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by Karen A. Romanko

15 February
Petra N. has disappeared. She makes three of our little community to have vanished since December. All are concerned.

28 February
Only eleven of us remain. Rumors run rampant. Some say a vampire “virus” is to blame. But where are the bodies? Others insist a mortal “hit squad” is targeting the undead. Unbelievable. Who among us would reveal our existence to the creatures of the day? I am unaccustomed to this feeling of perpetual dread.

29 March
I am alone. Did I dream all my sisters and brothers? Am I dreaming now? When will I wake up?

8 April
Agent Wolfe, my “case director,” has finally allowed me pen and paper. When I cooperate, and Isis knows I try, the agent grants a few amenities and more blood.

My friends are here, Wolfe says, but I’ve yet to see them. Apparently I was the last gathered in the Bureau’s so-called “witch hunt.” (The latter passes for humor among the agency’s stamped-out models.)

1 May
The deal is simple. The FBI will use my hypnotic powers to interrogate and influence suspects. In return I get to keep my life. What choice is there?

I can only assume this is a clandestine operation. I’ve received no news of the outside world.

3 June
Still no contact with the others. The Bureau keeps me (us?) on a short leash. Two beefy “g-men” awaken me during the day. (The horror.) They carry wooden stakes until we reach the interrogation room. A third agent is positioned in the tiny chamber to the right of a heavily draped exterior window. Yet another agent leads in the suspect. I presume all looks normal to the detainees, who are unaware of the threat daylight poses to my life. It’s a wonder I can extract any information in my weakened condition.

12 August 
I am about to lose my mind. Same cell, same “job,” same squeaky-soled g-men. (I’m thinking the “g” stands for “goon.”) The “criminals” are no better. No imagination . . .  something today about bank robberies in two states. Who could pay attention? And the hoods think they’re so tough, but they crack faster than the straights do. 

Oh, for a midnight feed, a beautiful painting, a misty 3 a.m. walk, some intelligent conversation. Can’t they even bring my dinner in a wine glass? I hate those plastic pouches.

24 August
The FBI has taken every precaution to ensure we do not use our powers to “influence” its agents. As best I can discern, the Bureau has instructed its employees: not to make direct eye contact with us; to wear dark eyeglasses as additional protection against our mesmerizing glares; and to use earplugs to guard against our hypnotic intonations. But my case director, Lee (we’re now on a first-name basis), is susceptible, simple really. I’m beginning to learn what I need to know.

17 September
Poor Lee. His resistance has crumbled. I succeeded in “convincing” him to install a computer in my cell, even suggesting a justification for his superiors. The higher-ups bought my line, so now all vampires have FBI Intranet access as a “safety precaution.” The argument went like this. Allowing agents to e-mail the members of their little “psy corps” would limit risky face time with us “creatures.” Losing an opportunity or two to glean information from Lee and his cohorts was a small price to pay for contact, albeit electronically, with my family. I had hoped to gain connection to the outside world as well, but even my powers of persuasion were not enough to obtain Web access.

I’m sure the Bureau is monitoring all “undead correspondence,” but no matter. (Their clandestine little hearts must have leapt at the prospect of “staking out” our private e-mail boxes.) I’m just delighted to share the thoughts of my own kind once more.

23 September
My hypnotic powers remain undiminished. Or do they? Today Lee appended the following sentence to some instructions he’d e-mailed for an upcoming interrogation: “You are the most exotic, beautiful, and brilliant woman I’ve ever met.”

Can Lee be falling in love with me? Perhaps I’ve been casting a “spell” different from the one I’ve intended. After all, I’m not exactly the type Lee would meet at an interagency softball game. While I can’t fault his taste, this could complicate things.

16 October
I don’t understand my friends. Petra N. has reported a sudden distaste for human blood. And Alex thinks his case director is “sweet.” Sweet? That’s not something we say of our prey while they’re still alive. Alex’s e-missive gushed, “I can’t wait to see Sandy every morning. Just one look at her pretty face brightens my entire day.” Brightens his day? What’s next? Breakfast at IHOP? Have my brothers and sisters forgotten who they are?

18 October
What to do about Lee? I’m sure his associates, dim though they are, have picked up on his lovesick schoolboy routine. If he keeps mooning around my cell, they’ll reassign him, squandering months of investment on my part.

I could try, I suppose, to “coax” Lee’s emotions in a different direction. But what if I fail? Nothing is certain where mortal love is concerned. And should I succeed in alienating the agent’s affections, his wellspring of “support” for me might dry up. No, I need Lee’s pliability, love induced or not, if I and the others are to escape this prison.

Today, for example, Lee let something slip. Knowledge of our “psy corps” does not extend beyond the FBI Director. Important! My plan begins to take final form.

28 October
The end of hope. Three agency gorillas grabbed my computer this day, exiting without a word. How can I prevail now?

Although ostensibly in charge, Lee stood by quietly, unable to conceal his sadness. Even through my shock and pain, I feel something . . . pity, I presume, for my poor, yearning Lee.

29 October
Today Lee confessed that he needs to “distance” himself for awhile. Before his abrupt exit, I managed to extract one tidbit about yesterday’s debacle.

It seems that one of our company, Taylor, had “tried something.” The suddenly by-the-book Lee wouldn’t say what. I don’t know if any deaths, vampire or otherwise, ensued.

Leave it to that fool Taylor to muck up my plans. Always the rashest of our group, Taylor doesn’t possess the restraint necessary for “life” in the modern world.

I guess I shouldn’t fault that silly hothead; the weight of captivity does grow unbearable. If only he’d held out a little longer. I hadn’t dared share my strategy via e-mail, but Taylor and the rest of us might have been free soon. As it is, all is in ashes.

5 November
It’s been a week since Lee walked out, an interminable and miserable seven days. How could he leave me alone?

Of course it’s not Lee himself I miss. I mean he’s intelligent enough, especially for an agency type, and has a certain amount of wit and charm. But he lacks those years, even centuries of experience that make a being truly worthy.

So it’s not Case Director Lee Wolfe I miss. I just need someone to help pass the time while my friends and I are incommunicado. I’m lonely, that’s all. No, I don’t miss Lee.

20 November
Lee appeared at my cell door today with two agency thugs and my computer equipment in tow. I don’t know whether I was happier to see Lee or the pc.

All spit and polish, Case Director Wolfe made the following pronouncement: “The vampire Taylor’s escape attempt, which resulted in his termination, has been deemed an isolated incident after careful study. The Bureau is restoring your computer privileges because the rest of you have shown you pose no threat. We feel the ‘psy corps’ program is back on track.” Lee turned on his heel and exited without one kind word.

What’s with Lee? Was that an act for the benefit of his superiors or has he found someone else? Who is she? How dare that son of a . . . .

No, no, no! I must focus on the problem at hand. I have my computer privileges back, but I still need that schmuck’s help if my plan is to succeed. The question is how to secure that schmuck’s . . . Lee’s assistance. I must concentrate on nothing else.

28 November
What’s Lee’s game? Suddenly all whispers and secrets today, he shared with me one whopper of a confidence. In the new year, the FBI will forward to the President a report on its pilot “psy corps” program. The horror! Once news of our existence spreads, our lives as we knew them will be over.

I must act quickly! But can I trust Lee? Is he laying a trap? Why did Lee give me this information? Does he love me? Did he ever? My usually infallible instincts are silent, muted by this wretched place and that puzzling man.

3 December
Since mum’s my intuition, I’ve decided to place my trust in Lee. What choice do I have? I’ll flee this jail with my family or I’ll be “terminated” like poor Taylor. Either way I’ll be free.

5 December
Lee smuggled the video camera into my cell late this evening. He helped transmit my video file via the FBI Intranet to every Bureau staff member but himself. Can I still doubt Lee’s loyalty? Though he’s done all I’ve asked, his erratic turnabouts leave me skeptical.

Will this big gamble pay off? Neither I nor my colleagues have ever attempted anything like this. We’ve always hesitated to apply modern technology to our ancient art. It seemed somehow . . . sacrilegious. Who knows if it will work now?

At least the long wait is almost over. I’ll have the answers to my questions at six p.m. tomorrow.

6 December
I’m free! We all are free! Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks. Vampires, hoary creatures we, can use electronic devices to carry our hypnotic impulses! A new world beckons!

According to Lee, all proceeded as planned at the Bureau. Every FBI agent, secretary, case director, and accountant, to a pencil pusher, shredded any document and deleted any file, my video e-mail included, related to the “psy corps” program. As far as Bureau employees are concerned, the program never existed. And everyone knows vampires do not exist, or so I “suggested.”

Now Lee has a decision to make.

8 January
I’ve finally come to terms with my feelings for Lee. I know I didn’t love the man; that’s beyond me and my kind. What I felt was perhaps an echo of love brought on by that strange captivity. I’ve heard that prison affects humans in profound ways. Apparently my friends and I retain more mortal remnants than we like to admit.

But I never will understand Lee. How could he pass up eternal life? I made the offer. We could have been together for a while, “happy” in our way. Lee’s answer was, “It doesn’t seem like much of a life. I love you, but I won’t be with you that way.” How dare he condescend to me?

Why did Lee save me, if not to be with me? “I knew captivity was killing you,” he said. He couldn’t bear to see me die. That’s something, I guess.

So I gave Lee his choice, the last reverberation of my echo of love for him. “Be with me or forget me.” He wanted to forget. Now he’s like all the other creatures who get sick, grow old and die, all the while certain there’s no other way. The decision of a fool. Or of a strong human being.

I was never given the choice Lee had. And I have no choices now. There’s only one way for me to be.

6 June
Two of our number have vanished. Is it starting again?

The End

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"Lee" ©1999 Karen A. Romanko
Raven Electrick ©2000-2001 Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.