Wednesday 13 March 2013

Nosferatu Diaries: Radu's Song

You don't HAVE to, but I strongly suggest you read Nosferatu Diaries (Click here) and Nosferatu Diaries: Prelude To Radu's Song (Click here), just to get up to speed and have an idea of whats going on here...

From the diary of Johan Cavallius, able historian of his native city of Bremen: ‘Nosferatu! That name alone can chill the blood! 
‘Nosferatu! Was it he who brought the plague in Bremen in 1838?’- Nosferatu (1922) 

Radu was a common Romanian name given to new born males. It meant, ‘The happy one’. The irony of it was that since his birth, young Radu had not been happy. He was born three months too soon, perhaps initially too eager to see the world; oblivious to its harsh realities and what awaited him. One could have said that he was star-crossed, but even the stars did not dare shine on that night. The infant wailed his little lungs out on a candlelit evening, a feeble little thing when the midwife pulled him out of his mother. His father was drunk and hurled insults upon him from the hour of his premature arrival. “This boy will amount to nothing,” he said. “Born too soon, he is. For sure he is destined to be a Mullo, one who is dead! It has been said, children born before their time are destined to turn into Mullo!” Radu’s mother wept. She wept not because of the negativity and curses her husband spoke on drunken breath, no, she was already accustomed to that. She wept because she was happy. Happy that she had created a life, and that she would love this new life with all her sickly heart. It was only fitting that she name her boy Radu, for he would be the happy one; happy that he would have a mother to love him unconditionally.

He was a fragile boy for most of his life and Radu spent his days shielded inside a humble Romanian home, watching the other children from a stained window as they played in the cobble streets. He would place his hand on the glass and rest his half-moon forehead on it wishing he could run outside with them. He rarely cried, but his eyes gave the impression that he often did--nesting deep inside bags of sorrowful skin. Radu would have been a handsome little boy had it not been for the battle his inexplicable sickness waged on his features. His white skin was smooth and pale from the lack of sunlight. His mother's condition was no better than Radu’s and it teetered and tottered over the years. Her health would dip to near fatal depths and then sometimes reach youthful vitality. On her good days, Radu and his mother would frolic in their home while his father sat slumped over in is chair; passed out in a drunken stupor. And when her health was failing, her son would stay by her side holding her hand and staring at her as she slept. She was a beautiful woman; her face was like a soft sonnet, a whisper of God’s own poetry even during her bouts of malignant maladies. Radu would look upon her face and wonder why his mother had to endure such pain. Why a woman as loving and as beautiful as her had to endure such suffering. It wrung his heart so strongly that sometimes he would hurt physically. His own health was nothing to be in awe of, but he still wished he could take on his ailing mother’s burden. 

The years floated by like brittle tree leaves, and Radu's mother's condition did not improve. It seemed her ailment had began to affect her mental health and shortly before her death, she became delirious. She often spoke of a powder white spectre that would visit her at night. She would clasp Radu's hand tightly with the residue of strength she had left and spoke softly of an angel of death. His mother told him not to be afraid, she told him to be strong and welcome her passing for she would go to a better place. She said the white spectre would take her away soon and she would suffer no more. Young Radu hated to hear about this ghost, he hated to even entertain the thought. He did not care if the stories were true or not, he did not want his poor mother to leave him. Where would he be then? But he did feel guilty for thinking that way. He thought it selfish that he could not respect his mother’s wish to leave this wretched world. 
On one night Radu’s mother’s delusions were particularly loud. She had taken to talking wildly in her sleep as her health had slowly slid toward certain death. This had greatly disturbed Radu and driven his father to a life of alcohol induced hibernation. Radu had tried to block out his mother’s rants, but they bordered on painful shrieks and this piqued his curiosity. He dragged his feet to her room to see if he could alleviate whatever pained her. What he saw would become one of two scars he would have for the rest of his life. This scar would be mental, but the most painful; and the other would be the puncture wounds marking the end of his mortal life. What he saw invoked such terror in him that his voice fled from his throat. He could only let out a dry croak as he watched his mother be drained of the last of her life force. He finally met the spectre his dear mother had spoken of. He was no angel. An agent of death, yes, but no angel. Had his mother’s hopes for release been so desperate that she envisioned this monstrosity as her saviour  The vampire had seen him when Radu had stumbled upon him feeding, and he had intended for Radu to see it all. When the creature was done, he narrowed his eyes and stared into Radu’s. He wiped his fore arm across his mouth as he discarded the woman’s lifeless body like one of Radu’s father’s empty bottles of liquor. The little boy’s fear bubbled into molten anger, scalding and hot within the depths of his very being. The vampire’s lips folded back in a humourless smile before it dematerialised through the bedroom window.

Pagan rituals had to be preformed to ward off any evil spirits that would have returned for Radu's mother's body. The rituals were also to prevent her from turning into the very thing that had drained her of her blood. Young Radu was not allowed to witness what they would do to his mother's corpse, but he knew it bordered on mutilation. His father became even bitterer toward him. He somehow blamed him for what had happened to his mother. He had told Radu that he was weak for not being able to protect his mother, that he had been weak since his birth. "Pathetic," his father would say to him drunkenly. "You couldn't even help the mother you claimed to love so much." His father's scornful words drove an even bigger rusty wedge in between them. Radu somehow did blame himself for his mother's death. Rarely did he consider that most of that blame should have fallen on his father, but he did wish that something WOULD fall on him--Some heavy object that would crush him and his venomous words.
Three years later Radu's father's abuse would become to physical. It may have been triggered by the rites his late wife's relatives had to perform yet again. To prevent her from turning into a vampire, they had to return to exhume and place her remains in a box. They then poured wine on the box and a priest read from the scriptures. Radu's father had looked on and thought this a waste of perfectly good wine. When the ritual was done, someone observed that the body had not sufficiently decayed. This meant that the corpse had to be labelled as vrykola kas. The relatives had no choice but to cremate the body for fear that Radu's mother would return as a nosferatu. Young Radu watched in torment as the smoke rose in a thick cloud. His heart blackened and charred like his mother's body. Any quantum of happiness that may have remained within him floated away with his beloved mother's ashes.

Hatred. Loathing. Spite. Scorn. These words were not enough to express the extreme emotions Radu felt toward the world. And even though he had already been in its farthest reaches, he retreated further into his own morbid little world. As he grew older, he wished his sickness would someday take him. He would openly embrace it like he did his mother all those years ago. But life has its own twisted sense of humour, for as he grew older, Radu’s health miraculously became better. It was as if the cancerous hate within him killed all of his sick cells; curing him of his frailty in a cruel joke to lengthen his existence. And if it were not for his conscience and misplaced sense of guilt and responsibility, he would have ended his father’s and his own existence long ago.
Radu made ends meet by finding odd jobs wherever he could. Though his health had improved he still had little physical strength and so could not get the more ‘lucrative’ jobs. These involved substantially more bodily activity and brawn. His mind was sharper than the guillotine of the executioner in Bucharest, but he was not afforded the chance to advance his education. His father shot the idea of it down in two sentences. “Who’s going to take care of me then? You want to let me die like you did your mother?” This hurt Radu deeply but he still felt some sympathy for his father. He would sometimes find him weeping in his favourite chair. A sobbing grown man can evoke feelings of sympathy muddled in disgust, and this only reinforced the emotions of guilt in the dusty corners of Radu’s heart. But of course the old man was ungrateful. He however did develop a new-found respect for his son when the spectre returned.

Guttural screams came from Radu’s father’s room. Radu fumbled with his lantern and quickly stumbled from his bed with one arm stretched out groping the dark. He was still a little drunk with sleep but immediately sobered up when he saw his father’s neck hanging from the creature’s mouth. That powder-white rat-like face was one Radu could never forget. Flashes of his mother in the very same contorted position with blood dripping from her neck darted across his field of vision. A dark episode of déjà vu. Radu’s muscles had stiffened and his throat became dry when his eyes met those of the nosferatu. He could not see its mouth because it was clamped around his father’s jugular, but he could feel it smiling--a crooked and cruel smile.
“STOP!” shrieked Radu, “Why must you torment me so? You have already taken the one thing I loved in this world! Even when you were not physically here, you haunted my dreams! Why me!?”
The vampire dropped the rigid old man from its jaws. “Torment you?” the vampire spoke. “I possess no regard for human life; therefore I cannot expend any amount of effort to ‘torment’ you young man. This is merely how I sometimes entertain myself. No different from a boy smashing ants with his thumb to pass time. Quite immature, it may be, but when one is immortal; years are like days and one must find ways to fill the time. I just thought I might visit and see how you were.”
Radu was dumbfounded by the creature’s horrific revelations. ‘No regard for human life’. He toyed with idea in his head, turning it over with child-like curiosity. It was so clear to him now. There was no point of living if you were only to die. No matter what you did in between sleeps, death was inevitable, and therefore life was futile. But if you were already dead, if you were IMMORTAL; the futility of life was removed. The weakness of it was cut out like a malignant tumour. And with such power... Maybe life, or afterlife; would be worth living. Its frailty would have been removed. Its weakness would be plucked.
“Take me instead,” Radu said flatly. “Make me like you. Turn me into a creature of the night. My father professed after all that I would become a mullo, spare his insignificant life and take mine in his place.”
The vampire had a smug look on his cold features. He stroked his long claws along the length of his face down to the streaks of blood on his chin. He appeared to give it much thought. Radu’s father was on his bed sniveling in terror. He had raised his eyebrows so far back they were almost above his forehead, his eyes bulging and teary. The nosferatu paid him no mind. He was fixated on Radu.
“Fine,” he said finally, “I need the company anyway.” And in a blur, the creature grabbed Radu and disappeared through the broken window. Radu’s father remained on his bed gasping for air and looking through the window, his son and the thing that had killed his wife had faded into the blackness.
The vampire took Radu to an old cemetery and they desecrated a grave with an old broken tombstone. The two dug out the earth, Radu digging more frantically as they went deeper. His heart thudded like it would burst out of his chest at any moment. When they had finally reached the coffin, the creature yanked it out with amazing strength. It then fluttered away into some dark trees and hid the pine box behind them.
It returned in seconds and stood in front of Radu, eyes narrowed. Radu nodded his head in agreement like some words had telepathically passed between them. “We will have to share a grave tonight my friend. You will be accorded your own when you are strong enough.”
“So be it,” replied Radu. And without warning the vampire was at his neck. He drank heavily from Radu and almost drained him completely. When the world had begun to fade out from Radu’s vision, the vampire slit his own wrist and thrust it against Radu’s mouth.
Radu suckled from the creature’s wrist. He drank for survival at first and then gasped for air and recoiled when he had regained some of his consciousness.
“Drink!” the vampire shouted, “It is the only way for you to become! Finish what you started!”
And so Radu drank. He drank like his father did when he meant to shut the world out. He drank like he did from his mother’s breast long ago, when he was still ‘the happy one’. And when he had his fill, he simply passed out. The vampire laid him into the grave and then covered them both with dirt. Radu slept his last mortal sleep. Over the days he would shed his hair and fragile shell of a body. And when he rose again, he would be a mullo. He would be, a Nosferatu.

My brother Chibale's rendition of Radu

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