That Time With The Vampires
Chapter 1

Okay, so you want to know about what happened with the vampires. For a start, it took place in the sixties. Since it's 2019 now, it's been several decades, so if anything is a little anachronistic, you can put it down to human memory not being perfect. And obviously I don't remember the conversations in perfect detail; I'm just reconstructing them the best I can. The actual events I describe aren't even all from my own memory, but are put together from journals I kept back at the time.

Before I begin, I should explain some things. My name is Adry Hardouin, I was born in Normandy - northern France - in the early 13th century. I usually just say 1224, but I could be off by a few years. I wasn't really the popular kid in my village, but my father taught me how to hunt so I didn't have to spend too much time around people. And that's why I was out in a tree taking a nap when a thunderstorm hit. I was hit by lightning while I was asleep, and I woke up in the middle of a broken tree. I think I was about twenty three, twenty five then.

The main thing you need to know here is that this is where my life changed - at least, for the first time. I found out pretty fast that I had the power to fly, and I spent ages asking God about that, and of course I got no answer. So I kept going with life, keeping that to myself because how do you explain something like that to people, or at least people back then? But it was pretty good for hunting, and I used it when nobody was around to see.

And then a few years later I realized that wasn't the only thing different. I just wasn't getting any older. At first, my lack of visible aging became kind of a joke, like, I was the baby faced guy. But after a few years, when people realized I just wasn't getting any older, things got serious. A lot of people chalked me up to being creature of the Devil, which was partly my fault since I wasn't always well-behaved. Basically, at that point I high tailed it away from home and found work elsewhere.

That's kinda how my life's gone - travel around and see what kind of work I could find, move someplace else before things started getting weird. The whole time I kept a look out for anyone like myself, but that never went anywhere. I encountered many strange and unusual people, but no one like me. I started to suppose that either I was the only one like this, or others were so rare I was never going to meet them. It was a hard pill to swallow, but I got used to it eventually. I learned to enjoy what I had when I had it, and to move on when I had to.

Of course a lot of stuff happened between then and now, but most of it's neither here nor there at the moment. Plus, there's a lot I just don't remember very well. I know I fought in a few battles, but I couldn't tell you for sure which ones they all were, let alone when they took place. I've been friends with thousands of people, but I've forgotten many of them and the ones I do remember start to run together and I can't always be sure who did or said what. Same for my lovers. I know this last one gets people upset - a lot of them want to be special and unforgettable - but human memory just won't have it.

Anyway, we can now fast forward to the sixties. I didn't look too different back then - same red hair, though little shorter than it is now but still pretty long. Usually wearing jeans and t-shirts, sometimes a sweater. Still around 160 pounds, still 6'2. I was living in Union, New York, and I was working in a grocery store. It was an okay job, but my job was all I had, so the rest of the time I was pretty bored and had no social life. So one evening I started walking down the streets looking for something to keep myself busy with - like maybe a dance hall, a local theater, or even a friendly diner. Someplace I could meet people, basically.

But before I could find any place like that, I passed in front of a bakery that had the most divine looking doughnuts in the windowsill. I realized that I was actually pretty hungry, so I decided to walk in. Just about everything looked good to me right then, and I think I was eyeing the bear claws when the guy who worked there came in from the back room. He was a little on the small side, but muscular. His skin was olive-complected, and his eyes were large and dark. And he had the kind of mouth crinkles that could charm the blouse off a fussy librarian.

And then the next thing I knew, the man was glaring daggers at me. "I don't want to join your Undying Society, for the last time!" he snapped.

"Sorry, excuse me, what?" I asked, completely bewildered by his reaction to me. What was he even talking about?

"You heard me - I don't wanna join your..." He stopped and stared at me for a moment, then relaxed and stepped back. "Oh, gosh. I'm really sorry about that. I thought you were with some guys who've been bugging me about joining their little club."

I relaxed - at least for a moment, until I remembered that he'd just said Undying Society. My curiosity was piqued. "Wait, what kind of club?" I asked. With a name like that, I had to wonder - was it, perchance, full of immortals? I knew they probably just chose the name because it sounded impressive and important, but I had nothing to lose by being curious. "Is it a club for immortal people?" I blurted.

The guy behind the yellow Formica counter stared at me like he'd seen the ghost of Marylin Monroe. "Well... yeah," he said. "Actually, it is."

So if this was a club for immortal people, and they'd invited him to join, that meant he was...

"Are you-?" I asked.

"Are you-?" he asked.

"Yeah!" I said.

"Are you a vampire?" he asked.

"No, I just - I'm just immortal. I've been that way since I was hit by lightning some hundred years back. What about you?"

"I'm a vampire," he said. "Been that way for some decades."

I immediately thought of all the vampires I'd seen in movies, who were all monsters of some form or another. This guy looked completely normal, and very much not like somebody who'd attack anyone for their blood. "Vampire?" I echoed. "As in - you drink blood?"

"Yeah, I do," he said. "Rats, mostly. Not... people." Going by the look on his face, he found the idea of drinking human blood to be disturbing.

I took a few moments to take all of that in. First of all, vampires were apparently real. Of course I'd seen many strange things in my life (some of them supernatural), but vampires were something that I had considered to be probably not real. But here was a man who was claiming to be a vampire, and he didn't seem to be lying. Just the opposite. Secondly, for the first time ever, I was standing next to another immortal. I wasn't the only one anymore. "Yeah, that's... that's amazing. Really something," was what I finally said.

He grinned warmly and laughed. "It ain't the best, ya know, but it works. Anyway, my name's Omar. Omar Younan. Who're you?"

"Adry Hardouin," I said. "Nice to meet you. This is the first time I've found someone else who's immortal."

"Yeah? Well, there a few vampires around," Omar said. "And those guys at the Undying Society, for what they're worth."

"Yeah, what is wrong with those guys, anyway?" I asked. "And why'd you think I was one of 'em?"

Omar's grin continued. "Well, for one thing you kept staring at me like you wanted something that wasn't a doughnut. For another, you got the same shampoo as one of their guys, so yeah."

"Same shampoo? How can you...?"

"The smell," he explained. "Vampires got good noses. Anyway, what's wrong with those guys is they're all snobs."

Well, snobs or not, they were still people I had something in common with, something that I'd never had in common with anyone else for hundreds of years. Omar was a wonderful start, but why only have one immortal friend? Why not meet them all? "Did they give you any contact information?" I asked.

"Yeah, the last guy left a card," Omar said. He reached down under the counter and pulled it out, and he handed it to me. "Knock yourself out. They'll probably grade you on how well you can recite Shakespeare, just so's ya know."

"I used to play Ariel and Miranda a lot for awhile," I said as I took the card. Acting was something I did now and then, and I wasn't too bad at it - it comes with needing to pretend you're someone you're not as a survival skill.

"Well, then maybe they'll like you. They wanted me 'cause they liked my performance in Hamlet. Didn't care about my work in West Side Story at all," he said.

I nodded. "Guess we'll see, yeah. You work here regularly?" I asked. I didn't want to lose track of Omar; I liked him pretty well.

"Yeah, I do." He flashed me a smile. "You plan to come here regularly?"

I grinned. "I do, yeah. Oh, yeah - I also came here for a doughnut."

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