Where Darkness Comes to Light

Ricky Jade

I stared down at her dead body. For a corpse, she was posed and poised. She wore a short, red-silk slip dress; its sweetheart neckline and hem lined with lace. The rosiness that once brightened her cheeks drained through two holes in her neck, blood trails symmetrical with those at the edges of my smile.

No blood of my own ran beating through my veins. No huffs of breath in my lungs. No hues of life left in my skin. Yet I lived.

She was so beautiful, and her death tasted so sweet.

Only an hour before, I had been stumbling through the narrow and shadowed streets of Rome, the relic of a city still standing in the technological age. Such a horrendous past, really, but all the glory to its historical wonder.

I weaved through the streets with much less grace than I would have liked. I might as well have been amongst the drunkards, my vision blurry and mind unfocussed. I had pushed it too far this time. Clouds flooded my vision whenever I looked over my shoulders to check that I wasn’t being followed.

I tripped over a beggar on his knees, bowed all the way forward with a rusty can held above his own head. The can and a few coins pathetically trickled onto the cobble. My eyes glided up to his exposed neck and I struggled to hold back a growl of hunger. My feast was coming. It would have been wasteful.

With muscle memory guiding me through the hidden alleys, I finally made it to the villa on the outskirts of Rome. Even with the lights out, I stood, wide-eyed at the grandeur of our final rendezvous point.

I could have left her to live her pitiful life. Trapped with a husband who didn’t love her in the ways I’d shown. Imprisoned in that bountiful house with dreams that teased her across the bars.

I staggered around the hedging to the back entrance and heard a bat screech and the sound of leaves shaking as it lifted off in flight. I smiled. Damned creatures.

I straightened my back, as if to ignore the wooziness in my stomach and head. A dim light shone through the pane on the back door. I entered.

Her interior decorating tastes were as ancient as the architects that built the villa. The lights had such a deep warmth that my flickering vision saw fires on the walls.

I found her lying in the master bedroom. A queen alone on a king’s bed. I looked her up and down. ‘Lily, my love.’

‘I’ve been waiting for you.’

They say your life flashes before your eyes moments before your death. With life as long as mine, what would appear in that flash, if anything at all? What flashes do my victims see, before I smear it over in scarlet?

She didn’t move at the sight of me. She lay on her back with her arms above her head and legs elegantly crossed. Perfectly positioned so that her dress caressed every curve of her body. I was to come to her.

I crawled my way over until my body was above hers, careful not to touch her. Not yet. The anticipation was tense between our chests.

I teased her with a feint of a kiss. Then, I slid one hand under the small of her back and the other behind her head. I touched my lips to hers.

Every victim receives this treat. And they share it with me. I may need to feed, but I have other hungers to satisfy as well.

You see, I eventually discovered the beauty, divinity, and mystery of death. To paint the many colours of murder, I was quite the artist.

My favourite, it turned out, rather unsurprisingly, was the colour of red. Passion, love, lust, heat, blood, will, rage, even joy… the things that scream life! The most vibrant kind of death. Where my hands carry no weapon. My mind is not needed to concoct some sort of trap. Instead, my hands are around my magnificent victim and my mind fully focussed on their body.

And there, in the height of expectation, of yearning for such release… in an act of love, where lips touch the neck, my teeth sink in and drain life with love’s bite. Her moans turned to pleasurable screams as the heat entered my body. The hands that once caressed my skin, clawed at my back. I could feel her life and youth as she found her freedom.

And there I was, staring, satisfied with my most recent masterpiece. My hunger was sated.

She reminded me of my first victim.

When I lost my parents, I had nowhere to go. A quiet, simple family took me in. They owned a grazing farm on the outskirts of town, and I earned my keep by helping their son with the work. We became very well acquainted.

He taught me that the most free, loved, and well-cared-for animals made the most tender meat. When I turned, I put those lessons into practice.

He was so right. And oh-so luscious.

Part of me felt a little sorrow. They both gave me their life, but I gave them something greater.

To be immortal sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? To be able to read every book I desire, listen to every song, have every experience. To be an observer of centuries.

To grow tired of living.

My soul was puppeteering this frame of a body, pristine in condition.

I had stayed too long. Her skin had become the colour of the moon. I brushed at her powdered cheeks, rubbing over the tear stains that created chasms on her smooth face.

I decided not to hide her body. Her husband should see her that way – a dove flying free. I was her last pleasure.

Entering the master bedroom ensuite, I pretended to look at my reflection as I rinsed the blood from mouth and hands. I knew better than to lick my fingers after a meal. I dampened a crimson cloth and tended to the nail marks on my lower back.

What a mundane injury. Humans may believe that their morality separates our kinds, but really, they are just masters in justification.

Though my state forced me to wake at night to exercise my desires, so it was for the humans. It was always the night-time where their darkness came to light. Darkness, not unlike the deed I committed with the dead woman. Not unlike the deeds her husband committed in the city while I lay in their bed.

I’d like to think that as a friend of death I’ve expedited its arrival. Tastefully of course.

I heard it, then. The flutter of wings. The damned bat, again.

With the last drops of precious blood drained in the sink, I faced the ensuite window. A pair of gold eyes glowed in the lunar light.

‘Come outside,’ they hissed.

I knew to what they belonged. But I thought none of my kind in Rome. Too holy of a city.

Fresh blood. I could smell it. The rarest of them all.

I humoured the eyes and exited the back door, locking it behind me. It closed with a hush, a whisper of farewell to my love, Lily.

I turned to the body with the golden eyes. He had traded a bat’s demonic wings for a cloak. I’d dealt with so many in the past, it wouldn’t be a problem handling a youngling. However, deaths of my kind were my least favourite as it added too many years to this already long life.

‘Learn to keep those screams down. You can hear them from miles way,’ he said, hunched, ragged, and inelegant.

‘Mere whimpers, my dear.’ I took a step closer and lifted my hand, ‘But it doesn’t sound that way with those ears.’

He swatted my hand away. ‘And don’t get me started on that stench.’

Such confidence he had for someone only recently turned. ‘Stench? That’s the scent of divine death.’ I tilted my head, my eyes grazing the pretty little thing. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I’ve hunted your kind for a long time.’

‘My kind?’ I chuckled. ‘Our kind.

‘Doesn’t matter,’ he growled. ‘You’ve been leaving a trail of bodies for a while now, each sloppier and more careless than the last.’

‘So, what are you to do with me?’ Kill me? The one gift the world had teased me for. A giver of treasure cannot enjoy it for themselves. Even jolly old Saint Nicolas never played with his toys. But the man before me had also become death, before ever turning. So, what was this child’s gift? Justice? How heroic.

“Let you go,” he said.

If the thing in my chest was able to beat, it would have stopped momentarily.

‘Might I have your name, youngling?’ I asked.


‘A shame.’ I turned around to leave.

There was a sudden lunge and an arm around a neck. A stake held to a heart.

My heart.

I smiled.

He moved his arm to hold my neck with his hand. His grip was strong.

And with a damp whisper in my ear, ‘My name is Michael Angelle,’ his teeth sunk into me.

The pain was the most I’d felt in centuries. I could feel my soul being pulled out of the body I inhabited. It was glorious and terrifying. My knowledge, my experiences, memories and whatever meaning I had seeped away into the unknown. I couldn’t easily explain what I saw in my final moments. It was abstract. I felt my mother. I was young again and filled with vigour and innocence. I mostly saw my life before it became night. My first love and my first victim, the beautiful farm boy. My initial taste for blood. My growing hunger. Then flashes of my many lovers.

Finally, I saw myself. And I was covered in red.

Author: Ricky is a copywriter by day and creative writer by night. Discovering her passion for writing while she was a law student, she switched to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and is now in her third year. While she likes to dabble in everything, she finds herself writing about the complex, shocking and straight-up wild events and relationships in her life. You can find her work in Issue 16 of QUT Glass. Follow her on Instagram @rickyjadee. 

Artist: Laura Bean is a multidisciplinary artist based in Queensland, Australia. She received her Bachelor of Photography from Griffith University (2021) and is now undertaking her Bachelor of Fine Arts at QUT. Her artistic practice spans across both digital and traditional art, often exploring topics around mental health and identity.

Accessibility Reader: Lily Daniel

Editors: Rory Hawkins and Suzy Darlington