By Muhammad Hamza Suleman
The silence beneath the glaring yet pleasant Sun reminded him of a time long, long ago. It was a time riddled with nothing but the scent of blood; sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter. It was in that time he made his first kill. The man was a soldier, simply performing his duty. He must have had mouths to feed.
So was it right?
“Yes.” Caesar unconsciously whispered to himself. Those who inflict pain without cause lose the right to live.
This tender quietness spread over the entire neighborhood, his new home, as if it was the peace brought about by death. Caesar scoffed. How, now of all times, could his imagination run wild? He was immortal and immortals do not think like this.
Someone disturbed this peace, banging loudly on the main door of his rented house. Caesar grinned. There was no need to ask who it was. Nearly tripping on a pile of boxes inanely left on the corridor, he straightened his jet-black hair and forced a smile on his pale face.
This, after all, was a new beginning.
“Wow! Do you look dashing!”
Twinkling eyes greeted him with enthusiastic joy. Caesar frowned and glanced down. There was nothing dashing about plain trousers, slippers and T-Shirt.
“You don’t look so bad yourself Lily,” he replied, clearing his throat, “I’d say cute if it didn’t seem so… weird I guess?”
Lily blushed, her rosy cheeks turning pink, and looked away. Her warm blonde hair was tied in a messy bun. It suited her bright personality. “So weird huh? Are you not man enough to compliment a girl?” She winked.
“And get dragged into the ‘Me Too’ movement? Pass. Honestly I’m surprised to find you here.”
Lily punched him playfully on the chest. “You silly! My best friend just moved in right next door. You bet I’d visit every chance I get!”
“Alright! Alright! Jeez…” Caesar stepped outside, scratching the back of his head. “I’d invite you in but my home is not exactly presentable.”
Lily raised her eyebrows and placed her hands on her waist, the turquoise chic sheathe dress crumbling beneath her fingers. “You didn’t unpack yet did you?”
Caesar shook his head, “Not in the mood right now. I was going to take a walk.”
“Do you mind if I tag along?”
“Do I have a choice?”
Lily grinned mischievously, “No.”
She was not bad company, quite entertaining in fact. Lily talked and talked while Caesar listened and listened without getting tired. Together, they strolled along the pavement, observing how each, quiet house had the exact same build, maintaining a line of consistency along both sides of the road. Lily gossiped that it was because the contractor had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Interesting, but what truly caught Caesar’s attention was how each house had a tree planted in its lawn. No wonder the birds sung this morning. In the city side, there was barely any such music. How fascinating that even in the darkest of things, good could emerge.
Sadly, it was not enough. It would never be enough.
Caesar rolled his eyes when Lily insisted on helping him unpack. She was stubborn to the point that he was, once more, left without a choice. A man had to do what the lady commands. The experience was enlightening though. Caesar learned never to underestimate anyone, not even a timid looking girl. She could hold her own. However, she did ask a lot of questions, distracted them with silly jokes and her pranks were quite predictable. But Caesar did not mind.
Lily truly was good company.
And it was what made her perfect.
“Well I’m beat,” Lily exhaled, satisfied over their progress, as she wiped the sweat off her brow. “How are you still not sweating?”
“Because you did all the hard work.”
Lily chuckled, “Am I your slave?”
Caesar paused but eventually shook his head. “No. You’re the one who insisted.”
“Well I’ll be off. You’re welcome to join me for dinner. Mom and dad would love to meet their only daughter’s best friend.” She winked again.
Caesar laughed, “Thanks but I got a lot to do tonight. Tomorrow I promise.”
Beaming, Lily hugged him sweetly. “I’ll hold you to that.”
Once Caesar was all alone again, he sighed deeply, rubbing his forehead.
‘You seem tired Count,’ It spoke with concern, voice resonating inside his mind like an endless echo of whispers. ‘Is all well?’
“The linguistics of simpletons can be quite cumbersome.”
‘Then why do you do it? Especially with that human?’
“Because she is going to be our new beginning.”
. . .
The chill bothered Lily. It was the middle of summer. Even in winters, it never grew this cold. She shook her head, burying it back into the virtual world of Instagram. She had been scrolling for the past half hour, trying to find that one meme she lost. It really suited Caesar and so, deserved sharing if she could find it.
Unfortunately, it was gone forever.
Lily groaned, glancing around her room in boredom. It was mostly a mess of books and clothes, something that might bring hell on this world if her mother found out. The curtains were drawn, giving her the privacy she needed from any peeping Tom outside. There was one creepy uncle…
However, her eyes caught something far worse. They caught it in a reflection of the night lamp on her dressing table mirror. More specifically, beside it.
“Oh darn it!” She cursed, staring gleefully, directly this time, at the box of chocolate cupcakes with blueberry frosting and sprinkles on top. Baking was her hobby and so, she thought it was the best way to welcome Caesar into the neighborhood. After all, that poor guy had no family behind him. Lily wanted him to know that she was here if he ever needed her.
But of course, Lily was not Lily without being a klutz. Feeling guilty, she texted Caesar, asking if he was home or not. She could just come over again. The text did not send. Of all the times for the internet to fail her.
“Lily Foster, your luck is pathetic,” she hissed, standing up and getting ready to change from her revealing pajamas. Caesar would not mind if she came over again. Would he? Lily groaned, very much annoyed. If only she remembered but even that was too much to ask.
“You seem distressed.”
Lily gasped and jumped, nearly knocking over the make-up accessories on the dressing table. She could have even stumbled onto the mirror had the table itself not gotten in the way.
“W…Wha…?” She stammered, trying to find the words. “What… What are you doing here? How did you get in?”
“Your parents. They let me in.”
Lily should have been relieved. It was Caesar, her best friend, a person she trusted, but something about him only gave her a greater sense of foreboding. “Then they should have called me.”
“I am sorry that they could not.”
What did he mean by that? Why was he so… different? It could have been his voice or his stare or his soft smile. Lily could not tell which was why a chill crept up her spine, sending shivers across her nerves. “Caesar… You’re scaring me. If this is a joke then it’s not funny.”
Caesar frowned, “I never scared you before so trust me now. Everything will be alright. It would be over before you even know it.”
Lily’s heart skipped a beat as an invisible force lunged her onto the ceiling, making her cling to it like glue. Lights flickered as her pulse raced. Shadows slithered beside her like long tendrils, slowly wrapping themselves around her arms and legs but they did not end there.
‘NO! STOP!’ Her mind cried but no voice came out. Lily struggled endlessly but was too weak. Her body could barely move, almost as if it refused to follow her will. She could only feel; the fear, the anxiety, the desperation and the trickle slowly climbing up between her thighs.
‘PLEASE! STOP IT!’ Lily begged but once more, no voice could be heard. Tears welled up inside her eyes, blurring her vision but through this blur she saw the man she once thought she knew appear before her face. His eyes were striking violet and his smile lustful.
“Do not fear,” Caesar whispered, gently rubbing her throat. “This will all be over soon.”
This was not the Caesar she knew. This was not her friend. This was not even a man. His hand dropped down to her chest, effortlessly tearing away her clothes, exposing her bare. He traced his fingers across the curves of her breast, his menacing grin deepening with the satisfaction.
“YES!” Caesar declared with ferocity. “YOU ARE PERFECT!”
All that came after was pain, just pain and Lily could not even scream.
. . .
Sometimes, Caesar would foolishly forget how irritating humans could be. He tried to ignore such mundane delicacies but even a Count Vampire had his limits. Fortunately, they were yet to be crossed.
“Caesar Phillips?” The Officer in blue uniform, notepad in hand, interrogated.
Caesar, resisting the urge to roll his eyes, politely replied, “Yes?”
“What was your relationship with the Fosters?”
“Does it matter?” The air circled them both, swishing unevenly. “Whoever murdered those innocent folks deserves to be punished severely but you know I am not a suspect so why bother wasting time on a new neighbor like me?”
The officer froze, his gaze empty as if in a trance. An awkward moment later, he finally nodded, “Yes, of… of course. Have a nice day.”
Caesar grunted as he closed the door. Psychosis; a simple illusion to trick the mind. The officer could not even resist this insult of an attempt. Nevertheless, Caesar let his head roam free. He stared into the long mirror at the end of the main corridor, before the living room. His reflection was as normal as any other person. He had hung it just now, nearly a week after moving in. His father would have called it height of laziness but preparations took time and when it came to time, patience was key.
Caesar willed it and suddenly, the shadows emerged, gradually surrounding his body. He sighed in relief as at last, he could be in his element. These modern clothes irked him. Compared to the long, dark cloak draped over his shoulders, they had no class.
With grace, the Count Vampire stepped through the mirror and the world changed completely. From a pleasant family home, it turned into a dim, damp cellar riddled with coughs and groans echoing across the walls.
‘Good news awaits.’ It whispered into his mind, the shadows shifting slightly.
Caesar grinned, “Do not tell me. I would like that it remains a surprise.”
‘As you wish.’
Beyond the thick, metal door, there she was, his most prized possession. The sleek white long dress only made her more beautiful. However, as Caesar watched closely, eyes narrowed, he observed stains of red all around the exquisite fabric. He should have lashed out over such a loss but not this time for it meant glad tidings.
If only Lily saw it this way as she clung to the sink, trembling and gasping.
“Do not despair.” Caesar tried to comfort her but she turned away, not meeting his eyes. Instead of the sweet, friendly gleam, there was only defiance and frustration. A moment later, she vomited what little she had for breakfast. A shame that an effort had just gone to waste. Caesar had forced her to eat and it was not easy. The last thing he wanted was for her to starve.
He held out his hand again, trying to squeeze her shoulders but she swatted it away, shooting daggers at him. “Don’t. Touch. Me.”
“Why? Why do you resist?”
“Because you’re a monster!”
Caesar was taken aback. “Is it because I am not human?”
Lily slowly shook her head, tears flowing down her sunken cheeks. “It does not matter. Human or not, you would have still been… my friend. I trusted you! I trusted you and you destroyed it. You broke into my home, murdered my parents and-” Her voice faltered but she managed to say it anyway, “And you raped me! This is what makes you a monster.”
She broke down, sobbing into her hands. Impressive. Most human women would have gone insane but Lily… Lily was composed in a way. She handled this far better than others. This was one of the reasons why Caesar chose her.
“Rape?” Disgusted by such vulgarity, he weaved a complicated sign. It froze Lily completely, rendering her unable to move. Caesar regretted having to do this but there was no other way. “Yes, I courted you knowing full well that you do not consent. I inflicted trauma into your heart but compared to what the women of my kind suffered, this is mercy, honor in fact.”
Even when stupefied, Caesar could understand the confusion and hatred in her eyes. “A long time ago, my kind peacefully co-existed with you humans. We chose to live on animal blood rather than yours but despite that, you saw us as a threat. No other group in history has been persecuted than us. Our children were butchered, our men burned and our women? Well… a lot of things happened to them before they were given the stake. Like I said, compared to that, this is mercy.”
Blood boiling, rage filled Caesar’s veins. “They say that suffering is a test, one that would lead to better times. Lies! All lies! Our suffering was rendered futile when you buried our history, our culture and our cities. You made us to be nothing more than myths. Even thinking about those dark times makes me want to skin every last one of you humans alive albeit a child even. I do not care.”
“However, then I would be no different. I am better than you.”
He could tell that Lily did not believe him. He understood. How could she after what happened? Nevertheless, he continued, “If I truly am a monster, that night would not have been your only night. True, I let my lust get the better of me but there is a noble cause behind my actions. I only do what is necessary for my goals; I promise not to go beyond that.”
She still did not believe him. Why was he even trying to convince her? Was it empathy?
“If you still cling onto your notion of my monstrosity, then let me show you something.” Caesar stepped closer, his lips just a breath away from hers. He could smell the sweet fragrance of her once virgin blood, the taste still lingering in his tongue. It was so gratifying that no wonder his urge took over that night. This time, he let it but only out of necessity.
Gently caressing her belly, Caesar kissed her greedily yet tenderly. She did not see it this way. He could feel the defiance in her lips. “See?” He spoke once separated. “It is this this easy.”
He let her go and she quickly distanced herself, wiping her mouth. She glared back at him, her eyes no longer reflecting the affection she once had. “Why?” She hissed. “No. There is no reason. You are just-”
“There is a reason Lily,” Caesar interrupted. “There is always a reason. You are the only woman I could find right now who can bear a Count Vampire’s seed and you have just given me the proof. I could turn you as well but then the seed would not bud into pure blood.”
Shock leeched onto Lily’s face, in denial of her role in the future ahead. Insanity finally caught on. “No…”
“No! No! No!”
“Yes! This is reality Lily. You have to accept it because this child inside you, our child is a new beginning.”