Beth looked at the stranger across from her.  Broad shoulders draped in an overcoat.  Hat covering his short hair (or perhaps mostly bald head?).  His age was impossible to determine looking at him.  He might have been in his forties or his sixties.  The way he looked, something about it, reminded her of…  someone?  She couldn’t place him.  What had he said his name was?  Thomas?

The man was talking about someone else, someone she also didn’t know. But someone he was trying to warn her about.  “I don’t know how to explain this to you, but let me try an analogy.  You probably like to drink alcohol.  Or maybe you like sex.  But you don’t understand the alcoholic’s craving or the nymphomaniac’s desire.”

Beth had no idea where he going with this.  Addiction?  To blood?  Was he trying to tell her that vampires were real?  Maybe her first instinct, that he was just a crazy person, was right after all.

Thomas continued before she could leave.  “Well, he’s addicted to life.  Everyday he’s alive is another day off the wagon.  There’s no twelve-step recovery program for life.  And every moment leaves you wanting more.  The only cure for this addiction is death.  The advantage is, you don’t have any relapses.”

“So what?  Nobody wants to die.  I mean, sure, some people commit suicide, and there are people with death wishes.  But everybody else wants to live, too.  What makes him so special?”  Beth was at the end of her patience with this.

“No.  You’re right that most people like living.  But that’s like you liking alcohol or sex.  Most people don’t think about living all the time.  Sure, they might worry about death from time to time.  Maybe when they’ve had a close call, or someone close to them dies.  But I’m talking obsession here.  He is constantly thinking about life, his life, and how to prolong it.  It consumes him.  And it’s that obsession that sustains him.  It has sustained him for a very long time.”

“How… how long?”

“At least several hundred years.  And he is a dangerous man.”

The Others: Discovery

The club, as always, was dim and loud with music.  Just like the last time he was here, Thomas could not fully enjoy himself.  Making his way through the mass of people, he found Marcus, sitting in the chair he himself usually occupied.

“You asked to meet.  Here I am.”

Marcus waved at a chair on the other side of a small table from where he sat.  “Thank you for coming.”

Thomas sat.  “Hmm.  Last time we were here, you threatened to kill me.”

“I did, didn’t I?”

“Yes.  But now she’s gone.  And here we are.”  That caused Marcus to wince slightly.  Thomas wanted to see what level of animosity remained.  To judge the danger.

“She’s not gone.”  His voice was slow, almost halting.  It was taking him effort to keep his emotions under control.  “You killed her.”

“As you know, she gave us no other choice.  I hope you didn’t ask me here just to rehash an argument that no longer has any purpose.”

“No.  Now I’m stuck living this life alone, thanks to you.”

“You are always free to end yourself.”

“Hah.  I know that’s what you hope.  But I have found another way to occupy myself.”  His grin was unnerving.


“Oh yes.”  Marcus pointed a finger.  “Do you see that girl over there?  Black hair in a pony tail?  White blouse?”

“Very nice.  You found someone new.  Can we get on with this, whatever it is?  I don’t care who you bed.”

Marcus shook his head.  “Nothing like that.  Take another look at her.  A good look.”

Thomas did so.  She remained a stranger, nothing different about her than all the other people dancing.  Still, there was something oddly familiar about her.  “Who…?”

“That, my old friend, is your granddaughter.”  The grin became a wicked smile as all manner of evil innuendo was packed into the words.

“My…  granddaughter?  I have no…”

“Do not bother.  It took a lot of digging.  You kept that part of your life well hidden.  Your wife is long dead.  Your son – her father – also died some time ago.  Perhaps he never told you about her?  But that is your granddaughter.”


“Am I going to do?  I haven’t decided yet.  But she is not one of us.  No rules govern how we should treat one of them.  Now you’ve seen her.  Why don’t you get to know her?  It will make all of this so much more satisfying for me in the end.”

“Do not…”

“No!” Marcus cut him off.  “You don’t threaten me.  I have lost everything because of you.  But I have broken no rule.  You have no claim on me.  Justify your past actions all you will.  It will not save her.” With that, he stood and threw a twenty dollar bill down on the small table between them.  “Enjoy a drink on me.  You don’t have to thank me for finding her.”  He began to walk away.  “I wonder how she’d feel, knowing that what’s about to happen was caused by her long-lost grandfather?”  Marcus disappeared into the crowd.

What should he do?  What could he do?  Thomas stared at the girl and chewed his lip as the future nagged at him.

Death Wins

“…Police are still looking for the suspect. While officials refuse to comment on the events, in this exclusive video, you can clearly see the suspect – this woman – being shot by police. The bullets seem to have no effect on her as she escapes the scene. Some have suggested that the police were using rubber bullets, but at least one ballistics expert thinks otherwise…” He turned off the television and looked back at her.

“This is the situation you’ve put us in. People are speculating about how you got away. Scrutiny is drifting ever closer. Why did you do this?”

“What is the point of this conversation? You’ve already made up your mind.” Her stare was fierce; he found it difficult to match. Were she not restrained, he was certain she would try to kill him.

“We were friends once. I just want to understand why you threw everything away.”

“Don’t you ever tire of your stupid rules?”

“They are our rules. Yours too. And you know why we have them. To keep them from finding out about us. Trying to capture us. Study us. Or worse.”

She snorted. “This life we created for ourselves. It’s a poor imitation of what we thought we were making. Yes, we live. But what sort of life is it?”

He shook his head. “You knew what the consequences would be. You knew we could not ignore this. Were you trying to force our hand?”

“If I had wanted to die, there are easier ways than to get you to hunt me down.” She struggled a bit, testing the ropes, but they were secure. “This is torture. Cruel. Kill me, if you have the resolve. Otherwise, let me go. In either event, quit talking as though you care.”

That last hurt him. However, he could see no way to get through to her. If she were determined to flaunt the rules, he had no alternative. Blinking back a tear as he raised the pistol to her forehead, he muttered “Death wins” before pulling the trigger.

The Others

It was almost impossible to hear the music over the din of conversation and dancing. He sat, sipping his whiskey, absorbing the spectacle of the crowd while remaining apart from it. The atmosphere of people drinking to forget, or drinking to get up the courage to ask someone to spend the night, or just drinking… It never grew tiring. It was life in the raw; he could never get bored with it.

He could not fully enjoy it, however. Someone would come along, and it did not take long before he arrived. The newcomer resembled him: They both appeared to be in their late thirties or early forties, and both dressed in a similar nondescript fashion. Neither man wanted to draw attention.

He gestured for the newcomer to sit across from him. “I’ve been expecting you.”

“Of course you have. You’ve made no secret about your intention.”

“She broke the rules. You know as well as I do what must be done. And I did warn you not to get involved with her. It is safer if we stay apart from such entanglements. Even with each other.”

“I won’t let you kill her.”

“If not me, someone else will. At least I will make it as painless as I can.”

He took another sip of whiskey.

“Damn you. You can’t do this.”

He put his glass down and thrust a finger at the other sitting across from him. “I can. And I will. It has to be done. She puts us all at risk with her behavior. And if you try to stop me, you will suffer the same fate. I will not let her – or you – threaten the lives we have worked so hard for. We all agreed to these rules for our own protection. She threatens to bring unwelcome scrutiny down on all of us. I WILL put an end to her!”

He sat back in his chair, exhausted. Anger was one of the many emotions he had learned to suppress. It drained away too much energy. Letting even a little of it out left him feeling closer to death than he liked.

The other looked chastened for a moment before a steely resolve returned to his eyes. “I will kill you before I let you kill her.”

“You are welcome to try.” His practiced calm had reasserted itself.

“Is that why you are here, to give you enough witnesses that I won’t try anything?”

He replied by taking another sip.

“How do you know I won’t do it anyway? Why should I care about the stupid rules if you are going to use them to kill her?”

“I think you still care about your own existence too much to throw it away on a meaningless gesture. You know killing me won’t change anything.”

The other stood up with enough force to knock his chair backwards. “That might not be true for much longer.”

He just shrugged. The other stormed off. He would have to do it soon, before this situation got any more volatile. But it could wait a bit longer. He sat back and tried to enjoy the energy around him.