Now I lay me down to dream
I created this place as a
sanctuary, for I am an immortal, you see, and a very long
time ago the world of matter and men became intolerable to
me. Certain beings – some human, others not – have asked
precisely when this creation occurred, which only goes to
illustrate a supremely naive misconception of the very
nature of Umberlight.
There can be no when in
a land where there is no time.
For that reason alone, the sun
neither rises nor sets here. There are no calendars or
clocks, no watches or work schedules, no hatch marks
chiseled into prison walls to delineate one
indistinguishable day of monotony from the next.
There is only a single moment
here, existing perpetually at right angles to the dayshine
world, and given the name Umberlight by one of the first
Paranormals who stumbled – uninvited, I might add – into my
otherwise uninhabited kingdom. It was his observation that
the orange glow of the street lamps – which are powered by
tiny embers broken off from the Eternal Flame – produce a
warm autumnal glow that is a natural beacon, a porch light
left forever on, welcoming fragile moths in gowns of
colorful dust who dance like angels on the ragged hem of
this night that never ends.
But back to the questions of
when and how and why, which inevitably arise whenever
another wayward Paranormal wanders or falls or tunnels his
way into this place. If I were compelled to pin a timestamp
onto the foundational cornerstone of Umberlight, it would
require looking at the conundrum from the dank and dismal
perspective of the mortal world – at that crossroad moment
when it finally occurred to me that these human creatures
whom I have been observing for centuries are, at best, only
transient cattle, bumbling ignorantly toward the
slaughterhouse of their own inevitable deaths. Meek sheep,
lacking the force of Will which separates the herd from
those who dine upon them at the end of the day.
So much comes to mind. Where
to start? Do I begin by telling you that the term
'Paranormal' is intended to invoke fear for anything that
does not fit into a strictly human paradigm? And yet, how
can that which has existed since long before the first
whining Adam and the first bleeding Eve crawled out of the
primordial ooze be called paranormal or supernatural? It is
merely a fact that all things come into being when
circumstances are optimal and when Nature is sufficiently
bored to allow some new integer into the equation of
evolution. There is nothing natural or unnatural about
any of us. Humans and Paranormals have shared this
spinning ball of (b)ore since the last big bang, and the one
before that, and the one before that.
There are no beginnings and no
endings. And from that perspective, Umberlight is far more
kindred with the unfathomable mysteries than anything humans
like to think of as real.
But as to the question of
It was sometime in the late
17th century that I had finally endured more than enough of
humanity. I had foolishly allowed myself to become
emotionally attached to a mortal female (I hesitate to use
the words "in love"), and once again I could only watch from
the shadows as she became sick with age, withered, and
eventually returned to the Lethe of dust. Nothing more,
nothing less. The interminable and intolerable human
At that time, I was not yet a
Creator. I did not have the ability to transform an organic
mortal into an immortal – or, at the very least, I did not
believe I could. And that is the horror of being what
I am – possessed with the gift to love more deeply than any
human ever could, but simultaneously cursed to grieve more
dreadfully than any immortal ever should.
And so it stands to reason it
was in that same period of time that I lay myself down to
sleep one particularly unpleasant morning when the sun was
rising spritely and spring flowers were peeking out from
wooden window boxes in every London suburb, and took my
final breath of that too-bright, too-light mediocrity that
humans everywhere hold in such irrationally high esteem.
I had been dissatisfied for
quite some time, you must realize. It wasn't only the death
of Emily that broke the remaining fragments of my heart. It
was the fact that she so willingly embraced her own ending
with wide-eyed faith in a mythical deity whose sole agenda
was to crush the life from her failing lungs, melt the flesh
from her bones with decay, and finally grind those same
bones into a fine white powder with the mortar and pestle of
As an Englishwoman who had
been infallibly indoctrinated to believe in gods and devils,
Emily had wholly adopted the idea that some intangible part
of herself would rise up out of a desiccated corpse, ascend
into the sky in defiance of all logic, and spend eternity
worshipping at the feet of the very tyrant who had given her
life, caused her to suffer horrendously, and finally choked
her to death on her own blood – courtesy of a disease that
same entity had manifested to menace and control the
population of humans whom he had shaped out of what he
stated to be love.
Excuse my blasphemy, but does
that make any measure of sense to any rational creature?
I should warn you right now.
If you are one who needs those fairy tales to get through
your daze and nights, read no further, for I will openly
confess I am no friend of God, no blind believer in the
religious fictions Man and Church have written to soothe
their fears and fill their pockets with gold coins.
I am a vampyre, if you must
insist on a label. Though I will further remind you that
'vampyre' is only a word attempting to define in two finite
syllables an infinite being incapable of precise definition
by virtue of its very nature.
To dispel the distasteful
I do not drink human blood as
a necessity to my survival. I do not sleep in a coffin. I am
not repulsed by garlic or crosses or silver. I have no fear
of the sun aside from the fact that it is the progenitor of
Time, and though I prefer the sanctuary of night, I can walk
in daylight whenever I am sufficiently motivated to do so. I
cannot be killed by a stake through my heart, for that heart
is made of antimatter and antediluvian autumns. The body I
inhabit is woven of illusion and cast into matter through my
will, and therefore impervious to disease, old age, and the
attempts of fearful simpletons to destroy me.
By human definitions, I am
darkly beautiful – for I am also a predator, though all
creatures are predators at one level or another. Since it is
within my ability to be tall and lean and to wear the flesh
of a strikingly handsome rogue, why would I choose to be
anything other than that which humans consider irresistible,
My face is a radiant flame to
draw you near, my body an alluring edifice to hold you when
I take you, my kiss a wicked sting that will make you want
me beyond any ability to resist or reason.
I am the paradox incarnate.
All that I say is truth. And every truth is a lie.
It was not always so with me.
I was once human – neither beautiful nor powerful - but that
is a long and sad story, not particularly interesting
really. Who I am in this moment is of far greater
significance, at least with regard to the tale of Umberlight
and the beings who have come to inhabit her.
I could tell you that my given
name was Mikal, but I was human then and it was so very long
ago that even I scarcely remember that name at all. When I
became an immortal at the hands of a cruel and tyrannical
Creator, I took the name Thorn, for my maker had often said
I was not the flower but embodied more traits of an annoying
For now, I will simply add
that I swear no allegiance to any deity or demon, no duty or
obligation to any being mortal or immortal. This is the
essence of who and what I-Am – to be whole unto myself,
Knowing through Seeing that no creature is greater or lesser
than any other. At the level of pure existence, we are
all constructs of energy. This is, of course, the
ultimate contradiction to one such as myself.
I-Am, when all is said and
done, a being of light.
I have no qualms with such
irony. In fact, I embrace it completely.
And that is only one reason
among many that I chose to lay myself down to rest on that
illumined spring morning after Emily had been remanded to
the dirt. There, safe in the sanctuary of my own humble bed
in an earthen basement where no light could find me, I tore
my own wrist and drank deeply of my own blood – a ritual to
bring visions, anesthesia to induce The Long Sleep.
And here you may cry foul,
believing that I said I do not drink human blood. But
remember – I am no longer human. If I drink from a mortal,
it is not the rush of red that sustains me, but instead the
living animus that is carried within the blood, and is as
whole and satisfying in a few sparse grams as it would be if
one were to drain the entire organism.
A single drop of animus (which
cannot be measured in drops, of course) contains the entire
living essence of the being from which it came, just as the
tiniest fragment of a hologram contains the entire hologram.
So to drink from a mortal isn't only sustenance for the
preternatural body, it is a rekindling of the preternatural
spirit, a rebirthing that is an emergence from frigid
numbness into electrified bliss, and can be so overwhelming
that to compare it to the convulsive force of sexual orgasm
is to do it a pale injustice.
But I have strayed somewhere
to the north of the point.
It wasn't only the death of
another mortal lover that caused me such despair. It was
fully seeing that the being I had known as Emily was
gone. Into the nothing that is the marriage bed of
eternity and infinity. Knowing there was no God, I knew
equally there was no heaven.
And so I set for myself the
task of creating one.
I set for myself the task of
dreaming into being a world where death and time have no
So perhaps it could be said
that Umberlight was sung into existence just Then, on
the cusp of the Sorrowday and Hollownight.
To fully appreciate the
mystery of Umberlight, it must also be understood that once
something is created, it exists not only in the future, but
simultaneously in the shadow of the past, as well as within
the unlimited realm of all possibility – countless parallel
and paradoxical Otherworlds where humans and Paranormals
might find themselves if they turn left instead of right, or
simply awaken in one of their own infinite other selves.
But even those words are
demons of deception. What is... simply is.
Umberlight did not exist
before that long night of my grief, but now it has always
been there and always will be.
Such is the fickle nature of a
laughing universe and the unshakeable Will of the vampyre
who perceived himself to have been wronged by God. The fact
that God did not exist was entirely irrelevant.
I needed somewhere to direct
all of those feelings that otherwise dissipate and vanish
into the curse of forgetting.
The poetry of fireflies.
The spidersilk of dreams.
These are the ingredients of
NEITHER CHAPTER NOR VERSE
The dream before the Dreaming
The altar was made of simple
wood and held the artifacts and herbs required to summon an
immortal. Agrimony and dream root. Chalice and blade.
Having lit the lantern to
serve as a beacon of flame, I knelt naked and humble on the
thin cushions at the altar's base, took up the small vial of
oil, and applied it sparingly to my chest, careful to cover
each nipple with an adequate amount to make me appealing to
the dark spirits. Then to my halfway erect staff, which
lengthened and grew as the oil heated in my palm.
"Vampyre, father, incubus,
lover," I intoned as I had done each night for several
months. "Come to me now, make me yours forever."
As I spoke the words I had
gleaned from the darkness itself, my hand worked a slow and
familiar magick on my body, gliding easily over my straining
phallus, occasionally pausing to cup the tight twin mounds
of my balls.
"Vampyre, father, incubus,
lover... come to me now, make me yours forever."
I murmured the incantation for
the second time, my breath coming faster as the fire in my
belly burned higher.
The trick was to go slow. To
focus on my intent. To tease the pleasure without indulging
it too soon.
My hand slowed, though it
wanted to move faster. My heart pounded, a summoning drum.
Beyond the window over the
altar, the world was liquid ebony, not even a sliver of a
moon on the orchards which had been in my family for
generations. A flirtatious early autumn wind gripped me,
running curious hands over my body until my phallus stood at
But tonight the wind which had
always been feminine and sweet had turned darkly masculine
and carried the sharp edge of a king's avenging sword. And
whereas that same wind had remained elusive and always
slipped free of my embrace, tonight that wicked elemental
had taken on shape and form, and was kneeling behind me on
the cushions at the window overlooking the vineyards and the
distant sea beyond.
"Is this really what you
want?" a man's voice whispered, so close to my ear I could
taste the wine on his breath, yet so soft I could go right
on imagining it was only the wind reflecting my forbidden
intent back at me.
I allowed myself to imagine he
was really there – something I had seldom done even at the
peak of these dark rituals, for it was said that to finally
believe in one's magick was to give that magick permission
to believe in itself.
"Yes," I whispered. "Yes –
it's what I want!"
My hand moved automatically
toward my staff, but in the very next moment my wrist was
seized in a powerful grip and before I knew what was
happening to me, I was driven face-down onto the cushions
with such a force that I thought for a moment my home had
been invaded by Crusaders and I was about to be executed for
acts of sorcery.
Instead, when I twisted my
head around in a state of blind panic, I saw that there
really was a man at my back. Not just any average human
being, but a man whose face was so extraordinary it could
not be a man at all. Hair darker than a blackbird's wing.
Eyes so bright they had to be lit from within.
In the dim flickering of the
lantern, he actually appeared to glow, his features so
perfectly chiseled that I could only imagine him to be an
angel – though most likely a fallen one, judging by the fact
that he was completely naked and sporting a tremendous
phallus that could be easily classified as a weapon.
I could not breathe, did not
dare to move.
"Do you know who I am, boy?"
the man asked. Even though I was 28 at the time, I suspected
that anyone under the age of at least a century or two would
be a boy to this being who was, without a doubt, the answer
to my dangerous prayers.
Vampyre. Father. Incubus.
"You are the night incarnate,"
I barely managed to murmur, more words from incantations I
had written in my own blood onto the ragged papyrus of my
journal. "You are the father of my death, the bringer of my
Words of the summoning
Words of madness.
My heart was threatening to
explode, and had it done so in that moment, it may well have
turned out to be a blessing, compared to what lay ahead.
"My name is Ambrose," the man
said, "and I am the destroyer of your world."
Words I had imagined.
A name I had learned in my
As he spoke, he had picked up
the vial of oil and poured what little remained onto the
palm of his right hand, then began stroking himself with it
until his evil blade glistened ominously in the lantern's
"Because you have summoned me,
and because I know you are a virgin to men, I will be gentle
with you this first time," he promised, though he was
already prying the trembling globes of my rump apart and had
placed the broad head of his saber against the
tightly-clenched orifice and began to enter me.
There was no discussion, no
polite dance prior to the act.
He simply did it before I
could say another word.
I was paralyzed with a
sensation like nothing I had experienced ever before – a
devil's cocktail consisting of equal portions of fear,
dread, desire and a blinding phantasm of pain that came when
my "gentle" destroyer slid his well-oiled weapon so hard and
fast and deep into me that I whimpered like a schoolboy and
bit down on my own wrist to keep from crying out, the result
being that I tasted my own blood.
Whatever sounds I made were
not words – just the delirious groans and protests of a man
who suddenly finds himself filled beyond his capacity to
bear by the quick and merciless thrusts of another man.
It was the most horrific
moment of my life.
It was the most shameful
moment of my life.
And it was, without a doubt,
the most strikingly intimate moment of my life.
Ambrose had his way with me
for what must have been an hour, while I lay there on the
cushions alternating between unbearable agony and
intolerable pleasure I did not want to admit even though I
could not deny it.
Perhaps sensing that, he held
me down the entire time so that I might later have the
luxury of claiming – if only to myself – that I was forced.
When his fangs cut into the
tender flesh at the apex of neck and shoulder and he began
drawing the living essence of me into his mouth, I
experienced a single moment of true and absolute panic, for
it is said that once a Creator drinks from the veins of one
who has summoned him, there is no undoing the spell, no
going back to the safe sanctuary of sanity and reason.
I have often wondered if I
would have gone back to being just a man, but the crossroads
had already been passed. The deed was done. The oath was
sealed in my blood.
I belonged to Ambrose now.
He continued entering me
deeply, withdrawing almost to the point of leaving me empty,
then sinking in again and again until I became delirious
from the ride and began lifting myself up to meet him when I
sensed he was close to release.
I wanted it to be over.
I wanted it to never end.
I raised myself higher, taking
the full and cruel length of him.
"That's a good boy," he
murmured against my ear, reaching around my body to take my
tormented shaft in his hand. "Now come with me into this
night that never ends."
His skilled hand milked the
liquid pleasure out of me at the same time I felt a searing
burn filling me up inside, an evil fire cauterizing the
lethal cut this fiend had delivered to my very soul.
"Vampyre, father, incubus,
lover," I wept as his hand tightened and released around my
throbbing phallus. "Come to me now, make me yours forever."
His flame burned inside me for
another hour while we lay together in the aftermath, his
vampyre body resting heavily on my back, his engorged
manhood slowly softening inside me. When it eventually
slipped free, I moaned in relief but also in secret
disappointment at the separation.
"Come find me, Mikal," he
commanded me. "When you do, it will be time to begin."
The wind went still.
The lantern had gone dark.
Ambrose was gone, but I knew
without a doubt that I had met my maker.