Hello, hello! As some of you may know, I am beginning to post in this new bilingual blog some of the English versions of the stories published on «Cuentos de Marieta». For now, you will be able to read them in both languages.
Oh! And don’t miss tomorrow the entry about Patreon, where I advance you that you can find all my stories in EARLY ACCESS even 1 week before being published here and, of course, EXCLUSIVE CONTENT ONLY FOR PATREONS!
(Spanish version of this story can be found here)
Leaden sky. Dark buildings. When the first drop fell on his hat, Balzai looked up with a grimace of displeasure.
Albac City, he grumbled to himself. What an irony.
And it was true. For in that city of almost snowy name, the souls who had walked its streets for a long time housed only the most absolute blackness. The epochs of light, kindness, solidarity, tolerance and love of neighbour had been over for more than a century, but everyone continued to call it by its old name – not that he cared at all, of course. A demon did not notice such things unless the ray of light or the jet of holy water shot in its direction – that was not the case.
With a sigh, Balzai squeezed his red cigarette and provoked a slight incandescent glow that illuminated his angular features, only a moment before setting his hat and heading for a nearby alley.
Kurt slid like a shadow over the slate roofs that crowned the buildings like castle-tops, resembling some macabre tale. The rain fell from the clouds, in a curtain of fine threads which immediately created small streams in the gutters, and flowed into the mouths of the gargoyles – they poured water from the heights as if they were vomiting it. At that time of night, any sensible people were sheltered from the darkness. From his position, he saw the demon in that wide-brimmed hat and almost laughed.
Oh, please Balzai! Can’t you be a little less conspicuous? he thought as he hung like an insect down the wet walls and stopped right in front of him, in a graceful acrobatic.
“What’s new, old friend?”
Kurt tried to run a hand over his shoulder, but a sharp look like two daggers forced him to remove it – he almost felt as if he had narrowly dodged its edge.
“But how are we today, huh?”-He ran his tongue through his fangs.
“I would have preferred not to have to come looking for you, you useless vampire, but The Iblis left me no alternative”, Balzai spoke in rapid whispers.
Hearing that name, Kurt gulped forcefully. The Iblis was not just anyone, but the King of Hell, the One who did not prostrate himself before Adam and did not recognize God as the supreme creator. In the underworld, he was better known as Satan. Albac was the last bastion of Humans and fell, trampled under his boot when the Book of All Books mysteriously disappeared. Although Albac now belonged to the darkness, there were still some humans trying to find the Book of All Books so that the light would re-light the city.
The vampire removed the hood from his black Assassin Creed jacket -he loved the aesthetics of that video game when he was a simple mortal and continued to love it now- and let the rain soak his military-style hair. With a slight gesture of his head he instructed the demon to follow him and, after walking a long way down the alley, they entered a place where all sorts of supernatural creatures gathered who wanted to vent a little and escape the strict gaze of The Iblis; for the only time they were allowed to camp at will was in the winter solstice, when the night was longer and darker, called the night of Yaldá, and the beings of the underworld were much more powerful, called the night of ‘Yaldá’, and the beings of the underworld were much more powerful.
Kurt invited Balzai to sit at a table in a corner. He knew his old comrade’s tastes, so to say, hence he dared to ask for a Fire of Hell firewater and a bottle of the best Red Harvest. They both drank, as they did in the old days of the war, and then Balzai broke the silence.
«I have to kill you. It is the order.» -He took an earthen vessel out of the inside of his long coat and poured its contents on the table.- «Do you see this?» -He pointed to a red gelatinous mass.
«I didn’t know you were a fan of the Slims. It’s disgusting.» -Kurt’s face wrinkled in distaste.
«It’s Violette, asshole. Or what’s left of it her. The Iblis turned her into this only because she didn’t do what she was supposed to do.»
«She was an exceptional vampire. Especially in bed» -His iridescent eyes shone brighter when he evoked an episode with her.- «What happened?»
Balzai pursed his lips with apparent reluctance.
«She had a mission to find the Book of All Books. Does that ring a bell?» -He took a red cigarette out of his pack, lit it with his finger and inhaled a long puff.
«Don’t give me that, Balzai. I lost the Book…»
«In a bet,» grunted the demon, irritated and no longer holding back at all. «Damn it, Kurt! Do you think he doesn’t know? He knows everything! You and Violette had to bring him into his presence. It was the simplest thing! But no, you had to go crazy with the Book.»
“I don’t understand what’s going on with that book. It looks like an instruction manual from a very bastard father! ‘Don’t do this, or Yahweh will punish you, don’t do that, or you’ll unleash his wrath.’ Blah, blah, blah.»
Balzai clenched his fists, trying to control himself and not jump over the vampire in the middle of that room. If he reduced it with so much public presence, the consequences would surely not be flattering for him either. Apart from the fact that a small part of his being didn’t want to have to.
“Kurt, damn it,» he rebuffed low, pushing his chest forward over the table until their faces were barely ten centimetres apart. «Don’t make this more difficult, will you?»
The vampire, for his part, changed his countenance to a more serious one and moved back a few centimetres on the chair, away from Balzai’s contorted expression as he took a slow sip of his glass. He didn’t seem to laugh so much anymore.
«It’s funny,» he said.
Balzai squinted and recoiled, too, surprised.
Kurt stuck his intense reddish eyes into him.
“Now, all of a sudden, may my well-being be part of your worries. Or have you forgotten?”
Balzai shuddered. He knew that tone, those manners. Kurt was upset – very upset. When Balzai understood what he meant, he rolled his eyes as well – it couldn’t be true. He, too, was angry and took a long drink.
«Don’t change the subject, Kurt. This has nothing to do with our past. Are you going to be nice to me or not?»
The vampire remained without moving a muscle, apart from the hand that spun the drink into his glass with a gentle wrist movement.
«No, of course, I should have known.»
«Are you going to come to me now with jealousy? You, the great Marquis de Sade of the slums?»
Kurt’s cup hit the table so hard that even some parishioners turned to look at them. Balzai gave them a silent warning in the form of fiery irises and all the curious returned to their business, but the demon was far from calm. He had already reneged in as many languages as possible by the time he had been given that job; but no one, not even someone of high rank like him, could refuse the wishes of The Iblis.
«Leave me alone, Balzai,» said Kurt. «Damn it, you and I have nothing to talk about.»
«I have not come to talk,» Balzai repeated in the same tone, clenching his fists under the table to force himself to remain calm.
Kurt snorted, jaded before he fully rushed his drink down the throat and got up to leave.
«It has not been any pleasure, dear Balzai. And you can tell The Iblis to find someone else to chase. I’m not interested.»
Balzai watched him walk away as he tried to follow the whole thing by all means. He breathed in and out five times with force and advanced behind Kurt in the direction of the alley. When he saw the opportunity, before the vampire climbed onto a roof to escape, he held him by one arm firmly and pulled him towards himself. They were so close that not even the raindrops passed between them. With one stroke Kurt took away that ridiculous wide-brimmed hat and let free a scalp that looked like a reddish stream running down Balzai’s shoulders.
«I’d say you don’t want to talk, but you’re dying to do something else,» he snarled at his nose. «Aren’t you?»
Kurt whispered in his ear with that silken voice Balzai had heard so many times in the heat of the blankets and made him tremble, if only for a moment. The last time had been before the capture of Albac, almost eighty years ago. That night they had their own pitched battle amid a stir of blankets on the floor. At dawn, everyone went their own way, but the indelible mark of the caresses remained under their skins like an eternal and invisible tattoo. They had a mission: Kurt was to find the Book of All Books together with Violette, while Balzai was to banish any indication that Believers, both Jews and Christians, were triumphing their truth about the power of that book with the Sacred Fire, which they hid somewhere underground in the city.
«Listen to me, Kurt,» the demon muttered to him in a pressing tone. «Please recover the Book! Don’t do this to me!» -His tone was almost begging, and not for nothing.- «Aren’t you tired of running away like a rat? Because I’m tired of going after you, always trying to clean your tracks so that the Hunters don’t find you first. I couldn’t save Violette, but I could save you.»
Another thought crossed his mind, fast as a gale, but the demon clenched his teeth and refused to express it out loud. Not at that moment. If I could save his skin in any way…
«What kind of demon are you?» -Kurt laughed on his side, although deep down something in that speech had stuck to him like a poisoned arrow.»You’ve become soft! Almost human. What a pity for poor Balzai! That’s dangerous for guys like us who live in the shadows, dear demon. And,» he grimaced, «I have not asked you to protect me.» -Kurt hated his ex-lover when he was so condescending.- «But you’re right,» he admitted. «I’ve been on the run too long. So let’s go!» he tempted him. «Nail me the damn stake once and for all, and let’s get it over with! I’m not going to serve The Iblis anymore, » -Then Kurt discovered his chest and raised his arms, exposing himself.- «I want to break free, I want to break free. I want to break free from your lies. You’re so self-satisfied I don’t need you. I’ve got to break free. God knows, God knows I want to break free!», he sang, defiantly, the first verse of that famous Queen’s hymn.
Balzai looked around him, his soul in suspense, his nerves tense like strings and fearing that this nonsense had alerted some hunter in the area. Hearing him sing, he felt rivers of lava running through his veins. Not all the rain of that moment could quench his anger. Suddenly, he caught the presence of four Hunting demons from the Ninth Ring of Hell: they were the most lethal and quickest. Though he had been a warrior demon, commander of the armies of Hell, he was at a disadvantage. So he decisively took Kurt by his jacket and forced him to look directly at him.
«You’ve managed to sound the alarm, you idiot vampire!» he admonished him, furious. «But now you and I are going for a walk, to look for the damned Book, to crush an incipient rebellion and put out the Holy Fire wherever it is. Did you hear me right?»
Kurt smiled sharply before he burst out laughing.
«I love the plan. Just like old times. Sex, drugs and rock and roll!»
Balzai snorted, took out a little bag that he kept in his coat and threw its contents on the floor – they were golden marbles. The Hunters, as he imagined, couldn’t resist the temptation to throw themselves at them and start counting them over and over again. Balzac took advantage of that to open a gap in the air and escape with Kurt.