Marcus Avitus

Marcus Avitus, part 5

June 28th, 2009 - No Responses

By the time my sight had returned, several things had become clear to me. Firstly, my daughter’s safety was paramount to me, and that safety was best served by keeping her away from both the pit master and myself. Secondly, the pit master would be on our trail by dusk, if not sooner. Clearly he would be as impaired as I in the light of day, but I knew well enough from months in his employ that his other senses more than made up the lack. He was a man — a thing — of power and influence, the best course was to get out of the city and out of the empire as quickly as possible. Aside from two rats and some numerous insects, I had heard not a sound from the house above in all the minutes it had taken me to plan our immediate action. The first thing, then, was to avail ourselves of my absent friend’s hospitality to clean the blood from our bodies, swaddle my daughter, and wrap my eyes against the light. This done, we stepped once more into the blinding day.

Marcus Avitus, part 4

March 8th, 2009 - No Responses

Had I been sired millennia later, I might have checked my headlong flight into the supposed oblivion of sunlight, but all I had heard of vampires were those ghost stories of things that fed on men in the dark that have followed us from plain to cave to hut to house to skyscraper. At that point I had not even a name for myself. Even in my flight I realised this lack, realised that I was fleeing from the one creature that knew what I now was. But I fled still, in my fury preferring ignorance to any enlightenment garnered from that fiend. In time these delusions of morality and distinction left me; such things are hard to keep in the knowledge that one is as fiendish as any other.

In the bald light of day, wild in my fury, chin caked with dried blood, bleeding baby girl under my arm, I must have looked a horror loosed from Hades. Certainly there were screams. Footsteps fled from my passage. I saw none of it. I was blind from the moment the sun hit my eyes. Not the blindness of midnight, soft and almost comforting, but the blindness of cold steel thrust through the eyesocket, grating on bone with its passage. I ran regardless, bouncing off beggars, fruit stalls and walls of stone. With ears and nose and hands I found my way to a back alley and an empty cellar. The cellar of an old colleague, gone for months on the trade routes at this time of year. There, still blind, I sat in the dirt to take stock. My daughter began to cry.

Marcus Avitus, part 3

February 7th, 2009 - No Responses

“Marcus Avitus,” the pit master bared his teeth. “You are reborn!”
“I am destroyed. By your hand.”
“And so? Your debt brought you to me, and in turn I have handed you the most marvelous destruction ever to befall a man. Show some gratitude!”
“And what of my wife? My daughter? Do you bring her to me as a gesture of good faith, or as a meal?”
“She is… insurance. I have invested much in your training and transformation. You young are so full of vitriol and folly and unrestrained emotion. It would be foolish to risk everything on the whim of your impotent fury.”
All through this talk I had been sizing up the monster that stood before me. My gladiator’s eye saw more than ever it had on the floor of the arena. His strength I gauged from the way he held my daughter, his speed from the fractions of a second it took his eyes to register emotion at my words and his hands to adjust to the squirming of my baby girl. I saw an opportunity presenting itself and, calmly and thoroughly, ran through the options and implications in the time it took him to speak.
“My mortal eyes had not seen how complacent power has made you,” I snarled, “for my fury is anything but impotent!”
Bald surprise showed on his face for only an instant, but in that time I had torn my daughter from his grip. Too roughly, and leaving chunks of skin under his fingernails, but alive and safer perhaps with me than with him. I was out the door before her heart beat next, and halfway down the corridor before the next. The pit master gave chase, but he had invested much in the illusion of his mortality, and I had little left to lose. I knocked aside servants and gladiators alike, finding my bearings quickly as I ran, and soon enough was shouldering aside a heavy oaken door to burst onto the busy sunlit street beyond.

Marcus Avitus, part 2

January 20th, 2009 - No Responses

My growing rage was stalled by the sound of approaching footsteps. I noticed with some interest that the emotion had been stored away — compartmentalised — leashed and ready to be recalled at a moment’s notice. My mind was now taken with curiosity at the richness of tone and detail my new ears picked from this sound that I was fair certain I would not have heard at all with my old ears. There was more there, too. Information that my brain did not yet know how to process, but would learn with practice. And quickly. The sound of breathing joined the cadence, staccato, shallow and frightened. And a heartbeat, small and quick like a bird’s, but not weak. A new sound, metal on metal, key in lock, and the door sprang open. There stood the pit master, thick and wiry and, to my new eyes, clearly inhuman. In his arms, my little girl. The rage within barked and snarled, but I saw his hand at her throat and I held fast to its leash.

Marcus Avitus, part 1

January 5th, 2009 - No Responses

I do not tell this story in the hope of gaining some kind of absolution. Rather, I tell it in the face of the knowledge that for us there can be no absolution. We are an abomination — a perversion of the natural order. But then, so are you, and every living thing that walks this world. We are as dust, and to dust we shall return.

In my time I have been more of an abomination than most men, I have killed more men than most wars, and I have seen enough to know that true evil exists only in the hands of the righteous.

I tell this story, not to soothe any remnants of my conscience, not to find my soul in its baring, but only to see that the truth is recorded for those who care to seek it.


A well-fed healthy adult has about five litres of blood that will continue pumping for somewhat in excess of a month with no external sustenance. To a vampire, such a meal will sustain for a fortnight or so. The victim, naturally, dies instantly. I was not so fortunate.


The great and bounteous Roman Empire was built on power and excess. The power kept the whole engine running through sheer force of will, so long as there was space for it to expand into. When that space ran out the power turned inwards, and in the end it was the excess that was their downfall. That same excess was my downfall, too. I was a successful young merchant with a silver tongue, a blushing bride and a beautiful baby girl, along with drinking and gambling problems to match even the emperors themselves.

My business profits, as extensive as they were, poured into the bloodsport of the arenas, where it sang to the fires of baser instinct locked away inside myself. Blade and bone and blood. At the time I was ashamed, but I have long since lost the concept of regret. I did not, in the strictest sense, gamble myself and my family into slavery, but I did gamble myself onto the dirt of the arena floor: a free gladiator, yes, but one with a great debt owed to the pit master. There, with sword in hand, skull underfoot, and crowd cheering above, the fires within sang even louder.

On the dirt of that arena, stained dark with fluids spilled from dying men, I was as a god. Life was mine to take, and the crowds worshipped me for it. I loved my family as ever, but they withdrew from me as though frightened at what I had become. Still, in our marriage bed the passion my wife and I shared was fiercer than ever before.

Months passed and my debt lessened, then the sickness came. I grew weak and could not stomach even the food the pit master dished out to me specially as his star performer. I ran a fever and the light of the sun was too bright for my eyes, yet I had a full docket and still I had to fight.

For a man to become a vampire, two things must occur. First, he must drink deep of the blood of a vampire. This I had been doing for weeks without my knowledge by the machinations of the pit master. Second, he must die. Half-blind and weak, it was not long before my fights turned for the worse, and soon my guts were spilled in the dirt. Often I have seen in my mind’s eye my death in that dirt; wondered whether all since has been naught but a play staged by Dis for his amusement. But the crowd did not want my death that day. Badly wounded and delirious, I was taken by the pit master to a room where he left me, locking the door behind him. There I saw not food nor water nor care for the rest of my life.


It took me days to die, though I know not how many. I descended into incoherent madness, retreating from the pain, until a moment came where I found myself awake and sane and painless and thirsty. And dead. Then the thirst grew and I edged toward madness once more. The next thing I can remember clearly is my wife being shown through the door. The lock clicked again behind her. It was clear she was sick with worry and concern for me, but that was soon replaced by fear when she saw whatever it is that lies behind my eyes now in place of that spark of life. I loved her still. Wanted her still. But I did not trust myself, for my lust for that place on her neck below and behind her right ear, so familiar to me, was tinged now with a wildness I did not remember. I lasted until nightfall.

We sat for hours huddled in opposite corners of the room, not speaking, her confusion just as obvious as her fear. When she finally slept, I drank from her. A mouthful or two, maybe, before she fought me off and my slackened thirst allowed me control once more. I retreated to my corner and cried rose-coloured tears. She pounded and screamed at the door, and before long I could smell the blood from her torn fists. Help did not come, but the dawn did, then night, then dawn again. She curled in a ball and cried from hunger. I cried from thirst and from the knowledge of the inevitable. The next night I drained her dry.

My new thirst slaked properly for the first time since my rebirth I came to realise what I had become. I had no name for it, nothing but whispered stories half-recalled from my childhood, yet I knew somehow that I was now that thing which causes men to fear the dark. I also came to realise who had done this to me, and in me grew a great rage.