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Visions in the Blood

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Sarah's fangs sunk deep into Alfred's neck. There was a moment of struggle before the sweetness of the sensation overtook him, and then he didn't even want to struggle. For a few brief moments he felt truly alive, as if every step he had ever taken had led to this one event, this final and all encompassing kiss. Finally he was Sarah's and she was his, truly, and...

The snowy wilderness faded. The howling of the wolves faded. The stars and the professor's voice faded. The panting and the soft padding footsteps of the sled dogs as they ran through the snow faded away. Where there had been coldness all around him before there was now the most delicious primal heat.

----

Alfred was no longer certain if his eyes were open or closed. He saw things, yet he knew that these things were past and over now, that they couldn't be.

He was in a dusty library at his old university in Königsberg, bent over a book, trying to read in the dim light of a candle.

"You know, my boy, the library has been closed for over an hour," Professor Abronsius said, leaning over him.

Alfred shrugged in annoyance before remembering his avowal to be polite to the old man. The other students always whispered comments during his lectures, called him a mad old bat as if he didn't have two ears to hear with and the most uncanny ability of sneaking up behind you at just the wrong moment.

Alfred had actually always found him rather interesting, at least compared to the dull philosophers that ranted at him in Latin about thoughts and ideas which were purely theoretical and which no mortal being could prove, no matter how much they pretended to be able to. Abronsius's ideas were crazy to be sure, but he pursued them with such zeal and spun stories that were like a darker version of the fairy tales his mother had told him when he was a child.

Alfred realized suddenly that he'd forgotten to answer.

"I should send you out," the Professor continued, with thump of his cane upon the wooden floor of the library. "Like this -- get out of here! Shoo!" The cane waved in the air, and Alfred made such haste to stand up that he knocked over the stool he had been sitting on and had to bend over to pick it up.

"No, no, no... I didn't say for you go go away. Sit! Sit down my boy! What are you reading now, hmm?"

Alfred flushed at this question, but handed the heavy book over to the professor.

"Demonology," the old man said, taking his spectacles out of his pocket and taking a seat on one of the wobbly stools beside Alfred. He opened the book, and Alfred could see the man's entire being was practically buzzing with energy and interest. It made Alfred feel nervous.

"I didn't mean to... I mean to say I didn't plan on reading..." Alfred stammered.

"Ah I see, the book just flew over and grabbed you by the jugular, did it?" The professor chuckled at his own joke.

Actually, the book had fallen on his head when he'd been in the process of reaching up to the very highest shelf to grab a book of poetry. All in all he ought to have felt lucky to have it now -- it was considerably lighter than the tome he'd had in mind, and all things considered it would not be that much more difficult to explain a curiosity about demons than it would be to explain a taste for verse.

"It just seemed interesting," Alfred said softly. Professor Abronsius clapped his hands at this and edged in closer to him to explain to him more thoroughly what a succubus was, since the book only had a few sentences on this fascinating creature. He went on to explain werewolves and vampires, and all manner of things that haunted the night.

Alfred did not have the heart to tell him that he was crazy. He was, after all, only an old man. Perhaps he was lonely. Perhaps he had nobody else left in the world who would listen to his tales and pretend to be interested.

Besides, the more the professor said, the less Alfred had to pretend. When he finally went to bed at around four in the morning Alfred found his imagination full of ghosts and fangs, and no amount of tiredness would allow him to drift into peaceful sleep.

---

Alfred stood over Sarah's bed in her room in Chagal's inn. The air was thick with the stench of garlic, and the girl was not sleeping but pacing around the room, her pretty face fixed in a petulant glare.

The door to the bathroom was closed and bolted shut, as was the second door that would lead out of her room and into the inn downstairs. Her sponge lay on her bedside table, dry and useless the time being. Sarah went to each door in turn, beating on them with her dear little fists. Alfred wanted to help her, but she made no indication of seeing him. Even when he called out her name softly she took no notice.

It was peculiar. The library was gone, the books were gone. So many things had left him -- ice and snow and wind and blood -- but Sarah was still there besides him and just as oblivious to him as ever.

Sarah reached up and started to tear the garlic flowers that hung from the walls and ceiling. She gathered them all up in her arms, opened the window, and threw them outside into the snow.

"I wonder if it's true that they have to be invited in," she said to herself, her voice tight with anger. She looked back at her bed, her eyes fixing on everything in the room except for Alfred though she looked right past the point where he was standing. Her chin quivered slightly.

"Fine then," she said. "I'll do it. I invite you in. I'm waiting."

She brushed her dark hair away from her neck, closed her eyes, and simply stood there.

The glittering stars outside did not answer her. The cold from outside seeped into the room, and soon Sarah was shivering violently as she stood there barefoot in nothing but her nightgown. She shut the window and picked the sponge up from its spot next to her bed. She cradled it just under her chin and sat down on the bed.

She looked so small and unhappy, and Alfred wanted more than anything else in the world to change things for her. The only problem was he wasn't sure anymore if he wanted to rescue her and take her away to some safe place, or simply take her.

He could smell her blood.

The hunger he felt for her was as sudden and powerful as being struck by lightening.

Sarah looked up and her eyes met his.


---

Sarah licked Alfred's neck carefully one last time, lapping up the last of his mortal blood. If the bite had been brutal, this final gesture was oddly delicate. She exhaled as if satisfied.

Alfred should've felt weak from the blood lost, but he didn't -- not in the least. Everything was bolder and brighter than before. He'd always been inclined to think Sarah's eyes the most brilliant sight in all the world, but seeing them now that brilliancy had increased tenfold.

Alfred winced as he felt his new fangs pierce through his gums. The pain didn't last, and there was a certain sweetness to it anyway. He smiled.

It was several days before either Alfred or Sarah were ready for much conversation. They were wild and newborn, and needed to feed. Even after they started to talk to one another, it was some time before Alfred thought to ask her about the night that he was turned.

He and Sarah were bent over the body of a young woman they had shared. She was breathing still, her white breasts heaving, the red marks on her neck a clear testament to what he and Sarah had taken from her. Maybe she would be able to continue her mortal life, but Alfred had his doubts.

"Did you see anything when you were feeding from her?" Alfred asked.

"Hmm? No. My eyes were closed. I would've heard if anyone came for us, don't worry."

"I meant anything from her life. Memories or thoughts or...?"

Sarah laughed. "No. Did you?"

"A few things... maybe."

"Maybe," Sarah repeated with a knowing grin. "Do you always maybe see things, darling?"

"Not always. Sometimes it's just colors.... or bits of music..."

"It sounds distracting. I'd rather concentrate on the taste of the blood. I like that."

"What about that night, when you made me. Did you see anything then?" Alfred asked.

Sarah ran a finger down his neck, "Only this vein, right here. It's just lovely, you know. So full of blood. At least it was." Sarah sighed.

"And nothing else?" Alfred persisted.

"No," Sarah said slowly. "Nothing else. Nothing at all. What use would it be?"