HE watches her from afar, feeding his hunger for her with his eyes. Ah, but the night is long. Hallow’s Eve has always been long for Daniel Marco.
Tonight at the Ball, he sits at a lonely table, unmindful of all the meaningful glances thrown his way by coquettish vixens. He drinks all the merriment in as he sips a glass of blood-red wine, which is all but fitting. He has come here as Count Dracula, that vile man condemned and accused centuries ago. Some say Vlad Tepes never really drank anyone’s blood, that the manner in which he killed was by impaling his innocent victims. Yet, history has not completely proven it true or otherwise. Always, there are only speculations, speculations and nothing else.
However, it is the least in Daniel’s thoughts. Tonight, his thoughts and his eyes are on her, and her alone. She has, once again, come as a dark angel. Indeed, the mere sight of her intoxicates him. A fiery angel in red, casting her spell on almost all the men in the room. Always, they swarm at her like bees hungry for a taste of her precious nectar, the way they swarm around her this evening. He has watched her for several years now. Though he has not had the chance to see her every time, he has seen her often enough to learn her name, recognize her laughing yet innocent voice, memorize her movements. At times, even as he holds gracious ladies in his arms, his eyes wander across the room and find her.
He has never seen her leave with other men. He makes sure he does not, afraid of such notion. Daniel leaves early, pulling his women away from the crowd, into the streets, and in his waiting bed. But always, it is her face he sees. It is her scent he imagines, for he has also memorized it on the few occasions he is able to be near her enough. If he has satisfied his women, it is because of her.
From the moment Daniel set eyes on Helena, she took his breath away. She had worn the same costume that she wears tonight. She, in fact, has worn it on every Hallow’s Eve that he has had the chance to be acquainted with her mere presence. Adorned by a pair of feathered wings, the red leather costume never fails to wreak havoc on men’s senses, not excluding Daniel’s. The smoldering look on her eyes, her full lips, the sweet contours hidden under leather make Daniel ache with a primal need that no woman has ever summoned. Perhaps, it is the feelings she invokes in him that has kept him away from her all these years.
But Daniel has now made up his mind. No more waiting. He will not wait any longer, not when she returns his gaze with a seemingly equal longing. Tonight, he will finally speak to her, hold her, feel her and, yes, have all of her. Helena will come with him. Daniel always gets his women. This one, though, is going to be special.
“Hey, handsome,” a woman in a revealing gothic attire sits beside him, linking an arm with his as her hand dangerously travels on his thighs. “Care to give a lift?”
Daniel knows she expects much more than a lift. Any other day, he surely would accept such a wanton invitation. His attractive countenance always makes it easy for him. He can simply sit alone like this and still, they come. But not tonight. He hardly pays the woman attention. “Forgive me, m’lady, but the night is still young and I am not yet prepared to leave.”
The woman laughs. “Ooh. In character, eh? You talk funny. I like that…Hmn…Are you sure you don’t want to accompany li’l ol’ lady me? You know, they say that every year, the Hallow’s Eve Mangler claims a life. Perhaps,…I need a gorgeous man like you to keep me safe?”
Again, Helena glances his way and returns his gaze. “And what makes you think you will be safe with me?” he replies meaningfully as he takes a last sip of wine and stands up, leaving the woman alone, confused, rejected, but safe.
SHE watches him walk towards her, holding her gaze. Could it be?
For years, he has fascinated her. She has watched him watch her, anticipating the moment that he will finally come to her. Yet he never does. Always, he leaves cradling other women in his arms, and disappearing into the night, only to return the next year. Though she has not had the chance to see him every time, she has seen him often enough to learn his name, recognize his worldly and sophisticated voice, memorize his movements. At times, even as she is surrounded by other worldly and sophisticated men, her eyes wander across the room and find him.
Very often, she finds him looking at her. The mutual attraction is there. Yet somehow, the invisible line has never been broken by any of them. How she wishes it is her he takes into his strong arms! Daniel, with his inexplicable confidence, exuding appeal, and lingering eyes makes Helena ache with a primal need that no man has ever summoned. Perhaps, it is the feelings he invokes in her that has kept her away from him all these years.
She needs to find what it is about the man that seems to be such a mystery. Perhaps it is true when people advise you to be careful what to wish for. But it is also true that if she does not find the answer to this puzzle, she might never ever find it. Oh, but the night is long. Hallow’s Eve has always been long for Helena. And tonight, it seems that her wish is about to come true.
She watches him walk slowly but with purpose. From the first time she laid eyes on him seven years ago, he has always walked like this, confident and with silent fire in his eyes. Still, something in his eyes tells of sadness and longing. At times, she has also seen lust in them. Helena is not naive of such things and does not pretend to be so.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” she says, leaving her admirers disappointed, their stories of wealth, power, and adventures cut short by her.
“Uh, I’ll give you a call, okay?” one of the men calls out but already, her mind is too far away from them to care. Her thoughts and her eyes are on him, and him alone.
Helena meets Daniel half-way, trying not to show too much eagerness in her steps. They stop and silently regard each other as dancers move gracefully around them. Daniel then bows and offers his hand. “May I have the pleasure of having this dance with you, m’lady?” he asks. Helena secretly smiles at the way he has addressed her.
“Certainly, m’lord,” she answers as she takes his hand, earning an amused smile from him. The mere touch of his hand sends a current through her. Her body trembles as he pulls her close against him. Perhaps, he has not noticed.
“Are you feeling cold?” he asks, holding her closer still that Helena only wants to be crushed against him. His scent intoxicates her senses as she struggles to keep sane. She does not know how much longer she can take it. “If I may ask, what is the story behind this wonderful attire?”
Helena looks down nervously and does not answer. True, she has worn the same outfit but only because of him. Seven years ago, it was this thing he saw her wear. The next years, she made sure he’d recognize her every time.
Helena looks up at Daniel and meets his eyes. “Daniel, take me with you…”
Daniel studies her face and smiles a little. “It may not be safe, m’lady.”
She smiles back. “For whom?”
HE watches her lying naked in his bed, sleeping like an angel.
It is past midnight and he has been sitting from a distance for an hour, admiring the beauty that has made him gloriously alive tonight. And he has not been alive as far as he can remember, never felt so, until seven years ago, from the night he first saw her. Since then, once in every year, he feels his heart beat, for her. He is quick to rule out lust. What he feels for her is more than lust. Perhaps, it is what they call love. Or perhaps, he is simply…obsessed.
Obsessed? At the thought of it, Daniel feels a sudden jolt. Obsession? Wasn’t that exactly what he had been called years ago? By that woman in the dark house several blocks from home? She had liked his Dracula costume and gave him many treats. The lone woman had called him in for more. She was sad, she said. She was alone, she said, and would he stay for a little while? But when she closed the door shut, it would be weeks before he ever saw it open again as the sound of sirens, banging, and gunshots filled the air together with the stench of blood, his and hers…
Helena stirs and opens her eyes, smiling. “Hey…What are you doing?” she asks half-asleep. He smiles back until she dozes off to sleep again. Daniel’s smile turns into a small frown. What has this girl done?
Before she invaded his world, he had been brutal, a savage, taking his women almost blindly and violently with no remorse. And when they were most vulnerable, at the precise moment their obsessions were already beyond control, it was then that he would strike, a stake right through their hearts! Before they knew it, he would have already smothered them until they breathed no more.
Daniel sneers. Oh, they were so blind with so much lust to ever care. They could not see the danger, never thought of looking under the pillows. All they saw was him, Daniel. Yes, those wenches deserved it. Lonely wenches that they were, no one ever really looked for them for long. And why should anyone? They were all like her, that cruel, cruel woman! They all had to die!
But…not her…Certainly not his Helena?
Daniel thinks in agony. For six years, he had been gentle and satisfied the women because of her. But always, no one ever lived to tell the tale. Tonight, this girl made him far more gentle and passionate than he ever thought he could be, far more caring, far more…alive.
No! She must die! Helena must die! It is too late to feel. He does not want to feel! He does not want to be obsessed with her. No, he will not allow it. He will not be like that horrible woman!
Daniel stands up and gets a pair of handcuffs from the drawer. This is what he should have done all along. He will kill her, drain her blood, and drink it! And then, he will slice her into pieces, bits by bits by bits, burn her, and scatter her ashes everywhere to be one with the air. The way the Hallow’s Eve Mangler does it. As always.
Helena stirs a little as Daniel handcuffs her hand to the bed. This is it. He must do it, he must! Daniel feels the chills all over his naked body. It is not the cold seeping through him, but the sadness, the pain, and the guilt brought on by all the years. He goes to the bed and gently pins the girl down, grasping her free arm in place as he aims the stake at her heart. Daniel takes a deep breath only to lose it in a sudden surge of emotions. He must say goodbye. He must. And he kisses her.
Either the kiss or his weight on her awakens Helena. She smiles until she sees the unexpected tears welling down Daniel’s face. “Daniel, what is it? What is the matter?”
“I-I have to…” he says, his hands shaking.
“You have to what?” Helena asks, confused. It is then that she notices the stake aimed at her. She turns pale and nervous. “D-Daniel?”
“I’m sorry, Helena…Goodbye…” Still, he hesitates. This is Helena, she is his. Should he destroy the only person he has somehow felt a connection to? And what if it is love?
But it is Helena’s response that surprises him. “H-how did you know?” she asks, her voice trembling. “Who told you?”
“What do you mean how did I…” Daniel freezes and looks at her. Something is happening. What is happening to Helena? She is changing right before his eyes…! “Helena, w-what…Your teeth…You’re a — !”
Then suddenly, everything dawns on him. Why had he not known? Had he known, perhaps, he would not have brought her here. Or would he?…Helena, his Helena, is a vampire!
He does not know when it is exactly that Helena breaks lose from the handcuffs. He only knows the feel of the mattress on his back as she pushes and overpowers him easily, the sharp pain of her fangs and the warm blood as it trickles down his neck. Of course, it is true! It is now that the legend of Vlad Tepes will be proven true and it is he, Daniel Marco, who will finally welcome it…Daniel does not scream and Helena stops to look at him. He looks back straight at her red and crying angel eyes, the last things he will ever see as Helena takes away his final, last breath.
SHE watches him lying naked and lifeless on his bed.
She has been sitting there and crying from a distance for an hour, staring at the mystery she has never really uncovered. In death, he is smiling, still with that inexplicable confidence, smiling even as she drove the stake into his own heart. Perhaps, she had given him one thing he had wanted all along — death. Ironic for no one has ever made her gloriously alive, and she has not been alive as far as she can still remember, never felt so, until seven years ago, from the night she first saw him. Since then, once in every year, she had felt her heart beat, for him. Who would have known that she still would have a heart?
What was it about him that attracted her so? Perhaps it was because he was an enigma, a mystery that waited to be solved. But now, she will not be able to know the story behind the mystery. How he even found out about her is also a mystery that will never be answered.
Right now, she feels something that she had not expected. Pain. How could she make herself believe she could finally love and be loved?…But no, it was not love. Daniel was an obsession that simply had to end. “Be careful what you wish for,” they said. But she never did get it.
Wiping the tears away, Helena stands up to put her clothes on. She has to leave before sunrise and go back to her own sanctuary. She is tired and terribly sleepy now. She is also hungry but no, she does not need his blood. She did not drink it at all. Somehow, she feels she wants to leave Daniel with a little more dignity. Oh, Daniel, now I will never really know you…
If only Helena knows that the mystery, indeed, has been solved. No more Hallow’s Eve Mangler…Goodbye, Daniel Marco.
Story Copyright © J.Gi Federizo
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