Promotion

img_6143 I discovered this story buried in the recesses of an old, forgotten flash drive that was shaped like Batman.  It was written around 2009, I believe.

“Do come in,” I said, caressing the surface of my imported Brazilian rosewood desk with pallid, skeletal fingers.

Tom Walker, my senior vice president entered cautiously into my office.  I’d always perceived him as being a bit wary of me.  Can’t say as I particularly blame him.  I can be quite intimidating at times.

“You wanted to see me, sir.”  It was more of a statement than an inquiry.

I smiled, gesturing to the empty chair across from mine.  “Indeed I did.  Please.  Have a seat.”

The chair, an inexpensive faux-leather affair, was deliberately not as opulent as mine.  I’ve always felt that one should never allow his subordinates to possess even the slightest inkling of equality.

I leaned back, steepling my hands together.  I sensed a quickening of Walker’s pulse as my gaze penetrated his senses.

“I wish to make a proposition to you, Mr. Walker.”

His stunned expression delighted me; the sense of relief—no doubt he had been fearful of termination—was easily detectable via an array of subtle signals that most men would have failed to identify.

But of course, I am not most men.  “Mr. Walker,” I began, “I must confess that in these past few years, I have come to see a glimmer, or rather, I daresay, a dim reflection of myself in you.”

He appeared perplexed, but said nothing.

I leaned forward, lowering the timbre of my voice as I spoke.  “The cold and ruthless manner in which you pursue your quarry, the callousness displayed; it is all quite remarkable.

“Quarry?” he said, cocking his head to one side.

I rose from my chair, hovering portentously over him.  “Competition.  Business rivals.  The common man. Anyone who would dare stand between you and that which you seek.  I ask you; Are these not merely a different variety of prey?”

He shrugged.  “I suppose so, metaphorically speaking.”

I shook my head, chuckling softly.  “No.  Not metaphorically.  We are both predators, Mr. Walker.  We hunt for our own well-being, nay, for our very survival.”

“I’m afraid I’m not following,” he said, furrowing his brow.

I began to pace the perimeter of the office, circling around Walker like a vulture. “You must think me barking mad,” I said with a wry chuckle.  “But I assure you, I did not rise to such heights of prominence as I have through incompetence.”

I took my seat once again, staring unblinkingly at the young man in front of me.  “How old do you think I am, Mr. Walker?”

“Um.  I don’t know,” he said, shifting in his seat.  “Late fifties?”

I wagged a finger at him, laughing out loud.  “Ah, but you are too transparent, my dear sir. Your estimation is far too generous to be mistaken for sincerity.”

I smiled.  “I believe a more accurate assessment on your part would place me as having walked this earth for, at the very least, eighty years.”

He started to protest, but I silenced him with a dismissive wave.

“My auditory senses are keener than I am often given credit for,” I told him, narrowing my eyes with intentional menace.  “I have been privy to more than a few conversations not meant for my ears.”

Walker’s eyes widened.

“Ah, think nothing of it, my good man,” I said good-naturedly .  “You and the others are more correct than you think when you jest about my having served in the American Civil War.”

I could tell now that he was extraordinarily confused and in all probability questioning my sanity.

“Of course,” I continued, “I did not participate in said conflict, but I certainly lived through those tumultuous times.”

Walker laughed uneasily, as if unsure of whether such a reaction was appropriate.

“You don’t believe me, of course,” I said.  “You are a skeptic; you accept as true nothing unverified by your own eyes.  I sympathize.  When my maker approached me, I doubted his claims.  Why, the very thought was preposterous.”

I recognized a sense of diminishing patience in my youthful apprentice, though to his credit, he kept silent, humoring me.

“Very well,” I said.  “I shall, as they say, get to the point.”

Walker leaned forward, suddenly interested.

“I am not of the human persuasion,” I said flatly.  “And I have not been for some time now.  Oh, I was once bound by the trappings of mortality, like yourself, but I have been transformed into something else altogether.  You see, I am a vampire.”

Walker merely blinked, showing no outward reaction at first.  After a few moments of silence, he lowered his head and sighed, rubbing his temple.

He looked up at me again, chuckling softly.  “So where’s your fangs?”

“Ah, Stoker,” I said, shaking my head, “Talented fellow, to be sure, but quite given to outlandish flights of fancy, I’m afraid.

“No, Mr. Walker,” I said, removing a small black leather case from my desk drawer, “Vampires do not have fangs.  I apologize for shattering your deep-rooted preconceptions about us, but it is nonetheless true.”

I opened the case, revealing the gleaming silver straight razor that lay within.

“We all have our own methods of feeding, Mr. Walker.  When I was initially, shall we say ‘born again,’ I wandered the streets, selecting my prey at random, gnawing at their necks like some kind of feral, savage beast.”

I shook my head, wary of discussing those primitive days. “I lacked style and panache. I was driven only by an insatiable thirst for blood; to once again taste of the essence of that which makes one human.”

Walker scratched his goateed chin anxiously, clearly taken aback by my outlandish claims.  No matter.  He would soon have the proof he required.

“This,” I said, handing him the ivory-handled razor, “is my favored tool for bloodletting.  I happened upon it in the home of a prominent New Orleans politician I fed upon one sultry, August evening.  1837, I believe.”

Walker scrutinized the blade, then placed it gently on the desk.  “You’re out of your goddamned mind.”

“But what if I’m not?”  I implored, ignoring the insubordinate remark.  “Assume for a moment that I speak the truth.  What I am offering you is a chance to shuffle off your mortal coil, to join me in immortality.”

“Yeah?  And why should I believe you?  You know how screwed-up this all sounds, don’t you?  I mean, come on.  My boss says he’s Count Dracula.  How am I even supposed to react to that?”  He threw up his hands and let them slap lifelessly to his sides.

“The literary falsehoods perpetuated by the uninformed imaginings of mortal minds are many.  We do not turn into bats, though I should be thrilled to do so.  We do not sleep in coffins.  In fact, I shudder to imagine such a scenario, claustrophobic as I am.

And of course there is the matter of that nasty little rumor involving sunlight.  Vampires do not wither into dust when exposed to the sun.  We generally avoid it, as it makes us extremely uncomfortable, but we can tolerate it if need be.  You may have noticed that I remain in my office as much as possible, however.  I do prefer to conduct any outside affairs after sunset.”

“But,” I said, opening the bottom left drawer of my desk, “There is one truth amongst a multitude of falsehoods.”

I handed him a small antique mirror that I’d liberated from an attractive young woman I’d spent a memorable evening with in Stuttgart sometime near the dawn of the twentieth century.

He accepted it, looked at his own reflection, then angled it toward me, trying to catch mine.  He froze, nearly dropping the mirror.

“Careful,” I admonished him.  “I’m quite fond of that mirror.  No practical application for it, of course, but it is relatively valuable.  Do try not to drop it.”

“Sorry,” he whispered, placing it gently upon the desk.  He gazed at me with new eyes, with a respect that had previously been absent.

“Makes it difficult to shave or comb my hair, as you can well imagine.”

“So…You want to make me into a—a vampire?”

“I’m getting older, Tom,” I said.  “Oh, I know I referred to myself as immortal, but that is a half-truth.  You see, the aging process is retarded considerably in vampires, but not halted entirely.  We simply age at a slower pace.  I’ve perhaps one; maybe two centuries remaining before the earth reclaims this body.”

Walker snorted.  “Two hundred years,” He repeated.

“Yes, and I would prefer not to abandon all that I’ve built for myself into the hands unworthy souls upon my passing.  I am asking you to be my heir.

“You would, of course, take over as company president within the next few months.  The board is no doubt clamoring for my retirement.”

Tom, ever the hard-nosed negotiator, leaned back in his chair, poker-faced.  “What’s the catch?”

“My dear Mr. Walker, the only ‘catch’ is that you shall live to see things that you cannot even conceive of at this time.  Why, when I was your age, I never dreamed that man would one day harness the power of electricity, construct flying machines, travel to the stars…But such things are taken for granted in this day and age.”

Walker stared at me with a wide-eyed intensity, a blatant mixture of trepidation and intrigue evident in his features.

“Do I have to decide right now?”

“No,” I said.  “I would not expect you to make a choice of such import on the spot.  Take as much time as you need.  In fact, take the rest of the day off to ruminate over my offer.”

“This is a lot to take in,” He said.  “I mean, I’ve never believed in ghosts and goblins.”

“Nor have I,” I said emphatically.  “You must learn to disregard all that you think you know about vampires.  You must, in your mind, separate fact from fiction.”

Walker sighed and shook his head.  “Shit.  Alright, I’ll think about it.”

I stood up and extended my hand.  He rose and shook it firmly.

“Until we meet again,” I said.

 

*

 

I was pleasantly surprised to find Mr. Walker waiting outside of my office when I arrived for work the next morning.

“I’m in,” He said eagerly.  “Let’s do it.”

I placed a finger to my lips and shushed him.  “In my office,” I whispered, glancing sideways at my overly curious secretary.

Miss Lawson continued to type, but her fingers had begun to strike the keyboard a bit more softly.

When the door had shut behind us, I seized my would-be protégé firmly by the shoulders.  “I am very pleased to hear this news,” I said.  “Our, shall we say, ‘transaction’ will take place this evening at my country home.  I believe you are familiar with the location.”

“Yeah.  The dinner party you threw last year for those clients.  I remember.”

I nodded.  “Good.  I shall see you then.  And I beseech you; do not speak of this to anyone.”

“My lips are sealed.”

 

*

 

Mr. Walker pulled into the drive around ten ‘o clock. I opened the gates to admit him, watching from a second-story window as he parked in front of the house and stepped out of the car.

The clouds had parted, allowing the full moon to cast a pale glow upon the courtyard, illuminating the cobblestone path that led to the front entrance.

He glanced upward and our eyes met; which is probably why he seemed genuinely surprised that I greeted him at the front door a scant few moments later.

“How did you do that?”  He asked, looking back and forth between myself and the window, as if this action would provide an answer.

“In time, my good man,” I said.  “In time.”

I led him through the atrium and into the living room, where I took notice of his interest in a portrait hanging above the mantle.

“Better days,” I said, sidling up to him.

“You look a lot younger.”

“I commissioned Courbet to paint this one for me, during one of my excursions to France.  Exceptional, wouldn’t you say?  I’ve always been partial to French Realism.”

“Uh huh,” He said distractedly.

“Well,” I said, “I suppose you’d like to dispense with the chitchat and get down to business.  Follow me.”

I escorted him to the basement door, and down the creaking staircase that led to my subterranean sanctuary.

“The torches are merely an indulgence of a personal nature,” I said, detecting his sense of curiosity.  “For aesthetic value, you see.  I’ve never cared much for artificial light.”

The light from the flames danced across the features of beautiful but blank-faced young woman awaiting us at the foot of the stairs.  She was completely nude, her long brown hair cascading over her bare shoulders.

Her appearance elicited a gasp from my companion.  “Who is this?”

I noticed his roving eyes exploring the exquisite curves of her supple young body.

I smiled wryly.  “You are aroused by the sight of this lovely creature, no?”

He laughed, somewhat awkwardly. “I’m only human,” he said.

“Yes, Mr. Walker,” I said.  “For now.  In a very short time, however, you will find your primitive reproductive urges irrevocably eclipsed by an even more potent variety of lust.”

He turned his head sharply.  “You mean, you don’t…”

I laughed.  “Do not concern yourself, good sir.  In time, you will forget all about sex. It’s been so long that I haven’t the faintest idea of what made it seem so appealing in the first place.”

“But my wife,” he protested, “How will I explain—“

“Your apprehensions are diminutive and utterly without meaning,” I snapped.  “Your life is going to change in ways that you cannot possibly understand at the moment.  You will have no need for a spouse.”

“Why is she just standing there?” he asked, nodding in the girl’s direction.  “Can she talk?”
“Oh yes,” I said.  “Though at the moment, she is quite incapacitated.”

“Hypnotized?”

“Your phrasing is crude, but essentially correct,” I said.  “Suffice it to say, she is under my power.”

“So you’re going to drink…”  He hesitated.  “Feed on her?”

“I have brought her here for you,” I said.  “When the transformation is complete, you’ll be quite famished, I assure you.”

Walker gulped, his pores squeezing out fat droplets of sweat.

“Come now,” I goaded.  “Do not allow your conscience to override your judgment.  Soon you will lust for her blood as you now lust for her flesh.”

I raised an eyebrow, drawing closer to him.  “Before we proceed, however, I must ask a favor of you.”

He regarded me skeptically.  “What is it?”

“Your wife has recently given birth.  Is this correct?”

“Yeah,” he said uneasily.

“Here is what I ask.  Bring me the child, so that I might partake of its pure, untainted essence.”

He stared, slack jawed, a look of revulsion crossing his face.  “You want to drink my son’s blood?”

“Such a sacrifice will prove to me that you are prepared to discard the trappings of corporeal existence and embrace the path I am placing before you.”

He leaned against the wall, burying his face in his hands.  He said nothing for several minutes, then raised his head, meeting my eyes.

“You said there would be no catch.”

“The price is a small one,” I said.  “No pun intended, of course.

“Centuries from now, when all you now know has rotted to dust, you alone will survive to witness the wonders of the future.  Think of the wealth you will accumulate.  The possessions.”

He thought about this for a long while.   “I’m sorry,” he said somberly. “I just can’t.”

I laid a hand on his shoulder.  “A wise decision,” I said.  “Had you chosen to submit to my will and sacrifice your child, I would have drained you where you stood and buried your bloodless corpse in the forest.”

Walker raised his eyebrows.

“Oh, don’t worry,” I assured him.  “I can see that you still don’t understand.  You see, Loyalty is very important to me.  How could I trust such a man who would willingly give the life of his child in exchange for the promise of prosperity?”

I could see realization dawning on his features as his facial muscles relaxed almost imperceptibly.  “So it was a test.”

“One that you passed with flying colors, my friend.”

He chuckled uneasily, wiping his sleeve on his forehead.  “That’s fucked up,” He said, visibly relieved.  “You really had me going there.”

“I had to be sure that you were not utterly devoid of scruples,” I said.  “Shall we proceed, then?”

He nodded, and I retrieved the straight razor from the breast pocket of my suit.  Rolling up my sleeve, I made a tiny but deep incision across my wrist before offering it to him.

“Drink.”

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s