Loneliness is a terrible thing
Erika, you have to realise that in life, you are always completely alone. Now try knowing that for an eternity.’
‘Wait, how can you say that? You always have someone with you, don’t you?’ Erika looked over at Julien’s still face.
‘Is Markos on his way?’ he retorted, eyes closed tight, his mind processing Mr Morris’ interview.
‘I’ll phone up,’ Erika chirped up, tapping away on the phone immediately. ‘Hey Gina? Hi, yeah Erika... I’m with Julien... yeah.’ She rolled her eyes in an attempt at being dramatic, but Julien remained oblivious to her actions. ‘Is daddy on his way? ... uh-huh m-kay.’ Erika turned to look at Julien, his eyes now open, a small smile working its way onto his face. ‘What?’ she asked.
‘Daddy. Well that’s adorable,’ he said dryly. ‘He never managed to get Raquel to call him anything but father.’
‘He doesn’t make me do anything!’ with a small pout she turned away.
‘Go on, what did Gina have to say?’
‘He’ll be down imminently, apparently,’ she muttered.
And true to word Markos could soon be heard walking down the corridor. He was a broad man, with a thick head of copper hair. It was unusual for him to remain in NYC with the Trifecta. For years on end he would live in relative solitude in Alaska. The only company Markos truly relished was that of a brood of women. Seeing him mourning the loss of Raquel touched Julien, there had been a time when Markos would have treated him like a son. Times had changed.
‘I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you alone before,’ Julien stepped into the interview room once more, noting how small the armchair now seemed in comparison to the large vampire shoe-horned into it.
‘Well, boy. Let’s get this over with,’ he grunted.
‘When was the last time you saw her?’ the younger vampire asked, shifting in his seat uncomfortably.
‘Raquel. Use her name, boy. Out of respect,’ the burly vampire grumbled.
‘When did you last see Raquel, Markos?’ he granted him this one, wanting an answer without quibbling over semantics.
‘Raquel...’ his heavy sigh filled the room. He raised a meaty hand to rub at his unevenly trimmed beard. ‘You know she always spoke well of you, even after your spat. I liked to think that, given time, you two would patch things up. I never liked seeing her defeated, but those last few years she lost her spirit. When she left, I barely said goodbye, we were halfway through the festive season,’ he winked at Julien, insinuating there was too much heavy partying going on for Raquel’s leaving to make an impact at the time.
‘So you can’t remember what state she was – sorry, Raquel was in, when she left?’
‘Well, merry I imagine. Her and those boys had been spending some time together... Derek showing up, that boy does have a flare for the dramatic! I never understood Aalirah’s impatience with him!’ the large vampire chuckled.
Julien’s jaw tightened at the mention of Derek, one human reaction he had never shrugged off. He understood all too well why Aalirah had sent him away, his confusion over why she permitted his return was becoming too overwhelming to ignore. But he stayed still, and quiet, listening to Markos’ laughter reverberating through the room. He was all too conscious of Erika watching them, sat across from them in the little office, unseen, unheard, but definitely taking everything in. Maybe one day she’d be a good historian, she was ever so interested in knowledge, no matter how trivial, one day she’d feel obliged to write it all down for memory.
‘Well, she must’ve missed him, because here he was, a few weeks of partying, and they took off. Took that other boy...’ Markos paused to think.
‘Logan?’ Julien prompted.
‘Ah yes! Logan! Quiet boy, by my standards anyway... into all that recreational stuff. Fancied himself a bit, but then he was young, I think he was only turned in the 1970’s... merely a babe...’ again, he fell silent.
‘So she left at Christmas, and in a good mood. When did you hear about her death?’ the blonde vampire took in all the necessary information from what the old vampire told him.
‘Yes, well,’ Markos’ mood changed instantly. His smile faded into oblivion, he sat up straighter in the armchair. ‘It was a few months after it happened, a bloody picture on the computer, spotted by Gina on reception. At first I wasn’t sure, but we sent out a scout, she’s buried in Europe. There’s no hope there. They’ll go dig her up soon. See what the real damage is, I suppose.’
‘Yeah, I’ll need to see her. We can judge what killed her. And then I can figure out who made the mistake of taking one of us down,’ Julien added the last bit for dramatic effect, knowing his audience would be appreciative.
‘Well said boy!’ the reaction was euphoric, as expected. ‘Punished is not a strong enough word to describe how the culprit will be treated. I want to beat them to a pulp, let them heal and repeat.’
‘Don’t worry, Markos, you’ll get your chance,’ with a nod Julien ended the interview.
There was nothing more he could pry out. And for a reason he couldn’t explain, he felt drained.
Year 1590 – Alaska
It had been sixteen years since Aalirah had made me one of them. Aalirah, Mr Morris and I left South America for Alaska to meet with Markos. It was a tradition for any new vampires made by the Trifecta to meet the rest of the trio. Mr Morris, still known as Bialy, had kept a low profile during this time, perhaps feeling guilty for taking me to South America in the first place... But he met up with us and came to Alaska, where I had the first chance to meet the vampire with both enormous presence and character.
Markos’ way of life was very different from what I had become accustomed to since the change. Aalirah always had fresh blood from animals, much like Mr Morris had in Poland. Stepping into the large log edifice was like walking through a wall of sound. Laughter, singing, shouting and music, all intermingling in the smoke filled air. The Alaskan way was clearly differentiated from our own by one main trait, the blood drank by vampires came from humans.
I must have twinged at the sight of Markos’ fangs sinking into a girl’s jugular. The overspill spurting and spitting all over his clothes, the table she lay on, and finally dripping onto the floor, where two big hounds lapped up the dredges. Aalirah held me firmly in place. This was the first and only time vampirism shocked me. How could such carnage be necessary to feed his hunger? I was still very young.
‘Hush,’ Aalirah purred into my ear, pulling tightly at my arm. ‘Do not make a scene, my dear, his ways may be different to ours, but all voices must be heard before we judge.’
‘But,’ I struggled to find the right words. So I settled for ‘he’s brutal.’
‘He is as brutal as I am passionate and Bialy is logical. We are the Trifecta for a reason,’ she sighed.
This was the first chance I ever had to catch a glimpse of their world as a three-pronged mind. As a unit I understood the merits of their differences. But having experienced the outcome of a heated exchange between Bialy and Aalirah, I did not like my chances now that there were three of them to face.
‘Old man!’ Markos boomed from across the room, drawing my mind back to the smoky, blood-filled mess. ‘You bring me guests!’
Markos pushed the girl’s lifeless body away with gusto. My stomach churned. Her limbs flapped as she hit the floor with a dull thud. As we approached I saw the sturdy wood table was stained with blood, the marks on the grain showed someone had made an attempt to scrub it away.
‘No gifts?’ his laugh mirrored his size. ‘Well, who’s the boy?’
I gazed at the pock marks on his wide nose in shocked silence. He was not perfect, like Aalirah, his lines were not smooth like Bialy’s. His appearance was that of a 42 year-old male, but his copper hair showed no sign of a grey. There was something cheerfully menacing about him, perhaps because I never expected such a genuine smile on a violent man.
‘Markos,’ Aalirah said with a wide smile, ‘this is Julien.’
‘Well, bless my eyes! Aalirah! Another beauty at the party!’
‘We’ve brought Julien to meet you, I changed him myself. So here he is, as per our customs.’ Aalirah spoke curtly, and I wondered if there was something else making her feel uncomfortable, until I heard Markos’ reply.
‘Our custom,’ he laughed. ‘Well, you’re just in time, just in time! Take a seat, don’t be shy. I’ll call in my youngest!’
‘Another?’ Bialy raised the question as he sat beside the larger vampire.
‘Oh, but not like my others!’ the giant man beamed. ‘This one is something special.’
‘You mean a larger male than usual?’ Aalirah muttered.
‘Love?’ I whispered into her ear.
‘Yes dear?’ she turned to me, her delicate golden features eased my tension, comforted me.
‘What is the problem, with Markos?’ the manner she had used towards him baffled me, it was against her loving nature.
‘Markos, my dear boy,’ piped up the man himself, ‘has a tendency to turn strong men to join his family. They’re sons I never had!’ he winked at me, and a shiver slipped down my back.
‘Yes,’ Bialy joined in. ‘Men that can fetch your food, yes?’
‘Ah! Well, yes old man!’ he looked at me. ‘You see boy, the young women I find so delectable take some finding... My family... they’re what you call hunters and gatherers!’
Laughing at his own joke, the noise filled the room again. There was no chance for questions. The look on Aalirah’s face was self-explanatory. They did not approve of Markos changing men to do his bidding, because it involved luring young women, only to be devoured and dumped.
‘But this time, my dear friends, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by who I’ve found,’ Markos spoke with a twinkle in his eye. ‘Kaiden! Bring my youngest in!’ he called over to a broad-shouldered male, who sat drinking across the room from us. Much like Aalirah, Markos seemed to keep a lot of people around who would do as he pleased.
The moment she walked through the door - that was when I first knew I would love Raquel. Some things are instant. Our connection was more immediate for me, however, than for the young daughter of Markos. She was very sure of herself, and I must admit the sadistic vein emanating from her drew me in. But the thrill of the chase, that was part of the charm.
Aalirah had kept me in her line of sight for 23 years. This was the first time I questioned what she called love. Because if I loved her, then what was this gut-wrenching feeling that pulled me now?
‘Meet my daughter, Raquel,’ Markos pointed over at her as she slinked through the crowded room.
Year 2010 – New York
‘You didn’t ask much,’ Erika spoke with her usual girly pitch that always came off as over-excited.
‘I didn’t need much.’
Julien didn’t look at her as he replied. He knew what would come next, and his mind was already there. Aalirah, and her feelings towards Raquel. Stepping into the corridor he slipped his hands into his pockets and began the well practiced human art of pacing.