I flipped the switch by the door and the dark, romantic glamour of my room was illuminated. The vampiric posters grinned wickedly at me from their posts on the red walls above my bed, which was draped messily in dark red sheets.
I went to my desk and turned on my computer.
“Alright, Nicholae,” I said to myself as I went into my private files. “Let’s see what you’re up to today.”
I searched for several minutes over the international databases, but it was all the same as the last time I checked it. Nothing new had come up, and Nicholae hadn’t moved.
No sooner had I concluded that than an instant message popped up on my screen.
Cometgirl1: Anything new with your “boyfriend”?
It was from Haley, my sixteen-year-old cousin, and my confidante. She lived in Springfield, Illinois with her mom, but she and I still talked just as much as we did before they moved there.
The word in quotations, “boyfriend,” was our little secret code word.
I sent a reply to her.
Crimson_vampire616: Not much. He bought a new car in New York a few days ago. He seems to be keeping to the city a lot these days.
I waited for her to reply, my eyes wandering over the books on my bookshelf. Each and every one of them belonged to my favorite series of paranormal fiction novels: Nicholae Albaric.
Nicholae Albaric was a vampire. He was born in 1750 in London, then was made into a vampire at the age of twenty by a vampire named Corran. Only days after his rebirth, his maker Corran was killed by another vampire named Laramie to settle an old score. But Laramie felt bad for the young fledgling and decided to take him under his wing.
After many other dark and morbid adventures, Nicholae became the most legendary vampire in the world. No vampire would dare oppose him, and all had either great respect for him or petty antipathy at his recklessness.
My friends and I were completely in love with the Nicholae novels, as were millions of others the world over. But I knew something about the novels that no one else knew: they were not fiction at all!
I discovered this truth by accident. Last summer, I had gone onto a people search website to look for my father. He and my mother divorced when I was six, when the proof of his years of abusing me had been discovered. When I was eight he completely went off the radar, owing my mom thousands of dollars in back pay for child support. I had tried quite successfully, I believed, to put that part of my life behind me, to grow beyond my early circumstances. Unlike other girls I knew who had been abused, I wasn’t the least bit promiscuous, but I did harbor a slight hatred for the weaker sex. Weaker sex meaning men; is it not weakness to be governed by your baser desires and primitive rage? I looked up my father occasionally out of curiosity, pondering ways to track him down and demand the money he owed, though it would never be enough. But at that particular instance, I hadn’t found any information on his whereabouts.
Having nothing else to do, and lots of free time, I figured I might as well check the validity of this search. I typed in my name and hit search. My address and phone number popped up.
Then I typed in Amber’s name and Reina’s name, and sure enough their information popped up.
At the time, one of the novels was on my desk beside the keyboard. I happened to see the name. Knowing nothing would come of it, yet being infinitely curious as always, I typed in the name Nicholae Albaric.
A miniature Big Bang exploded in my mind. My respiratory system completely stopped functioning and I stared, breathless, at the screen. Blood flooded my face and my ears burned with it. I felt like I had just discovered the meaning of life.
Right there on the screen, not four inches from my eyes, was the address I had seen hundreds of times in the novels, yet never dreamed was valid:
12500 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10010
And beneath that was every other house and apartment that Nicholae owned in the books.
I was so inflamed! Something that I had always secretly longed to be true was true! But I had to be absolutely certain. I had to make sure that it wasn’t just a coincidence, or some kind of trick. So the very next day, I went to one of my old friends, Damien the Hacker. He was the instigator of all adolescent underground behavior on this side of Tucson.
I asked him to teach me how to hack, into any system or database that might prove my theory irrevocably true. He was skeptical at first, but I reminded him of all the dirt I had on him and he gladly obliged. He taught me how to get into the DMV mainframes, credit card companies, bank accounts, public records, everything I would need, and he also lent me his protection software.
I went home and did more research, and after hours of the evidence piling up, I was certain. The bank account for a man named Nicholae Albaric born in the seventeen hundreds was still open and growing, and in use to this day by a man named Nicholae Albaric, supposedly born in this century. But every state in which he currently owned property had him registered under different birthdates, older at the top of the list and younger at the bottom, which meant that he kept making adjustments to keep up appearances every time he bought a new house. Everything was so flawlessly done that anyone who wasn’t specifically looking for a vampire wouldn’t have picked up on it.
I remember exactly what it felt like, the stupefaction of stumbling onto the most profound secret in existence. The vampire I had been in love with from the moment I read the first line of his first book really existed! Vampires were real! It felt like this list had been waiting here all this time, just waiting for me to find it. And now I knew the truth.
Ever since that day more than a year ago, I have spent all of my free time and energy investigating him. And now, I had a file brimming with everything there was to know about him, every address, land and cell phone number, email address, and all of his aliases and pseudonyms. My latest thing has been to track Nicholae’s credit card and bank account charges to see what he was doing with his immortality. There wasn’t a single move he made that I didn’t know about.
Haley was the only person I would ever trust enough to confide all this to. But she wasn’t crazy about vampires like I was. This awesome revelation only sparked a mild interest in her too-wise-for-her-age mind.
She had once jokingly called me a stalker for what I do. “Stalker” had always seemed like such a horrible word to me before—stalkers were people who followed around innocent young girls. But now the word held a sense of romance and exclusivity for me. I was the stalker of the Vampire Nicholae. This made me special, and just as elite and mysterious as he was.
The blip of an IM brought me out of my flashback.
Cometgirl1: You’re not still planning on trying to meet him, are you?
I stared at the message for a long moment, biting my lips. I couldn’t answer her, because the answer was Yes. Only there was one thing I hadn’t told her, and that was that I was going to New York in a few weeks.
I was to go on a fieldtrip to New York City in October, during Halloween weekend, with the marching band. Ms. Doyle had finally gotten her chance at the big time and signed us up for one of the country’s biggest marching competitions. This trip was the one and only reason I stayed in the band this year, the only reason for taking all of Doyle’s crap.
On Halloween night, which Doyle had promised to let us enjoy for ourselves, I was going to sneak away and meet Nicholae face to face! It was so perfect, and there was nothing on this earth that could keep me from going.
As if knowing my thoughts, Haley sent another IM.
Cometgirl1: Crimson, do you understand how dangerous this is? He is a vampire. I know that you are thinking you’ll be safe since you aren’t a criminal, but you never know what could happen. He could still kill you just for approaching him.
Nicholae was one of the good vampires. He only killed murderers and rapists and thieves, and always men, never women. He had many standards for his prey, and I didn’t meet any of them. And besides, I knew him better than anyone else did, save, perhaps, for the vampires who were personally acquainted with him. I knew that he wouldn’t kill me. He might be a little angry that a mortal had so easily found him, but he wouldn’t punish me for that.
She sent another IM.
Cometgirl1: Please, just at least think this through. I’ll call you later…
I turned off my computer and went back out into the living room with Reina.
“Are you ready to go?” she asked.
“Hell yeah,” I said. “I’ve been dying to see this movie for months. I never got a chance to go to the movies to see it since I was working so much.” The party at Amber’s house was to be a screening of the latest movie based on the third novel in the Nicholae Albaric series: “The Temptress Arianna.”
In love with Nicholae’s beauty, the two thousand year old vampire Arianna kidnapped him. She saw him as a possible life partner, but she would only have the best and most cunning and powerful of vampires beside her. So, to test his endurance and will power, she tortured him for weeks on end. Nicholae was not one to take that. One night, he outwitted Arianna and escaped her constraints, then he drained her dry, taking her death into him and gaining the powers of her ancient blood.
The box offices had been sold out for weeks when the movie first came out. And when it came out on video, Amber had to get on a waiting list to buy the DVD. Tonight would be the first chance for many of us to watch the summer’s most anticipated movie.
Reina and I walked to Amber’s house, which was only a few blocks from mine. When we got there, Amber and Robert were sitting on the couch, arguing about something, and two pizza boxes were on the coffee table.
“Hey girlfriends,” Robert greeted. “Ok, now that they’re here, will you please tell me what movie we are watching?” he complained to Amber.
“Alright, yes, we are watching ‘The Temptress Arianna’,” she said.
“Ooo, yay, Nicholae is my all-time vampire crush!”
I laughed. “Oh, and that reminds me,” I said. “Your human crush is in my Art class.”
“What? No way, shut up!” he exclaimed.
“Damn, you are so lucky,” he pouted. “You have two classes with him and I only have one. That’s so not fair.”
“Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure that girls like Brianna are more competition for you than I am,” I assured him.
Amber started the DVD while Reina and I squeezed in around Robert on the couch.
Two hours of action, blood and gore later, we began raving over the movie.
“I love Nicholae,” Amber sighed dreamily.
“Girl, please,” Robert said, bobbing his head. “He is so mine.”
“In your dreams,” she said.
They started arguing, but I stayed out of it, smiling secretly to myself. It was so surreal, having all my friends talking about the mellifluous vampire, and yet being the only one to know that he was a real person. I wanted to tell them, to tell everyone, that I got closer to Nicholae than any of them could ever get. And if anyone had dibs on the real Nicholae, it was undoubtedly me.
“Well, I should probably get home,” I said. “I have band practice early in the morning. Do you need any help cleaning up here?”
“I’ll help her,” Robert said with a smile, putting his arm around her neck.
“Alright. Come on, Reina, I’ll walk you home.”
“Okies,” Reina said.
“See ya tomorrow, Amber,” I said, giving her a hug before I left with Reina and went out into the perfectly warm Arizona night.