Sunday, May 06, 2007

A State Of Readiness.

Today is the night of the ceremony – The Ritual Of The Bloods. I overheard one of the group ask, the other day, if I knew that it was for real. The version I’ll be performing is not the full blood swap they all did, but I know what she meant; they’re all very concerned that I take it seriously. And I will – I’m prepared now.

Last night I was joined by the blonde, along with Brian and Geoff. The blonde was telling me how he hadn’t seen any of his family since the century began, and how he did mental exercises to erase them from his memory, when he broke off to ask why I seemed so distracted. He demanded to know, as is his manner. In truth, my mind was still on Naina’s disappearance, but I didn’t want to tell them about her so I made out that I was worried about an elderly relative.
“As I’ve been trying to explain to you.” Said the blonde. “These people will become irrelevant. It’s in your nature to worry about those close to you, but you need not worry. They won’t matter anymore.”

I pretended to be cheered by this, and as though I too believed the ritual would work. Something in what he said troubled me though. It took a few minutes to place it, but then I remembered that he’d used a similar phrase when talking about Sebastian coming to harm – only he didn’t bother to add that I shouldn’t worry because Sebastian was irrelevant.

I listened to them in turn for another hour, and then feigned that I was feeling tired. Such excuses of bodily weakness don’t normally go down well with the blonde, so I backed it up with a desire to mentally prepare myself in isolated contemplation of mortality, and that did the trick. Sebastian had been a bit more open about where he was going on his dates lately – being as specific as to say he was going for a meal or just a drink. Last night he didn’t eat with me because he was meeting his woman – and also because he’s still hardly speaking to me over the Naina thing. I started at the hotel and worked around, down, up out of town, eventually seeing him through the lead paned windows of a restaurant on the road to the library. In the hour I’d been searching, I’d been thinking of what to say, what my fears actually were; I couldn’t let him down again; I couldn’t take a chance with the blonde – the others were just play acting, but he was committed to proving how little regard he had for life; I needed to share all I knew with Sebastian; the ritual was never anything more than nonsense, not since magic died.

I saw Sebastian through the restaurant window, and for the first time I saw his date. It was Maria, not wearing her normal black, nor the metal collar that she always wore with the vampire group, but it was her. My first thought was that all this time he’d been hiding her from me, pretending that he had no idea who the rest of the vampire group were, that he’d only met the blonde, that he needed me to talk to them for him, but in fact he was in cahoots. Then I looked at Maria again: not only was she not wearing her normal goth clothes, she was wearing make-up and a floral dress. She was in disguise. The blonde had no doubt pointed out Sebastian to her, and then she made her move on him. He’s going to be at the ritual tonight, but had he been told, or was she going to lure him on some other pretence? I went into the restaurant, intending to join them at the table, to see how she reacted, but when the waiter came to ask if he could help, I said nothing. Sebastian’s face when he thought about his mystery woman always went like he was sucking on a clotted cream toffee. It’s possible that he’s fallen in love with her. I don’t know the part I’m supposed to play in this, but I think the betrayal of Sebastian will be the breaking of his heart. The blonde probably sees this as an instruction in mortal weakness.

I didn’t go in and join them. I’ve been asked by Sebastian to do what is necessary to find out where Challoner went, and that means indulging in the fantasies of others. Who’s to say that the group’s fantasies of immortality and an existence beyond humanity is any more ridiculous than Sebastian’s fantasy of happiness with a woman who has no feelings for him – just because one is dressed up in pantomime and the other happens everyday. Sebastian will get hurt – that’s what both these fantasies demand. Besides which, not everything I do needs Sebastian’s approval.


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