Chapter 157 (3.105) - Last Moment of Peace


 

I can’t help but laugh as Isaac is amused by how far he can jump and all the new things he can smell. I’m his sire, it’s my job to make sure he gets accustomed to the new version of him. That’s what I keep telling myself. In reality, I’m putting off what I need to do. I need to try convincing the other, I need to plan to run. I’m just pretending I’ll have a better chance if Isaac, Ashley and Catalina are more accustomed to their bodies but I haven’t spoken with any of them about running. We can’t wipe them out now, so a fight would be pointless. We need to run and gather resources for later.

Destiny’s journal gave me some more of what she was thinking about this place. Isis used to be her friend but after she starting getting close to Granny she changed. Destiny knew they were up to no good, but never had any proof, I do. Part of me feels good about validating her thoughts, but another part is upset she was right. She could always read a situation better than I could, especially when things didn’t add up.

“Vamp daddy,” Isaac calls for me.

“Can you not call me that?”

“Well you sired me, what else am I supposed to call you,” he laughs.

“How about my name?”

“Too plain.”

“You’re a mess.”

“A hot mess, but I’m going to work on that,” he takes a seat next to me in a patio chair. “What was it like when you came back?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, when I died, I thought they were going to weigh my heart, or I’d see Jesus or something. I never really believed the whole religion thing, but the way they spoke, I was sure it would happen. Instead, I just watched a replay of my life.” He asked me a question, but doesn’t let me talk. “I had to witness every good and bad thing I did in my life. I didn’t do nearly as much good as I did bad. I was an asshole, to a lot of people. When we went to New Orleans with Sampson, I was so focused on getting what I wanted that I didn’t question anything he told me to do.”

“Hey,” I put a hand up to interrupt him. “As long as you know what the issue was, you can fix it, most of it. What you can’t fix, learn to live with and do something good.”

“That’s smart.”

“My mom used to say it all the time.”

“You probably didn’t have any issue coming back.”

“Nah, I had a whole trial.”

“What?”

“It was like a court trial.”

“I have so many questions.”

“Don’t bother. I don’t have any answers.”

“When are you planning to leave?”

“In the next three or four days. You want to come with me,” I ask him.

“I wasn’t sure if I did, but after we found that shed, I knew I would. I don’t know what I’m going to do after this, but I know I can’t be here anymore.”

“Well, you’ve got a long time to figure it out.”

We’re not talking about anything. Isaac is looking for things to lift, just to prove he’s stronger now. This whole moment feels out of place. It feels like the last moment before everything descends into chaos. I’d like to call my family, but I’m afraid they’d figure out some way to check who I called and where they were. It could be paranoia for what I’m planning, but I’ve seen enough to know that they’ll do whatever Granny says. I’m hoping for a peaceful exit with a few folks following behind me, but I know that isn’t the case.

“Hey,” Isaac calls for me, as he takes off his shoes. “Let’s race.”

“Why are you taking your shoes off?”

“I run faster without shoes.”

“That’s insane.”

“Try it.”

“No.”

“Don’t be so stuck up. Take off your shoes and race me around the house. Two laps.”

“Are you out of your mind?”

“Ready,” Isaac takes a runner’s stance.

“Hold up, I’ll race you.”

I take off my shoes and socks, sit them on my chair and join Isaac in the grass. I wasn’t racing through grass in my shoes anyway. These are the Cool Grey retro Jordan’s. Purely for style and comfort, not racing. The grass is pricklier than I expected but still tickles my feet. I line up with Isaac and wait for the count down.

“Ready, set,” Isaac takes off at full speed laughing.

“You didn’t say Go,” I call out before taking off after him.

Chapter 156 (3.104) - Stab Me Harder Vamp Daddy


I'm in the process of renumbering the series. This is 3.104 under new numbering. Under the old number, it's under 156.

We’re all standing on the back lawn at sundown dressed for a funeral that doesn’t allow shoes or socks. Old Ben got all of the men tailored suits that are a little too old fashioned for my taste, then he had us burry them in the dirt last week. I’ve been trying to figure out how to confront them about the human trafficking, as if they’ll stop because I ask nicely. The women are across from us, just as dirty, in old fashioned dresses that spread out from the hips. Old Ben and Granny are different, their clothing style is just as old, but in contrast to us they’re dressed in white, completely unblemished. I clap along with everyone else as they make a grand entrance. I wonder if anyone else has the same hate in their heart for them that I do.

“We’re glad to have you here, the family that we sired,” Granny begins. “Today, we welcome three more into our ranks, if they have the will to survive. Those of you who wish to find a new path on the edge of life and death, come forward.”

Ashley, Catalina and Isaac step forward with no hesitation. Old Ben bites his finger and uses his blood to draw various symbols across their faces. They state their name and pledge allegiance to their new family. Similar to our marriage, I suppose Destiny and I did have a rushed ceremony, that I was barely alive for. Each is given an ornate gold chalice to drink from. I can smell the blood from here, and they all wince to swallow it down.

San nan san mwen,” they repeat after each swallow.

San nan san mwen, the words that Destiny spoke over and over again when I was being turned. I’ve since learned they mean blood in my blood, or blood of my blood depending on the translation. I’m not sure it’s part of the ritual or simply a promise that when this is done, you become family. Each kneels on the ground when they’ve finished, waiting for the next step.

“Today we come to the Gods, asking for a release. A release from the bonds of slavery, exploitation, the evils of humanity and all that burden us. We ask for the power to dethrone our oppressors and the guidance that we may not oppress others,” Granny generally seems to be acting, but this time, it’s as if she believes every word she says. “We pray for those that are being exploited, trafficked and abused. We also pray for those that are guilty of keeping them confined for they have fallen victim to the evils of mankind. Deliver us from this. Deliver us from the ways of man, so that we may not cause pain. Bless these three before us. Make them better than we are. Turn them into beacons for the next generation and let them shed light on our own evils.”

I’m not sure if the prayer is for the three kneeling before her, or for her. It was a nice prayer, but almost all of it was begging for forgiveness of crimes she had done. Old Ben passes each a gold dagger encrusted with jewels of various colors and ornate etchings.

“Choose your sire,” Old Ben tells them.

Ashley and Catalina both rush towards Isis but Ashley makes it there first. Catalina pouting gets some chuckles, but she offers her knife to Michael. Are they close? Granny doesn’t really let the men and women talk, but he takes it graciously. Ashley and Cataline return to stand in front of Granny and Old Ben with Micahel and Isis right behind them holding the knives proudly. Isaac hesitates, he doesn’t rush to anyone. He begins to walk towards Sampson but pauses. He turns to me and starts to walk. There’s a few laughs as I visibly shake my head and try to wave him away. If this ceremony is anything like when I was turned I’m not a fan of playing with his intestines.

“You have all chosen,” Old Ben says. “Now, present yourselves.”

Each holds out an arm, Michael and Isis bite down, drinking deeply. I follow their steps and bite down on Isaac’s wrist. I think this is the first time I’ve drank from a live person. I don’t like it, I can taste the sweat, the cologne he wears. This isn’t for me. When Michael and Isis stop, I stop as well, still unfamiliar with this.

“It is time, to decide your fate,” Granny speaks. “Do not hesitate, you were brave to come this far already.”

Without hesitation, Isis and Michael slit the throats of Catalina and Ashley. I watch in horror as their bodies drop to the ground with smiles. Isaac keeps waiting for me to slice his throat, something I can’t bring myself to do. I read the book, I know you have to die, I just didn’t expect to be the one doing the killing. I was already dying, but I suppose you can’t wait until you’re on the verge of death to do it.

“Just do it, I trust you,” Isaac whispers.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes while I yank the knife across his throat. I don’t let his body drop carelessly to the ground. The others begin to celebrate and party. We’re supposed to wait on them to come back, it could be a few minutes or a few days from what I read. Nobody seems concerned at all, they’re already toasting champagne and celebrating the birth of three new Adze. I don’t move, I sit next to the bodies and wait for them to return. Seventeen minutes go by and Ashley starts to cough and gasp for air, the cut along her neck gone. There’s cheers as she steadies her breathing and sits up, coming back to the world. Still covered in her own blood she joins the party, gorging on blood. One hour and twenty-four minutes after the cutting, Catalina wakes, the same as Ashley. The two celebrate knowing the both made it.

Seven hours after the ceremony, and the sun is beginning to rise. On the opposite end, Isaac is still lying stiff, his body is getting cold. The party seems to have wrapped up with everyone heading off in their own directions. Sampson walks past and just nods his head at me, I nod back, the most interaction we’ve had since New Orleans. I watch the sunset, and keep watch over Isaac’s body. If he doesn’t come back, I’d feel some sort of guilt for it. Twelve hours pass before Isaac moves. He doesn’t awaken with some choking as his wound heals, he doesn’t awaken at all. His body twitches, and grinds his teeth. His wound is healing but I can’t seem to wake him up. He’s alive, but something is wrong. I call for help, but nobody comes. He just keeps shaking then suddenly goes still. When his eyes open, tears begin to fall in an instant.

“I’ve been a terrible person,” he says when he sees me waiting.

“We’ve all been terrible,” I can’t help but hug him.

I have to imagine we look ridiculous sitting in the sun, covered in mud, blood and now tears. Somehow the relief of Isaac returning to life and his new-found life outlook caused me to let out all of the things I’ve been holding in.

Chapter 155 – Piecing it all Together


 

Isaac and I, haven’t talked much since the trip. We’re not avoiding each other but there isn’t much to say. Tonight, he asked me where I was going and I told him he couldn’t come. Still, he’s been following me through the woods for almost an hour, pretending I can’t hear him or maybe he thinks I can’t hear him. I keep hoping he’ll get tired and stop following me, but he’s probably lost and I’d rather nothing happen to him in the next few days.

Destiny’s journal mentioned an shed that Granny and Old Ben didn’t let anyone go near. I spent the last few days looking around the property and from the rooftop, I could just barely catch a glimpse of something through the woods. I decided that I’d try to check it out when nobody was paying attention; but that’s hard to do when you live on a plantation with a bunch of vampires that rarely ever sleep. I think I’m the only one who actually tries to sleep every night. I figured at night, at least the few humans around here wouldn’t notice me sneaking out. I was wrong, I made sure I was out of the room all day so Isaac wouldn’t know when I was leaving. I guess he was looking out of a window or something when he saw me leave.

The old shack is just that, an old shack. But the door and the lock are new. There’re bars on the windows and someone has gone through a lot of trouble to repair spots that were damaged. The new wood stands out in places, a much lighter shade than the original wood. It isn’t long before Isaac joins me, lurking in the shadows.

“You can come out now,” I call out to Isaac who scurries up.

“Why are you out here visiting a creepy old shack?”

“Because Destiny said it held the secret to what Granny and Old Ben were doing.”

“You realize you sound crazy when you word it like that. It makes it sound like you talked to her yesterday and we both know that wasn’t possible.”

“Her journal, her journal said it.”

“So you came all the way to the middle of nowhere, a place called Dulac that nobody ever heard of until they tripped, fell and landed here. Just so you can solve a mystery she left you in a journal?”

“That’s not why we came here. It’s coincidence she mentioned it in her journal. I wasn’t feeling right about this place for a while.”

“So, are we going to go in?”

I step up and grip the lock, it’s nothing but a regular padlock. It’s not meant to keep us out, it’s meant to keep something in. The lock snaps easily when I tug at it. I push the door open and there’s complete darkness. Isaac feels around on the walls until he finds a light switch. The shack is as expected, dust and dirt cover every inch of the place, the windows are frosted with dust and impossible to see through. A single toilet and sink, no fridge or bed. But the part that sets off my danger sense is the cages. Not just regular cages, but cages large enough for humans. I saw enough Marson workings to know that this place caged humans. With the lock being so new, probably recently. Sometime during my stay there were people being held captive in this building and I had no clue about it at all. Destiny was here for years and couldn’t figure it out. They didn’t even hide it, you just had to know where to look.

“What do you think was in these cages,” Isaac asks.

“People. They’re human traffickers.”

“How do you know?”

“I’ve seen it before. The cages, the locks, but only on the outside. Terrible living conditions. Space heaters but no actual heat, and there’s probably a small generator providing the light out back.”

“You’re serious,” Isaac takes a different tone. “Who do you think is behind it.”

“Granny and Old Ben. The others might know too.”

“What if it’s like, a hideout for The Underground Railroad?”

“They were never slaves and this was never a hideout. Look at it, modern plumbing and electricity, those cages are worn, but not slavery worn. It’s all for show, just a damn cult.”

“I don’t know yet, burn it all down. Kill everyone here, I don’t know.”

“Well, wait until the ceremony.”

“That’s what you’re thinking about?”

“Yeah, you’re already Adze. I’ve put up with shit before you came along. James made us drink blood, and eat leaches. All kinds of shit. My goal is in sight. I’ve compromised a lot of who I am for this. Give me a couple of days before you start building bombs.”

“Fine, but when the time comes you help me.”

“Alright,” Isaac extends his hand. “I’ve got your back.”

The walk back is silent. There’s nothing to talk about, both of our minds have been made up. I’ll let him turn, and he’ll keep quiet about my plans. For a moment, I swear I spot Isis looking at us from the house as we approach. It might just be my imagination, or paranoia. The mystery of how the Marson family knew about killing Adze is solved. They probably met Granny and Old Ben at some trafficking convention. I’ll deal with them too eventually.

“You coming in,” Isaac asks as he opens the back door.

“Nah, I’m going to stay out here and think for a moment.”

“Okay, nighty night.”

“Night.”