Case #13 – Maurice: The Becoming Part One(as told by sister Lucy)

We’ve never really been vampires.  We weren’t human for very long either.  We’ve been living in this half-life together for so long, it seemed like nothing could separate us, like we were growing into one being.  And then one day, it all just changed.  It seemed like such a small thing at the time.

Moving to the New World had taken a lot out of us, traveling in 1838 by steamship across the Atlantic.  The voyage took a little over 18 days and the only way we survived it was we took turns going into a sort of stasis while the other kept watch and fasted.  We arrived in New York famished and weak but managed to take up residence near a butcher shop.  It was providential in many ways.  The butcher had suffered a horrible accident just weeks before and Maurice and I were able to offer up our help to the butcher’s wife to keep the shop afloat for just a small room in the basement as payment.  The family never suspected what else we helped ourselves to but they admitted that the shop never looked so clean.

It took many months working there for us to build up our strength but we enjoyed our time there.  The Old World had become rampant with Undead but it was still a frightening prospect for most vamps to brave the voyage to the New World.  That’s why we had chanced it.  We were tired of running and hiding.  And in the city, we could slip in and out of hiding as we pleased.  We learned English within days, our brains able to harvest all the sounds around us into words and thoughts with strange speed.

But we stayed too long, we should have kept moving.  We looked just like teenagers then, maybe 16, street urchins, about the same age as the butcher’s children, a boy and a girl.   Neither of us knew what it was like to have playmates beyond each other and, well, we indulged in the idea of having a family.  We kept to the shadows during the day, claiming skin disorders but worked hard.  I cleaned while Maurice learned the art of butchery, seemingly learning overnight.  And I noticed things about myself, my strength had grown, my hair seemed longer.  While the trip had taken much from us, the limitless supply of fresh blood seemed to be rebuilding us in new ways. 

In a year, we looked like we had both gone through puberty.  My body filled out some, my hair grew, and I sprouted a few inches.  But for Maurice, the change was so much more dramatic.  He had always been smaller than me but he grew tall, he filled out into what a normal 18-year-old man would look like, his face became all angled losing its roundness.  I wasn’t alone in noticing.  I would catch both the butcher’s widow and the daughter Annabel admiring him.  I knew it was trouble but I too had an admirer in the butcher’s son Lucas and I was unwilling to give him up.  Being able to sit and talk, to have eyes stare into yours kindly as you spoke about faraway places, eyes wide with wonder and emotion, it was what we had never had.

Even with us growing up, maturing, Maurice and I still felt very much like one.  Maybe that is why we felt so much for the Butcher’s children.  Maurice’s infatuation with Annabel fed mine for Lucas and vice versa.  We would even share experiences back then, intense ones.  It was a strange and wonderful thing when I awoke one evening to feel Maurice receiving a kiss from Annabel as he awoke.  The wonder was followed by fear as I heard her call him her “Dark Angel,” a term she repeated as if knowing exactly what it meant. 

With that kiss, everything changed.  A wall went up between us as I urged him for us to move on, that it wasn’t safe anymore for us nor the family.  Maurice refused to leave and I had misundertsood why.  The family had become dependant upon us and I knew he felt strangely honor-bound to provide for them.  And his feelings for Annabel were complicated.  I think he knew before I did that she was ill; he struggled to decide what to do.  But before we could decide, both Annabel and Lucas succumbed and they were both slipping away.  

I didn’t know that Maurice had tried to turn Annabel until she lay screaming hours later.  He probably hadn’t even been unaware what he had done.  Whether by bite or by kiss, he’d infected her but his fluids did not have the strength to turn her completely.  She remained in horrifying pain for hours.  Whether her mother knew it was from the illness or something else, I never knew.  I never blamed Maurice because I had harbored the same dark thought about Lucas.  Sitting there watching my first love waste away, I had come to a similar resolve.  But it was Maurice who paid the price for acting first.  It was because Annabel had been sick first I suppose.

We all huddled around her bed, all of us, one dark arm of the family, one light.  Maurice held her and she spoke soft words to him before she sank unconscious and finally slipped away.  Her brother did not last into the evening of the next day.  The three of us, Maurice, me, and their mother cried together.  It was then that she knew that we were not human children.  Still, she had just lost her own children and so beset by the anguish of losing her whole family in the course of months, she adopted us.  She had squirreled away most of the money from the thriving shop and she decided we would move on West, get away from the city that had cost her one family.

As we traveled, I took Annabel’s name, Maurice took Lucas’s.  It was the first of our false identities in the New World with our first daytime companion.  The more we opened up to her and told her of our lives, the more determined she became to find a new safe place for us.  West, she said.  She did everything for us as we traveled, heading slowly west as far as the trains would take us.

Her name was Caroline.  And I learned that she had been Maurice’s first love.

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