“Tell me a story, Morris.”
The words creeped over the moss covered stone, slithering over the smooth, chilled rock of the empty well. The vampires had spent decades, maybe centuries at the bottom, going delightfully mad together. The words lacked meaning, nourishment. They lacked a sharpness of sound; they had been heard too much and spoken too often. They no longer refracted on the air nor hit with any cadence; they were empty, and cold.
The memory of their punishment, once a solid, tangible thing that they’d agreed solidly upon, back when they were still committed to keeping their minds, had faded. The story of their damnation had warped and twisted. It tumbled away easily, like everything else.
Morris thought they’d been dragged from their lair by villagers sometime in the 1600s, thrown in silver chains and, upon discovery that they could not be destroyed, were tossed into the well. Morris remembered leering human faces, greasy with sweat, their noses tilted and piggish, eyes in slits, as they glared down at them. Morris remembered their laughter and glee at having conquered the masters of night.
Cahill remembered another vampire, bolting their coffins shut, tipping them into the well. It was an interloper, another malignant, only another vampire would grant a punishment so enduring.
Morris asked bitterly (on several occasions) where the fucking wood was, then.
They had one long flowing cloak between them. Each night they watched the sky for hours, knowing a vengeful light would seek them soon. As the dawn apparent began to grin sinister, its light cresting the curve of the well, the vampires clustered together, sweeping the cloak over them, shuddering under the hideous glare.
Sleep was always weak, and ill defined.
Sometimes Morris would awaken and find Cahill’s eyes. Blazing yellow, and Morris knew that each of them were gazing into the same shade of forever, both of their eyes the hateful, wonderful yellow.
No words would be spoken. There was nothing left to say.
It was the closest thing to sunlight they would ever see again.
Once, they had been man and woman. And then they became vampires. And then they became something else, deep in eternity’s pit. The ideas of who they were, what they were, had ceased to matter as the ages sanded them smooth. They lost their hair, the curves and ridges in their faces. Their ears became elongated as humanity was ripped away from them by time’s brutal scrape.
They had loved each other once, maybe as humans, maybe as vampires. Enough time would send the cycle back around, letting them frolic in hatred just to make love feel bright again, then destroying that same love because nothing had worth unless it could be torn apart.
–Tell me a story oh tell you a story I’ve told you every story a thousand times you’ve heard every thought every dream every half-consideration and every banished idea. Nothing new to be made up and nothing old to drag to the surface, tell you a story, oh tell you a story I cannot I cannot I cannot I have nothing else–
Nights were passed with talk, but often not. Often they’d sit in silence, their vampiric stillness only comparable to statue. If one moved too suddenly, it would shock and baffle the other; what reason was there to move? Their days of circling and clawing at the walls were gone. Their days of trying to escape had died.
At first, the smallest distraction from their rumination was cause for excitement.
If a frog happened to plop into the well, they’d cherish it. Savor it. Talk to it and name it, this thing to brighten their days.
Then it would die.
It would die so quickly.
They stopped caring about frogs.
Cahill could sing, though.
They would sing in clear, haunting tones that would entrance nearby creatures, and that was how they fed. A deer would tumble in, chasing after the song. A dog. Rodents, especially. Enough to feed and stay alive but not enough for the energy to transform, to fly, to become shadow and escape. You needed human blood for the unnatural, and humans were long gone from this place.
They would take turns being hopeful. Cahill was better at it. The vampires swapped roles easily, fluidly, alternating the cynic and optimist, who was going to be the cheerful one crowing about a human coming along and offering salvation, just to switch in a year and become hateful, casting ruin on any attempt at hope.
They were forgetting their names. Losing their lives. Morris struggled to differentiate between personal memory of experience and something Cahill had said. It was the same for Cahill. Sometimes they used each other’s names, pantomiming each other, but that faded quickly as the individual quirks of their personalities broke off and dissipated, so there was nothing to mimic, nothing to distinguish and recognize.
Well, Cahill could sing.
Morris loved them for it. Even when Morris sat, back against the wall, pelting Cahill with tiny rocks because of a horrifying, sickening urge to look at anything but the carved wax of Cahill’s face, Morris loved them.
And for that reason, Morris would always relent when Cahill asked to hear a tale.
“Tell me a story, Morris,” Cahill said in one lifetime or another, and Morris began to tell a story that was so retold and reused and misremembered that it felt new to both vampires. The story was filled with melodrama and soaring passions, and it took an entire night to tell. When the sun began its routine attack, they huddled together once more, half-asleep, less than alive.
And another decade passed. And another legion of winters chilled the walls of the well. Cahill sang for them, and Morris waited with the patience only a vampire could manage, to hear Cahill say once more:
“Tell me a story, Morris.”