Darkness loomed over the bone-chillingly cold reefer boxcar, making itself welcome by spreading out in every direction as it coiled around each wall like the frigid mist from the iceboxes. The temperature in there was already below the point where teeth would be clacking like the balls in a Newton’s cradle, but the refrigerated metal box was eerily, disturbingly quiet, even for a party of only one.
Sostene’s teeth didn’t rattle nor shake, nor did his breath become visible in the cold air. Vampires were unaffected by such temperatures; it was a malady reserved for the living and the mortal. But on the inside, it felt like his entire body was shaking. Anxiety had made him hyper-aware of every muscle twitch and microsaccade his body normally performed with unconscious precision, filling his ears with the sounds of his own body; even the slow, nearly flat beating of his own withered heart.
But it was welcome. Sounds like that in this silent oubliette were a reminder that even in this state he was still alive (to some degree), that he was still human (to some degree), and that he could still feel his own body. That he wasn’t just a disembodied consciousness lost in a sea of psychic white noise.
Was it anxiety, or was it actual assault? He couldn’t decide. All he knew was that he could hear without hearing the sound of hundreds of tiny claws and limbs scratching at a pane of glass, like a colony of bats or centipedes in his brain. Having some actual, physical noise to drown out the relentless sounds that existed only in his mind offered some relief, and something to anchor himself to. He didn’t know why, but the more he thought about it the more the metaphor of scraping glass was appropriate. Something was trying to get in.
He didn’t know what exactly, but he had a good guess, which made the idea of a colony of bats all the more grimly hilarious.
You know you can’t keep me out, Sostene.
A sickly sweet voice crept into his head almost effortlessly. It was feminine, and young. And worst of all, familiar.
Yeah? Well I can try.
The voice sighed. Such a naughty child.
And stop using that voice.
Why? I thought you liked this voice.
The girl that voice belonged to died, a long time ago.
I’m hurt, Sostene. To think you still hold a grudge against me for that… I would’ve thought you’d gotten over it ages ago.
Never. How did you even find me? Sostene grunted mentally. He had no idea how his father was doing this. They’d never communicated mentally before in the short time he’d known them. Was this just an ability you only became aware of once you became an alpha vampire?
You had your first riastrad. I would have noticed you even from ten million miles away, let alone ten thousand.
Ah…- Sostene thought. He giggled. That was it. It all made sense now.
Hm? What’s wrong, Sostene? This isn’t funny, you know. Having your first riastrad is serious business.
But Sostene couldn’t stop laughing.
Ahahaahaha… haaaa… So that’s it. I get it now. That’s what this is all about.
… What are you talking about? The voice said, sounding confused. You’re not making any sense, Sostene.
This, Sostene thought, enunciating. This little courtesy call. You’re not really interested in what’s happening to me at all, are you? No, of course you’re fucking not. You wouldn’t have left me to die if you were. You just want whatever the hell this “riastrad” thing is. That’s the only reason you’re talking to me right now. Well fuck off!
There was no way to tell, but Sostene thought he felt his father frown.
Sostene, that’s enough! The voice said sternly before becoming soft again. You know I only have your best interests in mind. We all do. If you’d just let me explain…-
Sostene snorted. Screw you! You think you can fuck off for the better half of a hundred years and now all of a sudden start pulling this fucking shit on me? I’m not giving you crap. All you wanna do is use me, like you did the last time!
The voice sounded increasingly desperate. Sostene, that’s not- we’ve been trying to find you! More than anything! We just want you back home where you’ll be safe. Please, I-
Sostene hung up on the voice, silencing his father by focusing extra hard on the sounds of his own damn near lifeless body. He shook, tears falling down his face.
Sostene’s father, the alpha, sat alone in a dimly-lit room; the center of a crumbling, ancient castle. Quite typical of an old-school melodramatic vampire, the room was brightened only with dripping red candles, concealing the many vampire children the alpha had sired. They were waiting in the shadows anxiously, watching their father fearfully. Finally, they all sensed the connection had been broken as their father took a breath, leaning forward in their chair. Sensing it was safe, they all exited from the darkness.
“Is he safe?”
“Is he coming home?”
Their father cried, barely restrained tears crawling through cold fingers and down an undead face. With a slight twitch of effort, the vampire popped a blood vessel in their tear ducts, and cried blood.
“He has… rejected us…”
There were a gaggle of gasps, murmurs and whispers.
“What are we going to do, father?”
The alpha vampire took a deep breath, calming their tears of blood. They stared up at the cavernous ceiling through closed fingers, deliberating on what to do.
“… Nothing has changed.”
“What?” The horde of vampire children whispered and shouted.
“He has rejected us. So what of it? We are his clutch. His family. His kin. It’s our job to look after him, and show him love even when he scorns us.” The alpha vampire stood, gesticulating wildly. “Overflowing love! Everlasting love! That’s what it means to be a clan! Isn’t that right my children!?”
Nigh-hundreds of vampires cheered, baring their fangs. The alpha, their father, grinned with their arms outstretched, as if to embrace a ghost.
“Then it’s settled! We sail to America! To New York! The Isle of Skye shall crush all that stands in our way until we find our long-lost prodigal son. And when we are reunited, we shall shower him in our love, and he will either accept it…”
The elderly vampire licked their lips salaciously, savoring the taste of the fervor in the air.
“or he will drown in it. Come, my children! Prepare us for departure!”
There was a tremendous rumbling as the antechamber’s stone walls shook, dust settling from the ceiling as if there had been an earthquake. With a groan of immense power, the island beneath them set sail, a mobile fortress of over five hundred vampires.