Written by Gregory Tan
In the evening of a dreary November, the clouds enshrouded the heavens above with a weary gray that plagued the sunless skies and the horizon beyond. Sere leaves in shades of dull and worn amber drifted aimlessly in the chilling breeze, fallen from their trees that grew ever tired in the passing autumn, covering the ground as their ghastly graveyard. The ghostly mist shrouded the woods, smothering the trees into lifeless blurred silhouettes. I walked deep into the woods, below the shedding canopies, hearing the crunching of leaves that rested peacefully on the ground with every step I took. I held a shovel in one hand and a bouquet of white daisies in the other. Daisies. She always adored them. It wasn’t long before I arrived at a little mount, accompanied by a rugged rock about the size of a matured human skull which sat behind it. On top of the rock lay a bouquet of wilted flowers. I threw the wilted flowers away into the bushes nearby and placed the daisies on the rock, rested the shovel by the left of the mount, and sat there in silence, devoured by the mist.
I first befriended her in the spring of my most memorable year. I’ve never anticipated it. We were two strangers in a little town where humble folk and farmers dwelled. She sat beside me on a bench one morning while I was embracing the springtide sun and breeze. For some particular reason, in her presence I didn’t feel the anxiety and worry from interacting with another person. She was different. And she too, was alone. It began with simple smiles and chuckles that morning. By noon we ambled across the meadows in the outskirts of town, as we gazed in awe the blooming flowers in the spring that sprinkled all over the meadows in specks of white, blue, yellow, vermillion, pink and purple. She adored the wild daisies that blossomed. In the evening, we rested on the luscious grass, admiring the sunset behind the snow-capped mountains that stood far off in the distance, turning the sky into a soothing twilight hue with an orange afterglow, while the coniferous woodlands clustered at the toes of the rocky giants were cast in shadow. Towards the end of spring, we fell in love.
Near the end of the summer in the same year, we built our own modest cottage at the edge of town. It was rather small. Its walls were constructed with stone bricks accompanied by a thatched roof and a side chimney. On the inside, the floors were made of finely timbered pinewood. There was only room for a narrow cooking area, a cotton bed on the other end next to an old armchair, a square wooden table in the middle with two wooden chairs tucked under and a vase of white daisies on top, and the fireplace was to the right of the armchair. It was our home, my beloved and I. But perhaps I did not deserve this. While she lay asleep, I was kept awake in the middle of the night, deluged by my thoughts as I delved further into my direful recollections…
To exist is an excruciating pain. I have done so exceptionally well. Faintly I remember, that long ago, I awoke from a brief, purgatorial darkness, then crawling out from the earth and there I was, in the heart of a cemetery in the dead of night, with no memory of who I ever was. Since then for myriads of blue moons, I have wandered from town to town, from village to village, from plains to mountains to deserts to forests, through the rise and falls of kingdoms and empires, cold and alone. The presence of my own company felt as though my chest was constricted, my ribcage crushed, puncturing my lungs; yet I find no purpose to form fellowships as a fiend such as I is nothing but a monstrous wolf among the sheep that are people.
The idea of death always haunted my mind but unfortunately I was cursed so very long ago that the privilege of death is nigh unattainable to me. My unquenchable thirst for the rich crimson fluid, the vitalizing essence that flows within the veins of mortals, compels me to relentlessly hunt for it. A drop of it could sustain my youth for decades. I have ceaselessly drained entire bodies. When the night is darkest and everyone is in deep slumber, I silently creep to my sleeping prey in the dark and in an instant I sink my fangs into their tender delicate neck, and I feed on their blood to the very last drop until they become as pale as a ghost and their corpse shrivels to a withered crisp, before vanishing into the night unwitnessed. This is why I have survived far beyond my time, survived through every plague and fatal injury and the numerous times I’ve attempted ending my life.
Though it seems people are nothing but unsuspecting cattle to me, I do feel tremendous remorse for the lives I’ve taken. Innocent souls who mysteriously perished in their sleep in the middle of the night. The thought of it burdened me and over the years it accumulated until I felt my mind being crushed by the weight of worlds, with my mind struggling to barely lift it. Perhaps that is also why I’ve avoided interactions with people for it is easier to kill them without knowing who they are, sparing me from further agony. But I have seen the joy which companionship brings in others, admiring them from a distance. A part of me longed for company, faintly whispering within the sea of woes in the hallways of my skull.
In one of my sparse vivid recollections, there was a night when I was about to feast on my prey who was soundfully asleep on his bed in his own home, as my fangs were protruding and dripping with saliva, and it was on that night, at that very moment when my hidden deepest sorrow buried in my mind illumined itself. A soft beam of moonlight seeped through the window and shone on the bed, revealing something previously unseen in the darkness that finally caught my eye: his lover, soundfully asleep by his side. I froze for moments untold as the whispers in my skull echoed louder, reminding myself of how lonely I’ve always been since that night long ago when I awakened from supposed death; reminding myself of all those nights when I slew and fed on all those people to momentarily quench my unholy thirst for blood; reminding myself of the monster I am. I stood there motionless in the darkness of the room with the moonlight resting on my face, deep in thought and confusion for in front of me were two lovers amidst their dreams, something I desired that I’ve been too afraid to acknowledge. In that moment, I can’t imagine myself feeding on them and seeing their bodies shrivel to a pale crisp. In silence, I left them and disappeared into the night.
Soon after, I found myself sitting at the edge of a cliff overlooking a forest of pines, shrouded in the shadow of the night. Streams of tears rolled down my cheeks as I gazed up to the sky and the full moon was a melancholy luminescence which poets would wallow in their despair and loneliness, hoping the moon would provide them brief comfort. And there I was, like those poets, wishing for an end to this predicament that is my life, but there was no answer or reply, only silence. I can’t possibly lift this burden any longer. So in that very moment, I closed my eyes and slid off the cliff, falling into blackness, with the moon as my only witness. It wasn’t long after that I awoke on the ground, shaded by the leaves from the trees, unscathed, and I continued to exist and drift aimlessly across the lands like a lost soul trapped in purgatory, until I finally met my beloved in the spring of the next year.
My beloved, she never knew of the monster I was. I never took the opportunity to tell her. She was the only person I have ever felt for in the very long time that I could remember and I couldn’t bear to lose her. In all my time with her, I never once felt the compelling urge to kill and feast on the blood of mortals, and in all my time with her, I have never done so. The burdens I bore in my mind were slowly fading away and the suffocating feeling in my chest disappeared. With her I never existed: I lived. And I truly believed we would have our time together until our dying days, even if I had to watch her grow old before me. But our time together was short-lived.
In the autumn of the following year, that dreadful November, she grew terribly ill. Eventually she was bedridden and I spent most of my time by her side, sitting on the armchair and holding her frail hand. She was as pale as the victims I’ve slaughtered. Then finally, on that particular November night, she departed with the angels. I held her body dear in my arms as I cried an ocean. All that power and strength I possessed, and none of it could save her, and in many ways I couldn’t save myself either. I let out a horrifying demonic screech and fell into a burning rage unfelt before. I burst out of our home, and leapt across town like a demon under the pale moonlight. From house to house, I murdered them all. I decapitated heads and tore limbs apart with my very own hands, and feasted on the blood that spilled and splattered in a furious hunger. There were only screams, blood, and death that very night. Men. Women. Children. None survived. By dawn the streets were empty, there was only silence. I walked out of town, drenched in blood, bearing her lifeless body wrapped in a blanket in my arms. Strapped on my shoulder was a loaded musket I’ve salvaged from one of the dead farmers. Away I ventured into the woods, and was soon lost in the trees and mist.
Deep within the woods, in the unknown regions of the lands, I buried her there. I rested her into a wooden coffin, and I sepulchred it in the darkness of the soil below the ground, forming a little mount. I marked her grave with a skull-sized rock. Then I picked up the musket and tucked it beneath my chin, its nose directly aimed at my chin. I begged every god or angel or demon to let this finally be my demise. My forefinger nestled on the trigger, pulling the trigger.
I woke up not long after, unscathed. If I couldn’t die before, I couldn’t die then.
Every day for the following seven years, I visited her grave and persistently brought her favourite white daisies. Seven years. I have lived through so much in all my life, I have seen so much, that I’ve even forgotten most of them. All those moments flashed by in an instant, but those seven years were the longest years of my life. I could not stand it for a moment longer, and so I have decided to starve myself of blood long enough until I truly die for it was the only way.
It was in a gloomy November evening, that I visited her grave once more. I’ve brought a new bouquet of white daisies to replace the old ones at her grave, and this time around I’ve brought a shovel. After sitting in silence on the fallen leaves, within the mist and under the trees, I picked up the shovel and dug her grave until I’ve reached her coffin. I lowered myself into the cavity and laid on her coffin, and I shall lie there for an eternity, away from everything and everyone, until my very end. Once again I was reunited with my beloved, in her grave there in the woods.