The Cliff Dwelling Part 2: The Moon Flute Player #fridayflash #samplesunday #serialtuesday

flickr via redteam

 The Cliff Dwelling Part 2: The Moon Flute Player

     The creature slunk behind the desert shrubbery out of view. He could feel the soles of his feet press into the crusted dirt. If he had a heart, its rapid pulse would have filled his chest. But, seeing that he did not, his heart lay dormant, unmoved by her presence. This was not the case with his mind, which raced with thoughts of her. Lis, had been his last. A couple of centuries ago he turned her into a vampire, that is when the world began to change. The mystery and honor that came with his gift vanished. He longed for the days when he was Ammon the revered, instead of feared. In those days Ammon could walk for miles and never see buildings, manicured lawns or cars.

     Ammon shielded himself with a branch. He was so used to his own skin, that his withered and grey hand did not repulse him. The last time he attempted to look in the mirror was years ago and Ammon withdrew with disgust. His hair was matted, his body mutilated and his eyes were dull. When he smiled a dark space showed itself where his fang used to be. Ammon had once been beautiful with flawless olive skin, shiny black hair and piercing green eyes. All that could be seen now, was a body wasted away, gaunt and wrinkled. Ammon’s condition happened by no mere chance, he made it happen. Without feeding regularly his former glory was gone. He was known to drink a bat here, or a desert mouse there, but it was only enough to keep him going; a drop or two to clear his mind.

     Ammon was consumed with death and dying. So many times had he caused the death of others and watched the life flicker out of his victims eyes. Now Ammon wanted it, he wanted to lay down and die as a mortal would. There had been many tales over the years that he tracked down, but his efforts proved futile. Each vampire tale told of the beginning, not the end. That was useless information, for he was there when it all began. Ammon witnessed the Queen receive the gift and then watched as she passed it on to her followers. Yes, Ammon had been one of the tempted ones and for that he was given the gift of immortality. Little did he know, or any of them, that the blood of the Queen would not allow them to turn to ash in the sun leaving them forever trapped in their ownskin .

     After living longer than he thought possible, this gift had become a curse and he was searching for a way out. A preacher in one of the pueblos once told him the Creator makes all things. This sent Ammon’s mind reeling for days. Did the Creator make me? Or was it envy? To live forever, to live free with no worry of bondage or hunger. Was I tricked by the Queen or was I tempted by immortality? Am I to blame for my own existence? There was no relief from the constant battering of questions. His sole purpose for the last few decades was to find the answers.

     Ammon crouched further down into the brush. Dessert brush was never bushy, but he hoped it would be enough to avoid Lis’s searching eyes. Ammon thought Lis glanced his direction, but he could not be certain. You cannot see me like this. You must remember me how I was. The day Ammon left Lis was still so vivid in his mind. The two of them had walked through the desert and feasted on campers. Then at a nearby river they rubbed the blood all over their bodies and made love. An act that normally gave his troubled mind release, but that night his thoughts lingered on. Ammon was tired of this life, of the bloody routines, of living on the edge. All he wanted now was to be alone. That morning just before the pinkish–orange hues sparked on the horizon Ammon left Lis in their cave, he never felt remorse over this decision.

Via Flickr by Justin Kern

     When Lis had turned into a dark speck in the sky Ammon climbed up the cliff wall. He had done it so many times it was like second nature to him. Toe here, toe there, hand here, toe there. At the top Lis’s scent filled the air. He took a deep breath; it was a mixture of youth, alluring innocence combined with a calculated blood thirsty killer. He had always known Lis was different from the rest that is why he had chosen her. Even as a young girl she had been in tune with the world, with humans, in a way Ammon never could be. After he changed her, Lis’s desire to please him, her need for blood, was too much to bear. Ammon had taken something beautiful and destroyed it. Forgive me.

     The shuffle of his feet caused dust to puff as he walked around the cliff dwelling. She will come back, I have to leave.  Ammon’s feet ran into something and he stopped. Laying before him was the tattooed patch of skin he had cut off. He bent down to pick it up, the dessert air had hardened it, but it felt like leather. With his fingertips he traced the black markings smeared with dust and dried blood. At one time he had thought them powerful, he had been proud to wear them. But, now, it was a part of him he’d rather forget. He tilted his hand and the skin fell back into the dirt. Ammon turned his eyes toward the twinkling stars. Their familiar patterns helped sooth his wounded soul for through everything their glimmer had been his only constant. On the horizon was a faint purple hue. Good, she will not make it back here before dawn.

      As Ammon gazed at the stars, it suddenly hit him. He reached down and picked up the skin, looking from the tattooed pattern, to the sky and back again. I can’t believe I never noticed this before. The pattern, would the Queen have dared give me a way out all along? Thinking back he sifted through the faces of his lifetime, trying to remember who had given him the dark marks. Ah, yes…It was an old man, a Keeper who was bonded to the Queen in lieu of keeping his daughter safe. The old man never spoke, but there was an underlying emotion, a grudge perhaps. Did the old man know this day would come?

     With the skin tucked under his arm Ammon glanced backwards into the dwelling. He had called this home for a while, now he would have to find another one. There were plenty to choose from, but so many had become tourist destinations. They would pay the local tribes to ride in their open top cars which made irritating noises and pushed up dust in the ravines. Maybe I should return to the Mesa? A smile played across his lips. He thought back to the days after he had first arrived here. The local tribe was easy to control and he enslaved several men to carve out  living spaces inside one of the most beautiful pieces of rock Ammon had ever seen. The Mesa was deep rust red, its sides sprang high into the sky with smooth cliff walls and a flat top the width of thirty men. Ammon had always kept the Mesa his secret, even the tribes never lived to tell the tale. Yes, I shall return, Lis will never find me there.

     If Ammon had been feasting on blood regularly he could have flown, but with his undernourished body he was bound to the land. He placed his feet into the etched holes and made his way down to the ravine. At the bottom it was silent; not even the scurrying of a mouse could be heard. He headed east, dodging the shrubs and cactus. Ammon’s head felt light, almost dizzy, as the realization of the nights events become stronger. Thanks to Lis, this might be the beginning of the end.

***

This flash fiction is a part of a vampire series I am doing for #fridayflash.

Vella and Jeremy Vampire Tracker Part 2

Vella and Jeremy Vampire Tracker Part 1

Ammon The Moon Flute Player The Cliff Dwelling Part 2

Lis, Andrew and the Flute Player The Cliff Dwelling Part 1

Lis Desert Vampires.  

Natalia Confession of the Vampire Natalia

Natalia Vampire Natalia Searches the Jungle

Andrew Vampires in the Jungle 

Veronique Vampires at the Moulin Rouge 

Veronique and Natalia Snow in Paris

Vampires ~ Flash Fiction ~ Friday Flash

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. John Wiswell says:

    Ammon’s had a heck of a day. Poor sap is existentalizing, too. I always find self-reflection while in pain the worst part of the pain. No mental artillery to fight the bad stuff off. Here’s to some peace for the wretched.

    1. laradunning says:

      Yes, he is quite a self-loathing character. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Ah, but it said that there is no rest for the wicked. The moral angst of Ammon is tantilizing.

    Love this, Lara.

    1. laradunning says:

      That is true, no rest for the wicked. Either to busy being wicked or to busy regretting your wickedness.

  3. First time reader, really enjoyed it. Nicely done, Lara

    1. laradunning says:

      Thanks for stopping by Trevor.

  4. Aidan Fritz says:

    You’ve outdone yourself with the characterization on this one. Ammon comes across as a complex an intriguing character.

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