The Vampire and The River Spirit

Suggested Pandora Station: Goyte

The Vampire and The River Spirit

By: Abby Adams (MCMB)

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Original Artwork By: Justin Goodrich

 

In agony he lay on the floor, writhing in the pain of hunger. His cold flesh sucking the blood from his veins. He could feel them collapsing under his skin. He cried out dragging himself across the hardwood floor. He struggled to his knees and tossed the side of the maroon Oriental rug covering the trap door. He pulled on the ring holding the heavy wooden door and let out a roar of pain as he tossed it open with a crash resounding through the dark mansion.

His breathing was ragged from the struggle to make it to the top of the dark stairwell. He lowered himself into the hole reaching over and grabbing the door. When he let go of the latch of the trap door he tumbled the rest of the way down the half rotten wooden steps. He landed with a groan on the hard cold ground below, his body wracking with pain.

The air turned cold and wet around him, as the dirt and rocks dug into his chest. Cold damp hands touched his face, rolling him over, caressing his cheeks droplets of water splashing over his face and hair. He opened his eyes a tiny bit, looking through his eyelashes at the pale face above him. Her features were perfect and porcelain smooth. Her watery gray eyes blinked prettily and he closed his eyes surrendering to the hunger and the darkness.

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Two weeks before….

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The blonde woman in the corner of the room straightened her back, uncomfortable in the corset that cinched her waist. She twisted and turned in the seat watching the crowd of people undulate, dancing around the ballroom. She understood the need to move around in the bone surrounded in silk tied tightly about her waist. When one sat for a period of time the hard spines of the thing dug into the rib cage and the tender parts under the arms.

There was a man across the room watching her as she strained upwards trying to settle the corset down onto her hips. He smiled and got up from his own seat, making his way through the dancer to come before her with a bow.

“May I have this dance, my lady,” he asked holding out his hand.

She sat back looking him up and down a moment before taking his hand. He was tall and dark haired, dressed in the latest fashion of the 1830’s. His clothes were obviously silken and European made. She glanced down at the bright pink silk dress she had acquired from some southern Belle’s airing porch. It was just as fine as his suit made of gray and black heavy silks. She took his hand and stood letting out a sigh as the dress settled back where it belonged.

“Umm, yea please,” she said unsure how to act the part of southern aristocrat.

He swept her out onto the dance floor, looking down into her eyes with his hazel gold eyes flashing in the candlelight. She felt dizzy as they turned around and around to the waltz. Soon she realized she was standing on a balcony in the cool night air. A frigid breeze swept across her bare shoulders and ruffled the lace across the top of her borrowed dress. She stopped dancing and pushed back from him.

“What is the meaning of this?” she demanded. “I’m not that kind of lady, sir.”

He let out a roar of laughter, slapping his knee. She stood back her arms crossed and realized one barefoot stuck out from beneath the long dress. No one had noticed until now. The couple being alone on the balcony he was the only seeing that she really didn’t belong at the ball amongst the rich well-dressed women and men. She blushed bright pink and he struggled to stop chuckling looking down at her dainty toes gripping the ground.

Finally as he calmed down he swept his jacket off and placed it around her shoulders. He touched her cheek and chuckled a little more.

“It is okay, your secret is safe with me,” he said taking her hand. “I wanted to get to know you a little better. I could see you didn’t really fit in here. Neither do I.”

She glanced over at him as he gazed off across the fields behind the mansion.

“But you are well-dressed. You have a lot of money…..” she started to say, listing the things that made him belong in the group of people in the ballroom.

“I own this house…” he added making her gasp and turn to him.

“No you don’t?!” she gasped backing away.

“Yes, I do. What is the matter with that? Isn’t it a beautiful house?”

“Umm it’s not really the house,” she said still backing away as he came towards her. “I live nearby here and my folks have told me the owner of this house is… ummm… well… not human.”

Suddenly the laughter hit him again and she blushed hard yet again. She was nothing but a country bumpkin, she was star struck by this man who owned most of the land around her home. Everything but the river, no one could own the river. Stupid words were tumbling from her mouth.

“I’m so sorry. I know it’s just a story,” she stuttered gathering her dress ready to flee her embarrassment and go back home where she belonged.

He reached out and grabbed her arm as she turned to run. He spun her back towards him wrapping his arms around her gently. She melted into him looking up with bewildered gray eyes. She couldn’t decide how to feel. His mouth descended on hers suddenly and she sighed on his lips. The kiss transformed the air around them, warming and cooling at the same time.

She became damp in his arms and suddenly disappeared in a soaking dress in a puddle around his feet, steam rising and flying away towards the woods. He jumped from the balcony as he saw a streak of glowing flesh run through the woods towards the river. His reflexes caught him as he hit the ground two stories down leaving behind the music and the chatter of the ball.

His senses picked up her running form, half solid and half steam. She was hundreds of yards away now but no match for his speed. The stories she had heard were true, he was a vampire. But what raced through his mind at that moment was what exactly was she?

She pushed through the trees and bushes. The leaves slapped straight through her body shaking droplets all over the ground as she ran ahead. Her naked form streaked a blue tinged glow through the woods ahead of the vampire following her.

Suddenly the sound of rushing water made her heart skip a beat and she plunged ahead her feet leaving the ground as she vaporized through the last remaining bushes. She rained down into the river rushing below the clay red cliff. The vampire skidded to a stop at its edge.

She formed in the water and chanced a glance up at the man whose bellows of laughter echoed around her. He waved his arms and she slipped below the water disappearing from sight. The vampire chuckled and turned back into the woods. His body glowed as the tears in his clothing and the ripped skin underneath closed. His suit and sanity intact he straightened his coat and walked calmly back to his plantation house and his guests.

The vampire had lived in the sweltering heat of the south in the United States since the early 1800’s. He had made the voyage from Europe on an unfortunate ship of pilgrims, all ready for the excitement of a new world and opportunity. None made the trip alive, at least not in soul and the ship arrived carrying a pack of new vampires, more savage than the Indians that already called the New World their home, and a deck stacked with the corpses of less fortunate “meals”, who the vampire told officials had died from natural causes.

He took to the countryside before morning and wound up on the porch of an old plantation owner. The old man took the vampire in and in trade for eternal life the man gave the vampire his estate and set out on his own to see the world. He donned his cowboy hat and winked at the vampire as he headed out to the “wild west.”

The vampire held huge parties in his new house, surrounding himself with rich old southern families who thought he was the old plantation owner’s son. The southern belles melted at his charm and quite often became a snack in the night air on his porch. Never enough to kill them, but most the girls in town had a strange hickey after attending the vampire’s parties.

He never saw the other vampires he had created. Most perished in their first dawn after changing, but the others took to other colonies or back onto ships to rejoin the dark society of Europe they had left behind as humans. Vampire senses enhanced every sense and the bright alive colors of the colonies made many of the uncomfortable.

This vampire however lapped it all up, enjoying the fresh moist air and close heat. He liked all the shade of his yard where he could stroll even at high noon and not feel more than the satisfying warmth through his normally cold body. He enjoyed his life amongst the southern bourgeoisie. They accepted him with his slight accent readily.

His stories intrigued the men folks and made the women swoon at the dangers he told of being a missionary in a treacherous world. His grand galas made the town’s single women rush around in a tizzy buying new dresses and accessories. All scrambling for the bachelor’s attentions, though none succeeded in more than a stolen kiss and lusty words with his face buried at her neck.

The vampire stood on his back porch gazing out into the forest behind the manor house.  As the last guests staggered down to their carriages, his mind wandered to the river spirit who had made her appearance at his dance the night before. How had she known he was a vampire?

None of the town’s people talked about him that way and neither did those in the neighboring towns either. He made sure to keep informed of all the happenings of his surroundings. But of course this young lady was not a young lady from any human colony. She had made that quite clear with her strange and wild escape from his amorous embrace the night before. She stirred something inside of him with the kiss he had stolen and his mind could not shake her image flitting away from him in the woods.

He hadn’t known what to do with the sodden pink silk dress, so he hung it on the line behind the house. Now, as he stared at it, his mind didn’t think about the coming dawn, the one time of day when the sun was able to creep across his lawn. The rays touched his hands first and he jumped back from the rail of the porch and scrambled into the house, up to his darkened room.

He lifted the heavy velvet curtain and peeked out at the stained pink dress that flapped in the morning breeze. It lit up in the morning sun and a glowing fog rolled across the lawn. Suddenly there standing by the dress was the naked girl. She snatched the dress from the line, glancing around quickly she dashed into the woods. The vampire chuckled and went to his bed to lie down now knowing what he would do to capture the little creature’s attention.

The river spirit tucked the dress under her arm as she hurried through the forest. She glanced behind her as she ran expecting the vampire to materialize behind her. She sighed as she slid down the bank of the river to her secret cave. Slipping on the mud in her solid form she made it into the cave holding the dress high above her head.

Inside the cave bits and pieces of furniture were set up like a living room with a small table and chair in the corner. Hanging from the ceiling were a couple of tattered dresses, one stitched together from pieces of cloth she had found and smaller articles of clothing she had stolen from the banks of the river while their owner’s swam.  She had a makeshift bed made from a cot she had found washed up on the river bank with a mattress of old sacks stuffed with stolen cotton from near fields.

She hung the now water stained silk dress carefully in the driest part of the cave and stepped back to the hard chair. She looked around at her little trinkets she had collected from the real world of the humans. She sighed and sat down putting her head in her hands. She would never be part of the world she admired so much.

She knew how they lived and she watched them from afar in her makeshift clothes. Last night had been the first time she had been able to get that close to the humans of the world around her. No one knew her but she had looked like them, all made up in her stolen finery. If only her bare feet hadn’t given her away. She sighed again and looked down at her bare toes.

She would have to steal shoes next time. She stood and looked in the mirror. The blonde hair would have to go. He knew what she looked like now. She shook her head violently and droplets of golden water sprayed the walls of the cave. She looked again in the mirror and smiled satisfied with the new dark brown atop her head.

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She turned and left the cave dropping down into the rushing water. Now she had to hunt for a pair of shoes and a new dress to wear.

As dusk came the vampire headed into town. He was besieged with women the minute his horse trotted down the street. They called to him waving their lace handkerchiefs. He nodded and waved to them smiling. He hopped off his horse at the tailor’s shop.

The women giggled and whispered as he disappeared inside. The tailor hustled him into the quickly darkening workroom. The jingle of the vampire’s gold made him very attentive as the rich man told the tailor his strange clothing requests.

“Yes sir, we can do that for you,” the tailor said counting the coins in his hand before stashing them away in his jacket pocket. “Come back tomorrow evening.”

The next night the vampire once again rode into town nodding and smiling at all the dazzling pale ladies. Their skin had failed to tan since his coming to town, though the sun used to scorch them all as dark as the Indians who had lost their land to the settlers. His packages were ready at the tailor’s little dark home and the vampire smiled gratefully when he opened the dress box and looked down on the lilac satin dress.

After passing some more gold coins into the tailor’s hand he took off on his horse back home to hang the dress in his back yard. He rushed back inside as dawn turned the horizon golden. He had been sitting by the dress all night long and had not seen one leaf rustle.

He strode across his pitch black room to the window and peeked outside. From the woods the girl stepped out and tip toed over to the dress. He couldn’t see her over the bright glow of her skin shining like water catching the dawn’s first rays and stinging his eyes. She reached out and touched the satin, softly taking it into her fingers. She glanced up at the window before snatching the garment down from the line. He chuckled as she disappeared again into the forest.

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The river spirit watched the vampire from the forest every day. She couldn’t stay away from his grand house. He left a pair of silver heels lying next to a tree one morning and a hat the next. Before the end of the week she had a beautiful gown with all the accessories. As the weekend neared she readied herself to visit his house for one of his grand parties he threw every weekend.

She entered the house wearing the lilac satin dress and silver heels. She looked around surprised to only hear music and no chatter of people. As she swept into the ballroom she gasped to see the room darkened romantically with only candles lit in the corners and the fireplace blazing. A small quartet played and out of the shadows the vampire stepped forward into the empty room.

He held his hand out and she took it sweeping along with him into a waltz. He gazed down into her eyes and she melted up against him. He smiled and kissed her forehead before turning her wide, sweeping the shimmering dress around the ballroom floor. Letting go of her hand she giggled as she spun away from him and then back into his arms.

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They turned and twisted in the candlelight. The vampire could almost feel a heartbeat within his chest holding her close. She had laid her head against it with her eyes closed as they swayed to the music. As the song tapered off and quiet came over the room she straightened and looked up at him her eyes wide.

Taking his hand she pressed it against his own chest her hand covering his own. He felt it there, a slow steady beat. A feeling he had not felt for almost one hundred years. He closed his eyes against the stinging tears and broke away from her his hand still on his chest. The beat ceased just as suddenly as it was there.

“How could….” He said shaking his head.

“I don’t know,” she said stepping back.

The vampire waved his hand at the quartet and the musicians got up and left the ballroom. He walked across the room quickly to the bar. The alcohol numbed the ache in his chest. He drank the whiskey directly from the bottle draining it in one long gulp.

She shrank back across the room and sank into a chair next to the fireplace. He strode across the room quickly and stopped in front of her. She shimmered a little, the fabric of her dress darkening with the sudden moisture.

“Don’t you do that again,” he said dropping to one knee in front of her. “How did you do that?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered.

He grabbed her hand and pressed it to his chest. The flutter of a heart beat stammered in his chest as she snatched her hand back. He grabbed it again this time wrapping his other hand around her waist and hauled her up out of the chair. She gasped as he pressed her up to him, his hand on his chest, his other arm holding her tightly against his body.

His ragged breathing startled her as he waited for the beat to strengthen. She could feel it against her own chest now. Her feet dangled from the floor as he closed his eyes and wrapped both his arms around her. He listened to the beat of his heart intently. She just held very still holding tight to her solid form as her flight instinct struggled to stay buried.

Then he was kissing her neck and she was burying her fingers into his hair as his now warm lips travelled the collar of her dress. His arms tightened and she leaned back into them allowing his head to bend forward sending shivers through her.

“Please….” She whispered, her vision blurred as she shook out her long auburn locks.

Their lips met with their eyes closed and the kiss rocked both their bodies even closer. She sighed as his kiss deepened his heart finding new strength in her touch. She trembled as his hands ran across her back settling on her buttocks and pressing her harder against him.

He straightened her and looked into her eyes. “You make my heart beat, little river spirit. You make me human again. You can’t imagine how this feels.”

Her eyes filled with tears and suddenly the dress felt softer as her solid form dissolved into sobs.

“No I can’t,” she sobbed as the mist floated out of the room and he was left standing holding an armful of wet satin hanging over a pair of silver satin shoes filled with water.

“We told you pain will only come of this little one,” the elder spirit said floating alongside her in the river.

His sea green skin gave away his ocean origins, but he, like many other elders, could adapt to fresh water. She dipped under the water and away from the other spirit. Alone in her cave was where she wanted to be now.

She formed on the small sandbar and slipped inside the cave. She let out a howl of rage. Everything she loved surrounded her. Everything that was part of a world she would never belong to, everything that screamed, “Human!” She couldn’t bear to look at it anymore and she began to rip apart the makeshift dress. The pink satin followed the remnants of the other out of the cave into the river.

She tossed the chair against the wall and kicked the already rickety legs out from under the table. Her trinkets were tossed into the shadows of the tunnel leading underground from the cave towards the manor house. She shredded the makeshift bed, pieces of cotton flying into the darkness after the sparkling jewels and pictures.

She turned away from it fearing the dark and stepped out into the sunshine. In front of her the pale pink dress floated lazily in the water rippling with the waves. She laughed and dived in to the water swimming underneath. The sun streamed through the fabric turning the water pink underneath it. The river spirit swam ahead of it and left behind the human world, this time she vowed, for good.

The vampire walked slowly by the river sticking closely to the shadows as the sun threatened him from the sky. Sometimes he had to retreat into the woods and bury himself in leaves and rest, but he stayed by the river day after day, wandering and watching the rippling waters.

He would hear a giggle from time to time but mostly he could only hear the hard beat of hunger on his veins. He had not fed since the river spirit had left him crying out in his ballroom. He wandered the banks of the river day and night. He risked the rays of the sun watching for her on the sandy banks of the river.

As he circled back past his home travelling in the opposite direction, he came across a cave and the pale pink dress caught in the brush close to the opening. He climbed down into the cave, the sun burning him as he slid across the mud and plunged into the darkness. He stumbled past the remnant of a wooden table and chair and reached down to pick up a pale pink cameo necklace.

As he straightened he noticed other little bits of jewelry littering the entrance to a tunnel. He walked ahead his eyes adjusting quickly to the dark. The tunnel led him underground for a good five minutes before he came upon a rickety set of stairs. He climbed them and pushed up on the trapdoor above him.

It resisted and he had to push with all his strength to force it open. When he did he realized he was in his own home, in the front hall, the Oriental rug lying there was now folded away from the trap door. He climbed out and lay on the floor for a moment gathering his strength.

He crawled to the foot of the stairs and slowly made his way up to his room on all fours. The hunger sucked at his body and pain throbbed through to his old brittle bones. He groaned as he laid his tired body on the big satin covered bed. His thoughts on the smiling face of the river spirit, he closed his eyes and fell asleep his heart trying to flutter in his chest just from the memory of her touch.

She floated with the blue green ocean spirit and the dark spirit of the Black Sea floating alongside her. She had lost herself in the flow again. She had floated for days listening to the whispered advice of her elders. But her thoughts were constantly on the vampire. She could feel his pain close by, lingering on the banks of her river.

“You are young,” the dark spirit whispered.

“You will lose your place on the spiral, little one,” the blue green salty voice called below her.

She just twisted and turned with the river current crashing against its banks and letting her thoughts carry her. Her wake scared the creatures resting on logs and banks down the river. Turtles jumped from their basking spots into the turbulent water and a great blue gray heron took to the air from his hunting spot in the shallow water as the water slapped at his long, spindly legs threatening to sweep him away.

She pushed against the current and the other spirits fell behind her. When she knew they had left her waters she stopped and turned with the current. As the clouds floated above the twisting spirit in the murky river water they whispered down to her in unison.

“Be careful little river spirit. You will lose your place on the spiral. You will have to start over in a mortal form to give him mortal life again. To give him a heart you must lose your power and lose him at the same time. You may never find each other again.”

The river spirit closed her eyes, hearing the same words they had whispered to her over the last lonely days. The warning that if she gave her spirit life to give the vampire a beating heart she may be demoted to a lower life form, that she may have to live many more lifetime to become human and she may never find him again. Then as the clouds disappeared she opened her eyes and surfaced in her solid form, her auburn hair clinging to her body in ling wet strands. She dived into the river water and swam swiftly towards her cave. She crawled quickly into the dark cave just as a roar of pain ripped through the tunnel.

She found him lying there, breathing hard holding his chest. She fell to her knees and gathered him into her arms pressing her body against his heaving chest. His eyes flickered open and he sighed. As his breathing calmed his eyes opened and he looked at her clearly this time.

She looked pale in the darkness and she had her eyes closed tight. Her breathing was shallow but she held tightly to his hand her lips moving in a silent prayer. His heart had fluttered to a steady faint beat. Her eyes opened slowly.

“I can only give you mortal life, my love,” she whispered. “You will begin again. This life is over. I have given you a higher spot on the spiral in exchange for my own. We will meet again. Maybe not in this life but know I will love you and only you in each and every lifetime, until I find you again.”

Her hand tightened on his as the cave lit up around them. His heart began to pound, but the hunger was sucking harder with every beat of the tiny amount of blood in his body. He had not fed and he had no blood for the newly beating heart to pump. It began to fail and the river spirit began to fade as his heart struggled to beat.

“Thank you,” he whispered. “I will find you again. You make my heart beat even when my soul is dead. You have given me new life. I will find you in any life. Any form. My love will never die, my spirit. My soul.”

The river spirit put her wrist to his lips and encouraged him to bite. The hunger took over and he drank. Her blood was like thick water, pouring through his entire body. His heart pounded harder as she pulled away from him. She bent down and kissed him slowly melting over him in slow waterfall of warm water. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

“Master!” the voice called down the stairway.

The butler came down the stairs slowly and saw his master lying on the floor his eyes closed, his entire body soaking wet. The old man ran to his master’s side and kneeled beside him. The man was breathing and when the butler touched him the younger man sat straight up. He sat for a moment with his hand on his chest and jumped up from the ground.

His heart racing in his chest as it pulsed new liquid blood through his dry veins. The feeling of life filled his body, a feeling he had lost so many years ago. He shook the water from his hair and ran down the cold dark tunnel towards the room at the end. He called for the spirit frantically pushing forward, the taste of oxygen burning in his long unused lungs.

The destruction that greeted him brought him to his knees. The river water poured over into the cave as the rain outside flooded the river and threatened to fill the spirit’s little human haven. He slowly picked up the soiled pink gown and made his way back to the mansion and his bewildered butler who had started to stumble down the tunnel after his master.

The vampire turned human climbed the rickety stairwell back into the mansion. He wet footprints were all the butler found when he finally made his way out of the hidden tunnel and into the mansion. The front door stood open with sunshine pouring in the foyer. Outside his master had mounted his horse at the stables and still clutching the soiled pink dress took off across the front lawn towards the coast.

When the newly revived man made his way through the southern port city his clothes were tattered and he was bone tired. The ladies barely looked his way not used to seeing him during the daytime and certainly not in shambles as he was now. He slid wearily from his horse and made his way to the ship that had carried him to the colonies. He boarded the ship and with the application of a hefty purse the crew immediately made ready to sail.

He disappeared below deck until the ship was well on its way out into the ocean. Dawn of the next day he made his way to the deck and stood at the rail. The sun peeked out from below the horizon shimmering in deep rose and gold tones. He still held tight to the pink dress, saturated with the earthy smell that reminded him of her. In the distance a figure leapt from the ocean. At first his heart leapt for joy at the sight of the womanly figured that glimmered in the rising sun.

As it drew closer and he leaned forward he noticed it was dolphin frolicking in the water below. As he pushed back from the rail the dress slipped from his grasp floating down to the water lapping at the sides of the ship. The dolphin sped over to the scrap of fabric and caught it with its fin, twisting and diving under the water, a flash of pink in the great blue and golden sea. He leaned over trying to catch sight of the only memento left of his lost love.

There below the surface her face shimmered up at him and he let go of his newly acquired humanity and the rail of the ship. The crew didn’t hear the splash as the man plummeted into the salty water. Only the gentle waves from two playful dolphins stirred as they twirled together at the side of the boat, gently nosing each other for a moment before plunging beneath the surface and disappearing into the rosy reflection on the ocean of the dawn.

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