1Chapter 1

A glimmer of life echoed in the vampire's amber eyes as he followed the footsteps of an approaching meal from the edge of the brush and hedges at the end of the park. He often waited there on Saturday nights, waiting to strike as people stumbled to their cars and Hotels from the bars. The insatiable hunger could only be cured by one thing. Sure, he could eat whatever he wished; steaks, preferably bloody, ribs, chicken, fish and even vegetables... if he wished. But it couldn't cure him the way the taste of the different variations of blood would leave his senses heightened, his body weakened. It was nearly orgasmic. Some blood was thicker, some thinner than others, but like cattle, not all could be a flawless sacrifice but it all was somehow so filling. He took from the old just as he did from the young. Being forbidden made it all the more necessary, or so it seemed. His name was Gabriel, and he took no last name. It was forgotten when he was created. All mortal ties were, buried with his past, and the people of his past.

He needed no job, money was abundant when every power was at his fingertips, and he chose the shadows, to hide away where no one knew his name. Where no fingers were pointed, and no accusations reigned. He was invisible.

When one became a vampire, they chose to live in the light or the darkness. There were those who lived among mortals, eating, fucking, and sleeping as they did, and in spite of fables and folklore, were well adjusted to the sunlight. Perhaps millions of years ago this wasn't so, but most of them merely chose the darkness. It was easier to hunt in the darkness. It was much easier to escape years of guilt in the shroud of night. It was simply easier to live in the darkness, and Gabriel had grown to love the darkness, to accept it, and embrace it.

He knew the scantly dressed girl was young as she approached, ranting, and cursing under her breath. Probably eighteen, perhaps nineteen. Gabriel heard every word she muttered.

"and if that bitch gets up in my face again, she better make damn sure she's ready to get made a fool of," a moment of silence as she dug through her purse, "oh great, no cigarettes. Damn! Damn! Damn!"

Gabriel could smell her upon the wind sweeping through Baltimore Pear trees. She smelled like bourbon, caustic tobacco, and sex, but mostly sex. She was a prostitute. You could tell a lot by the scent of a person, where they've been, smoker, non-smoker, drinker and so forth. She had been with several men that night, and not very clean men at that. She was probably a junkie, and when he put himself into her mind, mentally projecting her thoughts into his own, he could read that she, unfortunately, wasn't high. He heard her mind projecting the name David, and crystal. He gathered she was thinking about the drug crystal meth, and that she was on her way to buy the drugs from this David, so she probably still had some of her earnings on her. It would help pay the rent, and her young, polluted blood would satisfy his unquenchable thirst. The poor girl was projecting the thought of drugs so strongly, for one moment Gabriel felt the craving, the desperation. She must have been horribly hooked.

The worst thing about his heightened senses, keen sixth sense, and all powers telepathic, was feeling their pain. He was empathic, and had been even before his transition into a vampire. He felt what others felt, and to such a broader spectrum, that he had been teaching himself through the years to shut it off when necessary. Ironically, he'd find that he ended up unable to see and feel their thoughts when he needed to, and his senses would return as soon as he would go in for the kill. For years it kept him from killing humans very much at all, then like with anything else, he became numb to it.

With the 314 years behind him it was safe to say his mentality had intensely progressed. He was wise, and in tune with the night, in all her mysterious glory. And his ancient heart beat was just as in tune with her footsteps, as his stagnant blood coursed through his body. He was a bit dizzy, weak, and it had been almost a week since he'd had the blood of a human. Too long to go without his necessary source of a life lived. Not even well-lived, just lived. He had already lived the life he was supposed to. Now he was existing, seeing if he could outlive the quickly failing world around him. For a vampire, he was actually quite young, still a vampire in his prime, and the years only added to his wisdom and power. He'd often asked the question, when does it get better?

There was no reason to spring upon the girl. He didn't look frightening by any means, and he liked when they came to him willingly. In a way it made it feel like they were sacrificing themselves to keep his kind warm and beautiful. He made their ends poetry.

Gabriel looked like the all-American male, a strong jaw, a spectacular profile, with a sharp nose, and deep amber eyes that seemed to glow. This too, just happened to be something he was born with, those brilliant, nearly golden eyes. He was six foot on the nose, but he found himself average. He had an athletic build, finding that most vampires did. The reason was that only the strongest could survive the change, only the survival of the fittest.

Gabriel's piercing eyes, sharp nose, and handsome strong face was framed by shoulder-length, wavy, golden-brown hair. His soft face was void of facial hair. Nothing much had changed about him in over 300 years, except the style of clothes he wore. He never liked to stand out in a crowd, so he always dressed casual. Where once that had been calf-length black breeches, with a white button-up shirt, now it was jeans and a black t-shirt that read in white block letters Life.

He rather took a liking to the shirt when he noticed his victim, a young male, perhaps in his early twenties. It was rather ironic, he thought. The man, practically a boy, had no idea what life was, whereas Gabriel was just beginning to learn. He was the embodiment of life, and proved that it wasn't all that spectacular. He had learned that life and history was a vicious cycle of repetition, so he stayed out of the loop and avoided humans as much as possible. Sometimes he found someone, a mouse he could play with just to end the tiresome drone of eternal life, but other than that he was totally and completely alone.

Gabriel stepped out of the shadows. The tired looking girl's footsteps faltered for a second as his presence appeared to shock her.

"You scared the shit outta me." She began walking again, boldly towards him, her small black vinyl purse swinging loosely on her shoulder. "You gotta cigarette, honey?"

Gabriel remained silent.

She was thinking, What the hell's his problem? Fucking creep. Could be some kind of pervert...

He smiled, shaking his head, "I'm not a pervert."

"Um..." she seemed a bit nervous but moved forward none the less, heading towards the street a bit quicker. He sensed her dealer lived nearby. "Whatever, you just stay over there and I'll be over here..." then she muttered, "weirdo."

Gabriel could hear the approaching of a vehicle in the distance, and she had put a bit more space between she and him as she walked towards the end of the park. He grew impatient, tired of the worn out game. Quickly, he went in for the attack. It was nearly a blur when Gabriel grabbed her, jerking her arm so hard that he heard the bone snap like a twig as he pulled her forward behind the thick brush. No one could see them there. The terrified girl screamed under his weight as his sharp canine fangs tore through her soft throat. A cascade of warmth flooded into his mouth, his veins, his thoughts, as he drank greedily, polluting him with the illusion of oneness. The taste of copper, divine and heavenly, was strengthening him. After several minutes he released the stilled, silent body of the young prostitute and stood, licking the blood from his lips, his fingers, like a ravished animal until he was simply satisfied. His flesh tingled, his veins felt electric, almost white-hot, as he stood there gathering his thoughts, the emotions it stirred between killer and prey was unexplainable. It was as if he lived their lives each time he took them. He was proof that before you die your life really does pass before your eyes. Gabriel would never experience that, so now he experienced other's deaths. In a way, they were his own.

Gabriel leaned to grab the shiny black purse, to rummage through. He found a fifty dollar bill stuffed in the side pocket, and shoved it into the pocket of his jeans, tossing the purse aside. Again, it would be called in as a robbery, and the fangs would be unexplained and unspoken of on the news and in the papers. The vampire stepped through the hedges, coming out into the darkness of the other side with renewed strength.