The Last Dark Hour

I watched them again last night. For several evenings in a row they have come here to Red Gate Cemetery. Their discovery of the graveyard must have appealed to them somehow. At first, I thought they were a couple of Goth kids looking for a dark creepy place to make out, but as I got braver and edged my way closer, hiding behind tombstones and statues as I went, I realized they weren’t kids at all. The girl was young and lithe, early to mid twenties, with a glow about her that reminded one of the shimmer of stars reflecting across a body of water. In the moonlight, the color of her hair seemed to shift from red to black to brown, as if she were in a constant flux of change. Her face was very beautiful, almost angelic, with striking features you’d find yourself wanting to study the way artists do before they paint their subject. And the perfect shape of her body here in the shadows of the night nearly made my breath catch in my throat. Every movement of her was like a sensual dance of one who had not fallen in love, but surpassed it, becoming the muse and inspiration of every romantic line uttered from a poet’s lips. She spun into her companion’s arms, swirling and swaying against him, as if she were desperately seeking to become so close to him, not even the cool air of the night could pass between their bodies.

 Her companion was a little older than she. His long brown hair swirled about his shoulders as if the very breeze were caressing his frame. He was taller and his presence nearly commanded you to look in his eyes. Those eyes were dark, shifting from hazel to grey, brown to black, much in the same manner her hair had changed. His hands seemed to know every line of her body, as his long fingers traced a path on her cheek. It was both tender and sensual, and every time his touch would find a place pleasurable to her, she would lean into his hand.

 As I crept closer, I could hear something, a faint disturbance of the silence. At first I didn’t know if it was the sound of their bodies and it’s sensuous electricity passing between them, but I quickly realized the answer was simpler than that. They were singing to each other. I couldn’t quite hear the words from where I was, so ever more bravely I crouched behind a large angel statue just feet away from them. Now I could hear their voices more clearly as they both sang in low whispers:

 “My love, Take not your heart from mine,

 But let it rest safe against thine..”

 Peering around the statuary’s marble pillar, I could see them even more clearly. The girl’s skin was pale, and as the man’s fingers stroked her bare shoulder, I noticed two things. One was an ankh tattoo. The Egyptian cross of everlasting life lay atop a heart broken into two halves, and the man’s long fingernails seemed to trace the ink itself. The second and strangest thing I noticed was the man’s hand itself, as it went across her bare skin. He was pale too, but it seemed the more he touched her, and the longer I watched, the more ashen his skin became. It was nearly translucent, as if her mere presence created a glow from within. As his fingers crossed her neck, she tilted her head away from him, exposing her soft skin to him. He took a deep breath, as if he was breathing in her very scent, and his lips gently grazed her neck. Her excitement was so heightened at this, that I thought I saw a vein in her neck jump towards his lips. He kissed her there on that twitching vein, a long loving touch that made her wrap her arms more tightly around him. He opened his mouth, his teeth playfully grazing her heated skin. Suddenly it dawned on me exactly what he was. I inhaled sharply from the realization.

 He stopped. His lips still touched her skin, but now he was aware of everything around him. No longer completely lost in her, he raised his head and took a whiff of the night air. The girl took longer to recover, but she too realized they weren’t alone. She clutched him close, a look of fear taking over the haunting beauty of her eyes.

 The man kissed her forehead and she buried her cheek against his throat. He didn’t look at me as he spoke.

 “I know you’re there,” he said.

 I ducked back behind the statue as if that would hide me.

 “There’s no need to hide,” he said, as if he could read my very thoughts. “Your scent is strong…”

 I closed my eyes, hoping that maybe if I held them shut long enough this whole predicament would go away. When I opened them back up and gathered the resolve to come out of my hiding place, he appeared in front of me. One minute he had been holding her, and in the next he was hovering over me as I crouched behind the statue.

 “…but not as strong as your fear,” he finished.

 I cringed, trying to back away from him, but there was nowhere to go. He smiled and I noticed there was a trace of blood on his lower lip.

 “What do you want?” I managed to ask in a weak voice.

 “That is the very question I would ask of you. You have been watching us for awhile now.” “I..I’m sorry. I am just curious, that’s all.”

 He raised an eyebrow. “Curious?” He laughed under his breath. “A bit of the voyeur perhaps? Just what are you curious about, hmm?”

 “Why you come here?”

 “Ah, the cemetery fixation, yes.“ He stepped back from me a little, affording me space to breathe. “Have you ever considered cemeteries as a sort of crossroads? It’s where death ends with the burial of the body, yet it begins here too. Sometimes in the lives of mourners, sometimes in the deceased themselves. We are drawn here because it is a place of peace, rebirth, even reunion. There is no place where love is felt stronger, more desperate, more clinging to life and all its pleasures. “

 I noticed out of the corner of my eye the girl had come around the statue to stand behind her lover. She circled her arms around his waist and kissed him lightly behind the ear. She whispered something I could not make out.

 The man nodded. “Perhaps you would feel more at ease if we left.”

 I couldn’t speak. Their presence together was so intoxicating. Just by being this close to them I felt I was being consumed by their passions. Their desire for each other was so powerful, it made me want to blurt out “I love you” myself.

 He seemed to realize this and threw back his head in a slow easy laugh. “It is powerful, is it not? Love, the eternal variety, grows until it overwhelms everything in its path. Even the people who briefly come in contact with it. No one is unaffected by true love. No one.”

 The girl smiled, eyes closed, as her fingers lovingly played across his chest. It was apparent that for her there was no greater happiness than being in her lover’s arms. With that thought bouncing around in my head, her eyes opened and met mine. I completely melted inside. To look into her eyes was like peering at every romantic notion you had ever imagined, and seeing it look back at you, amorous and sensual. I don’t know if she was aware of the effect she had on me, but her lips curled into a smile, and it was then I noticed the blood on her mouth.

 “You’ve bit your lip,” I managed to say.

 The smile turned into a knowing grin. “We often do.”

 Her companion, with one hand on her chin, tilted her face up to him. His facial expression seemed to change. No longer was he the cordial talker with his attention directed to me. No, instead an intense look crossed his face as he stared into hers. It was as if all he saw was her and he was caressing her beautiful frame with his eyes. Ignoring my presence, he leaned into her, and with a gentle gesture pressed his lips to hers. Her mouth welcomed his and she closed her eyes. The kiss was the most sensual I’d ever seen. Every second seemed to be a testament of love, adoration, and desire, wrapped in eroticism. He playfully sucked at her bottom lip, and when they parted, I noticed the blood on her mouth was gone. He had taken it. Finally, as if coming out of a trance, he directed his attention to me once again.

 “So..,” he spoke. “What are we going to do?”

 Fearfully I backed away. “What..what do you..you mean?”

 He found my stuttering response amusing, and he let out a light chuckle.

 “You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?”

 I couldn’t lie. His all knowing eyes wouldn’t allow it. “Yeah.”

 “Why?”

 “Because..Because you’re a vampire.”

 He raised an eyebrow in apparent amusement.

 “Perhaps. Or perhaps you just have a skewed perception of things you don’t understand. Vampires as you call it.”

 “You were going to bite her neck and drink her blood.”

 He looked at the girl, who had now unbuttoned his shirt and was kissing his chest. “Oh most certainly I was. But why should that scare you?”

 “Because you might drink my blood too,” I stammered.

 He looked at me, his face taking on a stern countenance. “You do have a skewed perception. I would never drink anyone’s blood except my Liliana’s. Never. Blood is the life, but so is love. One cannot live without either. To drink another’s blood besides hers would be.. unfaithfulness.”

 “Then what are you going to do to me?”

 “Do to you?”

 “I’ve seen you. I know what you are.”

 “Foolish gravedigger, you don’t know what I am.”

 “You’re a vampire, “ I reminded him.

 “That word is so..mortal. I am..we are..the last of the Magimade. Our blessing is to live forever. Our curse is..well, it just is.”

 “The sun is your curse,” I offered.

 “To never see each other in that light. As it used to be. As it was before..” His voice trailed off and he appeared lost in his own thoughts. I was no longer scared. Before me were not the bloodsucking evil creatures of legend and Hollywood, but a tragically sad version of Romeo and Juliet made for the gothic crowd.

 “I can keep you from the sun,” I suggested. “If you need it.”

 His look turned stern again. “We do not need a human servant to do our bidding. We can find our own place of hiding and rest.”

 “There’s an empty crypt here. You could go inside and I could lock you in until morning. No one can get in without a key. You would be safe and undisturbed.”

 He seemed to think on this a moment. Liliana lightly kissed him on the back of his neck. Sadly he smiled. He turned his head to her and her lips found his own. It was a hungry, desperate kiss, like that of forbidden lovers before they have to part. When her mouth left his I could see the tears running down her cheek. He turned back to me and I could see the tears had welled up in his eyes too.

 “We cannot rest together,” he said. “It is part of our curse. We have until the last dark hour.”

 “And then what?”

 “Then I am a memory inside of her.”

 Liliana touched his cheek lovingly. “Nicolai,” she breathed.

 “Yes, my love.”

 “We don’t have much time.”

 “I know.”

 He buried his face against her bare shoulder, kissing her skin on a path to her neck, her cheek, and eventually her lips. Gently she wrapped her arms around him and I could see the love emanating on their faces. It was so apparent I thought to myself that nothing could hide a love as great as this. They held each other for a few more moments and all I could do was stand there in silence and wait. If I’d ever thought of running, it was lost to me now.

 Finally Liliana looked at me with sad eyes. “The hour is upon us. Nicolai must go. You should go, too.”

 It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a command. Her eyes compelled me to turn around and begin walking. I couldn’t fight it. But after taking about twenty paces, I managed to will myself to stop. I had to see this parting of lovers for myself. I turned around.

 Nicolai and Liliana stood facing each other. Her open hand rested against his cheek. His own hand was palm against her chest, right between her quietly heaving breasts. And then he began to break apart. At first I thought I was seeing things, but no, his body was slowly coming to pieces. Tiny flakes of ash and motes of dust seemed to peel away from his skin. She held out her hand to collect these remnants of him, and they seemed to be attracted to her in such a way, that they seeped into her own skin. Further coming apart, soon he was nothing but dust, falling into hands, where all the parts of him disappeared into her. His hand upon her chest was the last to go, and it trailed down her body into her palm, where it lingered a second, before fading into her like a misty fog across a pale morning sky. Now there was nothing left of him. It was as if he had never been there at all.

 I watched Liliana crumble to her knees, the tears pouring from her eyes, and she tilted back her head letting out an anguished wail, as if by somehow taking the remnants of her lover inside her body, her own beating heart had been torn away from it. I ran to her and tried to comfort her somehow. But there was no comfort for her. In the last dark hour before daylight, she was alone.

 

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11 thoughts on “The Last Dark Hour”

    1. Thank you so much! I was trying to evoke a certain mood. I was in a gothic state of mind when I wrote it, and even now I’m not sure if their story is done, but I wanted to get this out while I could .

      Liked by 1 person

  1. To chime in on the conversation above, I’d say you have a novel in here. There’s so much potential between the expansion of the Magimade, to the explanation of the curse. Where did it come from, and can it be broken? And then the role of the narrator. Who is this grave digger, and why is he the narrator? Lots of possibilities.
    My thinking about the crypt, if I were immortal, I wouldn’t trust my getting out of the crypt each night on something so fragile as a mortal. In fact, as I was reading I didn’t realize that this was possibly just a short story, and I thought, if they accept his offer, he’s going to fail to show up one night to let them out.
    I’m interested to see what you decide, and for whatever else you have planned to share with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed this, and do feel free to chime in anytime on any of my writing you may run across. It is always greatly appreciated.

      When I was writing this one, I knew I was throwing in aspects that were clues to a larger story. I didn’t think too far ahead, but I do have a few ideas on how to continue this, just not sure where to start. I need to get in there and make me some notes and see where I can possibly take this.

      You had mentioned about the gravedigger as narrator, and his role in all that. When I wrote this piece, I wanted the story to be told in large part by an outsider. Normally, I am a first person writer and my narrator is usually the main character or someone seriously vested in the action. Here I wanted a slightly different narrative voice, as if this guy was sitting down next to you saying, “hey check out what happened to me?”

      Again thank you for reading and your comments. Hope to see you return to read more of my stuff 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I love all the possibilities that come in the vampire romance genre. I know it seems to get overdone in some book series, but I love throwing these kind of characters together and just seeing what happens. This is another story that needs to be fleshed out and I am tossing ideas around on paper as I work on other projects, so I can return to it and continue the tale. Thanks for the follow and for reading my work. It is greatly appreciated.

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      1. Yes I definitely agree, I’m working on my own vampire novel behind the scenes and I have the world fleshed out in a way I feel is unique. When you examine different literary works involving immortals there is actually a lot of deviance from their origins and no two vampires function exactly the same. I hope this story turns into something great 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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