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Amycus Rising

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Amycus Rising

by Rick Darr

Paris 1940:

She intrigues me, this one. Her movement, her ability to deceive and most of all her method of hunting prey, it all fascinates me to no end. Is she really a French freedom fighter? I think not, but she does a marvelous job pretending. Is she a vampire not unlike myself? No, but just the fact the question needs to be asked speaks volumes. I sense she is not one of my kind, yet she drinks the blood of humans, sometimes taking just a little and treating them gently, other times killing them in a frenzied lust. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason and I find it fascinating.

How rude of me. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amycus. Why are you alive and well, sitting there and reading this? Because I allow it, and probably because you have not crossed my path. I jest, somewhat. Pardon my sense of humor; I suppose it has become a bit jaded over the years. This century, along with the woman I am watching, seem to have inspired me. So much in fact that I have decided to put my current thoughts to paper. Mind you, in years gone by I have written more than my share of recognized works, using various pseudonyms. This writing refers mostly to the previous four months and marks the first time I have ever used my true name. Perhaps in the near future I shall write my full autobiography and share my entire life, but not today.

For now, let’s just say that I am over one thousand years old, have been courted by kings and queens and tasted their blood as well. Yes, I am a vampire, but I have already let that slip. Sixty years ago, as the industrial age began to rise up and devour the earth like a great beast, it occurred to me that my time had come. I decided enough was enough and entered these very caverns in which I now sit, deep beneath the city of Paris. Since this was originally built as a large mausoleum it seemed a fitting place to take a last long sleep. After unceremoniously removing the current occupant, a merchant I suppose, from one of the cement coffins and finding he did not mind, I lay down for the last time and faded into oblivion, or so I thought. My powers had grown to such an extent that I presumed it possible to will myself into non-existence. Apparently I overestimated myself or underestimated God; either way it was not to be. At first there were dreams, but I willed myself even deeper into the self-induced coma and from that point on I knew black nothingness.

And then there was something. I felt pure evil pass over me, laughingly saying hello. I was awake and a dark shroud gripped my entire being. Once before I had a similar experience, ages ago in the time of that exquisite madman, Napoleon. Back then the thing, the shroud, had managed to stay just out of my reach, as if it knew of my presence, then it just disappeared. Did it invoke fear within me? No, the exact opposite in fact: I felt extreme curiosity. You see, in all my years of dominating almost every creature that has crossed my path there were a few times that I faced what might be called death, but not many.

It took me a few moments to gather my senses and realize I was still on this plane of existence, and not in some netherworld. Rising from my coffin I felt the evil essence begin to fade. Whatever it was seemed to be above me, moving slowly to the east. Before I could follow it something else caught my attention, voices.

“Henri, do we have all the exits secure?” This and what followed were spoken in French. I offer my translation skills to you, my English reader.

“Yes Pierre, the Nazis will never find us here. Our groups are scattered throughout these caverns and even if they find some of us, the rest should be safe.” This one placed some authority in his tone.

“I wish we could get that pig Hitler before he leaves Paris. If we could kill him now then perhaps our traitorous brothers could be stopped as well.”

“Have no fear Henri, the Vichy government is a sham. We will tear it down one brick at a time,” replied the leader.

How curious and, yes, quite confusing as well. I had no clue to tell me what year it was, nor how long I had been asleep. For the next two hours I stood in the shadows and listened, gathering as much information as possible. The clues came. It turned out the year was 1940 and the Germans had apparently conquered France under the guidance of someone called Adolph Hitler. This did not surprise me, as the European continent had fought many wars over the centuries. What did intrigue me was the fact that this Hitler had passed overhead at the time of my awakening. Was it coincidence?

Listening carefully, I had neglected to take stock of my own condition. Gazing down now at my hands I was somewhat surprised to see two shriveled appendages. The urge to feed had been with me since I had awakened, but curiosity had overridden it. It did not take me long to find the sweet young French woman who strayed too deeply into the tunnel. Even in my debilitated physical condition it was an easy matter to take her unawares. Slipping my decrepit hand around her mouth I pulled her back to my cement coffin. She struggled valiantly, at one point almost breaking away from my weakened grasp. Soon enough however, I had her firmly lodged against the side of the stone casket, the dust of its previous occupant quite thoroughly kicked about by her small feet. Since this was my first kill in many years she would be savored like a fine wine. My preference has always been for females, dating all the way back to before I was turned. Usually I would calm them down before drinking their blood, but this time I neglected to do so– and I must admit I was in such a shocking state that amorous words would not have done. The young girl struggled therefore all the way to the end. Did I feel remorse? No, I did not. Do not expect such nonsense.

After that kill, I left the French partisans alone for the most part, not out of any political motive but purely for my own good. At times in the past I would make a game of being the hunted, but since this place was comfortable to me I saw no reason to risk being exposed. I buried the lovely and ruined body where no one would find it, and let them guess what might have happened to her.

For the next few months I hunted on the surface, feeding off anyone unlucky enough to cross my path. The large iron beast-like tanks intrigued me, as did the flying machines, but soon I felt myself slipping into the same apathy that had caused me to attempt the permanent sleep. There was one thing that might keep me interested, perhaps, that would be a quest to find whatever had awakened me. You see evil has always intrigued me; over the many years it has been my most studied subject. It is such an abstract word. I cannot fathom evil. I kill because I must. Man, on the other hand, kills for pleasure, sport, and various other evil reasons. One thing was crystal clear: the shadow that had passed over me was pure evil and had something to do with the man, the Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler.

It did not take me long to learn the geopolitical goings-on in the world, who was who and what was what. Most of the European continent was under German control but the allied armies were fighting valiantly. I decided to take a trip to Germany, moving at night of course. Believe me when I say it was a quick and somewhat boring trip. Only one thing troubled me. Would one of these new bombs destroy me, or just incapacitate me enough for eternal living hell? The prudent thing was to avoid them and I did so, burying myself deep in the ground at the most secluded spots available just before sunrise. Trust me: the details of each dig would not interest you. It took two days to reach Berlin, but to my disappointment neither the thing I was seeking nor the Führer were there. After delving into the mind of a German colonel I discovered Hitler was at his mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden, so off I went. Pardon me for skipping the details once again.

Walking out of the woods and gazing at the lake, I wondered just what type of being might await me. I was sorely disappointed. In front of me stood an ordinary man wearing some type of uniform and playing with a large brown dog. This could not be the scourge of Europe, could it? You see, leaders of countries, tyrants, etc., mean nothing to me, as they are mere mortals. It suddenly struck me there were no guards. How interesting. But I was still at my wits’ end. Where was this creature that had elicited enough of a feeling to awaken me from my eternal slumber? Not here apparently. The only thing before me was this pathetic little creature. Should I rip him apart? As I said earlier, it mattered not what title he held. Deciding he was not worth my time, I turned to leave. Suddenly a force struck me the likes of which I had never experienced. When my senses came back I was kneeling on all fours, me, the mighty vampire. If memory serves me correctly, I laughed. Perhaps it was because nothing had ever brought me to my knees before, but looking back perhaps it was closer to the nervous laughter elicited when there is nothing else one can do. Standing up and turning around to face him it was clear that something had changed. Before me was not the dog-petting man of seconds ago; suddenly a creature of immense power stood there looking down at me. Physically there was not much difference, but my senses could feel the energy radiating from him. I was in for another surprise, as he began speaking in a haunting voice.

“Amycus, it is not your time. Leave this place immediately.”

“How do you know my name, and just what type of creature are you?” I asked, feeling less confident than I might have sounded.

“For the last time, leave here now if you value your existence.” As he spoke, it felt as if whatever force controlled him was increasing in power.

At that moment I did something unheard of: I walked away from an adversary. Yes, I know earlier I told you about attempting a permanent sleep. If this thing killed me then what difference would it make? Let me just say death was not a concern. What did chill me was the prospect of being an eternal servant of that thing. Approaching the woods I turned around for a last look. Hitler was once again playing with his dog and completely ignoring me. For the first time in many years I felt something akin to…emotion, a combination of bewilderment and confusion perhaps. I am not sure how else to describe it. During my trek back to the Paris tunnels I kept running the encounter through my mind, going over it in detail again and again. Perhaps I would confront that monster in the future, but for now my plan was to stay in France and observe.

Entering the underground tunnels felt like coming home. It was a simple matter to avoid the traps that had been placed there and quite easy to avoid the humans as well. You see, if my wish is to avoid contact I can move at a speed the normal eye cannot follow. If the person notices anything it is only a blur. Ah, and now I have let slip one of the details of my travels. I shall not weary you further with its like. With my thoughts still on the entity dwelling within Hitler, and lying serenely within my cement coffin, I pondered my future. Just then I felt something else, not the dark force dwelling within the German leader but something closer to another vampire. Whatever, or whomever was apparently close by. How grand. Perhaps I was not yet ready for the great slumber. So many mysteries in such a short span of time. If it were possible I might describe myself as almost…giddy. Rising with new purpose, I set off with the intent of finding the source of this new intrusion.

From the moment I laid eyes on her it was clear she was special. Disregard the fact that my senses were drawn to her as to a magnet; there was something else, something any aware human would note. Call it confidence or bravado, whatever it was she had it. She was also quite beautiful, her long black hair flowing across her shoulders. Her emanations seemed similar to those of a vampire, yet also different, as if she were a long lost relative of my own kind. She stiffened a bit and then started looking around the room. Had she sensed me? Normally it takes little effort on my part to keep my presence hidden from humans, but it took the full extent of my powers to block her. Like a wolf sniffing the air she stood and examined the room for a few moments, then went back about her business.

No, I shall not tell you what business that was. As I retired to my coffin it struck me that I was renewed, the events of meeting the strange Hitler and this woman had brought back a desire within me to go on. Later I would learn her name was Elea and she would become deeply entwined in my life, but that is another story. For now, let me give you a piece of advice. Be aware, you never know who or what is watching you.

Copyright Rick Darr 2004 

Rick Darr's career includes twelve years in the information technology sector where he wrote training manuals and presentations for two major corporations, Westinghouse and Mastech-Emplifi. Currently he has a short story titled “Tempting Evil” posted on the Guardian Tales website under the ‘special mention’ section, and three more short stories that are searching for a home.

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