Nothing To Miss

I knew though that I wasn’t going to let him have the last say. Things always felt like a competition - a stand-off - whenever Phoenix was around. I followed the direction of his steps until I found him cradling an ornate glass phial, curled around with glass vines and with a rose lid made from quartz.

“Cyanide,” he informed me without looking round as he replaced it in a rack of similar phials of poison. I stopped where I was, letting my gaze wander around the well-stocked shelves. There was an amazing array of Samurai swords, all belonging to the same collection, and an interesting set of deer-horn knives. Falchions, axes, maces, death stars, machetes, nunchakus, glaives and spetums, lances and even various boleadora. The extent of the collection and all of the cultures it included was breathtaking. I had never thought that I would find things that could cause such harm beautiful in any way, but there you go.

I was thinking about Phoenix. He seemed to have been affected by the way I had doubted his trustworthiness. Maybe he was one of those vampire guys who always upheld their honour or something like that.

“So,” I said nervously, hoping to relieve the silence. His shoulders seemed to relax a little as he looked over his shoulder questioningly, replacing a medieval hurl bat on its shelf. Seriously, where would he find the need to use such a thing?

“What’s your favourite?”

He knew what I meant, even though I didn’t elaborate. He drew back his coat and removed something from the inside, the glint of silver I’d caught glances of. They were two octagonal silver blades with lipped ends like a screwdriver, and inverted handle guards with sharp points. The grips were made from red ribbon, not the best material to use, but when you were a vampire and didn’t sweat I supposed you didn’t have to worry about your weapon slipping. Hey - when you were a vampire, why did you even need mortal weapons?

Again, Phoenix seemed to read what I was thinking on my face.

“I prefer it that way,” he said smoothly. “More experience, doesn’t get dull. Makes me feel more like I’m giving them a sporting chance if they had their own weapon.”

I understood what he was saying underneath that. It made him feel more human. More human than monster using tooth and claw.

“Do you miss it?” I asked quietly. I was realising the implications of my current condition; I had repressed all of my feelings on it, but now the impact was finally hitting me. I was becoming a vampire. I would stay the way I was forever, while everyone around me got to experience the frailties and joys of being human while I’d surrendered my chance. In a hundred years, would someone be asking me that question? Would I miss it?

I flicked my eyes up and saw Phoenix watching me. There had been a strange look on his face, pity perhaps, remorse, nostalgia?

“I can’t remember anything to have missed,” he said hollowly. For the first time since we had met, I sensed there was no façade here. He had dropped his unaffected humorous demeanour and for once I felt like I was seeing the person inside the vampire. “It was so long ago. I was bitten in 1863. I was nineteen at the time. That’s the only thing I know. My life before that, my family, even my name. All of that. I don’t know. There’s nothing there for me to miss.”

He turned away, and I found myself gripping the sleeve of his leather coat. I didn’t quite know why, but I couldn’t make myself let go. What he had said had made me terrified. I was going to forget everyone and everything from now, anything that ever meant something to me would be forgotten with the passing of so much time. Would I end up like him?

The End

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