The Last Vampire
I am a vampire, and that is the truth. But the modern meaning of the word vampire, the
stories that have been told about creatures such as I, are not precisely true. I do not
turn to ash in the sun, nor do I cringe when I see a crucifix. I wear a tiny gold cross
now around my neck, but only because I like it. I cannot command a pack of wolves to
attack or fly through the air. Nor can I make another of my kind simply by having him
drink my blood. Wolves do like me, though, as do most predators, and I can jump so high
that one might imagine I can fly. As to blood-ah, blood, the whole subject fascinates me.
I do like that as well, warm and dripping, when I am thirsty. And I am often thirsty.
My name, at present, is Alisa Perne-just two words, something to last for a couple of
decades. I am no more attached to them than to the sound of the wind. My hair is blond
and silklike, my eyes like sapphires that have stared long at a volcanic fissure. My
stature is slight by modem standards, five two in sandals, but my arms and legs are
muscled, although not unattractively so. Before I speak I appear to be only eighteen
years of age, but something in my voice-the coolness of my expressions, the echo of
endless experience-makes people think I am much older. But even I seldom think about when
I was born, long before the pyramids were erected beneath the pale moon. I was there, in
that desert in those days, even though I am not originally from that part of the world.
Do I need blood to survive? Am I immortal? After all this time, I still don't know. I
drink blood because I crave it. But I can eat normal food as well, and digest it. I need
food as much as any other man or woman. I am a living, breathing creature. My heart
beats-I can hear it now, like thunder in my ears. My hearing is very sensitive, as is my
sight. I can hear a dry leaf break off a branch a mile away, and I can clearly see the
craters on the moon without a telescope. Both senses have grown more acute as I get older.
My immune system is impregnable, my regenerative system miraculous, if you believe in
miracles- which I don't. I can be stabbed in the arm with a knife and heal within minutes
without scarring. But if I were to be stabbed in the heart, say with the currently
fashionable wooden stake, then maybe I would die. It is difficult for even a vampire's
flesh to heal around an implanted blade. But it is not something I have experimented with.
But who would stab me? Who would get the chance? I have the strength of five men, the
reflexes of the mother of all cats. There is not a system of physical attack and defense
of which I am not a master. A dozen black belts could corner me in a dark alley, and I
could make a dress fit for a vampire out of the sashes that hold their fighting jackets
closed. And I do love to fight, it is true, almost as much as I love to kill. Yet I kill
less and less as the years go by because the need is not there, and the ramifications of
murder in modern society are complex and a waste of my precious but endless time. Some
loves have to be given up, others have to be forgotten. Strange as it may sound, if you
think of me as a monster, but I can love most passionately. I do not think of myself as
Why am I talking about all this? Who am I talking to? I send out these words, these
thoughts, simply because it is time. Time for what, I do not know, and it does not matter
because it is what I want and that is always reason enough for me. My wants-how few they
are, and yet how deep they burn. I will not tell you, at present, who I am talking to.
The moment is pregnant with mystery, even for me. I stand outside the door of Detective
Michael Riley's office. The hour is late; he is in his private office in the back, the
light down low-I know this without seeing. The good Mr. Riley called me three hours ago
to tell me I had to come to his office to have a little talk about some things I might
find of interest. There was a note of threat in his voice, and more. I can sense
emotions, although I cannot read minds. I am curious as I stand in this cramped and stale
hallway. I am also annoyed, and that doesn't bode well for Mr. Riley. I knock lightly on
the door to his outer office and open it before he can respond.
"Hello," I say. I do not sound dangerous-I am, after all, supposed to be a teenager. I
stand beside the secretary's unhappy desk, imagining that her last few paychecks have
been promised to her as "practically in the mail." Mr. Riley is at his desk, inside his
office, and stands as he notices me. He has on a rumpled brown sport coat, and in a
glance I see the weighty bulge of a revolver beneath his left breast. Mr. Riley thinks I
am dangerous, I note, and my curiosity goes up a notch. But I'm not afraid he knows what
I really am, or he would not have chosen to meet with me at all, even in broad daylight.
"Alisa Perne?" he says. His tone is uneasy.
He gestures from twenty feet away. "Please come in and have a seat."
I enter his office but do not take the offered chair in front of his desk, but rather,
one against the right wall. I want a straight line to him if he tries to pull a gun on
me. If he does try, he will die, and maybe painfully.
He looks at me, trying to size me up, and it is difficult for him because I just sit
here. He, however, is a montage of many impressions. His coat is not only wrinkled but
stained-greasy burgers eaten hastily. I note it all. His eyes are red rimmed, from a drug
as much as fatigue. I hypothesize his poison to be speed-medicine to nourish long hours
beating the pavement. After me? Surely. There is also a glint of satisfaction in his
eyes, a prey finally caught. I smile, privately at the thought, yet a thread of
uneasiness enters me as well. The office is stuffy, slightly chilly. I have never liked
the cold, although I could survive an Arctic winter night naked to the bone.
"I guess you wonder why I wanted to talk to you so urgently," he says,
I nod. My legs are uncrossed, my white slacks hanging loose. One hand rests in my lap,
the other plays with my hair, Left-handed, right-handed-I am neither, and both.
"May I call you Alisa?" he asks.
"You may call me what you wish, Mr. Riley."
My voice startles him, just a little, and it is the effect I want. I could have pitched
it like any modern teenager, but I have allowed my past to enter, the power of it. I want
to keep Mr. Riley nervous, for nervous people say much that they later regret.
"Call me Mike," he says. "Did you have trouble finding the place?"
"Can I get you anything? Coffee? A soda?"
He glances at a folder on his desk, flips it open. He clears his throat, and again I
hear his tiredness, as well as his fear. But is he afraid of me? I am not sure. Besides
the gun under his coat, he has another beneath some papers at the other side of his desk.