Just for a change, the following composition of mine does not feature in my book Star Steeds and Other Dreams. As you may know, highly-acclaimed graphic artist Andy Paciorek and I are planning various collaborations. One of these may result in a future book on supernatural entities of the night. Consequently, I'm currently preparing some samples of text for it, retelling these entities' legends and lore in lyrical prose. So here, in an exclusive preview, is one of them. I hope you enjoy it!
Alone with the ghosts of days long departed, stretching back in silent homage, I dream that I am gazing into a looking glass and fancy that I see there, staring back out at me, a tall grim shadow, a wraith in human form that haunts my very being, chills my innermost essence with its dread pallid countenance, mesmerising and yet also captivating me with its icy doom. I have so many questions to ask this creature of darkness and night, I scarcely know where to begin.
Why do you and your kind exist?
“We exist to remind humanity that sometimes not even death can bring release from the evil that is nurtured in life. We exist to feed upon the fear that such realisation generates, to feed and grow stronger and wait.”
But why feed upon blood too?
“Blood is life, blood symbolises all that has dried up and long since disappeared from our shrivelled, exsanguinated existence. When we imbibe it, we are temporarily regenerated, rejuvenated, and reborn. For a short span of time, we are fully alive, even if only during the veiled hours of night. We may never feel the warmth of the sun, but we are sustained by the coolness of the moon and by the fire of the stars, nourishing and restoring us, empowering our living death with deathless life.”
I stand before this mirrored being of nightmare, and imagine with trembling electric horror its long slender fangs pressing so softly, imperceptibly, against my exposed neck, seeking the throbbing jugular beneath before sliding within, to freeze forever my existence with a single scarlet-trickling kiss of eternity.
“Life is fleeting, death is immortal. Those who become one of us shall persist forever.”
But what kind of existence will it be? Nothing but an undead, half-living, surely, surrounded by death but unable to find release.
“True enough, but that is the punishment for having lived an evil life. Only a stake or the burning caress of sunlight can end our torment, and then shall we decay and crumble, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, our long-postponed mortality finally upon us. Until then, we must linger, and hunger, and wonder…”
Only a dream, and a foolish, impossible dream at that. True, now that I am awake again I could indeed stand before the looking glass. Yet I know only too well that to do so would be futile, it would serve no purpose. How could I hope to elicit answers from my own reflection? After all, being a vampire I would have no reflection...
I'd very much like to include this wonderful artwork in a future publication of mine, so I've been trying to trace its artist for a very long time, ever since I purchased my numbered print of it, in fact, one Sunday afternoon in 1994 at the Sunday market formerly held regularly at the Holiday Wharf in Birmingham, England. I can't quite read her signature on the picture - her surname may be Woodlace, Woodlane, Woodlore, or even something else entirely! - but if anyone reading this blog has any information regarding her identity and/or current contact details, I'd love to hear from you!