A Touch of Immortality

Authors: Marshak fan

Hosted by VendrediAntiques.com

1: Dying Alone

Jack felt the knife cut through his flesh and bone, deep into his chest. The pain was searing, and he collapsed weakly. Ellen yanked the knife from his body, and ran off, laughing.

Jack lay on the ground, his breathing shallow - he tried to stand, but hadn't the strength. He felt the darkness closing in around him, just like he had when The Butcher had wrapped barbed wire around his throat.

He had never wanted to die like this - he had expected to die a victim of one of the cursed items, but he had always wanted Micki and Ryan to be there with him as he left this world.

As the world started to fade around him, he heard Ellen scream shrilly.

"Mr. Marshak?"

The voice that woke Jack was deep and smooth, with a hint of English accent. Jack's body felt cold, his limbs refused to move, and his mind was fogged. But he remembered how the cold hand of death had taken him - so why was he here in this pitch-black room?

"Who are you?" Jack managed to ask.

"My name is not important. What matters, at least to you my friend, is that I've been watching you since you arrived here in Los Angeles. We were concerned that the protector may have become the hunter."

"What are you talking about?" Jack queried, him mind becoming more clear.

"According to my...brethren, you and your family have the Cross of Fire, and the ability to destroy us all. But you are apparently not the hunter - still the faithful protector of the innocent."

"Vampire..." Jack breathed, almost to himself.

"Exactly," the man answered. "But don't worry yourself overmuch. I hate unnecessary suffering, just as you do. Much of our community feels the same. We applaud your efforts."

There was a long pause, and Jack asked uncomfortably, "What do you want with me?"

"To save your life."

Jack waited for more, but there wasn't any. "Thank you," he said, but it sounded feeble, even to him.

The voice laughed, "You're welcome."

2: Auschwitz

Jack woke from a dreamless sleep, his body on fire. He moaned, and the stranger spoke softly, "Death hurts, doesn't it, Mr. Marshak?"

"What's wrong with me?"

"Your body is healing. It hurts, yes, but it will stop soon."

The rasping sound of a match being struck against its box was followed by a dim glow. Jack was just able to make out a sharp jaw-line as the match was held to the end of a cigarette, and then the match was shook out, only the pinpoint orange glow of the cigarette remaining, "Rumor has it, Mr. Marshak, that you killed The Butcher. Is that true?"

Jack considered before answering, "I did, yes."

The cigarette burned brighter in the darkness as its owner took a long drag, "I was at Auschwitz with my family for about a year."

"I'm so sorry," Jack intoned, feeling suddenly sympathetic.

"Thank you, Mr. Marshak. We were victims of the experiments, while they tried to find ways to use steal our immortality, and our abilities."

"Your family were all vampires?"

"We were. The experiments were horrible, but we couldn't die like the other victims. I escaped, and as soon as I could, I joined the British Army. I was there when Auschwitz was closed down, in '45. My family was already dead."

Jack was quiet for a moment, "I'm so very sorry."

"Thank you, Mr. Marshak. You have my admiration, as one survivor to another. I don't think I would have had the strength to kill someone such as him."

"He deserved to die," Jack answered. "It was my duty to see that he harmed no-one else."

Jack winced as a new pain coursed through his body, as though his burning limbs had suddenly been frozen, "What did you do to me?"

"You don't want to be one of us, do you Mr. Marshak? We live forever, yes. Without our friends, without our family, with only our pain and our hunger to keep us company. I couldn't do that to you."

The cigarette lit brightly as the stranger took another drag, "You're a lucky man. There are very few people I would have bothered to help. But your cause is too worthy, and my admiration of you is too strong."

"What did you do to me?" Jack asked again.

"The kiss of the vampire is well-known, a way of making a mortal into a victim, into one of us. The Kiss of Eternal Life. But there is a gift we can give, restoring life and health, even from the brink of death, giving the recipient strength and good health until he passes from this world. And I have made that gift to you."

3: Lessons

Jack wasn't aware of having drifted off, but he awoke aware of the cold ground he lay on, and the warm night air that surrounded him. His fingers tingled, and he flexed his hand to try to banish the sensation.

He was overcome with violent shivering and felt a cool hand placed on his arm, which somehow had the power to still his shaking, "Be still, Mr. Marshak. I know its hard, but until the prickling feeling leaves your skin, your body is not ready for motion."

Prickling was an understatement - Jack felt as though his nerves were alive with pins and needles. He clenched his teeth, and resisted the urge to shake off. To take his mind off his discomfort, he asked a question, "How did the Nazis find out that you were a vampire?"

The man lit another cigarette with the old one, which he snubbed out on the ground, "My family and I lived in a Jewish community. My brother's wife was from a Jewish family, before she was given eternal life, and so that's where we lived. We were taken, and put in the gas chambers with all the other Jewish victims. When we didn't die, they started their experiments."

"How many of you were there?"

"Seven. Myself, my brother, his wife, my grand-uncle, his wife, and their two kids, my age - one lady and one man. When I escaped, my brother and his wife were already gone."

"I'm so sorry," Jack said quietly, "it must have been very hard for you."

"It was - but I certainly did take my revenge as well as I could while I fought in that war."

"How old are you?"

"What a rude question, Mr. Marshak. I'm surprised at you," the cigarette burned brightly as the stranger took another drag, "to be fair, I've seen two turn-of-the-century parties, and I hope to see a third."

Jack watched the burning light of the cigarette, "You must have some insight, some observation, something..."

"Yeah, I do. I suppose you want to know what it is."

"If you don't mind telling me, yes."

"I don't mind. I have a few observations, but none more important than this, Mr. Marshak - humans are cruel beings. Watch your back, and keep the people you trust close - it's very easy to lose them."

"What else have you learned, in your vast experience?"

"Enjoy the pleasures opportunity affords you, the chance may never come around again."

"Anything else?"

"Choose the victims that deserve to die."

4: Family

"Tell me, Mr. Marshak, how were you lucky enough to draw the lot of such a close family?"

"I wasn't," Jack answered. "We made ourselves into a family in order to battle the evil that was left behind."

"You're still lucky to have them."

"I know I am."

"You work towards a goal of collecting the evil that was distributed from the store you now own, yes?"

"We do. How did you know that?"

"Our community was aware, some years ago, of an influx of what can only be termed evil. It was easy to trace back to Mr. Vendredi." There was a long pause as the stranger enjoyed his cigarette, "I suppose that's why you were here alone with that woman who tried to kill you."

"Yes," Jack answered.

"When you're feeling well enough, then, I have that item for you."

"Really?" Jack asked, surprised.

"Yes. I hope you don't mind, Mr. Marshak, I thought I would help your cause."

"Saving my life would have been plenty of help. Thank you."

"It is my pleasure to assist your cause, but even more so my pleasure to assist you."

5: Back To Life

Jack drifted in and out of consciousness as waves of pain washed over him, until finally he awoke, his mind and body refreshed. He sat up and pulled his shoulders back, stretching his stiff muscles.

"You're well again, Mr. Marshak, right on schedule."

Jack jumped - he hadn't known the stranger was still here with him. Before he could speak, he heard the other man's voice, "You're well, now, so I give you this," Jack felt a paper-wrapped package pressed into his hand, and a kiss pressed to his forehead. A rustle of cloth followed as the stranger left, and Jack called out, "Thank you!"

Jack emerged into full sunlight, and switched off his flashlight. He turned around to look at the old graffiti-covered dock-house he had come from. He knew that the vampire was still in there - he couldn't have left in the sunlight - and resisted the urge to go back in, to beg for a lengthier discourse, for his phone number, for his name, for his vampirism.

Jack sighed, looking around, and found his rented car parked where he had left it. He unlocked the door and got in, then took the time to look himself over.

Blood stained his shirt, which he removed and stuffed into the back seat. Once that was done, he saw his chest - a fresh, ragged scar showed where he had been stabbed. He looked at his face in the rear-view mirror, but aside from needing a shave, there was nothing remarkable about his appearance.

Glancing around and seeing nobody, he took a moment to open the package, and smiled slightly - a fresh shirt was inside. It was a short-sleeve button-up shirt, much like the one that he had just removed, and Jack put it on, brushing his fingers across the starched linen as he did.

Properly dressed, he looked at the rest of the package's contents. The set of ivory hair-pins he recognized as the items from the Manifest. There was also a star-shaped medal with the words "The France and Germany Star" around its middle, attached to a red, white, and blue ribbon.

The last thing in the package was a short note.

"What a fantastic story, Jack. We're so lucky he was there," Micki poured a cup of coffee for him.

"I wouldn't be sitting here if he hadn't."

Ryan was watching him carefully, "How do you feel?"

"I feel great, better than I have in years. I've got more energy than I remember ever having, though I suppose I must have, when I was your age. My bones aren't tired, and my back wasn't stiff when I got off the plane."

Ryan grinned, "This is so cool! You got to talk to a vampire, and this," Ryan held up the medal, "is his medal, proving that he and you served in the same war. He may have even shared your barracks."

Jack nodded, "It's remarkable to think, isn't it, what we don't know?"

Micki sat beside Jack, sipping her own coffee, "You never told us, Jack. What did the note say?"

Jack dug the note out of his pocket, laying it on the table. Ryan and Micki both leaned forward to read the easy, flowing Italian-script writing.

Mr. Marshak -
It was a pleasure to meet a man of such great deeds.
Please make good use of my gift to you: a touch of immortality.
Your servant,