Chapter 26: Epilogue
The warehouse we stayed in was comfortable, if not a little claustrophobic. Another thing I was going to have to get used to. There were no windows, obviously. It wasn't until I experienced it first hand that I realized the magnitude of the new danger the sun presented. I woke up unexpectedly during the day and without thinking decided it would be a good idea to go for a walk. Lestat pulled me back just in time, but a sliver of light caught my arm as he slammed the door. I screamed and watched in horror as my skin began to sizzle and flake into dark ash; but my horror turned to fascination and awe as it immediately began to repair itself back in the darkness. Moments later it was as if nothing had happened at all.
I made for a poor apprentice at best. I refused to feed. I told him again and again, I couldn't do it. It was a difficult time, those first few days. Lestat couldn't understand; he'd been a vampire for so long, he couldn't remember what it was like to be human. We would fight and he would leave me to wander the streets alone while he fed. I no longer had to fear Marcus and his coven…Lestat had taken care of that on his own, and I had no desire to hear the details.
Things turned ever more sour when I began to feel the effects of refusing to eat. My stomach growled and gnawed at itself like it had when I was human; then I began to tire, I could feel the veins clenching under my skin. We fought more. Lestat was worried; I could see it in his eyes. But still, I couldn't do it – I wouldn't. The thought itself was disgusting to me.
I was exhausted, sitting on the floor leaning against our bed, when Lestat handed me a plastic bag. "Think of it as a juice box," he said, kneeling beside me.
I examined the bag warily and looked at him. "Where did you get this?"
"I keep a stash for the road," he answered, "Groupies can become tiring…" he added as a sarcastic afterthought.
I went to hit him but he grabbed my hand, kissed it, and smiled. "Drink."
It wasn't a request; it was a command. I hesitated and he took the bag from me, tearing it open with his teeth. He handed it back and said again with more force, "Drink."
Holding the bag in both hands I could smell the blood; it was fresh and sweet. The hunger that pervaded my body finally overpowered the revulsion in my mind. I put the bag to my lips gingerly and began to drink. A small sip at first, then huge gulps; all my energy was coming back. Lestat pulled at my wrist, stopping me, "Slow down, you don't want to make yourself sick." He finished the last mouthfuls like they were nothing. Then he looked down at me mischievously. "You have a little something on your lip…"
After that I dutifully drank my bag of blood every night, though I still struggled with the guilt of stealing blood from someone that might need it. We packed up my apartment at one in the morning. I wouldn't be needing it anymore. Just before we left I stopped to look around the now empty rooms and my dead heart felt a little heavier.
The next night I called Ben and Jane and asked them to meet me at the café at nine. Lestat offered to come with me, but I told him I'd rather do it alone. I watched across the street as they found a table on the patio and ordered drinks. It killed me inside, how happy they looked. What if they shunned me? Only my body had changed, not my mind! I was still me!
Holding on to these thoughts with everything I had, I slowly crossed the street. Ben saw me first. His mouth gaped, but moved to a forced smile when he saw I was looking. Jane had her back to me. She saw Ben's reaction and turned around. She too let her mouth drop for only a second, but her eyes remained wide. More than anything I wanted to turn and run, but I kept putting one foot in front of another.
I stopped at the fence surrounding the patio, keeping a barrier between us. My mouth refused to smile, it settled in a muddled frown. Again I had to stop myself from fleeing; I gripped the railing and planted my feet. I saw Jane shift away just the tiniest bit, a beautiful reminder of my superhuman vision. No one said anything.
The awkwardness was too much for me, I managed to stammer, "I just came to say goodbye, I didn't want to just disappear…I…I have to go."
I let go of the railing and turned, ready to take off back to the warehouse.
Both Jane and Ben were standing, drinks forgotten. Ben dropped a few bills on the table and they left the patio.
We walked and I explained. Jane looked like she might cry at any moment. Ben hung on my every word. He was the first to speak when I finished.
"It could be worse, you know. You could be dead."
"I am dead," I said with all the sarcasm that was fitting for that statement.
We both laughed.
"It's not funny!" Jane remonstrated, then with shame in her voice, "Evie, I'm so sorry this happened to you."
"It's alright, I'm going to be fine!" I reached out to comfort her but she shrugged away from my touch.
I recoiled a little. Deep down I suppose I was expecting that, I knew that things would be different. This was too different.
"Well, I should be going, really." I said, trying to end this strange encounter for them as quickly as possible.
"Evie, wait, are we going to be able to see you?" Ben asked, sincerely.
I looked at him thankfully, blinking madly to keep the blood tears from coming. I didn't need to scare them anymore tonight. "Of course! Anytime you want!" I said excitedly. Without thinking I went to hug him; I stopped suddenly, remembering Jane's reaction.
Ben looked at me like I was an idiot and pulled me into a bear hug. He took my face in his hands, "You're still you – remember that!" I nodded, still blinking back tears. "Just no biting ok?"
"No biting; got it." I said laughing.
Jane wouldn't look at me. To the ground she said, "I'm sorry, Evie. I…It's going to take me a while…"
I stopped her. "Take as long as you need, so long as we can still be friends."
"Well of course!" She looked up, blushing.
Later that night Lestat and I sat on the roof of the warehouse, watching the moon rise over the other buildings.
He looked at me, "Do you remember that night I took you to dinner?"
"Do I." I said, rolling my eyes.
"Do you remember what I asked you?"
I sat thinking, but I couldn't bring it back.
He sat there staring at me with that look of intrigue in his face.
"Alright, out with it." I said.
"I asked you what you feared the most."
"You don't remember what you said?"
I smiled knowingly, "I said vampires".
"You've become what you most feared." He leaned back, staring up at the sky.
"You know I was lying."
I jabbed him in the ribs. "Well aren't you going to ask me what the truth is?"
"What?" I asked, astonished.
"I said was."
"How do you know?"
He looked at me, smiled fangs, and pulled me closer towards him. "I know," he said.
"Alright, then what was it?" I demanded.
"The thing you feared most…" he began, lying back on the warehouse roof, his arm wrapped around my waist so that I went with him, "The thing you feared most…" My head came to rest on his arm and we both stared up into the sky.
"The thing you feared most was growing old."