“I meant to attack him in some way, but he was much stronger than me and over took me. He commended me on my bravery and strength, and then forced me to drink his blood,” Ezra grimaced.
“Before I could really understand what was happening, his blood ripped through me, and he drug me off into the night. Once I had turned and had my power back, I fought him, trying to kill him or at least demanding that he let me go. He refused, saying that he had needed a worker and companion, and I suited his desires perfectly.
“I continued fighting him, but he grew tired of it. He shackled me in the cellar of his castle. He did not feed me for three weeks, and I was a new vampire, so I was mad with hunger.” Ezra’s face had become an emotionless mask. “Then, he took me to my home, and released me.
“In my desperate thirst, I bit my own wife. My children managed to escape before I got to them, but not before they witnessed me killing their mother.
“When I realized what I had done, I went back to Willem.” His expression changed as he shifted in his chair, and he tried to put that memory behind him. “I let him enslave me under the condition that he never let me go. I did not trust the monster I had become, and I didn’t know how to destroy myself.
“Over time, Willem would bring in other vampires, turned the same way as I had for the same reasons, in hopes of helping me work. He was always expanding on the castle and traveling, and he liked to live a life of complete leisure. I did absolutely everything for him, even things you wouldn’t think a man would dare request.” He repressed a shudder.
“These other vampires he brought in, they were always a mess,” Ezra went on. “They were rabid monsters, and it was only a matter of time before they would have to be destroyed. Without any guidance, they resorted to their own primal state, relying solely on hunger and instinct. They had to be constantly chained to keep them from hurting themselves and other vampires.
“Only I seemed to have humanity. I stayed with Willem for nearly a hundred years, traveling all across Europe and Asia. Most of other vampires we encountered had some sense of decency and control. Most tended to be cold and cruel, like Willem, but not animals, like the slaves Willem made. As time went on, the other vampires would comment on how wonderful and amazing it was that Willem had managed to create a slave as civil as me.
“That’s when it finally occurred to me that I wasn’t like them. What had happened with my wife had been a direct result of Willem’s manipulation. I could control myself, and I had openly wept for my wife and my children. I was not a monster, although I was capable of being one if I let myself.” He exhaled deeply and looked on me for a moment.
“What happened?” I asked when he didn’t speak.
“One night, I simply killed Willem, and I left to start a life of my own,” Ezra said. “I had made some acquaintances through him that I thought were compassionate, and with them, I managed to learn things about myself and other vampires. They were impressed that I had been able to do what I had done without instruction.
“When you first turn, it is so easy to let emotion and instinct rule your life. It’s a constant battle for years that’s nearly impossible without another vampire coaching you along.”
“I know how hard all of that was for you,” Jack said carefully, and then shook his head. “Okay, no. I don’t. I can’t even imagine all the things you went through. But what happened to you isn’t anything like what’s happening here. Nobody’s going to throw Milo or Alice in the basement and tell them to just figure it out.”
“It’s not a risk I am willing to take,” Ezra said. “I have seen vampires gnaw at their own arms because they haven’t fed in days. I’ve seen them slaughter children. Alice and Milo might never be that extreme, but they could turn out like Willem. He was in complete control of himself, but he was cruel and merciless.”
“Don’t you think Willem was probably like that before he turned?” Jack asked. “I mean, Mae was all love and maternal instinct before she turned, and she still is. And I was a clumsy idiot, and I still am. Milo and Alice aren’t tyrannical or malicious.”
“Left unchecked, Milo’s jealousy could’ve gotten out of control. He could’ve killed her by now. But because you were able to devote all your time to his cause, look,” Ezra nodded at us. “You’re completely safe to kill her yourself.”
“Haha,” Jack said dryly.
“You will have all the time in the world,” Ezra said. “What are a few more years in comparison with eternity? I’m asking that we err on the side of caution. Wouldn’t you rather wait then have something go terribly awry?”
“But there’s nothing to be cautious about!” Jack was growing exasperated.
“I’m sorry, but the plane ride has exhausted me, as has this conversation.” Ezra stood up, blithely stretching his limbs. “I’m going to turn in for the night, and I suggest you do the same.”
When he left, we sat in silence. I thought of everything he had said, and Ezra had a point. But so did Jack. The odds of me or Milo turning into crazed fiends seemed unlikely, but waiting wouldn’t really hurt anything either.
Eventually, Jack pulled back on his tee shirt, and I excused myself, heading to his room for a night of sleeping alone.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an easy sleep, not after everything the night had held. It was full of endless dreams of Ezra and his lovely wife and small, towheaded children that looked like small versions of him. Then I would see their faces, contorting with fear, as they were splashed with their mother’s blood.
Ezra, the most contained person I had ever met, had been so out of control that he had nearly murdered his own children. What hope did that leave for any of us?
Jack took me home just after midnight the next night, citing that I needed to start getting to bed at a reasonable time for school. With less than a week to fix my sleep cycle, it didn’t seem possible, but that’s not why he really took me home.
After the kiss, and then Ezra’s rather unfortunate story, Jack had seemed oddly distant. He still talked to me, but when he put in a movie, he made sure to sit on the far side of the room.
Without Milo constantly straightening up combined with me spending more time at home, the apartment was rather messy. Not enough where Mom would scream at me about it, but enough where I noticed it and decided to do something about it.
I put Fall Out Boy on the stereo and went about picking things up. After that, I took a long shower and crawled into bed. It was still much too early to sleep, at least for me, so I pulled out A Brief History of Vampyres, the biography supposedly written by Peter.