Even now, knowing what I know and having all that I have, I knew that if Peter offered to bite me in exchange for my death, I would gladly make the trade. My feelings for him were positively suicidal.
I walked around Peter’s room, admiring his odd collection of things. His furniture seemed to be primarily antiques, and everything was natural wood or white. His bed smelled too sweetly of him, so I deliberately steered clear of his white linens.
His shelves were lined with books from every day and age, and I let my fingers travel over their worn bindings. Then I noticed something that made my already shortened breath catch.
Peter had an entire section of books on vampires, and I don’t mean things like Bram Stroker or Anne Rice. They were books with titles like A Vampire Dictionary and A Brief History of Vampyres.
I pulled the latter from the shelf, carefully opening the cover to the yellowed pages. The moldy smell overwhelmed me, and I sneezed.
I sat back down on the chair by the bookcase, and I looked through it. It had no table of contents, but a page appeared to be missing. It started with a foreword:
“I am not the oldest of my kind, nor do I claim to be an expert on them. However, in my many years of existence, I have found little written on the subject of vampyres, other than questionable folklore.
“In an effort to dispel the mythology and to create a guide for the newly turned, I have decided to write this book. In no means is it to be taken as a ‘Bible’ for my kind, but rather, as the title suggests, a brief history of vampyres as far as I can tell.”
My fingers began to tremble, and I was afraid I’d rip the fragile pages out. Knowing vampires had a history was disconcerting.
I knew they existed, but the only ones I knew were Jack and his family, and they weren’t particularly frightening or disturbing. But thinking of vampires as a whole, an entire species of creatures out there, feeding on the living for the past millennia… it sent chills down my spine.
The first chapter was simply titled “In the Beginning.”
“Perhaps what is most unusual about vampyres is that while we carry many of the same traits of humans, we lack any real creation story of our own. Some vampyres still cling onto the religion of the people, while others banish it, saying that we are proof that God does not exist.
“What I have found to be true is much less sensational than one would hope. We have neither a direct line with God nor the devil. We are no closer to the meaning of life than any other human.
“Vampyres have not existed as long as humans have, by our best record, and I was unable to find anything on the first vampyre. More precisely, I have never encountered a vampyre who admitted to being the first one, or any other vampyre who met him.
“Our first documented appearance happened to coincide with a plague, which leads me to believe that we are some kind of plague ourselves.”
“I see you found some light reading,” Ezra interrupted, startling me so badly that I jumped up from the chair and dropped the book onto the floor.
“I-I just- I was just curious,” I stumbled and felt my cheeks burn with shame.
“There’s no harm in being curious.” Ezra waved off my apology and walked over to me.
He picked the book up off the floor and held it for me to take. I hesitated for a moment, afraid that it might be some kind of trick, although he didn’t seem much like the tricking kind.
“I just don’t know very much about you.” I took the book from him, and I lowered my eyes and held it close to me.
“We haven’t been as forthcoming as you’d like?” Ezra raised an eyebrow, and I wasn’t sure if he was being skeptical or sincere.
“No, it’s not that,” I corrected myself quickly. “It’s just…”
What was it exactly? They had been incredibly open with me. When I had questions, Jack answered them to the best of his ability, but somehow, that wasn’t enough. As much as I knew, it seemed liked there was twice as much that I didn’t know.
“It’s because it’s personal now,” Ezra nodded knowingly. “Before, we were merely a curiosity to you, or an opportunity.”
“No, no!” I interrupted him forcefully. “You’re not some sideshow to me.”
“No, I know that. It was a poor choice of words on my part,” Ezra said, calming me. “I know how much you care for us.
“But… you’d always known us as this, and whether you understood us completely was irrelevant,” he continued. “You saw that we were happy and well. But now that it’s struck Milo, it’s not enough to know that we’re content. You need to understand everything about us.”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “So?”
“So… you want me to tell you everything,” he smiled sadly.
“I have bad news,” he exhaled. “There’s not much more to tell.”
“How can there not be much to tell?” My voice quavered with incredulity. “You’re telling me that the little bit you’ve confessed to me in the past few months covers the entire history of your species?”
“No, of course not,” he laughed at my fervor. “We have an extensive history, and that book you’re holding right now is a very good source of a lot of it. But it’s much like any other history book you’ve read. You’d be more interested in a biology book.”
“Is there one?” I asked hopefully.
“There are a few,” Ezra shrugged as if none of them were that good. “Peter has some, I’m sure.
“But there are many problems with a biology book about vampires. Autopsies are impossible,” he went on. “Whatever kills a vampire tends to destroy everything inside him, making it impossible to dissect it all and see how it differs from a human. But that’s only half the problem.”
“What’s the other half of the problem?”
“Have you heard about the bumblebee?” Ezra leaned back against the end of the Peter’s four-post bed, crossing his feet over his ankles.
“What are you talking about?” I shook my head, confused by the abrupt subject change.
“According to an aerodynamic study done in the early 20th century, the bumblebee can’t possibly fly,” Ezra explained. “Its wings are much too small and can’t beat fast enough to carry the weight of its body.”
“What?” I furrowed my brow and decided it must be a riddle. “So… What? How do they get around then?”