So Philip, there you are, in answer to your question that is who I am and I’m hoping that it might reinforce this evening’s mood, that as we sit across from each other you’re under no illusions as to the pedigree of your captor and the seriousness of the situation.
No, it doesn’t explain why I’m not dead, fair point, five times, really, I thought you only shot me four. Hang on, one two three four emmm oh five, JAYSUS Philip that one’s just above the crown jewels now that’s just rude. What do you use for target practice, dwarfs?
Think I need a decent drink after that and by the look in your eyes so could you, think there’s a bit of internal bleeding going on there my man, but you did take some putting down which is surprising for a bean counting accountant. So where do you keep the booze, over here and by the way I think you should know I’m famished!
Ah the old country Jameson aged eighteen years a favorite of mine, even for whiskey! I am impressed but then again this is a salubrious place you have here, ha yea sorry it was mind you hazards aside it’s obviously very lucrative working for the League.
Now you first and take a good drink as I’m not getting back up to give you another, I know bastard aren’t I. There we go, good man down in one. Ropes too tight, are they? Good they are supposed to be!
Ah now that’s a whiskey, hmm goluptious, that’s really going to get my tongue wagging and on that note what better way to explain to you why I’m not dead, you have been very patient so far your reward will be in heaven or hell it’s not for me to say what awaits you on the other side of the river, I’m just a modern day Charon in a zodiac, HA.
I digress, so now that you understand where the physiology of my being comes from and although that dark part of my family’s history was far in the past it always seemed ever present with me.
You see Philip several years ago I crossed paths with a very senior member of your corporation and it resulted in a lengthy stay in hospital, although at the time she wasn’t a fully fledged ranking member then. WHO? Oh well that’s the question Philip, my question and I’m not yet ready to ask it yet so sit tight and let me finish.
This incident meant that all chances of a decent life for me were gone and tired of trying to keep me on the right road my father, good man that he was organised my escape from hospital. Well you see I wasn’t there for a very good reason and in my defense Philip may I say it was the last time I was ever innocent of anything that I was accused off. Now that was a night I won’t forget, you just can’t beat the corruption of local cops their one constant in life and they know how to charge and get what they want in every way. Of course in their defense they needed a reason to call the two cops away from babysitting me at my hospital bed as well as taking a handsome bribe for giving me the chance to escape. That was the extra kick, a task I think that finished my father, always a man to deal with local issues in a firm if illegal way, burning four men in their beds as they slept was not his style. That was the price, four drug dealers had assumed squatter’s rights in a derelict bungalow at the edge of town and were running rings around the local boys as well as hanging around the school gates. It had been discussed with my dad and the local law that he and his men would dispense a beating in the severest way and dump them well down the road but I blew all chances of that. As my fathers only child he felt I would be the last chance for something good to come from the family name and therefore he loved me and was prepared to pay the Superintendents price. He was a ruthless bastard and took full advantage of the situation, a hundred thousand for the lads to turn a blind eye and burn those four scum where they slept, “ I want to send a message Tom, their no loss and the fire gives me an excuse to pull the lads from the hospital detail” a charming man. That act like I said finished my father as a man, it did however give me the chance to escape but I had to do it on my own, regardless of my injuries. The deal was if I could get out unseen after the cops were pulled I had to make it into town and wait in an unlit corner of the Cathedral grounds where a loyal old hound of my Dad’s would come and get me with a van.
It was three in the morning, the place was dead and freezing and I was struggling to not look suspicious to the odd car that passed through the streets, my head down my arms wrapped around me as I nursed the deep stabbing wound my lust and mistaken love had given me. Weak and dizzy I let my feet guide, only looking up as I passed the monument to the front of the court house giving a respectful glance to it’s faded words.
‘They rise in dark and evil days to right their native land, they kindled here a living blaze that nothing shall withstand’
I knew the words on the monuments inscription without even reading it and I thought of the blaze that was now burning that night and swore to myself that if I got free I would set a blaze of my own. I was coming to the end of my walk and crossing the street, I turned the corner past a bar where a small group of girls froze at the front door for their habit, the smell of the cigarette smoke reminding me of someone else, the draw on each cigarette creating its own mini blaze. Then crossing over another narrow street I turned right, into the Chapel car park.
How will this end I thought as I hugged the Chapel wall and watched fragments of what was my life drift past, then again I never fitted in so better off away from it. Where-ever I go whatever happens I promised myself it‘s better than here, fuck it I thought roll the dice and follow my instinct. Then the big blue van pulled into the car park, turning, it never came to a stop, the side door sliding back, I was pulled in and the van moved back onto the road on its way out of town.
There he sat my dad the publican / republican / enforcer and smuggler, his mass spilling out over the chair that tried to hold him steady as the vans turns shifted his weight. He was once a county Gaelic footballer now he looked like one of those pictures I had seen in history books at school of Zulu chieftains seated at the end of their years, their swollen bodies filling ivory thrones. He was hurt and sad, he knew that what he had done would be the end of his time as the iron fist he was known as. His giant head looked like that of a bloodhound, large folds of skin hung from under his eyes, I doubt he had slept in days and his ubiquitous old sailors coat lay open at the front no longer closing on him. He reached inside and pulled out a naggen of Paddy whiskey, unscrewing the cap he passed it to me after swallowing a third of it himself ‘this is the closest either of us will ever get to drink at the others wake, especially as your dead now son’.
I knew what he meant I was gone on the run never to return and if I did I was dead. I didn’t hold it against him I understood I hadn’t made it easy and going to college he had such high hopes and the reason of my leaving well the action didn’t bother him it was really the fact that people knew and that in his world this was just taboo. I wasn’t close to my mother she was more into the business than he was and probably left to her I would have been thrown to the wolves. But he was the M in McCarthy, the last of the old stock the type that would take a ship of secrets to his grave but then just when you think you know someone and how a situation would play out i.e. five more miles of drinking whiskey in silence, instead he surprised me.
He looked at me and said ‘You’re dead to the world now son I think, God love you, you always have been. I can’t help you or give you what you need. I am not strong enough, I never was. You’re my only son and the last of our name, so here take this key. I’ve watched you fight who you are but now I say this to you, stay true to yourself and to who you are for as long as it takes, follow the path less traveled and eventually your time will come’. I looked down at my hands at the odd looking thing confused for a moment and then that feeling you get when your forehead uncreases when confusion clears and you remember or realise what someone is talking about. Yes he said Brabazons key I know your uncle told you the stories, he came looking for it many times and I told him I didn’t have it. I didn’t believe I still don’t, but son your different, you have never lied to me and that women Claire she has disappeared this whole thing isn’t right, so there take it and if it leads nowhere then just stay true to yourself but don’t come back, we’re done.
I didn’t give him the chance to say anymore the van soon stopped in an empty cattle yard on the outskirts of town, I was helped out by one of his henchmen and handed a set of keys to a clean Ford mondeo. To him Brabazons key was a memento of the history of our peoples past, who we were and I think he thought no more truth to it than that. But as soon as I seen it I knew it was what I wanted and he was right I did want to know, to see if the darkness in me that I always felt was just damaged emotions or does a blood line really determine who we are meant to be.
So several weeks went by and in a roundabout way I eventually found myself where I wanted to be. I had quickly made for the mountains that slope to the sea, on checking the boot to the Mondeo I found all my hill walking and camping gear, and food. Michael one of my fathers henchmen had always been decent to me, I suspected it was him. It’s the simplest way to hide in Ireland if you can survive outdoors or just have enough food and the right gear you can disappear. Day by day I slowly made my way across the mountain range then down toward the forest, back to the start, back to where my uncle took me camping once much to my father’s annoyance many years before, to where our family came from and even lived up until a hundred years ago, which is not so long in this part of the world. It seemed someone had gone to the bother of pulling up the drive that led to the house and we’re talking two miles of a drive through a forest pulled up and planted with trees. No one wanted visitors to this place and were doing their best to prevent the motorised kind, my father probably, for a man who didn’t believe he was afraid of something. The house long abandoned and boarded up looked as if the forest itself was pulling it down into the earth. The house was a strange building, its Palladian lines now sagging under the weight of moss and time, plaster falling from the walls leaving it looking like an unfinished jigsaw puzzle as blocks of stone were visible where the plaster was missing. It didn’t matter, what I was looking for lay in the grounds to the back, what once had been gardens. So off I went and the briars clawed at me as if to say no go back, but I pushed my way through to the back of that once magnificent place and there it was in the middle of what was once the gardens and completely out of place, a large long Victorian glass house. I couldn’t help but smile at the irony of it, a structure built to absorb sun was the guardhouse to what I wanted. Surprisingly some of the glass still remained and now so close I started to wonder, I put my hands in the pockets of my coat feeling that strange key in one and the gun in the other. It had been in my backpack a Makarov PMM, it had been my Uncles the one he had ended his life with, I doubt Michael would of put it there, I suspect my mother did as a hint.
The door to the glass house was hanging off its hinges, there was nothing but weeds in it but the path through the middle was still there. It was a long narrow building with a circular part to the middle and a high glass domed roof supported by sagging wooden framed wall’s curbing out left and right. In the middle of this circular domed part of the glass house, right where the path was going, lay a fountain ornamental in design, in that it was circular built with a strange black stone that could have been marble or granite two feet high but some fifteen feet in diameter.
I made my way towards it and looked in. The water looked lifeless, an eerie feeling coming from it accentuated by the black stone that lined its sides both inside and out and yet a circular shimmer of light the size of a football struck the centre of the water’s surface. The light ran down the centre of an octagonal black stone column that rose from the waters centre, which was then capped with a black ball. There was a Latin inscription running down every second side with four dried up green copper water spouts protruding from the centre on the plain sides. Now Philip my Latin is, well, it’s none existent and had I know what that inscription meant I might have sat and paused for a moment, but in truth just for a second such was my determination to go on. It said….
“The gates of hell are open night and day, smooth the descent and easy is the way”
‘Virgil’ yes Philip very good, now I really am impressed with you.
Now moving on, I looked up into the domed glass roof that covered the well and wondered perhaps were some of those panes of glass mirrors. The fountain wall was completely smooth, as if carved from the one piece of stone marble or granite, whatever material it was, but you felt that it was timeless like gold it wouldn’t tarnish. The only thing that broke up its flawlessness was four black carvings into the outside of the fountain that sat like compass points. Each were all the heads of strange men, like river gods I thought representing the four seasons and each one corresponding with a compass point. North representing winter, the sculpture had its lips parted as if blowing a cold winter wind. The South facing one radiant and sunny, east a subtle smile on the face with a nest carved on his head for birds where his hair should have been. West the face was split one eye closed, with a crescent moon on that side and on the other a setting sun but the eye wide open and hallow. My heart was pounding now, I went down on my knees in front of this carving, a two faced man with a hallow eye open waiting for the night. I took the key from my pocket, it had a long shaft, a narrow set of teeth set on three points at the top and at the other the shaft was capped with a black ball stone identical to the material in the well.
I have to admit my hand did tremble as I brought the key up to that hollow eye and pushed it in all the way until the stone met that empty socket to form a pupil with a very loud and scary click. I quickly stood up and as I did a slight tremor ran through the floor of the glass house, then silence. Nothing was happening and to be honest I didn’t know what was to happen, I knew of the location, the key and where to put it but after that the only words I knew were “to follow the path”. I looked around to see if a door had opened from somewhere but nothing, I was furious, to come all this way then nothing, I felt the gun in my pocket and wondered was this it. I looked into what water was sitting in the lifeless fountain not even seeing my reflection, but I did notice that the shimmer of light had got bigger and strangely a circular pattern started to appear in the water’s surface running around the octagonal column. Then I realised what was happening, it was draining away and as it did a set of carved black steps spiraling downwards started to appear on the inside of the fountain. As the water drained, the light been reflected down from the domed room of the glass house grew in diameter illuminating the centre column as it cascaded down the center with the steps wrapping around it all the way to the bottom.
So now I had my path, and follow it I did, and how I didn’t brake my neck on those wet steps I’ll never know, but I had the centre piece of the fountain to keep a hand on as it ran straight down the centre . But what I couldn’t believe at the time was that it took me forty minutes to get to the bottom, that’s a long walk deep into the earth. As I neared the end I noticed light coming from the bottom, a soft orange glow and then I became aware that the walls and steps were dry, and in true ghoulish form as I went further I heard a mechanical click, and somewhere above me near the top a stone on stone sound was heard and the shaft of daylight disappeared. So that was it, trapped in and no going back, I took my time and felt I didn’t have far to go, the light started to get brighter as I was quickly getting closer. I reached the bottom and that soft orange glow was a storm lamp hanging from a hook at eye level from the fountains central column and I lifted it off as I took the last three steps of that never ending downward spiral.
As I lifted it off to look around the hairs on the back of my arms and neck stood with the realisation of two things, one, someone or something as I suspected was alive down here and two, this lamp was powered by a gas canister, modern.
I shone the light around the small circular chamber I was now standing in and quickly an archway was revealed to my left and through it a set of steps leading upwards. I stepped through the narrow archway expecting to enter a narrow tunnel of some kind, but to my surprise I had entered a high vaulted chamber, the steps becoming wider until suddenly I found myself standing in a large room. It reminded me of pictures I’d seen of the inside of a Viking beer hall, only spotlessly clean, the air somehow crisp and clear. The floor was still that black stone that had lined the well wall, but polished smooth as if looking at the night sky. Six large wooden pillars, three left and three right disappeared up to the stone ceiling, wood supporting stone when it should have been the other way around. All of this I saw in a second but what held my gaze was at the end of that room carved out of the black stone that lined the floor and ceiling was a fireplace, with a large unnatural fire burning brightly inside its large open hearth, and there in a high backed red leather armchair to the right of the fire sat my ancestor, Brabazon Wade.
He sat with his hands crossed on his lap unmoving, eyes unblinking, for a moment I thought he was mummified. Taking a step closer Brabazon then seemed to come to life, with the smoothest of movements lifting his right hand with open palm he pointed to an empty chair identical to his own that sat opposite to him.
This startled me as I hadn’t noticed the other chair before, then I lowered the lantern and started to walk toward him, the flames from the fire giving enough light for me to see my way, I thought my heart would explode. Passing the lantern to my left hand I put my right into my pocket fingering the Makarov and it’s comforting twelve rounds, then the faintest of smiles passed over Brabazon’s face. Again open palmed he indicated for me to sit, I was closer now, I could see him clearly. His bald head almost white as snow, a dark trimmed beard covered his face with long streaks of grey through it and out of this staring at me were large cold blue eyes. He was dressed in an immaculate black three piece suit, a black shirt open at the collar. Other than the gaze of his eyes it was his hands that made me feel uneasy, broad and large, the nails black, black as the stones on the floor and slightly longer than they should have been.
I was at the chair now, my mouth was dry and at this stage my hand gripped the gun in my pocket tightly. I knew if I sat down it would be more difficult for me to pull the gun out and this is what was going through my mind when he spoke.
‘If it makes you feel more comfortable take the gun out before you sit down’. I laugh now when I think about it Philip, but I swear I don’t know how my legs didn’t fold underneath me. However what was said next really put my head in a spin.
‘How do you know it’s not a knife or something else’ I said, ‘how do you know it’s a gun?’ ‘Because a gun is the quickest way of killing yourself and I know you’ve been stabbed before and probably don’t want to repeat the experience’ said this creature this man, Brabazon.
I was furious, I started to shake, I pulled the gun from my pocket and cocked the hammer, ‘how do you know that?’ I said through spit and tears as the finality of my life closed in on me.
‘Because you came looking for immortality, because I know your an intelligent man, but from your eyes your an infant, but now in this moment in this situation you find yourself you know you can’t kill me with a gun so it must be for yourself. Some futile attempt to prove you’re a decent being not of my blood, you want to take your own life in front of me. Me your ancestor your creator, as revenge for the hate and anger that swells inside you. To be honest I had lost all hope and then she came into your life, lucky me’ Brabazon said.
I lifted the gun quickly and fired two shots at him as rage and hurt suddenly burst through me as quick and hot as the bullets that left the Makarov’s muzzle, but they simply went into an empty chair and in the same moment he was standing behind me. The last human gesture of my life was to lift the gun and try to kill myself, but the moment the signal left my brain to travel down my arm to my hand, I was lifted from my feet and spun around, his hand wrapped around my neck, his nails like ice cold talons cut into my skin. He slapped the gun from my hand and then coming closer to my face he spoke. His mouth now was open wide and he had teeth like that of a conger eel white as marble like the skin on his bald head, especially those long terrifying canines of the vampire that he was.
‘Why take this path, if its death that you seek, embrace who you are and I will give it to you’ Brabazon said his tongue whipping around inside his mouth like a black snake. ‘No, I’m not like you, I don’t want this’. He dropped me to the floor and moved towards the blazing fire, keeping his back to me, he opened his hands out wide as if to warm them though I had a feeling he felt no warmth. I sat crumpled on the floor massaging my neck, trying to swallow, watching him, this tall powerful, terrifying vampire, my ancestor.
‘Many others came to me, declaring themselves worthy of immortality but none were’ he said. ‘I found a way of bringing my human daughter to me, Luaine and chose the cabin boy, your ancestor, to sire the blood line with her, that I hoped would bring one into the world worthy to join me’. He turned now, looking at me all in black, his dark beard and with his back to the fire it looked as if a skull hovered in mid air with sapphire eyes.
‘It is you I have waited for, you know it in your heart you feel no fear only a hurt that has now turned to hate and it has consumed you as what happened to me in my human time. You see those around as they truly are, false, selfish, uncaring, cruel, and greedy. I have watched you from afar I have seen you standing on a storm battered shore at night lost and lonely knowing that you close your eyes and let the beat of your heart match that of each crashing wave. You crave life and know what it really means to be part of this world, but the people in it want no part of you and yet you cling to an illusion of decency’.
‘FOR WHAT?’ his voice now raised and stepping towards me. ‘To take a gamble on an afterlife, the saints and angels have fled this ruined world, they are not around to give you a pat on the back had that bullet met your brain. I give you what you seek and you will have an eternity to perfect it. Everything will connect, all that you are will make sense.
You know this is the path you must choose, there is no going back, you were used betrayed by all, they don’t want you and she didn’t want you. Come, embrace me my son take this gift and unleash yourself on the world and I will show you why’.
He was towering over me now, I had listened to his every word and the truth of it all burned through me like hot irons. I stood slowly, pulling myself from the floor as if it were a magnet, my energy gone. Pulling my coat off and letting it fall from my shoulders, I looked into his face and tore my shirt open at the collar, exposing my bare chest, collarbone and neck. A surge of energy ran through him as if he was suddenly aroused, his eyes almost too bright to look at but he calmed himself just as quickly and gently he took my head in his hands and pulled me close.
‘I have great plans for you, all will not be ready in an instant but we have time on our side’, he said with a smile. I turned my head in his hands and reached up to grip him by his wrists. He looked at me as my last tear fell from my eyes, he brushed it away with the black nail of his thumb.
‘Just one thing, I begin with her’, I thought he was going to bite without saying anything as he was quickly at my neck when in a whisper in my ear somehow I heard the words, ‘but of course it must begin with her, but it will end with many others’.
And that was it, deep into my neck his teeth sunk and immediately my hands and feet went cold as the blood drained from me in a rush, then my legs, my upper body, until I was lying on the floor, him still on me feeding. I felt so cold and could even see my breath in front of my face, watching it like a cloud of mist expelling from me slower and slower as I died.
Suddenly he stopped drinking from me lifting his head away and making a sound as if someone had burst through the surface after been too long under water.
I looked up at him as he knelt at my side, not a drop of blood anywhere on his face, but still he ran his tongue over his lips as if savoring the sensation. With hardly any life left in me I parted my lips as if indicating my turn to drink, when he smiled kindly if it is somehow possibly for a vampire to do that and let out a short chuckle saying ‘far too much television my young Wade’.
He quickly reached down and tore my shirt right open and I watched dying in amazement as the black nail of his right forefinger seemed to grow in length and I lay their paralyzed as it took the shape of a scalpel.
He leaned in close and said, ‘I’m afraid this will hurt you more than it will me, but trust me my son, it is the last pain your heart will ever feel’. In one quick movement he sliced open my chest long and deep exposing my heart, what little blood that I had left oozed in a pitiful effort from the wound. I stared up into blackness and realised that the darkness of the ceiling was quickly crashing down on me, with pain and death.
I looked up at him, watched him as he looked at me waiting, not caring anymore, thinking I got what I came for, I was dead.
In that moment Brabazon sliced open the palm of his left hand with that same scalpel like nail and as life left me he plunged his bloody palm deep into my chest, down to my almost drained heart. I lifted from the floor as if given an electric shock, Brabazon’s bloody palm acting like a defibrillator to my heart, his blood suddenly pumped through me with such ferocity I thought my head would lift from my neck. A shockwave burst from me which threw him high in the air but like a cat he spun and landed on his feet, quickly returning to my side pinning me to the floor as my body convulsed in its change.
Everything I felt, everything that confused me now seemed clear, all hate and anger now seemed good, positive, emotions to be used and how to use them flashes of history and time battlefields burst in vivid pictures through my mind. He knelt over me sealing up my wound with some sort of surgical glue saying that in future I will heal fast but that I needed this as the cut was made while I was human. The coldness of the floor seemed like a comfort to me and almost like taking a bath, I felt like I was slipping into it dipping under the surface.
I put my hands out as if to grip the rim and pull myself back up when I realised what it was, I had not slipped under, I was hovering off the floor. I turned and looked at Brabazon and now as a vampire myself I saw him in all his glory.
A blue blaze of fire, like the colour of his eyes surrounded him, cocooned him as if protecting him from the ravages of time. Like a magician performing an act he was running his hands above and underneath me, the final part of his ritual I suppose, as I suddenly became surrounded, encompassed in his flame.
He stood from the floor picking me up with him carrying me in his arms like a child. I was alive, more than that, more than I had ever been, but exhausted from everything that had happened. I looked at him and simply said, ‘thank you, thank you for this’.
He smiled, said nothing and carried me to my new world.
So there you are Philip, from beginning to end, the reason why I am able to sit here drinking your very fine whiskey chilled with five rounds of lead. A lot of tides have ebbed and flowed since that night but as the saying goes “time and tide wait for no man”.
And although I have an eternity, you and other interested parties certainly don’t so I’m afraid it’s crunch time. Ha, I have to say in all my time as a assassin, contract killer, call it what you like no one ever batted an eyelid that I only ever took a job at night, bet your sorry that you ever did eh? But now you do Phil, don’t you, ah you’ve noticed, black nails, no need to wear gloves now. Anyway vampires don’t leave finger prints and I need these claws of mine out to emphasise my next point. Which is this, you’re going to die but you can choose which way you go.
Route one, I take this small sachet of powder that you see and I empty it into a nice glass of Irish like so, it’s a very powerful tranquilizer Phil, you will be out like a light before the last drop goes down your throat, then as you won’t feel a thing I pump two in your chest and one in the head, how’s that mmm?
Or there is route two, I take your head in my hands, like this, and give a little squeeze and although this hurts Philip I’ll squeeze harder, it will be like your head is in a vice. Then as your eyes bulge from the pressure and you don’t think it can get any worse, I’ll prise one of your eye balls out with this black thumbnail of mine and I’ll slowly drink the blood from your skull like milk from a coconut. After all Philip, I did warn you that I am famished.
Now, now, there there, stop you’re slobbering, what’s that oh, route one. Well can’t say I’m disappointed but I am a man of my word, yes Philip there is a catch, it’s time for my question and you must tell me everything and answer honestly or I’m afraid it’s route two, are we clear.
Now, where’s your boss, where is Claire?
To be continued…….