“Tell me what you want
Every door you enter
I will let you in.”
-Phil Kaye, ‘Internet Speaks Back To The Author’ from Date and Time (2018)
She watches the human with the same scrutinizing gaze as a hawk poised above an unsuspecting field mouse.
Alcina licks her lips, fangs aching at the vulnerable sight of her human curled in the reading chair, legs dangling over the armrest. At her approach, the human turns her head, seemingly attune to the vampire despite her silent, graceful steps. Mortals could only hear her if she chose for them to hear her, but this particular human had always been a bit different.
Her human’s heart rate accelerates, but it’s not out of fear. There is the barest hint of longing in her gaze, pupils dilating as she swings her legs to the floor, long hair spilling deliciously over her shoulders. The book, which Alcina notes with a sharp grin, is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. How fitting that her human would still want to read about vampires despite living in a castle full of them.
The fireplace roars to life as Alcina approaches, seemingly responding to her unconscious will and intention. It got cold easily in the castle; her human often traipsed about her home searching for warmth, whether it was in the form of fireplaces, furs, or hot baths. It was a shame Alcina herself couldn’t act as a heat source, but that was the lot of a monster. Comforting others did not come naturally to her no matter what her human said—yet here she was, subconsciously lighting every hearth she came across for one little human.
The crackling flames send dancing shadows across her human’s lovely visage as her grin grows.
“Lady Dimitrescu,” she says on purpose, knowing how the title excites Alcina nowadays in its unfamiliarity. They had long grown past the need for such formalities, after all. But the teasing lilt in her voice, the way her face warms with blood as she speaks, these were the moments Alcina would replay endlessly within the privacy of her own mind. If she closed her eyes, she could still see her human in all her mesmerizing beauty, a silver moon that guided the vampire through her otherwise eternal, blood-strewn nights.“I wasn’t expecting you tonight. Is everything alright?”
Oh, the vampire thinks, an unfamiliar feeling festering inside her chest like a wound. Besides her daughters, so very few people cared about her. There had been humans in the past who cared about her for her looks, her wealth, perhaps even her ability to help make them immortal. But this human had cared about her from the start.
Even when Alcina had been calculatingly cruel, fangs bared, claws extended, desperate to scare the human out of her castle before she fell any further for her, the human had seen through her ruse with ease. She was a brilliant, brave, beautiful woman—and endearingly stubborn. She had seen Alcina’s house of horrors, had seen Alcina covered in the blood and viscera of her victims, and still she had chosen to befriend her, to make peace with the monsters that would have otherwise eaten her alive with glee.
Somewhere along the way, their friendship had sprouted into hunger--and in that hunger, Alcina thinks, bloomed love. A feeling she thought could no longer exist within her silent heart, her ribs but a mausoleum for the ivory bones of her humanity. But here it was. And here was the human she loved.
“Do you need... blood?” her human whispers the last word secretively, precious doe eyes darting about like she was cautiously searching for some unseen intruder.
Alcina shakes her head, cold hand reaching out to cup her human’s cheek. Her thumb rubs circles harmlessly over the warm, soft skin. She was always hungry for her human’s blood, but she tried not to indulge this desire too often. A part of her feared that there would come a time when only her human’s blood would sate her--when all else would taste like ash upon her tongue. “Not right now, my darling. I fed earlier in the night.”
Something like a pout flickers over the human’s face. “Oh... well, if you’re sure...”
Alcina presses a kiss to her human’s opposite cheek, chuckling at the slight whine she hears as she pulls away. How could she resist a teasing remark? “Careful there, little one. Someone will start to think you want to be eaten up by the big bad monster after all.”
The human rolls her eyes. “Alcina, there is nothing monstrous about you.”
“I think the bottles of virgin blood in the cellar speak otherwise.”
Her human scoffs. There is a serious expression on her face, brows furrowing—a clear sign that Alcina was in for a lecture. “First off, that’s blood for you and your daughters to share. Four vampires living in a remote castle? Of course you would need to stock up. Am I happy with how you obtain the blood you need to survive? Not necessarily, but I understand why you do it. It’s not like there’s a line of willing humans for you and your daughters to feed from. You may be a monster by definition, but you aren’t monstrous to me—and, it’s selfish, I know, but that is all that matters to me since I love you.”
The declaration of love does not go unnoticed by her. Honeyed words never meant much to Alcina before, but she clung to every word her human said despite her best intentions. Alcina finds herself wading back into her ocean of memories, a faint memory hanging upon the tip of her claw like a fraying thread. She could never forget meeting her human--even if some events of that night were murkier now, she could still imagine the exact moment she first darkened her door, shivering, tired, and hungry.
“Do you recall when you first entered the castle? The snowstorm, your poor, tired horse, how you had been horribly thrown off course on your way back home to your village? I had planned on eating you then,” Alcina confesses. “Bottled blood is good, but there’s nothing sweeter than blood from the source. And you smelled so tempting. Even my daughters were snapping their jaws, wanting to get a taste of you.”
Her human nods, shivering underneath Alcina’s heady gaze. “...I was so tired that night. I remember falling asleep on a chaise soon after my bath.” She frowns. “Why didn’t you eat me then? I’m thankful that you didn’t, but why? You never did tell me.”
“It was something you said,” Alcina murmurs, gently tipping her human’s head to the side. Even if she wasn’t planning on feeding from her tonight, she couldn’t stop herself from indulging in her human’s scent or warmth. A small part of her relishes in how trusting the other woman was, how she did not resist any of Alcina’s touches. Such trust and obedience deserved a reward.
Alcina pulls the woman into her lap, savoring the small gasp as she quickly rearranges them into a more comfortable position. Alcina leans back into the armchair, letting the human straddle her lap. Her arms encircle her human in a soft, measured hold, careful as she presses her face into the junction between her shoulder and throat. Something like a purr slips from her lips before she can help it, her human’s heart rate spiking with arousal, Alcina’s tongue laving at the sensitive skin there.
It is with considerable effort that she pauses from her ministrations to speak, voice lowered to a rasp. “You told me about a fable the night we met. Do you remember? The one about the man that wanted to die, but couldn’t."
Her fangs tease her human’s throat, sending a delicious shiver down the woman’s spine. She squirms in Alcina’s lap, arching into the touch with a barely contained moan. So many humans had ended up in similar positions, bared in front of her, moments away from ecstasy, and she had easily bled them dry. But the mere thought of this human with her warm smiles and silly jokes and contagious laughter as a lifeless corpse beneath her teeth is enough to make her physically sick with grief.
“A-Alcina, please, I...” she trails, fingers threading through the vampire’s dark brown hair. “That was so long ago. And I can’t think like this... my head is spinning. I just want you.”
Alcina pulls back slightly, hushing her. Was it a tad cruel of her to make her human suffer like this? Perhaps, but it was in her nature to tease. “In due time, my heart. This is important. You see, it was the fable that saved you. The way you framed the story so that Death was benevolent. It made me wonder if you might be different. And I was right; you were never scared of me, even from the start.”
Her human’s story had captivated her--the tale of a man that wanted to die, but Death would not keep him. Death as a harbinger of protection, ushering the man into the safety of an abandoned farmyard. Death giving him the tools to live, to build a life for himself. The man becoming a farmer, creating a family for himself as he always secretly wished for. The happy years bleeding into decades until Death returned to the man’s bedside. How the man pleaded for just one more year, then one more month, then one more week, until, finally, he had only hours before he was to leave his family and step once more into the dark.
In the original tale, her human had said, the man runs from his home, but he cannot escape Death. He passes over his own grave, sees visions of his own coffin, and eventually collapses to his knees, defeated, in Death's shadow. But the story her mother had told her had a different ending. One where the man, given time to reconcile his fate, asks if he could become like Death.
Here, the man walks with Death, saves countless humans from an early grave. Here, Death was lonely. Almost human. And the man walked happily beside him. He was the stranger that talks you down from the edge, the phone call that arrives at just the right moment, the sunrise that makes you cry with the realization that you do want to live. Death and Hope, sharing the same path.
Death was beautiful, her human had said, and then she had looked at Alcina with a knowing, careful smile. She had known then what Alcina was; the rumors in the village had spread like a disease throughout neighboring hamlets in the face of Alcina's cruelty. And then she had taken a bath, fallen asleep in one of the sprawling hallways, and purposefully put her life in the monster’s hands.
“Truthfully, I had ridden into the snowstorm to die that night,” her human finally responds, pressing her forehead to Alcina’s, eyes lidded with obvious adoration. “And I found Death. But she was kind. And beautiful. And made me realize that I did not want to die--that I was only looking for something more. My life was yours from the beginning. I gave it to you the moment I entered your home.”
Alcina takes an unnecessary breath, letting her dead lungs fill with air and inhaling the sweet scent of her human as she closes her eyes, leaning into her lover’s warmth. “I have been alive for a long time. There are nights I feel as old as the very land this castle sits upon. But you have made me long for life once again. I want to be... loved. By you. And only you.”
“For you I’d do anything,” she breathes, eyes wet with tears, tangling further into Alcina’s cold embrace. Their lips meet in a desperate kiss, as if her human were trying to imbue years of love into a single searing kiss. When she eventually pulls away to speak, she sniffles, a maelstrom of emotions present on her face. “Yes, yes, yes, a hundred times yes. I want to be with you... forever.”
“Forever,” Alcina agrees, taking her human’s right hand within her own. She presses a trail of kisses to every knuckle before flipping her palm over, fangs ghosting over the smooth network of veins and arteries at her wrist. “One day, you will be mine forever. But for now...” she pauses, kissing her pulse point. “I am happy to simply have you in my arms.”
The night hemorrhages away as it always does, dawn soon creeping over the horizon--but Alcina pays it no mind. There would be many more nights to share with her lover. Alcina was Death and she did not plan on letting go of her human anytime soon.