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The Darkest Gift
A Paranormal Vampire Horror
By Len Handeland Posted in Uncategorized 72 min read
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The Darkest Gift

by Len Handeland


Laurent and Fabien (Laurent narrates)

I ’ll always remember the first time I saw Fabien. It was a warm spring evening in May; the year was seventeen hundred and eighty-two. We met at the Parc Monceau. I was there for an evening of festivities celebrating the king’s visit. There would be a fireworks display. Fortunately for all the attendees, the sky was lit up with a full moon, making it appear as if daylight had combined with the dark of night. Looking around the park, I noticed an interesting mixture of people from various social classes. There were families present, and the children were running around; there were jugglers and acrobats to delight and entertain us. It seemed that the park created a casual atmosphere, because everyone spoke to one another, regardless of social status.

There was one who stood out from the rest of the crowd: a man wearing a most elegant blood-red brocade suit that emphasized his extraordinary pallor. I found him extremely handsome. He appeared to be having a passionate discussion with an equally distinctively dressed man, who was accompanied by a young woman around the age of seventeen. This elegant man at once turned to meet my gaze— I froze. His gaze was prolonged. It felt as if he were looking right through me. Finally, I managed a smile.
He smiled back at me.

I hesitated at first, but then I walked over in his direction: something drew me towards him. His smile was warm and inviting. As I got close, I observed he had a peculiar skin color. He was the color of milk. I tried not to stare at his skin and instead concentrated on listening to the discussion.

“My apologies, I hope I’m not interrupting?” I said, however awkwardly. As the man with the oddly colored skin turned towards me to smile at me once again. I was assured by the handsome gentleman who had smiled at me twice that I wasn’t bothersome; however, I sensed that neither gentleman wanted to lose focus on the discussion.

I stood there smiling at the young woman who accompanied them, waiting for them to finish. But eventually the other well-dressed man became so incensed that he took a hold of the young woman’s arm, abruptly said goodbye, and left to go to another area of the park. The handsome man with the pallid complexion laughed and shook his head slightly at the other gentleman’s abrupt departure and refocused his attention on me. He asked, “What are your thoughts on the latest Lully?” Taken by surprise, I said, “I’m afraid I didn’t hear enough to contribute to the discussion. What is it you seek my opinion on?” “The latest opera by Lully,” he answered. “Whether it was as good as his last. Our late friend is, I am afraid, one of those enthusiastic souls who cannot admit his idol ever falls short in the smallest way. Whereas I was saying I thought the arias in general somewhat inferior to those in the earlier works. Not an earth-shaking discussion, I admit. I quite forgive you if you have no opinion on the matter.”

“I am afraid I have not been to the opera lately,” I said. “My attention has been much engaged by tennis matches.”

“Oh, dear, yes, tennis. All the rage among Those Who Count. The king is trying to ban it, saying it detracts from the practice of religion. Which is odd, because it was invented by monks.”

I named various well-known people—courtiers, some of them— whom I had seen playing; and I admitted I wanted to play myself. I was looking for someone to instruct me.

“I may be able to help you out there,” said the pale gentleman. “I am no champion, but on the other hand, I don’t think you’d call me a slouch at tennis, either. Do you have a racquet? Excuse me, my name is Fabien Levesque.”

I introduced myself as Laurent Richelieu.

“Well, Monsieur Richelieu, I know where you can get an excellent racquet if you don’t have one already. I do have to warn you of one eccentricity of mine. I only play tennis at night. There’s a sort of romance to it. If you have enough fellows with torches, it’s no more difficult than playing tennis by day.”

I thought to myself, this must be the most handsome man in all of Paris, despite his dead-white skin. His eyes were so blue they looked like jewels as they gleamed and danced with the light of the nearby candles.

“I take it you have been to this park before?” he asked.

“No, in fact, this is my first time. I came here to attend the festivities in honor of the king,” I replied. I noticed Monsieur Levesque merely nodded and didn’t seem too excited about the events about to take place. “I take it you are not an admirer of the king?” I asked.

“Without getting into a lengthy discussion, no, I am not,” he replied. “I came here this evening mostly for entertainment. Look around you, jugglers and dancers and children running around wildly it is quite entertaining, wouldn’t you agree?”

I nodded in response.

We talked more about tennis, and then it was back to Lully, and somehow, we ended up talking about the American war on everybody’s lips in those days. Could the Americans succeed in establishing a real democracy or were they too hidebound in their English ways?

As Fabien asked this, his hand touched my shoulder. An accident? No doubt it was. I had never met another man who was as excited by the male touch as I was. But there, his hand once again took a hold of my shoulder, and this time he looked me in the eye. My heart pounded. Was I at last meeting a man of my own kind?

It is one of the peculiarities of humanity that often when we meet with what we have been looking for all our lives, our nerves overcome us, and we turn and run. This was what happened to me. I could not say goodbye quickly enough, but before I left, Monsieur Levesque and I agreed to meet once again.

“Must you leave so quickly?” he said, sounding a bit disappointed. “Yes, I must,” I said.
“I would like to see you again, if that is possible,” he asked.

I hesitated at first but answered him with the words “I frequent a café, maybe we could meet there.”

“Which one? Hopefully not the Café Alexandre? I used to frequent it quite a bit in the past— I am trying to avoid running into someone from my past,” he said mysteriously.
“No, the Procope,” I replied.

“Are you free tomorrow evening, shall we say seven?” he said. “Yes, I will look forward to it, Monsieur Levesque.”

Did I see the shadow of a smile on his face as he bade goodbye to me? Did he know what was going on with me? I could not stop myself from blushing as I turned to leave. Involuntarily I looked back. Monsieur Levesque was still looking at me, and yes, he was smiling.

I wondered who else he would talk to and how late he would stay. Somehow I had a feeling he would not leave the park any time soon.
All the way home, I kicked myself. I had found out very little about Monsieur Fabien Levesque beyond his name, and that he did not want to run into someone from his past at the Alexandre. However, I would find out more about him when we met at the Procope. I was grateful I had a follow-up meeting with him.

I went to the café the next morning, and, thinking that I might see him before our evening rendezvous, I ordered coffee and breakfast and stayed all day. I ate lunch. Disappointed that he had not shown up, I drank more and more coffee. I ate pastries that were fresh from the bakery down the street. The hours ticked by, beyond the agreed-upon time of seven, and doubt began to fill my mind. I kept telling myself I was making a fool of myself, and I should leave but I could not make myself do it. Who was ever in love that did not make a fool of himself? I consoled myself by saying this in my mind over and over and over. And still Monsieur Levesque did not appear. Surely I was the most ludicrous fool who had ever lived.

I gave up. I had been sitting at that café for eight or nine hours. I have to say that no one remarked on my continued presence; there were some men who had been there almost as long as I had, playing chess, and talking politics. Nonetheless, I felt like a jackass. I was getting up to leave when Monsieur Levesque appeared right in front of me. I had not seen him approach, though I was sitting in the front of the café and keeping an eye on all comers. I did not understand how he could have shown up out of nowhere like that, but I was in no mood to raise questions: I was just glad to see him. I did not even try to disguise my pleasure.

“I thought you would never come!” were the first words out of my mouth.

“Poor Monsieur Richelieu!” he said teasingly. “Have you been waiting long?”
“All day. I had to see you. Please call me Laurent.”

“Certainly, if you will call me Fabien. Why all day? We agreed to meet at seven.”

I reached into my pocket for my watch and said, “It is eight o’clock, Fabien.”

“I am so sorry, I was completely famished and realized I hadn’t dined for quite a while; I thought it best to take care of my hunger, as I am not very pleasant company to be around without any nourishment,” he said.

I looked at him with bewilderment, thinking to myself, they serve food here at the café. Could he not have had something to eat here, with me? Nevertheless, I feigned laughter and said, “Apology accepted,” as I observed a bit of a rosiness to his usually white complexion.

“I was thinking we might take in one of the sights tonight,” Fabien said. “What do you say to a trip to the Palais Royal? There are all kinds of new shops there.”
I agreed most readily, of course.

We hailed a closed carriage for hire, and as soon as we set off, Fabien took my hand and held it in his. My excitement was tempered by apprehension, as I had never held hands with a man before; nonetheless, it felt good, and his touch felt warm and comforting. I tried to appear confident and would not allow my thoughts to ruin the mood. He was, after all, holding my hand.

At the Palais Royal, we found a covered place, an arcade, filled with small shops that all had glass windows, something I had never seen before. There was pavement underfoot—also a new thing for Paris—and you could walk up and down the blessedly dry ground and look in all the windows without ever going inside to buy a thing. The goods on sale were costly; cloth and furniture and paintings and books and statuary all had their place. Around the arcade there were gardens, and theaters, too. All of Paris, both middle and upper class, seemed to be abroad in this safe and convenient arcade. No one was in a hurry; everybody stopped to chat with their friends or to sit down at a café and have coffee with them. It was elegant and gay.

We spent the entire evening walking from shop-to-shop marveling at the exquisite things for sale. Against my protests, Fabien insisted on purchasing a beautiful silk scarf for me. It was blood red, like the suit he had been wearing the evening before. “For you,” he said as he stood behind me, tying the scarf around my neck, his face only inches away from mine, his warm breath on my neck.

After that, we stopped at a shop that sold chocolate, and I drank some. Fabien, once again, consumed nothing. It had become evident he never ate or drank anything, or if he did, it was in private.

I did not mention this, of course, because it had also become obvious that I was never supposed to remark on it. I noticed and wondered silently.

Gradually, the crowds began to disperse, and another crowd, much less elegant, began to come out of the woodwork: soldiers and thieves and prostitutes. Fabien and I hired another carriage and took ourselves away.

“Do you enjoy the theater, Laurent?” Fabien asked. “Yes, I adore it,” I replied.
“Wonderful! Then would you give me the pleasure of your company tomorrow night? There is a wonderful show at the Grands-Danseurs du Roi. I would like to take you.” As I agreed, I tried not to sound too excited.

We were silent as the carriage drove us back to my rooms; there was no sound but the dull thud of the horses’ hooves on the dried mud of the streets.

When the carriage stopped, I looked out the window and saw we were at my building. I looked at Fabien, uncertain of how to say goodbye. Fabien took my head in both of his hands and kissed me directly on the mouth. I had never felt anything like this before. Passion consumed every bone in my body; I felt as if I would burst.

Just as abruptly, Fabien pulled away from me. Formally, we said our good nights. As I knocked on the door for the servant to open it, I was so overcome with ecstasy at having been kissed by this handsome man, I could barely keep my hands from shaking. I was relieved when the front door opened and the carriage left, because I was afraid I would turn around again, and seeing Fabien, would rush back to him for another kiss.

Alone in my bedroom, I had wild thoughts about Fabien as I undressed, leaving on only the blood-red silk scarf he had purchased for me earlier that evening. As I stroked the soft silk scarf, I closed my eyes and pictured us in bed together, our naked bodies writhing around each other.

The next morning came faster than I expected. I awakened at the first cockcrow, still reeling from Fabien’s kiss; I could not put the sensation out of my head. Collecting my thoughts, I got dressed and went to the café. I wasn’t hungry: all I could think about was coffee, which I was beginning to feel the need for several times a day. What a strange substance it was—bitter, yet so delicious, and so enlivening to the mind!

More than coffee, though, I was there for Fabien. I did not yet know where he lived, so going to the café was the only way to see him. As I sat there emptying my pot of coffee, the sun rose. Fabien was not there. What was I going to do, spend another entire day waiting for him? I had an arrangement to meet him that evening to see the danseurs. I would find a more profitable way to spend the day.

After a breakfast of soup and bread, I paid and left.

I meant to do something very sensible and productive, but to tell you the truth, I have no idea how I spent that day. All I remember was that after supper, I got dressed in the most fashionable clothes I had: a new black velvet suit trimmed with lace, a gold watch, silk stockings, and black shoes with buckles of gold and diamonds. I stood in front of the mirror and powdered my hair, admiring myself, wanting to look perfect for Fabien.

My servant announced the arrival of the carriage. I descended the stairs at a dignified pace, preventing myself from running.

Fabien was there in the carriage. His skin color was less pale than usual; there was even a bit of rosiness to his complexion, I was glad to see. I realized I had been worrying about his health without even knowing I was worrying.

The coachman held the door open for me and I sat down opposite Fabien. After all the uncensored thoughts I had been having about him, I felt embarrassed to be in his actual presence. However, his smile put me at ease. Maybe he had been thinking about me, too. He reached out and grasped my hand. As if by instinct, I recoiled, expecting his hand to be icy—but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was warm. He must have been sick on those previous occasions; I was sure of it—because now he looked as healthy as my own reflection in the mirror upstairs. I was relieved.

How had I come to care about him so much in so short a time? “Yes, Laurent?” Fabien said.

“I’m glad to see you looking so much better. I was afraid you were ill.”

“My health is unsteady,” Fabien replied. “There are days when I am as well as anybody, and there are other days when my blood does not circulate properly, and I am as cold as a fish. It is a strange condition, but I do have a doctor to look after me. It must be frightening, but I assure you, the situation is not fatal.

“I look much worse than I actually am.” He smiled again. “It is kind of you to take an interest in my health. There are people who fear and avoid me. I am glad you are not one of those.”

We arrived at the Boulevard du Temple. The theater was up ahead, and a parade was going toward it. We were astonished to see that the parade was being led by a monkey. It turned out he was the famous Turco, whom we had heard of. We joined the parade, and once Turco got inside the theater, he ran up and jumped on the stage and began to perform. After I had watched for a little while, I realized that he was enacting the news of the day. He took the part of a well-known merchant who was known to be trying to get his daughter to marry a man she did not like, and he also played the part of the daughter, who was infatuated with an officer who did not pay his debts at cards. Turco next imitated a popular street juggler—and juggled as well as he did. Except for those that concerned the royal family, there were no current events that escaped Turco’s mockery.

Filled with people, the theater was hot, and I found myself wishing I had worn something a little less warm than velvet. I noticed Fabien was observing me almost as if I were some kind of specimen— and that he had been observing me for some time. I asked him why. I was afraid he found some fault in me.

He gave me a strange smile and said, “Forgive me, my dear Laurent, but I was just noticing how handsome you are.” I felt a flash of heat come over me, and I realized I was blushing.

Turco hopped off the stage and went up to the boxes to beg the ladies for candies, which they gave him, with delight. While everybody was watching this, Fabien leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “If you think this is amazing, wait till you see what I have I store for you later.”

I felt the blood in my cheeks increase once again, which caused Fabien to say “Why, you’re blushing!”

I laughed and admitted it. I was no longer embarrassed. There was an air of innocence about our flirtation, as if this were a first love—and for me, it was. There was nothing to make me nervous, no suggestion that this was a pickup. Fabien was not looking at me as if I were a piece of meat hanging in a butcher’s shop. It was quite the opposite: I felt cherished; I felt that there was no other man on earth he had these feelings for.

When the performance was over, we got into Fabien’s carriage. We rode the entire way to my building consumed with laughter about the monkey’s hilarious performance and happy to be in each other’s presence. Once, Fabien placed a hand on my thigh, caressing it ever so gently. Despite his gentleness I could sense his strength. When we weren’t engaged in conversation, I once again saw his intense gaze out of the corners of my eyes; it was as if he were transfixed by my presence.

As we approached my building, I lost my head. I had to get him to come upstairs with me; I had to—but I had no idea what to say to make it happen. I broke the silence by saying I was feeling a bit tired. As soon as I said it, I knew it was all wrong.

But Fabien answered smoothly, “That really is a pity, because I was hoping I might see where you live.”

“Oh, it’s nothing extraordinary,” I said, blundering ever deeper. “On the contrary, I am sure there is much to interest me,” Fabien said. “You have taste, and I’m sure you have been exercising it since you came to Paris. Have you bought no paintings? No Sèvres? No objets d’art?”

This time I successfully picked up his clue and admitted that there was an object or two he might be interested in seeing if he would be so good as to come upstairs to my rooms with me. The way he looked at me made it hard for me to utter the words.

As soon as we stopped, I jumped out of the carriage. I saw Fabien order the coachman to return home, which meant—he was planning to stay the night.

I became nervous all over again — nervous and yet profoundly pleased.

It was still quite early in the evening, so the servant who belonged to the building was on hand to let us in. He led us up the stairs with a lit candelabrum to my set of apartments on the first floor, and then Gaston, my manservant, met us with more lit candles. I went in, but oddly, Fabien hesitated on the threshold.

“Are you sure you want me to come in?” he asked.

Why on earth was he asking this? I had made my wishes clear— all too clear, I thought. “Of course,” I said. “Come in and see this tapestry I bought yesterday. Gaston, some wine.”

I wondered if Fabien would refuse, but he said nothing. He was examining the tapestry with interest. Gaston served us the wine in two silver goblets that were another recent acquisition of mine, and now I could not help but notice that Fabien looked at the goblet and ignored the wine. “Who made these for you, Germain?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said with some surprise, but luckily I kept myself from saying more. I should have guessed Fabien would know his silver.

“Marvelous, the movement he conveys in a static form.” Fabien set down his goblet. “Drink up; don’t let me stop you. I am never thirsty or hungry at the times other people are. You mustn’t embarrass me by taking note of it.”

I was rather hungry, so, taking Fabien at his word, I told Gaston to bring us some biscuits and pâté and cheese and jam, and then to leave us for the night. Please let Fabien stay, please let him stay, I begged some unknown god.

While I ate, Fabien examined the paintings and tapestries on the wall and the curios I had in a cabinet. When I was done, he came and sat quite close to me. I looked into his eyes, and his gaze drew me closer and closer. He leaned towards me and kissed me on the lips.

I decided to not allow the coldness of his lips and hands to ruin this romantic moment. The kiss drifted from my lips to my neck, which he began smelling and licking, moaning with pleasure as he did so. It was very odd, but if this what he wanted to do, .I was not going to stop him.

Suddenly he pulled back from my neck and stood up as he looked me in the face. His blue eyes clouded over. “Forgive me, Laurent, I was about to do something I do not have the right to do, not unless you will it,” he said. “I was overcome with desire. I will proceed only if I have your permission.”

“Please, don’t stop,” I said.

He stepped back to run his eyes over my whole body, and I knew he was noticing my arousal. He walked over to where I was seated and took my hand, and I led him to my bedroom. Our lips locked in a passionate kiss as we undressed each other.

Hours passed. I marveled at every part of his body, as he did mine. Afterwards, we lay on the bed with our arms around each other. “I never thought I would meet anyone like you, Laurent,” Fabien said as he kissed the top of my head.

“I feel the same about you, Fabien. I have always longed to be with another man in this way.”

After a time — feeling safe and secure in Fabien’s strong arms—I began to fall asleep. Outside, the sky was becoming lighter and lighter; it was nearly dawn. As soon as Fabien noticed this, he underwent a complete change. He leapt out of bed and put on his clothes in a flash. My jaw dropped.

“I’m sorry, but I must leave, Laurent. I didn’t realize it had gotten so late!” Fabien said frantically.

“But why?” was all I could say, though I knew he would not answer.

“There will be plenty more of these moments to come, I promise,” he said. And with that he leaned over and kissed me. In an instant he was gone.

“But when can we see each other again?” I asked the empty bedroom as I heard the door to my apartments open and close.

Who was this man, anyway, and what motivated his often strange behavior? All my questions began to add up. Why had he left so suddenly? Why had I never seen him eat or drink? Why had he never allowed me to know where he lived? Why did he agree to meet me only after dark? Above all, when would I see him again? I had no control over that last, since I did not know where to reach him; I could only continue to waste my days at the Café Alexandre, hoping he would show up. Happy as I was, I began to be a tiny bit miffed.

What was this big secret he felt he had to keep from me—me, his lover?

I lay in bed thinking I would be able to fall asleep once more, but it was no use: my eyes were wide open, and the sun hitting my face nearly blinded me; No, I decided it was time for me to rise, wash, and start my day.

I went to Café Alexandre simply because I always went there. There was no chance I would meet Fabien—a man does not rush out of one’s rooms only to go around the corner and sit down and drink coffee. I finished the usual breakfast of soup and bread and then decided to take a walk. I hired a carriage to take me to the Tuileries, and I spent the entire morning there, listening to the chirping of the birds and marveling at all the trees. There was a statue that caught my attention. Titled Renommée, it represented Louis IV riding the winged horse Pegasus. I stood staring at every detail. The statue was made of the purest white marble, as white as Fabien’s skin; and as this connection formed in my mind, I shivered, despite the warmth of the sun.

There was no point in thinking about Fabien now, no point in marshaling my questions about him. They would have to wait until I saw him again.

I wandered around and saw the most magnificent yellow rose. I bent over to smell the lush aroma and cut my finger on one of the thorns. Suddenly, a droplet of blood appeared on my finger. I was not able to locate my handkerchief accurately—I stuck my finger in my mouth, hoping that would stop it from bleeding any further. I remember thinking how odd the taste of blood was. I marveled at the beautiful assortment of roses a while longer, till dinnertime, and then I had an inspiration.

I had heard people talking about a new institution, called a restaurant, where people could pay to be served a meal. The restaurant I had heard of was the Grande Taverne de Londres. It was like the kitchen of some nobleman, only the chef worked for the restaurant owner, not a member of the nobility. Restaurants were open to the public. You could go there and order any one of a great number of dishes, and the kitchen would make it just for you. There was also a fine wine cellar; and the proprietor, one Antoine Beauvilliers, would take the cellar key out of his pocket and go get the wine he felt would go best with your dish.

I decided to try out La Grande Taverne de Londres. Some small, spiteful part of me was glad that I was going without Fabien. If he was going to abandon me at sunrise, I would show him I wasn’t dependent on him for entertainment.

I did myself proud at that meal. I will not bore the reader with a list of everything I ate, but I did order every delicacy on the menu that appealed to me and I had room for. I also drank several different wines, at Monsieur Beauvilliers’ suggestion. I took my time, so that I did not get sated early and so I did not get drunk. By the time I finished the meal with a slice of tart of fraises de bois, I was so satisfied with the world that I was telling myself that Fabien was sure to turn up in a day or two, and that there was no reason for concern.

As it happened, he did show up, and we resumed our love affair. Our bond grew more durable and more reliable with each passing day. He consumed my every thought. We spent time together nearly every evening. We went back to the Palais Royal several times. We went to the opera, something I had never done on my own. We were invited to elaborate dinner parties, where Fabien introduced me to the most exciting friends of his. But I never saw him eat anything.

One evening that stood out was a masquerade ball Fabien asked me to attend with him. He had purchased intricately decorated masks for us. Naturally, when we participated in the dance—we each chose a female dance partner. However, our gaze was always returning to one another across the ballroom.

We spent many months together. There were so many unanswered questions, so many mysteries that remained. I found it more and more curious that we never were able to meet during the daylight, much less dine together in a restaurant. However, it seemed Fabien always had business to do. From time to time, I would question him, and at times he was short with me. He told me he felt as if he were being interrogated.

We decided to take a pause in our relationship.

I cannot begin to describe how miserable I felt. I was thrown back into the life I had had before I met Fabien, and I now saw what a poverty-stricken life that was.

One evening, weeks after I had seen Fabien last, I got home and found him waiting in the lobby for me, seeming agitated. I was much more agitated than reassured. “Fabien, what is it? What’s wrong?” I asked, forgetting all about showing him I could survive very well on my own.

“I must speak to you,” said Fabien.

“Of course. Come upstairs,” I said, and when we reached my front door, I insisted that Fabien go in first and make himself comfortable in one of the upholstered chairs. I was going to get him a brandy before I remembered he would not drink it. I sat down near him and waited for him to talk.

“I have missed you, Laurent. I need you back,” Fabien said, but he seemed to find it challenging to go on.

“I have missed you as well, Fabien; I hope you realize that”

He didn’t respond, but said instead, “There is something I need to tell you. It is essential. All-important, you might say.”

“Are you going to tell me why you felt we needed to have such a long separation from one another?” I asked with more than a touch of waspishness.

“Yes, I will explain that. Everything will be explained.” “Go on, Fabien,” I said, more gently. “I’m listening.”

Fabien took a long moment to answer. “Laurent, this is very hard. I have not been truthful with you.”

At once a sense of betrayal had come over me, was this handsome gentleman someone other than he seemed to be? This man I had spent so much time with and grown to love. Someone who consumed my every thought. My head was swimming with doubt, but I was determined to hear his confession, perhaps it would shed light on the many mysteries surrounding this handsome, yet mysterious man with the pale skin.

“I’m sure you’ve found it rather odd that we have never been together during the daylight—that we always meet at night,” he said. “And that I have never eaten or drunk anything in your presence.”

“Yes, I have found it most odd,” I said, relieved that the matter was now coming out into the open. “I’m sure you are ill, but it is not any illness I have ever heard of.”

Fabien turned and looked at me. “No, I am not ill. It is something much worse. I hardly know how to tell you, so bizarre will you find it. I am not sure you will believe my story at all.”

“And yet you are going to tell me the truth.”

“Yes, of course, Laurent. That is why I have such misgivings. Let me say, before I begin, that from the first time I met you in the park, I have begun to feel alive again—for the first time in a long time. In your company I have enjoyed myself as I have not for…well, many longer years than you would find possible. And then there was our first night of intimacy,” he said, almost dreamily. “I have never had those feelings with anyone else, Laurent. It was a new thing to me.” By this time, I was all tenderness to Fabien.

“To me, too,” I said. “I thought maybe I was the only man in the world to crave another man so intensely. I wondered why I was made so different from other men. Do you feel that, too? Is that what made you want to separate yourself from me?”

“No, I had another reason for fleeing. A much more serious reason.” He pulled his chair close to mine and took my hand. Once again, his was like ice. “I am not the man you take me for. In fact, I am not a man at all—that is, I am not mortal.”

I could think of no reply to this, since I could make no sense of it. Not mortal? Since Adam sinned, all men have been mortal. Surely Fabien was not going to ask me to believe he was a demon— or an angel? If so, I was going to have to try hard—and probably unsuccessfully—not to laugh in his face.

I left my hand in his and stared into his blue, blue eyes, waiting for him to resume talking, to explain what could not be explained. My heart began to beat faster and faster; it felt as if it would burst out of my chest. I stared at him in anticipation. He looked at me and began to explain. “Laurent, I am one of the living dead, more commonly known as a vampire. I was made into one over a hundred years ago by someone I have grown to loathe,” he said.

“I don’t understand. Living dead? —Vampire? I have never heard that word before. What does it mean?”

“I will tell you everything, and I ask that you allow me to talk uninterrupted. “What is a vampire, you ask? A vampire is the body of a dead person that is reanimated by regular infusions of blood. A vampire is neither alive nor dead, but undead. A vampire is a creature of the night, who must sleep by day—and is free to roam only when the sun has set, because the sun will kill him. A vampire never grows old himself—so he is cursed to have to witness the deaths of all his family and friends. The only nourishment a vampire can take is blood. He cannot eat the foods humans eat.

“The vampire has many supernatural abilities. He can transform himself into certain kinds of animals—bats, rats, and wolves. A vampire can see in the dark, and his senses of smell and hearing are so keen that he can detect things humans cannot. A vampire can turn into mist or fog and can move much faster than any mortal eye can detect or follow. A vampire can hypnotize humans and can summon them using telepathy. A vampire can levitate and can fly through the air. If a vampire decides to move far away—he must be transported in a sealed container or box filled with the soil of his birthplace.” Fabien turned to me. “You must think vampires are quite invincible.”

I did not know what to say, so I waited for him to continue. “There are several ways that human beings can guard against vampires. Crucifixes and holy water are proper tools. A cross is usually held up towards the face of the vampire, driving it away, while holy water—if unleashed on the vampire, will burn, and disintegrate its skin. Garlic also works as a deterrent against vampires. There are ways that a vampire can be killed—as I mentioned, sunlight will.

Fire also will kill a vampire. You can behead a vampire or drive a stake through his heart.”

“As for how I became a vampire, I was bitten by one— who then forced me to drink his blood. That’s how a new vampire is made: one who is already a vampire brings a human being to the point of death by drinking all of his blood and then reanimates him by forcing him to drink the vampire’s blood. I tell you all of this because you must know the facts to make a free choice to accept my offer or to refuse it.”

“What is your offer?” I asked, though I had a glimmer of a guess. “I want to make you a vampire, Laurent, so you will never die—so that we can be together always.” Fabien paused. “I know this sounded horrible, and indeed it is horrible in many ways to be a vampire. Not for nothing does everybody fear us. But since I was made a vampire— against my will—it is the only way we can be together. And I need you, Laurent; I love you as I have loved no one else. I know I am being selfish, but perhaps you need me, too. Or perhaps you will have pity on my love for you.”

I reflected on every word he said and contemplated my life before I met him. There hadn’t been a life, or one that meant anything, I had never met another man who longed for the physical touch of another man, even if he wasn’t indeed a man, yet a creature of the night. I felt anxious and became confused, asking myself, what kind of existence would I experience? I felt apprehensive as I remembered tasting my blood after being pricked by the thorn of the rose in the park. I thought about how this would become my nourishment, blood. A substance that would sustain my existence if I were to join Fabien and become as he, one of the undead.

As he gazed at me tenderly and longingly, I could not have loved him more than I did at that exact moment, I felt as if Fabien had bared his soul to me, had finally been truthful, yet his dark secret frightened and intrigued me.

I looked at him without concealing the love and compassion I felt as I stood up, reflecting deeply on his words. For a while, we said nothing to each other. There was nothing but silence between us. I walked over to the window and looked at the darkened Paris night, thinking, This is what my reality would become if I were transformed into a vampire: it would be all night. Finally, I gave him my answer.

“Yes, Fabien, I am willing to become a vampire,” I said. “You’ll never know exactly how happy you have made me with your decision. You shall come to live with me—I don’t want there to be any physical distance between us,” he said.

“Nor do I,” I replied as he came closer to me.

“Are you ready to begin your journey with me now, Laurent?” “I am ready, Fabien. Give me the gift of immortality.”

“It is a gift, but a dark one,” Fabien said. “You must be sure this is what you really want.”

“I am sure, Fabien.”

His face turned from a somber expression to one of complete happiness—and then, in a moment his eyes went from deep blue to a crimson red as he opened his mouth to reveal two abnormally large incisors. As he told me to tilt my head over to one side. Then I felt excruciating pain as his incisors bit into my neck, as my blood ran down my throat. The room spun around as he sucked the life force out of me. I grew weaker and weaker. I was barely able to whisper the words, “Am I going to die?”

“Yes, Laurent, you will die a mortal death. Then you will be reborn,” he said.
With that, I lost consciousness.

When I awoke, I knew I had a few drops of my mortal life left. Fabien was saying, “Now that I have drained you to the point of death, you must drink my blood. It will resurrect you to eternal life.” He bit into his wrist, and the blood trickled out. He put his bleeding wrist to my mouth. I was so weak it was difficult for me to open my mouth, but I managed to drink a drop or two—three— four. I felt a new power enter me, a new strength, but along with this power came convulsions—I screamed in pain, but I heard Fabien say, “Fear not, Laurent—you are being reborn!”

The convulsions stopped, my eyes closed, and I saw nothing but blackness. Then suddenly a sea of scarlet red washed over my brain, and I began to gasp for air, as if I were drowning.

“Breathe,” Fabien said.

One large gasp for air was enough.

When I opened my eyes again, my eyesight had a clarity that it never had before. I gazed at Fabien’s face, able to make out every pore in his skin—even down to the intricate detail of his hair follicles, as he knelt over me softly cradling and stroking my head with his strong hands. Fabien helped me to stand as if I were a small child about to take its first steps. I felt like a newborn, at first, a bit unsteady but quickly regained my strength and walked over to the window and opened it.

The coolness of the night no longer chilled me. Fabien walked over to where I was standing and tenderly put his hand on my shoulder, in an unspoken way of displaying his love for me. The crystal clarity of my vision was profound. My hearing, too, was greatly enhanced: I was witness to sounds I had never heard before, creatures stirring in the nearby park, leaves that brushed up against each other.

I looked down at my hands, which were now as bloodless as Fabien’s. I walked to the mirror on the wall and saw that I cast no reflection. The mirror was as empty as if no one at all were standing in front of it.

Then an overwhelming hunger made me double over in pain. It felt as if it would tear me in half; I felt as if I hadn’t eaten in a lifetime—there was an overwhelming thirst, as well.
“My God! What is this hunger?” I yelled at Fabien. “It is the vampire’s lust for blood,” he said calmly.

“Well, then, feed me! You made me into a vampire—so feed me!” “Yes, I shall, but you must first listen to what I have to say. I have one rule, which for me justifies our very existence. There are some human beings who prey on others, who rape, pillage, and murder— it is those criminals, and only those, whom I feed on: the criminals’ human society fears—and do not search for once they go missing. If there is such a thing as evil, surely it is those who prey on innocent, law abiding and unsuspecting citizens. I have chosen these evil humans to be my lifeline, and now they will be your lifeline as well. We will kill no others. Are we in agreement, Laurent?” he asked.

“Yes! Yes! Please, for the love of God, feed me! I cannot take this torture!”

Fabien opened the window. “Remember, I told you that vampires can fly. That is what we are going to do now. Observe.” He climbed onto the windowsill and glided down to the darkened sidewalk. He motioned me to follow. I hesitated.

“Laurent come to me!” he called.

I jumped. I flew, thinking to myself, My God! I am airborne! I felt a slight tickle of excitement in my stomach all the while laughing in amazement and disbelief as I landed next to where Fabien was standing.

We decided to take a stroll in the park. Under the trees there was total darkness—but now that I was a vampire, I could see all there was to see, trees and shrubs along with various creatures, such as birds, nesting in their branches in the dark. Walking in the park was something I had always wanted to do with Fabien, but I had never imagined that it would be at night. I thought briefly about never again being able to feel the warmth of the sun. I had taken it for granted, but now sunlight was something that would kill me.

“How was your first experience flying?” “It was beyond my wildest imagination!” I said excitedly. “Good, and about your hunger; has it subsided a little, Laurent?” Fabien asked, sounding concerned.

“Yes, a bit for the moment,” I replied.

“We shall find someone deserving of death soon. Paris by night has many criminals roaming the streets” he said, reassuring me.

“Fabien, there is one thing you mentioned just before you turned me I would like you to explain,” I said.

He gave me a curious look and said, “Oh, what is that?”

“You mentioned earlier that there is another vampire loose in the world—in fact, the one who turned you over one hundred years ago,” I said, but his attention had been caught elsewhere.

“Listen!” he said.

I heard a scream nearby.

“Let us investigate,” Fabien said, as a glimmer of excitement appeared in his eyes.
We ran faster than any mortals could have done, and we arrived at the scene of a crime. A man wielding a sword was threatening another man. When he saw us, the victim screamed, “Help me!”

The would-be assailant raised his sword and said, “There is nothing these two can do to help you—tonight, you’re going to die, so prepare yourself! Once I finish with you, it shall be their turn!”

“Wrong, it is you who will die tonight!” Fabien cried, his eyes turning red.

“Run! Save yourself now while you still can!” I said to the victim. The assailant was distracted by Fabien’s threat, and his victim ran away into the night. Fabien grabbed him by the neck, lifted him in the air, and proceeded to choke him as he struggled against Fabien’s vise-like grip, despite that, the man was still alive.

“Laurent, here is your nourishment,” Fabien triumphantly proclaimed.

Instantly, we began to tear at the murderer’s body, Fabien at his throat and I at his wrist.
Conflicting thoughts flooded my mind. On the one hand, Fabien had taken a life, and that was a sin, then again—this was not a life worth preserving. The assailant had attempted to murder someone. We had saved the life of a man who would otherwise have been his victim. If we were to limit ourselves to feeding on criminals, then we would be helping to rid society of them—and that was all to the good.

Fabien dropped the body to the ground and retrieved a handkerchief from his waistcoat to wipe his mouth. He handed it to me so I could do the same.

“Quickly, we must dispose of the body,” Fabien said as we picked up the corpse and started digging with our hands until we had dug a deep enough hole to bury the body. If this man had a history of criminal activity, the authorities would undoubtedly search for a while and then give up and label it as an unsolved mysterious disappearance.

Once the hole was dug, we carried the body over to it and placed it in the freshly unearthed dirt. We covered it within seconds using vampire speed and strength. As soon as the plot was covered with dirt, we wiped the dirt from our hands with Fabien’s handkerchief.

“Shall we return to your apartments, Laurent?” Fabien asked.

The color was coming back into his face. I looked down at my hands and saw that the color was coming back into them, too. It was because of the blood we had drunk.
We returned to my apartments, entering by the same window that we had left through only a short time ago.

“How was your first experience as a vampire, Laurent?” Fabien asked with genuine concern.

“All I was thinking about was feeding myself,” I confessed. “This is my new reality—I accept it.”

Fabien nodded and said, “I struggled with my first experience as well. Stefan forced me to kill anyone and everyone in our sight, even families with little children.” He turned away from me as if in shame.

After a moment, as if he needed some time to compose himself, he turned around to face me and said, “Now allow me to tell you about another vampire I know. He is the only other to my knowledge; however, there may be others—such as the vampire that made Stefan. It was Stefan who made me a vampire. He, too, was my lover—to my everlasting regret.” I intently listened as he told me how he and Stefan had met at a café, the Alexandre, which is why Fabien preferred meeting at the Procope, careful to avoid the other café altogether for fear of the two of us running into Stefan.

Fabien shared with me that he felt he was tricked into becoming a vampire without his consent, that he had met Stefan and was drawn to him by how handsome he was, with his wit, and charm, which soon turned to unending cruelty. The two of them had attended cultural events together; and finally became physically intimate together. As I heard, I became enraged in jealousy, making me hate this creature even more. Fabien described how Stefan delighted in torturing Fabien, primarily through wild and endless killing sprees. From the many attacks—Fabien explained there were two that stood out in his mind, which brought him to tears.

The first was the killing of Fabien’s trusted servant Jacque, forced to witness Stefan brutally and savagely kill him, and that there was nothing Fabien could do to stop him. He paused for a bit before continuing to share the other killing, which had so upset him. An attack on an entire family, including the family’s coachman and small children—of hearing the parent’s cries for mercy to spare the children, and finally, the children who discovered that monsters genuinely exist, which lead to their deaths. Fabien had reduced himself to performing horrific acts all under Stefan’s command; deciding never to do this to anyone else. When he found his soul mate—Fabien intended to give that man a free choice whether to become a vampire or remain mortal. And he had seen me and given me the option.

Upon hearing this, my love for Fabien grew, I couldn’t contain my sadness upon hearing what torture Fabien had endured at the hands of Stefan, as blood tears ran from my eyes, as I reached out to wipe the ones running down Fabien’s cheeks as well. Once I had finished wiping away Fabien’s and my blood tears, I thought a change of scenery was in order. I had recalled how fond Fabien was in frequenting the café. I suggested we take a stroll over to the Procope to lose our thoughts of Stefan in a game or two of chess once we composed ourselves,

As he smiled at me and said, “What a wonderful suggestion, yes—let’s stop all of this talk about Stefan. Instead, let’s enjoy the solace of our café and each other’s company.”
I could tell Fabien had become emotionally drained in describing to me their tortured history together.

I walked over to the window, hearing thunder as I gazed out into the blackened night as lightning lit up the sky, looking out, thinking I saw someone looking up towards our window—in an instant the figure had disappeared, as Fabien came over to join me. Fabien was by my side looking out of the window and saying,

“What are you pondering, Laurent?,” Fabien asked softly as he gently placed his hand on my shoulder.

“Strange, I just thought I saw an image of a man staring up at our window,” I answered.
“A man?—I think your imagination may be playing tricks on you; there is no one out there. All this discussion of Stefan has the two of us on edge,” he tried to assure me. As hard as he tried to calm my nerves, I couldn’t help but have this dark and foreboding feeling come over me. “Come, let us go, I feel as if I shall beat you this evening at chess” Fabien proclaimed. I replied with a faint laugh as we left the apartments arriving at the café in a matter of moments.

As soon as we entered the café a feeling of calm and normalcy came over me; I could tell Fabien felt equally at ease; little did I know these feelings would return to doubt and fear. We spotted a table towards the back of the café; it was a busy night; there were many patrons; we felt fortunate to be able to locate a place to sit. Fabien proceeded to set up the chessboard and all its pieces. Hearing the laughter of the patrons and sometimes, arguments, were not so much a distraction, but instead comforting as we began our chess game.

“It’s your move Laurent,” Fabien said as he sat there feeling content.
So soon after locating our table, I noticed someone sitting across the room from us, appearing to have the same deathly pallor Fabien and I had. The man seemed to be transfixed by the two of us, watching our every move.

“Laurent, what has you so distracted?” Fabien asked, sounding slightly annoyed.

I turned away from the man’s gaze, which appeared as if he were looking right through me. I wondered whether that man was a man at all, or if it were another of our kind, possibly Stefan?

“My apologies. Yes, for a moment, I became distracted; I thought I saw a man who appeared to have our skin coloring,” I admitted.

Had I detected an expression of panic on Fabien’s face? — I pointed in the direction that the man had been seated.

“It appeared he has left Fabien; he seemed to be quite interested in our chess-playing,” I said anxiously.

Thinking about this strange man I had seen observing the two of us so closely, caused that dark and ominous feeling to return—as I tried desperately to hide those feelings from Fabien, which proved to be pointless. It was as if he could read my thoughts, and despite my efforts in remaining calm, I could sense that Fabien was beginning to feel fearful, knocking over some of the chess pieces to show how unnerved he had become.
“Let us return home Laurent, I suddenly have lost any interest in pursuing any further chess matches,” he said, sounding almost defeated.

It pained me to see Fabien this way; he appeared to me to display feelings of torment and that Stefan once again was not only observing us but most likely stalking us, if not plotting something against us.

We left the crowded and bustling café—with the mysterious gentleman nowhere to be seen. As soon as we were outside, the weather had changed dramatically. The skies were lit up with lightning as thunder echoed in the background as it began to rain. We decided to use our vampire speed, rather than stroll home, especially given the uncertainty of the yet unknown man who appeared to be following us. Once in the comfort of our apartments, we were greeted with the fireplace ablaze with warmth and color— my servant Luc must have made it shortly before retiring for the evening. We sat next to the fireplace, merely observing how the flames danced and flickered while hearing the crackle of the wood as it burned.

I became mesmerized by the flames, knowing that something so beautiful could also be so tremendously destructive, and end our existence. I don’t remember how long the silence lasted; it seemed to be an eternity until Fabien finally spoke.

“This man you claim you saw at the café, do you remember what he looked like?” Fabien asked.

“He was quite handsome and had the same skin coloring as you and me— as white as milk,” I replied.

“No mortal has the color of our skin, it must have been another of our kind, perhaps even Stefan!” Fabien said.

I cringed at Fabien’s suggestion, not wanting to accept it, but deep down inside—both of us know who the stalker was; it was Stefan. The tension felt as if either of us could use a knife to cut through it. Suddenly, our wonderful time spent together seemed consumed with the looming threat that Stefan posed.

“I have been so careful to avoid him. We must—or he will destroy both you and I should we be spotted together,” Fabien said.

“What are you suggesting, Fabien? I refuse to become a prisoner here in our apartments; we must still be able to roam about freely,” I said almost in defiance.

“At what price Laurent?” Fabien asked.

I didn’t reply to Fabien’s question but instead responded to his question with a question of my own—“Isn’t there anything we can do to stop him? Surely with your strength and mine combined, we could overpower him and” I angrily replied as Fabien interjected.
“There is nothing you or I can do; Stefan is one of the ancient ones, his strength is the equivalent of fifty mortals, your strength and mine amount to half of that,” Fabien said, sounding once again defeated.

I walked over to where Fabien was seated and put my arms around him—holding him as if I were protecting him from anything that would choose to harm us.

Just then, a thought occurred, For Stefan to have become a vampire, he had to have had a maker as well, another vampire. If there were some way we could locate this creature and perhaps meet with him, maybe we could enlist this creature’s help to control Stefan, and surely this vampire would be older and even more powerful than Stefan. However, a few obstacles remained: whether this vampire maker of Stefan’s still existed, and where would we locate him?

My thoughts consumed me until Fabien spoke. “What are you thinking of, Laurent?” Fabien asked.

I shared my thoughts of attempting to locate and meet with Stefan’s maker; I pleaded with him to go along with my plan— I felt it was our only chance in dealing with Stefan.
“It is our only hope,” I said.

“Say I agree to this, then how do we locate this other vampire, do we know if this creature still exists?” Fabien asked.

“Fabien, you shared with me that vampires can summon mortals, did you not?” I asked.
“Yes, that is correct,” Fabien replied hesitantly with a questioning look on his face.
“Well, for example, if a vampire can summon a mortal— why wouldn’t a vampire be able to summon another vampire?” I asked— feeling a newfound excitement and hope stir inside me once more.

“There is only one way to determine this; we shall begin this experiment tomorrow evening, as the time is drawing near for us to rest—observe,” Fabien said as he pointed towards the window. The storm had passed hours ago, and the sky was starting to grow more and more illuminated with the approaching dawn, hours and hours had gone by; we had lost all track of time with many lengthy pauses of silence during our discussions of how to contact Stefan’s maker. Time goes by so quickly to those of our kind, which are not bound by it.

We entered our bedroom and quickly got undressed and lay on the bed, side by side, holding each other’s hands as we drifted into an undead slumber.

Once sleep set in, I started to have a dream about a man with a white beard; he appeared to be quite ancient. I had no idea who this man was, only in this dream there was another that appeared by his side, the same mysterious man that had observed us in the café. This man, who turned out, wasn’t a man at all, turned to meet my gaze and hissed, exposing his two large vampire fangs.

I wondered who the man with the white beard was. It was as if he were warning me that, despite this only being a dream, it felt as if it were truly happening. I woke up shaken by the vision, careful not to awaken Fabien, and determined more than ever to see my plan through.

The next evening, after I had given my servant the evening free, no sooner had he left, we began our experiment. Before we began we left our window open—thinking that whoever would show up by means of being summoned, would naturally enter through the window. Fabien and I sat on the floor with three black candles, arranged in a circular pattern. We held hands as Fabien called out to the maker of Stefan.

“We gather here this evening to ask the vampire maker of Stefan, Baron of Vitré, to appear before us; if you can hear us—I ask you to come to us.”

Outside the wind had intensified and began to moan. Fabien called out three more times. My heart began to sink—I was beginning to doubt this experiment; perhaps only vampires could summon mortals, and not others of our kind?

A mighty wind rushed through the window as thunder and lightning lit up and echoed through the black of night, startling us both a bit. A man with a long white beard appeared before us; but this was no ordinary man, or a mere mortal at all. I recognized him from the dream I had had the previous day, and then he spoke.

“Why have you summoned me here?”

The white-bearded man asked as he bared his two large incisors. We each greeted the vampire by baring our fangs in return.

“Are you the vampire maker of Stefan, Baron of Vitré?” Fabien asked forcefully.

“Who wants to know?” the white-bearded vampire replied.

“It is I, Fabien Levesque— Stefan was my maker,” Fabien replied, as I continued to hold onto Fabien’s hand. To suggest my unease by this experiment with the actual appearance of Stefan’s maker would not be inaccurate.

“Why have you summoned me here?” the white-bearded vampire demanded.
“Ancient one, we need your help in dealing with Stefan,” Fabien said forcefully.
“Why should I want to help you? And who is this other vampire, if you are the fledgling of Stefan?” the white-haired ancient one asked.

“My name is Laurent Richelieu, I am Fabien’s fledgling— but much more than that—he is also my lover,” I said, answering the ancient vampire’s question.

“What is your name, ancient one?” Fabien asked commandingly. The white-haired vampire grimaced upon hearing those words and said “My name is Thaddeus— I am indeed the maker of Stefan; he was my fledgling— until I cast him out.”

“I don’t understand?” Fabien replied.

“For many mortal years, I had been a very close friend of Stefan’s family— before I became this creature of darkness. I had sworn to Stefan’s parents that in the event of their untimely demise I would look after their child—they knew nothing about my becoming a vampire; Stefan lost both of his parents because of the black plague, Stefan became infected as well— it is I who saved him from mortal death—he became as I.”

“So now we understand how Stefan became a vampire; what we do not understand is, why did you cast him out?” Fabien asked the white-haired vampire.

“If you must know, it was after I had turned Stefan—he began making physical advances towards me. Misinterpreting my feelings of love for him—similar to a mentor, or father figure, than the love he had sought from me—I was disgusted by his physical advances and banished him from my presence, never to return!”

It was becoming clearer and clearer to Fabien and me how Stefan’s feelings of rage and jealousy had developed. It was the feeling of rejection and being cast out by Thaddeus, along with Stefan finding another man to turn into his everlasting, immortal fledgling— ending in Fabien’s rejection of Stefan as well— which helped ignite an almost inextinguishable fire of rage in his heart.

“So now that I have shared this with both of you, what more is there left to say?” Thaddeus said as he was preparing to leave.

I heard Fabien as he pleaded with the ancient vampire.

“Wait! We need your help, Thaddeus— if you have one trace of compassion left inside of you, please, help us. We love each other; yes, I forbade Stefan’s command of never making another vampire, but I was miserable with him—you have no idea what he made me do—the torture he put me through. Then meeting Laurent, who changed my very existence and has shown me how love truly can be please—I beg of you!” Fabien pleaded.

The ancient white-haired vampire shook his head and said “You will have to contend with Stefan yourselves; I don’t agree with your kind of love, I must be off!.” He departed as quickly as he had arrived.

Summoning Thaddeus hadn’t accomplished anything. It merely provided a bit of insight into Stefan’s thoughts and what motivated him to act out with such unrestrained cruelty and hatred for everyone it seemed. I looked at Fabien and said with a heavy heart, “All hope is lost.”

“All we need to do is to avoid Stefan” Fabien replied sounding defiant.

“And how do we do that? —Did he not spot us at the Procope? How did he know we would be there? —And was it not the reason you chose to avoid going to the other café, the Alexandre for fear of running into him there?” I asked with a bit of agitation in my voice.

“Yes, I had no idea he would come to the Procope; however, we must continue doing the things we have enjoyed together,” Fabien replied, sounding equally frustrated.

I paused a bit before I replied to Fabien— waiting for my mood to soften. “I guess you are right, Fabien, as long as we remain vigilant and on the lookout for Stefan, then and only then, may we continue to enjoy what we once had; otherwise, we are prisoners of our own making,” I said.

We agreed we would attend a play entitled “Agis” by Laignelot, at the Comédie-Française the following evening. Perhaps there we could lose ourselves in the performance, and quite possibly, forget about Stefan at least until we should happen upon him again.
The next evening, we decided our transportation to the theater would be using a hired coach rather than take flight and arrive at our destination with the help of our vampire abilities. We arrived at the theater and quickly made our way inside. Fabien and I looked around the theater’s spacious waiting area expecting any minute to see Stefan leering at us; however, Stefan was nowhere, or if he was, he had not yet made himself visible.

As desperately as we tried to pretend as if this were merely an evening out, as so many others, each one of us, felt a certain amount of anxiety. We looked nervously in one direction and then in the other direction, each time meeting each other’s gaze with the same anxious expression and ending with a faint smile. Both of us felt distracted. I was beginning to wonder whether coming to the theater was such a good idea.

The performance ended, and we got up to leave once again, feeling the ominous threat of Stefan, as if he were watching us, plotting his next move, until he would eventually strike. We made our way out of the theater and entered the waiting area, still Stefan was nowhere to be seen.

“You see Laurent; there is nothing to worry about— it’s not as if Stefan can read our minds, how would he know we were here?” Fabien said, sounding as if he were trying not only to convince me of this but also himself— as we walked out of the theater towards one of the hired coaches, that same feeling of foreboding came over me, feeling as if we were being watched.

We entered the coach and gave the driver our address, and we were off. We sat in the carriage in silence, both of us preoccupied with thoughts about Stefan—each of us feeling as if at any moment, he would appear and end our existence.

Nearing the location of our apartments, suddenly, there was a jolt and a loud thud, as if something had landed on the roof of our carriage.

I reached for Fabien’s hand, as a look of terror overcame both our faces.

Then the long-anticipated and dreaded appearance of Stefan’s face, as he bent over from on top of the carriage and displayed his grotesquely twisted face of anger in the window of the carriage, bearing his long incisor’s as he hissed at us with rage.

We exited the carriage as we turned to witness Stefan attacking the coachman as he cried out for help. We made our escape by air, arriving at our apartments in mere seconds, with no trace of Stefan; luckily for us—he had become distracted by taking the life of the coachman, which provided our opportunity to escape.

Entering inside, I could tell that Fabien was as visibly shaken by this incident, as was I.
“He is coming for me— I feel it in the depths of my soul!” Fabien said, his eyes wide with terror.

“Fabien, if he wanted to attack us, — why would he have stayed behind feasting on the coachman?” I asked.

“Stefan is ruthless, to him— it’s all a game, he enjoys instilling terror—he will stop at nothing until he has destroyed me, avenging himself for my disobeying his command to never make another vampire.”

“I will protect you Fabien,” I said, trying desperately to comfort him with no success— as Fabien walked over to the window. The weather had once again turned violent— as the sound of thunder echoed in the distance, becoming louder and louder as the lightning lit up the sky.

“This cannot be!” Fabien shouted after another flash of lightning. “My God “It’s him! — It’s Stefan, he has followed us here! Quick, you must hide! —he must not find you here!”
Instantly, Stefan was seen hovering outside our window. There was a menacing animalistic look on his face that twisted and distorted his features— the blood that he had consumed recently from the coachman, still trickling down either side of his lips. Before either of us could move, Stefan crashed through the window.

“So, you thought you would rid yourself of me, didn’t you, Fabien?” Stefan said as he brushed the glass off his jacket. “You know that I have been observing you for quite some time, and who might this be? — He doesn’t appear to be one of your victims,” Stefan said. Apparently he could tell by my appearance, that I was a vampire. “Could it be? Is it possible that you have disobeyed my command? —have you made a vampire fledgling of your own?”

“Why have you come back, Stefan? I thought we were to remain apart!” Fabien said ignoring his inquiry.

“Well, neither one of us held to our bargain— I knew you would not stay true to your word,” Stefan said, sounding sarcastic.

“Laurent and I are happy, Stefan,” Fabien said.

“Silence!” Stefan said. “Who made this young vampire? Who is his master?”

There was a moment of silence; then Fabien answered defiantly, “He is mine. I created him, and I’m in love with him.”

Stefan reacted by picking up a vase and smashing it against the wall. “Because of that, I will destroy him.”

“You lay one hand on him and it is I who shall destroy you Stefan!” Fabien shouted.
No sooner had Fabien warned Stefan— I jumped on top of Stefan and tried to wrestle him to the floor. Stefan merely laughed and threw me off as if I were as weightless as an article of clothing. “I will destroy you, fledgling!” he repeated— as he knelt over me, preparing to end my very existence.

But Fabien was there between us. “If you must destroy someone, destroy me,” he said, “but spare Laurent.”

Stefan had become so enraged upon hearing Fabien’s confession of love for me that he took his hand and tore through Fabien’s shirt, ripping the fabric apart, seeking to rip Fabien’s heart out, as he screamed out in agony. Finally, clawing his hand deep into Fabien’s chest, who then slumped to the floor with a thud.

Fabien was dead, finally at rest— however that was not a comforting thought. I couldn’t believe what I had witnessed. Call it what you wish— survival mode— or animal instinct; however, I knew I had to get away from Stefan, or I would suffer the same fate. I vanished instantly, using my vampire speed to exit out of the window Stefan had entered from only moments earlier. Even so, I sensed I was only seconds away from suffering the same fate at Stefan’s mighty hands.

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