The sky is red with smoke and fire. There is a demon wind blowing as if it wants to take the roof off of the house.
“There are too many fires,” I told my friend Randolpho. “It is like Hell has come up from the bowels of the Earth.”
“This is 2020. Welcome to the new normal. I hear there is a big fire by the airport and on some of the river levies. Add those to the fires already going on including that fire started by those fools having a gender reveal party.”
“Gender reveal party?” I asked. “What do you mean by gender reveal and why is there a party?”
“Before babies are born some people get overly excited and throw a gender reveal party. You know, to announce if they are having a boy or a girl.”
“That is ridiculous. How do they know if it is a boy or a girl? Even a witch will not be able to tell you that with a hundred percent certainty.”
“Ultra sound, or amnio. Oh my God. You don’t know about those things. Let me show you.”
Randolpho pulled out his phone and went on the Internet, where almost all information can be found.
“Ultra sound is a way to see a baby before it is born to make sure it is developing right. ”
I looked at a photo of a tiny human being. There was a face and this one was obviously male.
“But how is this done? The baby is inside of the mother. It would die if they cut her open.”
“They don’t cut her open. Get a clue Vlad. The technician takes sort a wand and rubs it over the mother’s pregnant belly. Then an image of the baby appears on a computer screen. Then the image can be printed out.
“This is amazing. If I had not seen it for myself I would not have believed it. Then what is amnio?”
“Amniocentesis is a procedure in which amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing or treatment. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy.
A large needle is inserted into the mother amniotic fluid around the baby is extracted. One can tell then not only the gender but if there are any genetic issues the parents should be aware of.”
“For example if a child will have Down’s Syndrome.”
“What is that?”
“Remember Maria? The small girl who liked to wear crowns of flowers and always had a song and a smile. She had Down’s Syndrome.”
I remembered the young Vampire maiden. She was one of my mother’s ladies. Once a cocky young Vampire called Vink called Maria an idiot and belittled her in front of the entire Vampire court because she did not understand his stories. He thought the stories were humorous. They were not.
My mother had Vink thrown into the dungeon for a week for his meanness.
Even being a Vampire Maria passed on the next winter. We were all sad. Everyone loved Maria. Vink continued to be a fool and was banished from the court.
“Now there are people like Maria who graduate from High School and some even graduate from college.”
I thought about this for a while. There is so much I need to learn.
“Do you ever want to have kids Vlad?” Randolpho asked. I thought that was odd. We have known each other for over 670 years and we have never discussed it.
The subject made me feel somewhat uncomfortable. I told Randolpho he needed to change the subject.
Later I tried to sleep but could only think of babies crying and keeping me awake. I thought about a baby laughing and broke out in a cold sweat, then coughed from the smoke.
The smoke is thicker today. My mind is still on children. I am in Hell.
I poured a glass of chilled blood and put a piece of fresh mint on top of it. Mint is something we did not have when I was Vampire King. After being locked in a crypt for three hundred years I have discovered many new things such as mint, chilled drinks, and viewing babies inside of their mothers. I might have missed the 18th, 19th, and 20thCenturies, but here I am in 2020.
Once when I was much younger, when I was Vampire King I went on a journey to being a group of young orphan Vampire children back to my castle. My wife had just abandoned me and I had the need to, what term do they use so often now, get away. I had to get away.
After riding for a week with some of my finest Vampire soldiers, I met my contact at an ancient castle by the edge of a large lake. The Vampire in charge approached me. He was slightly taller than I am, making him around six feet tall. His appearance was striking, not just because of his height but also because of his fashion. He was dressed all in black with dark glossy brown hair about his shoulders. He wore no wig as many men did at that time but like me, he wore his own hair. His eyes were deep golden brown surrounded by thick lashes, and a face spotted with light facial hair on his jaw line and a hint of a mustache growing in. His clothing and boots were all black except for a purple sash around his waist and a green feather in his hat.
He introduced himself as Toby Rose, the Captain of the group, and the Captain of the ship that had brought the children from England. I immediately liked him.
Toby Rose spoke the old Vampire language with an English accent. The women at the castle thought he was charming. Their attentions lingered more on him that on me – which was something new for I was always the one woman kept their eyes on.
Later as we walked along the edge of the lake Toby told me he had heard my wife had left. We looked towards the castle and saw a group of women walking along the road.
“They are beautiful,” said Toby Rose.
“Yes, they are,” I replied. They were beautiful but I was not in mood for strange women.
“I love women. I love the way they feel with their warm skin, and soft lips. I love knowing how easy it is for me to please them. The are always surprised by me in the best of ways. I also love men. I do believe I love being with a man the best. I love their strong arms, and the way a man moves and smells. I love the feel of a chest covered with hair, and the brush of stubble on my neck when he kisses me.” Then he laughed a low quiet laugh. “I love to feel their stubble everywhere if you know what I mean.”
Toby Rose was quite forward. I was curious and asked him, “When did you know you desired both men and women.”
“I have always liked everyone,” he said with a laugh. “My father always told me you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. He was a wise man, my father was.”
I was somewhat surprised Toby Rose was so open with me in a time when those who expressed their sexuality so openly were often hung or burned alive. On the other hand we were Vampires, open to all desires and all ways of life. We rarely judged.
In fact, when my sister was born a cousin mocked my parents because my mother had given birth to a girl. We had no gender reveal at the time. My father became angry, pinned his cousin down and cut one of his balls off. Then he put it into a jar and placed it in my sister’s nursery.
“Now my daughter has as many balls as you do,” my father said to his cousin.
My father would do things like that. I did not tell Toby Rose about that memory.
As we walked along the riverbank we spoke of the children we had rescued. We spoke of our lives and what we wanted. Toby gave me gentle words about the departure of my cheating whore of a wife, which made me feel better.
“You hungry?” Toby Rose asked.
So we went for a hunt. After we were full of warm blood and the thrill of hunting together we joined the rest of our party along with our hosts in the castle.
Everyone spoke of Toby Rose. All of the women wanted him. All of the men wanted to be like him. He was a fierce fighter, and a lover who never shared secrets. He was a leader. He was a mentor and a teacher. Toby Rose was an amazing man and an amazing Vampire.
I noticed women, as always would look at me with longing, but they boldly approached Toby Rose to let him know that they wanted him to come to them later.
Later as I was alone in my chamber, getting ready to retire, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and let in Toby Rose, who was wearing nothing but an oversized robe.
“I want you Vlad,” Toby Rose whispered, as he put his hand on my hip and stepped close.
“Toby, I am not ready for this. I do not know if I will ever be ready,” I told him.
Toby Rose kissed my neck scraping fangs across it making me close my eyes and wonder what indeed was happening. Then Toby Rose took my hand and put it under his robe. “I’m ready. I have never been more ready.”
“Toby Rose!” I said.
Toby Rose’s robe dropped to the ground and I found out that Toby Rose was a woman.
I have to admit it was one of the best nights of my life.
That is my gender reveal story.
About a year ago I tried to find out what happened to Toby Rose. Nobody knows. She might be an old Vampire content living a quiet life. She might be dead. Or she might be locked in a crypt somewhere, a prisoner of the dark. I do not know.
My love Gillian is now sleeping in my bed as I write this. I have never told her of Toby Rose, or about any of my other lovers, nor has she told me about hers.
Even after hundreds of years some things never change. Like all self respecting Vampires we never kiss and tell.