By Michael Gouda and Stefan Schmidt
He was a foreigner, a stranger in the city.
The light from the flashing neon advertisements lit up the dark blocks of buildings with intermittent washes of red and yellow. A brief spatter of sooty raindrops fell from the clouds scudding across the sky. Late night passers-by stepped aside to avoid the dark caverns of doorways which were at that hour already home to the homeless poor.
The stranger sniffed the air - take-away hot dogs, onions and chicken tikka masala. Petrol and exhaust fumes from the cars and taxis temporarily halted at the red traffic lights. Air that had been breathed in and out, used air, tired air. But it was London air. For June it was quite mild.
He saw the young man in the street lights coming towards him. The stranger stared, taking in the thin, dark face, the brown eyes which showed so much sadness. The young man looked, seeing the intense stare and smiled assuming that he knew him, that he was an acquaintance whom he must acknowledge. They passed.
The stranger turned, his pale face expressing a yearning which could not be satisfied. He watched the young man's figure as he walked away, his body slim and elegant, his buttocks moving under the cloth of his jeans, athletically, his shoulders, broad, his waist, slim. He followed him, keeping to the darkness, avoiding the bright lights of the city, keeping as far as possible to the shadowy pools between the lamplight.
The young man reached the doorway of his house, felt in his pockets for the key, inserted it, turned and pushed open the door. As he did so a figure emerged from the darkness at his side and he started at the sudden appearance. But the stranger smiled gently, his teeth showing white from the shadows.
"Hallo," said the stranger, and his voice was husky and beguiling, and full of longing. "I think we know each other though I have forgotten your name."
The young man looked uncertain, fearful that he might be snubbing an associate, a colleague, perhaps someone he had met at work.
"Kasimir," said the stranger, "Surely you remember. My name is Kasimir."
The young man nodded doubtfully. "Of course," he said, "and I am Nicholas. My friends call me Nick," he added inconsequentially. "Where . . ."
The stranger interrupted. "Ah yes. I remember now. Nick," he said, "but cannot we go in? The night is cool," and as he spoke a chill wind seemed to spring up out of nowhere almost as if the stranger had conjured it so that Nick shivered, his thin cotton shirt suddenly unsuitable for the unseasonable weather. "Yes, yes," he said opening the door. "Please come in. A glass of good wine to keep out the cold."
He led the way into his apartment. Soft lights lit up the room. There were rugs on the polished wood floor, brightly patterned Navajo designs. A large sofa was against one wall and a bookcase against another. The books showed his interest in things supernatural. In front of the window hung a Chinese windchime and the breeze from the opened window knocked the tuned wooden blocks, producing a musical chime.
Quickly Nick pulled the window shut - too late to keep the terrors of the night out.
In one corner was an incense burner and the fragrant smell of joss hung in the air. In front of the closet stood a huge mirror making the room look larger than it was. Some pictures of cloaked beings, dark against an only slightly less dark background, hung on the walls.
"I'll get the wine," said Nick. "I'll open a bottle." He turned to a cupboard and produced a bottle, two glasses and an opener.
The stranger who called himself Kasimir inspected the pictures, observing the cloaked figures, their pale handsome faces, their yearning, questing eyes. "Are you interested in vampires?" he asked.
The cork popped.
"It is a special enthusiasm of mine," said Nick. "Do you think there are such creatures?"
"I am sure of it."
"I wish I could meet one." He brought the glasses and bottle to a small table, gestured to the stranger to sit down on the sofa and poured a measure of golden wine into one of the glasses. The smell of dried fruit and balmy Mediterranean sunshine filled the air. He picked up the other glass and started to pour.
"Why?" demanded the stranger and his sudden question made Nick jump so that the wine was spilled over his other hand, the one holding the glass. He muttered a curse under his breath and turned to look for a cloth but before he could move away the stranger had seized his hand raised it to his lips and was lapping at the spilled wine from his skin. Nick tried to draw his hand away. What did this man think he was doing? But the warmth of the tongue on his flesh was strangely comforting and he left it there until the wine was gone.
"Why would you want to meet a vampire?" asked the stranger, as if nothing had happened - and perhaps nothing had, though Nick was not sure. He handed Kasimir a full glass, and sipped his own. The wine was sweet on his tongue, full bodied and sweet and - was it? - the slightest taste of corruption!
"I would like to know their secret," he said, "the secret of immortality."
"You see it as a blessing?"
"But of course," said Nick turning his eyes to meet those of the stranger. "What else could it be? Who wants to die, to lose everything that is pleasurable?" The stranger's eyes were black, bottomless, to gaze into them was to lose yourself for all eternity.
"What if you were desperate to lose pain or suffering? What if you wanted to die and couldn't?"
Nick shrugged. "It would be worth it."
"Yet they have to kill so that they can live. Do you not think that they must feel guilt for such crimes?"
"We all kill so that we can live," he said. "We kill the beasts in the field so that we can eat meat. We kill the plants so that we can have vegetables and fruits. The grapes from which this wine was made - " he tasted another drop of the rich yellow liquid and let it remain for a while on his tongue before swallowing "- they were pulled from the vine, not allowed to seed and germinate in the way they were intended."
"But you do not kill your own kind so that you may live."
"We kill our own kind every day of our lives. We murder, we steal the land so that others starve, we divert the water so that others thirst. We compete and trample on our rivals so that we can come to the top and prosper, while they fall down and rot in the gutter."
"So you think you could stand the guilt?" asked the stranger and beckoned with his hand for Nick to sit beside him on the sofa.
"I should not feel it," said Nick, his features shining with an inner certainty which was almost a passion.
"Can you be so sure?" The stranger put his hand on Nick's thigh but the young man scarcely felt it, so great was his obsessive enthusiasm.
"God must have put them on the earth for a purpose."
"It is said that they come from the darkness, from the primeval Chaos which was before God?" His hand traveled gently up towards Nick's fork and now Nick did notice but scarcely cared. In fact the touch was exciting, arousing and though he had never been touched by a man that way before, he did not find it perverse.
"I do not care," he cried wildly. "I would join them, if I could. I would become one."
The hand, that foreign hand, that hand with its pale almost bloodless skin, its delicate narrow fingers, unfastened the belt around the young man's waist, opened the button at the top, drew down the zip exposing the white underwear and a bulge that already was larger than it had been moments before.
"Would you allow one into you?" asked the stranger. "Would you consent to his lusts?"
But the young man was too far gone even to answer and arched himself towards the stranger's mouth as it fastened itself on his covered member, teasing it softly through the cloth, and the wetness of his tongue soaking the material so that it became translucent.
Nick cried out, a wild cry that had no words and pushed down his underwear, stripping himself in an ecstasy, peeling shirt and vest over his head, kicking off his shoes, pulling socks and trousers down over his legs and feet so that he was almost immediately naked. His dark skin lay against the red material of the sofa. His legs were slightly apart, open and vulnerable, his head laid back exposing his neck.
The stranger was on him, still clothed and strangely this was even more erotic than if he too had been naked. His mouth clasped on Nick's cock, gulping it down, seemingly trying to swallow it. Sounds emerged from Nick's mouth. He pumped himself and seemed about to finish.
But the stranger would not allow this and let him go, opening his own trousers so that his cock emerged, thick and erect from its nest of black curly hair. He started to kiss his way up the flat stomach, his lips soft and infinitely arousing, across the broad chest to where the column of neck strained. He reached it and nuzzled the hollow above the shoulder blade. Nick flung open his legs and clasped them round the stranger's waist, exposing his most private self and seemingly effortlessly the stranger's cock found its way into the hole, slipping fluidly and deeply into the moist and waiting opening. The stranger's hand found Nick's cock and stroked it, slowly, then faster, feeling the soft skin slide over the hard core. At the same time his cock thrusting into his bowels, Nick's sex manipulated from both sides. Nick gasped, his mouth wide, his senses almost leaving him, so high were his passions stimulated.
Then the stranger bit and his sharp teeth sank into the tender flesh of the neck while at the same time his shaft probed to its full extent, deep into the compliant hole. Any pain that Nick felt as the teeth pierced his skin was subsumed into the ecstasy. The juices flowed.
At the same time, they erupted together and while Nick's blood drained, he was filled by the stranger's juices. Sweat and blood and semen mixed and Kasimir bestowed his gift.
"You have immortality," he whispered. "Now you must feel the guilt - forever."
10th May 1999
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