I sit on the shore of a tiny island, and watch the moon make a silvery path across the water.  It reaches to almost where the tiny wavelets lap at my toes.  My knees are hugged to my chest, my mind, for once, is at peace – as calm as the summer night that embraces me.  A soft, warm breeze lifts the ends of my hair as I gaze into infinity, and caresses my naked back deliciously.

I’ve lived out here for some time, now – longer, in fact, than you might think, to look at me.  A casual glance (if you ever even managed that – I don’t allow myself to be seen so easily) would show you a woman of perhaps thirty – thick black hair to my jaw line, blue eyes, creamy skin, and a pleasantly curved body.

Look into my eyes, though, and you will see something far, far older.  Something far more complex.  Something ancient, wily, and wary.  And hunted.  Hunted through years and ages, in fact.

But we all have to eat, don’t we…?

I took to living out here in the archipelago when I couldn’t stand it any more.

The noise.  The stink.

The miasma and clamour created by these creatures upon which I am forced to depend for my strength.  How I wish it were not so.

But there you have it – even immortals, such as myself, must put up with certain inconveniences.  And they only seem to grow more inconveniently irritating and burdensome the further down the ages I travel.  It often makes me sigh with despair and frustration.  However, if I do not wish to end up lying on the earth somewhere, too weak to move myself, but unable to claim the blessed release of death, it must be this way.

So.

I live out here.

Occasionally, a meal will come floating by, and I will hold my breath and take it – without pleasure, with only need and necessity.  Afterward, I will swim in the icy waters of the sea, and attempt to wash the stink from my skin.  Sometimes, it doesn’t fade for days.

I live far, far out among the islands.  As far from habitation as I can possibly get.  Even then, the occasional stench will reach me – borne on an errant gust from that cursed city where they swarm like flies on a carcass.

Thinking these things, I unconsciously sniff the breeze.  And I stiffen.  More alert, now, I hear a noise to accompany the smell – a hissing, wheezing sound…  there is a steam launch upwind of me.  I smell the coal and the filthy odour of fish and of…them…

But, just before I attempt to close my senses off to that godawful smell, I sense something else – almost masked by the other smells.  There is one – no – there are two people on this vessel – one stinks like every other creature of his kind I have encountered, but the other…  his smell is almost masked, but I catch hints of it…  Sweet, and spicy and…. Well…  Utterly delicious.

I almost fail to believe my senses.  One of these foul horrors smelling…appetising…?

Though it is barely a month since I last ate, my soul growls with the thought of feeding from such a one.  The thought of absorbing that…heavenly essence.

I must have it.  I must have him.

Swiftly, I rise from my place at the liminal zone between earth and sea and begin to circle the island, under the cover of the trees.  I follow the breeze-borne scent, until I come to a spit of land extending out from the main body of the island.  Hovering in the shadows, I gaze out across the water to a nearby island.

There is the steam tug, moored in the middle of a bay, and two figures on the beach – hauling a dinghy up on to the sand, high above the tide line.  The tug, of course is quiet, now, and I hear the crunch of their boots and the hull of the dinghy on the sand.

They confer briefly, and one walks toward the tree line, whilst the other remains on the sand.

Now they are no longer together, I can discern that the one left on the beach is the one that made my soul growl with longing.  His scent comes to me more clearly, now, spicier than before – like some freshly-cut, aromatic wood.  Even his sweat from the effort of rowing, and hauling that dinghy up the sand smells…fresh.  And clean.

My eyes are good and, even in the moonlight, I can tell he is long and lean, with thick dark hair and almost night-black eyes.  My soul growls once again, and I make ready to leap from the rocks where I stand, into the sea below, when a glimpse of movement stops me, and the companion appears at the tree line again.  I shrink further back into the shadows, and wrinkle my nose as his stench is once again wafted my way on the breeze.  They confer again, and he disappears back into the woods.

This gives me pause.  I want this delicious-smelling creature, like an addict needs a fix, but I don’t want to be disturbed as I feast.  I sigh as I realise what I must do to achieve this.  Without a further thought, I dive into the icy waters of the sea and, keeping below the surface, I swim, swift and powerful, towards the neighbouring island.

Once there, I check my prey is still on the beach.  Hiding behind some rocks, I cautiously peer around them until I am satisfied that he is removing equipment from the dinghy, and making some sort of camp.  He will be there awhile, yet.

I swim around the shoreline a little, until I am out of sight of the beach, then haul myself out onto the rocks and, in silence, disappear into the trees.

He’s not hard to find.  The foetid reek of unwashed and skin, bad diet, and uncertain personal hygiene lead me to him as if he is standing on a bare hilltop and shouting my name.  He is in a small clearing, collecting firewood – no doubt to cook some of the fish I could smell in the boat- caught only an hour or two ago, and already stinking with rot.  To these insensitive creatures though, they doubtless smell as fresh as a virgin’s underwear.  I walk out of the trees, and into the moonlight – right in front of him.

He does not hear me, but the movement catches his eye.  Straightening up, he drops the bundle of dry wood in his arms, his mouth falling slack with surprise.  For I am naked, and dripping wet, and…  Well…  If you are ever lucky enough to catch a glimpse of me, you will know how good I look.  This oaf certainly appreciates it.  Within seconds, the look of foolish surprise on his coarse features is replaced by a disgusting leer as, without a word, he begins to shamble towards me.  With a tiny inner sigh, I steel myself against the coming unpleasantness.

And I smile.

As intended, he accepts the tacit invitation to use my body as he will, and lunges for me.

Fortunately, I am stronger than I may initially appear.  Following a brief struggle, during which he first tries to throw me to the ground then, failing that, push me up against a tree and thrust his filthy paw between my legs, I finally manage to subdue him, with no more than a hand around his throat.  I squeeze a little. Just a little.  He begins to choke and gasp, clawing at my arm.  In my gentlest voice, I admonish the filthy brute.

“Now, now, my sweet one – behave yourself.  You will get what is coming to you – never you fear.”

And, just like that, his face slackens, and his arms drop and he stands, meek as a puppy, before me.

“Oh, much, much better,” I coo, and I slowly move towards him.

His eyes now have lost that leering look.  Instead, they hold a mixture of fascination and wonder.  And a tiny morsel of fear.  He stands unmoving as, inch by inch, I close the space between us, and move my lips toward his.

And our lips touch.

And I feed.

I feel my soul absorbing the life-force of this ugly animal, and I feel all that made him what he was.  As I sense his childhood, I experience a pang of pity, but this is soon washed away by the adolescence and adulthood that follows.

Ugh!  Truly – the world is better off without him, and she will not mourn her loss.

Dropping the empty husk of him to the ground in distaste, I hurry back to the sea and plunge into it, scrubbing my body, and especially my hand, arm and lips, with anything I can get my hands on – just to take the stench away.  Fortunately, this one was easier to subdue than most, so at least the smell actually comes off at first try this time.  Now – to do what I came here for.  Time to play with this delicious morsel that has fallen into my lap.

It seems I am not the only moonlit swimmer tonight for, as I round the edge of the bay, I see my prey emerging from the sea.  He has his back to me, so I can stay where I am for a moment, in order to fully appreciate the view.  I may be immortal, but some things never lose their charm, no matter how many aeons one suffers through.  He is…not muscular…but toned.  Slightly wiry, perhaps, but with the strength and grace of a dancer in his tiniest movement.  The water sheeting over the pale skin of his back glistens and glitters in the light of my sky-sister, and I appreciate the touch this provides, enabling me to better admire the contours of his body.

So much am I enjoying this sight, however, I grow unwary.  I have been slowly brought closer and closer to him by the incoming tide and now, as he reaches the newly and simply erected camp and turns around to look out over the bay, I am directly in his line of sight.

I curse my inattention.  I normally like to be far, far closer before I allow my prey sight of me.  It allows my smile and voice to take full effect.

There is, however, no help for it.  He has seen me, now, and would think it odd if I merely disappeared under the surface of the water, never to be seen again.  Until I am ready to play, that is.  So instead, I swim towards the shore.  Swift, powerful strokes quickly bring me to the beach and, in no time at all, I walk from the sea, the water sheeting down my body, as it did down his.  I can tell he is enjoying the sight as much as I was.  It is…obvious.

As I leave the water, I am smiling, of course.  As a way of subduing and making my prey pliable, it has been invaluable, down the centuries.  But this time, the smile is different.  It does not often happen that the smile is one of genuine pleasure, but this time, I cannot help it.  After all, I like what I see, and the smile, for once, reaches my eyes.  I have not, during my long existence, smiled like this many times.  These creatures, after all, carry an ungodly stink, since from the day they are dragged squalling into the world, they are already dying – they just don’t know it, yet.  Who could have a genuine smile for that?

Immortals do not stink; they do not smell of anything, in fact.  Not to me, at least.  They tell me that I do not smell of anything to them, but that they can smell each other.

I have not met many, and those whom I have met are…  not quite the same as I.  They have to drink these creatures’ blood for their strength, and I pity them that – to have to take into their ageless bodies the already-rotting fluid that fills these horrors.  I merely need to absorb their soul – their life force.  Still, they do not seem to mind, so much.

As I walk slowly up the beach, smiling and keeping eye contact all the while, I realise that my prey is smiling, also.  Not the lustful leer I have come to despise, but a small smile.  Small, yes, but full of genuine appreciation and…  Curiosity?  This is most unusual indeed.  But I continue to walk, slowly, sensually, my body swaying like the snake that mesmerises.  Around me, the warm breeze caresses my skin, the sound of the wavelets caresses my ears, and the crunch and tickle of the sand caresses my feet.

I walk to within a few feet of him, and then stop.  His lips are soft, and a beautiful shape, and they twitch a little, then part, as he greets me politely in a soft, warm voice.

“Good evening to you, my lady.”

His accent is strange, and I cannot place it.  I have been many times around the world, picked up many dialects, and spoken many tongues, but this lilt I have never before encountered.  Inwardly, I give a shrug.  The world is a large and ever-changing place, after all – and language may evolve at a startling rate, in the right circumstances.  I move a fraction closer.

“Good evening to you, sir.  How goes it?”

His lips twitch a little – perhaps with amusement at a formal exchange of two people who are alone together, naked in the light of the moon.

“It goes much better now, my lady.”

This trite, yet knowing response amuses me somewhat, and my smile becomes a little more intense with it.

I move a little closer still, the better to inhale his delicious scent with every breath.  It is almost dizzying.

“And what do you here, sir?”

His smile widens, as he says, “Why, I look for you, my lady.”

I realise I have been unconsciously edging closer to him, and stop.  His answer gives me pause.  No-one knows I am here, I am sure of it.  And yet…

“How did you know where to look?”

My wariness obviously shows in my eyes, as he laughs a little.  A soft chuckle almost drowned by the noises of the tiny wavelets.

“My lady, I have smelled your scent on the breeze long since.  I have known you were here for some time.  It was merely a matter of finding which island was lucky enough to harbour you.”

With this, he moves a little closer to me.

I am mesmerised by his eyes.  So deep, and dark.  I feel I could drown in their black depths and choke with a smile on my face and a song of joy in my heart.  I barely notice as he reaches out, but his gentle hand on my cheek sends waves of static through my skin.  I sigh, involuntarily.

When his lips meet mine, I feel the shock of the lightning explode through my body, crackling through my very soul.  Our arms are around each other as if they have always been there – as if they were always meant to be there.  Our bodies are pressing close, closer than I would have thought possible, the heat between them would melt diamonds.  I open my soul and prepare to suck out his life.  And then…

And then, I feel something strange.  My soul is open, I feel myself beginning to absorb his essence, but…  my soul, it…feels so strange…as if…it’s leaving my body to be replaced by his…

My eyes fly open.

“What are you?”

His eyes look into mine for a long, long moment.

“I, lady?  I am the last of my kind.  Like you.  I am the only one left that walks upon the skin of our mother.  Just like you.  We were destined to find each other.  It is the only way we may at last know peace.”

His words, so simple, yet so vast, encompass everything that I am, and everything that he is, and everything we may be to each other.

Salvation.

Completion.

Release.

Understanding dawns, and he sees its light in my eyes.  He smiles, with a little hope, a little sadness, and with a great deal of weary relief.

“Are you ready to leave, my lady?”

I can barely believe he even has to ask me.  I am so ready to leave this foul and beautiful existence that I can scarcely do anything other than nod.

I take his face between my hands, press close to his body, and kiss him.  Long, and slow, and deep.  With the sadness and beauty of uncountable aeons, I kiss this last of his kind, and he, in his turn, kisses me with the depth of the ocean.  Of all the oceans there ever were.  And the heat that has once again been building between us ignites, into a blazing, coruscating vortex of energy.

And we are no more.