This article was originally published on Medium on Oct. 30, 2019.
There was no moon, and the world was all the more beautiful for it.
Pinpricks of twinkling light punctured the utter darkness. He saw them everywhere he looked, ancient stars whose light had traveled an unimaginable distance to assail his mortal eyes. He gazed into the vast night sky, unlittered by clouds, and lost himself.
The constellations looked exactly the same as they had during those long nights he spent staring up as a child.
“It happens to all of us.
We grow up. We grow old. We remember our childhood. We remember the warmth and comfort. We remember the love and freedom. We remember how it was and compare to how it is.”
He turned his attention to the girl beside him. Her warmth astonished him every time he touched her. The blood pulsing through her body screamed to him.
“HERE IS LIFE, ” it bellowed indomitably, “HERE SOMEONE EXISTS.”
How could her very presence not amaze her when his own never failed to do the same? How often had he looked upon his own hand and marveled at the magnificence of him, the sheer artistry of his being, the interplay of muscle and vein and nerve that allowed him to function as he did?
This was why he came out here.
The wondrous joy of the night sky, untamed by artificial light for hundreds of kilometers in either direction. If he could, he would make it compulsory for every human, all seven billion of them, to visit this spot once in their lifetime.
“But humans take what is and make it theirs.
’Tis both their greatest strength and their biggest weakness.”
How he missed home. How he wished he could return. But there was no going back.
“Going back is an idea, a concept that never matches up to reality. It is the drive fueled by that most pernicious and tricky part of human nature: hope.”
What keeps us going every day but the hope of a better tomorrow? Why do we not collectively lose our minds, flip the world off, and go out in a defiant blaze of glory? Because we hope that tomorrow will be better than today.
And so Leo hoped.
Now her breath drew his attention. Her strong, steady breath. He hadn’t wanted to bring her here at first. But she had insisted, and he could find no reason to deny her except his own unease at the idea.
She didn’t get it. The entire idea was foreign to her. The night sky? Constellations? Why would anyone care?
Which made it all the sweeter that she had come all this way, sacrificed a tiny portion of her finite life, just to be close to him. It made him want to cry, but when he was out here, everything made him want to cry.
He never cried.
She murmured sleepily as he brought his lips to her throat. He felt the familiar stirring in his loins. Her breath quickened at his touch.
He couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t control himself. He bit deep into her neck and drank and drank and drank, oh the sweet sweet lifeblood that he lived for, he could feel it restoring him, he could feel the thundering roar of her heartbeat in his body and it grew and grew and consumed him…
And suddenly, it was over.
He inclined his head over her respectfully, thanking her for providing him with the lifeblood he needed to maintain his long and storied life. In this remote location, nobody would discover a body.
Just like that, she was gone. Snuffed out like a candle. No goodbyes, no tears, no last words. One moment she was, the next she wasn’t. The universe continued existing. The stars still twinkled, the planets still shone, comets and meteors still trailed under the dome of the night sky.
It made him want to cry, but when he was out here, everything made him want to cry.
He never cried.