The Atlantic Ocean
Late Fall, 1901
Confession is good for the soul. That's what my mother always used to tell me when I'd stumble into our estate late at night, drunk and rowdy and reeking of sex or blood depending on whether I had come across a female or male in my reveling. I believed her. It wasn't simply my way of trying to fit into the upper middle class where it was considered a part of your station to give penance to God. The view I had of religion and God was more common to the lower class, the typical devoted Catholic fear that had become the stereotype of my home country.
It's standard practice to confess sins to a clergy member, but considering the things that I . . . he . . . we did in churches and to priests -- and sometimes to priests in churches -- I doubt there is anyone who would want to take on the job of purifying my soul and giving my mind rest.
As Liam, I had thought that I was evil, for no matter how much I studied my prayer books, I kept breaking the commandments that the Lord had set out for us. Eventually I came to the realization that lightening wasn't going to strike me down in the streets for sinning, nor was I going to get mugged in some sort of karmic payback. Besides, as a merchant during a repressive time in Irish history, people in the middle class were more afraid of losing my father's favor than some faraway deity's. I came to realize that any sort of punishment I would receive would happen in the afterlife. And, being young and free and male, I never intended to die and if I did, repentance belongs in the last fourth of your life when there's little else to do.
Of course, I did die, as all humans do. In 1753 to be exact, which is nearly 150 years ago on this date. I was bitten by a vampire named Darla who because my livelihood, my virtue and sin, my dark goddess. That is said without qualms, even seeing now what she was, the things she did, and the lives she ruined. There is a sickness that rolls over me when I think of her, and I think that it is punishment for not hating the woman. How could I hate her? She was a force of nature, and I still marvel at her ability to get things done and set plans in motion. I fear her as I fear the sun, knowing that if I ever met her again, she would have my heart -- not in the way she does now, but still beating in her hand -- and my life. My vulnerability to her fury does not, however, make her any less beautiful.
Darla. You don't know who she is, of course. Unless you have died at her hand -- a considerable number can make this claim -- and then, for the mercy of your soul, I hope you are unable to read this. I'd guarantee that you've seen her, though, for I certainly have, all across Europe. In the backgrounds of paintings, on the keepsake guest lists from parties, commenting on murders -- often that she had caused -- in newspapers, Darla has touched human history in a way that few demons do.
I don't need records to remind me of her. It's surprising to me exactly how much ground we covered in the past 100 years. Of course there had been some places that Darla and I had favored. She had liked France for the culture and I had enjoyed Switzerland, where much of the country was still undeveloped and I could truly test my abilities as a vampire. Like any indulgent woman, she had allowed me my alpha male endeavors. Regardless of our favorite countries, we had ridden through every one of them, spilt blood and made love on the soil of the entire continent. Without even going to the towns, I was somehow drawn to the places where we had been. Wandering along the countryside, I would inevitably stumble upon somewhere we had slept or fed and the trees seemed to whisper our story to me and the moon glared down at me as a spotlight.
All of this is avoidance, though. The memories of Darla are bearable, for she led me, and males -- vampires being no exception -- are more dangerous when they have a mate to impress. It's not a new concept, for men have been blaming their female consorts for their wickedness since the first couple ever walked in their private paradise. I can't deal with the real problem that lurks in the back of my mind, rising to the surface only when I fall into a fitful sleep. That has to end. I've been sleeping a lot due to the fact that I can't get a lot of blood while on the ship. For the first part of the journey, the skipper, who had booked this journey for me -- as it turns out, even vampires' money is good where the working class is concerned -- had brought chicken blood from the few farm animals that had been brought on the trip as fresh food. Now it was whatever I could find, however, and that wasn't much, so a good amount of time was spent in a state of sleep, trying to restore the energy that I'd usually get from feeding. But that sleep is unproductive with dreams of blood and death. And William.
So I asked the skipper for some paper and was surprised to receive a clean tablet from the captain's workshop. Apparently it's kept there for emergencies, but the captain of this particular ship has been doing the work so long that he didn't need to write coordinates or directions long hand any longer. I don't know what is expected of me with my soul, to make the pain and dreams stop. I've tried helping people, but I killed so many as Angelus that I . . . How do you put a value on a life? Does it take two commoners to make up for the death of a nobleman, and, vice versa, only one nobleman to make up for the lives of two commoners? Or is each life inherently of equal worth? In that case, do I simply have to save an equal number of people that I killed? For that matter, considering the wickedness of my crimes, do the acts of repentance have to be equally dramatic and far-reaching? Will the effect be gradual or a sudden relief? If it is gradual, then why have I felt no relief as of yet?
So, I will confess my greatest sin in these pages, and you will either forgive me and offer me some sort of sanction or you will condemn me. Either way, there will be comfort for either you or me, in my suffering or my solace.
From here on, I write at a distance. Not out of denial of what I've done -- the burning in my soul will not allow such self-disillusionment -- but for feat that if I keep this too close, I will attempt to rationalize and minimize what I have done. That would make this exercise in confession pointless.
My greatest mistake would begin upon arrival in London and an invitation to a merchant's home for a dinner party, a request to liven up his rather dull life with stories of our travels. There I would meet his son -- a reluctant and confused boy preparing to enter the seminary -- and so would begin the obsession that led me to such recklessness and cruelty. Perhaps vampires cannot love, but no one can obsess quite as I could in those days -- first with stealing his innocence and heart and then the act of purging myself of it in blood and terror.