The young lad boredly solved equations and sums into the lined textbook, copying the questions from the book in front of him and putting in the answers after the work was written down. Like with near every other child in the world, maths was Derek's least favourite subject in school. It was just so tedious and he had a suspicion that he'd never wonder what angle the ladder is againt the wall, nor how long the ladder was or how far the ladder's base was from the wall. It was all just pointless and didn't really serve a purpose, however Derek knew that the majority of jobs required a qualification in maths, even if it was a job that didn't even need maths. He was just finishing off a trigonometry problem when there was a knock at the classroom door and the headmaster poked his head in.
"Derek Monroe? There are some people here to see you. They say they're here to pick you up for something?" Derek simply nodded and closed the textbooks before him. Any excuse to get out of the class. The rest of the students glanced at him before going back to their work, as they usually did when someone was called from the class. The headmaster led Derek down the large flight of stairs and into the school's waiting area, where Derek stopped dead.
There, sitting on the couch, was the couple he'd seen earlier, in the alleyway. The girl wore a rather grumpy-looking scowl and the man was sitting calmly, almost like a father would. He'd taken the hat off, revealing a bald head and a closely shaven beard. How that they were out of the shadow, Derek had a chance to get a good look at them. The man was definitely in his late thirties and it looked like the tip of his nose was missing. He had a fairly nonchalant look on his face, almost bored. The girl had pure white hair which was tied back. She was a very pretty girl, however her cold eyes were definitely enough to make any man cower in fear. She was wearing the same dark green clothes as before. The man had put his coat and hat on the chair beside him, revealing the plain white shirt and purple tie underneath. When the headmaster and Derek arrived, the man looked up and smiled before standing up and picking up the hat and coat.
"It's good to see you again, Derek." He said. "Are you ready to go?" He then turned to the headmaster. "We'll just be about half an hour."
"Take all the time you need." The headmaster replied with a smile and turned away, making his way back to his office. The man looked to Derek and gestured towards the school's main entrance before starting to walk. The girl stood up and roughly pushed Derek towards the door.
"Move, kid." She muttered, obviously very annoyed. For some reason, Derek got the feeling that this was the kind of girl who was always annoyed. In any case, he did as he was ordered and followed the tall man outside and down the road a little bit. When they reached an empty part of the street, the girl suddenly turned, Derek around, wrapped a hand around his throat and pushed him against the wall, instantly squeezing his throat with more strength than it looked like she had. Derek instantly grabbed her wrist and tried in vain to pull her away.
"You let it get away!" She hissed, her face contorting in a hateful manner. "We were this close to finishing everythng but you let it get away! You STUPID mortal!"
"Jane! Put the kid down." The man suddenly said. He had an English accent, sounded like he was from Manchester. After a few seconds hesitation, Jane narrowed her eyes and dropped Derek, causing him to lean against the wall and cough, gulping in air with every breath.
"Who the hell are you people!?" He gasped as he got his breath back. "And what do you want with me?"
"We want to erase your memory." The man replied calmly. "Jane wanted to cut your head off but that would've raised too much suspicion, so we decided to just clear your mind of the last three hours of your life."
"What!? What the hell are you- How will you even do that?"
"Well, little kiddie, we'll cut your brain open and cut out the memories!" Jane growled.
"Seriously." Derek said, unable to keep the fear from his voice. "Do you have, like, one of those Men In Black flashy things? And why can't I just keep quiet about it?"
"We don't want ourselves to be known." The man said. "And if certain people find out you saw us, they'll end up torturing you until you squeal. We can't afford that risk."
"Maybe we should let him keep his memory, might be good for a bit of sport." Jane suddenly said with a glint in her eye and a malicious grin on her face.
"Jane! Enough or we're going to Ireland next!" The man barked and the girl scowled before stepping back in a sulk. The man turned back to Derek. "I'm going to draw certain memories of yours into mine. It won't harm you, I promi-"
"Hey, hold on!" Derek ducked away. "I didn't agree to this! Why have you taken an interest in me all of a sudden? All I saw was a man and a girl-"
"Don't call me girl!" Jane snarled and pounced, only to have the man grab her shoulder nad yank her back.
"- looking for something, then the girl just shoved me for no reason! I didn't think anything of it, you'd be surprised how often that happens around here. If you'd just left me alone, I would have just gone along with my life, probably forgotten the entire thing anyways! But you know what? I want to know who you are, why you want to erase my memory and why the hell are you so secretive?" Derek took a few deep breaths. In the back of his mind, he was surprised at himself for that sudden outburst. He'd always been the reserved type, always trying to stay away from physical conflict. He maintained his pissed off look, though, glaring at both the man and Jane. The man sighed and shook his head.
"Jane... we tried." For a few seconds, Derek thought he'd scared them off. Then he saw the smile grow on Jane's face and couldn't even react before her fist flashed and his vision darkened.
With a groan, Derek slowly opened his eyes and squinted until his eyes adjusted to the light. He pushed himself up to his elbows and looked around. He was in his bedroom at home. An Iron Maiden poster on one wall, an Elder Scrolls Online poster beside it, a set of shelves with an assortment of video game related statuettes and special edition cases, a desk which held a Playstation, a PC and two monitors... He rubebd his eyes and looked down before pulling the covers off himself. Underwear and a sleeveless shirt, the same clothes he'd woken up in this morning... He frowned. Had he woken up this morning? Or had that just been a dream? His hand went to his nose and found it very intact and it didn't hurt at all, despite the fist that had punched it... had it been a dream? It must have been. But Derek never remembered his dreams. Was this one different? Was he going to remember his dreams now? Derek thought back and tried to remember everything that'd happened. He remembered being in maths class... He remembered being pulled out of class, there was a man and a girl... they had a conversation then he remembered being punched in the face and the next thing he knew, he was waking up. Derek scratched his head and tried to make sense of it. Who had those two people been? He remembered there was a name, it was the girl's... Jenny? Jade? Jane? Jane! That was the one. And what had the man said? They wanted to stay secretive... Why would that be? Were they criminals? If they were, why not just kill him? A terrifying thought hit Derek right then. Was he dead? Was this heaven? He quickly pushed the thought from his mind, though. If this was heaven, he'd already be having breakfast with Cliff Burton. He looked at his alarm clock at the side of his bed and saw it read five in the evening. With a groan, he flopped back onto the bed. Either he'd been knocked and kept out for four hours or he'd slept in a hell of a long time. Either way, he decided to just carry on with his life. What's the worst that could ha-
Glass shattered on the floor and Derek pushed himself away from the window instinctively, causing him to fall off the bed and crack his skull on the bedside cabinet. Dazed, he groaned and saw a figure approaching him. It definitely wasn't the man or girl from his not-dream. This man was fairly young and had a clean-shaven face. Long, dark green hair framed his face and his skin was paler than a goose egg. His eyes were red and not just the irises. The whites of his eyes were pure red, with the iris being flared with gold and a pupil that seemed blacker than normal. He reached out to Derek with a set of sharp, unnatural-looking talons. Derek tried to crawl away but there was nowhere to go. The man grabbed him, not bothering to simply grab his arm. Derek screamed in pain as the talons pierced his flesh and the man forced him up and placed a claw at his temple.
"Where are the hunters!?" He hissed, his voice sounding foreign - Danish, maybe?- and baring his teeth, which were a jagged mess of bone, not unlike Barakka from Mortal Kombat. Derek just gritted his teeth against the pain and tried not to scream again."TELL ME!" The man - thing - roared, spit spraying on Derek's face.
"I... I don't know..." He managed through his teeth. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Liar!" The man said. "You were talking to them! Tell me what their plans are!"
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Derek repeated. "I just woke up!"
"Damned mortals..." The thing growled and effortlessly threw Derek, crashing him against the far wall and leaving him to crumple in a heap. His arm was bleeding profusely. The man grabbed Derek's shoulder, again digging the talons into the flesh and nearly crushing the bone. "Time to get some answers out of you." He growled and tossed Derek out of the window. The boy yelled as he fell, the momentum crashing him into the tree outside the window. He was spun and tossed this way and that, hitting every possible branch on the way down and hitting the ground on his stomach with a hard thump. A second later, the man grabbed Derek's hair and dragged him across the grass. Derek was too beat up to do anything but groan, his body aching all over from the tree with his arm and shoulder still bleeding badly. He was dragged into the back of a van and dumped like a mob boss would dump a corpse to be transported to wherever it'd be buried. The van door was slammed closed and the next few hours (was it hours? It was hard to tell) passed by in a series of jerks and turns. Derek was still too weak to even sit up and was starting to worry about how much blood he was losing before the van finally jerked to a stop. There was a click, followed by a slam as the driver's door was opened and closed. Derek heard foot falls on concrete making their way to the back of the van and the back door was finally swung open. The man dug his talons into Derek's leg and he groaned as he was dragged out and hoisted over the man's shoulder. His vision was blurry and he saw a glimpse of a threshold, seeing what looked like the floor of an abandoned building. Splintered floorboards, faded wallpaper, a spider scuttling along.
Then, after that, Derek passed out and his vision again went black.
"Goddamn kid passed out..." The vampire growled as he slapped the boy a few times.
"I told you to wrap the hands around him, not tear him to shreds!" The other vampire - Barker - snapped. "You idiot, he's bled out! What use is a corpse to us?"
"He hasn't bled out!" The first vampire grinned. "Look at him! This stupid kid's not like the other cattle he lives with."
Barker narrowed his eyes but looked a little more intensely at the limp body in front of him.
"Balor... You genius. Get the kid in shackles, we'll start when he wakes up." Barker stood and walked out of the decrepit room which used to serve as a master bedroom. Balor gave a mock salute before pulling some chains from under the remains of the bed, the metal links rattling against each other as he shackled the boy's wrists and ankles to the bedposts. Then, another vampire walked in. Balor looked up and instantly hissed, the spines on his back raising slightly. "Hedge." He said. The the other vampire simply nodded and began unfolding the foldout table he'd taken in. Whereas Balor was dressed in nothing but a pair of jeans and was unmistakeable inhuman, Hedge was dressed in a sharp suit, complete with a pinstripe blazer and a stark red necktie. His greyed hair was combed back and he appeared to be a frail old man, however his construction of the plastic table, he performed with ease.
"Balor." Hedge replied. He had a Spanish accent. "Thank you for holding the child down, your help is no longer needed. If you could pick me up some coal and a metal barrel, that would be grand." The elderly vampire smiled above his glasses before he began to line up a large array of shining, metallic objects on the table form his bag. The items ranged from simple knifes and corkscrews to extremely intricate and complicated things, including a device which could remove a human eyeball, severing the optic nerve with the eye still in the socket. Balor was all for mindless slaughter, especially when he could feed, and he didn't mind a bit of torture, but Hedge... Hedge knew how to make a person live for days with the most excrutiating and agonising torture he'd ever seen a person endure. Hedge always got an answer, no matter who it was. This was a child, so it'd probably only take ten minutes, half an hour at most. Balor almost hoped the boy's suffering wouldn't be too long as he returned to the room with the barrel and coal. He left again without a word, intending to get as far away from that room before the screams started. And when they started, it was difficult not to feel a fraction of the pain that the poor soul was feeling. It took a lot for Balor's stomach to turn but Hedge's work did just that. He opened the rotting door to the back garden and he suddenly felt his jaw clench suddenly, causing his teeth to pierce his lips and his jaw to crack. He was propelled off the ground a few feet and landed on his back, roaring in pain as he clutched his jaw.
"What the fu-!" He was cut short by a heavy, stone blade slamming into his throat, slicing through it and embedding in the grass below him. His eyes widened before his entire body suddenly dissintegrated into a fine dust.
Jane tossed the axe away, causing it to turn into gravel as soon as it left her fingers. She stepped back and the older man went into the building, coat and hat on and his fists clenched.
"Hey, Balor, save me some smokes, will you?" Barker said as he walked towards the man, digging a lighter from his pocket with his eyes on the ground. He was surprised by a pair of strong hands suddenly grabbing his head. Barker's head snapped up and he saw the man standing over him. Before he could say a word, his head was twisted clockwise, then counter-clockwise and finally wrenched off his body, which turned to dust just like Balor's had.
"Where do you think the baby is?" Jane asked before they heard a yell from upstairs: someone saying no and it sounded like they were begging frantically. Both Jane and her partner isntantly ran towards the stairs, the man going first and pulling a mini crossbow from his pocket, already loaded with an explosive bolt. The man kicked open the door with force, causing it to fall off its hinges. Hedge spun around and saw the pair step into the room. He grinned before he suddenly dashed across the room and dived headfirst out the window. The man ran to the shattered glass and cursed when he saw the vampire was already gone.
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?" Derek suddenly shouted from the bed, a contraption strapped to his head with what looked like a wide corkscrew over his left eye. Jane made a disgusted face and walked out of the room while the man unstrapped the contraption around Derek's head.
"We'll make sure you forget all this," He said as he worked. "You'll wake up and continue your bo-"
"So that was real!" Derek interrupted. "Look, don't you dare make me forget anything! What were those things, what did they want from me and wh-" He stopped and noticed his arm, with the fice incredibly deep holes in them. He then looked at his shoulder. "WHY THE HELL AM I NOT DEAD!?" The man began to answer but stopped, looking at the still-bleeding holes in Derek's arm. He murmered something under his breath before tearing a strip of cloth from his coat, wrapping it around Derek's arm.
"We'll explain everything you need to know," He said. "For now, you need medical attention and some rest."
"What is even going on?" Derek asked. "Why did those... Things want me? Why were you here? What was that thing strapped to my face? Are you even going to explain anything to me?"
"Be quiet!" The man snapped before walking to the door. "Jane! Is it all clear?"
"All clear!" Came the girl's faint call from downstairs. The man turned to Derek.
"You can call me Rust for the time being. My partner is called Janice. We're sorcerers." Derek opened his mouth to say something but stopped, frowned for a second then gave a small laugh.
"Okay, that was a good one, just about got me. Tell me, really, what's going on here?" Rust sighed and stomped twice on the floorboards. A few seconds later, Janice apperaed."Show the kid your axe," He said with a resigned tone. Jane glared at him for a second before putting a hand against the wall. There was a slight cracking sound, followed by some dust falling from the brick wall. Jane then pulled her hand away from the wall except this time, it was clutching a small battleaxe which was made of a mix of brick and concrete. Derek's mouth opened slightly.
"Wait, you're actually serious?" He said after a few seconds of shocked silence. "That's actually magic?"
"Duh." Jane rolled her eyes. "Did that insect damage your eyes as much as your brain?" Derek glanced at her but said nothing. Right now he, was more scared of her than Rust, mainly because she seemed like she'd like nothing more than to kill him with a brick axe. Had it been any other situation, Derek might have grown a crush on her by now but she'd made it evident from their very first meeting that she'd rather date a slug. Rust sighed and rubbed his temples.
"Right. Jane, give Sub a call. Tell him we need an outfit made."
"You want to replace your coat after just a little scratch?" Jane asked, sounding puzzled. When Rust shook his head, the look of puzzlement stayed on the girl's face until a lightbulb seemed to click in her head. Her eyes widened and she shook her own head. "No... Rust, no! Come on! You can't be serious, he's a child!"
"And you were younger than him when you almost died." Rust said.
"No! I'm not going to do this, you'll be on your own! He probably doesn't even have any skills aside from sleeping and being a nerd!" Rust replied by yanking Derek's shoulder up, causing him to yelp in pain as the four holes in his shoulder were shown to Jane. Jane looked at them before hanging her head and clenching her fists.
"Do it yourself." She growled before punching the brick wall, causing a dusty hole to appear up to her elbow. She wrenched her arm out of the hole and walked out of the room, the footsteps making their way downstairs and outside.
"What was that about?" Derek asked, curious. "What was she annoyed by? And why was she so upset about getting new clothes? And who's Sub?"
"You'll meet Sub." Rust sighed, standing up. "I'll explain everything on the way, just don't say anything stupid."
"Like that. Just shut up." Rust walked away and through the doorway. Derek stood up as well and only the realised that he was still in his sleeping clothes: underwear and a sleeveless top. He looked around a bit and opened the top drawer of a rotting dresser. Inside were several pairs of trousers, all very dusty and when he flapped the dust off, the pair in his hands were navy blue. He slipped them on and they were a bit big but he just put his hands in the pockets to hold them up. He looked around on the floor and found a dusty pair of slippers under the bed, which he slipped his own feet into after blowing the dust out of them and coughing. He then rushed downstairs and saw a large jeep on the road which Jane was getting in the front of. Rust's bald head appeared on the other side of the car.
"Hurry up, kid!" He called before disappearing into the car again. Derek jogged over and got into the back seat behind Jane, who was obviously sulking in the front seat. Rust started the engine and began driving down the narrow dirt road. He stayed silent for a few minutes before speaking up.
"Right. You just met Jared Hedge. He's a vampire."