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Oil portraits of dignitaries and ancient politicians had been hung in a boastful collection on the encircling walls, a burgundy dark enough to impart arrogance to the unsure and confidence to those of likened wills, the marble pillars and brass railings emitting an astounding gleam from all sides, and Stewart felt assured to be in the proper place.
It had only taken him a few minutes to find it…
Two others were waiting, another man and a woman, sitting on oaken chairs with cushioned seats. The woman’s blonde hair reminded him of wheat, her face evoking the sun rising over the fields. She didn’t say anything to him, but seemed to be gauging his ability, his deftness, grinning slightly with her piercing green eyes.
The man, however, arose from the chair and held out his hand—a large fellow, with a full beard, of apparent Latin American heritage, perhaps Iberian. “Welcome, Mr. Unitas,” he said vestedly. “We’ll be with you in just a moment. Sarah here has had her appointment postponed for over an hour.”
“Oh?” Stewart replied. The man nodded, adjusting his charcoal-grey knit sweater vest, and gazed regretfully upon the woman, evidently another recruit seeking entry into the prestigious club.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to stand until it’s time for her to go in.” At the same moment a black woman in a black dress opened the large metal doors at the back of the hall, exchanging a brief communicative look with the man in the vest. He turned to smile at Stewart, his face showing not a hint of blush, and soon the engagement ensued—Stewart found himself awkwardly sitting in the second chair, still warm from the hour’s delay.
“Must be busy this time of year, eh?” Stewart asked the man, who had yet to retake the seat. The presumptive member of the Bay Area Betterment & Health Society again confirmed, and turned to select one of the pamphlets piled upon an end table of miniscule height.
He handed one to Stewart. It was a single folded page on thick glossy paper, showing a picture of Golden Gate Park and what seemed to be the large group photograph of a club gathering.
Stewart thanked him for the informative material, though he had already been well-versed regarding the scientific organization, from its four-hundred year history to speculation upon its upcoming plans and charity work.
“Oh, that sounds swell,” he mimicked eagerly, affecting himself to be naively unaware rather than firmly convinced of his own indubitable qualifications.
He had heard online, and more helpfully from a friend he knew on a forum, the club only spoke in official terms behind closed doors to facilitate for its members more liberated discussion. Great intellectuals had been initiated, and great intellectuals had been made.
It said so in the pamphlet.
Laughter came from the closed door, and Stewart tried not to think how it would be very nice if Sarah, the girl before him, would also be admitted, so he could get to know her more. As if getting accepted would need more benefits to persuade, to pique!
This was the place to be, said them all, what one must do in order to become a full-fledged leader of progressive society. And Stewart had always wanted to be a vampire.
He scanned over the paper, and even the alluring language came off to him as exclusive. Stewart could not hold back his smile any longer, and the other man noticed.
“I’ve actually read your file, my good man,” he said, stroking his thick hairy chin. Stewart awaited the completed placation and once they had met eyes the club member continued by whispering, bending his head closer to him, “I think we would be fools not to let you in!”
His heart kicked and his fist clenched in excitement. Stewart’s smile grew, showing brightened teeth, and he could only mutter, “Thank you. I am a big admirer of what you do here.”
“Is that so?” asked the man, finding a kindred spirit.
“Yes,” Stewart answered. “I think this is exactly where I want to take my skills. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can help and contribute to the club’s furthering success.”
The older man nodded, smiling also. “We’ll see what we can do with you.”
Thoughts of the future flowed through Stewart’s field of vision, unable to be contained. The high class society, a company of gentlemen and the finest edge of female colleagues, using advanced techniques to extract untarnished hemoglobin and innumerable additional nutrients which had been enabling their superior race to thrive without the brutal need for harvesting, enslaving, or killing anyone, or anything, not even pigs!
Stewart knew all this. And he knew he belonged here, in this association of immortals moving the world forward. Especially if people like Sarah would be among them, and he withheld the rushing desire to envision her transformed, unleashed, beyond the standards of commonplace beauty.
It would be truly empowering to finally live and work as he wanted, and here was the goal, at last!
The door opened and the secretary kindly said his name. “Mister Unitas? They’ll see you now.”
His heart quickened, perhaps for the last time as a feeble primate, and the man in the vest wished him good luck while Stewart walked to the door, buttoning the top button of his coat.
“We’re sorry to make you wait,” she noted effectively. The secretary, upon closer vicinity, was also an ostensible initiate. The women showed signs almost instantaneously, and more dramatically than the men, according to his research. Stewart worried his new appearance would be overshadowed by those of fellow neonates. It could take decades before the distinction of his vampiric training could be portrayed by looks alone. But he marched on, nonetheless.
“Right this way,” she said, smirking, and Stewart followed her to a set of double doors, which he hardly saw open before he realized he was inside the room.
Against the opposite wall sat four elders in shining judicial robes behind a normal white plastic table. Stewart made sure to catch each of their gazes once the doors had been closed behind him.
But there was a fifth individual standing next to the door, and a sixth. Stewart’s pulse fluttered once he recognized the golden-grain hair, now bolstering the pale mystique of her form and face alike. The green eyes sank into him, as if they were aimed and fired.
The other member stood well higher than the average man, meaning he must have been a guard or security worker of some kind, but Stewart didn’t know why Sarah remained in the room when her interview had hardly preceded his.
“Welcome, Mr. Unitas,” said one of the elders, one of three balding men with stonework cheeks and cropped hair of glistening pearly silver. He smiled magnanimously, but Stewart felt his voice carried with it no trace of impression.
“We’re sorry,” the speaker continued, “but we are afraid we can cannot offer you a position with our organization at this time.”
When Stewart had just begun reeling he noticed the guard and Sarah both approaching from behind, from opposite sides, and before he could make his case the larger man’s grip had smothered his mouth, quelling all protest, and the youngest member of the Bay Area Betterment & Health Society revealed freshly protruded canine teeth before jabbing them into Stewart’s neck, playfully pausing while their eyes were partially locked, decisive jowls vicing quivering flesh. She pulled back sharply and his liveliness gushed away for her to drink, to serve as an irrefutable pledge of loyalty.
As she sucked from the struggling neck the others in the room cheered and clapped, remembering the blissful intensity of their own first kills. The lone matron of the panel reached for the appropriate ink stamp and markedly punched it upon the girl’s papers, printing sternly in bold crimson letters.
Credit: Edmund Gray-Graham