This is a very old and deeply disturbing gay male, rape and revenge story, one that's been kicking around in my folders since I began to write the Manchester arc that would lead to A Portrait In Blood and Underwear some four or five years ago. It's among the darkest of the Vampire Arc tales, hence it's posting in Erotic Horror. I'm a liberal soul at heart but I believe that there are some crimes for which there is no other just reward than the spilling of blood. Since Rayne became a Vampire there existed the inevitability that he would take a life and he has never tried to hide from that destiny. Revenant is the story of a terrible crime and a fitting punishment. If you flinch from the dealing of death and have no stomach for evil-deeds or men fucking other men, turn away now.
"What do 'you' believe in?"
Crouched on the banks of the Rochdale Canal, on a bitingly cold night towards the tail end of the year, was a Vampire. Clearly, he was a Vampire, for he was clad entirely in black from the collar of his fine, open-necked, silk shirt, through his faded, charcoal-coloured jeans, to the toes of his expensive, Cuban-heeled boots and no sign of a coat, or even a trendy poncho! And this was in Manchester, England. In October! Furthermore, his head was bent low over the exposed throat of a young male victim. His quarry was not a child; that is, he was beyond puberty but not yet fully grown to adulthood. Sad to say, his chances of ever doing so were becoming increasingly slim. The creature hunched over him was lean and small, no broader in the shoulder than his slender meal ticket. A cascade of dark hair poured down like oil across a pale, heart-shaped face. Beneath the slick of sable locks, sharp eyes the colour of green chartreuse in a glass of crushed ice closed briefly as the rush of blood from his victim's neck wound slowed. Gradually, the young man in his loose embrace began to lose his battle with mortality.
The boy hung limp and unresisting in his arms; not yet dead, but Death would not be long in coming for him. From time to time, a slow shudder wracked his cold, skinny body. The night air, rising rank and slightly stale from the stagnant canal, stirred his auburn curls and his sightless eyes sought out stars obliterated by the glare of the city lights. Beneath the bridge, where its inky shadow fell across the lonely towpath, he would breathe his last.
The Vampire knelt over him, lapping rapidly and efficiently at the cruel gash that had opened up his throat like a second mouth. Without lifting his head, he tugged the boy's jeans back up, preserving some last shred of dignity. Single-mindedly he continued to run his searching tongue to and fro within the bloody slash holding the youngster in his arms and across his knees as gently as a mother with her babe; a suitor with his lover. The rent was slowly healing as he licked away like a cat over a bowl of milk. His bite wounds tended to heal quickly, thanks to the regenerative compound existing in his saliva, but this was no bite and it was too little too late for the boy in his gentle embrace.
The pool of blood that spread out around him, merged with the puddles along the towpath, all turned to frosty mercury by the light of a moon that was not quite full. It soaked into the knees of the Vampire's well-worn black denims. The scent filled his nostrils until it was almost unbearable. His mouth watered, invaded by the rich, ferrous flavour of warmth and life; a life denied him for over ten years now.
With the blood that he consumed came memories; fragments of an existence that was not his own, yet mirrored it in strange ways. As if through his Undead, ice green eyes, the Vampire saw a violent row culminating in a storming exit from the suffocating warmth and too-bright lights of an over-protective home. He stumbled from the cocoon of a bus that stank of nicotine, vomit and chip-fat out onto chill, dark, unfamiliar streets that, in places, smelled far worse. Like an angel fallen to earth, he wandered the neon-lit, urban wasteland; so familiar and yet seen through an alien's eyes; wondering at the grimy, fascinating, chaotic pull of the city at night. He shared a brief memory of mortal hunger, and knew the biting cold that invaded thinly clad flesh and skinny bones. Another man's desperation was his own. In his ear, a slurred, drunken voice muttered obscenities; he felt the press of clammy, crumpled notes into his palm, then he was in darkness, slapped against a black, slimy wall like a piece of meat. Rough hands yanked down his jeans and gripped his narrow hips. He was thrust into from behind; used vigorously, with no mind for his feelings or his inexperience. Hot tears ran down his cheeks but he cried in silence.
The Vampire shuddered with him and held him closer, tasting his fear and the loose, empty, dirty feeling that remained after it was all over. The meagre payment was enough for food and coffee, but not for lodgings too. He saw the blackness of a deserted street in the small hours of the night, his eyes hunting out a hiding place, somewhere he could rest in safety until the morning. The last dregs of humanity stumbled on by, making their way home from the pubs and clubs and the late bars of Princess and Canal Street. They would go back to warm beds and familiar faces. On a narrow bench in a little park at the foot of Sackville Street, he shivered and curled himself up, alone, making himself smaller as the sounds of cruel, inebriated, male laughter came closer. He tried desperately to become one with the shadows, closing his eyes, trusting that if he did not see them, they would not see him; flinching incredulously as hot, heavy hands pulled him to his feet. Two strangers towered over him, making crude jokes as they dragged him, struggling, back towards the bridge and down into the dark places beneath.
"No... please... I have money!" The imploring words sounded high and reedy to the Vampire's ear; not his own voice. He hugged the boy closer to him, wishing he had warmth to share, or a way to reassure him during his final moments. The last tendrils of spilt blood curled over his tongue, tasting like shavings of iron made fluid. The memories they carried were cold and cruel; hard hands striking at him, ripping at his clothes; the sound of greedy, careless laughter as they threw him to his knees. One knelt behind him, ramming himself in mercilessly; taunting him with the promise of freedom if he satisfied them both adequately. Terrified and submissive, he knelt and cowered and did everything they forced him to; every last filthy thing, quaking with fearful humiliation and uncontrollable, impotent rage. The Vampire could still taste their sweat and the sharp, salty flavour of their semen.
"You'll let me go now?" he whispered hopefully, looking up from face to face as they rose and zipped their pants. A dribble of spent cum ran slowly down his chin, another trickled slowly down the inside of his thigh. He did not dare lift his hands, not even to rub them away.
They stood tall and imposing against the sheen of the streetlights up above, both smooth-pated; ears, lips and nostrils twinkled with piercings like cold cruel stars. The Vampire absorbed a fleeting image of smart, dark, casual suits, one over a plain, white T-shirt, the other an open necked shirt. A golden crucifix pendant hung in the V of exposed flesh. They looked at one another briefly. A hand reached down to stroke through his curls, almost tenderly, then gripped his hair fast and hard, tugging his head back with unnecessary violence.
"Yeah... we'll set you free, faggot!"
He saw a flash, like lightning in front of his eyes and felt the metal bite into the softness of his throat, surprised at how little it hurt. The pain came afterwards as he slumped to the ground, trying to crawl, one hand groping forward and then the other, struggling to pull himself over the impossibly vast slick of blood that poured from his fragile body. He heard their laughter grow fainter, the crunch of gravel beneath their boots gradually receding as they turned and walked away.
That was the last coherent memory; disbelief; abandonment. Stars and streetlights swam before his eyes and the mocking laughter echoed and faded like the close of a distant radio play.
'You can't leave me like this. I don't want to die alone! Mum...I'm scared!'
The Vampire curled around him, holding him tight as the savage images faded and grew hazier. He touched his mouth to cold, gasping lips as the last desperate spasm of agony wracked the child's fragile body. When it was finally over, he gently laid the youngster down in the shafts of yellow and gold light from the silent street above. With luck he would be discovered quickly and returned to his grieving kin before the carrion and vermin of the city had time to ravage his poor body further.
Rising steadily to his feet, the Vampire bent his head in a brief act of benediction. Tendrils of fine, dark hair framed his ashen face like a wreath of smoke. He was shaking with a slow-burning anger that made his own slender limbs tremble convulsively and several minutes passed before he was calm enough simply to move away.
"This is not the end. It's just the beginning," he promised the dead boy in a soft, husky, voice, more resonant of the Thames Estuary and the grimy dark of London than Manchester's twisting, canal-bound streets. Then he turned and strode back along the canal path, following the lingering traces of aftershave, sex and sweat and the dwindling auras of his quarry.
*Their faces still burned bright in his mind as he perched on top of the railings hemming in the uppermost storey of a towering carpark that loomed over Chorlton Street and its bus garage way below. His booted heels were braced against the upright posts, and he hunched forward like a bird of prey on the handrail, chain-smoking his way grimly through a packet of Benson & Hedges Gold. He was thinking about a good many things, but particularly he thought of the men who had killed that boy beneath the bridge. He had followed their vile stench to the depot and there, in a place awash with the overwhelmingly pungent chaos of diesel and sweaty, dismal humanity, he lost them. But he would not forget.
Ten years Undead, he had had keenly honed his senses until the most distant speck of darkness on the horizon was as clear as a close-up zoom photograph; the slightest whiff of heat from the kitchens over in Chinatown set his mouth watering at the memory of a mortal banquet. With every year that went by he grew in physical strength and mental acuity. The smallest sounds from the street below were an aural chaos that he still struggled to block. The constant drone of urban noise drove him crazy, but this was his environment of choice. Here there was unlimited variety when it came to eating out! In the city there were enough moral reprobates roaming free to feed him well each night without fear of guilt. He was one of them, no matter how much he might try to distance himself. Already his mortal existence was beginning to feel like a distant dream.
He had come north from London to escape the clutches of his past, but some memories were impossible to run from. Tonight had reawakened old nightmares for him.
*When he was little more than a child, Raymonde James Wilde suffered a systematic catalogue of abuse at the hands of an older relative that left him mentally scarred for the rest of his mortal life. By the age of 19 he had fled from his birthplace on the Kent coast and was living rough on the streets of Mile End, an unforgivingly cruel, urban sprawl in the Capital's East End. No chirpy Cockneys pushing barrows here... he was quickly snapped up by a predator known to the locals as Rabid John, a pimp and drug dealer hailing from North Yorkshire but claimed by the city as one of its own. The slow, seductive fumes rising from the twist of foil over John's lighter numbed the pain and dulled the memories for a little while but the continued promise of relief made it harder and harder to walk away. For the next eighteen months, John sold young Raymonde's body to any willing or gullible punter who would have him, in exchange for hard cash or crack-cocaine.
He came to London with little more than a small bag of clothing and a beaten up bass guitar. At 21, growing too old for the tastes of most East End predators, he sold his soul to Rock 'n' Roll. The hours were terrible but at least the quality of the Coke improved!
Success was slow in coming, but enjoyed to excess when it finally arrived. For five glorious years he rode the Rock Rollercoaster with reckless abandon. Then, three months shy of his 30th birthday, Rayne Wylde, charismatic, chaotic, drug-fuelled singer-songwriter with the rock band Whipsnade, was bitten by a Vampire and his world came crashing down around him.
Now blood, not cocaine, was his drug of choice; an addiction he would never break.
*Sitting on the railings, five levels up from the ground, Rayne sucked on the filter of a cigarette that could no longer damage his health and surveyed his new urban playground cynically. He knew addicts. He had been one for long enough. The pair who had killed the boy were Users, and Users always came back for another fix. He could wait. He had plenty of time.
ONE WEEK LATER
The skinny, dark haired man sheltering from the rain in the entrance to Chorlton Street Bus Station could have been any age from 21 to his early thirties. He had smoked his way through half of the twenty Bensons in his jeans pocket and hugged himself now as he lit another from the dying embers of the last. Anyone watching might have been forgiven for thinking that he was shivering from the damp and cold. His sable hair hung lank and soaked to his slim shoulders and he was dressed in little more than a black mesh T-shirt and tight fitting hipsters, both of which clung wetly to his light-framed body. Barely a handful of passers-by spared him a glance. This was the edge of Manchester's infamous Gay Village and pretty, ill-nourished, under-dressed boys were ten-a-penny. Coupled with those lean hips and that pert backside, the sullen, preoccupied pout of his narrow, full-lipped mouth as he sucked on the filter of his cigarette only added to his untouchable allure.
He was small and angular, with a sharp, hostile facade that repelled all would-be boarders in any case. His pale, heart-shaped face with its impish, upturned nose and huge, drowning-pool eyes had wooed thousands of teenage fans in its time, but that was over ten years ago. How quickly teenagers forget! Rayne Wylde was not especially distressed by their negligence. Anonymity could be a boon, particularly in view of the task he had set himself tonight.
Had they known the truth; that he had not fed properly in seven days and was trembling from a violent bloodlust that left him feeling physically sick each time someone got too close, they might have given him an even wider berth. Any sane person looking too intently into those unblinking, red-rimmed, junky eyes would have walked on by. Rayne's pale lips framed a humourless smile as a fellow in a business suit did just that. He took another pull on the wilting cigarette between his fingers and he waited.
He knew them the moment they stepped down from the bus, reeking of Tommy Hilfiger and Marlboro Lites. They dressed in the safe, suburban uniform of casual thugs the world over. Both wore dark, baggy two piece suits, with deep pockets, convenient for hiding a cosh, a knife, maybe even the odd plug or two of resin or blister pack of pills. No one searches boys like these at bus stops or taxi ranks. They're just a couple of lads, out on the pull, in town for a few beers and a laugh. The stark, electric lights glistened off their hairless heads, the diamond stud in the nostril of one, the earrings, lip-stud and crucifix pendant of the other.
One looked him over as they went by, but quickly moved on; the other strode past as if he did not exist - not turned on by junkies, then! These boys liked their toys young and clean; naïve and easy to predict, or drunk and incapable of resistance. Rayne Wylde inhaled the scent of their hot blood like a starving man at a banquet. The hunger was ripping him apart, but still he made himself wait.
As they crossed Chorlton Street and headed down towards Bloom, he pushed himself away from the pandemonium of the bus terminus and followed.
*They cruised the bars along Richmond and Canal street, laughing, joking, drinking; taking their time. Their close, tight, hard-edged camaraderie excluded others, pushing them away, cutting through the swathes of revellers like an ocean liner through a harbour filled with tiny, inconsequential boats. These boys had danger sewn into every line of their designer suits; it glittered in every jewel of sweat on their shaven skulls. The regulars edged around them; bar staff handled them rapidly; politely but with caution.
The Vampire trailed them like a watchful shadow, sipping neat vodka over ice and mingling discreetly, always with an eye on the pair by the bar. In one basement hostelry, he was assailed by a party of girls on a Hen Night, wrecked and raucous already; gushing drunkenly over his sleek sable hair, his pretty face and skinny hips. He laughed along with them, even flirted with the bride, pretending shyness, praising her fresh, blonde curls and faking raptures over the tiny, flawed solitaire diamond on her third finger. When the others were diverted by some commotion at the doors, he sat in her lap, astride her hips, kissing her mouth and neck, boldly nipping her flesh with perfectly sharp teeth, taking little more than a sip of her blood. It was enough to take the chaotic edge off his ravenous hunger and the madness from his eyes.
She was so inebriated that she barely noticed. He doubted that she would have protested even if he had pulled up her skirts right here in the bar and ridden her hard on the table. He found himself feeling sorry for her, then rebuked himself for it. She had her life and her friends and soon would marry a man who probably loved her well enough, in his own way.
Instead, he adopted the girls' carefree, drunken mien, playing tactile and teasing with any man who would take him on; laughing wildly at meaningless jokes whose punchlines he did not even listen to. He danced on tables, heedless of the hungry hands that stole caresses from his bared waist and tight-denim-clad, backside, all the while spinning a lie, weaving his allure. It was working, for all around him people were trying to catch his eye and draw him outside, to get him alone. He laughed and drank and shook his head at them playfully.
At the bar 'they' were watching him now, talking together urgently, eyeing him up as he put on the show of his Unlife. He took a chance, the chance that his fishes were on the hook.
"Come to Candyland with me?" The guy who had been feeling his arse for the last ten minutes now leaned across and shouted the words in his ear to be heard over the music and commotion in the bar.
He went, and now they followed.
*They tagged self-consciously onto the end of the queue of shivering, giggling clubbers in the shadows of tall Victorian tenement blocks that flanked Princess Street. The Vampire experienced a new level of euphoria as they fed his senses with their mindless eagerness for hedonism. He linked arms with his companion, edging forward, closer to the suited and booted heavies on the door with their rigid, anti-straight entry criteria, turning away the gawpers and the Hens.
The Vampire batted long lashes at the bow-tied muscle-boys on the steps; made huge, mellow 'fuck me' eyes at them both and then he and his consort were in. At the top of the stairs he looked back anxiously while his escort checked in his coat. The skinhead pair had reached the door now, confrontational and slightly ill at ease. The bouncers bristled at the hard-edged approach but finally yielded and let the pair inside, not looking for trouble. Had Rayne been mortal he would have heaved a huge sigh of relief.