Lucian took a look around and realized that these walls could be the last he would ever see. It was a dark, coal streaked room that was cool to the touch. He considered the walls too sterile, but the attendants said they gave his people comfort.
Perhaps his people needed the comfort; they had been killing themselves in droves lately. The small woman next door, Celestina, had burnt herself just last week. He had seen her that evening in a good mood, by afternoon she was a dead. The attendant told him that she had escaped and died voluntarily. Lucian believed him; she had the faintest outline of a smile on her charred face.
And yesterday a particularly elderly resident named Andrei had stabbed himself in the chest in the middle of the dining room. The residents were horrified, aghast, but Lucian could not help feeling a little impressed. Andrei was ancient, thought Lucian, who would have thought he had it in him? He could not stand, yet he mustered enough willpower to rip open his own ribs.
“Something to eat sir?” asked a pale attendant.
“No, thank you,” replied Lucian.
“You must eat, Mr. Dragomir,” said the attendant, “it’s required.”
Lucian gave a curt nod and took the tray of soup without a fight. Self-starvation is the quietest form of suicide, he thought, refrain from eating and you fade quietly back into the earth.
He ate the salty soup heartily. The hunger still gnawed at him, so he asked the attendant for another bowl and it too was soon gone. But his energy had not returned. Lucian looked down at the soup. It slakes my hunger, he thought, but it is not the same.
He looked around and took stock of his life. How did I end up here?, He thought, Dragomirs die in battle, in the hunt, or at the hands of their worst enemy. Dragomirs do not meet their end through decay. We do not die in rest homes.
Lucian thought of a way out. Perhaps starvation was the way to go. Perhaps he could escape like his neighbor Celestina and burn in the sun. There was no shame dying by one’s own hand. Dying in bed, that was shameful.
“Sir?” said the pale attendant.
“Your son is here to see you.”
My son, he thought, what does he want from me now?
“Don’t bring him here,” he told the pale attendant. “I’ll meet him in the common room.”
Lucian wheeled himself out to the round oak table. It was quite dark, and Lucian’s eyes were not what they once were. He could barely see his son, but recognized his large frame in the shadows and smelled his strange odor. Dragomirs are thin like thieves, not thick like gangsters, thought Lucian, and we do not reek of Cologne.
“Good evening father,” said his son.
“Good evening Alexandru,” said Lucian.
His son laughed.
“I go by Al, you know that dad,” said his son, “even Alex would be ok, but Alexandru…”
“That was your great grandfather’s name. You should be proud.”
“I am,” said his son with a smile, “I just haven’t been called Alexandru in fifty years.”
Lucian was not appeased. His vision was adjusting to the dim light and could see that Al had a shaved head, goatee and a tan face. He was wearing a windbreaker.
A windbreaker at his age, thought Lucian, it is just not right. Dragomirs have long hair and do not grow beards. He looks like a peasant, or a soldier.
“We got off on the wrong foot dad, and I’m sorry,” said his son, “I go by Al now, but here I’m Alexandru. I guess.”
“Dragomirs do not guess. We don’t wear jumpsuits. We have bloodlines to represent, and you come here dressed like a Russian Mafioso. And furthermore…”
“Let’s not start this?” said his son, interrupting, “Not now?”
Alexandru’s eyes were pleading and genuine. Lucian gave in.
“Fine,” said Lucian, “Tell me what you want, and then be gone.”
Alexandru reached down beneath the table and pulled out a satchel with some documents. He dropped them with a thud onto the oak table. Probably some scheme for a nightclub, thought Lucian, Perhaps he wants to rent our Brownstone to Gypsies.
But when Lucian put on his glasses, his heart froze. He could not believe what he was seeing. Anything but this, he thought, anything but this.
“Dad?” asked Alexandru, “You there?”
Lucian felt his palms sting. He had dug his fingers so far into his hands that his palms were bleeding. Alexandru screamed, and the nurse came over with some cloths. Lucian’s hands oozed black, greasy liquid, and soon it had dried over and bound to the cloth.
“The Brownstone, the business, they are yours,” said Lucian, “But you cannot sell our land in Romania. The Acreage, the Castle. It’s been in our family for two thousand years.”
“And we have not lived in it for one hundred.”
Lucian peered down. He could not make eye contact with his son, not now.
“Do not pursue this, Alexandru.”
“Dad, I have no choice. We’re sitting on a ton of Natural Gas. I mean it’s the motherlode.”
“You will not strip bare our land for Gas, Alexandru. No amount of money…”
“We don’t have a choice!” said Alexandru, “You think the government is gonna let us sit on it? They’re putting pressure on me to sell. It’s hard.”
“What do you know of hardship?”
“More than you dad,” said Alexandru, “At least the hardships of the modern world. The government increased our property values a hundredfold, and we can’t pay the taxes. They’re forcing our hand; sell or let the bank sell it. Make a fortune, or make a pittance.”
“Ten generations of Dragomirs have lived there. A two thousand year bloodline.”
“And if we sell it, we’ll be able to support for two thousand more years. This paperwork puts the money into an endowment for our descendants,” said Alexandru, “If we don’t sell, we die in this home.”
Lucian didn’t respond. His son had stopped making sense.
“And we left home for a reason dad,” said Alexandru, “You know this.”
Lucian took his fist and pounded it into the Oak Table. A hundred years ago he would have split it in two, but now he just left a crack a meter long.
“We did not leave!” said Lucian, “We were exiled, to RETURN one day!”
“Dad, calm down…”
“No! I will not sign any document selling one bit of the land to anyone, no matter the price. I swear it on my blood!”
Lucian’s hand wounds had burst open again and were soaking through the cloths. Alexandru took his documents back and neatly placed them into his satchel. He took a deep breath then called the nurse over to his father and she dressed the wounds once more. After she was gone, Alexandru looked his father in the eyes.
“I am not asking you to sign, dad,” he said calmly, “The land became mine on my hundredth birthday. I was hoping for your blessing, but perhaps that will not be the case.
“I’m selling it regardless. I’ve set up the trust to pay for your bills here. It will net us a hundred million dollars initially, and each of our descendants will inherit…”
Lucian stopped listening. He had lived two-hundred and fifty years. For the first time in his life, he cried.
“More soup sir?” asked the pale attendant.
“Please,” said Lucian.
Lucian drank the soup heartily. It filled him up, but gave him no energy.
Pig blood, he thought, they take Pig Blood and microwave it. It’s no wonder that our people kill themselves in droves.
Lucian looked at the coal-streaked walls around him and regretted leaving Romania. The villagers would have killed us in the Old Country, perhaps, but at least my son would not have grown up rotten. They were safe in New York to be sure, but at what cost? It would have been better to die a century ago. They would have died on their feet, unblinking as the angry mob tore through their wooden doors.
They would have died as Dragomirs. Now he would die as nothing.
Should he burn himself like Celestina? Or should he follow Andrei and tear his heart from his chest?
No, he thought, if I die, my bloodline would still end here, in a rest home.
Escape? Now that was enticing; go on one final journey, to meet his end somewhere, anywhere but here. But how? He could not walk. But what if he could? What if he could walk for just a few days? If he had a fraction of his old powers, he could escape onto a plane headed East.
He decided that would be a bad idea. Nowadays, not even our kind can escape onto a plane, he thought, but what about a boat?
He could get onto boat headed East, in a crate. He would eat rats on the journey; he didn’t care, just as long as he made it back to his own land. But how could he get to the boat?
“One more bowl of soup, Mr. Lucian?” asked the pale attendant.
The servants, thought Lucian, they are the key. If I can have some of their blood, real blood…
“Yes,” said Lucian, “But bring it to my room in an hour.”
They exploited these servants horribly here; the pale human attendants took indentured servitude in exchange for an immortal kiss that never came. Most servants died before their time came, or went insane after one of the residents used their powers of hypnosis.
But this attendant will meet his Maker tonight, thought Lucian, he is lucky indeed.
Lucian would meet him in his room, then strike a deal: a single bite in exchange for Life. Lucian would take his blood, real human blood. That would be enough to give him power for a week. Power enough to stand, walk, or even fly for a short time. The attendant might die, perhaps. Lucian would let him know the risks.
Lucian then would sneak onto a ship and somehow make it back to his Homeland. His son might have already sold the land, but whoever bought it would be in for a surprise. They would find their new purchase quite troublesome indeed. They would inevitably protect their investment and come hunting for him after a few days. They would probably kill him. He could die at the hands of a bullet, or burn slowly in the soft Romanian Sun. But he would not die namelessly here, not in this rest home.
He would die in his ancestral Transylvanian castle as Lucian Dragomir, the last of the greatest Vampire dynasty that there ever was, and that there ever will be.
Jon Maas is a writer living in Los Angeles. He has two novels out on Amazon, the Epic Fantasy City of Gods: Hellenica, and the Dark Fantasy Spanners: The Fountain of Youth. Both are available for free under the Kindle Unlimited program. He has a third novel, Flare, that he hopes to release shortly. He writes on his bus commute to and from work.