Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hex - Chapter 1 - "Out"

Out

Everyone had hoped that at this point we’d be traveling as fast as light. Or faster.
That’s what I gather from reading books.
They expected that things would just go on forever in the way they always had.
For sure, they didn’t expect to be in a situation where abandoning the planet was a very strong possibility.
Back on Earth, back in the past, they didn’t think that a small portion of their population would have to be hurtled as fast as we could send them (Roughly a quarter of the speed of light - not slow by anyone’s standards but at this rate you’d be surprised how long it takes you to get anywhere in the galaxy) towards the nearest habitable planet. But here we are, all the same.
Of course, I’m gathering all this information from books I read a long time ago and from the scrambled bits of info our computer is willing to divulge. I’ve never been to Earth nor has anyone else on board this ship. Many people on board have a fairly justified doubt as to whether or not the Earth even exists or not and for that matter if our destination planet - Espar XIV - exists either.
Who can blame them? For all I know they’re right. Maybe this thing that we’re told is a spaceship of some kind is all there really is and the things we’re told are burning balls of gas surrounded by spinning rocks they call planets are nothing more than distant sparks.
Or maybe other spaceships.
Or maybe nothing.
Or maybe what we think is happening is just a poor translation from the computer’s logs.
Maybe we’re all hurtling into the middle of a gigantic star to be burned alive.
Maybe.
Well, in spite of my doubts at times I believe in the Earth. I see no reason why the books and the computer would lie or what benefit someone would have to create such elaborate hoaxes.

So, as far as I can gather, we are heading towards Espar XIV which, it is said, is the nearest habitable planet to the Earth. A relatively short 106 light years away. A journey which could end up taking us the best part of 500 years going at top speed.

Sometimes it’s amazing to me that the people who left Earth on this ship knew they weren’t going to see the end of it’s glorious journey. Sometimes it’s amazing even that no-one now and for a few generations to come, is going to see either the start or the end. Sometimes though, it makes perfect sense. The Earth must have been pretty far fucked up for people to be willing to, in a sense, sacrifice themselves for the sake of the remote chance that a colony can be established on some distant planet.

Crazy. Crazy is what people get when desperation, need and anxiety all fumble at each other and fight for dominance.

As far as I can tell we’re about three quarters of the way through our epic journey but it’s hard to tell.

It seems that up until quite recently things were going okay though. The spaceship is designed to be a moving city with all the conveniences and productions and foods and everything that they apparently have on cities on Earth. A spaceship capable of sustaining a population of about 10,000 people with room for it to grow to as much as 30,000, if needed. Complete with full medical wing, schooling system, security services and of course ample storage room for the many machines and gadgets designed to help terraform our new planet, once we reach there. Everything was going well, we think, right up until the point that a rogue disease sprang up from who knows where. The disease was a sophisticated virus that attacked fully formed beings only and quickly wiped out all of the adult population. The logs say that the oldest crew member at this point was 16 and the number of personnel had dropped to around 3000. A disaster by anyone’s standards. The computer did it’s best to quarantine the survivors and eradicate the virus before they became adults and presumably fell victim to the virus too and it looked like it succeeded but in just a single generation the virus re-emerged and wiped out half of the remaining crew leaving a 12 year old girl as the eldest crew member and a meager population of 500 or so below her. The computer once again made attempts to eradicate the virus and this time, it seems, it succeeded (Though, that’s what it thought last time). So here we are, a little down the road from there, many of the survivors of the second plague are still among us, in their late twenties to thirties by now - though the life expectancy at this point is somewhere around 29. Whether this is something to do with the virus or purely down to our limited ability to utilize the fairly sophisticated equipments and remedies in the Medical Deck isn’t too clear but certainly no traces of any virus remain. Not a one, which is the way it ought to be. How could a virus strike a ship that was heavily disinfected and screened that hadn’t had contact with any living being not on it’s crew in nearly 300 years? Hard to tell. Impossibly without the computer running at full capacity.

Regardless, here we are. A ship of humans all self-educated. Many of us have gathered a lot of information from the computer’s databases on what the ship is and what we’re doing etc. but many more chose a life of ignorance and of decent. Still others faction away in their own ways. All groups dominating their own little areas of the ship and rarely if ever, interacting with anyone from a different group.

I am thankfully part of one of the more enlightened groups, at least I like to think we are.

At the moment I’m standing around in my usual location in the control deck. I’m always here or occasionally in the observation suite - I really don’t see the need to be anywhere else in the ship. In fact, I literally can’t recall the last time I was anywhere else. My mind is so wrapped up in the workings of this ship and our eventual goal… well, I guess there are just more important things to do than wandering the ship.  These two rooms are the only two rooms where the computer mainframe can be accessed and it’s always useful to have that available to you.

In the control deck with me just now are Adam and Samantha both similar to me in many respects in that they crave knowledge and are constantly trying to figure out what went wrong with the ships computer and crew so many years ago. You see, the computer is supposed to have some degree of Artificial Intelligence and it clearly did at some point - making decisions on behalf of the crew and interacting and teaching them any new developments. Pretty vital when most of this mission is a dive into the unknown where a logical analyzing mind would be extraordinarily useful however as long as anyone can remember, and probably long before, the computer has been essentially primitive. A wealth of knowledge that is only accessibly manually. Still extremely useful, which is why I never stray far from it’s vaults of information, but undoubtedly less useful than a fully functioning AI computer like we’re supposed to have would be.

Evidently at some point it must have shut off it’s AI capabilities, possibly in a fit of madness or shame for what happened to the crew. We know it did this to itself because the  Orb that is present in all AI machines is still in tact and destroying or removing that would be the only way that any outside influence could switch off the AI function. My own view is that the computer felt so ashamed that it was unable to really protect the crew that it decided it was no longer viable and out of sadness turned itself off. For some reason I think about the computer a lot and feel an overwhelming sadness when I think about it’s life ending. Very sad. When I talk about the computer’s mind needing restored it seems to make Adam and Samantha feel uncomfortable, though. Much as they are fairly set in trying to work out what went wrong with the computer and indeed the ship, the thought of the computer’s AI at times disturbs them and other times simply bores them. Well, it’s just as well I give a crap, I suppose, because I seem to be the only one truly capable of digging information out of these ancient circuits and it must be due to my overall dedication to the life of the computer.

“How far along are we, Hex?”, Adam is speaking to me

“We’re around 75 light years from Earth I suppose. Another 36 light years and change before we reach Espar XIV.”, I estimate.

Adam is a fairly tall blonde individual and in spite of being only 19 has a full beard and long whisps of hair down past his shoulders. It may be purely from laziness but it gives him an air of wisdom far beyond his age. He is, at the moment, flicking through some computer paper that he has evidently printed off somewhere else in the ship. He has, of course, asked me how far we are in our journey many time but sometimes he asks me simple things like that over and over again as if to check that I’m still paying attention.

“75 Light years. So the ships been traveling in space for what… 300 years or more?”, he asks

“Yes, roughly. I’m not 100% sure on the time frame but judging by the stars around us and what I can gather about astronomy… or what I can remember…”, I start to fade in my thoughts

“I seem to remember you mentioning messages from Earth you dug up from the first or second generation. Do you remember that?”, it seems like he’s asking very matter of factly but I can tell he’s getting at something.

“Yes. Trivial messages though. Status reports back and forth, that kind of thing.”

“And why do you suppose they stopped coming?”

“I suppose,”, I start to ponder “I suppose that after we got a decent distance from the Earth the messages would take longer and longer to reach us - since they would travel at light speed. Eventually the reports would be so faded and altogether irrelevant by the time they reached us that they probably stopped. Any messages for loved ones would also cease of course, since by the time generation one died out no-one from the ship would have any real connection to people on Earth.”

“Right. So, the Earth wouldn’t really have any reason to contact us anymore?”

“Correct. I think the reports state that when we’re within a hundred years of landing the computer will send a signal back to Earth so it reaches it a little be3fore we land. Beyond that there should be no reason for contact.”

“Right, right…”, he sighs and looks down at his print outs

“Why? Is something wrong.”, I ask

“No. I don’t think so. It’s just that we received a message earlier today. I haven’t had a chance to decipher it at all yet but it looks like it’s from Earth. Of course, it could be anything. Probably nothing, false alarm, you know.”, he seems to say this as if he hopes it’s nothing

“But where did it come in? I’ve been here in the control deck all day. This is where all messages are supposed to route through?”, for some reason this fact gives me a distinct feeling of anger towards whoever sent the message to the wrong place

“It was sent deliberately to the Officers’ sleeping quarters for some reason, Hex. Like I say, it’s probably just some freak signal but if it is from Earth they obviously wanted someone to see it right away.”

“Right away?”, I laugh slightly “If that signal came from Earth it would have to have been sent about 70 years ago”

“Yes, I suppose so”, he laughs a little too “Well, like I say - probably nothing”

He wanders out studying the print outs intently leaving Samantha and I in the room. Samantha is sitting on the floor reading through some fiction novels she’s gathered.
Strange, I think, as Adam leaves. He’s studying those print outs very closely for someone who really thinks they’re nothing. A thought comes to mind, and I’m not sure why, but if the signal is from Earth and was sent 70 years ago as I calculated then that means it was sent probably only 20 years or so before the first virus hit. Is there a connection? It seems unlikely but I suppose once Adam translates the print outs we’ll find out if it’s anything we absolutely have to know or not.

For now I’ll just continue sit and enjoy the company, albeit quiet and withdrawn, that Samantha provides as she idly flips through her novel. Samantha never seems to look at me, even when she’s talking to me, she just speaks out into the room as if it didn’t matter where I was standing. It’s a funny way to be but it’s obvious to me that she’s just sop wrapped up in her books most of the time that she doesn’t even want to shift her gaze away for a moment - fearing she may lose her space.

Of course, she looks up for Adam.

I wonder, but can’t bring myself to ask, if she and Adam are an item. I hope so. They’d make a lovely couple.

I find myself lost in thought and before I know it Samantha’s gone and it’s night time. I must have fallen asleep again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bloodline - Chapter 5 - "Suicide Is Painless"

Suicide Is Painless

“My name is James Brahms and these are the last words I’ll ever speak.”

I click the tape recorder off as I finish my sentence. A slight smile sneaks it’s way onto my expression.

Curious. Am I happy? Should I not go through with this? No. I never was one to be able to really get a handle on my emotions. What I’m feeling right now is simple contentment. Contentment that this - all this, everything - will soon be over and not only will I be able to rest in peace but I won’t need to feel anything ever again.

No more hurt.
No more terror.
No more rejection.
No more confusion.
No more pain.
No more voices…

The near constant voices. Nothing sinister, at least not yet. Just a raspy voice telling me ominous sounding but vague things like the word “Soon” over and over or my name. Certainly not driving me insane and not, as my therapist suggests, an ‘inner child’ longing to be heard but nonetheless troubling and lately the voice has gotten to be more and more frequent. What will it become in a year? Two years? A decade? Will I be convinced Gods has chosen me as his personal avenger on Earth? Or will I believe the CIA have my teeth embedded with radios? Who can tell. All I know with a decent degree of certainty is: Voices in your head = You’re taking the car pool lane to bat shit crazy.

Looking up at the noose I’ve made myself, hanging from my garage ceiling, the smile that found it’s way into my life quickly vanishes. Regret? No. Simple realization that this is it. The end of time for James Brahms.

“My name is James Brahms and soon I’ll be at rest.”

Second thoughts? Of course. The very fact that I haven’t completely lost my mind is in part why I’d rather go now, while I have all - or at least most of - my faculties. I’ve never looked forward to life out there in society, working away and feeling shittier and shittier with every waking hour. Slowly wasting away into nothing, and for what?

“It’s not so bad”, the adults would plead

“You get used to it.”, my teachers would contest

No. You don’t. You cave. Some people are built to ‘get used to it’, others…
Well, I’ve seen what becomes of people like me ten or twenty years down the line. The lunatics mumbling to themselves on street corners or even simply the countless hundreds of people you see wandering through life every day all sharing that same blank “I should have been someone” glaze in their eyes. Once the hope that one day you’ll be someone turns into the realization that you’ll never really be anyone you get that same glazed over ‘zombie’ look and pretty much, by that point, you’re just waiting to die anyway.

“My name is James Brahms and I don’t want to wait.”

The doors are boarded up. Good enough so that whatever unlucky soul comes around first won’t be able to open the doors. They’ll call the authorities and some random police officer who doesn’t know me will be the one to discover me hanging. It would just be my luck that today would be the day that my parents come visiting.

Thoughts like that are enough to put you off killing yourself.  I know because I’ve been there, all set to go when the image of someone I care about showing up and finding me strewn across the bed with an empty bottle of pain killers or worse with half my brain shotgun-blasted across the bathroom tile pops into my head and I can’t do it. The human brain is wired to survive so at that moment when you’re about to die, even if it’s something you’re trying to do, the electric signals in your head will do anything  to get you out of the situation. The trick to suicide is to go about it as methodically as possible. Set yourself a goal and do everything you can to achieve it.

“My name is James Brahms and my death has been the biggest success story of my life.”

I switch on my mp3 player and skip to a Franz Schubert quartet I’ve had in mind for a while. It’s relaxing, but just a little bit jumpy. Purely for my own benefit, you understand. I’ve heard of people wanting a certain song to be playing as their body is discovered but that isn’t what this is about. The mp3 player isn’t on repeat.

I wonder what song will be playing when the police discover me hanging there?

No. Stop. Thoughts like those are distractions. Even now my brain is trying to keep me alive with thoughts of who is going to find me and what it’s going to look like.

“My name is James Brahms and it’s time to get this over with.”

I climb carefully up onto the stool under the noose. I wouldn’t want to slip and break a leg now. God, that would be awful. I slip my head through the hole in the noose and listen, for the last time, to Franz Schubert’s quartet.

A tear rolls down my cheek. Perfectly natural reaction.

“My name is James Brahms and the voices in my head will be stopping soon.”

“Soon…”, comes that voice I’ve been hearing.

Soon what? Soon nothing. Now certainly isn’t the time to dwell on what the deep meaning behind a voice inside my head might be. The beauty of today is, for the first time ever there really is absolutely 100% no reason whatsoever to dwell on it. 

Soon nothing at all will matter ever again.

I feel the stool below my feet ready to be kicked and as Schubert’s quartet picks up pace I feel a wave of contentment wash over me like nothing I can recall. I smile again and want to stay in this moment forever. For a brief moment I contemplate just spending the rest of my days standing here on this stool with the noose around my neck in complete bliss. The true knowledge that nothing at all is going to matter ever again.

But I know that won’t happen.

I know I have to kick the stool away.

And I do.

The painful jolt around my neck and sudden weight of my entire existence dragging my body down is brief. Much to my disdain my hands grasp up at the rope trying instinctively to free my neck from it’s clutches. Luckily for me, they’re efforts are futile.

My name is James Brahms and I am no more.
 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bloodline - Chapter 4 - "Lost Luggage Is No Nightmare"

Lost Luggage Is No Nightmare

Lost luggage isn't a problem for only humans. Not these days.

Some vampires, like my friend Opie who is currently getting more and more flustered at a girl behind the Customer Service desk here at Prague Airport who can't seem to locate his luggage, are becoming increasingly likely to fall victim to this and other problems which, up until very recently, were exclusively human problems on this planet.

Opie will tell me at times that I'm living in dark ages where vampires are a superior race to humans and that we need to live amongst them to fit in but I say quite the opposite. I don't feel superior to these people busying themselves around me but I do feel different. We are not these people. We are a different creature.

I didn't pack luggage because I don't need anything beyond what I have on my person, so I don't have any to lose. It's not that I don't have possessions. I have a home I live in with items of interest and things I like, but I don't need any of them. If I have to up and leave tomorrow, or if I have to stay in Prague, or if a random arsonist sets all my stuff on fire while I'm gone - it's no big deal. It's just stuff! the real important stuff is me, my body, my self. And I have the glorious advantage that I am wherever I go. Every step I take I bring me with me.

Of course, all these suits walking around. The mother's scrambling to make sure their children haven't dropped their Game Boy. The people desperately making sure they packed every last little thing they "need" before getting on the plane, they could all say the same, if they wanted. Humans don't need any of that crap either but they are unfortunately born human and as humans are brought up in human society which now, more than ever before (at least as far as I can recall), is designed to make you grow up as a consumer and a possessor of things, rather than an individual whose contributions to society and whose benefits from society are within themselves.

All you need is the air that you breathe. And I don't even need that.

Sadly Opie has failed so far in realizing that Vampires need these things even less. They're not even our things! What could be in that luggage that Opie needs so desperately? Looking over at him, brushing back his hair and adjusting his glasses furiously, I think that it's possible he enjoys the frustration. Is there some basic instinct people have to just get tense and angry all the time? It would certainly explain a few little absurdities about the world.

Well, I'm sure Opie will grow out of it. He has the time.

"She can't tell me where it is!", Opie says exasperated as he strides over to me. "Can you believe that?"

"Yes."

He doesn't seem to really have the time right now to understand my nonchalance about the situation.

"Well, I guess we should just move on. They have my number if it shows up.", he sighs

"I'm sure you'll survive.", a phrase that always seems so sarcastic that I think people forget to think of it entirely literally. "Where are we going?"

"There's a friend, Ladislav, who lives in the center of the city. He keeps a lot of old records about the region."

"A librarian?"

"Kind of. There's a lot of history in this place. Back when we used to be run by Princes and 'High Councils', a lot of the most powerful ones lived in Eastern Europe."

Princes were basically the leaders of any given city or region back in 'the day'. The way legends talk of them make it seem like they were rulers of the land, both vampire and human. I imagine Princes themselves were real, it doesn't ever seem too unbelievable to think that a vampire might decide to crown himself and put himself in charge, but I doubt they were as open about their status as blood-suckers as the legends seem. Again, we Vampires aren't immune to attack and making everyone aware of your presence wouldn't be the smartest move. These same stories that revolve around the times when vampires basically ruled most of Europe also talk of Werewolves (Who they refer to as Lycans) and Magi. I don't know why we give credence to such stories when it's pretty obvious that there aren't any Wolf Men or witches gallivanting around. Vampires are pretty much alone as far as 'Mythical' creatures go.

Like most things mystical or legendary, however they are based on some facts. It's just a matter of digging through the 'facts' that someone wrote down, either from eye witness reports or their own deluded imagination, to work out what was really going on. Which is why I don't see trips to meet people like this Ladislav guy as a complete waste of time.

Hell, it might be interesting finding out a little something about the Mythology of this place and it's supposed mystical past including this "Cross Of Caine" we're supposed to be looking for.

I keep meaning to ask Opie what the deal with that is anyway.

"Opie...", I finally ask him while we're taxiing to the middle of Prague.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bloodline - Chapter 3 - "This World That Man Made"

This World That Man Made

Sitting by the window on our plane to The Czech Republic, I can't help but wonder why I still love seeing this view so much. There are few things I enjoy in this life quite as much as the view of the moon and the speckled light of the landscape below as we soar. Perhaps it's because this is all something that was invented in my lifetime. Generally speaking it's all relatively new.

Sure, I've been flying in one way or another since the advent of commercial flights but only now is it so easy to just get on one and go. As a vampire it was always difficult to make sure your flight wasn't arriving or departing in the daytime. Or God forbid, flying right up into daylight mid-flight. But these humans. They've spent the best part of the 20th century making things so convenient and accessible for them that they never really thought about how they might benefit they're only predator.

They never even considered us.

Man's greatest achievement was convincing himself that we don't exist.

It seems absurd, really. The more we made ourselves known. The more of us that slipped up and gave ourselves away to humans. The more of us that broke that unwritten (Though it is written in the Book Of Nod) law that a Vampire should never under any circumstances reveal themselves to a mortal. The more we plain fucked up, the less humans actually believed in us.

They write novels, movies, television shows. They make costumes for hallowe'en, all emulating our kind. They spend so much time convincing themselves that we Vampires are nothing more than shadows in the back of their own imaginations and it looks like last century they finally achieved it. Even I remember a time when a genuine belief, if somewhat vague, in Vampires was real. The look of actual terror but also of realization on people's faces back in the early 1900's when I would emerge from the shadows to take their lives was enough to tell me that somewhere they still believed. These days people convince themselves, right up until I feel their very last heart beat on my tongue, that I must be some fucked up "goth" or a drug addict of some kind. Seldom do I hear them whisper "Nosferatu!" in a low, terrified whisper, and although I do miss those days it's hard to complain when the absence of that fear makes it so much easier to hunt. Humans seem to not even think about the danger they pose to each other when they walk alone at night, never mind the dangers that might lurk for them of a different kind.

By making ourselves, and the stories about ourselves, more and more fantastic we've managed to hide ourselves completely from the humans till they decided that we couldn't possibly be real.

By becoming so unbelievable, we can keep away from people. Disassociate from them and let them go about their self centered, greedy ways, while we just sit and wait to see what becomes of these self destructive creatures.

I can't help but wonder to myself if that's what God is doing too.

I look down at the ground and see the seemingly endless stream of lights below. Streetlights. House lights. Some in clusters around larger towns and cities, some standing virtually on their own. Car lights, moving along from place to place. It seems there are so many people alive in the world today that they simply can't all do their business during the daytime anymore. There's always someone going somewhere.

A cluster of lights below looks like a little village. Must be about 200 people living there, by the looks of it. There are so many of these little villages though - it seems no-one is ever very far from anyone else. All packed like sardines, even when their out in the country. The countryside used to be where humans were safest from us but now even out here there is enough of a clutter that I could easily feed on one or two of them in this little village and have ample place to hide before having to move on.

If only they knew.

Would they have developed the world differently if they knew the danger?
Would they have spread themselves out and made sure not to allow hiding places to exist all around them?
If humans really knew about us, would their world be different?
I don't think so. From what I gather this world that they've created does little to serve them either. Overcrowding, polluting and strangling the Earth of all it's resources. None of it affects my kind though, of course. Only makes it easier.

Still, it's hard for me to look out this window at a landscape I've seen hundreds of times before both from the air and on the ground, and not feel a little sadness inside at the changes. These days all you can see on the ground are lights, the occasional mountain maybe or anything that's brightly lit enough to be visible like a car park. The light down there makes it impossible to see the trees, the actual landscape that used to be so visible when the world was almost entirely illuminated only by moonlight. I remember being at this height, on probably one of the first flights across Europe ever, and being able to see animals moving around down below even in the dead of night. Now all I can see are a lone car's headlights drifting slowly from one cluster to the next.
Choking the world as he goes.
And here we fly, nothing but a lone flickering light in the sky to the driver below.
Choking the world as we go.
And here I can see the illuminated city of Prague as we approach, a few smoke plumes piling into the sky from it's outskirts and a strange flickering of lights coming from it's center as a bundles of cars go about their city business.
Choking the world as they go.

It seems these days, that anything new the humans do just extends their lifespan, increases their population and continues to suck the air out of the planet and replace it with a fine layer of smog.

But that's okay, I don't need to breathe.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bloodline - Chapter 2 - "Opie and I"

Opie and I

How I met Opie was he was in Boston searching for a group calling themselves "The Original Bloods". The year was 1995.

At first glance he didn't seem like much. 5'7'' or so with short curly hair, an off-white sweater and glasses he had to keep poking up the bridge of his nose and adjusting. I could tell right off that he must be a very young Vampire, judging by his more modern attire and haircut. Until recently specific hair cuts never were too important in judging what era a vampire was sired in but these days, human trends and fast changing fashion make it often possible to tell when a vampire is under 50 years old and also possible to tell what decade they were sired in by simple means like the way they wear their clothes or the way their hair is cut, sitting atop their head - unchangeable like a permanent icon of the life before their Siring. One of many curious by-products of the modern world for our kind. From the looks of him i guessed he had been sired in the 70's making him, at the time only in his mid-twenties (Vampires count their age from the date they were sired not the day they were born as a human.). A mere child! Probably barely out of his Siring Moons which typically last between 10 and 20 years. His sire, whoever he might be, must be about my age. I remember wondering for a moment if this young vampire who seemed oblivious to be wandering my streets, in my city had taken part in the ritual slaying of his own sire but it seemed so impossible. Opie looked to be so innocent and altogether more intelligent than the type to partake in such ancient barbarity.

I recall the moment I finally confronted him. I had been following him for three nights, trying to work out why he was in Boston and more importantly, when he was leaving but Opie had no idea i was watching him, until the moment I emerged before him as he turned onto a dark abandoned street on the outskirts of the city. It was obvious from his reaction to my appearance that he was somewhat surprised that there was another vampire here, never mind one that had been stalking him since his arrival.

"Funny," I spoke before he had a chance to. "Most Kindred just pass through here within a night or two. And those that don't make their intentions pretty clear to me almost immediately."

Though it may seem somewhat egotistical, I can be a daunting figure. Keeping to the shadows, wearing long dark coats - all the age-old tricks to making for a more mysterious presence. Nonetheless tricks that work, as is always apparent when I appear before a trembling victim, or in this case a young Kindred who I need to intimidate to get answers from.

Opie just stared nervously. I could tell he was considering running, but perhaps knew it would be futile.

"You're not here to hunt. I've only seen you feed once since you got here. And you don't seem to be nesting. You're too young to be thinking of Siring anyway, I would imagine. So what is it? Why are you searching the streets of Boston so adamantly every night yet only feeding when you absolutely must. What are you looking for?"

By this time I was right next to him and could feel his breathing - a compulsive nervous reaction many vampires don't lose from their human lives since we don't need to breathe except to be able to speak but a good indicator that my new acquaintance was feeling the pressure. Good.

"I... I might be looking for you.", he said.

"Me? I sincerely doubt you or anyone else is looking for me. Who do you think I am?"

"I'm to believe that there are a group called The Original Bloods living in Boston, are you not one of them?"

I couldn't help but laugh a little.

"The Original Bloods? No. Sorry, I'm not amongst them"

"But you know of them? Can you direct me to them?"

"Sure but I'm pretty sure you're going to be disappointed. What is it you expect to find?"

I could tell he wasn't even sure himself what he expected.

"I'm told that they are a group of Vampires who claim to be direct descendants from the original generation. Vampires..."

"Ok, stop there. The first thing you've got wrong is they aren't Vampires."

"Then what are they?"

"Humans. Nothing but a bunch of humans who watched The Lost Boys a few too many times and got carried away."

I remember hearing about these clowns a few years ago. For a little while I was concerned that some rogue gang might be about to come to town, guns a-blazing, blowing my cover and making me have to jump towns (again) to evade detection but it became quite apparent when I found the group and saw they were nothing more than a small gathering of human fanatics who were meeting once a week to brood about their own worthless existences while cutting lines up their arms, wearing dark make-up and playing games where they'd role-play that they were elves and wizards. To the outside world they would project the image that they were really vampires, feeding off each other and haunting the night streets of Boston and I found it vaguely amusing that their little game had managed to attract the attention of some far-off real Vampires.

How I got to know Opie is we went together so I could show him the Original Bloods.

It turned out that he wasn't, as I expected, some rigid stuck-in-the-mud who was going to be shattered by the discovery that the group was nothing but a bunch of goth wannabes. Truth be told, i was a little disappointed when he rather quickly began to find the whole thing funny. But only a little. Hearing him talk about how he was sent over as a missionary from The Church had reminded me of so many other 'Nod-Squadders' that had come through before him, all of whom I had quickly shooed or scared away - primarily to keep Boston for myself (Two vampires, even in a city as vast as Boston, are far more likely to be found before too long) but also because it was a lot of fun chasing Kindred out of town, either shattering their delusions or scaring them so much that they'd never ever want to return. But there was definitely something about Opie that was different. Sure, he believed in all that nonsense but he had already been on five missions since his Siring Moons were over and as far as I could tell most religious types only ever went on two or three in their entire lives. It was obvious that Opie had a sense of adventure, one that he unfortunately found he could fulfill only via a Church but one that nonetheless existed.

How I begun to stick around Opie was that his lust for adventure reminded me of some of the Vampires of my own time.

It had been decades since I had met a Vampire who didn't want to be secluded. Who didn't want to be living at the top of some abandoned cathedral, or deep in a sewer system, only emerging at night to feast on the towns-folk like an invisible boogieman. Who wasn't content with being alone. Most 20th Century vampires seemed to have acquired a boredom. A contentment. A sheer willingness to stay-put that really bugged me. Opie showed all the character of a Kindred who wanted to discover and who wanted to find out all there was to know. Sure, he misplaced it in a religious context but I could see through that into the part of Opie that would be seeking out all the wisdom of the world whether or not he believed in Seth and Caine. He might tell you the opposite about me, that he could perhaps see through my non-belief. But that's where we are now. If not agreeing with each other, at least accepting after a decade or so of debate that we can agree to disagree. In fact we can even enjoy it at times.

How I got to be standing in this Church in the highlands of Scotland with Opie is somewhat of a mystery to me.

I guess I joined the Church with Opie because I knew it might be the only way I could be amongst Vampires.

Maybe I realized that instead of chasing away every Vampire that passed through Boston in order to survive, I should instead seek out some way to live with others in a pack, like we used to before the comfort and freedom that the human Metropolises and large cities created.

It could have just been easier to join a Church who were willing to tell me where to go and why, rather than work it out for myself.

While it did annoy me, being read passages from the book of Nod and having to at least seem vaguely interested in the Church, I did enjoy the travel.

While the purpose of these trips was seeking out some religious artifact or other, or finding other Churches or cults that were long forgotten, my main purpose was to spend time with Opie and the other members of the Church on their 'off-times' and to enjoy the time spent looking aimlessly for things which 99% of the time turned out to not exist at all.

99%!

A literal figure. Almost every single thing we sought to discover or bring home turned out to be a rumor, a hoax or just a plain old-fashioned legend from the Vampire Mythos. And the few that were real were more than a little underwhelming.

The Vampire we had been told was a thousand years old named Tryvo, turned out to be real but he was a gibbering psychotic wreck. We couldn't figure out if he was speaking a language that existed never mind how old he was or even exactly who he was.

"The Great Chalice Of The True Blood"turned up okay, but it was in five pieces and we'll never know if it would completely restore a weakened vampire in it's original form but it definitely didn't work with super-glue.

So how I got to be waiting in line at Glasgow International for a flight to the Czech Republic with Opie to search for "The Cross Of Caine" is pretty much because I know we're not going to find anything.

But I've always wanted to see Prague.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bloodline - Chapter 1 - "The Church Of Nod"

The Church Of Nod

Another bloody church service.
Once a month at midnight, the same old shit. We all gather together to hear some self-righteous preacher ramble on and on about the glory days. About the good times, long gone by.

"Seth was among the most powerful of all Vampires, whose very presence was told to shake the world of anyone blessed enough to be amongst his kin."

Yawn.

"
When the Vampires were at their peak, they had nothing to fear from humans. Nowhere was needed for them to hide, for mankind knew not of our weaknesses. Knew not of our fears."

Double-fuck Yawn.

Every single month, without fail it's exactly the same speech, reworded in the right places to keep the drones interested. The Church Of Nod, as they've come to be called. Last century they were "The Sires Of Nod", before that "The Church Of Seth", then "The Kindred of Seth" but not before a brief period of just being called "The Kindred" - God love the 19th century for trying to keep things simple. "The Army of Caine" was allegedly a more archaic form. Lord only knows the countless other factions, splits and name changes that have come across over the centuries. Even from country to country you'll find what amounts to exactly the same Cult under a completely different name. However any of the various different names I've known have basically amounted to exactly the same thing:

Basically we're told, rigorously and constantly, that after Cain was expelled from Eden (Yes, we're talking human mythology here too) he was also expelled from mankind and, long story short, became the first vampire. He founded the city of Nod and set about trying to corrupt the human race. The story goes that he was able to turn humans into his slaves but they were essentially nothing but mindless zombies, until he turned a farmer by the name of Seth who became just as powerful, if not more-so than Cain himself. Eventually Seth's son, Enod slew Cain using a silver sword he had crafted to kill his own father with. Seth kills Enod. Seth goes on to sire all living vampires. Blah blah blah. It's basically the same as the stuff we were brainwashed with as humans except now it has a vampiric edge to keep us hooked! Sons of Gods dying for the good of 'vampire-kind', fathers killing sons and sons killing Gods. It's the same old shit but with a blood-thirsty sprinkling! It's all supposedly written in what they call "The Book Of Nod", but I don't give that any more credence than I do any other religious doctrine.

What pisses me off more than attending this facade is that it's so bloody depressing. I mean, at least human religion has heaven, Easter Baskets and shaking hands with a wizard in the sky when you finally croak to look forward to. The Church Of Nod is all about looking back. Claiming how great we were. What sort of focus is that?

Not to mention illogical. Are vampires the only creatures on Earth who are greater, more powerful, more efficient the more ancient they are? Whatever happened to Evolution? Even if you believe in a God or Gods it seems like some kind of sick joke that, if our sires are to be believed, that every new generation of vampires is to be born weaker and weaker than the last.

Needless to say, I could go on. I'm here standing next to my much more faithful (it wouldn't take much) long-time friend Opie with whom I've shared many a believer vs non-believer debate. He's probably the main reason I'm here but not the only one. I know it seems strange that I should be standing here listening to this preacher month after month if I don't believe a word of it, certainly it isn't some Vampiric rite that must be fulfilled in fact, I'd say most of our kind these days don't hold a light to any of this nonsense but frankly the one thing they have right here is that every now and then Vampires should meet each other. By nature, we're a very, very isolated breed. I don't just mean we don't like to hang out at wine parties hob-nobbing amongst like-minded individuals or hanging out in bars socializing with everyone we can. No. I mean the very nature of our being means that nine out of ten vampires won't see another vampire in their life-time after their 'Siring Moons', basically the 'training period' we all go through with whichever vampire 'turned' us, are over.

Indeed, around about me just now stand just sixteen of us including the preacher, which by human standards even in my time - never mind the gloriously overpopulated world of today - was hardly enough to be called company but to any vampire on Earth this is a rather crowded church service.

While I've been thinking to myself once again about the true pointlessness of the religious aspect of this meeting I know Opie at least is genuinely standing there with at least a relatively firm belief in what's being said.

"If we're just creatures of blood and tissue like any other, then why can we live forever, unlike anything else on the planet?", he'd argue

Truth is, and I've at least gotten him to acknowledge this, I'm not sure if we do live forever. I personally don't know any Vampire over the age of two hundred. I myself, am a "mere" one hundred and fifteen years old but am considered to be almost senior in Vampire terms. Though I've never known a Vampire to keel over from old age, and rarely have I seen a disease that affects us never mind kills us, the truth is there's only so long you can go on before being mauled by a passing train, falling from a tall enough cliff or, oops!, stepping outside at noon because your clock stopped in the middle of the night. The further truth is, it isn't nearly as hard to kill a vampire as either human-fiction or Vampire-religion would have us all believe. Sure, we can take a beating, a few bullets and blows to the head or the occasional stabbing but I've seen as many of my fellows killed off just by sheer force as I have by 'traditional' methods like prolonged exposure to sunlight or silver weaponry. Worse still is the archaic 'ritual' that a lot of sired vampires go through by killing the Vampire who sired them on their one hundredth year. I say 'ritual' because mostly I just think it's performed because the young Kindred (the name of the new, younger, Vampire - also a term Vampires use to refer to one another. Similar to humans calling each other 'comrade' or 'brother') gets so sick and tired of the Sire (The elder vampire who gave new life to a new Vampire - a term of respect) that they just use this all-but-abandoned practice as an excuse to off him. From a religious perspective, the Kindred who slays his Sire is blessing them both to "become 'one' with Cain and aiding the rise of Nod by strengthening his everlasting power". Amen.

"But we're supernatural compared to humans. We have powers beyond scientific reason!", he's argue some more

Not true. And a common misconception, left over in the Vampire Mythos from a time in which we couldn't possibly understand how our bodies work. The limited scientific works of our kind (We're not as into sitting around poking at animals, and mixing up random chemicals we find as humans seem to be) have revealed to us that our bodies go through a dramatic but scientific change when we're sired. We develop a body that processes blood extremely quickly, can't develop it's own and as such is sensitive to sunlight. We're stronger, mainly because our muscles are re-developed to strengthen with increased blood flow with a little push, we can force ourselves to be quite powerful, especially if we've just fed.

"We have clear unscientific weaknesses though, unique to our kind! Surely there isn't a science for them?", he'd press on.

"Mysteries" like our apparent allergy to silver are intriguing but I figure it's a simple genetic flaw... passed down from Sire to Kindred over the many centuries. Many would point out "our" aversion to crucifixes as proof of a supernatural being within us but the fact that I'm standing in a church with a gigantic Jesus Christ leering down at me from his very own personal crucifix, left-over from long ago when humans used this place, is proof enough that any Vampire who is averted and even repelled by the site of a cross (And it happens, I've seen it in plenty of our kind - even some in this room who would convince themselves that the only reason they don't recoil in fear in this room is the overwhelming strength of Cain and Nod. Whatever.) is doing so purely out of psychological instinct.

It's not all anger and arguments between Opie and I though. Much as I enjoy the occasional religious debate, I far more frequently just enjoy company. Opie and I, like relative few of our kind, enjoy spending nights in the human cities. After this ceremony is over, our plan is... or rather 'was'... to head to Edinburgh, one of our favorite cities, for the month.

I say "was", though because as I contemplate this, the preacher has wrapped up his little Fairy Tale speech and is walking over to us with his ever pompus, "have I got the little task for you!" look in his eyes and is probably going to send us on one of his little religious 'missions' that he knows Opie enjoys so very much...

"Ah, Opie! Jerome! Have I got the..."

Double-fuck.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

THE GREAT BLOG TURN AROUND!

So, if you've been reading this blog frequently, off and on, or ever at all for that matter you might be used to seeing movie reviews here however I've decided I'm through with reviewing movies (for now) I'm pretty sure I've dried up my need or want to come up with witty things to say about them to be honest... if you've never been here before then great - nothing's changed and it doesn't matter.
Basically, I like to write stories and always have. In one form or another, whether I was doodling cartoons as a kid, writing shorts in English Class or coming up with various 'script ideas'. So I'm going to attempt to rekindle that flame by writing stories here in the posts. I don't know if I'll write one continuous story at first or chapters here and there of various ones... who knows? To be honest I have no clue what my plan is.

So, before this post (from 2007 - 2009) there are a bunch of blog posts of movie reviews (See the archives, to the right)

After this post there will be a few pieces of short story for all to enjoy!

Come back soon.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Movie Quote of the Year

"You can't piss on hospitality!"

Happy New Year to all. Hopefully some slightly more frequent reviews will come with the coming year!