I have spent 700 years of my existence indoors. While that might seem like a long time – to exist and to spend indoors – it is more the existence I was given rather than the one I have chosen. I am careful in choosing my words. I am existing, I am not living. I have lived for 25 years, and then, through no choosing of my own, I began existing. Merely existing.
My name is Archibald ‘Archie’ Lancaster.
How I came to be is but a blur of a memory. I was (and technically still am) quite a looker in my day. I would rarely lose a second glance from a beautiful woman. Do not be mistaken, dear reader, I am neither boastful nor prideful. This is just what happened to get me into trouble in my youth.
One day, I got in trouble with the most beautiful creature that I am certain has ever graced this planet.
It started off with me just getting her attention. And don’t all us men know that our imminent defeat will come from a beautiful woman.
It was a time of extreme conservatism. We had to be chaperoned on our date, if you could even call it that. But she was different. She was wise and sneaky all at the same time. After dropping her off at her home and settling in for the night myself, I heard a knock on my door. It was her. Everything went by in a blur, her seduction, her violence, it all seemed to go by so quickly. It is quite strange now how close the sex and the violence was. She used the one to get the other, and, I must admit, on several occasions, so have I.
I was never meant to survive.
But I did.
I didn’t know what I was. I still don’t. All I do know is the thirst never ends and death never comes.
The next few years of this new existence went by at lighting speed, smeared with blood and the women from which I took that blood. I’m not proud to say it, but I hurt a lot of people – violence. And I used my looks and my body to do it – sex.
While doing so, and in some cases becoming reckless, I never knew what I was, why I needed to drink blood, why I needed to kill. But I quickly learnt that I needed to, as the kids today would say, stay off the grid, or keep a low profile. Granted, this low profile has gotten a lot harder to attain and maintain in recent decades thanks to the technological advancements, social media and such rubbish. I can barely move without someone almost finding out who I am and where to find me. Thankfully, my advance years have made me wise.
Through the years, fictional stories depicting my reality have surfaced. Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ series, and the more obvious ‘Vampire Diaries’. Truth be told, I have avoided the sun for my entire existence, but the real reason for doing so is because of my heightened senses making the bright light almost unbearable. Also, a defining aspect of who I am is a hunter, a predator. And it is much harder to hunt in the daylight.
I don’t know if all these stories coming up, about how sunlight can kill a vampire, are true. But 700 years of living without sunlight is making me feel, well, a bit dull.
Lurking through the shadows, moving through the night, slinking just out of the lights reach can make you become that on the inside – dark and cold. By mere representation, sunshine brings all good things. Light, warmth, its entire existence brings sustenance. My entire existence is without that and therefore opposes that. The darkness that surrounds me in my physical space, bleeds into my internal space. Constantly surrounded by darkness makes me become even more of the monster I know I am.
I am cold. Yes, because I feel cold and haven’t had warmth in many centuries, but also because I am cold on the inside, cold to the touch, even looking in my direction can send shivers down your spine.
My heart has hardened because everyone I have ever loved is long gone. I watched everything I hold dear and valuable plucked away one by one. And I haven’t replaced what has been lost. Can one even form valuable relations in the dark?
Not only am I alone, but I am lonely. Humans are meant to have people. I am not human, but I was. Should I suffer for this long? Perhaps I have made it this long because I am not human.
But I have reached my minds end.
If feeling the heat of the glorious sun on my thin and frozen skin means an eminent death, according to pop culture, well then, dear reader, it is a risk I am willing to take.
One of two things will happen: I will succumb to the heat, destined to never survive it; or I will survive, filled with warmth and brightness. Perhaps I could start a new version of this existence, one I can call life.
If our dear Archie is going to feel the sun on his skin, he is going to do it properly. He puts on the only short sleeve t-shirt he owns and glances at himself in the window partition between his lounge and kitchen. He acknowledges himself, even if it is with resentment.
He makes his way to the door, trembling hands grasping the cold, metal handle – the cold that he is indifferent to. Uncertainty mounts. This could be his final moment of existence.
He opens the door and steps into the bright shining sun. His eyes, closed because they are too sensitive to handle the light, only sees red. The heat surrounds him, engulfs him. His whole body tingles as the life giving source surrounds him. The intensity is growing, and whether this sensation is what the sun and light feels like after 700 years of cold darkness, or if this was his fire-consuming death, I guess, dear reader, you and I will never know.