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Memnoch the Devil

Anne Rice


  LESTAT here. You know who I am? Then skip the next few paragraphs. For those whom I have not met before, I want this to be love at first sight.

  Behold: your hero for the duration, a perfect imitation of a blond, blue-eyed, six-foot Anglo-Saxon male. A vampire, and one of the strongest you'll ever encounter. My fangs are too small to be noticed unless I want them to be; but they're very sharp, and I cannot go for more than a few hours without wanting human blood.

  Of course, I don't need it that often. And just how often I do need it, I don't know, because I've never put it to the test.

  I'm monstrously strong. I can take to the air. I can hear people talking on the other side of the city or even the globe. I can read minds; I can bind with spells.

  I'm immortal. I've been virtually ageless since 1789.

  Am I unique? By no means. There are some twenty other vampires in the world of whom I know. Half of these I know intimately; one half of those I love.

  Add to this twenty a good two hundred vagabonds and strangers of whom I know nothing but now and then hear something; and for good measure another thousand secretive immortals, roaming about in human guise.

  Men, women, children¬°¬™any human being can become a vampire. All it takes is a vampire willing to bring you into it, to suck out most of your blood, and then let you take it back, mixed with his or her own. It's not all that simple; but if you survive, you'll live forever. While you're young, you'll thirst unbearably, probably have to kill each night. By the time you're a thousand years old, you'll look and sound wise, even if you were a kid when you started, and you will drink and kill because you cannot resist it, whether you need it anymore or not.

  If you live longer than that, and some do, who knows? You'll get tougher, whiter, ever more monstrous. You'll know so much about suffering that you will go through rapid cycles of cruelty and kindness, insight and maniacal blindness. You'll probably go mad. Then you'll be sane again. Then you may forget who you are.

  I myself combine the best of vampiric youth and old age. Only two hundred years old, I have been for various reasons granted the strength of the ancients. I have a modern sensibility but a dead aristocrat's impeccable taste. I know exactly who I am. I am rich. I am beautiful. I can see my reflection in mirrors. And in shopwindows. I love to sing and to dance.

  What do I do? Anything that I please.

  Think about it. Is it enough to make you want to read my story?

  Have you perhaps read my stories of the vampires before?

  Here's the catch: it doesn't matter here that I'm a vampire. It is not central to the tale. It's just a given, like my innocent smile and soft, purring French-accented voice and graceful way of sauntering down the street. It comes with the package. But what happened here could have happened to a human being; indeed, it surely has happened to humans, and it will happen to them again.

  We have souls, you and I.

  We want to know things; we share the same earth, rich and verdant and fraught with perils. We don't either of us know what it means to die, no matter what we might say to the contrary. It's a cinch that if we did, I wouldn't be writing and you wouldn't be reading this book.

  What does matter very much, as we go into this story together, is that I have set for myself the task of being a herb in this world. I maintain myself as morally complex, spiritually tough, and aesthetically relevant a being of blazing insight and impact, a guy with things to say to you.

  So if you read this, read it for that reason that Lestat is talking again, that he is frightened, that he is searching desperately for the lesson and for the song and for the raison d'etre, that he wants to understand his own story and he wants you to understand it, and that it is the very best story he has right now to tell. If that's not enough, read something else.

  If it is, then read on. In chains, to my friend and my scribe, I dictated these words. Come with me. Just listen to me. Don't leave me alone.