The year is 1721, it is a bone-frigid winter night, and a boat from Europe has just docked in Boston Harbor. This, of course, is nothing so strange. Every winter night in Boston is the coldest a person has ever been, and the coldest they will ever be. Until the next night. And boats now come and go with fair regularity, always bringing new people with the will and the want (and the ability to pretend certain other peoples weren’t already here) to tame a new land and make it theirs.
There is a passenger on this boat, though, a most peculiar passenger indeed. To start, the passenger had no inclination to go to the new world. He merely fell asleep drunk in a barrel on exactly the wrong ship at exactly the wrong time, and was a full day away from London before he awoke to discover his situation. To end, he was a vampire.
His name is Wallace Dawson, Wally to anyone who cares. Before he was a vampire he came from nothing. He still, strictly speaking, comes from nothing. In the hierarchy of English vampires, built with bricks of bloodlines and mortar of age, he is the lowest level. He is the basement. His maker came from a weak lineage and he is still fairly fresh, only a vampire for twenty-odd years. Wally would get older, of course, and perhaps in four or five hundred years he would be able to command respect. But there would always be the softness in his bloodline. That was something one just couldn’t change. Or so he had thought.
Because Wally is standing on the docks and looking around in awe. Not at the town, no, not at Boston. Wally has lived his entire life and un-life in London. Whatever these people have built looks like nothing more than a sad collection of roughly-built huts and tents to Wally. Even through his wonder and amazement, Wally is able to feel a healthy amount of disdain and disgust for his new home. But his new home it shall be, for one encompassing fact.
Wally cannot feel the presence of his maker.
Wally cannot feel the presence of the witches.
He had felt both of those feelings waning during the crossing, of course. So slow he’d hardly noticed it at first, but once he did it had become all he could concentrate on. It gave his mind something to do, anyway. Wally wasn’t exactly bright, never had been, but twenty years a scourge of the undead and you learned how to hide yourself. A splintery ship in the middle of the Atlantic with barely a hundred people on board wasn’t the best place to hunt. His empty heart and veins would have driven him to madness if he wasn’t able to concentrate on the fading.
The thing of it was, he had been convinced that once they reached land again he would feel them. It had been made very clear to him that first night he had awoken to his new life. The Coven controlled all. They gave many gifts, but demanded obedience in return. No vampire king stood above the Coven, although many had tried. Their magic ran through all vampires’ empty veins, they controlled all. There simply was no escape.
If Wally had been brighter, he might have figured out what many European vampires had figured out decades ago, when ships had started to sail in earnest to this new place on the other side of the ocean and the Coven had forbade any vampire from passage. Not only forbade, but wove into their magic yet another spyglass. If anyone thought about leaving, and started to make their way to a ship, the Coven would know. And the trap would fall. The Coven claimed it was because it was too dangerous on those ships. Too easy to get caught. It didn’t take long for most vampires to see through it. There was just nothing to do about it. The spyglass was too strong.
At least until Wally inadvertently found a way around it. Just don’t think you’re doing it. Get piss-blind drunk while low on blood and see the beginnings of dawn on the horizon. Panic. Look all around you and come to the conclusion that the best place to hide for the day is in a barrel on a ship. Pass out in said barrel. Continue to be so gone to the world that you don’t wake up when the ship brings up the anchor and sets sail. When the barrel is rolled down to the galley. Only realize what you’ve done when it’s too late. Too late to turn back. Too late for the Coven to stop you.
The Coven is not in the new world. Wally is glancing around in awe, waiting for some vampire or witch to rush him, but there is no one. There is nothing. No magic. As the awe begins to fade, and he becomes sure no one will come for him, he then begins to feel fear. Loneliness. He tries to turn to shadow and fly down an alley. Nothing happens except a few stares from some passersby. He tries to bend the will of one of the passersby. All that gets him is a slap in the face. The gifts from the Coven are gone. He is alone.
Finally, what would have occurred first to a smarter vampire begins to enter Wally’s mind. Slowly at first, just along the edges. He has lost the gifts from the Coven, yes. He has completely lost the Coven.
He has completely lost the Coven.
That feeling of a leash around his neck is gone. The Coven and the vampires back home always talked of weak and strong bloodlines as though it were a natural consequence. Wally could feel how weak he was, compared to those of the vampire lords. Standing here now, on this new land, he doesn’t feel weak. For the first time since his making, he feels free.
Wally grins, finally understanding.
Wallace Dawson is not the first and only vampire in this land, as he will find out later. Vampires have been a black spot on humanity since the very beginning, before they all spread out, and yes, they followed humanity over the land bridge to this place, too. But Wally is white and English, so this is how he will think of himself ever more.
The first New World Vampire.