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|Monday, December 7th, 2009|
|Five Years Later
I am struck by how fast they have gone and how much has happened, and I realise that this has been the case every year, and that it is likely to go on for quite some time. I think that is the reason why I remember the date. It is significant to me because it marks the greatest of changes that I can recall (though there certainly have been quite a few of the kind since then). A friend of mine has told me of the urge to stop and look back every year on New Year's Eve. I can sympathise with this. Using a particular date for contemplating the past, evaluating what has happened since the last time one did it, will always be constructed, but if a date that holds a certain kind of symbolic value (such as a national holiday or a birthday) is used for the purpose, it will almost undoubtedly bring with it some material for pondering. I wish not to obstruct spontaneous contemplation and find that, for me, having chosen a specific date for remembrance does not make me unable to think on the subject at other times.
Looking back this time, I once again found gratitude and wonder overshadowing what other emotions are undeniably there from time to time. I now dare use words I was fearful of in the beginning, and I believe that I understand them almost as well as possible.
While the date that marks my stepping into this world holds not the same significance to others, it was established some time ago that they wish to treat it as a birthday, a reason for celebration. I must admit that I was somewhat reluctant to accept this in the beginning, that I found it peculiar and slightly embarrassing that those around me felt that they ought to construct any kind of celebration for me. I knew that they appreciated my company; they needn't feel forced to tell me on a particular date. I have come to realise, though, that they do not feel forced to do it. It is a friendly, loving even, gesture that they extend towards me because they want to. I am grateful and deeply touched by this.
Vincent especially enjoys doting on me on that date. Last year he gave me a kitten. She is now quite a lot bigger, and Vincent told me a while back that this year he would be giving me a dog or possibly a horse. This, naturally, was a joke. He refrained from presenting me with an animal. He also refrained from taking me out for dinner, though he commented that he should have liked to do it if only he had been “of the eating kind” and I in the habit of enjoying food. Instead he took me to a concert of classical music in the city. I am very fond of listening to orchestral music of that fashion, though admittedly I experience it far too rarely. As may be expected of Vincent, he had reserved very good seats in the concert hall and had chosen something that I enjoyed tremendously.
Afterwards I had expected us to go back home, but Vincent turned the car in an unexpected direction and went for a detour. We went to the beach, the same beach where once, years ago, he took me to console me and allow me time to come to important and positive realisations. Now we walked down the beach in the darkness together, fingers intertwined, and came upon the place where I bathed back then. Vincent commented that he thought it may be just a tad too cold even for me to bathe now, and I could not help smiling at him. I told him that I did not need to, because I could see the stars just fine from where I was standing.
And I could. Though clouds were drifting across the night sky, they were so sparse that we could see the stars clearly. They were reflecting beautifully in the ocean as well. Far away along the shore, electrical lights illuminated the city. I was glad to be with him, because for all that the ocean has come to mean to me, it was his before it was mine. He used to watch it at night before he even knew I existed. We stayed for a while, then made our way back to the car and home.
|Monday, September 28th, 2009|
|Personal Observations on the Subject
“Then ask!” barked Vincent at me in response to the statements of confusion made in my previous entry.
“I am asking. I am, constantly, asking questions. But why are you upset?” I replied.
Vincent paced the floor to stand by the window, unable to pull aside the curtains so early in the evening. The sun had barely set yet, and we were in the parlour. I had entered intending to ask him a trivial matter and had found myself pulled into this conversation quite abruptly. “Did you read what you wrote?”
“I am assuming that you did not find my writings full of grammatical errors or spelling mistakes,” I replied pointedly, “Yes, I did, as I always do.”
“You make it sound as if …” He turned around to look at me. “As if I have forced all this upon you. As if I persuaded you to live this way instead of joining a clan.”
I blinked. “No. I made no such statement. I made it quite clear that I sympathised with your ways and still do. I chose to live with you, Vincent. And you know it.”
He nodded. “Good … I know, of course … But your description, the blurred lines ...”
“But it is true. How would you expect me to react? You told me you live alone for a reason. You set an example to me, showing me your own way. And I have always seen the sense of it.”
“However?” he insisted.
“Lyon as well. He is every bit as independent as – or rather even more than, I expect – you are,” I continued. “I have been taught by both of you that vampire clans are not something to strive for being a part of. And while none of you are, Lyon at least seems to have very tight bonds to Mathew, and you both participate in quite a lot of social events these days.”
“What Lyon does is his own business,” Vincent said. “And on a personal level, I quite like Mathew. It's a little like … having a friend who supports a political party or a religion that you abhor. You can still be friends. As long as Mathew does not try to pressure me into joining a clan, I have no quarrel with him. Just as I would not dream of trying to persuade him to leave his group.” He walked back to me and ran a hand down my cheek. “Does that clear it up a little for you?”
His tone was a little too condescending for me not to react to. “A little yes. Though the ways of vampires are too complicated for me to understand, perhaps.”
“That's not what I meant.”
“And I meant not that you have forced me into anything.”
“Touché.” He grinned and sat down on a couch, gesturing for me to do the same.
“Well,” I continued, placing myself next to him, “according to Mathew, I should begin to consider all these things more thoroughly. Since I am … since he, too, thinks that I ...”
“That you are the One,” Vincent finished for me. “And he does have a point. I rather don't think you'll find many attractive things about clans, but I suppose knowing how things work would not harm you in your position. Knowing a little about politics does not mean you have to actively participate. But even I do know what it is that I am not part of.”
“I wonder, though, if I have a say in the matter. I am just me. I realise that I am different from the rest of you, as I have realised from the day I met you. But to myself that uniqueness, if you will, means nothing else. It is just that. I am not important because I am different. I am merely different because I am different,” I explained, hoping that he understood.
“Has it occurred to you that to those people, you are not important because you are different? You might be the same if you were a normal vampire.” He smiled, a little sadly.
“So in other words, they have made up their minds?” I paused. “Vincent … Is it … going to my head?”
He laughed, “What?”
“You, and practically everyone else, tell me I am special. Am I getting, or am I in danger of getting, full of myself?” I have been considering this for a while. Whenever the subject comes up, I get uncomfortable. I am afraid of thinking myself more important than others, simply because I am told that I am, and I am afraid of disappointing them by not being what they expect. I never asked to be treated in a special way, yet what I am and how I act contradict any idea of ordinariness. I rather want to do my best, do something good, but I strive not for any role of leadership. I find myself utterly confused and tried to convey these feelings to Vincent.
“Do you want the truth?” he asked. “You might not like it entirely.”
I answered him in the affirmative.
Vincent sighed and thought for a moment. “You are not getting too full of yourself, but you are … very full of not getting too full of yourself. Whenever it is discussed, you tell us that you don't view yourself as something special, that you just try to fit in, that you hope you don't disappoint anyone, that you only want to do the right thing. You don't waste any opportunity to make sure that we all know that the role of being something extraordinary was forced upon you. And it does … well, I could imagine that it makes some people feel that it's a terrible thing that they're doing to you. And maybe it is. I wouldn't want to be considered as important as they seem to consider you. I know it's a pressure on you, but I don't think you have to worry – they know it too. So if you are just telling us that you don't think you're special because you think others may think that you do consider yourself better than others, I really don't think you have to worry about it. If you do it in order to shut people up, then tell them instead that you are fed up with it and ask them not to bother you with telling you how incredible you are.”
I like to think that I consider things thoroughly. Yet, I sat thinking a while after Vincent had finished his speech. I have not meant to complain. I have, perhaps, meant to warn others that I do not feel particularly important and thus may not be whom they are looking for. Coming to terms with what Kaoru and others have told me that I am has not been easy, and I think not that I am all there yet. I do not know if I will ever be. The possibility that they have introduced to me is frightening. I am not just scared of failing them. I am not just scared of getting too full of myself. I am also scared because I do not know what price there is to pay. I am scared because being someone important is not likely a synonym of a quiet existence with few important decisions to make an a minimal amount of danger and because I fear, not only for my own safety, but for the safety of those who are close to me.
He waited until I had explained it to the best of my abilities, then pulled me close when I was silent again. “To me, Grae, you are not 'the One'. You are … well, you are my one. You are special to me, but it is on a strictly personal level. I don't know if you're going to save the world or … well, whatever it is that they all expect of you. I just want you with me, and I want to try to make you feel happy and safe. And I know I can't always do that and not by myself, but I do try.”
I smiled and closed my eyes for a moment. Being there, despite the heaviness of the subject we were debating, I did feel safe. I did feel happy, and I felt relieved to have had this conversation with him. I have been scared to hurt him, and others, with my honesty. “Thank you, Vincent,” I murmured.
“This conversation is going into your public writings more or less as it is, isn't it?” he asked.
“I think so, yes. Why?” I looked at him, puzzled.
A smirk formed on his lips. He leaned forward and whispered something into my ear.
“Vincent, please,” I sighed. “More or less, I said. I do reserve the right to edit.”
His smirk grew even wider.
|Tuesday, September 1st, 2009|
When I first found myself in the world Outside after having escaped the laboratory that had made up my entire existence for as long as I could recall, I quickly learned that I was different from other people. Research brought me to the conclusion that perhaps I was a vampire, or at least something close to how they are usually described in literature.
My solitary exploration, however, was suddenly cut short, and I found myself in the house of Vincent Marsellus, a man who claimed that he was a real vampire and that I was not. That I seemed to be caught somewhere on the threshold between vampirism and humanity, a hybrid, a half-breed. He told me about vampires, that there were several of them even in this city alone, and before long I saw for myself that he was right, because he introduced me to one, Lyon, who left me redefining my conception of the word “old”.
Soon after, I met others yet and learned that living alone in the midst of human society is not the norm among vampires. Most vampires live in groups, clans, under a single leader. Vincent described these groups as oppressive, and when more or less abducted to meet the leader of a very influential clan, Count Theodor von Teufelstein, I found that they in turn viewed Vincent and Lyon as strange outsiders refusing to unite with their own kind. I was asked to join Teufelstein's clan, but I turned down the offer as I was quite content to live with Vincent and rather preferred his ways to my impression of the clan's. Later I learned that members of Teufelstein's group were trying to assassinate Lyon, unsuccessfully. But the leader of those sent to dispose of him, Daniel, was later expelled from the clan, saved by the vampire Kaoru who would later turn out to be the man who raised me when I was a child. Kaoru also was the leader of a small group of vampires living independently in the very same city, and whom Chrome, the vampire who was used in making me what I am, seemed to join a while later. I should perhaps here add that Daniel turned a young man, Christian, into a vampire to take his place in Teufelstein's clan, in effect saving my friend Joss from him.
Recently Kaoru, Chrome, Daniel, Christian and another vampire, Morgan (an affiliate of Lyon and Vincent) together travelled to the other side of the world in order to undertake diplomatic negotiations with an institution known as the Council, a group of ancient and powerful vampires somehow influencing all vampire clans in the Western world, and brought back with them Mathew, a member of the Council who turned out to enjoy a close relationship with Lyon.
Yes, the escalation has been enormous. If you are confused, I blame you not.
The lines between the groups seem to have blurred, and the relations between the various groups and individuals are not what I thought at first. What they all seem to agree on, apparently, is the fact that I am different from all of them and will eventually have an influence on … something. A greater whole. And I myself am not certain what to make of it.
|Monday, August 10th, 2009|
I hinted earlier that I should be writing more of some of the people featured in the past few entries. This one has to do with five of them.
A while after Vincent's gathering, he and I with him were invited to Lyon's residence. This in it self surprised me, as I have never once set foot in his home before. I assumed he liked to keep it private. Whatever the reason, and I expect Mathew to have something to do with it since he was staying with Lyon, he decided to open his doors to guests.
Literally speaking, it was Mathew who opened the door. The house was quite spacious, and maids appeared to take our coats. Lyon himself was smiling broadly, acting as if there were nothing strange about suddenly hosting a gathering like this. Shortly after our arrival the last two vampires appeared; Chrome and Kaoru. I was very glad to see them. We made up a strange assortment. Prior to this night, Vincent and Kaoru had never met, and I had believed that Lyon and Chrome did not know each other. However, it seemed that what we all had in common was, indeed, that Mathew had wanted us to visit.
In the parlour, we all exchanged greetings, and Lyon introduced Kaoru and Vincent to each other. I had rather imagined that I should like to meet them one day, but a natural opportunity had not previously presented itself. I must admit that seeing the man who raised me as my guardian approximately a century and a half ago shaking the hand of the man with whom I currently live and share an intimate relationship was rather odd. It was then that I realised another thing that they all (with, perhaps, the exception of Mathew) had in common – ties to me.
Champagne arrived on trays. We all had a glass. It seemed to me impolite to deny it, and social customs make it possible in a case like this not to drink it all, I believe. Lyon thanked us for coming and lifted his glass, signalling for us all to drink. After this point, we all engaged into conversation with each other. I noticed Chrome and Lyon talking about prior meetings, and none of them seemed genuinely fond of the other. Kaoru stepped up to Vincent, and they started exchanging polite remarks. I rather found that I was making the situation more difficult for them and retreated to speak with Mathew, Chrome and Lyon. Barely had we begun to converse before a maid entered the room with what was described by Mathew as “the food”. It was, put plainly, decantered blood, cups for it, and jars of herbs and spices for putting into the blood. The majority of the party made their way to the meal. Only Chrome and I stayed behind. I was surprised. Most vampires I have encountered and with whom I have discussed the subject have found it strange, perhaps even laughable, that I am unable to enjoy feeding when not alone.
Chrome smiled at me sympathetically. “You can get out of it. You're the One,” he told me.
I asked him what he intended to do. He shrugged and said that he just wanted to get it over with. I have never done it before, and I had not thought that I would then and there. However, it somehow seemed appropriate. That if I were to do it, I might as well do it with someone who, despite being a vampire, seemed to share my sentiments and in the company of several people who knew my dislike for it. I am different from them, and it is always so obvious. Just once in a while, building a bridge between our differences may not be so bad. I do it with humans, after all. So drinking, then, with Chrome was an act of solidarity - since it is something which we all must do (whether publicly or not).
Vincent looked rather taken aback. Kaoru seemed slightly amused, and Lyon very interested. The taste was rather like the refrigerated blood that Vincent keeps in his house and that I have, on occasion, fed on. It was nourishment, but entirely different from living blood. Mathew did not comment upon it, but began a lively conversation that all were soon part of.
I must say that despite the obvious awkwardness of the evening, I quite enjoyed it. I was relieved to see that Kaoru and Vincent did get along, and that I was able to act as a somewhat integrated part of the group.
|Saturday, June 20th, 2009|
You might have found the mentioning of several vampires in my last entry odd. There are a few reasons for it. One is that some may almost appear to have vanished out of my tale if you follow my public writings, and I wished to say that they have not. Another is that I intended to introduce (or re-introduce) people who will be mentioned in the course of the next few entries here.
A short while after the delegates had returned from America, Vincent announced to me that we were having a small party. Rather a “family thing”, he called it with an amused smile. This, should it have escaped your attention (and I blame you not if it has), meant Morgan and Lyon. And seeing as the vampire who had travelled to this country with Kaoru and the others from America was a close friend of Lyon, he was to attend as well.
Morgan arrived first, and I was talking to her in the parlour when the two others got there. I heard Lyon introduce Vincent to his friend, Mathew, and then they too entered the parlour. Mathew almost ran through the room to embrace Morgan. He was a bit shorter than me, blond and of a darker complexion than most vampires I have met. Morgan returned his hug and asked him how he was. I must admit that I instantly took a liking to his spontaneity.
“If I may,” Vincent cut in once the two had greeted one another, “ I believe one more introduction is in order.” He turned to me, “Grae, this is Mathew, Lyon's acquaintance who has also been of assistance to … Chrome recently. Mathew, may I introduce you to Grae who is ...” He trailed off.
Lyon grinned widely. “The One,” he ended the sentence.
Mathew was sizing me up, but not unpleasantly so. He simply seemed curious. He was radiating the same amount of power as Lyon, but it was different. More … balanced perhaps? Lyon has an unpredictability to him, a certain wildness. Mathew is the oldest vampire I have ever met, and I was a little intimidated by it, admittedly, but at the same time he struck me as someone to be trusted.
“Hello, One. I do hope you don't mind me calling you Grae despite the fact that others seem to think that you are entitled differently,” Mathew said.
I smiled at him, quite relieved. “I should much prefer if you used my name, thank you. I am glad to meet you. Chrome has talked about you very fondly.”
“Grae it is then,” he replied, smiling. “Very nice to meet you as well. I'm glad. Hopefully I can live up to his praise.”
“Very well, now that we are all familiar with one another,” Vincent began, “Would you care for a drink?”
I was the only one, as I had expected, who would not, so our host poured glass of red wine mixed with blood from a decanter for the others. I helped myself to a glass of water. Only Mathew was not already familiar with this habit of mine, and I explained to him that I meant no rudeness and apologised if my declining to drink seemed so. I know I stand out in vampire society, but to me that is not new. The same can be said with regards to my interaction with most humans. Mathew seemed for a moment to think that I was intentionally trying to distance myself from them, but I think I managed to convince him that I was merely uncomfortable feeding in the presence of others.
Mathew had been severely injured before leaving America, but he told me that he was quite well now. The Council of vampires, of which Mathew is a member, had been in disarray, but the situation was under control. I was glad to hear it, though in all honesty, I must confess that I was not entirely sure if I was supposed to be. Vampire politics, after all, are quite complicated, and until recently I had been under the impression that Kaoru and his group of vampires were working against the clans and thereby the Council. Now, however, it seemed that a kind of truce or cooperation had come into play.
During the gathering, I had the opportunity to talk more to Mathew. He offered kindly to answer any question about vampire society that I may have, and when I replied that there was very much I did not know, he seemed surprised. “It is odd,” he stated, “considering the role they are all so eager for you to have.” The irony of how everyone I meet seems to know just as much about me as I do, or more when it comes to my so-called role, is not lost on me.
“Explanations I have had,” I said. “There is a lot to take in, and I am not so pre-occupied with my … 'role'. I am told that all I really have to do at the moment is to undertake my own journey and to be … Well, me. Vampire politics I have very little knowledge of, seeing as the vampire with whom I spend the most time does not have very strong ties to any other groups ...”
Mathew cocked his head at me. “In spite of the rogue nature of the ones you surrounded yourself with, vampire politics will still have an impact. Even Lyon left us for good due to a difference of opinion. The Council is involved now, and so are the clans associated with it. And if you are who they claim, then deeper knowledge and understanding of these new allies would greatly benefit you.” He stopped and apologised for getting carried away.
“No, please, you should not apologise, least of all to me,” I quickly said. “I am very interested to hear what you have to tell me.” And I was, for though I believe I have been very well off in the company of Vincent and the other vampires whom I consider friends, it may indeed prove useful for me to know a little about other kinds of existence. Mathew offered me to explain the structure of vampire society in more detail to me on another occasion.
But there are many ways of acquiring new knowledge, and in the course of the night, I believe I accumulated a great deal. Mathew asked Morgan to tell the story of a man she once turned into a vampire, apparently a controversial thing for her to do in the situation it happened. Lyon showed sides of himself that I have hitherto not seen, and even Vincent, whom I know so well, shared with us tales that I have never heard before.
Despite the initial awkwardness, I think the gathering went very well. After the three guests had left, Vincent turned to me. “So,” he said. “What do you think?”
“Very interesting. I liked Mathew,” I said.
He nodded, “Oh, so did I. And I have a feeling his company is very … beneficial for Lyon. Morgan seemed comfortable, too, don't you think?”
“Yes, I do. I ...” I looked up at him as we went back into the parlour, “Do you think I came across as very ignorant?”
Vincent laughed and put an arm around my shoulders. “They are thousands of years old, Grae. We are all children compared to them, even Morgan. And you are the youngest one of us.”
“So yes?” I persisted.
“Only charmingly so.” He squeezed my shoulder reassuringly.
|Thursday, April 30th, 2009|
The English language has, as probably every other language, several words that can be used when departing (or being departed from) and giving one's regards to someone else. “Goodbye” (or the shorter “bye”) is the most well-known of these. It derives from “God be with you” in Middle English, and its meaning is much the same as the more secular “farewell”. “See you later” (or just “see you”) is another, a very informal one. Dialects have various other ways. I find that there is one missing, or rather one that only the very informal versions manage to cover. In German, the most common goodbye, “auf Wiedersehen”, has the same meaning as “see you later” but is rather less informal. The French have two goodbyes; “Au revoir” and “Adieu”. The second one is used when the parties are not likely to see one another again (at least not in a very long time), while the other literally has the same meaning as the German counterpart. Apparently there is a word lacking in the English language, a single word that means seeing each other again. “Re-meeting” perhaps, seeing as “re-view” is occupied by other meanings already and “re-sight” makes one think of blindness cured.
In any case, I found myself in dire need of an expression that did not exist a while back. Chrome asked me to meet him, and I did, a little concerned as he appeared to have a serious matter to discuss with me. As we walked side by side, I studying the surroundings, a park in which I had never set foot after nightfall before, and he smoking his second cigarette since we had met, he finally explained to me what was his purpose of wanting to see me just then.
Some complications had arisen, of the kind to which I can hardly relate because I know very little of the workings of vampire society, and a small group of vampires from this country were to travel to America as a diplomatic delegation in order to convince the ruling body of vampires (the so-called “Council”; a group, I am told, of very old, powerful and influential vampires to whom most clans in the Western world owe a great amount of loyalty) of the position of one of their allies. Leading the delegation was Kaoru, and to aid him were Morgan and a young vampire named Christian (to make things almost absurdly intricate, this is indeed the same person, then human, who once caused my friend Joss much grief). Chrome was travelling with them along with Daniel.
What worried Chrome was, naturally, the safety of the three official delegates, but it was also his own role in what was to happen. While Chrome is theoretically a normal vampire (a term used loosely here), he knew that his close relationship to Kaoru as well as some of his less ordinary abilities (I know not very much of them, but he was in touch with the lab who turned me into what I am today, and I have been told that things were done to him, setting him apart from other vampires in some respects) could endanger the mission, perhaps cause him to be captured by the very people they were negotiating with.
What Chrome wanted to do, by seeing me, was to tell me goodbye. He did not seem overly emotional, but he recognised the forestanding journey as a very serious matter. While I dislike having to complicate this tale further, I should add that I had been contacted by a vampire who is even older than Lyon and seems to care for Chrome who was, in fact, part of the Council and who had told me that he would personally do his best to make certain that Chrome would return safely.
And so, I was lacking a proper type of goodbye. When we parted, we embraced, and he told me goodbye. I said that it seemed too final, and asked him if he would alter it to “until we meet again”. He smiled and nodded and did so, and I in turn told him to take care of himself and wished him a safe journey and that I looked forward to seeing him again when he returned.
It was a few weeks later before I did see Chrome again. I shall have to admit that I did think about all of the delegates and how their mission was progressing and wished that things turned out well during those weeks.
Unscathed was not a word to be used about him when we met again. It is hard to determine how serious injuries are with vampires, seeing as healing abilities, though always better than human, vary greatly, but he was unable to hide a limp, and a long cut on his forehead was just healing. I was glad to see him, and worried that he had been injured. He told me that things had become very complicated, that negotiations had stagnated, and then Chrome had been caught, interrogated and held captive for some hours until he had had a help escaping, catalysing serious conflicts within the Council, which had ultimately led to the solving of the diplomatic and political controversies.
He seemed tired, but relieved, and could tell me that the four other vampires had returned (and suffering no injuries as grave as his) as well and that they had brought back with them the vampire to whom I referred earlier.
- However, Chrome's story is not for me to tell here.
|Tuesday, March 17th, 2009|
The night after, we met in a secluded space, a big parking lot behind semi-torn down buildings. It was too late, too cold and too isolated for anyone to be there but us. Vincent drove me there in his car. How Lyon got there, I have no idea. I have never seen him use any means of transportation. Needless to say, Vincent made sure to tell me to be careful, that Lyon was dangerous, and that I had better tell him to stop as soon as I felt like it (referring, no doubt, to the fact that I refused to give up the last time). I assured him that I would be as careful as possible. His reply was low and in French and about my unconventional use of certain words.
Lyon met us the moment we exited the car. “Right on time as always. Grae, Vincent.”
We greeted him, and I handed my coat to Vincent and kept my gloves on. This time Lyon was wearing black, as was I. Vincent stood at the edge of the site, leaning against the side of his car with his arms crossed over his chest.
“How would you like to do this?” Lyon asked me.
I considered suggesting as quickly, painless and efficient as possible. “Have you any suggestions?” I said instead.
The ancient vampire's face lit up in a dangerous smile. “We have more than enough space here. Let's use it.” He gave me no opportunity to reply before he disappeared. I did register him turn and run, but I expect that to a normal human being it could have been mistaken for actually vanishing. I spotted him standing on top of a pile of broken concrete some twenty metres away from me. No doubt did he want me to follow him. The most efficient way of estimating my speed was using it. I set off, running as fast as I could towards him, and when I was near, he jumped off the blocks of concrete and let me chase him.
There was, in fact, something attractive about it. I very rarely move as fast as I am able to. I never have any need for it, and I cannot do it in the presence of normal people. Using my body thus was an interesting change, and I was pushed forward by the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I would never catch up to him unless he let me. And so we crossed the site back and forth, I constantly moving and Lyon occasionally stopping to allow me to get closer. I was beginning to wonder how long time we would be doing it when suddenly he refrained from moving when I approached. An attack, then. I attempted to punch him, but he caught my hand and tossed me aside.
I am attempting to find an adequate metaphor for my fighting Lyon. When I fight other vampires, it is like two grown men fighting one another. One may be in better shape than the other. One may have the experience of fighting, while the other never has been in any kind of physical struggle. One may be a professional boxer while the other may never even have watched a boxing match. One may be short and thin, but very fast, and the other tall and broad shouldered, but with a bad eyesight. Many factors matter. But both men are fully formed individuals. When I fight Lyon, it is as if one of the men just described is fighting an infant. I am a small child, barely able to walk, with no experience, no coordination, no muscle, no height or physical presence to speak of.
He waits patiently for me to attack, deflects or dodges, and counterattacks using almost none of his apparent strength or speed. I get exhausted quickly, while it is impossible to tell that he has just been fighting someone who did his utmost to land efficient blows.
By the end of this struggle, I was indeed tired. He had kicked me, hit me and pushed me, but he really had held back and I had no injuries worse than the occasional bruise and abrasion. I had managed a few successful attacks on him, and I suspect most of them happened only because he let them. His lower lip had been bleeding during our fight, but by the time we were done, it had stopped altogether and was healing.
We stopped when I felt I had pushed myself sufficiently. I had attacked him, and he was holding me at an arm's length, threatening to lift me off the ground. My legs were trembling, and I had no energy to attempt to pry away his fingers around my throat. “Stop, please,” I croaked. He immediately complied and released me, then moved to my side and slipped his arm around my waist to support me.
“I'm all right,” I said, “Thank you. Merely tired.”
“As you wish.” He slowly, testingly, let go of me and walked beside me towards Vincent's car.
Vincent approached us. He wore a look of worry and relief. “So?” he said.
“Congratulations, Vincent, you were right,” Lyon said, flashing him a wide smile. “No decrease in the boy's abilities.”
Vincent visibly fought back an 'I told you so'. “How are you?” he asked me instead.
“I am fine, Vincent,” I assured him and then, despite Lyon's presence, put my arms around his neck and kissed him lightly. “Please do not worry.”
Vincent smiled and wrapped an arm around me.
“How very endearing,” Lyon commented.
“Can we drop you off somewhere?” Vincent asked him.
Another wide smile. “Thank you for the offer, but no. Vincent, thank you for your help. Grae, as always an intriguing and invigorating pleasure.” The ancient vampire bowed to us, then turned to leave.
|Monday, March 16th, 2009|
I rarely see Lyon, but when I do, it always makes an impression.
Some time ago, the ancient vampire visited Vincent, and so by extension me, well into the night as is his habit. We were sitting in the parlour, the two of them enjoying a glass of a red liquid about which I did not enquire and I a glass of water (on which they did not comment), talking casually (and I use the term loosely). Felicia came into the room and went straight for Lyon.
“You have a cat?” he commented, looking amusedly at Vincent.
Vincent cleared his throat. “Not so much I as he,” he said. “Is sh... it bothering you?”
Lyon smiled widely. “Oh no, I'm quite fond of cats. I assume she has a name?”
“Felicia,” I replied and then added, “Vincent was kind enough to give her to me as a present.”
The smile grew even wider, if possible. “He did, did he?”
Vincent shot me an annoyed look. “Yes, I did. Grae likes animals.”
“Felicia,” repeated Lyon and stretched out a hand to stroke the small feline. She did not seem to be afraid of him at all. Perhaps cats do not recognise vampires as bigger predators, or perhaps she was aware that he was not going to harm her. “That was a very touching gesture of you, Vincent.”
Vincent did not reply.
I drank some water.
“I find it quite charming that you would add to the number of pets in the household,” continued Lyon. When Vincent glared at him, he hastily continued, “Oh, please don't misunderstand me. I don't think of Grae as a pet; I wouldn't dare. If anyone's a pet to someone else, and I don't mean this as an insult, we are all pets, or pawns to Grae.”
“Insult perhaps not, sarcasm, on the other hand?” I suggested.
Lyon nodded his head once, the smile still playing on his lips. “I have a confession to make.”
“The reason for your visit, no doubt?”
“Indeed. You may recall our little tête-à-tête a few years ago ...”
Recall is an understatement. So is tête-à-tête. I had no doubt that Lyon was referring to the experiment in which he and Vincent had asked me to participate in order to test my strength. The fight that I would have lost very quickly had it not been for the aid of Lawrence in my head, and that I still did lose, because Lyon is so much stronger and faster than anyone I have ever encountered in battle.
“No,” Vincent cut in, “I hardly think that's a good idea.”
“Why?” Lyon asked.
“I assume there are other reasons than your personal amusement,” I added. Last time the purpose had been obvious, but Lyon also had not neglected to tell me that it was the most entertaining fight that he had had for a long time.
“Naturally. How many vampires have you fought recently?”
“Three,” I said.
“Not counting sparring with Vincent.”
Lyon nodded. “May I venture a guess that you are referring to two redheaded menaces?”
“If you would call them that. Daniel and Chrome,” I replied.
“Now, as you may or may not know, I have fought them both, and while I commend their fighting skills ...” He trailed off and smiled. I must have looked surprised, for he continued, “Oh, quite a while ago. No serious damage was inflicted upon anyone.”
“I don't see the point,” Vincent persisted. “Grae has not lost any of his strength or skills in the past few years; on the contrary, I'd say ...”
“Sparring is what you base this assumption upon? Vincent, I'm sorry, but … I'd rather not rely on this.”
Vincent's eyes narrowed. “Certainly, you ...”
“I think it is up to Grae.”
I sighed. “You know I am not fond of the idea,” I said. “However, we have no knowledge of how I … function, in lack of a better word. Vampires seem to grow constantly stronger with time. Do I? Or do I grow weaker?”
“You would have noticed changes,” Vincent remarked. “As would I.”
I was about to ask him if he was objecting due to concerns of my health, or if it was mostly because of his personal pride. I refrained. While Vincent undoubtedly sees this kind of suggestion as an insult to him and his estimation of me, I know that his main motif must be my safety.
“Well?” Lyon was looking at me, daring me.
I must confess that I would rather have liked to decline the offer because of Vincent's sentiments. It somehow did not seem fair to cause him more worry. I had to convince myself that it was not a choice between him and anything, or anyone, else.
“I did it unconditionally the last time. I shan't do the same again,” I finally said. “I will fight you because you are very neigh the only person I know of whom I will be unafraid of harming. However, I do not see any need to experiment with how much I can handle.”
“You're asking me to hold back,” Lyon noted.
“You have always held back when fighting me, I am aware of it,” I replied. “Of course you must attack me in order to gauge my reaction time, but I have no intention of ...” I would have said of letting him hurt me so much that my mind would eventually conjur up the idea of Lawrence to push me beyond my natural limits. I could not quite find a way of saying it.
“Good!” Vincent interrupted what I was not saying. “Gauge all you want. Lyon is practically untouchable. As long as Grae ...”
Lyon flashed him a grin. “Oh, have no worries, dear marquis,” he said, “I promise I won't harm your Grae.”
|Thursday, February 12th, 2009|
|The Annual Battle
Perhaps an apology, or at least an expression of regret that I have been so tardy with updates of my public journal lately, is in order. I have been immersed in several matters, none, I am happy to say, life-threatening or severe, that have kept me busy elsewhere. Among other things, I have been fortunate enough to be employed to write more recently, still working for Susan's magazine as well as a few others. One even allows me to write reviews; something which Susan let me do once, two years ago, and has never dared since.
Christmas and New Year's eve went well. I remember purchasing a watch once, soon after I left the lab, in order to keep track of time. It quickly became irrelevant as I grew acquainted with the way in which the hours move. Years, though, I have only observed very few of so far, at least that I can remember and that were not spent in captivity. Therefore the passing of each year holds a deep significance for me, it is noticeable and memorable. To Vincent, it does not seem entirely the same. He enjoys the night, deems it worthy of celebration and consideration, spends it with us, but I suspect that he believes that the fascination with the turn of one single year something that I will, if I live long enough, grow out of. If I have physically aged in the last four years, it is very little. I cannot see it myself, and the vampires with whom I have discussed it claim that they see no aging in me either. Speaking of purely mental and emotional matters, I do, however, believe that I have developed somewhat.
January was virtually without any snow. Once in a while the skies darkened and small flakes of snow would fall, but it lasted not very long, and few hours later, the snow was gone. A few days ago, almost a week into February, we had the first actual snowfall of the season. This, of course, needed to be observed in the right fashion – that is, with the traditional, annual snowball fight. It is a strangely planned, yet spontaneous and sudden, display of childishness (or childlikeness, perhaps, as the former word has some negative connotations) that we all enjoy. Evelyn and I watched the layer of snow in the garden grow thicker in the course of the day, exchanging glances not entirely like two generals of opposing armies, but fully aware that we would be doing battle in the evening. When Vincent joined us and the sun had set, we all equipped ourselves with sufficiently warm garments and made our way outside.
It is most likely no surprise to anyone that the Marsellus army was intending for me to end up soaked and cold again this year. Being outnumbered two to one left me no choice but to exploit the possibility of capturing one of them and using him as a human shield. His comrade deemed herself skilled enough to hit me with snowballs despite his larger frame covering mine, or perhaps she was performing a quiet mutiny and attempted to make it look like an accident. Whatever the case, Vincent was hit several times by Evelyn while I was left untouched. My luck changed when suddenly Vincent bent forward while we struggled and thus threw me on the ground. Straddling me, he formed a particularly vicious snowball and slipped it under my garments, holding me down while it melted on my skin. While I was recovering from this attack, the two others had turned on each other and were duelling fearlessly. The moment they discovered that I was back on my feet and ready to resume battle, however, they were reunited.
Cold and laughing, we all went inside a short time later. Out garments were hung up to dry, and hot chocolate was distributed to those of us who enjoy that sort of thing.
|Saturday, December 20th, 2008|
|On Living with a Felina
It has now been a few weeks since the small feline moved in with us. She seems comfortable here. And I am slowly learning what it means to be in charge of taking care of a cat and also discovering various ways in which curiosity could have killed such a creature.
Two days ago, I had to search through great parts of the house looking for Felicia (not for the first time) because she, apparently, had fallen asleep on the warm floor in the bathroom behind a small cupboard. Cats, of course, go where they please and do what they want. I am fully aware of this, but I still do worry when I have not seen the cat for hours. Cats and dogs are very different. Dogs smell stronger, and they tend to make more noise, and as such they are always easier to locate than cats.
I am, however, enjoying the company of Felicia quite a lot. I usually prefer being on my own when I write, but the presence of the cat does not distract me, and looking at her playing or, as it often happens, sleeping, when I take a short break to gather my thoughts during the writing process is very soothing.
It is needless to say that Evelyn is very fond of the cat as well. Vincent is another matter. I fully accepted that she would not be allowed into his room and that he would not appreciate assisting in taking care of her in any way, but while he still claims to mean all this, I have observed him allowing Felicia to curl up in his lap and actually stroking her while sitting in a couch and reading. I am curious to see how their relationship will develop.
|Sunday, December 7th, 2008|
I have no known birthday. While Kaoru may know, he has not shared this piece of information with me, and as the person I was then, before the lab, has no direct connection to who I am today – I bear not the same name, and my memories of my childhood are quite limited. The lack of a birthday to celebrate has never really managed to bother me. I find that though being thankful for my existence is relevant, I need not a birthday to remind me of this, and there are several dates which mark radical changes in my life which I can use to stop for a while and remember, contemplate, evaluate, celebrate.
If you have been following my story for a long time, you may recognise the date of the current entry. It is today exactly four years since I publicised my online journal. I have made it a habit to update on the 7th of December for this reason.
My lack of birthday has, however, managed to to bother Vincent. Once, as an exasperated joke on the subject of the extraordinary things which tend to happen to me, he told me there ought to be an official appreciation day in order to celebrate me. I laughed when he said it. The idea, though, seems to have stuck with him (and, it would seem, somehow with others as well. I should like to let them know that I am, a little awkwardly, appreciating it very much indeed).
A few days ago, while I was writing, Vincent approached me. The sun had set a few hours ago, and he smelled of having just been outside in the cold evening. “Am I interrupting you?” he asked.
I finished writing a sentence, then looked up at him. “No, you are not.” Then I closed the book. He was obviously not there for a brief exchange of words. “Is something the matter?”
He raised an eyebrow in mock surprise. “The matter? No. But have you forgotten the date?”
“No. I have not.” It was the date on which I had fled the lab four years prior.
“Then you will also realise that I need to pay my respects or congratulate you or … Well, something of the kind. It is Grae Appreciation Day, after all.”
I smiled. “Oh, that it is? How does that work, pray tell?”
He crossed the distance between us, asked me to stand up and pulled me into a long embrace. “Something like this. I'm appreciating that you are right here with me.”
“Am I allowed to appreciate your company back?”
“I think so.” He drew back and shot me a grin, then grew serious. “Now, Grae, I have something for you. But before I give it to you, I need to stress something. If you do not want it, it is perfectly all right. There is no pressure on you. I have made arrangement that will ensure that it is not just, erh – discarded. Can you promise me that you will not take it out of sheer responsibility or duty to anyone?”
I searched his face for a hint but found none. “I am going to try, certainly.”
“Good.” He gestured for me to follow him. We went to the living room door. “One moment,” he said, then went in. I could hear him pick up something, and there was a very faint smell that I could not recognise. “Come in, then,” he said. Evelyn was inside too. She was trying not to giggle, peering around Vincent who was standing with his back to me.
“I am deeply intrigued,” I said.
“What do you think it is?” Evelyn asked me, excited.
“I am clueless.”
“Yes,” agreed Vincent. “Well, here you go.” He turned around. Between his white hands was a very small feline.
I blinked. “A cat?”
“A kitten!” Evelyn giggled.
Vincent held it up. “Do you want it?”
Now, I may come across as sentimental, but I do believe that very few people would be able to decline an offer of that particular kind without any second thoughts. The kitten in question was staring at me, curiously. It was grey with darker, almost black stripes. It also vaguely reminded me of something.
When I was a young boy, I had a grey striped male cat called Felix. Kaoru told me about it a while ago, and I may have mentioned it to Vincent once. I only remember the feeling of stroking it and the concept of having a cat, not any details. But I am rather fond of cats.
“In the spirit of … well, you, I bought it second-hand. It was left somewhere without anyone to care for it. But don't worry, I have made certain that it was properly cleaned,” Vincent explained.
“Don't make it sound like she's an old coat,” Evelyn commented. “Anyway, if you don't want her, I'll take her.”
I carefully stroked the small cat's head. It sniffed my hand, then brushed its head against it. Vincent placed her in my hands, and I sat down, almost ridiculously afraid of accidentally dropping the animal on the floor.
“Perhaps you will help me with her?” I suggested to Evelyn. “I am quite certain that I will need assistance playing with her.”
“I'd love to!” she replied, beaming.
“Thank you, Vincent,” I said. “It is very thoughtful of you. I would very much like to keep her.”
He bent down and kissed my forehead. “You're welcome. Just keep it out of my bedroom and teach it not to walk around on the tables.”
“I will do my best. Does she have a name?”
“Not yet,” Vincent said. “Evelyn has been addressing it as 'Kitty' and I as 'Furball'. You should give it a proper name.”
I watched the kitten explore my belt. She seemed to be trying to determine if she ought to give eating it a try. Deciding against it, my hair caught her attention. “Felicia,” I said.
|Wednesday, November 26th, 2008|
|Completion and Process
I find myself returning time and again to specific subjects. One of them is art, including, but not limited to, literature. I meet art in my work as a freelance writer because what I do is, essentially, writing about it. I meet art in my home because it is there, waiting to be read or looked at or listened to. I meet art in my friendship with Joss because he is a painter and I am fortunate enough to experience art in the making. Art becomes a result after having been through the creative process. Yet, it stays a process even after its creation is complete.
I was talking to a friend recently of writing about art, specifically literature. When working on a paper, an article or a book about something – anything – what one is writing must end eventually. It must be a complete work in itself, treating its subject as a whole, picked apart and discussed bit by bit and then evaluated or summed up in its entirety.
Our conversation touched the nature of feeling finished when writing about art and how difficult it can be to feel that one has written sufficiently about the subject in question. The reason for it seems to be simple. Art itself cannot readily be dismissed as an exhausted subject. When beginning to treat a piece of literature, for instance, the process is present. One sets out with preconceptions of the work in question, perhaps with some knowledge of it, ideas of what one wishes to discuss in the course of one's thesis. And writing, the process continues through arguments, reading and rereading, writing and rewriting. A good book can be read more than once and one will find new levels in it, interpret it slightly different, perhaps, understand new things on a second and third reading. When one reaches the end of writing about the work of literature, the thesis could be written again, and the result would be better, or at least more thoroughly worked through.
However, often it is not possible to redo a whole paper or book on a certain subject, and even if it is, if treating valuable literature, one could continue rewriting, not ceasing to find new points to make in the process.
It can be frustrating not to feel finished, to feel that there is much more to be said than one has accomplished to say already. To me, though, it seems better than feeling that no more words can be wrung out of the subject at all. If one article or book could cover what there can be said about a given work, there would be no grounds for further academic pursuit. There would be no alternative plausible interpretations or new insights to be gained. Having finished a thesis does not mean having finished with the work that one was writing about. The work of literature itself can easily be reread later, and discovering that one's results may have changed then does not mean that the first results were wrong or bad – merely that there are more possibilities and that one has gone through development.
Paradoxically, what I have now written on the subject to which I often return is also one of the reasons that I did return to it this time.
|Friday, October 3rd, 2008|
I must admit that I had somewhat feared Vincent’s reaction to my latest public entry. When he had read it, however, his exclamation was of a different kind than I had expected.
“If you were going to write it, why haven’t you done it sooner?” he asked.
I smiled. “Certainly not because I was afraid of your reaction.”
“Somewhat, but it is not as simple as that. It was not only your reaction. It had to do with my way of writing it. I needed to put it right. And it was … a matter of others, as well. What I write in my private journal is my own business, but when I extend my writings to others, there is a certain responsibility involved.”
It is not easy to explain the nature of this responsibility. It is not that I censor myself in my writings because of others. It is … perhaps an awareness of how readers may react to that which I write. It is also a responsibility of writing what I do to the best of my abilities. And there is another factor as well – attempting to convey changes in my life without insinuating a drastic alteration of the mode in which I write.
Vincent gave an impatient sigh at my explanation to him. “In other words, you are afraid that your dear readers will think that, from now on, everything you write will be about the attractive colour of my eyes and how wonderful it is to be around me?”
“I did not mean it exactly like that. But ...”
He crossed the distance between us and pulled me close to him, kissing my forehead softly. “But I will be doing things like this, and you will have to choose whether to write them or not.”
“Don’t worry, Grae. I do take you seriously. And your readers do trust you. They trust that you write what and how you feel you should. You just trust yourself too, hm?”
I realised he may have quite a valid point, despite his teasing. I reached up to touch his face, then stopped myself. I smiled.
“What is it?”
“I just realised that this conversation will go into writing, more or less as it is.”
|Monday, September 29th, 2008|
I believe, firmly, that all stories must be told at their own pace. They should not be rushed, nor be prolonged (though I may be guilty of doing the latter occasionally). Some stories are short and simple, some long and complicated. Some end, and some do not, and most of them, I once read in a book by a contemporary author with whom I agree, continue after they have ended. Once in a while I have been confronted with opinions of the plot in my story, and the pacing of events. Were I deliberately writing or inventing a piece of fiction, this would be relevant critique, but I am writing my life. - Or parts of it. Because there are certainly events and sensations, even ones important to me, that never make it to my public journal or make it here very delayed.
But it is not only pace which is important. They must also be told in their own way. They must be told so that they reflect the perception as well as the personality of the narrator. Two people would never tell the same story in the same way. If I cannot find the right words, I would rather write nothing at all (unless the search becomes the purpose in itself).
I come from a time when authors would be scorned for writing sexually explicit material that would take careful interpretation and reading-between-the-lines today to recognise as such. I walk the balance between the past and the present when it comes to writing. Some of the subjects as well as some of the constructions in my writings are of a nature that would never be found in other times, while others heavily carry the legacy of an earlier era. What to me may seem clear may to others appear an ambiguous hint. At other times, I may feel that I write the bare necessities and others that I waste time and words on the subject at hand.
Once written, anything is up for interpretation. Quotations out of context may change the intended meaning into something entirely else, and there is a wide range of ways of reading anything.
When Vincent and I met, our relationship was quite intense. We had fights, verbal and even physical ones, and we were not certain of each other. Some things changed after a chain of events, one of which was the vampire Lyon drinking my blood and allowing me some of his. There has been many other changes since it – changes involving only the two of us, and those having to do with the appearance of others. But for a long time, our relation has been somewhat stable. In many ways we are … exclusive.
A while ago, I was flipping through some handwritten documents in Vincent’s study while he was reading a book. I was clumsy and my finger was cut open by the edge of a sheet. I had uttered no sound, but Vincent looked up at me, having no doubt smelled my blood.
“What happened?” he asked.
“I believe the term is ‘papercut’,” I said.
“Go clean off the blood, then … What are you doing?” he interrupted himself.
I stopped sucking at my finger. “Merely cleaning off the blood before I … Vincent?”
He was glaring at me, and his face was painted with his thoughts and emotions.
“Vincent, I have no intention of letting you drink from a papercut on my finger,” I said.
“I know!” he sneered.
“However, I … was meaning to … wondering if you still ..?” I faltered.
“Well, of course I do!” he snapped.
He stood up and was at my side, hauled me to my feet and had slammed me against the wall and was pressing himself at me before I finished the sentence. “Damnit, G.R.A.E.!” he growled, holding my wrists in his hands and speaking very closely to my ear. “Do you have to do this to me? Anybody else, and I would just have taken what I want, but you can taunt me like this, and I am at your mercy. Enough!”
I closed my eyes. “Then do it.”
“I would not ask you against my own will. Please trust that I would not let you do anything against it,” I said. “Take what you will and I shall, in turn, do the same.”
It was late, and Evelyn was asleep in a room far down the corridor behind closed doors.
“Are you … out of your mind?” Vincent asked. I could feel him pull back, and when I opened my eyes, he was staring at me in neigh disbelief.
“You usually claim that I am. Now. Please.”
He kindly removed my shirt, and then his own.
Then, without warning, he bared his fangs and pushed his body against mine, pierced the skin of my throat and bit into me.
I could explain it in length. What I have waited for, what has changed, what I have learned … But as it did not seem in need of lengthy explanations then, it does not now.
My blood ran out of my veins and into his mouth, and it was indescribably like I had imagined and then not at all. The pain was drowned out by the sense of intimacy between us. He more than tasted. But I trusted him. I grew light headed, from lack of breath as much as from the loss of blood, but I refused to push him away. And he stopped, his mouth red with my blood, and his look so close to how I believe I look after feeding, and then not at all, because this was not feeding, not at all.
I reached up and pulled him to me and mimicked his action. I have tasted him before, but it had been long, and it had never been under enjoyable circumstances, and his blood went straight to my head, erupting into electric shocks of pleasure. I let go quickly, of his neck, but I stayed close to him. His arms were wrapped around me, in effect keeping me from falling.
“G.R.A.E. …” he whispered.
“Vincent. Don’t let go.” I found myself leaning against him, my hands on his back. I took a breath to steady myself, then stretched, placing my bloody lips on his for a moment.
He responded to it, but stopped himself. “I … What are you doing? G.R.A.E.! You had my blood. Vampire blood. Do you realise what that means?”
“Yes,” I replied, shifting my position against him to even more intimate levels, “I am slightly intoxicated.”
“And in no position to be making any rash …”
I shook my head. “I assure you, it was thought through prior to any intoxication.”
“Well, in that case,” he sighed. “Who am I to argue with the One?”
“To you, Vincent, I would prefer to be Grae,” I said.
Intimacy can be many things. It can be intellectual, emotional, physical. On their own, each of them can be striking. In combination … To be so close, so intimate. I think I had not managed to imagine just how powerful it really is.
|Friday, August 29th, 2008|
|On the Subject of Sleep and Dreams
I have just returned home from a walk, enjoying the setting of the sun behind trees and tall buildings. I do not go to bed for a while still. My sleep pattern is less demanding than that of most humans. I do not need more than a handful of hours of sleep every night to function properly.
These days, I usually sleep well. By stating it, I am referring to the fact that I have not always. How I slept in the lab, I can hardly remember, and I do suspect that sleep may sometimes have been artificially induced there. Having escaped, having settled down in Vincent’s house, my sleep pattern have undergone some change. I have had nightmares bringing bits and pieces of my past, often visiting me in the shape of Lawrence, the researcher in charge of the project that was me. In the beginning of my time outside the lab, I have been regularly subject to these dreams. However, a little more than a year ago, Vincent helped me, within a dream, to reject the idea of Lawrence, and since then I have had very few of these nightly apparitions disturbing my sleep. But I do still lock my door when I go to sleep alone in my room. I do not think that I would be taken over by a nightmare and sleepwalk outside to hurt others who live in the house, but by now I have become so used to it, that it is a security measure I do not mind.
Occasionally, I do find that I have trouble sleeping, though. That memories are brought to the surface, triggered by events or thoughts, that I have dreams which I find hard to wake from, and when I do it is hard to go back to sleep. By now, I know that it is going to pass. Sometimes I can just wait, and soon whatever emotions have been called into my mind – fear, anxiety, horror – will start to disappear and I can go back to sleep fairly quickly. Sometimes it takes a little longer, and I spend the time writing or even going for a short walk. On the, these days very few, occasions when I find calming down very hard, I now know that I do not have to be alone.
In these cases, I walk through the silent house until I find Vincent, who seems to almost always be awake when I am asleep. He looks up from what he is doing, and speaks my name, and by the sound of his voice, I know that he cares and that he will do what he can to help me, and already I feel better. A few times, I have stayed up until sunrise with him, or simply neglected what was left of the sleep I needed. Once I have fallen asleep in his company, on a couch in the living room and he has covered me with a blanket. Usually, I can go back to sleep after being in his presence for a while.
Now that it has grown rather late in the course of my writing this entry, I find myself tempted to end it on a perhaps slightly trivial, but I assure you honest, note. Good night – I hope you sleep well.
|Tuesday, August 19th, 2008|
I have been researching a little on various theories of parallel worlds recently. The question of other worlds, and how they may interact with mine, the one that is real and solid to me, was brought up by a friend.
One theory goes that there may be a world parallel to the one in which we (and though using the pronoun in plural, I must admit that I mainly am referring to myself in this case) live. Another states that there can be an infinite number of worlds existing simultaneously, that every time there is the possibility of more than one outcome, the other possibilities may actually happen in separate realities. Or rather, perhaps, that reality may split infinitely every time there is the possibility of different outcomes so that a new worlds are created, dependent on the same past, but independent of one another from the point of the split. Some refer to worlds linked like this as a multiverse – so that there are in fact several universes in different dimensions. It is all very difficult to grasp.
Everyone who reads this must, I assume, exist in one world. Is my diary by some considered to be an alternate universe, a version of their reality which has supernatural elements, such as vampires, which are not native to their own world? And if it is – is it, in fact, a separate world, or is it merely a different view upon the very same world, different aspects of the same reality that we see?
Perhaps some people exist in more than one world. It may be able to find a way of breaching the fabric of reality in order to get in touch with other worlds. A number of literary works suggest that it is; that some people are able to enter other worlds which are similar in some ways to their own, and yet different (they may, for instance, have a different level of technological advancement or elements which to one of our world would seem fantastic). Perhaps it is possible to gain access to alternate universes only if they do not include another version of one’s own self. Perhaps it is not possible to physically go there but to communicate with inhabitants of a given world if certain criteria are met. If open to the right impulses, one may be able to find a connection to people of other universes.
The thoughts on different worlds brought something somewhat more graspable to the surface of my mind. I have touched upon the subject before (or discussed in length, one might argue) of the night world and the day world as I perceive them, of my being in both worlds alternately. There is also another aspect of it – When I escaped the lab, did I not, almost exclusively, go from one world to another? I think it may be the case for many people. When one’s existence changes drastically in every possible way, is it not in fact nearly the same as passing from one world to another? (And I dread to think of an actual alternate world in which G.R.A.E. did never escape the lab.) Perhaps we all travel through various worlds throughout our lives, if not by entering actual other worlds, then by making choices for ourselves or by being subjected to changes.
|Sunday, July 27th, 2008|
I had not expected to encounter Chrome again so soon, and certainly not under the circumstances which I did last night.
Vincent and I had decided to go for a walk in the city a few hours before sunrise. As much as I enjoy solitary excursions, I do like the company of others once in a while. I have fond memories of walking along the harbour with Joss, strolling the beach with Vincent, now even of talking to Kaoru and Chrome while talking a walk. There is a quality to walking that makes silence comfortable and conversation sometimes easier to overcome. – But I digress. We were walking through a pedestrian street, almost empty at that time of night, when Chrome approached us.
It took Vincent few moments to register that I was reacting to something, but I had no need to tell him who it was approaching us. “Chrome.”
“Yes,” I confirmed. At that point we were still so far from each other that we may have avoided the encounter if we had taken a detour down another street. Chrome appeared not to have noticed us. He was walking with his mobile phone in his hand, typing something and looking at the display. “We can turn …”
“No,” Vincent all but snapped. We stopped, and Chrome looked up. He put his phone away and smiled as he stopped right in front of us.
“Well, what are the odds?” he said. “Heya Grae. Vincent, I assume? Nice to meet you.” It appears that Chrome (like so many others, it seems) has been reading my public journal.
Vincent’s lips curled up in an unpleasant smile and ignored the hand he was offered. “Chrome.”
Chrome cocked his head. “No shakin’ hands then. Fine. So, what are you doing here?”
“We are taking a walk,” I replied.
“I think we should be asking why you are here,” said Vincent coldly, “Were you planning an attack on us?”
“I’m on my way home from work, thank you very much!” Chrome retorted. “And you seem to be a little behind here, I have no intention of attacking anyone.”
“Well, perhaps not at this point. But who knows how long time that will last? You might just decide to assault G.R.A.E. again when you see fit.”
It was a ridiculous situation. “Please,” I started, “Perhaps we should all just …”
“Shut up, Grae. This ain’t any of your business,” Chrome told me.
“I think that is the only sensible thing you have said so far. I should very much like to talk to Chrome, G.R.A.E.” Vincent agreed.
I blinked. That I had not expected. “Well … would you care for me to leave you alone?” I suggested ironically. It was absurd.
“I don’t mind you around. But Vincent may not like you to hear what he has to say to me,” Chrome said, crossing his arms over his chest and staring up at Vincent.
“Oh no, by all means, do stay,” Vincent replied, not taking his eyes off Chrome.
“Well then. Hit it. Or me. Because that’s what you really want, isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about, right? I bit Grae, and you can’t stand me for that.”
“I have no intention of making any public displays of violence.”
“So would you like to go somewhere private?”
Vincent took a step forward. His glare was coldly furious. “You may very well have high thoughts of yourself and your own strength, but you are just a youngster. Now tell me, what do you want of me?”
Chrome snorted. “Oh come on. I don’t want any-fuckin’-thing from you, Vincent, and you know that. I’m not a threat to you. Grae’s my little brother, of sorts, and you’re his good friend. If I … If I had wanted anything, which I don’t say that I did, it would have been to tell you that I’m not one of the bad guys. I’m on Grae’s side. Your side. ‘Kay? But if it will make you feel better to have kicked my ass, then go ahead and do that or yell at me.”
I think I have never felt quite as sympathetic to the idea of staring at one’s shoelaces as during that conversation. I was very aware of people passing us and staring. Two men in expensive suits, apparently arguing in low voices, and a third standing awkwardly almost between them. I wanted to suggest going somewhere else.
“You are an insolent whelp!”
“Well, that stung. Seriously, upgrade your insults a century or two. Look, I don’t want to argue with you. I really don’t. How do I convince you that I’m not a threat?”
Vincent said nothing for a while. “I am not sure that you can. You have given me plenty of reason to distrust you. You are a nuisance, a character with no obvious loyalties, unpredictable and erratic at best, deadly dangerous because of your recklessness at worst. You may not intend to bring any harm to G.R.A.E., but I don’t really trust that you will not accidentally cause him more trouble,” he finally stated.
Chrome looked away for a short moment, then back. “Okay. In that case … all I can really say is I’m gonna have to prove you wrong. That and … I trust you.”
Chrome shook his head and smiled. “Just that. You earned my respect and trust a long time ago, but I’ve yet to earn yours.”
Vincent searched his face for an explanation, and, strangely, seemed to find it. “I see. So - I believe we were all going somewhere, then?” He offered Chrome his hand, and Chrome shook it. I must admit I felt oddly left out when they smiled at one another.
Chrome and I bid each other goodbye, and we separated again. Vincent and I walked on in silence for a while.
“So, Chrome?” Vincent finally said. “He doesn’t look much like you.”
|Thursday, July 10th, 2008|
I had considered talking to him again for a while, and he, apparently, had also thought of contacting me. When we did make an appointment and met last night, we were both aware of the irony of the date that we had picked. I went to the city as the sun set, going by train, though I would have to walk back or find another means of transportation as the trains are out of service in the middle of the night. It turned out to be a pleasantly cool summer night.
I reached the place upon which we had agreed to meet a little too early. He had not arrived yet. I had not expected him to, as it had only been dark for a short while, and he would need time to get there. Standing in the square between the old buildings, I had a few moments to enjoy the surroundings before he appeared. Walking casually towards me, hands in his trouser pockets, he smiled. For once he was not dressed very formally. His shirt sleeves were rolled up, and he was without a waistcoat and a tie.
“Grae,” he greeted me.
“Chrome,” I returned.
“That way?” He nodded in the direction of the canal, and we started towards it. Hardly anyone was outside at this hour in the middle of the week, and those who were seemed to be in the centre of the city and not talking a walk along the water.
I have learned a few things about Chrome, from others and from himself. One thing of which I am now convinced, is that whatever happened to make him donate his blood to make me what I am today, he did not do it out of malice. And as I am quite happy to be alive now, I can hardly blame him for it. What happened to me in the lab is over now. However, our reason for meeting last night had nothing to do with the lab or the time before. It had to do with the present and, perhaps, the future.
Vincent once, when I put the question to him of what it meant to be G.R.A.E. and what Kaoru expected me to do, said that I may already be doing it. Chrome appears to be sharing the general idea of his view.
We reached the water and strolled along it in silence for a while. The differences between us are substantial, but somehow his movements feel familiar. We really are related in an odd fashion.
“I’ve thought about it. If I save somebody’s butt, they get to live a little longer is all,” Chrome explained. “If you do it, they win a Nobel prize. I mean, whatever you do really makes a difference. I think that might be it. That might be what it is to be you.”
I shot him a glance. He was lighting a cigarette as we walked. “I find that everybody can make a difference. That everybody who interacts with somebody else has the possibility of making a change,” I said.
“Yeah, but you just make a bigger difference. Or make a difference to bigger people.” He frowned at his own words. “That didn’t come out right. What I’m gettin’ at is this … Somehow you meet people who are influential in some way, or you make a huge difference to people. Your probability of meeting someone right now who is about to kill themselves and then save them is bigger than mine. I think … you aren’t supposed to lead the good guys against the bad guys in an epic war or anything like that. Or maybe you are. But it’s not just that. It’s just as much who you are now. Like … that thing with the butterfly flappin’ its wings, you know? You’re that butterfly. Except you’re a person, but you know what I mean.”
“I think I am starting to,” I replied.
Chrome took a long drag of his cigarette and thoughtfully watched the cloud of smoke as he blew it out. I do wonder what kind of impact smoking has on a vampire. It ought not to have a physical effect at all.
“Well, anyway … it just seems to me that you change the lives of those you meet. For the better. You make a difference. And that’s what it is to be you. That’s why you’re Grae and all that. And there’s nothing you can do about it, and you can’t do anything wrong. Or you can, but as long as you don’t intentionally kill people or something, it just happens. I’d probably have died if not for you. At least three times.”
“Usually I am not bad at mathematics, but I fail to make the calculation.” I frowned. “Three?”
“Yeah … First, I’d been dead if they couldn’t use me for making you. I think I would. Secondly, when I got here last spring, I’d probably have gone and … yeah, done something stupid if I hadn’t met you and gotten curious. And then a year ago when … you know.” He made a face and shrugged apologetically. A year ago, Joss discovered me fighting the two vampires who had captured Chrome.
“I see. But you cannot know that you would have died if not for me.”
“And you can’t know that I wouldn’t. But chances are, right? And even if you didn’t know about the first two times, you still did it. The question is … what happens to all the others?”
We had stopped to look at the water. He was balancing on the edge, the front half of his feet over the water. “All the other what?” I repeated, just slightly annoyed because he seemed to be intentionally mysterious.
“The other people you meet, or save. Is Jo…ss going to be a famous painter? Is someone you ran into last week going to find a cure for cancer? Is a person you meet tonight on your way home going to give birth to the next prime minister in two years?”
“I hardly think I have that kind of influence. That I should be able to change the course of … well, anything just by a chance meeting.”
He shrugged. “Who knows. I’m not saying that’s the way it is. Just that you seem to have a great impact on people – and great in both senses of the word.”
I am not entirely accepting that he is right. I am not convinced, just so, that my probability of influencing people importantly is higher than anyone else’s. But it is a fact that I often encounter people who have an impact on me, and Vincent has commented more than once upon my meeting rather extraordinary people and how these chance encounters seem to happen more often than is probable. So there might be some truth in Chrome’s theory.
We spent a while walking, talking a little more of serious matters, but I am glad to say that we also managed to talk casually and spontaneously to one another, and that I think we were both able to relax in the other’s company. Eventually, he left for what appeared to be a romantic appointment, and I went back home.
|Sunday, June 15th, 2008|
I sent in applications and examples of my writing to three different magazines. At this point, I have received answers from two of them. Whether the editor of the third one deemed my skills unworthy of even a rejection or just has not had the opportunity to reply, I do not know. However, the two replies that I have gotten are quite positive. One of the magazines was not looking for new writers in particular at the moment, but the editor could use another proof reader, and he found my writing interesting enough to promise to see if he can fit me into an issue in a few months. The other answer was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and so I have been asked to write an article for their next issue with a deadline in two weeks. I am quite satisfied with these outcomes.
Naturally, I relayed the responses to Vincent. His reaction was not entirely surprising to me, but I had, perhaps, expected him to bring up the subject in another fashion.
“Congratulations, G.R.A.E.!” he said, offering me a congratulatory handshake and a hug. “I’ve never doubted your ability to write, but I’m glad someone else can see it too.”
“Thank you, Vincent,” I replied. I was standing in his study, his small library, and it was dusk outside the house. At this time of year there are only a few hours of total darkness every night, and so Vincent is not absent when the sun is still up as he is wont to be during the winter when it is only daylight a third of the time.
“May I ask you why?”
“You may, but I am not certain what you mean.” I nodded a thank you as he gestured towards a chair and sat down.
Vincent eased himself into a chair as well and crossed his legs. “Well, when you agreed to write for that Susan woman’s magazine, it seemed to be out of curiosity. You never sent an application. It just so happened. You were asked to do it, weren’t you? So what I’m asking you is why now? Why do you actively seek publication like this?”
I frowned. I could not quite determine his state of mind; whether he thought of my endeavour as a bad thing, or whether he was genuinely curious and glad of it. “It is quite an ambiguous question.”
“You mean the answer is ambiguous?”
“No, I mean exactly what I said. It is an ambiguous question,” I replied. “I am not sure what kind of answer you expect or would want. I cannot guess if we are going into an existential or financial discussion or something entirely else.”
He gave a half annoyed snort and pulled at the sleeve of his shirt so that the fabric did not wrinkle in an unintended way. “Well, that’s up to you, isn’t it?”
“I see.” I thought for a short moment. “There may be a number of reasons. Being asked why I had not done something like it sooner made me actually consider it a possibility. Also, having talked to artists and writers, I have realised that the drive to show one’s work publicly is sometimes a vital part of the creative output, though of course not the reason.”
“So you do it because you want to show the world what you write,” Vincent summed it up, not incorrectly. “No financial motive? Are you longing to be famous?”
I could feel my mouth forming a sneer and stopped myself. “You sound quite judgmental.”
“I am just trying to understand you.”
“Well, Vincent, if you are asking me if there is an emancipational motive behind it, I must inform you that there is not,” I said calmly, “I do not mind making a little money on my own, as I am almost solely relying on your good will, but I am not seeking publication because I think you are in dire need for me to pay rent, or because I have an urge to sever any ties to you.”
He looked a little taken aback. Perhaps he had not expected me to be that direct. “Well, good … good,” he said. “I would hate for … ties to be severed.”
“As for fame,” I continued, “I have a strange relationship to fame. It comes with, if you will excuse me, being G.R.A.E. I have a reputation that I could care more for in the nocturnal world. And while I am not lamenting my existence in any way, I quite find the possibility of getting recognised for something that I do, rather than what I am, very attractive. I am not looking for fame. I am trying to see if I can contribute valuably to a literary world. I want to share my writings with others, see if they find them interesting. I want others to read what I write for the same reasons that I read articles by others.”
Vincent smiled, somewhat apologetically, “Please, I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m not saying it’s wrong of you or that you don’t have anything worth publishing. I was just wondering why – if anything had happened to motivate you.”
“I did not take offence. Not really.” I smiled, a little awkwardly. “I appreciate your interest. And I would not want you to get the wrong impression.”
He hid a grin behind his hand, then stood up. “Will you go with me for a walk? I believe it is dark now.”
“I should like that,” I replied, standing up as well.
We made our way downstairs and outside. The night smelled of summer rain and had faint traces of flowers as we went through the front garden. If anyone we met in the street found it strange to be taking a stroll at that hour, they probably had no idea just how odd we really are.
|Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008|
Fundamentally, Vincent and I disagree on the matter of books. We may read the same volumes, may agree on their qualities and their weaknesses as literary works, but ultimately we feel quite differently about their nature. Vincent enjoys beautifully bound first editions. He admires pages untouched and dislikes bent corners, underlinings, and paperback covers. I like books, but, if I may be so crude, would rather not judge them by their covers. I do not prefer a flawless cover. In fact, I like to see that a book has been read - that others have picked it up, read it before me. I would say that it has been loved, but may not a book have been read and re-read out of pure hatred or disbelief?
So, used volumes mean something to me, somehow they even inscribe me into their own history. I would rather bear witness to activities than stand perfectly untouched between other books. I would rather be loved and hated than bring about nothing, have no emotional impact at all.
Existence, in the case of people as well as books, balances on the thin edge of risk. Without risk, we come to a standstill. I mean not necessarily (far from) risking life, health, even estate, career or money. No, there is a risk involved in everything. Speaking your mind, dressing how you like, admitting emotions, going for a walk, meeting new people, thinking. – One always risks, at least partly, oneself. The only thing which has only one risk attached is not risking, not doing, anything. Then the consequence is never to have, and that is the one risk I find that I cannot take. Books, I find, are risks that should be taken at least twice; once in writing, once in reading.