Hold on tight, my father told me. It was a windy day out here in the ocean, as it is most of the time. I don’t remember for how long did I have travel with my dad in search of a promised land. Promised land, he told me, more like a safe place from bad people. At least that’s the way I understood it.
It was a gloomy day when my father came to our house when my mother wasn’t at home. He told me that he will take me on an adventure. He, however, never told me that I won’t see them anymore but I deliberately didn’t say anything and just played along. It never fully occurred to me how did I coldheartedly decided to leave my mother and my younger sister behind and just willingly agreed to go with my father. I guess after certain years of isolation and violence you reach the tipping point and you just can’t take it anymore. I was gasping for freedom, to go outside. To be free!
My mother never allowed me to go outside our house, however, she never told me the reason why. Perhaps she was scared for me or she didn’t want anything bad to happen to me. I highly doubt that judging by the fact that my younger sister could go out despite the age gap between us. She never treated me the same way she treated my younger sister. Every night when my sister and my mother were outside doing who-knows-what, I have spent my time quietly reading in my bedroom. When my father appeared on the doorstep it was like I was saved from the chains that my mother has put me into. I guess there was no turning back now, and I’m not regretting a single bit of it.
I was minding my own business on the main deck until a sudden shriek was heard.
‘We’re here!’ Said the person controlling the steering wheel.
‘Hold on tight Ella,’ my father told me and I quickly grab onto something as soon as the turbulence occurred within the ship. Fortunately, it didn’t last long and we quickly and successfully sailed onto an unknown land. Everybody on the ship was extremely excited, I, on the contrary, wasn’t. I felt something off in the air, something wrong.
‘Ella go and get your belongings.’ The words coming from my father shocked me.
‘What? That’s it? We are just gonna blindly trust this unknown place?’ I didn’t know if it was the irrational thinking because we discovered a potential place to live in or just pure stupidity that was coming from my father.
‘Yes, it took us nine months to find a decent amount of land. Aren’t you happy to finally be able to walk more than just a couple of meters back and forth and to feel the grass on your feet?’ He was the captain of this ship and now the captain of my life. I didn’t wanna argue with him, knowing that if I do he might send me back to my mother. Even though chances of that happening are very unlikely I still didn’t wanna risk it, knowing what that might do to me. I will lose him.
‘Yes. I’m excited. You know what, I’ll give it a go, besides what’s the worst thing that can happen?’ He smiled at my response and I firmly nodded and went to my cabin to get my belongings.
Quite frankly, it didn’t take me long because I didn’t take much when I left. Few pairs of ragged clothing that I owned, shoes that I had on me and a diary.
‘Are you excited?’ A sudden voice appeared behind me. It’s William. William’s one of the few ones on the ship that is the same age as me.
‘Excited to walk for days and maybe find a suitable place that is decent enough for us to live in? No. I am not ready.’ He sensed my sarcasm and stubbornness but he said nothing, he just smiled. I guess he understood the laziness that comes when you are in the limited space surrounded by water for a couple of months.
‘I know what you mean. This ship made me so bored and sluggish, but I need to stretch my legs and actually walk a mile without bumping into anyone and seeing the same things over and over again.’
‘Well, have fun doing that. I’ll ask you how you feel in about a couple of hours when your legs turn numb.’
‘Oh, don’t be so negative. Give this land a chance,’ the way he said it sounded like I was the most negative person in the entire existence. Give this land a chance, huh, like I need to do that?
I don’t know why but William always made me feel that I’m not alone. Most of the people on the ship were in their mid-forties and fifties, but not William, he’s the same age as I am. Sixteen. His curly black hair, blue eyes, and pale skin with a personality that never failed to make me laugh at the time when I was feeling my worst. I never quite understood how did he manage to stay pale even though we were in the sun most of the time. I, on the contrary, looked tan with a long black hair and hazel eyes. I inherited such an eye color from my father. Everyone else in my family have brown eyes except for my younger sister, she has pale-blue.
‘There you are, most of the people are already on the land waiting for you two to come and join us.’ Said Jack firmly. Even though he is three years older than me he acted as though he was my father. I didn’t like him at all and some nights when the rest of them were celebrating at the main deck, William and I were planning an attempt to kick Jack off the ship when he was drunk enough and let the sharks do the rest.
‘Alright, alright were coming, just give us a moment.’ William remained calm. Even when he wanted to punch you in the face he always managed to hold onto his best behavior.
‘Alright you love birds, but don’t take too long.’ William grimaced and I turned red immediately.
‘How dare you say something like that!’ I was ready for a fight but Jack just backed away and went upstairs. I quickly placed my ragged clothes into a suitcase and went to the door. William stayed still, blankly looking through the small round window.
‘Aren’t you coming?’
‘Yes, I am. I just want to feel this place one last time.’ William took a deep breath and came to me.
‘Well if we don’t find a proper place to live in, we will be back here in no time.’ I said stubbornly, even though he might call me a negative person again.
Mud. Everywhere we walked was muddy and wet. I don’t remember how long did we spent walking. Two hours, maybe three? Who knows. The only thing that is currently going through my head is my bed. I was already feeling tired and sleepy. I made a quick stop just to catch my breath. I took a quick glance behind me to see Jack smirking back at me.
‘Ella, are you alright there?’ My father asked. He always acted as if his age hasn’t got to him. He never showed his tiredness and weaknesses. I never even saw him being bored. He looked peculiar in my eyes, but I don’t know him for that long to openly judge him.
‘I’m getting there. But seriously how much longer do we need to walk.’
’You called that walking? I would call that thing you’re doing right now, dragging oneself.’ Jack interrupts us. The amount of time I punched Jack in the face was countless. Unfortunately, I can’t do it now, I’m too tired to even lift my hand up properly.
‘Silence, Jack. Alright, listen up people!’ His announcement made everyone stop in an instant. ‘Five minutes rest for everyone.’ I swiftly turned to my father.
‘No, you don’t have to do that father, I will be fine.’
‘No Ella, you’re right everyone is tired but only you are brave enough to let me know that.’ He smiled and winked, leaving me confused. I couldn’t help but wonder, is everyone afraid to tell what they feel to my father’s face or is everyone like a puppet who is willingly letting themselves being controlled by one person?
We sat down to have a quick rest and I was beyond thankful for that. William emerged from the trees that were nearby and sat next to me. He doesn’t look tired at all, in fact, he looks alive.
‘How’re you feeling?’
‘A bit tired, I guess. You?’
‘Alright.’ His response was short and to the point. Which made me wonder, why is everytime I ask him how he feels I get the one-word answer.
‘Only alright? Aren’t you like dying to just lay down on the bed and fall asleep?’
‘No, not really.’ His smile made me wonder for a moment. Unfortunately, even if I wanted to continue our conversation I was interrupted by Jack who rose up and started yelling.
‘Mainlanders are approaching from the north!’ His sudden announcement made everyone jump up and grab their weapons.
‘Prepare for the fight!’ My father shrieked.
William took my hand and pulled me closer to him, my hand resting on his chest. Cold chest. The mass of people approaching grew bigger and wider until I couldn’t see the grass on the hill anymore.
‘We need to run Ella. This doesn’t look good.’ My eyes widen and I looked at him amazed.
‘I can’t just leave my father behind!’ What on earth is he up to? He can’t just drag me away from my father, my only parent that cares about me and my existence.
‘You must!’ He pulled my hand stronger making me almost trip over something and fall. I tried to resist it but his grip was too strong. We run for what seems to be a mile until he finally stops, leaving me breathless. He, however, didn’t look tired at all. I somehow managed to get my breath and my energy back.
‘What have you done!’ I tried to punch him but he quickly backed away ‘I need to help him!’
‘Ella, relax.’ His voice was monotone, unapologetic.
‘Don’t you tell me what to do!’ I felt my face getting warmer. I started crying. It was embarrassing knowing that I haven’t cried since I left my mother and my sister behind. I still don’t know why I did it exactly, they were horrible to me.
‘Ella you need to understand, your father warned me about such things.’ He made me speechless, confused, like a big revelation was chuck into my face but with my inability to comprehend it made me flustered and agitated to run back to my father and help him. I, however, decided to stay and still argue with a person that dragged me away from my own father, hoping that if I don’t run away now I might find out useful information that can come in handy in the near future.
‘What things?’ I shrugged.
‘The things that can put you in danger.’ His calm voice made me feel on the verge of falling asleep.
‘What are you talking about?’ I tried to stay angry but confusion took over me.
‘Ella, I need you…’ His voice was muffled by screams and loud bangs coming from the distance. He abruptly took my hand and we started running. Again.
We found the nearest cave and decided to hide in there and wait. We spend five minutes listening to a complete silence, afraid that if one of us decided to speak the echo might put us in danger. It started to rain and William came closer to me. I slightly backed away but he came closer to me again.
‘What do you want? Leave me alone!’
‘Shush, Ella. Don’t let them hear you.’ His face came closer to me. And I did what every girl would do, I punched him in the nose. In hope of hearing him cry or yelp the only thing that I got was a motionless grim. My hand, however, have started to bleed. The confusion took over me. How come my hand is bleeding but his nose that is supposed to bleed is perfectly intact?
‘Ella let me see.’
‘No, go away Will!’ He came closer to me again, showing no fear whatsoever of potentially receiving the same punch with a different hand. He stared into my eyes, his pupils deflating to such a point that his eyes became black.
‘Gabriella, let me see your hand.’ He has never called me by my full name before, I was beyond confused and just wanted to run away from him. I tried to stand up but his hands made me fall back on the ground harder than it should. He took my bleeding hand to his mouth. The agonizing pain that came after was indescribable. He was sucking the blood out of my hand leaving it completely clean by the time he has finished. He then proceeded to my neck and the pain doubled.
I tried to cry for help but his hand came over my mouth. Making a strong eye contact with me while sucking the blood from my neck. I bit his hand with as much force as I can manage.
‘Please stop! It hurts so much!’ I begged him to stop to finally let go of me.
My eyesight was slowly fading away, drifting into an oblivion. Suddenly everything was black. I couldn’t see a thing.
It is a late afternoon and I’m looking through the window of my bedroom. Staring at the sunset and the beautiful colors that the sky produces. I hear someone opening my bedroom door. It is my younger sister, Ana.
‘Mother needs you down in the kitchen Gabriella. You need to help her out with something.’
‘I’ll be there in about five minutes.’
‘Ugh, whatever. Just make sure that you don’t keep her waiting. You know how is she when you’re late.’
A rather strange human being my little sister is. Ana, short for Anastasia. Blonde hair and pale-blue eyes, completely contradictory to my rich black hair and hazel eyes. I make my way to the kitchen to see my mother furiously staring at me.
‘What took you so long?’
‘What do you mean Ana just came to tell me that you need me in the kitchen.’
‘I told Ana half an hour ago to inform you.’
‘Really? Where is she now?’
‘Outside, but never mind her now, I need you to help me with the oven.’
‘What am I supposed to do exactly?’
‘Check to see if it’s working or not.’ She stares at me, quietly testing me to see how would I react to such an unusual request.
‘Sure mother.’ I nod and proceeds to the oven. She opens the lid and I put my head into it.
‘Is it warm enough?’
‘No, not really? But it’s not cold either. It is somewhere in between.’
‘Oh, really? Well, what about now?’ She pushes me all the way in.
‘What are you doing mother?’ I can feel my skin burning away revealing the flesh.
‘You need to learn that you can’t just leave whenever you like.’
‘Mother stop it!’
‘You need to be a good girl and you need to behave like one.’
My body feels numb and I can’t feel anything anymore. I collapse.
‘Ella!’ A sudden voice appeared. ‘Ella, can you hear me?’
I open my eyes to see William sitting back across to the other side of the cave. My body feels numb like I’m still sleeping.
‘What did you do to me? What did you do to my body?’ He looks down at the dirt.
‘I’m sorry,’ he lifts his head up and his face meets mine ‘I tried to prevent it from happening but I couldn’t. The moment I saw your hand bleeding I just don’t know what came over me.’
‘What are you trying to say, Will?’ I wanted to cry, to let it all out, but I couldn’t. As if I was unable to do it anymore. I am unable to feel my emotions and I’m afraid that this problem isn’t temporary.
I looked down at my hands to see them looking pale. I jumped out of the shock.
‘My hands, my skin tone is different, why? How?’ His face blankly staring at me.
‘Answer me for God’s sake!’ I yelled out and he pointed at me placing his finger to his mouth.
He opened his mouth to speak after what seemed to be a minute of complete silence but a strong male voice stopped him. I quickly rose to see if it was my father. I was hoping that he’s coming to tell us that everything is alright and that it is safe for us to get out. Unfortunately, it was a man unknown to us. He started yelling.
‘Here they are! Capture them!’ William quickly came up to me and put himself in front of me.
‘You are not going to hurt the queen! I won’t let you!’
A queen? What on earth was he rambling on about? I didn’t have time to clarify his nonsense so I tried to play along.
‘We will do whatever we want, you are foreigners and we don’t like foreigners being on our land! Especially someone who drink blood from a goat.’ The man spat as he was speaking.
William started running towards the man, hitting him so hard in the abdominal area that he immediately collapsed onto the ground. Blood started coming out from his mouth. I knew what that might do to William so I quickly backed away from him. I felt someone put their hands on me. I tried to yell but the hand quickly came over my mouth and I couldn’t say a word.
‘Ella, we need to run away from this place as soon as possible.’ William was talking to me but he, however, didn’t turn to see me unable to break free from the unknown hands that were slowly pulling me into the darkness.
‘Ella, I need to apologize to you and your father. What I did was wrong and I swear that I will do whatever it takes to make it right, to fix it.’ I managed to bite the unknown hands, giving me several seconds to quickly respond back.
‘Will, help!’ William swiftly turned around to face me. His face was in shock.
The thing that was holding me dropped me down on the ground. I turned around to realize who was doing that. It was a person, unknown to me. I quickly realized that there are billions of them starring at us. The cave must’ve been where they live. We unknowingly went to the heart of their island and now we are trapped.
‘You must let us go. I am a queen!’ My voice sounded weak, almost afraid. On my surprise, they haven’t laughed at me. Saying that I was some sort of a nobility sounded foolish enough even for me but they somehow felt for it. William noticed them looking confused so he reacted quickly coming closer to me.
‘She’s right! If you hurt her you are all going to die.’ William’s declaration made the people in the cave furious and outraged. William grabbed my hand with a hope to run but I resisted, letting go of his hands so hard that he stumbled back and hit the walls of the cave.
Something came over me, something that I can’t explain properly. But it took the whole control over my body and I turned towards the people who were ready to devour us at any moment, more fiercely than I ever did before and I screamed. I screamed so powerfully that I cause the earthquake in the cave.
Everything started moving and the horrifying looks of creatures faces made me wonder. What if whatever William did to me cause me to become something I wasn’t before. Maybe all this that is happening now is because of that moment when he was sucking my blood. He turned me into something I wasn’t before. Something new.
‘Gabriella that’s enough!’ A strong voice appeared behind me and I swiftly turned around. I noticed my father standing at the entrance of the cave along with several other pirates. Some of the pirates looked bruised and bloody, but not my father. He looked untouched. I felt a gripping sensation and urge to run as fast as I can to him and to hug him hard.
‘Daddy I have missed you so much!’ I started running to him but William stopped me.
‘Ella, stop!’ I pushed him aside making him hit the wall of the cave again.
‘William, what have you done to my daughter?’ My father’s gaze left William frozen. He was unable to move, completely overwhelmed by fear. I wanted to defend him to tell my father that it wasn’t his fault. But wasn’t it?
‘I punched him in the nose dad, which caused my hand to bleed. He couldn’t control it so he…’ My father put his hand up, which is a clear sign for me to stop talking if I wanna see tomorrow, alive.
‘Please captain, she’s right.’ William bit his lip as soon as he has realized what he said.
‘So, are you trying to tell me that my daughter is responsible for what you have done to her?’ My father raised his eyebrow and put his hand on his sword. My mind was going wild. I must say something. Just by looking at William’s face overwhelmed with fear made my heart shrink.
‘Father please, when the unknown man tried to hurt me he stood up for me and defended me.’ My father removed his hand from his sword and took a moment to think.
‘That was a brave gesture from you William, but why did the hand of my daughter start to bleed?’ William looked up at me, asking for help, begging for me to say something that can potentially save him. But I had nothing to say. I can’t defend him anymore.
‘Take him to the cave.’ My father ordered the people who were in the cave still watching us. I guess that even they are afraid of my father. They grabbed William and dragged him into the cave. I screamed but the pirates took a hold of me and escorted me along with my father out of the cave.
‘Father, why did you do that to him!’ I was furious but I couldn’t do much knowing that people around me had sharp weapons that can be fatal if I do anything stupid.
‘He made a mistake. He promised me that he won’t do that until the time was right.’ I looked up at him flustered.
‘What are you trying to tell me?’ His face was static almost sad, even though that was the one of the rarest emotion that my father expressed I knew just by looking at his eyes that his heart is shattering into tiny pieces.
‘What did William exactly do to me?’ My father stopped, turning towards me.
‘He made you something non-human like.’ I was in shock. I was feeling as if air was closing in on me but then I noticed, I wasn’t breathing at all. From the moment when I woke up I was unable to breathe, but how on earth am I still alive then?
‘You are a vampire now, an immortal Gabriella. Just like William.’ The words that were coming from my father were like a knife stabbing deep into my heart. An immortal. A vampire? So, I was living with a vampire for the last few months on the ship? Why haven’t William told me that before? We were so close, why?
‘But look on a bright side, I made a partnership with the people on this land.’ I looked up, completely not interested in what he has to say to me whatsoever.
‘We were offered a castle to live in.’
‘Such a kind gesture from them, why?’ He looked offended as if I didn’t think he was worthy enough for such thing.
‘I offered them a reasonable amount of money and treasures that we have found for the past few years and they gave us a castle in return.’
‘But why do we need a castle, after all, wouldn’t a cottage be enough for us two?’
‘The castle is mainly for you, my dear.’
‘William did a right thing, but too soon. We didn’t know if people would let us live on their land. It was too risky but he did it anyway. You know Gabriella you were destined for such fate. Your mother knew that along with your sister. Now you’ll be trained and you’ll be prepared for the next time you see them.’
‘What do you mean? Why do I need to be trained?’
‘Because if you don’t they will find you and they will kill you.’