Shadows in Silence: The Cool Air of Mourning
© Copyright 1996-2000 Dominic A. Wilde,
All rights reserved

The fractured light of a shattered rainbow spills through the stained glass window above me, throwing streaked shards of reds and blues, yellows and whites across the dusty stone floor. My face is caught in a beam of crimson, hands bathed in azure.

Across the room, Bianka flutters her midnight wings, weaving between twin splinters of cloudy white. Her sharp little beak snaps once, then twice- and out of the corner of my eye I see her raise her head. Her wings open, and she beats them against the stale air- stirring up a fine spray of dust that sparkles like a million tiny prisms. Proud of herself. I can see a spider leg dangling from the corner of her beak.

"Mighty Hunter. What a fierce little beastie you are." She feels the humor in my voice, cocks her head and purposefully makes a show of swallowing her catch with as much pomp and circumstance as she can muster.

I shiver at the thought of the spider, still alive; wriggling it's way down her throat. Bianka stares at me expectantly, glittering black eyes catching the glow from the windows, reflecting a stray fragment of crimson.

Devils eyes. Bleak, and full of un-nameable intelligence. She remembers the date, wonders if I've forgotten the importance of it.

I haven't forgotten. Ten years ago tonight was the anniversary, and if I concentrated hard enough, I would be able to recall every detail with perfect, startling clarity.

But clarity is painful.

I've never been any good at self-delusion, because I never had the imagination for it. But I create fantastic scenarios sometimes, all in the guise of a song. I make myself a character; my life and all of the events that have shaped it so far become creative fiction. Sadness, sorrow, pain, terror, love…and death. Always death. It is the underlying theme in all of my music, and people respond to it.

You make me feel so much….

The kids respond to the alienation. The desperation. Wanting to belong, and always finding yourself just on the outside. The critics respond to my voice. It's good, I hear. Ethereal. Not angelic, but very far from jaded.

Innocence dipped in blood… I like that description. I take it as a compliment, even though it sounds like a bit of a cliché.

I sing about what I know, what I feel. When I'm in that spotlight, it's the one time I let myself go to really reflect on the things that have happened, what has brought me this far. My life becomes my dream, and I can shape it in any way that I choose.

I press my palms against my closed eyes, and listen to the wind as it screams through the eaves. Familiar sounds- bats wings from the choir loft, rustling like well-worn parchment. The mice, playing hide and seek in the walls. Bianka's talons clicking out a steady cadence against the stone floor as she seeks out more hapless insects to snatch up in her beak. And from the next room, Dylan's soft breathing. I try to catch the pattern, to relax into it and breathe in time with him…but it's not the sleep-breathing I was expecting. Irregular, uneven. I wonder if perhaps he's caught up in a nightmare, but the scent of opium still lingers in the air. Thick, like poisoned perfume.

"You didn't take very good care of him while I was gone." I say, almost accusingly. We have an understanding, Bianka and I. She watches out for Dylan when I can't be here. When something is wrong, she tells me.

I've never stopped to consider the fact that not every immortal can communicate with animals. I can, that's all that matters. And the fact that she has been holding out on me this time annoys me beyond measure.

She ignores me, too intent on chasing down another snack. I mimic the impatient sounds she makes with her beak, clicking my tongue against my teeth.

She finally turns; fluttering her wings in frustration as her prey skitters away, under a crack in the wall. Safe. The fractured beams of light reflect off of her feathers, and I'm momentarily fascinated by the way the black seems to absorb them….drawing them in, making them a part of her. Devil's eyes meet mine, and hold my gaze, unwavering.

The right to accuse isn't mine exclusively, it seems.

"What choice do I have?! If I sent him back to San Francisco, he would be dead tomorrow. I made too many enemies….he would be an immediate target. I can't have that on my conscience." There was too much on my conscience already. Too much….

She continues to stare at me with those hypnotic little bird's eyes, and I realize that something important has passed between us.

She knows the truth. She isn't worried about Dylan. She is worried about me.

Outside, the late January wind howls again, and the clouds swallow the moon. My pretty colors flicker and fade until all we're left with is the undulating tribal dance of the flames from the fireplace. I stand up from my desk- enormous, mahogany thing….almost obscenely ornate, like everything else in this place. It was a church once, but now it is –home-. The desk stands where the alter must have once stood, and Dylan's guitar leans possessively against it. We've left pieces of ourselves scattered throughout the rooms…..the eccentric Rock Star and his bandmate Lover. Sentences are scrawled on portions of the walls, songs in the early stages of evolution. We are surrounded by useless excess…because I can afford it. I can have anything I want.

Image is everything.

"He isn't going to turn into another Philip. And even if he did, I know how to protect what's mine now."

I mean what I say, but Bianka seems almost reluctant to believe me. She is cautious, where I prefer to lead with my heart. We balance one another this way, when I choose to listen to her instincts.

Most of the time I don't, and I wonder if I'll ever learn.

I walk over to the doorway of what used to be the sacristy…but now it serves as his bedroom. He is sprawled against the tangle of sheets and blankets, and I watch the rise and fall of his chest…..holding my breath until I am certain he's still breathing. The moon has come back, and indigo light dapples his face like so many small bruises. He looks so peaceful. I want to protect him.

But is it going to be that easy? Is anything ever that easy?

Ten years ago, I found out that reality was really the illusion. Our day to day lives as humans….our hopes and fears, our future- they meant nothing in the end. Humans were nothing but pawns in an elaborate power play

And I have willingly brought Dylan into this. Center stage, if you'll pardon the pun. The vampires that populate my world aren't the glamorous, tragically human creatures that you'll find in modern fiction. We behave more like rabid dogs, hell bent on protecting the niches that we carve for ourselves.

"We'll survive. You'll see….you're worried over nothing." I say. But already, I'm listening to the night sounds, each crunch of twigs outside becoming something threatening, something foreboding.

Bianka turns her back on me, and goes back to her search for easy prey…..she has had more than enough of my rationalizing this evening.

I return to my desk, knowing I have work to do….knowing that I will lose myself in a steady stream of memories, where the past ten years will slip away like sand through an hourglass.

Ritual and reflection.

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