By Blood We Live

Page 1

Part One

The Beguiled

1

Remshi

IT’S BETTER TO kill people at the end of their psychology. They have nothing left to offer themselves or the world.

Not that I should have been killing anyone just then. Having fed less than twenty hours ago I should have woken slaked and mellow, indifferent to blood for at least a week. Instead I’d woken in a state of—not to put too fine a point on it—complete fucking pandemonium. Voices in the head (repeating, God only knew why, He lied in every word … He lied in every word …), earthquake in the heart, Sartrean nausea in the soul—and thirst such as I hadn’t felt in centuries. Not the domesticated version, to be fobbed off with a half-dozen pouches from the fridge. No. This was The Lash, old school, non-negotiable, the red chorus that deafened the capillaries with its single moronic imperative: GET LIVING BLOOD NOW, OR DIE.

Traumatically baffling though all this was it wasn’t the main mystery. The main mystery was the dream I’d had. Do not start with a murder. Do not start with a dream. I know. But my defence is two-pronged: One, I’m a murderer. Two, the dream was a colossal anomaly. Not the content. Just the fact of it. I don’t, you see, dream. At all. Ever. Not since Vali died. And that was a long, long time ago.

No chance to consider that now, however. The thirst’s virtue is that next to the need to satisfy it everything else becomes laughably secondary. It gives you, as would a gun pointed at your head, focus.

So here I was.

The house of Randolf Moyser, pornographer, was, not surprisingly, the pornographer’s house: Milanese sofas in cream leather, jade side tables, cowhide rugs, chandeliers, planes of carpet the colour of Bahamian sand, mirrors it would’ve needed a crane to hang. I’d chosen it for its location, a mile northwest of Malibu Springs, high on an unoverlooked hill with pinewoods cover on the eastern side to within fifty yards of the ground floor terrace, and on the west uninhabited scrub all the way to the nearest neighbour’s tree line a quarter of a mile away. I say “chosen,” but that’s not true. The Lash applies suave guidance, finds the ether’s invisible vectors and drifts, the spaces in space that lead to fulfilment. The blood’s dialogue—yours and theirs (or rather mine and yours)—starts before you’ve quite set eyes on each other. Like a love story. Like the moments just before I first saw Vali, seventeen thousand years ago.

(Yes, you read that right.)

I left the car in a lay-by on the country road and walked up through the woods.

Randolf, known in the industry as E. Wrecked (and known to me ever since a production company I own made a documentary about him), was at the end of his psychology. He’d just turned fifty-eight, and for more than two decades had been rich enough for it not to matter what he looked like. Letting himself go, physically, had been part of the psychology: there mustn’t be the slightest chance that the twenty-two-year-old on her knees with his cock in her mouth could possibly want to be on her knees with his cock in her mouth. Therefore unkempt toenails. Therefore waxy belly and flaccid bubs. Therefore yawning pores. It was quite something to be able to go bald not only without anxiety, but with satisfaction.

Yet his psychology had betrayed him. His psychology had said that if he got enough women to do things they didn’t want to do—no force (force was cheating), just persuasion, seduction, money, psychology—then the great burning formless question of his being would be answered. He didn’t know where this equation had come from—that the degradation of women was the doorway to revelation—only that it was his and that it was beyond contradiction or doubt. He hadn’t shirked it. After thirty-five years in the business there wasn’t much he could think of that a woman wouldn’t want to do that he hadn’t got a woman to do. But his psychology had lied. His psychology had been like the Devil, full of false promises. Leaving aside the problem of the small number of women who, for whatever reason, wanted to do all the things all the other women didn’t (in their performances you could glimpse impatience or irritation that they weren’t degrading themselves enough, a frantic desperation at the limits), leaving aside this small number of women who were useless to his psychology (and who were frankly ruining the industry for everyone else), leaving these aside, the fundamental problem didn’t alter: degrading women or getting women to degrade themselves did not, in fact, answer the burning formless question of his being. It was Eve biting into the apple to discover only that it was an apple and she could bite into it. His psychology had no other methods on offer. His psychology was a one-trick pony, and the trick had failed, every time.

Randolf, or E., wasn’t alone. His gofer was on the phone in the downstairs office, and two sharp-kneed escorts in bikinis and strappy stilettos were drinking mojitos by the opalescent moon-pool. Randolf was in one of the upstairs bedrooms (Corinthian pillars, a fireplace like a wedding cake) shouting at his web manager about problems with the recently launched site, imsorrydaddy.com. His production company was facing legal action from a Christian counselling service who—courtesy of domain registration meltdown—had a site of the same name devoted to reconciling rebellious daughters with their churchgoing fathers. “I don’t fucking care what fucking Anthony fucking told you,” he was saying, while examining a possibly cancerous mole on his Tiresian chest. “I’m telling you we get those assholes to change the name. What? No, imsorrymommy.com isn’t a viable fucking alternative. Jesus fucking Christ. Why doesn’t any—What the fuck—”

He was having the moment of disbelief. That he hadn’t seen or heard me come in. But there I was. His mouth was open, breath a hot mix of Booker’s Bourbon and a meat-packed bowel.

“You’re on CCTV,” Randolf said. I didn’t contradict him, though it had taken me less than a minute to disable the system. I didn’t speak at all. There was nothing for me to say. At this moment there never is. He found himself on his back on the floor, with me on top of him. He didn’t know how that had happened. It was an awful magic, the blur, the compression, the two states—upright/on the floor—with no causal apparatus between them. And of course he knew what I was. Humans always do, when the time comes. Vampire. Vampires. In spite of governments and Christmas and Microsoft. Well, I’ll be. When their time comes there’s always a disinterested part of them ravished by such things being real after all. They think: Damn, this would’ve made quite a difference to my life. It wouldn’t, in Randolf’s case, but there was no point going into it with him.

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