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Soul Food

by Lyle Berry (Age: 70)
copyright 11-08-2003

Age Rating: 16 +
Soul Food
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Do not pity me. I do not desire your compassion, nor do I thirst for your filthy, peasant blood. For centuries, I’ve survived without your gratuitous commiseration – so keep it to yourself. Hold fast your emotions and gather them to your bosom. If you can.

You see, I am not like the others. I am distinctly different from those pale, furtive creatures, who stalk the night, forced by their curse to seek the veins of the living for sustenance. I’ve transcended. No longer am I puppet to the cruel demands of that addiction. I have discovered better food. Hearken and I shall share my tale.

History has long forgotten me, Vlad Dracul’s only daughter, Anastasia. I was born in the fortress at Sighisoara, Romania in the winter of 1433. Two years earlier, my father, Vlad II was knighted to the Order of the Dragon and made military governor of Transylvania by the Holy Roman Emporer Sigismund of Luxembourg. Five years after my birth, father’s armies overpowered Prince Alexandru I, and he became voivode of Wallachia. His legacy was to repel the Turks from the borders of the province. Over the years, father and my bothers Radu and Vlad III were memorialized because of their fierce and valiant deeds in battles, defending Hungary against the Ottomans. They died at war and became legends; I lived in peace and became immortal. Listen on.

A capricious girl, I spent the summer of my thirteenth year roaming the deep woods near father’s castle and exploring the banks of the Arges River chasing butterflies and picking wildflowers. One lanquid afternoon, having run for miles in pursuit of elusive wings and gathered all the pretty flowers I could carry in my shawl, I lay to rest on a rock outcropping near the water. The sun was low in the sky now and it was nearing dusk. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of a willowy figure at the edge of the evergreens. It seemed to have shape, but lacked substance – like a ghost or a mirage. A trick of the waning light and exhaustion perhaps. Always too brave and over curious, I left the comfort of the cliffs and headed in the direction of the chimera, seeking to learn the secret behind this strange vision.

As I approached the trees, I saw the figure again, more clearly now. It was a tall woman, garbed in white grave cerements, winding in and out between the towering pines. She gesticulated wildly - flailed her arms and wailed forlornly in a manner that sent chills coursing through my body. My instincts were to run - run as fast as I could to the castle gates, before some unknown evil befell me, but I was fascinated by the sight and sound of this being.

I pushed aside cone-laden boughs and the shroud of the stygian forest enveloped me. With terrible speed, she leapt straight at me from the blackness and seized my throat with clawed fingers. Her chest heaved with stentorian gasps, while her fetid breath assaulted my nostrils. She ripped open my bodice, took my budding breast in her mouth and bit the tender tissue like a ripe grape. The pain was both exquisite and awful as my innocent blood spurt from the foul wound into her suckling mouth. The lady in grave clothes moaned like some frenzied animal. At some point I slipped into unconsciousness - overwhelmed by fear and loss of blood.

I awoke some days later in my canopied featherbed. My father’s horse soldiers had found me the night of the attack and returned me to the sanctuary of Castle Dracul. The royal physician had treated my wounds and servants attended and watched over me while I’d lain fevered and delirious.

My recollection of the satiation of my first thirst is extremely intense. While I was convalescing in the castle, one noon a young servant wench was attempting to administer steaming spoonfuls of thin broth to me with a silver spoon. My eyes fixed on the milky skin exposed beneath the loose folds of her peasant dress. Her scent instantly became delicious to me and I was overpowered by a craving I had never experienced. Before I was aware of what I was doing, I had grasped her throat with both hands, then I’d torn open her clothes and sank my teeth into her heaving bosom. She screamed loudly and struggled horribly, but I’d grown incredibly strong somehow and took her easily – like the wolf takes the hare.

Myriad others followed that first one. My aristocratic family was very powerful in the region and hid my secret well for many years. But when father was killed, I was forced to seek refuge elsewhere in the world. I became a gypsy and traveled beyond the Balkans and Carpathians - toured all of Europe and Asia. For centuries I wandered aimlessly, seeking the sustenance of the life force – the blood of the living, which I had to have to survive. I knew no friends and had no lovers. Eventually, I found a home in London, where the wealth of my inheritance, invested wisely over time, continued to provide me an indulgent, though solitary, life. And it was a life relegated to the hours of darkness only, since that is where we dwell.

As the lonely, empty years droned on and on, I grew weary of the continuous pursuit of prey, chasing them through the darkness, attacking them like a jungle beast, disposing of the bodies so that I would not be caught. I began to research how I might survive by other means – why must it be the blood? Why not some other source of sustenance?

One fateful night, I lured a particularly delectable and lithesome prostitute back to my tower apartments with promises of champagne, beluga and a wild, abandoned tour of Lesbos. She was a red head with long tresses, soft, milky skin, green eyes and the body of Venus De Milo. I poured her champagne while she sat on my silk chaise lounge. As she sipped, I quickly kissed her bubbly, petulant mouth and stared into those emerald orbs, readily hypnotizing her with the ability each of us possesses. I fully intended to feast on her succulence as I always do, but something held me at bay.

I continued to gaze into her eyes, drinking her in, letting her essence and aura permeate my skin, like my fangs could her jugular. Then, I felt the rush. I felt her energy surge into me and watched, amazed as it escaped her. I had not penetrated her body in any way, but had drained her of every drop of life in a heartbeat. She fell back against the pillows, completely spent and of course – dead. I, however, was invigorated and knew then that I had assimilated her life force, and devoured her very soul.

So, you see, you must not feel sorry for me. You must feel sorry for you. Now, listen carefully to the rest of my story. Just listen and look into my eyes….

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        10-01-2005     Kat Voletto        

*applauds* Beautiful! I love the spin you have given to the vampire tale, and I loved all of the involved history! I am very pleased to have read this. Thank you so much for sharing this! Salut, excellent work.

        09-12-2005     Debra Rose        

CONGRATULATIONS LYLE! Your work "Soul Food" is one of the winners under Hidden Treasures in Choices of the Week!

To get directly to the column page you featured on, click the dancing GIR! A new window will open to the page that you were featured on!
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        12-12-2004     Irina Guschina        

Excellent story Lyle! I like it! But where is next part? I can't even wait to read more...
With love,

        12-12-2004     Irina Guschina        

Excellent story Lyle! But where is next part? Can't even wait to read more...
With love,

        01-14-2004     Catherine Wilson        

Unbelievable. Is there anything you can't write?


        11-11-2003     Jack Curson        

Very well written, so what happens next... Seems to be a very excellent character that you should continue on with.

        11-11-2003     Janet Owenby        

Lyle your just to good of writer to be only read by us few. Get published. Your number one fan. Hugggs Janet. Of course I loved it!

        11-09-2003     Kay Lee Kelly        

Yikes !!! A tale well told, holds you in it's grip to the very end...... that is the end, right?

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