A Night in the Life

~1700 words :: Vampire Chronicles :: Louis/Lestat :: 8/8/02
After Interview with the Vampire is published, Louis comes to a decision. (Note: This is the first fic in the Coming Back to Life series, a collection of stories set in a universe where Akasha doesn’t rise.)

Once upon a time in a land far, far away…far away from the city in which I was raised anyway.

San Francisco. The Castro District. A small club. A table in the corner.

That was where I saw him. Young. People probably think that when they see me, too. Eager to prove himself. A boy reporter. Like Clark Kent was the thought I caught from him. But I am the one with the secret identity.

It was maybe a year and a half later that I saw my so-called biography on display in the window of a little bookstore not far from my room on Divisadero Street. It was written under a pen name, a woman’s name. What had the boy’s name been? Danny? Dan? He’d introduced himself, hadn’t he? I suppose I’ll never know now. But I recognized it at once for what it was. Interview with the Vampire. I laughed out loud at the title. The Vampire. As if there were only me. My laughter faltered and turned into a choking sigh.

That was yesterday, and the store was closed. It was midnight, past midnight probably. Today I am back again. It’s summer and the sun doesn’t go down until late, but I’m able to get there in time. Ten minutes before they close, but I know what I want.

I pick up a copy and flip through. Only three hundred and some pages. My life in a nutshell. The Reader’s Digest version.

Taking it up to the counter, I fumble in my pocket for some money. I did remember to bring some, yes? Finally I find a rather crumpled twenty and hand it to the cashier.

My change and receipt. Do I need a bag? No, thanks.

I start reading before I’m out the door. I could read faster – eyes darting across the page, taking in everything in seconds – but I don’t like to do that. Lestat laughs at me for “reading like a mortal”. Laughed, I correct myself. Sometimes it seems I’d do anything to hear that mocking laughter once more. Absence makes the heart grow fonder? I turn another page. I guess I did do something. God only knows if he’ll see it. Now that I think about it, what would Lestat be doing in a bookstore? Damn.

Ah, but surely somehow… I cling to that hope like a lifeline. It’s all I have left.

I am back home before I realize it, so caught up in the book am I. Unlock the door and kick it shut, still reading. There are no opulent chairs to sit in, no fireplace in front of which to warm myself. The room is spare. Empty. A desk and chair in one corner, a bed against the wall. A small bookshelf overflowing with books, some piled up on the floor around it. I should buy another shelf. A furnace provides the only heat, but it’s summer now – no need for that. A tiny bathroom and an unused kitchenette. I could afford better, but why bother?

I step out of my shoes and lie on my stomach on the bed. It’s like reading about someone else. Things left unsaid that would have changed the tone of various passages. Years glossed over in favor of dwelling on the absolute worst. Everyone becomes a caricature of himself, every event a parody.

He wouldn’t laugh, he’d throttle me. “But it’s your fault it came out like this, Lestat. I can only tell my side of the story.” Talking to myself as if he were there. My voice echoes in the empty room.

Finally I come to the end. And what a fantastic ending! I had seen Lestat just a few months before that interview? News to me. I’ve been living in San Francisco for these past ten years now.

Why ever would he write such a thing? I remember him asking if I’d seen Lestat again and being quite dismayed when I told him I hadn’t. But that was no reason to make up a whole new ending now, was it?

I can’t afford to lie here and ponder it any longer, though. Only a couple hours til dawn and I still haven’t fed. I put the book down on the floor and roll over on my back.

The thirst is raging in me. Without the book to distract me, it’s all I can think about. I feel it not so much in my stomach, but in my veins themselves. Closing my eyes, I imagine myself to be nothing more than a web of blood vessels spread across the bed. I feel the blood being pulled from my extremities; my own body is sucking me dry. The pain is razor sharp. Exquisite.

Putting off feeding this long is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes the kill much, much easier. There is no time for regret. No time to feel sorry for my victim. Instinct takes over. On the other hand, it makes me feel that much more the monster. Not only that, but the pleasure of the swoon is heightened to an almost unbearable degree. The experience will be, literally, orgasmic.

Not like a mortal orgasm, oh no. Better. The only thing that tops it is combining the two. I remember his grey eyes undressing me, boring into me with a frightening intensity. Lips red with blood trailing kisses down my stomach. Golden hair shining like the sun – the only sun left to me.

I try to stop thinking about him. It’s really not making things any better. I have to get out of here now or I’m not going to have time to feed tonight. Opening the window and dropping down to the street below, I pray I don’t have to go far.

Now I don’t bother to walk like a mortal; I sprint down the empty road in search of signs of life. Another drawback to waiting this long, no one is ever about when you’re in a pinch.

And then I turn down an alley and practically collide with a young man coming the other way. I don’t stop to think; I simply act. Grabbing his wrist, I pull him into the shadows, shoving him against the wall. His blue eyes are wide with terror, but he doesn’t have time to scream. A flash of white fangs in the moonlight is the last thing he sees.

Blood gushes down my throat and races to fill my veins. Ah, that’s the feeling. The boy is swooning, his mind given over to the pleasure of being taken, and I, too, give myself over to the ecstasy of the taking. His body arches against me, mindlessly seeking release. One last draw and he finds it – at the same instant his faltering heart stops beating.

I let him drop to the ground and sink down next to him, panting. Feeding when I’m like this is almost too intense. Unbelievably so. I’m trembling with the feel of his blood making its journey through my body. Tissues fill out and as I look at my outstretched arm, I can see the blood working its magic on me. Minutes ago I was pale and gaunt, now I would have no problem passing for human should someone happen to see me.

Perhaps fifteen minutes I sit here, unable to move. The pleasure of being filled is as exquisite as was the earlier pain of being empty. My veins are pulsing with stolen life. And I think the kid may have been high on something, too.

I feel high. I feel high and very, very good, and then I look next to me and there’s a dead boy on the pavement whose only crime was to be out too late. It is, as I’m sure he would put it were he still alive, one hell of a downer.

Sometimes I hate myself. I hate myself for clinging so desperately to life that I would kill night after night for eternity rather than let it all go. Cowardly. It was easier being a monster when there were other monsters around. Of course I didn’t think so at the time. They were a constant reminder of what I was, what I am. There were times I could barely stand to look at Lestat with his idiot grin, flashing his fangs for all to see. I wanted to pretend I wasn’t like him. Lies. Fucking hypocritical lies.

I am a killer. Not only that, but I enjoy it. Death is beautiful. Sensual.

It saddens me, though. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. But I also know that given the chance, there’s no way I’d ever choose to be mortal again either. My guilt is not so great that I’d change places with this boy beside me.

Sighing, I pick up the body and walk further down the alley towards a dumpster. I break a few bones, rough him up a bit. Just like Lestat showed me how to do so long ago. Take his money – what little he has left – and the drugs in his pocket. Slit his throat. All done.

You have died that I may live. Amen.

It sounds like a joke Lestat would make, but I am serious. I still cannot take death lightly. Someone will miss this boy. Maybe someone will cry. But the years will go by and they will forget about him. His memory will fade. Only I will remember.

Your death has not been in vain.

I think of Lestat again. I am no longer the person in that book. I doubt there will ever come a time when I will enjoy befriending mortals only to kill them as he and Claudia so loved to do, but I have come a long way all the same.

Leaving the alley behind, I head back to my room. Dawn is coming on fast. Halfway there I realize something. I’m happy. It’s not the thrill of the kill, it’s not the drugs in the boy’s blood, I’m just…happy. Optimistic. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve felt that way about anything.

I will wait here in San Francisco and Lestat will find me. I refuse to believe he’s dead. He’s out there somewhere, and I will wait here for him.

Read the sequel: The Waiting Game.