Chapter 0:

Prelude: A Simple Conversation

Between Life and Death

To this day, I can’t remember the journey that led me there that day. My thoughts weighed too heavily on my mind for me to keep track of my surroundings and the path I took. It was only until I reached the edge of a cliff that I realized where I was. Bookmark here

Behind me spread a plethora of trees from which I assume I had emerged from. And beyond the cliff before me, the serene landscape you’d expect from a forest covered mountain. And not much further we’re the dazzling lights of the city I grew up in. Not a huge metropolis nor a small countryside town. Regardless of its size, the setting sun provided a new canvas for the lights of the buildings to shine on. Bookmark here

It was beautiful and peaceful to see it all come together, and so I sat down on a nearby bolder and watched it from afar, only desiring to clear my mind.Bookmark here

It was just me. No one, not a thing disturbed me. No birds sang their songs and not a single animal made a rustle in the leaves. The city was too far for me to be able to hear the cars’ horns and I was far beyond the nearest trail. I was just me. Bookmark here

I was alone. Bookmark here

The only thing I could hear was my own mind and my own breathing. But even those I quickly phased out. And all the while I sat contently admiring the scene before me. Bookmark here

A moment of silence, and then…Bookmark here

To my right, the rustle of the leaves of a tree, like if a bird had landed there, caught my attention. And a moment later, the dull thud of footsteps from under the tree. Bookmark here

Under the tree’s shade, only a few meters away, stood a beautiful girl about my age. She wore nothing but a simple, white dress and a pair of summer sandals. Bookmark here

But, without a doubt her most eye catching feature was her silvery, white hair. Bookmark here

“I didn’t expect to find anyone up here,” she said. Bookmark here

“Me neither, but how did you get up here? I didn’t hear any footsteps until I saw you under the tree.”Bookmark here

She smiled as if I was asking a stupid question and pointed to the tops of the tree canopies. Bookmark here

“I jumped from tree to tree until I made it here.”Bookmark here

“Okay, stop joking around.” That was completely absurd. Bookmark here

“No, really. I did.”Bookmark here

She said it with no change in tone and she frankly seemed confused as to why I was not believing her. But I wasn’t buying it. Bookmark here

“Sure…” I mocked, “because people can just jump from tree to tree.” If she continued, I was going to grow tired of her jokes. Bookmark here

“Oh, but that’s the thing,” she began as if she had forgotten an important detail. “You see, I’m a vampire.”Bookmark here

“.....”Bookmark here

Needless to say, I laughed. What else would you expect me to do. Bookmark here

What kind of person just shows up in a secluded part of the forest and proclaims that they were a vampire. Bookmark here

It was comical. It was exactly what I needed to brighten up my day. I mean, there was nothing I could do but laugh. And I laughed for quite a bit of time. Bookmark here

All the while the teenage girl stood under the tree waiting for me to stop laughing. But I never did. Eventually, she grew frustrated with my ridicule and turned red with annoyance. Bookmark here

“All right, you can stop laughing, now!” she erupted with exasperated. Bookmark here

It took a fair bit of will power but eventually I calmed down. Bookmark here

“I-I’m sorry. It’s just that you said that with such a serious face. How old are you, eight?"Bookmark here

That seemed to only make her angrier and her cheeks puffed out as she blurted out, “Fine if you don’t believe me then I’ll show you.”Bookmark here

In that moment she rushed out from underneath the tree, her once porcelain like skin immediately turned red. A moment later, blisters covered almost the whole of her body, and her skin began to split as if it was being cut by razors and started to spew out blood. And before I knew it, her whole body, the entirety of her body was engulfed in flames. Bookmark here

It all happened in three seconds. Bookmark here

She was so close to me that when she erupted in flames, I was so startled that I felt from the boulder. By the time I finally dared to look, she had already returned to the shade of the tree with no damage to her skin still present whatsoever. Bookmark here

Even her white dress was unscathed. Bookmark here

I was dumbfounded. Bookmark here

She was completely fine. Bookmark here

It was a miracle. Bookmark here

“It’s a curse,” she said out right, almost as if she had read my mind. “That’s what I was told. A wish that came true only for it to then become a curse.”Bookmark here

I only looked on from behind the rock as she explained. Bookmark here

A vampire. Bookmark here

And I, a human. Bookmark here

“Would you please come out from behind that rock,” she yelled, exasperated. Bookmark here

“No.” Bookmark here

“Why not?”Bookmark here

“Because… You are a vampire.”Bookmark here

At my reply, she massaged her forehead the way you would try to alleviate headache. Bookmark here

She let out a big sigh and glared at me with all the annoyance and frustration of a mother at her limit. Bookmark here

“Are you stupid?! Do you think I’m going to kill you?” she asked. “I’m a vampire. If I wanted to, this conversation wouldn’t have gotten to the point we are at now.”Bookmark here

“Okay…” I said skeptically as I came out from behind the boulder. “Then why are you here?”Bookmark here

“Simple. I was wandering around the forest and I stumbled upon you. You were just sitting there, looking into the distance, and I thought that you might be fun to speak with.”Bookmark here

Her reasoning made her look like a stalker. But that might just be what vampires naturally do. Even so, I couldn’t say I was feeling any safer. Bookmark here

But if her reasoning was to be believed, why would she just want to have a conversation with a person she just met in the middle of the forest? Bookmark here

“You just seem like the kind of person who would have interesting opinions,” she explained with an unnaturally keen deduction. As if she had read my mind. “And I managed to catch you between night and day.”Bookmark here

“That’s it? You just wanted to have a conversation with someone?” I asked, not sure just how serious she was. Bookmark here

“If anything, shouldn’t you be elated by this opportunity?” she said as if it were an obvious line of reasoning. “After all, how many people have the chance to speak with a vampire. Many who do meet them end up as their lunch.”Bookmark here

“I feel like I should be running away.”Bookmark here

“A useless idea. I’d catch you in a second. And beside...” She cleared the ground below her of rocks and twigs with her feet before gently sitting down, careful not to crease her dress. “Like I said, I wish to speak with you.”Bookmark here

There wasn’t any malice in her tone or expression that I could sense. Running away from a vampire seemed like an impossible task, so I chose to sit back on the boulder. Bookmark here

“Then what is it that you want to talk about?”Bookmark here

“Hmm,” she hummed as she mulled it over. “I’m not quite sure.”Bookmark here

Here she was, vaguely threatening me not to leave so that she could have a conversation with me, and she wasn’t even sure of what she wanted to talk about. Bookmark here

She might as well be wasting my time. Although, to her that idea might be completely irrelevant.Bookmark here

“Well, I’ve been living around humans for quite some time, but to tell the truth, I’ve never spoken to a human at length. Vampires and humans have always been at odds. I guess I’d like to understand why.”Bookmark here

“Isn’t it obvious?” Bookmark here

“Not particularly.”Bookmark here

“Then that’s your answer.”Bookmark here

Ignorance. That’s why. The fact that she couldn’t see such an obvious thing was part of the problem. But why would a vampire care in the first place? Bookmark here

“Fine, fine,” she gave in with a disgruntled looked. “Keep to yourself. We can get back to it later. How you ask me something now. This is clearly your first time meeting a vampire, so you must be a little curious.”Bookmark here

“I suppose so.” Up to this point, vampires had always been creatures of legends and myths for me. But those stories all need to come from somewhere, right. So it was impossible to deny the possibility that they did indeed. Bookmark here

“Alright, how old are you?”Bookmark here

“I’m four hundred and sixty eight years old.” Bookmark here

“Almost a half millennium,” I pointed out in slight awe. Bookmark here

“Hey! You’re making me sound old.”Bookmark here

Jeez. Bookmark here

Vampires were known to reach ages in the hundreds of years, but her inherently young looks made it so that when her true age was revealed, it left me in a bit of shock. Bookmark here

“I’m guessing that you are sixteen years old, right?”Bookmark here

“Can you read minds or something?!” Frankly, her guessing my thoughts was a bit concerning and I inched further away from her.Bookmark here

“Nope,” she said, almost amused at my reactions. “I’m almost five hundred years old. I just know these sorts of things.” Bookmark here

“Say whatever you want. It’s still creepy.”Bookmark here

Still, I wonder what it's like to have been alive for that long?Bookmark here

I could ask her many things.Bookmark here

Where she was from.Bookmark here

What it was like as a vampire.Bookmark here

Anything, and yet. Bookmark here

“So what’s the reason you came up here all alone? Did you get lost?”Bookmark here

It was a simple question, so I didn’t mind answering.Bookmark here

“For the past month or so, I had been feeling pretty sick. After some testing, I was diagnosed with a pretty terrible disease. It’s almost incurable, but even so, I was given four months to live.”Bookmark here

She didn’t speak for a moment as she let the wind blow by. “I can’t relate,” she admitted. “I am immortal, after all.”Bookmark here

It didn’t surprise me. A human and a vampire. One dies from the smallest of wounds and the other walks on until the earth itself ends. Bookmark here

She would never be able to understand what it was like to walk around with a death sentence. And even more so if you had a rough estimate of that dreaded day. Bookmark here

“Though,” she continued, “you could say that, in a way, I am able to understand.”Bookmark here

“How so?” How could she possibly understand.Bookmark here

“I started off as human. And you could say that the event that turns me into this was my point of death. While a human’s life ends at death, ours begin with it.”Bookmark here

“So you used to be a human?”Bookmark here

“I do recall it being so,” she tried to remember as she looked to the sky.Bookmark here

She couldn’t even remember being human, so how could she possibly say that she understood.Bookmark here

“Don't blame me,” she said after I failed to say anything.Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“You would do the same.”Bookmark here

“If you are referring to becoming a vampire then I would never do so.”Bookmark here

“You are dying, aren’t you?”Bookmark here

The way in which she said it got on my nerves. It was definitely her intention. Bookmark here

What was she trying to prove? That I was a lifeless monster like her? Needless to say, I refused.Bookmark here

“If you want, I could turn right now. You would never have to worry about that disease of yours ever again.”Bookmark here

“Like I said, I’m not interested,” I said bluntly. I would never forgive myself if I were to choose that for myself. Bookmark here

As to why, I wasn’t sure. Bookmark here

“Suit yourself. It’s not like it is our job to save humans. We’re supposed to feed off them.”Bookmark here

“Are you trying to get on my nerves again?”Bookmark here

“No. Just because I’m immortal does not mean I don’t get hungry. Am I not allowed to eat?”Bookmark here

I fell silent. Bookmark here

Even so. Bookmark here

“Yes. I remember facing the same conundrum. But unfortunately, humans are the only food source suitable for my kind.”Bookmark here

As if she had read my mind. Bookmark here

Human turned vampire who killed other humans. Like she said. A conundrum. Could I even be mad at her?Bookmark here

The answer was yes. She chose this life, therefore, it wasn’t a conundrum. Bookmark here

It was deliberate. Bookmark here

She wasn’t even calling herself human anymore.Bookmark here

“It’s merely a matter of life and death. I chose to keep living, and so, I do what must be done. Humans just get caught in the middle. Starvation is one of the very few ways we can die.”Bookmark here

But if that was the case.Bookmark here

“Do you not feel any guilt?”Bookmark here

She dwelled on it for a bit before answering.Bookmark here

“Back then, yes. But hunger is a relentless enemy.”Bookmark here

That was just a disgusting thing to hear. Bookmark here

She was a former human and yet, she felt no empathy toward her victims whatsoever. Bookmark here

It was just disgusting.Bookmark here

“Though, I’m pretty sure I have never killed a human before,” she mentioned uncertainty as she stared at the tree boughs. Bookmark here

She was a vampire. How could she have not. Bookmark here

When she saw my dumbfounded expression, she covered her mouth in a futile attempt to hide her smug smirk. Bookmark here

“What?!” I wanted to punch her. Not that it would have any effect on a vampire.Bookmark here

“Don’t get too full of yourself. Your morals aren’t like everyone else’s. You’re nothing special, unlike me.”
“Oh-ho! Look who’s talking. ‘Don’t get too full of yourself’ my ass!” Bookmark here

“But it’s true,” she said as if it was the most obvious of things. “Say, if we had a caste system, animals would be at the bottom, right? Then they would be followed by humans who are followed by vampires. So, you see, if anyone is allowed to act all high and mighty, it’s me.”Bookmark here

I’m going to wipe that smirk off her face.Bookmark here

“Oh yeah?! Then explain this. What is it that sets us apart? Why are humans and vampires at separate stages in the caste?”Bookmark here

“Well, isn’t that obvious?”Bookmark here

I couldn’t help notice the parallels. It was as if she were mocking me. Bookmark here

But if I had to give an answer, wouldn’t it be their immortality? But if that were the case, couldn’t humans still be called humans even if they were immortal? Bookmark here

“Or maybe not,” she said as if she had read my mind. “Maybe it isn’t that obvious afterall.”Bookmark here

Then it would have to be their vampiric abilities. I would be hard pressed to find anyone who could still consider someone with such traits as human. So then that begged the question…Bookmark here

“Then the first vampire must have been a type of demon for them to be classified separately from humans.”Bookmark here

“Nope,” she said matter of factly. “She was originally a human.”Bookmark here

Well, there went my hypothesis.Bookmark here

“For some it might be hard to believe but for others it’s common sense. At least, that’s how I see it.”Bookmark here

“I’m guessing that we both see it in different ways, then?” Bookmark here

It wasn’t really common sense. I would assume that the first vampire would have been a sort of demon or something similar. But someone else might believe in a different origin. Bookmark here

“Most likely. Though, in this case, there is only one truth, or, to be more accurate, there is one story that is seen to be the truth,” she explained. Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“A while ago, I don’t remember how long ago,” she began, “a friend of mine, a woman much wiser and older than I, once told me the story of the first of our kind.”Bookmark here

Would you like to hear it? she asked. Bookmark here

I nodded. Bookmark here

“One day, a wealthy couple was returning home and took a path along the riverbank. From behind the shrubs and trees, a group of bandits revealed themselves bearing swords. The couple were told to give all money they carried, which they did. Bookmark here

But the bandits, not wanting any witnesses to their crimes, impaled both the wife and husband through their hearts. The bandits were about to throw them in the river when they noticed a man approaching and ran away.Bookmark here

The wife and the husband, though impaled by blades through their chest, crawled toward each other. And once they were both completely drained of their blood, they confessed their love for each other one final time.Bookmark here

But standing above them, witnessing their struggle, was a man who was equally terrifying and calming. He told the wife and husband that there was a way for them to continue to be together after death. He could either send them to heaven or he could make them both immortal. The only condition was that they both had to make their decisions separately. Bookmark here

The wife and husband agreed to the terms and the man plunged them into darkness, unable to see each other nor hear each other. Bookmark here

The husband thought of his son and daughter of ages 10 and 6. He thought of how he would be leaving them if he chose to go to heaven. But he believed in the humanity of those surrounding them to be kind to his children, and in their own humanity to help them be virtuous and eventually join him in heaven. If he could live in a place of eternal happiness with his wife, then he would accept.Bookmark here

The wife thought of her son and daughter as well. She thought of how hard it would be for her to leave them behind if she went to heaven. She thought that her husband would choose in the same manner. So, if she were to become immortal and spend eternity with her husband and be able to see her children grow, then she would accept. Bookmark here

Both the wife and husband made their decisions at the same time, knowing that they would both come to the same conclusion. But when they were pulled out of the darkness, the wife found her husband smiling before realizing his eyes were void of life. Bookmark here

The mysterious man told the wife that now only God was capable of killing her before vanishing, and the wife was left alone. Bookmark here

She returned to her children and buried her husband. For 53 years she watched her children grow while at the same time she herself never aged, and in fact, only grew more beautiful with every year that passed. Eventually she saw her children die.Bookmark here

For 7 years she prayed to God every day and every night, begging for him to kill her. But God could not bring himself to kill one of his children, especially one that had been so virtuous in life. But after all those days of prayer, she at last lost hope of death and fell into depression.Bookmark here

One night, on the way back from her family’s graves, she saw a man walking in her direction. Her frustration and anger at God finally reached a boiling point and she attacked the man, her canines growing into fangs before biting down on the man’s neck. She continued until she had drained the body of all its blood. Bookmark here

She promised God that she would continue to kill for an eternity unless he killed her. But God knew that if he killed her now after having sinned, he would have no other choice but to send her to hell. Her husband would become aware that she had been sent to hell and would certainly make a deal with the devil to be sent with her, and the devil would likely accept. Bookmark here

God knew that by doing that. he would be damning an innocent person. So he refused to kill her. Bookmark here

Realizing that God had refused her plea she continued to drink the blood of humans, choosing the most virtuous of them all to spite God and force his hand. After she hand killed 20 innocent people, God had had enough and cursed her so that the moment she stepped into the sun, she would be engulfed in flames that would bring her great agony. This way, people were less likely to be made aware of such a monster. Bookmark here

But her healing factor was far too fast for the curse to be effective. The pain that she should have felt was merely an inconvenience to her. She would have to spend 12 hours under the sun for her to die. Bookmark here

Eventually, she even gained the ability to control her curse of immortality and pass it on to others, it only serving as a way to spite God. Bookmark here

And so, she continued to kill, as promised, all the while laughing at God’s lack of power. To her, he was no longer all powerful.Bookmark here

Her dear husband spent an eternity in misery, though in heaven. And she continued to live an eternity in misery, though immortal, with not even God having the power to kill her.”Bookmark here

So the story goes, she added. Bookmark here

She stared into the forest with a solemn glare as she pondered on the story she had just told. Bookmark here

She never told me whether or not she hated that story. Bookmark here

“So as you can see,” she began, “all vampires originate from a single human.”Bookmark here

“A single human that chose to become a vampire,” I elaborated. Bookmark here

“Hmm. I’m not sure that’s right.”Bookmark here

“Huh?!” Didn’t she just explain to me how the first vampire came to be?Bookmark here

“She didn’t choose to become a vampire. She only chose to become immortal. To be able to live out her life. Becoming a vampire was just a...side effect, for lack of a better term.”Bookmark here

Well, I guess she had a point. The idea of becoming a vampire should have never even crossed her mind, or else I doubt she would have chosen it. Bookmark here

But, that still didn’t answer the question. Bookmark here

“That still isn’t much to go off of,” she mentioned as if she had read my mind. Bookmark here

“Her vampirism was just a side effect, like evolution, right?”Bookmark here

“Probably. Then, that means the difference between a vampire and a human doesn’t necessarily have to do with the presence of vampiric traits.”Bookmark here

“Nor was it their immortality.”Bookmark here

It was a tough question. A question that probably would have never come up in a conversation if it wasn’t for a human and vampire having met. Bookmark here

“They were offered a choice,” I began to mutter in hopes that recounting the story might bring light to some answers. “They could either be sent to heaven or be made immortal. The husband chose the former while the wife chose the latter.”Bookmark here

She chose to become immortal. No, it has more to do with the reasoning than the choice. Bookmark here

Like she had said—humans died while vampires, on the brink of death chose immortality. Bookmark here

Human turned vampire. A former human. Bookmark here

Former. Bookmark here

Human. Bookmark here

Human lives ended at death while vampires were born from it. Bookmark here

Then, that would mean—Bookmark here

As if she had read my mind…Bookmark here

She stood from her place on the grass and walked until she reached the edge of shade. With a blank stare she stretched out her arm until it was basking in the sunlight. Just like before, it erupted into an inferno. Bookmark here

“Like I said, He cursed her with this. A curse that was then passed down to all who took the same endeavor as her. A punishment, if you will, for not dying as a human, but, instead turning into something inhuman.”Bookmark here

We both had come to the same conclusion. Bookmark here

As she removed her arm from the sun she continued. “The husband believed in humanity and died with that mindset while the wife chose not to.”Bookmark here

Therefore. Bookmark here

“Therefore,” she continued, “the husband died accepting his mortality in exchange for keeping his humanity.”Bookmark here

“And the wife gave up her humanity in exchange for immortality.”Bookmark here

The difference between humans and vampires, quite simply, was in the name itself. She had even mentioned it at the start of our conversation. Bookmark here

All vampires started as humans. It was just a question of whether or not they chose to keep their humanity. Bookmark here

I looked back at her, and once again, she stared solemnly at the forest. Though, this time, a hint of pain was visible. Bookmark here

She never told me whether or not she regretted her decision. Bookmark here

Vampires were born when humans died and gave up their humanity. Bookmark here

That was the difference. Bookmark here

“Well, now I can die knowing that bit of trivia,” I said. Bookmark here

For whatever reason, the conclusion we had come to didn’t feel all that conclusive, nor did it feel climactic. Maybe because somehow, we both already knew that.Bookmark here

“So you’d rather die, after all,” she pointed out. “I guess you value your humanity.”Bookmark here

“Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve never been on the brink of death so I can’t say for sure what I would choose at that moment.”Bookmark here

“Well, if that day comes, I’ll be there to give you the option.”Bookmark here

I couldn’t help but chuckle. Bookmark here

“I thought you didn’t save humans?”Bookmark here

“I never said I would be saving you.”Bookmark here

It’s a curse, she reminded me. Bookmark here

“Anyway, I guess I was right. This was a pretty interesting conversation,” she said with a sly smile. Bookmark here

“I’m glad you had fun.”Bookmark here

“Yes, the most I’ve had in a few hundred years. Bookmark here

With that, she stood silently for a moment. There weren’t many sounds about except for the rustling of the tree leaves. So, for a while, it was quite, until…Bookmark here

She came to a decision. Bookmark here

“I’d like to ask you a favor. Even if you might dislike me for being a vampire, could you still hear me out?”Bookmark here

“Sure.” I had no reason not to. Bookmark here

She took a deep breath. Bookmark here

“I have lived for almost five hundred years. I have seen and experienced many things, an amount that would take up many lifetimes. But, though I may be immortal, that does not mean that I am unable to die. So,” she stared at me with her brilliant eyes, “if I ever decide to pass on from this life, can you be there to see me off?”Bookmark here

It was a simple request. One that, for whatever reason, I accepted. Bookmark here

The smile she gave me afterward was enough of a payment. Bookmark here

So, at the end of the day, a human and a vampire spent the evening having a conversation. A human who could never hope to understand a vampire, and a vampire who could never hope to understand a human. Bookmark here

We were on opposite ends of the spectrum and yet wanted to understand each other. Bookmark here

A futile attempt. Bookmark here

Instead, however, and maybe more importantly, we discovered why we were different. What segregated our two kinds. Bookmark here

We both saw our ends. We both came to accept that our lives would end regardless of who we were. It was the one thing we had in common. The only thing that bound us together. Bookmark here

Our deaths. Bookmark here

But even so. Bookmark here

Or maybe because of that fact. Bookmark here

Whatever endings came to us in the future were still left uncertain.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.