Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday's Excerpt from Immortal Relations by Guy Ogan

Excerpt from “Immortal Relations”

Chapter One: Finding Love

 It had been several years since my mother passed away from Alzheimer’s and a little of the pain from seeing her decline while I cared for her had eased. Yet something she had said kept popping into my consciousness at odd moments, mostly when I was alone and in need of sleep. Even when I was young and she was the vibrant, creative lady that she had been, she would absent mindedly mumble something like, “He’s over there with that woman” or “He has had a child in Czechoslovakia” but if asked, would say nothing further. Perhaps her misgivings were due to my father’s trips to Europe as part of his government job and that he had spent more than a little time there after the Second World War. Even as I’d grown, I’d never considered that I might have a half-brother or half-sister overseas, but now these memories made me wonder.

One day, while looking through seemingly tons of Yellowing papers in dad’s file cabinets an old envelop caught my eye. In it I found a Black and White photo of my late father next to an old building.  On the back it said “Prague, Czechoslovakia” and in a very feminine hand was “I’ll always be waiting here.” This brought back all those things my mother had said and gave me the idea that I might be able to find the building and see some of where my father spent his time while in Europe as he’d never discussed his years in government service. Even with the difficulties of travel in these days of terrorist threats I thought it might be worth the hassle to see a part of Europe I’d never seen. I contacted a travel agency specializing in travel to Europe and asked them about visiting Czechoslovakia and was told it is now called “The Czech Republic” but they could make my arrangements. After getting a passport and enduring all the red tape involved in international travel, I packed my bags and had a friend drive me to the airport. Once I’d removed my watch, change and metal objects I went past the magnetic detector, removed my shoes, put up with the pat-down, as well as the various sniffers and scanners, then I could proceed to the gate to wait for the flight to load. I’d flown so much in the military; flying didn’t hold much excitement anymore, I thankfully fell asleep sometime after we were airborne.

From years in the service I awoke when I felt the aircraft start to descend to land in England. After the security checks, I switched to another aircraft bound for Prague. I was glad when the aircraft took off, knowing it wouldn’t be long before I could start looking for where my father spent some of his working years. After landing, my passport was checked; I gathered my small bags and went to the window to convert dollars for local currency. I then walked outside; it was still dark and it had just stopped raining so the air smelled clean and sweet. Finding the cabstand I held my picture up to the first driver in the queue, he shrugged and shook his head. The next cab in line was piloted by an older silver haired gentleman who still looked very fit; he smiled when I showed him the picture nodding his head saying, “Old Town Hall, I take you.” Starting off, I asked him if a Hotel was near the old town hall and he said, “Very Close”.

The sky was starting to clear and looked as if the day would be clear and bright but at the time of morning we traveled, it being a Sunday, there were very few vehicles on the road. My driver slowed to a stop and pointed out the Old Town Hall through his windshield (I was in the rear seat). Then he said, “Hotel…very soon” and in seconds he had stopped his cab at the curb by the hotel’s front entrance. I got out with my bags and held out paper money and coins to pay for the trip. He took what he needed, I thanking him and waived as he drove off.

At the front desk, I arranged for a room and took the elevator to the fourth floor. It was still very early but I wanted to start looking around so I just dropped my bags by the bed, went back to the first floor and walked the short distance back to the old town hall. The sidewalks were deserted; the only traffic seen as I walked back was a cab and an almost empty bus. Getting out my picture, I looked everywhere for other pedestrians but it seemed too early and I saw no one else anywhere in the area. I held the picture up high walking around and closely compared both the architecture and the angle from which the photograph was taken. As I looked up at the windows, which were well above street level, I noted one that was open giving me a reflected view of the other side of the road. There, on the opposite side which had been empty seconds ago, someone was suddenly standing; but I was sure there hadn’t been anyone there a second before. Seeing her, I sucked in a breath; my God she was stunningly beautiful! I’d seen pictures of “Hollywood Starlets” and "Super-Models" and I knew the Czechs had several of these such as the lovely Paulina Porizkova and Petra Nemcova and I thought this had to be one of them. Suddenly she vanished! I thought she might have moved and my old eyes had missed it so I turned to look and found myself starring into a pair of eyes. Automatically, my head jerked back; the vision of loveliness I’d seen across the street was mere inches from me. She said, excuse me, I didn’t want to startle you! Then she smiled the most brilliant smile I’d ever seen, my knees felt like rubber as I started to fall back but her hand shot out grabbing my arm to keep me upright. The power in her arm surprised me and my heart raced and I couldn’t tell if it was from almost falling or the close proximity of such a beauty! After I felt like I could stand on my own, she introduced herself as Magdalena Dvora'k, saying she had seen me looking at a photograph and asked if I’d been to Prague before. When I told her the picture was taken of my father standing by this building many years before. She asked to see it and I handed it to her. Without skipping a beat, she said “Doug Logan”; if my legs had been rubber before, now they were Jelly! Dazed, I staggered back with her hand back on my arm and I leaned against the stone cold wall. Her gaze transfixed me as she looked deeply into my eyes. It seemed as if she were God’s own angle assigned to test and weigh my soul, for how long I didn’t know. Once I’d regained some composure I said, “How…how could you know my father’s name?" She chuckled at my stammering and said he was the love of her late great aunt who always talked about him and kept his picture next to her bed. To say I was speechless and still weak in the knees was an understatement so she helped me to a bench where we sat for awhile, me trying to recover, while she looked bemused as she read the puzzlement and confusion in my pale face now drained of all its normal color.

I was weighing the odds of meeting someone whose great aunt had known my father and it seemed an unbelievable coincidence! Do you feel alright she asked? I said, not really, adding I can’t get over our meeting, more improbably that your great aunt knew my father. She said, Oh, not just my great aunt her whole family knew him; he was very helpful to them in recovering their lives after the war. Magdalena said her great aunt could speak, read and write in English, because her father was a Czech diplomat in England before the war and her great aunt had gone to school there. Her father was recalled when he voiced alarm over the pacifist actions of England’s Prime Minister at the time, who thought he could make deals with Adolph Hitler. Of course history proved Hitler lied on paper about “Peace in our time” and then, when the Nazi’s invaded Czechoslovakia, my great aunt’s father was arrested and shot. His wife escaped to her parent’s farm with my great aunt who was just a pre-teen. Then, Winston Churchill became England’s Prime Minister and when America came into the war the Nazis were defeated! Later, my great aunt went to work for the new Czech government as an interpreter working with some Americans who came to help. Your father was one and it wasn’t long before he captured her heart and she his. Unfortunately for my great aunt her lover was married and as much as he cared for her he was too committed to his wife and young son, as well as to his agency. I noticed her voice broke toward the end of her comment, so I knew she deeply felt the heartbreak of that lost love! She went on to say; when the new communist government expelled Americans my great aunt wrote her promise to always be waiting on the back of the picture of your father by the Old Town Hall. As color returned to my face I said I knew my father was always committed to us; but it was too bad he couldn’t have had both loves! I guess that was an impossible situation, especially back in those days. She looked confused and asked; don’t you feel angry he cheated on your mother? I told her I felt love was such a beautiful thing and such a blessing to those who suffered during the horrors of war that I wouldn’t deny him or your great aunt that solace. While that terrible war, that claimed the lives of millions was over, with all the death and destruction, I felt the whole human race suffered from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder and if their love helped them overcome that, how could it have been wrong? Thanking me for my understanding she said, “I know my great aunt would appreciate what you’ve said”. She then asked how long it had been since I’d had anything to eat or drink. I told her that I’d had something light, a few hours ago on the plane. She thought it best if we visit a nearby café for something to eat and a little coffee. We talked as we walked slowly, now among the few others who had started to come out to face the day as a bright Sun rose higher in a cloudless Blue Sky.

Sitting outside the café; she ordered a coffee and a pastry for me, saying she’d had something just before we met. We talked while I ate and I mentioned I’d read about the 80,000 Prague Jews murdered by the Nazis in World War II. I told her I felt the West had failed to act against Hitler until it was almost too late. As we sat discussing history and politics I marveled at both her knowledge and her beauty. When she finally said I looked tired, I had to admit I was feeling a bit of “jet lag”. She said if I had a room I should get some rest and when I told her the name of my hotel she said it was close. We continued to talk as we walked; arriving she asked “Do you mind if I come up” and I said I’d love for her to stay as long as she could. Once in the room, she said she’d let me get some sleep. I told her I’d like to hear more of her great aunt and her family, if she could come back. She said she would so I told her I’d call the desk to give her the spare key upon her return. She told me to lock my door when she left. After locking the door, I was so tired I just lay down, cloths and all, without even pulling the threadbare covers back.

I’d slept over eight hours because the Sun was going down. I decided to take a shower rather than wasting time in the morning when Magdalena might return. I’d been in the shower just a minute when I heard her voice, “Are you in the shower?” “Yes, but the water is cold and I don’t know how to regulate the temperature.” Without a pause, she thrust her hand in turning the dials to adjust the temperature! Embarrassed, I thanked her for her help, she just laughed, then I heard some rustling of clothing and a second later she was standing behind me in the shower. She said her family had bathed together to save water. Over my shoulder I said, I wasn’t expecting a bath partner, but she was welcome! Washrag and soap in hand she said I’m going to hold you so I can apply enough pressure to open up the pores. She scrubbed and had she not held me her strength would have flung me into the controls – I was amazed at her power. She had a wash cloth in each hand but I could still feel her cold hands. But it felt good, the hot water with her hands on me, I didn’t care. Then, the pressure on my back and hold on my chest stopped. She turned me around and starting washing my neck and chest. In moments I had to apologize for “stirrings” I had no control over. She laughed and threw a towel in my face saying, dry and get dressed, there’s much to see and do tonight. Blushing, I sheepishly complied.

Once dressed, I peeked out the bathroom door to say I was sorry she had to see how old and out of shape I was. She chuckled, I like a man who has some meat on his bones; it shows he has not denied himself that which he likes; eating well can be the sign of good physical and mental health. Still red faced, I walked over and sat down on the end of the bed near her as she was in the room’s only chair. Magdalena wanted us to visit a few interesting places and see some city night life as well as a special building allowing for one of the best viewpoints from which to see the city. I quickly concurred with her itinerary, who would have said no to escorting such a captivatingly beautiful and amazing lady and sharing the experience of seeing the city’s night life with her. I thought, “I may be old but I’m not dead yet!”

We spent the evening and into the night walking by clubs and talking; she spoke about each club, the history of each area of the city and I spoke of my father and life in general. We’d then ride to another section of the city and repeat the drill; she was an extremely knowledgeable guide and I thrilled at being at her side. Finally, we came to what looked to be the tallest building on that side of the city. She had a key that looked to be from the 18th Century inserted in a side door so quickly it barely registered when it happened; a second later the door opened and I saw someone moving in the almost Pitch Black stairwell. Magdalena spoke to the shadowy figure and it soon disappeared. She turned back to me and with a twinkle in her eye saying, come on; I won’t make you walk up more than one flight to the elevators. With my stunningly beautiful guide I’d risk my old knees.Soon we were at the elevator, once on she put her gloved hands on my waist, holding lightly, which sent a thrill like an electric shock through me. When the elevator reached the top I realized why she held me, it lurched and shuddered with such violence it almost threw me off my feet, but she was as steady as a rock and kept me upright. I teased over the noise, does it always stop with such violence or did we just get hit by a 9.0 earthquake?! She laughed at my attempt at humor, to my ears; the sound was like the singing of angles! I grinned at her and she grinned back at me with her exquisitely captivating smile, my heart sped up like a rattling jack hammer, I didn’t think I’d ever met anyone like her before!

The roof had parapets similar to an old castle, we walked around enjoying the view; from this vantage point much of the city was visible until other buildings blocked the remainder. We continued to stroll around the outside while she told me more of the history of the city and her family. Impulsively, I felt compelled to turn to her saying, I know it’s probably inappropriate for me to say it, me being so much older, but you have been so kind and gracious to me that I think I’m falling in love with you. I’ll understand if you can’t feel the same way toward someone like me and I hope my expressing the way I feel won’t make you leave and keep me from being with you anymore. I’d rather be just a friend with no possibility of developing a deeper relationship than to never see you again! Saying that brought up some deep feelings of loneliness I wasn’t able to suppress; tears suddenly welled up in my eyes and, ashamed at those tears, I turned away from her. She grabbed me from behind and spun me around so fast my head took a second to follow the trajectory of my body! When my face caught up with the rest of me, she kissed me gently on the mouth saying she had similar feelings toward me, but there were complications for us to do much about those feelings. I wiped my eyes and felt as if my heart would leap out of my chest; with my emotional high it took a minute to recover. If this was a dream I prayed I’d never wake up.

Looking deeply into her eyes as she had done with me yesterday, I said if the problem is your immortality and super-human strength a solution is to change me! Now she looked confused; what makes you think I’m an immortal? I said, I’ve thought it from the first, only an immortal could move from one side of a four-lane road to the other in less than a second; I saw you reflected in a window disappear from one side of the road then you were just inches behind me when I turned around, that caused me to jerk back almost falling. With lightning speed and amazing strength you kept me upright and when you recognized my father in the picture and my legs failed me again your strength helped me over to a bench. At the café you didn’t eat or drink and I haven’t seen you eat or drink anything. You have strength that surpasses the strongest weight lifter, but wield it with total gentleness. You smell of sugar & cinnamon and are the most kind, considerate and lovely companion I could dream of and you’ve captivated my heart in the time I’ve been with you. Your hands and lips are cold like stone, yet you move with grace and fluidity of motion and your touch sends electrical shocks through me I want to last forever! You ask me how I could know; how could I NOT know!

You recognize I used the term immortal, I hope you realize I do so, not out of fear of the word vampire, but because I wanted to state my feelings before I asked you to explain how you became a vampire, since I believe when you knew my father you were fully human! And yes, I realized you are in fact "the great aunt" you described to me. I knew it because of the way you expressed "her" love for him and the catch in your voice when you spoke of him. I went down on one knee looking up to say, “We’ve been together for less than two days, yet I feel I’ve known you all my life! If you’ll allow me, I’ll spend forever with you any way I can; I prefer as your companion, but if not, I pledge you my blood if you need it. I want you to understand, my statement of love is unequivocal, I want to be with you any way you’ll have me…I want to be forever yours!” Then, I sensed a presence coming from behind, I stood, turned and saw a hooded figure running quickly toward us and I tried to move to defend Magdalena and myself. Seeing my almost comical protective stance, the figure stopped and said, Oh mother, I’m so happy for you! Magdalena introduced me to her daughter Eviana; who as she dropped her hood the city lights revealed a beautiful young woman of perhaps 18 years of age. I stared as she looked so much like a picture of one of my aunts taken when she was about the same age. I extended my hand; saying I’m happy to meet you and I thanked her for supporting my statement of love for her mother. I then turned and asked, “Is Eviana my half-sister?” Vampires can’t blush, but Magdalena looked like she would if she could…she said, since we’re being totally honest with each other, no she isn't your half-sister; but I’m sure you know, she is also a vampire. Eviana quickly grabbed me around the neck; kissing me saying I'm just happy my mother has found someone. I smiled at her saying I hope this won’t complicate the fact I want to be your surrogate father, as I am deeply in love with your mother. She giggled, I don’t care, it will be nice to have someone else to love and be loved by, I’m happy that my mother is happy, then she looked as if she would cry with joy if crying weren’t impossible for a vampire. While she couldn’t cry, I was still very much human with all the weakness of human emotions and our many statements of love brought forth my tears of joy.

Magdalena relieved my embarrassment over crying suggesting we go to where Eviana was working to show me what they did. As she danced around us, Eviana said, yes, we’ll show him! We went to a first floor Janitor’s Closet with a secret panel opening into a control room with at least a hundred monitors on the walls. The monitors showed all the streets in this part of the city. The cameras had microphones, but the cacophony of sound made it impossible to hear specifics. Magdalena explained their super-senses can distinguish 
between all sounds. She told me the purpose of the monitoring system was to pinpoint any crimes against humans, especially women, children and the elderly. If they saw or heard things that lead them to believe a crime against an innocent was happening they could call the local police or take care of it themselves if police weren’t near the location of the crime. They had teams of three vampires throughout the city that could reach any location in seconds, so they often dealt with problems themselves. Human criminals were easy for just one of their group to handle but a vampire might take all three. Seldom did more than one vampire appear and backup forces were ready.

Magdalena now took the time to explain how her group, or coven, was formed, saying she had been told much of this from other much older vampires in her group, most of whom are female. This is because male vampires often seem to lack any self-control, especially newborns. They, rather than having any interest in finding ways to co-exist with humans think of humans as cattle for slaughter at their whim. Men, women and children are all seen as “fair game” in their blood-shot eyes; kill and drink...drink and kill...seemed to be all they cared about! Many of those in the group were originally victims of these roving nomads, but for one reason or another, the attackers were driven off before they had drained them to the point of death. In her own case Magdalena learned two policemen happened to turn the corner where her attacker had just knocked her out and had begun to drink; one of the police officers blew his whistle to summon other police while the second policeman fired his pistol at the figure which was, by then, fleeing into the night. Both policemen ran after him, not realizing they had no chance of catching him, nor would they have survived had they done so. Magdalena went on to tell her story; she awoke in so much pain she crawled into some nearby bushes to die. Only later, did she recover enough to get to her feet and stagger back home. Looking lovingly at Eviana she said, there was my sweet daughter who seeing my battered condition tried to get the blood and grime off my face, neck and arms. Not realizing what had occurred or what I’d become, when she leaned over to pull the covers up to keep me warm in my bed, Magdalena said, “I bit own daughter!” Seeing how her face became twisted in anguish and torment I knew I was seeing a glimpse of what Hell must be like! The shame, pain and horror of that wretched memory had transformed her beautiful features beyond all recognition or redemption! Magdalena cried out in such pain it was as if from deep in a lake of fire, "I'm damned...damned for all eternity!"

It was like a knife thrust in my heart to see the tortured soul the woman I loved had become! I wept and I felt as if my soul was burning in Hell’s fire! My body shook with despair of the horror Magdalena so painfully expressed, I wanted so badly to relieve her pain. Eviana hugged her mother and reassured her she didn’t blame her for what happened, saying, mother it wasn't your fault, you didn't know what you’d become and did what came naturally to a newborn. You hadn't had the chance to develop the amazing strength to resist temptation that you now have. Now I’ll always be with you and that’s far more important than a little bite! But Magdalena seemed inconsolable, repeating the terrible judgment on herself "...dammed...damned for all eternity”, adding “Now you’re damned since I didn't die but came home and bit YOU!"

Her depth of pain and self-loathing disabled me at first but I was stirred me to speak through my own tears, I don’t see you as damned, you’re both so courageous protecting the people from evil, certainly you deserve to be together as you are and I hope to join you not only as an immortal, but to help protect the innocents. I dropped to my knees, taking Magdalena’s hands in mine I said, “I swear to you, I don't believe you are damned. That is the same as saying God, in his power and mercy, can't save you...that you cannot call on the most precious blood ever shed, blood shed for ALL...that of Jesus Christ. I've heard, in human folklore, that vampires believe they are "soulless monsters" with no possibility of redemption, certainly anyone, human or not, who wants only to kill innocent people puts themselves in great jeopardy. However, to say even they are beyond the redemptive powers of God is, in my opinion, just a way for them to justify their cruelty saying, "I might as well kill everyone, because I'm damned anyway!" It's a cop-out, a way those you call out of control vampires have formulated to justify their unbridled murder and feeding upon the innocent and weak. As with all those who harm others, we must hate the crime but hold out the possibility that they can be shown the error of their ways, change their thinking and behaviors so they can then seek salvation through Jesus Christ.

I asked Magdalena, how her group got the blood they need? She looked at me still showing a pained expression, saying they owned many funeral homes where humans who have passed away due to age, illness, accident, or murder are processed for burial or cremation. Human law requires replacing their blood with a preservative before burial. Mechanical extraction of their blood is done; it is never taken by a vampire. We maintain the dignity of the deceased at all times and we also own the medical disposal points for blood and blood products tainted with viruses, heavy metals or other toxins as well as disposal for outdated blood-bank blood that can’t be used for other purposes. We filter out toxins, not that they endanger us, but because of bad taste, adding a special anti-coagulant that also protects natural eye color, we don’t have the Red eyes of those feeding on living humans. We try very hard not to kill anything in order to meet our needs. If forced to feed on animals, thus having Golden eye color, we take only a small amount of blood from each, trying never to kill the living just to allow us to exist. Blood from the dead is less palatable than from the living, but sustains us and is superior to animal blood in providing strength to fight those that try to use this city as a feeding ground. Eviana added we also own a heard of sheep and goats in the mountains that provide small amounts of blood that could help us, should other sources be less than would meet our needs. The animals are very well cared for and only a small amount of blood is extracted. That blood is frozen for emergency use if the need ever arose. When one from the herd has to be culled the meat goes to one of the many charities we support.

To me, it certainly seems that you have done all you can to meet your minimal needs without resorting to harming innocent humans or even killing any animals, while giving back much more in protecting human lives. I believe you have done admirably and I would be willing to stand before a Righteous yet Merciful God to argue your group's case for redemption, through Jesus Christ. After a moment, Magdalena said, as Eviana nodded, thank you for believing that our souls are not damned, that we have a chance for redemption, no one else has ever told us anything but that we’re damned! Feeling their pain, I broke down and cried. While that made it difficult, I said I feel overwhelmed that you’ve been in so much pain for so long not believed you have a way to salvation. It is said Hell is a separation from God, if that is true then you and the other good vampires who have felt as you have felt, seem to me to have already been in Hell for a very long time - certainly in your group’s case most undeservedly so! I couldn't stop myself from crying over the mental anguish they had sentenced themselves to and through my tears I choked out, I will pray for your souls and all those in your group, I know those prayers will be heard! Now it was they who were consoling me, and it took some time before I could stop the tears of seeing the pain they had gone through, pain that I told them seemed totally unwarranted and unnecessary.

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Vamp Writer said...

Thanks for having me on your blog Janet...we've had a wedding going on here this weekend that we weren't expecting when I set the blog up (the marriage takes place in two hours so I've got to get back). I just wanted to say thanks and see if anyone had read and left a comment. At least someone did on Friday and I'll check later tonight to see if anyone has left one today. Thanks again for letting me be on your blog!

Vamp Writer said...

Again, thanks Janet for having me on your blog! BTW, the wedding was a success!