When my phone rang showing Scarlett’s number I didn’t know what to expect. I hesitated a moment before answering.
“If this is about what happened yesterday I-“
“Nick?” the female voice that spoke was not Scarlett’s.
“Who is this?” I asked sharply, suddenly worried.
I almost dropped the phone in surprise. Glancing at the clock I realised that it was barely ten in the morning. Scarlett would not be awake. I pushed aside my questions about her ghostly use of the phone. “What’s going on?” I asked, wary of Scarlett’s roommate.
“Can you come to our house please? It is an emergency.”
“What’s going on?” I said again, more suspicious. Lillian had attacked me the last time I had visited; I had no reason to trust her now.
“I can’t explain on the phone. Just please come, it’s about Scarlett she needs… help.”
The phone call ended with a click and I ran my hand through my hair with frustration. I didn’t like it but I knew I was going to go and see what was happening. Something in me would not stand by if Scarlett was in danger.
I took my bike to get there quicker. Thankfully my mother was out with my sister, she would be furious to know where I was going. As I pulled up in front of the old grand house Scarlett shared, the front door opened to reveal a guy who watched me cautiously with dark eyes.
I held my hands up to show that I had come peacefully. “Hi, I’m Nick.”
He shook my hand. “Amir, I live upstairs. You should come inside.”
I followed him into the house, taking care not to walk mud onto the light carpet. The door to Scarlett’s apartment was already open as we entered. To my surprise I saw Scarlett herself sitting on the sofa, awake despite the time. Lillian sat next to her, looking very grand but out of place in her old fashioned evening wear. I still found it hard to wrap my head around the fact that she was a ghost, the idea was so impossible.
After a moment I realised that Scarlett was crying; her face was red and tearful as she stared at me. “You came.” She said quietly.
Suddenly it registered that she was crying real tears- not blood like I had seen before. I stared in astonishment as I looked at the flush of her cheeks, not fully comprehending what I was seeing. “What…?” I didn’t dare ask the question.
Lillian stood up with a swish of skirts and stalked over to me. “I called you because she asked for you and I don’t know what to do. Do not mistake that for trust. You lay one finger on her maliciously and you are dead.”
“What’s going on?” I breathed, too shocked to be afraid of her.
Lillian hesitated as she analysed my expression. I don’t know what she saw there but whatever it was made her thaw slightly. “A witch did something to her this morning. She’s not a vampire anymore.”
The words not a vampire spun in my head as I moved around Lillian and went to Scarlett. Carefully I knelt down in front of her. “Is it true?” I asked still in wonder. The implications spun in my head- could there be a cure for vampirism?
To my surprise this brought on a fresh wave of tears and she put her head in her hands. “It’s terrible.” She moaned to my surprise. “You have to help me. I need to find a way out of this.”
I blinked, abruptly understanding that she was clearly not as happy about this change as I was. The tears I had took for joy or relief were actually misery and sadness. “Scarlett, this could be a blessing.” I told her, confused.
“A blessing!” She stared at me, appalled and angry. “This is a curse! I am weak, powerless. I need to find a way to reverse this before the vampires in this city eat me alive.”
“So this is about fear?” I asked, confused. “We can find a way out of this, find ways to protect you. You don’t need to become a monster again for that.”
She jumped to her feet in frustration and I followed suite, taking a couple of steps back. “This is not about fear!” She snapped. “I like being a vampire. It’s all I know, it’s my life. I want it back… now.”
“How can you want that?” I breathed, unable to comprehend anyone wishing for such a cursed state.
“It’s my life.” She repeated more firmly, meeting my eyes. I could see the desperation and –no matter how much she denied it- fear in her expression.
Something in me softened. “What do you want to do?” I asked.
Scarlett looked down, studying her folded hands. “I don’t know. I need to find out more information; I need to know what has happened to me.”
I frowned as I thought. “You said it had something to do with a witch?”
She launched into the full story of what had happened. Taking a seat on the sofa I waited and listened patiently. Lillian and Amir sat across from us, also listening.
“So, I guess that this is some sort of revenge.” Scarlett finally finished, waving at herself in disgust.
“It’s a shame Linda is dead.” I mused, “She seemed… nice.” Plus she might have been able to help with this, I added silently.
“Yes I liked her.” Scarlett agreed.
“Nice or not,” Lillian cut in sourly, “Her sister did this, she should pay.”
“Maybe we should figure out exactly what… this is, before we start any revenge plans.” Amir suggested, looking concerned by Scarlett’s murderous expression.
Scarlett’s attention shifted back to me. “That’s where you come in.” She said, “I am aware that your mother probably wants to kill me right now… but is there any way that we could get access to some of your books? The collection is extensive, it might cover this.”
“Surely if his family had information about turning vampires back to humans, they would be doing it to everyone?” Lillian asked sceptically, still looking at me with distrust.
I shook my head, “Not necessarily, if it has something to do with witchcraft my dad wouldn’t have considered it. Plus there is also the added possibility that it could be in an unknown language.” I bit my lip, thinking. “My mother is not going to be happy if she knows I’m involved in any of this, but I could go home now and grab some books and bring them here. We could start looking through stuff?” I ended with a question, looking to Scarlett for confirmation.
She nodded absently. “Ok, that sounds like a plan.”
I got to my feet, watching her worriedly. I wasn’t sure how to handle this new more fragile version of Scarlett. I was used to her being basically indestructible. “I won’t be long.” I said, leaving the room.