In Fear of What's to Come
Spoilers: To Merrick (RE: The end of the book, from Louis' point of view)
Disclaimers: The characters from the Chronicles belong to Anne Rice.
These stories are purely for pleasure and 'What if's'.
Nothing is meant to infringe upon the author's rights.
I am doing this for fun and I love sharing my stories with others.
I did a most careful thing.
I had lifted my heavy coffin and brought it into the rear courtyard of our town house. The town house which belonged to David, Lestat and I. Once I had arranged the coffin, so that the sunlight would shine upon me in force, I went back into the house and carefully etched my last letter to my Maker and my friends whom I intended never to see again.
I was terrified of what I had to do. I had however left little choice for myself. David's threats were complete, and once he had discovered I had given the Dark Gift to Merrick, his vengeance would be entire. I decided to leave the world with dignity and passion, my final moments would be in fire, as Claudia's had been. I would at last be with her.
With Merrick being shunned from my mind by the stunning image of my Daughter, I left the note on the desk upstairs and returned to the open coffin.
It was almost dawn.
My eyes were tiring already, the death sleep imminent. I lay in the coffin and closed my eyes and awaited the first trickle of light that would burn my soul and body to ashes.
Take me home, Claudia, I thought as the light started to burn my skin. Take me home.
Let me join you in your cloudy void. Let me find you and hold your hand once more.
The light became brighter, and I clenched my teeth.
The pain was utterly unbearable, the worst I had ever felt. Even the Ghost-Caudia's wicked strike against my breast was nothing compared to this. Red light. Awe inspiring and final. I screamed aloud, my mind racing with fear as my skin began to burn and blister.
Somehow, I sensed Lestat in all of this. His spirit had awakened its bitter sleep and he was now wide awake, listening. I could all but feel his sorrow as I sought to control the pain, to end my life less cowardly. I wanted to die a hero, I wanted to be known for the death I controlled, I initiated, to be with my Daughter.
Yet, this was not controlled. I felt helpless and afraid. I couldn't move, but the death sleep hadn't let me blissfully slip into oblivion as I had hoped. I felt pain in every inch of my skin, every pore. I screamed again as the hot light stripped my skin and finally, finally, mercifully, the death sleep took hold of me and allowed me to slip into peaceful oblivion. Away from the hurtful sun. Away from life.
Blinding pain, and I couldn't open my eyes.
Indeed, my entire body seemed to be made of pain and nothing else.
I tried to speak, but my speech organs had burned away.
Yet, I was still alive inside this husk. This body which was completly useless now to me, and no-one seemed to hear my cries.
Then I heard Merrick.
Soft weeping, and she quickly fled the scene.
I lay in the darkness, surrounded by the pain which strangely gave me a bitter comfort. I had a companion in this deep-rooted pain. It was company, and I welcomed anything, than to be reminded of my failed venture.
I felt a slight pressure, an almost unbearable slight pressure, on the back of my hand. Someone had touched me. Clear as day, Merrick's voice suddenly sliced through the pain of my prison. I felt her words touch my soul.
"It's hard as coal, David. How can the wind scatter these remains unless you take them from the coffin and trample them underfoot? You can't do it, David. Tell me you cannot".
I tried to alert them to the fact I was still alive. The talk of treading on me until I was ashes had me in an absolute panic. Yet, I still could not move. I was screaming and screaming for them not to do that, but they could not hear me. I had never felt so helpless, so lonely, so in need of the only one whom I really trusted. Lestat.
"No, I can't do it! Oh, what a thankless and miserable legacy. Louis, I wish I could bury you as you were."
I tried to move. What heartless and cruel words. My soul cried out to Lestat, please come and save me, please. Instead I felt another presence. Something much stronger than David and Merrick. It was all powerful, this presence. I knew at once it was Khayman. He had heard my desperate pleas for life and was relaying a message to my maker. Finally.
"That could be the most dreadful cruelty. David, can he still be living in this form? David, you know the stories of the vampires better than I do. David, can he still be alive in this form?"
Yes, I cried with my entire being. Yes, I am alive. I can hear you. And your words pain me more than I can bear. Oh, Khayman. Help me reach them. Please.
But Khayman didn't know Merrick and David. Reluctant to tell them in case they were enemies, Khayman had only informed Lestat that Louis had tried to fry himself in the sun. He hadn't told Lestat the whole truth, that I was alive in this form. I cried inwardly in frustration and helplessness.
"David" Merrick's voice. She was crying.
"David, if you cut your wrist, if you let the blood flow down onto him, what will happen, will he come back?"
Yes, please do that. At least on my mouth and in my lungs so I can tell you what I need myself. I do want to come back, please help me.
"That's just it, my darling, I don't know. I know only he's done as he wished and he's told me what he would have me do".
No, it was a mistake. Dear Lord! I made the most drastic and terrible mistake. It could not be undone. They were acting so final, and I knew they would destroy me. I had never felt such agony, both within my shattered soul and in my physical being.
If that is the case then, let me die. But do it quickly, mercifully. Let me not hear your traitorous voices anymore. Please ....
"But you can't let him go so easily. David, please ....."
I already know that they are going to let me go. It was the most horrific moment of my life, knowing they would destroy me. Even though they had no idea what was happening inside my frame, how alive my soul really was.
"Scatter the remains. If only the others were here".
My heart broke.
Scatter the remains?
Am I not a living being before them? Did they not love me?
My heart and soul have been destroyed.
How thoughtless. How unlike David to be so careless and inconsiderate with his choice of words. I was crying for life, crying for a second chance.
They had destroyed me, destroyed my heart.
I did not expect what happened next.
I thought truthfully that they would trample my body underfoot and scatter me to the winds, but a familiar footstep invaded my entire being. In fact, I almost shuddered at every step, so utterly familiar and lifesaving that step was.
Lestat .... I knew you would come and find me.
"So, it's come to this, has it?"
'His' voice. His beautiful voice, penetrating the darkness all around me with his particular light. The pain lessoned. I concentrated on his words.
"Come here, David, Come, and listen. I can't hear him. I made him. Listen, and tell me if he's there".
I am here. Please. Enough of this torment. Either destroy me or save me. Choose one, and do not tease me so ruthlessly anymore. I have had enough.
"He's like coal, Lestat. I haven't dared to touch him. Should we do it?"
No, please not that. I can't stand the pain of being touched. Like someone pricking your eye with a needle. Excruciating pain.
"His skin feels warm, I tell you. Test it yourself, Lestat. Come, touch him".
Please no. Please no. Don't do it.
And Lestat, my saviour, he does not lay one finger on my hurting flesh.
"And you? What do you hear, Cherie?"
"Silence. But then he brought me over. I charmed him, I seduced him. He had no chance against my plan. And now this, for my interference, this, and I can hear the mortals whispering in the houses near to us, but I hear nothing from him".
"Merrick. Listen as you've always been able to listen. Be the witch now, still, if you can't be the vampire. Yes, I know, he made you. But a witch you were before that. Tell me if he wants to come back".
"He could be crying for life, but I can't hear it. The witch in me hears nothing but silence. And the human being in me knows only remorse. Lestat, give your blood to him. Bring him back. Work your magic. Work your magic and believe in it as I worked mine".
Crying for life? If only they knew. Only Khayman really knew what was locked in these burnt remains. And he was too far away to really help. Lesatat had briefly heard his message to go quickly to the town house as Louis had tried to kill himself in the sun, but he knew not the pain and agony I was suffering.
"Speak to me David. What does he want, David? Did he do this thing because he made Merrick, and he thought he should pay with his life?"
Who threatened me? Who told me that if I hurt Merrick he would inflict upon me the very death I had always feared? Do not lie now, David. Tell Lestat how your words destroyed what little I had to keep me going and left me only this terrible recourse.
"I hear nothing. But then it is an old habit, not spying on his thoughts, not ravaging his soul. It is an old habit letting him do what he wishes, only now and then offering him the strong blood, never challenging his weaknesses. I hear nothing. I hear nothing, but what does it mean that I hear nothing? I walk int he cemetaries of this city at night at night and I hear nothing. I walk among mortals and sometimes I hear nothing. I walk alone and I hear nothing, as if I myself had no inner voice. I hear nothing, and yet I see spirits. Many a time I have seen spirits. Is there a spirit lurking there in those remains? I don't know".
Merrick was crying again.
"There, there, Cherie. He did what he wanted".
"But its gone wrong! He's too old for one day's fire to end it. And he may be locked inside these charred remains in fear of what's to come. He might, like a dying man, hear us in his fatal trance and be unable to respond. He may be crying for us to help him, and we stand here and we argue and we pray".
"And if I spill my blood down into this coffin now what do you think will come back? Do you think it will be our Louis that will rise in these burnt rags? What if its not, Cherie, what if its some wounded revenant that we must destroy?"
"Choose life, Lestat. Choose life, no matter in what form. Choose life and bring him back. If he would die, it can be finished afterwards".
"My blood's too strong now, Cherie. My blood will make a monster of what's there".
Did Lestat even realise I was sobbing helplessly inside. I was crying for his embrace, his power, his love. Did he not realise how I needed his touch? How I needed him to love me above all, right now?
"Do it! And if he wants to die, if he asks again, then I will be his servant in his extremity, I promise you. I'll make a brew that he can swallow, of poisens in the blood of animals, the blood of wild things. I'll feed him such a potion that he'll sleep as the sun rises. He'll sleep, and should be live again to sunset, I'll be his guardian through the night until the sun rises again".
This was too much. I felt like I could not go on with the trechery of Merrick's love. How could I have brought someone so powerful and empassioned across? She would destroy me, of that I was sure.
"And you, beloved one? What would you have me do?"
"I can't tell you. You've come and its your decision, yours by right, because you are the eldest and I'm thankful that you're here. If I had tried and failed, I would want to come back".
David. At least you have that part right. I almost sighed with relief.
"Yes, if I had seen the sun rise, and I had lived past it, I might well have lost my courage, and courage he very much required".
Yes, the courage. Courage to die. I had never really had the courage to die. Even in the last moments before the sun rose I expected Lestat to charge towards me and lift me from the coffin. I never truly believed he would let me do this. In fact, if anything, my sun-stunt was me desperately trying to get Lestat to come out of his reverie.
Suddenly I felt a sharp and electric pain in my hands. Someone was touching me again and I struggled to let my voice be heard to no avail. It really hurt, being prodded in such a manner. However the touch was gentle, and I knew that it was Lestat who was testing my skin for signs of life.
Now a sharp pain on my forehead. I cannot endure this! Mon Dieu! Please! I panicked again inside myself, trying to make my feelings known in vain. I had never felt so alone in Lestat's presence. Never felt so much like the shadow, the one they didn't notice.
Suddenly I felt something warm and thick trickle onto my chest. I tried to cry out in sudden pain and sudden fear, but it was in vain once more.
"Help me, Merrick. Help me, David! What I've begun I'll pay for, but do not let it fail. I need you now".
More sticky fluid covering me from head to foot. Painful, skin trying to heal itself. Smell of blood and burnt flesh almost unbearable. Smell. I was regaining my lost senses. My eyes were drenched in blood and I struggled to open them.
I groaned. Agonised. Painful. Desperate.
A sharp cry from Merrick.
I was desperately trying to sit up, to drink and inform Lestat what had happened, of everything that had crossed my mind. More importantly, I needed him to understand my desire for life.
Lestat reached out for me, he pulled my head to his neck and planted my mouth over his throbbing vein. So tempting. I would hardly refuse under the circumstances.
"Drink now, Louis" Lestat said, his voice rich and smooth.
And I did.
His blood tasted like the very fire of the sun, except it eleviated the pain and was working to quickly and efficiently heal me. As I drank of him, he read all my thoughts as I read his. He understood the suffering I'd endured. Of hearing them and being unable to escape the pain and tell them I was still alive.
"Oh, Louis" Lestat breathed. He was weeeping "Forgive me".
I heard Merrick's sharp voice and sought out her figure in the hazy darkness "Don't stop, David. The blood, he needs it, every part of his body is drinking it".
"Harder, yes, take it from me. Harder, more of it, take it, take all I have to give". Lestat said softly as I continued to suck from him. I hesitated once and he pressed me even more firmly against his neck. I drank and I drank, feeling my body repair itself.
Lestat had taken the pain on board himself also. The pain was shared as was the healing. I could feel Lestat's strength flowing into me like I had never before felt.
I stood up, crushing Lestat to me.
"More Louis. More, take it".
I turned and looked worriedly at David and Merrick, now snuggled against each other on the stoney path together, both had almost passed out from the blood they had given to me.
"But David and Merrick ..." I said softly, never before as respectful of my organs of speech as I was at that moment. I was blessed to be able to communicate once more.
"David and Merrick will be alright". Lestat promised taking my head into his hands and once again pressing my head to his throat.
My fangs opened on his throat, and I drank of him until he became limp in my arms.