Personal Demons

Wrapped in dark green blankets, the sleeping giants intertwined their great musculature: haunches and shanks erotically laced; stomachs desirously overlain across the curves of great, arching backs; shoulders stretched and compressed, being of such expanse that a mortal walk across one might take minutes. The covers rippled and smoothed as the hidden behemoths stretched and twisted to gain more comfortable position. Rubicon watched, mesmerized by these images caused by moonlight dancing across the passing eclipse of his vehicle, creating shadows below - light and dark undulations caressing the huge, slumbering mass of mountains.

One day the great covers will peel back, and the Antedeluvians will rise, Rubicon reflected. Sleeping dragons in wait for their hour of calling.

Rubicon traveled with lights off so as not to broadcast what to some of the Kindred seemed an unorthodox method of travel, as if his vehicle might somehow give away the existence of Camarilla to the mortals, because of the car's uniqueness. With the recent HoverTrek XJX flying vehicle having already been made available to the military as well as civilians, albeit at the price of a high-end sports car, Rubicon was more inclined to forget his detractors. Humans were advancing along an exponentially increasing curve of technological achievement, and Rubicon was one that believed the survival of his own breed depended on maintaining a similar pace of advancement. For sure, blood powers exhibited an undeniable mastery over organic beings, but it was the application of physics upon the inorganic that often demonstrated a more profound and devastating capacity.

As if on cue, the high-tech car wrenched to the left as the heads-up display indicated a skewed airflow from the right rear fan. Rubicon gave some counter thrust with the control grips in order to steady the vehicle, and then after some time found a safe and empty place to land just off the snaky Topanga Canyon road. The car came to a rest at the edge of a gravel-laden lookout.

He jealously surveyed the lights coursing through the veins of San Fernando valley below, and was reminded yet again of how humans are graced to be able to bask in the open of both day and night. It created a deep longing inside him, as if remembering a pleasant childhood. It was these kinds of thoughts that ostracized Rubicon from many of his night-brethren. For just as he believed that the child was the father of the adult; so too he reasoned that the human was the parent of the vampire. Indeed, like infants, Kindred were driven by nature to suckle their nourishment from human breast.

Sensing a logic-loop evolving, Rubicon decided to relax his brain a bit. He switched off the engine, powered down the computer console, and auto-tinted the windows to full opacity; the black leathery interior showed no signs of life save for the bright green 2:30AM that stabbed at the dense darkness. He then allowed himself to fall into a deep trance so as to assimilate the events of the evening. As he stepped through the astral doorway, his path veered to his deep mortal past, no doubt triggered by the conscious thoughts that had just preceded.

Celeste, I see you lying on the ground, trembling - my little baby girl, my angel. I see a breeze running its fingers through your soft, fine hair, trying to comfort you as it attempts to separate the small tufts of blood. Rivulets of tears form in my eyes as I watch you wheezing and coughing and gasping for last breaths of life, red bubbles escaping your rose-petal mouth. I see you crying out to be held - that cry for the comfort of your mother's bosom. Yet your mother passed on, motionless and out of arm's reach. I couldn't save her. I'm so sorry.

I remember - not long ago - your eyes, so full of life, and your longing to learn as you peered up at me from knee-height, with starlike eyes. And then you would giggle and walk away, reaching your hands high into the air, grasping at unseen objects, swaying side to side as your little bowed legs propelled you into new adventures of your own choosing. The world was fresh and exciting.

Or you would sit, facing away, flipping cardboard pages, doing what Mommy did for you at night. All I could see was the delicate indentation of the back of your neck, and your little head, and your soft shoulders, and your arching back still learning to keep things in balance. It was the sweetest of moments, to see you like that. What was it like the first time you realized the existence of that little vessel that held "Celeste"? What was it like to know you were protected?

But now I see you and waterfalls drown my eyes in despair, for I can't save you. Something has hold of you too tightly, and I see you slipping away...

The image of Celeste stretched back and into the distance as Rubicon reached his mental hand to grab hold of her. She faded and then vanished.

He was then overtaken by a state of paralysis, having tipped over into a hypnogogic, hallucinatory state. He couldn't push himself out of the trance; he was stuck in the ethereal doorway, like something had firm hold of him. Shrill tones pierced his ears, and his brain began to hum with random, disconnected images. His senses hit overdrive, immersing themselves in some painful, new reality.

Then it hit. Snarling, hot breath percolated into the back of his neck; hellish laughter followed, and an obscenity was belched into his ear: "I'm going to eat the heart out of your little girl and vomit it back down her throat."

The faceless demon continued its horrid laughter, then abruptly materialized its face in front of Rubicon's - nose to nose. It's head started flopping, vibrating, and morphing into all sorts of undefinable shapes, which shocked Rubicon, threatening his understanding of reality.

The sounds in Rubicon's ears amplified, like a thousand cicadas buzzing in a closed, empty room. He felt his chest forcefully compress, as if his life was being squeezed out of him, though the state of paralysis remained. He screamed, but the sounds never left his throat. His heart slammed each beat, rapidly and more rapidly.

Rubicon cried out at the center of his being, desperately reaching his hand back through the astral doorway toward the spot where Celeste had vanished, toward some hand of mercy that might reach through to save him. At least he hoped...with all his might.

Then, at the spot where she disappeared, a tiny light sparked...then flickered. Larger even, it then flared...and radiated. Larger still, the light bathed the whole of the timeless space that surrounded Rubicon, in a sort of holy warmth, obliterating the evil presence completely. Sounds dissipated...heart relaxed...breathing calmed. Rubicon was staring at the sun, and he was not afraid. Tears welled up in his mind's eye, and he spent a few moments pleasuring his heart in this most unlikely of salvations.

After what must have been minutes, he found himself dissolving back through the doorway and into consciousness. Freedom of motion slowly recovered; blurriness of transition gave way to clarity. He regained full control of his senses, and gathered his thoughts.

Rubicon wondered whether his demons were real or imaginary.

Only time would tell.