Singularity by Ligeia

*****

[A sudden sharp pain made him gasp as Darla's sharp teeth penetrated his jugular, his hot blood flooding onto her mouth as a warm numbness began to spread throughout him, following the tracery of his veins backwards from the place where her lips lay against his skin. Slowly, as his blood drained from him, he began to feel a calmness flow over him, a stillness in his mind and heart that he had not experienced since Ariel's death. As he surrendered to the solace of this woman's strange embrace, Liam sank to his knees on the dirty cobblestones, a travesty of the prayer he had been unable to offer up within that little church not so long ago.

Stepping back a little, Darla drew a sharp fingernail across the milk white skin above her breast. With the other hand she guided Liam's mouth to the thread of rich red blood that welled up from the thin wound. Licking the last few drops of his blood from her own lips, she leaned close, resting her newly-warmed cheek on his dark hair and whispered, 'Drink!']

- From 'Ariel' by Ligeia.

*****

In the darkness, profound and silent, a being stirs from Its eternal dream- state. Sensing an unfamiliar pull It struggles up, reluctantly, to a different level of consciousness, feeling for the first time the beginnings of self-awareness, a separateness It finds both alien and unpleasant.

It shares this un-place with what or how many other entities It neither knows nor cares. All that matters is the loss of the dream out of which It feels itself being drawn, extracted unwillingly and increasingly painfully. In the un-place there is no sensation of time so how long the process, now become an agony, lasts It cannot tell. Perhaps only seconds pass - perhaps millennia - It does not know, only that by the time It emerges out of this confusion of torment and rage, all It desires is to destroy.

When the suffering ends a new demon will be born.

*****

A brief, incandescent flare of pain stabs at Its consciousness as It awakes in Liam's body in the cool, silent alley. Realising another entity shares the confines of the corporeal body, It reaches out to engulf the other as an octopus does when threatened. In an instant It probes Liam's id, ego and super-ego, spinning for Itself a persona which is a combination of the two original entities. Slowing Its responses to match the lower vibration of the space/time limits of Its new home It begins to assimilate the other personality, Its innate sense of self-preservation causing It to subsume the other presence, holding it still and quiet within a dark corner of Its own new Self.

It tests the boundaries of Its new physical body. Lightning-fast, Its consciousness races along nerve fibres, calculates the strength of muscle tissue, opens and closes synapses, maps the pathways of memory, measures brain capacity, analyses chemical reactions, monitors cellular and molecular activity and assesses electrical potentials. Delving again into the conscious and subconscious of the host-brain It experiences a bewildering rush of images, sensations, memories, emotions - fear, love, hatred, despair. These then are the precincts of Its new universe. The body, strangely, seems to be in a state of flux, undergoing a transformation not caused by the entity Itself. Its exploration is completed at a leisurely pace - several seconds pass before It turns Its attention outside.

In contrast to the comparatively well-ordered interior, the world outside (even the concept of anything being 'outside one's-Self' was alien; in Its own dimension It was part of the 'All') is a chaos of sensations. Sounds - near and far, great and small - all clamour for equal attention until It learns to surrender control and allow the brain's natural filtering system to take over. Smells crowd in, some evoking strong emotional responses, a deep primeval sense.

As Liam's eyes slowly open the visual sense overrides all. The colours and patterns, at first perplexing and meaningless, resolve themselves into meaningful data as It once again allows the mind to process the familiar.

In Its mouth is a taste, not of Itself, but glorious, rich and full. Within this substance It recognises the source of the physical transformation that is overtaking the body. It tests the new vectors, potentials and capacities, pleased with the improvements on the old. This then, is the source of the summons that drew It from Its own dimension. Within this substance It detects an alien spore - an invading viral horde, molecules which have attached themselves to the blood of the host, streaming along the rivers and tributaries of artery and vein, augmenting and strengthening, insinuating themselves into every cell and finally, uniting with the host's DNA.

At length, It becomes aware of the more mundane aspects of Its new existence, the weight of Its own body, the cool air entering and being warmed by Its lungs then expelled in misty clouds, the slight discomfort of Its knees on the still-colder hardness of the cobblestones, the feel of soft silk and softer flesh under Its own hands.

Looking up into Darla's eyes, It experiences a momentary flash of panic. As the virus hits each organ in Its new body they shut down one by one. Its heart is stilled, lungs deflate, brain activity slows to a minimum. All major functions cease as the virus performs more delicate work at micro- cellular levels. The sudden cessation of input is at once shocking and calming. Searching within, It finally notices the other presence again. Liam's soul nestles, small and fearful in a dark corner of the psyche.

*****

Liam's hands slip from the yellow silk of Darla's sleeve as his body slumps to the damp ground. Darla steps back then leans down to inspect his pale face, caressing the already cooling cheek with a delicate velvet-gloved hand.

'Soon, dear boy, soon,' she whispers.

Her retreating footfalls echo, sharp and hollow in the empty laneway, as she walks away without a backward glance. She will await the true birth of her new childe two nights from now.

*****

As It rests for a time in a state of near-catatonia beneath the chill ground, visual images, remembered sounds, smells and thoughts constantly bubble up to be glimpsed, tasted and savoured, then submerge again. Faint influences from the world above filter down into the grave where Liam's body, with its new occupant, waits to be reborn into the Unlife. It senses warm blood within the other bodies which pass above, their heartbeats providing a compelling rhythm in the darkness. Memories of Liam's family cause unwelcome emotional responses - love, guilt, sorrow. It knows It must sever the link by destroying these ones as Its final step in the subjugation of Liam's soul.

This new body binds It, encompasses It in within a prison of flesh, but It will permit no other boundaries. Whatever It will be in this new world, It will be formidable.

***** Fin *****

Author's note: I have a particular interest in the nature of the vampire soul. Where is Liam's soul when Angelus inhabits his body? When Angel's soul is restored, is it Liam who returns? This story is my first foray into an exploration of this issue.