Community Stories. Get Inspired, Get Underlined

The Immortal Rules

By @choppedmint

Story 17

Lady Grey sat cross-legged in one of the seats in front of the counters. Another, male vampire stood behind the counter, hands braced against the top of it, though a couple of the fingers were jammed between the random items rearranged across the surface. Some looked like what you would find in a chemist’s shop and other bits what you might see in a factory. But mostly it just looked like classic mad scientist’s lab. Both pairs of eyes were looking up at the stairs and the boy that was sitting on the bottom set of them. Said boy felt pinned in their gaze. The male vampire looked nervous, of all things, and even though he gazed at the boy his eyes still looked to Lady Grey every now and again.

“This is Myrnin, Samuel,” said Lady Grey, waving a hand at Myrnin. Myrnin raised one hand off the counter and wiggled all his fingers at Sam in a sort of wave. What he expected as a reaction to that Sam didn’t know. He was sitting on the bottom step, arms around his legs and head resting on his knees and just being in the room was hard. He could pick up every single sound. And with each sound his head jerked a little. But he couldn’t see the sound he wanted to hear. Heartbeats. They were gone from this whole place. 

They both seemed to be at a standstill. Sam had followed Lady Grey, but it wasn’t like that had given him any answers. He was here and there seemed to be no obvious solution to all his problems. “Do you want to come down here?” this was Lady Grey again.

Sam remained where he was, looking at Lady Grey, eyes slowly falling downward until he was looking at the floor. From there, he slowly scooted off the step and took the step onto the ground of the lab. There weren’t many chairs but Lady Grey slowly stood up from hers, walking around the side of the counter. It put space between her and Sam, not for her benefit but for his. She’d seen him freeze as soon as she’d started to stand up and she was careful to keep her voice low so as not to frighten him. It felt like she was edging around a wild animal.

And after a long minute Sam started moving again, taking the seat that Lady Grey had vacated. He seemed to sink into it, shrinking even worse than he had when he’d been sitting on the steps. Lady Grey looked at Myrnin, not sure what to do. Myrnin didn’t have any answers either, that was for sure.

Should she try and talk to him? She didn’t really know, because with how things were going she didn’t want to make him bolt. They were both good at waiting though, so Lady Grey leaned her head against Myrnin’s shoulder. Hours, literal hours passed. Waiting wasn’t something that was impossible for Lady Grey to do and the half-lidded way Myrnin was looking around at things said they he only remained still for her benefit, but that meant that he was almost asleep. He didn’t really stay still for anything else. No one else but her. In attempt to stave off the attempt to sleep standing up you could see the cogs in his brain moving around as he looked at all the different projects across his work benches.

It was only when Sam was the one who was asleep that Lady Grey allowed herself (and by extension, Myrnin) to move. She gave a low sigh, moving muscles that should have been stiff but weren’t. The boy’s head had dropped a bit to the side, onto his shoulder, and his eyes had closed. For once he didn’t look panicked. Lady Grey hoped that would last, but she knew that there were always a couple of bad dreams in a vampire’s head, no matter how new they were. And it didn’t seem that Sam had had a very smooth change from human to vampire.

She walked around, voice very low as she distanced herself from Samuel. Myrnin followed, even though he could have been back by the counter and still would have heard her. “What should we do?” she asked. Myrnin shrugged. This was just a verbal continuation of the silent one that they had before. “I don’t know,” he said. “Why did he follow you?”

“I don’t know,” said Lady Grey, looking back at the chair. “Maybe because I’m not that threatening. And he’s confused.” Both of those were probably true. 

“Is he going to stay here?” was Myrnin question. He didn’t look back at the sleeping boy, but his eyes were knitted with worry. Even Lady Grey couldn’t figure out whether it was worry about Samuel or if it was worry about his own housing state.

“I don’t know,” said Lady Grey again. “Maybe he will. But I don’t think he knows any more than we do.”

They had both retreated to the library by now. A personal one that Myrnin had set up for himself that contained more non-fiction books than anything else. There were a couple of chairs around the inside of the room, most of them wooden. A couple were cushioned, at least, and Lady Grey took one of those and Myrnin took a wooden one. He leaned forward on the chair, paying attention to the female vampire even though she seemed to have already stated her confusion and uncertainty on the matter.

“Wait until tomorrow,” she said. “He might not even be here then.” Because he might run away…

But the boy still was there tomorrow, against the odds that Lady Grey had set up against him. This was completely obvious when he woke up screaming. Lady Grey’s eyes flickered open and she was on her feet before she could even think much about it. However, by the time she got out of the library she was surprised to see that Myrnin was already ahead of her. She stopped short, watching him as he walked over to the boy, shaking his shoulder. Samuel jerked forward, face ashen pail and eyes red. The confusion between reality and truth blurred and he lashed out with a hand, fingernails biting into Myrnin’s neck.

Myrnin didn’t even flinch, instead leaning forward instead continuing to grip Sam’s shoulder in as much comfort as he could. The scratches along his neck were bleeding a bit and now Samuel was gripping his arm hard enough to leave bruises or snap bones. Lady Grey didn’t seem a bit phased. Myrnin could take care of himself very well. There weren’t many chances to cut in either. “’S alright,” said Myrnin to Samuel, leaning forward and voice low. “Nothing is going to hurt you. No one is here that will hurt you.” 

It wasn’t sure whether the low worlds were having an effect or if Sam was coming out of the dream, but slowly he blinked a couple of times, breathing out and saying in as calm a voice as possible, “I-I-I’m alright.” Myrnin nodded carefully. As Sam watched, the cuts on the older vampire’s neck healed over and Sam’s mouth became an ‘o’. 

“…How?” he breathed.

Myrnin used his free hand to tap a couple of fingers on Sam’s hand to show that the grip the boy had on it hurt quite a bit. The bone had broken, Myrnin knew. He could feel it and his eyes flashed a deep red for just a second, teeth gritted. He wasn’t going to tell the boy that, however, and Sam flinched as he released Myrnin’s arm. “Sorry! Sorry!” he exclaimed, flinching once again.

“It’s fine,” said Myrnin. He wiggled the fingers a bit, proving that they still worked even though he still grimaced. “You asked ‘how’? I’m a vampire. Like you.”

It was the first time the facts had actually been put into words and Sam looked on, very clearly shell-shocked at the bluntness. Myrnin shrugged using his one functional shoulder. It wasn’t like he was going to lie to the boy. He couldn’t say that to him.

“There – there,” stuttered Samuel, collapsing back into the seat he’d just vacated. His face was a lot paler than it should have been, but at least now that it was something like midday he wasn’t so willing to bolt. He didn’t seem to be able to finish the sentence either, despite every attempt that he was making. There just weren’t any words to make it all complete. 

There were patients in Myrnin voice, however, even though there was still pain in it, “There?” 

Sam’s head fell into his hands and he looked down at his knees. A great pain was growing in his chest. Part of it was a furious hunger, but he could ignore that in favor of the feeling that he was going to cry. The world around him blurred, came into focus, and then faded again. The corners of his eyes stung and he could already feel tear drops falling. A cool hand fell on his back, the contact was unwelcome but given anyway. The hand rubbed over his back in small circles as he sat there while another, different hand remained on his shoulder. Even though it was meant to express comfort it just made it all much more heart aching. A heart that wasn’t aching at all because it was dead in his chest. The tears that were coming from his eyes dripped down his fingers, red as blood. It was blood. And he could smell each drop and his chest – his stomach – roared further. He was no getting out of it at all, his whole life shaking literally before his eyes.

There wasn’t anything to connect the ‘there’ either. Nothing but emotions and hurt. Myrnin couldn’t see the boy’s face very clearly, but he could tell that Samuel’s eyes were already a pinkish red. Panic and hunger wasn’t a good mix, but he didn’t think it was a good time to move from the place next to the boy. His arm had already healed though he could tell that he wasn’t in a position to take more injuries from anything, even by accident. His free and undamaged hand reached into a pocket, taking out a small packet of something. He could smell what was in it, even though he couldn’t see through the plastic. A couple of empty packets fell out as well, but he ignored them. He could tell that Samuel knew what he was holding as well. The older vampire didn’t smile, but he got what Samuel was feeling. To a lower degree he felt hungry now too, but this was Samuel’s first time. Well, no, not the first time. There would have been the one other, but he didn’t think that was a good example.

Sam’s fangs were down.

Myrnin took his hand off Sam’s shoulder, ripping the top of the packet off and holding it tantalizingly closer to Sam. Yeah, it was dirty pool, but he thought in the long run that it would be better than Samuel going all red eyed and fanged. Well, he was already that, but at least he was capable of making rational decisions. Rational enough that he almost seemed to gag before he grabbed at what Myrnin was offering. One of Myrnin’s eyes closed, but he shrugged at this show of both rejection and exception. He was pretty sure the gag reaction was how Sam really felt, but when you put a man’s least favorite drink in front of him after he’d been in the desert for a week without water … well, your body ruled you out.

There was no reaction from Lady Grey, of course, neither of disapproval or approval. She just continued to rub her hand along Samuel’s back or run a hand through his hair, trying to be as comforting as possible. He was still crying a little, hiccupping little sobs that was just about being overwhelmed. Hiccupping little sobs that were a bit muffled, but the boy didn’t seem to want attention to be drawn to the fact considering how he crouched over himself with the packet in his hand.

Well, this was just how it was all going to go. Myrnin remained where he was, perfectly fine and healthy when compared to Sam even though he had just gotten his arm broken by someone who didn’t understand his own strength. It would be alright, maybe, if they could keep him calm. Well, calm enough that he didn’t turn away and run. That was anything and everything that Myrnin could ever hope for.

There was silence after a long time, the sobs fading until there was nothing but quiet and the soft sound of a hand through hair or across a shirt. “What do I do?” breathed out Samuel. But neither had an answer for him. They hardly knew anything about him apart from the fact that he wasn’t in a good place within his own head. Myrnin’s hands were back by his side and with Lady Grey still beside Sam the male vampire moved away, heading for the partitioning wall between the lab and the kitchen. Lady Grey was, as far as Myrnin was concerned, the ideal one out of the two to offer comfort. He wasn’t always good at that. Sometimes he was, sometimes he could feel enough to hold another, but not this time. This time he was bluntly practical and he wasn’t sure how much he needed to remove himself to allow Lady Grey to calm the child down. And a child he was. The older vampire found his hand clenched into a fist. Who would dare change a child? No one who was at all practical. They didn’t make very good vampires. They were harder to hide. Myrnin could pose as many different ages with just a bit of makeup and maybe less sleep. But the boy would always look like a rather short twelve-year-old. And mentally vampires aged slower. A lot slower, though there wasn’t a common ratio. Myrnin wasn’t someone to be used as a yardstick for that, but Lady Grey, for example, wasn’t acting much older than her appeared age. So, unless someone insane wanted to take care of a boy who was basically on the edge of human puberty Myrnin could be pretty sure they were insane.

But he had no idea the circumstances behind why Sam had been changed and he didn’t intend to be the one to ask. Instead, he headed for the refrigerator to get something other than a packet of blood. Something of actual substance. Those weren’t really supposed to be used unless it was an emergency. So, it had been one, maybe just a little, but if he had access to something else he would take it.

Lady Grey was back in the main room and Myrnin could hear everything she said to Sam and Sam said to her, even though he couldn’t see either of them anymore.

“Do you have any family, Samuel?” the voice was as gentle as it could possibly be. Her eyes were meeting Sam’s, though it had taken a bit for her to catch them. He really didn’t seem to want to meet her grey eyes with his red ones. It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen them before, but the new ones were always so bashful. She didn’t suppose she minded that, but it made it a little hard to talk to him.

His head wobbled a bit on his neck, like it was very hard to keep it up instead of flopping around like it was on some disconnected wire. But he finally shook his head. “No,” he said.

A lie. He didn’t need to have a human heartbeat to show Lady Grey what was and was not true with this boy. He didn’t have a heart to skip a beat when he lied but he just wasn’t very good at lying to begin with. Lady Grey knew better than to press the issue. If the boy didn’t care for his family then there was a reason and that was fine.

“Alright,” she said again, trying not to ask ‘worried stranger’ questions even though that was exactly what she was. “Is there anything you want?” Her eyes fell to the empty packet Myrnin had given him. It was half a question on whether he needed any more blood, but it was very clear from the way his shoulders grew tense that he was not going after that option. “Want me to stay here?” she finally asked, meaning by the chair. It was midway through the day, most vampires slept at this time. Most vampires were not Myrnin, and when she was around, not Lady Grey. She knew that Myrnin didn’t have any sort of schedule at all. Sam was still on a human one but he was also very tired. Lady Grey wasn’t sure if he’d still attempt to fall asleep after that nightmare, but she doubted it because of the way he was trembling. So instead she just stood a little straighter but left her hand on Samuel’s shoulder. Days could be past like this and she could be as patient for him to talk as he needed her to be.

Day went and left the world. Her internal clock told her that much even though she was not able to get up and look outside. She had stuck to her resolve and remained in the general area of Sam, continuing to try and check up on him. Myrnin had called Claire and told her that he didn’t need her help for a couple of days, which wasn’t strictly true, but Sam didn’t want to eat and having a human around a new vampire wasn’t such a good idea.

Samuel nearly jumped out of his chair with each breath that one or the other of them breathed or when something made noise. And there always seemed to be noise. It was very hard to place herself back in those shoes. The shoes of a new vampire. The shoes of someone who’s world had just opened up into something that had previously been unknown. Now the world held every sound he had never heard before. Taste wasn’t something he’d probably had a chance to experance yet, but she wondered if he’d like it. Maybe not, because he wasn’t too pleased with anything right now. Sight was something she’d completely forgotten about, of course. The ability to see in the dark was the most noticeable. Like you were looking through a pair of sunglasses at the world around you. She wondered if Sam had noticed the fact that the lights in the underground lab hadn’t been on since he woken up. But the other parts were that the details of objects were so much sharper. You could register movement much more easily at everything almost seemed slow when compared to yourself. You could pick out the flashes of light and the passing movement and so much more. Really, there wasn’t a single part of the human body that didn’t die or change in some way. Taking stalk of all that was the hard part. 

She shifted a bit in the reclining chair, patting at Myrnin’s shoulder to wake him up since he had slipped down the side of the chair (off the armrest where he’d been perched on it). His head had lulled and he wasn’t snoring, because vampires didn’t breathe while they slept, but his eyelids were fluttering in a disturbing way and Lady Grey didn’t want him slipping into a nightmare. Really, she was surprised he’d ended up asleep at all, since he usually tried to avoid it like the plague for that very reason.

He shook awake, perfectly silent, and looked up at her. He winked, seeming amused with himself and the bad dream he’d just avoided. Lady Grey smiled back at him before sitting properly again, looking over at the chair that Sam was still in. He looked like he’d fallen asleep again and Lady Grey slowly stood up, chair creaking, before she walked over and gently shook the boy to a muddled awareness. “Come on,” she said. “It’s hard to sleep like that.” And back to the reclining chair he was blearily led and he collapsed into it, curling his legs up to his chest in a mimic of the fetal position. Lady Grey hoped that was just his preferred position to sleep in, but she didn’t really think so.

Myrnin gracefully got to his feet without any sound. Vampires were just good at that. And then he came over and murmured into The Grey Lady’s ear, “We adopted a child?” There was no inflection in his voice. Neither rejection, tom-foolery, or acceptance. Lady Grey looked at him, a little twitch to her lips. It was oh so hard not to feel a bit helpless herself. She didn’t know what to do for Samuel, since she was still only someone who had just met him. Someone of circumstance that hadn’t asked for this. But then, neither had Sam and if she could only say the right word to make it all better than she would have. But no such words existed. Still, the boy was here and she knew that she would try to help and she even knew Myrnin would try as well. Myrnin was just that sort of person. The sort of person she could rely on.

What did you even say to the kid?

“Don’t go out in the sun,” Lady Grey cautioned, leaning against the wall that separated her from the kitchen.

Sam had at least been up for walking around the next day. And here Lady Grey was, watching him very slowly pick his way through the lab, looking around. At one counter he’d accidently stumbled over a cord that went along the floor, sending a couple glass vials that they’d been wrapped around across the room. He’d managed to catch them without breaking the glass and now he was gapping at what he was holding. He said in a small voice, “What else can I …?” But Lady Grey was cautioning first. “Wooden things stabbed through your chest can paralyze you. You can’t go forever without eating, so don’t try.” She wanted to make sure that he was careful. Very careful. He was shrinking a little, so she stopped there, instead trying to smile a bit. “Try jumping. Just watch your head.” She pointed up and Sam’s gaze followed the pointing finger. The ceiling of the lab wasn’t exactly far, but it was at least two and a half Grey Lady lengths up. Sam couldn’t jump very high at all but he gently set the glass containers down, bent his legs and sprang upward into the air. He cleared the distance upward easily and his out reached palms smacked into the ceiling and he had to push himself away. Jumping high, breaking someone’s bone because he’d gripped to hard, and catching things before they’d even properly fallen. It wasn’t normal, of course. Maybe just a little bit cool?

When he landed he let his legs give way underneath himself, breathing out slowly and trying to stay steady even though the ground was very close under him now.

What he could and could not do. 

He couldn’t age. He would look like this forever or until he was killed. He could hold his breath, or rather just not breath at all, for as long as he wanted or until he needed to take in air to talk. As far as he knew there wasn’t a way he could restart his heart or the other dead parts he could feel within his body. His dreams were nightmares that he believed were real. Everything was tumbling around him and he couldn’t explain any of it. Couldn’t ignore it and pretend it wasn’t there. Instead, he was being told to slowly get used to it. Just like that.

There was no way out of this.

Join the conversation

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry
Post a comment
2 Likes 0 Comments
Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

Become a Book Nerd

When you’re not reading books, read our newsletter.