Chapter no 5

The Queen of the Damned

Who are these shades we wait for and believe will come some evening in limousines

from Heaven? The rose though it knows is throatless

and cannot say.

My mortal half laughs.

The code and the message are not the same.

And what is an angel but a ghost in drag?


from “Of Heaven”



Body of Work (1983)

E WAS a tall, slender young man, with ashen hair and violet eyes. He wore a dirty gray sweat shirt and jeans, and in the icy wind whipping along Michigan Avenue at five

o’clock, he was cold.

Daniel Molloy was his name. He was thirty-two, though he looked younger, a perennial student, not a man, that kind of youthful face. He murmured aloud to himself as he walked. “Armand, I need you. Armand, that concert is tomorrow night. And something terrible is going to happen, something terrible ”

He was hungry. Thirty-six hours had passed since he’d eaten. There was nothing in the refrigerator of his small dirty hotel room, and besides, he had been locked out of it this morning because he had not paid the rent. Hard to remember everything at once.

Then he remembered the dream that he kept having, the dream that came every time he closed his eyes, and he didn’t want to eat at all.

He saw the twins in the dream. He saw the roasted body of the

woman before them, her hair singed away, her skin crisped. Her heart lay glistening like a swollen fruit on the plate beside her. The brain on the other plate looked exactly like a cooked brain.

Armand knew about it, he had to know. It was no ordinary dream, this. Something to do with Lestat, definitely. And Armand would come soon.

God, he was weak, delirious. Needed something, a drink at least. In his pocket there was no money, only an old crumpled royalty check for the book Interview with the Vampire, which he had “written” under a pseudonym over twelve years ago.

Another world, that, when he had been a young reporter, roaming the bars of the world with his tape recorder, trying to get the flotsam and jetsam of the night to tell him some truth. Well, one night in San Francisco he had found a magnificent subject for his investigations. And the light of ordinary life had suddenly gone out.

Now he was a ruined thing, walking too fast under the lowering night sky of Chicago in October. Last Sunday he had been in Paris, and the Friday before that in Edinburgh. Before Edinburgh, he had been in Stockholm and before that he couldn’t recall. The royalty check had caught up with him in Vienna, but he did not know how long ago that was.

In all these places he frightened those he passed. The Vampire Lestat had a good phrase for it in his autobiography: “One of those tiresome mortals who has seen spirits . . . ” That’s me!

Where was that book, The Vampire Lestat? Ah, somebody had stolen it off the park bench this afternoon while Daniel slept. Well, let them have it. Daniel had stolen it himself, and he’d read it three times already.

But if only he had it now, he could sell it, maybe get enough for a glass of brandy to make him warm. And what was his net worth at this moment, this cold and hungry vagabond that shuffled along Michigan Avenue, hating the wind that chilled him through his worn and dirty clothes? Ten million? A hundred million? He didn’t know. Armand would know.

You want money, Daniel? I’ll get it for you. It’s simpler than you think.

A thousand miles south Armand waited on their private island,

the island that belonged in fact to Daniel alone. And if only he had a quarter now, just a quarter, he could drop it into a pay phone and tell Armand that he wanted to come home. Out of the sky, they’d come to get him. They always did. Either the big plane with the velvet bedroom on it or the smaller one with the low ceiling and the leather chairs. Would anybody on this street lend him a quarter in exchange for a plane ride to Miami? Probably not.

Armand, now! I want to be safe with you when Lestat goes on that stage tomorrow night.

Who would cash this royalty check? No one. It was seven o’clock and the fancy shops along Michigan Avenue were for the most part closed, and he had no identification because his wallet had somehow disappeared day before yesterday. So dismal this glaring gray winter twilight, the sky boiling silently with low metallic clouds. Even the stores had taken on an uncommon grimness, with their hard facades of marble or granite, the wealth within gleaming like archaeological relics under museum glass. He plunged his hands in his pockets to warm them, and he bowed his head as the wind came with greater fierceness and the first sting of rain.

He didn’t give a damn about the check, really. He couldn’t imagine pressing the buttons of a phone. Nothing here seemed particularly real to him, not even the chill. Only the dream seemed real, and the sense of impending disaster, that the Vampire Lestat had somehow set into motion something that even he could never control.

Eat from a garbage can if you have to, sleep somewhere even if it’s a park. None of that matters. But he’d freeze if he lay down again in the open air, and besides the dream would come back.

It was coming now every time he closed his eyes. And each time, it was longer, more full of detail. The red-haired twins were so tenderly beautiful. He did not want to hear them scream.

The first night in his hotel room he’d ignored the whole thing. Meaningless. He’d gone back to reading Lestat’s autobiography, and glancing up now and then as Lestat’s rock video films played themselves out on the little black and white TV that came with that kind of dump.

He’d been fascinated by Lestat’s audacity; yet the masquerade as rock star was so simple. Searing eyes, powerful yet slender limbs,

and a mischievous smile, yes. But you really couldn’t tell. Or could you? He had never laid eyes on Lestat.

But he was an expert on Armand, wasn’t he, he had studied every detail of Armand’s youthful body and face. Ah, what a delirious pleasure it had been to read about Armand in Lestat’s pages, wondering all the while if Lestat’s stinging insults and worshipful analyses had put Armand himself into a rage.

In mute fascination, Daniel had watched that little clip on MTV portraying Armand as the coven master of the old vampires beneath the Paris cemetery, presiding over demonic rituals until the Vampire Lestat, the eighteenth-century iconoclast, had destroyed the Old Ways.

Armand must have loathed it, his private history laid bare in flashing images, so much more crass than Lestat’s more thoughtful written history. Armand, whose eyes scanned perpetually the living beings around him, refusing even to speak of the undead. But it was impossible that he did not know.

And all this for the multitudes—like the paperback report of an anthropologist, back from the inner circle, who sells the tribe’s secrets for a slot on the best-seller list.

So let the demonic gods war with each other. This mortal has been to the top of the mountain where they cross swords. And he has come back. He has been turned away.

The next night, the dream had returned with the clarity of a hallucination. He knew that it could not have been invented by him. He had never seen people quite like that, seen such simple jewelry made of bone and wood.

The dream had come again three nights later. He’d been watching a Lestat rock video for the fifteenth time, perhaps—this one about the ancient and immovable Egyptian Father and Mother of the vampires, Those Who Must Be Kept:

Akasha and Enkil, We are your children,

but what do you give us? Is your silence

A better gift than truth?

And then Daniel was dreaming. And the twins were about to begin the feast. They would share the organs on the earthen plates. One would take the brain, the other the heart.

He’d awakened with a sense of urgency, dread. Something terrible going to happen, something going to happen to all of us . . . And that was the first time he’d connected it with Lestat. He had wanted to pick up the phone then. It was four o’clock in the morning in Miami. Why the hell hadn’t he done it? Armand would have been sitting on the terrace of the villa, watching the tireless fleet of white boats wend its way back and forth from the Night Island. “Yes, Daniel?” That sensuous, mesmerizing voice. “Calm down and tell me where you are, Daniel.”

But Daniel hadn’t called. Six months had passed since he had left the Night Island, and this time it was supposed to be for good. He had once and for all forsworn the world of carpets and limousines and private planes, of liquor closets stocked with rare vintages and dressing rooms full of exquisitely cut clothing, of the quiet overwhelming presence of his immortal lover who gave him every earthly possession he could want.

But now it was cold and he had no room and no money, and he was afraid.

You know where I am, you demon. You know what Lestat’s done.

And you know I want to come home. What would Armand say to that?

But I don’t know, Daniel. I listen. I try to know. I am not God, Daniel.

Never mind. Just come, Armand. Come. It’s dark and cold in Chicago. And tomorrow night the Vampire Lestat will sing his songs on a San Francisco stage. And something bad is going to happen. This mortal knows.

Without slowing his pace, Daniel reached down under the collar of his sagging sweat shirt and felt the heavy gold locket he always wore—the amulet, as Armand called it with his unacknowledged yet irrepressible flair for the dramatic—which held the tiny vial of Armand’s blood.

And if he had never tasted that cup would he be having this dream, this vision, this portent of doom?

People turned to look at him; he was talking to himself again,

wasn’t he? And the wind made him sigh loudly. He had the urge for the first time in all these years to break open the locket and the vial, to feel that blood burn his tongue. Armand, come!

The dream had visited him in its most alarming form this noon. He’d been sitting on a bench in the little park near the Water

Tower Place. A newspaper had been left there, and when he opened it he saw the advertisement: “Tomorrow Night: The Vampire Lestat Live on Stage in San Francisco.” The cable would broadcast the concert at ten o’clock Chicago time. How nice for those who still lived indoors, could pay their rent, and had electricity. He had wanted to laugh at the whole thing, delight in it, revel in it, Lestat surprising them all. But the chill had passed through him, becoming a deep jarring shock.

And what if Armand does not know? But the record stores on the Night Island must have The Vampire Lestat in their windows. In the elegant lounges, they must be playing those haunting and hypnotic songs.

It had even occurred to Daniel at that moment to go on to California on his own. Surely he could work some miracle, get his passport from the hotel, go into any bank with it for identification. Rich, yes so very rich, this poor mortal boy. . . .

But how could he think of something so deliberate? The sun had been warm on his face and shoulders as he’d lain down on the bench. He’d folded the newspaper to make of it a pillow.

And there was the dream that had been waiting all the time. . . .

Midday in the world of the twins: the sun pouring down onto the clearing. Silence, except for the singing of the birds.

And the twins kneeling quite still together, in the dust. Such pale women, their eyes green, their hair long and wavy and coppery red. Fine clothes they wore, white linen dresses that had come all the way from the markets of Nineveh, bought by the villagers to honor these powerful witches, whom the spirits obey.

The funeral feast was ready. The mud bricks of the oven had been torn down and carried away, and the body lay steaming hot on the stone slab, the yellow juices running out of it where the crisp skin had broken, a black and naked thing with only a covering of cooked leaves. It horrified Daniel.

But it horrified no one present, this spectacle, not the twins or the villagers who knelt to watch the feast begin.

This feast was the right and the duty of the twins. This was their mother, the blackened body on the stone slab. And what was human must remain with the human. A day and night it may take to consume the feast, but all will keep watch until it is done.

Now a current of excitement passes through the crowd around the clearing. One of the twins lifts the plate on which the brain rests together with the eyes, and the other nods and takes the plate that holds the heart.

And so the division has been made. The beat of a drum rises, though Daniel cannot see the drummer. Slow, rhythmic, brutal.

“Let the banquet begin.”

But the ghastly cry comes, just as Daniel knew it would. Stop the soldiers. But he can’t. All this has happened somewhere, of that he is now certain. It is no dream, it is a vision. And he is not there. The soldiers storm the clearing, the villagers scatter, the twins set down the plates and fling themselves over the smoking feast. But this is madness.

The soldiers tear them loose so effortlessly, and as the slab is lifted, the body falls, breaking into pieces, and the heart and the brain are thrown down into the dust. The twins scream and scream.

But the villagers are screaming too, the soldiers are cutting them down as they run. The dead and the dying litter the mountain paths. The eyes of the mother have fallen from the plate into the dirt, and they, along with the heart and brain, are trampled underfoot.

One of the twins, her arms pulled behind her back, cries to the spirits for vengeance. And they come, they do. It is a whirlwind. But not enough.

If only it were over. But Daniel can’t wake up.

Stillness. The air is full of smoke. Nothing stands where these people have lived for centuries. The mud bricks are scattered, clay pots are broken, all that will burn has burned. Infants with their throats slit lie naked on the ground as the flies come. No one will roast these bodies, no one will consume this flesh. It will pass out of the human race, with all its power and its mystery. The jackals are

already approaching. And the soldiers have gone. Where are the twins! He hears the twins crying, but he cannot find them. A great storm is rumbling over the narrow road that twists down through the valley towards the desert. The spirits make the thunder. The spirits make the rain.

His eyes opened. Chicago, Michigan Avenue at midday. The dream had gone out like a light turned off. He sat there shivering, sweating.

A radio had been playing near him, Lestat singing in that haunting mournful voice of Those Who Must Be Kept.

Mother and FatherKeep your silenceKeep your secrets,

But those of you with tonguessing my song.

Sons and daughters Children of darkness Raise your voices Make a chorus

Let heaven hear us

Come together, Brother and sisters, Come to me.

He had gotten up, started walking. Go into the Water Tower Place, so like the Night Island with its engulfing shops, endless music and lights, shining glass.

And now it was almost eight o’clock and he had been walking continuously, running from sleep and from the dream. He was far from any music and light. How long would it go on next time? Would he find out whether they were alive or dead? My beauties, my poor beauties. . . .

He stopped, turning his back to the wind for a moment, listening to the chimes somewhere, then spotting a dirty clock above a dime store lunch counter; yes, Lestat had risen on the West Coast. Who is with him? Is Louis there? And the concert, a little over twenty-four

hours. Catastrophe! Armand, please.

The wind gusted, pushed him back a few steps on the pavement, left him shivering violently. His hands were frozen. Had he ever been this cold in his life? Doggedly, he crossed Michigan Avenue with the crowd at the stoplight and stood at the plate glass windows of the bookstore, where he could see the book, The Vampire Lestat, on display.

Surely Armand had read it, devouring every word in that eerie, horrible way he had of reading, of turning page after page without pause, eyes flashing over the words, until the book was finished, and then tossing it aside. How could a creature shimmer with such beauty yet incite such . . . what was it, revulsion? No, he had never been revolted by Armand, he had to admit it. What he always felt was ravening and hopeless desire.

A young girl inside the warmth of the store picked up a copy of Lestat’s book, then stared at him through the window. His breath made steam on the glass in front of him. Don’t worry, my darling, I am a rich man. I could buy this whole store full of books and make it a present to you. I am lord and master of my own island, I am the Devil’s minion and he grants my every wish. Want to come take my arm?

It had been dark for hours on the Florida coast. The Night Island was already thronged.

The shops, restaurants, bars had opened their broad, seamless plate glass doors at sunset, on five levels of richly carpeted hallway. The silver escalators had begun their low, churning hum. Daniel closed his eyes and envisioned the walls of glass rising above the harbor terraces. He could almost hear the great roar of the dancing fountains, see the long narrow beds of daffodils and tulips blooming eternally out of season, hear the hypnotic music that beat like a heart beneath it all.

And Armand, he was probably roaming the dimly lighted rooms of the villa, steps away from the tourists and the shoppers, yet utterly cut off by steel doors and white walls—a sprawling palace of floor-length windows and broad balconies, perched over white sand. Solitary, yet near to the endless commotion, its vast living room facing the twinkling lights of the Miami shore.

Or maybe he had gone through one of the many unmarked doors into the public galleria itself. “To live and breathe among mortals”

as he called it in this safe and self-contained universe which he and Daniel had made. How Armand loved the warm breezes of the Gulf, the endless springtime of the Night Island.

No lights would go out until dawn.

“Send someone for me, Armand, I need you! You know you want me to come home.”

Of course it had happened this way over and over again. It did not need strange dreams, or Lestat to reappear, roaring like Lucifer from tape and film.

Everything would go all right for months as Daniel felt compelled to move from city to city, walking the pavements of New York or Chicago or New Orleans. Then the sudden disintegration. He’d realize he had not moved from his chair in five hours. Or he’d wake suddenly in a stale and unchanged bed, frightened, unable to remember the name of the city where he was, or where he’d been for days before. Then the car would come for him, then the plane would take him home.

Didn’t Armand cause it? Didn’t he somehow drive Daniel to these periods of madness? Didn’t he by some evil magic dry up every source of pleasure, every fount of sustenance until Daniel welcomed the sight of the familiar chauffeur come to drive him to the airport, the man who was never shocked by Daniel’s demeanor, his unshaven face, his soiled clothes?

When Daniel finally reached the Night Island, Armand would deny it.

“You came back to me because you wanted to, Daniel,” Armand always said calmly, face still and radiant, eyes full of love. “There is nothing for you now, Daniel, except me. You know that. Madness waits out there.”

“Same old dance,” Daniel invariably answered. And all that luxury, so intoxicating, soft beds, music, the wine glass placed in his hand. The rooms were always full of flowers, the foods he craved came on silver trays.

Armand lay sprawled in a huge black velvet wing chair gazing at the television, Ganymede in white pants and white silk shirt, watching the news, the movies, the tapes he’d made of himself reading poetry, the idiot sitcoms, the dramas, the musicals, the

silent films.

“Come in, Daniel, sit down. I never expected you back so soon.” “You son of a bitch,” Daniel would say. “You wanted me here,

you summoned me. I couldn’t eat, sleep, nothing, just wander and think of you. You did it.”

Armand would smile, sometimes even laugh. Armand had a rich, beautiful laugh, always eloquent of gratitude as well as humor. He looked and sounded mortal when he laughed. “Calm yourself, Daniel. Your heart’s racing. It frightens me.” Small crease to the smooth forehead, the voice for a moment deepened by compassion. “Tell me what you want, Daniel, and I’ll get it for you. Why do you keep running away?”

“Lies, you bastard. Say that you wanted me. You’ll torment me forever, won’t you, and then you’ll watch me die, and you’ll find that interesting, won’t you? It was true what Louis said. You watch them die, your mortal slaves, they mean nothing to you. You’ll watch the colors change in my face as I die.”

“That’s Louis’s language,” Armand said patiently. “Please don’t quote that book to me. I’d rather die than see you die, Daniel.”

“Then give it to me! Damn you! Immortality that close, as close as your arms.”

“No, Daniel, because I’d rather die than do that, too.”

But even if Armand did not cause this madness that brought Daniel home, surely he always knew where Daniel was. He could hear Daniel’s call. The blood connected them, it had to—the precious tiny drinks of burning preternatural blood. Never enough to do more than awaken dreams in Daniel, and the thirst for eternity, to make the flowers in the wallpaper sing and dance. Whatever, Armand could always find him, of that he had no doubt.

IN THE early years, even before the blood exchange, Armand had pursued Daniel with the cunning of a harpy. There had been no place on earth that Daniel could hide.

Horrifying yet tantalizing, their beginning in New Orleans, twelve years ago when Daniel had entered a crumbling old house in the Garden District and known at once that it was the vampire Lestat’s lair.

Ten days before he’d left San Francisco after his night-long interview with the vampire Louis, suffering from the final confirmation of the frightening tale he had been told. In a sudden embrace, Louis had demonstrated his supernatural power to drain Daniel almost to the point of death. The puncture wounds had disappeared, but the memory had left Daniel near to madness. Feverish, sometimes delirious, he had traveled no more than a few hundred miles a day. In cheap roadside motels, where he forced himself to take nourishment, he had duplicated the tapes of the interview one by one, sending the copies off to a New York publisher, so that a book was in the making before he ever stood before Lestat’s gate.

But that had been secondary, the publication, an event connected with the values of a dimming and distant world.

He had to find the vampire Lestat. He had to unearth the immortal who had made Louis, the one who still survived somewhere in this damp, decadent, and beautiful old city, waiting perhaps for Daniel to awaken him, to bring him out into the century that had terrified him and driven him underground.

It was what Louis wanted, surely. Why else had he given this mortal emissary so many clues as to where Lestat could be found? Yet some of the details were misleading. Was this ambivalence on Louis’s part? It did not matter, finally. In the public records, Daniel had found the title to the property, and the street number, under the unmistakable name: Lestat de Lioncourt.

The iron gate had not even been locked, and once he’d hacked his way through the overgrown garden, he had managed easily to break the rusted lock on the front door.

Only a small pocket flash helped him as he entered. But the moon had been high, shining its full white light here and there through the oak branches. He had seen clearly the rows and rows of books stacked to the ceiling, making up the very walls of every room. No human could or would have done such a mad and methodical thing. And then in the upstairs bedroom, he had knelt down in the thick dust that covered the rotting carpet and found the gold pocket watch on which was written the name Lestat.

Ah, that chilling moment, that moment when the pendulum swung away from ever increasing dementia to a new passion—he

would track to the ends of the earth these pale and deadly beings whose existence he had only glimpsed.

What had he wanted in those early weeks? Did he hope to possess the splendid secrets of life itself? Surely he would gain from this knowledge no purpose for an existence already fraught with disappointment. No, he wanted to be swept away from everything he had once loved. He longed for Louis’s violent and sensuous world.

Evil. He was no longer afraid.

Maybe he was like the lost explorer who, pushing through the jungle, suddenly sees the wall of the fabled temple before him, its carvings overhung with spiderwebs and vines; no matter that he may not live to tell his story; he has beheld the truth with his own eyes.

But if only he could open the door a little further, see the full magnificence. If they would only let him in! Maybe he just wanted to live forever. Could anyone fault him for that?

He had felt good and safe standing alone in the ruin of Lestat’s old house, with the wild roses crawling at the broken window and the four-poster bed a skeleton, its hangings rotting away.

Near them, near to their precious darkness, their lovely devouring gloom. How he had loved the hopelessness of it all, the moldering chairs with their bits of carving, shreds of velvet, and the slithering things eating the last of the carpet away.

But the relic; ah, the relic was everything, the gleaming gold watch that bore an immortal’s name!

After a while, he had opened the armoire; the black frock coats fell to pieces when he touched them. Withered and curling boots lay on the cedar boards.

But Lestat, you are here. He had taken the tape recorder out, set it down, put in the first tape, and let the voice of Louis rise softly in the shadowy room. Hour by hour, the tapes played.

Then just before dawn he had seen a figure in the hallway, and known that he was meant to see it. And he had seen the moon strike the boyish face, the auburn hair. The earth tilted, the darkness came down. The last word he uttered had been the name Armand.

He should have died then. Had a whim kept him alive?

He’d awakened in a dark, damp cellar. Water oozed from the walls. Groping in the blackness, he’d discovered a bricked-up window, a locked door plated with steel.

And what was his comfort, that he had found yet another god of the secret pantheon—Armand, the oldest of the immortals whom Louis had described, Armand, the coven master of the nineteenth-century Theater of the Vampires in Paris, who had confided his terrible secret to Louis: of our origins nothing is known.

For three days and nights, perhaps, Daniel had lain in this prison. Impossible to tell. He had been near to dying certainly, the stench of his own urine sickening him, the insects driving him mad. Yet his was a religious fervor. He had come ever nearer to the dark pulsing truths that Louis had revealed. Slipping in and out of consciousness, he dreamed of Louis, Louis talking to him in that dirty little room in San Francisco, there have always been things such as we are, always, Louis embracing him, his green eyes darkening suddenly as he let Daniel see the fang teeth.

The fourth night, Daniel had awakened and known at once that someone or something was in the room. The door lay open to a passage. Water was flowing somewhere fast as if in a deep underground sewer. Slowly his eyes grew accustomed to the dirty greenish light from the doorway and then he saw the pale white-skinned figure standing against the wall.

So immaculate the black suit, the starched white shirt—like the imitation of a twentieth-century man. And the auburn hair clipped short and the fingernails gleaming dully even in this semidarkness. Like a corpse for the coffin—that sterile, that well prepared.

The voice had been gentle with a trace of an accent. Not European; something sharper yet softer at the same time. Arabic or Greek perhaps, that kind of music. The words were slow and without anger.

“Get out. Take your tapes with you. They are there beside you. I know of your book. No one will believe it. Now you will go and take these things.”

Then you won’t kill me. And you won’t make me one of you either. Desperate, stupid thoughts, but he couldn’t stop them. He had seen the power! No lies, no cunning here. And he’d felt himself crying, so

weakened by fear and hunger, reduced to a child.

“Make you one of us?” The accent thickened, giving a fine lilt to the words. “Why would I do that?” Eyes narrowing. “I would not do that to those whom I find to be despicable, whom I would see burning in hell as a matter of course. So why should I do it to an innocent fool—like you?”

I want it. I want to live forever. Daniel had sat up, climbed to his feet slowly, struggling to see Armand more clearly. A dim bulb burned somewhere far down the hall. I want to be with Louis and with you.

Laughter, low, gentle. But contemptuous. “I see why he chose you for his confidant. You are naive and beautiful. But the beauty could be the only reason, you know.”


“Your eyes are an unusual color, almost violet. And you are strangely defiant and beseeching in the same breath.”

Make me immortal. Give it to me!

Laughter again. Almost sad. Then silence, the water rushing fast in that distant someplace. The room had become visible, a filthy basement hole. And the figure more nearly mortal. There was even a faint pink tinge to the smooth skin.

“It was all true, what he told you. But no one will ever believe it. And you will go mad in time from this knowledge. That’s what always happens. But you’re not mad yet.”

No. This is real, it’s all happening. You’re Armand and we’re talking together. And I’m not mad.

“Yes. And I find it rather interesting . . . interesting that you know my name and that you’re alive. I have never told my name to anyone who is alive.” Armand hesitated. “I don’t want to kill you. Not just now.”

Daniel had felt the first touch of fear. If you looked closely enough at these beings you could see what they were. It had been the same with Louis. No, they weren’t living. They were ghastly imitations of the living. And this one, the gleaming manikin of a young boy!

“I am going to let you leave here,” Armand had said. So politely, softly. “I want to follow you, watch you, see where you go. As long

as I find you interesting, I won’t kill you. And of course, I may lose interest altogether and not bother to kill you. That’s always possible. You have hope in that. And maybe with luck I’ll lose track of you. I have my limitations, of course. You have the world to roam, and you can move by day. Go now. Start running. I want to see what you do, I want to know what you are.”

Go now, start running!

He’d been on the morning plane to Lisbon, clutching Lestat’s gold watch in his hand. Yet two nights later in Madrid, he’d turned to find Armand seated on a city bus beside him no more than inches away. A week later in Vienna he’d looked out the window of a cafe to see Armand watching him from the street. In Berlin, Armand slipped into a taxi beside him, and sat there staring at him, until finally Daniel had leapt out in the thick of the traffic and run away.

Within months, however, these shattering silent confrontations had given way to more vigorous assaults.

He woke in a hotel room in Prague to find Armand standing over him, crazed, violent. “Talk to me now! I demand it. Wake up. I want you to walk with me, show me things in this city. Why did you come to this particular place?”

Riding on a train through Switzerland, he looked up suddenly to see Armand directly opposite watching him over the upturned cover of his fur-lined coat. Armand snatched the book out of his hand and insisted that he explain what it was, why he read it, what did the picture on the cover mean?

In Paris Armand pursued him nightly through the boulevards and the back streets, only now and then questioning him on the places he went, the things he did. In Venice, he’d looked out of his room at the Danieli, to see Armand staring from a window across the way.

Then weeks passed without a visitation. Daniel vacillated between terror and strange expectation, doubting his very sanity again. But there was Armand waiting for him in the New York airport. And the following night in Boston, Armand was in the dining room of the Copley when Daniel came in. Daniel’s dinner was already ordered. Please sit down. Did Daniel know that Interview with the Vampire was in the bookstores?

“I must confess I enjoy this small measure of notoriety,” Armand had said with exquisite politeness and a vicious smile. “What

puzzles me is that you do not want notoriety! You did not list yourself as the ‘author,’ which means that you are either very modest or a coward. Either explanation would be very dull.”

“I’m not hungry, let’s get out of here,” Daniel had answered weakly. Yet suddenly dish after dish was being placed on the table; everyone was staring.

“I didn’t know what you wanted,” Armand confided, the smile becoming absolutely ecstatic. “So I ordered everything that they had.”

“You think you can drive me crazy, don’t you?” Daniel had snarled. “Well, you can’t. Let me tell you. Every time I lay eyes on you, I realize that I didn’t invent you, and that I’m sane!” And he had started eating, lustily, furiously—a little fish, a little beef, a little veal, a little sweetbreads, a little cheese, a little everything, put it all together, what did he care, and Armand had been so delighted, laughing and laughing like a schoolboy as he sat watching, with folded arms. It was the first time Daniel had ever heard that soft, silky laughter. So seductive. He got drunk as fast as he could.

The meetings grew longer and longer. Conversations, sparring matches, and downright fights became the rule. Once Armand had dragged Daniel out of bed in New Orleans and shouted at him: “That telephone, I want you to dial Paris, I want to see if it can really talk to Paris.”

“Goddamn it, do it yourself,” Daniel had roared. “You’re five hundred years old and you can’t use a telephone? Read the directions. What are you, an immortal idiot? I will do no such thing!”

How surprised Armand had looked.

“All right, I’ll call Paris for you. But you pay the bill.”

“But of course,” Armand had said innocently. He had drawn dozens of hundred-dollar bills out of his coat, sprinkling them on Daniel’s bed.

More and more they argued philosophy at these meetings. Pulling Daniel out of a theater in Rome, Armand had asked what did Daniel really think that death was? People who were still living knew things like that! Did Daniel know what Armand truly feared?

As it was past midnight and Daniel was drunk and exhausted and had been sound asleep in the theater before Armand found him, he did not care.

“I’ll tell you what I fear,” Armand had said, intense as any young student. “That it’s chaos after you die, that it’s a dream from which you can’t wake. Imagine drifting half in and out of consciousness, trying vainly to remember who you are or what you were. Imagine straining forever for the lost clarity of the living ”

It had frightened Daniel. Something about it rang true. Weren’t there tales of mediums conversing with incoherent yet powerful presences? He didn’t know. How in hell could he know? Maybe when you died there was flat out nothing. That terrified Armand, no effort expended to conceal the misery.

“You don’t think it terrifies me?” Daniel had asked, staring at the white-faced figure beside him. “How many years do I have? Can you tell just by looking at me? Tell me.”

When Armand woke him up in Port-au-Prince, it was war he wanted to talk about. What did men in this century actually think of war? Did Daniel know that Armand had been a boy when this had begun for him? Seventeen years old, and in those times that was young, very young. Seventeen-year-old boys in the twentieth century were virtual monsters; they had beards, hair on their chests, and yet they were children. Not then. Yet children worked as if they were men.

But let us not get sidetracked. The point was, Armand didn’t know what men felt. He never had. Oh, of course he’d known the pleasures of the flesh, that was par for the course. Nobody then thought children were innocent of sensuous pleasures. But of true aggression he knew little. He killed because it was his nature as a vampire; and the blood was irresistible. But why did men find war irresistible? What was the desire to clash violently against the will of another with weapons? What was the physical need to destroy?

At such times, Daniel did his best to answer: for some men it was the need to affirm one’s own existence through the annihilation of another. Surely Armand knew these things.

“Know? Know? What does that matter if you don’t understand,” Armand had asked, his accent unusually sharp in his agitation, “if you cannot proceed from one perception to another? Don’t you see,

this is what I cannot do.”

When he found Daniel in Frankfurt, it was the nature of history, the impossibility of writing any coherent explanation of events that was not in itself a lie. The impossibility of truth being served by generalities, and the impossibility of learning proceeding without them.

Now and then these meetings had not been entirely selfish. In a country inn in England Daniel woke to the sound of Armand’s voice warning him to leave the building at once. A fire destroyed the inn in less than an hour.

Another time he had been in jail in New York, picked up for drunkenness and vagrancy when Armand appeared to bail him out, looking all too human as he always did after he had fed, a young lawyer in a tweed coat and flannel pants, escorting Daniel to a room in the Carlyle, where he left him to sleep it off with a suitcase full of new clothes waiting, and a wallet full of money hidden in a pocket.

Finally, after a year and a half of this madness, Daniel began to question Armand. What had it really been like in those days in Venice? Look at this film, set in the eighteenth century, tell me what is wrong.

But Armand was remarkably unresponsive. “I cannot tell you those things because I have no experience of them. You see, I have so little ability to synthesize knowledge; I deal in the immediate with a cool intensity. What was it like in Paris? Ask me if it rained on the night of Saturday, June 5, 1793. Perhaps I could tell you that.”

Yet at other moments, he spoke in rapid bursts of the things around him, of the eerie garish cleanliness of this era, of the horrid acceleration of change.

“Behold, earthshaking inventions which are useless or obsolete within the same century—the steamboat, the railroads; yet do you know what these meant after six thousand years of galley slaves and men on horseback? And now the dance hall girl buys a chemical to kill the seed of her lovers, and lives to be seventy-five in a room full of gadgets which cool the air and veritably eat the dust. And yet for all the costume movies and the paperback history thrown at you in every drugstore, the public has no accurate memory of anything;

every social problem is observed in relation to ‘norms’ which in fact never existed, people fancy themselves ‘deprived’ of luxuries and peace and quiet which in fact were never common to any people anywhere at all.”

“But the Venice of your time, tell me ”

“What? That it was dirty? That it was beautiful? That people went about in rags with rotting teeth and stinking breath and laughed at public executions? You want to know the key difference? There is a horrifying loneliness at work in this time. No, listen to me. We lived six and seven to a room in those days, when I was still among the living. The city streets were seas of humanity; and now in these high buildings dim-witted souls hover in luxurious privacy, gazing through the television window at a faraway world of kissing and touching. It is bound to produce some great fund of common knowledge, some new level of human awareness, a curious skepticism, to be so alone.”

Daniel found himself fascinated, sometimes trying to write down the things Armand told him. Yet Armand continued to frighten him. Daniel was ever on the move.

HE WASN’T quite sure how long it had gone on before he stopped running, though the night itself was quite impossible to forget.

Maybe four years had passed since the game had begun. Daniel had spent a long quiet summer in southern Italy during which he had not seen his demon familiar even once.

In a cheap hotel only a half block from the ruins of ancient Pompeii, he had spent his hours reading, writing, trying to define what his glimpse of the supernatural had done to him, and how he must learn again to want, to envision, to dream. Immortality on this earth was indeed possible. This he knew without question, but what did it matter if immortality was not Daniel’s to have?

By day he walked the broken streets of the excavated Roman city. And when the moon was full he wandered there, alone, by night as well. It seemed sanity had come back to him. And life might soon come back too. Green leaves smelled fresh when he crushed them in his fingers. He looked up at the stars and did not feel resentful so much as sad.

Yet at other times, he burned for Armand as if for an elixir

without which he could not go on. The dark energy that had fired him for four years was now missing. He dreamed Armand was near him; he awoke weeping stupidly. Then the morning would come and he would be sad but calm.

Then Armand had returned.

It was late, perhaps ten o’clock in the evening, and the sky, as it is so often in southern Italy, was a brilliant dark blue overhead. Daniel had been walking alone down the long road that leads from Pompeii proper to the Villa of the Mysteries, hoping no guards would come to drive him away.

As soon as he’d reached the ancient house, a stillness had descended. No guards here. No one living. Only the sudden silent appearance of Armand before the entrance. Armand again.

He’d come silently out of the shadows into the moonlight, a young boy in dirty jeans and worn denim jacket, and he had slipped his arm around Daniel and gently kissed Daniel’s face. Such warm skin, full of the fresh blood of the kill. Daniel fancied he could smell it, the perfume of the living clinging to Armand still.

“You want to come into this house?” Armand had whispered. No locks ever kept Armand from anything. Daniel had been trembling, on the edge of tears. And why was that? So glad to see him, touch him, ah, damn him!

They had entered the dark, low-ceilinged rooms, the press of Armand’s arm against Daniel’s back oddly comforting. Ah, yes, this intimacy, because that’s what it is, isn’t it? You, my secret . . .

Secret lover. Yes.

Then the realization had come to Daniel as they stood together in the ruined dining room with its famous murals of ritual flagellation barely visible in the dark: He isn’t going to kill me after all. He isn’t going to do it. Of course he won’t make me what he is, but he isn’t going to kill me. The dance will not end like that.

“But how could you not know such a thing,” Armand had said, reading his thoughts. “I love you. If I hadn’t grown to love you, I would have killed you before now, of course.”

The moonlight poured through the wooden lattices. The lush figures of the murals came to life against their red backdrop, the

color of dried blood.

Daniel stared hard at the creature before him, this thing that looked human and sounded human but was not. There was a horrid shift in his consciousness; he saw this being like a great insect, a monstrous evil predator who had devoured a million human lives. And yet he loved this thing. He loved its smooth white skin, its great dark brown eyes. He loved it not because it looked like a gentle, thoughtful young man, but because it was ghastly and awful and loathsome, and beautiful all at the same time. He loved it the way people love evil, because it thrills them to the core of their souls. Imagine, killing like that, just taking life any time you want it, just doing it, sinking your teeth into another and taking all that that person can possibly give.

Look at the garments he wore. Blue cotton shirt, brass-buttoned denim jacket. Where had he gotten them? Off a victim, yes, like taking out his knife and skinning the kill while it was still warm? No wonder they reeked of salt and blood, though none was visible. And the hair trimmed just as if it weren’t going to grow out within twenty-four hours to its regular shoulder length. This is evil. This is illusion. This is what I want to be, which is why I cannot stand to look at him.

Armand’s lips had moved in a soft, slightly concealed smile. And then his eyes had misted and closed. He had bent close to Daniel, pressed his lips to Daniel’s neck.

And once again, as he had in a little room on Divisadero Street in San Francisco with the vampire Louis, Daniel felt the sharp teeth pierce the surface of his skin. Sudden pain and throbbing warmth. “Are you killing me finally?” He grew drowsy, on fire, filled with love. “Do it, yes.”

But Armand had taken only a few droplets. He’d released Daniel and pressed gently on his shoulders, forcing Daniel down to his knees. Daniel had looked up to see the blood flowing from Armand’s wrist. Great electric shocks had passed through Daniel at the taste of that blood. It had seemed in a flash that the city of Pompeii was full of a whispering, a crying, some vague and pulsing imprint of long-ago suffering and death. Thousands perishing in smoke and ash. Thousands dying together. Together. Daniel had clung to Armand. But the blood was gone. Only a taste—no more.

“You are mine, beautiful boy,” Armand had said.

The following morning when he awoke in bed at the Excelsier in Rome, Daniel knew that he would not run away from Armand ever again. Less than an hour after sunset, Armand came to him. They would go to London now, the car was waiting to take them to the plane. But there was time enough, wasn’t there, for another embrace, another small exchange of blood. “Here from my throat,” Armand had whispered, cradling Daniel’s head in his hand. A fine soundless throbbing. The light of the lamps expanded, brightened, obliterated the room.

Lovers. Yes, it had become an ecstatic and engulfing affair.

“You are my teacher,” Armand told him. “You will tell me everything about this century. I am learning secrets already that have eluded me since the beginning. You’ll sleep when the sun rises, if you wish, but the nights are mine.”

INTO the very midst of life they plunged. At pretense Armand was a genius, and killing early on any given evening, he passed for human everywhere that they went. His skin was burning hot in those early hours, his face full of passionate curiosity, his embraces feverish and quick.

It would have taken another immortal to keep up with him. Daniel nodded off at symphonies and operas or during the hundreds upon hundreds of films that Armand dragged him to see. Then there were the endless parties, the cluttered noisy gatherings from Chelsea to Mayfair where Armand argued politics and philosophy with students, or women of fashion, or anyone who would give him the slightest chance. His eyes grew moist with excitement, his voice lost its soft preternatural resonance and took on the hard human accent of the other young men in the room.

Clothes of all kinds fascinated him, not for their beauty but for what he thought they meant. He wore jeans and sweat shirts like Daniel; he wore cable-knit sweaters and workmen’s brogans, leather windbreakers, and mirrored sunglasses pushed up on his head. He wore tailored suits, and dinner jackets, and white tie and tails when the fancy suited him; his hair was cut short one night so he looked like any young man down from Cambridge, and left curly and long, an angel’s mane, the next.

It seemed that he and Daniel were always walking up four unlighted flights of stairs to visit some painter, sculptor, or photographer, or to see some special never-released yet revolutionary film. They spent hours in the cold-water flats of dark-eyed young women who played rock music and made herbal tea which Armand never drank.

Men and women fell in love with Armand, of course, “so innocent, so passionate, so brilliant!” You don’t say. In fact, Armand’s power to seduce was almost beyond his control. And it was Daniel who must bed these unfortunates, if Armand could possibly arrange it, while he watched from a chair nearby, a dark-eyed Cupid with a tender approving smile. Hot, nerve-searing, this witnessed passion, Daniel working the other body with ever greater abandon, aroused by the dual purpose of every intimate gesture. Yet he lay empty afterwards, staring at Armand, resentful, cold.

INEW YORK they went tearing to museum openings, cafés, bars, adopted a young dancer, paying all his bills through school. They sat on the stoops in SoHo and Greenwich Village whiling the hours away with anybody who would stop to join them. They went to night classes in literature, philosophy, art history, and politics. They

studied biology, bought microscopes, collected specimens. They studied books on astronomy and mounted giant telescopes on the roofs of the buildings in which they lived for a few days or a month at most. They went to boxing matches, rock concerts, Broadway shows.

Technological inventions began to obsess Armand, one after the other. First it was kitchen blenders, in which he made frightful concoctions mostly based on the colors of the ingredients; then microwave ovens, in which he cooked roaches and rats. Garbage disposers enchanted him; he fed them paper towels and whole packages of cigarettes. Then it was telephones. He called long distance all over the planet, speaking for hours with “mortals” in Australia or India. Finally television caught him up utterly, so that the flat was full of blaring speakers and flickering screens.

Anything with blue skies enthralled him. Then he must watch news programs, prime time series, documentaries, and finally every film, regardless of merit, ever taped.

At last particular movies struck his fancy. Over and over he

watched Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, fascinated by Rutger Hauer, the powerfully built actor who, as the leader of the rebel androids, confronts his human maker, kisses him, and then crushes his skull. It would bring a slow and almost impish laugh from Armand, the bones cracking, the look in Hauer’s ice-cold blue eye.

“That’s your friend, Lestat, there,” Armand whispered once to Daniel. “Lestat would have the . . . how do you say? . . . guts? . . . to do that!”

After Blade Runner it was the idiotic and hilarious Time Bandits, a British comedy in which five dwarfs steal a “Map of Creation” so they can travel through the holes in Time. Into one century after another they tumble, thieving and brawling, along with a little boy companion, until they all wind up in the devil’s lair.

Then one scene in particular became Armand’s favorite: the dwarfs on a broken-down stage in Castelleone singing “Me and My Shadow” for Napoleon really sent Armand out of his mind. He lost all supernatural composure and became utterly human, laughing till the tears rose in his eyes.

Daniel had to admit there was a horrible charm to it, the “Me and My Shadow” number, with the dwarfs stumbling, fighting with each other, finally lousing up the whole proceedings, and the dazed eighteenth-century musicians in the pit not knowing what to make of the twentieth-century song. Napoleon was stupefied, then delighted! A stroke of comic genius, the entire scene. But how many times could a mortal watch it? For Armand there seemed no end.

Yet within six months he had dropped the movies for video cameras and must make his own films. All over New York he dragged Daniel, as he interviewed people on the nighttime streets. Armand had reels of himself reciting poetry in Italian or Latin, or merely staring with his arms folded, a gleaming white presence slipping in and out of focus in eternally dim bronze light.

Then somewhere, somehow, in a place unbeknownst to Daniel, Armand made a long tape of himself lying in the coffin during his daytime deathlike sleep. Daniel found this impossible to look at. Armand sat before the slow-moving film for hours, watching his own hair, cut at sunrise, slowly growing against the satin as he lay motionless with closed eyes.

Next it was computers. He was filling disk after disk with his

secret writings. He rented additional apartments in Manhattan to house his word processors and video game machines.

Finally he turned to planes.

Daniel had always been a compulsive traveler, he had fled Armand to cities worldwide, and certainly he and Armand had taken planes together. Nothing new in that. But now it was a concentrated exploration; they must spend the entire night in the air. Flying to Boston, then Washington, then to Chicago, then back to New York City, was not unusual. Armand observed everything, passengers, stewardesses; he spoke with the pilots; he lay back in the deep first-class seats listening to the engines roar. Double-decker jets particularly enchanted him. He must try longer, more daring adventures: all the way to Port-au-Prince or San Francisco, or Rome, or Madrid or Lisbon, it didn’t matter, as long as Armand was safely landed by dawn.

Armand virtually disappeared at dawn. Daniel was never to know where Armand actually slept. But then Daniel was dead on his feet by daybreak anyway. Daniel didn’t see high noon for five years.

Often Armand had been in the room some time before Daniel awakened. The coffee would be perking, the music going—Vivaldi or honky-tonk piano, as Armand loved both equally—and Armand would be pacing, ready for Daniel to get up.

“Come, lover, we’re going to the ballet tonight. I want to see Baryshnikov. And after that, down to the Village. You remember that jazz band I loved last summer, well, they’ve come back. Come on, I’m hungry, my beloved. We must go.”

And if Daniel was sluggish, Armand would push him into the shower, soap him all over, rinse him off, drag him out, dry him thoroughly, then shave his face as lovingly as an old-fashioned barber, and finally dress him after carefully selecting from Daniel’s wardrobe of dirty and neglected clothes.

Daniel loved the feel of the hard gleaming white hands moving over his naked flesh, rather like satin gloves. And the brown eyes that seemed to draw Daniel out of himself; ah, the delicious disorientation, the certainty that he was being carried downwards, out of all things physical, and finally the hands closing on his throat gently, and the teeth breaking through the skin.

He closed his eyes, his body heating slowly, only to burn truly

when Armand’s blood touched his lips. He heard the distant sighs again, the crying, was it of lost souls? It seemed a great luminous continuity was there, as if all his dreams were suddenly connected and vitally important, yet it was all slipping away. . . .

Once he’d reached out, held Armand with all his strength, and tried to gash the skin of his throat. Armand had been so patient, making the tear for him, and letting him close his mouth on it for the longest time—yes, this—then guiding him gently away.

Daniel was past all decision. Daniel lived only in two alternating states: misery and ecstasy, united by love. He never knew when he’d be given the blood. He never knew if things looked different because of it—the carnations staring at him from their vases, skyscrapers hideously visible like plants sprung up from steel seeds overnight—or because he was just going out of his mind.

Then had come the night when Armand said he was ready to enter this century in earnest, he understood enough about it now. He wanted “incalculable” wealth. He wanted a vast dwelling full of all those things he’d come to value. And yachts, planes, cars— millions of dollars. He wanted to buy Daniel everything that Daniel might ever desire.

“What do you mean, millions!” Daniel had scoffed. “You throw your clothes away after you wear them, you rent apartments and forget where they are. Do you know what a zip code is, or a tax bracket? I’m the one who buys all the goddamned airline tickets. Millions. How are we going to get millions! Steal another Maserati and be done with it, for God’s sakes!”

“Daniel, you are a gift to me from Louis,” Armand had said tenderly. “What would I do without you? You misunderstand everything.” His eyes were large, childlike. “I want to be in the vital center of things the way I was years ago in Paris in the Theater of the Vampires. Surely you remember. I want to be a canker in the very eye of the world.”

DANIEL had been dazzled by the speed with which things happened.

It had begun with a treasure find in the waters off Jamaica, Armand chartering a boat to show Daniel where salvage operations must begin. Within days a sunken Spanish galleon loaded with bullion and jewels had been discovered. Next it was an

archaeological find of priceless Olmec figurines. Two more sunken ships were pinpointed in rapid succession. A cheap piece of South American property yielded a long forgotten emerald mine.

They purchased a mansion in Florida, yachts, speedboats, a small but exquisitely appointed jet plane.

And now they must be outfitted like princes for all occasions. Armand himself supervised the measurements for Daniel’s custom-made shirts, suits, shoes. He chose the fabrics for an endless parade of sports coats, pants, robes, silk foulards. Of course Daniel must have for colder climes mink-lined raincoats, and dinner jackets for Monte Carlo, and jeweled cuff links, and even a long black suede cloak, which Daniel with his “twentieth-century height” could carry off quite well.

At sunset when Daniel awoke, his clothes had already been laid out for him. Heaven help him if he were to change a single item, from the linen handkerchief to the black silk socks. Supper awaited in the immense dining room with its windows open to the pool. Armand was already at his desk in the adjoining study. There was work to do: maps to consult, more wealth to be acquired.

“But how do you do it!” Daniel had demanded, as he watched Armand making notes, writing directions for new acquisitions.

“If you can read the minds of men, you can have anything that you want,” Armand had said patiently. Ah, that soft reasonable voice, that open and almost trusting boyish face, the auburn hair always slipping into the eye a bit carelessly, the body so suggestive of human serenity, of physical ease.

“Give me what I want,” Daniel had demanded.

“I’m giving you everything you could ever ask for.” “Yes, but not what I have asked for, not what I want!”

“Be alive, Daniel.” A low whisper, like a kiss. “Let me tell you from my heart that life is better than death.”

“I don’t want to be alive, Armand, I want to live forever, and then

will tell you whether life is better than death.”

The fact was, the riches were maddening him, making him feel his mortality more keenly than ever before. Sailing the warm Gulf Stream with Armand under a clear night sky, sprinkled with countless stars, he was desperate to possess all of this forever. With

hatred and love he watched Armand effortlessly steering the vessel. Would Armand really let him die?

The game of acquisition continued.

Picassos, Degas, Van Goghs, these were but a few of the stolen paintings Armand recovered without explanation and handed over to Daniel for resales or rewards. Of course the recent owners would not dare to come forward, if in fact they had survived Armand’s silent nocturnal visit to the sanctums where these stolen treasures had been displayed. Sometimes no clear title to the work in question existed. At auction, they brought millions. But even this was not enough.

Pearls, rubies, emeralds, diamond tiaras, these he brought to Daniel. “Never mind, they were stolen, no one will claim them.” And from the savage narcotics traders off the Miami coast, Armand stole anything and everything, guns, suitcases full of money, even their boats.

Daniel stared at the piles and piles of green bills, as the secretaries counted them and wrapped them for coded accounts in European banks.

Often Daniel watched Armand go out alone to hunt the warm southern waters, a youth in soft black silk shirt and black pants, manning a sleek unlighted speedboat, the wind whipping his uncut long hair. Such a deadly foe. Somewhere far out there, beyond sight of land, he finds his smugglers and he strikes—the lone pirate, death. Are the victims dropped into the deep, hair billowing perhaps for one moment while the moon can still illuminate them as they look up for a last glimpse at what has been their ruin? This boy! They thought they were the evil ones. . . .

“Would you let me go with you? Would you let me see it when you do it?”


Finally enough capital had been amassed; Armand was ready for real action.

He ordered Daniel to make purchases without counsel or hesitation: a fleet of cruise ships, a chain of restaurants and hotels. Four private planes were now at their disposal. Armand had eight phones.

And then came the final dream: the Night Island, Armand’s own personal creation with its five dazzling glass stories of theaters, restaurants, and shops. He drew the pictures for the architects he’d chosen. He gave them endless lists of the materials he wanted, the fabrics, the sculptures for the fountains, even the flowers, the potted trees.

Behold, the Night Island. From sunset till dawn, the tourists mobbed it, as boat after boat brought them out from the Miami docks. The music played eternally in the lounges, on the dance floors. The glass elevators never stopped their climb to heaven; ponds, streams, waterfalls glittered amid banks of moist, fragile blooms.

You could buy anything on the Night Island—diamonds, a Coca-Cola, books, pianos, parrots, designer fashions, porcelain dolls. All the fine cuisines of the world awaited you. Five films played nightly in the cinemas. Here was English tweed and Spanish leather, Indian silk, Chinese carpets, sterling silver, ice-cream cones or cotton candy, bone china, and Italian shoes.

Or you could live adjacent to it, in secret luxury, slipping in and out of the whirl at will.

“All this is yours, Daniel,” Armand said, moving slowly through the spacious airy rooms of their very own Villa of the Mysteries, which covered three stories—and cellars verboten to Daniel— windows open to the distant burning nightscape of Miami, to the dim high clouds rolling above.

Gorgeous the skilled mixture of old and new. Elevator doors rolling back on broad rectangular rooms full of medieval tapestries and antique chandeliers; giant television sets in every room. Renaissance paintings filled Daniel’s suite, where Persian rugs covered the parquet. The finest of the Venetian school surrounded Armand in his white carpeted study full of shining computers, intercoms, and monitors. The books, magazines, newspapers came from all over the world.

“This is your home, Daniel.”

And so it had been and Daniel had loved it, he had to admit that, and what he had loved even more was the freedom, the power, and the luxury that attended him everywhere that he went.

He and Armand had gone into the depths of the Central American

jungles by night to see the Mayan ruins; they had gone up the flank of Annapurna to glimpse the distant summit under the light of the moon. Through the crowded streets of Tokyo they had wandered together, through Bangkok and Cairo and Damascus, through Lima and Rio and Kathmandu. By day Daniel wallowed in comfort at the best of the local hostelries; by night he wandered fearless with Armand at his side.

Now and then, however, the illusion of civilized life would break down. Sometimes in some far-flung place, Armand sensed the presence of other immortals. He explained that he had thrown his shield around Daniel, yet it worried him. Daniel must stay at his side.

“Make me what you are and worry no more.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Armand had answered. “Now you’re one of a billion faceless humans. If you were one of us, you’d be a candle burning in the dark.”

Daniel wouldn’t accept it.

“They would spot you without fail,” Armand continued. He had become angry, though not at Daniel. The fact was he disliked any talk at all of the undead. “Don’t you know the old ones destroy the young ones out of hand?” he’d asked. “Didn’t your beloved Louis explain that to you? It’s what I do everywhere that we settle—I clean them out, the young ones, the vermin. But I am not invincible.” He’d paused as though debating whether or not he should continue. Then: “I’m like any beast on the prowl. I have enemies who are older and stronger who would try to destroy me if it interested them to do so, I am sure.”

“Older than you are? But I thought you were the oldest,” Daniel had said. It had been years since they’d spoken of Interview with the Vampire. They had, in fact, never discussed its contents in detail.

“No, of course I’m not the oldest,” Armand had answered. He seemed slightly uneasy. “Merely the oldest your friend Louis was ever to find. There are others. I don’t know their names, I’ve seldom seen their faces. But at times, I feel them. You might say that we feel each other. We send our silent yet powerful signals. ‘Keep away from me.’ ”

The following night, he’d given Daniel the locket, the amulet as he called it, to wear. He’d kissed it first and rubbed it in his hands

as if to warm it. Strange to witness this ritual. Stranger still to see the thing itself with the letter A carved on it, and inside the tiny vial of Armand’s blood.

“Here, snap the clasp if they come near you. Break the vial instantly. And they will feel the power that protects you. They will not dare—”

“Ah, you’ll let them kill me. You know you will,” Daniel had said coldly. Shut out. “Give me the power to fight for myself.”

But he had worn the locket ever since. Under the lamp, he’d examined the A and the intricate carvings all over the thing to find they were tiny twisted human figures, some mutilated, others writhing as if in agony, some dead. Horrid thing actually. He had dropped the chain down into his shirt, and it was cold against his naked chest, but out of sight.

Yet Daniel was never to see or sense the presence of another supernatural being. He remembered Louis as if he’d been a hallucination, something known in a fever. Armand was Daniel’s single oracle, his merciless and all-loving demonic god.

More and more his bitterness increased. Life with Armand inflamed him, maddened him. It had been years since Daniel had even thought of his family, of the friends he used to know. Checks went out to kin, of that he’d made certain, but they were just names now on a list.

“You’ll never die, and yet you look at me and you watch me die, night after night, you watch it.”

Ugly fights, terrible fights, finally, Armand broken down, glassy-eyed with silent rage, then crying softly but uncontrollably as if some lost emotion had been rediscovered which threatened to tear him apart. “I will not do it, I cannot do it. Ask me to kill you, it would be easier than that. You don’t know what you ask for, don’t you see? It is always a damnable error! Don’t you realize that any one of us would give it up for one human lifetime?”

“Give up immortality, just to live one life? I don’t believe you.

This is the first time you have told me an out-and-out lie.” “How dare you!”

“Don’t hit me. You might kill me. You’re very strong.”

“I’d give it up. If I weren’t a coward when it gets right down to it,

if I weren’t after five hundred greedy years in this whirlwind still terrified to the marrow of my bones of death.”

“No, you wouldn’t. Fear has nothing to do with it. Imagine one lifetime back then when you were born. And all this lost? The future in which you know power and luxury of which Genghis Khan never dreamed? But forget the technical miracles. Would you settle for ignorance of the world’s destiny? Ah, don’t tell me you would.”

No resolution in words was ever reached. It would end with the embrace, the kiss, the blood stinging him, the shroud of dreams closing over him like a great net, hunger! I love you! Give me more! Yes, more. But never enough.

It was useless.

What had these transfusions done to his body and soul? Made him see the descent of the falling leaf in greater detail? Armand was not going to give it to him!

Armand would see Daniel leave time and again, and drift off into the terrors of the everyday world, risk that, rather than do it. There was nothing Daniel could do, nothing he could give.

And the wandering started, the escaping, and Armand did not follow him. Armand would wait each time until Daniel begged to come back. Or until Daniel was beyond calling, until Daniel was on the verge of death itself. And then and only then, Armand would bring him back.

THE rain hit the wide pavements of Michigan Avenue. The bookstore was empty, the lights had gone out. Somewhere a clock had struck the hour of nine. He stood against the glass watching the traffic stream past in front of him. Nowhere to go. Drink the tiny drop of blood inside the locket. Why not?

And Lestat in California, on the prowl already, perhaps stalking a victim even now. And they were preparing the hall for the concert, weren’t they? Mortal men rigging up lights, microphones, concession stands, oblivious to the secret codes being given, the sinister audience that would conceal itself in the great indifferent and inevitably hysterical human throng. Ah, maybe Daniel had made a horrible miscalculation. Maybe Armand was there!

At first it seemed an impossibility, then a certainty. Why hadn’t Daniel realized this before?

Surely Armand had gone! If there was any truth at all in what Lestat had written, Armand would go for a reckoning, to witness, to search perhaps for those he’d lost over the centuries now drawn to Lestat by the same call.

And what would a mortal lover matter then, a human who’d been no more than a toy for a decade? No. Armand had gone on without him. And this time there would be no rescue.

He felt cold, small, as he stood there. He felt miserably alone. It didn’t matter, his premonitions, how the dream of the twins descended upon him and then left him with foreboding. These were things that were passing him by like great black wings. You could feel the indifferent wind as they swept over. Armand had proceeded without him towards a destiny that Daniel would never fully understand.

It filled him with horror, with sadness. Gates locked. The anxiety aroused by the dream mingled with a dull sickening fear. He had come to the end of the line. What would he do? Wearily, he envisioned the Night Island locked against him. He saw the villa behind its white walls, high above the beach, impossible to reach. He imagined his past gone, along with his future. Death was the understanding of the immediate present: that there is finally nothing else.

He walked on a few steps; his hands were numb. The rain had drenched his sweat shirt. He wanted to lie down on the very pavement and let the twins come again. And Lestat’s phrases ran through his head. The Dark Trick he called the moment of rebirth. The Savage Garden he called the world that could embrace such exquisite monsters, ah, yes.

But let me be a lover in the Savage Garden with you, and the light that went out of life would come back in a great burst of glory. Out of mortal flesh I would pass into eternity. I would be one of you.

Dizzy. Did he almost fall? Someone talking to him, someone asking if he was all right. No, of course not. Why should I be?

But there was a hand on his shoulder.


He looked up.

Armand stood at the curb.

At first he could not believe it, he wanted it so badly, but there was no denying what he saw. Armand stood there. He was peering silently from the unearthly stillness he seemed to carry with him, his face flushed beneath the faintest touch of unnatural pallor. How normal he looked, if beauty is ever normal. And yet how strangely set apart from the material things touching him, the rumpled white coat and pants he wore. Behind him the big gray hulk of a Rolls waited, like an ancillary vision, droplets teeming on its silver roof.

Come on, Daniel. You made it hard for me this time, didn’t you, so hard.

Why the urgency of the command when the hand that pulled him forward was so strong? Such a rare thing to see Armand truly angry. Ah, how Daniel loved this anger! His knees went out from under him. He felt himself lifted. And then the soft velvet of the back seat of the car spread out under him. He fell over on his hands. He closed his eyes.

But Armand gently pulled him upright, held him. The car rocked gently, deliciously as it moved forward. So nice to sleep at last in Armand’s arms. But there was so much he must tell Armand, so much about the dream, the book.

“Don’t you think I know?” Armand whispered. A strange light in the eye, what was it? Something raw and tender in the way Armand looked, all the composure stripped away. He lifted a tumbler half full of brandy and put it in Daniel’s hand.

“And you running from me,” he said, “from Stockholm and Edinburgh and Paris. What do you think I am that I can follow you at such speed down so many pathways? And such danger—”

Lips against Daniel’s face, suddenly, ah, that’s better, I like kissing. And snuggling with dead things, yes, hold me. He buried his face in Armand’s neck. Your blood.

“Not yet, my beloved.” Armand pushed him forward, pressing his fingers to Daniel’s lips. Such uncommon feeling in the low, controlled voice. “Listen to what I’m saying to you. All over the world, our kind are being destroyed.”

Destroyed. It sent a current of panic through him, so that his body tensed in spite of his exhaustion. He tried to focus on Armand, but

he saw the red-haired twins again, the soldiers, the blackened body of the mother being overturned in the ashes. But the meaning, the continuity . . . Why?

“I cannot tell you,” Armand said. And he meant the dream when he spoke, because he’d had the dream too. He lifted the brandy to Daniel’s lips.

Oh, so warm, yes. He would slip into unconsciousness if he didn’t hold tight. They were racing silently along the freeway now, out of Chicago, the rain flooding the windows, locked together in this warm, velvet-lined little place. Ah, such lovely silver rain. And Armand had turned away, distracted, as if listening to some faraway music, his lips parted, frozen on the verge of speech.

I’m with you, safe with you.

“No, Daniel, not safe,” he answered. “Maybe not even for a night or so much as an hour.”

Daniel tried to think, to form a question, but he was too weak, too drowsy. The car was so comfortable, the motion of it so soothing. And the twins. The beautiful red-haired twins wanted in now! His eyes closed for a split second and he sank against Armand’s shoulder, feeling Armand’s hand on his back.

Far away he heard Armand’s voice: “What do I do with you, my beloved? Especially now, when I myself am so afraid.”

Darkness again. He held fast to the taste of the brandy in his mouth, to the touch of Armand’s hand, but he was already dreaming.

The twins were walking in the desert; the sun was high above. It burned their white arms, their faces. Their lips were swollen and cracked from thirst. Their dresses were stained with blood.

“Make the rain fall,” Daniel whispered aloud, “you can do it, make the rain fall.” One of the twins fell down on her knees, and her sister knelt and put her arms around her. Red hair and red hair.

Somewhere far off he heard Armand’s voice again. Armand said that they were too deep in the desert. Not even their spirits could make rain in such a place.

But why? Couldn’t spirits do anything? He felt Armand kiss him gently again.

The twins have now entered a low mountain pass. But there is no shade because the sun is directly above them, and the rocky slopes are too treacherous for them to climb. On they walk. Can’t someone help them? They stumble and fall every few steps now. The rocks look too hot to touch. Finally one of them falls face down in the sand, and the other lies over her, sheltering her with her hair.

Oh, if only evening would come, with its cold winds.

Suddenly the twin who is protecting her sister looks up. Movement on the cliffs. Then stillness again. A rock falls, echoes with a soft clear shuffling sound. And then Daniel sees the men moving over the precipices, desert people as they have looked for thousands of years with their dark skin and heavy white robes.

The twins rise on their knees together as these men approach. The men offer them water. They pour the cool water over the twins. Suddenly the twins are laughing and talking hysterically, so great is their relief, but the men don’t understand. Then it is gestures, so purely eloquent, as one twin points to the belly of her sister, and then folding her arms makes the universal sign for rocking a child. Ah, yes. The men lift the pregnant woman. And all move together towards the oasis, round which their tents stand.

At last by the light of a fire outside the tent, the twins sleep, safe, among the desert people, the Bedouins. Could it be that the Bedouins are so very ancient, that their history goes back thousands and thousands of years? At dawn, one of the twins rises, the one who does not carry a child. As her sister watches, she walks out towards the olive trees of the oasis. She lifts her arms, and at first it seems she is only welcoming the sun. Others have awakened; they gather to see. Then a wind rises, gently, moving the branches of the olive trees. And the rain, the light sweet rain begins to fall.

He opened his eyes. He was on the plane.

HE RECOGNIZED the small bedroom immediately by the white plastic walls and the soothing quality of the dim yellow light. Everything synthetic, hard and gleaming like the great rib bones of prehistoric creatures. Have things come full circle? Technology has recreated Jonah’s chamber deep within the belly of the whale.

He was lying on the bed that had no head or foot or legs or frame to it. Someone had washed his hands and his face. He was clean-

shaven. Ah, that felt so good. And the roar of the engines was a huge silence, the whale breathing, slicing through the sea. That made it possible for him to see things around him very distinctly. A decanter. Bourbon. He wanted it. But he was too exhausted to move. And something not right, something. . . . He reached up, felt his neck. The amulet was gone! But it didn’t matter. He was with Armand.

Armand sat at the little table near the whale’s eye window, the white plastic lid pulled all the way down. He had cut his hair. And he wore black wool now, neat and fine, like the corpse again dressed for the funeral even to the shining black shoes. Grim all this. Someone will now read the Twenty-third Psalm. Bring back the white clothes.

“You’re dying,” Armand said softly.

“ ‘And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,’ et cetera,” Daniel whispered. His throat was so dry. And his head ached. Didn’t matter saying what was really on his mind. All been said long ago.

Armand spoke again silently, a laser beam touching Daniel’s brain:

Shall we bother with the particulars? You weigh no more than a hundred and thirty pounds now. And the alcohol is eating at your insides. You are half mad. There is almost nothing left in the world that you enjoy.

“Except talking to you now and then. It’s so easy to hear everything you say.”

If you were never to see me again, that would only make things worse.

If you go on as you are, you won’t live another five days.

Unbearable thought, actually. But if that’s so, then why have I been running away?

No response.

How clear everything seemed. It wasn’t only the roar of the engines, it was the curious movement of the plane, that never-ending irregular undulation as if it rode the air in bumps and dips and over curbs and now and then uphill. The whale speeding along on the whale path, as Beowulf called it.

Armand’s hair was brushed to one side, neatly. Gold watch on his

wrist, one of those high-tech numbers he so adored. Think of that thing flashing its digits inside a coffin during the day. And the black jacket, old-fashioned rather with narrow lapels. The vest was black silk, it looked like that anyway. But his face, ah, he had fed all right. Fed plenty.

Do you remember anything I said to you earlier?

“Yes,” Daniel said. But the truth is he had trouble remembering. Then it came back suddenly, oppressively. “Something about destruction everywhere. But I’m dying. They’re dying, I’m dying. They got to be immortal before it happened; I am merely alive. See? I remember. I would like to have the bourbon now.”

There is nothing I can do to make you want to live, isn’t that so? “Not that again. I will jump out of the plane if you go on.” Will you listen to me, then? Really listen?

“How can I help it? I can’t get away from your voice when you want me to listen; it’s like a tiny microphone inside my head. What is this, tears? You’re going to weep over me?”

For one second, he looked so young. What a travesty.

“Damn you, Daniel,” he said, so that Daniel heard the words aloud.

A chill passed over Daniel. Horrid to see him suffering. Daniel said nothing.

“What we are,” Armand said, “it wasn’t meant to be, you know that. You didn’t have to read Lestat’s book to find it out. Any one of us could have told you it was an abomination, a demonic fusion—”

“Then what Lestat wrote was true.” A demon going into the ancient Egyptian Mother and the Father. Well, a spirit anyway. They had called it a demon back then.

“Doesn’t matter whether or not it’s true. The beginning is no longer important. What matters is that the end may be at hand.”

Deep tightening of panic, the atmosphere of the dream returning, the shrill sound of the twins’ screams.

“Listen to me,” Armand said patiently, calling him back away from the two women. “Lestat has awakened something or someone


“Akasha . . . Enkil.”

“Perhaps. It may be more than one or two. No one knows for certain. There is a vague repeated cry of danger, but no one seems to know whence it comes. They only know that we are being sought out and annihilated, that coven houses, meeting places, go up in flames.”

“I’ve heard the cry of danger,” Daniel whispered. “Sometimes very strong in the middle of the night, and then at other moments like an echo.” Again he saw the twins. It had to be connected to the twins. “But how do you know these things, about the coven houses, about—”

“Daniel, don’t try me. There isn’t much time left. I know. The others know. It’s like a current, running through the wires of a great web.”

“Yes.” Whenever Daniel had tasted the vampiric blood, he had glimpsed for one instant that great glittering mesh of knowledge, connections, half-understood visions. And it was true then. The web had begun with the Mother and the Father—

“Years ago,” Armand interrupted, “it wouldn’t have mattered to me, all this.”

“What do you mean?”

“But I don’t want it to end now. I don’t want to continue unless you—” His face changed slightly. Faint look of surprise. “I don’t want you to die.”

Daniel said nothing.

Eerie the stillness of this moment. Even with the plane riding the air currents gently. Armand sitting there, so self-contained, so patient, with the words belying the smooth calm of the voice.

“I’m not afraid, because you’re here,” Daniel said suddenly. “You’re a fool then. But I will tell you another mysterious part of



“Lestat is still in existence. He goes on with his schemes. And those who’ve gathered near him are unharmed.”

“But how do you know for certain?”

Short little velvet laugh. “There you go again. So irrepressibly human. You overestimate me or underestimate me. Seldom do you

ever hit the mark.”

“I work with limited equipment. The cells in my body are subject to deterioration, to a process called aging and—”

“They’re gathered in San Francisco. They crowd the back rooms of a tavern called Dracula’s Daughter. Perhaps I know because others know it and one powerful mind picks up images from another and unwittingly or deliberately passes those images along. Perhaps one witness telegraphs the image to many. I can’t tell. Thoughts, feelings, voices, they’re just there. Traveling the web, the threads. Some are clear, others clouded. Now and then the warning overrides everything. Danger. It is as if our world falls silent for one instant. Then other voices rise again.”

“And Lestat. Where is Lestat?”

“He’s been seen but only in glimpses. They can’t track him to his lair. He’s too clever to let that happen. But he teases them. He races his black Porsche through the streets of San Francisco. He may not know all that’s happened.”


“The power to communicate varies. To listen to the thoughts of others is often to be heard oneself. Lestat is concealing his presence. His mind may be completely cut off.”

“And the twins? The two women in the dream, who are they?”

“I don’t know. Not all have had these dreams. But many know of them, and all seem to fear them, to share the conviction that somehow Lestat is to blame. For all that’s happened, Lestat is to blame.”

“A real devil among devils.” Daniel laughed softly.

With a subtle nod, Armand acknowledged the little jest wearily.

He even smiled.

Stillness. Roar of the engines.

“Do you understand what I’m telling you? There have been attacks upon our kind everywhere but there.”

“Where Lestat is.”

“Precisely. But the destroyer moves erratically. It seems it must be near to the thing it would destroy. It may be waiting for the concert in order to finish what it has begun.”

“It can’t hurt you. It would have already—”

The short, derisive laugh again, barely audible. A telepathic laugh?

“Your faith touches me as always, but don’t be my acolyte just now. The thing is not omnipotent. It can’t move with infinite speed. You have to understand the choice I’ve made. We’re going to him because there isn’t any other safe place to go. It has found rogues in far-flung places and burnt them to ashes—”

“And because you want to be with Lestat.” No answer.

“You know you do. You want to see him. You want to be there if he needs you. If there’s going to be a battle . . . ”

No answer.

“And if Lestat caused it, maybe he can stop it.” Still Armand didn’t answer. He appeared confused.

“It is simpler than that,” he said finally. “I have to go.”

The plane seemed a thing suspended on a spume of sound. Daniel looked drowsily at the ceiling, at the light moving.

To see Lestat at last. He thought of Lestat’s old house in New Orleans. Of the gold watch he’d recovered from the dusty floor. And now it was back to San Francisco, back to the beginning, back to Lestat. God, he wanted the bourbon. Why wouldn’t Armand give it to him? He was so weak. They’d go to the concert, he’d see Lestat—

But then the sense of dread came again, deepening, the dread which the dreams inspired. “Don’t let me dream any more of them,” he whispered suddenly.

He thought he heard Armand say yes.

Suddenly Armand stood beside the bed. His shadow fell over Daniel. The whale’s belly seemed smaller, no more than the light surrounding Armand.

“Look at me, beloved,” he said.

Darkness. And then the high iron gates opening, and the moon flooding down on the garden. What is this place?

Oh, Italy, it had to be, with this gentle embracing warm air and a full moon shining down on the great sweep of trees and flowers,

and beyond, the Villa of the Mysteries at the very edge of ancient Pompeii.

“But how did we get here!” He turned to Armand, who stood beside him dressed in strange, old-fashioned velvet clothes. For one moment he could do nothing but stare at Armand, at the black velvet tunic he wore and the leggings, and his long curling auburn hair.

“We aren’t really here,” Armand said. “You know we aren’t.” He turned and walked into the garden towards the villa, his heels making the faintest sound on the worn gray stones.

But it was real! Look at the crumbling old brick walls, and the flowers in their long deep beds, and the path itself with Armand’s damp footprints! And the stars overhead, the stars! He turned around and reached up into the lemon tree and broke off a single fragrant leaf.

Armand turned, reached back to take his arm. The smell of freshly turned earth rose from the flower beds. Ah, I could die here.

“Yes,” said Armand, “you could. And you will. And you know, I’ve never done it before. I told you but you never believed me. Now Lestat’s told you in his book. I’ve never done it. Do you believe him?”

“Of course I believed you. The vow you made, you explained everything. But Armand, this is my question, to whom did you make this vow?”


Their voices carried over the garden. Such roses and chrysanthemums, how enormous they were. And light poured from the doorways of the Villa of the Mysteries. Was there music playing? Why, the whole ruined place was brilliantly illuminated under the incandescent blue of the night sky.

“So you would have me break my vow. You would have what you think you want. But look well at this garden, because once I do it, you’ll never read my thoughts or see my visions again. A veil of silence will come down.”

“But we’ll be brothers, don’t you see?” Daniel asked.

Armand stood so close to him they were almost kissing. The flowers were crushed against them, huge drowsing yellow dahlias

and white gladioli, such lovely drenching perfume. They had stopped beneath a dying tree in which the wisteria grew wild. Its delicate blossoms shivered in clusters, its great twining arms white as bone. And beyond voices poured out of the Villa. Were there people singing?

“But where are we really?” Daniel asked. “Tell me!”

“I told you. It’s just a dream. But if you want a name, let me call it the gateway of life and death. I’ll bring you with me through this gateway. And why? Because I am a coward. And I love you too much to let you go.”

Such joy Daniel felt, such cold and lovely triumph. And so the moment was his, and he was lost no more in the awesome free fall of time. No more one of the teeming millions who would sleep in this dank odoriferous earth, beneath the broken withered flowers, without name or knowledge, all vision lost.

“I promise you nothing. How can I? I’ve told you what lies ahead.”

“I don’t care. I’ll go towards it with you.”

Armand’s eyes were reddened, weary, old. Such delicate clothes these were, hand sewn, dusty, like the clothes of a ghost. Were they what the mind conjured effortlessly when it wanted to be purely itself?

“Don’t cry! It’s not fair,” Daniel said. “This is my rebirth. How can you cry? Don’t you know what this means? Is it possible you never knew?” He looked up suddenly, to catch the whole sweep of this enchanted landscape, the distant Villa, the rolling land above and below. And then he turned his face upwards, and the heavens astonished him. Never had he seen so many stars.

Why, it seemed as if the sky itself went up and up forever with stars so plentiful and bright that the constellations were utterly lost. No pattern. No meaning. Only the gorgeous victory of sheer energy and matter. But then he saw the Pleiades—the constellation beloved of the doomed red-haired twins in the dream—and he smiled. He saw the twins together on a mountaintop, and they were happy. It made him so glad.

“Say the word, my love,” Armand said. “I’ll do it. We’ll be in hell together after all.”

“But don’t you see,” Daniel said, “all human decisions are made like this. Do you think the mother knows what will happen to the child in her womb? Dear God, we are lost, I tell you. What does it matter if you give it to me and it’s wrong! There is no wrong! There is only desperation, and I would have it! I want to live forever with you.”

He opened his eyes. The ceiling of the cabin of the plane, the soft yellow lights reflected in the warm wood-paneled walls, and then around him the garden, the perfume, the sight of the flowers almost breaking loose from their stems.

They stood beneath the dead tree twined full of airy purple wisteria blossoms. And the blossoms stroked his face, the clusters of waxy petals. Something came back to him, something he had known long ago—that in the language of an ancient people the word for flowers was the same as the word for blood. He felt the sudden sharp stab of the teeth in his neck.

His heart was caught suddenly, wrenched in a powerful grip! The pressure was more than he could bear. Yet he could see over Armand’s shoulder and the night was sliding down around him, the stars growing as large as these moist and fragrant blooms. Why, they were rising into the sky!

For a split second he saw the Vampire Lestat, driving, plunging through the night in his long sleek black car. How like a lion Lestat looked with his mane of hair blown back by the wind, his eyes filled with mad humor and high spirits. And then he turned and looked at Daniel, and from his throat came a deep soft laugh.

Louis was there too. Louis was standing in a room on Divisadero Street looking out of the window, waiting, and then he said, “Yes, come, Daniel, if that is what must happen.”

But they didn’t know about the burnt-out coven houses! They didn’t know about the twins! About the cry of danger!

They were all in a crowded room, actually, inside the Villa, and Louis was leaning against the mantel in a frock coat. Everyone was there! Even the twins were there! “Thank God, you’ve come,” Daniel said. He kissed Louis on one cheek and then the other decorously. “Why, my skin is as pale as yours!”

He cried out suddenly as his heart was let go, and the air filled his lungs. The garden again. The grass was all around him. The

garden grew up over his head. Don’t leave me here, not here against the earth.

“Drink, Daniel.” The priest said the Latin words as he poured the Holy Communion wine into his mouth. The red-haired twins took the sacred plates—the heart, the brain. “This the brain and the heart of my mother I devour with all respect for the spirit of my mother—”

“God, give it to me!” He’d knocked the chalice to the marble floor of the church, so clumsy, but God! The blood!

He sat up, crushing Armand to him, drawing it out of him, draught after draught. They had fallen over together in the soft bank of flowers. Armand lay beside him, and his mouth was open on Armand’s throat, and the blood was an unstoppable fount.

“Come into the Villa of the Mysteries,” said Louis to him. Louis was touching his shoulder. “We’re waiting.” The twins were embracing each other, stroking each other’s long curling red hair.

The kids were screaming outside the auditorium because there were no more tickets. They would camp in the parking lot until tomorrow night.

“Do we have tickets?” he asked. “Armand, the tickets!” Danger. Ice. It’s coming from the one trapped beneath the ice! Something hit him, hard. He was floating.

“Sleep, beloved.”

“I want to go back to the garden, the Villa.” He tried to open his eyes. His belly was hurting. Strangest pain, it seemed so far away.

“You know he’s buried under the ice?”

“Sleep,” Armand said, covering him with the blanket. “And when you wake, you’ll be just like me. Dead.”

SAN FRANCISCO. He knew he was there before he even opened his eyes. And such a ghastly dream, he was glad to leave it—suffocating, blackness, and riding the rough and terrifying current of the sea! But the dream was fading. A dream without sight, and only the sound of the water, the feel of the water! A dream of unspeakable

fear. He’d been a woman in it, helpless, without a tongue to scream.

Let it go away.

Something about the wintry air on his face, a white freshness that he could almost taste. San Francisco, of course. The cold moved over him like a tight garment, yet inside he was deliciously warm.

Immortal. Forever.

He opened his eyes. Armand had put him here. Through the viscid darkness of the dream, he’d heard Armand telling him to remain. Armand had told him that here he would be safe.


The French doors stood open all along the far wall. And the room itself, opulent, cluttered, one of those splendid places that Armand so often found, so dearly loved.

Look at the sheer lace panel blown back from the French doors. Look at the white feathers curling and glowing in the Aubusson carpet. He climbed to his feet and went out through the open doors.

A great mesh of branches rose between him and the wet shining sky. Stiff foliage of the Monterey cypress. And down there, through the branches, against a velvet blackness, he saw the great burning arc of the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog poured like thick white smoke past the immense towers. In fits and gusts it tried to swallow the pylons, the cables, then vanished as if the bridge itself with its glittering stream of traffic burnt it away.

Too magnificent, this spectacle—and the deep dark outline of the distant hills beneath their mantle of warm lights. Ah, but to take one tiny detail—the damp rooftops spilling downhill away from him, or the gnarled branches rising in front of him. Like elephant hide, this bark, this living skin.

Immortal . . . forever.

He ran his hands back through his hair and a gentle tingling passed through him. He could feel the soft imprint of his fingers on his scalp after he had taken his hands away. The wind stung him exquisitely. He remembered something. He reached up to find his fang teeth. Yes, they were beautifully long and sharp.

Someone touched him. He turned so quickly he almost lost his balance. Why, this was all so inconceivably different! He steadied himself, but the sight of Armand made him want to cry. Even in deep shadow, Armand’s dark brown eyes were filled with a vibrant light. And the expression on his face, so loving. He reached out very

carefully and touched Armand’s eyelashes. He wanted to touch the tiny fine lines in Armand’s lips. Armand kissed him. He began to tremble. The way it felt, the cool silky mouth, like a kiss of the brain, the electric purity of a thought!

“Come inside, my pupil,” Armand said. “We have less than an hour left.”

“But the others—”

Armand had gone to discover something very important. What was it? Terrible things happening, coven houses burned. Yet nothing at the moment seemed more important than the warmth inside him, and the tingling as he moved his limbs.

“They’re thriving, plotting,” Armand said. Was he speaking out loud? He must have been. But the voice was so clear! “They’re frightened of the wholesale destruction, but San Francisco isn’t touched. Some say Lestat has done it to drive everyone to him. Others that it’s the work of Marius, or even the twins. Or Those Who Must Be Kept, who strike with infinite power from their shrine.”

The twins! He felt the darkness of the dream again around him, a woman’s body, tongueless, terror, closing him in. Ah, nothing could hurt him now. Not dreams or plots. He was Armand’s child.

“But these things must wait,” Armand said gently. “You must come and do as I tell you. We must finish what was begun.”

“Finish?” It was finished. He was reborn.

Armand brought him in out of the wind. Glint of the brass bed in the darkness, of a porcelain vase alive with gilded dragons. Of the square grand piano with its keys like grinning teeth. Yes, touch it, feel the ivory, the velvet tassels hanging from the lampshade. . . .

The music, where did the music come from? A low, mournful jazz trumpet, playing all alone. It stopped him, this hollow melancholy song, the notes flowing slowly into one another. He did not want to move just now. He wanted to say he understood what was happening, but he was absorbing each broken sound.

He started to say thank you for the music, but again, his voice sounded so unaccountably strange—sharper, yet more resonant. Even the feel of his tongue, and out there, the fog, look at it, he pointed, the fog blowing right past the terrace, the fog eating the


Armand was patient. Armand understood. Armand brought him slowly through the darkened room.

“I love you,” Daniel said.

“Are you certain?” Armand answered. It made him laugh.

They had come into a long high hallway. A stairs descending in deep shadow. A polished balustrade. Armand urged him forward. He wanted to look at the rug beneath him, a long chain of medallions woven with lilies, but Armand had brought him into a brightly lighted room.

He caught his breath at the sheer flood of illumination, light moving over the low-slung leather couches, chairs. Ah, but the painting on the wall!

So vivid the figures in the painting, formless creatures who were actually great thick smears of glaring yellow and red paint. Everything that looked alive was alive, that was a distinct possibility. You painted armless beings, swimming in blinding color, and they had to exist like that forever. Could they see you with all those tiny, scattered eyes? Or did they see only the heaven and hell of their own shining realm, anchored to the studs in the wall by a piece of twisted wire?

He could have wept to think of it, wept at the deep-throated moan of the trumpet—and yet he wasn’t weeping. He had caught a strong seductive aroma. God, what is it? His whole body seemed to harden inexplicably. Then suddenly he was staring at a young girl.

She sat in a small gilded straight-back chair watching him, ankles crossed, her thick brown hair a gleaming mop around her white face. Her scant clothes were dirty. A little runaway with her torn jeans and soiled shirt. What a perfect picture, even to the sprinkling of freckles across her nose, and the greasy backpack that lay at her feet. But the shape of her little arms, the way her legs were made! And her eyes, her brown eyes! He was laughing softly, but it was humorless, crazed. It had a sinister sound to it; how strange! He realized he had taken her face in his hands and she was staring up at him, smiling, and a faint scarlet blush came in her warm little cheeks.

Blood, that was the aroma! His fingers were burning. Why, he could even see the blood vessels beneath her skin! And the sound of her heart, he could hear it. It was getting louder, it was such a . . . a moist sound. He backed away from her.

“God, get her out of here!” he cried.

“Take her,” Armand whispered. “And do it now.”

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