Nation of the Damned, The Dark Story of Longinus
This story is part 2 of The Dark Story of Longinus series. Part One can be found here
I wanted to write some short fiction for Halloween. This story is a continuation of the story of Longinus, the first vampire and also the Roman centurion who dealt the final killing blow to Christ as he hung dying on the cross. He was rewarded for his dark deed by the demon Baphomet with an eternal unlife as the very first vampire.
This has, without a doubt, turned out to be one of the weirdest tales I've ever written and it's given me some inspiration for one of the books I'm presently working on.
I'f you like your horror good and bloody this is going to be for you? Ever seen a leprechaun ripped in two? You're about to. (In your mind of course.) Muah-ha-ha-ha-haaaa
The only time I breathe anymore is when I smoke.
I took a long drag off my pipe. The wispy dry air fills my withered lungs not to half of their living capacity. I no longer require the air they give. So, what if they wither. I breathe now to feel human again. My lungs gurgle and I cough up a spatter of black dead blood onto my sleeve. I didn’t have to keep my change a secret. There were no other living vampires yet, just me. After regaining my sight, I fed my way through many Roman occupations rising through the ranks from executioner, to the position of governor of Dacia, which is where we now call it Romania. High in the Carpathian Mountains, where there dwelt the castle of Vlad the Impaler’s ancestor, Lord Dracul I (‘The Devil,’) (‘Son of the Dragon’) well known as a mass murderer and sadist of a ruler, doing the world a favor, I drained him and took his place.
I sat in my office chair looking out the window behind me taking in a good whiff of the cool night air with my pipe smoke as I listen...
“Sir, we’ve done all we can. It’s clear what the letter says. We’re to recall all legions home to Rome. The occupation of Dacia is over. We’ve been asked to leave. It’s time to send these lads home with their pay so they can foster another generation of soldiers. They’ll die here in these mountains, most of them anyway if we don’t leave while we can. But you don’t seem to care about the actual lives. You’re a numbers man. For you the odds say we’ll take heavy losses but the occupation will, with time, turn into a democratic republic. But it won’t and do you want to know why? Because we’re a military force installing a puppet government subservient to our own in Rome and that’s fascism, the beast we fought to rid the world of yet here we are installing it by force. This can’t be right in the eyes of the one God or in the eyes of the many gods of our ancestors. None of them speak to us anymore. You’ve taken that from the people of Dacia. You’re a monster, a servant of the devi….”
I couldn’t stand his blathering any longer so I shut his mouth on him for good. Can’t have anyone running about tellin’ folks I’m a demonic creature. His blood tasted sour from fear. It’s much better when they don’t see it coming and you get them by surprise. There’s just that second of horror where they get this look in their eye as they realize what’s happening but it’s too late because you drain the life out of them so quickly, the poison takes hold and they pass out, never to wake again. They feel a split second of pain as I first bite in, of course. The poison is also numbing the site of the bite leaving the victim with a sense of euphoria as they bleed out, often unaware of it happening until they see their own blood spilling down the front of them, by then it’s of course, far too late.
My training as a solider taught me many lessons about strength of will. I used that to my advantage time and time again over the years as I passed through the lives of mortals watching them all age and die. Death becomes second nature to an immortal early on in their unlife. From our perspective, time seems to pass quick. We were created by Baphomet to affect and distort the timelines of mortals, and among the first creatures created to be able to pass among men without being detected. The first of the demonic offspring of Baphomet, the Dragon Demon.
I dropped him on the floor. Waste of skin. I’d never been more determined to hang on to the governorship of Dacia than at that moment. I sent for my captains all to report to me in my quarters at once.
The girl who cleans the room takes care of o the skins for me. She’s a small one but strong for a mortal. She has no trouble dragging a man twice her size out and burying him. Excellent soldier, never complains, takes orders without hesitation or question, a model for a centurion in every way, except she’s a woman. What a barbaric time that was. Women with no rights, not even the right to fight for their own countries. Nurses is all they would take back then. You can well imagine how much actual medical training a nurse would’ve been given back then. They basically just sat with the sick and watched them die. If they weren’t already dead from one of the nurses’ ‘home remedies,’ for whatever it happened to be that ailed a person.
Mortals have such unusual ways of creating division amongst themselves already that it’s not hard to sow the seeds of hate, which is also a great source of power to me. Inducing hate feeds our dark immortal souls. It gives strength to our lifeline’s which pass through many planes bonding us to the six hundred and sixty-six layers of the abyss, the kingdom of Satan’s demons, far grander than anyone could have ever imagined it to be. The underworld. The world beneath our world, the place of the dead, The place of the damned, other realms other dominions. A place of suffering and prolonged agony, hate personified into physical action. For us, it’s like a feeding frenzy in the Abyss as we devour your souls out of existence.
But not for me. I’m just a baby demon, a Vampire. They told me I’d have to find my own way through the woods and so I have, here to Dacia. This land is mine. I shall leave my mark on it. I shall bare into this world successors to my blood line that will carry on my grand plan and populate Transylvania with Vampires. My nation, my people. My children. My place in history.
“Henceforth you will call me by my new title Lord Dracul of Transylvania.”
“Yes, my Lord.” She scurried to remove the body of the soldier.
“And you will tell the people the same. I…we shall defend this land to ensure that without the Roman occupation that I Lord Dracul, remain Emperor of Transylvania.”
“Yes, my lord.”
They’ll all be running scared now. In a panic thinking I’ve gone mad with power. I’ve calculated my odds. I mean I’ve made educated guesses on the outcomes based on the lifespan I’ve lived of almost two-hundred years. The odds seemed to be ever in my favor, so I played them, with high hopes that more than half of the soldiers would remain loyal to me under the new banner of Transylvania.
It may not be the plan fate intended for this nation, but I am here to mess with fate and create new timelines. They’ve told me so in my nightmares. I don’t have ‘dream’s,’ anymore, just nightmares, every night and they’re memorable. The dead suffer as they sleep. But we revel in the suffering and take great pleasure in it so we seldom complain. The sleep of ages will restore our withered husks to that of the day Baphomet bit me. I know, I slept for 20 years once, the greatest part of my unlife to date. The battles I fought in my nightmares were grander than any mortal experience on earth.
“Lord Emperor of all Transylvania.” It does have a nice sound to it. It resonates with power and military might. It will send women and children trembling into their bedchambers at night envisioning what my legions of Vampires will do to all who oppose our will to exist and procreate.
But for now, we lay in wait, silent. A tiny nation among millions and how convenient that it happened here, at the beginning of all things where men are dumb to the ways of learning and knowledge as a weapon.
I took up my blackest cloak and girded myself with steely knives that wore toothsome blades, biting deep into the night. I bid my slave fair well, and headed out on a moonless night.
The year was AD279, the darkest of ages. They’d just begun to be translated the Bible into Transylvanian. Since the process could only be done by hand it took time. But the Lord is God. Jesus, a prophet, not always a savior, but to me, a believer, I didn’t think I needed saving at the time. Christ saw fit to restore my sight, then the demon saw fit to take my life and reflection from me for eternity. The years passed and the curiosity turned into madness at not being able to see myself. At first it didn’t bother me. But over time, the absence of your own reflection can seem nightmarish. As the years passed my psychosis about losing my reflection eased with age.
After one hundred years, and still the young virile man I’d always been I began to learn that I possessed a weapon the mortals did not, time. I could manipulate it, simply by outliving them.
“Now, right here and now, I’ll begin the birth of my nation, tonight, I shall take the lives of the first of my progeny.” I slid my feet into soft boots, put on my soft gloves and armed myself with sword, shield and armor. Dressed in brown and red leather from head to toe and garnished with a black velveteen cape.
Out the window I go, down into the city streets below. Down the mountainside I wind, leaving the mortal world far behind. Along comes my first victim, and unsuspecting lug off work for the day. I wonder what he’s carrying that giant jug for but it leaves my mind fast enough and I go back to the work of feasting on him and fathering him.
I walk up behind him on the street. He doesn’t see me. I walk heel to toe as soft and swift as I can. I grab his shoulder. He stops and turns to see whose hand impedes his progress to see me bite into his neck, two rows of razors with open veins. I can suck your blood through them like a straw. He’s no different his neck opens up, I take my drink, decide against the chomp as I father the second Vampire. I spit the blood, his blood, now mixed with my blood, back into his mouth and it flows down his gullet and through his heart. It doesn’t beat because he’s dead, but it does thump just once, when the unlife is given to the body, trapping the soul with the now immortal flesh of a Vampire.
He jerks a little at first in my arms, I let him lie on the ground before me. He starts to twitch and carry on like he’s sizzling in a hot pan, until he drops flat again and is silent for a second, a long second. The kind that take forever to pass. After the quiet he sits upright real slow and says;
“I don’t even have to breathe anymore,” as he looks at his hands and arms as if he’d never seen them before. He could sense I’d taken his mortality from him. It’s an inborn sensation. It doesn’t take long to realize you’re undead. No breath, no heart beat, almost no body fluids, and you never age beyond the day you were turned, but you must feed on the flesh of the living.
Hence the gift that I bestowed on this luckiest of mortals to have ever crossed my path in more than two hundred trips around the sun.
“Arise, Tramontana, I name you for the star, Polaris. May you always lead us to safe harbors on dark nights. Arise Vampire. My own creation. I am your father, what say you creature of the night? Do you feel yet, the hunger?”
“I… I… I do. I’m hungry.”
“Yes, but it’s not a hungry you’ve ever felt before. It’s a burning rage within your belly and on your jaws, a sweaty toothed mad man seeking flesh in the night, a creature like a wolf, but even more dangerous still, your belly yearns for the flesh of a mortal. Their life force is part of what sustains us. Go now, feel your power. Feel the night air and find the flesh you seek. I’m always here for you. Go now, my child of the night.
Tramontana stood and looked about, staring at his hands and legs in much the same fashion as myself when Baphomet turned me. I couldn’t even believe in reality at that moment, what I felt, what I knew; how to commit violence with ease. You know how to commit terrible acts against people in the blink of an eye without ever having done it before in your life. It feels predatory.
All of the sudden you have powers, and stamina the likes of which you never knew existed.
I ran down a suitable female with ease. She wore sandals with leg wraps that prevented her from any great feats of dexterity and I nabbed her when no one happened to be looking. She passed with haste, it surprised me, she has almost no will to survive. But she is subservient.
“Arise my child, Cutlass and take with you the sword that shall be the symbol of our people to the mortals.
Cutlass, sat up looking quite shocked and feeling at heart chest and neck for a pulse but finding none there. She knew in an instant she’d died but couldn’t accept it as her new reality so she suffered through the psychosis of what such a major change in fundamental reality can do to the mind.
“Father, why have you taken one life from me to give me another? What is this new skin you’ve put me into? I feel…wicked.”
“You are, dear woman. You are the first female Vampire, child of a demon, born of a demon. Go now and foster as many young as you can in the way I have just changed you and love them as I love you child.”
I couldn’t help but smile at her. So unsure of herself and her ability. She overcame that fast enough. She turned 7 more by dawn, men and women alike. I guided her indoors and warn her to save her skin against the sunlight which would take her final life from her, incinerating her soul, the light of the One God, the Creator, the indisputable light of the universe.
Tormented by dreams and hallucinations that have gotten worse, I broke into a full audio-visual hallucination.
There’s no more Cutlass, no more back alley. Only me crying out into the void with no reply. Faith, the required ability to experience the One God’s good grace, is lost when you become a child of the night. It’s not that you don’t believe. It’s that you can’t. As an immortal you’re able to see the universe for what it is. A single plane of existence. One plane only in a vast expanse of realities to explore until the end of time itself, there must be a word that immortals use for it, but I haven’t discovered it yet. You lose track of it in terms of seconds, minutes, hours, days. Those become such brief windows of opportunity that you are able to take a step back and view your reality with the wisdom immortals acquire by living multiple lifetimes.
I scream and no sound or air comes out. Just me and my muscles straining to make my voice but all I hear is the silence the variety that absorbs you when your heart ceases to beat. It’s almost unbearable when you’re alone. There’s no sound, you become the absence of it, stillness is a gift of the night. We can become so still as to appear a statue and remain there, not breathing not shifting, just still for days, weeks months, years and not age a day or have a hair turn the grayer.
The vision changes and I see the future. I see myself looking the same as I do right now but I ride in a horseless cart with a roof. I move at incredible speed, the cart enchanted by the twisted magic of a powerful wizard. I hold and turn a wheel to steer the cart and use my foot on a pedal that increases the rage with which the beasts at its heart propel the cart forward. It feels as though I become one with the machine.
I knew then that I would see the world change, leaders come and go. I remembered the first part of my life but saw it now through the mind’s eye of an immortal who comprehends seconds as non-existent portions of time. My entire concept of time the universe and everything changed, for the darker.
You see, what you come to bear witness to is the constant and inescapable violence and greed. Not just the Vampires, but also the mortal humans. Greed controlled all of it right from the beginning. As it does now.
I want my country of Vampires to be remembered if this doesn’t work. I need to find a way to mark the birth of these creatures as a legendary event in the history of mankind.
Perhaps acknowledgement will lend itself to common ground.
Perhaps a balance can be achieved.
Cutlass & Tramontana were free and spreading like a virus creating Vampire children everywhere they went. Both inherited my ability to become invisible, my speed my strength, they seemed as capable as me in every way.
Yes, a balance would have to be achieved. Or we might eat them all and starve to death, let the rationing begin.
“No longer will I allow our people to be held slaves to the flesh. It sustains us as did food for the body in life, in death to feast upon the flesh of the living does the same for a soul of immortal permanence. We must consume it but we needn’t consume so much as to gorge ourselves. Only that which sustains you need be taken. Small amounts. Not enough to take a life in most cases unless a Vampire gets old and then he might require the blood of more than one vessel to rise him from the sleep of ages.
From this day forward the Vampire people will hunt and kill when necessary to maintain life. Humans are food, no more important than an egg we crack or a piece of bread we nosh. We control their population the way they control the population of pigs and cows. It’s good stewardship of the land.
My two precious children fostered thirty-two Vampires by the fifth night of creation. All of varying ages, races and background. All briefed on the ways of sustainable grazing on the human race to preserve our own. All brilliant, beautiful beasts of the dark.
As time passes each night my kingdom grows larger across the face of what I claim as Transylvania. We shall continue to convert them and bolster the numbers of my new born race of Vampires.
Just as I began to really set the wheels of my new nation, my new species in motion, the strangeness began.
As if all that hadn’t changed our lives enough, we got into trouble with the creatures of the Fae Realm. A portal opened between their world and ours and they seemed to be quite sneaky, and violent little creatures. After they’d finished off a couple of my vampires, I felt I needed to step in.
The portal opened in a region of Transylvania no longer shown on any map, high in the deep forests of the Transylvanian Carpathian Mountain Range.
We alone know the true location of the portal. It seems but a handful of the Fae Creatures have found it so far on their side as well because I don’t see a lot of traffic through it myself.
I decided tonight would be the night to enter the portal from our side. The portal remained open for long enough now that I felt a stability formed in the doorway between the two worlds, enough so that I stepped through it, into theirs.
The Fae Realm is a place of indescribable beauty. In human form, or Vampire form, as the case may be, the place seems enormous and we like ants to even the blades of grass in the garden. But powerful we remain.
The hole is much larger for us than it is for them. To them it’s the tiniest of tears in their reality, they are, for the most part oblivious to it. The odd little creature comes through it but most of the wild life in the Fae Realm is massive compared to a human. Magic is required to grow a human to a relational size when compared with the rest of the Fae Realm. There’s no other way to survive.
I slipped through the ample opening and felt a rush as I moved between realities. Adrenalin filled my veins at the sight before my eyes. Giant blades of grass and toadstools the size of houses. Ants bigger than a man. It’s an exotic hunter’s wet nightmare, but for me it meant a place where I might not be the super human I’d become as a Vampire on Earth.
I stayed close to the tear, and I sat and I waited. I watched from no more than leaping distance from my portal home for many long minutes as my tiny brain unfurled the impossible scene.
Frozen with another emotion I remembered but hadn’t felt in a long time, fear.
I stood motionless looking up into a world as vast as the universe itself, that existed on solid ground. An adjoining reality to our own, the Fae Realm.
A giant approached me. I felt the ground begin to tremble and huge rocks came skipping at me across the surface of the ground. I made use of my speed and agility to dodge them. If one hit me, it might have been big enough to take even my immortality.
The creature stopped walking for a second and then continued to pass by. I could see it now in the distance. It came from a thicket of Giant trees.
“You’re new here.”
I spun around as if death loomed just behind me and for all I knew it did. There, hovering not much higher than eye level I gazed upon a pixie, the smallest of the intelligent creatures of the Fae Realm.
“I’m Wiilemina, but you can call me Willy. You’re in great danger if you remain so small. I mean, I can help you grow big like the other creatures here, but you have to do me a favor, do we have a deal, sir?”
She seemed so harmless. So tiny, even to me. She sparkled like a diamond and pixie dust fell from her wings as they flapped like those of a hummingbird. I thought about grabbing her and draining the ounce of blood within just to see what a pixie tastes like, but my intellect got the better of me and instead I said;
“I am Lord Dracul, Son of the Dragon Baphomet from the realm of Earth. All I seek is to close the tear between our two worlds to prevent creatures from here entering Earth. If you can help me with that. I will hear your plea for aid.”
She spun round and round before me in the air leaving streamers of lasso shaped light as she zipped about at incredible speed with joy. From somewhere unseen she produced a tiny wand and whipped it at me. Pixie magic blasted me on the tip of my nose. And I took in a whiff.
“What was…,” That’s all I got out before I began to grow at an alarming rate and the Fae Realm began to come into perspective for me. Pixies are indispensable companions in the Fae Realm. I knew this already and I’d just arrived.
I stood on a road through a wood. I could see a long way down the road, light at the edge of the forest. The tear leading to Earth wouldn’t have been more than an eighth of an inch at most. I grew to hundreds of times the size I’d been when I entered the Fae Realm.
“Remember, you promised to help me.” The Pixie flitted about before me much larger now than when she interacted with the tiny version of myself just seconds before. She could change mass and size to a degree. These creatures would never cease to amaze me.
“How may I be of service to you Willy?”
“I want you to kill a murdering, thieving, dark little leprechaun.”
“Woh, a leprechaun? There are leprechauns here?”
Yes. What are you worried about? You’re much bigger than a leprechaun now, thanks to me. I’ll show you where he is and you use your powers to kill him. A deal’s a deal. Come on”
She flitted round my head at a dizzying speed now and her pixie dust filled the air. I took in a breath again just to see what it smelled like and she got me. The magic took hold within seconds. She’d used her magic to sequester me into killing this leprechaun.
She took me to the edge of the forest. There I stood before a vast field of clover. Once again, I took in a breath just to smell the clover. It didn’t smell as it did in life but the aroma remained pleasant none the less.
“He lives deep in the forest. But I know that when it rains, if the clouds part just right I can make a rainbow appear here, making his gold visible and tangible for a brief time. He’ll have no choice but to come to protect his gold while it’s exposed.”
“What do you mean, while it’s exposed?”
“Whenever it rains, a rainbow forms from an angle of refraction directly to the leprechaun’s pot of gold and any other treasures he has. The leprechaun that lives there has to protect his gold from poachers who would nip it from him while his back is turned.”
She zipped up into the air and I lost sight of her rather quick. I looked skyward. Clouds formed from blue sky and grew dark. Lighting arced up inside the clouds. Thunder clapped and it began to rain. Willy returned down from the sky to me.
“You can make it rain?”
“We don’t have time for that. I’m going to part those clouds now and you’re going to nab that leprechaun as soon as he pops his head out so I can speak to him before you squish em’ like the roach he is.”
She pointed her wand skyward and went into this elaborate dance as if she were fighting the clouds themselves as she pushed them with her will and her magic. The sky opened up and the dark clouds parted. The sun shone down on the edge of the wood and there, just as promised, Willy produced a beautiful rainbow on demand.
I ran over to the bottom of the rainbow. I couldn’t see it anymore from where I stood below it. The pot of gold appeared. A black rimmed cast iron pot filled overflowing with gold coins inscribed with the face of a leprechaun king. It glistened in the same way Willy did as if light glinting off a diamond, the magic inherent to the Fae Realm.
I nipped the pot. He appeared almost as quick as I picked it up. I set it back down as he approached from the edge of the wood.
“That there’s me’ gold! You git’ yer’ flea bitten hide away from it or it’ll be the end of ya’!”
The leprechaun looked hilarious to me. It would still be many times my size if I were still at Earth proportions, far too large to slip into our reality, thank god.
He walked right up to me as if I was going to do anything other than what I did or as if I’d been intimidated by his vocality. I reached down, picked him up, he stood two apples tall to me at this size. I popped his head off like picking fruit from a tree and drained the blood from within his torso down in two gulps. I ate his brains for good measure. Willy flitted about in the air before me as I did it enraged that I didn’t let her have her last words with her oppressor, but I didn’t want to give the little critter any time to use his magic on me. Willy grew me to this size with little effort at all on her part, just imagine what a leprechaun might be capable of.
“I’ve fulfilled my part of the bargain. Now you have to use your magic to close the rift between our worlds and leave me with a key to get back to your amazing realm.”
“A key? That wasn’t part of the deal.”
“We never finalized the deal, though did we?”
“But I can’t do that, it’s beyond my power. I can leave you with this magic needle and thread to use from your side and you sew shut the tear in the Continuum.”
“The Continuum?” I asked.
“Yes, the Continuum. The Reality Continuum. The space that contains all of our known realities. The plane known as the Continuum.”
What a wise little creature. She could be of great use to me on Earth. I could never seal the tear between our worlds now. Knowing all this exists and leaving it undiscovered, unconquered, seems such a waste. I nipped the dead leprechaun’s gold and lugged it all the way back to the tear. The pot felt much heavier than it looked. I struggled with it. Willy gave me the needle and thread which she sized to the palm of my hand and then she shrunk me back down to Earth size again. I slipped through the tear back to home, back to Transylvania.
I stitched shut the tear leaving it closed in a haphazard fashion so that I could still see it to find it later. I returned to the castle late that night with a weapon I needed but Rome took away from me, money. The leprechauns pot of gold would serve me well in my campaign to free Transylvania from the Romans and later from the Turks.
I hid the pot of gold down in my castle’s treasure room. A massive vault that I intend to fill with all the treasures I amass as an immortal. This being the first great leap toward having infinite power over the mortals, they all live and die for money, and now I have an endless supply of it. I entered the chamber and shut the door behind me so that not even the guard could see what I did. I dumped the pot over and let the gold pour out onto the floor, it flowed without end and always at the same rate. The floor of the chamber filled as if a giant pot of golden coin soup spilled. I took a coin up in my hand and examined it. The leprechaun king on one side and on the other a four-leaf clover and the inscription May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. The Irish Blessing. I left the pot sitting atop the mound of gold it dispensed to me and kept my one leprechaun kings head coin in my pocket. I shut the door up tight and returned to my office where my slave awaited orders.
“Send word to the Romans that I’m ready to meet with them, I’m ready to talk and come to terms for the independence of Transylvania. I’ll even agree to pay tribute to the Emperor of Rome if he pays tribute to me as the Lord Emperor of Transylvania.”
“Yes master, right away.”