So ... You've returned for more. (smile) Thanks for the vote of confidence.
Please realise that the primary genre of DARK PRINCE is that of political thriller, followed by that of gay romance as a secondary genre. So, there's going to be a consistent widening of the political element. The central plot to the story is that there is putsch waiting to happen and this is taking place in the US. That DOES NOT mean that I'm intentionally disrespecting the American presidency or the Republican party. I'm writing fiction here.
I hold the copyright to this story and am the only one who can approve any distribution in any medium. If the price is right and payable in Europes, I might be interested.
You must be 14 in Germany, 16 in the rest of the European Union, and at least 18 in the US to have the right to make sexual choices for yourself. Reading stories at Nifty fits into making such choices to a majority of Congress. So, though there's so little sex here that you could read this story with your grandmother, you really shouldn't be reading this.
Please let me know what you think of the story at vichowel at aol.com.
Enjoy -- Dave MacMillan
The whispering murmurs returned along the corridors of my mind as we rode the ground shuttle towards the airport's terminal building. They were nearly as incoherent as they were in Zürich before Sergei Alexandrovitch's soul had awakened, but they now carried feelings -- and warning.
This Tom MacPherson did not want me following him. He was warning me away instinctively, though he had not yet learnt to use his thoughts as Sergei or, even Würther, had been able to.
Not yet was the operative phrase, he hoped. Tom was assimilating his soul's awareness and putting its knowledge to use far faster than my curate had when he met me and learnt of his past. Sergei Alexandrovitch knew I would follow him to the ends of the earth; the American wanted time to sort through his new thoughts before he decided what he was going to do about us. I was supposed to wait.
Not bloody likely!
I had never seen a Negro except on film before Emil and I slipped into a cab at the terminal. I thought they were black; after all, the very name of their race came from the Latin for that colour. But the driver was a mahogany brown.
His nose was flatter than would be found among any of the ethnic groups of Europe. And his close-cropped hair was coarse and tightly curled.
His features combined far more pleasantly than I would have expected. Unfortunately for this particular member of his race, he cared nothing for his body. He had fed it glutinously and it had rewarded him with fat.
He was pleasant enough, greeting us with a friendly smile as he turned to us in the cab. He said something that I didn't understand and I saw Emil hadn't either. My blue-eyed, light-complexioned student spoke English far better than I, but his was as Engländer as mine. I, however, could read thoughts. I touched the driver's mind. He wanted to know where we were going.
"The Willard Hotel," I told him and sat back as our cab pulled away from the terminal.
"You read his thoughts?" Emil asked in German. I nodded. "Tom said I spoke English like a native, Karl -- but I didn't understand this man at all."
"I saw Gone With The Wind at the cinema in Paris when it was first released," I told him, remembering that trip to Paris with Würther less than two years before he lay dead in a field of edelweiß. I forced the memory away quickly. "Negroes seemed to speak a totally different dialect than the whites." I chuckled. "As different as Schwabian or Dutch is from German."
"Or your Viennese," he laughed.
We travelled along a lighted autobahn through the desolate, dark Virginia landscape for more than thirty kilometres before we exited and began to pass through residential areas that seemed to go on forever before we entered upon another autobahn. Road signs began to touch memories of the thirteen-year-old boy I was in 1861, avidly reading of the unbelievable war the Americans started among themselves. Manassas. Arlington. Alexandria.
"Papa, why do the Americans fight among themselves?" I had demanded of my father, the general, in the stables before our morning ride.
"The Southern states don't want Lincoln as their President," he answered and returned his attention to which horse he would ride.
"Like the Serbs, if they didn't like the Emperor?" I asked, attempting to comprehend such an impossibility. He had nodded and pointed the horse he wanted out to the groom. "Why not just have a putsch? Or assassinate him like the Russians did their Tsar?"
"The Americans are democrats. They let all the people make political decisions."
"Unglaublich!" I could not comprehend such unbelievable lunacy. How did they get anything done? Then I understood, as only a child can. Unrestrained democracy left a land open to rebellion every time one side disagreed with the other but could not win the election, like siblings -- the oldest bullying his younger brothers. The lower classes needed restraints on them to make progress possible, as a child needed his father to direct his growth into manhood.
"We're about to pass the Lee-Custis House, gentlemen," our driver told us, breaking into my revelry.
"General Robert E. Lee's house?" I asked, remembering the ever-courteous gentlemen general beloved by the European press during that long-ago war. Our driver nodded and I stared at the spotlighted columns of the portico, so like the Greek temples I had walked through in the Parthenon as a young man.
"It's part of Arlington National Cemetery," the driver announced. "It looks out over the Potomac River and Washington." I used my vision and saw the militarily correct rows of crosses stretching for hectares eastward from the house. I shivered. So much useless, meaningless death. So much wasted young promise. So many Emils lost for nothing.
* * *
I awakened to the feeling of being watched. I sat straight up in the bed, my muscles coiled, my eyes open, and my fangs bared.
"You would rip my throat out so willingly?" Emil asked and laughed.
I relaxed and shook my head. How long had it been since last I had a companion share my bed into the daylight? Not since Würther. Not for more than fifty years. I met his gaze with embarrassment at the exhibition of my survival instincts.
"I love you, Karl Josef Gustav, Fürst von Maribor."
I felt the warmth of his emotion, allowing it through the defences I was still dismantling. "You may love me, Emil -- but I suggest you'll be much safer in future if you make yourself comfortable in another room during this time of the day."
"I want what you promised last night," he answered, turning strangely petulant. "I've been sitting here for two hours waiting for you to wake and give it to me." He rose and I saw he was naked. He slipped into the bed beside me.
"I don't have a condom," I told him as his face neared mine.
"You're a vampire, Karli. It's a pretty safe bet I don't have to worry." His lips found mine as he moved to lie on top of me, grinding his sex against my abdomen as his fingers reached between us to grip my manhood, stroking it into erection.
"We need housing," I opined as we lay together in the bed, his head against my chest.
"We can stay here," he answered, the movement of his lips against my nipple doing nice things to me, things that would distract me if I weren't vigilant. "You know where Tom's parents live, where the university is -- it won't take but a day or two to find him."
"At nearly three hundred dollars a night for this room? That's nearly three hundred francs a day."
He sat up, his eyes round as he looked down into my face. "So much money? Mein Gott!"
"Tom knows me," I told him. "He knows his past. He warns me away, demanding time alone to understand everything. To make decisions that may not include me. We are going to have to wait for him to make those decisions." I frowned. "And, if I do try to find him, this is his country and he can become very difficult to find."
"You know this?"
"I hear his spirit's whisperings. Telepathy, you would call it. But, unlike your thoughts waiting for me yesterday, these are broadcast."
"I wish I could read thoughts like you do."
"You don't. We use that power to remove memory of ourselves. Or to lessen fear. Most mortals' thoughts are simply boring, petty nonsense no one cares about."
"We need to find a place then," an all-business side of him said, erupting from the comfortably satiated youth of moments before. "Do we want a flat or a house?"
I permitted myself to consider the question. For two months I lived in the garret in Zürich and they were months I now recognised of my feeling cramped and crowded. A house would provide room for a mortal Emil to move about without disturbing me and for me to go and come without bothering him. A house, too, lent itself to the impression of solidity, lending that sense to its owners as well.
It had been for that reason my father kept the house in Berlin even after von Bismarck's Prussians forcibly removed Austria from Germany. A house in the capital of the strongest and, thus, most dangerous country in the world would also be an ear to that country's intentions -- especially if the right contacts were made.
"A house," I answered.
"In a gay neighbourhood or straight?"
"There's a difference?" I asked in surprise.
"Very gay neighbourhoods are upscale."
"Because gays spend their money on their homes, Karl," he answered grinning. "We want our sex in comfort and nice surroundings; and, fortunately, we aren't going to have children to waste our money on.
"Very, very upscale areas are mixed -- with educated, moneyed, and understanding straight people predominating. But proletariat neighbourhoods usually look rundown. Both poor and gay neighbourhoods have more crime."
I laughed. "You're asking me how much money I have."
He appeared wounded. "Never! I'm merely laying out your choices as well as reasons upon which to make them."
"We'll go upscale, Emi. If one of the reasons to have a house is to have an ear open to what is happening in this capital, those with power would prefer to come to a nice home in a safe neighbourhood."
He grinned down at me. "Now, we need to find an estate agent." His fingers tweaked a nipple before moving down along my ribs to my abdomen. "But, first, I think I need a second course."
"A second course?" I asked as his fingers found me and began idly to play.
My own fingers reached out and touched his hip, its warmth tingling back into me. "A second course it is," I answered and smiled at him as my lips approached his.
* * *
House buying was a learning experience. When I had bought a house in Paris in 1895, I merely turned the search over to my banker in Vienna who, as a favour, called upon a banker in Paris who handled my account while I was there. He did the work, leaving me but a few papers to sign.
That was not how they did it in America. I actually needed Emil Paulik to lead me through the maze of petty, interlocking business arrangements where everyone appeared to get his cut.
Emil had been busy while I slept my first day in America. He had ventured out in Washington, DC, and located the central public library; there, he picked up a thick gay newspaper in which gay-owned and -operated businesses advertised, among whom were at least ten estate agents.
Unglaublich. A homosexual community large enough to support so many businesses. Business owners willing to state they were homosexual. And advertise themselves as such in a weekly newspaper that catered predominantly to that community. The America of 2004 was certainly not the Austria of Dollfuß or the Ostmark of Hitler's Reich.
While Emil telephoned an estate agent to arrange an appointment, I read through The Washington Blade, marvelling at how far the love that dared not speak its name had come in a hundred years. After I recovered from my surprise at the sheer number of advertisements for legitimate business, I turned to the news. Its lead story was an attack on the Washington Baths last night. Unknown assailants broke in and killed the few patrons there, beating them to death. The reporter suggested darkly that the murderous attack was suspected to be the work of the Christian Men United For Morality.
Another news item detailed how two teen-aged sons of a Maryland police chief had entered a known gay cruising area and mugged a gay man. Reverend Bob Patterson preached homosexuality was an abomination in the sight of God and condoned gay bashing. A Southern Senator in his eighties called for the United States to send all its homosexuals to a deserted Pacific island so the country could be free of them. Arlington police conducted sting operations against gays at one of America's many monuments to its fallen dead. The Post Office entrapped some man in some place called North Dakota by sending him child pornography and, when he accepted it, arresting him.
This was America? This was democracy at work?
Wahnsinn! Complete, unadulterated insanity. The feudal fealty I had come to know as a young man made far more sense.
Admittedly, my English was poor as I had barely used it in a hundred years; but there was more than half the news I did not understand. The meanings behind the words and sentences were what left me confused and bewildered.
What I could not understand was how the country that had nearly alone defeated Hitler and the Axis was so close to emulating him. Somehow, America had sunk deeply into the quagmire of reaction and the fascism that lurked so closely behind it. That was the insanity I could not understand.
I tossed the newspaper on the bed as Emil replaced the telephone receiver in its stand and, smiling, crossed the room to me. "You look as if you ate something indigestible," he commented.
"Did you read this?" I pointed to the newspaper on the bed.
"Sure. I had more than five hours before you woke up. I read it. I also read The Washington Times and The Washington Post."
"Are they gay also?" I asked, not at all sure I wanted more of the homosexual-oriented diet from which I had just eaten, especially if everyone seemed to be forming a coalition to make homosexuals second class citizens or put pink triangles on their coats as Hitler had.
He grinned. "They're the mainstream papers." He knelt beside the bed and picked up more newspapers.
"Gott im Himmel!" I grunted as he handed them to me.
"We've got a seven o'clock appointment with an agent in Capitol Hill."
"Where is Capitol Hill?" I demanded.
"Near the American Congress' buildings. It's supposed to be very upscale. It's not even five o'clock now." He grinned. "We've got time to eat."
I picked up a paper. The Washington Times. I started reading half-heartedly, my stomach reminding me harshly that I hadn't fed in two days. I forgot it immediately. The editorial slant was blatant as the newspaper reported how something called the Christian Men United For Morality had broken into a crackhouse in a northeast Washington neighbourhood, beat up the people inside, and was now patrolling the community to keep drug dealers out. The paper had headlined the article as "Rebuilding A Community".
I did not know what crack was but supposed it was like heroin. I had no use for those who sold such destruction. The article, however, clearly showed this men's group to be outsiders to the community. Outsiders who might well be connected to the deadly attack on a gay place of business that had occurred the month before. Any form of vigilante-ism was wrong. Societies had police forces to protect their people and laws to protect their people from the police. No-one protected anyone from a vigilante.
With growing horror, I rushed through the rest of the paper in my hands. I frowned as I reached the last page of the front section and tore the paper in two as anger consumed me.
"You read it through that fast?" Emil asked, not comprehending my anger.
"Vampires are faster than mortals," I hissed and stared at the two halves of the newspaper still in my hands. "This trash is a newspaper?" I demanded.
"It's nothing more than a reactionary apologia! It's..." I sorted through my memories of the German twenties for an explanation that would describe the drivel I had just read to a young 90s European. "It reads like von Papen's Nationalist Party newspaper from the Weimar Republic. They glorify violence that supports order. They offer nothing, but blame every problem on the liberal government."
"That's pretty standard for an opposition press, Karl."
"No. If a newspaper is going to coat its news coverage with ideology, it needs to show how its side's positions are different. This rubbish doesn't do that. It blames everything bad on liberals. It offers no solutions. Even Hitler offered solutions. Von Papen didn't."
"Who's von Papen?"
I stared at him in surprise. "He invited Hitler into the German government, convincing Hindenberg he could be controlled. The same happened in Austria when Dollfuß came to power. In Italy with Mussolini, too. In Hungary and Rumania as well. Every time fascists have come to power, reactionaries paved the road for them."
"That's pretty ancient history." He stopped as he saw hurt flare in my eyes, mixing with my receding anger.
"Ancient history? I lived through it and it seems only months ago. I lost Würther to it. Your father fought on one side or the other in it..."
"My grandfather," he corrected. "He was French and in the Resistance."
I felt suddenly old. Like an old workhorse, still skittish with the memory of pain met as a colt. I tried to convince myself I was seeing ghosts that were dead and buried. The Nazis were gone. The Communists were gone. Eastern Europe and, even, Russia were democratic now. Emulating their western cousins. There were no more von Papens and Marshall Petàins.
I tried. But I couldn't believe mankind had evolved so far in sixty-five years that it wouldn't repeat its recent history. Unless there was a strong hand controlled by principled reason at the helm of power to guide it through the shoals.
"You're hungry?" I asked, forcing the bad taste of fear from my mouth.
"I'm becoming that way," he answered with a grin.
"Have you found a restaurant listing in your readings?"
He shrugged. "I passed many today as I strolled about, but I don't know anything about them."
"Look in The Blade. They had restaurant adverts. Find something that promises a German flavour that doesn't mind gays."
"You want German food?" I sensed he was playing with me, angling me towards a sexual corner without even realising it.
"I can't eat dead food, Emil."
He stared at me, pulled from the fantasies that had been growing inside him. "What're you...?" Realisation dawned on him. "You've got to have blood."
"I don't know. I'll hunt tonight."
"You didn't hunt last night."
"Yes. But it's not overpowering."
He eyed me speculatively. "Can you -- uh -- control your feeding?"
"What that supposed to mean?"
He clasped his hands before him and gazed down at the floor, refusing to look at me. "You can have some of my blood -- until you hunt." He looked up then, his eyes searching mine. "Just don't kill me while you're doing it. No more than half a litre. You'll have to control yourself."
"You're serious, aren't you?"
"When you need it you can have it, Karl."
I laughed. "Thanks, my friend. But I'm still not ready to leave you a pale shadow of yourself yet."
Emil shrugged, but I caught the slight frown that hurriedly crossed his face.
"Emi, you can only become like me if you drink my blood -- my drinking yours only leaves you weakened. Or dead."
I was surprised by this man's determination to join the ranks of the undead now he knew I stood there -- and the intelligent subterfuge he had devised to have me lead him there.
* * *
There was a wet chill to the air when we left the Willard. The doorman hailed a cab for us. The estate agent was to meet us at his office on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol Hill section of Washington. The Cafe Berlin was the only German restaurant to actively solicit gay patrons and was on Massachusetts Avenue, in the same quarter of the city. I directed the driver to the realty company's location first and, then, to the restaurant by the quickest route. I wanted to develop a feel for the part of this city I was to live in.
Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street, SE, was clean and its immediate neighbourhood was obviously upscale as we turned left onto Sixth. The several blocks of houses we passed bespoke both money and effort at upkeep. The same money and effort continued as we turned left onto Massachusetts and moved northward. I began seeing young couples oblivious to my watching them strolling along the sidewalks as we entered a well-lighted commercial district.
The cab pulled over in front of what I initially thought was a house. Then I took in the bricked patio with empty tables and smelled distinctly German cooking.
Emil ate and I sipped at a Moselle, feeling the ambience of the restaurant. I extended my senses beyond the walls, touching random thoughts throughout the neighbourhood. I felt the acceptance of diversity that permeated the population about me; but I also found fear lingering just behind the surface thoughts. The same fear, person after person: the fear of mugging and, even, random murder beyond the walls of one's house.
The people about me lived suspiciously behind burglar alarms, barred windows and doors. It seemed there were worse things than the undead walking the streets of America's capital city at night. The suspicion was racial; the images I found in mind after mind was of young Negro men coming into the neighbourhood from the poor areas north, south, and east of this one. I was stunned by the uniformity of the images.
I delved further. While suspicion was directed exclusively towards young Negroes, it wasn't as racial as it first seemed. It carried class distinctions that became blurred by race. I pulled back, my mind returning to the small German restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue, in surprise.
These well-paid, well-educated, mostly white home owners saw Negroes as living in poverty, this causing them to rob, to distribute drugs to have an income, to kill others of their race in territorial struggles to protect that income, and to enter white neighbourhoods to rape, rob, and kill on a lark.
It made no sense. The poor of the Europe I knew until the Nazis drove me into sleep did occasionally rob the middle-class and rich. But they didn't do it as a lark. And they didn't rape and kill for the hell of it.
The Europe I had awakened to in August had a social net that fed and housed the poor. Only those who refused the employment their vocational training had prepared them for, who had surrendered to despair like those I fed on, fell through that net. But most of them became derelicts, not dangerous to anyone but themselves. There were robberies, but few rapes and murders.
I remembered that Bönner had said that they'd done away with their social net. Had America developed a new sociology where murder, rape, and pillage were become random acts of pleasure?
More importantly, did I want to live in such a society?
Emil was watching me closely when I glanced across the table at him, pulling my thoughts away from the abyss at which they had stood. "Are you all right?" he asked.
I smiled back at him. "It's nothing." I saw his plate was empty. "How was your dinner?"
He grinned. "I travel more than 6,000 kilometres to a country with a totally different culture, and I end up eating some of the best German food I've ever had, including my mother's."
"Then, you'll need to walk off all those calories," I told him chuckling.
He glanced at his wristwatch. "We've got thirty minutes and it's but a short walk to the estate agent's office."
The fears of humans were rarely mine. I inhabited their world, but I did not fear as they did. I would own a house in this city, at least until I had found Tom MacPherson and learnt his intentions. I would have a home made as secure as man and vampire could make it to deter burglary. And it would be in a well-lighted and relatively safe neighbourhood, that I might have guests who were mortal and feared for their lives and purses. But I did not fear the night-darkened streets, not even for Emil beside me as we began to walk. I could protect him against any mortal.
The next four evenings were hectic. The estate agent was avid to sell me a house and have me living in it before Christmas and that meant his pounding on my hotel door at the earliest possible moment I would permit his appearance. And showing me cold house after cold house -- cold not so much because of the temperature, but because each one felt unlived in. Uncherished and, even, unremembered. I was unimpressed.
And I was hungry. Interminable little chats with the imminently cheerful estate agent after the night's showings inevitably lasted until one and two o'clock. By the time I had Emil back to the hotel and sexually sated enough he had gone to bed, dawn was but two or three hours away.
Hunting was something that could not be rushed for me, however. I liked to choose my dinner, weighing his worth against what I might find later on. For me, hunting had always taken more than two or three hours -- except in Zürich.
As Emil slipped into sleep, I was forced to become a small bat and fly from our eighth floor window in a city I didn't know and rush what I was uncomfortable rushing.
I fortunately found derelicts hovering over open grates on the grounds of every large government building and most of the parks to the west of the Willard. Men and women more than slightly neurotic and convinced they couldn't work made homes of discarded cardboard boxes. They wore their filth and layer upon layer of dirty, rotting clothing with pride, daring anyone to shame them. They drank, they shot heroin, and they smoked
crack cocaine. They harangued those who tried to pass by without seeing them. They were not the passive, reclusive derelicts I knew from Europe resigned to the death they brought slowly to themselves.
I fed and did not kill. I became drunk and woke to strange and unpleasant tastes in my mouth.
By the fourth day of the estate agent's exclusive six-month contract, I was ready to buy almost anything he would show me. I needed the peace my own house would afford me. I needed more wholesome dinners than I was finding near the Potomac in southwest Washington. I wanted undisturbed time to learn the realities of power in America's capital as well as to meet its wielders. I wanted to locate Thomas MacPherson to begin nudging him into a decision that included me even as I attempted to decide what I should do with Emil Paulik.
Sergei Alexandrovitch, now Tom MacPherson, whispered to me, lulling me into sleep as each new dawn lightened the sky over Washington. I grew increasingly fond of Emil Paulik each afternoon I woke and found him smiling at me from across the room or felt his warmth beneath or beside me with both our lusts sated when our estate agent would finally leave us to ourselves.
The house was as large as the one on Akademiestraße in Vienna that I once fled. It dated back to when men of substance had houses in which they could invite friends and power brokers to a soiree. It stood on its own short block, giving it grounds usually unknown to city dwellers. A black wrought-iron fence embedded in concrete protected it from the street and the small park before it.
It too was cold but still held dim memories of laughter and happiness.
I glanced at Emil and he nodded back at me. "How much?" I asked. The price didn't really matter. Each hundred million Swiss francs in my account was worth at least seventy million U.S. dollars at Christmas, 2004. I needed only present my letter of credit from Hauptmann's Bank to a person of authority at Riggs National Bank and I could write this estate agent a check for the amount of the property.
* * *
Davis Trellum sat on the lip of the fountain in front of Sears in Springfield Mall. He smiled to himself as the general approached him. You could take a man out of uniform he decided, but you couldn't take the military out of him. General Howell was ramrod straight and he didn't walk, he marched. He patted the stone lip beside him and the vice president's military attaché sat smoothly down beside him. At the Sears entrance, a church choir in white robes sang Christmas carols. It was Christmas week.
"That traffic is a bitch," Howell muttered and glared at the shoppers milling around them.
"I asked you out here so I could understand why I haven't heard from you in -- what? -- nearly a month now?"
"You said you wouldn't need us until April, Mr. Trellum."
"I also told you to train your division. There can't be any miscalculations once this thing starts to fly." He frowned. "That means specifically that there can't be some general at Fort Myers resisting Reed Stephens' orders. Or any kind of public demonstration in Washington before you control the armed services enough to get the country in step with the new order."
Howell pursed his lips. "Yes, sir, it has taken a while, longer than I expected. Only, I had to cover my tracks so it didn't look like the orders for training these men came out of the Senator's office." He frowned. "Next month, I'll be able to call him the vice president," he mumbled.
Trellum relaxed. Reed Stephens' general was doing what he was supposed to be doing. "You're right. We don't want anything traced back to us."
"Everything's in place now, sir. We'll start training the division in crowd control towards the end of January -- a company at a time."
"You're going to use Fort Belvoir for this?"
"Yes, sir. It's far enough out that the brass at Myers won't notice anything but close enough in that the real thing will be familiar to these boys when the time comes."
"Just keep it out of sight."
General Howell chuckled. "Nobody will see anything until the end of March. We'll move some units into town then -- to get people used to having us around. There won't be anything obvious, though."
"Is the army going to be able to do this, Howell?"
The man laughed. "It's going to be a piece of cake, Mr. Trellum. We have Clinton to thank for that, too."
"He sent the Army into Somalia, the Marines into Haiti. We've been part of the thirty thousand men keeping order in the Balkans the past ten years. The Army and Marines have had lots of experience these past thirteen years, thanks to that creep."
Trellum stood. "I won't keep you any longer, General." He smiled as he extended his hand to the man. "I feel a lot better now that we've talked. Merry Christmas."