Underground Vampire, page 1
By David E. Lee
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
I was made during the War Between the States at the Battle of Gettysburg by Friedrich von Staedt, a Prussian artillery officer, who, like many of the Vampires of that time, flocked to the carnage that America had become. A true Son of the South, I was a surgeon attached to the Army of General Robert E. Lee. True to my nature, I participated in battles whenever possible, retiring to tend casualties as required. My Maker was an unsentimental realist who introduced me to Vampire culture, instilling in me Old World concepts of duty and honor that meshed perfectly with my Southern roots.
After the War he released me, although to this day we remain in contact, and I continue as a physician and surgeon. Under various names and guises I have studied at the preeminent medical institutions throughout the world and can say without prevarication that I am the most highly educated medical practitioner in the history of the world. While I am less than two hundred years old and lack the accumulated powers of more mature Vampires, I am schooled in the arts of war and take a certain delight in the occasional skirmish and odd bit of violence. For the last decades I have resided in the City of Seattle, State of Washington, United States of America - where I am court physician to Her Most Serene Majesty the Bloody and Awful Queen of the Northwest Vampire Clan.
After hostilities ceased and the initial spate of executions concluded, the historians of the Northwest Vampire Clan published their collection of mistruths, fabrications and outright lies. Pompously titled the Official Authorized History of the Second Insurrection, the three volumes make up for their lack of accuracy with an excess of boring, turgid prose. After reading their self-serving drivel, I determined to set down my memories of the events to supplement their dubious assertions of orthodoxy.
Popularly called the Nights of Oliver’s Revenge, you may peruse either my account or the official history, as you deem appropriate. Any discrepancies between my memory and the Official History only serve to highlight the tidy aphorism, “history is written by the victors,” universally but incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill. Much as politicians sell slogans rather than facts, so official historians turn villains into heroes and epic disasters into truly awful public monuments.
At the time, no one realized that a true monster had been created and was upon us, or that both the innocent and the guilty would suffer and die in the events I describe. Unlike the Official History, I make no judgment on the participants, as I do not wish my personal feelings to color the reader’s perception. Like all intra-family squabbles, there were demons on both sides with decades of petty resentments and centuries of hurt feelings fueling fantasies of revenge in the ordinary Vampire, so that many acted not out of rational self-interest but injured self-pride. This particular civil war, like all internecine struggles, took on a life of its own separate from rational self-interest as each participant descended to his or her own level of savagery.
It is a wonder, not fully understood, how the Human population remained ignorant of the carnage played out under the streets of their city and, occasionally, on them. So great became the destruction that at times the bodies of the dead outnumbered the living. What saved us, I believe, is the tendency of our Human relatives to ignore the “other” that lives openly among them and to scapegoat the poor, the disenfranchised and the immigrant. We are grateful for this Human delusion as it allows us to live openly among them and provides cover for our periodic bouts of blood lust.
My book is not meant to be a formal history of the events but rather a summary of personal notes and my memories of the various battles and struggles. Scholars will undoubtedly quibble with the story I tell but that is their lot in life and I commend them to it. Special mention should be made of the Human interlocutors, those persons who, for whatever personal reasons, serve as anonymous liaisons between our two societies. These individuals, often occupying positions of authority in Human civil society, secretly serve for mostly altruistic ideals often at great peril to themselves. Without their selfless service, the outcome of Oliver’s Insurrection would have been far different and the carnage much greater.
I cannot, of course, reveal their identities as to do so would endanger them to the Human authorities and to the depredations of the various ecclesiastical authorities currently rampant in America. Where necessary, I have obscured their identities but you may be assured the persons I describe are real and actually did the things I describe. Some were valiant, others less so, but all played their part; those of you prone to judgment pray that, if you are ever in the unfortunate position to participate in similar endeavors, you do half as well.
Due to my position as physician to the Vampire community, I was afforded a unique entry into the matters I relate. I provide my professional services to anyone who asks without qualification. I will not divulge any information I learn in the course of my treatment to an adversary or, for that matter, to an ally. My neutrality is respected due to the simple fact that there are extant no qualified physicians other than myself to treat the unique medical problems of the Vampire community.
Both sides recognized this ultimate fact early on in the hostilities and a protocol was established allowing me to serve any injured Vampire as I saw fit without hindrance. The primary impetus for the protocol was the result of my informing the combatants that, if I was influenced, threatened, harassed or molested in any fashion, I would refuse medical care to the offending party. Needless to say, the combatants quickly acquiesced and, as is true in Vampire society, once the protocol was agreed and formally accepted, unlike in Human society, it was honored in practice rather than in the breach.
Partisans of realpolitik will doubtless wonder why the existing Northwest Clan, as personified by Her Regal Majesty the Awesome and Bloody Queen of Seattle would acquiesce in such an agreement that would benefit her enemies. The answer is simple. She, of all the Vampires, had the most to suffer by losing my services.
While it is true that Vampires of great age have great powers, they also lose deformation. Put simply, they are enormously powerful but unable to bend; subject them to enough stress and they shatter. This condition is little known or understood in the Vampire literature, but as Master Vampires age they become extremely self-aware and avoid at all costs situations where they may incur massive stress, physical, mental or emotional. Of course, attempting to subject a Master Vampire to stress ordinarily results in the immediate and messy death of the one causing the stress, so empirical data is lacking.
Nonetheless, the Queen relied upon me for her medical needs and, over the course of decades, I developed a familiar relationship with her that often involved great candor. I do not and would never claim that our relationship could be categorized as friendship. Anyone with the slightest
Likewise, after the return of Oliver, I tended to his unique needs. Long-term starvation is the cruelest punishment one can inflict upon a Vampire. The effects are both physical and emotional; the deprivation condemns the body to a slow decay where skin is shed, musculature rots and organs waste, while the mind is warped by the unceasing desire for blood sustenance. The closest Human analogue would be an addict suffering through decades of cold turkey withdrawal from a particularly delicious and longstanding heroin addiction.
Few, if any, could survive the torture without permanent damage. While the physical maladies can be successfully treated, the psychological scars seem to be irreversible. Much of my understanding of Oliver came from our extensive sessions attempting to resolve the psychological issues plaguing him.
The following account is based upon interviews with the principals, personal observations of many of the events, review of source materials and inspections of many of the described locales. I am personally acquainted with medical practitioners in the Human community and keep a close association wherever possible with medical examiners and coroners, for obvious reasons. I was summoned to administer medical care to Vampires injured in the various clashes and was able to interview the combatants immediately post bellum, when memories were fresh and injuries the proof of their claims.
Any Human or Vampire who feels maligned or defamed by my report deserves the opprobrium. I make no apology and refuse to hide behind the banal assertion that this work bears no resemblance to any person living or dead. Not only does it resemble actual Vampires and Humans, it accurately describes their actions whether valiant, vain, cowardly or despicable.
If you recognize yourself, enjoy your brief moment and do not complain, for above all things I most detest is whining. Finally, if your temperament is such that you must complain, remember that, while I am a healer dedicated to the preservation of life in whatever form, I am also a Vampire, so be cautious in the night lest your unfounded criticisms meet my angry appetite.
He had ample time to remember, lying on his back in the concrete vault that had been his home for longer than he remembered. Of course, he didn’t know exactly how long he’d been down there, since he was inside his tomb and the expensive Swiss chronometer had long since stopped ticking. His clothes had mouldered off and all that covered his nakedness was an alligator skin belt with a stylish if ornate buckle and the black cap toe shoes handmade in London still encasing his feet. His toenails had grown long, curling back around the toes, cutting into the sensitive flesh of his underfoot causing exquisite agony every time he stretched his cramped legs.
As he waited for his teeth and fingernails to grow back so he could return to gnawing and scratching at the roof of the vault he had time, abundant time, to remember those who put him there. And, when his scratching and gnawing finally produced a pinpoint opening in the concrete ceiling scant inches from his face and the ice cold water drilled through scouring the flesh from his face, it was not only dark and cold but wet. He continued to scrabble away at the hole making it bigger, all the while thinking horrid thoughts about the ones who put him there, planning revenges and inventing the horrid terrors he’d inflict upon them.
But, first things first. He had to escape this tomb, then he could hunt them down and kill them, after a suitable bit of the old torture and suffering and screaming, of course, and, when he had heard them plead and beg for their lives and he could bear no more, he would bite them until they were dead, dead, dead and then he would eat them till they were gone, gone, gone.
All that sustained him through the decades of torment was planning his payback, that and thoughts of blood, copious amounts of fresh hot blood, blood to drink and blood to rub on his face, blood to smear all about maybe enough to fill a pool so he could bathe in it, Humans running naked down the streets, the blood spurting from their necks as he chased after them, his mouth wide open slurping it in till they dropped from exhaustion and he finished them off one by one and by threes and fours.
He couldn’t wait to get back to Seattle, visiting old enemies, making new acquaintances and soaking in a river of blood till the depravation of the tomb was a distant memory and his enemies were at his feet suffering as he had suffered, lonely as he had been, famished as he had been.
Whenever he grew depressed and lassitude enveloped him, he would picture their faces: first ugly Petru pressed close, binding his arms and legs, savaging his neck so that he remained weakened while Arabella, fashionably dressed for the occasion, directed the activities. There was no mercy, not that he would expect any from Petru, more automaton than Vampire without a shred of humanity remaining in him.
But Arabella always strove to maintain a connection to the world of love, resisting the more basic instincts of her change, remaining aloof from the Clan. From her he expected more, her precious humanity held out the hope of mercy, a hope that he held close, to his bitter disappointment. Truth be told, it wounded him when she helped to force him into the vault, his last vision of freedom her implacable face looking into his as the lid slid closed. He would kill Petru, the animal deserved to be hunted and killed, but Arabella had hurt him and she must balance the wheel; she must suffer, then she could die.
Once the two were properly disposed of he could turn his attention to Her Royal Majesty the Queen of the Northwest Vampire Clan and deal with her in an appropriate manner. Her demise would require careful planning and, since time was the only commodity he possessed, he thought of her often and his hate fueled his efforts as his body deteriorated.
After decades more of scritching and scratching and gnawing and chewing, for it was a very thick vault with little room to maneuver, he made an opening large enough to wriggle his impoverished body through, and he began the two hundred and fifty-seven meter ascent to the surface.
When they’d thrown him from the back of the boat it was called the Strait of Juan de Fuca and he didn’t know that life had moved on and they’d recently changed the name of his graveyard to the Salish Sea. Had he been around, he would have violently opposed renaming the Strait, writing letters to the Times denouncing the move as nothing more than more misguided pandering to multicultural elitists bent on the destruction of society. When they threw him from the boat, that particular concept had not yet invaded common culture, but as a true reactionary masquerading as a conservative, Oliver understood and embraced discrimination in all its perverted forms.
Rising through the depths he broke the surface and sucked his first breath of fresh air in one hundred twenty years and began swimming towards a distant smudge barely visible from the crest of a wave. As he stretched out he felt his stomach cramping with pangs of desire and, not without irony, chuckled at the thought that his demise might come from swimming on a completely empty stomach.
In the front room of their beach house Alan and Joyce sat watching the late season storm raise whitecaps in the Sea, a prelude to the pounding the rocky shore they called their beach would receive. Successful middle-aged professionals from Bellevue, they’d skipped children in favor of careers, a neurotic Shi Tzu and a custom built vacation retreat on one of the four hundred nineteen islands sprinkled through the Salish Sea. Situated between British Columbia to the North and Washington State to the South, they looked out at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and beyond that to the fierce and unpredictable confluence of the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska.
Accessible only by private boat or seaplane, they’d instructed their architect to “make us something special, something one of a kind, AD worthy, if you know what we mean.” In spite of them, the architect was able to produce a stunning glass jewel box, with a deceptively simple interior stepped down the hillside rising steeply from the beach. Cantilevered from the hill, it jutted from a surround of mature firs floating above smooth beach boulders artfully arranged to appear to be undisturbed. They an
As homage to the indigenous peoples who’d once inhabited the isles, their decorator had carefully strewn about Plains Indian artifacts casually accenting the totem pole commissioned from an authentic Indian craftsperson. The pole was positioned on the beach in a direct line with Alan’s living room recliner to mark either an equinox or solstice, he could never remember which, and had been designated an official vortex site by shamans from Sedona come to bless the house.
Birthed in the Bering Sea, this particularly nasty storm was accelerated by a weather system coming in from the North Pacific and compressed as it funneled through the Strait. Huge rollers picked up energy from the wind and tide, producing killer waves the native peoples would have feared, had any remained on the islands. Seeming to hover above the turmoil, the almost dainty house was engineered with steel foundation beams anchored in ancient bedrock.
Clad in stone to repel the elements, the all glass front gave the home a delicate effect, which belied the strength of the metallic windows installed to withstand a hundred year storm. Safe inside, Joyce admired the surging sea through sheets of rain blown horizontal against the windows, confident that the storm would cast treasure up on the beach, maybe even a Japanese glass net float like the ones she scavenged as a child.
“Remember,” said Alan peering over the top of his wine glass, “you can only salvage what you can carry.” She stuck her tongue out at him, the pile of her treasures at the side of the house a small joke in their relationship; he preferred a clean unadorned aesthetic while she compulsively accessorized with the flotsam and jetsam cast up on her front yard. Where he saw a clean wall in museum white finished with subtle lighting as the perfect complement to the shifting day, she saw the ideal spot to display custom framed debris gleaned from the sea. Cozy, with a fire at their backs and an Oregon pinot at hand, they reclined, relaxed and admired, safe from the storm.