My eyes open to a blue light.
Harold is fluttering in my face, his brow furrowed.
“It’s amazing how fast you guys can do that. Regenerate, I mean,” he says and then flitters a few inches away from me.
I sit up and rub my head.
“Where am I?”
Trees surround us, the sunlight blocked by the canopy of leaves above. The heat still stings, but it’s bearable and won’t hinder me.
“You’re right outside the Underground City.”
“The what—oh,” I utter as I remember the place Adam took me to.
“Where’s Adam?” I ask suddenly.
The little wishing fairy shrugs his tiny shoulders. “No idea. I only knew where you were because your wish backfired.”
He nods. “You wished you had never turned into a vampire. I granted that, and you became a vampire nonetheless.”
“What does that mean, then?”
“You can go home.”
Something inside me—happiness I think—warms every fiber inside of me.
What a marvelous word.
“What about Adam and Harper and Hilda and the Ring Leader and the skinny man—”
Harold shakes his head and moves his hand through the air like he’s wiping off a blackboard.
“Nothing will change.”
“So everything that happened—”
“Would still have happened. It doesn’t matter if you leave. They’ll still remember you.”
I look past the fairy.
“So the Ring Leader will still be looking for me, and Adam will still…” I pick at my cuticles. “What’s the point in leaving when they’ll eventually find me? They’re vampires. They’re going to live forever.”
“No one lives forever,” Harold offers as help to make me feel better.
I shake my head.
“I have to make things right,” I say, making my mind up and standing. “I can’t just leave them to their own devices.”
“But your wish—”
“I know. It backfired. So what?”
“So, if you don’t be careful, your future will change. It won’t be the same. And if your future changes, your past will change too.”
“You lost me.”
Harold sighs and flies up to my eye level.
“If you do something to alter the future, whether it be to tell someone something or to kill someone... if you mess with the delicate process of time, you will change something. It’s just a big ball of timey-wimey mess, and it can just as easily change course as a feather in the wind.”
“And that’s a bad thing, why?” I ask him, watching him carefully. Changing the future couldn’t be that bad.
“You remember that day you made the wish. You remember it because that day is in your past. Eventually, you will forget all of this. You will forget the wish, and make it again in the future, unless your timeline changes. Everyone does it. It’s what magic does to people. It’s also a reason not to trust genies, but that’s another story.
“Vanessa, you’re walking on a thin line here.”
“Well I had to walk on a tightrope, so I think I’ll be good.”
“You also fell to your death from that rope,” Harold pointed out. “The only reason why you’re alive right now is because of the Ring Leader.”
“Do you know why he hates me so much?” I ask him, my thoughts becoming sound. “Besides me saying no to him changing me, anyway.
“And why did I say no? How did that even get brought up?”
Harold purses his lips and makes a smacking sound.
“I can show you,” he offers. “But you’d have to wish for it.”
“Do you run out of wishes? Like a genie?”
“Genies don’t run out of wishes, they’re just lazy,” he snaps. “I just run out of magic and I have to replenish it with rest in between wishes.
“Right now I have enough to send you home and to show you what happened before you stepped back in to your human self, so it’s up to you. Either way, you have two set wishes you can grant. Just no undosies.”
I nod and look around me.
“I think I’m gonna—”
Laughter vibrates through the branches of the trees and I groan in annoyance.
Harold zips behind me.
“Not again,” I mutter.
Bellis drops down two trees away from me, and shuffles forward on his knuckles. A sickening grin spreads across his face, revealing his sharp teeth. He stops in front of me and stands up, his head a whole foot higher than mine.
“Hello again,” he says, and the trees rattle with laughter. “Something’s different about you, no?”
He sniffs the air and looks at me curiously.
“Oh, you’re a vampie now, aren’t ya?” His chuckle grows into a monkey squeal. “Looks like your wish didn’t come true after all.”
“I don’t have time for this, monkey-brain,” I say and start to walk around him, Harold holding onto my hair.
Well, my haughtiness is back.
“Hey,” Bellis barks, grabbing my arm and squeezing it. “I’m not through with you.”
“Oh, but I’m so through with you.”
I twist his wrist around and rip my arm from it. He looks at me with excitement.
“I’ve always wondered what a vampire would taste like,” he smiles, and the monkeys above screech and holler, cheering him on. He licks his chapped lips and the pupils of his eyes dilate as he recognizes me as prey.
“Adam can’t save you now.”
With an eruption of laughter, he’s on top of me, his teeth sinking into my shoulder. I shove him off and he hits a tree, a few of his companions grounding themselves and watching excitedly.
“Correction,” I smile at him tauntingly. “Adam can’t save you now.”
My claws erupt from my skin as I run toward him at full speed, my fangs starting to drip venom. I sink them into his arm as he tries to block and I don’t let go. He shakes it madly, and I hold on, ripping his skin.
I start to suck the blood from his arm.
Oh, oh it tastes so good, despite the disgusting smell of the monkey-man. I don’t remember the last time I had blood this good.
The thirst starts to take me over and I feel myself getting lost in the feed.
Then something inside of me feels queasy.
The human inside of me.
I let go and Bellis stumbles around, his face pale. The monkey-people that had fallen to the ground stomp and yell in rage.
What have I done?
They start to charge at me as several more fall from the branches of the trees above me. I weave my way in and out of them as I run.
I trip and fall to the ground.
I feel a pressure on me, as if to hold me down.
Ignorant is what they are.
I push myself off the ground, the monkey-girl flying backwards, and I stand up. The monkey-people have made a ring around me.
“Harold,” I ask, the fairy clinging to my hair. “What exactly is my power? Do you know?”
“I know everything,” he gloats.
Glad I’m not the only one with a pride issue.
“You can teleport people to other places.”
“Do I have a limit?” I ask.
“Until you’re fatigued, I’m guessing.”
I sigh and shift my stance.
That’s a good enough answer to me.
“Bring it on, then.”
One of the monkey-men holding Bellis up looks at me and then to the ground, almost seeming scared.
“Well, don’t just stand there!” He breathes heavily. “She’s your dinner!”
With that, groups started to pile in, and I touch one of them, wishing they were somewhere else. Somewhere like... the carnival!
With every vicious monkey-person I touch, I feel more and more tired, my reaction time slowing down and more of them are able to get to me. They rip at my skin, my body, my clothes... They dig into me with their teeth and their nails, and my body is regenerating slower with every touch.
The carnival, I think one last time.
The scene around me disappears and I fall to my knees. I’d touched my own arm by accident.
Around me is the main tent, where I’d fallen from the tightrope. I can hear the monkey-people’s chatter and confusion outside of the fabric.
My body is sluggish as I peel myself off the dirt floor.
“It’s nice to see you again, Rochelle.”
I turn around as my body mends itself, pain rippling everywhere under my skin. The Ring Leader stands on the ring in the center of all the rings. His hands are in his pockets and his cane is around his wrist.
“Welcome to my carnival.
“Don’t move,” he says, walking forward. “I could tell the monkey-people that you’re in here. They’re looking for you, aren’t they?”
I twist around and feel my face patch itself back up.
“What do you want from me?” I choke out.
“It’s strange that you don’t know,” he chuckles. “Shouldn’t you remember?”
Harold didn’t get to show me what happened before.
I feel a bone pop into place.
“Oh, Rochelle. You don’t remember, do you? Caught a little bit of amnesia?” he says, walking toward me and twirling his cane around in his hand. “Or is it because you made a wish?”
I crawl around to face him as my strength starts to return and my calf muscles heal.
“Where’s the wishing fairy, Rochelle?”
I reach back slowly and feel for Harold in my wild hair.
He’s not there. He must’ve not transported with me...
“I don’t know,” I groan, trying to stand up.
“I don’t know!” I cry.
“Oh monkeys!” he calls, raising his arms above his head. “She’s in here!”
His body changes to a tiny bat as the monkeys tear down the tent.
I wish I’d learned how to turn into a bat…