After detailing his own experiences with turning, including graphic descriptions of watching other vampires turn, the next chapter was entitled “Vampyres and the Earth.” I was glad to be done with talk of turning. He wrote one particularly disturbing passage where he recalled seeing a young man’s stomach bubble and move as he screamed.
The following chapter opened with a beautiful description of a sunrise and a poem called “Sunrise on the Hills” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In his youth, Peter was apparently obsessed with the sun.
It appeared to be a vampire’s one true weakness, and he struggled to understand it. He would spend hours out in the bright afternoon light, trying to discover what exactly it did to him.
“I would bask in the sun, like an afternoon cat, leaving as much of my flesh uncovered as modesty would allow. The rays of light burned heavy on my skin and my muscles started to drain. My energy weakened, my thoughts muddled, but in complete contrast with that, my heart beat grew stronger and faster.
“When I returned to the darkness and proceeded to slumber, once I awoke, all of the effects would be erased. My skin never even changed its hue.
“What precisely did the sun do to me, then? When I asked my fellow vampyres, they speculated very little on the subject. The most informed answer came from my mentor, who said, ‘It does a man well to stay in the light, and a vampyre to stay out of it.’ The anatomy of a vampyre remains such a mystery that the best we can come up with is merely that the light weakens us.
“But what if I were to stay in the sun always? If I were to exist as a normal man would, sleeping during the night and awaking during the day, what would the outcome be? The sun only seems to dull all our senses, lessening them to the point of mere humans.
“Would that surmise that living a life in the sun could reduce us to mortality? Would we then begin to age and grow old and eventually perish?
“Which leads me to an entirely different thought. Does our immortality, our exotic power, then come from the moon? Are the tales of lycanthrope embellished stories of vampyre?”
For being a document that’s meant to answer questions, it faired better at raising them. Peter could find little in the way of scientific reasons for the sun’s effect on vampires. He did conduct his own study on whether the sun could return him to a mortal, or at least to aging him some.
He spent a month living during the day and sleeping at night, but all he found was that he was very tired, weak, and inordinately hungry. As a result, he had to eat at least once a day, and it led him to nearly kill three people.
At the end of a month, he decided that was enough and finished his study without any real change to himself.
Lying in my bed, I rolled over and peeked out my curtains at the bluing sky. The sun hadn’t risen yet, but it was well on its way, meaning I had failed at following through with Jack’s suggested bedtime. I set the book aside and decided that I had better try to get some sleep.
I managed to sleep all day, even through the baking heat of the afternoon. When I finally got up and turned on the TV, the weatherman announced it had peaked over ninety degrees. I was tempted to lie around in my underwear all day long, but Mom was still around, complaining about the heat and her job and life in general.
After she left, I stared at my phone, hoping that someone would hurry and call me and rescue me from the insane heat. There would be no such luck.
As the day moved onto night, I resigned myself to spending the evening parked in front of a fan, sprawled out on the couch watching Arsenic and Old Lace on AMC until I died of heatstroke.
- 16 -
“This building needs central air!” Milo threw open the apartment door.
I sat up and looked over the back of the couch at him. His arms overflowed with bags of groceries. His face looked flushed, presumably from the heat.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, surprised by his random appearance.
I got up off the couch and went over to help him with the groceries, until I realized how silly that sounded. Normally, when Milo carried things in, I’d be stuck with the brunt of the load since I was stronger. It was hard to shake the image of him as being my little brother, even though he was clearly so much stronger and better than I was.
“What? You’re not happy to see me?” He set the bags on the table and smirked at me.
“No, it’s not that. I just…” I stopped and looked over the bags on the table. “What is all this? And what are you doing here?”
“I figured you hadn’t eaten a good meal since I moved out, and I thought you’d be bored and dying of heat stroke.” Milo dug through the bags and pulled out frozen things, like ice cream and Popsicles, and put them in the freezer. “I know you and Mom don’t do any grocery shopping, so you’d waste away without me.”
“That’s maybe true,” I admitted, eyeing him skeptically.
He continued going through the bags to put things away, while I went over to the freezer and pulled an orange Popsicle out. He was actually dead-on about the lack of food and heat stroke.
“Aren’t you afraid Mom’ll catch you?”
“She’s at work,” Milo shrugged. “And so is Jack. So it’s very quiet at the house and I needed to get out.”
“Jack’s at work?” I hopped on the counter to watch Milo put the groceries away. “I thought Ezra just came back.”
“He did, and he’s still at home.” With ease, he reached over me to put away cereal on the very top shelf, something that used to require the aid of a chair for him to reach. “Jack went on his own. He’s really getting the hang of the business.”
“What do you mean? Jack’s in charge of stuff all by himself?” I slurped at my Popsicle, trying to keep orange drips of juice from spilling on my legs, but it wasn’t working.
“Yeah. Why is that so shocking?” Milo laughed at my apparent surprise.
“It’s not.” Wiping at the spot of orange on my thigh, I shrugged. “I just didn’t realize he was doing that good or whatever. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t even know what he does really.”
“Neither do I. They’re keeping me out of the loop for now, but Jack says that once I get more settled in, I’ll definitely be able to do it. He says it’s actually kind of fun when you get into it, but a lot of the work is already done anyway.
“Ezra has tons and tons of patents on things, and he has to do a lot of legal shuffling around so people don’t catch onto the fact that he’s the same guy that’s been collecting money for the past hundred years or so.” Milo said it all matter-of-factly like I would completely follow what that meant.