Short Story- Vampire’s Dawn

Posted: December 21, 2015 by J.A. Prentice in Short Story, Uncategorized
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After writing my Doctor Who Vampire Article, I found myself suddenly consumed by inspiration. Generally, I try to refrain from posting Fan Fiction-type stuff on here to try a maintain a facade of professionalism. In this case, however, I just decided to go for it.

Note that this story contains elements of horror. Consider yourselves warned. Without further ado, I present my final entry for Vampire Week: Vampire’s Dawn

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If it can be said that there was a time before time, this was it. The universe was new. There were no humans. No Daleks. No Sontarans. Time’s Web had not yet been woven. The Eye of Harmony had not yet been plucked from the maelstrom of black. The Time Lords were not masters of causality, but only mortals with aspirations.

But what mortals they were.

The three of them sat at the heart of what would become a citadel. From their high perch, they could survey everything, could watch their domain coming into being– gleaming arches of brass and gold, the Panopticon with its smooth walls of glittering dark emerald, the shadows of the deep places where the Cloisters would one day stand. They could see what would come clearly in their mind. Visions danced of a world that would never know want or sorrow, a people that would never die.

The city was of Rassilon’s design, of course. He was the Architect, the great Engineer of Time Lord society. Robes of deep crimson and burnished copper swayed around him. A small crown rested upon his forehead and a ring glinted on his finger like a fallen star. His features were handsome, sporting the beginnings of a beard. He tugged at it as if willing it to grow longer.

It would. And as it grew, so would his megalomania and his cruelty, until he had isolated everyone from him, until he had found immortality at the cost of everything else, until he found himself wearing faces that weren’t his own, until he saw his civilization torn apart by bloody war, until he found himself forced into exile from the very world he had built.

But that was yet to come.

Beside him, wearing robes of rippling black-blue and armour of shining gold, was the people’s great hero, Omega. However handsome Rassilon might be, he knew he was nothing in the shadow of Omega. Omega’s features were like a statue’s or a god’s: shining eyes, strong chin, chiseled cheekbones, locks of wavy hair. He had the easy charm of a celebrity, the brilliance of a philosopher, and the gravitas of a king.

He would lose all that. It would be stripped from him, torn inch-by-inch by the pull of a black maw that pulled into eternal nothingness, existence with no time and no space, an existence that would take everything until all he had left was all-consuming hatred, mania, and madness, until he was god over nothing and nobody, powerless and forever alone.

But that too was yet to come.

There was a third. He stood back from the others, keeping to the shadows. He usually kept to the shadows. He spoke seldom and almost whispered when he did, so that they’d have to strain their ears to follow his every word. Public appearances and showmanship weren’t for him. He preferred to stay behind the curtain.

His robes were black and they shone with stars. The beard that hung down from his face was much the same, as were his eyes. He seemed to be made of shadows and starlight.

This was the Other.

As to what would become of him, that was a Secret and a Mystery, just as everything else about him was.

On many days, the three – a Triumvirate the likes of which the young universe had never seen before – would perch here like all-seeing owls, watching their world come to be, talking and dreaming and planning for the future they were shaping.

Today was not such a day.

“You’re a fool, Rassilon,” Omega bellowed. He had a talent for bellowing. His voice could make stars quake.

“A fool?” Rassilon raised an eyebrow. “For what? For reaching towards our dream? For finally taking the step we knew we had to take?”

“We’re not ready!” Omega shook his head in frustration. “I told you I needed more time on the calculations.”

“You didn’t need more time.” Rassilon stepped towards Omega, jabbing an accusing finger into the taller man’s armoured chest. “You were afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of success. Afraid to really change the world. It’s not the first time.”

“Casting out the Sisterhood was a mistake as well,” Omega retorted. “They had valuable knowledge which you–”

“Those witches?” Rassilon laughed. “They were just a load of old women running around in silly robes. They kept us suppressed, held us back. We needed to be rid of them if we were to move forward.”

“That may be,” Omega said, “but you still acted too rashly and too soon. Patience is–”

“I am bringing progress,” Rassilon replied. “Progress can’t move slower. It barrels along, knocking down anything in its path.”

Omega was about to reply when the two of them were silenced by the slightest of coughs. At once the argument was forgotten and they turned to look at the Other, standing there in shadows that seemed to flow around him.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “might I ask where the ship is now?”

“On route to the star of Yrgon,” Rassilon said, “where it shall begin phase one of the stellar manipulation.”

“I assume the prototype is on board?” the Other asked.

Rassilon nodded. “It is.”

“And it is too late to stop the experiment?”

“Yes.”

The Other gave the slightest inclination of his head, worlds of thought cascading through his dark eyes.

“Then it is done,” he said at last. “Argument is pointless. What will be will be. We cannot stop it.”

“Why should we want to?” Rassilon asked.

The look the Other gave him was almost pitying.

***

The star burnt bright, but not as brightly as it once had. It’s brilliant white shine had become a softer red. It had shrunk, as if squeezed by a giant fist. It was old, one of the very first stars to come into being. That was what made it ideal for the great experiment.

Some distance from the stellar body, a ship floated in the vacuum, hammered from the mightiest metals the great forges of Gallifrey could produce. These were metals most couldn’t dream of, imbued with strength and destiny.

On the inside of the ship, the Captain surveyed her crew– young, fresh-faced, eager. Most of Rassilon’s people were. They were the radical youth, given the power to defy the oppressive old world that had held them down.

Their black-and-white robes swept across the floor as they raced around at breakneck speeds, adjusting the controls on the three decagonal consoles. Massive roundels flashed on the walls. Energy hissed everywhere, leaking from the overfull tanks. The ship was overpowered, perhaps dangerously so, but it had a monumental task to perform.

The ship was going to kill a sun, to punch a hole in creation itself, so that Gallifrey might seize the future.

“Ready the device!” the Captain ordered, stepping down from her gantry onto the main deck.

Technicians hurried to obey her, fussing over a small, metal box. The Captain had also felt it looked a bit like a casket. It hummed with power. Steam and heat radiated from it, byproducts of the incredible engineering within.

It had never been tested before. No one was entirely sure if it would work.

It will, she decided. It has to.

It’s our destiny.

“Target the star!” she shouted.

The viewer zoomed in on the glowing, red shape. It reminded her of an ember.

Sacred Fire, she thought, remembering the old rhyme. Sacred Flame.

She dismissed the unwelcome memory.

That’s the past. No more superstition. No more Sisterhood. Our power lies in science now, not in shadowy mysticism.

Everything was in order. Every system told her that they were ready. The ship was a man standing on the edge of a cliff, waiting to jump. It seemed the universe was holding its breath.

The crew fell silent, all looking at her.

So. This is what it’s like to have the weight of history on your shoulders.

“Release the prototype,” she said. It surprised her how easy the words were to say.

It feels like destroying a star should be harder.

The box tore off at breakneck speed, travelling through a tube and then out into the vacuum of space. It raced like a bullet, closing in for the kill.

She watched on the viewer as it sped into the star, not slowing down for a moment.

For a long moment, nothing happened.

Is that it? she wondered. Does it not work?

Have we failed? After all that, do we have nothing to show for our work?

Then the star began to change. The red darkened to a deep scarlet, then burgundy, then bruised purple, then black. It rippled like a flame and the Captain had to fight again to keep the old words out of her mind.

At last, the Captain found herself staring at nothing. It was visible only by its absence, a sphere of absolute black. Not even light could escape it.

“We did it,” she whispered, “we made the singularity.”

Then it rippled again, tinged by a hint of a colour that the Captain had never seen before, a colour beyond the range of imagining. It hurt to look at.

“Is that supposed to happen?” she asked.

Before anyone could reply, the instruments began to scream.

Console panel after console panel burst, exploding in showers of coral, glass, and metal. Fires burst out all across the deck, spurts of flame instantly consuming shrieking technicians.

The Captain scarcely saw it. Her eyes were fixed on the screen, on the sphere of nothing.

Something was coming through.

A flurry of claws and wings and tails emerging, terrifying and unnatural. The Captain had never seen anything like them. She was horrified but transfixed, unable to look away as they came closer and closer.

The monitor exploded in a shower of sparks, but she didn’t need it now. None of them did.

They all stood transfixed, hearing the same sound in their minds, transmitted across the nothing of space.

Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

A heartbeat, she realized as the beasts descended upon them. It’s a heartbeat.

 ***

The Captain heard fragments of sentences as if they were spoken from far away, distant voices echoing through her void to try and reach her.

“Only survivor.”

“Dead.”

“Drained of blood.”

“Star collapsed.”

“Something… Instruments don’t say… All blew out.”

“Dying.”

She could feel herself drifting. They’d drained her, drank her dry. It took effort just to exist.

It hurt.

She knew she couldn’t hold on much longer. She gripped life with teeth and fingernails, all her will exerted towards the simple, singular goal of keeping the heart in her chest beating.

She heard it, like the beat that had been in her mind but so much quieter, so much slower, so much weaker.

thump

thump

thump

It was slowing down, becoming softer and softer with each beat.

Come on, she thought. Not yet.

I have to tell them. Have to worn them.

Most beings would have been dead long before then. But Gallifreyans don’t die easily and they don’t die quickly. They cling to every second like it’s precious gold, as if they can’t bear the thought of going.

Some might call that strength. Others might call it fear.

Come on, the Captain urged her heart. Keep beating.

Keep beating. You can do it.

The heart beat a little faster and a little stronger. Pain rippled through her and she embraced it. It meant she was alive.

The voices came back, fuzzy and distant.

“Dying… Nothing we can do.”

“We need to know.”

“Dying.”

“Experiment… New procedure… Artron Energy…”

That’s it, the Captain told her heart. Almost there. Just keep beating.

Don’t stop. Whatever you do, don’t stop.

“Regeneration.”

And then there was nothing. The Captain felt herself plunge into the blackness, felt cold fingers drag her down. Her heart beat one last time, a soft but defiant single thump.

She died, every bodily process coming to a complete halt.

Then came a bursting light, like a newborn star.

It burned, burned like nothing had ever burned before. Every cell was on fire. Every inch of her blazed with the might of a million bursting suns.

Like the phoenix, she was reborn in flames.

Her heart beat again, loud as a drum. Then another.

A double beat.

Thump-thump.

Thump-thump.

She screamed as the pain blazed up all over again and golden light seared through her mind.

***

The creature Rassilon beheld, lying there in the cold, clinical room, was an abomination. Neither male nor female, it glowed with golden energy under the black hospital gown. There were too many of everything: too many organs, too many legs, too many arms, too many faces, too many eyes.

But, he mused, it is alive.

For a prototype, it was reasonably successful. Just a few kinks to iron out.

The creature that had been the Captain opened its eyes and was immediately consumed by fear. It screamed and shouted and cried.

Rassilon found it all most tiresome, but he waited it out anyway.

I hope it isn’t too mad to talk. That would be inconvenient.

When the shrieks had at last died down, replaced only by silent, heaving sobs, Rassilon pressed a button and spoke, his voice calm and soothing.

“Captain,” he said, “listen to me. This is Rassilon. The Lord President.”

The creature stared, uncomprehending. Rassilon rolled his eyes.

“Captain, your ship was found orbiting the site of Yrgon,” Rassilon continued. “The star was gone. The ship and the prototype were heavily damaged. From your crew, you were the only survivor. Every body was pale and completely drained of blood. You were barely alive when the physicians got to you. If I hadn’t… saved you, you would be dead.”

The creature still said nothing.

“I need you to tell me what you saw,” Rassilon said. “I need you to tell me what happened.”

Nothing.

“Who did this?” Rassilon demanded.

The creature stared at him with all its horrible, mismatched eyes.

Yssgaroth,” it hissed. “Vampire.

Then, with a horrible wail of a death rattle, its head fell back onto the pillow and it died. Golden energy flashed again and energy, burning and raging like a sun, but to no avail. The creature– the Captain – stayed dead.

“Thank you, Captain,” Rassilon said. “You’ve done a great service for your planet.”

The Captain couldn’t hear him. She was far beyond his reach, too far for even the powers of his science to resurrect.

 

And out in the inky blackness of space, the vampires swarmed and swarmed and swarmed


This is part of Vampire Week, a week-long celebration of bloodsucking monsters. This is being held to promote my friend and fellow blogger Jaden C. Kilmer’s vampire YA novella, REVENANT, which is available on Amazon now for $1.50. It’s also free for Kindle Unlimited users.

US store UK store

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