Enclosed a horror story that I already wrote in the nineties as a student, but never published. It is inspired by the ancient Greek tale ‘The Bride of Amphipolis’ of the phlegon of Tralleis.
May I introduce myself? My name is Philinnion, daughter of Demostratos of Amphipolis.
For over two thousand years I have been something that people call “beings of the night” or “form of horror”. One is afraid of me, because it means, I strive both for love pleasure and for human blood, in order to keep me beautiful and young. Above all, I lure young women and men, whose blood is still fresh and pure, with my love lust to suck them out. But today nobody knows the whole truth about me anymore. I was not always like this:
In the fourth century BC I lived with my parents Charito and Demostratos and my younger siblings Sophia and Rasmus in Amphipolis.
It was just at the time when the Macedonian king Phillip II exercised his influence on Thessaly and the Macedonians gradually took the lead in the Greek world.
My family was still a middle class business. We lived in a wooden house with courtyard and kept, like many citizens, chickens and goats. In our courtyard was a well, from which we drew our water. On hot days, this was often dried out, then we had to drag our water laboriously from rivers outside the city. When the climate cooled, we liked to stay on our terraced roof. The furniture of our house consisted of only a few tables, chairs and a few simple stools, which were carried from one room to another as needed. Then there were a few chests where we kept our clothes, blankets and skins and little jewelry.
My father was a free citizen, a simple trader. But in our city, large building measures were currently taking place. There he was offered a sufficient income so that we were even able to keep a few slaves. It is understandable that my parents still wish that their children should feel better.
My brother Rasmus was allowed to attend an “academy” where philosophers and rhetors taught him reading and writing and he was taught fine arts and sports. He then passed on his knowledge to Sophia and me again. The learning made me a lot of joy, because my thirst for knowledge was inexhaustible.
When I was about fifteen years old, I was promised to a certain crateros who had stopped early for my hand. He lived in one of these villas on the outskirts with arcades and murals. His living quarters were much more valuable than ours. Everywhere stood these preciously painted vases, as you admire them today in your museums, and bore witness to Krateros’ wealth. My parents wanted a better life for me, but my secret love was for someone else.
When Polyneikes from Pella, a friend of my parents, was visiting our house with his family, I immediately fell in love with his son. I never forget how I was introduced to this tall, dark-haired young Machates back then. He seemed shy and reserved. But when our eyes met, I caught his loving nature in his amber eyes. His inner beauty took my breath away. We started talking slowly, but I noticed that Machates was incredibly educated for his age. I thought I was meant for him. Machates reciprocated my love, but we have not said a word to anyone about it. This love gave me the strength to rise above the monotony of my everyday life.
At my wedding, I already knew by the sight of my future, that I could never love this. Krateros’ face was hidden behind an unkempt scrubby beard, only his greedy eyes were clear of it. And just because I feared never to see Machates again, I settled on him.
Now I was wealthy, had lands and slave slaves and no longer had to go to the market for shopping. My family had also benefited from the marriage and from now on also lived in a villa. But Krateros only loved himself and the wine. As I knew it from the beginning. He was selfish and cruel if I did not obey him unconditionally. I did not deserve such a life with any sin! I no longer felt like a woman, but as an involuntary being without spirit and gender. I could hardly bear this condition. Nevertheless, I pulled myself together and tried for fear of punishment, Krateros to be a good woman.
In the year 336 BC, King Phillip was murdered in the middle of preparations for a great fight against the Persians, and his twenty-year-old son Alexander seized power. Krateros joined his staff and rode to war.
Months passed in which I got no news from him. I knew about the uprisings in the north and the destruction of Thebes. But I did not know if Krateros would ever come back. Honestly, I hoped he would not. All the less, when I soon found out that I was pregnant with him.
I was about to light a fire when suddenly a shadow fell on me. I did not dare raise my head, because the smell of alcohol told me who was standing there in front of me. My husband’s eyes were as cold as the metal on his warrior armor. As his eyes caught on my stomach, his face darkened. He knocked me down with a fist and called me a whore. Desperately I tried to talk to him when his fist hit me again and he kicked. The last thing I could see was the blood between my legs. Then it was night.
With all the gods of Olympus, I swore revenge on Krateros, who has not been seen since. At the old Philomele, a healer who still worked with incantations and magic formulas, I got a poison. This I wanted to do Krateros in the wine. The wine would prevent it vomiting the poison before it worked.
I poured the contents of the small vial into the drink in front of me and stirred it. But I changed my plans. My tragedy would end here and I will have my greatest triumph! I drank the poison cup empty until the last drop …
It was stiflingly hot and when I opened my eyes, I saw everything as through a red veil. The room slowly began to turn around me. Like a fog, I noticed my mother approaching me. I tried to look at her and asked for forgiveness. I whispered to her that I had taken the poison to follow my child over the Styx and ask the god of death Hades that my sins may not forfeit the salvation of my innocent child.
Charito forced a smile and assured me that she had forgiven me long ago and that in the Temple of Leto, who is herself a mother, she would also ask for the peace of my soul.
Calmly, I closed my eyes for the last time.
How much time has passed in the world, while my soul lingered in Tartarus, I do not remember exactly.
At some point I heard the whispers of the Eumenides that my now grown sister Sophia should be married to the now wealthy Machates of Pella. The engagement would soon take place and Machates was currently staying at my parents’ villa.
I really tried hard to ignore the Eumenides, but they did not leave me alone. Although I knew that I would attract the hatred of the gods and never find the gates of Tartaros again, if I manage to escape from it. But in the end, the whisper of the Eumenides overwhelmed me and made me an undead myself.
At midnight, when I was sure everyone was sleeping in my parents’ villa, I left my crypt and floated up to the window in the guest room.
The sight of the sleeping Machates aroused an unprecedented tenderness in me. I went into his sumptuously furnished room and saw on the stool beside his bed a fruit bowl and a wine amphora standing. Machates must have drunk a lot because his cheeks were flushed and there was a hint of wine in his breath.
I could not resist stroking his long, dark hair, noticing the pulse in his carotid artery. His long black eyelashes twitched as I bent down to kiss his forehead. He suddenly opened his eyes. Amazement and tenderness were reflected in his eyes.
I was scared and wanted to flee, but he grabbed my wrist and held me tight. So I sat down in silence. He lit an oil lamp and almost dropped it when he recognized me. He wanted to say something, considered, but remained speechless. The curiosity in his eyes made his face seem even sweeter.
I handed him the golden ring he had given me before I was married to Krateros, and he recognized him immediately. We spent the night in love with each other, but I did not manage to tell him the truth about me.
Towards morning, I wriggled out of his arms and promised to return to him in the evening. As a token of his love, he gave me his iron ring and a half-gilt travel mug and I disappeared.
I visited Machates from then on every night. Before, however, I had to hunt humans to drink their blood, because blood is the food of the undead and I loved the animals too much for me to kill them. Machates waited in his room evening after night until I finally arrived.
The slaves, meanwhile, had noticed that the guest-room was not doing right things and were waiting for me. Then they ran to my old nurse and told her that they had seen me at Machates. The nurse at first cursed them for imagining ghosts. But then she could convince herself that the slaves had spoken the truth and ran to my mother.
My mother questioned Machates. Machates got angry when she told him about my fate, because he thought that she would lie to him, so that he would let me go. Conversely, Charito could not believe that I had appeared Machates. In tears, she begged him to tell. But Machates initially remained silent. He had to struggle hard to finally tell her the truth.
Of course, the whole house was alarmed. Demostratos asked Machates to follow him to our family vault. When they opened my burial chamber, they saw corpses and bones lying on the stretcher. Only my own stretcher made an exception: there was only my shroud, the iron ring and the half-gilded mug of Machates.
Of course, the staff could not keep their mouths shut, and soon it was known all over the city. The royal steward of the city had the house locked and guarded all night. Machates was very bitter about it. He regretted having entrusted himself to his fellow man.
The following night he asked me to tell him the truth. And when I had a hard time with it, he took my hands, looked deep into my eyes and told me my own secret as truly as if he were myself! That hurt me incredibly because I had closed these events in the deepest depths of my soul and any thought of it was so painful to me that I immediately repressed it.
I begged Machates to stop his analysis, and when he went on anyway, hate rose in me.
In a fit of blind rage, I jumped up and bit him. At the same moment, however, I was shocked by my act when it became clear to me, and let go of it. But Machates had kept quiet and not even resisted.
Now he just looked at me. I could still taste his blood. Thin red threads ran over his neck. But I could not see in his eyes the slightest trace of anger or contempt, just love, trust and understanding, honest and unconditional! I felt so bad!
All night I lay on his shoulder and cried. Then I was so exhausted that I fell asleep.
I woke up only when I heard screams. In front of me stood Charito, Demostratos and my old nurse, who wanted to hug me. But I feared that the whole city would come in and stare at me and see Machates’ desperate face.
I said goodbye to them all and jumped out the window. I had to get out of Amphipolis as fast as possible. Poor Machates! With my escape I hurt him a lot, although he wanted to protect me!
Hyllos, the ancient seer of Amphipolis, advised the inhabitants to sacrifice to the god Zeus as the god of hospitality, as well as to offer Hermes and Ares sacrifices. Then they set up a huge pyre on which they wanted to burn me and bury me outside the city, but they never found me.
Machates could not take it all. He broke the engagement with Sophia and had to flee Greece because he was now at an age when celibacy was punishable. He gave all his possessions to my family as compensation and disappeared.
What will become of us, I will tell another time.