by Tara Ann Stridh
Darla comes out of her grave and meets her savior.
spoilers - Darla
feedback - DarlaAnn400@aol.com
*Characters do not belong to me:(
Virginia Colony 1609
The first thing she noticed was the dark. And that she couldn’t breathe. It was similar to all the times she lay on her back with male heaviness pounding into her. Something was confining her, something as tight as her corset; she loathed feeling trapped, especially in darkness.
Then she remembered the face. The kindly grotesque face she looked straight into; she thought she heard that sweet patient voice calling to her now. “Child, come to me,” the voice sang. She didn’t understand why the voice called her that ~ she was hardly a child, just barely a few years over twenty.
She swallowed empty air as she began to tear at the surface of the coffin they buried her in - inside, she hated being inside, yet it was how she lived her life, always dreaming of the world but never truly living in it. Not the way she wanted, anyway. Suddenly she stopped her clawing, her fingers aching, and wondered if she was dead. Silly, she thought, they only bury the dead. She started to gasp in the empty air again, her eyes tearing, pushing her palms against the wood, breaking through splinters. Surely she would die of the panic consuming her, but the panic began to fade, its pain withering, similar to the syphilis that had slowly eaten away her once pearly perfumed body. She always wondered which one of the bastards gave it to her. Still, the syphilis was more bitterly accepted than any sour seed of theirs.
Damp soil crumbled upon her bosom and she grimaced. Her grunting cries were short and quick until she broke through the dirt above. Halfway out of her grave she gasped long and loudly. The soil she clung to was muddy, and she recoiled, wiping her hands on her crimson skirts.
She felt him towering over her before she even looked up. That’s how it was with men, always watching you, preying on you until they had you soft and yielding. When she looked up it was the face, and the face was offering her his talon-like hand.
Turning her back to him she climbed out of her dank crumbling grave. Still panting she looked at him, then at the disrupted dirt. She began to laugh, the twinkling of her honeyed voiced echoing out to miles it seemed.
“It poured heavily but ceased just in time for your rising,” said The Master. “There is no breath in you, child. You are dead.”
She continued to swallow in the choking air, her eyes wide.
Looking down at her feet she noticed her red silk heels were stained with the wet dirt.
“My shoes,” she said, pouting.
From the corner of her eye she caught a glowing softness. It was dark yet she could see everything; it was her own skin that was so luminescent, her hands delicate and fine. She explored the smooth beauty of her face, feeling no signature of a sore, no bruises from the bleeding leeches. She shuddered at the thought of those despicable creatures taking from her body, just like a man; she could still feel them plastered to her skin and she started scratching at her slender arms.
“You are whole again, Josephine,” said The Master.
Staring at him, his voice calming her, she placed her small hand over her breast and listened to the silence. Her breathing became quiet as she realized there was nothing.
“I don’t feel anything. There’s nothing. Where am I?”
“The pounding causing your pain is only a dream to be forgotten. Now you are free to live a life more to your liking.”
“What are you?” she said, arching an eyebrow. “Tell me your name!”
She ran to him, her hands slapping at his chest.
He was very tall, yet he almost stumbled backward from her heightened strength.
“It is your nature to hate what you do not understand,” said The Master. “You are dead to the world you knew. Now they will know you.”
She stopped beating at him and glared into his eyes.
“What did you do to me?”
“I’ve saved you, Josephine . . . from a place that wouldn’t accept you. From women who envied your spirit, from men who tried to break you.”
“Is this hell?”
“No,” he said, smiling faintly, “your soul is lost to you, but you are above all that is human and weak. You shall be known as Darla, you will answer only to that name."
“Just for the night,” she smiled, looking up at him, “I’ve heard that one before.”
“Darla, my daughter,” said The Master, stroking her cheek.
She stepped away from him, her violet eyes narrowing at him.
“Darla,” she said. “I’m dead, but I’m alive.”
She winced, clutching at her stomach.
“You must feed.”
Her hazel-violet eyes searched around her and suddenly all her fear, anger, and confusion ceased to be - just like her weakened heartbeat.
“The sky,” she said, her voice soft, “I’ve never seen it so pretty. So very dark and purple.”
“It is your new home,” The Master said, “and will always welcome you. It can never harm you, offering itself as your sanctuary.”
“And what can harm me?” she asked, stepping forward again with a refined raise of her eyebrow. Her tone was dominant.
“The sun is no longer so docile. Daylight will kill you, just as efficiently as a stake into your heart.”
“My heart. Hm, that’s no different from what a man does. I’ve died many times before.”
“Perhaps, but that life is dead to you, you are not that dying woman -“
“Whore,” said Darla, “that’s what I was, how am I supposed to be anything else? Look at what they chose to clothe my vanquished body in . . .”
She looked down at her dress - nothing but fine scarlet silk.
“How very thoughtful they were,” she said, “tell me, how many came to gawk and spit?”
“Had their wives not been by their side they would have thrown flowers into your grave.”
“Of course they would because I’m such a well respected woman. Guess the worms will have to find another body to infest,” she said. Then she touched her disheveled blonde hair, pulling something from her wet strands.
In her mud-tainted fingers she held jasmine, her jasmine, its scent strong and lulling.
“Is this a dream?” she said. “A nightmare? Why are there flowers in my hair?”
She started to scream as she violently raked her fingers through her hair.
“Miranda,” he said, “prepared your body to rest.”
“Minnie?” Darla said, pulling at a golden strand.
Miranda, her elusive guardian and mentor, a wise woman who taught her about blood and men and the secrets they provoke and hide. Miranda with the knowing and soothing voice, whom was nothing but distrusting of the world around her and the people that inhabited it. Miranda who was like a mother to her, bringing a tender Josephine her very first “man,” forever sealing her fate in disease and unhappiness.
Everything felt different to her, her hair seemed softer, her skin felt smoother, yet she felt as if her body was not her own. And she felt cold. On the outside, which was strange because she usually only felt cold on the inside.
“This is no dream, dear child,” said The Master. “This is your new becoming.”
“Where is she?” said Darla, her voice resentful as she tilted her head to the side.
“She has left.”
“And what are you to her?”
“She is a secret to me and to you.”
“Hm, tell me your name?”
“Very soon. Be patient.”
“Patient?” she smiled. “I want to know your name. Surely I must offer you some sort of payment for . . . this thing you have given me?”
Her smile sparkled at him as she neared him. Standing close to him she took his chilled hand in her small one. She felt tiny as she tilted her head, examining his peculiar figured face. Still, she was not frightened or disgusted by his unnatural visage. Tracing her tender fingertips against his lips she remembered the pain.
Darla clasped her hand to the left side of her neck, but there were no scars or wounds, just unblemished flesh.
“Is that what I am now? How you appear to me, your face so very different from any man I’ve known? If this isn’t some sort of hellish dream then tell me your name,” she said. She glanced over her shoulder. “Perhaps you can fuck me in my open grave.”
The Master brought her hand to his face, brushing his cheek over her dainty knuckles.
“You misinterpret my power and affections,’ he said. “I have saved your soul and your body will not perish, but it is not carnal love that I seek from you, child. Only that you will be my daughter.”
“Daughter?” she said, almost pulling her hand away.
Then her eyes glimmered at him.
“You took from me. You took it all, just as they took.”
“And I have given you something far greater than gold.”
“Have you cursed me or am I blessed?”
“That, child, is for you to decide,” said The Master. “I have nourished you with my own blood. You are mine just as I am yours.”
“And what if I don’t want to be your daughter?”
“You cannot alter blood. Still, you may leave if you wish. I want only to give you what you have never truly tasted.”
“And what’s that?”
“I don’t understand. You want to love me but you don’t want to screw me.”
“I never said I harbored no desires to be blissful with you, only that I would dare not to,” he said. “Come now, with me. I have a new dress waiting for you.”
He turned his back to her and started to walk away. Darla stood where she was, looking down at her tarnished skirts.
“I want to burn this one,” she said.
“Then we shall burn it.”
“What is God thinking now, I wonder,” she said, walking up beside him. She began to laugh.
“God never cared what fate fell upon you,” said The Master.
“And you do?” she said, grabbing his arm and looking defiantly into his eyes.
“Always,” he said.
“Then could it be that you are God,” Darla said, “always. Ready to covet in death what you couldn’t in life.”
“I am but a god among many gods,” he said. “You are of my blood now, and you must feed on the blood that is our life. Where do you wish to reign and conquer first?”
“I do believe you said something about a dress. Out of this whore’s dress and into the gown of-“
“A princess,” said The Master, “who will one day be more and more. I have other children, but you will sit above them.”
“And do they call you by your name?”
“I am simply ‘The Master’ to them,” he said, “but I shall tell you my name.”
“’The Master’, hm . . . how does that make you different from any man I’ve known?”
“I can only promise you that I am,” he said.
Her smile softened at him, though she vowed to herself that she would never call him “The Master.”
“I think I’ll start with those who’ve tasted me with less relish than wine.”
“Very well,” he said, smiling back at her. “You are forever complete and must deplete your thoughts of the troubles you once faced. Your flesh will not age in the physical sense and death is only a memory.”
They started to leave the graveyard behind them, Darla skipping a few steps.
“What did you call me before?”
“Darla,” he said.
“Darla,” she purred. “Hm, I like the sound of that . . . Darla. I really must get out of these wretched shoes, they’re quite soiled, yet such a pretty shade of red . . .”
Darla woke up from her sleep gasping violently, her vampire face possessing her. Next to her Lindsey shuddered, sitting up and holding her small shoulders.
“Darla! Darla, what’s wrong!? It’s okay - “
She embraced him tightly, his warm mortal body reminding her where she was, and his hands caressed her back.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, Darla,” he said.
“I couldn’t breathe,” she said, allowing her human visage to reappear.
“In my dream,” said Darla, “I’ve been having the same dream for nights now.”
“What is it?” Lindsey said, realizing that Darla would not let go of him.
“The Master - me, tearing myself out of my grave. It was so strange, it’s so strange, I haven’t thought of it for my entire existence, but in the dream, it’s so very real, like I’m reliving it. There was jasmine in my hair - Minnie - and my dress, all scarlet to bury a dead whore.”
“Shhh, it’s just a dream. It happened a long time ago.”
She pulled away from him, glancing at the large bedroom windows, the glass glistening.
“Maybe not so long ago.”
He knew she was thinking of Drusilla. God, how he wanted to be there for her rising . . . did she have dreams about that, too?
“I’ve had dreams all my life. I thought after The Master that they would stop, but they haven’t, and now they’re even stronger, more present.”
“Maybe it’s that slayer thing,” said Lindsey.
“No, I know it’s because of that, but why this dream? I dreamed of him dying just before The Harvest. I even dreamed I was The Slayer and killed him, but I never told him because I didn’t believe in my dreams. Anyway, my dreams never showed me her. And he called me Darla and I just accepted it. Why did I do that? Why did I let him take my name away from me?”
“You wanted to be someone new.”
“Yes, that’s why I didn’t mind. I was glad to see the other girl go, but she never really left, did she?”
“We can ignore the past, but we can’t erase it. I tried for a long time, it just doesn’t work because something will always try to unhinge what you blocked out.”
“Maybe we can change it,” she said, looking at him. “I asked him once, when I returned to him after those intolerable years of trying to reclaim my family, I asked him why he chose ‘Darla.’ And he told me what my name meant.”
“’Dear One,’” Lindsey said.
“You begin to think you’re nothing but then you realize you had someone who thought were something,” said Darla, her voice like a charcoal whisper. “Or you have someone. I told Buffy that tonight. The gift of the Slayer is death and a vampire’s gift is either death or life. What was once the saddest thing in the world is no longer in existence. Now there is only the sickest thing in the world, and that is to love someone who wants to love you. To love someone who can love you back. I told her that, too.
“Your eyes are like candles. Blue flame. I can see them in the dark. I’m sorry I woke you, you need the sleep more than I.”
Lindsey was silent for a moment.
“Maybe you keep having that dream because of the baby.”
She didn’t say anything.
“The baby, our child’s a girl and she’s going to be born, you keep dreaming of your birth. As a vampire. Our baby’s a vampire.”
”Gosh, it sounds so nutty when you say it like that.”
“Yeah, what’s nutty in this world is also real. Slayer dreams are always important, aren’t they?”
“I’m not a slayer,” said Darla.
“No, but it’s still a part of you that never got to be.”
“I don’t want to talk about this, anymore. The dreams, The Master, the baby . . .”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“No, Lindsey,” she said, “my lover of a hundred and fifty years killed me and now I’m in love with the mortal man who brought me back. Too many deaths, and they’re not so little. And I’m pregnant. Pregnant Darla.”
She started to laugh, then became quiet.
“Pink,” she said, “The Master, he gave me a new pink dress. Pink with apricot ribbons, periwinkle lace - it was very pretty . . . Lindsey, tell me something, tell me a new secret of yours, something you keep from yourself.”
“You’re in love with me. You just said-“
“I don’t remember what I just said.”
“It wasn’t even a moment ago.”
“I feel dizzy, shut up, I told you I don’t remember,” Darla said, “I loathed calling him ‘Master,’ it made me feel ~ I guess I always secretly hated him for that even though I loved him, but it didn’t really matter . . . he was my father and I was his favorite daughter. His ‘dear one.’ Tell me a secret now.”
“Sometimes there seems like there are too many but . . . in my office, when you wanted to listen to Chopin-“
Darla smiled, “The prelude, hmm. I remember . . .”
“I watched you moving so slowly, so gracefully, singing so gentle, I pictured you naked-“
“What!? You pictured me naked?” she almost laughed.
“I felt really guilty, I swear. I don’t even know why - it was only for a moment. I tried hard not to do it again.”
“Darla,” he smiled.
“I’ll tell you why, sweetpea,” she said, “it’s called horniness, and you obviously hadn’t had a good lay in quite a while until I came along.”
“Actually,” he said, “that’s pretty much true, but I guess, I guess I was in shock over you.”
“You mean you didn’t expect me to come out of that big ole box.”
Her smile echoed within her chiming voice as she took his right hand and kissed his wrist, her minute human teeth biting sweetly at his skin.
“Tell me, Lindsey," she said, looking into his blue eyes, “was I worth the loss?”
For a brief moment he was quiet, studying the hazel in her violet eyes.
“I have to admit, you being four hundred - major turn on.”
“So I ask my question again,” Darla said, looking into his eyes. “How hard did you try?”
She leaned forward and kissed Lindsey quickly on the lips; it was more of a snapping kiss.
“Don’t feel guilty about thinking of me naked, Lindsey, because we both know you’re really not. Besides, it’s only natural, carnal desire is always present in men, and women, except that in life it’s always just about fucking ~ a weak human attempt to connect, and sometimes love, after death it’s about loneliness. Fucking is really the only authentic element from our human existence that we hold on to . . . You want another one?”
He smiled, “Yeah. What about personality? I knew you before Dru, and I know you now. You’re still you.”
Darla shrugged her shoulders with a little sigh.
“Yes, it’s true, what we once were informs all that we have become, will become. Once an asshole, always an asshole, I’m not talking about you, of course.”
Lindsey smiled again, “I know.”
“Once a whore, always a whore.”
“That I don’t believe. There was more to you, and there’s more to you now. I’ve seen it. I see it, and I love it, all of it.”
“Hm,” she said. Then she tore the blue-burgundy blankets away from his lap, and pushed him down into the bed. Her hand still firm against his chest she pulled his cotton boxers to his warm thighs. She kissed the tip of his penis the way she kissed his lips. “You wanna another one? I suppose your reasoning is right. I took the jasmine with me, my appreciation for the richer things in life with me, my love of color with me, there are so many lovely colors for a pretty hat to be - it’s why I had to have so many . . .”
My need to be loved, she thought, but she wasn’t going to voice that one, not to Lindsey, not to anyone, though the moon or stars probably told Dru about it long ago.
“And if ever I sired you you’d take that unpleasant little whiny temper with you,” she said, “as well as that heart determined to love so deeply. And since you’re not afraid of me now, I doubt you’d fear me after . . .”
The quick and tiny kiss Darla’s lips left upon him already began to stir him, and he remembered when the term “special project” made him hard every time it was mentioned because it conjured thoughts of Darla in his mind.
He nodded with a sleepy, velvet-gravel soft, “Yes, but I never said I wasn’t afraid to love you.”
Darla glanced at the snow globe on the dresser. All the pale pink flowers were floating on the surface above the little blonde girl praying. Her next kiss was more of a nip, leaving him fully erect, his male flesh inspired both by her faerie bell voice and frosted lips.
“Why? Why are you afraid to love me?”
Her voice was neither playful nor sexual, just simple.
“Because you’re afraid to love me, Darla.”
“Oh,” she said softly, “you wanna another one?”