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Copyright © 2014
This is a work of fiction.
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In 2011, Anne Rice and I
began talking about the development of a new breed of blood
The first ground rule was
that they had to have an entirely different cosmology from her
other supernatural stories.
She and I spent many weeks
emailing back and forth, sharing copious detailed notes. We had
several energetic lunches and dinners, whence we discussed the
foundation and framework of the story you’re about to read. We
swapped ideas about the strengths and weaknesses of these new blood
drinkers, ideas about the characters themselves as well as their
backstories, and more ideas about potential narrative
One of the amazing facets
of Anne’s writing method is that she seems to devote almost as much
time to selecting the right names for things as she does to
carefully crafting the narrative. Both go hand in hand, I’ve
learned from her. She’s taught me much. The right name is as
But what name would we call
our new blood drinkers?
One day, after we’d spent
weeks thinking about what to call this new breed, I came into her
office as she thumped closed a Latin textbook. She beamed at me
with her irresistible smile. She told me she knew what to call our
blood drinkers. She had not chosen a Latin word, but had developed
a new word from Latin phraseology.
What was the new word she’d
Vivicanti,” she said as her
I loved the word
Our blood drinkers will be
called,” Anne Rice announced: “The Blood Vivicanti.”
Then it was my job to write
I bathed you with water and
I washed the blood from you… But you trusted your beauty and you
used your fame to play the prostitute.
People are born with a
strong personal identity. As infants we know what we want. And
we’re not afraid to cry about it.
A strong personal identity
is like infancy: In time we might grow out of it. Some people’s
strong personal identities are maintained by a good family. Other
people’s personal identities are weakened by bad parenting and
unchecked sibling rivalry. A few people’s personal identities are
obliterated by neglect and abuse.
By the time I drank Theo’s
blood, my personal identity had the strength of tissue paper. It
tore easily. It soaked up many of my tears.
Theo’s Blood Memories
pierced my heart and penetrated my mind. My heart raced with his
feelings. My mind bubbled with his memories. It was as if I had
taken into myself Theo’s deepest passion, pursuits, and perceptions
– all of who and how he was.
This tissue paper girl felt
she might burst from the potency of his self-possession.
Theo believed in a power
greater than himself. He called this power “God” because that word
alone was simple and small.
He dismissively waved off
the association God had with religion. He thought God was an aptly
insignificant word to describe an infinitely powerful
My personality had been
insignificant until then. Like a reed in the wind. I needed a
strong personal identity to borrow. Theo’s was brimming with the
confidence I’d always wanted. I would try to be exactly like him. I
would feel the way he felt. I would think the way he thought. I
would stride the way he strode. I would pose with his poise. I
would love what he liked – except for myself. I didn’t know how to
love my “self” yet.
Who can say they deeply
love tissue paper?
My china doll’s Blood
Memories went to work in Theo immediately. On the violin, she could
play Bach, Mendelssohn, Paganini, and much more great music from
many other great violinists.
Now, Theo could do so also.
Her Blood Memories surged through his veins. He knew the notes to
every song she knew. He knew the fingering to any scale she knew.
Theo was now a concert violinist – at least for a week or so, until
his Blood Memories faded away.
Wyn had tucked away
somewhere in his cavernous mansion a great Stradivarius violin,
which was by that time gathering dust. He gave it to Theo for the
week. It was interesting to see how Wyn regarded it so
It’s good someone’s using
it again,” he remarked.
I wondered who had owned
the violin before. I had not yet met his dead wife,
Wyn said nothing more about
it. But the way he moved explained much. His movements slowed while
his breathing quickened. A human wouldn’t have noticed any
I’d never seen him look so
Whoever had owned that old
Stradivarius violin had been very important to Wyn.
The next morning, I came
into the kitchen to find Theo restringing the
Wyn also came in, reading
. He had drunk the blood of an
astronomer. The astronomer was a lonely man living on the outskirts
of the village near the mountaintop. His whole house was a homemade
observatory. Wyn had devoured the man’s Blood Memories.
Wyn was now entirely
occupied with the vast mysterious life of the universe. His mind
was teeming with new ideas.
He also read Carl
a few minutes, and then cross-referenced that with Lewis
. He believed the two were
Ms. Crystobal prepared
coffee and fruit-salad for breakfast. She was our housekeeper,
cook, and maid. She did everything. She never complained about the
workload. She was amazing.
That should have told us:
She wasn’t from our planet – or from our universe – and now that I
think about it, I doubt that she was even from our
Her daily sour expression
never relaxed. Sometimes I’d be walking alone down one of the
numerous hallways and she’d suddenly appear out of nowhere, like a
ghost, staring at me as though I’d done something wrong. She’d tell
me that it was time for lunch or dinner, or she’d tell me that this
hallway was being cleaned, and I wasn’t allowed down there right
then, even though I couldn’t hear any cleaning going on. That woman
could scare the Dickens out of me.
Of course, I later found
out that she wasn’t a woman at all. Or a man.
Wyn and Theo ate their
breakfast happily. They were already brimming with delicious Blood
So was I, with Theo’s in
Blood Memories rejuvenated
us surprisingly. We all seemed reborn. We were like inquisitive
children seeing the world in a whole new way.
The tissue paper of my
personal identity was beginning to galvanize.
Ms. Crystobal gave me a
plate of strawberries dipped in peanut butter. I’d never had it
before. She seemed to know I’d love it. She was right. They were
Wyn talked about
Theo finished stringing the
violin. He stood before us. He positioned the instrument at his
neck. His fingers pressed on the strings. He held the bow above the
strings for a second.
Wyn and I watched. We were
curious to know what he would play.
Ms. Crystobal sipped a cup
of tea. Her eyebrow raised in doubt.
Theo slammed the bow down
on the strings.
The violin music resounded
beautifully. The kitchen had excellent acoustics.
The music was Bach's
Chaconne for Solo Violin
Some say that Bach wrote that music as a tombeau at the death of
his first wife.
When I consider that a
tombeau is like a requiem, only less religious, it is no surprise
that it was my china doll’s favorite piece. Mourning felt normal to
her. It feels normal for many people. She was more normal than she
We watched Theo working the
bow across the violin. His fingers moved swiftly over the strings.
He had such newfound power and speed and authority.
A tear came to Wyn’s eye.
It was like seeing a Vulcan cry.
I couldn’t tell if Wyn was
happy or sad.
He might have been happy.
The Blood Vivicanti had proven to be his most successful science
Then again: He might have
been mourning – the way Bach mourned his wife through
Theo played the violin for
us for days. It was wonderful to have live music in the mansion.
Yet his playing and his music were associative: They reminded me of
how my china doll used to make me feel.
But the richness of my
fantasy life turned my thoughts and hopes and dreams away from her
and toward Theo. The network of my mind was making new
He was a phenomenal dancer.
And now that I had his Blood Memories in me, so was I.
Theo would play the violin
and I would dance with his music. The memory of dancing was not in
my muscles. It took me a day to get used to being graceful. I’d
never been graceful before. My body had never moved so fluidly or
so beautifully before. I could plié and brisé and
I still can. His Blood
Memories are still strong in me. If I wanted to, I could dance a
very lovely Lobster Quadrille.
At the end of the week,
Theo and I performed a dance recital in the ballroom.
Wyn came to
Ms. Crystobal came too, but
only because Wyn threatened her with immanent unemployment if she
He was joking of
I’m not sure if Ms.
Crystobal gets jokes. They might be a little too human for