(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Victoria was written by Clarisse A. Alvarenga.)
Curitiba (PR), Brasil, 24/03/2016.
Victoria waited patiently until dusk to get ready for her appointment. She felt a little strange without her husband and friends, alone in that place she awoke, nearly three years before. She spent her time in front of her wardrobe, picking pieces of clothing in her hands, trying to make up an outfit fitting for the occasion.
She glanced at a pair of jeans, a gift from Carol, but declined. They still felt overexposed in man’s clothing. At last she settled for a long black cotton skirt and a black silk long-sleeved shirt, and a simple corset. half present, half ancient, suiting her style. She completed the look with her all-purposes boot, the only piece in her wardrobe to survive her century-long sleep.
Dusk turned into night before she was ready. She left her apartment, closed the pink tinted wood panels that served as her door and went to the pub.
She walked through the black and white tiles of Joker’s pub once again. It had become a routine, by now. She barely noticed the creepy clown clothes emoldurated on the wall, or the rich terracota tint of its walls. It was a regular Thursday, the local bluegrass band was arranging its instruments, a few banking employees were chatting about their clients, other than that, it was almost empty. It was still early.
Victoria sitted on her costumary table and signed to the waiter. “Hello, Chan, would you be so kind and bring me my IPA, please?” Her years in Whitechapel had given her a particular taste for gin and strong ales.
“Hey, Vic, whatup! Where’s master and the kid?” He asked, his eyes widened and smiling.
“They won’t be coming today. I have…an appointment…with someone else.”
Chan nodded and winked at her. “Would you like me to prepare the third floor?”
“No dear, that won’t be necessary.” She said “I think.”
Kelly entered the pub and looked around the empty place. It wasn’t hard to locate Victoria, and she made her way over to her and smiled a greeting. “Victoria? Hi, I’m Kelly. Thank you for meeting me.” She shook Victoria’s hand, and they sat down across from each other. “So, I understand you’re a vampire who’s had a very long…sleep and have awaken to find yourself in this day and age.” She motioned to their surroundings. “What was your first impression when you found the world around you had changed?”
VIctoria called for the waiter. “Nice to meet you, Kelly. Can I offer you some refreshments first?”
“I only take water. Get headaches too easily.” Kelly motioned to her head.
“I understand.” — to the waiter, “Chan, please get my friend a bottle of water.”
Kelly smiled her thanks. “Sorry for jumping right in with the questions.”
“Not a problem.” she smiled. “Yes, I’m a vampire, and yes.. I lost the 20th century plus a few years of this one. To say the very truth, I’m still getting used to this era.” She continued, “But my first ever though was “Bloody hell it is bright in here. You know, sun was still up. But in reality, I knew almost instantly this wasn’t my London home. I could see sky.” She chuckled.
Kelly tilted her head when she heard this. “But you’re a vampire. Did the sun not burn you?”
She grinned. “That a common misbelief, Kelly. No, we don’t burn up in the sun. This must be one of those things you humans invented last century, I suppose. We’re not very happy with sunlight. It consumes energy, and makes us need to feed more often, but it doesn’t kill us. It gives us some vulnerability, though, you know, we are use to mess with your kind… like… Bandits, I suppose. Only we steal part of your life” She took a sip of her beer, calmly.
Kelly wasn’t surprised to hear the sun wasn’t deadly because she’d interviewed enough vampires to know that it tends to be different each place she visit, so she nodded. “What do you mean you steal a part of our life?”
She nodded. That girl seemed to be very familiar with this world. “You know that blood sucking part of the myth?”
“Yes.” Kelly nodded.
“Well, that’s mostly true, but rather than the food, blood is more like a vehicle. It is where life flows through. They are different things. So, when we suck blood, we are, in fact, searching for your life essence, to nurture ours.” She studied Kelly’s face, as she received the response “And we don’t need ALL of it, of course.”
Kelly took all this in with a nod. “So….okay, totally random, but when someone donates blood, are they donating part of their life?” She arched a brow then sipped on her drink.
She thought for a minute. How would she explain that? “Well, not really. When you donate blood, you only donate part of your vehicle. Life essence would be like a.. protein if you like, that only corresponds with the enzimes of our saliva.”
“IT’S NOT THAT!!!!” a voice shouted in Victoria’s mind, and she shuddered. Kelly saw her mouth mumbling the words, “I mean, is like that, but not that exactly.”
Kelly tilted her head when she saw Victoria’s expression shift. She had heard that Victoria heard voices, so Kelly decided to use this opportunity. “That was one of those voices, wasn’t it?”
Victoria’s seemed off guard for a second. “N… Yes. That was Cris.”
“Who are the voices?” Kelly raised her brows.
She fell quiet, finished her pint as to get the strength, not really feeling any taste. “They are… the ones like me, the ones I drained.”
“Ones like you….vampire? Or those who’ve been drained?” Kelly wanted to understand better, so she set her elbow on the table and her chin in her palm.
Victoria gathered herself and tried to explain. “Other vampires. You know, we have a sort of dispute between clans as you have your wars. Ours are more… X-Men-esque? Sorry, that’s Deo definition. Some of us like to suck all life when feeding, just for fun, and we prefer to remain mingled in society, and killing people isn’t exactly mingling. Back when I lived in London, I got kidnapped by one of them, and to escape ended draining my kidnapper’s blood. That’s the only way to really really kill one of us. I didn’t know then that it would get me all of his memories, and also part of his essence to my body and mind.”
Kelly nodded slowly as she took this in. “How many of you drained?”
“I don’t think I could answer that and keep you aline.”
“Well, you can’t actually kill me,” Kelly pointed out with a smile.
“Well, that’s true.” Chan said quietly behind Kelly, pointing to the roof. Victoria signed with a discreet no.
“To be honest, I drained 2 of my kind completely, and others partially. It’s a spy tool, if you will and is reckless as I am.”
“And their voices are in your head?” Kelly pondered this for a moment. “Did you know of this side effect before you drained the first one? Or was that a rude awakening?”
“It was hell. I didn’t know. It’s not the thing someone will teach you, and my poor husband thought he could control me enough so he didn’t need to.”
“Back up a little, your husband was involved in this? Or how did he fit in?” Kelly furrowed her brows.
Victoria smiled, at the remembrance of Hugh. “No dear, he is my master. So it was his responsibility to teach me the ways of our kind. He did tried to rescue me though, and was to get to him that Gabriel kidnapped me.” “I WOULD GET HIM, YOU BLOODSUCKING CANNIBAL!” Victoria paled visibly.
Kelly saw her pale but tried to connect all the dots. “Was Gabriel the one you drained?” She wasn’t sure she understood everything correctly.
Victoria perceived Kelly’s confusion. “It took the better part of a year for me to remember it all, dear, you’ll get it soon enough. Gabriel was the first, yes. He was the leader of the Strigoi, the other clan.”
Kelly nodded. “I see, okay. Makes a bit of sense. However, before we get into all the technicalities of this, because I sense it will be very complicated, tell me a bit of who you were before you became a vampire.” She sat back in her chair to listen. “This might help me understand a bit more.”
Victoria smiled. “I was your typical mid 18th century farmer’s daughter. I was born in this city, by 176..something,. My brother went overseas to get a college edication, as rich farmer’s sons ought to do, and I went visit… I was… 16 or 17 at the time. t was there that I met Hugh. At Claire’s beautiful home. I was even presented to King George. But it took a few more years, lots of letters and the death of my father for me to move there. I was human still, and Hugh wished to keep me that way.”
Kelly lifted her brows when she heard this. “Did you know he was a vampire? Or when did you discover that?”
“The worst way, of course. After we got married, mid honeymoon. I was shot at the Bastille. Essencially I discovered he was a vampire after he had turned me into one.” She tried to keep it simple, and asked for another beer.
There were so many questions she wanted to ask, but Kelly had to keep things in some kind of order. “First off, why were you shot?”
“Wrong day, wrong place. We took a room just across Les Invalides, the day before that turmoil. I didn’t know then, but my clan had some interest in the matter, and the Honeymoon was the excuse. I left for a walk, and was caught in the middle of the mess.”
“Ah.” Kelly nodded. “And when you realized that you had been turned and what exactly Hugh was….what was your first thought?”
“I was mad. I was really, really mad. I didn’t speak to him for months, and just walked and walked, all day long, trying to process. You must know about some “lady in white” ghost story or two…For northern France, it was me.”
“Interesting…” Kelly mused and took a drink of her water. Putting down the glass, she asked another question, “But how did you adapt? Must vampires have blood immediately upon turning? Or how does it work?”
“I refused at first. It’s the first instinct. I didn’t want that, to be.. a killer, to sleep in coffins. You know, I also thought all of that. But Hugh was patient. You don’t need it immediately, but it is not advised that you get too thirsty. It is probably what gave me my mental instability.The most difficult thing though is to not kill your first victim.”
“So eventually you went back to Hugh, and he was able to teach you the ways of a vampire? I bet you were not happy with him still.” Kelly chuckled.
Victoria smiled back. ” I loved him too much and couldn’t kill myself, so yes. I didn’t feel I had too much of a choice without him, and he taught me not to think of our kind as monsters. Eventually I understood he only did that so he wouldn’t loose me anyway. It was against the rules of our clan to transform he without the elders approval..”
“Interesting.” Then Kelly had to pause and tilt her head. “And is Hugh still around? I mean you were asleep for a long while.”
“Yes, he is, he’s dealing with some business in London, but should come back soon, with Deo.”
“Who is Deo again?” Kelly furrowed her brows.
“Oh dear, you seemed to know so much about me I forgot to tell you!” She laughed whole heartedly. “Deo is the one who helped me remember who I am. He was transformed by my husband, so someone could take care of me during my sleep. It almost didn’t work, though. He’s just a kid.” She said to herself.
“What do you mean it almost didn’t work?”
“THAT SONOFABITCH GOT ME!”
“Sorry, voices again. As they told me, Deo and Hugh, Hugh did it right in this street, but didn’t have time to explain to Deo what was he doing. He was being followed by our enemies, and left a letter. Coming to think of it, Hugh doesn’t love our rules very much.”
“Sounds like Hugh tends to transform people into vampires in a hurry. Does he do that often?” That wasn’t really a question Kelly had in mind, but still, it was a thought.
“Poor fellow had to figure it out by himself. What? No, well, not that I know of…it was just us two.”
Kelly chuckled. “Well, the two of you are the only two I know that he turned, although I’m sure there are many more. Anyway, continue with the tale!”
“But, you know, I was out for a century.” Victoria laughed, more at ease now. “Well, the letter got all bloodied, so all Deo could read was ‘take care of her’. We found each other here. We sensed our blood. Deo has a keen sense of smell. It’s his superpower, if you will.”
Kelly nodded. “And he was able to help you?”
“Yes, in his own way. He was specially helpful in teaching me the ways of today, such as this awfully modern vocabulary. But he is also very kind hearted (almost too much for his own good), and found more about Hugh and me all Ubyr clan thought possible.”
“So, other than Deo, I know there is also Carol…who is she?” Kelly sat back to observe Victoria.
She sat back, thinking about how she would avert the question. She started mumbling, “GO! TELL HER! TELL HER YOU KILLED HER TOO” “SHE’S NOT DEAD” she heard herself shout.
“Victoria?” Kelly tried to break through the noise. She could tell the difference and wasn’t afraid of it.
“She seemed so nice…So nice! She gave me jeans, she showed me Pink Floyd, and about make-up and nails and whatnot. I tried to protect her. I FUCKING KILLED for her!” She was getting hysterical, so Chan came to her, with another pint, “It’s all cool here?” he asked. She took a deep breath.
Kelly nodded at Chan. “We’re fine.” And she waited for him to go away before she focused on Victoria once more. “What happened? It’s all right. It’s safe talking to me. I’m not going to judge you for anything because I know you didn’t mean it. But what happened?” She spoke softly and kindly.
“She….she was assigned to kill me. She..” Victoria’s eyes got wet – real tears, not blood. “She took me under that big church you should’ve seen on the way here”, “She…almost drained me. She has a part of me in her.. and I, I don’t really know where she is.”
Kelly furrowed her brows. “Okay, I’m confused. You said you killed her….” Maybe killing had an entirely different meaning when it came to vampires.
“No, that was Cris… He is…her ex boyfriend, I guess. I killed him FOR her.”
“Okay….” That made a bit of sense, but Kelly had to ask. “Do the voices ever get to you?”
“They are very, VERY annoying. ” She tried to smile and wiped her tears with a napkin. “If I go too long without a drink, they can overrun and make me do things.”
“Has that ever happened to a vampire?” Kelly tilted her head.
“It’s similar to what you call schizophrenia these days. To go too long without a drink?”
Kelly laughed, “No I mean, vampires who’ve drained others also have voices in their heads, I’m assuming. Have the voices ever gotten out of hand and taken control?”
“I guess normal vampires get only the memories, but not the voices. They never seem to be phased by them in my presence, at least.. Claire told me some stories, but they are ancient, and a little like mythology. I’m the lucky one.”
Kelly frowned at this. “But why would you get voices?”
She smiled, sadly. “I guess I had some mental illness, or an empathy ability shielded within me as a human. It’s like Deo’s sense of smell. No one can say for sure. He doesn’t remember being a good sniffer before, really.”
“Wait, so…vampires have a special gift that’s unique to them after turning?” Kelly wanted to make sure she understood.
“Some of us, not all. We have some abilities heightened. That’s why usually clans choose a lot before turning. I never turned anyone, but we can sense in the life essence what this ability will be.”
Kelly furrowed her brows and leaned forward. “Wait—you’ve never turned anyone yet?”
She smiled, kindly. “No, I didn’t. I’m a broken toy. And you must give some of your own essence to turn someone. My clan wouldn’t approve the risk.”
“What do you mean you’re a broken toy?” This didn’t make sense to Kelly. “Is it because of the voices?”
“Yes, more about what makes me get them. They are not really sure I’m a good.. guide. I did rebel a few times…Ran away, got kidnapped.. Not really trustworthy material.” She was being really candid, though she never told that to anyone, not even Hugh
“But is there anyone you’ve met here that is merely human that, if you had the chance to save their life, that you would transform?” Kelly observed Victoria.
“It got worse after the century nap.”
“Yes.” She responded at once, without thinking. “Guiga, Deo’s human best friend”. And maybe him.” She pointed at Chan. “But I tend to not get attached by humans in general.”
Kelly looked over her shoulder at Chan and nodded at him before turning back to Victoria. “So why them?”
“Guiga’s been through a lot. Hewas there when I killed Cris, and the breakdown that ensued. And he is Deo’s rock. He wouldn’t live without him, and I love Deo as he was my creature…son. And Chan…”
“Son?” Kelly arched her brows.
“Yes.” She interrupted herself”. “Although he acted as my father most of the time, I sense a need to protect him from harm. It makes me understand why Hugh was so protective, and I love him for that. And Chan is my human compass these days.”
Kelly stared at Victoria for a long moment. There was still much she didn’t understand, but a glimpse at the clock on the wall, and she knew they didn’t have much time.
She sighed, locking eyes with Victoria once more. She offered her a smile. “It seems our time is almost up. I’m going to have to get going soon. It’s been a very long day for me. However, one more question: if you could change anything—what would it be?”
Anything. “I…” She fell silent. Thinking. “I think I wouldn’t leave for that walk in France…”
“You mean before you were turned?” Kelly furrowed her brows.
“Yes. I would still get turned, but I would have a choice. I think it would be nice having a choice.”
“I’m sure it would be.” Kelly nodded but then sighed as she rose to her feet. “Well, Victoria, I need to get going. It was wonderful meeting you though. Thank you for this conversation.” She paused then added with a smile, “And I don’t think you’re broken. You just don’t know how you fit together yet.”
“I’m sorry for confusing you”, she looked deep in Kelly’s eyes “And thank you”
Kelly smiled once more with a bow of her head. “Take care.” And she headed out.
Clarisse A Alvarenga’s novel, ‘Construindo Victoria’ is available online. Be sure to follow her on social media!
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/clarisse.a.alvarenga