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"You were supposed to stop, Karl!" Emil cried even as his eyes flew open. "You weren't supposed to do it yet," he continued, his voice dropping into a whimper. "I trusted you." Blood red tears welled in his eyes, which had not stop accusing me from the moment he opened them.
I continued to meet his gaze from across the room, saying nothing. There was nothing I could say. The fang marks on his neck were gone, healed without a mark to show they were ever there. His skin was palely effervescent, smooth as it had never been before. Emil Paulik was Ganymede personified with his brown curls the colour of wet sand framing his face. He made a beautiful vampire as he once had a handsome mortal.
He was right. I should have controlled my impulses. I should have pulled back from him even as we rocked together towards his second ejaculation. I should have . . .
But I hadn't.
His eyes broke from mine and moved to stare up at the ceiling. "It's not your fault," he mumbled. "I kept asking for it. I followed you around like a damned puppy! Wanting you. Wanting to be like you."
He groaned and both fists slammed into the mattress on either side of him. "Now, I am."
I remained silent, not knowing what I could say. When Sergei Alexandrovitch gave me his blood, I faced imminent death -- or the immortality he offered me. Emil had been a healthy, attractive twenty-two year old mortal with years of youth still ahead of him. I had been happy to accept life, no matter what kind of life it was. He had had mortal life stretching out before him. Now, that was gone.
"I'm going to have to get used to it, aren't I?" he asked, defeated.
"I'm going to have to kill people now, aren't I?"
"Nothing says you have to drink as deeply as I did. No, you don't have to kill people to feed." I chuckled wryly. "For the longest time, when I still ruled my province before Hitler came, I drank only bovine blood."
"You did?" He looked at me curiously. "I thought you had to have human blood?"
"I did suggest that you not read those silly romances," I reminded him and smiled shyly. "There's so much that you need to learn -- and too much to forget."
"No coffins." He smiled back at me tentatively. "No colds and fevers." He chuckled, but I could sense it was forced. "Not even a bout of nausea when I eat something I shouldn't."
"You'll have that if you eat dead food, Emil -- and worse."
"Dead food?" His face immediately became a question.
"What you've always eaten. You need blood from a living animal to live yourself." I sniffed indignantly. "I get deathly nauseated at just the smell of cooked meat if I'm close to it."
"At least, I'm not going to develop arthritis, get old, and have my hair falling out so I'm bald, or fat, or ugly."
"There are some advantages," I admitted.
"I can read minds and dance all night every night." He smiled again and this time it wasn't forced. "Yeah, I guess I can get used to it."
He might be willing to get used to it, but he didn't invite me over to the bed and offer his body for our mutual pleasure. Instead, he rose with newly acquired speed and moved to the dresser to claim Y-fronts and socks. Even with my own heightened senses, he was more blur than beautiful vampire as he covered himself.
He cavorted about the house, testing his new abilities. I left him alone to explore himself and accepted the call from the embassy that set an appointment for me the next day at 1600 hours. The first secretary's fine Viennese-accented German still caressed my ears even after I returned the receiver to its cradle.
"Who was that?" Emil asked. I hadn't heard his approach to the room I had made into an office.
"The Austrian embassy. I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon."
His eyes narrowed as he studied me. "Why?"
"To set up a soiree that introduces me to Washington. To introduce us both," I added and smiled. "But you'll soon tire of that sort of night life. There are only so many whispered nothings and assignations a man can accept."
"You aren't going to start sleeping around on me, are you?" His countenance darkened immediately towards anger. "Tom I can accept. I guess I'm even looking forward to him joining us. But he's this Sergei of yours; he belongs with you -- with us. I'm not going to share you with anybody else --especially every little gadfly and rent boy in Washington."
I smiled. This was the Emil I knew before, in love with me, but with a newly acquired possessiveness. "Too often, these soirees can lead to an unused bedroom. But we don't have to accept."
"You had better believe we don't," he growled.
"If it's politically useful that a man -- or woman -- thinks we bedded them, we can leave them with passionate images of it being so."
He stared at me for a moment and then laughed. "You mean you'd make them remember sex that didn't happen?"
"It's useful to be nice to a person with even a little power -- it opens doors and makes things happen."
"Just what kind of soiree are you planning, Karl?" he demanded, willing himself to stand beside my chair. I watched as he seemed to grow larger and then stood at my elbow.
I shook my head in disbelief. The lad was certainly learning his new abilities rapidly, far faster than I remembered myself doing. "I am an intelligent and curious man, one with money and an old, established title," I said and realised just how snobbish I sounded.
He shrugged. He already knew that. He had even learnt I was a Prince, though I hadn't mentioned it.
"Emil, I want to know why skinheads patrol the gay district of this city, intimidating people. I would know why insane people blow up buildings and burn churches. I want to know why people stomp into a gay bathhouse and proceed to beat gay men to death. I would like to know why political violence is increasing across the spectra of society. I want to know the extent of the fascist trappings I see all about us in this city. I want to know what the danger is that faces America."
"You're on that kick again?"
I nodded. "Read my thoughts and see what I've seen while you studied," I told him, putting the incident at `P' Street Beach there for him to reach easily.
"How?" he asked as he screwed up his face and seemed to be trying to force his brain out of his head.
"Relax," I answered and extended myself to the edge of his mind, drawing him back to me, inside my thoughts.
"Mein Gott!" he growled as he saw the knife slicing through the night air towards the Negro I had saved. I made sure he saw the skinhead's thoughts I had read before I tore his throat from him and drank his life.
"Do you understand now?" I asked.
He shivered at the force of my memories. He knew what I was planning as well. "I'll help you any way I can. I'll even put up with you fucking some of these fascist pigs if that'll help."
I laughed. "And fuck some yourself?"
He blushed as only a vampire can, effervescent skin blotching with ugly reds, fuschias, and magentas.
I laughed again. "You must be hungry?" I offered.
"Yeah!" He grinned. "A pizza with lots of cheese..." His eyes clouded and his face became a frown. "I guess I won't be having that again, will I?"
I shook my head slowly -- and smiled.
"Okay. I guess I learn how to hunt then." His lips twitched. "Will you go with me? Show me how to do it right?"
I nodded and smiled back at him. "I was hoping you'd invite me."
"Good. And afterwards -- Karl, I want us to go to some of the bars."
"The bars?" Not once since I had met him had Emil Paulik shown interest in gay bars. I had not been to one in more than a century and, then, I had gone with Sergei Alexandrovitch.
Emil disappeared. There was nothing melodramatic to it -- no smoke or even mist. He simply ceased to exist in the room with me.
"I want to see how our people party, Karl," he said from directly behind me. I jumped, in spite of knowing it was his voice I heard. I turned and he was not there.
"I want to feel a part of this family now that I accept that I am part of it." The voice came from behind the mantle, leaching through the brick and plaster.
|We have become part of them as they are a part of us -- we're brothers in our sexual preferences. I would know my brothers, as you should, Karli, he said inside my head.
Oh, yes, my Swiss lad was quite well along in his development of his vampiric skills. Far more so than I had been. His laughter echoed down every corridor of my mind as he read that thought.
|Come back so we can talk properly,| I told him.
|But we are talking, my Prince -- and so nicely too.| I sensed the chuckles as he pulled my non-existent whiskers.
|This is childish,| I growled. |It doesn't become you at all, Emil.|
The air beside my chair shimmered as it puffed and became more than just air. It took on solidness and mass and dimension. It became Emil then. "Does this become me, Karl?" he asked quietly.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled. "It's just that I'm unused to such shows as this, Emil."
"Please, let's go to a few of the bars after we feed." He knelt beside my chair. "Promise me that we will."
I felt more ashamed of myself than I had ever felt during more than 160 years of life. Ashamed for him, embarrassed at my pomposity that drove him even in jest to beg me for anything.
I smiled and hoped that it was endearing. "Which bar shall we go to then?" I asked.
"The DC Eagle, Karl."
"The Eagle? Isn't that a leather bar?"
"Yes." He grinned. "I saw them last year -- the footage on television from the Pride Day here in Washington. There were half a million, Karl. The leathermen had a float with these hairy, fat men without shirts holding cute guys on leashes like they were dogs or something."
"And you want to go there?" I groaned, trying to visualise people willing to demean themselves in such a way.
"Just to see. I hear they aren't bad, they just act that way. They're supposed to be really good guys. Just -- outrageous." His face lit up. "That's the word. They put on an outrageous act for those who aren't like them."
"I would hope it's just an act," I mumbled dubiously.
* * *
We began our hunt in Potomac Park, starting at the shrine to the father of American democracy, Thomas Jefferson. Even through the canine eyes with which I gazed upon his statue, I felt his strength reach across more than two centuries to me. And his shame at how weak democracy still was in the country where he had midwifed its birth. Cars roared by less than thirty metres away on the eight lanes of I-85 that carried middle-class white bureaucrats into Virginia and travellers northward so that neither had to stay in the Federal city.
I fear as you fear, I told his presence within his open round memorial. I do not believe in the inalienable rights of the masses; but there is a struggle on the horizon, and it's mine as much as it is yours.
Emil was impatient. He was hungry. Thomas Jefferson and his dreams of men working together with other men to form a more perfect union meant nothing to my changeling as his stomach growled. New vampires were nearly as impossible as squalling infants. I apologised to the great man and trotted to the Tidal Basin where Emil paced hungrily, waiting for me.
|What took you so long?| he grumbled when I was beside him. I did not answer but began to lead him towards Constitution Avenue and the large government buildings on the other side of it. These had large heating grates where the lost men of Washington sought heat every night. Blood was plentiful there, and we would not have to kill. We trotted through the cold park towards the lights of the city.
I spotted the derelict sprawled across the grate in front of the west wing of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. |See him?| I asked.
|Yes. Dinner is served -- finally.| Emil started for the street.
|No!| I cried. |Come back, Emil. Make him come to you.|
He trotted back to me, his tail wagging. |Why did you call me back?|
|Look at him.|
He looked back at the man. |I am. What should I see?|
|Without vampire sight, Emil. See him as any mortal would.|
He looked back at the sleeping man, and I felt his concentration on him. |Okay. I did that too. I saw nothing. Now can we go eat?|
|You saw him as anyone driving along would see him. And would see us if we were over there. Make him come to us. You don't want to be seen feeding. Take away any chance of it happening.|
He understood then and stepped over to nuzzle my throat with his snout in thanks.
|Think always, Liebchen,| I told him. |As long as no-one knows about us, the masses won't come after us -- it's too easy for a vampire to die.|
I entered the derelict's mind and gave him a need to urinate. He rose from the grate and began to fumble with his flies. I quickly added a caveat he had not known for years -- that he wanted to relieve himself privately. He staggered to the sidewalk and followed it to the light nearest us. I smiled. This had been a well-behaved burgher once.
He crossed Constitution Avenue with the light and entered the park. I led him further from the roadway as Emil and I began to follow him.
We fed lightly on him and four others that evening. Each man had been able to make his way back to his grate when we were finished with him, but Emil and I had had our hunger sated. At home, we showered and began to get ready for our foray to the DC Eagle.
"Do you think we should do leather, Karl?" Emil asked as he stood in his closet, trying to decide what he could wear.
I turned to face him. "It's been my experience that natives do not respect foreigners who enter their world and pretend to emulate them."
"Natives?" Emil's brows bunch together as he frowned and tried to make me out.
"Can you speak of the things they like? Do you even know what they enjoy? I know I don't."
He shook his head slowly, still unsure of where I was leading the discussion.
"Yet, you would enter a bar dedicated to their way of life." I sighed. "Emil, dressing in leather, trying to look like this leather crowd, in one of their bars -- while knowing little of the culture they've embraced ... You would stand out. You would be at best a buffoon to them."
He studied me suspiciously for a moment. "Are you saying we shouldn't go?"
"No. This bar is open to the public; it's not a private club. They expect visitors -- tourists -- and are probably good hosts. As long as those tourists don't try to mimic them. Dress comfortably but be yourself."
He nodded and returned to contemplating the clothes in his closet. It took him another thirty minutes to decide what he would wear, but he didn't ask my opinion again. Without consideration for leather sensibilities, I chose a black, silk peasant blouse open in the front to my midriff and black jeans. I decided on a pair of black jodhpurs I had found in Zürich and which matched my attire perfectly.
"Gott im Himmel!" Emil groaned as I pulled on the last boot. I stood and turned to face him, my brow arching in question. "You..." His eyes narrowed as he studied me. "You could be a ghost. Am I as pale as you, Karl?"
I laughed. "There is a paleness but, no, you aren't as pale as I am. Your French and Italian ancestors saw to that -- there is a light olive complexion there which gives you colour. How do I look?"
He smiled. "Most edible, mein Fürst -- should we stay in?"
I laughed again. "Seriously, how do I look?"
"Aethereal. The black clothes are a stark contrast to your white skin and blond hair." He frowned. "I wish I could look as good."
I glanced at the yellow shirt of broadcloth and brown corduroys he had laid out. "You will, Liebchen. You will. Now, get dressed and let's invade this new world together."
* * *
The DC Eagle was different. It stood on Eighth Street in what, long before, had been Washington's Russian quarter. At least, I assumed so from the onion domes atop the furniture store across the street. Immediately in front of the building was a stand for motorcycles. It was a three-storey brick building painted dull grey; even its windows were painted over. The area was a lower class commercial one, deserted at night except for the Eagle's patrons.
My concept of clubs admittedly had been shaped by the Europe of the nineteenth century. I was used to establishments that catered to gentlemen -- mainly to aristocrats like myself. Such places had had well-lit rooms of polished woods, comfortable chairs, and masculine civilisation.
The Eagle's main room had walls of raw, unpainted wood. Except for the bar itself, there was nowhere to sit, only small extensions from the walls where a drink or elbow could be placed. A rubber-matted staircase led up to a wide landing.
It was crowded. We made our way through one cluster of men dressed entirely in denim only to work our way between two more clusters of men dressed only in leather. I noticed, though it was cold outside, that there was a tendency in both groups to expose as much of their chests and bellies as possible. There were also more hairy jowls than I had seen since the 1930s. Emil managed to guide us to the bar without pulling the aborigines' attention to us.
Knowing what alcohol did to a vampire's system, I ordered tonic water. I smiled as the Ganymede beside me ordered a dark Beck's beer with a schnapps chaser. I wondered idly if I would be able to keep him from crawling across the ceiling before his body could contain the alcohol.
"Let's see what's upstairs," I suggested after I'd paid for our drinks. He smiled and shrugged. I led us back into the crowded room. Unlike Emil, however, I gave each group of men as we approached it a mental command to move closer together -- opening a path before us.
Emil studied the effect and grinned at me. "That's one I'm going to have to learn," he mumbled as he moved against me, forcing me to bring my arm from his shoulders to encircle his waist. He stayed at my side until we had reached the empty landing.
At the top of the second flight of steps was an opened iron gate. "What is this?" I grumbled and put my foot on the first step.
"Mein Gott!" Emil groaned under his breath. I turned to face him and saw immediately that his eyes were blurred red. I saw then that the jigger of schnapps was empty. I grinned.
"It'll pass quickly," I told him as I moved beside him to hold him up. "But I would suggest that you not drink the beer."
"What a buzz!" he yelped and quickly looked around us to see if he'd been overheard. "No wonder you drink so rarely," he mumbled.
He very carefully bent his knees and consciously knelt beside me with me helping him down. I watched as he placed the beer mug on the floor. "Now, help me to stand, Karl -- please." He glanced around us once more and giggled. "This is so embarrassing."
I sensed a disturbance on the main floor below us. As I helped Emil to stand again, I touched minds close to the door.
The door was pushed open as several men moved quickly into the crowd of denim-clothed men. Each of them lifted box-like things to their shoulders. One mind I touched recognised the thing as a camcorder. I blinked. A camcorder? I delved deeper and learnt it was a camera that made videos like the Time-Life series I had studied in Zürich.
But why? Who were these men who pushed into the bar as if they owned the place?
The man whose mind I was reading turned back to the door just as ten men as burly as any I had seen downstairs walked into the bar and began to push their way into the clusters of patrons.
"Get out of the way, faggot!" one of them yelled as he pushed into a patron with a large, hairy expanse of belly showing between the flaps of his leather waistcoat.
The man growled and reached for the intruder. I watched as the newcomer's hand rose and crashed down on the patron's arm and heard the snap of bone. The patron was pushed out of the man's way just as the next wave of the invasion entered the bar.
Five young boys, barely pubescent, stepped inside. They wore khaki trousers, white shirts, and brown sportcoats. I saw black armbands on the coats then and knew instinctively that they would have gold crosses emblazoned on them. "Gott!" I groaned.
Everyone in the room below was aware of the attack and were pressing towards the door to see what had happened. I touched one of the cameramen's mind and saw him key on one burly, bearded man in leather. I realised the man was holding a leash attached to a studded collar around the neck of a cute youth standing there in only a pair of tight leather shorts.
"What is it, Karl?" Emil asked. I touched his mind and found that he was still inebriated but was beginning to come out of it. I prayed that this was not a repeat of the baths murders. I could disappear easily enough and never be seen but, in his present state, Emil would be shown to be the vampire he was if the situation below got out of hand.
"Be still!" I hissed at him. "Do not move. Do not speak."
A ginger-haired lad bounded up the stairs and, just before reaching the landing, turned back to face the crowded barroom below us. The man who had broken the patron's arm stood guard at the bottom of the stairs. I sensed his satisfaction.
"Listen up, faggots!" he shouted above the rising den in the room. "Hear the future and repent!" He nodded to the child then.
"The sun on the prairie is golden and warm," the red-haired lad began to sing, his voice a child's high, perfect tenor.
"The deer in the meadows run free.
Come, brethren, join with me and call forth the storm:
The new day belongs to me!"
I realised these were the same words I had heard in Zürich, but now I understood them clearly. The same foreboding began to darken my thoughts. The cameras panned the room, recording men who only minutes before had been comfortable living out the roles they had given themselves in their fantasies. Men who were now cowed into silence, even in their anger at having been invaded.
"Though the leaves of the forest each year turn to gold,
And frost rimes the winter-grey sea,
Still somewhere are waiting Your glories untold:"
The other four boys joined the redhead as he reached the refrain.
"The new day belongs to me!"
This invasion of a gay bar was a calculated effort to unravel the social fabric of American society. I understood that. These children were being used by the adults who led them to stoke a fight with the whole gay community, not just leathermen and their adherents, were using these children. The gays of this new millennium were to take the place of the communists of the old Weimar Republic. The pseudo-Christians of America were the fascists who sent their shocktroops into the streets to generate the gang wars that once took place on the streets of Berlin.
"Come Heavenly Father, Lord, show us the sign..."
A slave boy unhasped the leash that held him to his leather daddy. He moved closer to one of the boys and began to join in the singing. On the other side of the room, another slave boy did the same. Near the staircase, a denim-covered, bearded man joined the others.
"Your children are longing to see.
The morning will come when the whole world is mine:
But the new day belongs to me!"
More of the men were joining with the children of TOMORROW! in their anthem. I sensed that these were the youngest among the patrons of the DC Eagle. But there were now twenty or more of them, marching in place and singing their hearts out to yet another fantasy. We were no longer safe. I touched Emil's mind again and found it clear again. I touched his arm.
"Imagine the walk in front of this building," I told him. He turned to look at me, his eyes round as he felt the ferocity of fascism for the first time. "We need to get out of here," I told him. "When you have the image perfectly in you mind, put yourself in it -- just make sure you remember to imagine yourself clothed too. Can you do that?"
"I don't know, Karl." He stared back at the ginger-haired boy.
"Link with me then. Now!" I felt the touch of his mind and carefully imagined the bank of motorcycles before the grey building, placing both myself and Emil there.
Sitting before the fire in the study of our home, Emil turned from the news broadcast to face me. "Can we stop that, Karl? Can anyone?" The invasion of the Eagle had made the eleven o'clock news.
"We've got to," I answered.
"I was in shock," he mumbled. "But part of me was feeling that song, the sense of it -- its power was calling to me. The power of it was unbelievable. That part of me wanted to join them."
I nodded and took a deep breath. "There is a crowd psychology that comes into play. Remember that Hitler was only a beerhall rabble-rouser, until the depression hit Germany and there were a lot of men who would believe anything -- if it gave them jobs so that they could feed their children again. His harangues never made sense, Emil -- but they always promised a day when every man could work and every German could hold his head up with pride. That got to the crowd and the individuals forgot that his ideas didn't make sense. That's what is happening here."
"If we just left? I mean, this nonsense wouldn't follow us to Europe, would it?"
I shook my head. "Emil, the Americans are the only superpower left in the world. They have the bomb. No place on this earth is safe from them if these pseudo-Christians are allowed to gain power. We will all fall into step with them if that time comes. We will have to, in order to survive."