Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Play dead, dear -- it's your only hope of pulling through

I realized I was staring at his neck, waiting to see a pulse. The thought made me want to giggle, but I held it down. I didn't think Azzy would find it amusing. I got up instead, very carefully since my muscles were still protesting deeply the abuse I'd put them through earlier that night, and moved a few steps away before stretching. It still seemed... rude, somehow, to make such human gestures too close to him. My muscles moved more smoothly than I expected them to. By all rights I should've been extremely stiff from fighting the wind and fleeing the storm that seemed to come up out of nowhere, but I wasn't.

I turned around to look at Azzy and found him already watching me, which isn't in and of itself unusual. He watched me quite frequently on a daily -- well, nightly -- basis, but somehow this watching felt more intense. He hadn't just been watching me because I was there to watch. He'd been watching something about me which is unusual because vampies aren't really into specifics. They take things as a whole. Something about the whole me had been different enough to make him take notice.

"What?" I asked stupidly. I couldn't think of anything else to say and the silence stretched thin. "What?" I asked again, more sharply.

"You are not in any discomfort," he said. It wasn't a question.

"No," I answered. "Should I be?"

"I am not an expert on humans, but it seems to me that yes, after the storm and your awkward rest, you should be in considerable discomfort." He stood up then, that impossibly fluid way of rising. Stood up really isn't the right term. He didn't push off the floor, or move his limbs around to gain momentum. He just went from being on the floor to being upright. Maybe the laws of physics don't govern vampires the same way they govern humans. Vampires do move through other worlds. Why should the laws of our world be absolute?

Some sorcerers get like that after the first century or so. It's less pronounced in them, of course, but they just sort of don't fit in the world properly anymore. You know when the cartoons try to mix computer graphics with animation? It's like that. They're almost the same, but they just don't quite go together. Vampires are like trying to mesh 3-D computer graphics with a black and white silent film. Everything about it is just fundamentally wrong, but it was starting to be a wrongness I could predict. I didn't think about what that would mean when I went back to the silent film.

He moved a little closer to me, still watching. His eyes had taken on that honey-gold color again and I felt his hand reach for me. I didn't exactly see it coming, but I knew it was moving, and I -- well, I don't know what I did, but I felt it coming and when it got close I wasn't where it was reaching for. It took a second for me to process this, but when I did I felt my world shift a little. I had avoided a vampire. I couldn't have, but I had. You don't avoid vampires. You don't feel vampires coming. You don't feel them at all.

I looked at Azzy numbly and swallowed. "I can't have done that," I said.

"No," he replied, "An ordinary human cannot do what you have done." It might've just been the shock but I'd swear at that moment he was worried about me. Maybe he was. Do vampires worry about their friends? Do vampires have friends? I felt an irrational desire to affirm I was still myself and looked around for a reflective surface. I doubted he'd have mirrors arranged artistically about the place, but the fireplace was made of marble and it reflected enough for me to see in.

I still looked like myself. I was still too pale, and my hair was still tawny, and I still had slanted eyes that made me look a little scary. I stretched out a hand to touch my reflection and then I saw it. I didn't move like me. I moved more like Azzy. More like a vampire. What the hell was happening to me? I could handle little changes, like knowing when he was in the room, or when he was moving. I could handle being used to vampire physics and making allowances for it. I could even handle picking up some of his otherworldlyness, like sensing things in people I shouldn't know, but moving like a vampire meant way more than any of that. It meant...

-Robyn Lefkowitz

This is a snippet from a piece I started writing quite some time ago, only to encounter a similarly written book and abandon it. I still rather like the writing style. Hopefully anyone who still reads this does as well.

As always, comments are screened so until I publish them they won't appear.