Whitechapel Road; A Vampyre Tale
The earth, the universe in which it spins, as well as mankind itself, contain mysteries and wonders of untold proportions, the answers and or understanding of which will likely 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 their 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 easily 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 twenty miles from the southernmost 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.
In times now long forgotten to most and have never existed in the collective memories of a great many more, children were expected to work on the family’s farm or help in running the family business, until it was time to marry and even then, they often did not have a choice in the matter of who was going to be selected as their life partner. What was likely to be the most significant event in a young adults life often had little to do with the couple to be wed. The choice of selecting an appropriate partner was made in large by the parents. In many instances these choices and subsequent decisions were all made, often without the new couple-to-be having ever set sight on one another much 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 lighthearted talk of marriage before now, but it was simply not advantageous for the family to have him wed before this time. For unlike modern times, a time in which one married for love and companionship, in the harsh times of the mid 1800’s those were looked upon as frivolous foolhardy emotions, the like of which would not sustain you through difficult times. If you were to wed, you did so to advance your families standing and nothing more. This basic idea was no different for young Aremis and his family. The land directly adjacent to Eilbeck farm, some eighty acres of prime farm and forest, belonged to the Smith family, their only daughter, only marginally of the years to marry, were willing to allow the union to take place. By doing so, both families hoped to forge a 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 certain.
Even though the young couple not-yet-formed lived not but a mile from one another for most of their young lives, they had not actually seen much of each other beyond their early teenage years. Mary, the only daughter of Harry and Emma Smith, and who was to be wed to Aremis, had been sent away to live with an ailing aunt who had no daughters of her own and therefore required 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 celebration of the harvest was also to be the time the two families had planned to formally announce the proposed marriage to the townspeople and begin preparation for the wedding the following spring. It was on this very evening, with the many legal, financial, and personal obstacles that are usually present during a time when not only two hearts are to be joined as one, but also and possibly more importantly, two lands are to be merged, having been resolved, Aremis was poised to see his bride for the first time since she had been sent away. In spite of all the vigilant preparation, it was to be 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 both family and friends, taking leave of the hall lights and trading the claustrophobic surroundings for some space and a much needed breath of fresh night air out on the front steps.
As the minutes dragged by, their progression seemingly weighed down by the uncertainty of what might lie ahead of him, Aremis slowly made his way down the wooden steps until he was standing upon the sandy pathway. There he quietly remained, mindlessly tracing out patterns in the loose sand with the tip of his boot. As he made whimsical shapes, ones of which had no particular design or purpose, his mind was left free to wonder about a future with someone he had not seen for several years. As he did, his mind and actions consumed by things not of his immediate surroundings, a dark shadow fell across his absent-minded artwork within the canvas of 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 the one he found himself enveloped in. As his eyes came to bear on the source of the shadow, he felt a wave of relief wash over him, as he suddenly found himself looking upon a thin woman standing before him, a bright smile upon her face. Wearing a yellow dress, the colour of daffodils in springtime, but without a jacket or sweater of any type, she looked to be significantly underdressed for such a chilly autumn evening. Beyond that of her simple dress, the young maiden had long brown hair, most of which was held in place by two ivory hair combs; their placement designed to keep the lengthy strands from falling across her delicate facial features. Her skin was pale and in the gently filtered light that made its way down through a softly veiled moon, it took on an almost pearlescent quality. Her eyes were a dark green, a colour that was made even more captivating by the skin that framed them and they seemed to sparkle as though they were somehow lit from within.
“I am so terribly sorry to have set such a startle upon you,” 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 somewhat shaken by the sudden start he had just been given, “It is my own fault for being so lost within my own thoughts.” He paused for a moment as he ran his fingers through his long dark hair, chuckling almost to himself as he did so, “I must confess however, I find myself very much relieved to discover it was you and not some beast that had found me in such an absent-minded state.”
The young maiden giggled, her mirth brought about by the fact he had not tried to hide away the true reasons for the fright that had been instilled in him as a result of her sudden appearance.
“May I inquire as to what it is that has one such as yourself so entranced as to not notice my approach?” she asked with innocent enthusiasm that was more in keeping with that of a young inquisitive child.
He felt the warm blush of embarrassment spread across his cheeks, an unconscious reaction to her innocent question. “I am to meet my future wife tonight,” he began in quiet unassuming voice, “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 town hall’s oil lamps and the amber glow they cast, possibly in search of an answer to his own plight, or perhaps looking for something more intellectual to say to this woman who now shared the evening with him.
“So…” she asked in a soft caring voice, her bright eyes narrowing slightly, “am I to understand that you are nervous this person will not find you attractive or interesting enough to marry?”
“I suppose,” he replied bluntly, “but it is all quite irrelevant, the truth be known, for 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 with the situation. He rocked slightly on his heels in the hopes that the conversation would now turn towards a topic other than that of his personal affairs.
“I think your fears are unfounded,” she replied in a voice that was most matter of fact, “I personally find you quite attractive and very much a gentleman, and as we seem to be sharing truths with one another here this evening, I will tell you most honestly in fact, that I would be most pleased to marry you if you were to ask me.” She finished her bold statement by smiling and tilting her head slightly to the left, a physical representation that said, without the need of further communication, that she had finished sharing her thoughts on the matter at hand.
Quite taken aback by the proclamation that has just put forth by the young lady that stood before him, one of whom he had only just met, he found himself once again flushed and fumbling 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 apologise for teasing you so,” she said, the mirth she was feeling more than apparent in her words, “it is not often I am afforded the opportunity to have a little fun. My life has been hardly been my own of late.” She looked away briefly, her focus placed upon the dark road from where she has first arrived, as if to see if anyone might be following. Seemingly satisfied in what she did, or subsequently did not see, she returned her gaze back to the man who remained standing quietly before her. “Everyone expects me to be so proper all of the time and not partake in such foolishness, for it is seen as being quite unladylike and thus frowned upon by my family. I am sure you can appreciate this.” Her reply concluded, she looked down momentarily, straightened out the folds of her long dress so they would lie properly, before raising her eyes and looking up at the man who she had been conversing with.
“Yes, yes of course, I do understand, quite in fact,” Aremis replied in earnest, “I often find myself in a similar predicament. Life and all of its responsibilities can be a burden most unyielding at times… In truth I find myself worn down by it some days.” A small smile slowly made it was way across his face causing the whiskers that framed his mouth to move upwards. “I must confess,” he resumed in a voice that was slightly more uplifted than any of the conversations previous, “I find that chatting with you as we are, well… it does take my mind off things. I am truly pleased that you happened along as you did.”
The young maiden smiled brightly as she thrust her hand forward in a manner more in keeping with that of a man and not that of a lady “As am I,” she replied in friendly forthright fashion. “My name is Mary, Mary Smith, and if I am not mistaken, I do believe that you and I are to be wed this coming spring.” She paused but for a moment before, with a slight smile, one that looked almost sly in nature upon her lips, she finished her introduction with a question. “That is of course, if you are indeed Aremis?”
For possibly the third time that evening he once again found himself at a complete disadvantage to this young maiden. He removed his right hand from his pocket, and in a fashion that was more of a learned response than a conscience reaction; he took the hand that was offered up to him. Shaking hands in a formal greeting upon the walkway of the town hall, it was nothing like what he had expected it to be. His hand in hers, the coolness of her skin was pulled into his own much warmer flesh, the transfer of the chill made more so by her firm grasp. It was grip that belonged to someone used to working with tools and livestock on a daily basis and not that of a frail city girl.
“I am pleased to officially make your re-acquaintance Mary,” Aremis said in a voice that carried with it an unmistakable fondness, “you have quite a way about you and yes, yes you are quite correct. I am indeed Aremis. It has been so many years since you went away that I apologize for failing to recognize you.”
She smiled momentarily, quite taken in by the young man standing before her. “I must admit that you look quite a bit different than what I remember, what with you being all dressed up so fine as you are.”
He released her hand removing his other hand from his pocket and holding them both out to his sides as if on display or preparing for inspection. “I imagine so,” he remarked with an air of casual agreement within his words, “my mum sewed all my clothes special for tonight. She wanted me to look my best for you.” He turned around once to fully show off splendor of his modest attire, somewhat unsure about what he should be doing.
Mary clapped her hands in soft rapid succession as she spoke in an affirming manner, “Well you do look smashing and your mother would appear to have outdone herself.”
“Thank you, you are most kind.” he replied, a nervous tremor accompanying the kind and appreciative words.
The short-lived volley of giddy conversation having seemingly reached its end, the night and its silence gradually overtook the pair. Mary put her hands behind her back and stared upwards towards the distant stars while Aremis placed his hands back into his pockets and fidgeted somewhat nervously as he looked back towards the main doors of the town hall. He was fully convinced that if the two of them remained as they were on the front path; it would only be a matter of time before someone would be along to look for them. It was something that would be quite unacceptable, to be found in the company of one another while completely unsupervised. Realising the potential for untold trouble should they be discovered together, even though there was precious little taking place beyond a good healthy 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 unfounded gossip could unhinge what had only just began.
“Would you care to go inside and get some food?” He asked making a hand gesture towards the double doors of the white clapboard building.
Mary 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.
“If I were to speak the truth, I would much prefer to go for a walk with you,” she replied quietly, her face and eyes still turned towards the inky blackness that seemed to swallow the road whole not fifty yards from where she was standing.
Slowly running his fingers through his long black hair, his eyes tried to follow her gaze in order that he might see what lay within a forest dark; something apparently quite unseen, and yet still managed to hold her so captivated. However, after but a few moments and unable to see much beyond where the dirt road curved into the dense forest, he simply chalked it up to nothing more than a young girl’s unfocussed stare. His own uncertainty pertaining to being discovered quickly overtaking both his thoughts and his focus; he quietly shared his misgivings regarding her suggestion.
“I do not think that would be a prudent thing to do given the situation,” he began in a precautionary voice, “if someone were to happen along and find us out here together, alone, and in the dark, it could quickly turn into something quite shameful, not only for ourselves but for both our families.”
She slowly pulled her eyes away from the darkened forest until she was once again looking up the man she had been conversing with, the faintest of smiles adorning her pale features.
“You are truly a gentleman Aremis,” she said softly as she reached out and placed her open hand upon his chest where the fabric of his jacket met the ruffles of his white shirt, “of that there can be no doubt, but with that aside for the moment, I wish to go for a walk.” She withdrew her hand and let is come to rest at her side, “so for now, why do you not simply go back inside, do what it is that is expected of you and I will be along shortly to… officially meet you for the first time.” She gave him a little wink, turned and began to make her way 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. Having lost most of its rouge colouring during its heavenly ascent, its milky celestial light was quickly being overtaken by cloud, making the roadway that led into the woods all the more gloomy.
“Mary,” Aremis called out after her in a hushed and guarded voice, “Mary, come back. It is not safe to wander the woods alone at night.”
His whispered pleas seemed to fall upon 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. There was of course a third option, one he did not want to entertain but one that pressed into his mind in spite of his desire for it not to. If he did nothing, returned to the festivities and something was to happen to her, he knew that he would never be able to forgive himself.
With the three scenarios chasing each other around within the darkened recesses of his mind like the autumn leafs caught up in an early winter wind, he knew full well that if he hesitated much longer she would have so much ground on him that it would be all but impossible to find her within the dark interior of the forest. He looked up at what remained of the moon, most of its light now extinguished by the overcast skies and without another soul being out on either the roadway or the wide veranda that bordered the town hall, he made his decision. With one last look about to ensure his departure would go unnoticed, he bolted down the road at a full run towards the woodlands.
As he rounded the curve in the road, leaving the relative safety of the lighted buildings behind him, trading them instead for the seclusion and uncertainty of the wooded thicket, he called out to her in the hope she would not be much farther ahead of him. He remained still and silent for a moment or two as he strained his ears for what he hoped would be her reply, but nothing more than his own heartbeat could be heard. With no response having come to his ears, he picked up the pace and carried on for another hundred yards or so until he had come upon a stone bridge that spanned a narrow riverbed. Slowly he walked to the centre of the bridge, breathing deeply in order to replenish his breath. When he had reached the centre point of the stone and mortar span, he raised his hands and placed them on either side of his mouth calling out to her once more. Standing within the deafening silence of the forest and having not heard a reply of any sort, he began to call out to her repeatedly. With each new hail subsequently going unanswered he would turn and face a different direction, his voice carrying with it a more definitive sense of urgency. He was about to make his way from the bridge and head deeper into the forest when he thought he heard a faint reply. Distant it was but it was most certainly hers and he called out again for her to follow the roadway back to 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 ragged breathing. He was on the verge of calling out to her again when at last he heard her call back, this time her voice sounding a good deal closer. A wave of relief passed over him as he placed his hands upon the large stones that made up the bridges side walls and let the weight of his worry be supported along with his upper body. He remained like that, unmoving, his head hung down, his unfocussed gaze placed loosely upon the all but unseen stream that ran beneath. It was not until the sound of another’s approach upon the loose pebbles that made up the roadway that crossed the bridge, did he look up from his blind survey of the blackened riverbed below.
“You scared the life out of me, dear lady,” he said in a weary, worry-stricken voice.
She did not reply but continued to make her way towards him, a pleasant smile upon her face. When she had almost reached him, he pulled himself from the bridges stone edge and turned to face her. Arriving directly in front of him, she slowed her gait slightly raising her arms so they were loosely stretched out before her; she guided her hands towards to open folds of his unbuttoned jacket, letting them slip beneath the fabric with a near effortless motion. She drew in close and let her arms instinctively encircle his body. As they did she pulled him in tightly, burying her face into the soft warm folds of his shirt.
Already shaken and feeling quite unsettled by the events of the evening, her less than appropriate behaviour had Aremis suddenly reacting towards her actions in a stern manner.
“Mary, please,” he all but commanded, his voice both tempered and firm, “have you taken leave of your senses? You must take hold of yourself this instant.” His demands having been levied and subsequently ignored, he placed his hands upon her shoulders in an attempt to pry her away, but she refused to relinquish her hold of him, instead pulling him even tighter into her embrace. From somewhere beneath the vain struggle to free himself, softly emanating from within the layers of clothing, he could barely make out her muffled voice quietly pleading with him to simply hold her for a few moments. “Please Aremis, please, I may put on a brave face, but in truth I am quite frightened of this impending marriage.”
It was a plea he could not easily dismiss for he himself had spent much time worrying and wondering about exactly the same thing. In the end, despite his own misgivings, he relented and released his light grip he had on her shoulders, letting his hands slip down her upper back finally coming to rest just above her hips.
In spite of the fact he was wearing several layers of clothing, her body still felt cold against his and he found himself unconsciously rubbing her back through the thin material that made up the dress she was wearing in an attempt to drive out the night’s damp chill.
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 what he felt would be their conspicuous absence from the festivities. He was certain that if they were gone for much longer, members of their families would most certainly notice they were missing, if they had not done so 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 effects of his shirt.
“You are too, too responsible Aremis,” she whispered softly, “but then I suppose that is a good trait to have in a husband.” She pulled her head back and looked up at him. His long black hair, some of the stands having come loose in places, hung down and framed his face giving him an almost knightly appearance. “Just one kiss and I will do as you ask of me.” Her voice was soft and alluring, yet all the while retaining an unassuming innocence about it.
“Mary…” he again urged but was cut off before he could fully make his objections known.
“Just one,” she repeated in an almost urgent fashion, “one kiss 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 currently found himself to be in. The idea of a stealing a kiss in a woodland dark held with it the romance told of by poets and writers alike.
“Very well,” he said in the most authoritative voice he could muster, one of which he felt certain belied his true feelings, “just one and then we must go back.”
He released the gentle hold he had on her as he felt her do the same. She moved her hands that had once held him tightly and ran them up his chest, while at the same time, letting the tip of her nose trace a path through the lace ruffles of his shirt up to where the soft white fabric met his skin. Her nose felt cold on his neck and he once again found himself placing his arms around her shoulders in a feeble attempt to protect her from the chilly autumn night. He felt her nose round the tip of his chin and make its way through his dark whiskers, gliding over his lips and onto his cheek. A moment later her lips lighted upon his, cool and soft as she pressed them gently against his.
Having precious little 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 senses. A passionate heat was slowly building inside him, its very existence being something that of which he had often wondered about throughout his adolescent years, having witnessed only staunch distant relations between that of 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 of which seemed to be quite commonplace this particular evening, he let her in and met the seductive intruder with an 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… this is a good deal more than one…” he gasped, his breath ragged and uneven, “we must get back…”
She did not answer his heartfelt request for them to return to the village square, nor would she give him 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, his throat laid open as if done so 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. It did not take but a few moments at best before he found himself too weak to fight her off, his own weight too heavy to even support itself against the stone wall of the bridge.
Much like a dog finished with the carcass of the rabbit freshly caught, she let him fall free of her hold and watched without emotion as his near lifeless body slumped to the ground. The torrent of blood that had once gushed from a chasm torn in his neck having slowed to nothing more than a trickle, its shimmering red progression running down his neck in several small rivulets, pooling in the dirty gravel roadway that lay beneath the gaping wound.
His legs twitched whilst his hand momentarily reached out towards the village, as if the desperate action could somehow summon someone to his aid.
Mary 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, if that, until, having become 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 leaned forward so her face was but inches from his, then with lips still slick with blood; she carefully kissed his quickly drying lips, while at the same time she placed her hand over the gaping hole within his neck, temporarily stopping the flow of blood from leaving 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 and when she was done, she brought her hand to her mouth, licking the ruby syrup from each of her fingers one at a time. It was an action that was not unlike that of a child taking great pleasure in licking the remnants of melted ice cream from their fingertips on a hot summer’s day.
“You truly are a good man, Aremis,” she began, her voice holding a tone that was nothing shy of the truth, “I did mean what I said earlier,” she paused in her address, suddenly preoccupied with his hair, playfully lifting it from his face and combing it back into place with her sticky fingers before continuing, “I would have indeed married you had you asked me.”
She cast a sideways glance towards the blackened wilderness, her attention seemingly taken away by something quite unseen before returning her focus to her dying audience of one.
“That girl you were supposed to marry next year, you would not have liked her. She was tiny, a weak little thing, hardly suitable for someone the likes of you.”
Again her attention, much like that of a cat, was pulled into the woodland. This time the unseen distraction being captured by her keen eyesight; the fleeting glimpse of a silhouetted bird as it negotiated its way through the entwined branches of a near leafless forest. Her curiosity satisfied for the moment, she carried on with the one sided conversation. “Ah but then you could not have known that, nor did you have any say in the matter if you had come to know of her shortcomings. You were simply doing what was expected of you.” She brought her eyes to bear on the man she was addressing. “Is that not what you told me in front of the town hall? Does it not matter, your feelings, your desires, whether you even love the one who has been chosen for you? Are you and the one selected for you… are you not both better than that of cattle or hogs, animals being put together by their masters as so to produce the best offspring?”
She adjusted her position upon his chest causing a laboured liquid-filled exhalation to be forced out of her victim. Letting her hand slip from his hair and back to his chin, she took a firm hold his jaw; then, gripping it tighter, she slowly moved his head from side to side as if forcing him into a silent disagreement to that which she was saying.
“Does it not make you ill? To always be doing that which is thrust upon you, all with little if any, say in the matter?” Her voice contained within it an air of condemnation as she carried on with her lecture. “I should tell you something I think you ought to know. Our meeting tonight, it was not by happenchance, no, no, hardly. It was her idea in actuality, the useless girl you were waiting on, it was she that told me of her pending marriage to you.” Mary paused and tilted her head slightly to the left, perhaps to listen to the all but unheard sounds of a forest at night, or possibly it was nothing more than an unconscious movement brought into being as she tried to put into better perspective, that which she was conveying to the man who teetered along the precipice of death. With her head still poised up and away, her eyes unfocussed on the darkness that surrounded them, she, in an unassuming voice continued her one-sided story. “When I first took sight of the small carriage that carried her and her family coming along the dark stretch of desolate roadway, my initial intention was to simply kill them all, take what I needed, both physically as well and monetarily and then be on my way. But as it turned out, she slipped out of the back of the carriage and ran off into the woods as I killed her parents.” Mary narrowed her gaze slightly as she continued to look inwards, pulling into the present the collection of memories, memories that were acquired not much more than an hour previous. She shook her head slightly, a faint smile overtaking her pale blood spattered features as she recalled the events that unfolded next. “I will give her credit for her escape,” she casually remarked, an air of compliment within her words, “she obviously had her wits about her initially, but she could not have honestly believed that she would be able to elude her end for long. I found her less than a hundred yards from the road. She was sitting with her back to a large tree snivelling like a lost child. I sat down beside her, my thoughts being that by doing so she might try and run and I would have a little fun chasing her down, but she remained still, frozen in place by her own fear and frailty. What she did do however was start telling me through her tears and coughing that she was to be married, that she was on her way to meet her husband to be, that he was so handsome, and a true gentleman,” she looked back down at the face of the man she sat perched upon and pointed a bloody finger loosely towards him, “that, my good sir, would be you.” She lowered her hand and placed it lightly upon his chest. “She pleaded with me to let her go, to let her go and find you and in all honesty it was an idea I actually gave some thought to, but in the end I thought it might be a bit a jolly to simply take her place and see if you would know the difference. She had already given me so much information about you, how she had not truly seen you in years and so on that I thought I might well be able to convince you that I was in fact the woman you once knew.”
Her retelling of how she came to be where she was now, all but concluded, she leaned forward so that she was once again positioned directly over his face. “I want you to know that I ended her life quickly,” she said in a compassionate voice, “she slipped from her life without so much as whimper.”
Mary remained like that for a moment or two before she gently drew in her lower lip and then carefully held it in place with a single enlarged canine fang, effectively trapping the tender flesh between the lethal point and her lower row of teeth. Gradually increasing the pressure in her jaws, the deadly white tip was slowly forced into the supple skin and a moment later punctured her lip clean through. She remained like that for a moment at best before easing up on the force that held her jaws together and allowing the porcelain-like dagger slip from the fresh self-inflicted wound. A pool of her own blood quickly erupted up from the hole and poured out over her lower lip. As the fresh blood continued to emerge from the wound, it ran down her chin like a small ruby stream and dripped onto Aremis’ face. As the blood continued to run freely and unimpeded from the newly opened hole, she lowered her face to his until his deathly cold lips met hers in chilling and macabre kiss. Placing her fingers upon his chin, she gently, but with an unyielding force, pulled his mouth open. With his lips now forced apart, there was nothing to prevent the flow of blood from entering his mouth, and it did so with an almost eager willingness. She continued to sensually kiss his open lips as the blood gradually filled his mouth and despite being close to death’s open door, Aremis choked and struggled against swallowing the semi-chilled viscous liquid. It wasn’t until he was unable to take a breath, the weight of his attacker sitting squarely upon his chest did his body betray him. Choking and convulsing multiple times, the blood that was in his mouth was forced up through his nasal passages while the rest found its way down his throat. Now completely spent of what little energy he had within him, he gagged a final time before falling limp beneath her.
Feeling his body suddenly lifeless beneath her, Mary slowly broke off the deadly kiss. Lifting her head, she pushed herself upwards and away from his blood-covered face, the only remnant of the deadly intimacy being that of a thin strand of blood that still joined their lips to one another. The bloody thread, outstretched between them, now taxed by both distance and gravity, finally collapsed of its own weight. The loss of integrity within the gory red saliva quickly sent one end back to earth, landing across his blood soaked shirt; while the other end delicately came to rest over Mary’s chin, its essence being instantly lost within the river of blood that covered the lower portion of her face and neck.
Finding herself suddenly quite weak by the unnatural act that she had only just participated in and assisted only by gravity, she let herself slide off his body. Unwilling, or perhaps unable to stand, she crawled upon hand and knee as she slowly made her way over to the stone wall of the bridge. Once there, she took up in a seated posture, her back against the aged stones.
Bringing her arm up to her face, she wiped the blood from her lips, cheeks and chin with the sleeve of her dress before letting her head gently fall into her waiting upturned hand. With her head now supported, her elbow resting upon her other forearm as it was placed across her abdomen; she remained all but motionless, nestled between the body of her newfound interest and the wall of the bridge.
With the once brilliant moon, its lunar light long since muted by dense cloud cover, she spoke to the bloodied and unmoving body stretched out on the roadway before her.
“You see, my dear Aremis,” she began in a quiet almost playfully mocking sort of voice, “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.”
Aremis, if he was still alive, had no way to respond even if he did actually hear what she had said to him. It was in the vacuum of that ensuing silence that pushed Mary into moving. Turing herself slightly, she raised her hand up behind her and placed it upon the top stones of the wall. Gripping the curved cold surface of the rock, she pulled herself up and stood upon unsteady legs. Vertical once more, she looked down upon his unmoving body with scrutinizing eyes. “You shall either die here on this very bridge sometime throughout the night,” she stated in an unwavering tone of voice, one that seemed to lack any trace of an emotional chord within the chilling proclamation, “or you will make your recovery in much the same way in which I did. Either way, the choice will not be yours to make, at least not in a conscious sense, but it will hinge upon how strong your will to live is.” She paused for a moment, seemingly having become fascinated with her hair and how it had become entangled in the sticky blood that covered her neck. “I would take you with me,” she said anew, her words hardly above that of a whisper as she went about the task of setting the ensnared hairs free from the semi-congealed blood, “I would see to your recovery, I mean as best I could. Life as you must well know holds no promises nor does it offer up any form of guarantee.” Her hair now free of the sticky red paste, she swept back the loose strands so they could join the others as they lay upon her back. “Alas, my best intentions are for not this night. I fear that I have grossly underestimated how drained I would be in the attempt to keep you from slipping into the Reaper’s icy grip. Being that as it may, I am fairly certain, as you have so well convinced me of here this evening, those who love you dearly will soon be along to search for you and if your will is as strong as I imagine it to be and their care of you dutiful, I have little doubt you will survive.”
With her chilling final words having be delivered to a man who, for all intent and purpose was already dead, she stepped over the short distance that separated them, knelt down and pressed her bloody lips to his for one last brief kiss. Her final affections completed, she stood up, took in the world around her for a moment or two, before slowly making her way to where the bridge’s span met the roadway. There, she rounded the leading edge of the stone wall and simply disappeared, descending into the inky blackness of the tree-lined ravine that bordered the stream and its banks.
©Wayne Mallows - All Rights Reserved ~ Re-released to the website: 03/30/2020