Whitechapel Road; A Vampyre Tale
The earth, the universe in which it spins, as well as mankind itself all contain mysteries and wonders of untold proportions, the answers or understanding of which will never come to be known as common knowledge. That having been said, there are many other mysteries that come into existence simply because at the time of discovery there was neither the science nor the understanding to grasp what was being presented. In those cases the mysteries in question are sometimes solved as the advancement of time also brings with it an advancement in what had been lacking, either education, technology or perhaps both. Still, more incredibly, there are other perplexing occurrences that have taken place throughout our recorded history, and most certainly well before that time, where the body of evidence points directly at the answer, and yet the mystery comes into being just the same. This takes place despite having the facts substantiated by numerous means, means that could see the mystery laid to rest before it could even evolve. In fact the very answer that is sought by the masses stands squarely in the spotlight and yet is ignored completely, not even brought into question by those same people who seek it, for it is simply too unbelievable to be possible.
Born in 1854 to a farming family in the village of Ellingham, located approximately 20 miles from the southern most tip of England, life for Aremis was, to a large extent, set out to be that of a normal farm boy growing up with his family.
Children were expected to work on the family’s farm or help in running the family business, whatever that might be, until it was time to marry and even then they often did not have a choice in the matter of who was to be their life partner - the choice was made by the parents, in many instances without the new couple-to-be having ever set sight on one another before their wedding day.
Such was the case for the boy born to the Eilbeck family who, in the fall of 1874 now in his twentieth year, was considered prime for finding a bride to marry. There had been some talk of marriage before now but it was simply not advantageous for the family to have him wed before this time. For you see, the land directly adjacent to Eilbeck farm, some eighty acres of prime farm and forest, belonged to a family who had a daughter and, despite her younger years, her parents were willing to allow a marriage to take place. By doing so, they hoped to forge a family bond that would see their two properties merge into one, becoming one of, if not the largest farm in the entire area. It was to be a most profitable venture to be quite sure.
Even though the couple not-yet-formed lived next door to one another for many years, they had not actually seen much of each other beyond their childhood years. You see Mary had been sent away to live with an ailing aunt who had no daughters of her own and therefore needed someone to do the daily household duties for her. This somewhat insignificant fact was to present a very significant problem for Aremis come harvest time, a time in which the local farmers and their families gathered in the small town square to give thanks for the bountiful harvest and enjoy some of the fruits of their summer’s labour.
This was also to be the time the two families had planned to announce the proposed marriage to the townspeople and begin preparation for the wedding. Finally, the many legal obstacles that are usually present when it comes time to officially join the two lands into one were resolved and Aremis would see his bride for the first time since she had been sent away. And yet it was on this night, the night of the harvest celebrations, that the very plan, seeded so many years earlier, began to unravel.
Dressed in his finest attire that his mother had sewn and looking quite dapper for a seasoned livestock handler, he patiently meandered around the inside of the town hall politely chatting with his neighbours. As the hours steadily pressed on and it began to grow late he excused himself from family and friends, taking leave of the hall lights and trading the claustrophobic surroundings for some space and a breath of night air out on the front steps.
As the minutes dragged by, he slowly made his way down the steps until he was standing at their footing where he remained tracing out patterns in the sandy road with the tip of his boot. As he made whimsical shapes, of no particular design, his mind was left to wonder about a future with someone he had not seen for several years. As he did, a shadow fell across his absent-minded artwork in the sand.
Startled by the sudden appearance and not yet sure of who or what had cast it, he jumped backwards wishing he had not been so foolish as to drop his guard on a dark night such as this. As his eyes came to bear on the source of the shadow, he felt a wave of relief fall over his racing heart as he saw a thin tall woman standing before him, a bright smile upon her face. Wearing a yellow dress, the colour of daffodils in springtime, but without a jacket she looked to be significantly underdressed for such a chilly autumn evening. She had long brown hair that fell freely over her shoulders, the top pulled back and clipped into place with two small ivory combs so as to keep it from her face. Her skin was pale and in the light of the moon took on a pearlescent quality, her dark eyes sparkling as though they were somehow lit from within.
“I am terribly sorry to have startled you so,” she said trying her utmost to conceal her mirth at having set such a fright onto one who seemed, at first glance, to be quite unflappable.
“There is nothing to apologise for,” he replied his voice shaken by the sudden start he had just been given, “It is my own fault for being so lost in my own thoughts, I must confess at being quite relieved to discover it was you and not some beast that has found me in such an absent-minded state.”
The young maiden giggled at his honest response, pleased that he had not tried to hide the fact that he had indeed been frightened by her sudden appearance.
“May I inquire as to what it is that has one such as you so entranced as to not notice my approach?” she asked with the innocent enthusiasm of a young child.
He felt the blush come upon his face, an unconscious reaction to her innocent question. “I am to meet my future wife tonight and, you see, I fear I have precious little insight as to her likes and dislikes or if either of us will even enjoy one another’s company once we have met.”
He looked out into the darkness that lay beyond the reach of the oil lamp’s amber glow as if to find something more intellectual to say to this woman who now shared the evening with him.
“So, am I to understand that you are nervous this person will not find you attractive or interesting enough to marry?” the female stranger politely asked.
“I suppose, but it is all quite irrelevant really as it is our parents who have arranged it all.” His voice was downtrodden and he plunked his hands into the pockets of his trousers as if to punctuate his displeasure. He rocked slightly on his heels in the hopes that the conversation would turn towards a topic other than that of his personal affairs.
“I think your fears are unfounded,” she replied in a matter of fact voice, “as I find you quite attractive and very much a gentleman, and in fact I would be most pleased to marry you if you were to ask me.”
Quite stunned by the statement just put forth by one he had only just met, he found himself flushed and at a loss for words.
“I am… I am touched you feel as you do, Miss. You flatter me, truly, so much so that I am not even sure how exactly to respond to your kind words.”
The young woman laughed and spun around once, the sudden turning action sending the hem of her yellow dress floating upward like a spring flower opening to the warmth of the morning sun.
“I am sorry to tease you so, it is not often I have the chance, you see. I am supposed to be so proper all of the time and not partake in such foolishness, for it is seen as being quite unladylike. I am sure you can appreciate this,” she said straightening out the skirt of her dress so it would lie properly.
“Yes, yes of course, I do understand, quite, and I must confess that chatting with you like this, well, it does take my mind off things. I am pleased you happened along as you did.”
“As am I,” she replied as she thrust her hand forward in a manner more suited to that of a man and not that of a lady.
“My name is Mary, Mary Smith, and I do believe that you and I are supposed to be married this coming spring. That is, of course, if you are indeed Aremis?”
Yet again, he found himself at a complete disadvantage to this young maiden. He removed his right hand from his pocket, and in a fashion more a learned response than a conscience reaction, he took the hand offered to him. She had a firm grip belonging to someone used to working with tools and livestock and not that of a frail city girl.
“I am pleased to officially make your ‘re-acquaintance’ Mary, you have quite a way about you. And yes, yes you are quite correct, I am indeed Aremis, Aremis Eilbeck. It has been so many years since you went away that I failed to recognize you.”
He released her hand removing his other hand from his pocket and holding them both out to his sides as if on display.
“True enough I suppose. My Mum made my clothes special for tonight so I would look my best for you.” He turned around once somewhat shy about what he should be doing.
“Well, you do look smashing and your Mum is quite a seamstress,” she said as she gave both the clothing and the man in them a good visual inspection.
“Thank you, you are most kind.” He replied, his voice carrying with it a nervous air.
With that the night and its silence overtook the pair. Mary put her hands behind her back and stared upwards towards the distant stars while he placed his hands back into his pockets and fidgeted somewhat nervously as he looked back towards the main doors of the town hall, convinced that at any moment someone would be along to look for them, discovering them together and quite unsupervised. Realising the potential for untold trouble should they be discovered together, even though there was precious little going on beyond a good scare and some idle chatter, he thought it best to take any further conversation into the hall and, more importantly, into the public eye before something unsavoury could unfold.
“Would you like to go inside and get some food?” He asked making a hand gesture towards the double doors of the white clapboard building.
She looked in the direction he was indicating with a less than interested expression upon her face before turning her gaze out towards the roadway that led off into the forest.
“I would far prefer to go for a walk with you, if I spoke the truth.” She replied quietly.
Running his fingers through his long black hair, his eyes tried to follow hers and to what she might be fixing on beyond the curve in the road. Unable to see what it might be but certain there was nothing, he put forth his misgivings regarding her suggestion.
“Really Mary, I do not think that would be such a prudent thing to do given the situation. If someone were to find out that we were together, alone, out in the dark, it could quickly become something quite shameful for both our families.”
She returned her eyes to his accompanied with the faintest of smiles.
“You are a true gentleman Aremis, of that there is no doubt, but I truly wish to go for a walk. So you go back inside now and do what is expected of you and I will be along shortly to officially meet you for the first time.”
She gave him a little wink and with that headed off towards the darkness that lay beyond the reach of the town hall lights.
The Harvest moon that had risen earlier that night, bold and red, was now high in the sky and, having lost most of its rouge, was quickly being overtaken by cloud making the roadway that led into the woods all the more gloomy.
“Mary, Mary come back, it is not safe to wander the woods alone at night.”
His whispered pleas fell on deaf ears as he watched the pale yellow of her dress slowly engulfed by the night.
Left alone at the foot of the stairs, the sounds of multiple conversations and gay laughter, one overlapping the other as they emanated from within the walls of town hall, he was faced with a horrendous situation. If he did what was socially demanded of him, then he would go back inside and act as though he had not set eyes on her that evening. On the other hand, if he did the chivalrous thing and set off after her, if only to ensure her safety and they happened to be discovered, it would be a difficult thing to try and explain away.
With all that in mind, he knew full well that if he hesitated very much longer she would have so much ground on him that it would be all but impossible to find her in the dark interior of the forest, especially with little in the way of moonlight in the night sky. Without another soul being out on either the street or the veranda, his decision was made. With one last look about to ensue his departure would not be noticed, he bolted down the road at a full run towards the woodlands.
As he rounded the curve in the road, leaving the structures and buildings behind him for the seclusion of the wooded thicket, he called out to her in the hope she would not be much farther ahead of him; but nothing more than his own footfall could be heard. He continued on for another hundred yards until he had reached the stone bridge that spanned the narrow riverbed. Slowly he walked to the centre of the bridge breathing deeply in order to replenish his breath. When he had made the centre point, he called out to her again. Without hearing a reply, he began to call to her repeatedly, each time facing in a different direction, and with each unanswered hail his voice carried with it a more urgent sound. He was about to head off again when he thought he heard a faint reply. Distant it was but most certainly hers, and he called out again for her to come towards the bridge, then strained his senses for any signs that she might be heading in the right direction. There was a long silence, in which the only sound he could discern was that of his own heart beating. He was about to hail again when at last he heard her call back, this time much closer. A wave of relief passed over him as he leaned against the stone wall of the bridge. He remained like that, unmoving, until the sound of another’s approach sounding upon the bridge deck did cause him to look up from his survey of the blackened riverbed below.
“You scared the life out of me, dear lady.”
She did not reply but continued her path towards him, a pleasant smile upon her face. When she had almost reached him, he turned to face her and she placed her arms around his body pulling him close to her, burying her face into his shirt.
Already shaken and unsettled by the events of the night, her less than appropriate behaviour now had him react in a stern manner.
“Mary, please, take hold of yourself, have you taken leave of your senses?” His voice was tempered and stern, his hands taking hold of her shoulders in an attempt to pry her away but she refused to relinquish her hold of him instead pulling him tighter to herself.
From within his layers of clothing he heard the muffled voice quietly pleading with him to simply hold her for a few moments, as she was quite frightened of the impending marriage to someone whom she barely knew.
It was a plea he could not easily deny for he himself had spent much time worrying and wondering about the same thing and so released the grip on her shoulders, letting his hands fall about her torso.
Despite the several layers he was wearing, her body felt cold and he found himself gently rubbing her back in an attempt to drive out the night’s chill and instil some warmth into her before she took ill from the damp.
They remained like that, all but motionless in the solitude offered up by the night’s dark veil, and even though having her in his arms felt nicer than anything he had experienced in his short twenty years, he was more than concerned about the time and their conspicuous absence. He was certain that if they were gone for much longer, members of their families would most certainly notice their absence if they had not already.
“Mary,” he whispered, not truly wanting to end the embrace, “Mary, please, we must not be foolish here. There is far more at stake than just you and I. Please, we must return to town before we are missed.”
She reluctantly moved within their mutual embrace, freeing her lips from the muzzling affects of his shirt.
“You are too, too responsible Aremis, but then I suppose that is a good thing to have in a husband. Just one kiss and I will allow you lead me back to town.” Her voice was soft and alluring, yet all the while retaining an unassuming innocence about it.
“Mary…” he again urged but was cut off.
“Just one, and we can go, I promise. I will not, in all likelihood be alone with you again before our wedding night and want to know your lips before I leave this woodland.”
If the truth were to be known, he too felt as she, despite the stressful circumstances he found himself to be in. The idea of a stealing a kiss in a woodland dark held with it the romance the like told of by poets and writers.
“Fine, just one and we go back.” He said in the most authoritative voice he could muster.
He released his hold of her as he felt her do the same. She slipped her hands under his coat and ran them up his chest letting let the tip of her nose trace a path out through the lace ruffles of his shirt to where the collar met his skin.
Her nose felt cold on his neck and he found himself unconsciously placing his arms around her shoulders in a feeble attempt to once again guard her against the chilly autumn night. He felt her nose round the tip of his chin and glide over his lips and onto his cheek. Her lips were cool and soft as she pressed them gently against his.
Having nothing in the way of practice in the delicate art of intimate courting, it was all he could do not to pull away from the sensual spell that was being woven over his lips. A passionate heat was slowly building inside him, its very existence being something that of which he had wondered about throughout his adolescent years, having witnessed only staunch distant relations between his parents as well as other married couples he had encountered.
As he returned the oral caress, he felt her lips open slightly, the tip of her tongue softly caressing his upper lip playfully searching for his. Against his better judgement, something that seemed to be very much commonplace this particular night, he let her in and met her with eager exhilaration.
Lost for many moments in both mind and body, her kisses slipping from his mouth and onto his neck laying one passionate kiss upon another as his bated breath became more and more abandoned.
“Mary, this is more than one… We must get back…”
She did not answer his continued requests for them to return to the village square, nor would he have the opportunity to ask again.
A painful cry rang out through the forest, a sharp shrill that pierced the night before quickly diminishing into nothing more than gurgle of a man drowning in his own blood. Cut clean through by fangs, quick and sharp, this throat laid open as if done by the keenest blade of a surgeon’s scalpel.
His own heart now acting like a willing accomplice to the murderous attack, the rhythmic action that once sustained his life now pumped his life’s blood like a crimson river into her mouth until he was too weak to fight her off any longer, his own weight too heavy to remain against the stone wall of the bridge.
Like a dog finished with the carcass of the rabbit freshly caught, she let him fall free of her support and watched without emotion as his near lifeless body slumped to the ground. The torrent of blood now slowed to nothing more than a trickle, formed a rivulet down his neck, and pooled into the dirty roadway beneath the gaping wound.
His legs twitched whilst his hand reached out towards the village as if the action could somehow pull someone to his aid.
She remained where she was, unmoving, as she watched his weak futile struggle, his fingers clutching and clawing into the stone road vainly trying to pull himself to safety. Her fascination with his efforts lasted but a few moments until, thoroughly bored with it, she stepped over him straddling his body as it lay on the ground. She remained like that momentarily before she kicked him onto his back and plunked herself upon his chest, her knees on the ground to either side of him. She reached out to his face and taking him by the chin, turned him so she might look on his features one last time while he still had life within him. She lowered her body forward so her face was but inches from his, then with lips still slick with blood she carefully kissed his quickly drying lips as she placed her hand over the gash in his neck temporarily stopping the flow from his body.
Satisfied for the moment, both in her passion and her appetite, she maintained the controlling posture she commanded above him. She wiped the smudged blood from his lips with her fingers which she then brought to her mouth, licking the ruby syrup from each of her fingers one at a time, not unlike that of a child taking great pleasure in licking melted ice cream from their fingers on a hot summer’s day.
“You truly are a good man, Aremis,” she began, her voice very much matter of fact, “I did mean what I said.” She paused, suddenly preoccupied with his hair, playfully pushing it back from his face, combing it back with her fingers, “I would have indeed married you had you asked me.”
She cast a sideways glance towards the blackened wilderness before returning her attention to her dying audience of one.
“That girl you were supposed to marry next year, you would not have liked her. A tiny weak little thing, hardly someone for the likes of you.”
Again her attention, like a cat, was taken into the forest, this time being captured by the fleeting flight of a night bird as it negotiated its way through the woods.
“Ah but then you could not have known that,” she resumed, “nor did you have any say in the matter, you were just doing what you were expected to do. Is that not what you told me? Does it not matter, your feelings, your desires, whether you even love the one who has been chosen for you? Are you not more than that of cattle or hogs being put together by their masters as so to produce the best offspring?”
She adjusted her position upon his chest causing a laboured exhalation to be forced out of her victim. Still holding his chin, she gripped it tighter shaking his head slightly from side to side.
“Does it make you ill, to always be doing that which is thrust upon you with little, if any, say in the matter?”
Her voice carried with it a more agitated tone as she carried on with her lecture.
“I should tell you that it was her idea in actuality, the one regarding your marriage, she told me of it. When I killed her parents I had simply intended to kill her last, once I had looted her families belongings of course, but then she kept blathering on and on about having to meet you at the town hall, something about her wedding day. Really!”
She threw one hand out to the wind in a mocking gesture of disbelief, “a wedding day at night, she was obviously insane. But it did get me to thinking, that perhaps if you were such a gentleman, as she had indicated, then just perhaps I could sway your attentions to the likes of me over that of a dead bride.”
She leaned forward so that she was once again positioned directly over his mouth and then with a single enlarged canine fang positioned in such a fashion as to have her lower lip effectively trapped between its lethal point and her lower row of teeth, she squeezed her jaws together puncturing her lip clean through. As she released the grip in her jaws and let the porcelain dagger slip from the fresh self-inflicted wound, a pool of her own blood bubbled forth spilling out over her lip and onto her chin. As the blood continued to run freely from the newly opened hole, she lowered her face to his, taking his deathly cold lips to her own, letting the blood flow into his mouth. Through his choking sounds she continued the chilling kiss of death, not stopping until she too grew weak.
Breaking the kiss and pulling back slowly, a thin string of blood mixed with saliva still joining the two. Taxed by distance and the physics that govern its molecular structure, it finally collapsed, falling across his already bloody chin. She let herself slide off his body, gravity her only assistant and on hand and knee she returned to the stone wall of the bridge where she propped herself up against it.
Wiping the blood from her face with a sleeve of the dress, a dress which she had stolen from her previous victim, she let her head fall into her hand. With her head supported, her elbow resting upon an upturned knee, she remained all but motionless, nestled between the body of her newfound interest and the wall of the bridge.
With the once brilliant moon now muted by cloud, she spoke to the unmoving body stretched out before her.
“You see, my dear Aremis, all this time you have been gone and no one comes looking for you. You worry far too much for those who seem to care little for your well-being.”
Standing up, her legs shaking beneath her, she looked down upon him.
“You shall either die here this morning or you will recover much the way I did. The choice is not up to you in a conscious sense but will hinge on how strong your will to live is. I would take you with me and would see to your recovery best I could. Alas, I fear that I have underestimated how drained I would be in the attempt to keep you from slipping into the Reaper’s icy grip. I am sure, as you have so well convinced me, that those who love you soon will find you, just as I am certain they will find those poor souls who were not as fortunate as you but a few miles from here.”
With that, she knelt down and pressed her lips to his for a last kiss. A moment later she was gone, having crested the bridge wall and disappeared into the blackness of the ravine.
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