A little something I did for Creative Writing class.

My goal, my prize, is so close that I can taste it as the snake tastes its prey on the air. Immortality, power, a chance… the love of my life. All of the lines of my life have come to a central point. Edison and Crowley are assembling the gate while I keep the Gatekeeper, the key to said gate, from panicking. Decades, centuries, I mutated vampire strains and necrotized elementals in search of the secrets to the Gate and Key. It was with the help of Dr. Edison and Aleister Crowley that the Gatekeeper came to be.

"Are you Dr. Garret Vetala?"

"I might be, I might not be. Who wants to know?" I asked the two strange beings before me in the dingy, ill-lit bar. One was one of the new-fangled machine men, powered by electricity and constructed with steel. The other was some sort of Revival-Occultist in hooded black robes decorated in upside-down pentagrams. An odd pair if I ever saw one.

"We want to join you, Doctor," the occultist said.

"Why should I let you?"

"He's one of your former countrymen and I'm an American inventeor, a kindred spirit, if you will," the machine man assured me.

"All of my kin are dead and I have no love for my former country, only her."

"We're the answer to your prayers, then," the mechanical creature said.

"We've found a way to grant the grace of God to the soul of a sinner."

Thanks to them, I'm here now. They gave me the ability to finish the child of my love, fervor, and cruelty. The great mechanical body of Edison hums as he assembles the simple, perfectly circular gate of quartz with Crowley's help. My Gatekeeper, the Gatekeeper, looks up at me with those milky, half-formed eyes set deep into its desiccated face. It is human enough still, but its mind is more animal thanks to the specific strain of vampirism and the key provided by my colleagues. They are kicking up dust in this decrepit basement, and I can see it in the moonlight streaming through the hole we had punctured in the floor above.

I created him during soon after I came to America to work for a new patron.

"General Poe, I presume?"

"That is correct," he assured me as I stepped off of the boat surrounded by his loyal guard. I was wearing the current Spanish style of the time, in eighteen… forty-nine I believe. The outfit was a rather frilly thing that the body of the nobleman had been buried in but he was fresh and I needed to look alive for the journey. I digress. Poe stood before me in the uniform of a United Shadow American General, a fourth party in the American Civil War. I knew the rumors that he was more prosthetic than man were true when I saw his glass eyes, wooden features, copper teeth. He made an imposing figure all the same, though.

"Do you have the specimen I need?" I questioned him absently. My accent had a bit of Castilian in it, but that was to be expected in a fresh body for a while.

Poe snapped his synthetic fingers and his soldiers dragged a bound man through the tall grass to our sandy little spot on the shore. He was a frail, pale, completely forgettable fellow in ripped and ruined clothing. Something about him was different, though, something that one would have a hard time placing. He was the proper one.

"Excellent, he will be perfect. Have your men bring my equipment and lead me to my laboratory immediately," I demanded. I learned that you had to be tough with employers about these sorts of things from the start or they would always question and interfere.

"You heard him. Now!" Poe's men jumped into action like good little soldiers.

That was exactly thirty-eight years ago, and I had taken many bodies since that time and perfected the Gatekeeper. My disposition became lighter than ever since I first promised her that we would be together. My heart is full of anticipation and worry, though. An actual life with her…

Regardless, it is time. I start to lead the Gatekeeper through the debris of leaves and decaying building material over the cold, soft soil of the broken ground. I can see trees and sky through the roof and the holes in the wall, but my eyes are focused on the Gate, the device that can strain Myth from the very substance of that which goes through it. The cloaked and covered figure, the steel being, and I attach the Gatekeeper to the circle and I must calm it as it hisses in panic, its eyes darting around, sightless.

"Gentlemen," I announce to them boisterously, but in no way truly how I feel. "Today, I will have completed the goal of three hundred years of toil. We do or die!"

"Let us just get on with it," Crowley nearly hissed as he pulled his robes closer to presumably ward off the cold night air.

"Dr. Vetala, ve must talk, now," the Fext commanded as if I were some kind of common soldier. His booted feet echoed loudly in the cavernous, dismally grey dungeon that was my lab. I looked at that pompous ass, all bluff and bluster in his impeccably perfect uniform and chest covered in shiny medals. His face was rather well preserved with his comb-over and mustache in good condition. A shining monocle only added to his appearance. The shadows thrown off by the torch-light made him all the more impressive.

"What do you want, Fext?" I wondered out loud as I sat at my table surrounded by my alchemy still and various papers, notes, and books. My body was skeletal and he had me trapped here in Castle de Bathory with mystic chains forged in hell itself.

"You vill address me as 'General Fext', Heir Doctor," he replied as he reached the bottom of the stairs. I pushed by my simple stool from the large oaken table. I pulled the rags of remaining cloth that served as my clothing tight to my skeletal frame in a pointless show that he had not broken me.

"My humblest apologies, General Fext, you dirty Slav bastard!" I cursed him and attempted to reach for his undead form, but alas, my chain stopped me far short of my goal. My chain rattled as I ranted in my spirit-booming voice.

"I am immortal, Englishman! What do you think you can do to me?!"

"I have a brain, idiot. If you were immortal, then you wouldn't need me! You are here demanding results, correct? Well, your stupidity caused you to fail again. All those

specimens you released set me back fifty years and I'm only now catching up! Son of a whore!"

"Heir Doctor… you will be here for an eternity and rot until you succeed then," he muttered as he turned and left. His footsteps receded moment by moment.

"I would for her," I whispered into my loneliness as I heard the door boom shut in this cavernous, manmade stone pit that my lab had become.

The funny thing was, in 1768, the Fext was killed by a glass musket ball to the heart. His one weakness, a glass musket ball… haha. I was freed by a sympathetic castle guard who hated the Fext as well. Then I drifted. Bathory, though, she had started my obsession with the Gatekeeper search, given my yearning for my love a direction.

"You are… Garret Vataya?" Elizabeth Bathory asked in awkward, unpracticed English. She sat in her elaborate copper tub which was supported by caste iron, clawed feet, where she bathed in what looked like thick, red blood, a contrast to her alabaster skin. The Countess looked very young for her reported seventy-five years of life with a shine in her eyes and the tips of her lustrous, raven locks in her blood bath. "I velcome you to my home."

I was disturbed and uncomfortable with her lack of shame. As nude as a heathen she was. Yet, I was a heathen myself, so who was I to judge?

"I am honored to be in your presence, Countess Bathory." I tried to sound humble and intelligent. At the time, I was not used to royalty.

"Why, if I may ask, have you had your vampiric young ladies drag me from my laboratory and spirit me away across most of a Europe?"

"Do you know the story of Myth?" she asked as she languished in her bloody bath.

"I cannot say that I understand what you mean, my lady."

"Myth… it is dat vitch, how you say… it is the very fabric of the universe that infuses everything and everyone at all levels, mind, body and soul. It is at ze atomic level of every cell and has been for all time." She paused then and fixed me with her reddened eyes.

"Such, heretical, words and ideas… impressive."

She continued flatly.

"The first beings in existence were made completely of Myth and they dispersed themselves upon death, and the last of their kind to die acted as a catalyst to set the universe as we know it into motion. We are their legacy. It is said in legend that they will rise again to guide humanity in our time of need. The legend is, how you English say, hog slop."

"Not a woman of faith then?"

"Dat is beside the point. This tale is older dan any other religion or story in record and others have sought to use it throughout history. The first was the priest

Imhotep who thought to do it through rituals to his Gods and his name on the pyramids of Eygypt. He failed. The Scholar-King Socrates came closer by creating a stone circle of quartz… and it worked. He was obliterated, of course, but he still tapped it by straining it from the stuff of the universe."

"What does it have to do with me?"

"Patience, Vetaya, or I will see that you are tied to your work… permanently," she said in menacing tones. "Now, Baba Yaga, the Russian Czarina-Witch, created a nesting doll-like undead named Koschei. He was able to absorb the brunt of Myth and only he was destroyed. The entire palace of Socrates was destroyed his attempt."

"So you want me to make some sort of beast that can succeed where an ancient witch failed? Create a being more powerful than Koschei the Deathless, the Mongol butcher?"

"Your mind, it is creative. You made the Hairy Hands, unleashed the hounds of the Basketville upon England, and pieced together the bodies of the deranged… I want your help."

"When do I begin?"

It was a decision, the answer I had been searching for so that the light of my life and I could be.

That is how I got here. The path I chose to follow to reach my goal was given to me by the Countess, as was the name Vetala and the title of Doctor. My inspiration, though, she

drives me on throughout centuries. I swear I can see her as we start the gate up, the Gatekeeper holding onto the stone circle with it's tentacled back facing us. The process was beginning.

"Hello, Catherine."

"Garret? Is it you?" she asked as she attempted to cover her face. I quickly closed the small space between us and stopped her from putting on her veil.

"Your hand is so cold."

"Being among the recently deceased tends to do that, my love. Come with me and we'll live like royalty in the Americas, aristocrats in Paris, Czars in the east, but just come with me my dear," I pleaded as I looked at her, beautiful with long blonde curls, pock-marked face from a childhood illness. She was ashamed of it, I did not care. I adored and adore her with all of my heart.

"Garret…"

"What, my love?"

"I love you but…"

"Is it my body? I can get a new one. My past? I gave up making deals with the devil a long time ago. My profession? I'll give it all up. Tell me what it is and I will make it happen."

She turned from me and looked at anything else in the room. Her small chest of clothing, her bed, her night gown, anything. I gently placed a hand on her narrow

shoulder to attempt to comfort her but she pulled away. She was illuminated by the moonlight from the open window that I had entered through.

"I'm not a woman of great faith but I am still a member of the church. You're a member of the undead and you're an alchemist and a necromancer. The unholy sciences for an unnatural being," she said as she turned to face me again. Tears ran down her cheeks but she had not yet lost her brave face.

"True, my love. I remember that you said that you didn't care a wink what I was when you tended to me after the guards beat me. Don't let old prejudices hold you back. We may not have known each other that long but I love you," I told her with pristine truth and a rare passion that only few have seen. The look of pain on Catherine's face cut me like a knife. Moments passed as I held her hands in mine

"What if we could have a life together? A real life with all of the love we can give one another?" I asked as the skeleton brilliant plan was born in my head. She did not hesitate more than a second.

"In a heartbeat."

"Then I swear that we will. No matter how long it takes, we will," I promised.

Five years later, she died of the same fever that had killed my mother so many years before that.

"Aleister, Thomas."

We each grabbed onto a flailing, node of muscular flesh on the back of the Gatekeeper as he fed on the energy of Myth. Steel, flesh, and claw melded with the vampiric creature I had made. It was then that eternity stretched out before me and I could see and feel all and nothing.

"Catherine, come on, we're going to be late for the party, my love!"

"I'm coming sweetheart," she said in return as she walks down the steps of our estate house. She looks absolutely ravishing in her gown with her hair done up and jewelry gleaming.

"You look stunning."

"You're a flatterer. Come on, let's go to the party."

Together, we stepped into the limousine and we were off to the gala of a lifetime.

"What do you think of this life, my love."

"It's perfect," she said as she ran her hand through my short, corn stalk yellow hair and kissed me with all of the passion that I have longed for. Love is mine. My goal is achieved. The power that doctrine says only God has is mine. Those I hurt in my search are restored and peace and prosperity reins. All because of a deal with the devil.