Legacy Earth is  the first novel by Michael MacNeil.  It is set in a reconstructed earth in the far future  by beings who are about to shed their last vestiges of humanity.  They do their best, but although they may seem god-like, they are not omniscient.  They recreate earth as their legacy, but don’t exactly get it right.  Most of the story is based around the first sic humans to awaken on this new Earth In the final section of the book, the more numerous (by far) second awakened will help them to make a final and lasting claim on earth.  But, it won’t be easy!

The first awakened come into the new earth fully developed adults, with general knowledge of the earth as well as several related specialties.  For much of their early time on earth they live in solitude, refining their knowledge, but always haunted by a vague dream of other humans that eventually will send them off to seek the fellowship of these humans.  Patah is one of the first awakened.

This is still in draft form.  If you find any errors or inconstancies let us know.

Meet Patah,  the fourth of the first six to awake on Legacy Earth


Patah did not first awaken imbued with the particular knowledge he would need to understand his place in the world.  Like the others, he awoke with a full practical knowledge of the essentials of life, the awareness of the tools that would aid him, the names and some understanding of the creatures and the objects he would encounter.  However, before he had awakened fully-grown and resourceful as the others had, Patah had dreamed.  What he dreamed was the origin of the legacy world and legacy earth.  He had also dreamed of the source of the original earth, at least how the evolving designers of legacy earth had perceived it. Unbeknownst to these highly evolved designers and builders of legacy earth, they had equipped Patah with a sensitivity that made him, even better than they, to see the many flaws in their construct. Unlike them, Patah had a grasp of the reality of legacy earth that sensed the differences between fiction and fantasy.  He awoke with a keen awareness of what was fantastical and what really belonged.  Far in the future, this would inspire him to establish a true representation of earth for himself and for its future true heirs. In the beginning and for a vast period of time, the reality that should belong and the fantastical that shouldn’t both shared the world as part of its living and growing blend.

It took Patah some time to become fully conscious.  His mind was still confused by the dream images.  As these began to fade, he became more aware of his immediate surroundings to the extent that it finally occurred to him that his entire, prone body was tightly wrapped in some unknown material.  Although his breathing wasn’t compromised, he felt a need to inhale a quantity of air that the gossamer biofilm that covered him would not, as it was, permit.  He struggled to a sitting position easily tearing away the fragile material that had held him down.  Freeing one hand, he was able to reach up and rip the clinging material from his face.  He took a deep breath and felt energized.

The memory of his dreams had completely slipped from his consciousness. While they remained very present in his subconscious, he was able to focus on his immediate surroundings as well as on the reality of himself.

Looking around at the room in which he had awakened, Patah could see that it was awash in deep rich shades or red and brown.  Cherry wood bookshelves covered most of the almost maroon colored walls.  Where they didn’t cover the walls, classical style paintings were hung.  The large desk and two ornate tables held an array of artifacts.  They represented an eclectic interest in religious and secular themes interspersed. Several leather chairs and a large sofa furnished the room emphasizing the starkness of the pallet on which he sat.

Among the many books and objects of art in the room, Patah recognized a number of technological devices that were with them. There was one, particularly that was capable of containing the contents of all the books on shelves in the room along with thousands more.  Another post twenty-first-century piece of technology, this device, the term computer might be a bit archaic for it, was designed to impart textual content directly to the cerebral cortex.  It could then be visualized, or audited or both, depending on the wishes of the reader.

Patah looked on it with suspicion as he did with most of the devices that he came across while doing his survey of the room. He sensed that many of the devices were meant to be helpful to someone suffering a kind of mental stress.  To Patah’s mind, they were unnecessarily invasive, and the changes they wrought in a human psyche were generally outweighed by the damage they could do.  Patah wasn’t certain why he thought this way about them, but he was absolutely sure of how dangerous some of those devices could be.  At the present moment, however, this didn’t really matter very much.  What did matter was the fact that not long after his awakening, he came to realize that he was hungry. He seemed to think something called bacon and eggs would fill the bill.  He really wasn’t sure what that was, but he knew exactly what he needed to whip it up, and he knew where he could find it.

The eggs and bacon he located in the fridge and the device he needed was a simple one, in fact, it was a primitive device called a skillet.  He had found another device in which he could put something called bread into slots on the top.  Setting a slice of bread in each slot, he watched it swallow them soft and white then moments later spit them out; warm, and crunchy, and brown.  There was even a device to put butter and other condiments on the browned slices, but Patah was a hands-on sort of guy, a phrase that came into his thoughts out of nowhere.  He liked the term and the image it provided for him, found a knife in drawer and butter in the fridge, and with the knife, he spread the butter on the toasted bread.  He spread the interesting oily amber substance on the hot bread and watched with curiosity as it liquefied and was absorbed into the bread. The texture of the toast softened as this happened.  A quick taste assured him that he had done everything correctly.

As he was enjoying the tasty blend of liquefied butter and bread, the skillet beeped, telling him his bacon and eggs were ready. He wanted to sit down with it, but the skillet was very hot and too heavy and awkward for him to comfortably bring to where he wanted to sit He found a dish and took a second knife and a fork from the utensil drawer where he also found a lifting device.  He used it to lift the bacon and eggs onto the plate and set it down on the table.  While he was making and buttering another two pieces of toast, he heard a slightly different beeping from a cylindrical machine beside the toaster.  At its base he found a cup topped up with a warm, rich brownish colored liquid.  Patah knew this to be a Café au lait and apparently an important part of a complete breakfast.  Patah delighted in the minutia his mind dolled out, identifying and elaborating on what he termed, “the breakfast ritual.”

Soon enough, Patah would learn why all his wealth of knowledge, his psychological and spiritual guidance skills and his wary grasp of the technology available to him were all meaningless. Exploring the neighborhood in which he had awakened and its nearby surroundings he discovered that the human population was restricted to just him.  What good was a grasp of the essence of human psychology and spirituality if there were no humans with which to share them.  The question was a central one that was never far from his thoughts as he explored the town and its surrounding area.  He observed as life expanded all around him, going farther and farther afield, but finding not a single other human.

Learning what he could in his exploration, still feeling a deep longing to find fellow humans, Patah turned to the books he first saw in his room and the library next door to it.  Many of the books, he discovered, much to his dismay, were fragmentary.  In some cases, he could fill in the blanks from his own knowledge.  Some of the fictional stories were relatively complete.  Except for some pleasurable moments reading parts of poems and some of the complete fiction, the books offered him little in the way of new knowledge.  He came across music players and video machines.  He liked the music more than the videos but found the lack of continuity disconcerting.  He had discovered a piano in one of the rooms and taught himself to play.  Some of the sheet music, even the fragments inspired him, and eventually, he found himself filling in many of the shorter gaps. He observed the changing seasons, and for the most part was content with his life.  Eventually, however, his need for human fellowship overwhelmed him, and he decided he needed to extend his search well beyond his place of awakening and out into the distant world. While his thought was to find humans like himself, by the time he was finally prepared to leave his place of awakening he was willing to settle for any kind of living companion.

Even as he readied himself, he could see that the world around him was quickening with life.  Animals that had been invisible to him leaving only their signs of passing, footprints in the snow, could now, on occasion, be seen. He saw more and more varieties of birds and watched their population increase. Insects, rare at first, were now plentiful.  Most were benign, some annoying.

None of the creatures he encountered offered companionship.

When Patah was first exploring his town, he had come upon a large number of vehicles and was able to operate any one of them.  After much experimentation, he found that a bicycle offered the best solution.  It was fast enough to cover much more ground than on foot.  It could take him in and out of tight places, and he could stop quickly and near to anything he might want to investigate close up.  When he finally decided to be on his way in his quest for fellow humans, he started out with a bicycle, but that soon proved inadequate for the distances and terrain he hoped to travel.

Despite the protection one provides from the ravages of inclement weather, he was uncomfortable with cars or trucks.  He finally settled on a motorized vehicle that was in some ways bicycle-like.  Very futuristic for a twenty-first-century vehicle, it had handlebars and pedals and a wide enclosed box to the rear for storage.  The saddle was broader and more comfortable than a bike’s.  The futuristic aspect was the fact that it had no wheels.  Instead, it rode comfortably and securely over all sorts of terrain using a kind of anti-gravity propulsion.

The storage place behind the operator had a large enough cargo space for Patah to pack those items that he was either particularly fond of and other things he might need including flashlights, several handguns and the fragmentary multi-faith Bible with its beautiful illustrations elaborate typeface print. Adding some useful tools and several different sizes of knives, Patah was packed and ready to leave.  He boarded the Anti-Grav bike and set off through the town to one of the roads that he knew would take him outside the city and into the unknown. He didn’t know why he chose this particular route.  It was a way that he had explored the least, yet it, above all the others, beckoned to him.  He didn’t know why but felt sure that this was the way to go to search for other humans.

As he went, he couldn’t help marveling at the farms and country estates.  They seemed so well kept, but going up to them he could see that despite their readiness for human residents, they were uninhabited.  That didn’t surprise him.  He had developed a good understanding of how things worked in the new world of legacy earth.

There appeared to be a balance that was always maintained. Use something, food, a log for the fireplace, and it would be back shortly on the shelf, in the refrigerator or on the woodpile.  Patah knew that this was part of the equilibrium of the new world.  He also knew that this was not a natural aspect of earth.  He was aware that this was a new earth, legacy earth a re-creation of something long gone.  While he suspected that at some time in the distant future, this all might change, it would not likely happen until a large human population was established.  For Patah, it was a mighty big if, the ‘if’ that there might ever be a large human population.  He felt considerable doubt based on the fact that he had yet to meet another person.  As hopeful as he was, Patah felt a crushing fear that despite his intense desire for human company and his drive to find it that he might very well be alone.

The only encouragement that might mitigate this was Patah’s observations of the growing populations among the various wildlife.  They had been virtually non-existent when he first awoke, but over the many seasons he had spent in the same location, and now on his journey, he was encountering more varieties of creatures and greater numbers.  Most were tiny, but there were growing signs of larger animals.  The horse and cattle appeared on the farms he now passed, their increasing population a vast change from his first encounter with farms and their empty fields.  Yes, there were more than ever before, but their numbers were nowhere near to those in the wild.  It suggested to Patah that domestic space was not to be used up by animal culture under whatever plan the earth constructors had.

Whoever they were and whatever amazing and godlike powers they had, the builders were clearly not gods.  Their grasp of earth in the early second millennium was far from perfect.  Patah saw this in the fragmentary and incomplete books and videos.  He also saw that there was a significant range of sophistication in the mechanical and technical devices he had encountered.  They ran the gamut from simple and primitive to extremely sophisticated and complex high-tech.  In his mind, the builders were not quite clear on the time frame they were trying to recreate. He could see that what they lacked in knowledge of the specifics, they made up for in their grasp of the creative process, which is why they were constructors, not creators.  His awareness of this and his place as a human within such a framework augmented his belief that at some point he would, at some point, encounter other humans.  This belief also caused him to become aware of the incongruities in this world.  Little did he know, that soon enough, he would encounter the incongruous, something that would confirm for him that there was considerable incongruity and that it was a significant part of this newly constructed world, this legacy earth.

He had set out with a sense of hopefulness and nothing he had yet encountered changed that.  That and the beauty and variety of his surroundings as he made his way down the road buoyed him.  On his journey, he followed a multitude of roads, trails and paved highway that carried him through lovely little towns, larger communities and tiny remote settlements, all of which, while teaming with life, were devoid of any trace of a living human being.

As he went, he made himself at home in any number of residences. Depending what he found of interest where he was, he might stay for a night, or even for a season if it was warranted.  He would read every book he could get his hands on and even found some that were nearly complete that he could add to his small but growing collection kept in the storage space of his Anti-Grav bike.  Most, he left behind.  He sampled television programs and computer websites that provided him with momentary glances at what had been more extensive and more detailed when first presented countless centuries past.

The novelty of the journey was wearing thin as he proceeded along the roads that called him.  Passing uninhabited towns and villages, and the beautiful and varied landscapes along the way without having anyone to share it with subdued any charm it might have offered him. He had covered considerable distance since leaving the place of his first awakening.  So much so, in fact, that he doubted he could ever find his way back. Not that that mattered, as he didn’t have any intention of turning back. It was as if his route was laid out for him and there was only one direction to go.  It helped him to decide which way to go at intersections and forks in the road.  He sometimes wondered as he turned onto a different road if his decisions were random.  While on one level that seemed to be the case, on another level, he wasn’t quite sure given the certainty that seemed to accompany his decisions.

The journey had been long and yet during it, he had seen very little in the way of living creatures.  On rare occasions, a deer might cross his path.  He had seen a porcupine or two and a skunk once, but nothing significant.  From time to time he might hear something or catch a glimpse of something moving among the distant trees a forest encroaching on the road he had taken.  These were few and scattered, and he was not even sure there was anything to it.  Deep down, he suspected that larger creatures lived in the woodland and forest that he passed, some things that were large, bigger than a porcupine or skunk and more lumbering than the fleet and graceful deer. He had decided that these creatures, whatever they might be, were neither human nor approachable.  He made no attempt to investigate further but continued on his travels.  After countless days, his Anti-Grav bike began to slow, losing maneuverability and dragging along the ground forcing him to exchange it for another one he found in a shop on the edge of a small city.  The shop was unlike any Patah had seen before.  It was huge and stocked full with a wide and impressive variety of two-wheel and two-wheel type transport.  He was especially intrigued by a distinctly unwieldy and hard to mount Penny Farthing bicycle that was lined up along with all the others. To Patah, it seemed as if he had entered a museum dedicated to the development of bicycles over the years, not a bicycle sales shop as the sign said on the door. There were standard pedal powered bicycles, bicycles with small gasoline and electric motors and several neurostatic electric powered bikes that stored and recycled their own energy.  There were enormous three wheel bikes with gasoline engines, others with neurostatic electric motors that would allow those bikes to run forever.  Finally, there were a series of Anti-Grav bikes, the largest of which, had a huge storage space and an automatic weather protection cap.

The roads Patah took were sometimes quite rough, and he knew that the Anti-Grav bike handled the bumpiest trail smoothly and quietly.  What’s more, the larger storage compartment could easily handle Patah’s growing collection of books and other items while still having enough room to house many more future finds.

He switched on the glide control and walked his chosen bike out of the store and parked it beside his old one.  He then began the slow and surprisingly lengthy process of transferring his collection into the new bike’s large storage compartment.  While it took far longer than Patah expected, his collection being much larger than he realized, there was still enough daylight left for Patah to decide to move on.  Leaving the store parking area, Patah began to weave his way through the city streets.  In his mind, the journey had one purpose and one purpose only, and that was to continue the pursuit of any sign of living humanity.  The route he took brought him to roads and highways that skirted the city.  His justification for having followed that route was that he would find no humans in the middle of the city.  Had he analyzed this thought carefully he might have questioned its credibility, but he didn’t and cheerfully continued along the path he believed he had chosen.

Malls and shopping centers of various sizes and purposes, apartment type buildings, and what Patah recognized as private residences flanked the highways along the urban fringe.  Turning onto a beltway that claimed to bypass the city, he could see that the buildings off to the sides were usually lower, more sprawling and the chain link fences that surrounded many of the held a variety of large trucks. It all had an industrial feel to it. After passing a number of such sites, he found himself back in the countryside, the city in his rearview mirror. The large suburban estates soon gave way to farms and forest.




The Illusory Human

As the city fell farther behind leaving no trace, the shadows grew longer. The night was coming.  He would need a place to stop soon and the paved two-lane highway he drove along had signs beside it promising a small community ahead where he would find a comfortable and interesting place to stay.

As he approached, he could see through the trees structures that had a gothic appearance. That appealed to Patah. Coming through a last small grove of trees, Patah came upon a small square with a large, steepled church that dominated its surrounds.  Patah had stayed in church residences before and found them to peaceful places.  The Manse with its comfortable furniture and collection of books promised a few days of relaxation and intellectual stimulation.

The last traces of daylight were fading as he pulled into the square where the church stood.  It was there that he saw a strange sight that excited and exhilarated him, but that also carried with it a curious sense of foreboding.

Ahead, on the edge of the square, a small, naked human looking creature appeared entangled with a much larger, furred animal.  The two seemed to be lying together on the road as Patah approached.  At first, he thought the larger creature was attacking the human-like one.  As he came closer, he could see that the larger creature was not moving while the human-like entity was, its face down against the large animal’s neck.  As Patah got near, the small one jumped up to look towards the oncoming vehicle, hissed loudly, turned and ran off at an incredible rate of speed.

Although the smaller, human-like creature had left at a speed that Patah could only call amazing, he was excited.  The runner was the closest thing to a human being that Patah had yet seen.  The hasty departure had prevented him from being able to make a precise determination.

Climbing down from his bike, Patah could see that the still, dark figure of the larger beast with its dark matted fur was most likely a young bear. Although Patah had never seen a bear, it was included in that innate set of knowledge he had regarding so many things, including wild animals.  Examining the body in the rapidly failing light, Patah could see a dark viscous substance near the neck where the smaller human-like being had buried its face. While that fluid was likely blood, it didn’t concern Patah. It was the second creature that he was most interested in, the little runner.

Daylight was little more than a fading pink remnant of sunlight in the western sky, so Patah had no opportunity for an extensive search.  And since the human-like creature had vanished without a trace, it was with some disappointment that he turned his thoughts towards getting somewhere to stay for the night.  Being in front of a gothic looking church, Pata brought his bike to one of the two garages that connected to the Manse.  He opened the first door by putting in four zeros on a keypad beside it.  Patah had learned much earlier that all keypads were set to 0000. He guided the bike inside and parked it. He entered the door into the Manse, his travel bag in hand.  Upon entering, Patah could see that this Manse was particularly elegant and well appointed.  He was, however,  still far too excited about his brief sighting of what could very well be a fellow human to take in the splendor of his surroundings immediately.

It had taken several moments before he registered the elegance of the room, the velvet curtains on the windows and the dark, cherry wood sideboards and bookcases, the plush chairs and large, mahogany desk, the fireplace edged in rich flecked stone, the sofa facing it and the fur-like softness of the carpet.

The soft enveloping shades of wood browns and deep maroons, so much like where he had first awakened, eventually soothed him, taking his mind off the small human-like being that he had seen earlier.

He began to doubt himself, to believe that it had been an illusion and what he had rally seen was some other kind of animal that for a moment seemed to look like a human.  In the back of his mind, however, he knew it was more than that.

The day had been especially long, and he knew he needed to rest.  Checking the refrigerator in the kitchen a room away from the beautiful office sitting room, he found a bottle of claret.  With a corkscrew and glass in hand, he made his way back to the sofa that faced the fireplace.  He found a book that looked interesting, turned up the gas fireplace.  He poured himself a glass of claret and began to read the book while the fire in the fireplace crackled and flickered.  He began to shed the effects of the long and busy day that was finally coming to an end.

Still ensconced on the sofa, Patah awoke to see morning light streaming in around the edge of the window curtains.  Sitting on the end table near his head was the still nearly full bottle of claret, a half glass of the wine beside it.  The book lay open on the floor. These were all evidence needed to see that sleep had come quickly for Patah.

The sofa had proven as comfortable or more so than most of the beds he had slept in along the path of his journey. Well rested, he got up, stretched and proceeded with the morning routine that he had developed back in the place of his first awakening and had continued to follow as much as possible on his journey.

He did his morning ablutions, found a clean outfit in his bag and put it on.  He then looked around for a washing machine and dryer to restore the clothing he had slept in.  In his natural wariness, Patah preferred to sleep in his clothes to be prepared if there ever was a need for a hurried exit.

He went to the kitchen and prepared a breakfast that would restore him.

As he sat at breakfast, his thoughts turned to the human-like creature he had encountered the evening before.  Last night’s doubts were quickly discarded.  The creature was real, its size suggesting that it might have been a human a human child.  What it was doing on top of that bear-like animal puzzled Patah.  Finding the child might get him an answer for that as well. He knew that it was out there somewhere.  He would have to search.

Patah knew that a random search was not the route to take, so for the next number of days, he explored the town mapping and gaining insight into its layout.

A careful review of the map helped Patah to determine the most likely places to search.  Despite the obvious speed of the small being as it ran from him, Patah felt that it would be relatively close to the church where he now was.  He would plan out his search coordinates based on the types of buildings in the neighborhood and their level of accessibility.

Each day he would proceed a little farther going through each house and building looking for any sign of recent habitation.  A considerable number of days passed without Patah finding any sign of any inhabitant from attic to cellar.  As his search narrowed down to the last few buildings, Patah began to feel that his sighting must have been nothing more than hallucination brought on by fatigue and wishful thinking.  The bear-like animal had long past been buried leaving no real sign that either creature existed.  Patah began to think that he might have dreamed it all especially after all this time when his memory of the incident had lost most of its clarity.

It would soon be time to continue his journey.  He felt some disappointment as he prepared for his leaving.  The Manse had been a comfortable home, and he would miss it, but there would be more such buildings as he made his way onward. While his certainty that he may have seen a human was now shrouded in doubt, his instinctive need to search out and find fellow humans was now stronger than ever.

Despite his lack of success so far, Patah was more convinced that a careful search procedure was more likely to have success than a random one.  He decided that in the next sizeable town he got to would be the site to put his developing search theories to the test.  If it turned up nothing, then he might be just as well off following a more random approach.

Less than a day separated him from the nearest significantly sized town on his chosen path.  Even more so than the previous town, the buildings in this one seemed older with a strongly gothic feel. Seeking out a good place to live while he carried on his detailed investigation of the town, Patah came across the largest church that he had ever seen.  It was even larger than those he had seen in the sizeable city where he had first awakened, ones he had thoroughly searched before setting out on his journey. The residence, or manse, if it could be called that, was not attached to the church building, but stood apart, a small apartment complex.  A quick walk through presented several smaller, well-appointed apartments.  Each contained bookcases flush with leather-covered books, plush furniture, with the wood brown and rich maroon and red colors that he especially liked. A quick look told him that all of the books and other media in each apartment were the same.

There was a larger two-story apartment with bedrooms on the second floor.  Down the wide circular stairway was a good sized living room much like the previous house Patah had stayed in.  Another room connected to it by a set of double doors.  In that chamber, a massive bare-topped and dust free desk was placed in such a way that the person sitting in the luxurious chair behind it could view outside through the lead trim windows or into an attached sitting room with the slightest of head movement.  Two well-appointed armchairs stood before the desk while a large bookcase and wet bar filled the wall behind it, well within reach of the chair. A beautiful dark wood door, leading into a small reception area held a smaller desk and an entranceway from the outside.  The door stood open welcoming any visitor into its cozy environs.

The total effect appealed to Patah even the bathrooms and the functional stainless steel and marble of the kitchen.

It would be an excellent place to serve as a home base from which he could conduct a thorough search of the town.  It would be a lengthy trip from the churchyard as he could see from the upper story windows of the residence that the town was nearly big enough to qualify as a city.  However long the search, the comfortable two level apartment would suit him well.  He brought his Anti-Grav bike around to one of the large garages at the back of the building and began to unpack the things he would need for an extended stay.




A Systematic Search

Having learned some valuable and useful things in his systematic search through the previous town, Patah first sought out a municipal building like a city hall.  There he would locate a map of the town that he hoped would itemize all the various buildings and even state their current purpose.  The one he found in the city hall of this town was fairly complete.  Patah could see that it would be very helpful to his search and brought it back to where he was staying.  There, he could spread it out on the large desk and work on it at his leisure.

With the help of a pen and straight edge, he began to draw lines of division through it.  Eventually, he had divided the map of the town up into quadrants.  His plan was to take one quadrant at a time and study it thoroughly before moving on.  After carefully surveying the first quadrant, he felt he would be able to establish enough of a timeline to judge approximately how long it would take him to intensely explore every place on the map.

He expected that it would take him a great deal of time to cover the entire town unless he was lucky and encountered humans, or some intelligent beings early on.  An encouraging thought that Patah needed to put aside based on previous searches.  There was most likely no chance at all that he would find humans, or for that matter, any sapient being.  Still, the search process alone would provide Patah with the opportunity to pursue the knowledge of this world that was slowly being revealed to him.  Each encounter, every novel object or experience, every object, as he saw it for the very first time, informed him of its function and processes.

Although Patah was aware that each bit of knowledge his search revealed was a first encounter for him, he couldn’t help feeling that he was remembering as if he had had these encounters and made these discoveries at some time in the past. Despite the feelings of déjà vu new discoveries instilled in him, he knew with certainty that each was a first-time encounter for him.

One thing he was sure of was that the more he knew about the world, the more he would know where to look to find fellow humans.  That, of course, was assuming that there were any humans besides himself, to find.  Patah could not shake the conviction that there were other human beings and a large part of his destiny was to find them.

The first quadrant to be investigated according to Patah’s plan included his apartment, the neighboring cathedral, and the surrounding buildings.  Most of the buildings in this quadrant shared similar architecture.  Because of this, the search through this section was going to prove difficult. Like the residence, the cathedral contained what appeared to Patah to be an inordinate number of storerooms, confessional booths, alcoves and small chambers some holding shrines to particular saintly beings and some relatively empty except for a few chairs. Some of the smaller rooms could be found throughout the building from cellar to bell tower, and each had to be searched for hidden passages or any sign of human presence presently or at any time in the past.

The neighboring buildings were as difficult to search as they all contained numerous closets, storage areas and other tiny rooms of vague purpose leading off from the main chambers.

Patah spent a great many days carefully searching every building within the initial quadrant.  Having spent so much time, he was disappointed almost bordering on despair as he realized just how vast an amount of time, his search was going to take. Be that as it may, he knew that he could not give up and, happily, as he extended his search into other quadrants he became more efficient in his search technique.  Not every house or every room required an intense level of search.

Seasons changed as the search stretched on.  Patah was becoming disillusioned.  He had found not the slightest trace of a human or for that matter any other creature larger than a rat, and there were precious few of them. Still, the building-to-building search continued and despite Patah’s growing efficiency at it, between the indoor and outdoor possibilities for concealment Patah returned to his apartment at the end of each long day, exhausted. His plans to spend his evenings embracing the warmth of human contact via books and fragments of video were all but forgotten in his fatigue. He could barely finish his evening meal before falling into bed.  As his head hit the pillow, he was asleep and would remain so until the morning light awakened him to another day.  His morning routines had shrunk to a few minutes preparation, a cup of coffee and some small item of food taken from a refrigerator or pantry and he was out the door on another endless quest to find any trace of humanity.

Within the boundaries of the quadrant, he was currently searching was a large mausoleum surrounded by well groomed, but empty green space.

He had begun to search through the building realizing that this was going to be a particularly long and arduous job.  Just looking through all the different chambers would take time and this would be before he would attempt to open the crypts.  He was not terribly concerned about that.  He expected to find them empty.  They were certainly not appropriate for concealment, and no humanity, alive or dead had turned up at any time during his search.  The likelihood that would change was slim to none.  The search plan, however, called for him to investigate the crypts. It was his plan, and he was determined to follow it faithfully.

Since the day was coming to an end, Patah decided that the crypts would wait until tomorrow and he made his way back to his residence, now some distance away through the empty streets.

That night he found himself aroused from a deep sleep by the sounds of giggling, a child-like laughter.  Although he had never heard the sound of laughter adult or child other than on the occasional video, he still knew it to be childish laughter.  At first, he thought the sound was coming from one of the video players in the house, but he had not touched one in a very long time.  The sound was not coming from deeper in the apartment, but rather from the outside.  Turning his head to look toward the source of the noise, the window beside his bed, Patah saw children’s faces, several of them, smiling at him through the window.  Those faces looked very much like human ones despite the fact that two of them were upside down.

At first, he found this all too bizarre and thought that he was dreaming.  Those grinning faces had a narrow, almost feral look.  They were virtually identical to the face of the tiny naked creature that had been on top of the bear-like creature and hissed at him before running off and disappearing.  Despite it being a long time passed, the faces in the window brought the memory back more vividly than it had ever been with all his trying to recall it. Patah could not quite grasp what he was seeing.  He wondered if this was a lucid dream where he seemed awake, but was really fantasizing images of something that had been obsessing him for so long?

The faces continued to linger at his window.  Some he noticed moved away and some changed places, but they grinned and giggled and looked straight at him.  It was donning on him that this was no dream.  There were grinning giggling children at his bedroom window.  Making this even more interesting for Patah was his realization that his bedroom was on the second level.  The window was high above the ground and not readily available from it, yet these grinning children seemed secure and able to move around with relative ease.

Patah stood up and went to the window to open it. He wanted to speak to them. Before he could do so, his visitors disappeared.  Opening the window and looking out, he could see no sign of them.  “Come back, come back,” he called.

A distant giggle was all he heard.  He waited at the window until the first light of dawn began to edge its way up the sky.  His visitors did not return.

Patah was too energized to go back to sleep.  He went to the kitchen and had the first really hearty breakfast that he had eaten in a very long time.  He then got ready for a day searching, knowing as he did that there were humans or something that looked very much like people out there.  He wanted to find them as quickly as possible, and with this goal in mind, he set off much earlier than usual to begin his searching.  By the time he reached the mausoleum, the sun had cleared the horizon.

The search of the mausoleum, despite Patah’s renewed confidence, was long and tedious.  Exploring the upper levels, including the crypts took most of the day.  He was barely halfway through his search of the upper levels as the daylight began to fade.  The upbeat feeling he had brought to his search that morning, had faded to disappointment as the day passed with no living things to be found. It was especially upsetting that he had failed to find even the smallest sign of his visitors from the previous night.

Tired and disillusioned after his sleepless night and early morning, Patah made his way back home where he ate a quick supper.  Pouring himself a drink from a bottle labeled ‘single malt scotch,’ he selected a book from among the few at which he had actually looked.  One that seemed nearly complete.  It was a novel by someone named Stephen King entitled Salem’s Lot.  Doubting that it was a political treatise of some long ago monarch, he began to read.  Although there were some gaps, the story flowed quite well.  The idea of soulless beings that survived by drinking the blood of humans fascinated and terrified him.  He brought the book to his bedroom and set it on the night table.  His plan to read some more while lying in bed ended the moment his head touched the pillow.

He slept for some time, only to be awakened once again by the giggling and the child-like faces gathered outside his bedroom window.  Perhaps it was falling asleep to the imagery of Stephen King, or it might be that he was more perceptive viewing the faces of his visitors this time, but he saw something different.  He saw that their grins did not necessarily indicate pleasure.  In fact, it now looked to Patah that the grins were propped up by the presence of two very large canine teeth.  In fact, the two long sharp looking teeth, one on each side of the mouth, clearly dominated each of the grinning faces.

It was troublesome to Patah as he was beginning to doubt that his visitors were human at all.  Humans he had seen in pictures and videos didn’t have the narrow faces with the huge sharp teeth poking out of their mouths.  He had seen nothing quite like these creatures in any of the film segments or books and magazines he had looked through. In his mind, the grinning faces took on a more dangerous look that resonated with what he had gotten from reading the nearly complete copy of Salem’s Lot.  Along with that, he knew from his experience that humans like himself could not cling to stone walls, holding on and even moving around like some form of predatory insect.

This time, he did not venture to open the windows, but rather, pulled the curtains and somewhat nervously returned to his bed. He felt little inclined to sleep and for a while lay still, listening to the giggles and hissing from outside the window. Eventually, the sound stopped. The visitors must have gotten bored with no large human to contemplate and left. Welcoming the silence, Patah fell into a deep sleep.

The visitations continued for a several more nights.  Patah was certainly curious about these nightly visitors but was uncertain about opening the windows to them.  His innate knowledge provided enough information to make him wary and uncomfortable when they appeared.  He now kept the curtains closed at night,

As a rule, Patah felt an aversion to weaponry but found himself a rifle and some ammunition for it in a nearby gun shop.  He also picked up a few other items from a service station, a large wrench, a screwdriver, and some chains.  He kept them beside his bed, close at hand to the window where the visitors seemed to exclusively gather.

Shortly after midnight, he heard a sharp knock coming from the outside of the reception area door.  Throwing on a robe, he was about to head downstairs to see what was there. He quickly turned back into his bedroom, and picked up the screwdriver and slipped it into a pocket of his robe.

The knock came again as he made his way down the stairs, through the office and over to the door.  Looking out the small window beside the large wooden door, Patah was amazed to behold a small, just over one and a half meter tall, nattily attired man.  On his head, he had a black homburg causally canted against his right ear.  Beneath his feral eyes and neatly trimmed Van Dyke, he wore a colorful ascot on a while collared shirt over which he wore a flared Waistcoat.  He had gray tweed slacks and very shiny black, high top boots.  In his left hand, he held a silver walking stick with a pearl tip.  Touching the tip of his hat with his right index finger, he smiled, revealing two long sharp teeth.

Patah sensed no warmth in that smile, but apart from the two sharp teeth like those of his nightly visitors, he sensed no threat from the diminutive and elegantly dressed creature on the doorstep.  Patah pulled the doorway open enough to peer at his midnight visitor. “Good evening, good sir,” the little man smiled a disturbing, but apparently sincere smile. “ I am called the Count and I have come to apologize for my children.  It is my understanding that they have been disturbing your sleep.  My children and I, you see, sir, are nocturnal.  My children are drawn to you because they have never before encountered anyone like you and they are enthralled by the sensation they get from your warm sweet blood.

I have ordered them to stay away and, in exchange, I would ask you not to return to the mausoleum as it is in that building that we make our home.  As I told you, we are nocturnal, and if in your rummaging around, you should expose one of my children to daylight, the consequences for the little one would be quite devastating. Now I must bid you good night.” And he turned away.

“No, please,” said Patah, “come in.  You are the first human I have met, and I have been looking for a very long time. Please come in.”

The visitor turned back, a large smile on his face.  Then, his eyes glanced past Patah and through the door to the large crucifix and Star of David hanging side by side on the wall. His eyes narrowed, and the smile vanished from his but please no more in the mausoleum in the daylight hours.  For my children’s sake, I beg you.”

Then he was gone as if he had never been.  Patah stood at the doorway peering into the darkness unable to determine where the little man might have gone.  It had happened so quickly.  I was as if he had vanished before his eyes.  Patah shut the door and went back to the office.  He poured himself a drink, tossed it down and headed back to bed. He was very much bemused by the visit of the strange little man and wanted nothing more than to rush off to find him so they could continue the chat and Patah could ask the questions that filled his mind. But, as he lay there on the bed he was aware that like the small naked child he had seen in the last town, he would never be able to find him.

The little man was true to his word.  There was no sign of grinning, giggling faces at his window that night.  A little later, Patah fell asleep.  In his mind, he tossed and turned all night, but in reality, he was startled to see the sunlight coming through the window.

If he hadn’t physically tossed and turned, he had mentally, and he couldn’t help but think that some part of him was restless and disturbed and that the strange little man was a big part of it.

Honoring the request of the little man, Patah decided to stop his search of the mausoleum, at least for now.  Instead, he went to a large library that he had been through earlier.  This time his search would be an intellectual one, a search for information and knowledge.

Patah seemed to have an instinctive grasp of how the library card catalog system works, but the printed instructions above the electronic card catalog helped hasten the process.  He began to look for anything he could find on nocturnal humans, “what did the Count call them, creatures of the night?”

The catalog seemed fairly complete, but the books he hunted down were not terribly useful.  Most had large gaps of information, while others spoke of bats and toads and small furry creatures.  Several days search yielded nothing that explained the Count and his children.  On the verge of despairing that he would every find any usable information, he came across a book entitled, The Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, circa 2000, whatever that meant.

According to the Encyclopedia, the term ‘creatures of the night’ was often used in reference to fictional creatures.  These creatures were called vampires.  Beings that had originally been human until bitten by a senior vampire or sire.  The vampires were said to be soulless and in most cases pure evil. They lived on the blood of humans, some of whom they turned and some whom they drained of blood until they were dead.

These creatures were adverse to sunlight. It could burn them to ash.  A similar result could be achieved by driving a wooden stake through their heart.  The were repelled by garlic and by religious icons and symbols such as a crucifix or holy water, a Star of David and others.  Contact with such items could severely harm or outright kill vampires.

Vampires were also believed to have preternatural powers that allowed them to do things beyond the scope of mortals, those unconverted humans.  They could run very fast, in some cases fly and they could climb walls.  Despite these powers, they could not enter a home unless invited in by someone with some authority within the house, a resident, family member or servant.  Even when invited, the presence of religious symbols or exposed garlic would prevent them from gaining access.

The vampires of fiction were often learned and cultured due to long life spans, and while generally portrayed as vicious and evil, fiction did indicate some exceptions.  References to vampire or vampire-like creatures could be found in ancient folklore and numerous works of fiction.

Having read the novel Salem’s Lot, Patah had some awareness of these fictional beasts.  There was little more to be gleaned from the Encyclopedia except that they were fictional.

The Encyclopedia had illustrations showing images of various fictional vampires.  Some appeared quite human while others were more sinister with misshapen faces and fingers, large pointed ears and huge sharply pointed teeth.  Most were pictured with the large canine teeth with which they could puncture the skin over an artery, usually in the area of the jugular vein in the neck and draw out and consume the blood.

Except for a small section on vampire bats, there was nothing else about vampires or sharp teethed small human-like beings.  Patah knew for sure that these creatures, including the little man called the Count, were definitely neither small winged rodents nor fictional.  As to their being evil and destructive Patah, as yet, was unable to draw any conclusions. However, he did remember the Count telling him that his children were attracted to him because of his warm, sweet blood. On the other hand, the strange little man seemed quite pleasant and amenable, but his grinning, so-called children, looking at him through the window had made Patah quite uncomfortable.

Stephen King’s chilling tale of vampires, Salem’s Lot had intrigued and in its own way, explained more to Patah than the Encyclopedia had and he now turned to the fiction section to see if he could learn more.  Most of Ann Rice’s books were quite fragmentary and although he saw glimpses of the richness of her imagery and description. They, along with most of the others were for the same reason quite difficult to follow. Spared from his frenzied pattern search for a few days, Patah was able to relax and spend some time reading and checking out video versions of the stories he had selected.

Just as the Count had promised, Patah was no longer disturbed by grinning faces at his window or the sound of giggling in the night.  As grateful as he was for the undisturbed sleep, he was concerned that these extraordinary beings might have utterly vanished from his life.  Even if they were not human, they were similar enough to provide companionship.  What was more, he might be able to learn from them about true fellow humans.

Despite the information Patah now had about the creatures of the night or the children of the night, and about vampires, he really only knew two things about them for certain. These were two things the odd little man had told him.  They were creatures of the night and that the light of day could be, as he had said, devastating to them. The other thing he felt sure of was that the naked ones, the ones the Count had called his children, could apparently scamper around on walls as easily as they could run along the ground.  He understood nothing more about them.

Patah had seen no sign of the little beings during the day and was pretty certain that the Count was truthful in saying that they hid from the sun in the darkest reaches of the mausoleum.  Relieved as he was that they were not gathered around his window giggling and hissing, he still wanted to see and learn more about them, to spend time with them.  So, if they were no longer coming to him, he would have to go to them.

Patah’s plan was simple.  He would make his way back to the mausoleum after sunset, then wait to see if they would come to him.  Over the next few days, he planned out his nighttime journey.  He walked the route a number of times committing it to heart.  That was to make sure he could get there and back safely without the risk of running into something and getting injured or losing his way in the dark in case he had to travel fast.

When the day came that he would put his plan into action, he gathered some useful supplies, several flashlights, a walking stick and a backpack to carry some foods and other offerings.  With evening fading to darkness, he put his pack on his shoulders, gathered up what he needed. He picked up both a small crucifix and a Star of David as an afterthought, shoved them into his pocket and set out.

Initially, he had considered taking his Anti-Grav bike or another vehicle but decided it would be safer and less threatening for him to walk. Enough daylight remained to let him see his route quite well.  The air was clear and still warm enough to make for a comfortable walk.

As he arrived at the mausoleum, traces of the setting sun still lingered, casting a scarlet and gold sheen over everything.  The entrance to the mausoleum glowed brilliantly in the fading colors of the sun as it slowly slipped its way below the horizon as he entered the main gathering point of the gigantic building.  He set his backpack on one of a number of writing desks around the large chamber, moved it towards the center of the room and dragged a chair up to it.  He put out a bowl of chocolate covered nuts and mints, turned on a small lantern he had brought along and pulled a book from an inside pocket.  While he waited, he read his book in the lamplight.

Feeling relaxed and engrossed in his reading, Patah didn’t notice when the last vestiges of sunlight were extinguished. The change was a subtle one in the area where he was seated.  The room did not go dark as the sunlight faded, but dozens of lamps around the walls and high above began to compensate, holding back the encroaching darkness.

“We are creatures of the night, but as you can see, not necessarily of the dark.”

The voice came from right beside Patah giving him a start.  His eyes off the pages of the book, he could see the strange little man standing at his side. “This may not be a safe place for you; my children will be awake soon and hungering for blood.  They are numerous, and some of them are not easy to control.”

“What sort of creature are you?” asked Patah

“We are called Wampyra.  That is the name I seem to have come into the world knowing.”

“You have many children?”

“Ah, you ask personal questions.  No matter, I will answer.  It will make little difference for you when my children arrive, and be certain; they will arrive.  Your warm, sweet blood attracts them.  My Fem is in the darkest, deepest part of the building.  There she remains, and with me, we create our children.  She will grow them in her womb, as many as ten a day.  As they come into the world, I need to bite each one and share blood with them. If I don’t, they quickly starve and die.  They will then need fresh blood regularly to survive.  Their nights are about hunting for blood.  Some will become like me.  Some Fems may come into the world, too, but they are rare.  Sires, are as I am, and fems are special. The fems allow us to breed.  The Sires like me have an understanding of speech.  We can read and speak Assianangle, a natural language of this world.  We are the repository for the knowledge of what we are and what we need to do to survive and prosper.”

As the Count finished his explanation, Patah felt a weight on his shoulder as a tiny Wampyra drove its large teeth into his jugular.  Feeling his blood being drawn in by the creature, he tried to grab it and pull it off him.  He was met momentarily with resistance then the Wampyra fell away from him and landed unmoving on the ground.  The Wampyra sire bent down to pick it up as he did it shriveled into dust.  “My child is dead.  What horror is that!”

He reached out a sharp nailed finger and wiped it across the wound in Patah’s neck, dabbing at the blood. He brought the droplet of Patah’s blood to his mouth.  His immediate reaction was a grimace, and he began to spit violently. “Your blood is poisonous!” he exclaimed.

“You must leave here now,” his tone bitterly angry.

“But I need to know more, “ cried Patah.

“ Leave,” said the Count, “Get back to your home.  Be away from here by tomorrow if you value your life.”

Patah persisted, “But the children, can I help?”

The Count raised his walking stick and pointed it at Patah, a sharp blade protruding from its end, “You are death to them, death to us.  Go now before others come or I will kill you.”

The Count jabbed his walking stick blade at Patah who had already grabbed his lantern and backpack, ducked away from the attack got to his feet and ran.  He made it to his home just as a horde of Wampyra converged on him.

Swinging his lantern wildly with one hand, he threw open the door and was inside.  Before he could close the door, he could see a number of small naked creatures with wide toothy grins, pushing at the open doorway but unable to get any closer.  He shut the door in their faces and went into the office area closing that door behind him as well.

The tiny Wampyra had been unable to enter despite the door being open.  There was another useful bit of knowledge he had gleaned supporting his reading.  The Wampyra could not enter his home without an invitation.

In his bedroom, the window framed numerous grinning faces.  To Patah, the term leering faces described them better.  While Patah didn’t think they would break the window and force themselves in, he wasn’t certain.

He closed the curtains tight, but the rustling and hissing and the giggling that now sounded quite malevolent to him remained loud and disturbing. Remembering what he had read in the encyclopedia, he thought he might try something to send them off.  Reaching into his jacket pocket, Patah pulled out the two religious icons that he had taken with him earlier. He opened the curtains and held out the crucifix and the Star of David towards the window, one in each hand.  The Wampyra’s reaction was remarkable. At the sight of the religious icons, they screeched, almost as if they were in pain, covered their eyes.  Their fear was almost palpable as they disappeared from view.

Another piece of the lore he had read held true.  Perhaps some others would as well.  He set the two icons on the window ledge leaning against the window and closed the curtains again.

He sat on the edge of the bed, head in hand and reviewed the evening.  His blood was fatal to the Wampyra.  They would die from just the slightest amount of his blood.  They could not enter a home without an invitation from someone who lived there.  He thought too about the spiritual aspect of the lore he had read. Vampires were soulless creatures and without compunction were capable of great evil.

One of the avenues of knowledge that was inherent to Patah as he awoke was an understanding of the concepts related to human spirituality.  It was not a path he spent much time pursuing except for some readings and one or two videos.  It was not much for the great amount of time that had passed since he had first awoken.  Now he was wondering about the soul.  Did those creatures have souls or not.  In fact, he wondered whether he had a soul.  He didn’t know how he had come into this world, but he was certain it was not the way the humans who had written those books and made those videos did.

With greater insight into his makers, he might have realized that as powerful as they were they were not creators.  Rather, they were reconstructors.  They lacked the infinite creative power required and could neither instill nor prevent the instilling of a soul.

Patah, in the study of his own mind, had recognized a deep longing that was more than a desire for human companionship.  He felt there was something beyond that, a desire to do good by his fellows, to do good for the world he was given.  Despite his weaknesses and failings, he wanted to make things better, truer.  Perhaps that was an indicator of the presence of a soul.  Patah was not sure.

All this introspection still didn’t answer the question about the Wampyras’ soul.  Although, as far as he could tell, he was the only actual human and it limited his basis for comparison to zero.  How could he make any judgment regarding souls, or any other aspect of humanity, psychically or spiritually?

The knowledge base that Patah awoke with was heavily weighted toward fundamental humanity, its spirituality, and its psychology.  He would have to assume that any humans he might encounter would fit under that umbrella.  If they didn’t, then his knowledge in this area would be superfluous which would make no sense at all.  He had to consider his innate knowledge to be genuine.  In that case, he could posit a soul for humans.  As to the Wampyra, if they were soulless then they were in fact quite dangerous, something he had already learned.  Even if only the rare sires had the intellectual capacity for thought and for speech, the others were under their complete direction.  Unlike animals, then, they could not be seen as innocents.  The response of the children to the religious icons could not be entirely instinctive.  Without a soul they could not be motivated in any way towards good, never rising beyond neutrality and likely directed towards evil. This would make Wampyra inimical towards humans.

While Patah was aware that he had no evidential proof, all the evidence he could muster suggested that the Wampyra, were, in many ways, very like the Vampires of fiction and legend and therefore, evil.  Perhaps they weren’t intrinsically evil but were so in support of their self-interest.  It didn’t matter why and so the Count had given him useful advice.  Patah should get away from the area as quickly as possible.

Patah realized that the Count’s warning was nothing so altruistic as to protect Patah, but rather to protect his children from the fatal toxicity of Patah’s blood.

Any Wampyra sire would be prepared to kill Patah without hesitation to protect his offspring.  Patah knew that these were very dangerous creatures.  His blood might kill them, but there were many ways that they could kill him, too, not the least being the blade in the Count’s walking stick. He was torn.  Should he pack his things and move far away from this place and never look back or should he remain and destroy as many of these dangerous creatures before leaving? The Count, thinking that his children were about to drain Patah’s blood and kill him, had told him that about ten offspring a day were being produced. This would mean a dramatic increase in the Wampyra population over a very short time as new sires and fems would soon be adding even more to the total.  Any human community that might exist would certainly be small and easily overcome by the vast numbers of Wampyra this particular hive alone could produce.  His choice was clear, the Wampyra needed to be stopped, and he would have to do it.

That morning, ax in hand, Patah made his way to the mausoleum. He opened all the curtains and all the doors. Sunlight filled every part of the mausoleum as he opened up skylights. He then searched the lower levels but turned up nothing.  They were too well hidden.  In anger, he drove his ax into the wall. As the crack in the wall that his ax had made opened the space behind it to daylight, he heard a terrified screech.  There was one of the Count’s children hiding back there, could there be more?

Patah began hammering away at the wall with his ax opening the space behind it to daylight.  He could see dozens of small Wampyra through the breaks he had made in the wall and watched as the sunlight touched their small naked bodies.  Where the sunlight touched them, smoke began to rise.   They began rapidly to shrivel.  Within moments, nothing remained but a fine ash where the Wampyra had been.  He opened a number of walls and destroyed some more Wampyra, but the space behind most of the walls was empty.  Patah realized that he could never get them all this way.  It was time to move on.

Going back to his apartment, Patah quickly packed his accumulated belongings into the Anti-Grav bike. He gathered up as many religious icons he could find and attached them in various places around the vehicle. By late afternoon he was ready to move on.

He boarded the bike and followed a route through the town that would bring him close to the mausoleum.  As he passed by it, he noticed some heavy machinery in a service area across the road.  He parked his bike and climbed aboard a bulldozer.  It took a few minutes, but he figured out how to operate it.  He drove it into the central reception area of the mausoleum and began to smash the walls with its large plow blade.  Having opened up most of the walls, killing a few more Wampyra, he could see that the room was filled with debris.  Using the bulldozer, he pushed it all against one wall.  Leaving the machine against the pile of rubble, he made his way back to the service center.  He had noticed a large tanker truck parked beside the gas pumps.  He took a moment to climb up and open one of the vents.  The tank was filled with gasoline.  He knew what he had to do.  He started the truck and drove it over to the mausoleum, following the route he had taken with the bulldozer.  He ran it up against the pile of rubble he had set up earlier, then got out and opened all the covers.  Gas began to leak onto the floor spreading towards the pile of rubble and the bulldozer.  Patah then went back to the cab of the truck and looked behind the driver’s seat for an emergency kit.  He opened it and took out a flare.  Walking back to the rear of the truck where gasoline was spilling to the floor, he ignited the flare and threw it into the puddle, then ran as quickly as he could away from the gas that was beginning to burst into flame.  He made it out through the door just as he heard a loud whoosh from inside.  Never looking back, he ran to the Anti-grav bike turned it back into the street and accelerated out of there as fast as he could.  He was a lengthy distance away when he heard a loud rumble and the sound of an explosion.  Still not looking back, he passed the edge of the town and continued into the countryside.

By then it was growing dark.  The sun was about to set, so Patah pulled into one of the larger houses along the road, put the bike into an attached garage and entered the house.  He climbed to the second story and looked out the window back toward the town.  As the sky darkened, he could see through the trees a flickering glow. Fire was consuming the mausoleum and most likely some of the surrounding buildings. Knowing what he had done did not sit well with Patah. He could not clear his head of doubt.  Everything he had done flew in the face of what he wanted to believe.  He lamented the destruction and surprisingly, felt bad for the Wampyra, but he had made what he believed was the right decision.

Before going to bed, he surrounded himself with religious icons to keep the Wampyra at bay, but he neither saw nor heard any sign of the diminutive monsters.  He slept with a sense of safety for the first time in days comforted by the belief that vengeful Wampyra had no idea where he was.

Patah, however, was an innocent regarding evil.

A very limited number of Wampyra had escaped the fiery destruction of the mausoleum.  The old Count and his fem were dead, but among the survivors, there was a new Count and fem.  The new Count, sharing the knowledge of the old one determined that the human perpetrator of the destruction of so many of the children must pay. The new Count, despite the toxicity of Patah’s blood, had made an extreme but true generalization about human blood.  Any humans, should he encounter any other than the one who had destroyed so many of his brothers and sisters, would likely share his toxic blood. This made humans the enemy.  Patah would have to die.

To this end, after relocating and beginning to rebuild the hive, the new Count, as they were bred, sent out several groups of his children to find Patah.  Should any one of the groups find even faint traces of the odor of Patah’s blood, they were to track him down and kill him.  The Count did not tell them that in carrying out this order, they too would die.

It took a considerable length of time for one of the groups to find Patah, but it did.  While it was long enough that Patah lost some of his wariness, it was not long enough for him to totally forget.  The Wampyra, for their part, were hindered by the daylight and the fact that Patah usually found a place to stay before nightfall. They were also held back by the religious icons he kept with him, the ones on his bike, the ones he set in the windows of whatever room he slept in and the Star of David that he kept on a chain around his neck.  The Wampyra waited until one evening when Patah was a little late in finding a place to spend the night. On the road, some distance from any secure housing, Patah stopped briefly, dismounted the bike and moved off to relieve himself.  The chain around his neck that held the Star of David got tangled in a branch, and instead of untangling it as he would have earlier along his journey, he removed it from his neck.  He would retrieve it on his way back to the bike.

This is exactly what the Wampyra were waiting for.  Having seen that he had removed the repellant icon from his neck, they could see that where he was, he had no icons to hold them back.  They scrambled down from the trees where they were hiding and leaped on Patah.

Patah cried out in pain as he felt numerous teeth biting into his flesh.  The first arrivals bit at his exposed flesh; some arriving moments later proceeded to bite right through the clothing.  The frenzy was so intense that the other attackers failed to see the first of their kind dropping off to the ground. They did not see their fellows’ bodies shriveling into ash even as it happened to them.

Bleeding from hundreds of tiny wounds, Patah began to run.  He headed into the bush in hopes that the branches would prevent the Wampyra from getting to him.  They scrambled through the branches of the trees, close above, but unable to get to him in mass.  Those that in pairs or individually were able to get to him and bite quickly fell away and crumbled to dust.  If the others noticed what was happening to their fellows, they were too intent on catching up to Patah, to react.

As he ran, Patah grabbed at and struck and tried to pull off his assailants.  Pain and the loss of blood began to slow him.  He tripped over a fallen log and dropped in a heap to the ground.  The few remaining Wampyra climbed over his body biting to draw his warm sweet but unbeknownst to them instantly fatal blood into their rudimentary bloodstream and enormous single vaulted heart. Their moment of triumph was fleeting as the instant the blood touched their teeth and lips, they began to shrivel up, and their drying bodies turn to a fine powder that the gentle breeze carried off leaving no sign that they had ever been.

With all his assailants gone without the slightest trace beyond leaving multiple blood tinged wounds covering most of his body, Patah staggered to his feet and tried to run.  All he could muster was a slow trot, and that quite quickly deteriorated into a staggering walk.  Overwhelmed by the pain of a thousand tiny wounds Patah pressed on as droplets of blood mixed with the anticoagulant in the Wampyras’ saliva continued to flow. He had no idea how far he had gone into the bush when overcome with the loss of blood; he fell into a swoon after which, he neither saw, nor heard, nor indeed, remembered anything.

He didn’t hear the laughter of the elvin and their giant companion as they made their way past with the baskets of berries they had picked from the grove beside the nearby stream, Some were still gathered there, not far from where Patah lay unmoving and unfeeling.

He didn’t hear the young elvin screaming in mock terror as they raced to Jolinda’s surgery before the storm struck.  He didn’t hear the storm or feel the rain, neither did he feel the screeching gusts of wind nor the things that ran before it, hurtling against his body.  As the storm raged around him, he lay on the verge of death impervious to the roiling tempest.  He didn’t feel himself being picked up by the giant creature and carried gently along the path towards the medical center just beyond the trees.  He didn’t feel himself being examined or being put into the healing module and being attached to the blood exchanger where he would remain for considerable time as the machine tried to regenerate his blood supply and heal the thousands of minuscule bites that covered his body.

As he hung on the edge of death’s abyss, feeling nothing.  Deep in his mind, where conscious thought could not penetrate, he kept repeating to himself, “What a waste. What a waste. I am dying without ever serving, or even knowing the purpose I was put here.”


There’s more, but you’ll have to wait until the draft is completely edited and proofread and then formatted for ebook publication. If there is enough interest to merit it, We would like to put the story out in print form a well.