The Tale of Maria – Chapter 1: Heights

The sound of the music could still be heard as Maria was waiting for a taxi just outside the bar. Cars passed, one by one, and Maria examined each one of them from a distance, trying to work out through the dim street lights if her awaited ride home had finally arrived.

“Two… minutes… to midnight..,” she heard her favourite band’s song coming from her phone, as it rang, displaying a number that was not saved in her contacts. Maria took her time answering. She is not the one to stop Iron Maiden from completing at least one verse, even in that dark and foggy night.

“Hello, Miss Cartier, this is Greg from Greg’s Taxi,” said a voice almost the moment Maria answered, “The taxi driver we sent to pick you had an accident and won’t be able to make it,”  he continued. “We will send you another car, but it won’t be able to get to you before at least 15 minutes.” 

“No, no it’s okay,” said Maria, “I’ll just ask my boyfriend for a ride.”

Words of apology kept coming out of the phone into Maria’s ears while she was in a hurry to hang up, simply saying: “It’s okay” about four or five times in a row.

She turned around and walked back the steps she took only 10 minutes ago, heading towards the bar that she had spent her night at along with her boyfriend, Sean, and their friends, Aaron, Camilla and Rebecca. “Well,” thought Maria, “if I had just listened to Sean and waited until the game was over, I would have saved myself ten damned minutes of standing alone in the dark.” 

Maria opened the heavy wooden door and walked back into the dark place, through the corridor, into the massive and crowded hall. She tried to locate the table they were seated at, looking in the direction she came from ten minutes ago. It was confusing for a few seconds until she was able to spot Aaron and Camilla. People in blue shirts were making their way out, disappointed, analyzing the game and why their team lost. Apparently, the team wearing blue lost the match. Chel… something that Maria could not remember as she cared not about football. The other team, though, Manchester United, she remembered very well, as Aaron and Camilla were cheering for them all night long, even wearing their shirt, talking about history, facts, and players that Maria did not care about, either. However, she did not argue or object. After all, they did attend her gig only a few days ago, even though they did not like Heavy Metal and have always labelled her growling form of singing as scary and not even music. Brainwashed radio-puppets, is what Maria would reply to that. 

She also knew something else, that game was the final of the European champions cup.. league.. or something like that, and this, for Maria, meant that she won’t have to deal with her friends talking about football and taking sides and arguing before and after matches for at least three months. Even Sean, who claimed to be supporting whoever plays better, cheered like he just won the lottery when the blue team scored a goal. He must be upset now, thought Maria as she walked towards the table.

“Maria, I thought you left,” Aaron said. “Sean just went to his car,” continued Camilla. Maria waved with her hand, saying her second goodbyes of the night, as she raced towards the parking lot from the other entrance, hoping she was not late.

She looked around the parking lot, trying to find her boyfriend’s car. Great! It’s still there, she thought as she hurried towards the car.

Suddenly, she stopped. Something felt weird. She took a step closer and looked at the car, seeing only a shadow in the back, but no one in the driver’s seat. She took her next step slowly and more carefully, and then she was close enough to see everything. Sean was in the backseat of the car with Rebecca, kissing her, his hands all around her and hers all around him. 

Maria was filled with anger as she turned around to leave, just the moment Sean was looking her way. He rushed out of the car and called her. She did not turn around or stop. He followed her.

“Maria, come back here”, she heard while hurrying into the alley behind the bar that connected the parking lot to the street.

Sean followed her into the alley, but she was not there. He was only a few steps behind her, but now she was nowhere to be seen. He rushed his way into the street where Maria would wait for a car. She wasn’t there either, and the streets were empty. Where did she go?

The bar was on the ground floor of a ten-story building in the middle of Benieville, a city known for its old buildings, enormous cathedral, and the great Red Tower, a site that witnessed many battles in the distant years back, and many tourists in the more recent ones. The building was in fact only a few minutes away from the historical site. The music from the bar was louder than ever at this time of the night, with people either drunk or on the verge of it. In a few hours, this place would fall silent, as the currently quiet offices on the floors above would welcome back their workers and become noisy. 

There on the very top of the building stood Maria. She was not sad, but rather angry. Her mind was buzzing with every sound around her. She looked down and saw Sean still looking for her. He was as small as an insect from up there, but weirdly, she could see him clearly as if he was right next to her. How did I get on top of the building? She did not know. Did someone slip something into her drink? What sort of drug would give her the power to get on top of a ten-story building in two seconds? All she remembered was walking into that alley, looking behind and seeing Sean’s shadow coming closer, then wishing she could go up to the roof to avoid him, turning around to head into the building’s entrance, and there she was! On the rooftop.

The mysterious power inside Maria’s body eventually faded away, and she sat there crying for hours, trying to grasp what she just saw, wondering about what had just happened, and wishing she could be home, in her bed, and under her blanket.

It was not until 5 A.M that Maria had the strength to walk down the stairs which she climbed six hours ago. But did she climb them? She did not remember. As she climbed down slowly, she looked around for any familiar sights, but all seemed new to her eyes. When she reached the ground, she walked past the memories of last night, these awful memories. She turned her head when she saw the empty parking lot, that place where the one she thought would be her future, the man she thought she could finally trust, broke her heart and ripped her trust into shreds. She kept walking, away from all these thoughts, towards her house.

The house was 30 minutes away on foot, a distance Maria would not usually walk. This time, however, she needed to, she had to. She could not bear seeing or talking to anyone. Her phone has been off since the night before and her eyes were red from all the weeping. She looked at her watch; 5:32, and kept walking. The sun was starting to rise and she could see the first signs of the dawn in the sky. She wished she could move faster and kept going. There was a weird scent in the air around her, not weird, rather normal, just stronger. She kept on moving, again, eager to get home. It was starting to become brighter and the light bothered her eyes. 

When she got to her apartment, she opened the door eagerly, slammed it right behind her, and climbed onto her bed, covering her head with the pillow. She only moved a few minutes later, taking off her watch, placing it next to her head. As she closed her eyes, the last thing she saw was the time on the watch: 5:44. I thought it was further away, she thought, falling into a deep sleep.


Case #20131026
Evidence #0058
Description: An email from Ms. Marie Cartier to Alfred Doyle on the 28th of May 2008.

Dear Mr Doyle,

Thank you for continuously writing to me despite my slow replies. I would like to assure you that my slow replies are not due to any lack of interest in continuing to seek your help on my issue. I have been practising with my band for an upcoming show and haven’t been able to check my emails regularly. I will try to make it a habit to check my emails every night from now on.

About your last email, despite my conditions being similar to those listed on your website and in most of the lore I could find on the internet and public libraries about this issue, I still feel that this is not my case. Even if I were to believe in the existence of such things, almost every myth, if I may call them that, implies that the only way to transform into one of those things is to die after being bitten by one of them. I have no memory of having been bitten, and I am pretty sure I did not die recently.

My theory is that I have been infected by some kind of virus, and that is solely based on my personal analysis. This virus must be affecting me mentally, causing these hallucinations and feelings to appear side by side with my physical weaknesses. My reason to believe so is that the bad feelings only come to me when I get the sense that I did one of the actions I told you about in my first email, the actions you labelled as “supernatural”. I am pretty sure this has nothing to do with my recent break-up with my boyfriend, although I do believe that it was triggered last week by the anger I felt, which only supports my suggestion of it being a mental illness affecting my body or a physical illness affecting my mind.

I have spent a huge part of my free time researching viruses to find one that would cause such symptoms. Excuse me if I keep trying to find a logical or scientific explanation for what I’m going through despite everything else, aside from me being very well alive, supporting your theory that I am indeed a vampire.

I can’t even believe I just wrote that.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Yours truly,

MC

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