The heavens shed crimson rain
Now is the time for pain to reign
Our thirst for blood is near complete
All we hear is nature's beat
What we began, The Mother is finishing
In her eyes, we are diminishing
~ ~ ~
They say the time will come for the darkened sky to violate our Earth with her tears of blood. The legend foretells of a blood-thirsty race being born from these tears; Mother Nature's punishment for our evil deeds. They say that day will come when mankind's thirst for the blood of his own consumes him. They say that day is near.
~ ~ ~
It was just past midnight when the first drops of a light rain began to fall. The only unusual thing about it was the colour crimson. There weren't many people awake at that hour; most were tucked up snug and warm in their beds, oblivious to the terrors that were about to befall the human race. Those of us who were outdoors raised our faces to the heavens, catching droplets on our cold flesh. Some inner voice warned a few not to get wet. Those who heeded that voice were left untouched. The rest of us
I remember it like it was just last night, the events forever imprinted upon my mind: First, the wonder on the faces of my friends. Second, the disgust and horror as the first drops touched their lips and they tasted Mother Nature's tears. Then, only the fear. I recall watching them run for cover, wiping their faces and any other parts of their bodies that the rain had touched, a feverish hope in their eyes that they had somehow not been contaminated.
I ignored my instinct to stay dry, that same instinct that then insisted that wiping the blood from my cheeks would not help me it was too late. It was at that point that I first remembered the legend my grandmother used to tell me. I remember shivering, not from cold, for it was warm that night, but from fear. Somehow, I just knew that my grandmother's stories had not been mere stories.
Now, almost three hundred years later, I have a decision to make. It's not an easy one, but I have no choice.
Before I go on, I feel the need to share the events that have transpired in between the falling of the blood rain and today, here and now. If you are a vampire, as those whom the rain fell upon have since been dubbed, you will already know what I'm about to say. If you are human, the stories that you have heard will have varied greatly and you will no doubt be unsure as to the true origins of my species. My species
Even after almost three centuries, I cannot get used to no longer being human.
Why were we dubbed 'vampires'? I'm not entirely certain, to be honest. Although I know the modern meaning is 'a being seduced by blood lust'.
Wait, I digress
The drops that fell to the earth seemed to pool on the surface without sinking into the soil. If the rain had lasted any longer than the few minutes it did, we may have had another flood of biblical proportions on our hands. Drops falling on animals other than the human ones rolled off their coats, leaving them completely dry. Those drops that made contact with human flesh, however, seemed to seep into our pores, leaving us internally drenched in blood. I swear that, when the first drops made their way into my flesh, I could feel them finding their way into my bloodstream, tainting me, changing me
It burnt from the inside out, and, while thoughts of spontaneous combustion filled my mind, I contemplated suicide as an alternative to finding out what was in store for me. In hindsight, that would not have been such a bad idea.
Somehow, in those eternal few minutes of soft rain, someone somewhere thought to catch a sample. It took our scientists less than a day to discover that those of us who had tasted the rain were correct it was blood. Human blood.
Talk of alien invasion and the wrath of God, amongst other things, ran rife throughout the world. The blood rain did not only fall on one continent, you see; it was unleashed upon mankind as a whole
I'm still unsure from where my grandmother's legends stemmed, but she was right. She was not the only one spreading the tale, either. Those who called themselves witches and wizards, priests and priestesses all around the world also told that story to their children, grandchildren and whoever would humour them. Sadly, those are the very people whom we mocked and took for fools.
I don't remember my grandmother very well, but those older than I was when we were first changed recall her being a powerful woman in tune with nature. We didn't realise it then, but, that night, we began to pay the price for all the murder, hatred and pain that we had been inflicting upon each other for so very long. We pissed Mother Nature off. She has a mean streak previously not shown to humankind except, I suspect, in the case of the biblical Great Flood and the many other global cataclysms our planet has endured. She was patient with us for too long, and finally lost her temper when her words of warning were ignored.
Of those who were infected by the rain, some handed themselves in at the request of the various world governments, while others, like me, remained silent about having been outside, insisting that we were asleep in bed at the time. Our friends and family, who were afraid of the unknown, turned many of us liars in. Others got away with our lies and remained free. If you ask me, too many of us remained free, but that was the Mother's intention, I think.
Today, I sit here on 'my' rock, my place of peace where I come to think. From this tranquil place, I have a view of the town and the surrounding valleys. When I come here, I feel somewhat separated from all living creatures. Except the birds, of course those usually sit close to me, keeping me company. I often wonder if they realise that they could easily be my next meal
I've never taken one, though. My rock juts out from the mountain face, a small slab on which there is only space for one man to sit. A man
or a bloodsucker.
As I ponder the choices I have before me, I sit hunched, with my arms resting on my knees, which are pulled towards my body as I sit on the edge of the ledge, tempting mortality. My arms are straight, hands hanging over my knees. I've never been able to keep my emotions from my face, so I know I have a strangely serene expression. At least, judging from my countenance, it would be strange if you could guess the thoughts in my head at this moment.
I'm thinking back to when I first saw Mother Nature in human form. I can't be certain, but I think she's been watching me ever since. Sneaking glimpses into my life, and allowing me to spot her
Why? The ultimate question: why did she allow me to walk away that first time? I know she did not mean to be seen that day. I could ruin her plans; it would be in my own best interests to do so. Yet she allowed me to walk away with my immortality intact
Allowed me to be a danger to what she had planned for all of us, humans and vampires alike. In the end, our fates will not diverge. Indeed, no matter which decision I make today, our fates are intertwined the light and the dark, humans and vampires, shall once again come together as one.
I was walking through the forest just before twilight that night, and stopped to listen to the howl of a wolf. That was when I spotted her. If the wolf had not cried out to his mate just then, I would have missed this opportunity to make things right.
I am not happy with this decision that has been forced upon my shoulders, but bear it I must. Doing nothing is not an option, as that would be a decision in itself. One I'm not sure I'm ready or willing to make.
My mind is wandering again; please bear with me. This is not an easy thing for me to do. I've always been one who kept to himself, one who was happiest with his own company
It's been even harder on me since I was changed.
The night I saw Mother Nature in human form
I was walking to clear my head, trying to rid myself of some of the bloodlust that forces my body to hunger. I knew I would be compelled to feast eventually, but I always try to put that off for as long as I can. I will starve myself for weeks before indulging in the only thing that can keep me alive human blood. Animal blood delays the hunger and decay of my flesh, but, always, if I deprive myself of human blood, the decay creeps up on me. I often force myself to drink the blood of wild animals instead, as disgusting as the taste is.
That evening, I walked. It was nearing twilight, the sky a layered painting of reds and oranges, when the wolf howled. I stopped in my tracks, trying to seek its source. It sounded close by, and I was hungry. The thought of wolf blood did not appeal to me at all, as I've already mentioned, but I was not ready to kill another human that night. Standing there silently, a tree amongst trees, I heard the first soft whispers of a feminine voice. Something in the voice struck me as different, and, to be honest, my first inclination was to feast on the owner of that beautiful voice. Such a sweet voice could only come from equally sweet flesh. That's something I'm ashamed of, but it's what I've become; I cannot help it.
I only had to walk a short distance off the path to find her. Kneeling before a grey wolf, one hand on its back in an almost consoling manner, she spoke softly to it. I had the strange idea that it was her confidant. That it was the wolf that had to carry the burden of knowledge of what she had planned for our Earth. I had never in my wildest dreams expected Mother Nature to need a confidant. A listening ear. Surely that need equalled weakness? Vulnerability? Uncertainty?
I remained silent, listening, too stunned to make myself known. Now that I think back, I doubt I would have made my presence known to her at that point anyway. After a while I can't be certain the timeframe she rose to her feet, her golden dress swishing against her slender legs. She smiled and looked up, directly into my eyes, and it seemed to me as if she had known all along that I was standing there.
I still can't help but wonder if she had intended for the wolf to draw me there. I blinked and she was gone, leaving the wolf sitting staring at me. It bared its teeth and raised its hackles, almost as if it knew it could be my next meal. I thought it would attack, but then it turned and stalked away.
I still wonder if Mother Nature intended for me to have this decision weighing on my shoulders. Surely if she was testing the human race one last time, giving us one last chance to prove that we are capable of compassion towards each other, she would not have chosen a vampire to make that choice? You must have noticed my use of the word 'us'
Strange, but after all this time, I still consider myself to be human.
I have always doubted that I could be anything special. Yet, the choice remains. I could end this reign of bloodlust; I could save all of us from a fate far worse than we are currently destined for. Mother Nature plans to send another rain of blood. This time will be far worse than the previous. Or
it could save us all. Which of the two depends on me.
I realise this is not making any sense. There is only one way that we could end this war between humans and vampires. It would involve the death of all of my kind.
I do not think a single vampire would agree to sacrifice themselves to save human lives. After all, most of us have grown accustomed to the feel of warm human blood against our lips, sweet to the taste. Why would we sacrifice ourselves to prevent that? It's not us who feel the pain of death, the fear of what's to come. For us
just another meal. Nothing more.
The rain that will begin to fall the second that the sun sets tonight will either be the undoing of us all, or the salvation of humankind.
From what I understand, if this rain touches our kind, we will lose our taste for blood, our hunger for death. We will lose all appetite to feed, a fate akin to anorexia. Yet we will still require that blood to survive. Eventually, we will die of starvation. Humans who are touched by the rain will be enlightened. The instant the blood seeps through their pores, they will know the reason for the past three centuries of suffering. After that, it will be up to them to learn from that, or to be their own executioners.
There is a way to convince all vampires to stand in the rain, of their own free will. If this does not happen, if the rain misses just a single one of us, this saga will continue. Except this time, if the humans stand together
it is possible that they would have a newfound knowledge of our one weakness. A weakness that we've been able to hide from them for so long now.
The legends say that sunlight is our greatest weakness; that's a joke. Really, sunlight has the opposite effect on us, strengthening us for the nights of hunting. We merely choose to stay out of the sunlight when human eyes are prying, because it lays some truth to the claim that this is our weakness and stops them from searching for the real weakness, which I'm sure they'd find in time. In fact, our one true Achilles' heel is none other than salt water. I'm not speaking now of water with table salt thrown into it, although no doubt that would cause some discomfort. I'm speaking of salt water in its purest form, straight from the ocean. Sea water seems to dry our veins almost instantly, literally leaving us almost mummified in a matter of minutes. One unfortunate discovered this by accident not long after we were first changed. His friends lived to tell the story, which spread amongst our kind like wildfire. To date, not one human knows of this weakness we guard our secret well. Somehow, Mother Nature's second shedding of her bloodied eyes will be the inspiration for humans to finally have the knowledge to kill us. Our immortality will then mean nothing.
I now struggle with my conscience. I battle to decide. Thoughts whirl in my head. Do I become the cause of my entire race becoming extinct? Do I save the humans and forsake myself, my friends and my lover? Do I let nature run its course, and run the risk of eventually being killed off by the enlightened humans? There is the chance that the humans will not embrace their newfound knowledge, that they will scoff at the thoughts in their heads and consider it another trick, another way to lead them off the right path.
Morality. Is that not the reason we were cursed this way in the first place? Our selfishness, our need to hurt others, and our sickening way of thinking that we can never do wrong?
The sun has sunk lower since I first arrived to sit on my rock. I don't have much time left to decide. I'm torn between saving myself, waiting to see what happens if I do nothing, and saving the humans. Am I not still human, after all? By saving them, will I not reclaim my humanity and perhaps save my soul from the torments of Hell?
A wolf howls somewhere far away. I cock my head to listen, trying to understand what it says. Of course, I can't comprehend it. I've never been able to understand animal language, though every time I hear a wolf howl I almost expect to be able to do just that.
A breeze brushes against my skin. I shiver, as the rain clouds move to cover every inch of our skies.
The time is now. I must decide.
I stand, unsteady on my feet, trembling inside. I know what I must do. I've known all along. I fear death as much as any human does, even more so, for I know that my soul will be forever trapped in some dark, inescapable place. How could it not, after the countless lives I've taken in the last three centuries? Maybe, just maybe
I can redeem myself.
About to do the deed, I hesitate one last time. It's occurred to me that if I do the right thing for the purpose of trying to save my own soul, I may, in fact, be acting selfishly anyway.
I can't win this fight with destiny.
No, I will do this anyway. I have to. I owe my deceased parents that much, at least. I killed them, you know. I gorged myself on their blood. They were my first meal. At that time, I couldn't control it. The urge for blood consumed me, and I reacted accordingly. I will never forget the look on my father's face when he walked in to find me with my teeth sunk into my mother's neck, her blood running down the front of my shirt. Her dying body twitching in pain and shock. He didn't have long to grieve, though. I was still so very hungry, and made short work of him. It was only after the bodies were cold that I realised what I had done. I owe this to them. I will do the right thing. For my mother. For my father.
Shrugging my fears aside and shivering into the wind, I raise my arms out to either side, level with my shoulders. A keening erupts from my parched throat. Parched, because I have not eaten in days. The feeling is similar to what humans feel if they do not get enough liquid into their bodies. My keening is soon answered by another, and then another.
Soon, the keening of my kind can be heard all over the countryside, spreading from one place to another. It's our language, which we were given along with our lust for blood. I keen out a message that is passed on from area to area. I seduce my fellow vampires with promises of more power, more freedom, more everything, if only they'd stand in the blood rain a second time. I don't stop to wonder how this message will cross continents I know that every vampire on the planet will sense the message.
Answering keening tells me that they are seduced. I am respected and trusted in all circles, and they have, therefore, taken me at my word, not questioning why I am only telling them now, at the thirteenth hour. Not questioning how I came by this knowledge. From my position high above the town in which I used to live, I see bloodsuckers coming out of hiding, standing in the open. Their faces are raised expectantly to the sky, greedy gleams in their eyes.
My sharp eyes spot Carmella among the crowd that has gathered down below. My lover, my solace in these hard times, and my sanity. My heart aches for her fate. A fate that I have now chosen for her. She will die hating me for this. In her last moments, she will know my promises were false. My heart cannot bear the pain of her looking upon me with betrayed eyes.
A second choice awaits me, but I've already made it. I could hide in dry safety, or allow myself to die along with the others. If I hide, though, it would defeat the purpose of killing the rest. No, I will stand out here and allow Mother Nature to have her way with me, too.
It's twilight now.
I silently weep for a soul lost, a life gone by
and for my parents. This is the first time I've wept for my loss. I am brought to my knees by the suppressed emotions of three centuries.
The sun is setting.
Still on my knees in penance, I once again raise my arms to the sky, this time high. I embrace my fate as the crimson rain washes the tears from my face.
~ ~ ~
My death was a painful one. The end was faster than I'd thought it would be. Barely fifteen minutes after the blood rain had soaked me, I began to feel as if rats were gnawing at my insides. Once again, thoughts of spontaneous combustion filled my mind as my veins raced with fire. The sensation was similar to that which I had felt when I was first changed, yet somehow cleansing this time. I could see my skin drying out before my eyes, slowly withering as it rendered me extinct.
I wanted to be with Carmella, to share her pain, to comfort her. I knew I couldn't. She knew it had been me who had brought this upon us. I couldn't stand to see the hate and pain of betrayal on her beautiful face. Instead, I stayed where I was. I suffered alone; I died alone.
I was expecting to be flung into the fires of Hell. Instead, I found myself surrounded by strange beings of light. The beings had no form to speak of, and I felt nothing but vibrations of peace. Faces flashed in my mind; the faces of my mother, my father, even my grandparents
smiling faces; proud faces; forgiving faces.
I had made the right choice. I had been saved from my fate.
Sadly, I found Carmella's face nowhere.