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Original published "A Vow of Blood" short story

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message 1: by Debby, Author (new)

Debby (debbyfeo) | 92 comments Mod
A VOW OF BLOOD (by Debby Feo, "Hungur" magazine, May 2011)

As long as I can remember, I have always lived in Rome. I had been left to die
near one of the temples of Fortuna. My father thought he had killed me; my mother couldn’t stand to look at me. She couldn’t admit that she had given birth to such a monster as me.
I remember the horrified look on my mother’s face the first time she found me sucking blood from a rat, with my tiny mouth, the same mouth that had never suckled from her breast. She had screamed so loudly that my father had been summoned from his shop on the Appian Way, spilling some of his precious spices from the East, the land of the pharaohs.
Running into our insula, he asked my mother in a frantic voice, “What is wrong? Are you hurt? Why are you screaming?”
My mother could only point at me, sitting in a dark corner of the atrium.
“Your son, your son, look at your son!”
Since shortly after my birth, my mother had started referring to me as my Father’s son. Apparently, she had quickly realized that something about me was not quite right. Anyone who came into contact with me began to shun my mother, the mother of That Thing.
Only my father’s wealth kept me from being stoned as an aberration. In addition to being a spice merchant, my father also loaned money to those in financial trouble, who did not want to lose their standing in the society, their auctoritas.
My father, my tata, was not blind. He recognized that I was different – from the hives that appeared on my fair skin when I was exposed to the sun, to my failure to gain weight, despite the best efforts of my wet nurse, Livia.
I was cursed. I was an abomination. My mother had been impregnated by an Egyptian slave while travelling with my father. Such were the rumors that filled my mother’s ears, wherever she went, even without me.
Livia was the only person that didn’t shrink at touching me. She was the only person who seemed to prefer that I lived. Many different servants passed though our atrium. None lasted long after seeing me. Even lashings could not force a slave to care for me.
After my mother doused me with the oil from a large, lighted lamp, in the hopes that I would “burn up” and free her from her misery; my father decided that the only humane thing to do, for all concerned, was to quickly run me though with a knife; and to leave my body by a temple, in the hope that the goddess Fortuna would take pity on my soul.
But I did not die that night, as my father had assumed, I had simply passed out from the shock of the injury. My body quickly healed itself. I was alone, on my own, but there were plenty of rats nearby with warm blood to suck.
The rats had been attracted by the offerings left near the temple by the Head Count. The wealthiest in Rome had their own shrines in their insulas, the number dependent on which gods they thought would be most useful to them in getting what they wanted out of life. Some Romans, who had travelled to other lands, tended to “believe” in more gods, in order to “hedge their bets”. I, on the other hand, could not believe that any god would allow a small child like me to live such a ghastly existence as mine.
As I grew older, and stronger, thanks to the warm blood that I had to have as sustenance, I began to explore Rome, after the sun would set. The Coliseum, with its roars and screams, seemed to draw me like a magnet.
I had no trouble buying my way into the Coliseum; along with the food offerings left to the gods were frequently gold or silver coins (depending on the current state of Rome’s treasury). The audience was generally so enthralled with what was going on below – staged battles, men against men, men against animals, chariot races, even mock sea battles – that little notice was taken of me.
After things quieted down, when the days’ events were through, I would hide in the shadows until the crowds had departed, and then “help” with the clean up of all the blood.
Soon I developed a taste for human blood exclusively, but I had to find a still- warm body that had not yet been fed to the deliberately starved lions.
Occasionally, when money was tight, as during one of Rome’s many wars and battles with its neighbors, the Coliseum would remain dark for months or even years at a time. I would then have to turn to slaves as my blood source. This was a dangerous practice, as slaves did not roam about freely. I would have preferred a citizen, but I did not want to arouse too much suspicion. Citizens frequently went to public bathhouses to bathe and/or have their skin scraped clean. Puncture marks on throats would quickly be noticed, especially if they were frequent.
I could have gone outside the city to one of the many battlefields, but soldiers, those who did not have careful centurions to demand that latrines be dug in spots away from the drinking water, were prone to diseases, that could be life threatening to me. Also, I preferred to stay in the city of Rome, where the nightlife was full with the theater and other distractions.
There were always the cats in the Coliseum as a last resort. If I morphed to a bat and pretended to be wounded, cats were easy prey, and had much larger blood volume than the rats I used to subsist on.
One night, while trolling for human blood, I approached a familiar looking shape, a female who did not, as usually happened, run screaming away from me. With a shock, I realized that it was Livia, my former wet nurse.
“Gaius, is that you?” she exclaimed, upon seeing my face.
“Livia – what are you doing out so late, all alone?”
“Your father freed me the day after you disappeared. On the condition that I never speak your name again. I am on my way home, I live in a small room above your father’s shop.”
“Perhaps my father has a heart after all.” I responded.
“Gaius, I hardly recognized you! Come home with me, you look so tired. I want to hear all about you, and where you have been all these years!”
Although I had misgivings, I followed her home to her room, partly to make sure she got there safely. Livia offered me some wine, but I told her to save it for herself, as it would be wasted on me. She offered me her bed, she said that I looked so haggard, but I told her that it wasn't necessary; as I must return to my own home before dawn.
“Gaius, what happened to you? Where have you been? Please tell me!”
After much pleading, I ended up telling her the entire story, including my need for warm blood in order to survive. Instead of rejecting me, Livia told me that she felt sorrow for me, and the life that I had to live. She had heard the rumors about me, before I disappeared, but she couldn’t believe that a small baby could be evil. For years, Livia had wondered what had happened to me.
Upon reflection of all that I had told her, Livia insisted that I no longer prey upon humans, as she did not consider this to be honorable. She thought that I should live only on the blood of animals. She made me take a vow to that effect, on pain of never seeing her again.
I took that vow. Livia had been my only source of human kindness. I could not give her up, now that we had found each other again.


message 2: by Debby, Author (new)

Debby (debbyfeo) | 92 comments Mod
Story about "A Vow of Blood": I first wrote and submitted a poem called "A Vow of Blood", and soon after, a follow-up poem. The editor of "Hungur", T. L. Relf @tlrelf, told me that I had a short story in the poems. I then wrote a short story, and then a follow-up story, and submitted them. After receiving the stories, Terrie said that she thought that I had the beginning of a book.
Now, as of July 2018, I have 5 published Vampire books and multiple "Between Bites" stories and poems (to be called "Musings of a Vampire").


message 3: by Phyllis (new)

Phyllis | 12 comments Interesting to hear the background of my favorite character of Debby Feo.


message 4: by Debby, Author (last edited Jun 12, 2019 08:37AM) (new)

Debby (debbyfeo) | 92 comments Mod
Upcoming book, called "Between Bites" will contain all the stories I've written that take place chronologically between my 5 Vampire books. The 2nd part of the book will contain many of the poems written by my vampire Gaius, over the decades.


message 5: by Debby, Author (new)

Debby (debbyfeo) | 92 comments Mod
In case you haven’t heard, Barnes & Noble and Amazon have my big book called “A Vow of Blood Collection”, which has my 6 Vampire books, poems written by Gaius, and all the short stories (except the one above, which I recently realized) about Gaius Domitius Tubero, and his family, in chronological order.
At the moment, “A Vow of Blood Collection” is on sale on Amazon - don’t miss this opportunity!


message 6: by Debby, Author (last edited Apr 21, 2022 09:51PM) (new)

Debby (debbyfeo) | 92 comments Mod
My 7th vampire book “A Vow of Blood Collection” has gone out of print. If you have one of these hardcover books, hold on to it - it is selling, as a collectible, for $99+.

The first 6 books in the “A Vow of Blood” series are available at Hiraeth Publishing and other fine booksellers.

(My 8th vampire book is called “Mellie: The Adventures of a Teenage Vampire”. This book is for younger readers, and is Not part of the “A Vow of Blood” series.)


message 7: by Debby, Author (new)

Debby (debbyfeo) | 92 comments Mod
Link for Hiraeth Publishing:
hiraethsffh.com


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