Jenn sent me a couple of Christopher Pike books, those I thought I had not read in the past. I started reading The Last Vampire earlier this morning and realized I knew how the story ended. I had forgotten the actual words I had read probably a little over a decade ago, but I still remember how the story made me feel. I think, at the end of the day, after the words and the faces and the places have faded away, we will always still remember how we felt.
(On a totally unrelated note… I must find out who plays Caleb in Pretty Little Liars =p)
“…Finally, close to dark, Yaksha and Krishna climbed into the pit. Each carried a flute, nothing more. The people on both sides watched, but from a distance as Krishna had wanted. Only Radha and I stood close to the pit. There had to be a hundred snakes in that huge hole. They bit each other and more than a few were already being eaten.
Yaksha and Krishna sat at opposite ends of the pit, each with his back to the wall of earth. They began to play immediately. They had to; the snakes moved for each of them right away. But with the sound of the music, both melodies, the snakes backed off and appeared uncertain.
Now, Yaksha could play wonderfully, although his songs were always laced with sorrow and pain. His music was hypnotic; he could draw victims to feed on simply with his flute. But I realized instantly that his playing, for all its power, was a mere shadow next to Krishna’s music. For Krishna played the song of life itself. Each note on his flute was like a universal breath through the bodies of all people. He would play the third note on his flute and third center in my body, at the navel, would vibrate with different emotions. The navel is the seat of jealousy and attachment, and of joy and generosity. I felt these as he played. When Krishna would blow through this hole with a heavy breath, I would feel as if everything that I had ever called mine had been stripped from me. But when he would change his breath, let the notes go long and light, then I would smile and want to give something to those around me. Such was his mastery.
His playing had the snakes completely bewildered. None would attack him. Yet Yaksha was able to keep the snakes at bay with his music as well, although he was not able to send them after his foe. So the contest went on for a long time without either side hurting the other. Yet it was clear to me Krishna was in command, as he was in control of my emotions. He moved to the fifth note on the flute, which stirred the fifth center in my body, at the throat. In that spot there are two emotions: sorrow and gratitude. Both emotions bring tears, one bitter, the other sweet. When Krishna lowered his breath, I felt like weeping. When he sang higher I also felt chocked, but with thanks. Yet I did not know what I was thankful for. Not the outcome of the contest surely. I knew then that Yaksha would certainly lose, and that the result could be nothing other than our extinction.
Even as the recognition of our impending doom crossed my mind, Krishna began to play the fourth note. This affected my heart; it affected the hearts of all gathered. In the heart are three emotions – I felt them then: love, fear, and hatred. I could see that an individual could only have one of the three at a time. When you were in love you knew no fear or hatred. When you were fearful, there was no possibility of love or hate. And when there was hate, there was only hate.
Krishna played the fourth note softly initially, so that feeling of warmth swept both sides. This he did for a long time, and it seemed as if vampires and mortals alike stared across the clearing at one another and wondered why they were enemies. Such was the power of that one note, perfectly pitched.
Yet Krishna now pushed his play toward its climax. He lowered his breath, and the love in the gathering turned to hate. A restlessness went through the crowd, and individuals on both sides shifted this was and that as if preparing to attack. Then Krishna played the fourth note in a different way, and the hate changed to fear. And finally this emotion pierced Yaksha, who had so far remained unmoved by Krishna’s flute. I saw him tremble – the worst thing he could do before a swarm of snakes. Because a serpent only strikes where there is fear.
The group of snakes began to crawl toward Yaksha.
He could have surrendered then, but he was a brave creature even if he was ruthless. He continued to play, now a frantic tune to drive away the snakes. At first it did slow them down, but Krishna did not tire. He continued on the fourth note, his breath quivering up and down through the hole, and at last a large snake slithered up to Yaksha. It bit him on the shin and held on fast with its teeth. Yaksha could not afford to set down his flute to throw it off. then another snake came forward, and still another, until soon Yaksha was being bitten on every part of his body. He was the king of vampires, the son of a yakshini, and he swayed where he sat. I believe he tried to call out; I think he might have said my name. Then he toppled forward and the snakes began to eat him. I could not hear to watch.
But Krishna stood then and set his flute aside. He clapped his hands, and the snakes hurried off Yaksha’s body. He climbed out of the pit and motioned to Arjuna. His best friend entered the deep hole and carried out Yaksha’s body and dumped it on the ground not far from me. He was breathing. I could see that, but barely, soaked head to foot with black venom; it oozed out of the many wounds on his body.
I let Radha go. She hugged me before leaving. But she did not run to Krishna, but to the other women. Behind me I could hear the main body of the vampires shifting toward the woods, as if they planned to flee. Yet they waited still; they felt compelled to, I think, to see what Krishna would do next. Krishna ignored them. He gestured to me and came and knelt beside Yaksha. My feeling then was so peculiar. As I knelt beside Krishna, this being that would in all probability wipe me from the face of the earth, I felt as if I was under the umbrella of his protection. I watched as he put one of his beautiful hands on Yaksha’s head.
“Will he live?” I asked.
Krishna surprised me with his question. “Do you want him to?”
My eyes strayed over the ruin of my old enemy and friend. “I want what you want,” I whispered.
Krishna smiled, so serene. “The age is to change when I leave this world. Kali Yuga will begin. It will be a time of strife and short years for humanity. Your kind is for the most part tamasic – negative. Kali Yuga will be challenge enough for people without you on earth. Do you agree?”
“Yes. We cause only suffering.”
“Then why do you go on, Sita?”
At his saying my name I felt so touched. “I just want to live, Lord.”
He nodded. “I will let you live if you obey my command. If you never make another of your kind, you will have my grace, my protection.”
I lowered my head. “Thank you, my Lord.”
He gestured toward the other vampires. “Go stand with them. I must talk to your leader. His days are not over. They will not be over for a long time.” I moved to leave, but Krishna stopped me. “Sita?”
I turned to look into his face one last time. It was as if I could see the whole universe in his eyes. Maybe he was God, maybe he was simply enlightened. I didn’t care right then, in that blessed moment, I just loved him. Later, though, the love was to turn to hate, to fear. They seemed so opposite, the feelings, yet they were all one note of his flute. Truly he had stolen my heart.
“Yes, Lord?” I asked.
He bid me lean close to his lips. “Where there is love, there is my grace,” he whispered. “Remember this.”
“I will try, my Lord.”
I went and stood with the others. Krishna revived Yaksha and spoke softly in his ear. When Krishna was done, Yaksha nodded. Krishna bade him climb to his feet, and we say that Yaksha’s wounds were gone. Yaksha walked towards us.
“Krishna says we can go,” he said.
“What did he tell you?” I asked.
“I cannot say. What did he tell you?”
“I cannot say.”
Yet it was not long before I learned part of what Krishna had told Yaksha. Yaksha secretly began to execute each of the vampires. His acts did not stay secret long. I fled, we all did. But he hunted down the others, over the long years, even after Krishna was gone and Kali Yuga reigned. Yaksha chased them to the ends of the earth over the many centuries until there was none left that I knew of, except me. Yet he never came for me, and in the Middle Ages, as the Black Plague swept Europe, I heard that he was accused of being a witch, and also hunted down, by an entire army, and burned to ask in an old castle. I cried when the news came to me because even through he had stolen what I loved, he had in a sense created what I was. He was my lord as Krishna was my lord. I served both masters, light and darkness, both of which I had seen in Krishna’s eyes. Even the devil does God’s will.
I never made another vampire, but I never stopped killing.”
My soul often searches for magic – at least the little of what’s left of it in such a modern world as the one we live in now.I am forever drawn to films and tales set during the olden times, in far off places, making me more and more convinced of what I feel from time to time – that I was born in the wrong age. That I belong in a world that only exists in the world’s imagination. I, who stand in front of a work of art and feel my heart break because of its beauty. I, who closes my eyes when a melody plays and gets carried off to another world. I, who have known sorrow and grief since my childhood; who is as familiar to pain and suffering as to happiness and redemption. I, who cry over songs and stories of love and joy, and loss and longing. I, who hold on to hope with every bit of my strength because, at the end of the day, I believe that it is what truly keeps me alive.
I have lived in times of darkness and in days of light, nourished by both the rays of the sun and the mist of the moon. I am the harlot and the innocent, the scorned and the saved. I see the world through rose glasses, always listening to the heart, forever searching for bliss. I am also broken, forever bleeding from wounds that never seem to heal.
I am everything and I am nothing. It is true. I am broken… But I am also blessed.