The Truth Will Out


What should have been a beautiful warm Seattle night to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Sound from the park across from Pike Place Market wound up being more an education in how public places could hide anyone. Vagrant, socialite, drunkard, hipster, tourist, mystic, killer…the naïve masses crushing themselves through the night, walking the harbor steps for a view of the pier, lights from ships bouncing across the water.

When I found the totem pole that Skovajsa had arranged as our meeting place, I found myself facing a fifty foot log of cedar rising up into the dark sky. At eye level, some sort of bird, talons up and raised, staring at me. It made me think of Lucy and her flock ability, power of transfiguration that I had never seen. Of course, in the here and now, with the memories of Valerian coming back to me, I realized that I was not fully back into myself yet. The nightmares that haunted me were images from my past that I fought to keep hidden.

I seldom thought back on how I’d become aware in this lifetime. It was still too painful to remember all of it beyond what Skovajsa’s attack had forced me to relive. But my crisis in this life had connected me back with lives that had come before. But still, mostly snippets and fragments had emerged over the last two years. Even now I had to admit how little I knew of the Memento itself, how it had come into my possession, how its magic had been forged.

Had I invented a reality to cover over those gaps, much like Skovajsa had? Were our struggles so very different, trying to understand what we were and how to become that next thing, the next step in our evolution? Looking up at the pole, towering over me in the dark, I realized that the dance was over. I needed to push Skovajsa, challenge him to know what he was really about, whether I could really help him.

I turned away from the totem pole and felt Skovajsa near. He kept his distance, observing me from across the street. He still wore his dark long jacket and once he could tell I’d seen him, he strode over. Interesting. He seemed intent on not frightening me.

I met him halfway, where we’d be full under street lights.

“Thank you for meeting me here,” he said, voice even and calm.

I simply nodded.

He reached out a hand to touch my cheek and I stepped away. Flashbacks of that hand wrapped around my throat were all too recent. He dropped it, immediately stuffing both of his hands in his pockets.

“Shall we walk?” he offered.

“Ok,” I said. As long as it’s within full view of everyone else in the whole of Seattle. And maybe even a few spy satellites. I wasn’t going to take the lead on this. He’d called this meeting. He needed to explain what he wanted.

It took him awhile to get going. In fact, we’d reached to the end of this stretch of safe walkway before I halted us. “Look, Skovajsa, you called this meeting.”

“Yes, I thought we might talk.”

Um, right. It was talking to a brick wall, all six plus feet of it. The tension was getting to me, especially since I was getting his back currently as he looked around. But I needed to give this one more chance. I needed to be sure. It was for a life’s work undone.

“I’m listening,” I said, my tone blank.

He turned toward me, a look of compassion and regret on his face. “I have committed an offense. I have not treated you with due respect and I apologize for my short sightedness. You are a woman of great worth and understanding. I see that now.”

O-K. If the hairs on my arms would just sit down, maybe this wasn’t going to be too bad.

“You see, I do not trust easily. My life has been full of strife and death. I have been hunted, even by own kind. And humans,” he paused, looking away, suddenly pensive. “Well, they seem to stick around for more than they are wanted, for their own ends. It is why I have had so few servants.” He looked down at me again. “Finding a companion, it is difficult for one such as me.”

Lost, misunderstood, confused?

“Someone of talent, knowledge, and strength of character and purpose to match my own power and resources is…rare indeed.”

Oh, sorry, egotistical, maniacal, sociopathic.

He reached a hand into his coat and thirteen lifetimes stood up in me, ready to scream in one voice for help. But instead, he retrieved a velvet rectangular box, holding it out to me. “Please. A token of my apology.”

I was about to halt him with my hand but one of those voices, a young bride from Darjeeling, bade me give in for a moment, to not tempt the beast when it was most contrite. I took the box and opened it. Even under the dim glow of street lamps, the diamond necklace glittered shamefully. Oh, shit.

“Skovajsa–.”

“Please, you must hear me. I feel if you give me the chance, you may come to see that our lives might be bond together in perfect circumstance. If I might just be allowed to give you the stars, you might yet bring me the sun.”

My eyes darted up. The sun. My blood ran cold. What possible reason could a vampire like him want with the sun? He had learned to speak in metaphor. My talent and knowledge, his search for a companion. This was something I never expected. Skovajsa didn’t want to kill me. Far from it. He wanted to bind me to him, to use my knowledge for his own purposes. Perhaps to hunt down other vampires.

The Sun. Jesper. Somehow, my instincts told me, he knew about Jesper. I didn’t know how or for how long. Had he read my thoughts? Was that yet another talent vampires of which I had been unaware?

He put his hands over mine to close the box, pushing it gently to me. I blinked very slowly up at him. My mind ground to a complete halt and the very worst that could possibly be had come to fruition.

“Skovajsa, you are not the vampire you say you are. I do not know how you were truly made but your life story seems a contrivance to make up for being abandoned by your maker.”

This made a dent in his temperate manner. His eyebrow twitched but he slowly smiled to cover it.

“I can try to help you, help you try to recover your story, your memory…as your psychologist.” Then, I pushed the box back into his chest. He let me draw one hand back, but he gripped my left before I could get it back safely. He stared down at the box.

“What do you mean, you think my story is a lie? That my struggle…that it has been a lie?”

He let go of my hand as if I’d hit him. His words should have been filled with hurt, anger even. But they fell flat and devoid of anything resembling humanity and all the gracelessness of pure, raw emotion. It was as if someone was typing in the words and Skovajsa the mannequin spoke. He was either buried so deep underneath the lies he’d told himself or the man he’d once been no longer existed at all.

“I have no doubt you have struggled. But I can only help you if you want to know the truth. If you really want to know yourself.”

He held out the box again, as if diamonds really were a girl’s BFF. I stepped away.

It was heartbreaking, in a way. He wasn’t Valerian. He wasn’t fighting to maintain himself while I tilted the world on him. I could see he just didn’t understand this rejection. It didn’t fit. But nothing showed in his face. But the gears must have been turning.

“You will…try to help me.”

“As your psychologist.”

He gazed into my face again, his impassive. “You’ll help me…uncover my story.”

Something felt off, like he was backing me into some corner that I couldn’t see. “You wanted to know yourself.”

He looked down, dropping his arms to his sides. “Yes. I said that.” He straightened up to full height. “I have many holdings, pretty houses, stores, nice things. Cars, furs, jewels. You would not be wanting for anything. Perhaps in time, when you know me better, you will change your mind.”

Damn, if he wasn’t persistent.

“No. I won’t. I want to help you. But not like that.”

His body relaxed all of a sudden, as if I’d given him exactly what he wanted. “Well, I will just have to find some other way to convince you. While we continue our treatments, of course.”

Not only was he not listening, he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. He’d made up his mind. I hesitated. It might make more sense to stall him into thinking we were good until I could figure out what to do next. But he was Vampire; he had it in his head that I would make a great addition to his many holdings. Being used for my knowledge was something that Valerian had once warned me about.

If you are not protected, you will become a pawn.

I nodded. “Right. I’ll contact you for your next appointment time. In a few days. Good night.” I began to walk away.

“Sophie.”

It was the first time I remember him using my name. It chilled me. I wanted to scour my ears. Was there just a little Vox in there?

“You turn down the finest jewels. What gift would be more appropriate for my…psychologist friend?”

I’d turned down the nearest thing a vampire gave to a marriage proposal and realized that this was by far one of the most dangerous and unhinged vampires I’d ever met. There was no doubt now. Skovajsa was the Vampire Cannibal I feared. I was stalling for a plan, for something brilliant to come to mind.

“Don’t suppose you have any fine wine?” I quipped.

“Certainly.” He smiled. “Something just perfect for the occasion. A very rare old vintage Sherry. I just recently got it for a steal from a collector in Seville.”

Remember what I said about fearing a smiling vampire?

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