Tanya Remembers

Now it was my turn to hesitate. I had the same feeling she did -- the feeling that I could somehow trust her, even though I didn't know her. But unlike her, I had my visions to guide me.

So I decided to trust her implicitly. I took a deep breath and plunged right in: "I saw you in a vision. You see, I have this ability to see the future. I receive visions of things that haven't happened yet. They don't always happen -- the visions seem to be somewhat subjective."

I paused, remembering my shock at finding Alistair in my apartment. "And sometimes things happen that don't appear in my visions beforehand. So it's not fool-proof."

She cocked her head inquisitively. "When did you receive this vision? That you would meet me here, I mean."

"Literally a second before I saw you," I replied with a chuckle. "Like I said, the visions are subjective. It seems the closer I am to someone, not just physically but emotionally as well, the more distinct the visions are and the earlier I receive them."

"Did you have this power as a human? Oh wait, that's right -- you said you don't remember your life before the change?"

"That's right. I suspect I must have had a similar power during my human life, though. I've heard of humans who are psychic. Who knows if I was, too, during my human life?"

"It must have been very lonely for you, waking up alone," she said thoughtfully as she gazed at the horizon. The sun was setting and the sky was ablaze with color. A wolf howled in the distance.

"It was lonely. But then I moved to Chicago and met my friend, Mrs. Elderberry."

Tanya noted the hitch in my throat as I said her name.

"She's not like us," I continued after clearing my throat and pushing back the grief. "She was human, and she was very recently murdered not long after I left. I mean to go back and avenge her death."

"Human?" she echoed incredulously.

"Yes. It's possible to be friends with humans. Hard, but possible. Anyways, she was the only friend I'd ever had. I will miss her dearly now that I am alone again."

I looked down, remembering anew the vision of the man I had yet to meet. The man who had somehow defined my existence since the moment I first saw him in my mind. For the first time, this vision did not give me solace. For the first time, I worried that the vision would not come true. I decided to keep that part of my experience hidden from Tanya. I had an almost superstitious feeling that I needed to keep this vision a secret in order for it to come true.

I turned expectantly towards her, hoping my face didn't reveal the turmoil of emotions beneath the surface. "So I guess it's your turn again. I want to hear more about you and your companion. What brings you to Alaska?"

Tanya stood up and linked her arm companionably with mine. "Come. I'll take you to my house so you can meet Irina. I will tell you my story on the way. Let me recollect my thoughts. It has been a while since I have had to recount my story."

We walked at a measured pace, still faster than a human's pace would be, though slower than a vampire's norm. She was silent for a few minutes and I stayed quiet, too, watching the sun sink and the moon rise above our heads.

Her voice, when she resumed talking, was low and heavy with remembrance. The accent was more pronounced this time, her consonants sharpened by the musical cadence of her voice.

"I was born in Hungary about a thousand years ago. Well, where Hungary would have been, a thousand years ago. The world was a very different place then. It wasn't this fast -- this frenzied.

"I scarcely remember my life as a human -- my memories of my life before my second awakening are very faint, like pictures viewed through fog. I remember living in a small village in a walled town. I lived with my mother and five younger sisters. I was the first born, the eldest. My father and younger brother had died in a battle many years ago and we had to make do without them. We made a bit of money by sewing for the townsfolk. We weren't well off by any means, but we made enough to get by. I remember I was very skilled with the needle.

"By the time I was sixteen, I was very beautiful, with long curly hair that hung down to my waist. My eyes were once blue. I remember all the men telling me they would love to drown in my eyes." She laughed softly, at the memory. It was a very wry laugh.

"Mother arranged to marry me off to a man from a neighboring village. He was very wealthy and much older than me. I cannot remember his face for the life of me today. But I do remember my younger sisters being jealous of me, so perhaps he was handsome. I do not know.

"I still remember the wedding -- all the villagers were invited. We had so much wine, it seemed like enough to fill an entire ocean. I had embroidered my dress by myself and my sisters dressed my hair with flowers from the meadow. The ceremony was long, and the reception lasted all night. I remember being eager to begin life as the wife of such an important man. But alas, that life was not meant for me.

"A week after our wedding, I was walking back to visit my mother. I meant to bring back my veil. I wanted my sister to use it in her upcoming wedding. I was riding my husband's horse and it was midday. I was alone and for some reason there was no one else on the road with me.

"Suddenly, someone stepped out from a grove of trees and attacked me, dragging me from my horse and stabbing me in my side. It was a man with a kerchief over his face and he was very strong. He easily overpowered me. After having his way with me, and taking all of my valuables, including my horse, he left me alone on the side of the road. I was very weak and bleeding from my side, where he'd stabbed me. I knew I didn't have long to live...

"I must have fainted from my injuries. When I awoke, I was in a dark room. There was a very pale woman with blood-red eyes sitting next to me. Her face was very kind.

"'You are dying,' she told me. I was so weak, unable to respond. 'I want to save you,' she said. 'But I need your permission first.'

"The strange woman gave me some water to drink, which restored me somewhat. When I could speak, I told her, 'Please, save me. I'll be in your eternal gratitude.'

"She responded, 'What curious words, beautiful one. For you would be in my eternal gratitude, much more than you know. Are you sure you want to live, even if you are damned to walk in moonlight, damned like me?'

"I did not understand her strange words. All I knew was that I desperately wanted to live. My life was guttering out like a spent candle. I clutched it with both hands and begged the woman again.

"'You will be in a great deal of pain at first, and then you will awaken changed. You will be very thirsty, uncontrollably thirsty.' She paused before continuing, 'You will thirst for blood and your name will henceforth be synonymous with the devil. So are you sure, my daughter, that this is what you desire most?'

"At this point I was delirious. I begged her again and she assented. After that, I remember little else of my human life excepting the pain of my transformation. Pain so enormous I thought I would surely die."

The End

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