Life in the revenant tower is a bed of roses or that is what I once believed. Sure, there is the cost for living in the lap of luxury, but what is a little blood when you have a full belly and a soft bed to sleep on. No one speaks about the struggle for power among the revenant leaders or the ever-present threat of an attack by the resistance.
The revenants lived on Earth for a long time before we found out about their existence. Most of the old stories of vampiric nature are about the revenants from the past. We humans found out too late that many of the old myths and legends were based on truths.
My pappy was a child when the war between the revenants and the humans began. Pappy said it was the day the world went dark and the revenants killed the electricity. Technological advancement had been our downfall. Humans had forgotten much of the old ways of life and how to survive by the labor of our own two hands.
After they crippled us, they started the culling. The largest cities were lost to us within a matter of days. London, Sidney, New York, and others were left empty and barren. Millions of human lives were extinguished overnight.
But, the war didn’t last long. Our military was nearly destroyed when the Covenant was made. Since then, every human living within the boundaries of the revenant city gives a pint of blood each month in exchange for peace.
The human body holds roughly ten pints of blood at any given time. Giving one pint a month doesn’t seem that bad in exchange for a life within the city’s walls. Humans outside the city are said to be savages—cannibals even. I don’t know how much of that I believe, but I have never experienced hunger to a point where I would want to eat another human.
Pappy doesn’t agree with the Covenant. He has donated blood in my place since the time when I had come of age. When I asked him why he did not want me to give, he replied that it was his silent rebellion against the revenant.
Pappy opened the door of our one-bedroom apartment and placed the bag with the two empty vials meant for next month’s blood donation in the cabinet nearest the door. His face is pale as it always is after having given two pints of blood.
He runs his hands through his white hair pushing it from in front of his eyes. Maybe I will talk him into letting me give him a trim this weekend when I get a break from the nursery. I have worked at the nursery for the past two years as a junior gardener. Pappy worked there for more than fifty years, up until the point when his hands shook so bad that he was no longer able to hold a trowel. Now he mostly stays at home sitting in his favorite chair while reading whatever books I can manage to trade for at the local market.
“Smells good, sweet pea,” he said as he kicks off his shoes. The soles of his boots are nearly gone. I spot a hole in one as he placed them on the shelf beside the door.
“Dinner will be ready in a minute,” I tell him as I added a carrot and a cup of rice to the broth. Most days we eat soup for dinner—not because we want to but because we have to make do with only my food rations. There was a time when we were both able to work at the nursery and therefore had two sets of rations each month. But, when pappy was no longer able to work, the second set of rations disappeared. Had I not been old enough to hold a job at the time, we would have been expelled from the city. Only able humans who can give back to society are allowed to remain within the city walls.
Several days ago, one of our neighbors died in a tragic accident. Sacks of fertilizer had fallen on him and he had died instantly leaving behind his young daughter. She couldn’t have been more than ten or eleven at most. Within twenty-four hours after his death, their apartment was vacated, and the daughter disappeared. A new family took their place soon after. Rumors among the residents of our apartment building are that the daughter was cast out of the city due to her young age and inability to give blood according to the rules of the Covenant. I can’t imagine being a child, losing my parents and then being cast from my home.
I never knew my parents. Pappy is the only parent I have ever known. Every now and then, he would tell me about my mother. But, when I asked about my father, he would change the subject. I have learned over the years not to push to hard for answers.
Pappy grabbed two bowls from the counter and placed them on the small table. It shifted a little as he sat down in the old rusted metal chair. The table is only large enough for the two of us. It is nearly as old as I am and rusted through. The metal in the center is thin, parts of it have disappeared completely leaving a hole the size of my thumb.
Using an old book as a hot plate, I placed the pot in the center of the table. The steam of the broth fogged up my pappy’s glasses. He smiled as he pulled them from his face and wiped the fog away using a handkerchief from his pocket. After scooping two bowls full of broth, we prayed to the Lord above to bless our food and our home. I have never understood why my pappy prays to a God who does not answer. But then again, who is to say that the God of my pappy has to answer using the human tongue.
I grew up believing in the divine. Pappy used to teach me about God and read the scriptures of the bible every night before bed. Now, as an adult, I find reading them therapeutic. The familiar stories are a reminder of my childhood when my pappy was lively and always full of laughter and smiles.
Pappy ate half his broth and gave the rest to me as he always does. Leaving the metal chair behind, he moved to rest in the worn leather of his recliner. Kicking his feet up, he grabbed a book from the small table next to his chair and opened it to the page with the bookmark. Before I have cleaned the dishes and put them away, his soft snores filled the room. Taking a blanket, I laid it across his lap and placed his glasses and the book on the small wooden table beside the recliner.
The sun is low in the sky when I finally settled into bed. With only a sheet as a blanket, I snuggled up to my pillow. Living in the south in what was once called the U.S., the spring nights are cold, and the days are hot. The weather here is far from ideal, but I am used to it. Closing the bedroom window, I rest my head for the night and allow myself to drift off into nothingness.