“Harm no bitch, but take no shit.”
~ Hailee Greene
“I’m sure you’ve already heard from Kaydence that Jeremy passed away, yes? We’ve discovered that the parents’ contacts for Jeremy were all empty numbers. It’s unlikely, but as per my duty, I need to ask you. Do you know of any of his family members?”
My jaw dropped in the middle of Arthur’s sentence. Jeremy; what a mysterious character. When I first met him, I just disliked the way he made a joke out of my name.
Deciding not to say everything, I told Arthur, “He mentioned once that he had a half-sister who recently passed away. He didn’t bring up his parents.”
Arthur nodded, then stood up and got his coat. “Thanks, Hazy. I must return to the office now. I still have tons of paperwork to file. Jeremy’s funeral is this weekend. I’ll inform you of the time later.”
I could see the grief and distress in his eyes as Arthur spoke about Jeremy. After he left, I plopped down on my couch. I couldn’t unhear the despair in Jeremy’s last words. I couldn’t unsee the blood seeping rapidly from his body. Everything was printed vividly in my mind.
I tilted my head to peer out the window, only to have the living daylight scared so much out of me that I fell off the sofa. Whenever I looked out a window, Zach’s unblinking pale blues always seemed to be there. I went over and opened the door for him.
“Had a great meal?” I asked, closing the door behind him.
“Yes, thank you for asking,” Zach replied with a side-cocked grin, then held out his hand to me. He needed to make sure that I didn’t mention anything about The Ones to Arthur.
Much to his frustration, Zach couldn’t read my memory upon simple physical contact; my permission was required. I must explicitly recall an event for him to see. I had nothing to hide, so I rolled my eyes and put my hand in his.
A couple of seconds later, Zach asked, “Who’s Jeremy?”
“A newbie vampire hunter who died on the job. I knew the guy.”
Zach scanned my face skeptically, then dismissed it. “Alright. I’m crashing here.”
“Okay, we could watch a movie or something,” I suggested. I couldn’t just leave him alone down here.
“Sure. Let’s play ‘finding a horror movie that actually scares me.’”
I wasn’t the biggest fan of horror, but I could still enjoy a marathon. We sat down on a couch, and I grabbed the remote. While I searched through a list of the highest rated horror movies, Zach said, “By the way, remember to tell your uncle not to use a shotgun on me. Those shits take hours to heal.”
My face grew hot, knowing that I accidentally recalled that part along with my conversation with Arthur. I tried to stare at the terrifying movie covers to distract myself.
“Are you going to this Jeremy guy’s funeral?” he asked again, being unusually wordy today for some reason.
I selected a random movie that had high ratings, then set the remote on the coffee table.
“I want to go.”
“All of the high-ranked hunters will be there, including Henrietta King.” Zach stared straight ahead with a deadly glare. “Her grandfather was responsible for the annihilation of my parents and relatives, and she permitted vampire experimenting. She’s currently mainly in charge of locating me, but none of the hunters even know what I look like.”
“Arthur does now,” I corrected.
“But he doesn’t know I’m Dracul.”
I thought for a moment, then told him, “I don’t think it’ll be wise for you to attend, even from a distance. Someone there has the rare gift to tell vampires and humans apart by sense.”
“Oh, the same gift your father had.”
How much does this guy know?
“As Harv said, your dad was a world-renowned vampire hunter. I knew of him. His gift was discovered in his teen years, and so society pressured him into becoming a vampire hunter. No one knew whether or not being a hunter was his wish.”
That sounded exactly like Kaydence. She hadn’t ever thought of becoming a vampire hunter, and she wouldn’t have if not for the discovery of her talent.
“That’s more reason for you not to go,” I reiterated. If Kaydence sensed his vampirism, escaping would be difficult in a setting full of hunters.
“Fine, I won’t, but wouldn’t this hunter also be able to tell that you’re a vampire?” Zach questioned, stunning me.
I’d been worried about the day my best friend became my worst enemy. I was no longer some form of human-vampire in-between. Since a few hours ago, I’d been a vampire. A full-fledged vampire.
“She’s my best friend,” I muttered and averted my gaze to the ground.
“Friends come and go,” Zach said in monotone.
Both of us shut up and turned to the screen when eerie music resonated within the living room. It was a thunderous night, and a girl holding a knife in her hand slowly limped down the hall, inching closer to the master bedroom.
I glanced at Zach. He had a bored expression.
This was going to be a fun night.
I anxiously waited in my seat, but Kaydence wasn’t coming to class. After school started for twenty minutes, I texted her to ask where she was. She didn’t respond, but texts from Arthur came flooding in:
’Kaydence enrolled herself in a specialized training course. She won’t be going to school for a week or two.’
‘The death of a comrade really got to her. I think we should give her some time.’
I exhaled deeply. Both in relief and worry. Kaydence helped me in my darkest times, but how could I support her in hers if I didn’t even know where she was? I could only hope that she wasn’t entirely isolated.
When I entered my second-period classroom, Sophi’s eyes sparkled, and she exclaimed, “Oh my goshness! You look like you’re ready to compete in a beauty pageant! What’s up with all the sudden changes? You never used to wear makeup.”
I blinked. “I’m not wearing any makeup.”
Sophi scrutinized my face for five seconds straight, then grinned. “Shut up. Are you telling me that eyeliner is natural? Your eyelashes are longer, too. What’s with the makeover?” She gasped loudly. “Is it a boy? Do you have a crush?!”
I grabbed her shoulders and forced her to sit down before taking my seat. If I could dodge Sophi’s sharp observations, I’d rather let her believe that I was doing all this for a crush.
“Is it normal to try to dress up for a crush?” I asked Sophi, and she nodded. “You’d want to be at your best in front of someone you like, right?”
I thought of Alecx. Probably because I’d known him my whole life, but every time I saw him, I was always relaxed. Perhaps I saw him more as a family member.
I mentally shook my head. That’s not it. I know how I feel.
“Does he go to our school? Is he good-looking? What grade is he in? He needs to go through me, first!” Sophi bombarded me with questions for the next minute, yet not giving me enough time to answer any of them. I quirked an eyebrow at Sophi’s curious eyes.
A smile appeared on my lips as I stared at the blank whiteboard. I recalled Alecx’s cute, dimpled grin and muttered, “He’s a year older than me.”
For a quarter of a second, Zach’s side-cocked grin invaded my head. I shoved it out of the way.
“College kid,” Sophi concluded. “Wait, then why are you dressing up for school? He’s not going to be here, is he?”
Stop asking questions, please!
“He might pick me up after school,” I lied bashfully with a small smile.
Sophi’s jaw dropped in surprise, “O-M-G, you’re already friends?! By crush, I thought you meant you stalk his social media and have no idea if the pictures are photoshopped or not!”
Math was an extra extended period for me.
At the end of the day, I swung my car keys while descending the stairs to the school parking lot. As I passed by the railing just outside the front gate, I heard a group of girls pointing and whispering to each other quite loudly.
“Isn’t that guy hot?”
“Yeah, he doesn’t go here, does he?”
“It looks like he’s waiting for someone. Dammit, he probably already has a girlfriend.”
I followed their gazes and nearly facepalmed when I saw who they were talking about. Zach leaned against my convertible like nobody’s business. Only he could look like a magazine model while wearing a plain white tee and jeans.
Unfortunately, he caught my eye right away and called out my name. I felt the not-so-subtle stares of the girls as I had no choice but to walk up to Zach. He went around to the front of the car, then, without hesitation, he extended his hand to me.
Anyone, and I mean anyone, would’ve gotten the wrong idea that he was trying to hold my hand or help me carry my bag.
“She’s gorgeous. Man, we’ll never stand a chance.”
“Let’s go, girls.”
“I’m going to die alone.”
I pushed Zach’s hand away and murmured to him, “Not now. People will think we’re dating.”
“We’re what?” he questioned with genuine confusion in his voice. I clicked on my car remote and huffed. “Just get in.”
On our way back to my house, I noticed that Zach held a death grip on the door handle.
I asked carefully, “Are you nervous, Zach?”
“No,” he replied firmly, but his body language suggested otherwise. A teasing smile made its way to my lips.
“Are you laughing at me again, Hazel?” Zach asked with a death glare, but I literally couldn’t take him seriously.
“Yes. Yes, very much so.”
“You trapped me in this stupid machine.” He grumbled, finally making me burst out laughing.
“This isn’t going to work. You’re living in the twenty-first century; technology plays a significant role in our lives. I could teach you to use some things at my house, gramps.”
If looks could kill, vampire or not, I’d have died ten times over. He growled, “That’s not necessary. The television remote is complicated enough. There are two hundred buttons on it, I swear.”
I was giggly the rest of the way back home, much to Zach’s irritation.
I set my laptop in front of him on the dining table along with the mouse.
“Okay. Take the mouse. It clicks on icons on the screen to open certain applications.” I pointed to the Chrome icon on my laptop. “Try clicking twice on this.”
Zach gripped the mouse, then slammed it onto the laptop screen.
For a solid five seconds, neither of us made a sound. Immediately after, I doubled over and was a laughing fit for minutes straight. My stomach hurt, and I couldn’t breathe. Zach clicked his tongue at me. “What a patient and supportive teacher you are.”
“I’m sorry!” I cried out, struggling to get up from the floor.
On Friday morning, Zach left and went back to the base. He said he was getting hungry, even though it had only been two days. I supposed he got caught up reading or something, but he didn’t return by the end of school, so I thought I might as well stay at the local library.
By the time I got all my work done, it was slightly dark out. I tidied up my things in the nearly empty library. Few lights lit up the parking lot, but it didn’t bother me since I had night vision. Though, I forgot where I parked my car. I weaved through the rows of cars, but I couldn’t find it.
I was about to start zooming around at vampire speed when someone asked, “Excuse me, do you know what time it is? My phone died.”
Alarmed, I turned around, only to find a petite woman with an anxious expression plastered on her face. Slightly relieved that it wasn’t a serial killer, I held up my wristwatch. “It’s ten to eight.”
The woman almost burst out crying. “Oh, no! I was supposed to meet my fiancé half an hour ago!”
“Oh,” I froze. “Where?”
I didn’t want to linger around, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk away when she was on the verge of tears. The woman ducked her head and wiped her face; I couldn’t understand what she was saying in the midst of her sobs.
“Erm... if you want, I can call the police to help you.”
“That won’t be necessary,” a gruff voice said from behind me. In that instant, two massive arms came around my neck. One of them pressed a cloth against my mouth and nose. I quickly held my breath so I wouldn’t inhale more of whatever the hell that fabric contained.
I was terrified, but I pulled on my captor’s arms, hard. It shouldn’t have been a problem for a vampire’s strength, but for some reason, my power was the same as a measly teenager.
“Don’t let her struggle,” commanded the petite woman. Now that I got a more unobstructed view, she wasn’t crying at all. She merely served as a distraction so I wouldn’t see the guy coming from behind me.
What confused me the most was the fact that I couldn’t shake the man off of me. He levitated me from the ground by my neck, and I would’ve fainted long ago had I still had a pulse. Eventually, I couldn’t hold my breath any longer. As soon as I breathed in, a chemical hit my nerves, and I felt dizzy already. I shook my head all around violently. Nothing was working.
“You are going to sell for a hefty price, vampire girl.” I heard the woman snicker right before my eyelids fell.
When I woke up, I was left in a corner while some five men slept on mattresses on the ground, and the woman sat on a chair with her arms crossed and eyes closed. My wrists were cuffed together. I pulled them apart, effortlessly breaking the handcuffs. The ones around my ankles were even easier.
I examined my wrists; they were red. These cuffs were made of pure silver that contained pure blood. It was anti-vampire.
How did these kidnappers obtain such objects? Why in the world did I lose my strength when they kidnapped me?
I stealthily stood up while taking in my surroundings. I seemed to be in an abandoned factory. These people had some nerve, going around and kidnapping vampires. I could tell just by a whiff that they were all ordinary humans. Who were they going to sell me to, anyway? Who would want to buy a vampire?
I tiptoed toward the large door of the factory while trying to formulate a plan. That door would surely make tons of noise when opened. I’d have to do it as quickly as possible.
My strategy was broken when the door opened from the outside, making a loud screeching sound, waking everyone up. A man, another one of the kidnappers, came in and pushed the door closed behind him, muttering, “I hate getting up in the middle of the night to pee.”
The kidnappers saw me all at once. I cursed inwardly. The woman was the first to react. “How the fuck did you escape from those handcuffs?! Don’t let her get away!”
Just as I was about to make a run for it, the man by the door took out a cloth––the very thing that made all of my vampire senses weaken. Oh, perhaps this was the gas that significantly limited a vampire’s senses; the one that Harvick mentioned. But since it was only the amount in a small cloth, I wasn’t affected for nearly as long as Harvick and Mihaela were.
I zipped back at vampire speed, but the factory wasn’t big enough that I had space to play tag with six large men. Time seemed to draw out to a nauseating pace of slow motion as five of them charged at me.
I could barely feel my legs. In my distressed state, I couldn’t remember what to do. I kept forgetting that I was a vampire. My mindset was still human; it had yet to accept my vampire body.
Ugh, I wish I had the mentality of a vampire! I only had a second to think as they closed in on me. The ends of my hairs stood as the kidnappers’ outstretched arms were inches away. They held knives in their hands.
All of a sudden, my fear vanished like it was never there before. My surroundings slowed in comparison to my speed. I snapped; I could feel my “blood” taking over my body instead of my brain. My pupils constricted and, unknowingly, a small smirk crawled onto my face.
These pesky insects won’t get in my way.
It was like a second consciousness possessed me. My body moved on its own, but it was a different feeling than Zach’s mind control. I was fully aware that I plunged my hand into the first kidnapper’s chest. The intoxicating smell of blood only made it more exhilarating.
At this sight, the other five men began to panic. I could kill. I could take their lives. I could have them suffer hell before their ultimate demise.
The woman screamed and sprinted toward the door. But how could a human ever outrun a vampire? I caught up to her in one step. I bit her throat out and spat it on the ground, letting her body fall limp. The blood suffused onto her once beautiful blouse.
I flashed in front of the man who previously opened the door. Before he could even react, my sharp nails were digging into his neck as I forced him up against the door. Fresh blood poured from his jugular veins. It flowed down my hand and contaminated my sleeve.
By then, my fangs grazed my bottom lip. I wanted a drink.
Three men yelled as they rushed toward me with knives in their hands.
Don’t they know it’s rude to interrupt someone’s meal?
This time, it happened in a daze. From one second to another, I went from facing these men to slitting their throats with their own knives. I tossed a blade up and down in my hand, spinning it in the air, then stabbed it into one of the corpses on the ground.
Finally, I slowly turned to my last target. The remaining man shivered, and a puddle gathered at his feet. I scrunched my nose as the scent hit me.
“She should be right here.” Suddenly, the door to the factory swung open, revealing a blonde female that I hadn’t met before. Behind her, Zach and Hailee gasped upon seeing me. Harvick was stunned to the spot.
Taking advantage of the distraction, the last kidnapper crept up on me with his knife.
“Hazel!” Zach was about to dash over, but I turned my head at the last second and held up my hand. The blade penetrated my palm, yet I barely felt it.
“Monster! You’re a fucking monster!” the man shouted from the top of his lungs. He whipped around, tripping over his own feet, then scurried off, trying to climb a ladder that led to a window.
I turned my bleeding palm around and pulled the knife out by its handle. I held the calmest expression ever as I took a stance, then pinched the point of the blade and aimed at the man. I closed one eye and hummed, “I’m a monster? Don’t you think I already know that?”
I pulled my arm behind my head, then swung it forward, releasing the knife. The weapon made several flips in the air and, due to my immense physical strength, pierced into the man’s nape. He let out a cry and fell off the high ladder, sealing his fate.
A small giggle left my lips. I could almost feel heat in these cold fingertips of mine.
Instantly, everyone fell silent. Stumbling, I surveyed my masterpieces. Aside from the dead bodies, there was only Zach, Hailee, Harvick, and the blonde girl. Wait, I didn’t know her, would she be a problem?
Sensing my animosity, Zach briskly showed the girl outside. I examined my hands as Zach cautiously walked up to me. Unsurprisingly, my hands were drenched in blood. Splatters littered my clothes. I quickly stepped away from the puddles of blood that pooled on the ground.
At last, my senses returned to me. My entire being began to quake uncontrollably.
“Look at me. Hazel, don’t look down. Look at me.” Grabbing my shoulders, Zach forced my gaze to shift to him.
“I killed them...,” I whispered and tried my hardest to blink back tears. I grasped his shirt, not caring if I got the white fabric stained with blood. He brought my head under his chin and hushed me.
“You were defending yourself against traffickers. It’s not your fault.” He softly patted the back of my head. “Let’s go home.”