An Indulgence

The monster, who was once a man, sat on the bonnet of the burnt out car and looked out across the London night.

He was deciding what to do, after all immortality could get boring after a while. So he sat on the car and tried to decide whether he should let himself die.

The problem, he thought, was that with endless years the space in your mind would fill up – forgotten names, faces without names, memories blurring into one another.

It wasn't that long ago he had London in the palm of his hand, ruler of the night court. Taken through fair means and foul, politics and violence, from the one who came before. And he couldn't remember her name.

He remembered other things though, the massacre at Osbourne house – trading on his survival at that bloodbath gave him his first footstep on the ladder of power. He'd risen through the ranks, slowly at first, then ever faster – his comrades at his side. One he would trust, the others could only be trusted in a well lit room.

Then the one he trusted returned to his homeland, the monster smiled at the thought of him now, probably dancing around burning orthodox churches.

He thought of the reward he had received for waging war against the other half of the city, the reward that ended in his near assassination.

But his survival fed his fame even more.

He remembered the lord of the undercity, he remembered him from when that lord was still a man and not the twisted but honourable monster he became. That lord had met his final death not too long ago from monsters older and nastier than he.

The things he had seen, the monstrosities in Norwich, the art gallery filled with elephant dung somewhere on the south coast, the things that flew invisibly in the air and invaded your thoughts.

The friends he had made, sitting around swapping war stories, insulting those who had not truly lived before they died and became monsters together.

The people he had killed to slake his thirst for blood. The murders he had planned, the murderers he had sent off to do his bidding.

The sky was lightening, too slight for human eyes, but easy to discern with his predators eyes. His decision would have to come soon.

Those of his kind that he called friends were largely no more, he had outlived most of them. The humans he had cultivated were now all moved on, taking roles that were of no consequence to him. Those enemies that still lived, to smart to fall to his blades, he could not count them all.

Back before he was made the monster he was just a man, a soldier, endless battles across Europe, fought for King and country. Different kings but the same country. He didn't care for the cause, but he cared for his brothers in arms. When he was a man he belonged to a family, now he was the monster any family he'd built had scattered to the winds, under their own steam or as ash, it didn't matter.

Perhaps, he thought, the choice to be made wasn't so black and white as to be a choice between life or death.

Once, when he was a man, the choice had been simple – to avenge his fallen comrades, hunting the monster through the alleys of London until cornered the creature that he thought a man turned bared it's fangs, and leapt for his throat. Life or death, it didn't matter, he would die for his family.

Now he couldn't, for he had no family.

So, if not life and if not death, then what should he choose?

Perhaps rest, a slumber for a decade or so, buried beneath the earth where his dreams could wipe away the last fifteen years. What changes would he see when he woke?

The bluing of the sky was more pronounced, his skin starting to itch from the sun's power. His choice would have to be made soon. To stay on the banks of the river and turn to ash, or to hide in the shadows and continue for one more night into the endless stretch of time.

He was bored. He'd won his game and kept his prize. But the boredom was his undoing, he'd would take more and more risks just to spice up each night. Seizing the praxis of the neighbouring counties, returning the power when he was bored.

And one night that boredom led to him losing the power in London. He'd tried to go it alone, but knew that it would not last, so one night he stood up and left – and didn't return.

Since then he travelled, looking for something to keep him interested, but the same old fights were repeated everywhere.

So now he sat on the bank of the river waiting for the first rays of the sun to appear over the horizon. To burn his flesh and blacken his bones.

The moment was approaching – to choose. Life, death or something else.

'I think a nice rest', he said quietly to himself, 'one day I might be wanted again. And besides, I wonder what will happen next.'

He strode out into the river and, picking a spot no different from any other spot, buried himself deep in the silt. Feeling the cold of the water and the slickness of the riverbed he thought that this would be a good place for a sleep of a few decades.

'I wonder how interesting the future will be', was the vampire's last thought before he slipped into the torpor of ages.

—–

An indulgence, an inside joke and a banishing with laughter. Tomorrow a big step to be taken and a line to be drawn under the past.

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