Home > Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(2)

Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(2)
Author: Anne Rice

I’ve been to New York, by the way, to spy on my old friends.

I’ve stood outside their gorgeous Upper East Side dwelling on warm nights, listening to the young vampire Sybelle play the piano and Benjamin and Armand talking by the hour.

Such impressive dwellings—three townhouses attached to one another and made into one grand palazzo, each with its own Grecian portico and front steps and little decorative iron fencing. Only the central entrance was used, with the bronze name in script above the door: TRINITY GATE.

Benji’s the vampire responsible for the radio talk show beaming out of New York night after night. In the first years, it was broadcast in the regular way, but now it’s internet radio and reaches the Undead all over the world. Benji’s clever in ways no one could have predicted—a Bedouin by birth, brought into the Blood at age twelve perhaps, so he’ll be five feet two inches tall and small forever. But he’s one of those immortal children whom mortals always take for a diminutive adult.

I can’t “hear” Louis when I’m spying, of course, since I made him, and makers and fledglings are deaf to each other, but my preternatural ears have never been better. Outside their house, I easily picked up his rich, soft voice and the images of Louis in the minds of the others. I could see the vividly colored baroque murals on their ceilings through the billowing lace curtains. Lots of blue there—blue skies with rich rolling gold-tinged clouds. Why not? And I could smell those crackling fires.

The townhouse complex was five stories, Belle Époque, and grand. Basements underneath and, high up there, an immense attic ballroom with a glass ceiling open to the stars. They’d made it into a palace, all right. Armand has always been good at that, drawing on unimaginable reserves to pave his stunning headquarters in marble and antique plank and to furnish the rooms with the finest designs ever produced. And he always made them secure.

The sad little icon painter from Russia, kidnapped and plunged into the West, had long ago embraced its humanist vision utterly. Marius, his maker, surely must have seen this with some satisfaction a long time ago.

I wanted to join them. Always do want to join them and never do. In fact, I marveled at the way they lived—slipping out in Rolls-Royce limousines to attend the opera, the symphony, the ballet, wandering the museum openings together, so well integrated into the human world around them, even inviting mortals to those gilded salons for wine and refreshments. Having mortal musicians in to play. How splendidly they passed for human. I marveled that I had ever lived that way, ever been able to do it with such finesse a century or more ago. I watched them with the eyes of a hungry ghost.

The Voice rumbled and bellowed and whispered whenever I was there, rolling their names around in a stew of invective and rumination and demand. One evening, the Voice said, “Beauty is what drove it, don’t you see? It was the mystery of Beauty.”

A year later, I was walking along the sands of South Beach in Miami when he broke that one on me again. For the moment, the mavericks and rogues had been leaving me alone. They were afraid of me, afraid of all the old ones. But not enough.

“Drove what, dear Voice?” I asked. I felt it was only fair to give him a few minutes before shutting him down.

“You cannot conceive of the magnitude of this mystery.” He spoke in a confidential whisper. “You cannot conceive of this complexity.” He was saying these words as if he’d just discovered them. He wept. I swear it. He wept.

It was an awful sound. I don’t glory in any being’s pain, not even the pain of my most sadistic enemies, and here was the Voice weeping.

I was hunting, thirsting though I didn’t need to drink, at the mercy of the craving, the deep agonizing lust for heated pumping human blood. I found a young victim, female, irresistible in her combination of filthy soul and gorgeous body, white throat so tender. I had her in the fragrant darkened bedroom of her own lodgings, lights of the city beyond the windows, having come over the roofs to find her, this pale woman with glorious brown eyes and walnut-shaded skin, black hair like the snakes of Medusa, naked between the white linen sheets, struggling against me as I sank my fangs right into the carotid artery. Too hungry for anything else. Give me the heartbeat. Give me the salt. Give me the Viaticum. Fill my mouth.

And then the blood erupted, roared. Don’t rush this! I was the victim suddenly laid waste as if by a phallic god, slammed by the rushing blood against the floor of the universe, the heart pounding, emptying the frail form it sought to protect. And lo, she was dead. Oh, too soon. Crushed lily on the pillow, except she’d been no lily and I’d seen her grimy petty purple crimes as that blood made a fool of me, wasted me, left me warm, indeed hot, all over, licking my lips.

Can’t bear to linger near a dead human. Out over the roofs again.

“Did you enjoy that, Voice?” I asked. I stretched like a cat under the moon.

“Hmmm,” he replied. “Have always loved it, of course.”

“Then stop all the weeping.”

He drifted off then. That was a first. He left me. I hit him with one question after another. No answer. No one there.

Three years ago, this happened.

I was in a wretched state, down and out, disgusted and discouraged. Things were bad all over the vampire world, no doubt about it. Benji in his endless broadcasts was calling for me to come out of exile. And others were joining him in that appeal. “Lestat, we need you.” Tales of woe abounded. And I couldn’t find many of my friends anymore—not Marius, or David Talbot, or even the ancient twins. Time was when I could find any and all of them fairly easily, but no more.

“We are a parentless tribe!” Benji cried over the internet vampire radio station. “Young ones, be wise. Flee the old ones when you see them. They are not our elders, no matter how many years they have in the Blood. They have refused all responsibility for their brothers and sisters. Be wise!”

On this dreary cold night, I’d been thirsty, more thirsty than I could bear. Oh, I don’t technically need the blood anymore. I have so much blood from Akasha in my veins—the primal blood from the old Mother—that I can exist forever without feeding. But I was thirsting, and I had to have it to stanch the misery, or so I told myself, on a little late-night rampage in the city of Amsterdam, feeding off every reprobate and killer I could find. I’d hidden the bodies. I’d been careful. But it had been grim—that hot, delicious blood pumping into me and all those visions with it of filthy and degenerate minds, all that intimacy with the emotions I deplore. Oh, same old, same old. I was sick at heart. In moods like this, I’m a menace to the innocent, and I know it only too well.

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