Chapter 138 - M.




I thought the Trial of Wealth would be some difficult trial about finding self-worth or sacrificing possessions for the greater good. Instead, we’re just tasked with stealing something of value and bringing it back. James gave us a few tips on theft and Michael supplied us with two matching Black SUVs. I can’t tell the make and model because any recognizable features and emblems have been removed. Nobody else questioned the morality of the situation. They’re eager to do whatever they have to in order to be turned; they’re completely ignoring that we’re being sent off to commit a felony. We couldn’t agree on what target to hit so we split into two teams. Girls and boys, classic.

I settled on a target about thirty minutes north of Dulac so we had more time to plan after the women left. I’ve got a big plan so I requested that Michael hitch a trailer to the back. James laughed at my confidence. As a no good thief, he can tell I’m not an experienced thief. But, he doesn’t know I spent time learning to crack alarm codes and hanging with a modern-day thieves’ guild. I have to admit it’s kind of stupid for me to be participating in this or planning to ‘win’ a contest that isn’t real.

“Be careful, driving with a trailer can make it easy to fishtail,” Michael warns us.

“Hey, how do we get back in here,” I ask.

“Drive,” Michael looks at me as if I’m stupid.

“We’re not inside a masquerade, pocket world or whatever?”

“Why would we do that?”

“You’re a family of vampires on plantation. You don’t want to hide that? What if someone sees?”

“We’re in a fucking swamp you couillon,” James interjects. “Nobody would drive out here if they weren’t looking for something.”

Michael and Isaac laugh at James taunting. I just signal for Isaac to start the truck as I wonder what a couillon is because I seem to be out of the loop.

“A couillon is an idiot, pretty common term in Louisiana,” Isaac fills me in as we head up the driveway.

“How long have you been down here? You don’t have the same accent as the others.”

“I’m from Port Arthur, Texas but moved to Houston when I was thirteen.”

“So you’re draped up and dripped out,” D’Andre loves that song.

Isaac laughs for a moment then gets more serious than I’ve ever seen him before, “please, never say that again.”

“Was it that bad?”

“Made my asshole shrivel up.”

“Y’all are really vulgar down here.”

“Well Sampson is a former drug dealer, Michael is a mechanic, James is thief and those aren’t usually careers that require proper English.”

“That just leaves you, are you a mechanic too?”

“No, I’m just a chronically horny gay man that hasn’t fucked anyone but Sir Five Fingers for the last three months.”

“Wow, that was a lot. You could make a hooker blush.”

“I hope it’s a male hooker. You think we got time to make a stop? Unless you’re down.”

“No. No. Please just turn on the radio.”

“I’m joking, unless you’re going to do it.”

“I’m not.”

“Alright, offer is always on the table,” I honestly can’t tell if he’s joking or serious. “My turn to ask questions.”

“Sure.”

“Who is Destiny?”

“What,” I hadn’t mentioned her to anyone but Granny, Old Ben and Sampson. How does he know her?

“Who is Destiny?”

“Why would you ask me that?”

“Because you keep mumbling that you’re sorry when you sleep. Not that you sleep a lot, but when you do you talk to Destiny.”

“Destiny is my wife, was my wife. She died on the way here. She’s the one who turned me, Granny turned her. She wanted to bring me here to avoid the people that killed her.”

It’s a short ride, to the destination. Somehow, I felt comfortable telling Isaac about everything that happened. How I met her, how I loved her, and how I lost her. I hadn’t said anything to anyone, not even my own family. I haven’t even talked to my family, but I spilled my guts to him without thinking twice. He didn’t interrupt me for anything but more detail, and I gave it to him without thinking twice. I don’t know if it’s his personality, or I’ve just been so desperate for someone to ask me what’s wrong. I didn’t even stop there, I started talking about how I didn’t really trust anyone here and the more of her diary I read the more it’s clear she didn’t leave on her own, and that she didn’t trust them. Isaac and reluctantly Sampson are the only people I trust around here. He doesn’t respond immediately when I stop talking.

“Damn, you had a lot to say,” is his only response.

“Yeah.”

“Well, we’re here,” any joy or flamboyancy had been removed from his voice. The once bubbly personality had been popped.

Chapter 137 - M.


I’ve been here for two weeks and I’ve done nothing slightly vampir-ish other than drink some blood on occasion. Part of that is my fault, I haven’t gone out of my way to get to know anyone here other than Isaac, but that’s because he insists we do almost everything together. I didn’t care much for my roommates in college, but I suppose this is what it’s like for people who made their roommates their best friends. The other recruits as we’re called are strange. Catalina is quiet, just too quiet. I’ve been accused of being shy or standoffish before, but she doesn’t open her mouth and when she does, nothing louder than a mouse’s squeak comes out. Rose is the exact opposite, she’s brash and doesn’t hide anything about what she wants. Rose wants to be a vampire because it’ll make her stronger, she has all these grandiose dreams about becoming a professional fighter and getting rich. Catalina hasn’t said much, but I get the feeling that she’s simply afraid of death. From what she’s revealed she has Sickle Cell and it’s a pretty serious case. As far as Isaac, I don’t have a clue why he wants to be a vampire. He’s great at dodging questions.

Most of the day I’m left alone while they’re doing some kind of supposed training. I’ve spent that time trying to get to know the family and started reading the diary Destiny left with me. The diary is like an autobiography; almost as if she wrote it for me. I’ve learned a lot about her past before she got here, and I understand why she wasn’t eager to talk about it. I only recently got to the section where she starts to discuss this place. She doesn’t trust Granny or Old Ben, Michael and James are idiots, Sampson isn’t living up to his potential. She spends a lot of time with Isis, almost as if they were sisters. Destiny basically idolized her reading through this book. The only time I’ve seen Isis is when she’s out in the garden and she doesn’t speak much when she’s out there. I still haven’t gotten to the part where she reveals why she’s was so hesitant to mention this place.

From what I can tell, Michael seems okay, really does talk about cars nonstop, chubby little guy that gets into places I wouldn’t expect. He tends to buy exotic and luxury cars for cheap then spend a ton of time repairing them. He’s got an old Dodge Viper that was caught fire, but he’s been making some great progress on it. The first day I stopped by his makeshift garage outback he couldn’t stop showing me before and after pictures. James indeed is a no-good thief who demonstrated that he can steal my wallet without me noticing. I’ve taken to keeping anything important in my magic pocket since then. Big Chester, is more monster than man. He’s blindly loyal to Granny and Old Ben, following one of them at nearly all times of day until someone whispers orders. I have the feeling he doesn’t talk much because he uses his skull to turn big rocks into smaller rocks as he doesn’t seem smart. That’s a terrible thing to say but I get the feeling he couldn’t read a page from Dr. Seuss without stuttering. Generally, he’s pretty emotionless but stares at Sampson with nothing but hate. Sampson meets his gaze with one that has signs of fear and challenge. There’s some history there for sure.

“Where have you been,” Isaac nearly rips my arm off.

“Sitting here, reading.”

“It’s time.”

“For what?”

“The trials. We have to go,” he starts to pull again.

We arrive at the front of the house and take our places lined up next to Catalina and Rose in the grass. On the front porch Granny stands in the center, arms linked with Old Ben as all the vampires, minus me, flank both sides of them and look out at us. There’s an air of seriousness, but for some reason I’m just not feeling it. Everyone is standing straight as possible, I make the effort to stand up straight.

“You’ve studied and worked long enough,” Granny speaks and everyone hangs on every word. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve already turned, you’re hoping to turn for power, health or revenge. Now is the time that you have to prove you’ve become worthy.”

I’m already turned, Rose is looking for power and Catalina is looking to avoid death. That means Isaac is looking for revenge. I should probably pay more attention to him and stop treating him as background noise. If he’s looking for revenge, we might be able to help each other. Two vampires are better than one and I’ll need all the help I can get to take out House Marson.

“The three trials you’ll take on are the Trial of Wealth, Trial of Connection and Trial of Blood. Today, your first trial begins. The trial of wealth, prepare yourself for anything. Tonight, meet Michael and James back here and take the first true steps towards becoming Adze.”

Chapter 136 - M.


The woman that welcomed me into house was Granny, just Granny. I tried to get another name from her, but she wouldn’t give me one. She claims to be 168 years old, but she doesn’t look to be over 50, a young looking 50. I suppose that’s a perk of being a vampire. She remembers Destiny as soon as I mentioned her. The words sounded filled with joy, then sadness that Destiny had died, but the body language was suspicious. She doesn’t trust me, I don’t trust her. But, there’s something that we want from each other. I want to learn more about Adze and different things I can do. She wants to know what Destiny had planned. While Destiny didn’t have anything, I’m not dumb enough to outright tell her that. I have to move more cautiously now, the way she did. She’s not here to bail me out of trouble anymore.

Next to Granny is Old Ben, a man that’s supposedly just as old. I’m not sure if they’re lovers or not, but he hasn’t spoken much. He’s spent most of our little lunch chat staring at me and Sampson. It’s clear he doesn’t like either of us. Sampson seems like a child on his best behavior, he’s afraid of them, that tells me they’re dangerous. I need to learn what I can and get out. Isis is the gardener, she brought in the lunch and went back outside. The other members of the family that were mentioned are Michael who is a mechanic, James who Sampson called a no good thief and then there’s recruits. Big Chester doesn’t talk much and apparently, he makes Sampson look small. Catalina, Rose and Isaac are human, they haven’t been turned but they’ve been with the family for almost a year. I’ll be sharing a room with Isaac if we ever finish this dinner.

As for the house, it’s a plantation. It’s inside one of those little bubble worlds, hidden away from the eyes of normal people and only accessible to those with the key. As beautiful as the grounds look through the windows we’re supposedly in a swamp somewhere.

“Do you know why I call this place Turnerville,” Granny asks.

“If he doesn’t we can feed him the gators,” Old Ben chimes in with a heavy accent.

“It’s named after Nat Turner,” I answer.

“That’s right, I met him once. He was a wonderful man, a brave man. We offered him the power to become Adze, the power to rise up and kill his masters. He turned us down. He said he would pry freedom from this country with his own hands and he almost did. I was just a girl then, I couldn’t understand why our elders wouldn’t help him. They said it was a bout pride, and I didn’t understand that at the time. I thought it was all about power, and being Adze gave us the power to never be enslaved again.”

I listen, and nod as Granny tells me about all the Black leaders she’s met in the past. She swears Langston Hughes is an Adze traveling the world right now and he sends her letters sometimes. Who would even be able to find the house and deliver the letters? I don’t let her know I think she’s full of crap. I let her talk until she’s tired.

“You been through the trials,” Old Ben asks.

“I don’t think so,” I’m still not sure if I hallucinated or I really went through the trials.

“If you don’t know, then you ain’t,” Old Ben spits back at me.

“It’s not a problem, you can go through with the babies. They’re close to the turning point so they’re about to do trials,” Granny cuts him off.

“Thank you, you’ve been so kind to me,” I respond.

“It’s what we do for family, and you married one of my daughters.”

“I can’t say thank you enough,” Destiny didn’t teach me to kiss ass, and I can tell Granny loves it.

“You thanked me by making my little girl happy,” she smiles. “I’m sure you’re tired, Sampson will take you to your room.”

Sampson is somewhat calmer as he gives me a small tour of the house. He seems to be searching for something and I don’t want to upset him by asking. Eventually we make it to the library, a small room in the corner of the second floor.

“You really marry Destiny,” he asks without warning.

“Yeah.”

“She ever mention me?”

“No.”

“Damn,” he pauses for a minute. “If someone gives you trouble, come see me. Michael don’t care about nothing but cars and driving fast. Isis has her head so far up Granny’s ass she could taste her dinner. James ain’t shit, a good for nothing thieving asshole and you shouldn’t trust him as far as you can throw his crooked ass. But if Destiny liked you, I got you,” he puts a heavy hand on my shoulder.

The room he leads me to is somewhat large, especially for one person, but there’s a bathroom attached. Still, there’s only one bed; hanging off that bed upside down is tall, but skinny guy with amber skin and curly black hair featuring a section dyed pink. It doesn’t take much for me to guess this is Isaac.

“There’s a bathroom, but one bed,” I try to joke.

“Well it’s king size bed. One by the head, one by the legs. As long as nobody pisses in the bed you’re good,” Sampson makes his own joke.

“My little brother used to pee in the bed,” I respond.

“I don’t pee in the bed,” Isaac lifts his legs over his head, flipping his body until he’s standing. “At least I’m sharing the bed with someone cute.”

“Here we go with this shit again. Good luck,” Sampson smacks me on the back hard and heads off down the hall.

“You look a little old to still be trying to turn. How many times have you done this?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Old, you got frown lines,” Isaac studies my face.

“I don’t even know what that means.”

“We’re going to have to get you a skin care routine.”

“I got some Noxzema, is that what you mean? I haven’t had to use it since I turned, but I’ve got some.”

“Wait,” Isaac finally stops talking for a second. “You already turned? Like full on blood sucking?”

“Yeah.”

“If you can make it, I know I can.”

“Wow, nice to meet you too.”

Chapter 135 - M.


Dulac is the ugliest town I’ve ever been to. Homes straddling muddy waters, others built twenty feet in the air on thin poles, more that look as if they could double as boats and every so often a large plantation. Each complete with delicately trimmed grass. The people are nice, nobody has heard of Desitny or even her grandmother, but they’re helpful. I got a free meal even if I didn’t get any answers. I made my way to one of the hotels the locals mentioned and checked in for the night.

The first real shower I've had in days and it’s hot enough to burn my skin, but I don’t turn it down, I just need the reminder that I’m alive. I can’t help but laugh at myself, acting like some lead singer in an emo punk band when I think about how silly I look standing here. Feeling more scorched than refreshed I towel off and put on a pair of shorts. The steam from the shower doesn’t help cool off the room any more than the air conditioner puttering along. I lie on the bed just beneath the air conditioner, staring at the ceiling, trying not to think about what I could have done different. Ignoring imaginary worlds where everything worked out. I only close my eyes when the air begins to dry them out.

I know I’ve fallen asleep, and I’m awake now, but I don’t open my eyes. I have the feeling something is watching me. I can smell someone else in the room. There’s weed in the air, a really overpowering smell, but not as much of an assault as what Elias smokes. My plan is to summon a blade to my hand and open my eyes, gutting anything that doesn’t belong.

“Wake up little bitch,” I feel hands around my throat

My eyes shoot open, a man in a ski mask has his hands wrapped around my neck. I try to fight through but I can’t seem to break his grip or reach anything to hit him with. All I can see are his eyes and a mouth of gold teeth smiling at me. I can’t think about anything but how massive his hands are.

“Tried to play sleep, now you’re going to sleep for real,” my attacker laughs as he finishes his sentence.

 

***

 

I wake up tied to a chair, again. I’m getting tired of this cliché crap. Does everyone do this? The décor is different this time around. Old green wallpaper with brown flowers, hidden behind seemingly endless photos. Well, I’m not going to sit here and get tortured again. For a moment I consider my options, then I remember what I am. It’s easy to break my left wrist from the chair, even easier to rip the ropes from my right. From there, I can just tear the ropes from my torso; the claw thing Destiny did would be nice but I haven’t learned how to do that yet. I take a minute to stretch before I start moving through the place. I can tell it’s an old plantation, well taken care of. There’s one thing that stands out more than anything, all the pictures and paintings, they’re Black people. That’s not normal for a plantation, not that I’ve been to a bunch, but history lessons. I’m just trying to get out so I can ignore the investigation. I find an exit from the dining room to the backyard. My eyes adjust to the sunlight as I step outside.

“How the fuck did you get free,” I recognize the voice.

Standing before me is a dark skinned man with a bald head who looks as if he could be the best center the NBA ever had. He’s wearing nothing but shorts, sneakers and muscles I didn’t know the human body had. More than anything I recognize the massive hands and gold teeth.

“How about you tell me how to get out of here, and we’re even,” I can hear my voice, but the words are Destiny’s. I’ve never had a thing for talking tough, still don’t but I can imitate her.

“Get back in that house, before I break my foot off in your ass,” this guy is going to make me mad.

“What do you want?”

“I don’t want shit from you, because you ain’t got shit that I want.”

“Do you know how to speak without cuss words?”

“Oh, you one of them smarty smart brothers. I got something for that,” he starts to walk towards me.

I haven’t had a fight since Destiny died, but I suppose this is as a good a time as ever. I shouldn’t have a problem with this guy. I put throw a heavy punch at his gut, the same way Destiny taught me. I expect him to drop to the ground and this thing to be over, but he doesn’t. He just smiles and laughs. I don’t have time to be confused before a big overhand punch comes down at me. I manage to move so it only hits my shoulder. I feel something pop, but my shoulder isn’t done. If that had hit me in the head, I’d be finished. Fights in action movies always take a while, but this is a fast beating. He’s breaking me down, and nothing I can do is hurting him. I wasn’t going to use a lot of my vampire strength, I didn’t want to hurt this guy but this is the third time he’s tossed me on the ground and I’m getting mad. It’ll need to be an uppercut. I get in close and dodge one of his punches, too close. One more dodge, now I put a little extra on this one and connect with the bottom of his jaw.

He backs off and for a moment we’re just staring at each other. I’m tired, but I can keep fighting. I don’t think he’s used to being hit. He just keeps touching his face. He reaches into his mouth and makes some yanking motions. He pulls out a strip of bloody gold, wipes it on his shorts and puts it in his pockets. He gives me a big bloody smile, showing I did some damage.

“You fucked up my grill, now I’m gonna fuck you up. No more play,” he starts to walk towards me like I haven’t even hurt him.

My brain must be scrambled because all I’m thinking about is how grills started in New York, then the South became home for them, but the Midwest prefers gold caps. I’m going to have to stab this man, Destiny never shied away from escalating a fight, now that she’s gone, I can’t.

“Sampson, stop playing with our guest and come on inside,” a voice calls from the house behind me.

“Nah, this one wants to fight granny,” the man responds, he must be Sampson.

“I got some ice cold sweet tea,” she responds.

“Bring your ass on,” Sampson grabs my by the arm and leads me to the house.

“Welcome to Turnerville the woman says,” I only spot her back as she heads inside.

Chapter 134 - M.


When Destiny died, I tried to let myself sink to the bottom of the water, but my body just kept pulling itself back up. I didn’t want to be asked any questions about the blinding light, gunshots, burning bodies and discarded vehicles, so I started walking. I just kept walking, not sure if I was taking the path, just knowing I was following the main highway, and I’d get there eventually. Wanting to avoid people I just walked through the crops and woods bordering the highway all through the night.

If I ran, I’m sure I could make it in a day, there’s only 40, maybe 45 miles. If I just ran, I could make it in an hour. I’m not sure if I have the endurance to run that long, but even if I did, I don’t want to run right now. I don’t even want to move. I just want to lie down, and I don’t know. I want to be with her, more than anything else. I don’t know if I’d prefer to just lie here and die, or try to bring her back. I just know my world isn’t complete without her. It’s like I’ve lost half of my heart, half of my soul and now I’m scared to live without her.

I take a seat against a large tree, overlooking some sprouting crops. I’m not tired, my body can keep walking with no problem as the sun rises. Usually a sun rise would make me feel better. A new day, a new chance to change my life for the better. The sunlight would wash away all of yesterday’s problems and bring a chance to create new solutions. I read something stupid like that online once, and it sounded so great. It was a good way to look at life, but whoever wrote that, never lost anyone they loved. Watching the sunrise, knowing the love of your life isn’t under it somewhere doesn’t bring joy. It’s like surviving a nightmare, just to watch to sun come up. There’s a moment of relief, and then you realize the nightmare is still going. It’s just another section of one long bad dream. Around every corner, you expect there to be an exit, but there’s just another long walk to another long corner. It’s not a dream where the monster is constantly chasing after me. I haven’t made it to school without my pants. No, I’m chasing someone, that I can never manage to catch. The problem is, this isn’t a dream. This is my real life, there’s no waking up from this. Every time I close my eyes, I see what I can no longer have. I never pictured a life when she wasn’t with me, and now, I still can’t. I don’t know how I’m supposed to live without her. When my favorite uncle died, my dad told me time will heal the pain in my heart, one day I wouldn’t remember and now I can’t recall his voice, and struggle to remember his facial features. But not Destiny, I’ll never forget her. I remember every moment we spent together perfectly, I keep replaying them in fast forward through my mind. I couldn’t stop the movie if I wanted to. But the more I watch the movie, the more I question it, try to rewrite it.

Things might have been different if I had pushed harder back when we worked with The Were Rats. We didn’t need to make the situation worse. Maybe we could have patched it up when we met with Justin. Should I have just run away when I found them in her apartment? Maybe if I just made something up when they were torturing me. I ask questions about every interaction and conversation we had concerning House Marson. The answer I get every time is, no. I couldn’t have done anything to change this outcome, because she was willing to drop all of the issues and runaway with me. But, they just couldn’t let her run away and live a happy life. They were just as obsessed as she was, maybe more. I just didn’t see it, because I wasn’t looking from their side.

I should have fought harder, tried to face my fears more. I should have dove into her world head first until The Marson House was nothing but ashes and rubble. I should have tried to fight harder, studied more, practiced more. I should have treated this as if it was a war, instead of a petty squabble that got out of hand. I was just too afraid. I was afraid of fighting. I was afraid of being hurt. I was afraid of dying. I was afraid of Destiny dying. Now, I’m sitting here and all of those things came true anyway. Even now, I don’t really like fighting, but I have a reason to fight now. They gave me one. I might not get them tomorrow, or the next day, but one day I will. For now, I need to get to Dulac, and learn what I can.

Chapter 133 - M.


[Present Day]

I climb through the window of the old abandoned church as rain starts to pour down. Inside, the building is magnificent, even with no lights and dust covering every inch. The red seats still stand out when lightening manages to light the building for a few moments. The vibrant blues and yellows of various murals stand out. With my sparce background in church, I can make out a few. The baptism of Jesus Christ, the betrayal by Judas. Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Simon having his name changed to Peter.

Name, a name is something that defines you. The definition can be changed if you’re up to it, but it defines you. My name is Maddox Nielson, I finally remember that. My name came rushing back to me, along with Destiny’s Death and everything that entailed. I’m still missing gaps of my memory but my name is my name and that makes me a real person now. I’ve got a history, a family. Mom, dad, Charlene, Elias, me, D’Andre, Ivory and Sage. I need to find them, talk to them. Let them know I’m alive, apologize for all the time I’ve missed. The twins are probably adults now. Charlene and D’Andre are probably racing to a billion dollars right now. The twins are adults now, I wonder what they’re doing. Elias, Elias is probably broken up. I told him I’d be gone for a few days, and it’s been a few years. He probably had to be the one that reported me missing, might have even accused him of murdering me.  

I use my hand to knock away the thin layer of dust on one of the pews before lying across it. There aren’t any grand paintings on the ceiling, but there are intricate ornaments and decorations carved into the old wood ceiling. Every so often when lighting strikes, I can see how detailed the images are, but can never make out what the full image is. Those are my memories at the moment, intricate, detailed. I can get the basics but I can’t ever view the full image.

For now, this church will be my home, base of operations. I’ll need to contact my family, plot revenge. I’ll explore in the morning, find out if this place will be suitable. I pull that kid’s phone from little pocket in space. The brightness annoys my eyes, and it seems to be locked, it needs some four-digit code. I stare at the dark phone screen, guessing which order to put the numbers in. There are two number ones, a zero and an eight. My first two tries net me nothing but a vibration and failure notice. I settle on 1018 and the phone opens up as if I was Indiana Jones. Do they still make those movies? I spend a few minutes tapping around on the screen, getting a real understanding of how it works. I keep being impressed by all the ways technology has changed. I’m so upset I missed out on all of this stuff. Phones have GPS now, and that’s crazy to me. GPS used to be some box you’d buy in a store and have installed in your car. We used to download MP3s just to put them on CDs, but now they’re just on your phone, and good quality.

A notification stating “find my phone,” flashes on the screen before I swipe it away. I open up the map function and zero in on the church. It’ll be a good base for me. It’s not far from downtown, but still out of the way. There’re a few blood banks nearby, another bonus. I won’t usually need to feed often, but drinking more blood might help some of my memories come back.  

I head over to ask.com to see what Jeeves can find on my family. It used to be a plain white background with a butler, now there’s a dozen news articles and the search bar is minimal. The only thing I can find is a list of accounts on something called Facebook. It looks like MySpace, but extremely corporate. Everything looks sanitized, no personality to any of it. I can’t even view most of these pages without creating an account, but that’s not on my list for now. I’m sure I’ll just be able to look them up in the yellow pages later.

The last thing I need after spending years in what amounts to a coma, is more sleep. But I think it’ll help me grab a few more memories. I keep remembering a Simon and Isaac from somewhere that’s out of reach. The thunderstorm has settled to just rain and some rolling thunder, it should be perfect weather for sleep. Instead, I find myself making a list of people who wronged me, people who caused me to be in this situation. I have memories of telling Destiny not to go chasing after revenge, but here I am, planning revenge. I don’t even know if any of these people are still alive, but I want to make sure they aren’t.                                

Chapter 132 - M.


We’ve been driving around listening in on their radio and hiding out for the last few hours, stopping to change cars every so often, just to hide our trail. It was my idea, but Destiny says they can track our scents. It’s probably true, I think that’s part of the reason I was able to find her so easily when she ran off. I don’t know, I’m panicking right now, and for the first time in a really long time, I can’t lean on her for help. I’m supposed to be strong right now, and I’m on the verge of crumbling under the weight of protecting her right now. I’ve gotten a few lucky wins, but I can’t fight off the entire squad. I’ve been listening, there’s seven of them left. That means, Destiny and I managed to kill a whole three of them. The odds are against us, in every way possible. She’s done so much to protect me, and I can’t think of a single way to get us out of this mess. She’s not even willing to help, just accepting that death is the only fate for us. I refuse to accept it, I just need to think.

“Do you really love me or was I just some play thing while you waited on the death you call inevitable,” I ask the question in my head, but hear the words leave my mouth. “I’m sorry, I’m just frustrated.”

“I really do love you,” Destiny pokes at her bullet wound that still hasn’t healed.

The bullet wounds are concerning, mine hasn’t healed either, and she’s got some cuts, that aren’t healing either. It seems like they’ve got an edge on us, in every way possible. I haven’t been a vampire long, so I’m not sure how long a bullet wound would take to heal, but the cuts should be gone already. I’m just thinking of random things to avoid asking the question on my mind, but I might night have much time left to ask if we’re as doomed as she says.

“You never told me why you love me, even during our vows you just said you hated me for making me love you. I’m filled with anxiety, I spent almost 30 years of my life being bullied. I’m socially awkward and I’ve got nothing for you.”

“Why are you doing this,” Destiny asks, more tears welling into your eyes.

“Because if you’re so sure we’re going to die, I need to know why you loved me before I die.”

“You’ve had this on your mind and choose now to ask?”

“I’ve asked but you’ve never told, you’re still not telling.”

I feel bad, we could be facing death and I’m watching her fight back tears. There are super elite vampires chasing after us and I’m the bad guy. But I have to know, in the event that we don’t make it. The longer we drive, the more I’m starting to doubt we’ll escape. It seems like they’re always one step ahead of us on the radio. Things, just aren’t looking good, and I need to know. I need to know why she loved me, was it just pity? Am I familiar, a pet, or does she really love me?

“I don’t know why. I just do. I like it when you’re stupid enough to think you can protect me. I like that you’re the only person who loved me with no conditions. I love that your family treated me like I was already part of the family. I love how you underestimate yourself and get so happy when you accomplish something. I love how you’re always willing to see the good in other people even when they don’t deserve it. I hate watching you get hurt, I hate when you’re afraid, I hate you cry.”

“Then why do you want to die?”

“I don’t want to die, I have to die so you can live. It’s the only way they’ll stop chasing us, because I know you won’t stop chasing me.”

“I need you in my life, that’s why I can’t accept this.”

“You don’t need me, not anymore. You’re braver, you stand up for yourself, and you know you can do anything. I can’t do anything else for your but die.”

“Then why not live for me?”

“Because I already did. You showed me how to live. I’ve had more fun with you than I did the rest of my life. I made some bad choices before I met you, and they’ve finally caught up to me. I’m just glad I got to meet you and spend as much time as I did with you.”

“We can fix this.”

“We can’t, it’s too late. There’s just some things that can’t be fixed.”

I don’t speak anymore, I don’t want to drag out this conversation any longer. I just want to enjoy the few moments we have left together. I just keep driving, hoping they give up. Eventually, Destiny falls asleep and the radio goes silent. I just keep driving, hoping they aren’t still following us. To my surprise I make it out of the city without any more commotion. I don’t wake her up, I just keep driving, speeding up, running as far as I can. The more distance between New Orleans and us, the better things will be. Maybe we should leave the United States, move to England and start a new life.

I settle on LA 631, it’s not the main highway, or even a real highway anymore, but it’s good enough. It lets me get to the destination without passing much traffic. I’m still paranoid, driving with the lights off hoping nobody is out looking for cars. The whole road seems eerie, no lights, houses separated by large overgrown trees. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a dirt road linking up that I missed. I slow down as I approach an old bridge crossing Bayou des Allemends. It’s asphalt, but the railings are old and crumbling wood. To either side are dilapidated docks and new houses, an odd sight. The fog tonight makes it the perfect scene for a horror movie.

I’m forced to slam on the brakes halfway through. Destiny jumps awake, confused by what’s going on. The road is blocked. I hear one vampire radio in, and soon we’re blocked on each side, a red beam flashing through the windshield from the main highway. I guess they finally changed radio channels and caught us. I guess Chloe would know where Destiny is from, probably had a pretty good guess to as to where we’re going.

I move to put the car in reverse but Destiny pulls my hand away from the gear shift and tosses keys out the window. I don’t know what to do now, I want to keep fighting but I don’t think there’s a way that I can.

“Sorry, but my mind is made up on this. Just, get to Dulac, they’ll take care of you,” she leans in to kiss me, but I pull away. “No poison this time.”

“We can fix this,” I feel the tears roll my own cheek, but her face looks sure of everything.

“You can’t fix everything Maddox,” she uses my real name, a rare occurrence.

“I love you.”

“I love you too, and I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about.”

“I’m sorry this has to be your last memory of me.”

She kisses me, deeper than she’s ever kissed me, leaning in towards me. It’s bliss, like kissing her for the first time again. The taste of cream soda is still on her lips, but no paralysis this time. Beneath the scent of blood and sweat there’s cocoa butter and cinnamon, and below that, there’s the scent of Destiny. If this was anywhere else it’d be perfect. I pull back and scream out in pain as my shoulder falls numb.

“Sorry, Bluebird, I have to clip your wings for a moment, you’ve got a lot more living to do. I love you.”

“Why?”

“Because I love you, and this is the only gift I can give you that’s worth anything.”

She pushes me with enough force to send me out of the car, through the crumbling wood rail and into the water. Swimming isn’t easy with just one arm, but I try to make my way back to the top, back to the bridge. I can’t seem to make it up to the top, but I hear the commotion. Gun shots, some banging and a few screams. Even beneath the water I can tell they aren’t her screams. She’s giving them hell, and I’m trying to get my head above the water.

My head finally burst through the water, but I’m not able to see the fight. I find I find myself calling her name, but I can’t hear myself as lights around the community flicker on. I call out again and feel a bullet pierce my dislocated shoulder. For a moment I lose control of my limbs and sink down again. I fight back to the top, trying to reach the action.

A golden light, brighter than anything I’ve ever seen shoots into the sky, seemingly without end. Slowly it spreads out and I hear several vampires scream from the bridge. As the light reaches me, the warmth covers my body, saves me from the cold water that had shocked my lungs. In the silence brought by the light I know it was her. I know she’s gone. She said it’s different for every vampire when they go out. I’ve seen people turn to dust, burst into flames, or just fall over flat, but I’ve never seen anything like that. Even in death, she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.