Last Child


By Wayne Thoden


Arkadie sat silently writing in a journal he knew would never be read.  Only the shivering light of a single candle disturbed the darkness that surrounded him.  It was a darkness that, for centuries, was all he had known.

He had witnessed the various plagues, famines and disasters that had tested mankind from one millennium to the next.  He recalled the countless wars that civilized man had provided for him.  He had seen the horrors that humans were capable of.  And he had seen the good, as well.  Advances in technology, medicine, engineering and science, advances that now meant nothing.  It was as if he were thrust back to a time long ago, yet tortured with the remnants of a future that had since passed.

With all the disasters and atrocities the human race had endured through its great will to survive, his kind had finally destroyed them—the race that he himself had once been a part of. 

July 20th, 2050
I am the last.  There are no more.  There is nothing left of what used to be.  Lifeless buildings line empty streets—streets that but a few short years ago teemed with a thriving populace.  But that time is gone now.  I write in anguish, for as the morning sun rises, I too shall be gone. 

We have walked these lands since the dawn of time.  In the beginning we were little more then a myth, a legend, a story to be told by the light of a fire.  And that’s the way we wanted it to be.  In reality, of course, we were all the legends spoke of, and much more.  We were few in numbers at first, but as time passed, our numbers grew.

Arkadie shifted himself on the chair, but there was little comfort.  He was tired because he had not rested for some time now, and he was tired of the senseless loss of all he had known—tired of the living death that he had become.

Everything was still there; it was like a war without destruction.  All around him was evidence of how things were.  The lights of the city had long since darkened.  The technological amenities of the 21st century were of no use to him, and had not been for some time now.  So, he sat quietly, writing by the candlelight and drinking his last bottle of wine.

We were known by many names:  Adze, Lampir, Nosferatu.  In every land, there was a different name for us.  But no matter what we have been called over the centuries—creatures of the night, children of darkness, the undead—we are simply, and always have been, Vampires.
We were destined to walk for eternity in darkness, never again to see the beauty of a sunrise or feel the warmth of its rays on our cold, lifeless skin.  Nevertheless, I am all that is left of the generations of my kind whose lust for power brought about their own end.

Leaning his head back, Arkadie closed his weary eyes.  He stopped writing and sat motionless, reflecting back to days that had long passed.  He took another sip of wine, then continued to write.

There was a time when we lived by the rules of an unwritten code.  We had dignity and conducted our affairs discretely.  We commanded respect because we were the elite of society.  We attended the finest parties and lived in the most eloquent of homes in the most exclusive areas.  We had businesses and wealth.  No one suspected our true nature.  However, as with any group or species—if that is what we can be considered—there are always those whose hunger for power is greater than their instinct for survival.

As humanity grew, so too did we.  For centuries, we carefully selected those who would join us in darkness.  But eventually, as we grew in number, we inadvertently enlisted an unfortunate and undesirable element into our ranks.  They had no regard for the ways of the ancients.  As a result, our species was no longer considered a myth or legend; we became fact.

These miscreants who scorned the old codes eventually caused the undoing of us all.  They brought in so many that soon they too had their own degenerate splinter groups. Their lustful actions spawned our greatest enemy:  a living vampire.

It was the offspring of a vampire and a human.  It had the power to sense where vampires slept by day.  These hybrids loathed the pure vampires and hunted them with great passion.  They grew in number—so much so that they eventually outnumbered the mortals.  Then they began to fight among themselves for power and control of the blood supply.  Blood—the most unlikely of resources, yet the most cherished and sought after for the survival of my kind. 

They captured humans and farmed them for their blood.  Like cattle, they herded them into bleeding facilities.  It was the only way they could protect their own future.  How ironic it was that the mortals actually ran the facilities.  Either they glorified the ways of the vampire and wanted to be like us, or they just realized it was a better alternative then being bled.
Despite all their best efforts to prolong their own existence, the bleeding of the humans was short lived.  The humans could only be bled for a short period of time; the process was slow and put too much strain on their human hearts.  But the demand for blood was still too great.
They tried to increase the human population, but there were still pure vampires that preferred to kill and feed.  So the human population continued to decline, as did the blood supply.  Of coarse, there were always those who did not care where their blood energy came from, and they fed on whatever they could—human, animal, other vampires—it did not matter.  The weak vampires were killed by the more powerful ones, or by the many bands of vampire hunters.

Eventually, no pure vampires existed. The hybrids have suffered no better fate.  They too slowly spiraled toward their inevitable end and were either slaughtered by the light of day or just died from a lack of food or their own stupidity.  Industry faltered and eventually came to a halt. Food production ceased.  Most of the human race was gone.  Domesticated animals were left with no one to tend to them, so they either died or were killed for food.   What was left of the human race had been driven to an almost primitive state of survival.  And now, it appears that they are all gone as well. 

So I am the last.  I have survived only because I kept well hidden, and because of the supply of blood I was able to store.  But this supply was not unending.  Even the rats are gone.  Yes, rats.  They are easy to breed, and though not a very attractive or desirable source of food, they sustained and nourished me for quite some time, nonetheless.

It is so quiet and peaceful, and I intend to travel as far away form here as I can tonight.  I will sit under a tree and wait.  I will watch the sunrise once again for the last time, and wait for its rays to embrace me.

Arkadie put his journal away and took one last walk through his home—the home that he had made his residence for over two hundred years.

Far secluded from the city, it was a large home and eloquently styled in a renaissance period design—a time period for which Arkadie thought mankind showed so much promise.  He looked at his collection of manuscripts—the works of the greatest minds:  Sophocles, Aeschylus, Chaucer, Tolstoy, Homer, Asop, Aristophanes—all a silent memorial to a once great race.  He thought how sad it was that they would never be read again.

Casting a watchful eye at the trinkets and baubles he had accumulated for over a thousand years, he lamented with each glimpse back to a time long forgotten.  Arkadie then readied himself for one last venture from his home.

The walk was long and tiring; he was weak, but determined to continue on his journey.  As the dawn approached, Arkadie found a large oak tree and slowly sat down beneath it, leaning gently against its massive trunk.

He had carried his wine and journal with him, and as he sipped his last sip of wine, he could see the first light of the sun stretch its golden arms up over the hills.  He smiled at the sight.

As the shadow of darkness before him slowly waned, he could see the beautiful colors of the rising sun—a sight he had not seen for centuries.

He was not frightened of death; he desired it, needed it.  He needed it all to end—to just be over with.  Arkadie could smell the freshness of the morning, and he braced himself for his last few seconds.

As he watched the sun creep up on the horizon, he heard the sound of a small child call to his mother.

Turning his head, he saw a young woman holding the hand of a child off in the distance.  They were walking in the morning sun.  Again, Arkadie smiled.

He quickly picked up his journal, and as the sun began to take him, he wrote one last line.

Maybe there is still hope.