Nikolas slowly opened his eyes to reveal a dimly lit room.
As his eyes adjusted, rather than scanning the room, he became aware of his hurting body. His legs were bruised and stiff, he became aware of pain across his back, then his head began to rhythmically throb to the tune of his heart.
That was when he remembered the smashing of the bat across his back. The punch to the face. The finishing off on the ground by being kicked without mercy by three men.
“We gunna kill you Priest man” was all he heard. And he believed them when they stopped the kicking to pull out their knives.
Yet he was still alive. His eyes had adjusted to the dim light enough to see a man comfortably curled up on the end of a couch, watching with intent.
“Greetings” the figure said calmly and softly. “You have had a bit of an adventure this evening.”
Nikolas uncomfortably shifted himself into a sitting position on the chair. As he slowly righted himself he asked the stranger “What happened?’
“You were assaulted and beaten by three men. I intervened to save your life”
Nikolas closed his eyes to remember. The man with the bat, if memory served, was pulled back so rapidly it was as if he had been struck by an invisible car. The others turned in surprise at the suddenness of the removal.
The second man was struck by a man-sized bullet. Buckling at the waist as he was propulsed away with violence. The screaming from that man was intense and guttural.
Even from the ground, Nikolas clearly saw the horror on the face of the remaining man as the second one screamed out in bloody misery. The third man turned to run but only managed a few steps before something swooped in from above to lift him off the ground then dropped to the ground head first.
The thud was gruesome.
It was at that point that Nikolas passed out.
The man on the couch kept looking. Nikolas was swapping his attention between the increasing pain and the increasingly confusing memory of the attack.
The man sat up and leaned forward. His eyes, pale blue, stared into Nikolas. “I was going to feed on your attackers but I changed my mind and decided to feed on you instead”
Nikolas thought “Feed on me? Did he just say feed on me?”. His heart began pumping harder. But what surprised him more was he believed the man.
“Yes, I was going to feed on you by transferring your blood to me through your neck. I was going to let you die quickly and with little pain.” He paused, creating an uneasy silence in the room.
Nikolas was digesting the idea and he was being given time to do it. He considered the idea of being bled dry, then how this man had saved him from the attackers. He had moved so quickly, so brutally, and could fly.
That made no sense. Not really.
Unless this man thought he was a vampire.
Unless this man was a vampire.
The speed was frightening. Was his mind blurred from the hits?
The man remained silent, waiting patiently to allow Nikolas to process the truth. Nikolas did exactly that and took his time with it.
Vampires are not real, yet the speed.
Vampires are not real, yet he could fly.
Vampires are not real, yet he wanted to suck his blood out.
“You are a vampire” Nikolas stated.
The man smiled and slightly nodded his agreement. Then waiting for the questions to come.
“So why am I still alive?
The vampire stood up and walked across the room to stand beside Nikolas then said “Because you are a man of the cloth”
“I would have thought that would mean little to one like you”
The vampire nodded his head slightly, giving his silent agreement as he said “I have some questions for you”
Nikolas, with sweat beading on his forehead, held back asking him which questions. The pain was hindering him, disturbing his line of thinking.
So he waited, pausing to collect himself.
The silence continued, but the vampire was patient. It allowed time for Nikolas to pray for strength and guidance, unsure on how to proceed.
“My real name is Ambrogio. I am not just a vampire. I am the original vampire. The one who spawned my race throughout this world, across all cultures, races and to any corner that man walked. I ensured we followed them. I am over 3000 years old. Today, I decided I did not want to keep being a vampire.”
Nikolas had no reason to disbelieve the words he heard.
He said “I will listen to your questions, but before we start, can I get cleaned up, have a drink of water, a meal and a medical kit?”
Ambrogio waved his arm to indicate a table in the corner. Laid on it was some water, a medical kit and a towel.
“Clean yourself Nikolas, drink, feed and refresh, we will be here for quite some time”
Nikolas washed his face with the cool cloth, closing his eyes tightly to try to force his mind into a dark blankness in order to seek some clarity of mind.
He listened to his breathing enter and leave his lungs. Thought only of black and emptiness.
Unfortunately, the ache of the developing bruises on his face and body, his thighs feeling as if they had been crushed and the idea that a vampire was behind him, hindered his attempts at focus.
Regardless, he knew he had to perform whatever task this monster wanted of him. Although he had a feeling he was already a dead man and that this was just a game.
He decided to play. He felt his Faith would guide him.
But where to start?
“So, how do you become the first vampire?”
“Really, that is the first question?” Ambrogio said. “I say I do not want to be a vampire anymore and you ask how I was created.”
“Yes, we cannot discuss you ending your” he paused to consider using life or not then said “existence, without first finding out where you come from”
“Why do you care? I am vampire, a murderer of people. Countless people over 3000 years have become my victim. I would have thought you would want to encourage my demise”
“I cannot condone your killings or of you killing yourself. Only God could forgive such things, but since you are not human” he stopped mid-sentence to pause for thought. “In the eyes of God, if you end your own life you will end up in hell”
Ambrogio laughed loudly. “How quaint. Do you know much about vampires Pastor?”
“Only that you suck blood to survive, and that a stake in the heart and sunlight will kill you. And something about having to be invited into a house before you can enter it”
Ambrogio seemed to not hear the answer. “Let me educate you a little, so you understand “where I come from” better. When I was created, as part of the curse, my soul is to reside in Hell while I remain on Earth. When my existence as a vampire ceases, I then have to go to hell to get my soul. Let me assure you, no one leaves hell unless they get permission, and no vampire has ever left hell.”
Nikolas looked intently at the undead creature. “So regardless of how you die, you have to go to hell because you have to retain your soul.”
“God can remove you from hell, if you accept Jesus into your heart”
Ambrogio just smiled and gave a little chuckle. “If only it was that simple.”
Nikolas said “It really is that simple. Let Jesus into your heart”
Ambrogio replied “You asked me how I was created, maybe you are right to ask that question. You need to understand clearly why accepting Jesus into my heart is unlikely to be the way forward for me.”
Ambrogio sat up, thought for a moment then said “When I was a man, it was not like today when the gods hide away and play games of faith. No, they walked the streets. If a follower dishonoured them, or wronged the god, the god would not deal with it from afar. They would come to you face to face. Can you even begin to comprehend how terrifying a god can be?”
The Pastor shook his head. He thought to himself “God is real, but eons ago, maybe the gods did walk the land as ancient myths said. Believe the vampire, thirty minutes ago you disbelieved that vampires were real, now you are talking to one.”
“Of course,” Ambrogio continued, “they also made foolish mistakes. I suppose I did as well, but how was I to know the severe consequences of my actions? For all I knew, I had fallen in love.”
Nikolas could not determine if the monster was pining for his old life or seeking to remember it clearly.
“I was born in Italy. I was destined to travel the world but oh, how I wanted to see Greece.” he said with warmth. “I also felt I was meant for big things, but I was not sure what I was meant to do. In those times, if you wanted your fortune told, if you were brave enough, you would go to the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle was no charlatan. She was real, she saw the truth of what is to come. So I sailed the ocean from Italy to Greece, walked from Astakos to Delphi and found the Temple of Apollo, where the Oracle resided.”
Ambrogio summoned Nikolas to the couch to sit, so he obliged. As he crossed the short distance between them Ambrogio asked “Do you know about how the Oracle found her inspiration?”
“No, I don’t know”
“I was taken under the temple to a small chamber, there Pythia was seated. She was a beautiful woman, shapely. But her eyes were tranced and ethereal, seeing without seeing. There was a sweet odour in the room. I remember the smell even today. As she entered her deep trance, her body movements contorted, and you could feel the power of Apollo shifting through her. Apollo was the giver of this gift of foresight. So, when she spoke, it was Apollo talking. You could feel his presence in the chamber, it sent shivers through me. I admit that I was fearful”
He looked Nikolas in the eye and as Ambrogio spoke, a distant shiver went through the room.
“Pythia spoke in riddles, her words were “The curse. The moon. The blood will flow.”
What happened next was the beginning of the end of my human life.”
….. to stay one chapter ahead of Royal Road.