Home > Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(3)

Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #11)(3)
Author: Anne Rice

Around four in the morning, it had me so bad, I was in a little public park, sitting on an iron bench in the damp, doubled over, in a bad seedy part of the city, the late-night lights looking garish and sooty through the mist. And I was cold all over and fearing now that I simply wasn’t going to endure. I wasn’t going to “make it” in the Blood. I wasn’t going to be a true immortal like the great Marius or Mekare or Maharet or Khayman, or even Armand. This wasn’t living, what I was doing. And at one point the pain was so acute, it was like a blade turning in my heart and in my brain. I doubled over on the bench. I had my hands clasped on the back of my neck, and I wanted nothing so much as to die, simply to close my eyes on all of life and die.

And the Voice came, and the Voice said:

“But I love you!”

I was startled. I hadn’t heard the Voice in such a long time, and there it was, that intimate tone, so soft, so utterly tender, like fingers touching me, caressing my head.

“Why?” I asked.

“Of all of them, I love you the most,” said the Voice. “I am with you, loving you now.”

“What are you? Another make-believe angel?” I said. “Another spirit pretending to be a god, something like that?”

“No,” he said.

But the moment he’d started to speak, I had felt this warmth in me, this sudden warmth such as addicts describe when they are infused with the substance they crave, this lovely reassuring warmth that I’d found so fleetingly in the Blood, and I’d begun to hear the rain, hear it not as this dismal drizzle but as a lovely soft symphony of sounds on the surfaces that surrounded me.

“I love you,” said the Voice. “Now, get up. Leave this place. You must. Get up. Start walking. This rain is not too cold for you. You are too strong for this rain and too strong for this sorrow. Come on, do as I tell you.…”

And I had.

I had gotten up and started walking and made my way back to the elegant old Hôtel de l’Europe where I was lodged, and I’d gone into the large exquisitely wallpapered bedroom and closed the long velvet draperies properly over the coming sun. Glare of white sky over the Amstel River. Morning sounds.

Then, I’d stopped. I’d pressed my fingers to my eyelids and buckled, buckled under the weight of a loneliness so terrible I would have chosen death then if only I’d had such a choice.

“Come now, I love you,” said the Voice. “You’re not alone in this! You never were.” I could feel the Voice inside me, around me, embracing me.

Finally, I lay down to sleep. He was singing to me now, singing in French, singing some lyrics put to the beautiful Chopin étude “Tristesse”…

“Lestat, go home to France, to the Auvergne where you were born,” he whispered, just as if he were beside me. “Your father’s old château there. You need to go there. All of you human beings need a home.”

So tender it sounded, so sincere.

So strange that he would say this. I did own the old ruined château. Years ago, I had set architects and stone masons to rebuild it, though why I did not know. I saw an image of it now, those ancient round towers rising from that cliff above fields and valleys, where in the old days so many had starved, where life had been so bitter, where I had been bitter, a boy bound and determined to run away to Paris, to see the world.

“Go home,” he whispered.

“Why are you not winking out the way I am, Voice?” I asked. “The sun’s rising.”

“Because it is not morning where I am, beloved Lestat.”

“Ah, then you are a blood drinker, aren’t you?” I asked. I felt I’d caught him. I began to laugh, to cackle. “Of course you are.”

He was furious. “You miserable, ungrateful, degenerate Brat Prince,” he was muttering … and then he’d left me again. Ah, well. Why not? But I hadn’t really solved the mystery of the Voice, not by a long shot. Was he just a powerful old immortal communicating from another part of the globe by bouncing his telepathic message off vampiric minds in between, like light bouncing from mirror to mirror? No, that wasn’t possible. His voice was too intimate and precise for all that. You can send out a telepathic call to another immortal by that method, of course. But you can’t communicate directly as he had been doing all along with me.

When I woke, it was of course early evening, and Amsterdam was filled with roaring traffic, whizzing bicycles, myriad voices. Scent of blood pumped through beating hearts.

“Still with me, Voice?” I asked.

Silence. Yet I had the distinct feeling, yes, the feeling that he was here. I’d felt wretched, afraid for myself, wondering at my own weakness, inability to love.

And then this happened.

I went to the full-length mirror on the bathroom door to adjust my tie. You know what a dandy I am. Well, even down and out, I was in a finely cut Armani jacket and dress shirt, and, well, I wanted to adjust this bright, flashing, beautifully hand-painted silk tie and—my reflection wasn’t there!

I was there, but not my reflection. It was another me, smiling at me with triumphant glittering eyes, both hands up against the glass as if he were in a prison cell behind it. Same clothes, yes, and me down to the last detail of long blond curling hair and glittering blue-gray eyes. But not a reflection at all.

I was petrified. The dim echo of doppelgänger rose in my ears, and all the horror such a concept connotes. I don’t know if I can describe how chilling this was—this figure of myself inhabited by another, leering at me, deliberately menacing me.

I remained sober faced, and I continued to adjust my tie, though I could see no reflection of what I was doing. And he continued to smile in that icy mocking way, as the laughter of the Voice rose in my brain.

“Am I supposed to like you for this, Voice?” I asked. “I thought you loved me.”

He was stricken. His face—my face—crumpled like that of a little boy about to sob. He put his hands up as if to shield himself, fingers hovering, eyes quivering. The image vanished, to be replaced by a true reflection of me standing there, puzzled, faintly horrified, and not a little angry. I straightened my tie for the last time.

“I do love you,” said the Voice sadly, almost mournfully. “I love you!” and he began to chatter, and roar, and discourse, and all those vocabularies were suddenly tumbling together, Russian, German, French, Latin.…

That night, when Benji began broadcasting from New York, he said that things could not continue like this. He urged the young ones to flee the cities. He begged once more for the elders of the tribe to step up.

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