VI. WHEN THE DARKNESS COMES OUT
on the car ride to the Harveys, to say the least was boring. Heavy and thick tension filled the car as no one spoke a single word. Christina was sitting in the front with Carter driving the car while I was seated in the back. Cameron couldn’t come with us because it would have been too suspicious for all the four of us going missing so he stayed back. This added more to my nervousness because Cameron had always been that easy-going nature. An assuring company. But Christina has been giving me the cold shoulder today so I wasn’t much sure of her. And let’s not talk about Carter. We have a strong and mutual feeling of dislike towards each other, but he is, unreasonable.
Christina once glanced at me through the rearview mirror and when I looked back at her, she averted her eyes. Carter on the other hand kept his sharp jaw clenched all the while throughout the drive. This didn’t at all turn out the way I planned it to be.
When Carter first dropped the bomb about me going with them, I was furious. But then when Carter made it clear that he was going to make this happen no matter what, I made a plan inside my head. They were hiding something huge. Something that could change the whole world. And this was my chance to grill them for the answers. Even though I was excited about the idea back then, I should have thought that they have the upper hand here. I can’t achieve anything with them. I mean how could you grill people for answers on the way to their home when they brought you here to wipe off your memories.
And don’t even get me started on how Carter managed to get the rest day off for all the three of us, without any sickness or anything. He did his eye thing,(which he failed doing with me) to the principal and compelled him to forget about all the three of us being present in the school. The principal’s eyes turned glassy and had that distant look on his face like he didn’t belong here. That same look was on Jayden that day on the building. A question suddenly popped in my mind.
Was he being compelled too? Was this the reason he was committing suicide? Does he even have any idea regarding any of this?
The principal gave us a mere nod and signed our leaves. I gaped at the scene in astonishment, earning an annoying smirk from Carter. If he was able to do this to him, then why not me. But I guess I’m glad. Nobody would want their memories to be wiped off. Our brain is like our home. It holds our every thought and secrets; and someone going through them is equivalent to someone going through your underwear collection. So whatever my brain chemistry is, I’m thankful for that because I wouldn’t appreciate the invasion into my brain. Not to mention the after-effects of compulsion. Anything can be done by anyone through that and that is clearly not something you would want.
“What’s going on in that little head of yours?” Carter spared a glance at me through the rear-view mirror. Some of the earlier tension has dissipated a little as his shoulders slumped a bit , though his jaws were still clenched.
“About how I’m going to be your lab rat,” I thought of fighting my way through them, but the little incident on the rooftop reminded me that my skills were of no use to their brick-hard strength.
Carter laughed at my words, “Not really. We’ll just make observations.”
Christina spoke up for the first time since the drive started, “What’s the plan?”
He glanced once at me and then spoke to Christina, ” We try it one last time. Not normal compulsion. You know what I mean. If it works, then good. And if it doesn’t well....she’s like us. Not totally. We gotta figure that out. ”
Dread and fear-filled every nerve of mine. We are not talking about normal people here. The initial excitement of knowing answers faded in me as the reality of what could happen settled heavily on my stomach forming a knot. The more scary thing was that I had no idea what they are going to do me once they figured out whatever they wanted to, and I hated this powerless feeling. One of the main reasons I learned Martial Arts was because I didn’t want to feel powerless. Not after spending a crappy childhood.
“What are you guys? And don’t divert me because now that we are here, don’t you think I at least deserve to know what’s happening?” I spoke up before I could stop the flow of words.
Carter and Christina exchanged a dark look before Christina spoke up, “Would you believe us?”
“Considering everything that’s happening. Belief or no belief isn’t an option anymore. Really,” I replied.
Carter laughed and I hated the feelings it stirred inside of me, “Okay. Fair point.”
“So,” I trailed off in an interrogation tone.
Carter sighed while Christina glanced at him wearily. He finally spoke up, “We’re the most dangerous creatures of the night. We-”
Christina cut him off with an eye roll, ” Oh quit the dramatics. We’re vampires,” she said in such a nonchalant way as if she got a McDonald’s happy meal.
I took a full minute to absorb the information.
“What? Is this some sort of joke?” my voice rose.
“I wish it was Krystal. But that’s the reality. How can you never doubt us?” Christina gave me a bored look.
I was reminded of the supernatural speed on the first day, on the day in the restaurant, the strength, and the healing.
Oh, God. It all makes sense now.
But before I could reply anything, Carter declared in a booming voice, “Home Sweet Home!”
He parked the car in the driveway of a large house, while Christina just rolled her eyes and got out of the car.
“Thank you so much for the enthusiasm sister,” Carter commented while I got out of the car, still in a daze of their earlier words.
“Whatever. Can we get this over with? I have places I need to be,” Christina retorted.
Carter started with another of his snarky comments, “Last time I checked, it was school....“, but Christina had already strutted off into the house by that time.
“Uh...nevermind”, he glanced at me and spoke, “Are you coming?”
Being still at a loss of words, I nodded and walked towards their house as if it was the sanest thing to do.
Their house wasn’t like the typical ones you see in the movies or read in books. Sure enough, it was huge, but not like a mansion. Their house in fact looked very comfortable and less vampire-likely. I don’t know how I imagined a vampire’s house to be, probably because a few hours ago I never knew that they existed, but I guess they should have been more looming, or spooky. Their house also had a huge mirror in the entryway and I found myself looking at my reflection.
I was wearing a maroon tank top with denim shorts and my black leather jacket. My brown hair was a mess due to the drive, so I smoothened it with my hand as much as I could to avoid looking like a madwoman.
The interior was also quite as simple as the exterior of their house. Even though their house was large but it didn’t scream lavishness or extravagance. Christina sat on the loveseat while Carter sat in one of the chairs in their kitchen. She motioned for me to sit down, but I didn’t.
Fear finally settled full-fledged in my stomach. They are vampires. They kill for survival. They consume human blood. I have never been more terrified in my entire life because I always knew I could defend myself. But how can I defend myself from people who should have been dead? For God’s sake dead! But here they are. Walking and being more powerful than I ever could with all my life combined. Oh god, how did I end up here?
Curiosity killed the cat, is so fucking true.
“You might have a lot of questions,” Christina’s voice was surprisingly soothing.
“Questions? Oh my God. You are killers. Oh, fuck! You kill people,” I was yelling now.
Christina gave me a sympathized look and I narrowed my eyes at her. Where’s this emotion coming from? She probably realized it too because she spoke up, “What’s wrong?”
“You have been giving me the old shoulder all day. And now you’re oh so sweet,” I mocked.
Realization dawned upon her as she spoke her next words, “Krystal. I didn’t mean to. It’s... it’s just that a lot of things are going on and you have just become an extra problem that we really could have done without wanting to deal with. But you can’t be compelled. So you see? It’s a problem for us. You saw Cam. And now you know what we are.”
She massaged her temples and now when I looked at her she really looked stressed. She even looked a lot older than she was because of the tension in the creases of her forehead. But nothing could dampen my fear and hence I tried to move towards the door when a hand grabbed my wrist.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” spoke the all too familiar rough voice.
This time I spun around, “Oh yeah? What would you do? Watch your own death? I’m sorry but that option doesn’t sound so appealing to me,” I spit the words at him.
Carter’s eyes widened for a moment, “You think we’re going to kill you?”
“Isn’t that what you do?“I retorted while he ran a hand through his hair - making a dark lock fall on his forehead.
“Krystal. We’re not saints. But we do try to restrain ourselves. We feel guilt too. And we wouldn’t kill you,” Carter’s tone was also surprisingly soft.
“And why should I believe that?” I crossed my arms over my chest.
“Because you are our friend. We don’t want to lose you. Or Maria. You’re safe with us”, Christina rose from the loveseat. I forgot that she was here watching my and Carter’s exchange.
I gave them a mocking laugh.
Christina looked down at her feet guiltily and said, “I understand you. Anyone would have that reaction. But trust me, you will be safe with us. We don’t harm our friends. Besides we practice our control-”
“Even though I look like a blood sausage to you?” I retorted.
Carter snorted at my comment and even Christina was trying to hide a smile.
“Anyway, the point is we would never hurt you, Krystal. Never,” I looked at Carter in question but Christina understood it first before he did.
“No. No one would. Besides, you should know, Cameron and I keep our brother in check”, Christina replied, a teasing smile slightly curving the corners of her lips.
Carter seemingly has understood it by now, scoffed at this, and looked at me, “I’ll never even think of hurting you. Do you think that low of me?”
“Well. You haven’t certainly given me reasons not to. So yes,” this time Christina snorted, while Carter glared at her.
“So? Will you trust us?” Christina seemed to pick her words carefully.
“That’s a strong thing to ask for,” I laughed even though it wasn’t a funny situation. I thought about the situation for a while. They are my friends, well, not Carter exactly but Christina and Cam have been. And so far, they haven’t done anything to hurt me. Besides if they really wanted to kill me then they could have done that in the drive and disposed of my body easily. They wouldn’t have taken the trouble to bring me to their home and reveal their identities. But no matter what, I’m not letting my guard down because if something goes bump, I’m not going down without a fight.
Christina peered at me through her lashes while Carter stood silent - both of them waiting for my answer.
“No, I don’t trust you. You didn’t quite act as trustworthy. So if you want my trust you need to earn it. Besides, what’s the point? You’re going to compel me and I’m going to forget all of this and then move on with my life. So please after we’re done here, I don’t want to keep any contact with you guys. I don’t want this. You kill people for God’s sake!” I exclaimed and Carter was about to open his mouth when Christina stopped him.
I took this as my cue to speak, ” But I’m going to cooperate here you guys with whatever you need. I’m sorry. You guys are my friends and I hate to do this. But once this is done. We’re done. I don’t think I really need this supernatural drama in my life.”
Christina gave me a look that showed pure hurt while Carter gave me an impassive look which made doubt my words.
“It’s okay. We get it,” Christina gave me a small smile which I returned forcibly.
After that Christina excused herself and went to the kitchen to make us breakfast, while Carter went somewhere for God knows what. In the meantime, I was roaming the place for having a good look at the house and was also trying to have a good perspective on what really happened.
“You took the situation surprisingly well,” Christina grinned at me from the kitchen.
“Well, I’m not the panic kind. Calmer minds always prevail,” I tried to return her grin but I couldn’t. She noticed this too but didn’t say anything, only gave a chuckle which seemed quite forced.
The house had modern types of equipment and furniture like all other houses, except there, were lots of paintings. And by lots, I mean lots. Some belonged to the medieval age, while some belonged to the ancient and stone age.
“Who’s been fond of paintings in your family?” , I asked Christina while looking at a painting of a man and a woman in a garden looking at each other fondly.
“My father,” her answer was somewhat curt.
“Oh. He doesn’t live here anymore?”
“No,” there was a strange finality in her tone indicating that the topic is closed.
I tried to change the topic, “So you’re not like Edward Cullen?” I glanced at her and she laughed at this.
“Oh no. Please. We’re not in any way like that sparkle kid. I mean that’s crazy,” she gave a light chuckle and turned back to chopping vegetables.
“You know, I never thought that vampires would exist or that I would be in their home eating breakfast,” I looked at another painting, ” or that they would be interested in art,” I chuckled to myself.
“Hey! We do have passion and interests as you do. That’s a low blow, Krystal,” Christina playfully scoffed at me while trying to hide her grin. At this moment she didn’t at all seem like a dangerous vampire hunting for blood. In fact, she looked just like me, a teenager. I realized maybe they are not the blood hunting zombies, after all, maybe they do have humanity in them and maybe I shouldn’t have said those.
But a particular painting caught my eye. It was about nine people standing together in front of a fire holding a human head. They were wearing long robes, so their faces and bodies were covered. I looked down to see that the painter was signed as ‘Luke Grant’. He seemed unfamiliar because in every painting there was no name written but a ‘Harvey’ sign was there, making this the only exception.
“Hey, Christina? Who’s Luke?” I asked her while looking at her and saw a dark look crossing her features. But before she could answer, Carter came back to the dining area.
He looked at both of us and a devilish smirk formed on his full lips.
“Buckle up ladies. Mission ‘compel Krystal’ is on.”.