“You know, Andrew Jackson used to be my favorite president,” I tell Desitny as we drive towards his home.

“Really? Andrew Jackson?”

“Yeah, they made him sound so cool in school. The man was in a bunch of battles, and won. He was president, but also, he was in duels. That made him so bad ass.”

“What changed your mind? You thinking America will really let Obama be president?”

“No, a Black man, President of The United States, that’ll never happen,” we share a laugh over the idea. “I stopped liking Andrew Jackson when I learned what a piece of trash he was.”

“I just want to let you know you’re doing great as an Adze already. You’re a few years too late to lead a slave rebellion, but it’s in your heart, and that’s what matters,” she jokes.

As we get closer Andrew Jackson’s house looks exactly how I thought it would. Large, white, all the antebellum South vibes a man could wish for. This was a plantation for sure. If we went around back I’d be willing to bet there were log cabins for slaves, probably called workers, but they used to be slaves. We park towards the end of a heart shaped driveway and I can’t help but laugh to myself. The man who viewed himself as this ultimate cold and calculated machine had a heart shaped driveway.

Inside everything looks old and dated, as if it hadn’t been moved since Andrew Jackson died. More so than that the place feels haunted. Almost as if we shouldn’t be here. The idea of a haunting removes itself from my mind for a much more familiar feeling. We’re the only Black faces, no different than one of the balls we attended in Chicago. I suppose, there’s active malice in the air, but we’ve been here before. I understand why Destiny felt so comfortable in those balls. There’s maybe twenty of them, and just two of us, but I think we could win. They look old, frail, confused and all around pitiful. We came here because Destiny heard there was a vampire gathering that took place here on the weekends, but she was never in Tennessee to partake.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I see we have some first-time faces,” a man in a tuxedo stares directly at us from a small stage. “The thrall auction works like any other. If you see an item you like, you bid on it. Tonight, we have a fine selection of twenty-three thralls. All young, and prepared for decades of servitude. They’re fresh, so they’ll need breaking, but they’ll serve your houses for decades to come and we’ve got enough for almost everyone to leave with a purchase, so be greedy. Don’t forget, no checks, no credit, just cash,” the audience laughs in unison.

I don’t know if I’m more shocked, disgusted or outraged as a I walk twenty-three Black teenagers, chained together at the ankles and wrist. A few still crying, others look enraged, none of them looking as if they belong in chains.

I thought when he said auction, this would be like a fundraiser. An auction where someone offers themselves up for a date. But this is not that. This is full blown depravity, the shame of a nation. Destiny had told me Primeval vamps could be racist, but to think the slave trade is alive and kicking here hadn’t crossed my mind. I’ve never felt rage like this in my life before.

“We’re killing everyone right,” I don’t recognize the words coming from my mouth.

“Except the babies.”

“Excuse me,” a woman next to Destiny sounds shocked.

She doesn’t get a chance to say more because Destiny has already moved to slice her throat open. I haven’t learned to turn my nails into claw, I settle using my nightmares to decapitate the man in front of me. I remember agonizing over the fact that I had killed before. I still remember the faces, and it still bothers me sometimes. In the catacombs, it felt like a life or death thing again, but I didn’t feel bad. This, this feels right. The vampires, don’t scream, but the wails of the teenagers break my heart a little. Their voices sound strained as if they had already been screaming. I expect an army of vampires to enter the room and join the commotion but no more than three do. It doesn’t take long before we’re staring at a group of teenagers, afraid of us. We’re the monsters that just killed the monsters that chained them.

I’m surprised at how easy it is for me to break the shackles with my hands. It doesn’t take long before Destiny and I have set them all free. Let them dine on the food and drinks set out to feed their captives. She searches the perimeter for more, but no reinforcements ever come.

“Are you all from Nashville,” they all nod silently to my question. “Anyone who doesn’t know their address?”

“They’re teenagers, they should know where they live,” Destiny interrupts my questioning.

“Hey, we’re going to get you all home to your families,” I try to assure them.

“They’re not going to trust us. We just came in and killed two dozen people,” Destiny whispers to me.

“We can’t just leave them here.”

“You want to chain them again? Force them in the van out back and drag them around the city until someone takes them?”

“No, but if we leave them here, the same thing is going to happen again.”

“You can take me home,” a girl with purple braid in her hair stops our argument.

“Me too,” a boy adds.

All it takes is one person to speak up before they’re all willing to trust us. There’s this idea that trauma is better at bringing people together than any other bonding factors. We traumatized these kids. We weren’t the worst of it, or the start of it, but we were the end, and that’s part of it. The least we can do is feed them, craft a story to tell their parents, explain any questions they have about vampires. Is this the kind of thing Destiny was doing every week before I came along?


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