant the end of his life. Not that night, though. There were enough cooler heads that he was saved, but they only delayed the inevitable. It was almost a week later when they came. I had already gone to bed but was awakened when I heard raised voices. I looked out the window and I saw my father outside arguing with some men. They had cold, unkind faces and even in the darkness I could tell that their eyes were feverish with hatred. I was frozen there. I couldn't move, even when the first shot rang out and the screaming started. It was only when my mother burst into my room and practically threw me out of the back door that I found my feet and I ran. I never saw any of my family again. It was on that night that she found me."

Her voice was a haunting melody that I was powerless to ignore. Even when she spoke of losing her family, her voice did not shake, although I suppose four hundred years is time enough to bury the past.

For the first time since I arrived, I felt some of the disquiet that had shrouded me leave. I had not been certain of my reception. I had practically hunted her down. Even when I had thought that she was nothing more than a brilliant young author, I had done all that I could to find her. I wasn't satisfied with hearing from a disembodied voice in a publicist's office that she would not see me. I wanted to hear it from her own lips.

I started my own inquiries. I asked questions of everyone that I thought might know her. I begged and I threatened and I bribed. The answers that I found both surprised and scared me. I learned that she owned BloodLust…a club in the city that was popular with those who had a taste for…well…blood. I could not understand why she would affiliate herself with such a lifestyle. It seemed a great risk. Surely if anyone found out, it would ruin her.

Perhaps I should have stopped there…but there was nothing that would have convinced me to do so. Not the patrons, with their penchant for leather and liquid fire. Not the smoky darkness that covered acts most would not understand. Not the rumors of who and what she really was. In the end, it was she who found me.

"I knew that they were behind me. I ran until I felt that my lungs would burst forth from my chest. I could hear them crashing through the brush, viciously flinging branches aside. I knew there would be no mercy for me. My gender and my age would only infuriate them more. I was as untouched as theirs had been before my brother had set his sights on her. I could go no more and I said a silent prayer that my death would be quick. There was no need.

I heard their shrieks on the night that I thought mine would fill the darkness. My first thought was that I had stumbled upon the lair of some untamed beast and inadvertently led them here with me. In a way I was right. She was a sight of terrible beauty when she finally revealed herself to me. Her pale skin was daubed with blood and her hair was wild around her, yet I was not afraid. When she beckoned, I gladly went to her for she had saved me. No matter what manner of monster she was, she had saved me. We were together for many years since that time. Eventually we became lovers and she shared her gift with me. It was one that I took willingly. I have regretted it over the years, but no more."

"Yes, she is alive…well…in a manner of speaking anyway. She is traveling as we speak. The last I heard, she was in Italy…she keeps returning there. I suspect she would happily settle there if it were at all possible."

"Hmmm…I suppose I did love her, in my own way. I think we both knew that I stayed with her more out of gratitude than passion. She is my greatest friend and always will be, but her tastes are a bit too…violent for me."

"We kill, yes. That is what we do. It is not like in the movies, Evan. We do not subsist on the blood of cows and sheep. We enjoy the hunt. A few, like myself, take from willing victims and those who would not be missed. Not all of us are like that. Some like to…play with their food. Fear makes the blood taste so much sweeter. I suppose that some of us are more monstrous than others."

She is no monster. I have realized that. I am well aware of what she is. I hadn't believed it when I heard. I thought that they were nothing more than lies told to besmirch her reputation. Then she called. It would not have been difficult for her to get a hold of my number. Certainly the office would have given it to her willingly if she said who she was…or rather who she pretended to be. My heart nearly stopped when I heard that rich, throaty voice on the line. She did not deny anything, nor did she ask why I had been so feverishly pursuing her. I fed her my lines about wanting to speak to her about her work, but we both knew by now that wasn't all I was after.

I went to bed each night knowing that I would dream of what she looked like. My dream was about to become reality as she agreed to one interview, on the condition that I should come alone and that her name would be kept out of anything that I should write above and beyond her career. I agreed. I would have agreed had she asked me to shoot myself in the foot before I walked through her front door.

I am ashamed to admit that a monster is what I thought I would see. Perhaps I had expected her to answer the door with blood dripping down her blouse. Perhaps I had expected a living room draped in black and crimson. I was greeted by neither. She was my height and striking, with piercing grey eyes. There was a serenity on her face that spoke not of death, but of peace. She was no monster…she was a vampire…she killed to survive and she had accepted this. I asked the question that I suppose had brought me to her door in the first place.

"Yes, we are capable of more than obsession. We are capable of love, if we are able to accept that we can be loved as we are."

"I have had many lovers over the years, both human and vampire."

"Only once. I have truly loved only once. Humans speak of forever, but they have no idea what that means. It is easy to say that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone when that life will last only thirty or forty years more for the most. It is a different thing entirely to give someone your future when that can easily mean the next thousand years or so. I have lived many human lifetimes thus far and there has only been one person that I would have wanted to share that with."

"She was human…until she met me. I wasn't always as accepting of myself as I am now. I wanted to spend my life hiding from humanity. I retreated to the company of my own kind and became increasingly consumed by darkness. She became enamored with one who could offer her the pleasures that I could not so she left."

"No, I do not blame her. I might have done the same thing had I been in her position. I have not seen her in too many years. I miss her deeply."

My relief was palpable. When I saw her picture on the back cover of her book, I did not recognize her. I still can't be sure that it was her…she looked so different…so much younger. It is common lore that one cannot capture our image. That had always been true, but modern inventions have eased that situation considerably. Yes, one would not be able to capture an image of our skin, but make-up is a wonderful thing. A thin film of dust and fingers and hands take shape. A wig and you have hair that everyone wants. Eyes are a bit tricky, but they're nothing that can't be covered by sunglasses. Speaking of the sun, even that pesky problem can be temporarily alleviated by a generous application of sun block. Our tricks are many and varied, and we walk among humans undetected.

Of course, there are always risks. That's why Elana never granted interviews. There was always the possibility of a tape recorder being whipped out. You can hear our voice, but you cannot record it. Yes, I said Elana. That is her name…her real name…the name that she was gifted with at birth. And I am the one of which she speaks. I did leave. I left over fifty years ago, when I thought that she was becoming what I despised the most. I do not hunt for sport…I hunt to survive. I do not view humans as mere beings to appease our amusement and hunger. I do not think that we needed to spend our lives in hiding. I could not be with someone who did.

There was not a day that passed by without me thinking of her. I feared that she would do something stupid and lose herself. Instead, it would seem that she has found the person that she was meant to be and I love her even more for it. I did not know what to expect when I came here. I did not know if I would be welcomed or reviled. I know that I broke her heart, but it broke mine as well to leave.

"Have you come back? Is this just to be an interview or is it something more?"

I want you. I need you. I have always needed you. I am proud of what you have become.

"Are you going to leave again?"

Never. We will have our forever. We will walk hand in hand in the sunlight. We will do all those things that we never had the chance to before.

"Do you love me?"

More than you will ever know. I love you with everything that I am. I left because I love you, and I am here again because I love you still.

"Then take my hand and follow me into eternity."

The End.

Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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