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Originally published in the Jeffrey Thomas edited collection:
A Vampire Bestiary
(released in 1996 by Necropolitan Press)

by W.H. Pugmire

Can death, I wonder, carry with it some supernatural stench? Or was it the memory of his recent demise that stained the air with the smell of blood and sex? He had been dead three months, and still I paused to listen at the doorway, leaning my brow upon the wood.

I closed my eyes. I saw once more the image of his corpse hanging from a dirty length of rope. I saw myself hug his dangling legs to me. I felt once more the weight of his corpse as it fell upon me. The tears stained my eyes as I remembered hugging his lifeless form and screaming his name until my neighbors came.

But that was three months ago. "It's over," I whispered to myself; then shuddered as soft hollow laughter filtered from the room beyond.

I opened the door. Dusky shadow danced within the room. I felt as though I had entered some vile nightmare. Walking to our altar, I knelt before it, not looking at the thing that swayed in mid-air. I lit three candles. Their pale light illuminated the hot living air that issued from my panting mouth.

My shaky hand took up his suicide note. He had written thereon various lines from his beloved Baudelaire, in Clark Ashton Smith's superb translation.

"Funeral, slow, the pendulum
Tolls brutally the lapse of noon,
And darkness pours from heaven too soon
On the sad world forlorn and numb."

The voice that had spoken the lines in that darkened room had not been my own. I turned to acknowledge my lover.

He hanged above me a moment more, then sank toward me. His nude form was impossibly lean. The facial features that had not rotted away contained a memory of the boy I once had loved, but the yellow eyes were of a stranger. The eyes and limbs looked very dead. The mouth alone, moist and churning, seemed unspeakably alive.

He leaned toward me and I began to whimper. A dry hand covered my lips. A wet mouth moved along my face, to my chin and ear.

"Death is a soul crusher," he whispered. "A crimson razor kiss. A stream of steaming passion that seeps from thee into my fanged godbox. I will be your shadowless doom, your liquid romance. Kiss me."

As if in dream I pressed my mouth to his. My tongue slipped between the ghastly lips. His teeth, impossibly sharp, played upon the fleshy organ.

I pushed myself away, panting wildly. Hot living vapor issued from my gasping mouth. He opened wide his jaws and sucked at my breath as it billowed in the air. He shuddered in ecstasy, then gazed hungrily into my eyes.

Shifting, he looked down upon our fetish altar. Smiling, he reached for the straight-edge razor. It had been a gift from my dearest friend. She had found it among the items of a Victorian mortuary kit that she had purchased at a punk rock garage sale. The razor's edge was extremely sharp.

He took hold of my hand and placed the razor upon my palm. Its ivory handle was cold and hard. Reaching for a leather belt, he wrapped it around my eyes, then tied it tightly.

"I'll love you forever," he promised, taking the razor from my palm. I felt the kiss of metal on my throat. I could restrain myself no longer. My mouth stretched wide with screaming. Accompanying my shrieks was the wild sardonic twitter of the thing that wrapped me in its arms, the hungry thing that fastened its mouth against my throat and sucked me dry.

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