Midgies were swarming in thick black clouds as he ran back along his trail route towards the road. A warm, damp July evening was the perfect breeding ground for these tiny, vicious, bloodsucking creatures. Focusing on the music playing through his earbuds and on the uneven path in front of him, he did his best to ignore the myriad of miniscule flies that his sweat was attracting.
In the shade of a tall oak tree that grew on the corner where the trail met the single-track farm road, the dark angel stood waiting and listening. From a distance she had watched him set off on his run and now she was patiently awaiting his return.
It was time to get her answer.
Four months had passed since she had offered him his choice and she had deliberately given him time and space to consider his options. Twice, when she had watched him pounding the forestry trails from a discrete distance, she had almost approached him but her will power had remained steadfast.
However, time was running out and, if he were to choose transformation, the ideal opportunity was a mere seven days away.
The steady rhythm of his feet on the stony path and the rattle of that infernal noise that he called music brought her attention back to the present.
As she breathed in her nostrils were filled with the tantalisingly arousing aroma of his blood and sweat.
With the oak tree in sight, he picked up his pace, promising himself a hard, fast last mile home. A sharp pain in his tooth and a throbbing at his neck caused him to miss and almost stumble.
She was close.
He hadn’t seen or sensed the dark angel since their meeting on Easter Monday when she had offered him his choice of future. Over the months, he had thought long and hard about the options, weighing up the pros and cons. He had found himself lying awake in the wee small hours contemplating how life would look if he decided to take up her offer. During his all too brief lunch breaks at work and while out pounding the trails, he had worked out various ways to kills her. He’d wasted hours Googling “how to kill a vampire”.
As the tree grew closer, he realised he’d never once tried Googling “how to live as a vampire.”
When he next looked up, he wasn’t surprise to see her silhouette before him.
“Hey,” he greeted her somewhat breathlessly.
With a nod of her head, she smiled then said, “Well met, son of Perran.”
“Turn off that noise,” she instructed sharply. “It pains me.”
Laughing quietly to himself, he paused his rock playlist and flicked the earbuds out of his ears, allowing them to rest over his slender shoulders.
“I need your answer.”
“Now,” she repeated. “Depending on your final choice, there are preparations to be made and time is short.”
He could feel her green eyes boring into his very soul as she stood facing him in the fading, dusky sunlight. Gently, her wings rustling softly, she took a step towards him.
“Well, what’s it to be, son of Perran?”
“Can I ask something before I give you my answer?” He was stalling for time and they both knew it.
“If you must,” she replied with a sigh then, indicating a small path no wider than a sheep trail, she said, “Walk with me.”
Without argument, he followed her, marvelling at how gracefully she moved. Once they were out of sight of the farm road, she turned and said, “Ask what you must?”
“If I let you change me…. let you make me like you….. how will I be able to live as normal? Won’t I need to kill things and drink blood?”
The words tumbled out and he suddenly felt that his questions where childish and idiotic.
“It’s all about balance, son of Perran,” she began, her tone that of a school teacher. “Your transformation can be partially done at first. If you choose that path then you will need some blood to thrive but I will be here to provide for you, to teach you and assist you until you learn how to care for yourself. If you drink your blood rations then you won’t need to kill. I promise you will only need to kill for survival if you change your mind and opt to be fully transformed. As you have a young family, I’d advise against full transformation for several years. A child’s blood is so tempting and you won’t have learned the skills to resist.”
“I’d want to kill my own kids?”
“You might,” she replied calmly.
Her words sent icy shivers down his spine. Picturing his three children, he couldn’t even begin to contemplate hurting one of them never mind killing them and drinking their blood!
“And if I choose to kill you, how will I do it?”
“I don’t believe that’s the option you will choose,” she replied sounding calmly confident.
Silence hung in the air as they stared at each other.
Watching the vein at his neck pulsing, the angel tried to read his mind. Her instincts were screaming at her that he was about to choose transformation but his facial expression was giving nothing away. Gazing into his dark brown eyes and wishing that they weren’t blood related, she waited on him reaching a decision.
“Will transformation hurt?” he asked quietly.
“No,” she replied. “Not the way I have planned. You may suffer a mild stomach ache but nothing worse than that.”
“What differences will I notice in myself?”
“Many. Too many to explain and they are impossible to predict. To everyone around you though you will still be the same man.”
A horsefly landed on his arm and bit him before he could swat it away.
One tiny drop of blood oozed up. He noticed the dark angel twitch as she fought to resist the delectable drop of poison.
“I need your answer,” she said keeping her eyes locked on his.
Biting his lower lip, he paused then said, “Transformation.”
He nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
“An agreeable choice,” she acknowledged with a smile.
“Now what happens?”
“You finish your run and go home,” replied the angel. “Meet me one week from now in the graveyard. It must be after the moon has risen so around midnight.”
“What’s the moon got to do with it?” he asked curiously.
“Your transformation will be blessed under the full moon,” she replied. “July’s full moon has two names. Some call it the Meadow Moon. Others prefer its ancient name of Blessing Moon.”
“Till next week, son of Perran.”
With one strong beat of her wings, she was gone.
Alone once more, he gazed around him wondering where she had disappeared to. The pain in his tooth was gone. His neck was no longer throbbing. Gently, he reached up and touched the spot where the angel’s fang tip was embedded. His fingertips were instantly coated in fresh blood.
As he turned for home, he wondered for the first time if he had made a wise choice.
Alone in the mausoleum, the dark angel began the detailed preparations for the runner’s transformation. Since learning his decision, she had scoured the areas for the items she needed to ensure the ceremony went smoothly and painlessly. Sourcing some of the items had been easy. Others had proved more difficult. Three specific crystals were also needed and finding those had proved to be the greatest challenge. Late on the day before the full moon, the dark angel ventured further afield. Her instincts led her to a small New Age shop in a village some twenty miles from her home. Biding her time, she had waited until the owner, a young woman with long, thick red hair had moved to shut the shop. As she had reached to turn the “open” sign to “closed”, the dark angel had swooped in. The shopkeeper’s death was swift and painless; her blood had proved to be surprisingly refreshing. To the dark angel, it had tasted clean and clear and pure. A virgin’s blood. A rare, very rare treat indeed.
The shop proved to be a treasure-trove of valuable objects. Lifting a large canvas tote bag from a hook on the wall she took her time filling it with crystals and other items that she could put to use. Behind the counter, she found some small velvet drawstring bags. Selecting a few of differing colours, she added them to the tote. Almost as an after thought, the angel lifted some incense and candles then left the shop.
As the sun set on the day of the full moon, the dark angel laid out the items she needed for the transformation along one of the stone benches. Anticipating how the evening would pan out, she lit two fragranced candles to improve the aroma in the confined space.
Standing in his back garden with a mug of coffee, the runner watched the sky turn gold to red, blood red, as the sun set. Despite the summer warmth, a chill rattled down his spine. There were less than three hours to go until he was scheduled to meet the angel. Much to his own surprise, he felt calm about the impending appointment. Since giving her his decision, he had on occasion pondered if he’d made the right choice. Not being of an angry or aggressive nature, he couldn’t contemplate killing her. There had really only ever been one choice.
An owl hooted in the trees to his right as he walked down the single-track road to the graveyard. Behind him, he’d left his family sleeping, oblivious to the fact that he had slipped out into the night. Only the family cat had watched him walk off down the hill.
It only took him a few short minutes to reach the cemetery. As he walked along the narrow gravel path between the graves, he scanned about searching for the angel in the shadows. A subtle movement of the air and the softest scrunch of gravel caught his attention.
“Good evening, son of Perran.”
The angel’s voice spoke from behind him. Slowly, he turned round to face her, his heart pounding in his chest as adrenaline kicked in.
“Come,” she commanded, stepping toward him.
Before he could utter a sound, her majestic wings wrapped around him like a cloak and the world went black.
Flickering flames and a delicate perfume were the first things he sensed as he felt the angel’s wings unfold from around him. Glancing about, he deduced he was in some sort of stone temple or mausoleum.
“Where are we?” he asked, keeping his voice quiet for fear of it echoing round.
“My home,” she replied, her own tone soft and warm. “Not as far away as you might think but well-hidden from prying eyes.”
His eyes landed on the black velvet cloth draped along the bench and scanned over the various objects lying there.
“Sit,” instructed the angel, indicating the space beside the cloth. “I’ll explain.”
“Yes. I’ll tell you about what is going to happen to you. Explain what is involved and why I’ve included it,” she replied, resuming her school teacher tone. “I’ve given this careful consideration, son of Perran.”
From a nook in the wall, the dark angel lifted down an ornate pewter goblet.
Silently, he watches as she poured some clear liquid from a small glass vial.
“Holy water,” she said, pressing the stopper back into the thin tube. “Keeps this pure.”
“I thought this would involve blood,” he commented nervously.
“It will but I want to make sure this transformation is partial so I need to include some preventative ingredients.”
“Whose blood will this involve?”
“Ours,” she answered as she added a pinch of silvery powder. “That was the dust of a moonstone. It signifies that two species are to be intermingled.”
She added a pinch of white powder.
“White agate to signify new life and to nurture your transformation.”
He watched as the angel added a third pinch of powder. This time it was pearlescent.
“Opal dust. Perhaps the most important. It will ensure any subtle changes, physical changes, remain invisible. It will also assist you to be more understanding of yourself. Adds a little self-compassion.”
“Some oak,” she continued, adding what looked like a pinch of sawdust to the goblet. “And some mugwort.”
With a smile, she said, “It prevents your wings from developing. You will need to drink a tincture of it daily. Just a few drops.”
“And where will I get that from?” he asked a little sharper than he had intended. “I’ve not seen it in Tesco for sale.”
“Sarcasm does not become you, son of Perran,” she chastised. “I will prepare it for you to begin with. I’ll teach you how to make it then it is up to you. If you stop drinking it daily, your wings will bud and develop. Consider yourself warned.”
“Sorry,” he apologised. “This all seems so complicated.”
“It’s preventative and for your own good,” she replied. “And for the safety of your friends and family, especially your children.”
She reached into her cloak’s deep inner pocket and produced an ornate dagger. Unsheathing it, the angel handed it to him.
“I need to add your blood to this first.”
“Yes. Yours. It will bind these ingredients to you and protect you. Just a few drops are all that is needed. I’ll allow you to choose where you make the cut.”
Swallowing hard, he accepted the knife from her outstretched hand. Holding it in his left hand, he flicked the tip of the blade along the inside of his right wrist. The cut was about an inch long and deep enough to immediately bleed freely. On the angel’s instruction, he held his wrist over the goblet until nineteen drops of blood had been added to the concoction.
“Bind it with this,” she said, passing him a strip of white cloth.
“Once you drink the contents of the goblet, it will heal over almost instantly. There will be a distinctive silver scar left though to remind you of this rebirth.”
Bandaging his wrist tightly, he nodded.
“It’s time,” declared the angel. “Follow me.”
Taking the knife and the goblet with her, the angel led him from her mausoleum home and into the night. She took a narrow path to the left and followed it until she came to a small clearing in the trees. Setting the knife and the goblet on a nearby flat rock, she removed her cloak and spread it on the ground.
“Sit,” she suggested softly.
Above them, through the gap in the tree canopy, they could both see the full Blessing Moon. In the distance, the owl was still hooting.
“Now what?” he asked a little nervously.
“I fill the goblet with my blood and you drain it dry,” she said simply as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do.
Understanding that they had gone far beyond the point of no return, he nodded. Wide eyed, he watched as the angel took the dagger in her left hand and made a deep cut in her own right wrist, allowing the blood to flow into the goblet.
When the pewter cup was full, she murmured a short incantation and the flow of blood stopped instantly.
Passing him the goblet, she said simply, “Drink.”
With a trembling hand, he accepted the cup and put it to his lips.
He was prepared for the liquid to taste warm and metallic and vile. True, it was warm but the taste was mellow, slightly sweet with no hint of the true nature of the contents.
“Every last drop, son of Perran,” instructed the angel.
Feeling the liquid coursing through him, he handed the empty goblet back to her.
“You did well,” she complimented warmly. “Did it taste so bad?”
“No,” he admitted. “It tasted alright. Sweet.”
“Good. It tastes different to each of us.”
“So, now what?”
“You go home. It’s late. You need sleep.”
“Sleep? You expect me to sleep after this?”
The angel nodded. “You’ll sleep soundly. Dreamlessly. When you waken, your transformation will be done. If there are to be any changes, physical changes, you will notice them over the coming days. I’ll see you safely home.”
“That’s it? I go home and go to bed? Act like nothing’s changed?”
“Precisely,” stated the angel. “Come.”
He got to his feet and watched as she lifted her cloak, shook the leaves and moss from it, then fastened it securely. With a smile, she beckoned him to step closer, then, once again, her wings enveloped him.
Seconds later, he felt his feet touch down on soft grass. When he looked around, they were standing in his back garden. Reaching into the pocket of her cloak, the angel withdrew two items – a small glass jar and one of the velvet drawstring bags from the shop, a green one.
“Drink five drops of this each morning. It’s the mugwort. Do not forget. Drink it at the same time each and every day,” advised the angel as she handed him the jar. “Carry this with you at all times,” she continued, passing him the small, green, velvet bag. “It contains the three gemstones I used in the drink. The dust was taken from each of them. They must go everywhere with you. Do not lose them. Do not let anyone else handle them. They are for you and you alone.”
Accepting the small bag, he nodded.
“Meet me one week from tonight in the graveyard. We will talk then.”
“If I need to ask anything before then? If I need any help?” he gushed, a wave of panic beginning to rise inside him.
“Relax,” she soothed warmly. “Place a white pebble on the bench we shared in the graveyard. I’ll find you when I see it there.”
“You need rest. Sleep,” she said softly. “Good night, son of Perran.”
He watched as she spread her majestic wings then disappeared into the night.
Before heading indoors, he removed the bandage from his right wrist, hoping that the angel had been correct and that the cut was healed. He gazed down at the smooth skin in wonder. The wound was healed, fully healed, and in its place was a silver scar in the shape of a crescent moon. Stuffing the bloodied piece of cloth deep into the wheelie bin, he reflected back, sure he had made a straight cut with the blade.
A few hours later, as the sun rose, the dark angel sat on the roof of the church, her favourite vantage point. The transformation had gone smoother that she had dared to hope it would. It truly had been blessed by the lunar energies in the air. Running her tongue over her fangs, she smiled. The tip of her broken fang had regenerated.