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A farmer, a preacher, and… A vampire. Angel watched the man jump down from the roof. That wasn’t something a human could do. The sun was still fairly weak, so the man wouldn’t have any issues with being restricted to human strength yet. The impact staggered him, but not badly enough that he stumbled. He looked at him with interest. Oh. He was c- No. None of that. Angel mentally berated himself for a moment and did his best not to focus on the attractiveness of the man. Instead he took in the fact that he didn’t hear a heart beat and didn’t smell any blood on him- at all. Hm… A vampire that hasn’t fed recently. That was dangerous as he knew all too well from personal experience. Angel studied him for a moment longer before he remembered that the man might actually expect him to respond.
[#6b6b6b “Angel.”] He shook Tobias’ hand and glanced back at the ruined building. [#6b6b6b “I work as a contractor. I hope I know how to fix buildings.”] Angel replied with a laugh. [#6b6b6b “Before that I worked on a ranch. Building and fixing come…”] Ah fuck what was the world again? He frowned and repeated the sentence in his head. It was something similar to what the word was in Spanish. [#6b6b6b “…Naturalmente…”] He said begrudgingly. After ten years he was fluent in English and his accent wasn’t even that strong. Still, there were times when he couldn’t remember a word.
[#6b6b6b “How long ago was that?”] The man seemed to realize that he shouldn’t say too much and seemed to have put up his guard again. No matter, he had some time. Chuy could wait. [#6b6b6b “It’s been…. Nearly two hundred years give or take a few decades since my ranch was around.”] And there it was. The thing he never talked about to another person. He let that sink in as he pulled his phone out to call Chuy. [#6b6b6b “I do, but… We… Have some things to talk about, but first I have to call someone.”] He dialed his friend and waited until a disoriented Chuy answered. What ensued was a very fast paced conversation in Spanish in which Angel relayed that he wasn’t going to make it in today. After assuring his friend that nothing was wrong, and he’d text him later, Angel hung up and slipped his phone back into his pocket with a sigh. [#6b6b6b “I dislike that thing.”] he muttered. [#6b6b6b “Oh, yes. Sorry about that.”]
Angel perked up and studied the man again. [#6b6b6b “You’re in modern clothing, but… I haven’t seen you around. Have you… Uh…”] He shifted uncomfortably. [#6b6b6b “Sorry. I’ve never met another vampire before. I know that there are more of us out there, but I’ve never found them. Not… That I was looking, but it was difficult to adjust to everything without someone to explain what happened to me. I got desperate enough to learn something about what we are that I turned to bad literature.”] His nose wrinkled at the mere mention of said literature.
Ah, fuck. Tobias leaned back from his work to see someone down on the ground yelling up at him. He looked from the work he had done back down to the stranger. [i Sigh.] "I'm not a handyman, I'm a..." Tobias didn't quite know what he was anymore. He had been a slave, which he guessed would classify as a farmer now. But he was also a preacher. Or...he had been one. "I'm a farmer, a preacher, all of this is foreign to me," he confessed, dropping down through a hole in the roof. The impact of his feet ran up through his legs and it [i fucking hurt.] But it was a graceful landing nonetheless. He walked out of the rubble and over to the stranger.
"Tobias," he introduced himself, hand outstretched to the other. Getting a good look at him, it looked like he was ready to go to work. He could use some work, really. Too bad the barber hadn't offered him a job. "You know how to fix? Or, well, I guess this would be building at this point, wouldn't it?" He laughed, relaxed. Wait, could vampires die? His guard went back up quickly. He didn't know the man in front of him, and he certainly couldn't tell if they were human or vampire or...whatever else was out there.
"I used to own this church, it got burned down years ago. I wanted to fix it back up, see if I could live comfortably in it, but I'm no good at stuff like that. The..." he stopped himself before giving anymore information that could lead to the other discovering he was a vampire. "Uh, oh, I'm sure I'm holding you up, do you have somewhere to be?"
It had been ten years since he had woken up. In that time, he had met Jesus, better known as Chuy, who was instrumental in him learning English and becoming a citizen. Hell, he was even the reason that he had a job now. Once he’d found out that he had experience with building, he invited him to work with him. Sure, there had been new stuff to learn, but with Chuy there to teach him he’d excelled. Chuy was even talking about starting a construction company with him. As exciting as the prospect was, Angel wasn’t entirely sure that he could stick around much longer. After all, he’d discovered exactly what kind of demon he was: un vampiro. A vampire.
He wasn’t much of one if any of what he’d read was true. No transforming into a cloud of bats, garlic wasn’t an issue, and he couldn’t even drink animal blood in place of human blood- thanks for that idea twilight. He’d spent a week sick to his stomach. There were things he could stomach as far as human food went, but it just didn’t do anything for him anymore, so he only ate when around humans. He didn’t burn in the sun, but it did weaken him considerably. At night he was an inhumanly strong and fast blood drinker. By day he was your friendly neighborhood handyman.
A friendly handyman that lived in a graveyard.
Somehow, in the ten years that they’d known each other, Chuy had never asked to visit his house. Maybe he knew that Angel would rather not explain his housing situation, or maybe he had a feeling about his strange friend and didn’t want to bring up the situation. Whatever the case, Angel had never been pressured to move in with Chuy, nor had he ever been guilted into finding a place to live. It wasn’t as if the elements bothered him at all. Sure, clothing could be a bit tricky, but that’s what laundromats were for right? Besides, it was surprisingly easy to break into mausoleums. So, he didn’t have a house, but he did have a mausoleum to store some of his things in. It did make him feel a bit guilty, but it wasn’t as if he was being too disrespectful. He wasn’t desecrating the actual coffins, besides a mausoleum was basically a house for the dead right? Perfect for someone like him since he was [i technically] dead.
Another night spent guarding the family ended with him getting changed for work. As he picked up his tools and stepped back outside he heard a very familiar sound. Was someone… Hammering? With a frown he closed the heavy door to the mausoleum and turned towards the source of the noise. No one in their right mind would build this far out. It was too close to his cemetery and too far from ‘civilization.’ Still, he was curious, and he had a few hours before he was going to meet Chuy for work. If he ended up being late, he could always text him. That was something else Chuy had helped him with. In all honesty he wasn’t a fan of his phone, but Chuy liked to text him and it was much faster than writing letters.
Angel started walking towards the noise. Since the sun was coming up his speed was dropping drastically, but he managed to make good time before the light was too strong. The sky was dyed a brilliant pink as the church grew closer on the horizon. It was falling apart and ancient, but it still set a pretty scene. Angel stopped walking to look at it for a moment before his gaze was drawn up to the man that was on the roof. Oh, that’s where the noise was coming from. He walked closer and had to shake his head at how the man was going about it. [#6b6b6b “If you’re trying to fix the roof, that’s not going to help anything.”] He called out. Now that he was closer to the building, he could see that there was a lot more work to do than he had first thought. This could be a fun project. At the very least it would give him something to do with the money he hadn’t already donated. Assuming the man allowed him to help.
Tobias made his way into the city, hard dirt making way for badly cracked stone road and eventually even paved sidewalks and roads. He must have looked lost, because a black man called out to him from a store with a red and white spinning pole that was lit up as bright as the sun in this darkness. "You lost, man? Wow, that hair is wild. You homeless, man?"
He didn't know how to react to that at first. He hadn't considered checking his hair when he first woke up. Tobias reached up and ran his hands through his hair, except he didn't. He barely got past the scalp. It was tangled and dirty and disgusting. When he pulled away, flakes fell with his hands. He couldn't remember his hair ever being that long, much less that messy. Not to mention he was just starting to understand some time must have passed.
Instead of commenting on the hair issue, he walked over. The other black man motioned him inside and sat him down on a chair. There was a mirror in front of him. Tobias' eyes went wide as he nearly jumped out of the chair and gripped the edge in front of him as he examined himself. "You definitely need a haircut, my guy," the man stated. Tobias was pretty sure that this wasn't [i his guy] but he went along with it. "Never done anything this wild before, you just want me to shave it off?"
"Shave? Yeah, yeah, a shave would be nice." He slowly sat back down as the other man fondled his hair and messy beard. "Uh, what year is it?"
"2017, man. You on drugs too?"
"No, just confused? One minute I was asleep in a church, the next everything is gone, including the church."
"...You a vampire, man?"
"Kidding, I'm kidding!" the man laughed - [i but it didn't sound like he was kidding] - pulling out scissors and a device that Tobias didn't recognize. The guy started snipping the bulk of his hair away from his head and he watched, silent. The guy was whistling a tune he didn't recognize. "How do you like it?"
"My hair? However, short."
And awayyyy he went! He had seen quick working before but never on hair. Impressed, Tobias clicked his tongue and relaxed. He couldn't stop thinking about the vampire comment. He didn't look any different in skin color than before, and when he opened his mouth there weren't any fangs. His eyes weren't red. [i Nothing like his mother had told him every night before bed], though now that he thought about it maybe it was just meant to scare him. Maybe she had never seen a vampire before.
"Holy shit, you look great." Tobias' attention snapped back to reality as he looked at himself. When had the man even gotten to his beard?
"I...I don't have any money to give you."
"Man, you're a vampire in a different era, I get it. I don't think any money you might have had would work here anyways."
"You're a vampire, I'm one too, that's how I can tell. You really didn't know?"
"I did say I was confused. Really confused. I was a slave and my master is gone, everything I knew is gone."
"Shiiiit, man, a slave. Wow. Well there isn't slaves anymore, just slaves of the system. You need help getting started?"
"Uh, yes, that'd be nice."
- - -
In the end, he ended up back at the broken church alone. He stared at it, the sun just now peeking over the horizon. Well, he couldn't talk about the higher power he used to worship but he wasn't about to let a place of worship go to shit. He began picking up non-burnt boards and rusted nails that would have to do for now.
He managed to climb up to the roof and started closing up holes with the wood from the floors and walls. The noise would have bothered his master if he was still alive, but now there was nobody around to hear it. "Vampire, vampire, vampire, cursed with eternal life," he said aloud. "Can't worship," [i bang], "Can't eat," [i bang], "And definitely can't tell anyone." He wasn't alright. Oh mama, he wasn't alright.
Being the head of the family was a lot of work. Not only did he have to do the routine chores that he always did, not he had to pick up the slack where others were failing AND take care of mama and siblings. Sure, he’d been getting more and more responsibility as he got older, but when his father suddenly died he was left with a heavy set of responsibilities. It didn’t help that war had recently broken out. The US wanted their land- the territory that they lived in. There was a call for volunteers, for soldiers, but he couldn’t leave his family. Not when there was a whole ranch to run and they were short on hands as it was. As long as they were safe it didn’t matter what side of the border they ended up on. Of course, as people warned him, there was a chance that they would lose the ranch. In his opinion what good was protecting a piece of land when the ones you loved would be dying for it? He was called a coward. So be it. As long as he could see his sisters smiling, hear his brothers complaining about the chores, and hold his mama tight it didn’t matter.
And then one night everything changed.
It was the middle of the night and something spooked the horses. It could be a coyote, but it could also be soldiers. Either way he had to go out and make sure that everything was safe. He, one of his brothers, and one of the ranch hands that they employed headed out into the darkness. Each of them was armed with a gun and a lantern. The three of them headed towards the stables and then… Everything was a blur. Someone was out there all right, but it wasn’t a soldier. It was a strange, white man. His eyes seemed to glow in the night, but that was impossible. Another thing that was impossible was how fast the man moved. Before Ángel could even ask him what he was doing, the man rushed at him. He couldn’t react beyond a startled yell. There was pain, a fountain of blood, and then… Nothing.
The funeral of Ángel Josué Pánfilo Sandalio Rosales was a sad affair. The cause of death was ruled to be a gunshot, because what, other than a demon, could tear out a man’s throat? He was laid to rest in a small cemetery. A wooden cross served as his marker until his family was finally able to commission a proper headstone.
[center It would be a century and a half before he would see it.]
It felt like a bad dream that he couldn’t wake up from. Pitch black even when his eyes were wide open. A dull throbbing upon his chest. He couldn’t breathe, or rather he wasn’t breathing. When he had opened his eyes he wasn’t breathing and his heart wasn’t beating. It had to be a trick, an illusion. A trick played by the devil man. Wait! The devil man! His family! They were still in danger. He had to get to them. Frantically, his hands met with the heavy force that was pushing down on him and began the grueling process of clawing it away.
It wasn’t easy. Hell, next to impossible would be an accurate description. He couldn’t tell how long it had been since he had begun. Weeks? It seemed like it. Somewhere along the line he had realized that he was digging his way up through dirt, but that was impossible right? He would have been suffocated. It would explain why he wasn’t breathing, but not why he was still awake and aware of everything. Maybe… Maybe he had been sent to hell? That was where people like him went wasn’t it? He had never been able to confess his sinful desires at church and this was his punishment. No. He couldn’t think like that; his family was still in danger. Eventually his hands broke surface and Ángel struggled to get out of the earth. Once he did he looked around. The first thing that struck him was how well he could see despite it being dark and the second was that he was surrounded by graves. One in particular caught his eye- his own. He scrambled back with a sharp cry and much swearing on his part. [#6b6b6b “Di-hgk”] The word caught in his throat. He brought a hand up to clutch at his throat in confusion as his eyes drifted to the graves next to his. [#6b6b6b “No… No, no, no, no…”] He scrambled over to the closest grave and traced the letters of the oh so familiar name with a shaking hand. It was his mother’s grave. And next to hers it was his siblings. Beyond that it, it appeared to be the extended family. The families of his siblings. Nieces and nephews that he would never know.
Tears were pouring from his eyes as an animalistic sound ripped from him. Grief and disbelief overwhelmed him. His family, dead! All of them. He had failed to protect all of them. It was hours before he realized that his tears weren’t tears as he remembered them. No, they were sticky and the scent… That scent made him hungry, no thirsty, for more. Smelling his own blood made his teeth [i ache]. He couldn’t understand. What was going on? This had to be a dream. It [I must] be a dream. There was no way this was real. If it was real, it could only mean one of two things. Either he was dead and being punished in hell or he was alive as a demon. It was a theory that he didn’t want to test out. Of course, life wouldn’t be that kind.
Apparently, his grieving had attracted some attention. A young white man was approaching him. He wasn’t anything like the last white man that he’d seen. No, this one was full of life. Ángel could practically hear the thrum of his pulse as he called out to him. The sound was so loud, he couldn’t hear what the man was saying. His eyes were fixated on the pale throat that was exposed by a strangely low collar. As he stared at this man his teeth hurt again and he felt pricks on his bottom lip as if he were subconsciously biting it, but he wasn’t.
Ángel moved before he realized it. The man never had a chance; he’d happened across a starved vampire who had just expended a great deal of energy clawing his way to freedom out of the dirt only to discover his entire family was dead. Not the best night to take a casual stroll in the cemetery. It was over before he realized just what he’d done to this man. He pulled away from the lifeless body and brought a hand up to cover his bloody mouth. The man’s neck was savagely torn apart in his desperate struggle to drink his blood. Just staring at him, Ángel began to cry again.
He spent the remainder of the night crying and pulling the man over to his grave to bury him. The guilt was heavy. This poor man was murdered simply because he was a freshly risen demon. After his victim was buried, Ángel did his best to clean up and then lay out on the grave of his mother to die. When the sun came up, the pure light would burn him up and his cursed existence would end.
[center Except it didn’t.]
It took him a while to adjust to the strange life he had now. When he finally left the cemetery he discovered a strange, modern world that completely overwhelmed him. Not only that but it seemed that Mexico had lost the war. Now he was somewhere called “Texas” where nearly everyone spoke only English. It was a struggle, but eventually he found a way to earn some money that he used to buy some new clothing, learn English, and then eventually purchase some tattoos. A silly thing to spend money on, but it was his own personal memorial to the man he had killed when he’d woken up.
During the day he was a normal, if not a little odd, handyman that took any and all jobs. By night he protected the graves of his family. If he couldn’t do anything for them in life, he would at least try to protect them in death so that they might have a peaceful rest. What else was he going to do with an eternal life?
It was mostly teens that he scared off; kids that would spread the rumors of a ghostly figure with a skull for a head that wandered around a particular part of the cemetery at night. Eventually even the adults in the town became curious of the stories and came around. They ran even faster than the kids if possible. Silly because of how simple the ruse was. A cow skull and a long robe were his outfit- were it not dark, it would be disgustingly simple to see that there was a man under all of that. At night, however, he didn’t move as a man normally would. He was impossibly fast and quiet. A normal human wouldn’t be able to keep up with him. That was how he kept up his ghostly appearance. Every now and then he would grab a meal from one of the frightened trespassers, being very careful as to how he went about it. Never the neck. The temptation was far too strong. He hated to do it, but if he allowed himself to wither, he wouldn’t be strong enough to protect his family.
[center His family was all that he had left.]
[font 'Calibri' It was a Wednesday when Tobias fell asleep in one of the pews at the church slaves were [i allowed] to worship at. He had been in good graces with his master, and decided to use it to his advantage to take a nap. What he should have done, with the summer heat bearing down on him, was go home and pour up his master some iced tea, the house servant's specialty. Or maybe he should have gone and continued the work in the fields. But he hadn't, he had stayed and slept the day away.
He didn't hear what he assumed were white men approaching the church, he had been so exhausted when he fell asleep. Even when the crackle of fire spread across the wooden boards of the already shabby church. He really admired his resolve to sleep, because he only woke up when a bit of wood fell on him with a loud [i thump]. But by that time, he couldn't breathe, couldn't think. He didn't even think that he understood that he was in pain, because after that, he just closed his eyes again.
Maybe they didn't know there was a black man inside the church at the time, or maybe they had planned it. But being an indentured slave, his death would make things hard on his master, he was sure.
- - -
It was a Thursday when he woke up. His eyes cracked open to moonlight streaming through open holes in the roof of [i his] church. When he sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes, he noticed that everything was burnt. Well, there really was nothing but plant life growing through the cracks of a rotting wood floor, but it was obvious it had been burnt. The walls of the church was rotting, but the charred edges told him what he needed to know.
Or at least what he thought he needed to know. "Those damn whites," he murmured as he slowly stood from the rubble he had been laying on. He took notice that he wasn't burned. Tobias checked himself over, even his clothes were untouched. They were...extremely filthy. Covered in soot and stained permanently with dust. The smell was terrible.
But still, "Thank G-," he started, but stopped. He couldn't get the word out. As he tried again, and then again, he realized that he couldn't say the name of the one he worships. Was he being punished? Or perhaps this was a reminder of who had saved him.
He also would have said that he easily wiped off the ash and grime from his face, but it would be a lie. As he reached up to wipe away black from his cheek, it came back in a thick layer on his fingers. He groaned. He didn't understand what this meant, even if he had survived the fire, there was no way this much residue caked up on him in the day he had been asleep.
So he walked outside, and everything had changed. In the distance were glass buildings breaking the sky, and the area he was in...well, there was nothing but cattle and open spaces thriving on...[i dead grass.] He would have never let the grass grow brown except in winter. Well, his master wouldn't have.
Which was another thing he noticed. The house that he went to in order to receive instructions from his master was gone. Not burnt, not moved, there was just no sign of it. Had it suffered a worse fate than Tobias' church?
Just where was he?
The man moved away from the church, stepping over the door even though it broke off the rusted hinges at the slightest push, making a loud bang as it hit the still stone steps of the front of the church. He flinched at the sound, but continued on regardless. There were no paths, no dirt roads back to anywhere. It was just a few dozen heads of cattle.
Where was his plantation? There had always been a few cattle roaming nearby when he lived on it, but there had also always been plentiful crop. "Now, this here just doesn't make sense," he sighed woefully.]
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