Her eyes opened quickly although she herself was too tired to wake. It was a learned habit to wake at the rise of dawn, after so many years of rushed get-up-and-goes. Her golden sand coloured hair lie sprawled across the pillow as the room flooded itself with light.
Sunlight, she recognised immediately.
It was her only indication that it was safe to move. Her window was wide and covered in a white curtain which blocked the view of the damaged, broken city of Chicago. The room she slept in was purposefully white and airy. The bed, the walls, the floors and the small sofa off to the side had all been painted bright white with the express purpose of making the room lighter.
Three long mirrors hung along the walls, reflecting the dim sunlight to make it denser. Rather than immediately stand and prepare for the day, she lay in bed contemplating everything she would have to do before nightfall and examined all her possibilities in doing so safely.
She was tired. She’d spent much of the night chasing trucks full of supplies with the hopes of not being caught or detected. It was a challenging task to manage. The best way to hide was to cover your body and scent, but in doing so, people often stood out as different and it easily drew attention.
In her mind, she ran through the events of the night before. She’d meant to take from the trucks and be home and safely hidden before dusk, but she hadn’t anticipated the wolves. Whether they’d come up with an incredibly unlikely pact or truce with the vampires, and promised to guard their supplies, or they’d just been waiting to attack, she couldn’t be sure. But they blocked her from going home and she’d had to spend the night on the run until the sun began to rise. Luckily for her, it was summer and the days were longer and the nights were shorter. Although, she had gotten to the truck around 5pm and had to stay crouched and hidden for hours before the wolves moved.
With a sigh, she rolled to her side, releasing a tired moan as she felt the pain of the sore bruises from two nights before. Living on your own while trying to survive in a world that wanted to eat you was hard, but unfortunately everyone she’d ever known or loved had been either turned, taken or killed.
And finding new humans was an almost impossible task. Finding ones who were decent or reliable company was even harder.
Giynna rose to her feet, wondering silently if maybe she should try to find an abandoned lake or farm house somewhere in the country, rather than dwelling in the broken city. It was an idea she’d contemplated for years but the vampires had burned almost everything that could have helped or harboured humans without their monitoring. They hadn’t done it for that reason, they didn’t have any use for those houses. The reason they did it was because they wanted control of the land.
If another house suddenly appeared, they’d begin a new human hunt, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone. As it was already, humans had to race across the world, trapped by the sea as they desperately tried to avoid being captured.
For the past twelve years, this was how humans lived. Migrating from sunny area to sunny area as the year went by. Some risked survival in cloudier areas such as Seattle, Vancouver or the UK. There was a greater supply of goods which humans could use but it was also easier for the vampires to travel in daylight. In sunnier areas such as Arizona, the Middle East, Africa and Mexico supplies were harder to find but a human could walk freely down the street screaming, if they so desired. It wouldn’t get them caught any faster. The more recklessly insane, as Giynna imagined it, would cheer in midday that they were there and defenceless and there was nothing the vampires could do about it. But that also made the nights harder. Everyone and everything knew humans hid in sunny areas so there was a constant hunt.
These hunts had begun damaging the human population so the leaders of the vampire covens started farming them. They’d made it illegal to hunt humans outside of hunting season but if you saw a human outside a farm, you had to either report them, bring them to one of the head governing offices or find an officer to bring them in or hunt them.
The witches and the warlocks were the next mythical creatures to come out of hiding. They’d resented the idea that vampires would take control of all land the humans had once claimed. They’d also found it problematic that vampires had been picking humans off the streets to start farms. Witches and warlocks had no trouble blending into human society and culture. Many times, they’ve either not known what they were or they would forget and be unable to tell the vampires they weren’t human before being captured.
Although the vampires hated the idea of sharing with witches, they complied with all the witches’ demands including their demand of access to all humans brought in to be farmed. The vampire government had only needed to be reminded that most vampires found the blood of witches and warlocks poisonous, and the vampires would have an uprising if they were being forced to drink poisoned blood rather than get it from their own clean source.
The werewolves were the last to make an appearance while the humans still had a place in power and lived freely throughout the world. They’d wanted the vampires to stop the attack of all humans, especially in their areas. This had started wars between them, although they’d never been peaceful with one another.
They’d made clear boundaries about ten years earlier. These boundaries only restricted their hunting and fighting abilities. A vampire, although it wasn’t recommended, could live on werewolf territories so long as they didn’t hunt, kill or cause problems. Witches and warlocks lived wherever they wanted and did whatever they wanted because they never cared what anyone else thought or did so long as they were comfortable and there was no unmanageable conflict that could in any way cause them harm.
The magic crowd, a nickname given to witches by humans, could walk down the streets completely safely so long as they could prove to any suspicious vampire or werewolves they were not human. In the beginning, they’d just shoot glowing, harmless fire from their hands but through the past couple years, they’ve decided they’re confidence and unmatchable natural perfection was proof enough.
Giynna knew very little about what the world was like before all of this had started. The nightly abductions and structural damages, usually from fights between vampires and werewolves or vampires and vampires, which had begun when she was only five years old. She had been born in Ireland, her family had gone on vacation to New York City one week before the vampires decided to really get serious about their farming. They’d high jacked planes and crashed them, and had witches and warlocks destroy boats, ships, helicopters, blimps, and anything the humans could use to travel overseas.
The humans were aware of the missing persons and the unexplainable damages, so there was nothing anyone could do, no matter how hard their governments or media tried, to hide the already lost war that had begun.
The human armies tried to fight off their enemy but considering they didn’t even know who their enemies were, they failed. Most humans were captured to farm or killed within the first two weeks of the original overthrow. The werewolves helped the odds of the remaining survivors, but hardly enough to do any lasting good. The werewolves had no long-term loyalty to humans rather they knew keeping the vampires away from their food source would weaken them.
Giynna dressed in clothing she’d found in an old department store. She assumed it was now run by vampires considering it had been abandoned during the day. It wasn’t hard to break in. These people, or creatures, depending on what you’d call them, usually didn’t bother to lock up their stores during the daylight hours. Werewolves refused to use vampire clothing and witches had a different style.
She’d washed them with mud in a river for three hours before returning home. She’d heard a rumour that vampires had started scenting their clothing so they could track anyone who stole anything. They apparently removed the scent after a purchase. Giynna didn’t know whether this was true or not, or how to remove the scent, so she improvised.
Her shoes were flat and a pale cream-brown colour. She was unsure if this was their natural colour or if they’d been stained by the mud, but she didn’t care. Her jeans were tight and blue and she wore a bright white t-shirt with a beige-yellow jacket. She didn’t care if it was stylish or not. She was dressed in clothing styled for vampires as she moved in daylight. Anyone who saw her would assume there was something wrong with her.
She smartly lived in a vampire territory. Few people prowled the streets during the day. The ones who did were rarely human. This part of Chicago had been mostly abandoned. The food was stored and farmed somewhere in Aurora, so most vampires living close to Chicago had moved to Naperville. That is where Giynna had gone to get her clothing, and where she’d gone to get supplies.
While many buildings around Chicago had been abandoned or destroyed, it was still an amazing city. But not as nice as they’d kept Naperville. Very few humans risked staying as close to a hunting ground as Giynna did, but that meant the vampires would be less likely to look for her. Especially around hunting season. The reason being, vampires assumed no human would be stupid enough so take refuge near a hunting ground. The fall hunt was just around the corner and Giynna was stocking up to make a move again. She figured, if she could start one of the old boats at the marina, she could hide in the middle of Lake Michigan until it was over.
Her breakfast was quick, not eating much so she could save food as well as prepare herself for days she had to go without eating. Vampires and witches rarely saw humans so thin anymore. If they saw her like this, hopefully, they’d think she was just sick and leave her alone.
She took the gun she’d had since she was seven, and tucked it into the holster on her brown leather belt. Next, she placed two daggers into her jacket. One made of silver, and one of iron. Before she walked out the door, carrying a dark blue bag, she grabbed her necklace from the kitchen counter. The one her mother had given to her shortly before she died.
The streets were hot as they flooded with sunlight. The tall buildings around her supplied a surprising lack of shade.
She had enough food and emergency equipment supplied that she could survive for a little while without salvaging for more. Today she would simply be searching for more humans who’d not yet been collected for farming.
She didn’t know what they did at the farms. She’d heard rumours, of course, but none of the rumours had come from direct sources. Apparently, they keep women impregnated so they are constantly producing more humans. They have them separated based on blood type. They are only fed food that will keep the blood rich and oxygenated. The vampires take blood by small amounts and are usually careful to keep the humans with enough blood left over that they don’t immediately die.
Giynna had never told anyone, but the descriptions she’d heard didn’t bother her much. It was like being a pet and occasionally having to donate blood, at least that is how she saw it. All they have to do is hang out and sleep all day. But she knew better than to sacrifice herself to them. She’d been raised to cherish her freedom and couldn’t depend on rumours to be accurate.
She had found no one by four in the afternoon. She had searched buildings and houses, careful to stay in direct sunlight and make as little noise as possible. She was not a risk taker when it came to her safety. Life was too precious to be gambled with and if those creatures knew, or even thought, humans were in the area, they’d start looking.
An old clothing store was stationed on the ground floor of a building on a street she’d only just found. It still had lights on inside although it had clearly been abandoned a long time ago. The clothing was modern for humans before they’d become farm animals.
Giynna, craving a new, safer outfit, climbed into the store through a broken glass window. The glass had been cleaned up off the floor but had never been replaced.
Her hair stuck up on the back of her neck. The streets, although still very light, had grown shady. Only the tops of the buildings were still bright from sunlight. In the far distance, light could still reach down to the street, but still not enough to comfort Giynna. Even though she’d have approximately four hours to get home or find another suitable shelter before anything that could possibly be lurking arrived, she grabbed any clothing she could find, shoving it into her bag as quickly as she could and raced back out the window.
Giynna had only been staying in Chicago for a little over a month or two. She didn’t know the city very well but had mastered some main roads. At least the roads she often took to get home which she considered the main roads.
She was home before dusk, climbing up thirty flights of stairs to reach the apartment she’d claimed to herself. Outside her large open patio door, she could see the sun bright in the sky just about the start setting. Two hours, she thought to herself as she quickly ran through all the chores she’d have to finish before then.
She began by crushing garlic. Although she’d seen them go near garlic without trouble, they did appear to have difficulties finding humans. If garlic could help hide her, she would use it.
She rubbed it on the walls in the hallway outside her apartment, including the floors above and a couple below. After her shower, she rubbed some of the juices from the crushed garlic onto her neck, her wrists, and her chest.
Forty-five minutes left.
Giynna prepared a quick dinner of spinach salad and tater-tots and put on sleeping clothing.
Thirty minutes left.
She organized her home, cleaning up the mess and put away what she’d recently stolen.
Fifteen minutes left.
Giynna hated to cut it so close. She quickly pulled the metal sheets with studded silver and iron, to her feet, attaching the silver chains to the levers she’d inserted into the floor on one of her first nights at the apartment. She blocked the front door next and headed for her room carrying with her a bowl of cookies because they would be quieter to eat than chips or popcorn.
She wrapped herself in her bed and checked the dimming beam of light shining through the metal sheet by her window. She’d also placed metal sheets over windows in random apartments so that if anything came and saw at night, it wouldn’t look strange.
Silently, she looked around the room and wished for a companion. It had been two years since she last saw anyone human. The memory was painful enough that it almost caused tears to fall.
Giynna laid on her side and watched the light fade. As she did this, she felt more and more alone. She would have tried to get herself a pet, but she was still too traumatised since the last animal she had, a dog when she was 12, they’d had to eat when they ran short on food. Her father had told her that it was for the best because they couldn’t feed the dog either and it was better than them all starving to death, but it still bothered her. In some part of her mind, she knew it was the sensible option but she wished it had been something other than her dog.
Before the last flicker of light had gone, she found herself sleeping. She usually struggled to sleep; both the night and the day had its dangers.
The light was bright when she woke, shining through the metal sheet, the mirrors helping the light to spread over the shadow. Although she didn’t want to get up, she knew she had to this time. She needed to get to the docks and to get back before sunset or she’d end up with another all-nighter as she hid from monsters.
She dressed quickly, for a reason she couldn’t understand, she tried to make herself look good. She ran a brush through her hair and made sure all of her clothing matched.
Then she was off. She moved quickly through the parts of the city she knew and was at the docks within a few short hours, though she couldn’t know exactly how long it had taken her.
Upon her arrival, she marveled the sight of Decri, the run down old fisherman’s boat she’d adopted and planned to have fixed to sail by hunting season. She’d known almost nothing about boats or mechanics and was anything but handy. For anyone else who’d known what they were doing, the job would likely take less than two days. For her, though, it was an endless endeavor.
She had books about how to fix boats; ones which she’d stolen or ‘borrowed’ from libraries and bookstores which no longer had business or caretakers. Whether Decri ever sailed again or not, she thought, it was fun to have a hobby; something to distract her from the basic requirements of survival.
Throughout the day she did her best to work on her boat which would take her to sea, where the vampires and the werewolves would never look and she could feel free to spend her nights and days as she wished. She had thought it would be better to take a yacht or a cruise ship, but they would likely notice if one of those went missing and start to search for it. Also, a cruise ship would be too big. She’d get lost or go crazy feeling alone or worse, fearing that she wasn’t.
Decri would be fine. He was sturdy and big and had a very nice interior, despite his lacking, cracking exterior. Giynna could see the rust to his potential.
She stopped working after the sun began to drop again. On her way home, she visited a few stores to see if she could find any extra supplies; of course, nothing had been spared that could be of any importance. She visited the site in town which she called ‘the mirror bean’ or ‘the big metal bean.’ Just before reaching the street that led directly to her apartment, she saw a sale sign which had been up ever since she first got to the city, but she’d never looked twice at.
Suddenly inspiration hit. Inside she went and searched for anything she could find use to. She’d been hoping for another blender or a toaster oven; instead, she found a small portable DVD player, a music device, and a stack of DVDs and music discs.
When she was home again, she lay out everything she’d gotten on the coffee table in her bright living room and headed for the kitchen when she made a spinach salad and tater tots, like the night before.
She checked the sky often as she ate. There were at least three hours left in her day, she figured, so after she was done eating, she watered her small garden which she kept in an apartment four doors down on the corner of the apartment building which had the most glass and therefore the most sun. It sat on the inside of the room so it wouldn’t attract as much attention from outside. She then took one of her books on boat mechanics onto the balcony of the corner apartment, to get a few final hours of sunlight while she explored what she had left on Decri.
While she read, a small pinch appeared in the bottom of her gut. Something she knew well which had her on her feet immediately. Quickly she glanced around but saw nothing so she ran her books inside before returning to her back window.
Then she saw it. A figure, far enough away that she couldn’t tell what species it was or if it was facing her. But it wasn’t moving. Like a mannequin, it stood completely still in the shadows of the buildings behind it. For a moment she considered the idea that it really was a mannequin, but she knew that it hadn’t been there that morning and she had not put it there herself.
She watched, her heart responding with a painful, fear filled thump, as suddenly it stepped away from where it stood and rushed in between two buildings. She wondered--worried if the figure had seen her. It has been in the sunlight, although the light was not direct, so it couldn’t have been a vampire. A vampire would have no doubt seen her, too. She considered the idea that it was a werewolf, but it was unlikely it would be alone.
Then again, she didn’t know that it was alone. It could have been a witch, but witches often stay in the main cities, or it could have been a human. These were the only possibilities she could think of and Giynna hoped it was a witch. A witch would not care that she was there. It wouldn’t tell because it would not know that she wasn’t one. A human, if it had seen her, would come looking.
Although Giynna craved companionship, she had learned at a young age that some humans were not safe or trustworthy. She also knew it was obvious within the first five minutes if they were a safe by-passer or a scalper.
Scalpers were humans who either made deals with vampires; captured humans to give to vampires, or they were humans who ate, captured, or tortured other humans-- because there were no police or law to stop them.
They often had bodies covered in scars and tattoos, weird hair styles and tight or revealing clothing. They did this to show off who they were and to tell anyone who saw them that they were dangerous. They were often dirty, also. Unless they worked for vampires. Then they were stylish and sophisticated. The vampires tattooed and burned symbols into their skin so other vampires knew when they saw them, that they were scalpers for hire.
She closed and locked the doors to the corner apartment and rushed for her own. She shut down all her windows and doors, coving them in the sheets of metal and rushed for her room carrying a bowl of pretzels. Outside the light still shone, but she covered her windows in sheets of metal and lay in her bed with the small portable DVD player on her side and a laptop on her lap so that she could play The Sims.
Headphones were plugged into the computer so that it made no noise, and she clicked objects by double tapping the sketch pad on the keyboard of the laptop. Sometimes she played with cheats, but only the ones she had been told by a man she’d once called Uncle Tom. He wasn’t her uncle. They’d traveled in the same group when she was ten years old. She remembered him fondly.
This day, she didn’t play with cheats. She wanted to experience what life had been like for the average person before the vampires had taken over.
She always had a timer set on her computer whenever she played this game, otherwise, she could get caught up playing for hours or days. Once the timer went, she reluctantly saved her game and closed her computer, setting it to the side.
When Giynna first chose this apartment, after setting up the sheets of metal, she created a metal bedframe which, when under the bed, could block all sound and keep her hidden. The bed had been raised as high as her hip to offer enough space under. Under the bed she’d set up pillows and blankets and lights and books and snacks. This was where she went when she wanted to use light at night. The metal sheets over the window let light in so it no doubt let light out.
She crawled under her bed, put it under lockdown and started a movie, wearing headphones to block the sound.
Giynna had almost completely forgotten about the outside figure. Or at least she was trying to. After two movies, she found she was finally able to find some sleep.