"Ghosts in Velvet"
By Niko Wilde
Copyright © 2001, all rights reserved

Disclaimer: The Vampire Chronicles and all characters contained therein are the sole property of Anne Rice. I just like to borrow them from time to time, to keep them from collecting dust. This is an amateur work of fiction- in other words, I'm not getting paid for it, nor do I want to get paid.

This is just for fun. Try to sue me and you'll be very disappointed.



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"…I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

"The Peace of Wild Things" – Wendell Berry



This is how it feels to stand on the Edge of the World.

The only pair of human eyes to view a bleeding sunset as the sun dies its ritual death in the sky, even though I am anything but human. I am able to wake, to climb from my tomb of damp earth as the mud clings in thick, black clots to my face and hands…to sit on the bank of the river and bear witness to the sun's passing.

The concept of time is a memory.

How many lifetimes have passed since I've had the urge to wake early, to sit in the relative tranquility of unbroken silence and admire such a glorious death, as the sky fades from muted azure torn through with angry ribbons of crimson, to the deepest indigo, and finally to the soft coal that I know so well. Soft coal littered with bright, shining diamonds.

I wonder where the others are, and if they see the same brilliance in the canopy of stars. I wonder if they would recognize me right now, at this moment, as the angel's mane that has become my hallmark hangs in mats and tangles, caked with the mud of this foreign place. No dusty cherub, I- he has been left behind somewhere, in a church, perhaps- sitting like the quiet angel he appeared, amber dolls eyes gleaming dully through another endless night.

I was once again the cemetery rat, who's clothing had fallen into rags…who's skin could not be seen through the layers of grime and earth that covered my body in a mockery of the pale flesh that covered weary bones. If any human had set eyes on me, they would have thought me some specter of a child, risen with grim determination from his grave. A horrible thing to behold, in truth- but no human could hope to find this corner of untamed wilderness that had become my resting-place.

Somewhere between now and then. A neverland for boy demons, who would never grow, never change.

Lonely? Hardly. There is truth to be found in quiet, when the body stills enough to listen. There is peace to be found in alone-ness, when the vampire mind turns inward and relives its centuries of struggles and triumphs. Revelations would come unbidden, and here, in the sanctity of this wild place, I began to grasp the greatest truth that had ever been revealed to me.

Heaven and hell do not truly matter…both can be found here, on this earthly plane. Heaven is in the soul of a fragile human body, as our heartbeats meld together in that wild, final dance. The joining of souls, as we absorb all that they were and all that they dreamed they would be.

In the taste of a lifetime of memories; sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter.

And hell is in the realization that we have lived so many perfect moments that stand out like snapshots in a picture album. Moments that make us burn with a clarity long forgotten. The remembering of a face, or a phrase, or a touch…so sweet and simple…yet each is virtually impossible to attain again.

We can never go back. We can never go home.

Yet, I hold them all now, close to my heart. I remember the taste of the wind, the sound of the rain, the heat- the eternal heat, as old and as unchanging as we ourselves are. I remember the way the wrought iron railing of the balcony felt in the grip of my fingers, so slick with rain.

And they, my most precious ghosts, come to me one by one- inviting me to embrace them…to remember how it felt to be held safe in the arms of immortality. Khayman, with his ebony eyes and the marble body of a god…the easy laughter that sprang from his lips and terrified us all with the way it made his expression change into something frightfully human. Maharet, with her dying eyes and soft voice- and the undeniable undertone of absolute authority. Louis, with his habit of blending into the shadows…as quiet as a church mouse. Nicky, mad and beautiful Nicky with his quick temper, and the bitter gall of jealousy always ready on the tip of his tongue.

It was like a strange sort of bloodletting; allowing the memories to seep from my veins until the fever of abandonment had finally abated.

My beautiful, delirious Daniel- utterly charmed by the night and each new, dark promise that it held. Where would he be, now? Sitting on a remote bank at the opposite end of the world, remembering…the same as I? Ready to be reborn back into civilization, ready to become again the nighttime terror that he had always wanted to be? And Marius, who had sloughed off his red velvet in favor of the dusty rainments of a living ghost…trapped as I am now, in the memories of what once came before.

We are not angels. We are not devils. We are human beyond all hope of comprehension- all emotions and feelings exaggerated into monstrous proportions, with the weight of our own loneliness and need for solace crushing us beneath it's ever-present weight.

We love and hate with the fierceness of a wild thing, untamed.

And he comes to me last, when the breeze has all but died. A ghost shrouded in velvet, so close I can feel the flocking against my cheek…against my lips. The wind whispers "Wolfkiller", and I can hear his voice as if he were sitting right next to me. Soft and melodic, as seductive as sin itself. My dark brother, my mirror in all things- and I let the memories wrap around me like a red velvet cloak.

"You convinced me long ago that the world was a Savage Garden...well, then, in the Savage Garden you shine beautifully, my friend...and in my wanderings...I always return to see the colors of the garden in your shadow, or reflected in your eyes"

My corner of the Savage Garden has served it's purpose. The breeze returns, lifting the mud-caked tangles from the back of my neck, like the caress of a lover, and I can hear it: the faint music of a victrola, the bombast of Bach mingling with my beloved Vivaldi.

The music of another life.

I will spend this night in the company of my loving ghosts, but I know they are calling me home once again.

The wheel turns.

Another piece of the grand puzzle falls into place, and we continue on- from myth, into legend…and finally, back into the malestrom of life.

Armand
April 29, 2001

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