I’m posting this a few hours early as it’s the Racine County Fair this week. I’ll be at the fairgrounds all day tomorrow, pretty much through Sunday, so I wouldn’t have time unless I did it now. Trivia for this chapter at the end. Here’s where the dark starts, people.
CHAPTER ONE- OUR FRIEND LAZARUS SLEEPS
Every day, he dreamed of that night. The soft touch of Brigett’s lips against his own. The love they had shared before the thief and his gun had shattered the night and their world. Diu, the vampire who had rescued him, helping him to his feet after the transformation had been complete for the time being. Taking off to find Brigett, only to find her and the thief dead a few alleys over, killed by who knew what. His dejected return to Diu who took him under his wing–literally– and brought him back to the oversized basement that served as a home for Diu and the others. For Diu was not the only one of his kind in the city, though he was among the oldest.
Diu had helped him to finish the transformation that night, performing the final transfusion that would change him for all eternity. When he had asked about the black wings, Diu had only smiled and didn’t bother to explain their presence beyond the word, “Magic.”
As he slowly slipped to a deep sleep, Diu told him that he would need a new name. He was no longer James. And he knew the elder vampire spoke true. A name came to him while he though about it. “Koios,” he said softly, not knowing where it had come from. He knew that he liked it though, and that it fit, so the name remained. “I am Koios.”
“Welcome, Koios,” Diu said with a small bow.
Every day, Koios dreamed of that night. And every night, he tried to forget it.
He was one of the undead now. Dead, but brought back to life much the way Lazarus had been returned to life by Jesus in the Bible. There had been no blood involved with that miracle. And no damnation of the soul.
When the sun went down, he awoke with his usual start of fear. The small room, no larger than a walk in closet, was pitch black as usual. Always, for the briefest of moments, he was afraid that he was dead once more. Then the feeling past and he remembered where he was.
Koios rose from his small bed and pulled on his pure black clothes he had taken to wearing. His hunger coursed though him, a reminder that he would need to feed that night for sure. If he did not, he would risk weakness that would render him unable to do anything but just lay there.
He stepped out of his room and found that, as usual, he was the first one awake. Their lair was little more than a forgotten basement of an abandoned building on the bad side of town. It had been divided into two parts: a communal room and the sleeping area, full of the closet-like rooms. No one ever bothered them though, or even seemed to know of their existence.
The communal room had several couches that Koios believed were just as old as Diu, if not older. Some of their number were sprawled across them, the dawn having caught them before they could retreat to the know safety of their rooms. The one called Lupus was wearing nothing more that a pair of jeans and had an old book spread open across his bare chest. Koios approached him and lifted the book to see what it was. “Dracula,” he muttered, a small grin on his face. Stoker’s novel was a source of never ending amusement for the vampires. The idea that they could change into animals or mist was laughable. There were a few things in the novel that were true, however, such as how to kill one of their own and the effects of sunlight.
Koios replaced the book and looked over at the clock on the wall. The days were growing longer now, though snow was still heavy upon the ground. The sun had just gone down and it was already almost six-thirty.
A noise from another part of his home drew his attention away from the clock. The noise was faint; if he had still been human, he could not have heard it. The others were waking.
In what almost amounted to a rush of bodies, the rest of the vampires joined Koios in the communal room. Lupus woke with a start behind him, nearly dropping the book on the ground. With his lightning fast reflexes though, he was able to catch it inches before it touched the hard stone floor.
The vampires gathered about, some slumping into couches and chairs while the rest remained standing, talking with one another. It was a mortal’s equivalent of a family gathering. Only this one happened every night.<
Koios wandered among them, smiling and nodding as needed. Off in the corner, he caught sight of the youngest member of there family: a girl maybe fourteen. Blood stained trails inched down her face as she tried to cry. Koios ran through is mental list of names and determined hers to be Emaline. She had been transformed by Diu a few nights ago after she and her family had been victims of a robbery turned gang fight when others had showed up.
He knelt down next to her and wiped away a tear of blood. "Emaline," he spoke soothingly, using all the charm he had learned during his ten year tenure as a vampire. "It's alright, Emaline. You have nothing to be afraid of."
"I'm not afraid," she hiccupped out.
"Then what is it?"
"I miss my family."
Koios gave her a gentle smile that hid his teeth. It wouldn't do to frighten the girl even more. "I know. But we are your family now. And though it hurts, you must stay strong. We are the few, the lucky," he said, quoting almost word for word what Diu had told him that night after he had seen Brigett's broken body there before him. "We are eternal."
"But my family isn't here!" she said, staring up at his pale face.
He gently reached out to grab her hand. His was near white, having lost all pigmentation long ago since he was no longer in the sun. Hers, on the other hand, was still tan with color. "We will stand by you as if you were our own flesh and blood," he said softly. "I will take care of you."
"You mean it?" she questioned quietly.
"With all my heart and upon the Codex I swear it." He rose, taking her with him. "Come. Let's see if I might go out early with you so that you might get something to eat."
Koios cringed inwardly. Emaline still wasn't totally aware of what it meant to be vampire. She didn't know that she wouldn't be able to stomach anything but the blood and its energy for the rest of eternity of that she would remain as a fourteen-year-old forever. But he couldn't bring himself to be the one to tell her that. So instead, he nodded and said, "Perhaps." Then he looked over his shoulder at the room that was nearly full. He held out his hand to her again. "Shall we go, my tiny Lazarus?"
She took it and looked up his tall, thin frame to the face obscured by hair. "Who is Lazarus?"
"A character, or a person if you'd rather, in the Bible. He was one Jesus supposedly brought back to life after he had died," he explained, thereby exhausting his knowledge of the Bible and the majority of the stories within.
Like Diu did with me," Emaline said as she caught on.
"Like he did for most all of us here," Koios said softly. He led her over to an open spot by one of the couches and sat down. She followed suit.
“What's your name?" she asked suddenly.
He was caught off guard by the question. She had to repeat it a second time before he was able to answer. "I'm Koios," he told her.
"No. Your real name."
He gritted his teeth together in an attempt to control his anger. He could not attack her. She was but a fledgling, fresh into her life as a vampire. "I am Koios," he repeated, enunciating every syllable to every word.
"How did Diu save you?"
"My parents and I were caught in a robbery gone wrong. Diu came and offered to change me so that I would be able to help my parents," Emaline explained. "I said yes. But my parents were both dead by the time I got to them." She looked up at his face once more. "What about you?"
Koios looked away and sighed quietly. Talking of Brigett and the past was something he tried not to do. It was also something he tried to forget. "I was shot trying to keep safe the one that I loved," he said simply.
"Do you still love her?"
"Yes," he admitted. "But it doesn't matter now. She died the same night I did." Koios sighed again. He was doing that more than he used to lately. "That was in another life though. I try to forget about it. As should you. You are no longer Miley." He ignored her shocked expression and continued on. "You are Emaline, beget of Diu, a member of Diu's Court." He looked up and saw that the vampire in question had finally entered the room. "Let's go get some food."
In the ten years since Koios had first seen him, Diu hadn't changed. His raven hair was still shoulder length and very straight. He green eyes were still bright and full of unshared laughter. Black, as with most everyone, remained the color of choice. The one thing that set him apart from the others was the way he carried himself. He looked older than his body, which was true. He was still in the visage of the 25-year-old he had been when he had been killed. But he was close to 300 now. Even so, he looked far older, worries no other had to face weighing upon his flawless and ageless face. The black wings Koios had come to associate with Diu were folded and behind him, blending with the duster had had on top of his clothes.
Koios nodded respectfully to him as he passed him by. Diu saw that he had Emaline in tow and gave him the briefest of smiles. "Take good care of her," he told him.
"I will," Koios responded, opening the door that lead to the world outside. He paused for a moment, breathing in the smell of the city night. Smoke, fear, sweat, tears; it was all there, each easy to pick out from the other. "Lazarus awakens," he said softly. Then he took off into the night in search of a meal.
Trivia: I had to go searching to see who Lazarus was aside from a character in Dr. Who. I honestly had no idea, and had never heard of them before I started writing this. So what Koios says is truth for me as well.