Black Pearl

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The First American Vampire

After the banquet was over, Mrs. Smith and Frank went off to talk privately. Alima thought they made a perfect couple. They were both single and had lost their spouses. Plus, they had so much in common! They were almost obsessed with the culinary arts, travel, and both had a pocket full of dreams. So after the two lovebirds fled to spend some time together, Alima and Matthew were able to do the same. They strolled along the James River. It wasn’t exactly romantic. The James River had more rocks and fallen trees than the river itself but it was still nice.

“Alima.” Matthew said as he watched his step. There were so many twigs and rocks on the ground that one careless move would result in a twisted ankle or a messy accident.

“Yes, Mr. Smith?” Alima smiled teasingly.

“First off, you may call me Matthew. You don’t have to pretend we’re strangers.” Matthew quickly looked at her for a second and returned his gaze towards the rocky ground.

“Matthew.” Alima corrected herself. She stifled an upcoming giggle. “I know you must have many questions.”

“Hundreds.”

“You may ask.”

Matthew’s eyes left the ground he gazed at her. He knew he was risking the chance of slipping and falling into the river but he did it anyway. “How are you even here on land? Did you just magically sprout legs?”

“Actually, yes.” Alima stopped walking and bent down towards the river. She delicately pulled off her long white glove, and then, holding the glove in her other hand, she touched the river water. “I have a tail when wet and legs when dry. But with the exception of freshwater.” Alima stood up and shook her hand. Water droplets flung everywhere. She slipped her glove back on.

“That’s fascinating.” Matthew said, nonchalant. They began to stroll more slowly.

“Any other questions?” Alima asked.

Matthew nudged a stone on the ground with his boot. “No, I’m satisfied. You’re a mermaid. Half fish, half woman. And you’re also my mother’s handmaiden. It’s all fine with me.”

Alima’s expression turned grim. “I’m not a mermaid. I’m a siren. There’s a difference. I’m not some flirtatious bubbly sea-spirit that messes with men. That reminds me of something I should have asked you years ago.” Alima faced him. Their eyes locked. “Aren’t you afraid?”

“Afraid of what? Lightning, demons, spirits, drowning, death, all these things I fear.” He gave her sly smile and it took her a minute to realize he was joking.

Alima gave him a little shove that didn’t turn out to be very little. She pushed him into the river. Alima yelped. Matthew managed to pull himself out but he was soaking wet from head to toe. “I am so sorry!” Alima pulled off both of her gloves to dry him but it was pointless.

But Matthew was far from angry. He let out the most real and hefty laugh. “You’re pretty strong for lady such as yourself.” Matthew twisted his ponytail and water dribbled onto the earth.

“Uh…” Alima was embarrassed but she ended up laughing out loud too. “Thanks.”

Matthew continued walking again. His wet boots squeaked. “But to answer your question, I was a bit afraid at first. You made quite the first impression.” Alima remembered when the sailors first captured her. She squirmed and she tried so hard to claw and bite her way out of the nets but it was useless. She wondered what she must’ve looked like. Savage would be it. Her razor-like jagged teeth and her long unruly claws should’ve been enough to scare the living wits out of any man. But why not Matthew?

“But I figured you were in distress. Having claws and pointy teeth doesn’t make you evil.” He flashed her an assuring smile that made her feel better. Alima couldn’t say anything more. Too many emotions were coursing through her veins. They stopped at the end of the river. Matthew got close to her face and scrutinized her features. “It’s so strange. It appears you haven’t changed a bit since the day I met you.”

Alima lowered her voice as her face drew closer to his. “And you’ve changed too much.” When she had first met him, he was a little seven year-old boy. Now, he must’ve been at least twenty years of age. The years have zipped by so fast.

“Not really. My heart’s still the same.”

Alima backed up and they turned around to walk back to the direction of the pavilion. The sun had set and the sky was left with streaks of pinks and purples. The North star, the first star to show up at night, had appeared. “It’s getting late.” Alima’s pace sped up. “We need to get back before you mother worries.”

Matthew rolled his eyes. “Oh no, mother can wait. Besides, she’s probably necking with Frank.”

Alima gasped. “Matthew! How could you say that about your mother?” Alima folded her arms. “How disrespectful.”

Matthew went up to her and put his arm around her shoulders. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I want to have a little fun. It’s the first time in four years that I’ve gotten to do something besides shoot Brits.”

Alima peeled his arm off her shoulders and, instead, wrapped her arms around the back of his neck. “I have something fun we can do.” Telling by the way Matthew was smirking, he was thinking the same thing. “But you’ve ought to close your eyes.” He obeyed and closed his eyes shut. “And no peeking.” And she went in for a kiss. She loved the warmth of his lips. Alima could still taste a hint of citrus from the lemon bar they’d eaten at the banquet. It was great until they heard the exploding sound of a riffle. They jumped.

“What was that?” Alima said, alarmed.

They both turned around and saw there was a farm not far across them. An old man was standing in front of his fence with a rifle slung across his chest. “Propose or go home!” The old man shouted and he waddled back to his barn.

Matthew rubbed his neck, feeling awkward from the strange event. “That was certainly...unexpected.”

“Agreed. I guess we should get going.” They sped walked until they were absolutely sure the farm was far from them.

“So are all sirens great kissers or__”

Alima punched him in the arm. “Enough soldier boy.”

And they went home.

For years, Alima and Matthew kept their relationship a secret. It was all due to several reasons. For one, it would’ve been scandalous for a white man to court a colored woman. And second, at this time, Alima had not yet fully given up on her long-time diet of human flesh. If she were to be caught, things would’ve turned out a complete disaster-and it did.

A few times a week, Alima would sneak out to feed. Yes, feed. But she would jump in the ocean and swim as far from Jamestown as possible. Lurking on the eastern coast of North America, Alima would silently prowl in the waters and search for any lone men. Usually, she would try to keep her appetite to a minimum and would eat only one to two men. But sometimes, when her hunger reached its peak, it was a total frenzy and she would have to fight sharks to keep her food. Alima was able to keep this routine for up to five years until she was finally caught.

It was a Wednesday night. Alima knew she had about an hour or two before sunrise. She was about to slip back inside the house until someone took her hand.

“Alima, where were you?” Matthew was fully dressed and his eyes were dark and tired. He had stayed up all night searching for her. “I was worried. I thought someone kidnapped you or something!”

“I…” Alima thought her heart was going to stop. Her mind went blank.

Matthew immediately wrapped his arms around her for a tight bear hug. But before Alima could hug him back, his body tensed. He pulled away and his lips thinned as they pressed against each other. Alima became cold. On his left cheek, there was a smear of bright red blood streaked across it.

Matthew wiped the blood off with the back of his hand and looked at it. “Is this blood? Are you hurt?” Matthew searched Alima for open wounds but found that she was completely unharmed. He touched her hair. There was some unknown residue stuck in it. “What is the meaning of this?” Matthew’s desperate expression begged her for answers.

“Matthew, this is exactly what it seems.” Alima tried to get closer to him but with each step forward she took, he backed away. “Please don’t hate me!” she pleaded.

“How many?” Matthew said in a low voice.

“Don’t make me answer this,” Alima whimpered.

“I said, HOW MANY?” Matthew shouted. Alima shriveled.

“I can’t say,” Alima shook her head.

They were both silent. All Alima could hear was Matthew seething. He was furious but also scared. He was wracking his brain with his pondering, wondering, how many men’s lives were lost. He worried if his townsmen would find out. His emotions, his thoughts waged war. Matthew couldn’t even bear to look at Alima.

“I’m really sorry Matthew.” Alima knew she sounded pathetic. Sorry was never going to bring all those men back. But she didn’t know what else to do. She had to eat too if she was going to survive for Matthew. No, she thought. Matthew would never want her now. His image of her, his precious little mermaid, was shattered.

“Just go, Alima.” Matthew said, still avoiding eye-contact.

Alima said in the softest tone possible. “Sure, I’ll be in my room.”

“I mean, go, Alima. Go away.” Matthew left towards the direction away from the house. His hands within his pockets and his boots fading in the distance.

Alima felt like she was stabbed multiple times. Her heart was shattered into millions of pieces. She decided she will go. She’d go far away and never turn back. Matthew would never have to see her again. Alima ran towards the ocean shore. It wasn’t far. But although the distance was short, it felt like forever. The pain she felt was immense. And because she couldn’t cry, it made it a lot worse. Alima kicked off her shoes. She felt the coarse sand between her toes. She took down her hair tie and let her long black hair unravel itself down her back. And lastly, she ripped off her long skirt and dove into the cold waters of the Atlantic ocean. Alima was able to see her long black tail for the first time in years. The coldness of the ocean chilled her heart and part of her pain numbed. She was finally where she belonged, in the ocean as a lonely siren.

“Alimaaaaa!” Matthew shouted and coughed. He lied down on the wooden dock, the same dock he and Alima first met. “Alimaaaa!” He had been at that dock for a whole week. He hadn’t left since. He shouted at the ocean and hoped Alima could magically hear him and come back, but she didn’t.

“Poor child,” said Mrs. Smith to Frank. They watched as their son (or son-in-law to Frank (they got married a few years back) ) shouted hopelessly to the vast ocean blue. “He’s still heartbroken. Why can’t he just accept the fact that the girl is never coming back?” Mrs. Smith said and leaned on Frank’s chest. Frank embraced Mrs. Smith protectively.

“The boy’s lost it, dear. He’s convinced that Alima’s a mermaid. Can you believe it?”

“It hurts to watch.” Mrs. Smith’s voice broke. “It’s been a week.”

“He’ll get over it.” Frank said and sighed. “I was just like that when I lost my first wife. He just needs some time, that’s all. Come, let’s get back inside the house.” Frank and Mrs. Smith left.

Matthew lied on his side. The wooden dock was starting to hurt his back but he didn’t care. He talked to the ocean. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean it, Alima. I didn’t want you to go away forever. Please come back.” He had already said this about over a hundred times, repeating the same line over and over again. But what he didn’t know was that Alima was under the dock, listening to his every word. She missed him too.

Just forget me, Alima wanted to say. She touched the underside of the dock, knowing Matthew was on the other side.

“If you’re worried that I’m afraid of you, I’m not. I promise. I love you.”

And that was enough for Alima to show herself. Alima away from under the dock. When Matthew saw her, he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“A-Alima!” His eyes welled with tears of joy. “Is it really you?”

“It’s me…” Alima said. More than anything, she wanted to hop onto the dock and kiss him right there and then but she knew that it was never going to work out. “Listen, you need to move on.”

But it was like Matthew ignored that last line. He opened his arms wide and said, “I knew you’d come back! Come here, you!” He bended over the edge of the dock to hug her but Alima evaded his grasps.

“Matthew, pay attention!” But again, it was as if he didn’t hear it at all.

Matthew laughed joyfully. “Alima, if you don’t give me a hug right here and now I’m going to jump.”

“NO!” Alima bared her long teeth in defense. She would not allow him to touch her. She needed to get the idea through his dense thick skull that it was just not going to work out. “I swear Matthew, I’ll bite you if you do!”

But Matthew dove in. He swam towards Alima. Alima chomped her teeth. “Matthew, don’t!” “Alima,” Matthew stopped.

“Get it through your head,” Alima said sadly. “I can’t love you. I’m meant to eat you. Why don’t you understand that?”

“You won’t ever hurt me.” Matthew said and swam closer. Alima tensed.

“I can and I will if you get any closer.” Alima said, her long teeth poked out of her lips.

Matthew extended his arm to caress her cheek but Alima impulsively chomped. She had only meant to indirectly bite him but she had ended up chomping him right on his wrist. Matthew screamed in pain. Alima let go of his wrist. Blood poured profusely into the ocean. The water around them stained a bright pink.

“You bit me!” Matthew said, and clutched his wounded hand with his good one. Alima panicked. He was losing so much blood. Alima’s teeth must’ve cut right through his arteries and veins. Matthew’s eyes began to flutter and he fainted.

“No, no, no! Matthew!” Alima held him in her arms. She needed to save him. Then, an idea popped into her mind. There was a story she heard from the siren elders about the magic of siren’s blood. Maybe if she could give some to Matthew… Alima brought her wrist against her teeth and on the count of three, sliced it diagonally. She winced. Alima opened Matthew’s mouth and dripped some of her own blood into him. Instantly, Matthew’s wound ceased to bleed and the teeth holes started to repair itself. Alima thrusted Matthew’s body onto the deck. Alima called for help. When help arrived, Alima kicked her tail and fled into the ocean.

“I don’t get it,” Ally said. “You said his wounds healed. How did he die?”

Phoebe shook her head. “It’s because Alima did the wrong thing. It’s siren flesh that properly heals wounds, not blood. Siren blood can cause some serious mutations.”

Alums nodded. “Although his wounds healed, he got very sick and...and…” Alima was on her back, still floating on the Zambezi river along with the others. Alima couldn’t finish her sentence.

“He died,” Victoria finished her sentence for her.

“Yes,” Alima felt like she was choking on her own words. “He died.”

“So he died.” Victoria said and shrugged. I thought this story had to do with your creation?”

“She’s getting there!” Maria said defensively. “Be patient!”

Victoria grunted. Alima sighed. “At the funeral, Mrs. Smith was so hysterical, she wanted to see her son again before they put him in the ground. But when the casket was opened, there was no body. It was empty. Weeks later, townsmen began to disappear. The bodies that were found were pierced with teeth-marks and were drained of blood.”

“Similar to the deaths of the agents.” Freddy added.

“Yes. They also had wooden stakes impaled through their torsos. Any guesses?”

“Vampire,” Garai said. The sound of her voice gave everyone the chills. Garai had been silent the whole time, listening.

“Exactly,” Alima said. “I had created the first American vampire.”

“Uncle Matthew.” Freddy’s voice was low and grim.

“And he’s still here, isn’t he?” Ally said. Her voice was tiny.

“Yes.” Alima said. And they took a moment of silence and devoted their time to being washed away by the currents of the Zambezi river.

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