Prompt: a Craiglist missed connection…
Seeking ancient vampire Lord
This story was inspired by an actual ad on Craig’s list. The ad reads verbatim as follows: I’m a depraved man who is dying I am surching for an ancient vampire to turn me immortal I will serve you well your identity will be secret with me
(Be advised, sensitive topics: blood and death)
The doorbell rang at sunset.
I was just getting up from bed, and I heard the dull chime echo throughout the dark house. I put on some casual clothes, so as not to frighten anybody, and went downstairs to open the door. The cats watched me, their yellow eyes wide.
I heard a feeble thump on the door when I reached it, and I opened the peephole to look through at who was knocking.
There was a scrawny young man, hunched back wearing a loose black coat buttoned up to his nose, his skin, papery and yellow, his brown hair thin and matted.
I sighed; not another one.
I opened the door, and he flinched a little, backing up a step or two in the darkness. “How may I help you?” I asked.
He fiddled with his fingers, just poking out of his sleeves, and he cleared his throat, “Sir…?”
“Are you seeking eternal youth, like all the others?”
He shook his head.
“Then what…at such an early hour?”
The young man looked around anxiously, then whispered, “Can I come in?”
I glared at him, then shrugged. “I don’t see why not.” I stepped aside, and he didn’t move for a while. Then, he flinched a little and slowly, slowly limped through the doorway. I shut the door, and then it was dark.
He looked up, his eyes wide as he searched the darkness. They were bloodshot and exhausted, and his face was sunken and pale.
“What was it you wanted?” I asked.
He seemed to shrink into his jacket and shivered.
“…I don’t want immortality.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Yes, you told me.”
“Oh.” The man placed a hand on his face. “I’m sorry.”
“What is it that you want from me?”
“…I just wanted a place to stay.”
“Why? Is your home not good enough?”
“I don’t have a home, sir.” I blinked in surprise. This was new.
“Is that so? Why did you come to me, of all people? I assume you know who I am.”
He hesitated, his head angled to the ground. His eyes were closed, as he wouldn’t be able to see with them open anyway.
“…I was just looking for a place to die.”
I cocked my head. “Come again?”
“Sir,” he began in a feeble voice, “I’m already dying…I can’t afford medication, or a bed, or new clothes…I’m miserable…I figured…if people heard I went to your residence and never came out, yes, it’d be a shame, but they wouldn’t have to clean me up off the street.”
I glanced up at one of the cats who was sitting on the shelf. She stared back at me, then flicked her tail and disappeared.
The young man was trembling; perhaps from cold, perhaps from anguish. I sighed and nodded my head. He didn’t react, and then I remembered he couldn’t see me.
“I have an extra room.”
He clasped his hands under his chin and let out a faint sob.
“Thank you, sir….”
“What’s your name?”
“I don’t remember, sir,” he replied softly.
“…Then I shall call you Asa.”
“Asa…that’s fine,” he echoed. “What is your name?”
“I don’t have one,” I answered. “Not just one. What exactly do you plan to do here? Just lie in bed and wait for your inevitable demise?”
Asa hesitated, then nodded.
“How long do you think that will take?”
“Three days maximum, I believe.” He sounded a little optimistic.
“…Well, then, I expect you to be dead in three days’ time. Come along, let me lead you to your room.”
I gave him a candle and the extra room I had. He stood holding the candle close to the bed for a long time, perhaps in disbelief. I wondered if he had a bed before this one.
I left to go about my usual business when night fell, and I returned before the sun had touched the horizon.
It was silent in the house. I passed Asa’s room on my way to my own, so I opened the door quietly in the darkness.
He was on his knees next to his bed, the half-melted candle at his feet. His head was leaning against the covers, and he was asleep with his coat draped over him.
I poked his shoulder, and he made a faint “ih” noise and pried his eyes open slowly. “…Where did you get yourself now…?” He mumbled, closing his eyes again.
Asa flinched and struggled to sit upright, his coat falling to the floor. His moth-eaten sweater was loose over his scrawny frame. “Who was that?”
“It was me.”
He looked this way and that in the darkness. “Who?”
Asa thought for a moment, then brought his knees against his chest and buried his face in his hands and started to weep.
I sat down next to him. “What is it now?”
“I’m sorry…I forgot you already…who are you?”
“…No one of importance. I offered you a room in my inn last night.”
“Oh…thank you, sir,” Asa whispered. The young man choked on his tears, then fell into a coughing fit. I waited for him to recover. “…What’s your name?”
“I don’t have one. Not just. And you ought to sleep inside the bed, it’ll be warmer and more comfortable to…die in.”
Asa sniffed and blinked rheumy eyes at the ground. “Me? The bed?”
“Yes. I didn’t give you a room just for you to sleep on the floor.” He looked as if he were struggling to comprehend it all.
“Are you sure…?”
Asa wiped his eyes feebly. “Asa?”
“Yes. That is your name, isn’t it?”
Asa thought for a moment, then nodded. “Yes…it is.”
“I’m glad. Now go on, get some rest.”
Asa nodded again, and he picked up his coat and clutched it against him, trying to get to his feet. His knees quavered with his own weight, and he let out a weak gasp as he sank back onto his rear. What happened to this poor child, to render him so helpless?
“Here, let me help you.” I took his wrist, and he jerked in surprise. I blinked and let go, and he shook his head.
“I’m sorry…I’m just a little jumpy….” Asa struggled to stand once again, and when I helped him to his feet, he only tensed up a little.
He finally was standing, though not very surely. He patted the bed with a hand, then looked up ahead of him into the dusty room I had given him.
“Are…are you sure, sir? I could sleep on the floor if you’d like…?”
“It’s all right,” I assured him. “Just sleep in the bed.”
“Okay.” Asa slowly climbed into the bed, and then he lay down and rested his head on his pillow without another word. The moment he closed his exhausted eyes, he was fast asleep.
I woke up from my own slumber that night. I saw that his door was open, even though I had closed it last night. I glanced inside his room as I passed, and I saw him curled up in fetal position in the covers, buried up to his nose.
To my surprise, one of the cats was sitting on the counter by his bed, watching him. “What are you doing here?” I asked, and she leapt down and she walked past me briskly.
Then, I heard a choked breath, and I saw Asa’s eyes half open, wet with tears. I cleared my throat, and he didn’t seem to react.
“Are you…all right?” I questioned, walking over to his bedside.
“…Where am I?” He breathed faintly.
“An inn, where I offered you a place to stay.”
“Oh….” I saw one of Asa’s hands poke out from under his blankets to rub his ear before disappearing again. “Thank you….”
“It was nothing. I’ll leave you to your dying now.”
Asa did not respond, but he shivered under the blankets.
“You seem cold; do you need another comforter?”
Asa did not respond, again. I realized he had closed his eyes and was unconscious. I sighed and left his room, closing the door and locking it, so as the cats didn’t disturb him.
I returned at dawn, and I unlocked the door and peered into his room, and I flinched. There was blood all over the floor and the blankets. As for Asa, he looked as if he had been grabbed and thrown onto the ground; he was trembling against the cabinet next to the bed, blood dribbling from his mouth.
“You should be glad I wasn’t planning on another feast,” I snarled. “What’s happened to you?” Asa twitched slightly at my voice. His dark, bloodshot eyes were glazed over.
“Oh, no, I am just a lowly innkeeper. My dogs are rather bloodthirsty, that’s all,” I told him, and he blinked slowly. “What happened?”
“…Idknow,” Asa replied weakly, coughing up another mouthful of blood. “…Cold….”
“You should be in bed. How did you get out?”
“Then sleep in the middle. Can you get up?” Asa lay still for a moment, then shook his head. I held his wrist so as to guide him to his feet, but he was completely limp.
“Can you move at all?”
Asa didn’t respond, and when I asked him again, tears started falling from his eyes. I sighed and picked him up; he was too light for a healthy human. I placed him in the center of the bed and threw the blanket over him. It was almost his time to die; he ought to do it warm.
“Do you need anything to drink? I doubt you want medicine…?”
“…Mokay,” he whispered into his pillow.
“Are you sure?”
Asa looked as if he were thinking of an answer, but then he lost consciousness again.
I woke up in the middle of the day.
One of the cats was sitting on my chest. I sat up, and she started walking away, down the hall. I followed her.
She sat down in front of Asa’s room, and I shooed her away and opened the door.
His watery eyes were half open, and he was staring into space, chewing on his own knuckle as if he were a small child.
My heart twisted with pity, and I entered his room, closing the door behind me. “Asa?” I uttered quietly.
He blinked slowly, then mumbled, “…I feel it…I’ll die soon.”
“Is that so?”
Asa’s head twitched a little, as if he was trying to nod.
“How are you feeling?”
“Would you like another blanket?”
Asa looked up at me, even though he couldn’t see me. His eyes were so tired.
“I just want to sleep….”
“Sleep, then. I will stay with you.”
Asa narrowed his eyes again. “Okay…thank you….”
I sat down at the edge of his bed, watching him. It occurred to me then that I had only ever witnessed sudden death. Gradual death would be something new for me.
His breaths were shallow, and he was no longer trembling.
Tears started welling up in his tortured eyes again, and his shaking, bony fingers clung to his bloody pillow.
“Don’t worry. It’s merely human.”
I watched Asa close his eyes slowly after heartbeats that lasted eternities. A single tear rolled down his cheek, and then he was gone.