Jottings Along the Journey
by Nathan Gibbard

December 29th, 2000

The vampires have finally left the city, at least most of them. Alex left a few days ago and I don't know when, but it seems as if the Outsider has gone too. There's the odd vamp hideout we find here and there, it's become more dangerous as my light powers have seemed to be on the fritz lately, but for the most part it's become fairly quiet. I like quiet, quiet is good. The people here are even beginning to talk of re-building. It's an unbelievably satisfying feeling seeing the hope returning to their eyes after enduring the past months of darkness, especially knowing that I've helped in some small way. I don't know about being a hero, but it sure feels good to help people. I was worried my sacrifice with Vamp would weigh heavy on me, but looking at the people that survived because of it; whatever comes in the future, I think it just might have been worth it. But I don't want to think about that now.

Trinity is still here in New Orleans, helping to restore communications. It's been nice having her here. I haven't told her, but I appreciate the shoulder to lean on after months of trying to handle this stuff myself. It's also nice to have someone to share the responsibilities of the transfusion patients with. It's happening again; so many giving up, so many retreating into their own world, so many of them simply disappearing into a system that was never designed to handle this kind of tragedy. And most of them are so young. I understand why Alex sought out the young to save, but how do you tell someone who's 7 that they'll never see their parents again because they killed them for their blood. They've repressed the memory, but what will it do to them in the future when they remember?

So many losses, it's easy to forget the small victories. We won the battle, but it was precisely for these small, often forgotten victories, that the battle was waged. New Orleans will live again. New Orleans will live again. People that have been fighting for their homes are moving back into them. I expect it will take a little while before those who fled the city start to return, but they will. The hospitals are up and running, clinics are popping up everywhere and people are so willing to be generous with their time and energy. There's a silent, unbreakable comradery between us who have shared in the fight. I know it won't last as people move back, friendships are renewed, and I finally take wing back to Canada, but it is an amazing feeling!

Well, I should really go to sleep; there's still so much that needs to be done, not the least of which is constant vigilance should the vampiric threat return. You know, it's kind of odd, but in the quiet moments that appear here and there I find myself occasionally thinking of Nereid and that day she, Sylph and I spent together so many months ago. Maybe it's the stress. I also seem to be having a strange buzzing in my ears recently. I can't remember being in an explosion of any kind. . . maybe it's stress too.

January 2nd, 2001

Trinity's leaving tomorrow. She's been a great help with everything, the people here even threw her a little going-away party. It was nice. She didn't stay for very long, but I think the rest of us enjoyed it. Who knows, maybe after being a 'super-heroine' for awhile you get used to the thanks -- or maybe its because she knows the thanks are only temporary, that another emergency is just around the corner. Huh? Well, that's depressing. I guess it's one of those things I can look forward to. Do I want to look forward to it? Do I want to be a hero?

The party! I did manage to gulp down a little to drink -- I figured it would be rude to decline. I don't know, alcohol just tastes the way nail polish remover smells to me. It's throughly unappetizing. The party was kind of nice, some of the women even tried to get me to dance. I declined as much as I was able. I wasn't smooth on my feet before the transformation, having huge wings to contend with only makes me more of a threat on the dance floor. But damn, some of those women were persistent! Delroy couldn't stop laughing: whether at my bright red face or habit of knocking people to the floor I couldn't quite tell. I can face a legion of the undead, yet become undone by the words of women. Go figure!

You know, it was odd, but I kept wondering if Nereid dances? I can't help but imagine that with her grace she dances very well.

I still don't seem to have any real light powers. I mean, I still have my aura, but everything else seems gone. No, that's not quite right. I can feel them within me, but it's like something (or someone) is blocking them. I don't know if I should be worried, but I am concerned.

Whatever it is that's inside of me seems to be knocking on my door as well. I feel it pressing against me more often, almost striving against me. I'm worried about this, but haven't told Delroy yet. It seems to be coming out more often, ripping moments of the day away from me. I'm frustrated with something, then suddenly I feel an intense rush of anger and a bad case of whiplash as my thoughts go smashing into the back of my head. It never lasts long, but . . .

It doesn't help that the strange buzzing in my ears is still there. Worse, it's with me all day now. It's making me a little on edge. If I have time I figure I'll try and see the doctor tomorrow. Still so much to do though. . .

January 15th, 2001

Now I know why Delroy's a PR man. I half suspect he also has a degree in marketing. He wanted to sell little (admittedly tasteful) stuffed dolls of me in New Orleans. "It'll help the little kids go to sleep" he said. "You don't want them to have nightmares do you?" No, but I'd prefer not to have nightmares myself. I think I might, with the idea that there would be bunches of stuffed little me's out there. Aye! What a thought!

I think he's even told a few of the news people that have come down here that I'm the "savior of New Orleans". Thankfully that hasn't stuck. Why I agreed to let him 'help' me . . .?!

One idea he suggested that I do like though is having me go around New Orleans talking to the people. I don't have too many useful building skills so building morale is something I'm finding I really enjoy. It's great to actually talk to the people returning; give them a sense that things are going to be alright. Especially the children, they don't know what's happened here, but to see their little faces light up when they see me. . . it feels beyond good.

January 23th, 2001

I'm still having strange visions (memories?), nothing new there, but there's a change in them. They're not all uniformly dark and destructive anymore. Sometimes, I see flashes and suddenly am filled with such peace. Other times, I hear people talking and their voices sound like the most beautiful bells I could ever possibly hear.

This change in the visions helps, considering I'm still suffering from that strange buzzing in my head. I told Delroy about it and he practically force marched me to the hospital. "Just protecting my investment", he said, but I know it's more than that. Anyway, the doctor looked me over and said everything looked perfectly fine, even if he didn't know what perfectly fine was in my case. What's worse is that I'm starting to get these headaches along with the buzzing. I feel like I want to vomit, they're so strong. And what's weird, I know it doesn't make any sense, but sometimes I think I can catch odd words or phrases -- just out of the blue. I don't think they come from the companion sharing my head, but I don't know what's going on.

January 26th, 2001

I haven't told Delroy anything, but I'm getting worried. I find myself struggling more and more with the thing inside me. Bits of conversation forgotten, minutes taken out of my memory, an outside hostility that I feel burning within. I feel his psyche pushing against me, struggling with my own. So far I've been the stronger one, the other only coming out for brief periods of time, but I don't know how long that will last.

January 30th, 2001

My mastery of the light is gone, I think I've slowly come to accept this. The aura, wings, flight (I don't know what I'd do without that), and physical abilities of this body are still all here, but the things I used to be able to do with the light are beyond me. I never realized how relaxing playing with the colour was until I lost it. Now, I wish I could do tricks for the children but nothing comes out. The strange thing is I can still feel it within me, as if I've been estranged from a part of myself. My guess is that whatever being's inside me, it has a greater connection to the use of the light and is purposely withholding it.

The being inside of me is withholding the light. God, I sound stupid! No, I sound like a crazed maniac. The being inside of me (I used to think it was an angel, I was told it was an angel, now I don't give a damn) seems like he's left the playground with his toy. No, a better analogy would be that he's using my light abilities as a kind of weapon against me; like a parent using custody of a child as a weapon against their ex. I want to be able to use it again, want to feel its energy coursing through my body, but I can't because dick head's decided to be in a tiff.

You know, it's kind of funny in a sadly, depressing way but I find myself using more 'colorful metaphors' than I ever used to. I know exactly why to; because I can feel his rage every time I think of something inappropriate (excuse me while I think of a scantily clad woman for a moment; up yours you angelic bastard!). It gives me a childish pleasure to make him angry.

I still don't know exactly why he's acting like he is. Freedom's part of it undoubtedly; he's got a mind of his own and having that mind playing second fiddle for almost a year. . . well, that would certainly set me on edge. But that's not all of it, or even the primary part. I think, I think he's angry I saved lives. . . Oh, screw off! I did what had to be done! -- If you could have thought of a better way, then why didn't you try anything, hmm?. . . Oh yeah! That'd be great; so you're dead and Vamp suddenly has free reign of the city. Brilliant choice. . . You can't just do that though, not without weighing the human consequences. . . They do to matter! And you call yourself an angel; tell me, when exactly did you fall? Was it with Satan or a little after his fall?

What's happening to me? I feel like I have to fight against this so much of the time now. I can even feel him smirking as I write this, biding his time, waiting for me to slip up. I have a horrible feeling it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I just hope we don't hurt anyone in the process. You know, I don't know why I said he had his own mind, I don't know why I thought that. Maybe, just maybe, that's the key to this whole thing. Going to bed now, so tired; I'll think about the mind thing later.

February 5th, 2001

Re-building the city going good. People slowly coming back, all good. Have a mask on all the time now. Can't let them see what's going on, have to present strong image. Have to give them hope, whatever my own cost -- owe them that. Help here and there where can. I like talking, meeting with residents old and new. Seeing the fire in their eyes gives me strength. I talk to them, make them feel good, happy, takes some of the bite out of what's going on. Feel so tired, feel so tired.

Have felt weaker since last Tuesday. I'm guessing confrontation, or frustration, or . . . something, makes him stronger. Have to relax. Can't let him get upper hand, can't let him get my life. So tired. Buzzing still there, voices -- voices, am I hearing things? Hallucinating? Is it something else? Visions of holy voices too, and other images, coming in broad daylight now. Almost fell while giving a talk at a school. Delroy wants me to cut back, maybe I should until I get the upper hand again.

So much to do though. Mardi Gras coming, different of the people have asked me to stay. I want to get back up to Canada, tell someone at Canadian Shield what happened, but I think I might stay for Mardi Gras. Heard something strange going on at the outskirts of town. I want to check it out tomorrow. So much still to do. Sleep now, put the mask back on tomorrow -- nothing's wrong, pinnacle of strength.

February 6th, 2001

I've been hearing about people going missing on the outskirts of the city. I don't know where they are, but I'm getting a little worried. I'm not sure if there's anything to the rumours yet, but I've heard people talk about human blood-drinkers. I'm going to get to the bottom of this tonight.

February 8th, 2001

Why? A thousand times why? I reach up to the heavens, searching for an answer, and only the darkness of the night answers me. Why the pain? Why the suffering of innocents (or should that be innocence itself)? The world unfolds before me and I want to cry out against... against... against I know not what. I used to believe in God (yes 'used' to), but then I thought I had moved on. Then, when my world was shattered by this strange presence within, I begin to doubt my own belief. And now, with the visions, having heard that Voice! How can I do anything but believe, yet how I wish I could disbelieve! Where else can I lay the pain of this world, except at its Creator's feet?

Nothing is ever simple. I can feel the being within me rejecting what I say, arguing with me, yelling at me; it is humanity's fault, God only chastises, God is merciful and just. What words to say, where is there meaning? Does the Creator take no responsibility for what has been unleashed upon the world? The pain, the suffering, the darkness. . . I can feel my guest revolt at those thoughts. It was sin, he says, human disobedience that has caused the downfall of paradise. But we share the same mind now, and I know the sacred writings as well as he; have many of the same memories as he; the great deception - sin was arbitrary!

He's silent now, I'm given a moment of peace to explain. In the garden (was there a garden, my memory doesn't stretch back that far) Eve was tempted by the serpent and ate of the fruit. But no, I'm getting ahead of myself. Of all the trees in the garden there was but one which they could not eat of (yes, counter to the tradition which says all the trees were off limits): it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The day they ate of that tree, they would die.

Here's the rub; where did their knowledge of good and evil come from? Where their knowledge of death? Death was less than an abstraction. And how could they know evil when there was only good in the garden, a paradise? You see where this is going my guest and you fall tensely silent. And the serpent said in response to Eve, "If you eat of the tree then you will be as gods, knowing good and evil." But if they knew not evil, then how could they choose evil? God choose it for them, God choose what was good and what was evil at that moment when the snake spoke. But the bigger question, why, oh why, did a benevolent God put that tree in the garden in the first place? Because of God did sin, pain, suffering, enter the world, as much as because of humans.

He is silent, my inner guest, I can feel him withdraw. I don't know for how long. There is another story told that Man one day wanted to know what it was like to be God, and so asked if they could switch places for the day. God accepted and their positions were switched, but at the end of the day when they were to switch back, then Man-made-God realized he did not know how to switch them back to their former selves. So we are each lost, needing to cling to the other for support. We are each lost . . .

I found out what was happening on the outskirts of the city two nights ago. I heard people speaking in half-sentences, in jumbled phrases. In the condition I was in, the being pressing against my consciousness, I understood them well. Tales of people walking out of the darkness, I heard, of dark rituals, of lone people without families hospitalized for lack of blood, of a human who preached to a flock about the glory of the undead. I heard all of this and more and so, the next night -- yesterday -- sought out their source.

I had every intention of confronting them. With the way I've been for months now (always been?), with wings and light supernaturally flowing from my body, there lay the possibility of intimidation, of convincing them through threat rather than force. I believed I could. Believed I could use words to fashion an argument that would counter theirs. If that didn't work I had the force of the police to back me up, as soon as I called in the location. Of course, this was all dependent on my guest obliging me with his non-presence. Anger, confrontation, frustration -- I should have remembered.

I arrived at the abandoned building they had been using. I watched as a few black attired people glanced around outside the building before entering, my eyes registering their human heat patterns. It was humans that were doing this; humans, or "vampyres" as in their pretentiousness they wanted to be called. Why? The eternal question, wrapped within the eternal return. I'm getting ahead of myself again.

I phoned the police using a cell phone and number which they had given me. I told them where I was and what to look for. You know, I hadn't thought about it, but I didn't check first before I phoned. Somehow I knew that these people were involved in the blood-letting I'd heard about. When I looked at the people going into the building, simple word-images screamed into my mind: blood, vampyre, drink from the chalice -- the images just appeared and I knew they were part of the party responsible.

After phoning the police, I knew I had about 5 or 10 minutes before they would arrive. I thought it would be wisest if I were to subdue them. That way, there would be less risk of the officers getting hurt when they arrived. I admit I had little concern for those I was to confront.

Swooping out of the sky and moving towards the door of the building, I was blocked by a man dressed all in black but with a pale face. I didn't even have to look closely to tell the whiteness of his face was due to make up, especially as his checks flushed under the cover as the blood rushed to his head. I asked for entry into the building, no need starting out impolite.

He folded his arms across his chest and tried to puff himself up, replying that I was trespassing where I was not invited and that I would be wise to get the hell out of there while I still could. It was kind of funny actually. I had faced down so many real vampires, those that would rip out your throat in an instant, that this idle threat seemed less annoying than a mosquito bite.

I asked him again to move out of the way. Two of his friends came out of the darkness to stand on either side of him. This buoyed up his confidence and he actually snarled at me that I wasn't welcome here. How did he put it? That only members of the Sacred Society of Vampyres were allowed here. I wonder if he had any awareness of just how stupid he was?

I could feel the presence within me stirring, but I managed to remain calm. Though I knew the three of them were human, I wondered what might be beyond the door; what darkness was transpiring. In thinking those things, I could feel the presence grow stronger, beating at the doors of my consciousness. I re-focused my attention on the man in front of my as my peripheral vision filled with flame. I told him I simply wanted to see what was going on there, if this was the source of several people having recently been taken to hospital for loss of blood.

There are odd moments of remembrance, times when people say things so profound, or so grossly idiotic, that they remain etched in the mind for longer than most. I remember him raising his chin (possibly in arrogance) and saying, "We are vampyres, we drink the blood of the living to remind ourselves of our bond to one another. That we will share in a glorious future of immortality. The blood of the weak makes us strong. If they are weak enough to be caught be us, why should you bother with them. Besides," he added almost as an afterthought, "it's not like we're really hurting them. They go to the hospital and--"

I felt the switch take place at that moment. It wasn't as violent as it sometimes is, but I knew what had happened when I felt my arm curl upwards but couldn't stop its movement. It slammed into his jutting lower jaw bringing his speech to a swift conclusion, and sending him flying back away. I tried to speak, felt myself speaking, but the words weren't mine. They were more archaic, more formal than mine. I knew who was in control of the situation as I felt myself slowly slipping away from the center of my consciousness.

What did he say then? What did my guest say, I remember I could have laughed if I had control of a tongue? He said something like, "Thou art the weak one. Thy veins are corrupted by the evil within. Repent of thy doings, or be washed in the blood of dark destruction. Your own." Ah, excuse me a moment while I chuckle.

Needless to say the man in front of me didn't reply, of course that could be because The angel probably broke his jaw. The other two scattered away, like frightened mice into the night. I could feel myself striding forward and then felt the exquisite joy of the energy within my body build up and release itself upon the door, shattering it and opening its inside to the world. Gaps in my memory now, stupid gaps. I wish I could remember it all. Or maybe I don't, depending on what I missed.

I remember . . . I remember their teeth. They were humans but their incisors were somehow off. It almost looked as if some of them had filed their teeth, or maybe had them surgically altered to look more pointed. I assume now it was to emulate those they thought were the true heroes of the world. The room, the room was lightened by candles if I remember, red candles. I can only guess the red signified blood.

There was chanting when we entered, something about the blood making them one. There was also a dark altar (I feel him regaining his strength within me) with a struggling body strapped to it. A man in preacher's clothes was behind the altar, his eyes wild with fanaticism. The Reverend Thomas (Greek or Latin: Blood-drinker), I believe he said his name was. When I saw his face, ghostly in the candle light, I couldn't help but worry how many more of these I had loosed upon the world.

I remembered him as one of the eight that myself and Dr. Laveau had rescued so long ago. He had disappeared from the psychiatric ward one night. We were in the middle of fighting for our lives and so didn't have the time to go searching for this wayward soul. If we had, maybe this sick vampire cult could have been prevented. Maybe if we had searched for this one man our lines would have been stretched too thin and we all would have died. The past is the past, I must let it die and become simple memory

Black garbed people moved to intercept my body, but the angel dispersed them roughly, quoting scripture and extemporizing on it all the while (what a bloody arrogant bastard he can be sometimes). I moved up to the man, he must have been in his late sixties, and I remember there was an exchange of words as the angel raised our now glowing hand. I don't remember exactly what was said; I believe it was something along the lines of "If you kill me, I will only ascend to a greater plane. I will become immortal!" the Rev.; "I will oblige you. I will purge your body and make you immortal . . . for your soul's torment in hell." (God! Now I know why I try not to say anything when fighting. I might say something as stupid as this!)

It was the angel's intention to kill the man, and it was that that gave me the opportunity to re-assert myself. I did not want to kill the man, only help him and the others that blindly followed his lead. I guess my desire not to kill, was greater than the angel's desire. I could feel myself gain control of my muscles again, just as I felt the surging power of the light fade away. I remember speaking to him, trying to calm him, trying to point out the error of his ways. He told me how he used to be a vampire and how wonderful it had been. I could see the manic edge in his eyes and moved slowly towards him.

No, that's not true. I moved towards him because I could somehow sense darkly disturbing word-images flowing out of his mind. Flowing blood, chalices, a yearning to drink of the blood, and worst of all, a yearning to hold a victim beneath himself, feeling their life ebb away. All the while a young woman struggled at the bonds that held her to the altar. She was defenseless there, with me her only protection. I noticed then the knife in his hand.

Just then, from outside, I heard the squeal of tires. I knew the police had arrived. Inside they seemed to guess it too, as they scrambled away. I turned to the Reverend, hoping that he would see his situation. I spoke, trying to convince him that the best course of action would be to submit and be arrested. There would be help for him in jail, I promised, they would help him see what he couldn't now. How stupid was I?! Practically telling an obvious (religious?) fanatic that his views were wrong!

His eyes grew wilder as his knife flashed upwards, poised above the chest of the innocent victim on the altar. He said, what was it he said, "I am the Giver and Taker of life. Rivers of blood flow so that I may be free and strong." I knew what he was going to do. The woman screamed as the knife plunged downward. But I was quicker, I was quicker. Arms outstretched, I smashed into his chest, my wings taking the knife. He flew across the room, his body landing hard against the wall. Too hard. I freed the captive to numerous thanks and frequent sobs as the police rounded up the other members of this society. Later we were to learn that they gathered to drink the blood of a captive victim. Absorbed in the movie and Anne Rice-fed myths of vampires, they would gather and drink blood glorying in the thought that they too would become as vampires.

As for the senior-aged reverend -- the paramedics came. Too hard against frail human flesh. I visited him in the hospital today, along with some of his victims. Massive internal injuries they say, he hasn't even regained consciousness. They don't expect him to make it. One life for another; one crazed life that would undoubtedly start to kill if given enough time, for a young life full of promise (she wants to become a teacher, I wish her well). And what of the others, the others that stretch on to eternity; what of their pain? What of their suffering? Why?

February 9th, 2001

He's dead. Died in the night, slipped away from his accusers to journey to whatever afterworld that has been reserved for him. The police want me to stay around for a few days. Questions. They doubt there will be any charges laid, especially after everything that has happened. Just following procedures.

Doesn't look like I'll make it to Mardi Gras. I wish I could, but New Orleans . . . I don't want to be here anymore. I want to feel the wind on my face, the coolness of a Canadian March, a fresh northern wind. I want to go home.

February 14th, 2001

Case closed -- no charges laid. Leaving New Orleans, going back to Canada. Maybe I'll see Nereid there.

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