Chapter 114 - M.


“I’m going to ask you again, where is she?”

The thrall in front of me calls himself Mitchell. He’s been coming through and beating me every day, every hour? I’m not sure how much time has passed. I can’t see the sun, sometimes the light flickers on and off. Occasionally a woman named Meagan will come and hook me up to an IV, probably to keep me alive. Mitchell comes more frequently, he beats me, asks where Destiny is. I don’t give him an answer, because I don’t know. I’m not sure if they’re coming multiple times in the same night, or I’m just going insane. They’d probably like if II went insane, a savage animal to use as they please.

“Man, I keep telling you, I don’t know anything.”

“You know, the next guy they send in isn’t going to be as nice as I am. I just hit you because it’s my job. I don’t get any joy from it.”

“Then get a new job,” there’s no reason to be cordial with him.

“That’s funny. You wouldn’t understand all the things this family has done for me. That’s why I do this even though I dislike it.”

“You had choices.”

Mitchell runs removes the leather gloves he had been wearing and runs his hands through his hair before leaning against the wall. He checks his cell phone and seems to be pondering for a while without speaking or even looking at me.

“You’re right,” he finally speaks and puts his phone into his pocket. “We all have choices. My choices led me here the same as yours did. You can pretend to be better than me, more righteous. Yet, my choices let me feed my family and your choices have you strapped to a chair being beaten every day, sometimes more than once a day. You should just tell me where this woman is at. I’ll let you go when I have the answers, you’re just a pawn. Cathy is coming in next and she’s only in it for the joy,” he almost seems frightened as he speaks of her.

“I keep telling you, I don’t know where she is.”

“Then I hope you bleed out quickly. Try to bite through your tongue, it’ll be hard but pretend it’s a carrot,” Mitchell shakes his head as he exits.

Nobody comes to interrogate me for a while, at least it seems like that. I can’t seem to do anything but fight against my own thoughts of mortality and sleep, no pass out. Megan comes in with the IV four more times, but Mitchell doesn’t come again. Have I been here four days? No, an IV is used for extreme cases, they wouldn’t need to use it every day. Are they just trying to mess with my mind?

The door opens fully and I get my first glimpse of sunlight, bright enough that it almost blinds me. The light above me turns on and the door closes. In front of me stands a little old lady, white hair, wrinkled pale white skin, a floral dress with a pink shawl. This is someone’s grandmother. This can’t be the Cathy that Mitchell had spoken of with such fear. Suddenly in front of this little old lady I’m aware of the fact that I’ve been forced to use the bathroom in my pants for however long I’ve been here. I probably smell terrible and look just as bad.  

“I don’t know where she is,” I say to her.

“I didn’t ask,” she swiftly removes a knife and cuts along my forearm.

“What?”

“1 of 1001 cuts. I’ve never gotten past 873. I hope we can break the record today.”

“What?”

“Don’t bleed out.”

All I can do is sit helplessly as she cuts away the remains of my battle worn clothing. Soon I’m sitting in just my soiled underwear, at least she allowed me some decency. As she starts to make cut after cut I can’t do anything but scream. I try not to scream as these are no deeper than papercuts, each one only bleeding slightly as she cuts randomly. Cut 19 is the one that forces me to yell as she slices between my big toe and second toe a deeper cut.

“You don’t bleed very much. This isn’t going to be fun for me.”

“It’s no theme park for me either.”

“Do you know what a Lycan Autopsy is,” she asks as she digs in her bag.

“I take it you’re going to cut me again.”

“Yes, then I’m going to have a look around inside you, and sew you back up, all while you watch.”

I don’t have a chance to respond before she jams a knife into my stomach. I star to scream, and she only drags the knife further. My flesh peeling back from the white fat is enough to make me vomit. I dry heave as she laughs knowing there’s nothing there. Slowly she saws back and forth at the muscle. I almost pass out from the pain, and she shocks me with her hands. The quick jolt of magic keeps me awake through the process. Soon elastic tendons start to burn as they shrink back into my body.  

She starts to poke through and toy with my intestines. The heap of blood and flesh covering my stomach, her laugh, the muscle shrinking I can’t take it. I promised myself I’d hold out until I got my chance to kill Justin, but I can’t do it. I bite down on my tongue, but my teeth won’t go through. I bite harder, I can taste the blood, but it stops me from going further. I mimic her sawing motion, using my teeth to saw through my tongue.

“329, 330,” the old lady counts.

“What the hell,” I’m back in the shack, torso featuring some new cuts but no autopsy.

“You woke up? Most people just die in there, but you got through the illusion?”

“What illusion?”

“Magic, I put you in a little world of my own making. I’m impressed.”

I try to regain my composure, but the fresh cuts aren’t allowing me to think straight. Why am I trying to think straight? Nothing about this situation is straight. Why did she stop cutting me? I need to get out of here. I’ve lost some weight but I don’t think the straps are loose enough. Maybe if I can sweat enough to slide out. I only need one arm free.

“I have a reward for you,” she comes back with a large black bottle.

“I don’t need a reward.”

“Since you like hanging out with vampires, I thought I’d give you a taste of their life.”

She holds the bottle to my lips, but I don’t open my mouth. I can tell from the smell; the bottle is filled with blood. She squeezes my cheeks and forces the bottle in. I don’t swallow, but she holds my nose. With an extra shock to my jaw, I’m forced to swallow. The blood doesn’t stay down long as soon as she moves the bottle I vomit. I’m not a vampire, I don’t love the taste of blood. At least it doesn’t burn like regular vomit when it comes back up.

“Well, we’re just going to have to try again,” she pulls a second bottle from her bag.

“I don’t know where Destiny is.”

“I told you, I didn’t ask.”

The second bottle doesn’t go down any easier than the first, nor does the third. I consider biting my tongue again, really killing myself this time. But she doesn’t go for a fourth bottle. Instead, she stares at me in amusement.  

“Well, you don’t bleed enough so cutting you is boring, you broke out of my illusion, and you really can’t stomach blood. I’m going to have to find something more creative for you. Unfortunately, my time is up, but I’ll be back the next day, and the next day,” she gleefully smiles as I start to pass out again.

Chapter 113 - M.


“You want something to eat,” the woman driving asks.

“Might be your last meal for a while,” the other adds when I don’t answer.

“It’s not personal, just business. I’m going to stop at Rally’s, you might want to eat. At least get a milkshake, their strawberry is to die for,” the driver continues.

“Looks like he’s about to die any second,” the woman on the passenger side joked.

The vampire I killed was Adam Locke, an assassin of the top tier. He’s been hunting people for various vampire houses for over a century. He was there to kill Destiny, I just happened to show up. He wasn’t prepared for me and hadn’t rested enough from his travel here. That’s what they told me anyway. I believe it. It was all a game to him, something he had done thousands of times before. I was just a warm up for him. My fear of death and a few drops of luck saved me. If it had been night time, I would have died for sure.

I’m not actually sure I didn’t die. I remember looking at his dead body, and the next thing I know I was being pulled off the ground by these two. I don’t know if it would be appropriate to call them idiots, but they’re idiots. Still, they were smart enough to dress like cops and throw me in the back of a cop car. For all I know, they could be real cops in service of The Marsons. What I do know, is they drove me around until the sun set, taking orders through a radio. They went out and did other things, leaving me in the back of the car. I don’t know what their plan is for me, but I know it isn’t good.

Honestly, my body hurts too much for me to think of an escape plan. I’ve been fading in and out since they grabbed me. They were really on top of their game, because I’ve had some fights. But I feel like each one gets progressively harder. No matter how much I train and learn, I’m just not keeping up with the increase in difficulty.  

“Got you a milkshake and a burger,” the driver passes it back to me.

“Thanks, any chance there’s a key to the door at the bottom,” I ask only half joking.

“Oh gosh no,” the passenger remarks before laughing.

“So, what are your names?”

“Well, I’m Lilly,” the driver answers.

“And I’m the fabulous Rosalyn but people call me Rose for short,” the passenger responds.

“Great, Lilly and Rose. Are you going to take me to a hospital at some point? I’m pretty sure I’m bleeding internally,” maybe I can get the chance to escape.

“No, we’re just buying time until master wakes up for the evening,” Lilly says with glee.

“So, who’s the master?”

“That would be Lord Justin,” Rose responds.

This is a really good milkshake, the burger isn’t bad either. I take the time to savor each sip and every bite. This might be the last time I get to eat food. I know Justin already wanted us dead, and now I’m going to be dragged right into his trap. I just wish I could have seen Destiny one last time, said goodbye to my family. Especially Elias, he’s going to be so worried about me. The sun is setting, and we’ve started to drive outside of the city. We’ll probably be heading to some mansion where I’m beheaded on the front lawn as a warning to Destiny.

I don’t plan to go out without a fight, but there isn’t much fight left in me. My shoulders are almost completely numb, every time I move my sides are killing me and I’m pretty sure at least one of my ankles is sprained. I could try to fight them both right now in the car, but that probably wouldn’t turn out well. They’re thralls anyway, they’re following orders. Chloe and Justin, those are the people that have made our lives hell. If we’re going to see him, I’ll try to take him out with me. They haven’t cuffed me despite pretending to be cops. I just need my body to hold out long enough for me to lunge at him. I can stab him one time in the heart. Destiny said these old vampires aren’t built to take damage, I’ve killed them before, and I can do it one last time.  

We ride up the winding path as the last moments of sunlight fade. When they open the door, I fight the urge to run. If I run, they’ll probably kill me now. They’re going to kill me anyway so I might as well wait for my opportunity to kill Justin. Rose and Lilly pass me off to a group of people that includes a woman carrying a sword and a man with a gun. I expect them to lead me inside to have a sit down with Justin, instead they lead me to a shed off the path and out of sight of the old mansion.

Inside there’s no Justin, just a metal chair with leather straps dangling to the side, almost like an old electric chair and a single light hanging down. This was a set up from the beginning. I turn to run and immediately feel my feet leave the ground. The sense of weightlessness as I fall is ended as my shoulder meets the grass. A quick hits me in the center of my stomach and instantly the contents empty out in front of me. I don’t have the energy to fight back as I’m lifted by my neck and slammed into the chair.  

A few punches later and the straps are wrapped around my wrists and ankles tight enough that I begin to lose feeling. The light bulb is turned out and the doors are slammed closed. My death is inevitable now. This is the waiting room for me. I can’t stop the tears as I think about everything that’ll be left here when I’m gone.

“Is anyone there,” I scream out, but there’s no response. “I don’t want to die,” I’ve thought the words but never screamed them out before.  

Chapter 112 - M.


 

My entire body is aching, but I push it to the limits running down the hallway. I never thought I’d play the victim in a horror movie. I keep moving past the elevator, I don’t have time to wait for it. I slam through the door to the stairwell and start to limp down the stairs. I make it a flight before I hear someone humming Yankee Doodle. I know it’s the vampire and I know that wasn’t five minutes.

“Shit,” I slip down the stairs as he drops in front of me.

“You didn’t get far,” he reaches down to grab me. I summon my nightmare and stab at his hand. He releases me long enough for me to push him down the stairs and run up to the next floor. I make my way through the door and grab at the fire alarm.

The screeching pains my ears as the lights begin to flash. I know it has to be worse on him, vampire hearing and vision being as good as they are. I hate to admit it, but I’m pulling a Destiny move, hoping to blend into the crowd of people fleeing. I make my way down the hall, banging on each door, yelling fire and hoping people file out.

“You can’t run,” he calls from the other end of the hall.

I hit the stairwell with other people from the apartment and make my way down the crowded stairs with everyone else. There’s a loud clattering sound followed by several thuds. Looking back, he’s knocked the door of the hinges and it is slowly sliding down the stairs after us.

“Yankee Doodle keep it up, Yankee Doodle dandy. Mind the music and the step,” he manages to yell out over the alarms.

Even with the alarm ringing, the only thing I can hear is his maniacal laughter as I reach the ground floor. Pushing through the people, I can feel my heart beating in my ears. If I can just get to my car, I can get away from him. He can’t catch me if I’m in the car, or he can, but they have fees and stuff for that right?

I don’t see him behind me the sunlight must be keeping him back enough for me to gain distance. Shit, I don’t have my car keys. I must have lost them during the fight. I just have to keep moving, and stay in front of people. It shouldn’t be hard; the street is filling up as fire trucks arrive. There’s nowhere for him to snatch me, but also nowhere for me to run.

“I see another snarl of men, digging graves they told me. So tarnal long so tarnal deep, they tended they should hold me,” what the hell is that song? Is he in my head? Does nobody else hear this?

Just a little further, I can hop on the L and get away. He’s not going to kill a car full of people. I just need to keep moving, even if every muscle in my body wants to give out. It’s getting harder to breathe and keep moving. Is this what it feels like to have a broken rib, or am I having a heart attack?

My vision blurs and needles are shooting through my back. I try to scream out, but my mouth and nose are covered by a rough hand. When my eyes catch up to the motion I realize I’ve been slammed into an alleyway. Vampires, way too fast for me to keep up with.

“It scared me so, I hooked it off, nor stopped, as I remember. Nor turned about till I got home, locked up in mother’s chamber,” he continues to sing as he grinds the leather glove into my face. “There, finished my song. You got further than expected. The alarm, that was smart,” he just talks now.

With a hand over my mouth and another around my neck, I’m losing air. I can’t hang on much longer. He just laughs as a I grab at his arms, trying to pry his fingers free, anything I can. Why doesn’t he just snap my neck or bite me? He’s taking joy in this and nobody can hear me being murdered forty feet from the sidewalk.

I stop clawing and start flinging both my arms at his head. He only laughs, there’s no real damage behind them. My last hope, I summon one of the blades and stab where I think an ear is. He finally stops laughing but doesn’t scream in pain despite dropping me. I take big gasps and try to crawl as he removes the blade from his head. If I had more strength left, I could have gotten deeper, I might have killed him.

I try to grip at the asphalt beneath me, knowing it’s futile as he drags me back by my ankle. I can feel it on the verge of cracking in his grasp. He’s using more of his strength now, I was never getting away. I didn’t expect it to end this way.

Even now as he looks into my eyes, I can’t really hear what he’s saying. I’m half hoping someone comes to save me, half realizing this is my own fault. I shouldn’t have even been at Destiny’s apartment. I shouldn’t have followed her through the club that night. What kind of stalker crap was that? I should have been more outgoing. I should have told my family I loved them more.

No, this isn’t the end for me. A small tear in his mask, where I stabbed him earlier. If I can just force my body to move. My arm doesn’t respond at first but with some effort it moves. I’m able to get it up and he compliments my courage to keep fighting. Apparently, he’s seen vampires and lycans with less fight than me.

I manage to grasp at the mask and pull, I refuse to let go even as he tries to pry my hand. We’re both dying in the alleyway today. I’m getting that mask off, and he’s going to turn to dust. Destiny better not have lied about that. I don’t want to die, but if I have to I’m going to take him with me, even if he does break every bone in my arm. The back of my head slams onto the asphalt as he tries to push me through the ground.

But I’ve got a good chunk of the mask in my hand. He’s ugly, pale skin, crooked nose, sunken eyes. A real classic aristocrat type that might be hundreds of years old for all I know. He doesn’t have to worry about being ugly much longer as the sun shines on his head. He tries to cover his head with his arms, but he can’t cover it all. I thought he would just turn to dust all at once. Instead he starts to vomit what has to be blood. The pale skin on his face begins to bubble and fester as if it were boiling. He’s trying to scream, but chokes on the blood. Even as he inches closer to me, he still doesn’t turn to dust. It’s almost as if he’s fighting his demise, the same way I was a few seconds ago. Finally he collapses a few feet from me. Only his head turns to dust, the rest of his body is still covered and still solid, but he’s dead and that’s all that matters.

Chapter 111 - M.


 

Destiny called me earlier and said she was back in the city. We were supposed to meet up later this evening and see a movie together. But I couldn’t wait to see her. I stopped and got flowers and everything on my way to her apartment. She’s finally come back to me and I can’t wait to hold her in my arms again. God, I sound like the opening to a romantic comedy. She’s going to be here in an orange jumpsuit with prison tattoos or something.

I knock on her door and she doesn’t answer, for a moment I swear I can hear sounds inside, but then there’s silence. I knock again, and nothing. I don’t mind waiting for her, so I use my key to go inside. Nothing has changed since the last time I’ve been here, but it doesn’t look like she’s been here either. I place the flowers I brought on the coffee table and take a seat.

I want to take a nap on the couch, but something is off. I feel like I’m being watched, but I’m not sure from where. I can’t spot anyone across the balcony looking in so there’s not a peeping tom. Maybe there’s cameras somewhere? No, that’s crazy talk. Still, I close the curtains, but my paranoia doesn’t end there.

Room by room, I make my way through the apartment and don’t find anything out of place. She’s surprisingly low on blood in the fridge. That’s unlike her, then again, she hasn’t been here in over a month at this point. She wouldn’t have had a chance to get more, maybe I should leave and get some. I’ll just use the bathroom and get out of here. This place is really giving me a bad vibe today for some reason. Probably because she wanted to meet this evening and I’m here in the middle of the day.

I finish up, zip my pants and sing the ABCs as I wash my hands.

“Next time won’t you sing with me,” someone sings along from the closet.

“Come out right now, or I’ll slit your throat in seven different ways,” I try to sound tough.

“Oh damn,” the closet door opens. “I don’t suppose I could get you to pretend you didn’t see anything,” a man with long reddish hair tied in a ponytail, buzzed on the side and looking as if he hasn’t slept in a week responds.

“What do you want,” I ball up my fists, ready for a fight.

“Same thing as you. Some of Destiny’s sweet behind,” he smiles.

I don’t waste time launching a fist at his face, I caught him off guard, and after a stumble he responds with one to my gut. He grabs me and tries to toss me but Destiny has tossed me on the ground enough for me to roll with it and toss him into the sink. He screams in rage as the sink meets his lower back. I take the opportunity start throwing punches. His arms are up and he’s blocking so I aim at his stomach. There’s nothing wrong with body shots. Breathing gets hard as an arm wraps around my throat. He had a friend. I keep kicking to keep distance from the red head as I try to break free from the chokehold. I summon one of the nightmare blades and stab at the side of whoever has me. Finally, I break free as a woman screams.

We’re staring face to face preparing for a show down that never comes. I’m tackled from behind, likely by the sleepless ginger. I can’t help but scream as I slam through the glass coffee table. I hear some laughter as I stare at the now destroyed flowers I had gotten. A piece of glass is sticking out of my forearm. My first urge is to rip it out. Destiny taught me better. That’s the only thing keeping me from bleeding more, so I bite my lip and try to ignore the pain.

The thought of them killing me or Destiny is the only thing that keeps me from staying down. I launch at red and repeatedly stab at his ribs until the woman tries to pull me free. I keep stabbing until he doesn’t move. I’m pretty sure I killed him, another face to keep me up at night. She locks me in another chokehold and I try to back into a wall or something to get her free. After the third try we crash through the sliding glass door onto the balcony. The railing starts to bend and she finally loosens her grip enough for me to get free.

Red isn’t dead, he’s back in front of my face throwing punches. I hear her scream but I’m focused on red. After a few blows he finally falls and doesn’t move anymore, one of my blades still stuck in his side. I reach down and rip it free before turning to face the woman. I turn just in time to see her hand slip as she tries to climb back onto the balcony, she must have been knocked over when Red attacked.

I grab her hand still on the balcony and try to pull her up. I don’t need another dead body on my conscious even if they deserve it. I almost get her over the railing before she spits in my face and stabs me with a pocket knife of her own. The sudden blindness causes me to drop her. I don’t even look down as hear the sound of her landing on a car below. I just limp into the apartment before anyone can see that I’m the reason she fell.

“Bravo, they told me she kept a pet around but rumors do you no justice,” a figure covered in black clothing and glasses sat on the couch.

It doesn’t take a mastermind to figure out that this is a vampire. Covered from head to toe with no skin for sunlight to touch. The only opening being eyeholes on the ski mask, and those are covered by a black pair of goggles. This was an ambush, probably meant for Destiny, I just happened to show up.

“Why don’t you take a seat, gather yourself,” he points to a chair in the now destroyed apartment.

“Why are you here,” I take a seat as I’m told.

“Well, I’ve come to kill Destiny. It’s clear that she’ll continue to be a problem, and it needs to be taken care of.”

“I won’t let you.”

“You couldn’t stop me if you wanted to,” the masked vampire laughs. “But, I like your dedication to your master. Would you like to be one of my thralls? Good thralls are so hard to find, and you’ll be out of work soon.”

“I’m not a thrall.”

“What,” he laughs harder. “She should have locked you down. The last time I saw a thrall as dedicated as you was 1920. There was this vampire Luigi Gelleani. He was all about destroying all the houses and setting vampires free, all that nonsense. Anyway, the houses were having a meeting on Wall Street. He told his thralls to go make some noise. 100 pounds of dynamite dozens dead, and hundreds injured. He was giddy as hooker on Christmas. Four of those thralls laid down their lives for him when I went to deal out the consequences. My thralls never tend to last long or be as dedicated.”

“I think I’ll pass on the whole thrall business. I got my own thing going on,” I’m glad he’s long winded, gives me a chance to catch my breath.

“Well that leaves us with three choices. You’re going to be a message to Destiny that we aren’t to be toyed with,” suddenly his demeanor has shifted.

“That doesn’t sound like any choices.”

“How silly of me. The choices are as follows. You can sit there and die like a man. You can jump from the balcony like a man who know his fate, or you can walk through the door and hope I don’t catch you.”

“I’ll take the door.”

“You have five minutes.”

I head red scream out in pain before being silenced as I try to limp down the hall. I guess I didn’t kill him, but he’s dead now, and I’m next.

Chapter 110 - M.


“Oh snap, look at you,” Elias walks into our living room. “I didn’t even need to prep you to get ready, you dressed yourself and not like a bum either. Destiny really changing your life, I need to send her a gift or something,” he continues.

I’m not eager to go out with Elias and his friends again, but Destiny still hasn’t come back into town. I used to be completely comfortable sitting at home and playing video games or watching anime, and I still enjoy those things. I just enjoy going outside and doing other things since I’ve met Destiny.

She hasn’t been returning my calls, and I’m getting worried about her. Agreeing to go with Elias tonight was just so I could try to take my mind off where she might be for a while. I know she’ll come back eventually, I just don’t know when. It’s been two weeks since I heard from her, almost a month since I’ve seen her. She’ll be fine, she’s almost invincible, but I still worry when I’m not with her. Even when she’s a more capable fighter than I am.

“This party is going to be great,” Elias pulls up over the curb into the grass.

“Where are we at?”

“Trailer park, little outside the city limits,” he smiles.

“Why are we at a party, in a trailer park?”

“Because cops won’t come when something inevitable gets set on fire,” he kills the engine and gets out.

“I thought that was you,” Elias’ friend Grant makes his way over.

“You brought the shut in? You sure this night air won’t kill him,” Doug asks.

“Good to see you too Doug,” I guess I need to remind them I’m here.

We follow the music towards the center of the trailer park. There’s a circle of trailers with a bonfire built around an American flag. I’m still not a fan of beer so I grab a bottle of water. The guys point out which girls they want to go after tonight. It’s weird, I know Elias is just a guy who loves way too hard but Grant and Doug act like animals on a hunt.

“What about you,” Grant asks.

“I’m good, I’m just going to wander around and mingle,” I respond.

“Not enough men here for him,” Doug adds.

“You really need to grow up,” he just doesn’t stop.

I take that as my cue to exit and wander around, exactly like I said. I’m still not a fan of parties and clubs, but at least I don’t feel as weird maneuvering around anymore. A few head nods and I’m off, looking for a quiet place to relax and people watch from. A woman catches my attention, she’s pretty but what gets me is her ears. She’s an elf.

I follow her from a distance, curious how she’ll interact with a bunch of humans. It doesn’t take long for me to realize how creepy this is. Instead I just make my way over to her group of friends, that features two more Elves, a man with a thrall symbol on his arm and a woman with what I think are gills.

“How’s it going,” I greet them.

“Pretty good,” the girl I followed responds, somewhat confused.

“Yeah, I’m having a good time too,” I think I’m making a fool of myself.

“Great party,” the woman with the gills raises a cup.

“Nice tattoo,” I compliment the guy.

“You can see it,” he points to it.

“Yeah, a shield with some roman numerals and a, star maybe,” I describe it.

“Oh, you can see, you’re one of us. How long you been awake? I’ve only been around maybe for two years. Whole world is different,” he starts.

“Sorry, he’s talkative,” the woman with the gills says. “So how did you wake up?”

“I feel in love with a vampire,” I laugh.

“That’s so cute,” the Elven man finally speaks.

I hang out with this group the rest of the party. It’s interesting to learn about things from their point of view. They just know the world and keep it a secret, it isn’t a big deal for them. Everyone has their own little communities. They interact with humans every day but unless we’re awake, as they put it, they don’t go out of their way to become friends. The reason being it might wake them up and it doesn’t always go so well. Sometimes, people go crazy when they find out. I guess I lucked out. I didn’t know mermaids were walking around on land, or half mermaids. No matter how much I learn, this world is so much bigger than I thought it was. As people start to leave we exchange numbers, it’ll be nice to have some friends.

“Have a good time,” Elias is waiting on me at the car finishing a can of beer.

“Actually, yeah. I had a good time,” I lean to catch the keys he tossed to me.

“You find some good dick tonight,” Grant yells stumbling across the grass.

“Nah, he’s going home alone as usual. I bet he didn’t even talk to anyone,” Doug isn’t far behind.

“I’m just going to be the bigger person, and ask if you want a ride home. Clearly you’re too drunk to drive and I’d feel bad if I let Elias’ friends blow up in a ditch somewhere,” I’m so serious.

“Yeah, you can give me a ride, but I’m not going to let you ride me,” Doug responds and places a hand on my shoulder.

“Just shut up, and get back,” I smack his hand away from me.

“Don’t get so pushy with me because you’re gay,” Dough pushes me.

“Don’t touch me.”

“Oh look, he’s mad,” Grant instigates.

“Yo, let’s chill out and get out of here,” Elias tries to keep things calm.

“I’m chill, it’s your bitch ass brother who doesn’t know his place,” Doug steps towards me again.

“Just get in the car, I’m not doing this with you,” I try to walk past him.

“I bet you won’t hit him,” Grant yells out like a kid.

“Doug, stop man,” Elias still trying to be the calming factor.

“Somebody needs to put your little big brother in his place. He needs know he can’t just talk to people however he wants to. I’m just trying to have a little fun with him. I don’t care if he likes to suck some dick,” Doug keeps going.

“I’ve been to your apartment Doug. It smells like ass and semen. You and Grant just masturbate on opposite sides of paper-thin walls and you’ve got the nerve to run around calling people gay and making fun of them. You’re too old for that. You need to grow up,” I can’t hold my tongue anymore.

I don’t know what it was that got to him, but Doug threw a punch at me. I probably would have tried to run away a while back, or just took it and smiled. This time, reflexes kicked in. Almost as if it was in slow motion I stepped to the side and dodged his punch. Before I could stop myself, I had landed a quick blow of my own to the side of his face. In his drunken state it dropped him to the ground. Grant moved to jump in and I just kicked his legs from under him. Before I knew it I was looking at the two of them on the ground trying to find their balance.

I reach into their pockets and grab the keys from both of them. I link the key rings together and toss them towards the trailers. I hear a feint metallic thud as the keys bounce off a trailer somewhere in the park. I don’t wait for Elias response, I just get in the car and wait for him to join me. He stands looking at me and then back to his friends, and repeats a few times. Part of me wonders if he’s going to help them look for their keys instead of leaving with me. I couldn’t leave him, but I can’t take them with us either.

“Hey, you guys call me and let me know you got home safely, then never call me again,” Elias laughs and makes his way to the car.

Elias is sleep almost as soon as we leave the trailer park. I’m fine with that, I’m not sure what I’d say about what just happened. I don’t know what came over me, but I’m glad I did it. I might be becoming a more violent person, or maybe I just stopped being so unconfrontational. They deserved it, I feel bad because they were Elias’ best friends, but screw them. They aren’t my friends.

“Hey, can you pull over, I have to pee,” Elias finally speaks.

“Sure,” I pull over to side of the road. “Don’t go too far into the woods,” I say as he gets out the car.

I check my cell phone, still nothing from Destiny. I want to talk to her about everything that happened. I’ve decided I’m proud of myself and I want to hear what she thinks. Elias makes his way back to the car and I pull off.

“I’m sorry,” I break the silence.

“For what?”

“I kind of beat up your best friends back there.”

“You’re my best friend, you dweeb,” he laughs.

“I feel the same way. But, I did beat up your friends. I probably ruined a good friendship for you and I’m sorry.”

Elias sighs, “I have to thank you for that. You saved me the hassle of speaking to those assholes again. I should have stopped being friends with them a long time ago. The very first time they made fun of you, I should have stopped. Instead, I spent years trying to bring you into the group. So I’m sorry, you shouldn’t have had to do that.”

“So we’re both sorry,” I laugh.

“Yeah but I’m sorrier. You looked so cool back there. Coolest I’ve ever seen you look.”

“Don’t be sorry, you’ve always been my biggest supporter. You encouraged me even when no one else would, so you don’t have to be sorry,” Elias is the best sibling anyone could have.

“But you encourage me too. You’re at every art show I have big or small, and always keep pushing me. You even got your job to purchase some of my art.”

“Then we encourage each other.”

“It’s what brothers are for. I love you bro.”

“Aww shucks, I love you too,” Elias reaches over and hugs me.

“Stop, you’re going to make me crash,” I try to push him away.

“Then we’re crash together,” he kissed me on the cheek.

“Too much,” I finally break free from him.

“You know, you’ve changed, but you haven’t. I like it, you’re not hiding yourself anymore. Thanks for being my brother,” Elias mumbles and he’s back asleep before I can say anything.

Chapter 109 - M.


[Present Day]

Nielson, my last name is Nielson. Chloe, that ivory devil and Erik her twisted love sick hell hound. I want them dead, more than I’ve wanted anything since waking up. More than I wanted blood, more than I wanted answers and more than I want this teenager to leave me the hell alone.

“So, you got a place to stay,” Jabari asks.

“Nope.”

“You can stay with me.”

“No thank you.”

“My parents won’t mind.”

“Your parents won’t mind a grown man having a sleepover with their teenage son?”

“I’m eighteen, technically an adult.”

“And judging by the textbooks in your car, still a high school student, a child.”

“That’s a narrow way of looking at it.”

“What do you want from me? Just, go away. I need to think.”

“You don’t need to yell, I’m just trying to help,” I hadn’t realized I yelled.

“If you want to help, leave me alone,” but I am serious about being left alone.

I keep walking without any idea of where I’m going, I’m just walking until I calm down. Unfortunately, I can’t calm down with this kid following me. I need to find my family. Charlene Nielson, Elias Nielson, D’Andre Nielson, those are my siblings. If I can find them, I’ll be okay they’ll tell me what happened to me. I just need a moment to think.

“If you have destination, it’ll be easier if we drive,” Jabari offers input.

“Go away, I gave you what you wanted. I got what I wanted. There isn’t any reason for us to stick together.”

“We can help each other.”

“Do you know how I got to Detroit?”

“No.”

“Do you know where my girlfriend is?”

“No.”

“My sister? My brothers?”

“No.”

“Are you Isaac,” the name comes out easy but I can’t remember an Isaac.

“No.”

“Then realize you can’t do anything for me but give me space, and I can’t do anything for you. This is when we go our separate ways, forever.”

“You’re a vampire right?”

“I told you, I’m just a wizard.”

“No, I’ve studied vampires enough to know one when I see one. You were in that blood bank drinking. You wiped the blood from your face, but your teeth, they still had the red stain. When we went into the store your pupils contracted because there was more light. You accidentally ripped a hole in a pair of denim jeans, not with strength, but with your claws.”

“Fine, I’m a vampire, what do you want from me?”

“I want you to turn me.”

“Why would you want that?”

“Because I want to live forever.”

“Nobody really wants to live forever.”

“I do.”

“Then find a different way, preferably in a direction I’m not going.”

“You have to help me.”

“I don’t have to do anything.”

“Please, I’ll do,” I’ve already closed the distance and covered his mouth with my hand before he finishes.

“You don’t know anything about vampires. This isn’t what you want. You couldn’t handle being me. I don’t even have all my memories, and if you had just half of what I do, you’d kill yourself.”

“And you don’t know what I’ve been through, so when I ask you to bight me, just do it.”

I smell the fear on him, sweat glands going crazy, adrenaline flowing but I also smell determination and rage pumping through his veins. There’s also arousal, for some reason this is turning him on and that’s creeping me out. He wants to be bitten, so I’ll give him what he wants.

I display my fangs in dramatic fashion, his heart beats louder as if knows what’s coming. I grip his neck tighter and instinctively moves closer. I use a claw to draw few drops of blood from his throat and he flinches before easing back into my control. A trick Destiny showed me, I concentrate all of my rage on him and he whimpers as my fangs inch closer to his neck. The determination he had earlier is gone.

I slam him to the ground with just my hand on his throat, not enough to seriously hurt him, but enough to make him back off. I put my foot on his chest and make sure he can’t move, being the bully doesn’t feel as good as I always imagined.

“You’re a pervert who just wants to be bitten. That’s not how it works for every vampire, so you didn’t do your research. You’re a fang chaser. Stay away from me. I’m not going to turn you, but I might kill you,” I follow up with a kick to the ribs.

That isn’t something I enjoyed doing, but he’s not following me, or getting up. I can hear him crying softly back there and it sucks. I really wasn’t made out to be a bully because I’m going to think about that a lot whenever I’m finally able to sleep. Right now, I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere, remembering who I was, what happened in my life. For now, I need to keep trying to trigger memories. To do that, I need to go back to where it all started.

Maybe I should have just run away from that kid, I could have moved way faster than him, and my stamina is near endless when I’m just running. I didn’t have to beat that kid up. I guess I picked up some of Destiny’s bad habits. I’d go apologize but he might take that as an invitation to keep hanging around. No, things were better this way.

I spread the maps I printed out on a bench and plot my way back to where I woke up. It should be quiet now and I can dig through the rubble without any distractions, or tagalongs. I don’t have high hopes, but blood can only do so much to trigger my memories, and as far as I know that’s the only place in Detroit that I have any connection with.

Chapter 108


“Glad to see you’re awake. Would you like some water, champagne, wine, beer? We have just about everything back here.”

I had been pretending I was still asleep, trying to hear anything about my surroundings. I don’t recognize the voice and when it greets me, I open my eyes. I don’t recognize the person in front of me any more than the voice. A brunette woman with almost ghostly white hands, but her face is a much smoother _____ color, hair tied back in a ponytail, with a smile that shows just enough of her teeth to notice the fangs. She's wearing a maroon power suit, but also enough jewelry to open a store. We’re in the back of a limousine, the windows are tinted too dark for me to see through. On my left is a bald man big enough to be a body builder, less pale, but even with his scowl I can tell he’s a vampire too. Probably a bodyguard or something.

I don’t know enough vampires that I’m the target. Probably someone looking for Destiny, no, I’m sure of it. My mind runs down the options quickly and it comes to me right away. This is Chloe. This is who Destiny has been looking for.

“Figured it out,” she asks with a smile and charming tone.

“Chloe Marson.”

“Chloe, but I’m not a Marson until after the wedding. You can just call me Chloe.”

“What did you do to Destiny,” as if I’m not in danger.

“Nothing at all. This is all about you.”

“I’ve got nothing to say to you,” the body guard doesn’t take kindly to my words and glares at me.

“Relax Erik, he’s harmless,” Chloe waves her hand.

“He has killed several of our people,” Erik speaks in a surprisingly alto voice.

“Look at him. Are you afraid of him,” Erik looks me up and down. “No offense, but I've seen some nasty customers and you aren’t one,” Chloe speaks to me now.

“Why am I here?”

“I just want you to see we aren’t the monsters you’ve been told about. Show you a different perspective than Destiny’s warped memories.”

She’s not the mean demon I was expecting, but I still get a bad vibe from her. She’s got an ulterior motive and even if she isn’t attacking, I know it won’t last long. I’m pretty sure she brought the body guard just so she seemed like she was less threatening. The two of them have mild discussion about different places they like to visit. I avoid joining in until the vehicle comes to a stop. I grab the door handle, but it’s locked.

“Don’t rush,” Chloe mocks me. “We’ve got a lot to see.”

The door opens and yet another obvious vampire. This one dressed like a stereotypical vehicle chauffeur, white gloves, hat and all. We’re outside of a plain looking building surrounded by trees that look haunted and flowers that are probably much more colorful during the day, but look like dripping blood at night. A playground is visible behind the building. The whole thing looks like an elementary school if it were haunted by Casper the Twisted Ghost. It doesn’t exactly conjure up wonderful thoughts of learning and imagination.

“Welcome to the Marson Home for Lost Youth,” a personal project of my own.

“What is this place?”

“Follow me,” Chloe leads expecting me to follow.

I don’t follow, instead I try to gather my surroundings and look for an escape route if I wanted to take off and run. Erik gives me a nudge from behind and quickly ends any hopes of that. I follow Chloe inside, and despite the dreary outside appearance, the inside doesn’t look any stranger than a normal daycare. I don’t frequent a lot of daycares, but I imagine they all have bright colors and patterns decorating the walls. Maybe a cartoon character here or there. The difference is its almost pitch-black outside and there are kids running around inside.

Actually, there’s another difference. Some of these kids, most of them, don’t look human at all. A few of them have fangs, one has tusks, another has scales and yet another has red eyes with no pupils. There’re human children mixed in as well but they don’t seem bothered by the appearances of the other children, in fact I seem to be the only person who feels out of place here. Chloe drops to her knees and hugs some of the children while Erik flexes with some of the others.

“Who are you,” one of the kids asks me.

“He’s a very special friend of mine,” Chloe answers before I can.

“Is he going to come back and play with us?”

“Maybe he will,” Chloe smiles as the kid runs off.

“What is this place,” I ask.

“Follow me,” Chloe asks, this time I don’t hesitate.

A few of the children tag along, like her little bodyguards. We visit the kitchen where meals are prepared. Inside they’re working with ingredients I’d never use; blood, rotting fish, and fermented fruits are on the menu. It makes sense that all of these kids would have different dietary needs. We visit a few of the classrooms where the children get educated. The sleeping quarters use the same kind of magic as the Grand Library, dozens of rooms tucked away behind a single door with no logical explanation of how they all fit. Despite the tour she doesn’t tell me what the place is until all of the children have gone to have dinner, or is it lunch for them?

“This is an orphanage of sorts. We provide a home for children who have been abandoned. Some are born vampires, the true primes who will lead us into the future. Others are part troll or Orc, left to die by parents who viewed them as disfigured. A few are the children of dead thralls, who died in pointless fights” she lets that hang as if I’m responsible.

“I don’t need you to join my guilt trip. I do just fine on my own.”

“I sincerely apologize if you felt I was trying to insult you.” Chloe covers her heart with her hand and seems sincere, almost.

“Can I go home now?”

“I’d like to show you something else, but it is on the way to your home,” Chloe almost floats out of the room.

We stop so she can say goodbye to the children, who do seem to genuinely like her, and Erik. Part of me can’t help but wonder how many of these children were orphaned by the Marson family. I’ve got everything Destiny has told me, and I’ve got my research. How many of these children will be sent away to be sold as property. Are they treated well because of the future’s they’ll have or is this all a genuine facility hoping to help some kids with nowhere else to go?

The ride to our next location is much more talkative, from Chloe’s side at least. She rants and raves about some of her favorites. How she was surprised when they approved the opening of the orphanage. Erik even gloats about how the kids have been following the exercise routines he laid out for them. I can’t tell how much of this is them trying to convince me they’re good and how much is legit. Maybe they do like those kids, and are proud of their growth, but they still used them. If not to take over the world or whatever in the future, then to at least change my mind about them. What did they call it during the Vietnam War? Minds and Souls, no Hearts and Minds, where they try to win over the people as a way to win the war. They think they’re going to win me over and change things, but there is no war to win.

“We’re here,” Chloe says as the car comes to a stop and she gazes out the window.

I still can’t see out the windows like they can, is it some kind of vampire power? Outside I instantly recognize this as a blood bank. Not the one Destiny likes, but a blood bank none the less, although this is much bigger than the one, I’ve been to. I don’t wait for a push this time, and just follow Chloe. I’m eager to get this all wrapped up and behind me.

“I’ve been to a blood bank before. Are we done,” I’m tired and my patience is wearing thin.

“Maybe, but this is special,” she swipes her card at a door and leads us through the halls.

So far, there’s nothing special about this place, people giving blood, some tests being run. Seeing how different snacks and beverages is interesting, but I’m not impressed. This doesn’t show me anything good about the Marson family other than all of their businesses don’t operate on slave labor.

“Can you just tell me the special magic behind this place already,” I ask after the third different kind of cookie.

“Oh, you’re no fun,” Chloe pouts as if she’s trying to be cute.

I always dislike women like that. Women who think being childlike makes them attractive. The baby voices, the pouting, crossed arms and pouting faces. What’s the deal with all that? I know she’s an immortal vampire but she looks to be at least thirty-five. She can’t just act like an adult? She has to be Charlie and The Blood Factory? Actually, she’d be Willy Wonka, and I’d be Charlie. Either way, I’m tired and I’m ready to go home.

“The secret here is we don’t charge for the blood. Vampires who don’t belong to a family or have other lucrative careers sometimes can’t afford to drink. They can sometimes become violent when blood starved, this is an alternative. It keeps them from feeding on innocent civilians,” I hate the word civilians coming out of her mouth as if it is a dirty thing. “The other secret is most of our donors are addicts and with a little magic, the drugs are flushed out of their system much faster and easier than going through withdrawals.”

“You have some really noble causes,” that comes out more sarcastic than I meant it too. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for it to come out that way.”

“No harm done. I know this isn’t what you expected of us, but we all had lives before this one. I was once an orphan, and I’ve been addict as well.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Destiny hadn’t mentioned it.”

“No worries, I hadn’t expected her to tell you the details of my life.”

The ride back wasn’t super quiet. Chloe was going on and on about the good times that she and Destiny had when they were friends. I get the feeling that they were more than friends. From what Chloe told me she had run away from home as a child and gotten hooked on drugs, but was rescued by a vampire. Eventually that vampire died and Chloe was left alone, eventually meeting Destiny. I don’t know how much of it was true, I’m not great at reading people, especially people I don’t know well. Chloe might really be a nice person, but I’ve seen cracks in the fa├žade tonight. We stop outside of Destiny’s apartment building. I forgot I was leaving there when they grabbed me. Maybe they don’t know where I live, or think we live together. Maybe that’s good.

“Before you leave, I’d like to suggest you cut Destiny loose. You seem like a good man, and staying around her will only end up poorly for you,” Chloe stops me from exiting the vehicle.

“I think I’ll be able to handle whatever comes my way,” Erik chuckles at my statement.

“I have no doubt about that. But, you don’t have to have anything come your way. If you wish to learn more about the underworld or the arcane, we have people for that. It can be a painless process, and transition for you. None of this broken by werewolves, one foot out and one foot in nonsense,” I can read her now, this is condescending, not caring.

“You know, you all aren’t the monsters Destiny said you were. The thing is, you are who you are when nobody is looking. I’ve seen the things you all do, not just the good, but the bad. You sent people to kill me and a bunch of my friends not too long ago. There’s no war, we’re just two people trying to live our lives. If you just left us alone, I could convince her to ignore you all as well. But you just keep poking at us. You didn’t have to abduct me tonight, I would have come with you willingly. Even this little tour was an exercise in power. I get it, you’re rich and powerful and you could end us any time you want. Just leave us alone,” I’m understanding Destiny’s hate for Chloe and her family now.

“I see why she likes you; the same reason she liked me. You’re easy to get fired up, but in the end you’re meek and easy to control. You’re weak, with no intentions of grasping for the power that rests at your fingertips. I grasped took all the power waiting on me. Destiny would have done it too, but she’s too good for that, in her mind anyway. You’re going to drown in this world, because you think power is corruption. In reality, power is freedom.”

“I think she liked you because you were probably a good person at one point. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, I’m sure you’ve heard that before. You showed me a lot of nice things tonight, how good you are to people. But it’s all fake, just you trying to remember when you were good,” I smile, not because I’ve gotten her, but out of nervousness. What am I saying?

“You humans, should know your place and understand how fragile you are,” she reaches over and places a hand on my knee and begins to squeeze.

“You were human once, you know how it goes. We’re just all trying to find our balance,” I summon my nightmares.

I don’t want a fight here. I couldn’t win one against two vampires that are probably incredible strong, in the back of a limo. I just need them to think I’m not afraid despite the fact that I’m ready to pee on myself right now.

“You surprise me,” Chloe releases my leg and knocks on the window for the driver to open the door. “Have a good night Mr. Nielson,” she addresses me by name for the first time tonight.