Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella, p.1Part #4. 5 of My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking
April 19, 1836
I’m writing this in the corner of the room with trembling hands. The candle long since burned out, and I sit in darkness, yet I can see perfectly. I wanted to believe this was some parlor trick, that the man who found me was merely a magician or a doctor, but I’m unable to refute it any longer.
My name is Peter James Monroe, and I am a vampyre.
I’ve taken a few sheets of paper from the one who made me. I have to write this all down, as if to convince myself that I’m not mad.
It was only a few days ago that I was still human, but it feels like an entire lifetime has passed. I had been riding my father’s horse into the city. My younger sister Caroline had been bitten by a dog, and despite my mother’s best remedies, she was gravely ill. That morning, when I awoke, she could no longer move.
Father had me take Lysander, his fastest horse, and sent me to fetch the doctor. Lysander might be faster than our elderly mares, but he was a horse built for work, not speed. He must’ve sensed my urgency, though, because he pushed himself.
We didn’t make it far when a pack of wild dogs came upon us. They may have been the same dogs that attacked poor Caroline, because they acted nothing like dogs should. They appeared mad, and continued to give chase, even after Lysander kicked at them.
I turned Lysander off the road, hoping to lose the dogs in the thick trees of the forest, but I didn’t think it through. The smaller dogs were much better suited for dodging through the thick tree trunks than the big work horse.
The dogs bit at Lysander’s legs, and one of them managed to latch onto Lysander’s haunch. The horse couldn’t take it any longer, and he reared up, bucking me off him. I fell to the ground, cracking my head against a tree.
For a moment, I could see nothing but blackness, and the sound of the growling dogs muffled in my ears. By the time I came around, the dogs were already on me. One of them had me by the arm, dragging me away.
Lysander was gone, and from the echoed barks through the trees, some of the dogs gave chase after him. The rest of them stayed behind, stalking around me.
I tried to pick up a stick or a rock, anything to fight off the animals, but my right arm wouldn’t move at all. The dog had begun to gnaw on my left arm, and I couldn’t even pull it away from him. My body was paralyzed.
I called for help, relieved to find that I could still make a sound. I was breathing and I could yell, but that seemed to be the only things I could do.
A dog howled in the distance, maybe in victory at conquering Lysander, I’m not sure. The dogs that had stayed behind realized that I wasn’t going anywhere and ran ahead to see what their comrade was howling about.
They left, but I knew they were coming back, and they would certainly finish me off when they returned. I tried desperately to move my arms or legs, but they refused to budge.
My arm had been chewed up viciously, with my blood spilling onto the dirt. The one good thing was that I couldn’t feel it. I was incapable of feeling anything except for the ache in the back of my skull from where it hit the tree.
I lay in the cold ground, feeling weaker as my life drained from me. I yelled as long as I could, until long after my voice had gone hoarse. My throat was raw, and it ached to even swallow.
It wasn’t that I believed anyone could save me – if I couldn’t move, it would only be a matter of time before I died. But my sister needed a doctor. Caroline wouldn’t survive much longer without one, and my family thought I was getting help. They needed to know that I hadn’t made it so they could go fetch him themselves.
I wasn’t sure who they would send in my place. My father shouldn’t leave my mother and sister alone at the house, not with the mad dogs on the loose, and both of my brothers had moved and lived too far away to get help soon enough.
My younger brother Joseph lived in New York City caring for an elderly aunt, and that was almost a full day’s ride from our house.
My older brother Daniel lived half a day away from us, but he had a wife and two small children to worry about.
The thought of Daniel made me grimace. Every time I spoke to him, he lectured me about how I needed to grow up and be a man. He never failed to remind me that when he’d been seventeen – two full years younger than I – he’d gotten married and built his own home.
When it grew dark, I began to feel better. Father would’ve realized something was wrong and set out to fetch the doctor himself. Since I hadn’t come back, he’d be more careful and smart enough to bring his gun, something I would’ve done if I hadn’t been in such a rush.
Father would get help for Caroline. Mother would lock up the doors to the house, and she wasn’t a bad shot herself, if the dogs came around. Father would have to take Helena, who was a slower mare than Lysander, but she was younger, so she had more stamina.
Caroline would be alright, even if I wasn’t.
I imagined I could hear the hoof beats of my father’s horse on the road past the forest. They pounded heavily in the dirt as he raced to the doctor. I could’ve called for him, but I didn’t want to slow him.
Then the hoof beats got louder. They grew closer, crunching on the twigs and leaves. This was all wrong. Father needed to help Caroline. He didn’t have time to worry about me.
I tried to yell out, to tell him to go back and leave me be, but my voice only came out in a croaked whisper. I sounded like a dying toad.
The horse stopped next to me, snorting loudly. The moonlight cast splotches of light through the tree branches, so I could only see bits of the brilliant white horse and the rider. Helena was a dark brown, and Lysander was black. This wasn’t my father’s horse.
The rider dismounted. I saw his legs swing down, but his feet didn’t make a sound when they landed. He walked over to me, still silent when the ground should’ve crunched beneath him, and he crouched down next to me.
His face was hidden in the darkness, but I heard him sniffing the air, inhaling deeply. He touched my arm, covered in drying in blood, and then put his hand to his mouth.
“Can you move?” he asked finally, his voice deep with a heavy accent. Something about it made me feel strangely comforted.
“No,” I whispered, barely making a sound at all.
“You’re dying. ” It wasn’t a question or filled with pity. He was merely stating a fact. “Do you want to live?”
I was surprised by his question and didn’t know how to answer it. Of course I wanted to live. I had so much that I still wanted to do, so much I hadn’t done yet.
But it didn’t matter whether I wanted to live or not. My body wouldn’t move, and it was getting hard to breathe. I didn’t have a choice whether I lived or died.
“Do you want to live?” he repeated, this time with more force.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Very good. ”
He pulled something out of his pocket, and the moonlight glinted on the blade. He ran it down his arm, slicing it open, and I smelled the blood mixing with the pine and dirt around me. But his blood smelled unlike anything I’d ever encountered. It was sweet and tangy and… delectable.
He put his arm to my mouth, and the hot liquid poured down my throat. It tasted even better than it smelled – rich and sweet. I swallowed it so quickly I nearly choked. Some part of me knew I should be disgusted about drinking this stranger’s blood, but I couldn’t help myself.
I could feel his heartbeat in his blood, pouring through me. I could feel him – his intelligence and strength filling me, radiating through me. It was like warmth and
He pulled his arm away much too soon, and I suddenly felt cold and small. The pleasure and contentment of his blood had been ripped away, although a haze of it still lingered around me, making me drowsy.
“Please…” I whispered, begging for more of his blood. My voice had already grown stronger, and my throat had healed.
“You’ve had enough,” he said.
He reached out, taking me in his arms, and I hung limply. I couldn’t even lift my head. He climbed onto his horse, letting me hang over his lap so I didn’t slide off. I was fighting to stay awake, but once the horse started moving, almost rocking me to sleep, I passed out.
The next time I awoke I was in horrible pain. Worse than anything I had ever felt in my life, worse than I had even imagined pain could be. I lay on a cold dirt floor, writhing in pain and screaming at the top of my lungs.
My insides were moving around. I could feel them squirming inside my belly. I wrapped my arms around my stomach, and I didn’t even care that I could move my arms again. I would gladly take the paralysis and numbness for the agony that overwhelmed me.
When I opened my eyes, the dim light from a nearby candle shone too brightly. It scorched my vision, and I squeezed my lids shut again. I curled up onto my side, trying to hold myself together, but nothing I did eased the pain.
I couldn’t hold it back any longer, and I struggled to get to my knees. I leaned over, vomiting up everything inside me. A long black string of my own intestines came up, covered in something dark that almost resembled blood. It spilled out all over the dirt floor as pain ripped through me.
“Shh,” a man said, the same stranger that had given me his blood before. He knelt down next to me, setting a pail of water on the ground. “Screaming will only making it worse. ”
“What have you done to me?” I wept. I wanted to stay on my knees, but I collapsed back on the ground.
“I saved your life. ” He reached into the pail, pulling out a rag soaked in cold water, and he began to wipe my face of sweat, tears, and my own blood.
“You didn’t save me,” I groaned, gripping my chest. My heart felt like it was about to pound out through my ribcage. “I am dying. ”
“It only feels that way,” he said, his voice deep and comforting as he wiped my brow. “You’re turning. You’ll feel much better soon. ”
I knew I should be terrified of this man. He’d fed me his blood and made me feel this horrendous pain. But I couldn’t fear him. I trusted him implicitly, and I even felt a longing for him. Not the way a man longs for a woman, but something more basic and primal. The way I longed for spring after a terrible winter or water after a lengthy drought. I needed him.
“Who are you?” I asked, peering up at him through half closed eyes.
“My name is Ezra. ” His dark brown eyes rested on mine, warm and meaningful. “Go back to sleep. This will all be over soon. ”
I tried to sleep, but I never seemed to truly be asleep or fully awake. I existed in an awful nightmare place between the two. The pain only intensified, and I begged for death. My dreams were filled with insects and snakes eating my flesh, and even that was a reprieve from how I actually felt.
I’m not sure how long it lasted. It might have been days or even weeks. It felt like eternity when it was happening.
Then I opened my eyes, and I realized I wasn’t in pain anymore. I didn’t feel like anything. I’d been asleep, my cheek rested against the cold floor, and when I awoke, I’d never felt better. Even the dirt against my skin felt amazing.
I sat up, looking around the darkness. I appeared to be in a cellar, a small room dug in the ground. The walls were packed dirt lined with shelves, and an old staircase led out of it. The doors at the top were shut, leaving me trapped in total blackness, but I could see clearly.
A thirst grew inside me, and it was unlike any thirst I’d ever felt before. It was like a hunger, only deeper. Like it came from the very heart of me, and every part of my body needed to feed.
“Hello? Ezra?” I called out for him.
I moved towards the stairs, and I tripped over my own feet. I’d meant to take only one step, but it happened with a strange ease.
“Ezra?” I repeated and got to my feet again. Somehow, I knew he was nearby. I sensed it, but even that small distance felt too great. “Ezra!”
The doors at the top of the stairs opened. Before I saw him, I could smell him – the same tangy smell I remembered from drinking his blood, only stronger and mixed with something heady, like sandalwood.
I heard a gently thudding, and I realized with some dismay that was his heartbeat. I could hear it, and stranger still, the sound of it made my mouth water.
I stepped back as he came down the stairs, but not because I was frightened of him. I was frightened of myself, of what I might do to him, and I could never live with myself if I hurt him.
“What’s happening to me?” I asked with a tremor in my voice. I reached out, touching the wall to steady myself. “What am I becoming?”
“It’s already happened,” Ezra said. “You’ve already became what you are. ”
“And what is that?”
“A vampyre. ”
“What?” I gasped. It seemed unreal, but I believed him as soon as he said it. I trusted him far more than I trusted myself. “I’m a demon?”
“No, nothing like that,” he said with a small smile. “We’ll discuss it more later. But now, I see the thirst is getting to you. You must feed before it grows too strong. ”
“Feed?” I echoed.
“Yes. ” He turned and began walking up the stairs. “Come with me. It’s time you learn the proper way to be a vampire. ”
May 23, 1852
There aren’t words fit to describe her. I still can’t believe in my own eyes. I’m writing as fast as the ink will allow me, but it’s not fast enough. Ever since I first saw her, I feel as though I’m going to burst.
Something has taken hold of me, something too large for my body to carry, and I must release it or perish.
I’ve never been one for hyperbole, so please believe this isn’t grandeur. As soon as I saw her, I was in love, horribly, deeply, irrevocably in love. It was as if my purpose in life suddenly became clear, as if every moment before this one only happened so I could see her, be near her, love her.
Nothing in life has ever made as much sense as this.
I want to run to the hillsides, climb to the rooftops, singing her name over and over. Elise, Elise, my love, my true, Elise.
All this time I’ve been here, travelling with Ezra, and we hadn’t seen her. We must’ve gone over every bit of countryside in all of Ireland, but somehow, we missed her. As if she’d been hiding, a treasure tucked away like a pot of gold.
The guilt I’ve felt these past two years has finally disappeared, like a weight from shoulders. For nothing about me can be as horrible as I’ve imagined, as I’ve feared. No creature such as Elise would ever speak to me if I was a monster.
I want to write down exactly how I found her, precisely as it happened, so I can remember this day forever, in perfect clarity. Even if tomorrow she leaves, I could survive forever on this one meeting, on this one beautiful, perfect day. So I cannot forget. I will not.
Ezra and I have been staying in the countryside, preferring the small villages to the cities. The rural areas have been hit the worst by the famine, and that is why we came here in the first place. Ezra had gotten word of the devastation in Ireland, of all the people dying of starvation.
After some debate, Ezra decided we should come here. We would be doing the people a favor, helping to ease the suffering.
Things were even worse than we’d expected. Children so small and frail with bellies round and distended. Fields filled with rotting, stinking potatoes. Bodies piled along the side of the
Well… perhaps not the only thing.
Initially, I was against the idea. It was the opposite that everything Ezra had ever taught me. Taking a human’s life is beyond my capacity. But when I saw how these people were dying, the slow agonizing death that starvation is, I understood that there were far worse things in life than death by vampyre.
Ezra chose carefully, looking for people he was certain wouldn’t survive and whose absence would benefit those around them. Like a family of five that only had enough to feed two.
Many humans called him the Angel of Death, and they were grateful when he’d finally come for them. To humans, Ezra did look much like an angel. He was beautiful in a way that I’d only imagined the seraphim could be. Calm and comfort seemed to flow from him, and he held his victims in his arms, giving them peace for the first time in so long.
Still, the guilt ate at me. I truly believed we were helping these people, ending their anguish in the only way we knew how, but death is not an easy burden to bear. Even a welcomed death.
We both ate much less frequently than we needed to. Once or twice a month at most. The humans were far too weak and frail to handle even the smallest blood loss, so every feeding meant death.
I’d begun to hate Ireland. When we’d first arrived, I’d been enchanted by the beautiful rolling moors. The grass here seemed so much greener than I’d seen before. Even with famine lurking around every hill, there was a certain lushness to the scenery I’d never seen in America.
But now I saw the grass that was so green because it grew from such tainted fertilizer. How many bodies were buried here? How many lives had been lost? Not just at mine and Ezra’s hand, but by the hands of our kind, or by disease and famine?
“Why does this happen?” I asked him, kneeling beside a fresh grave I’d dug myself. We always buried every body we came across, whether we made them or not.
“I don’t understand the question,” Ezra said, wiping the dirt from his hands onto his trousers.
“Why do people always die?”
“It’s as it is. As it should be,” he said, but the moonlight shone brightly on his expression, and I knew he’d asked himself that a thousand times before. “Everything dies. ”
“But we don’t. ” I stared up at him, hoping he would have some response, but I’d already began the realization that my maker didn’t know everything. He was no more a god than I was, with no more solutions than I had.
“We will,” he assured me, staring off in the distance. “Someday. ”
“But why is it like this?” I got to my feet, unable to contain the anger and confusion inside me. “Why do all these innocent people suffer? How can children, who’ve barely even taken a breath, die in so much pain? How is there so much death in this world, and yet we live on?”
“I don’t know, Peter,” Ezra said. “But I’m afraid that the answer might be that you’re asking too much of this life. I don’t think there is a reason. ”
Letters to Elise: A Peter Townsend Novella by Amanda Hocking / Young Adult / Fantasy have rating 4.1 out of 5 / Based on45 votes