“Well, what can I do for you, Mr. Quintero,” the pale, raven-haired woman asked. She swept her flowing black gown behind her as she sat across from him in her front room. She set up a small, round, two-person table in front of a set of immense bay windows. The curtains were open and a full blue moon hung in the dark sky.
“Uh, I found one of your pamphlets,…,” he dug out a crumpled pamphlet and put it on the table between them. The woman nodded.
“I know,” she gave a soft laugh. “You mentioned that when you made an appointment on the phone, and again when I answered the door. But why are you here?” she asked with a patient smile. “Are you ready to live forever?”
“NO!” Paul sat back in his chair with wide eyes. His host remained quiet while Paul processed the question and his reaction. Why was he here? “I mean…,” he relaxed and leaned forward again. “… maybe? I want information,” he said. “What’s it like?” he asked.
“What’s what like?” she asked for clarification.
“You know…,” he gestured at her with both hands. “…being a vampire.” she shrugged.
“It’s a lot like being a human. Except the sunburns hurt more, and ‘having guests for dinner’ is a bit more literal,” she smiled and flashed a pair of sharp fangs.
“Oh,” Paul said. “Is that it?”
“Well, what did you want?” she asked. “Now that vampires are recognized, we do much less stalking and hiding than we used to.” Paul shook his head.
“No, I mean, the whole living forever thing. How does that work?” he asked. The vampire tilted her head and gave him a confused look.
“You asked about being a vampire, but okay. Now you want to know about living forever. I’ll be the first to tell you, that’s a bit misleading. It’s not actually forever, but it is long enough that when the end finally does come you’ll be sick of living anyway.”
“Hold on,” Paul held a hand up. Her wording confused him. “I did ask about being a vampire… why is living forever a different conversation?”
“Do you want to live forever as a vampire?” she asked.
“Assuming I want to live forever, do I have a choice?” Paul replied. His host nodded.
“Yes, of course.”
“What? How?” he asked. She giggled.
“Okay,” she grinned. “I know how we got here. You thought that “living forever” meant turning you into a vampire, right?” Paul nodded.
“Okay. Well, we don’t do that willy nilly. It’s a whole thing that has to go to Elder Council and everything, it’s harder than getting married these days. So, no. I’m not offering to turn anyone into a vampire.” She watched Paul’s eyes grow wide with questions and kept talking.
“What I am offering you is a new life customized to your specifications for as long as you live, which is a very, very long time.”
“How so? What’s it going to cost me?” In the back of his mind, Paul was pretty ready to accept any arrangement. He didn’t have much to live for, nor that long to live. He found her pamphlet in his oncologist’s office after a terminal diagnosis. He literally had nothing to lose by meeting her.
“I’ll be upfront because I want you to make an informed decision. The required payment is your soul. As for how-,”
“My SOUL?” Paul interrupted.
“Of course,” she said. “You think that body is going to live for centuries? By signing over your soul, you give permission to put your soul in a new body. One that you’ve customized by the way.”
“Huh,” Paul had to admit it made sense in a way. “Okay… I’m still thinking about it. How does it work?” he asked.
“Do you like video games?” she asked.
“Yeah…,” Paul nodded, unsure where the question came from.
“Alright, well that’s the easiest way to explain it. Imagine going through a character creator to make your new body; that’s pretty much what it is. You can pick a race, soul, and class to live out the rest of your life. After you make your character you can choose what kind of world you live in.”
“What kind of world? What kinds are there?”
“Anything you want, prehistoric to futuristic sci-fi. Utopias, dystopias, zombie hordes, vampire societies. If you can imagine it, there’s a world out there for you.” Paul narrowed his eyes.
“You’re making it up. Everything,” he said. “You expect me to believe that you can put my soul in any body I want, then put that body on any Earth I want to live for the rest of my very long life?” She gave a firm, deliberate nod. Paul chuckled. “Do you have any proof?” She smiled with her fangs and stood from the table.
“I don’t suppose it’d be enough proof if I told you I’ve done it myself,” she said. Paul shook his head with the same deliberate motion she used.
“What if I did this?” she asked as she tapped the table with her fingertips. It immediately disintegrated into white powder that fell to the floor and disappeared. As Paul debated whether it was a simple stage-trick, he felt his seat fall apart under him. He managed to hop to his feet instead of landing on his butt. As he looked around, everything in the room became the same white powder and collapsed. Then, the room and house they stood in melted vanished into white powder. In less than two minutes, the house, neighborhood, and city as far as he could tell, were gone. They stood on a vast white, powdery plain. Paul only had one question left.
“Was it worth your soul?” he asked.
“It’s the best deal I ever made,” she replied.