“Your friend Nexus found me in the precinct yesterday. And there is something I wanted to discuss with you. Why didn’t you tell me about Istanbul? I had to find out from Alastair,” Richard said, standing next to Constance’s bookshelf and watching her put back the scrolls he took.
“I thought it would be better to let you meditate on the fact that you have to kill me. Eventually, I would have told you. What does it change really? It’s a simple trip,” Morrigan replied.
“I still deserved to know. You can’t decide instead of me what information I should get. Where does this end? What if he had killed me yesterday?” Richard said.
“He wouldn’t. He wants to know where the stake is,” Constance said. She was calm, and that irritated Richard.
“I was afraid. I remember what he did to Jenny, and I wanted to jump at him, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think properly. He was controlling my body and mind,” he said. Morrigan nodded.
“It’s one of the Basics’ power. You shouldn’t be surprised. Expect everything from him,” she said.
“He threatened me,” Richard said in panic.
“Of course he did,” she said. Phileph opened his mouth, confused.
“What kind of a reply is that, Constance? You’re not taking this seriously enough!” he shouted.
“Don’t raise your voice, Richard. I can hear you quite well. He’s just trying to intimidate you. Don’t give in. I’ve seen his tricks before. Trust me and everything will be fine,” Constance said. Phileph was disappointed. He rubbed his forehead and shook his head.
“I’m sick of this,” he said and left. Morrigan wanted to stop him, but she realized it would be better to let him go and sort his thoughts. He needed a break from the world of vampires and murderers. She understood that. She, above all else craved for an ordinary and a peaceful life.
Richard’s first intent was to go home, but it was a lovely day, and he decided to spend it outside. He wanted to be as far from Constance and Nexus as possible. However, he was aware that he could never be completely shielded from their eyes. Perhaps at that specific moment, Nexus was monitoring his walk, growing angrier by every second. But, the Basic’s attention was drawn away from Phileph. Nexus found something much more interesting to observe and follow.
Nexus was at the graveyard, standing in front of a grave that was recently occupied because of him. Jenny’s name and date of birth and date of death were carved in a simple gravestone. Nexus touched it, and then touched the fresh dirt that covered her coffin. He could feel every bit of it, and he could feel the ants moving fast, shaking it slightly. It indicated what he presumed would happen. She was awakening. Her funeral was simple and quickly done. Richard was there. He seemed shaken, probably because he just came back from the precinct where Nexus visited him. And Constance was there. She was sad. Was she sad because of Jenny? Or was she sad because the death of that human was just another delay in her plan? Nexus was well acquainted with her moods. Above everything else, it was always about Morrigan. She was probably upset that Jenny’s death would stir doubt and fear in Richard’s heart. If that would happen, her human pet would reconsider his decision, and refuse to do what she says. But Jenny was strong, Nexus sensed that. She even managed to hit him in the stomach with her knee when he attacked her. She had a spirit of a fighter. It was soon to be proved. Nex smiled. He sat on the grass and looked at the sky. The clouds were breaking apart and then coming together again. The space around them was bright blue, almost like in a dream. The Basic only needed to wait, because he saw what happened after Richard and Constance went to attend Professor’s funeral. A crow flied over her grave, letting out a cry that signalled her change. With its wings, it wiped the lines between life and death. Nexus did not care for the impure, but Jenny was about to become one who would serve him. He would show her the new life and help her embrace her knew personality. She would learn quickly, and it would not be hard to turn her against her former lover and his new friend. Nexus was excited and could not wait for the dusk. For the darkness of the night was about to bring him an ally. The process of transformation lasted between two sunsets, so as soon as the sun sank under the horizon, she would wake up. First, she would experience a shock, she would be astounded and confused. Then she would try to escape the coffin, but her arms would not be strong enough to push through. Nexus would notice the earth moving under his feet as she would try to get out. The moment was approaching. He would take her to his home, far from the city lights and noise, where she could rest and study her form.
The moment came. The sun had set, and the stars appeared in the evening sky. Nexus made a few steps back, listened and observed. There was a short quake. The soil exploded and scattered the grass and dirt all around. The graveyard guard was at the gate when he heard the unusual noise. The man cautiously approached the site. He stepped carefully towards the gravestone from which the sounds came, and was surprised to see the mess around Nexus.
“Sir, are you alright?” the guard asked, slowly coming closer.
“I am absolutely fine. In fact, this is quite a wonderful moment for me. Then again, not so wonderful for you,” Nex replied. The guard stood opposite of him, confused. Then, another shiver of the made him fall onto his knees. What appeared to be a body of a young woman jumped out of the ground and then landed in front of the guard. The man could not speak, could not scream. He could only open his eyes and mouth widely, and feel the woman’s hands on his shoulders. She picked him up, high into the air, and started biting him. She did not concentrate on any part specifically, she simply wanted to get as much blood as she could from him. The guard was petrified, but soon numbed, because she drank quickly and aggressively. She was very hungry. After she had finished her meal, she tossed guard’s body as if it were a bag of straws.
“What is this?” she asked, breathing heavily, while the blood, which she had not swallowed, spilt out of her mouth, dripping from her chin. She was covered in dirt, mud, and her hair was pressed tightly against her face.
“It’s your first night. First night of your new life,” Nexus said.
“But… How did I get here? The last I remember… The last I remember was you,” she said slowly. Nexus expected her to strike at any moment. But, she did not. She was too confused with her new state to be able to concentrate on anything else.
“What else do you remember?” he asked.
“I remember my name. Jenny, that is my name,” she replied. Then, she finally noticed the guard’s dead body on the ground, just a few steps away. She covered her mouth with her hand and let out a silenced cry.
“It’s alright, he was your first meal. Later, you will learn to see them as food, not people. Actually, food is what they are to us, nothing more,” Nexus explained.
“Did you kill me so that I would become this?” Jenny asked.
“No, I simply killed you. I couldn’t know something like this would happen, but I attended your funeral and I saw you were marked as a vampire. Turned out to be good, didn’t it? The death?” he said. Jenny was angry at him, angry the way no words could describe. However, she decided not to attack him. Why would she? It would o’t change anything. She would still be a walking corpse. The entire situation, though, was unbelievable.
“This cannot be. I felt that I was dying. I did die. Now, all of a sudden I’m not. It’s as if I had fallen asleep, and now I woke up. How is this possible? Vampires don’t exist,” she said.
“But they do, and not just vampires. I am not a vampire, although you humans might mistake me for one. I have a feeling that you will learn quickly, and assist me in an important matter,” Nexus said. He had to be careful of the way he spoke to her. It was crucial that she got the idea of Richard abandoning her.
“Help you with what? You killed me. Why should I help you?” she replied.
“I killed you because I had to remind my enemy that he was not safe, that everyone around him was not safe,” he said.
“Who is your enemy?” she asked, but she already knew the answer. There was no other reason.
“Richard Phileph, or Philephebos, as his family was once called. Forgive me for taking your life, but it was necessary. This war that I’m waging is centuries old. And your ex lover is right in the centre of it,” Nexus said. He slowly moved closer to her, to show a sign of trust.
“What did he do? Are you in some sort of cult? Because, if you are, I’m not going to be a part of it. It’s enough that I was killed, and now I have been brought back to life…” Jenny protested.
“The whole deal is very simple. Phileph is a member of the family that spent ages killing my kind, and now he wants to end my friend as well. She and I are the last of our kind, Jenny. I need you by my side in order to defeat the evil that Richard Phileph represents,” he explained.
“Richard Phileph is strange, moody, and unreliable sometimes, but he is no murderer,” Jenny replied.
“This world hides many secrets. You have just unlocked one of them, rising from your grave. Phileph discovered his long lost line of slayers, and now he is determined to finish the job his ancestor started. People change, Jenny. Unfortunately, it’s usually a change for the worse. He’s not the man you knew, Jenny. Maybe you have never known him truly. Wicked have a way of disguising their intentions under the faces of honest people,” he warned her.
“What you’re saying is not true. He would never become like that,” Jenny said.
“Really? And where was he then when I attacked you? He knew you might be in danger, and yet he let you go, to wander the streets of this city alone.”
“He was sick.”
“Was he now?”
“He vomited and could barely move. Don’t tell me that he let me be sacrificed.”
“It is exactly what I’m telling you. He abandoned you, Jenny, fully aware of the situation. Richard has a dangerous task, he must have known that some of us would come for retribution. My only regret is that your death had to be the product of my revenge.”
“I need to go home.”
“No, you can’t.”
“Why not? It’s my home, after all.”
“Your family and friends are there right now. It would be shocking for them to find out what you have become. Besides, now that you have become a vampire, it immediately puts you in a position of Phileph’s foe.”
“Richard is not my enemy. And if I can’t go home, where will I go?”
“You can stay with me. I will teach you everything about myself and your new self,” Nexus suggested. Jenny was in a dilemma. He was right, she could not go back and simply step in front of her parents and relatives. As far as they knew, she was dead, buried. It would only cause more stress to see her now, especially because of what she had become. On the other hand, there stood a man who ended her life, who took everything from her. Allying with him, she would be disrespectful to herself. But, she had no other choice. She was alone in this world, and she was different. He was the only person she could trust. Especially if what he said about Richard was true. Jenny never noticed that Phileph had any interests except mainstream history, he never showed the slightest sign of anything occult, or dark. His personality was not always easy to deal with, but Jenny never thought something this serious could be the cause of it. And this, poor soul whose blood she drank? The police would certainly be there in the morning, investigating what might have happened. The police would not trace the murder to her, because she was officially dead, but she had to make sure that her grave looked fine.
“I’ll come with you. But first, help me take care of this mess. I don’t want anyone to be suspicious,” she said. Nexus nodded, and when she looked at her gravesite again, it was all in order, as if she did not break out of it minutes ago.
“Perception is what you want it to be,” Nexus smiled at Jenny’s astonished expression.
“What are we going to do with the body?” she pointed at the guard.
“We’ll throw him in the river on our way to my house,” Nexus said. Jenny bowed down her head, thinking of the terrible crime she had committed. She killed. It was instinctively, but that was a poor excuse. What if she had to kill again? The Basic recognized the tempest in her eyes that tore her apart. So, he put his hand on her shoulder and sighed.
“Will I be able to live a life like this?” she asked.
“You’ll get used to it. Don’t let the bad thoughts prevail. You were a human, but you are not one anymore. Act according to that, and you will have no trouble in drinking blood or hunting down your prey,” Nexus said. His words soothed Jenny, but the doubt still remained in her heart. Her legs suddenly felt sore, so Nexus took her in his arms.
In no time, they were in his house. It was an old mansion at the periphery, surrounded by a line of woods. Whenever he was in New York, he usually stayed in his apartment in the city, but now he wanted to have a peaceful time with Jenny. The space around the mansion was misty, but inside the house it was warm. She was amazed by the stylistic furniture and the size of the rooms. Nexus was glad that she liked it, and was a bit surprised himself, as he almost forgot how wonderful the mansion was from the inside. Nexus only visited it occasionally, and he would enter seldom. He paid an inspector who lived nearby to check the status of the building and inform him if any repairs needed to be done. Nexus bought the mansion from an English lord who moved back to his homeland, unsatisfied with what he had seen in the New World. Shortly after Nexus’s purchase, Boston Tea Party happened, and the war started. The Basic did not participate in the war, because right after he bought the house, he travelled to Europe with Constance. Nexus wanted to join the war, but the crisis in his relationship with Morrigan stopped him from taking part in it.
“Where is my room?” Jenny asked, while she moved her fingers up and down the edge of a massive stone mantelpiece.
“Wherever you want it to be,” Nexus said and lit fire in the fireplace.
“First, show me the bathroom, I need to take a shower,” she said. He took her upstairs, to a corridor, and showed her the door at the end.
“It’s new, don’t worry,” he said, and went downstairs. Jenny entered the bathroom and noticed how different it was from the rest of the house. Everything inside it was new, contemporary and bright, in contrast with the predominantly brown tones in the interior of the mansion. There were both a bathtub and a shower enclosure, but Jenny was too dirty to have a bath. All the mud had to be washed away by a powerful jet of water. She took her clothes off, and saw bruises under her chest and thighs. She probably got them when she was put in the coffin. She looked at her arms and hands, at her whole body. It was not different much, but she was disgusted. She hated what she saw, she hated herself and the fact that she was walking and breathing again, as if nothing had happened. Jenny started to cry. Her tears mixed with the drops of water and blood on her face. Why did have to be her? She had a good life. Not every day was perfect, but at least she had someone to turn to, someone to talk to. Her family loved her, and so did her friends. Now, she would never speak to them again, or look them in their eyes. She was a monster now, and monster had no right to happiness. And she was in her murder’s house. She should escape. As soon as she finished under the shower, she should run away. Maybe he would come after her. But, what is the worst he could do to her? She had already died once. Dying again would be a salvation. Did Richard mourn her? Did he vow to avenge her? Or she was indeed just an instrument for him to test whether his enemies were after him? He betrayed her. He did not deserve her affection. She tried to be there for him, to make him realize that she cared and accepted him the way he was. What did she get in return? A terrible death?
Her senses were sharpened, so she heard the Basic approaching the bathroom. She turned the water off, and exited the enclosure. Nexus was standing in the bathroom, holding a towel and a robe. Jenny was startled and jumped back.
“What are you doing?!” she shouted and grabbed the towel from his hands to cover herself.
“Relax, it’s not like I don’t know what you keep under your clothes,” Nexus said. Jenny slowly stepped forward and looked herself in the mirror. The Basic stood behind her and went through her wet hair with his fingers.
“This is very hard for me,” Jenny admitted.
“I know, but you’ll get used to it,” Nexus said.
“And why do I have a reflection? I thought vampires didn’t have reflections, if indeed I am one,” she complained.
“That is an old belief, and a very wrong one. Honestly, I don’t know how it started,” he replied.
“But, vampires don’t have souls, that’s why they can’t…” Jenny went on.
“Soul, no soul, it’s the personality that matters. You have plenty of it,” Nexus said quickly.
Jenny took the robe and left the bathroom. She found the kitchen downstairs and put the teapot on the burner. Her mind was restless, and upset. She could not understand. She could not accept it. The thought that she had to suck someone’s blood again made her nauseous. What would happen if she refuses? How would her body react? She touched her neck and her chest. That is where he scratched her, that is where he opened the flesh right above her heart. However, her skin healed completely, there were no traces of any wounds. She could hear her heart beating just fine.
“How is this possible?” Jenny asked and showed her chest when Nexus joined her in the kitchen. He took two bags of tea and put them in two cups.
“Your body and mind get restored once your human life finishes and your vampire one begins,” the Basic explained.
“But, I remember that you nearly took my heart out. I felt the pain,” she said. Nexus sighed. He was not happy with what he had done, but the course of events were finally beneficial for him. He killed Jenny because of revenge, but she had been turned, so now he could use her. Yet, the guilt was present. No matter how determined he was in killing Richard, he was aware of Jenny’s innocence. But, that sentiment would not spoil his plans. Perhaps he did not even need to bother with Richard. His girlfriend could kill him instead of Nexus. But, that would take away all the pleasure of ending a family line which was the symbol of Basics’ demise. Jenny could not understand that. She was too young. Too young for a human, and certainly too young for a vampire.
“I apologize, once again. But, now, you’ve been given a new start, so you better use it. I was the vessel of my desire for revenge. However, I did not abandon you. I was not your friend. Richard was,” Nexus said.
“A woman came to see him, and he left the house with her, a couple of days ago. Then, he became different. Do you think she has something to do with that?” Jenny asked. His eyes glowed.
“That woman is my lover, she and I are of the same kind. Unfortunately, she is not aware of the danger she had put herself into when she met Richard. I must save her. And you, please, Jenny, help me,” he said.
“So, you want me to attack my lover, and save yours?” she asked.
“He left you. He has broken the bond between you two. I don’t think you should consider him your lover, or your friend anymore,” he replied.
“Tell me all about yourself. And tell me all about myself. About myself that I am now,” she demanded, making him smile broadly.
“I would be delighted to show you the colourful world behind the grey one that you have been living in,” he said.
“I’m not tired, and look at the time. Last week, I was in bed at this hour,” she said and chuckled. Nexus liked her. She had an inspiring spirit. Lovely, and lively. If they had only met before.
“Let’s go to the living room. I want to show you my collection,” Nexus said and took their cups of tea.
“Your collection?” she asked and followed him.
“Those are belongings of people that have visited this house in the past three centuries. I don’t want to be humble, it is quite remarkable,” he said as they entered the living room. He put the cups on the small, wooden stool, next to the couch. Then, he tapped the wall opposite of the couch. Suddenly it started moving, and slowly spinning, until a showcase appeared in front of them. Jenny was amazed. It reminded her of the old mystery movies she used to watch during holidays season, safely wrapped in her blanket, while the protagonists discovered secret passages and fought with mummies, swamp monsters, werewolves, and… And vampires. She sighed. Then, her face lit up when she noticed a pipe, which was an amazing example of craftwork. She opened the glassy door of the showcase, and carefully picked it up. She saw initials on one side of the pipe.
“S. L. C.,” she read the initials aloud. Nexus nodded.
“That is a very special pipe. But, the honour didn’t give it to me. He simply forgot it here, after a party at this mansion. He was drunk that night, so the morning after he probably thought he had lost it on his way home. I couldn’t tell him that I kept it. I had to have something to remember him by, a token of our friendship. Especially because he died a year later, and I went back to Europe, again. He was amazing, that son of the comet,” the Basic said.
“You have quite a story to tell, about your life, and all the people you have met,” she said. Jenny gently returned the pipe where it was a minute ago and her attention was directed to a little notebook. She opened it and noticed how the pages were messy, stained, and yellowish. It was not just because of its age. Obviously, the original owner did not care much about tidiness.
“I don’t need to explain whom this notebook belonged to,” Nexus said, and turned to page with a dark, wicked bird, drawn across the entire paper. Jenny started laughing and at the sight of this, happy and thrilled to hold such an artefact in her hands. All the stress and fear were gone now. She suppressed the thought that she was different, unusual, dangerous all of the sudden. Jenny smiled and enjoyed what Nexus was showing her, as if she had never been killed, and had never awakened. Maybe, when her lessons with him started, she would feel the pain and angst again, but at that moment, it did not matter. Tomorrow was a distant future.