The Vampire's Mate
I've been feeling nostalgic for my vampires lately -- Adin Swift, Ridley Barron, and Clancy Marrowbone -- so I dashed off this ficlet in honor of them and their devoted lovers. More little pieces of different sorts will appear on my blog in the future.
There’s still light, but it’s skim-milky and flat. The crowns of hardwood trees look like knotted burs against the sky. Philip measures the encroaching darkness by the number of trunks he can count as the trees around him recede into a dreamlike void.
He can’t count any to the north; that’s where the growth is dense and scrubby and has already formed an impenetrable black wall. To the east, though, are pines, carefully planted in rows and silently awaiting harvest. The sinking sun is casting its final glow in their direction. He can count five trunks before the parade is swallowed by the hollow of shadows. Soon, only four. Then three.
Nighttime clots more heavily in the not-so-distant woods. The chittering of birds begins to thin. He hears a lone call, and another. The rhythmic chorusing of other creatures, mostly insects and small frogs, now fills these acres. Even the two hummingbirds that had kept him company, the ones that had been vying for the fonts of nearby flowers, have retired.
The west-facing wall of the white barn still manages a dull gleam, even though the sun has set. It’s well past nine now. He’s grown used to reading time in the subtleties of waxing and waning light, in the wheeling of the stars. Midday has lost its meaning for him.
A cat yowls. Dogs bark in the distance. In place of barn swallows, one bat careens overhead and disappears. It makes Philip think of a drunk in an alley—himself, perhaps, an endless three years ago.
Out of mild curiosity rather than restlessness, for he’s learned to embrace patience, he glances to the west. A weak salmon-orange band smears the horizon like a watercolor wash. Deepening blue, riding the hazy line, pushes it down the page of dusk.
No, not dusk. Not anymore. Night has settled over the land. That swatch of color is like the last, pale glimmer of life in dying eyes.
His body tenses . . . but just a little.
Andre suddenly, silently appears beside him. He’s startlingly pale, a rebellious filament of light. Beneath his idle thoughts, Philip has been anticipating Andre’s appearance. His anticipation is commonplace, inextricably bound to each nightfall and as regular as the beating of his heart.
He lifts his face and is momentarily drugged by the heat behind the familiar, cool kiss. Again, the world and all its pain and passion have been reduced to the bright wisp that is Andre.
“I can feel your need,” Andre says, his voice soft. If darkness had a voice, it would sound like Andre’s. “What is it you want?”
Philip’s smile feels like that brave, fading slash between earth and sky. “Not to love you.”
"The Vampire's Mate" copyright (c) 2011 K. Z. Snow