Monday, March 7, 2011

Branded - Chapter 2

He was gone before I could ask who he was; what he wanted with me; how he knew of me…

Although I never saw him before that day and haven’t seen him since, I feel a kindred connection. The encounter left me baffled and confused for several days. It left me with so many unanswered questions. I had to talk to someone about it. But to whom?

I had just returned home from completing my degree at the university in Sunset Valley. I majored in Business. My dad wanted me to take over the family business one day. He had built quite the import/export company. It was among the top 25 traders on the international markets. I was given a position in the imports division, working as a sales representative. This was a great place to start, young, independent, allowing for travel to exotic places. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Not long after, Dad and I went fishing. We fish off the shore quite together. We didn’t talk much, but I always felt a special bonding happening on these outings.

This particular evening, I decided to finally tell him about the encounter.

“That’s about all that happened.”

“That is curious. Could it be? No, it couldn’t,” he said more to himself than to me.

“What?” I pleaded. “Couldn’t be what, Dad?”

“You’re going to find out someday. I guess now is as good a time as any for me to tell you what I know.”

“Find out? Find out what? What’s with all the hemming and hawing?”

“As you know, I loved your mother very much. She was the world to me. I felt damned lucky that she chose me over some of the other guys she knew,” he began.

“We had hoped for children since we were married,” he continued. “After several years with no luck, we started to lose hope. We both went in for testing. They found nothing wrong with either one of us.

“Then, one day, your mother announced she was pregnant. We couldn’t have been happier. We believed that the timing was all wrong and that fate had stepped in until the right time. We were both naïve enough to believe this.

“Then one night, when your mother was in the second trimester, she turned in early, saying she was exhausted. She was often very tired those days. Well, that night she had turned is as I said, when a short time later, I heard voices coming from the bedroom.

“I quietly made my way down the hall. I paused outside the door. There was a man’s voice and your mother’s. She seemed incoherent, as if she were drugged. The man spoke in a commanding, yet soothing tone. He told her the child was his and that he would return for it when the time was right.

“I opened the door and entered the room. The man turned to face me. He couldn’t have been more than 25 years old from the looks of him. His skin was white; nearly translucent. He involuntarily hissed and backed away from me. He said he would return for his child and fled through the open door onto the balcony. I’d heard tales and rumors of creatures like that. Until then, I believed vampires to be nothing more than scary campfire tale myths.

“I could not bring myself to say anything to your mother about the incident for the longest time. When I finally mentioned it to her, she said she had the very same dream up to the moment I entered the room.

“The day finally came and your mother went into labor. I wanted to take her to a hospital, but she insisted on giving birth at home. She was quite adamant about it. She made arrangements for a midwife that she was put in contact with. She could not tell me how she knew of this woman, either. There were many things she did that she had no prior knowledge of throughout the pregnancy.

“The midwife arrived shortly after I had called her. She took her bag to the bedroom and started prepping your mother for delivery, shooing me from the room. She could come out every so often and instruct me to do this or to do that. I was frantic with worry and concern, so I performed everything to the letter.

“Night had fallen. It seemed like it was taking forever. From the screams, I can only imagine the pain your mother must have been in. Then I suddenly heard the small cry of a baby. Soon the babies cry was followed by a muffled shriek. The midwife then called for me. I ran into the room. She was standing over your mother; hand on her heaving chest, trying to breath.

“Between her heavy pants, she managed to tell me that a man – no, something – had entered through the balcony window and made off with the baby barely before she had cut the umbilical cord. He had taken our son. I felt my heart sink. The midwife quickly turned her attention back to your mother who had begun screaming in pain again.

“I began to panic. The midwife announced that there was another child; twins. No sooner had you drawn your first breath when your mother drew her last. I was horrified. I took you in my arms and vowed never to let you go again.

“I raised you the best I could without a mother. Shortly after your mother’s funeral, curiosity got the better of me; I had to know; one way or the other; so I had a paternity test done. I was not your biological father, but that didn’t mean I loved you any less. I loved you all the more because you were the only part of your mother I had left.

“I started looking into vampires/human offspring; curious about what I could expect from you; assuming your father was a vampire, of course. There is next to nothing significant available out there. I found a few myths and tales that contradicted each other. They were very difficult to locate. I probably wouldn’t have found anything, without the resources I have to draw from. According to the myths, the children of humans and vampires are called dhamphirs. They are more commonly called The Branded, as they develop a marking, or brand, much like the one on the back of your hand, once they reach puberty; although, they develop at different rates in all children. I thank heaven that yours took so long to manifest itself.

“The myths also tell of vampires having super human powers to some degree. It’s said that they can control the minds of humans. They apparently feed upon human blood and the ability to control the victims mind also removes any memory of having been fed upon. This control may be why your mother didn’t remember being visited by this man.

“I imagine this is somewhat hard to digest.”

“Yes it is; but some truth rings true. I can sense it; feel it. I always thought I was different.”

“Quite frankly, I’m surprise you’re as calm as you are about all of this. I assumed you’d tell me I was a crazy old coot, spouting fairy tales.”

“I cannot deny what I feel to be true. You taught me that; perhaps it was in preparation for this day. Did you learn anything else from these myths?”

“There is next to nothing on The Branded. According to one of the myths, the branded are feared by humans; reportedly having a longer lifespan.”

“Well it seems we have some decisions to make.”

“I am so sorry for not having told you sooner. I wanted to protect you more than anything else, Paul. I love you, and didn’t want to lose you. But I can’t have it both ways. You can’t remain here forever and remain undiscovered.”

“I will stay as long as I can, Dad. I love you, also. That won’t change just because you’re not my biological father.”

That was twenty years ago. Since that time I have found out little else about who, or what, I am. I have worn gloves in public ever since to hide my brand; been careful to avoid meaningful relationships. I have kept to myself for the most part. Twenty years, and I look like I haven’t age a day.

At least here; on this largely uninhabited island; on this secluded stretch of beach; far from any day-to-day human contact; I can forget about where I came from or what I am; at least for the time being.

This is not where I want to spend the rest of my life – however long that may be – but it will give me an opportunity to think things through and decide where to go from here. I have yet to discover the identity of the man that appeared on the beach all those years ago. I have something to occupy my time, anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment