My head pulsated, and my throat blazed as if I’d just swallowed scalding water. Every part of my body throbbed as my eyes slowly opened but immediately shut under the room’s unrelenting light. It was as if someone was shining a bright, neon light directly into my eyes, and it burned.
“Emmett! She’s awake.” I heard Alicia’s voice exclaim; however, it felt like she’d screamed the words directly into my ear.
I heard Emmett sigh in relief, “Oh, thank god. Take it easy, Hallie, go slowly.”
“Why are you so loud?” I groaned with the words coming out weak and hoarse from the dry throat.
“We’re not. We’re...oh.” Emmett’s voice trailed off as if he’d suddenly realized something.
“Hang on, Hallie.” Alicia’s voice came more subdued this time and soothing like a lullaby.
I heard heavy footsteps against the wood floor pace around, followed by the sound of masking tape being pulled and torn. Seconds later, the sound of a match being lit and the small hatch of a lantern being closed with a subtle squeak.
“Okay, you can open your eyes now, Hallie,” Emmett spoke with an air of benevolence to his tone.
I slowly opened them again, wincing a little as I did. The room was dark besides a small flicker of light in the corner from the lit candle. However, I quickly realized we weren’t in the house anymore.
“Why...why are we at the Cabin? How did we get here?”
“We’ll explain everything in a minute; just take it easy for a second, let yourself adjust.” Alicia soothed as her hand rested softly on my arm.
“Everything hurts,” I murmured, bringing my hands to my throbbing head.
I felt like the rapacious Wolves who’d beaten me had mangled my entire body. However, as I looked at my arms, there wasn’t a scratch on me, which left me perplexed. I’d at least had a handful of deep cuts on my arms from their claws before I passed out.
Emmett moved slightly, coming beside me, “It will for a moment, but it will subside. Here let me help you sit up.”
Slowly Emmett helped me up with ease, so I was upright. I looked at both of them, staring at me, wide-eyed and waiting.
“Why am I so hungry and thirsty?”
I felt as if I’d not eaten or drunk anything in days. I felt sluggish, washed of all energy as my stomach growled like a hungry lion.
Alicia shuffled awkwardly, her teeth chewing at her bottom lip as if she were anxious, “Hallie, you know we love you, right?”
“What’s going on?” I urged, feeling the weight of their nervous gazes and my lack of knowledge of what had happened.
Emmett sighed heavily, rubbing his eyes with his hands before running one of them through his messy hair, “The attack. The Wolves had injured you too much, and you were too weak from using your powers. They’d also bitten you, and you know what it means when a Wolf bites a Warlock. We couldn’t bear to lose you, Hallie; we couldn’t sit there and watch you die.”
“Hallie, listen to me,” Alicia spoke, drawing my attention from Emmett to her. “Does it feel as if you’ve not eaten or drunk in days? Is every sound around you too harsh? Was the light when you first opened your eyes too intense? And does your body feel as if you’ve been run over by a car a million times?”
“Yes.” I acknowledged, “What happened?”
“We’re so sorry, Hallie.” Emmett’s voice cracked as he spoke. From the melancholy expression, I knew if he could cry, he would be. “We were so selfish. I was selfish, and I acted so foolishly. Alicia tried to stop me, but I didn’t listen. I couldn’t watch you die, and I couldn’t lose you. I fed you some blood, hoping it would help you heal and counteract the poison from Wolf’s bite. However, I didn’t get the blood to you quick enough, and you died, Hallie.”
I blinked rapidly at Emmett for a second before my head shook. He couldn’t have said what I thought he just had. It was impossible; I was here, alive, so how could I have died? “I, what?”
“You died, with Vampire blood in your system.” Alicia confirmed, and my jaw dropped a little, “Our blood has healing qualities, but if you die with Vampire blood in your system, which takes forty-eight hours to clear, you enter transition.”
“I fed you my blood; in the hope, it would heal you quick enough. But it didn’t. You died with my blood in your system. You’re...transitioning, Hallie.”
Suddenly my head spun as I covered my face with my hands. I felt nauseated and as if I wanted to throw up as I tried to process the words they’d just spoken to me.
“I’m a Vampire?” The words tasted bitter on my tongue as I choked them out.
“No, you’re transitioning.” Alicia established, “Hallie; this is where you have two days to make a choice. You can feed, or you can die.”
“You have the shit end of the stick at the moment: the bright lights, the loud noises, the sensitivity, and the hunger.” Emmett proceeded, “You can drink animal blood to ease the effects; it won’t turn you. If you choose not to turn, you can at least spend the next two days doing whatever it is you want to do. We’ll do anything and everything for you.”
It felt as if I were drowning as I listened. Becoming a Vampire is one thing I’d never considered. It wasn’t something I ever thought possible for a Warlock, not that I ever felt it was necessary to enquire about. However, now I faced it; I felt sick and lightheaded at the thought.
“What happens if I turn?”
“Same, shit end of the stick for a little while. However, the human blood rids of all the aches and dulls it out for a little while. Hallie, I am so sorry, I should never have-”
“Emmett, please.” I held my hand up to stop him.
I couldn’t hear him apologize over and over like I knew he would. As much as my emotions at the thought whirled around like a hurricane, I understood. I knew he loved me, as did Alicia. I realized it scared him to think about losing me and did what he thought was right.
“I’m not mad at you for trying to save me.”
“You’re not?” Emmett sounded surprised, and his brows raised with his head cocked to the side.
“I don’t know what I feel, if I’m honest. If I had been you and it had been one of you, I’d have probably done the same, I guess. If I could have saved my brother or my parents that way, I would have done the same.” I let out a loud sigh that stung my throat. “But I don’t know if I want to be a Vampire. I need time to think.”
“Here,” Alicia spoke softly, getting up and retrieving a sealed cup from the fridge, “I know you find it repugnant when you see us drink it, but it will help. It’s animal blood, don’t worry.”
I studied the white cup Alicia held out to me; it looked vile, but it smelled amazing, and it made my stomach grumble. Somehow my sense knew it wasn’t human blood, although I had no idea how, still, my body was screaming for it.
My senses kicked in before I could even reason with myself, and I threw the contents of the cup down my throat.
I choked and spluttered as I gulped it down. I felt like I should be sick; I felt like I should hurl the blood back up. However, my body warmed a little, the aches ebbed, and I felt a little stronger. It didn’t have the most pleasant taste, but yet, I wanted more.
“More?” Emmett held out another cup to me, and I took it without question, chugging that down. “That should be enough for now. Do you feel a little better?”
“Yeah.” I nodded, right before it clicked to me I’d just drank the blood, and the nauseous feeling brewed again, “Oh god, I just drank blood!”
“Yeah, you’ll feel like that the next one hundred times too.” Alicia chuckled, but it was a nervous one, “You’ll hate yourself for it, but your body craves it. And unless you drink, well, it’s kind of like your powers. If you don’t let a small burst of energy out once in a while, it becomes too much. Like a crushing pressure in your chest until it exploded of its own accord.”
“The bloodlust is more or less the same.” Emmett confirmed, “If you don’t feed it, or learn to control it, you lose all control, and the power takes over you until it’s satisfied.”
“You need not feed every day.” Alicia explained, “how often is really down to the individual vampire, but a small animal will typically see you through a couple of days. Human blood, well, that can see you through a week or two.”
“You’re also a lot quicker, agile, alert, and stronger on human blood.” Emmett continued, “Not only that, the smell, the taste, is addictive. Remarkably addictive at that. Once you taste it, especially in the beginning, that’s all your body wants. It’s all it craves until you learn to control it.”
“How long?” I asked, almost fearing the answer; I didn’t know if I could handle not being in control of my sense of self.
That was probably the terrifying aspect for me. I knew it was hard for them to control the urges, and I saw the uncontrolled damage Vampire could cause.
I watched them as they ravished my village in a frenzy. I saw the bloodlust in their angry red eyes, the blood dripping from their lips. I already hated myself for killing Mary, and I couldn’t bear it if I killed another innocent. The thought of losing control and taking innocent lives petrified me.
“Depends. Some find control easier than others. But Hallie, if you turn, we won’t leave your side.” Emmett urged, his eyes full of promise his words were the truth, “We’ll be by you every step of the way, and we won’t let you succumb to the cravings. We’ll teach you everything, and we’ll figure this out as a family. I only wanted to be at least able to say goodbye if you decided not to. The same way you wished you got to see Zachariah one last time. To say goodbye.”
“Could you...could you let me think alone, for a little while?”
I needed time to think without feeling them all around me, thickening the air that was already tense and frightful. It was already difficult to think beyond the hunger and thirst, let alone with their watchful eyes and the atmosphere they were creating.
Emmett nodded, “Come on, Alicia. I’ll go grab some supplies, and you can stand and watch outside.”
“Okay.” Alicia nodded, standing herself up off the bed beside mine.
She pressed a soft kiss to my forehead and gave me a small smile. “Whatever you chose to do, Hallie, know we love you and support you no matter what.”
“We love you.” Emmett leaned down and pressed his lips to my cheek.
“I love you both, too.” I gave them a weak smile before they turned and headed out the door.
I had no clue what I wanted to do. It seemed an impossible choice.
I could become a Vampire like them, stay with them and carry on the life I’d had with them, even if it was one in shadows. Or die.
I didn’t want to die, but I also didn’t want to become a Vampire.
I didn’t want the bloodlust or urges to hurt other people; I didn’t want to kill people as they’d had in the past. I didn’t want to feast on innocent humans or drink their blood, even if it was only from a blood bag. I didn’t want to relive the fears I’d had with my magic. I didn’t want to kill anyone again like I’d murdered sweet Mary.
But equally, the thought of leaving Alicia and Emmett hurt me. I didn’t want to die, and I was still so young. There were so many things I wanted to do and see.
I curled myself under the blanket, feeling a lump form in my throat as water brimmed in my eyes. I had two days to decide on an impossible choice.