The messenger looked at him approvingly. “She knew you would need some time and told me to tarry a while.”
Lastor was torn between amusement and annoyance. Did she still know him that well? Was he really that predictable?
“She was…as you say… my wife,” Lastor said, more to himself. He absent-mindedly touched the pocket where her letter was folded and shook his head. “Where do I go?” His eyes narrowed. “How did I not know of this place, this… land below?”
“It is a place of class and civilization – at least that is what they claim. In reality it is nothing more than a cesspool of pompous ostentatious fakes. They have forgotten; that vampires are not gods, merely immortal, victims of circumstance, no more than accidents, or bad timing. They glorify in their status, wallow in it, and deify it.” The messenger shook his head scornfully. “The only ones who crave the land below are those who think they are special, instead of merely different.”
“You still have not explained how I did not know of such a place.” Lastor tapped his foot.
“Think about it, Lastor. Would you seek out such a community? It is relatively new, two or three years strong at most.”
Unbidden, Lastor’s mind flashed through the past to a memory from just over two years ago.
“You don’t know anything about what we are! You just float through the world doing as you please! You never think about what it all means; you don’t care what it all means!”
Lastor’s eyes narrowed. “And when you learn what it all means, what then? You will suddenly discover your purpose in life? What will they offer you that I cannot?” His tone was scornful.
Audrey’s temper, so near the breaking point these days, was tested again and she had to refrain from picking up something large and heavy and throwing it at Lastor’s head. She contented herself with speaking slowly and clearly, venom dripping from every syllable. “I don’t know, you idiot, but THEY do! That’s the whole point! I DON’T know because of you!”
“They say they know. Nobody knows the meaning of life, Audrey, it means something different for everyone. Nobody can find happiness and meaning for the general population. Anyone who claims they know it is either manipulating the weak-minded or so self-deluded they actually believe it. Nobody knows why vampires are here. We’re just an accident. A cosmic fuckup.”
“No, you’re just an accident that happened to me! Now I’m stuck like this, something no one knows anything about. At least when I was really human I knew I had a purpose, even if I didn’t know what it was yet, and I knew where I came from. The only way I can stand this is if I at least have some glimmer of what being a vampire means, and you obviously don’t have a fucking clue.”
“What makes you think anyone else does? What makes you think these cretins know anything more than I do? Audrey, the answers you seek DO NOT EXIST. Do you think there are books written with all the answers and I just don’t have them?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me!”
“Go then.” Lastor’s voice was flat and cold, emotionless.
“What?” Audrey snapped.
“GO ON!!” Lastor roared, eyes blazing. “LEAVE! Go live with your friends wherever they think is good enough, since here obviously isn’t anymore!”
“It never was, I just didn’t know yet,” Audrey sneered, jerking her coat over her shoulders.
Lastor heard an odd ringing sound in his ears as her voice seemed to echo inside his head and the hateful look in her eyes as she glared at him seemed to magnify, swelling up until her scorn was all he could see, shrouded in red mist.
Without even realizing it, Lastor had crossed the room and lifted her up by the throat, his nails digging in. Trickles of blood dripped down to stain Audrey’s shirt, as he threw her forcefully through the door leading outside.
Lastor blinked, coming to his senses, breathing heavily with the remnants of the red mist still fading. “Indeed.”
The messenger must have guessed what was in his heart, for he quickly resumed talking, grounding Lastor’s thoughts firmly to the present. “The way to the land below is no lighted promenade either. Being underground, naturally, one must go down.” His eyes dropped to a manhole cover nearby.
Lastor’s eyes followed, and then came up to look at the messenger. “You MUST be joking.”
The messenger chuckled. “No. There is an old sewer system that has not been used for decades. It is dry and relatively tidy. Elitists are not likely to sully their feet with mortal filth, I assure you.”
“Well I’m no elitist but I’m not too keen on trudging through sewage, bound for some subterranean promised land.” He pointed a finger at TM. “And you. What are you doing there, if all its residents are phony?”
“I’m sure you will agree, there is benefit in seeming to support the most powerful beings of our kind, artificial as they may be.”
“If you’re lying to me—” Lastor began but TM held up a hand.
“Sir, your lady has already enlightened me as to the consequences of deceiving either of you. I do not wish, as the Lady Spencer has kindly offered, to be bound and gagged by my own intestines as you…er…fornicate in my blood?”
Lastor smiled in spite of himself. “That’s Audrey all right.”
“Ah, but perhaps not for long,” TM said, his face growing dark. “Soon she is to marry the eldest son of the senior member of the Council of Choice, and her personality will be… quite irrelevant.”
Lastor’s smile vanished. “Council…married??”
“Well obviously she would prefer to avoid this eventuality as well, which I daresay is why we are talking now.