Blood canticle, p.29

Blood Canticle, page 29

 part  #10 of  The Vampire Chronicles Series


Blood Canticle

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Chapter 29



  I WOKE with a start. The sun had set a long while ago. I'd been so comfortable in Aunt Queen's bed. I'd even done the strangest thing before retiring. I'd yielded to Jasmine's lectures about my fine linen suit, and hung up all my clothes, and put on a long flannel nightshirt.

  What was this mad pretense? I, who had slept in velvet and lace when coffined in the dirt, yielding to these encumbering pleasures? I'd fled the sun into the raw earth itself. I'd bedded down once in the crypt beneath a church altar.

  Julien sat at the table. He packed a small thin black cigarette on his gold case, then lighted it. Flash on his cool elegant face. Perfume of smoke.

  "Ah, now that is something. "

  "So you're drawing more and more energy from me, I see," I said. "Do you draw it from me even when I sleep?"

  "You're stone-cold dead by the light of day," he remarked. "However, you've dreamed a pretty dream in the past hour. I rather like your dream. "

  "I know what I dreamt. What can I give you to make you go away, forever?"

  "I thought you were fond of me. Was that all banter?"

  "And so you failed," I said. "You aided Mona to couple with Michael, and the birth of Morrigan destroyed her. How could you have known? And as to Merrick Mayfair becoming one of us, that wasn't your fault. You merely entrusted her to the Talamasca. Don't you see you have to go on? You can't keep meddling and making mistakes. Lasher's dead. Morrigan's dead. You have to let them go, your adorable Mayfairs. You're playing at being a saint. It isn't gentlemanly. "

  "And will you let them go?" he asked. "Oh, I don't speak of my treasure, my Mona. She's lost. I concede

  that. You know what concerns me now. " His voice was thick with emotion. "Is not the destiny of the entire clan at stake?"

  "What are you talking about?" I said.

  "Hasn't the one you covet redeemed the family's unseemly wealth? Hasn't she sanctified the family's incalculable power?"

  "What do the angels tell you?" I replied. "Pray to Saint Juan Diego for your answer. "

  "Answer me!" he pressed.

  "What answer can I give that you'll accept?" I asked. "Go to Tante Oscar, she'll know who you are. Or seek out Fr. Kevin Mayfair in his rectory. Put your questions to them. But go away from me. "

  "I beg you!" he said.

  We stared at each other. He was amazed at his own words. So was I.

  "What if I beg you," I asked, "to interfere no more! To leave them to conscience and fortune?"

  "Do we strike a bargain then?" he asked.

  I turned away from him. The chills had me. Do we strike a bargain then?

  "Damn you!"

  I got up, pulled off the nightshirt and put on my clothes. Too many buttons to a three-piece suit. I straightened my purple tie. I combed out my hair. And then there were my boots, outside the door, of course.

  There was a master switch for the lights. I hit it. I turned around. He was gone. The little table was untouched. But the smoke lingered. And the perfume of the cigarette with it.

  I beg you!

  As soon as I slipped on the boots, I left the house by the rear door, walking fast over the wet grass, along the edge of the swamp. I knew where I had to go.

  It was the city.

  It was the downtown streets.

  Just walking, walking and thinking, on the bum, walking. Forget the blood. Blood forget me.

  And from downtown I walked uptown, faster and faster, beating the pavements, until it loomed before me on the outskirts of the city, Mayfair Medical, sprawling grid of lights against the close clouded nighttime sky.

  What was I doing?

  This was the Patients' Garden, wasn't it?

  Empty at this hour of the night, a wilderness of ligustrum and roses and gravel paths. Harmless to wander here. No hope of seeing anyone in particular. No hope of mischief. No hope of-.

  It was Julien before me, blocking the way.

  "Ah, you devil!" I said.

  "Now what are you up to? What goes on in your crafty mind?" he demanded. "Finding her in her midnight laboratory and offering her your blood again? Asking her to analyze it beneath her microscope, you trickster devil? Any cheap excuse to draw close?"

  "Will you never understand? You can't sway me, man! Seek the Light. Your curses betray your origin. Now take my curse from me!"

  I reached for him-I shut my eyes. I saw the spirit in me, the goading vampiric spirit that animated my flesh, that craved the blood that kept me alive, the spirit in my two hands as I caught him by the throat, and the spirit in him, the animus that sought to project the image of the man that was no man, and I opened my mouth over his, as I had done to Patsy, and I sent the wind into him, the fierce wind of rejection, not love, of renunciation, of repudiation.

  Be gone from me, you evil thing, be gone, you twisted, worldly spirit, be gone to whatever realm in which you belong. If I can free you from the Earth, I will it.

  He blazed before me, solid, in a fury. I struck him with the full strength of my arm, shattering him, sending him so far from me, I couldn't see him anymore, and an anguished cry rang out from him that seemed to fill the night.

  I was alone.

  I gazed up at the huge facade of the Medical Center. I turned around and I walked, and the night was simple and noisy and warm around me.

  I walked all the way back downtown.

  I sang a little song to myself:

  "You have the whole world. You have till the end of time. You have everything you could ever want. Mona and Quinn are with you. And there are so many others in the Blood who love you. It is truly complete now, and you must go your way. . . .

  "Yes, you must go your way and return to the fold of those whom you cannot harm. . . . "
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