THE VAMPIRE AND THE RUSALKA

I heard the call long before I felt it.

The voice was sweet, calming, and highly alluring. It was the kind of voice that made humans close their eyes and take a long, deep breath before completely falling inwards. Beautiful as it was, I ignored it at first. I was otherwise preoccupied, you see. I had my own victim writhing against my body as I pressed him against the wall. I can barely recall the last of his whimpers as the life died away from him. Afterwards, I left his body there for anyone to find. I was careless back then.

But I was young and newly made. My creator had left me before I could even understand what had become of me. I just knew that I was no longer with the living, and that every single second that passed, I craved the sweet-smelling stickiness that fills the veins of living creatures.

But when I had finished, the song was still going. And after pausing for a second to determine the direction of the beautiful voice, I realized that something was different.

I felt it in the song.

It wasn't a normal song, and I was sure it couldn't be a normal voice. The moon was high in the night sky, shining down on the village and the forest beyond. I knew there was a river somewhere in the forest, and it was from that direction that I heard the voice.

I rushed forward with my inhuman speed. I was quite curious to find the maker of this song, you see. I had spent a great many months wandering the world thinking that I could be the only unique being in existence. The chance that I could have found someone like me, well, the idea was uplifting.

But what I saw was something different entirely.

There were others that were drawn to the song. Women and men alike had heard the call and came walking in a trance. They trudged along without a single care as they walked through the forest and towards the river. I watched them move, the dozen or so. They continued all the way until the river edge. The light from the moon danced along the rushing river waters. They stood near it, like frozen statues as they stared at the creature summoning them.

For it was a summons, you see. They were all called to this area, victims under the singers' spell. And the singer silenced herself when they had come to the river.

She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. My own flawless eyesight could see her clear through the nights' dimness. Her skin was impeccable, without a single blemish. She was young, and clothed in a thin, sheer cloth that stuck to her skin. She stood in the rushing river-water, and her long dark hair moved around her by unnatural force, the ends of which are blurred strangely. Water clung to her skin and droplets traced her long lashes. It seemed as if she were underwater, even here out in the open air.

The humans don't notice of these things. They didn't see the unnatural tinge to her skin, the pallor of those long-since dead, her cold-blue lips, and a whiteness in the eyes. No, they stared at her with awe and wonder, and she smiled to them and held open her arms to them as she stepped onto dry land. She played and kissed and caressed those who came close. And while I watched from the tree line, I saw that with each touch, the humans' eyes fell deeper and deeper into a dark trance. All the while, this mysterious creature continued to look wet, with water never drying from her delicate skin. She would whisper to a few, and they would leave the forest in their trance-like state without any complaints. The rest, she continued to purr and play with for a while until she sent all but one away: a man.

And still I kept watch over this extraordinary creature. I knew she was not of my kind, but she was enticing even to me. To see such a flawless creature walking this world – I was deeply impressed, and very, very curious. I thought I was well hidden in the tree line. My kind is good at hiding in the dark, good at remaining still until the end of time, if need be. It wasn't like we ever needed to breathe or eat. I could have stood there and watched her forever.

Her victim went willingly as she pulled him into the water behind her. She smiled so sweetly to him, and he smiled back at her even until his waist was deep in the water. She held him close to her and kissed him softly. But the tender moment would soon be ruined when her true intentions were revealed. She tried to pull him under. Realizing that he will surely drown, his trance is broken. He screams and struggles against her. He tries to pull himself free, to gain access to air, but the beauty is prepared. Her long hair twists then, moving as it did before with unnatural force. It winds around him like arms of its own, and he is powerless against it. She continues to purr and coo at him as she takes him under the water.

I hear one more scream pierce the air before their heads go under. Bubbles pop along the surface for a moment, and then nothing but the movement of waves. And I was oh so curious that I left the tree line to stand along the river-bank. I knew that I was in danger by being so near to it, for my kind often has issues with flowing water. Still, I squashed all those fears as I stood hoping to catch glimpse of the creature.

She didn't disappoint me. It was only a moment before I saw the top of her head emerge from the water. Her eyes stared straight at me. They were the only things that I could see, but they were enough. They held a deepness inside them, something that I cannot explain, but they pierced me in a way that no human had ever before.

I tried to speak to her with using my own charming abilities. A normal human would be mine in an instant, just as her call had lured all those people into a deathly trance. I hoped I could charm my way into her heart. I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to get close to her.

I was foolish to think that such a trick would work against her. In a fit, she caused a surge of water to rise in a column and blasted it full force in my direction. With my lightning reflexes, I manage to dodge it, but when I landed on my feet, I saw that she had disappeared under the water once again.

She wouldn't resurface. She wouldn't for days or months. I constantly came to the riverbank in hopes of seeing her again. My curiosity kept me from thinking of anything else but her. Every human life I swooned and stole felt so pointless in comparison to what I had felt when I had watched her take her own victims. I wanted to know what it was like. I wanted to see more, to hear her call from beginning to end, to feel the cold water against her skin. I wished I could join her in the river and sink with her to the bottom of its depth. I wanted to see the full extent of her power. I wanted to see her rage at me again, a foolish, silly thought.

But she never came. I would search for her all along the river's length, traveling through village after village, but she never appeared. I could only guess one of two things: that she purposely concealed herself from me, which seemed unlikely considering she needed her victims to hear her call, or, two, she had traveled to the river's edge and passed on into the sea.

My wanting to catch sight of her led me down a dark path of obsession. Every night when I would rise, I would drink and then begin my search for her anew. All my time and energy was spent searching for her. All the while, I heard tales of a creature like her. Some called these creatures fairies, some called then lost souls of those who drowned. In Slavic regions, her kind were whispered about: mind the rivers, for rusalka could lie in its waters.

And then I had the darkest of thoughts: to risk my own unnatural life to take a boat out into the sea. I was crazed and stole the first small rowboat that I could find. I crafted a makeshift covering for when the sun comes out, and then I took it out onto the river and pushed it onwards into the sea. I spent weeks out on the open water, feeling the rush of the ocean, all while spending daylight hours huddled in my horrible creation. But I did not stop to feel sorry for myself at the time. I thought only that surely I would see her again.

But a fierce storm came upon me one night. Its mighty force caused the waters to rage in a fury I had not witnessed before. The winds and rain were so fierce that my poorly made covering began to crumble, and my boat began to take on water. Fearing the water, for it could take my life, I crushed what was left of the covering to push out the water. I spent the next hour bailing myself out until the storm began to clear. I knew I was not far from the beach of a lonely island, but I was far off my own course.

All that was left was a boat under a few inches of water, and a sky about to turn pink with sunrise. My only safety having been destroyed by my own hands, I sat numbly. Land within view of me, safety so close. The sun would soon set my skin ablaze in a fiery column, and still, after all I would have suffered, I hadn't see the girl. How terrible my death would be! I began to weep for myself for the first time since I had been created. "Watery nymph, how you have doomed me!" I cried. "I had fallen for your song, and I have traveled all the while in search of you. Now the sun will sear my flesh, and I will be no more!"

But my cries did not go unheard. When the sunlight touched the water, around my person a dense, thick mist began to grow. It swirled around me continuously, so thick that the light could scarcely penetrate it. And not soon after, I heard the faint sound of a voice singing. I took my oars and began to row towards the sound. I soon found that my boat hit land, and I jumped onto the beach and began to dig. The song stopped, but the air around me still swirled, protecting my skin from the light. In great haste, I buried myself in the sand and waited through the day until I could rise again.

I found myself alone under the full moon, but when I looked at my tiny boat in the sand, I knew that she had saved me. She was out there all that time, and a part of me knew, long before I ever made my journey back to the river in which I first encountered her, that she would be there waiting for me.

She didn't come out of the water, and she I never heard her sing again. But each night I brought to her riverbank a half-drained victim to throw into her waters. And I made the soft soil my grave in which I slept each night thereafter. Though I never saw her face again, when I awoke from my slumber, in the soil around my earthen bed laid a trail of wet footprints.