It would appear even the Guardian thinks I need a break from our interview. I have been ordered by him to take a rest before I continue with the interview. I hadn’t realised my exhaustion from the efforts of dreaming with him night after night, but that is a part of his power, to make one forget the consequences of too much time in his presence.
After sleeping sixteen hours worth of dreamless sleep under the watchful eyes of Talia and Susan, I woke to discover my bags packed and a plane ticket to the West Coast to spend time with my sister. I have been forbidden to enter the dream in which I can access the Guardian’s prison for two full weeks.
I’m writing this post from 37,000 feet over the Rocky Mountains, the write-up of my last visit with the Guardian before my enforced rest. It’s nearly midnight, and I’ll too be setting down in Oregon for some much needed R&R and distraction with my dear sister.
If you have missed any of the interview so far, you will find the links for previous instalments at the bottom of the post.
Instalment 8: Meeting the Scribe
The pause, which I figured the Guardian meant to be dramatic, was an uncomfortable one. While he had just told me, in detail, his first intimate encounter with Annie, I wasn’t well acquainted with Annie. She was already out of the picture when I was called in to tell the tale. That made her story once removed from me, and even with that I found the intimacy nearly unbearable.
But Susan was different. I was much more closely connected to her story, and the thought of hearing such private matters made me want to call out to Talia to bring me back. With a start, I realized it wasn’t just hearing those details that frightened me, but for all practical purposes I had been feeling them too. Such was the Guardian’s gift. Throughout the entire interview, the reality of the tale he wove was far more virtual than I had until now realized. I wondered if he had planned it that way.
Considering her response to the Guardian’s sharing of his encounter with Annie, I couldn’t keep from wondering what Susan would do when he shared her story. And yet, she had told her own tale. She had told the lurid, the dark, the intimate details of a story too personal, one no one else need know, and she did it without flinching, something I could have never done.
It was only as the Guardian drew breath to speak that it occurred to me perhaps the pause had not been for dramatic effect at all but because what he was about to impart was far more personal and more difficult for him to share. But then perhaps I was anthropomorphizing. He was in no way human, as he kept reminding me. Still, I braced myself for impact as he began to speak.
“When I think of the coincidences, the synchronicity, as Carl Jung might have called it, that brought Susan and me together, I am still all astonishment.” He had returned to pacing the cliff edge. Though I could hear him easily enough, his voice had gone strangely distant. “That Susan was a writer, a scribe, meant only that she made her living with her imagination. That fact increased the likelihood of her being able to sense my presence, that I might find a way to draw her to me.
“It is essential at this point, K D, that you keep in mind I do not see humanity, flesh and blood, as you do. While most of the human world would look upon Annie as an astounding beauty, it would pay little attention to Susan — at least not before our vampire changed her. And in all fairness, Susan did little to draw that attention. Perhaps it was our similarities that drew me to her so deeply in the beginning. We both lived in our own private worlds and strove to avoid unwanted attention.”
He paused for a moment, as though he had not given this observation thought before. “I could sense her presence the instant she entered the front garden of Chapel House. Imagine the brightest light illuminating the darkness, imagine a black and white image suddenly not only brilliant with color, but alive, living and breathing and vibrating with potential for so much more. That is what I saw in Susan at our moment of contact.”
He chuckled softly and I could feel the warmth of a smile I couldn’t see. “Oh you would laugh, K D, if you had seen my response to that first encounter. Our essences had barely touched. I felt the tension move over her body with a little tremor, and then … then I fled like a frightened child, back to the crypt, back to the confines of my prison. There I remained waiting, for I knew Annie would bring her to me. You see, the crypt was Annie’s favorite place.”
“So I waited there, trembling, pacing, beside myself with anticipation. For, as you know, K D, my dear Susan is a proper Scribe. Her magic filled the entire space that was Chapel House and even that could not contain her. Oh, of course she knew nothing of this, nothing at all, and that realization filled me with both anticipation and fear.”
At this point, he turned swiftly to face me, as though he had forgotten his admonishment that I should not look at him. I quickly looked away, but not before the wave of raw, cold hunger washed over me. For an instant I felt as though I’d fallen through a hole in the world with no bottom in sight. And then I was drawn back to his voice, my eyes averted so that I could only view his feet in battered hiking boots, the kind that I knew Reese Chambers wore. “While you have not her magic, K D, you understand full well the power of words. Your Judeo-Christian mythology even states that for the act of creation to occur the power of the spoken word was necessary. Let there be light. And oh, how Susan was my light.”
He settled into the chair again, his fingers drumming on the leather of the arm as though he were thinking what to say next. And when he lingered long in the action, when I was just about to say something, anything to ease the tension, he exhaled long and slow. “You know that I deceived her. Strange that until that very moment, until Susan Innes walked into Chapel House, what I would do, what I had done for the whole of my existence had never seemed to be deception before. I knew nothing else. It was as much my nature as breathing in and breathing out is to you. And yet when I fled her that day, when I hid trembling in the crypt waiting for her, for the first time I questioned that nature.”
He raised a hand as though to negate what he had just said. “Please do not think that meeting Susan Innes suddenly made me more human. You see, K D, I shall never be human. I do not, I cannot think or be as you are. But I can draw parallels. I can, perhaps see things differently than I have seen them before. But this was not an epiphany, this was only my own understanding of the gravitas, the impact of what I would do. And from Susan Innes, I already knew, I would take far more than I had ever taken from anyone before her.” He sighed softly, sadly. “What I did not fully understand at the time was just how much she would take from me.”
“Then you didn’t know that there was a risk?” I asked.
“Of course I knew that Susan was dangerous, but that didn’t matter to me. It was a risk I was willing to take after my long incarceration. I gambled on the fact that she didn’t know she was dangerous. To be honest, I feared much more what our dear Magda Gardener would do if my plan came to fruition. But the arrogance in me also longed to gloat in my triumph over her once Susan had set me free, for I knew the Gorgon would want her as a part of her collection and would loathe that I had taken her for myself. None of that matters now, however. What’s done is done.”
He continued his story. “I waited for what seemed like an eternity to one who knows what an eternity feels like. And then I heard them on the stairs descending into the place that was my prison, which suddenly changed, became transparent, and then was transformed into the shape of the Scribe, the woman standing before me. Oh yes, K D, I saw her transformed to my freedom and my prison. I have often wondered if that first glorious view of her in the crypt was a premonition of what would be, and yet at the time all I felt was a sense of anticipation.
“But I swear to you I wasn’t ready for the presence of a true Scribe. The moment her feet left the final step of descent, the moment she stood wholly in the crypt, her own presence enveloped me as completely as my prison and, in an instant I was closer to her than I was to myself. I moved across the goose flesh climbing her arms at my touch. I reveled in the catch of her warm, humid breath as I took in the shape of her, the rising scent of both her terror and, blessed be all that is sacred, her lust. She knew I was there. She knew it as surely as her heart beating so rapidly, but the dear woman said nothing.
“Oh, the courage that must have taken for her to hold herself so, for her to keep our secret. She only urged Annie, poor oblivious Annie, to keep talking to keep sharing her plans, to keep discussing how she would make the crypt into a wine cellar with a bar. Anything to keep her talking just a little long, just a little more so that she might linger, so that I might take my beautiful Scribe into myself as she had done me. As my dear Susan played for time, I made love to her. Oh, it wasn’t the kind of love I wanted to make to her, the kind in which I lingered long and partook deeply, but it was a mutual exploring, a teasing. It was glorious foreplay and an intimation of what was to come. My touch and caress, her response and arousal, it was all an imparting of information, an understanding shared between two who knew beyond a doubt that they would become lovers. Those few precious shared minutes were giddy and edgy and filled with anticipation of what delights were to come when she returned later that night to free me.”
His sigh was like a soft fell breeze. The owl trilled again, and I held my breath. “I have not thought of that night since Susan was changed. I feared it would drive me insane for the longing of it.” He raised his hand as though he were shooing away an unwanted insect. “Not so much the longing for my freedom, but for the loss of that intimacy, the loss of that living flesh, of that beating heart that I would never know again.”
“You love her.” I knew the minute I said it that I had spoken out of turn. He didn’t answer for a long time and when he finally did, he sounded tired, and there was something else in his voice, a sense of melancholy, perhaps.
“I cannot love, K D. I have not that capacity.”
Strange that his words felt like a slap, and it was all I could do to keep from gasping at the impact.
There was another long silence in which I wavered between the need to apologize and the desire to make excuses for what seemed like a stupid question given what he had told me repeatedly about his lack of humanity. The Guardian sat quietly and studied his hands folded in his lap. This time when he spoke it was not to me. “Susan, darling, K D has been here too long. She is at risk if she lingers longer. Have the succubus bring her up from the Dream World so that she may rest for awhile.”
I woke up in the big bed. The room was dark and Talia was now in the winged back chair drinking wine and reading a novel. Susan sat on the bed beside me, my hand clenched in hers. Her eyes were wet. I wanted to say something to her. It seemed important that I did, but before I could form the words, I slept. This time there were no dreams.
Links to Previous instalments of the interview