The characters in Forever Knight were created by James Parriott and Barney Cohen and are the property of Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star. The stories here are fan fiction. This story may be archived wherever by whomever.
Christmas Eve Conversations by Walt Doherty
Nick listens to a conversation with a very old vampire in the Raven on Christmas Eve.
Calendar Series -- DECEMBER
A monolog from a really old vampire
"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
-- Lewis Carroll
It came upon a Midnight clear
-- traditional Carole
Early Christmas Eve, Nick had a few hours before he went in to work, and he was sitting at the far end of the Raven's bar with a few other vampires he knew, listening to an "old one" speak. The topic of 'early Christmas's had come up, and the old one said he had the best of all Christmas stories since he was at the first one. With that comment, everybody gave him the floor.
"Call me Jacob," the old man said. "It's better than 'Ishmael'," he chuckled at his own little joke.
"Ah, you 'youngsters' have no sense of humor."
"Jacob," Nick said kindly, "I'm 800 years old; I'm hardly a youngster."
"And I'm 8000 years old, so what does that make you by comparison," Jacob said testily, "Ah, well, maybe not 8000, but I was around when Jesus was born and I wasn't a fledgling then either.
"Now, may I continue? And, by the way, I wasn't this old when I was brought over. You will find after a few thousand years you start to age out of sheer boredom – What? Oh, yes, back to the story.
And maybe a little senile, too? Nick smiled to himself.
"O.K. I was in Judea around the time of Jesus's birth, which was about 6 BC, -- these modern calendars are a bunch of . . . well, yes, One thing they did get right was that it was Winter, although Winter then and there wasn't all that bad. Yes, it was cold, but there wasn't any snow for Pete's sake.
And it wasn't in Bethlehem either. Well, it is, was . . . towns were a lot smaller then, and we – I was with some shepherds – and we were a little under a kilometer from the 'Stable'.
"Well, let me tell you it was a stable not like they mean today. It was really more of a barn and the farm workers had quarters at one end of the building. It wasn't bad; it was warm and clean, what more could you ask for?
"Ah, yes. They – the young couple – were there 'cause that's where his family was from and they had to be back there for the census. Caesar Augustus should have been born an accountant, he kept a tight rein on every – uh, yes, sorry. Well, that's why they were there.
"We ended up there 'cause of what happened out in the hills. Well, boys and girls, let me tell you when an 'Angel' appears out of nowhere and says 'Be not afraid' (Luke 2:10, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy . . . ."), you can be as unafraid as you want, but you still might just wet yourself – or worse," and he leaned over and winked at the group with that little revelation.
"Forget whatever you think you know about angels. These weren't any of these sad, sweet-faced, impotent, Victorian blondies that look about as scary as – well, me these days, Heh, heh, heh,
"Well, they didn't look like Michael or Gabriel in mediaeval paintings either: Arnold Swartzenegger knock-outs in polished gold body-armor.'
"I can't really tell you what they did look like. It was sort of, well, to me a big storm, a hurricane the size of a small room just over us in the sky, it disappeared in the distance but not to the north, south, east, west, up, or down, just 'distance'. What you got a sense of was power, real power. Power that, if it noticed you and didn't like you, could brush you off like you were an after-thought. Sort of like if LaCroix smiled at you, boy! It's hard to describe, you're not sure what it means, and it can scare the bejesus out of you." He chuckled to himself.
"Anyway, that was scary. I think each of us out there mentally revised what we saw so it would be something we could cope with.
"It, they, whatever, pointed generally toward the village, so we got up and started off there.
"Star? Don't know. There was a bright star high in the sky, but it didn't mean anything to me."
"Hey, young fella," he said looking at Nick, "how about a little more of that 'special reserve you got from your 'father'. 'S not bad stuff." Mikloš, who had drifted over to hear a conversation, reached over and refilled the glasses.
"Well, we got to the barn and the little lady had just given birth a couple of hours ago. Sweet little baby. And, yes, the 'manger' part is true, but not quite what you might think. A manger is a big feeding tough for the animals, but this was filled with straw and soft bedding to make a soft place for the baby.
And it was just us, there weren't no, uh, any Magi, Eastern Kings, whatever. They may have come later, but they weren't there that night.
"And, no, the animals weren't doing anything special. They didn't talk, they didn't lie down with each other – ah, they were all in their pens. These folks weren't boobs; they didn't let their livestock wander around all over the place, you know. There were a couple of dogs there, and I remember a cat in the back if that counts for anything.
"Now, here's the kicker – and sorry, if I've been rambling too much, but that's the price you pay for -- ah, yes. Sorry. The point is this: that little baby looked right at me and saw me. I mean it saw me, saw me for what I was, a 'lamius".
"I don't know if it's a word or not. The closest I could come back then to describing what I was was a male 'Lamia". A 'lamia' is a blood-sucking half woman, half snake. Well, the blood part fits, and the 'monster'." On 'monster' he looked over at Nick and wiggled both eye-brows like Groucho Marx.
"But, I will tell you: this little babe looked right at me and didn't see anything but another of God's creatures standing around him. I could have been one of the dogs, a relative, a cow, or sheep, just one of His creatures, natural, welcome, at peace and at home.
"It was the first time in 300 years I'd felt comfortable with myself. You could see it in the babe's eyes!" The old one's eyes softened at this and you could also see tears forming in the corners of his eyes – and wet ones, not blood.
"I think it was then and there I decided – I think really that he decided this for me – that I decided that I was one of God's creatures and as such was entitled to his protection. I was not condemned to the dark, to Tartarus, to an end of any existence if I did 'die', that if I listened and learned that I, too, could enjoy His form of eternal life.
"I don't know from creeds and dogma – well, actually I do, I was there when the Nicene – yeah, well, you get the idea. What that babe did was to look right through me to my soul, which showed me I had one.
"And that's kept me going for all these centuries. Oh, yeah, I still have to feed, but I'll take a crook over an innocent, and a cow over a crook, and if you can drink just a little from a lot of people rather than draining someone, everyone 'wins'. You know, there's a lot of truth to that 'everything in moderation' thing.
"And, 'Tha-tha- that's all, folks'. Except for those angel things, I think I probably would have forgotten all about this. After all, it was just a baby being born in the countryside. And since most of the world was countryside then, it wasn't especially unusual.
"Even the kid's looking at me. That's happened a couple of times, but this one was memorable. I didn't just think about being 'saved', I didn't just believe it. Somehow, I knew with a clarity that I haven't had or seen since. And for 2000 years, that's quite a record.
"So, young man, yes, you, the blond. Stop feeling so sorry for yourself. If you don't want to believe scriptures, take it from me. I've been around for over -- well, let's leave it at 2000 years – so I think I know something.
"I'm not going to kill myself, I know that would be wrong. I know what I have to do is to try to follow my conscience. I'm one of God's creatures, and I'm not perfect, so I know I'm going to fail sometimes, but I'm trying, and I'll keep trying till I have some sort of accident. I think that babe has kept me alive till now so I could tell you all about all this.
"Physically change back? I have no idea. I don't think so. Doesn't matter to me. I'm so used to being what I am, I wouldn't know what to do otherwise.
"Take it for what you will: the ramblings of an old man slightly off his rocker 'cause he thinks he's a 2000 plus year old vampire, OR a word of hope – no promises or anything, but that there's hope for any and all of God's creatures, and that you are one, too.
"I heard that that, Nicolas; I'm old, not deaf. And, yes, even LaCroix. He's one of God's creatures. Even if he is a -- well, anyway -- all he has to do is listen, and maybe give up a few of his prejudices, too. Heh, heh, heh."
Nick got up and excused himself, went to the men's room – not that he needed it, he just want to check on his appearance before he left for work. When he got back to the bar, he looked for Jacob – he wanted to say goodbye and thank him for the story, but he was no where around.
Nick asked Mikloš where Jacob went; Mikloš just looked at Nick and said, "Jacob?"
Nick thought, Oh, oh, twilight zone time; was Jacob a dream, a vision, or a beacon of hope?
"Hey, Nicolas," Jacob said behind him. Nick jumped and whirled around; it's hard to surprise a vampire this way.
Mikloš hadn't been at that end of the room when Jacob said his 'name'.
"What?, I was up at the front of the room. Well, I just wanted to say goodbye before you left for work -- hey, it'd be pointless to say goodbye to you after you left, wouldn't it?" Jacob chucked to himself some more. "Don't give up your quest; it's noble. And, don't give up hope; it's there for the asking."
"Thank you, Jacob," Nick said and left thinking Quite an interesting Christmas Eve. I'll have to tell Nat about it and see what she thinks. Ha! Maybe I'll tell LaCroix – it might spoil his Grinch mood.
With that, Nick got up, went to the Raven's exit and left for work.