I was at the onset a dreadfully violent and impulsive killer. Having been set down by Marius in a nest of assassins, I went to work with a clumsy fury, drawing out my prey from the tavern or the flophouse, cornering him on the quay and then tearing open his throat as if I were a wild dog. I drank greedily often rupturing the victim's heart. Once the heart is gone, once the man is dead, there is nothing to pump the blood into you. And so it is not so good. But my Master, for all his lofty speeches on the virtues of humans, and his adamant insistence on our own responsibilities, nevertheless taught me to kill with finesse.
"Take it slowly," he said. We walked along the narrow banks of the canals where such existed. We traveled by gondola listening with our preternatural ears for conversation that seemed meant for us. "And half the time, you needn't enter a house in order to draw out a victim. Stand outside of it, read the man's thoughts, throw him some silent bait. If you read his thoughts, it is almost a certainty that he can receive your message. You can lure without words. You can exert an irresistible pull. When he comes out to you, then take him.
"And there is never any need for him to suffer, or for blood actually to be spilt. Embrace your victim, love him if you will. Fondle him slowly and sink your teeth with caution. Then feast as slowly as you can. This way his heart will see you through.
"As for the visions, and these colors you speak of, seek to learn from them. Let the victim in his dying tell you what he can about life itself. If images of his long life trip before you, observe them, or rather savor them. Yes, savor them. Devour them slowly as you do his blood. As for the colors, let them pervade you. Let the entire experience inundate you. That is, be both active and utterly passive. Make love to your victim. And listen always for the actual moment when the heart ceases to beat. You will feel an undeniably orgiastic sensation at this moment, but it can be overlooked.
"Dispose of the body after, or make certain that you have licked away all sign of the puncture wounds in the victim's throat. Just a little bit of your blood on the tip of your tongue will accomplish this. In Venice dead bodies are common. You need not take such pains. But when we hunt in the outlying villages, then often you may have to bury the remains."
I was eager for all these lessons. That we hunted together was a magnificent pleasure. I came to realize quickly enough that Marius had been clumsy in the murders he had committed for me to witness before I'd been transformed. I knew then, as perhaps I've made plain in this story, that he wanted me to feel pity for these victims; he wanted me to experience horror. He wanted me to see death as an abomination. But due to my youth, my devotion to him and the violence done me in my short mortal life, I had not responded as he hoped.
Whatever the case, he was now a much more skilled killer. We often took the same victim, together, I drinking from the throat of our captive, while he fed from the man's wrist. Sometimes he delighted in holding the victim tightly for me while I drank all of the blood.
Being new, I was thirsty every night. I could have lived for three or more without killing, yes, and sometimes I did, but by the fifth night of denying myself -- this was put to the test -- I was too weak to rise from the sarcophagus. So what this meant was that, when and if I were ever on my own, I must kill at least every fourth night.
My first few months were an orgy. Each kill seemed more thrilling, more paralyzingly delicious than the one which had gone before. The mere sight of a bared throat could bring about in me such a state of arousal that I became like an animal, incapable of language or restraint. When I opened my eyes in the cold stony darkness, I envisioned human flesh. I could feel it in my naked hands and I wanted it, and the night could have no other events for me until I had laid my powerful hands on that one which would be the sacrifice to my need. For long moments after the kill, sweet throbbing sensations passed through me as the warm fragrant blood found all the corners of my body, as it pumped its magnificent heat into my face.
Excerpted from Vampire Armand by Anne Rice Copyright© 1998 by Anne Rice. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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