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Thread: The Sisters Weird (A Vampire Story)

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    cogito ergo doleo Keke Le Cat's Avatar
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    Default The Sisters Weird (A Vampire Story)

    This is an original work by Sarah B. Edington. Do not copy or reproduce it in any way without expressed written permission.

    Chapter 1


    “Are you sure about this?” I asked for about the umpteenth time. Winnie just looked at me and grinned, her stormy gray eyes crinkled at the corners with her amusement. The look she was giving me spoke volumes. It said that I was worrying over nothing, everything would be alright, and that I should follow her lead. So that's what I did, as usual.

    She ran ahead of me to the convenient store, though what was supposedly convenient about the place eluded me. For one thing, it was located in the middle of freaking nowhere and for another it just didn't have the variety of merchandise or competitive prices that the chain stores had. It was Mom&Pop and it was on it's way out.

    Giggling with excitement, Winnie flung her red hair over her shoulder and pushed the door open causing the bells attached to jangle loudly. Her hair slapped me full in the face, filling my mouth, sticking to my lip gloss. I think that might have been the first clue that I was following too closely. I very deliberately counted as I took three nervous steps back.

    As she ran a petite hand through the russet locks, her bright red lacquered nails and pale skin contrasted beautifully, which she knew. She was always doing that, pushing her hair back to draw attention to her face, her cold, smiling eyes, her quirked mouth. Pristine makeup enhanced every feature without drawing obvious attention to any, only her lipstick was bright and glaring.

    She is good at making herself up without looking like a prostitute, even considering the red gash of her mouth. I'm not. I always feel like a little whore when I wear that much make up. I am a bit of a wallflower, Winnie definitely steals the spotlight. But she is so alive and lovely it is hard not to notice her, so I don't mind. (much)

    Winter (Winnie) Politely is extremely aware of how lovely she is. She's 5'2”, with ginger hair that cuts off in a straight line in the middle of her back. She has magnolia white skin, her face is small and her nose pert, her lips pout under cherry red lipstick, mouth the perfect image of Cupid's bow. Wide, glittering, changeable gray eyes seem to swallow most of her face. They are the color of stark winter skies, thus her name. Well, that isn't really her full name. All our names are complicated. It's more of an image, or an emotion. It is a Sending. Her name is that feeling the air gets as the first frost of winter tinges everything white, with cold gray clouds filling the sky like a blanket, and winds howling down from the north promising colder weather yet to come, as the first chilly, dim rays of sunlight peek over the mountains and the quarter moon rides low on the horizon... Like I said, our names are complicated.

    We are twins, nearly identical. We are Native American and Irish, and look it. My eyes are bright Irish green, and my name is Poppy Politely. As you probably guessed its more than that. It's that moment in the hottest part of summer when the sun has just set and the cicadas are singing, lightening bugs are hanging on the heated breeze which blows over a poppy field like the devil just yawned and the whole world is stretching, settling in for night, a strong scent of flowers hangs so thick on the air that you think you might choke... But it's more than that still. It's hard to explain.

    I kinda like it, as far as names go it's a pretty good one. Languid and hot, I think it's a name for a woman with a smile that promises a good time. I'm not really sure I live up to it, then again I've only just turned 16. Winnie says I'll grow into it. It's hard to tell, but I think Winnie already embodies her name. She's cold as a witch's grave, and I say that with all the love in the world. After all, she is my twin.

    Winnie moves in such a way that it draws the eyes of every male above the age of 8, and I don't know how she manages it. If I could duplicate that slinky cat-like grace I think more people would notice me as an individual instead of as Winnie's sister. Just walking through a fancied up gas station seemed an event with her.

    Winnie glided up to the counter with a smile on her face that somehow managed to be suggestive and sweet all at the same time. She is a good actress. She plays all her roles well, but I think the coquette is her best mask. Sometimes watching her in action is better than Sunday night HBO.

    As a pair, we usually wear a lot of black and white, very monochrome. It's kind of a theme we have going. Cheesy? You betcha. But it's fun. It's like an inside joke that no one gets but us, and I like that.

    That night was a very different night, but still I was wearing black tennis shoes, white jeans and a black baby doll tee shirt, black hoodie pulled up, all my thick red hair pulled back in a severe braid leaving my pale, unmade-up face stark and bare in the dark cowl of my jacket, the pale lines of my eyebrows slashed through my face like albino bat wings. My large, feline eyes were wide, bright and they tried to consume my face, I knew all this without looking in a mirror.

    Winnie wore a skin tight black leather skirt that looked as though it was painted on, a scoop neck white t-shirt with the words [This has been a clever distraction.] printed across the bust in bold, black letters. Winnie is big on ironic humor. Just a guess, but I'd estimate I don't understand approximately 32% of what she says in jest or why it's funny. I usually laugh anyway though.

    She had on startlingly red screw-me pumps, and that really got my goat. We always wore black and white, and there was no cause to deviate from the plan. She could have at least warned me, or discussed it. When did we stop planning our outfits together? At least everything else she had on was black or white.

    For all that twins are supposed to be alike, we aren't really. Winnie is like me, but ... more. Smarter, tougher, braver, stronger, prettier, cleverer (which isn't the same as smart, you can learn to be smart, but you can't really learn to be clever) and most importantly, more alive. Sometimes I feel like her shadow, a little dimmer, less radiant but somehow still alike. My only job: To follow Winnie around and do as she says. Bitter? Who, me?

    Winnie leaned across the counter and ran one long red nail down the cheek of the poor kid working behind it. Something passed between them in that heartbeat, something private which I couldn't really understand and so will never be able to explain. Such a violation of a stranger's personal space is not something I could stomach, but I watched my sister with fascination. The amount of sheer emotion she could pack into a passing glance astounded me. All of Winnie's looks were eloquent of words.

    I called him a kid but he was almost certainly older than we are, he had the fuzz of a first mustache growing on his upper lip and a tremulous smile all over his entire face. A naiveté rode in his eyes, an innocence that spoke of always being well taken care of, if not well off. We had lost it years ago. Probably 18-20, he was not attractive enough to warrant attention from someone like my sister, and he wasn't sure how to take it.

    Emotions flitted across his face: He was thrilled, but uncertain, nervous, anxious to say or do the right thing. I almost wanted to laugh, but in the same breath I wanted to tell Winter to stop playing with her food. I kept my peace. It's not my job to correct her. I am not the shepherd to the weak.

    Falling back onto her heels and into her own space, she wiggled a finger in a 'come hither' motion. He leaned forward over the counter, unsure. Looking as though he half expected a kiss or a slap and would welcome either so long as Winnie kept gazing at him.

    A twinge of pity twisted my stomach, I couldn't like what we were about to do. Like I said, the place was headed out of business and didn't need our help. Once the boy was near enough my sister leaned in to whisper, “I don't want to hurt you, but I will if you make me.”

    “Wh-what do you mean?” He stammered, the smile still trembling on the edge of his mouth as though he thought this was some flirty BDSM game. The tag on his green vest said, 'Hi! My name is STAN. How may I serve you today?'

    I really didn't like to play with people, so I broke in, “Look, just do what my sister says and no one has to die today.”

    All the air left Winter in a hiss as she turned a black look toward me. Her light gray eyes grew darker, like storm clouds rolling in off the plains. The pleasantness slid off her face like the mask it was. Her eyes emptied of that spark that made her look more alive than everyone else, leaving behind the eyes of a killer, a stone-cold psychopathic monster. She scared even me when she went all spooky like that. She whispered, “Thanks for spoiling all the fun, sissy.”

    “What's going on?” Stan said with confusion and a hint of excitement. Usually words like 'die' snap people out of being mesmerized by boobies, even if said body parts are a masterpiece. Stan didn't seem to be all that bright, however, because he was still smiling at Winnie and alternately glaring at me like I'd done some social faux pas and didn't realize it.

    Rolling my eyes, I flung back my jacket. I placed my hand on my hip and assumed the stance which every man recognizes as the 'angry woman.' The motion drew attention to the gun in it's black holster on my white clad thigh. Even though my jacket didn't extend that low, he hadn't paid enough attention to me to notice that I was armed until then. Finally, Stan seemed to realize it wasn't a game and that he might be in some personal danger.

    A look of betrayal crept over his face as he looked from my thigh to Winter's harsh eyes. Without hesitation, good ol' Stan reached below the counter. He was probably going for a gun, the idiot. Winter jacked him square in the face with the butt of her hand.

    Before he had time to scream, “Ahh, god, my nose!” I had the gun out and pointed at him. He seemed a bit disoriented, but at least he was convinced that we were serious. Never underestimate the effect a good blow to the nose will have on someone.

    Winter laughed. When she was finished, the brittle smile that remained did not quite reach her eyes before it too evaporated like it had never existed. Blood fountained, dribbling across Stan's mouth and down his chin. His nose had to be broken. Winnie could be over-zealous sometimes.

    “Like she said, we don't want to hurt you.” I tried reasoning, cajoling. In my best soothing tone, like I was talking a jumper off a ledge, I repeated, “No one has to die. Just give us the contents of the cash register and we'll leave. Don't be brave. However much is in there, it can't be worth your life, can it?”

    Stan stared from one to the other, pain and incredulity bleeding into outrage. His hand reached under the counter again, and I pressed the barrel of the gun to his forehead, “Look, kid, I'm not good with guns. I couldn't tell you what model or caliber this is. But at this range, if I shoot you, various parts of you will explode. Just open the cash register.”

    He must not have believed I would shoot him, which made him much dumber than he looked. AKA very fucking stupid. His hand kept moving and he seemed to touch something below the counter. I had no idea what he could have done. There was no point in panic buttons that called the police. The cops didn't patrol this far out of the city. They couldn't make it in time to stop me. It was truly no man's land. You bought protection from the vampires, or you were bare to the world. I demanded, “What did you do?”

    Something banged around in the back of the shop which made Stan smile, Winnie laugh and my eyebrows draw down together. I thought he was alone, I must have been wrong. This was supposed to be an easy job. All eyes turned to the door to the storage area as the steady thuddy shuffling sound grew nearer.

    Thud, shuffle.

    Shuffle, thud.

    Thud, shuffle.

    Then it emerged. An older zombie lurched its way into the front of the store, one broken leg dragging behind it. I know it was an older one because the stench of decay flowed away from it like a precursor of bad things to come. Whatever Stupid Stan did under the counter must have released it from a cage or a room in the back. A guard zombie. Who would have thought it? Who would keep the walking dead as pets? What had we gotten ourselves into?

    It was male, and dressed in the tattered remains of it's funeral suit. It's short, straw-like brown hair stuck up at odd angles, and one eye was shriveled like a dried cranberry in it's socket. The foot on the broken leg still had it's shiny (if scuffed) wing tip shoe tied securely, but the other foot was bare, and dirty. It had been shot in the chest, and greenish gray fluid leaked from the wound in a slimy trail down it's blue dress shirt. It had obviously been busy protecting the store like a good little guard corpse. Too creepy.

    “That was stupid of you Stan.” I said. Winter laughed again. What was with her?

    Taking careful aim I fired at the zombie's head, and missed. The kickback flung my arm, and felt like it was trying to dislocate my shoulder. It probably was, vile thing. I wasn't lying when I said I didn't know much about guns. Oh well, nothing like learning on the job.

    Aiming again I tried for the chest and hit it's shoulder, blowing the arm completely off in a spray of rancid liquid and meatier, rotting bits. What kind of bullets were in the damn thing? The zombie kept up it's shuffling gate toward us, and Stan crouched behind the counter to hide from it. The arm crawled forth, using it's fingers to propel itself.

    The arm went for Winnie, and the corpse went for me. Figured. Winnie danced back out of the arm's grasp, giggling and throwing a bag of popcorn at it. The groping hand grabbed the popcorn and sent it showering all about as it shook it like a dog worrying a bone. Grabbing a four pack of Redbull off an endcap display, she pinged each can off the back of the hand. It searched blindly for it's assailant, crushing a can with a splash. Giggling, she clapped her hands and looked around for something else to throw at the amazing grabby arm.

    “Errrrrrr...” The corpse said as it shambled in my general direction.

    As you have probably guessed, zombies aren't incredibly intelligent. They are nonrespondent to pain or threats. You cannot bully a reanimated corpse. The lights are on, but nobody's home. You can cut them to bits, and the bits still wiggle forward, seeking a target. The only real way to kill them is fire. Burning the store down around us didn't seem like a viable plan for obvious reasons.

    That opened the question of how it got there without eating someone's brains or worse. Was Stupid Stan the creature's Animator? Did it take orders from the little lad behind the counter? Somehow I doubted it. That meant a hired witch was working for the store owners, and had herded the poor thing into a cage.

    Shuffling forward, the corpse repeated, “Errrrrrr...”

    “What a magical day to be alive.” Winnie laughed, she had found the ice cream at the back of the store and was proceeding to throw carton after carton at the trash compacting hand.

    Seriously? What was she thinking? Was she thinking? Probably not. I couldn't waste time gaping at my sister because I was too busy backing away from the walking dead.

    My back hit the cool glass of the door and the bells jingled softly from the bump. I was out of space, and I couldn't leave without the money. They just wouldn't understand if I came back with an excuse like, 'But there was a zombie, and it was scary!' That was such a little girl thing to say, anyway.

    It was only about 8 feet away. Seconds were ticking by. The sand was leaking from the hourglass. My eyes darted frantically about, my mind moved a mile a minute. The gun wasn't going to work, but I clutched it in my sweaty grip like a security blanket, it didn't make me feel safer. I had exhausted all my options. There was only one thing I could try.

    “Stop!” I shouted at the zombie. It hesitated, turning it's head and looking at me in a strangely birdlike gesture.

    The thing about magic is you have to really believe it's going to work. The power isn't in the words you use, or the hand movements, or any paraphernalia. It's in your belief. A second of doubt when you are doing something crazy like summoning a demon, and ding dong the witch is dead. The key is confidence and knowledge. I don't know much about the undead, and I don't have much confidence, so it only hesitated and watched me for a few seconds before it took another step. That was time enough for me to gather my wits and screw up my courage.

    “Go back to your grave!” Definitely the creepiest thing I have ever said. True story. But I had confidence that it would listen to me. I did. It was so going to listen to me. Really. “Go back to your grave and lie down, never to rise again.”

    He turned his head again, and I realized he was trying to get a better angle with his one good eye. Juicy substance dribbled from the ruin of his shoulder and splatted onto the brown and white tile floor. Stupid Stan whimpered from his hiding place behind the counter, he was crying. The zombie turned his head toward the sound and sniffed the air. He smelled the blood from Stan's nose. Bad news for Stan.

    This is just a wild supposition, but I am going to say that Stan didn't summon Mr. Zombieguy from his grave and didn't know how to control him or have any desire to do so even if he could. I wondered if he thought at all before he released Big Nasty there from wherever he was stored.

    Zombie took one staggering step nearer to the counter, then paused to look at me. Obviously, whatever power was in the corpse was considering my command, but the fresh blood and fear scent from Stan was almost too tempting to pass up.

    Looking around, I spotted a blue box of salt near the end of the closest aisle. Salt is one of the oldest purifying agents used in magic. It can even be used as a talisman against evil. A handful thrown in the face of most mildly stupid bogymen will stop them. It works on ghosts and Fae too, not that Fae are stupid. But I digress. I was counting on the stupidity of the walking dead backed by my belief in salt. SALT. But it was the best I could come up with.

    Why was I protecting Stupid Stan with his bloody nose and zombie button? The zombie wouldn't come after me now that I had demonstrated my power. Maybe I was the stupid one.

    No, it wasn't that. It had nothing to do with Stan. Now that the zombie was listening to me, I felt responsible for him. He wasn't just the walking dead now, he was my walking dead. I needed to see him at peace. Reanimating corpses was nasty business. I did not approve. Let the dead rest, for Christ's sake.

    I grabbed the canister of salt and the smiling little girl on the label with her umbrella seemed to mock me with her cheeriness. I fumbled with the top, cutting my thumb trying to get the metal tab open. Yay for me. Finally, the sparkling white crystals spilled forth. I had a handful of salt, only slightly pink from my blood. Salt caked the cut, it stung like hell.

    “Shit.” I muttered, I wanted to suck my thumb to remove the salt, but I figured that the corpse about to eat Stan was slightly more pressing than my little wound.

    A laugh rang out from the back of the store, Winnie was still having a grand old time with the arm. Food product littered every aisle. The place was a mess. I could practically hear the bacteria reproducing on the floor. It was really disgusting. I wondered who was going to clean up my sister's mess. All I knew was, it wasn't going to be me. Not this time, anyhow.

    I was stalling, and I knew it. I was thinking about anything but the words of power I was about to speak. I had a binding agent, a purifying agent. I was strong enough. I had to be.

    “Err...” said the zombie as he thudded against the counter. Time was up. I had to do it. I flung the salt at the creature with all the confidence I could muster. It was going to work. It had to, it just did.

    “With salt I command you back to the earth. With my power I order you to return to your grave and rest.” I filled the simple statement with as much power as I could pull from the air around me. I poured more salt into my palm and threw it in the corpse's face. “Rest for eternity. Slumber for all time. Never rise again.”

    Sure, it was dramatic. But it worked, and that's all that matters at times like this. Right? The zombie turned and shuffle thudded his way past me to the door and walked into it over and over. He was trying to get back to his grave, unable to read the words 'Pull to open.' Calmly and without fear I walked over and opened the door for him.

    “After you, dearly departed.” I grinned at my own little joke as I said it. The night was beginning to look up. The zombie shuffled out into the darkness, the starry sky twinkled overhead as gaudy as a black velvet sequined blanket. I had full confidence that it would creep back to it's grave and lie down, dead forever. The earth would churn up to cover it automatically. I just knew it, and because I did, it would happen. How cool is that?

    Winnie's laugh echoed through the store again, as gleeful and carefree as the little girl on the salt carton in my hand. That's when it hit me: the arm. Well, not literally. I mean, the thought hit me.

    “Wait!” I yelled after the zombie. “You have to take your arm with you.”

    But he didn't listen. He carried on across the parking lot. Shuffle, thud. Thud, shuffle. Shuffle, thud. My spell had worked too well, he was headed back to his grave. For eternity. Without his wayward appendage. Heh. My bad.

    “Winnie, stop fooling around.” I called to the back of the store. I am not usually the one giving orders. Maybe it was the confidence I summoned to control Mr. Zombieguy, maybe it was just my frustration peeking through. “Let's finish this and go home.”

    Winter hopped around the arm and jogged up to the counter, click-clacking all the way in her idiotic red shoes. “That was fun.”

    “Whatever. Stupid Stan, are you ready to cooperate, or do I really need to shoot you?” I asked, peering over the counter.

    Stan didn't respond. He was crying so hard that he was shaking. Snot and blood caked his little fuzz of mustache, it dripped down onto his vest and stained the white tee under it. His face was already bruising and swelling from the broken nose. He looked pitiful.

    I wondered if he had known what would happen if he pushed the zombie release button. Some security system that turned out to be. I'm guessing the zombie was a surprise even to him. How much punishment did he deserve for his initial defiance? I thought he had suffered plenty. He was scared shitless. Good enough. I ordered, “Open the register.”

    Stupid Stan lived up to his nickname and didn't move. I hopped over the counter and stared at the cash register. I am positive that it wasn't exactly cutting edge technology, but I had never seen one before. After a few seconds of looking at the damn thing, all but scratching my head like a chimpanzee doing a math problem, I did some inspired thinking; I rung up a sale.

    BING.

    The drawer slid open. I grabbed the cash and shoved it into one of the white plastic bags that were beside the register. It had THANK YOU printed on it three times in large green letters. I found that nicely ironic.

    I did all this while clutching the gun like a life line. My fingers were pale and dough-like where they gripped the black handle, the nickel plated barrel glinted menacingly in the sharp fluorescent lighting. I didn't like it, but I couldn't see myself putting it down just yet, either. My blue glitter nail polish was chipped from where I bit my nails. I wished that I had taken it off, it looked horrible. What a strange thing to think at a time like that. Isn't it funny the random garbage the mind will produce to keep from focusing on the present?

    Blankly, I stared at the empty cash register drawer. I was officially a law breaker. Well, maybe that had been official the moment I had entered the premises armed and with the intent to rob it... I had no idea the letter of the law. Actually, come to think of it, I didn't really care either. I only did what I had to do, like always. Please understand that terrorizing mildly retarded store clerks was never a favorite pastime of mine, but I had run short on options as far as I could tell.

    After a few seconds of consideration, I grabbed the bottle cap that someone had turned in for a free Coke, and a coupon for .30 cents off a bag of Doritos. May as well go whole hog. They went into the bag with the cash. A few cartons of cigarettes went into a second bag, followed by cigars. It made more sense to me to take the cigars because they cost more, even though I didn't know anyone who smoked them and I certainly had no intention of taking them up. Nasty habit, smoking.

    “Why are you doing this?” Stan asked, looking up at me from his perch on the floor with red rimmed eyes. He seemed to be gaining control of himself, and I wanted to be gone before he started thinking about stopping us again.

    “Why do you think, genius?” I asked, waving the bag of money. I passed the bag of cigarettes & etc to my smiling sister over the counter. People asked the dumbest questions at times like that. Never anything intelligent like, 'How bad are you going to kill me?'

    “This is what's going to happen.” I said, hopping over the counter. Winnie was being strangely silent. “We are going to leave now. You are going to stay down there for half an hour and then you are going to call the owner and tell him what happened. Let him know that next time it won't be a couple of teenagers in the middle of the night, next time it'll be worse. He'll know what it means.”

    I gestured with the gun without thinking and Stan flinched. What was he doing working the nightshift, anyway? Around here they called it the graveyard shift for a reason. Didn't he know there were worse things in the darkness than a pair of girls? We weren't monstrous.

    Aside from the fact that Winnie was a sociopath and maybe so was I, we were pretty normal. Frankly, I would rather have been at home watching Gossip Girl than holding up a gas station. You could trust me on that one. Well, maybe normal wasn't the word for us, but we weren't that weird. Okay, we were... but considering that our mother was an alpha werelion and we didn't know who our dad was, we were doing alright.

    My point being, silly little boys like Stan needed to be at home when the sun went down, all bolted up in their nice little white suburbia. If they were smart they'd be hiding behind an arsenal, with silver coated bullets loaded in the shotgun. Maybe that was just me, though. Maybe I was paranoid. Being raised in a vampire compound by wereanimals would do that to you.

    Winnie raised her eyebrows at me and grinned, then pointed at the door. Clearly she was inquiring if I was ready to go, so I nodded and took a step forward. Something occurred to me, I paused, half turning back. “Hey Stupid Stan, give me your wallet.”

    Winnie giggled and clapped her hands, bouncing on her toes. She must not have thought of that. But there wasn't much cash in the bag, and I doubt the free bottle of Coke was going to make up the weight difference to the big boys. After all, wasn't the money the point of our little misadventure?

    Stan grasped the counter with one shaky hand and pulled himself up. He leaned heavily on it and looked around. He saw the drips of zombie juice on the floor, the arm flopping around down the aisle. I kid you not, he turned green before he doubled over and puked all over the place. On the counter, on the floor, down himself. It was disgusting, worse than the food mess. Worse than the zombie. I can't begin to imagine the horror that was crossing my face as I stared at him, but it must have been pretty blatant because he actually looked offended when he had finished.

    “Wh-what?” Stan asked, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. Gross. Had he never heard of Kleenex?

    His level of stupidity was beginning to get on my nerves. I knew that you couldn't exactly get college grads to work as counter boys, but come on. So far the commands had been simple, easy. All he had to do was listen to me and not hurl and none of the crazy zombie shit would have gone down.

    Zombies never scared me, but clowns and throw up did. As the thought occurred to me, I realized there was a clown cigarette lighter by the register. Who would purchase such a thing? Clearly no one in their right mind. Clowns were bad enough, but a flame producing clown? Really? It gave me the willies so bad.

    “I am getting frustrated by your lack of cooperation, Stan.” I said, I smiled and I knew it wasn't pleasant. There had to be more than a hint of crazy in my eyes. There was a splat of throw up actually on the clown lighter. I couldn't not look at it. “Give me your wallet.”

    “Oh, bother.” Winter muttered. Then she clicked around the counter in her high heels. She took the wallet from Stan's back pocket. It was attached to his pants by a silver chain, and that made me laugh. Winnie echoed me, and Stan jumped as though struck and looked frantically from one of us to the other. Still smiling, she unhooked the clasp and took the wallet. Absently, I wondered if there was throw up back there and if she had stepped in it.

    As Winnie rounded the counter, I pointed at the clock with my gun, “Remember, Stan: 30 minutes.”

    I have a flare for drama.

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  2. #2
    The One and Only trixie's Avatar
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    I only read a part of it but it looks good I'll read through it later.
    Originally made by LM:


    ~ I have said nothing because there is nothing I can say that would describe how I feel as perfectly as you deserve it. -- Kyle Schmidt ~

    ~Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. -- Josh Billings ~

    * dragon_berry**Fallen_Wings*

  3. #3
    Oreos and cookie crunch! Hikari's Avatar
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    Oh, good, so I'm not the only one who writes 5,000-word chapters. Nice work, Keke! Vampires are hard to write since they've been drowned in pop culture, but I have no doubt that you can pull it off.

  4. #4
    cogito ergo doleo Keke Le Cat's Avatar
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    Thanks

    This is actually pretty small, as it's only 10 pages long. Most chapters are up to twice this long on average.

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    The One and Only trixie's Avatar
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    Lol..... a "flare" for drama Nice.
    Originally made by LM:


    ~ I have said nothing because there is nothing I can say that would describe how I feel as perfectly as you deserve it. -- Kyle Schmidt ~

    ~Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. -- Josh Billings ~

    * dragon_berry**Fallen_Wings*

  6. #6
    cogito ergo doleo Keke Le Cat's Avatar
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    ahahah thanks!

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  7. #7
    The One and Only trixie's Avatar
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    Write more of it,please!
    Originally made by LM:


    ~ I have said nothing because there is nothing I can say that would describe how I feel as perfectly as you deserve it. -- Kyle Schmidt ~

    ~Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. -- Josh Billings ~

    * dragon_berry**Fallen_Wings*

  8. #8
    cogito ergo doleo Keke Le Cat's Avatar
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    This is an original work by Sarah B. Edington. Do not copy or reproduce it in any way without expressed written permission.

    Chapter 2

    My sneakers squeaked as I strode out the door. I had stepped in something. I hoped it was zombie guts and not throw up. Outside the air felt clean and crisp, with a hint of winter still clinging to the early spring night. I stood there breathing it in, emptying my lungs of the smell from the store. I felt like it clung to my skin, hair and clothing. I spent a few seconds just staring at the stars and convincing myself that I didn't smell like puke or zombie. The sky was so clear, the stars so bright, and there were so many of them. Tell a man that there are 400 billion stars and he'll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint and he has to touch it. Heh. See, Winnie isn't the only one with a sense of humor. I can be terribly witty when I want to be.

    “Oy! Get over 'ere. We ain't got all night.” Chance shouted from the car. He was our driver.

    He's a vampire, but not an old one. He looks like he's about my age, maybe a little older. Can you imagine being a teenager forever? I wondered if he has hormonal surge issues. Not something you could ask, really. I don't know how old he actually is, it's supposedly rude to ask, but he has to be less than a century. I assume this because he takes orders like we do. 100 years dead seems to be the cut off for being a flunky. I don't think he much enjoyed driving us about on errands for the bosses, but he didn't have any other options. I almost felt sorry for him.

    Chance has red hair and a London accent that is thinning out with exposure to our good middle American language. A smattering of cinnamon stars decorates the bridge of his nose, his freckles stand out starkly against his pale vampire complexion. His thin, bloodless lips are almost always smiling.

    He's one of the only happy vamps I know, most of them are stoic mofos. I don't know how he manages to maintain the cheery outward appearance. Sometimes I think the happy go lucky vamp boy look is just his version of a blank face. He wears suits, and I don't know much about clothes but I think they are nice ones. He fancies himself a player, Chance does.

    It is probably safe to assume that Chance is not his real name, but I don't know what is. There are a lot of vamp laws concerning names. For example, no two vampires in any country may have the same name. They only have the one name, plus their country. So that makes gingerlocks' full name Chance of America. I think it's silly and it sounds like a racehorse. Why not just take a last name and be done with it, instead of calling yourself something weird like that?

    There is a method to his madness, however. He named himself Chance because he says he is the luckiest man in the world and stands chance on it's head. He never loses at dice games, and I don't think he's ever lost at card games that I have seen. Result: No one will gamble with him because they assume he cheats. I, for one, just don't believe in chance that much. Pun intended. I told him to his face that it must be vampire magic and it took Winnie smoothing his ruffled feathers to keep him from having a Poppy snack. I told you Winnie was the smart one.

    I took my time walking the last few yards to the car where it idled at the pumps, Winnie was already sliding in the backseat on the driver's side. I looked at the car, really looked at it, for the first time. It was a black old school Cadillac Seville with a lot of chrome trim. I couldn't be sure of the year, but it was probably from the mid 80's. It screamed ghetto cruiser to me. It must have been Chance's personal ride.

    “Hurry up, Pop.” said Hadrian from the passenger side. I slid into the backseat silently and sat beside my sister. As demonstrated, I could be nice when I wanted to be.

    Hadrian is a werelion and stands about 6'8. He's lanky but well muscled. Think: Basketball player. He's black, bald and a pink scar curves crookedly across his forehead before it hooks over his scalp nearly to the base of his skull. The butt of the scar puckers slightly with a little lump of paler tissue. I had the wild desire to touch that spot, to feel it's texture. Being so short, I didn't often get the opportunity to see it close up. I refrained. While Hade is obscenely tall and looks sort of menacing, he's a real swell guy. He's always been good to me, sort of treats me like a younger sister. I'm not a werelion, but my mother is and I was raised by them, so he smells like Pride, like family. No point in offending him by groping his scar.

    My mother isn't a lion like Hadrian is a lion. She's a puma, an American mountain lion. Her pride was absorbed into the Blood Mane's Pride of Illinois when it became too small to protect itself. Mother was from Florida originally, but has lived up here for a long time. Most of the pumas are Native American and don't consider themselves lions at all, but those who joined the BMP now call themselves werelions. Shifter politics are almost as twisty and convoluted as vampire ones.

    No one said much of anything on the drive back to the compound. Winnie and I had a lot on our minds, and Hadrian and Chance didn't get along well. I thought that Hadrian had probably only come along to protect me if I got lippy with the ginger vamp. He's nice that way and younger vampires sometimes had issues with controlling their baser urges and dark desires. (I can be provoking, but only slightly.)

    Something was eating Winnie, and she wouldn't talk to me about it. We were quiet a lot when we were together these days, we were starting to lead separate lives. Well, Winter was starting to lead a separate life, anyway. One she didn't want me poking into. That left a huge glaring hole in our relationship. Questions went unasked, secrets were kept.

    I thought that she must have been sleeping around. Odd how my mind went straight to that. But I had seen bite marks on her inner thigh, and vamps don't usually go for the femoral unless it's a very personal encounter indeed. Plus, she'd been acting weird for so long, and the vamps weren't supposed to munch on the shifters or their kids without full permission. It was vampire compound law, which is serious business.

    Why would anyone consent to that? I may have been many things, but I didn't think I'd ever end up lunch for a corpse. Not willingly, anyway.

    Now that the deed was done, a dull ache was starting to pound behind my eyes and I felt queasy. If I threw up, I would die. Right then and there, I would keel over deader than ol' Chance. But that wasn't going to happen. I was strong and confident, capable even. I had held up a convenient store pretty much by myself while Winnie trashed the place with the help of a disembodied zombie appendage. I had ordered a zombie and it had listened. That is not something just anyone can do. It takes magic.

    Magic takes confidence and understanding, but if you aren't already full of magic all the faith in yourself and learning in the world won't do shit. I had spent my entire life hearing about how magic twins are, and that our shifter blood makes us twice as magic. We were supposed to be really powerful.

    I wondered if it was hearing those tales that made us magic, or if we really were. Magic takes faith, mundanes can't do what I can. But it takes faith in my abilities to do it, so what if the mundanes believed they were magic? Would they then be? I had no idea, philosophical debates were not my strong suit. I didn't really have a strong suit.

    I glanced at Winnie out of my peripheral and she had a small smile on her face while she made eyes at Chance in the rear view. What was up with that? Would she tell me if I asked? Would I bother asking? I didn't think I could handle rejection from my sister, so probably not. No reason to invite it.

    Ever since 3/22 (our birthday,) she had been closing herself off from me. They told us then that when the time came, we might not be changed together. That meant that one of us could end up a vampire, while the other got bitten by one of the lesser animals like a filthy wererat. Since that day we had been settling into the thought that we might spend semi-immortality without our twin, our other half. That, and as I'd already said, she was screwing around with some vampire. Maybe that was it.

    See, this is the way it works: At 16, you are considered a clan Prospect. You do odd jobs, like teaching the convenience store owners a lesson. You try to prove your worth. Show them you're smart. Show them you're useful. Your goal is indispensability. It's... humiliating. It continues for at least two years.

    Then, between 18 and 25, the vampires decide if they are going to give you the bite or if they are going to pass you down the clan to the wereanimals. Vampires get first pick. Always. No matter who it is. They don't make all that many new vamps, but they have the option if they want it.

    The leading group of lycanthropes gets second, and down the chain of dominance it goes. Right now, among the werebeasts, this is the ranking: lions are most dominant, bears second. Tigers and affiliated werecats rank third, though they are the largest group, they aren't very organized and that makes them weak. The wolves rank fourth only because of infighting. Hyenas are fifth; their war with the lions keeps them from growing more powerful. Last, and definitely least, are the rats.

    Anything below sixth doesn't rank because the animal group isn't large enough to hold dominance. They have to abstain from power-struggles. They rank barely above a human no matter how powerful they are as an individual. The weakest lion outranks the strongest fox. That doesn't make much sense to me... But I don't get paid to think.

    If you aren't in one of those six groups or a vampire, you are anyone's meat. That usually means you get to be some vampire's servant. Think: Slave combo meal. I don't know if it would be a worse fate to be a wererat or a slave. Those shiny black wererat eyes gave me the heeplie jeeplies.

    These rules only apply to direct descendants of clan members, though. They don't add just anyone to the clan. It's supposedly a great honor to be 'chosen' to be made a were or a vamp. So, in essence, because my mother's independent werepuma tribe thought it couldn't hold out in the swamps any longer, I get to show the vampires just how useful I can be. Let's hope that is very bloody useful, eh?

    Oh right, it gets better. If any of my friends or family think to have pity or mercy and bite me before the vampires say its okay, then it's an automatic death sentence. Preempting any Prospect without the full consent of the vampires is a no-no. Bad dog, no biscuit.

    So if Winnie gets picked to be a vampire before I'm up for consideration and then decides to speed along the process and allow me to join her in undeath, we'll both become outlaws. It's a lot to think about. If I weren't so angsty I'd probably think all this was funny because I have a warped sense of humor. You may have already guessed it: I read a lot of Hemingway. Heh.

    The silence was starting to get to me, so as sweet as pie I asked, “Can we turn on the radio?” For good measure I added a smile and, “Please?”

    “No.” Chance laughed as he said it.

    “Why not?” I asked, not as sweetly. We weren't far from the compound, but awkward silence should be filled with something, right? Arguing with gingerwhiskers would be better than listening to the resounding silence inside my head.

    “What's the matter, Poppy? Worried about your meeting with the big boy when we get back?” asked Chance.

    “What are you talking about? We did as we were told: Scared the shit out of some dimwit and took all the cash in the place. We don't have any meeting tonight.” I replied. That guy seriously got on my nerves. It's bad enough that he was afflicted with that horrible hair color genetically, but why did someone have to go and make him a vampire so people would have to look at it for always and forever?

    Chance laughed at that, oh did he roar. I didn't get the joke. It's a good thing that vampires can't read minds, or I bet he wouldn't have been so amused. “But you do. You have a face to face with Aloysius.”

    “I didn't know this job was for him.” I whispered, my voice small and shocked as I felt inside.

    “I did.” Winnie grinned. Why hadn't she told me? What was with all the secrets?

    “Hot dog. A meet and greet with Aloysius, color me excited.” I said with as little emotion as I could manage. It wouldn't do for it to get back to the big guy that I was less than thrilled at the prospect of seeing him.

    All the Italian vampires scared me, but Aloysius was the worst, hands down. He's old and ruthless. Plus, he was a Jesuit before he was killed and the more prudent a vamp was in life, usually the more reckless they are in death. It must be a rule somewhere.

    Aloysius, revered as a saint by good little catholics everywhere, was now a badass vampire sending teenage girls to hold up gas stations. He was duped in life by a woman named Gabriella into being made a vamp, and it went down in history that the priest was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and warned of his impending doom. That's what being born with money does for you. You forsake your vows to god for a piece of ass and you are made a saint. I find it funny that people say rosaries to and name colleges after a vampire saint. Makes me wonder how many other prominent historical figures there are out there still sucking blood somewhere.

    Chance turned off of the highway onto a narrow blacktop road, nearly hidden by trees. If you didn't know it was there, you'd miss it completely. It went on through the woods for about a mile, then you crossed over the river on a narrower covered wooden bridge. If the long drive through dense wood didn't scare off potential trespassers, the bridge would. Intricate spells were woven into it to give a sense of foreboding to any who did not belong. Some people who didn't know what they were dealing with would find it impossible to pass the bridge. They would very literally back off of it and turn around without knowing why. Vampires do not exactly hang out welcome signs.

    About a quarter mile past the bridge were the gates to the compound. The huge, black cast iron monstrosities sat in square brick pillars with capital letter V's embossed onto them in a slanting, italic script. The gates themselves were decorated with the same large capital letters. When they closed, the V's joined to make a W. The guards sitting in their little monitoring station must have seen us coming on the cameras because as we pulled up, they swung open. How efficient. The gates squeaked. I didn't know if it was intentionally ominous, or if they just needed to be oiled.

    A 15' black cast iron fence surrounded the entire compound, all 8 square miles of it. The fence had silver edged, dagger-like sharpened 6” points at the tip of each spear. In your face, razor wire. It's not for keeping anyone out, though it does that well enough. It's for keeping bloodlusty shifters in on the full moon. Some of the weres embrace their animal too fully on that night. Most avoid it if they can, though some just can't help themselves. There are plenty of deer and other small furries to hunt in the surrounding woods, but humans are the ultimate prey... or so they say.

    A little paved road curved before us until it disappeared into forest thick enough to hide the buildings beyond. It twisted and turned for all it was worth, stretching like a dark ribbon through the brilliant new green of the forested undergrowth. Our headlights flashed on the trees bowing over the road, fresh growth dotted their branches with red and green buds. Tiny white and pink flowers blanketed the brilliant green grass to either side of the drive. Spring was definitely arrived. Huzzah.

    We sailed slowly through the night in silence, a soft rain began to splatter the windshield. That's April in Illinois for you. Windy, rainy, generally unpleasant. It seemed like we had been driving for a long time, though I knew we had not. It was just my nerves. My hands were clammy, my head was still hammering. The news that we were sitting down with the big guy hadn't helped.

    Finally, we burst through the trees with all the speed and fury of a rampaging snail. The Manor House loomed ahead, nestled behind a big circular drive and well maintained decorative flower gardens with carved up shrubs and statues. It looked like something off the English countryside, not what you'd think to find in the middle of the Midwest. It was huge from the outside, but I'd never seen the inside. No one actually lived there, which seemed a shame to me. It looked nice. It was all for show, in case the human police or visiting vampires decided to poke their noses into our lives. No outsider ever got in the compound, invited or otherwise.

    The road wrapped around about 60 yards to the side of the house. There were more gardens behind it, a fountain in a man-made goldfish pond, and some Grecian statues – all the stuff the vampires thought should go back behind a house like that, I guess. The road went on beside it all until it lead through another thicket.

    Hidden by the dense forest was a long, beige metal-sided barn which functioned as a garage. The drive widened out to a long asphalt patio, there were five main entrances to the garage, each with a light over it. As we approached, Chance pressed a button on the dashboard that opened one of the doors and rolled on in, cruising ghetto style. I just couldn't get over the vamp boy's ride. It amused me to no end.

    Inside the huge structure were rows of cars, all sorts. It looked like a used car lot with everything from a new Ferrari to old beaters covered in rust. There were limousines, motorcycles, hummers, the sheer variety was amazing. Then again, it was a huge compound with lots of people, all of it deep underground except for the garage and the manor. As far as I can tell, there aren't any poor vampires. They take whatever they want from their victims. They could drive just about anything they wanted to.

    The compound itself was massive, made to house an army. It stretched underground from the garage to the manor house and beyond. I don't know how large exactly. I'd bet no one but the vampires and the builders knew the actual floor plan. It was like a rabbit warren. You stuck to the parts you knew. Baby vamps like Chance probably didn't know anymore about it than I did. It was being modernized, but there were still parts with rough stone walls, without electricity or running water. No one lived in them, but they were there. Most of the living quarters were updated in the 90's and were nice. All the halls and communal areas were white, beige or gray and as impersonal as a clinic.

    As soon as the car rolled to a stop, Winnie had her door open and one foot out, a huge smile spread all over her face as she leaned over the seat to simper, “Thanks for the lift, Chancy baby.”

    “It was my pleasure, anything for a lady.” He replied, smiling arrogantly at her through the rear view mirror, making good eye contact.

    I wanted to point out that he hadn't any choice, he did what he was told the same as me, but some thread of caution held my tongue. He may not have been old enough to push much weight with the vamps, but he could still break me over his knee like kindling without trying. So I just I shook my head at the two of them and got out of the car. My shoes didn't make a sound on the concrete floor of the garage. Whatever I had stepped in, be it guts or their contents, had been left on Chance's floorboard. Good.

    I put a little hustle in my step to get away from them, I couldn't take anymore of their... whatever it was. Flirting? Friendliness? Who knew? Or cared? I was half way to the elevators before Hadrian strode up beside me. I had to look up (way, way up,) to smile at him. He slowed his stride to match my much shorter gate and we walked silently side by side. It was companionable silence without any of the strain that I had felt in the car.

    “You want me to go with you?” Hadrian asked. I knew instinctively that if I said yes, he'd go see Aloysius with me and defend me if I needed it, even to the death. Hade didn't do anything halfway.

    Part of me knew that if Hadrian went, Aloysius would know that I was afraid of him. Fear equals food to vampires. I wanted to keep the idea of me as prey out of the heads of the vamps, so that meant that I had to face them on my own, with only Winnie by my side. With the way she was looking at anything fanged lately, I didn't feel like she was good backup. As I pushed the button to summon the elevator, I said, “I'll be alright.”

    “Just checkin'.” Hadrian replied.

    “Thanks. I mean it.” I gave him a tight smile and stepped on board before the doors had finished opening. Hadrian followed half of a second behind me, but we had to hold the doors open for Winnie and 'Chancy baby.'

    Winnie was hanging on the dead man's arm and smiling up at him without all the heated eye contact of earlier. In fact, she didn't raise her eyes much above his chin. Even my fanger sister was afraid of being mesmerized by his eyes. A baby vamp like Chance didn't pose much threat, but if you held direct, steady eye contact he could hypnotize you into submission. Old dudes like Aloysius could catch your gaze and mez you almost instantly.

    Our magic (for lack of a better term) did offer some protection against compulsion. We were supposed to be harder to mesmerize. All twins were harder to hold with eye contact, because according to popular belief part of our essence rested in our other half. I think that's utter tosh, but as with most things magical if the user thinks its true, then it is for them. Aloysius thought we were hard to hold with his eyes, so we were. Fine by me.

    They eventually stepped aboard and we rode down, the quiet only broken by Winnie's random giggles as she clung to Chance. What was so funny about riding on an elevator? I rolled my eyes and caught Hadrian smiling at me in an amused way. Why was everyone in such a jolly good mood? Didn't anyone realize that we were now officially criminals in the eyes of the human law? Wasn't that a big deal to anyone but me? Sighing, I shook my head and pursed my lips, crossing my arms under my breasts.

    The doors whisked open, and the foyer spread before us. It almost looked like the lobby of a nice hotel or hospital. It was impersonal, with it's gray marble tile and beige patterned wallpaper, a flowered border along the ceiling. Paintings of flowers and seascapes so large they might as well have been called murals decorated the walls in chunky gilt frames.

    A huge circular fountain gurgled in the center and three hallways branched off from the room, each heading deeper into the compound in opposite directions. The marble tile faded into gray Berber carpet down each of the three halls. Those halls bisected into more, and so on and so forth deeper and deeper into the fortress like building. If you didn't know where you were headed, you were totally screwed.

    Four marble benches were placed around the fountain facing north, south, east and west. There was even a large zen garden in one corner. It was pretty nifty. The ceiling consisted of panels of mirror. Subdued track lighting was all but hidden from view, giving the room an eerie half light that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, all at once. No matter the time of day, the room never changed, it was always the same. I guess that's why they called it The Eternity Room.

    A brilliant cut glass chandelier hung over the fountain, the refracted light sparkling in the water droplets as they splashed. It was really a lovely effect, sitting on the benches and watching the fountain trickle and babble. But I knew that hidden in some of the mirrors were cameras. Not much went on that wasn't monitored and recorded. Big brother is watching you.

    “Let's go.” I said without any enthusiasm. Not waiting for a reply I took the hallway to the left. “Tallyho.”

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  9. #9
    cogito ergo doleo Keke Le Cat's Avatar
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    Chapter 3

    I trudged up the hall confidently, without really thinking about where I was going or what was going to happen when I got there. After passing many closed doors and several turns at intersecting halls, the passage opened into another room, this one smaller than the first, but no less posh.

    On a slightly raised dais sat a black baby grand, books lined the walls from floor to ceiling in rich oak shelves. Comfortable seating was placed here and there, and a padded bench ran the length of the entire unbroken wall. It looked like a cross between a coffee shop and a cocktail bar but they called it the library. Vampires had seriously strange ideas about what was considered homey.

    The room had three entrances, two closed doors on opposite walls, and the one we were standing in that lead back to the elevators. Again I went left. When I reached the door, I found it locked and had to wait to be let in.

    This exit lead into the vampire quarters, the other lead to a neutral quarter housing a gym, a swimming pool, dining halls, and other community shit. We even had our very own four lane bowling ally. When it came to underground secret vampire lairs, ours was the best as far as I was concerned (not that I'd seen many.)

    After a few moments of waiting to be let in, I found myself fidgeting and worrying about what was going to happen. Looking around, I realized Hade and Chance were still in tow. No one had said anything at all the entire walk and the air had a somber feel to it.

    I wondered why Chance didn't just use his key to let us in. He had to have a key to his own ward, didn't he? Did he have to knock to be let in to his own bedroom? I was just before asking when the door opened and a little lady vamp stepped out, closing the door behind her.

    Esther was a small woman, and I say that standing at only 5'2. I had at least four inches on her. A mop of black curls hugged her head, looking like a bad perm though I knew it was natural. Her olive complexion looked dull pale yellow with a greenish hue due to the fact that she wasn't alive. Death has a habit of doing funny things to ones skin tone.

    She usually dressed like June Cleaver. Tonight she was wearing red patten leather Mary Jane pumps. Was there a red shoe memo I missed? Her red and white gingham dress had a small, primly starched white collar. Her mothering smile took in all of us, including Chance.

    I wondered how much Chance got bullied by the older vamps like Esther. She was old, I mean really old. She had probably strolled hand in hand with Jesus's grandpa. I never could tell whether the ever so friendly 1950's mother act was a thin veneer, or if she really did consider herself something of a matron to us all.

    She was old enough to make Aloysius toe the line, but she wasn't powerful. I bet her dried up old corpse pores would try to produce a little sweat if Aloysius turned mean eyes on her. Chance didn't stand a chance against either of them.

    “Yes?” She said, smiling oh so sweetly at Hade. I hadn't thought about it before, but he was probably the highest ranking individual in our little party. I bet that burned 'Chancey baby' up.

    “We're here to see Aloysius.” I said before anyone else had a chance to speak.

    “Of course.” She smiled, still addressing Hadrian. “All of you? I was lead to believe it would be only the girls.”

    I wanted to shout at her that we were considered women now under vampire law, but held my tongue. It's hard to command respect from someone so ridiculously old, and impossible to gain it when you are shouting like a harridan.

    “I escorted them on their job, I would like to see them to it's completion.” Hade said with serious eyes.

    “It is done. You may go.” Smiled the Mrs. Cleaver wanna-be.

    Hadrian hesitated. I had already told him I could do this by myself, I had no idea why he was trying to play tag along on our little date with destiny. Did he know something I didn't? I glanced at him and tried to express with my eyes that we would be fine. Dark honey brown eyes looked back into mine for a few moments, the gold ring around the iris undulating as his pupils dilated.

    I don't know if he picked up on my meaning or not. He turned around and walked across the room, then through the opposite door toward the lycan quarters without further adieu. How abrupt.

    I looked back at Esther with raised eyebrows. She smiled like a proud mother watching her youngest child leave for kindergarten. That was really beginning to bug me. What was she so all fired pleased with? I said, “Shall we?”

    “Your weapon.” She said, glancing distastefully at the gun holstered on my thigh. She completely ignored Chance.

    “What about it?” I said, a thread of attitude bleeding into my voice. It must have been knocking on 4am and I was tired of messing around on vampire business.

    “I cannot allow you to enter our domain while armed. It is against policy.” She smiled indulgently, a mother explaining the obvious to a silly child.

    I considered my options. I was not much of a shot, didn't like guns, but didn't want to give it up on principle. Was that just stubborn pride, or self preservation? I couldn't think of a reason good enough to keep it. Finally, I unclasped the velcro holster and handed it to Esther. She held it firmly grasped in her two little hands with her French manicured nails. It looked more out of place with her than it had with me.

    “Thank you. I will see to the pistol's safe return, Poppy.” She said seriously, as though I had given her some grand treasure to safe keep.

    It always amazed me that vampires could tell us apart so easily. Even when we were dressed identically, we could never fool them. Couldn't fool the lycanthropes either, but that was scent mapping. Did vampires track by scent as well? I realized I could fill a book with what I didn't know about the creatures, considering that I had lived with them my whole life. They were just tight lipped as clams, vampires were.

    “Of course.” I replied, mimicking her earlier tone. I didn't think she picked up on the mockery because she smiled again and turned to lead us into the vampire sector of our little slice of hell. Chance followed behind like a puppy.

    My eyes drank the place up. I had never been so far in before. Disappointingly, the passage we walked through was not much different from the rest of the compound. The lighting was dim and subdued throughout, the walls and carpet a soft gray or beige, depending on the area. A few of the doors had marks or symbols on them, some vampire claiming their little patch of floor as their own with their sign. How sad.

    Without Hadrian at my back, I tried to keep one eye on Chance and the other on Esther. A good rule to live by: Never trust a vampire, you can't really tell how hungry they might be. I could count the people I trusted on one hand, and they were all alive.

    We walked on, deeper and deeper, turning so many times that I lost track. Once, I was certain she had lead us past the same door with the same mark twice. Was she deliberately taking a round about way so we couldn't find the place a second time without a guide?

    The further in we went, the farther apart the doors were placed. We walked down a long hall without any doors, the apartments on the other side must have been massive. How many vampires had we passed, and what were they doing? I contemplated all sorts of devilment as we followed Esther's swishing skirts. Murder, rape and mayhem was probably being committed behind every closed door we passed. Every single one.

    The hallway opened up onto a large stone paved courtyard. The ceiling was so much higher than anywhere else that I'd seen in the compound. It towered at least 20 or 30 feet above, painted to look like a summer sky with fluffy white clouds, a few birds swooped quite lifelike across it. I found it strange how the plain, businessy modern hallway opened onto this piece of antiquity. We went from doctor's office to King Arthur's Court.

    A small waterfall trickled merrily along the far wall, a goldfish pond complete with lily pads at it's base. Small stone benches sat around the pond in a horseshoe. A compact leather bound book sat open on one of the benches as though it had just been abandoned as we approached.

    Each of the four corners had beautifully planted lush green gardens that were well established. At first glance, the only light seemed to come from the green house lighting over the plants. Upon closer inspection it became apparent that there were lights cleverly hidden pointing up at the sky mural and reflecting down. The center of the room was left open, it gave the area a very free feeling, although it was dim as dusk. With the scent of fresh earth and water it almost felt like the wide open spaces it was meant to mimic. Almost.

    There were four sets of huge wooden doors that in a normal setting would lead to a mead hall or something else medieval. Except this wasn't a normal setting and they seemed to radiate a foreboding power. Behind those doors resided the oldest and most powerful. Placed deep in, so all attackers would have to go through the baby vamps, and then middle agers, until finally they got to the masters' quarters.

    I had been concentrating so hard on the wonderment of the odd room that I forgot to watch the vampires. Esther was watching me, and strangely, so was Winnie. Chance was no where to be seen. He must have wandered off to his own rooms. Had we passed his apartment on our long trek? Perhaps a better question; why was Winnie watching me instead of soaking up the sights of the weirdest room in the compound? Had she been there before? I wasn't as nervous as I should have been, but she wasn't nervous at all. Something to think about later.

    “I will see if the master is in for you.” Said Esther. I thought, 'He damn well better be after I walked all this way.' but caution held my tongue. You didn't smart off to old vampires. No matter that they didn't have the juice to be masters. Not if you are smart anyhow.

    Winnie stood unmoving, smiling pleasantly around the room as we waited. Her face was a blank mask. I walked over and sat on the bench with the book, it was an old copy of Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Tell Tale Heart.' Did someone have a guilty conscience? Heh. I wondered if it was Aloysius's.

    The door opened and Esther stepped out, “The Master will see you now.”

    I wondered if it ever burned her to call someone master who was so much younger than she was. It would eat me up inside. I bet that was why most vampires tried to be solitary creatures. When you lived in a kit, a pecking order had to be established and inevitably some people were at the bottom of the shitpile. Living in a kit the size of the one we were dead center of made no sense to me. I couldn't wrap my head around it at all. If you were at the bottom, you had all that power, but you couldn't spend it without permission. Lame.

    Winnie was nearer to the door than I was, so she entered first. I was right on her heels though, jogging a little to catch up. I came up short as soon as I took in the room. Everything was blue. Everything. The walls, the lush carpet, the ceiling, all varying shades of blue.

    The walls were indigo, the carpet was so dark blue it was nearly black and thick enough that Winnie's heels sunk into it at least an inch. The ceiling was a light cornflower blue, my mouth quirked up in a smile when I realized it matched my friend Victor's eyes. A strange thing to think of at a time like that, Victor's eyes.

    On the right wall was a long, blue marble fireplace. A crystal vase of calla lilies was on the mantle, a polished mahogany rosary wrapped around it's base, gleaming cross quite visible against the stone. To either side were tall candles in cut crystal holders. A huge gilt framed mirror tilted over it, reflecting what little light the tapers produced. Several straight backed dark wood chairs lined the wall to either side of the hearth, all with matching light blue cushions.

    The opposite wall held only a large portrait of Aloysius, reflected in the mirror. He was dressed in all his priestly splendor, his hands folded as though in prayer, a golden halo surrounded his bowed head. A table was painted next to him bearing a skull, a cross, a rosary and white lilies; the symbols of his sainthood. His expression was painted so reverent that I wanted to laugh, but somehow managed to keep the desire under control.

    Two powder blue couches sat in the center of the room facing each other. They were covered in throw pillows of several different shades, each one embroidered within an inch of it's life with paler colors of blue. Near the back of the room, stationed exactly between the two sofas was an overly carved throne-like mahogany chair with royal blue padding. Twin candelabras stood on stands to either side of the throne, each holding a dozen candles. The back wall was draped with flowing pale blue silk, it looked as though we had stepped into a patch of sky, or maybe heaven.

    It looked more like a woman's room to me. Not something I would have envisioned for the former priest turned vampire, then again I had never really thought about what Aloysius's private drawing room would look like. It took me a few moments of curiously examining every last item the room held to realize our host wasn't in attendance.

    I looked back at Esther, only to find her gone and the door closed. I hated it when vampires disappeared like that. Was it mind tricks or was she just so quiet that I didn't notice her exit? I hoped she was stealthy as a ninja, because I didn't go for mind hoodoo. I looked at Winnie and she looked back at me, her face still a pleasant mask. I said, “Where is he?”

    “I am here.” Came his reply. His voice was deep, but bland. It was the epitome of mild, and extremely flat with not a hint of an accent.

    Startled, I jumped at least a foot in the air. I looked about my eyes wide. It was a measure of my unease that I would show so much shock. Sure enough he was standing by the fireplace, leaning casually on an elbow, lanky legs crossed at the ankle. I hated it that he had caught me off guard.

    He had that stillness about him that the old ones could get. He stood like he just froze in place, cold as a stone statue and half as feeling. I hated it when vampires went all spooky on me like that. It wasn't mind tricks necessarily that kept me from seeing him, he had just bent the light around him without thinking about it. It was sort of like mass hypnosis, not personal. He probably didn't have to think about it, just did it automatically.

    Aloysius's skin was wan, he had been sickly in life before he was turned, and it showed. He'd had the pallor of death in life, and now that he really was dead it was only magnified. His dark hair was cut close to his head and combed forward in the portrait, but now it was much longer. It parted at the side and fell over his forehead in soft waves, half obscuring one eye. He was wearing a black suit and white collarless dress shirt, his black vest was buttoned up, with a gold watch chain hanging from the pocket.

    Oddly, he was barefoot. His long, narrow white feet were ghostly on the dark carpet. His thin face held the look of European royalty. Narrow nose and gaunt cheeks gave his sunken eyes a cavernous feel, as though to look into them was to look into a bottomless blue pit. In the mirror, they were just eyes, but if I looked directly into them it would be entirely possible to fall into that pit and never climb out. He was watching me through the mirror. Me, not Winnie.

    He presented calm eyes the same color as the wall behind him, it looked like there were two holes in his head were his eyes should have been. We held eye contact through the mirror, I wasn't about to look away first. It might have been his fluffy blue room but I would never admit to being anyone's inferior. He might have been older than me by several hundred years, but I was just as good as him in every way.

    One eyebrow quirked, and he looked at me as though I had done something interesting. He said, “Defiance rides around you like a perfume, it scents the air like a coming storm.”

    Turning away from the mirror, he looked at Winnie. “And you... Are you defiant, Winter?”

    “What is there to be defiant about?” Winter asked, the pleasant mask never wavering.

    “Indeed.” His smile matched the pious little grin he wore in his painting when he turned back to me. “What do you defy, little Poppy?”

    “I'm not little, the rest of the world is big.” I said belligerently, squaring my shoulders and pulling myself up to my full hight.

    “Ahh. I had heard that about you; that you have a combative history.” His smile widened, nodding as though he had drawn deeper meaning from my simple statement. “It is an exercise in futility to rebel against the nature of your own being. We are as God made us, as we were intended to be from time out of mind.”

    “You believe god meant for you to be a vampire in some shithole town in Illinois? This is the armpit of America, no one lives here on purpose.” I said.

    His smile wilted, and he winced delicately as I cursed. Aloysius studied me for a moment, as though he had never seen anything quite like me before. He replied, “My post was chosen long before my birth, or my rebirth as a creature of the night.”

    I didn't say anything, but I didn't mask my astonishment. If he could feel my 'defiance' on the air, he could surely sense my amazement at his belief system. I watched his smooth, youthful face. 23 years old for all eternity, or until someone shoved a stake through his heart, and he wasn't mad at god. Ain't that something.

    “I have to believe this is what was meant for me.” He said, his small smile condescending. “If God created all that is, and all that will be, then He created me as I am today.” He gestured with a limp wrist, waving his hand in an oddly feminine motion. “This is what He meant for me. It is not for me to choose, or understand, merely to live with as I can.”

    “So your god gave you a life you have to tolerate as best you can.” I said, my amazement turning to incredulity.

    “The ways of The Divine are not to be questioned by such as I.” It was clearly implied that they were far beyond the questioning of mouthy teenage girls.

    “Bullshit.” I said before I could stop myself.

    “Is she always so... vulgar?” He asked Winnie, his distaste for my language showing on his thin, bloodless lips.

    “Pretty much.” Winnie replied, empty smile never waving. She stood beside me looking from one of us to the other as we spoke, neither bored nor interested, simply attentive.

    “Why is this... bullshit?” Aloysius said the swear word like it tasted bad, but he asked as though he was genuinely interested in my answer.

    “Most vampires are afraid of god and judgment. Aren't you worried that you will go to hell because of all the murder you done?” I said, placing a hand on my hip. It wasn't intelligent to imply straight to a vampire's face that any of them were frightened of much of anything. But like I kept on saying, Winnie was the smart one of us. Besides, I just had to know. His logic was so mixed up that I couldn't not ask. “Wasn't the entire point of the bible heaven and hell?”

    “If God sees fit to punish me, then His will must be done. I do not feel that I have committed unnecessary slaughter. I have killed those who meant harm to me or harm to those I must protect, but never for the joy of killing as many do.” He replied calmly, patiently.

    “I don't understand that. You're a vampire for Christ's sake!” I said, shaking my head and pursing my lips, carefully looking him in the face without looking into his eyes.

    “Enough!” His voice seemed to reverberate off the walls. It echoed back from the ceiling like the wrath of god, shaking me to my core. I could feel it vibrate along my spine, raising the small hairs on my arms and the back of my neck. The sound of it built tension in my temples and intensified the pounding headache I'd been nursing. “I will not suffer you to take the Son of God's name in vain. There is no point to this questioning, let it be finished. I have been more than indulgent to your morbid curiosity about my Faith which you so easily mock.”

    “I meant no disrespect.” I said, screwing up my courage and standing my ground. Though he didn't make any sense, I couldn't see fit to point it out again. I wasn't completely brain-dead, after all. Not yet, anyway.

    “Yes you did, but I will let it pass. You are courageous, for a woman. I advise you to caution, see to it that your courage does not make you foolish.” He waved his hand again. “I assume you have suitably threatened the shopkeeper and his wife, taken their ill gotten gains and seen to their punishment?”

    “We robbed the gas station if that's what you mean.” I held out the plastic bag as I said it, proffering it to him.

    “The contents of the till, I presume.” said Aloysius.

    “Yes.” I waggled the bag at him, hoping he would relieve me of it's burden. I was starting to feel major guilt over Stan's wallet inside there. It reminded me of the beating heart in Poe's tale and I was tired of holding it.

    “You may keep it.” He said graciously, “Consider it a reward for a job well done.”

    “I don't want it.” I continued to hold the bag out to him, I even forgot myself enough to look him straight in the eye. I hadn't held contact longer than a second before they started to swirl with stars like a far off galaxy and I remembered to look away.

    He looked at the bag like a housewife staring at something the cat had choked up. Obviously, he wasn't about to take it, so I let my arm fall down to my side. The bag rattled menacingly.

    He looked at Winnie and asked, “How did she do?”

    “Very well.” Was her pleasant, sociable reply.

    “The zombie?” He asked my sister.

    “Dealt with.” She smiled at me proudly as she stated it.

    “What's going on?” I asked. Some unpleasant emotion was building in my stomach, nearly indefinable in it's atrocity. Incredulity, betrayal, rage, horror, denial, and a sharp stab of pain mingled together into a vile mix that churned in my gut like a hurricane.

    “That is well. How was the deed accomplished?” Aloysius inquired of Winnie, ignoring me completely.

    “She commanded it back to it's grave, using her voice, salt and blood.” Winnie looked as proud as a peacock as she told him what she had stood back and watched me do. She had watched me!

    “Clever.” Replied Aloysius, steepling his fingers.

    “I didn't use any blood, I don't know what she's talking about.” I piped in, because I hadn't.

    “The cut.” He said. Of course, a vampire would notice something like that.

    “An accident.” I mimicked his fondness for using sentence fragments. Fangface was really starting to piss me off. Turning to Winnie, I accused, “So he's the vampire you've been screwing.”

    “To what does she refer, Winter?” Aloysius asked, using that interested tone again. I hated it that I was entertaining the bastard.

    “I don't know what she could possibly mean.” Winnie answered nervously, a film of sweat forming on her upper lip. Maybe he wasn't her beau after all, but someone was.

    “Oh don't give me that shit, you know exactly what I mean.” I crossed my arms as I said it and pinned her with my best angry glare. She had set me up, my own sister had set me up. I could not believe it.

    “The pair of you may have your petty squabble elsewhere. Dawn approaches, we must finish.” Aloysius said. He paused as though gathering his thoughts before he went on with his small, pious smile, “It is well that you have done my bidding so satisfactorily. I have had your belongings moved to your new quarters and a gift placed for each of you.”

    “You WHAT?” I asked. I couldn't believe that someone had gone through my personal things, that they had touched my stuff without my knowledge. I felt so violated. Had they pawed through my underwear? Ugly thoughts raced through my mind, I was teetering on the edge of hysteria. It was all too much.

    “I was under the impression you were made aware that you would be given new lodgings this evening after you completed your first task.” He said, looking from me to Winnie.

    “I didn't tell her.” Winnie whispered, sweat now beaded her forehead.

    “That was cowardly of you Winter, to leave it to me.” He shook his head sadly at her, as though disappointed. He turned to me, his brows drawn together in an approximation of a caring expression. He explained slowly, patiently, “Surely you knew that you would be given new apartments after your birthday, Poppy. You have completed your first task. You are sealed to us now.”

    “I guess so.” I admitted reluctantly. I had known, but I had thought I would move my own stuff. I couldn't believe they had violated my privacy like that. It was unthinkable. It's not that I had so much personal stuff, it's the principle of the matter. “Where is our room at?”

    “You did not tell her, even that.” Aloysius gave those disapproving eyes to Winnie.

    “I... No. I didn't.” Winnie looked down as she said it, shame faced. She pulled her shoulders up as though she was trying to draw in on herself, make herself smaller and less significant.

    “Very cowardly, Winter.” Aloysius all but tsk, tsked at her. He shook his head sadly once more, a shepherd forced to fetch a wayward sheep. “Winter requested that you have separate apartments.”

    The bottom fell out of my world, I felt faint. My mouth was suddenly dry, I couldn't swallow. I put a hand to my forehead and was surprised when it came away dry. I had to try twice before any sound would come out of my parched as paper throat, “Wh-... Why?”

    “It is a matter you must take up with her at another time.” Away from him, he meant. “I had you placed in a quad with your two young friends and one other, Poppy. Winter is with her swim group. I am certain you will find your space quite accommodating.”

    “Why are you telling me this? I mean, why not one of the lesser vamps? This isn't exactly something a master vampire needs to concern himself with.” I asked, I still wasn't thinking clearly or I wouldn't have asked more questions of him or implied he was slumming by having a conversation with me. But what was his deal? Was he bored? Why was he messing with my life?

    “I have taken a personal interest in you both.” Was his reply. Great, just great. Just what I needed to make my night. That was the rancid cherry on top of the shitheap. But it got better, “You are my wards, under my protection.”

    I wanted to scream and rant at him, to demand why: Why me, why us, why now and not earlier. I knew none of that would be smart, he was already shutting down. His look had grown introspective and pensive. To keep from losing my tentative grasp on self control, I went to that place in my head that was all whiteness and static. It was where I went in martial arts class when I was facing someone twice my weight and half again my size on the mat. It honed my concentration to a razor sharp line, pain and emotion lived outside this headspace. Nothing could effect me there. Winnie couldn't effect me there. I don't know what it did to my eyes, but when I looked at Winnie, she flinched and it made me smile; little more than a chilly twist of my lips.

    “Are you done with us yet? Can I go now?” I asked Aloysius, my voice was as cold as his, it sounded dead to me. Something inside of me had broken. I didn't know if it could be fixed.

    “That will be all.” He said, turning and walking to his throne where he sat with folded hands and calm eyes. That's what it was, I realized, it was his personal seat of sovereignty from which he ruled all us peons. It was almost funny.

    I spun and stomped away, Winnie curtsied and took three steps back before she followed. No way was I bowing to that nimrod. He didn't call me back and make me, either. Maybe he didn't want to press his luck, or maybe his royal highness was just feeling benevolent.

    When my hands were on the polished knobs, about to turn them and exit the bluest hell I'd ever heard of, his voice stopped me, “Poppy, exceptions have been made due to the shocks you have suffered at my hand this evening. Know that my patience and mercy are not limitless. If you push me too far, I will be forced to punish you. I suspect that neither of us would enjoy that. Go with God, my child, but remember that I will expect a greater show of respect in the future.”

    As he spoke, the clean white peace that I had found in my head crashed around me. Every thought I had been avoiding washed over me in a wave of intense emotion. I felt hollow and alone, but at the same time I was so angry and hurt that I could barely breath around it. I was drowning in emotion and I couldn't reach the shore. His voice magnified everything I already felt and made it more severe.

    I didn't reply, I couldn't. I just flung open the shining mahogany doors and left.

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  10. #10
    Oreos and cookie crunch! Hikari's Avatar
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    I really like how you can explain boring and complicated things through Poppy, and her comments make them funny and interesting. Nice work, Keke.

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