The Gift of a Name: episode 1

[Please note, country names are deliberately misspelled. This is a parallel world, not a real world setting, despite historical similarities and identical land masses.]

Boy Noname-

Whispers of war and rebellion were making the rounds, but nothing had come of it yet. The natives were hostile or neutral, and officials were tightening up security just in case it came down to war against the Phrehnch*. [Note: this was later given a simpler spelling of ‘Phrenc’, and later yet ‘Frensh’.] In the meantime, though, someone had to be out guarding the borders and colonists from predators and hostile natives. Not, I thought grumpily, that it was very likely that something would happen here. Travel routes meant that the natives didn’t bother to come through this little pocket of territory, and the settlers here were proud of their hunting skills, so there weren’t many predators left. Which was great, except that I was in the mood to kill something.

A hand gripped my shoulder punishingly, and I froze. Hot breath washed over my neck, and something sharp pressed against my skin and then sank into flesh like a hot knife into butter. Who? No. What? No one had been out here besides me. The part of me that was trained to fight, that loved to kill, screamed at me to get away, to strike out, to save myself. But that grip had triggered my victim reflex, that bit of me that kept me still and helpless under abuse until I was released. I’d hated that growing up under the unfriendly gaze of the widow who had ‘kindly’ taken me in as an abandoned newborn. I still had scars from that woman. Growing up that way did have the effect of teaching me ways to break out of that helpless state, but even now I remained unable to break it as long as the grip was intact. And this grip was painfully tight.

I could feel the teeth, yes, they were teeth, I decided, inside me, not painful, but pulling at me oddly. Sucking out my blood I realized fearfully. I really wanted to jerk away and defend myself, but my body stubbornly remained still and blissfully calm. What was it? The hand said human, the teeth said not. Some kind of monster, but none I’d ever heard of. Nothing like what the natives spoke of. I’d heard one Yeuropan traveler tell tales of a bloodsucker, but those were dead things, and the hot breath that washed over my neck as the creature drank told me it was alive. Dead things are cold, not hot.

Whatever it was, it drank me down like iced tea on a hot day, and I was beginning to get dizzy, my thoughts going white sparky clouds and fuzzy when the teeth pulled out unexpectedly and a tongue lapped at my neck momentarily. The grip on my shoulder loosened, no longer painful. A man’s voice, slightly embarrassed, said,

“I do beg your pardon. I should have asked first, but I was starving and not thinking very well. Are you okay? … Um, hello?” He began to sound concerned.

Then he, no way was this thing a female with that voice, did the one thing I needed him to do: he lifted his hand.

I spun, hunting knife in hand, and did my level best to kill him. Being half dead had never kept me from doing my best at anything, the widow had taught me that skill early on, but the creature was fast and managed to dodge. I was pretty decent with a knife, and pissed enough that I just kept trying, even when it was obvious that he was faster. He was unarmed and just dodging, so I had a pretty good chance of getting him eventually. I ignored his attempts to talk to me. There were enough ways for decent folks to die without adding unchancy creatures like this one to the mix. I didn’t care that he was a pleasant looking young man about my own height, who seemed harmless with his brownish hair and dark brown eyes. The widow was pleasant and harmless looking too. That didn’t mean she was, and she was no monster. This thing had to die.

He started to look exasperated after a while, then moved so fast that I almost lost track of him. I hit the ground hard, a hand firmly on my nape. Crap! I went still, completely trapped by myself again.

“I said I was sorry. Calm down. I didn’t mean to be impolite, but thank you for allowing me to feed. You saved my life by wandering by. It was very kind of you to hold still while I fed. Smart, too, since you probably would have injured yourself struggling. Would you be my helot?”

That just confirmed my opinion. He was pretty lively for something that had been on the verge of death, and only a monster would recover that fast. And while I didn’t know what helot meant, it was pretty obvious that he meant ‘permanent meal’. Too bad I couldn’t tell him what I thought of him, much less move. The position was a bad one for him. If I wasn’t entrapped by my victim state, I could have easily twisted free and been close enough to injure or kill him properly.

He peered down at me, obviously puzzled by my lack of reaction and sudden stillness. “Good man, are you mute?”

Of course I couldn’t reply.

Then he must have noticed that I wasn’t just still, but limp. He looked concerned, started to lift his hand, then obviously remembered what had happened the last time he’d done that. My knife hand was flung out and the other trapped under my body. He shifted around cautiously, switching hands on my neck with that impossible speed, then intelligently pinning my knife hand with a grip on my forearm, and planting his knee on my upper back before lifting the hand on my nape experimentally.

“Or is it me touching you that makes you silent?”

This position was a trigger for me too, but not as strong a one, and I could actually push through the lassitude to speak. The widow, and some childhood tussles had taught me that skill.

“Go. Die. Monster.” I gritted out, pushing out each word separately because it was impossible to string them together, though each word got easier.

“Alright,” he sighed. “I can see where you’d be angry. I really am sorry. And quite glad you aren’t a mute. I’d feel really bad about it if you were. Although… I’m not a monster, I’m a vampire.”

Vampires are dead. You aren’t dead.” I said flatly.

He laughed. “Really? That’s what humans think? How amusing. No, we aren’t dead. What a queer idea. At any rate, your blood is delicious, so don’t think I’ll give up on you becoming my helot.”

I growled, unable to come up with a retort filthy enough.

He laughed and patted my cheek with his free hand. “It’s a beautiful day. You can try to kill me some other time.”

Then his weight was gone. He’d vanished before my eyes.

I rolled over and sat up, feeling wary and beaten. There was no one else in sight. He was truly gone. Only the soreness in my neck, and the dizziness from exertion on top of blood loss remained. I would definitely try to kill him if I saw him again, but I hoped to avoid seeing him. I didn’t like losing. Especially to myself.

A brief explanation

Calypso Logr is the pen name I plan to publish a number of short stories under. This blog is a place to put excerpts and let people come to know some of my characters. The excerpts posted here will be in rough draft form and may not resemble a finished story at all. I would be happy to discuss my characters and writing. Comments are welcome. I’d be happy to know why you like or dislike a piece, although maliciously phrased comments will be deleted, because while criticism is good for a writer, I do not intend to allow this blog to be turned into a place where any sort of minority bashing is tolerated.

I’m often accused of having my head in the clouds, so look forward to random content. And if something doesn’t make sense when you read it, please point it out. Writers don’t always notice these things, and several of my best readers won’t read for many of these stories.

Also, this blog will most likely be on a monthly post basis, at least to start with.