Blood on Roses

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Spilled Blood - Grant

Exactly what happened the second time Hazel relived the same day? What drove him to murder the girl he used to love? What were his plans?


I sat against the wall of the room. I wanted to appear relaxed like always, but I couldn’t ignore the churning in my stomach at the possibility of seeing Hailee tonight. The last time I saw her, she was giggling, blissfully unaware that I was about to defect from The Ones.

I strained my ears for any noise outside. As part of the elaborate trap for The Ones, I was stationed in a tunnel room to ambush infiltrating vampires.

“Hi.”

I glanced to the right. My night vision saw the person’s face clearly. I stood up and nodded my head down in greeting. “Specialist Lowell.”

“Grant,” she returned, not bothering to address me by rank. “You seem nervous. Is everything alright?”

I’d rather not mess with Rena Lowell. Smiling, I said, “Really? I don’t feel nervous.”

“Could it be because you’re facing your former comrades?” she asked, then let out a fake laugh. “Just kidding! Don’t glare at me. I’ll be in the next room over.”

I watched her back until her outline disappeared, then exhaled. She was spouting nonsense. I hadn’t even seen anyone in The Ones for years.

I leaned back against the wall and waited. To maintain my sanity, I reminded myself of my plans. I joined the vampire hunters to find out what the humans were doing. I joined because I knew that not all vampires were murderous killers. I joined to find out if there was any research on reverting the turning process. Humans were frightening creatures. Perhaps some mad scientist was inventing a way to turn vampires into humans right now.

Yes, I wasn’t fit for the vampire life. But more importantly, some vampires weren’t fit for the vampire life.

My ears picked up the faintest noise near the entrance of the room. It was swift, and it spotted me. I raised my index finger. As the figure neared my left, I sent a jet of compressed air in its direction. It missed.

Huh.

The figure crept around near the wall of the dark room. It hid in all the correct blind spots. I had to say I was impressed, but it was useless against me. In a few seconds, I generated air currents strong enough to engulf the entire room. Blasts of wind on the soles of my feet gave me a boost, and I zoomed toward the figure.

Even as I threw several air blades at the speed of wind, it somehow dodged all of my attacks. The blades hit the walls, crumbling them. At the same time, I gradually narrowed the surrounding air currents, enclosing the intruder in the center.

The vampire crashed into the speeding currents but was slammed back with twice the amount of force. As the figure got slammed down, their long hair fell out of their hood and danced along the wind.

My arm grew rigid, and I instantly ceased all attacks. I squinted at the vampire scrambling to get to their feet. It was a she. I swallowed, hard. The amount of physical skill that she had demonstrated was on par with an Elite, perhaps even a Pureblood.

I found myself unable to move. Why didn’t she say anything? Was she so disgusted by my presence that she didn’t even want to waste her telepathy? How come I didn’t pick up on her scent? Did I hurt her?

I dispersed the winds around us, opened my mouth slowly, and asked, “Hailee?”

The figure jolted as if confused. Her head lowered slightly, then turned to me. Her beautiful long curls, though paler than I remembered, curtained her face. I stepped forward and squatted down, trying to see if she was injured. Before I could move another muscle, she lunged at me, claws sharp.

She wasn’t Hailee.

I briskly jumped away, but her nails cut my cheek. A string of blood streamed down my face, but she was the one who made a mistake. Instantly, I plunged a knife into her chest.

I only used wind blades to knock opponents off balance. They couldn’t pierce vampire skin, and I hated getting my hands soaked in blood, so I always kept knives in my sleeves.

She bit back a blood-curdling shriek and leaped away from me. Blood splashed onto the tiled floor and dripped from her quivering form. She held a hand against her wound. Before she could raise her head, I sped toward her.

Dragging a short sword, I cleanly sliced through her abdomen. The body fell forward, and the legs followed only a second after. They’d cease to exist in a couple of short minutes.

I exhaled sharply. Yet another death by my hands. But, this was something I must do. I sprinted out of the tunnel room to check if any accomplices lingered outside. No one else was around. I zipped left, heading to the mass hall. Mid-way, I halted, then backtracked. I caught a whiff of an awfully familiar smell. Frighteningly familiar.

I stood in front of the tunnel room that Rena Lowell was stationed. Bits of her blood mixed in the air, but it mostly consisted of another’s. Fear pushed me to enter the passage. The closer I got, the surer I got. And the more I denied it.

Hushed panting reached my ears before I saw it. As I drew nearer, Rena must’ve thought I was an intruder. I caught her sword in a mini whirlwind between my fingers, and it didn’t take her a second longer to recognize me.

“Grant,” she breathed in relief, then lowered her sword. I took in her appearance. She was covered in small tears here and there, and a long gash nearly pierced her neck guard. Punched-in dents littered the armour near her chest and stomach. Whoever fought Rena put up an astounding fight.

Could it really be?

I hesitantly looked past Rena and saw the body on the ground behind her. Up close, there was no doubt: Hailee laid on the ground in an augmenting pool of blood. Even with Rena’s eyes fixed suspiciously on me, I couldn’t control my face. When my gaze locked back with Rena’s, I could almost see fear in her expression.

She chuckled. “What’s wrong? I’ve never seen you so angry.”

Ignoring her, my mind raced with possible explanations. Hailee was a support type, not offence, so she shouldn’t have been alone in such a mass-scale operation. How was she here all by herself? Did Rena somehow distract her?

A smirk etched on Rena’s lips, and she fished out a half-empty test tube from her pocket. “I may have taken a bit of your blood from the medic. I thought I could lure in Dracul, but this girl came running, shouting your name.”

My breath finally hitched in my throat. I caused Hailee’s death?

Rena taunted, “What’s with those sad eyes, huh? Who was this girl? Some sort of spy?” Her hands set on her hips, and she scowled. “Hey, your superior is speaking to you!”

“Go to hell.”

“What did you just say?”

My wind instantly spiralled out of control, just like my emotions. Before I knew it, a condensed hurricane blasted through the ground, sending chunks of tiles and cement spinning around her.

“Grant! What do you think you’re doing?!” she yelled, but the screaming winds quickly drowned her out.

My instinct was to bury Rena Lowell into the depths of this Earth, but I quickly shook my head and rubbed my temples. Calm down. She was just doing her job. She didn’t know. Even if she did know, she had no obligation to let herself get attacked.

This is her job. This is what vampire hunters do. They hunt vampires!

The winds slowed down. A few seconds before the chunks of cement could’ve fallen, I made the mistake of glancing in Hailee’s direction. I saw her eyelids barely flutter, but they definitely moved.

Something in my head snapped, and I just didn’t care anymore. In response to my silent command, the winds accelerated again. The sharp chunks and pieces tore at Rena’s skin, flooding her cries. Finally, a metal stick struck through her abdomen from behind.

As Rena fell to the ground, I entered Hailee’s line of vision. I couldn’t see any life in her electric blue eyes. I kneeled down, nearly convinced that she was dead until her fingers curled in response to my touch.

My voice gave out, and I whispered hoarsely, “Hailee?”

She looked so exhausted, so done with all the traumas she had to deal with in her life. Her eyes seemed to open wider in response to my voice. After what seemed like a full minute, her dull irises shifted toward me. “Grant? What the…”

She abruptly stopped speaking, but she didn’t even have the strength to cough. I was sure that lifting her up would only worsen the bleeding. The gears in my head spun rapidly, searching for a solution.

As if reading my mind, Hailee continued in a murmur, “Don’t bother. I’m a minute away from death’s door.”

“That’s still one minute,” I quickly said. “Blood would help you heal faster, right? Mine won’t help, but a human’s should, right?”

“It’s not a matter of healing anymore. I literally need Hazel’s mom right now, heh.” The corners of Hailee’s thin lips tugged upward, though I didn’t understand her joke.

I watched, despaired, as she grew paler by the second. My jaw tightened, and I asked, my voice trembling, “Why did you stray from the crowd? You know you’re not the strongest fighter.”

“I caught a whiff of your blood, and I stopped thinking,” she murmured, quieter than before.

For a few seconds, all I could do was stare at her. I choked, “Even after everything I did?”

She ignored my question. “Hey, Grant?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you fan out my hair, so I look like a dying heroine in a movie?”

Hailee could tell that guilt was eating at me. She tried to be silly to lighten my mood, but my eyes only stung more. Still, I did as she asked. I combed out her strawberry blonde hair as gently as I could, then spread it around her head. Through the pain, Hailee mustered all of her remaining strength and smiled at me. Not an ounce of hatred or resentment swam in her half-lidded eyes.

Two streams of tears finally ran down my face, and I couldn’t hold my tongue anymore. “I… I love you. I always did. I still do.”

Suddenly, her demeanour grew tranquil, almost serene. “I know. My instincts are never wrong. I know you love me.” Her weak voice didn’t match her defiant words, and her eyes grew dimmer as she breathed out, “That’s why I could never get over you.”

Before a single tear could even form in her eyes, they closed forever.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to rip my heart out and give it to her if it meant she could come back. I wanted to decapitate myself right then and there so I could join her.

I forced myself to my feet and glanced over my shoulder. Rena Lowell’s body remained in the debris of cement. I planned to leave her there until I heard very faint footsteps rapidly closing in this way. Manipulating the air nearby, I carried their scent to me. I instantly recognized it as Zachary.

If there were any vampire strong enough to kill me within minutes–or seconds–it’d be him.

I took a quick second to assess the situation before me. I left my scent all over this room; it’d be pointless to try to shift the blame now. Besides, I was the indirect cause of Hailee’s death.

I threw Rena’s corpse to the far corner in the other room while circulating the air in this room. When I heard the footsteps enter the tunnel, I retreated into the shadows and waited.

As expected, Zachary set foot inside, but he wasn’t alone. I didn’t expect Hazel to be with him. My heart nearly leaped out of my throat when Hazel cried and screamed, “Come back to life! I wish Hailee would come back to life! She isn’t dead!” She grabbed her hair like a delirious lunatic, nearly resembling my state when I witnessed Hailee’s life slip away.

I deeply exhaled in a futile attempt to gather my own sentiments. This was all my fault. I didn’t enjoy life as a vampire, but if I hadn’t turned traitor, Hailee wouldn’t have been desperate to see me. She wouldn’t have blindly charged into a tunnel that emanated the smell of my blood. Then, she wouldn’t have engaged in battle with a Specialist.

In response to my inner turmoil, my unstable ability unleashed an air blade in a random direction. Before I could disperse it, Zachary yelled, “Hazel, duck!”

There was no turning back now. If I were to claim all responsibility, at least whoever took vengeance for Hailee would have a peace of mind. At that thought, I quickly masked my grief. I let Zachary’s black and red hues locate me.

“I genuinely hoped I wouldn’t see your disgusting face ever again,” he spat.

My entire being was a dead shell, but I forced my voice to morph to that of a mocking one and returned, “Then try to kill me the way I killed her. I know your ability through and through, Zachary, you can’t defeat me.”

“And to think that she thought you loved her. Shitbags like you are the reason why people have fucking trust issues.”

I inadvertently flinched. Zachary always pushed the right buttons to anger just about anyone. He was taunting me to show myself so he could control me. Strange, he’d usually gun for the offensive and gain the upper hand forcefully. I glanced at Hazel, who stood in a novice stance beside him, fists trembling.

I see.

Zachary immediately sensed the change in air pressure around us. Instead of charging at me, he locked eyes with Hazel, sending her bolting out of the room. He lost his best chance to nullify the activation of my power.

I formed a tornado around us. On the outside, the wind was much more intense and threatening, but inside, it felt like a stiff ocean breeze. I first launched several air blades at Zachary, intending to miss. He saw through me easily, but, interestingly, he remained defensive. Usually, even if he knew his opponent sleeved a hidden trick, he’d take the chances and lunge to attack. But he was prudent today as if consciously being more careful to stay unharmed.

“So even you change,” I remarked.

“No one changed. Well, except you, I guess.” Zachary began to close the distance between us. “I fucking told Hailee from day one that the human-turned ones aren’t the same as us. See what happens when she doesn’t listen?”

I gritted my teeth, launching another three air blades at him. This time, I aimed to kill. But they were slow, so he still twisted around them quite easily.

All of a sudden, Zachary’s blazing eyes appeared right in front of mine, firmly locking me in his mind game. I didn’t know what trick he used, but it worked. Granted, I wasn’t as defensive as usual, but he still surprised me.

“I hope Hailee kills your ass in the afterlife,” Zachary muttered. As soon as he slapped a hand on my shoulder, I knew he intended to psychologically torture me to death. I mentally relaxed, welcoming it. I deserved nothing less.

Little did we know, Hazel reset the day just a second before Zachary could do anything.


“I think we can agree that both sides have done horrible things. Have you ever considered that humans and vampires could coexist instead of ridding the entire world of vampires?”

All of my senses narrowed on her. Hazel Dawson. She turned out far more complicated than I ever expected. My first reaction was to deem her idealistic belief impossible, but then I paused. Hazel herself was proof that vampires and humans didn’t have to kill each other.

Perhaps I was wrong? Maybe the best course of action was, as she suggested, coexistence?

I was so drowned in my thoughts I didn’t notice the airflow change until it hit me in the face. Quite literally. Zachary chucked a boulder right at me.

Immediately, something flowed down my forehead. One of the most dangerous qualities of Zachary was his damn unpredictability. How did he even think of carrying a boulder all the way here?

I pushed against the giant rock with all my might, but I wasn’t exactly in the best position to push it off. By the time I finally slipped out, my gaze darted around, only to find Hazel negotiating with Henrietta. But, pretty soon, Hazel’s eyebrows knitted together tightly.

Before I could decipher the situation, Hazel’s arm reached back, and her spear flew to her. In the very same millisecond, Henrietta revealed a hidden dagger and plunged it in Hazel’s chest. I watched with saucer eyes as I helped myself stand beside the boulder.

In the end, Hazel wasn’t an experienced fighter. She left her front side wide open to an enemy right in front of her. I thought the battle was decided, but all of a sudden, Henrietta turned the blade on herself.

To put it simply, everybody was confused.

What just happened?

Even as Henrietta’s body fell to the ground, and Hazel stumbled and tripped, most of us still couldn’t move. By the time Travis released a battle cry and charged forward, the wound on my head healed enough for me to stand. My gaze followed Travis, but he suddenly froze in mid-air. In my peripheral vision, I saw a few distant figures. Among them, I instantly spotted a strawberry blonde wearing a clean, white blouse.

My first instinct was to hide. While everyone was distracted, I zipped to the edge of the picnic area, away from the crowd. I glanced back at her. I hadn’t seen Hailee in years.

I silently watched as Hazel mixed among the vampires as if she was born into it. Eventually, even Kaydence conceded with her efforts and joined them. At that moment, I couldn’t see any difference between any of them.

I then looked at myself. I hid here like a coward. Was I running from my problems this entire time?

My gaze returned to Hailee once more. She was as vibrant as I remembered. She chatted and laughed, entirely comfortable with herself.

I was reminded of why I thought she was amazing in the first place.

I turned my back on the whole commotion and walked away. I seemed to understand myself slightly better now, but I needed time to think.

To think of a new plan.

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