Featured Story
Recent Stories
Stories by Topic
News
Make the universe a better place! Join Daily Science Fiction for only $15 / year, or donate any amount.
Membership
Take me to a...
Random story
top-rated stories only
Enter any portion of the author name or story title:
small-go-arrowsearch
Sign up for free daily sci-fi!
your email will be kept private
Breaking News
Get a copy of Not Just Rockets and Robots: Daily Science Fiction Year One. 260 adventures into new worlds, fantastical and science fictional. Rocket Dragons Ignite: the anthology for year two, is also available!
Kindle Edition
Kindle Edition
DSF stories are available in monthly digests for Kindle!
DSF for Kindle
Publish your stories or art on Daily Science Fiction:
Submit your story
Check story status
Not just rockets & robots...
What is Science Fiction?
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.
close






Portrait of a Lady Vampire

Christopher J. Burke is a math teacher, a webcomic creator, and a part-time writer of short stories and role-playing games. He is the author of In A Flash 2020, and co-author of GURPS Autoduel, 2nd edition. He can be found on Twitter @mrburkemath.
As the artist gave the canvas its final brush strokes, Lady Isabella sat frozen in the regal pose she wanted immortalized. She'd held that position since the Moon had risen into the night. Any discomfort would be worth it, though, if Genevieve could capture her essence. She wanted to be able to see herself the way the world saw her.
Seeing oneself wasn't an easy task for a vampire.
Her gaze fixed to a spot to her right, Isabella was aware of the artist's head bobbing. The painter looked from canvas to subject and back again. Then the young woman paused, almost lost in thought. Isabella saw that she held her brush as tightly as she held her breath.
"What is it?" Lady Isabella demanded. "What is wrong?"
"Nothing." Genevieve put down her palette with some hesitation. She cleared her throat before continuing. "It's done. Come and look."
The vampire rose from her seat. The artist stared at the floor, afraid to meet her eyes. Like a solar eclipse, everyone feared looking directly at a vampire. Would her gaze be the beginning of a trance? It was nonsense, of course. The portrait had been properly commissioned. Genevieve had not been compelled to create it. But the air reeked of worry, and waves of tensions permeated the room.
Gathering her cloak about her, Lady Isabella glided across the loft, even though she felt some hesitation of her own. Once upon a time she had been a beautiful noble woman. But then, centuries ago, she'd had been erased from her vanity, never to be seen again. Now, once she rounded this easel, she would once again be able to see herself.
At long last! This was the moment!
Genevieve held breath for the two of them for the reveal.
The vampire recoiled in horror at the sight, as if she'd been presented with a crucifix or a fistful of fresh garlic bulbs!
It was a twisted image, a mockery of beauty. A whitened, pallid face, with sharp, angled lines. She had a strong brow over sunken eyes, with dark rings. Her once rosy cheeks held no color but gray.
Lady Isabella struggled to regain her composure. Then she pointed a sharpened finger toward Genevieve, who had shrunk in on herself, cowering atop her stool. "Tell me! Answer me honestly!" She fought to find the words. Pointing back to the portrait, she asked, "Is that image true?"
She hadn't looked the artist in the eye. As much as she craved an answer, she didn't want it compelled.
To her surprise, the response was more organic, almost compassionate. "Y-y-yes. Yes, it is."
At first, the vampire's eyes reddened. Her brows furled in anger. Then, all softened to sadness. If the undead could shed tears, unholy puddles would have formed on the hardwood floor.
Instead of crying, the ancient woman closed her cloak against a sudden chill. She withdrew to the window, and gazed into the darkness beyond. Nocturnal creatures roamed moonlit hills. She felt an urge to flee and seek their solace.
Comforting thoughts of a savage nature consumed her until a gentle hand landed upon her shoulder. It startled her back into the moment. She whirled about to see Genevieve standing beside her, holding a box of tissues.
So absorbed had she been in her own misery that for the first time in three centuries, a human had been able to creep up on her. Across squeaky floorboards!
"I-I-I could..." the artist stammered. "I could add some color to pallor. Some rouge to the cheeks, maybe?"
Was she trying to be helpful, or trying to preserve her life? Isabella thought for what Genevieve might consider eternity, if only because the child had never considered eternity itself.
"No," she replied. "I accept that as it is. You have painted a masterpiece. Do not compromise it, or you'll never be able to paint another."
Clutching the box to her chest, Genevieve pulled out a tissue to wipe her eyes.
"But I have two questions I need answered."
The young woman nodded in agreement and relief. "Sure. Anything."
Lady Isabella reached out and took Genevieve's face in her hands. The youthful skin was warm to touch and receptive to her cold fingers. It was a calming moment, comforting to both.
"Do you do your own makeup? Can you show me how? You work wonders with a brush."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021


The difficulty finishing this piece was not realizing sooner that as much as I wanted to tell the story of a young artist petrified by how her vampire client might react, I found Lady Isabella's story more compelling. Once I switched the POV, the story came together.

- Christopher J Burke
BECOME A MEMBER!
We hope you're enjoying Portrait of a Lady Vampire by Christopher J Burke.

Please support Daily Science Fiction by becoming a member.

Daily Science Fiction does not have a paywall, but we do have expenses—more than 95% of which are direct payments to authors for their stories. With your $15 membership, less than 6 cents per story, we can continue to provide genre fiction every weekday by email and on the website to thousands of readers for many years to come. You may also choose to support us via patreon. Tell me more!

Support Daily Science Fiction

RATE THIS STORY
Please click to rate this story from 1 (ho-hum) to 7 (excellent!):

Please don't read too much into these ratings. For many reasons, a superior story may not get a superior score.

4.9 Rocket Dragons Average

SHARE THIS STORY

JOIN MAILING LIST
Please join our mailing list and receive free daily sci-fi (your email address will be kept 100% private):
 
Copyright Info
Tell a Friend
Send Feedback
About Us