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October 21, 2003

Short Fiction

I participated in a writing workshop in 1994 that published the class's work in a booklet entitled "In Celebration Of," which was also the name of the conference.

I happened across that booklet today, and, at the risk of immodesty, thought I'd publish the admittedly juvenile piece of fiction I wrote on the blog.

It's trite, it's immature, but dagnabbit, I like it.

Late Night Thoughts

The taste of blood was still promient in my mouth as I sat in my favorite chair to watch Letterman. Funny guy. I can always depend on him to take my mind off the reality of my life. I needed him on a night like this, a night where time takes a breather and deserts its prisoners, consigning them to reflect on their lives and the futility of it all. I do not like what I do to survive, but I have no choice. It's in my blood.

I don't consider myself a bad person. I am just like the rest of humanity, doing what I have to do to survive. Only what I do to survive makes me different, makes me feared. If one looks at humans with a coldly rational eye, one sees only a single difference between us and the animals--we have a conscience. Unfortunately, I still retain mine in full working order even though I haven't been a human for over a hundered years.

I still remember the day I left behind my human existence and entered a world where time means little and hunger takes on an entirely new meaning. I was fighting for the South when I met a wonderfully enigmatic young woman living, by herself, in New Orleans, where my company had stopped for a few days on our way to Hattisburg. Strange things happen when one is young, and one of those strange things occurred when she offered me a drink of something warm that she said was a potion designed to keep us together forever. It was her blood. I didn't realize at the time what she meant by forever.

I realized what I had become shortly after my encounter with that girl. During one of the battles my company fought, I was shot in the right calf and could not summon for help. My position was overrun so I played dead (oh, the irony) and prepared to die. But I didn't die. Overnight the wound healed and I was able to walk as if nothing had happened. I explained to myself that what had happened was a miracle and went off to look for my company. They did not exist. Bodies were strewn about the field like so many discarded rag dolls. The stench was horrible but I was not repelled; I was--how can I say--attracted. I felt a kinship with the lifeless forms around me. I was scared.

That was over 100 years ago and I have long since accepted my fate. I eventually found my way back to the girl who did this to me. She helped me through the difficult times immediately after: the hunger pains, the first taste of blood, the first killing. I say killing because I don't consider taking the life of a human to survive murder any more than a lioness taking the life of a gazelle is murder. I am an animal, pure and simple, and this is life, survival of the fittest.

The face I see in the mirror hasn't changed since that first day with her. I look at the face of a 26-year-old through the eyes of a 156-year-old. I will never dies unless it be by accident or my own hand. Think about that; I can have no friends, stay no place for long or I come under suspicion because I do not age. The girl who gave me this fate was my only companion for 90 years afterward until I lost her to an automobile accident. Yes, we can die if the wounds are severe enough, but wooden stakes being the only sure way to kill us is the product of overactive imaginations and old wives' tales. In truth, almost anything that would kill an ordinary human can kill me. If I survive, the wound repairs itself quickly. It's part of the nature of immortality, I guess.

As for the killing I mentioned earlier, I am very selective about the lives I take. I only choose people who are close to death, who would otherwise die soon, such as the elderly or terminally ill. I suppose this compassion is a remnant of my former self that still feels that life is precious and doesn't wish to rob the young of what life they have. Sometimes I hate this unsolicited compassion and wish I could have shed my emotions when I gave up my mortality. It would make my life much easier. By the way, the fangs are another myth generated by the ignorant; I remove the blood I need through needles. After all, bite marks in the neck of a victim would raise suspicion and I would not last long in the blood-letting business.

Actually, there is not much about my life that would indicate anything out of the ordinary. Many accepted traits of my kind: hatred of the sun, fear of the cross, an aversion to garlic, and an inability to see a reflection in the mirror are all contrivances of the movies. The only traits that set me apart are my need for blood and my perpetual youth, both of which are easily concealed.

I do not consider myself evil. Using the word evil to describe oneself denotes a belief in an entity of goodness. Neither goodness nor evil are powers that struggle for the soul of man; therefore, we are simply here and must live the life that fate gives us. I make no apologies for what I do. I have no feelings of remorse any more than one would have eating dinner--it is simply sustenance. I an my kind are survivors and are not part of the mass of humanity on this planet. I feel that my kind have always been and will always be. We evolved from the human race into something that is very close, yet worlds apart in our needs and pains. I am immortal, I am cursed, I am blessed, I am...hungry.

Posted by tat at October 21, 2003 03:26 PM

Hehe, were you reading Anne Rice at the time?? :)

Posted by: Deb Taranik at October 22, 2003 08:50 AM

Do not forget us little guys when you do you book deal.

Posted by: Jeff Hebert at October 22, 2003 11:43 AM

Haha. What makes you think I was reading Anne? :)

Posted by: Bryan at October 22, 2003 04:52 PM

not what i would have expected from you Bryan. I liked the fictional interlude from all af the depressing truth that I am learning. Aprrently the Bush camp isint the only one whom can generate a good story.

Posted by: jason at October 24, 2003 04:09 PM