XIV. WHEN THE WORSE HAPPENS
There was not a single cloud in the sky to camouflage the eerie glimmering of the moon. The few street lamps bordering the narrow lane, blinked furiously - barely illuminating the pathway. The air was blanketed with an enormous dense silence, making me wonder if I had gone deaf for a minute. The trees waved their bodies hastily – almost as if grieving for an eternal loss, as the sour winds fluttered past them.
None of us spoke a single word as we treaded through the dirt-filled path quickly – the dry leaves crunching underneath our feet. Christina and I were walking at the same pace while Carter was a few steps ahead of us, his body abnormally rigid with tension.
Cameron, on the other hand, trailed behind us, his face covered by a dark grim shadow, despite the moon illuminating the whole path. He did not even try to look at me, or anyone for that matter, since he got down from his bike.
Suddenly, Carter halted in his steps – causing me to walk straight into him.
I was about to curse at him when my eyes fell on the grandiose house in front of me. The peach-colored walls and the beautiful porch being illuminated by the string lights that were intricately curled around the wooden pillars. The glass windows were shut tightly as the sleek black surface glinted in the moonlight – making the house look like having a glow of its own.
My breath hitched when I realized whose house this was.
Taylor and Erik’s.
Surprisingly enough, instead of dead bodies rotting around, the porch was decorated with beautiful and vibrant flowers that had an angelic glow emanating from it. A wooden nameplate was hanging on one of its walls – edges splintered and scraped off.
If Taylor wasn’t a crazy vampire, or his brother a witch, I might have actually liked staying in this house.
But not now.
Through my periphery, I could see Christina’s bright and frantic brown eyes boring into the side of my head.
The heaviness in the pit of my stomach had only intensified. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead and my palms felt impossibly cold. Dread coiled within me and a part of me whispered that it was for something else. Something unknown. Something equally disastrous.
So, ignoring the foreboding feeling, I set out my left foot on the cold, wooden surface of the porch, until I felt warm, large fingers curling around my wrist – preventing me to move forward.
I turned around to find Carter shaking his head at me. His blue eyes were narrowed and his jaw was clenched shut. His jet black hair shined silver under the glow of the moon.
He scrunched up his nose, his eyes still assessing the dark green front door – almost as if expecting a jump-scare.
“What?” I asked as I tried to free my wrist from his grasp, only to have it more strengthened.
“Something’s not right. There’s a horrible stench of blood,” Carter asked, wiggling his thick black eyebrows together.
“So? Isn’t that more the reason to go in? For all I know, she could be hurt,” I replied while glowering at him.
“It’s just...It doesn’t feel right,” Carter mumbled absentmindedly.
Then his focus settled on me, the blue of his eyes – now green due to the yellow glow of the string lights.
“I think you should stay outside. Going in might not be safe.”
“In the darkness? All alone? No thank you,” I retorted by plastering a sickeningly sweet smile onto my face.
Carter was about to speak up when a new voice interrupted us.
“I think Krystal is right,” Christina spoke up for the first time, her soft and collected voice floating like a tune into my ears. Her brown hair cascaded like soft waves of the golden river as the yellow light hit her strands. Her warm doe eyes tinted a shade of rich amber and her parted plump lips held an orange hue as the yellow glow washed over her.
“Letting her stay here all alone might not be the best of ideas. Especially with a newborn vampire around here,” she added – her tone darkening at the end.
“You’re right,” Carter replied with a thoughtful expression.
Carter’s eyes glazed over, almost as if he was measuring the pros and cons of the situation.
“Fine,” he sighed exasperatedly, his lips turning down at the corners.
“But if things go south, I need the time to say ‘I told you so’,” Carter warned – although his voice dropped a hint of playfulness.
I rolled my eyes and tried to pull him to the front door along with me when Christina marched up to us.
Or rather used that inhuman speed of hers.
Geez, I was still getting used to it.
“You can’t go in Carter,” Christina announced, her cheeks flushed and her brown orbs holding a sense of perturbation.
“I mean. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Considering the stench of the blood,” she mumbled, her eyes not quite meeting her brother’s.
Carter didn’t reply. Instead, he clenched his jaw shut, a muscle prominently ticking underneath his fair skin. I could see the storm raging beneath his blue irises. The storm he was trying to withhold. The rough wind hurtled past us, ruffling both mine and Carter’s hair in the process. He looked distressed again, his sharp gaze fixed on Christina, and I wondered how many family secrets I would have to encounter.
Although, quickly, he shook off the vulnerable demeanor as an easy smile slipped onto his lips. Letting go of my wrist, he walked a few steps back from us, tucking his hands in his jeans’ pocket.
“Okay. I was planning to worship nature anyways,” he drawled shrugging his shoulders slightly.
Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Christina heaving a huge sigh, her previously lost eyes looking a little serene.
“Okay then. Let’s bring down the bastards,” I announced, my voice laced with determination and a hint of fear. Fear of what they did to Maria. Fear of whether she was alive or not. Fear of what she had become.
Inhaling a gallon of air into my lungs, I strolled up to the front door, my index finger hovering over the white plastic key of the bell. But before I could press it, a painful gust of wind sashayed by my side – almost knocking me off my feet. My eyes widened when I saw Cameron standing in front of the entrance, and the door hanging loosely off its hinges beside him.
“What the...” I trailed off, my mouth too wide open to function properly.
Cameron smirked, his grey eyes translucent under the yellow wash of the porch.
“Oh come on. You can’t seriously think that they haven’t heard us. Not when we were standing outside for the past ten minutes,” he said, his gaze fixed on me.
“Besides, after what they did with Maria, I think the repairing bill should be the least of their concerns,” Cameron retorted, a ghost of a smile forming on his thin lips.
And without any further word, he walked into the house, Christina following him closely behind.
I threw a glance back at Carter – almost involuntarily.
His blue eyes were watching me intently, a dark look coating them now. His lips curved up at me, as a lame attempt to smile, while he brought two fingers near his head as a salute. Flicking them off at me, he sauntered further away from the house.
Smiling, I turned around and entered the house.
The coldness hit me like a hard punch in the face as I passed the threshold. The pastel blue walls were illuminated by the small halo on the right wall. I let my eyes wander around the room for a moment, taking in the immaculate furniture, the small lamp on the center table, and the eerie silence.
A thin string of sweat rolled down my tanned forehead as an unsettling feeling rose within me.
“Something’s not right. The stench is horrible now. And they have heard us. Why is it so silent then?” Christina voiced my thoughts.
“No, it isn’t. Taylor’s right here,” Cameron’s Irish accent had a grave tone to it.
“Oops. Caught me,” a high-pitched giggle resonated above us.
I slowly trailed my eyes upwards to find Taylor leaning against the staircase casually, her blonde hair nesting as a braid on her shoulder. Her orange lips quirked in the corners as her pale blue eyes assessed Cameron with intrigue.
“Where’s Maria?” Cameron gritted through his teeth, his fists clenched by his sides.
Taylor shrugged, walking down the stairs slowly as if she was in an advertisement shoot.
“Who?” she raised one of her perfectly knitted blonde eyebrows, her eyes gleaming with a knowing glint – betraying her words.
Her gaze then slid behind Cameron and a frown curved her lips.
“You know,” she started, her eyes returning and lazily roaming over Cameron’s face.
“Some of us actually have to work to afford this house. You can’t just destroy the furniture like that. Jesus!” she exclaimed softly, her palm reaching up to her forehead.
Cameron was about to speak up when I beat him to it.
“Where the fuck is Maria, Taylor?” I hissed at her.
At that, her chilly gaze fell upon me, turning my insides ice cold. A shiver ran down my spine as her lips curled upwards – in a wicked smile.
“Oh, hi Krystal. Pretty bold of you to sass the owner of the floor you’re standing on. Especially when she’s a vampire,” her eyes gleamed antagonistically as she spoke in a sickeningly sweet voice.
“You won’t kill me,” I deadpanned, my body heating up with rage.
“True. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to,” she snarled, her mouth wide open to reveal the pearly white fangs.
I flinched but stayed rooted to my spot. Getting intimidated is what she wanted and I would rather anything but give her satisfaction.
So, instead, I scowled at her.
“Where is she, Taylor? And why is there this horrible stench of blood surrounding this place?” Christina asked, her voice assertive.
“What have you done to her?” Cameron inquired, his eyes narrowed at her.
“Oh trust me. I didn’t do anything. Your friend was capable enough to do things herself. It’s not my fault that you didn’t feed her. Poor soul,” she pouted as her dead blue eyes glimmered under the white shine of the halo. It was almost as if she was enjoying herself.
But before anyone could react, she was six inches up in the air, large and fair fingers wrapped perfectly around her pale throat. Her eyes widened and her hands immediately shot up – trying to free herself from the death’s grasp.
Cameron’s deep grey eyes looked thunderous and feral, the veins on his forearms prominent underneath the fair skin as he held her up. His red shirt clung tightly to his body and his jaw clenched sharp enough to cut through any object.
“Where is she?” he drawled, enunciating every word slowly.
“What makes you think I will tell you?” Taylor laughed bitterly and at this his grip only tightened.
A sudden thought pierced through my brain cells.
“Cam, if you can smell the blood, why not get the direction?” I asked, dragging my teeth across my bottom lip.
He turned to give me a non-plussed look. Then spoke up, “Our noses don’t work like that. We can’t determine direction Krystal.”
He turned his focus back on Taylor, his grey eyes turning glacial cold.
“Don’t test me, Taylor,” he gritted through his teeth, his fangs now glinting in the bright light.
Taylor laughed again, although she seemed to be struggling this time. Her pale hands were wrapped hastily around his wrist, trying wrench free of his grasp.
“You can’t kill me, Cam. You don’t kill. That’s just not you,” she sneered at him, wheezing at the same time.
"True. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to,” Cameron hissed, repeating Taylor’s words from earlier.
Taylor looked petrified for a moment. Her eyes frantically bore into Cameron, as if begging him to let go. But his grip only remained intact.
“You...,” she wheezed, gasping for breath.
I wanted to tell Cameron to let her go. That this was not the way to do things. That this violence didn’t suit him. But I would be lying if I say that I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t care if this made me a horrible person, but for all I cared, Taylor could go to hell.
“...back...yard,” she completed, her pale skin losing its faint colors now.
Cameron immediately let her down. But before any of us could even comprehend anything, he snapped her neck - causing a sickening crunch to resonate through the night.
I watched in horror as her limp body slumped down onto the floor, her hand hitting the leg of the black table – inducing it to jerk a little. I trailed my eyes away from her to body glance at Cameron.
His chest rose up and down heavily, the redshirt barely fitting his figure. A curl of jet black hair stuck to his damp forehead, now glistening under the glow of the halo. His jaw was still slightly clenched but his fangs had thankfully disappeared. His grey eyes held a bored glance, but I could see the fire burning within them.
He looked pissed off as hell, and I knew that Taylor was the one who snapped his last straw.
Cameron just killed Taylor.
But somehow I couldn’t bring myself to care about it.
“Let’s go,” he announced, this time looking directly at me.
I managed to supply a subtle nod as I proceeded to follow him.
Christina was by my side within a second, her warm fingers threading through mine. Although, I didn’t feel the usual comfort.
“Where is Erik?” I asked as I finally realized that he wasn’t there.
“I don’t know. You really think Taylor would keep her brother around a newborn vampire?” Christina asked and I shrugged.
“Are witches immortal too? I mean how can Taylor be a vampire and still have her brother then?” I asked, my eyes scanning the field for any sight of Maria.
“Taylor isn’t much old. She was turned only a few years ago,” Christina replied, her brown eyes tinting black in the darkness as we walked across the field splayed behind their house.
I nodded at her and didn’t bother to ask many questions.
The moon had long ago disappeared and the sky was painted a deep shade of blue – almost black. I shivered as the sour winds flapped against my camisole, pulling at the strands of my securely tucked air.
Through the air, came the smell of blood. My stomach twisted and a nauseating feeling crept up on me as we neared the distance further.
The stench became overwhelming when we came across the garage, the door tightly shut by an old rusty lock.
My eyes instantly locked with Christina’s brown ones as a cold shudder racked through my spine. Dread and fear coiled in my gut and my hands were itching to break free the shutter and walk into the garage.
But before I could do that, a loud bang shattered the silence of the inky night. I trailed my eyes away from Christina to find Cameron kicking the lock and the shutter. Again.
After a few tries, the lock came loose and we were pretty sure that by this time, the person behind this had already been warned of our presence.
A bright yellow light washed over us – momentarily blinding me due to the sudden transition from dark to light. However, soon after adjusting my eyes to the sickening brightness, I felt my heart lurch out of my body.
Three dead bodies were lying in a heap in the corner of the room. Each one looking ghostly pale in the glow of the bulb, dry blood staining their clothes and neck.
And I knew them very well.
Cause they were my classmates.
“Krystal,” I heard a familiar croak and my eyes immediately snapped up to the source of the voice.
My eyes widened when I saw Maria looking at me, her brown eyes drooping with sadness and vulnerability. The brown hue tinted a rich shade of gold as the yellow light reflected in her eyes. Her orange cheeks were stained with tears, honey blonde hair looking disheveled and there were red smudges all over her clothes. My eyes trailed to the corner of her chapped lips where a thin line of crimson was prominent.
She took a step towards me while I, almost involuntarily, took a step backward – my feet bumping against something soft.
I had to bottle down a scream when I realized it was Bethany’s hand – one of the fellow cheerleaders. Her blonde hair was matted with blood and there was a huge gash on the side of her neck, where Maria had bitten her. The upper part of her short blue dress had turned a deep purple and her sapphire-like eyes lacked its usual liveliness.
She was dead.
I gulped. My heart was beating out of my chest and I was pretty sure that everyone in the room could hear me like a loudspeaker.
“Krystal...” she croaked again, her voice quivering.
“What’s happening to me? What...what have I done?” she whimpered, her eyes focusing on the heap of bodies, as a single tear escaped her already broken eyes.
I didn’t know whether to feel relieved that she was safe or terrified that she killed three innocent persons. Not to mention the immediate stab of fear that raced through me when my eyes landed on her lips.
The first few days are dangerous.
Cameron’s words rung in my ears as an involuntary shudder racked through my spine.
“I...uh...” I stammered, my body racking with nerves. Fear erupted in every organ of my body.
“I didn’t want to do this Krys. Trust me. But I couldn’t stop either,” she mumbled, her brown eyes pleading to me.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think straight.
All I knew was how much this was going to affect Maria. The girl who used to feel terrible for the animal attack victims; now becoming the animal herself.
Tears pricked behind my eyes but I refused to cry. I can’t break. I never did.
“I feel so hungry,” she whines, “it’s insatiable.”
I trailed my eyes up at Maria to find her already looking at me. However, the previous sadness had vanished from her eyes and instead was replaced with something primal. Something almost animalistic.
“You smell so good,” she mumbled as she sniffed the air between us, which smelled nothing but stale due to the blood.
My blood turned cold when I realized what she meant.
Suddenly my legs felt heavy and locomotion felt like a foreign topic to me. My eyes widened in terror as fear and adrenaline rushed in my veins. I could hear Christina beckoning me to run, her firm voice buzzing in my ears. But my eyes stayed focused on Maria, the hazel orbs glittering on her brown ones.
She wasn’t in her senses. It was the hunger. Cameron warned me about it.
But somehow I still couldn’t let go of the fact that she wanted to kill me.
And potentially everyone.
My worries were confirmed when a malicious sneer graced her lips, allowing the pearly white fangs to be revealed, with the hint of fresh blood glinting on them.