Chapter 2: May it be remembered
By the time I woke up again my head felt like it was back on my shoulders and not floating around somewhere in space.
I groaned as I pushed myself to my hands and looked around. The street was dark and only a few candles of the street lights were lit, honestly it looked like we were back in the Dark Age. It felt like it as well.
Some humans were lucky; if they had solar panels they could keep them and use the electricity they gave. The rest of us were stuck with candles. Candles that barely gave any light and that presented the possibility and ability to burn your house down to the ground.
I muttered some pretty bad things about the stupid vampire under my breath as I gathered my things and stuffed a few lost looking sweet potatoes in the bag they had fallen out of.
I didn’t look back to that place again as I walked home.
When I arrived home Paul was impatiently pacing in front of the stairway that lead to our house. He looked up to see me and relief flooded his face. Without wasting another second he ran towards me and threw his arms around me, “Oh! I’m so glad you’re safe!” He pulled away, holding me at an arm’s length so I could see the disapproving frown on his face as he scolded me, “Where were you? I’ve been worried sick! I mean, we have all been worried sick!”
I laughed as I pulled him closer and hugged him, “I’m perfectly fine now that I’m home. I had to stop to… um… donate some blood.” I admitted softly, trying not to ruin his mood. He hated vampires as much as anyone else and he did not appreciate them drinking our blood whenever and wherever they pleased.
His frown of concern deepened, “Are you alright?” He looked at my neck carefully and I patiently waited to hear how bad the damage was. His eyes were filled with confusion when they met mine again after a while of him searching for the bite mark, “Where did the thing bite you?”
I touched the left side of my neck where I though the mark would be, but I couldn’t find it with my fingers, “Here somewhere.” I said, gesturing in general.
Paul inspected my neck for a moment more, “There’s nothing there.” he finally said. “Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?”
I glared at him, “Look jerk, I think I can tell if I was bitten or not.” I thoughtfully scratched my cheek and a light went on in my head, “He licked it.”
“He licked it?” Paul asked doubtfully, “Most of them do you know.” His voice became mocking, “Can’t let any of their ‘precious food’ go to waste.”
I shook my head, “This was different, it itched like it was healing for a moment and then… nothing!” I looked at Paul with wide eyes, “A vampire healed me! Is that even possible?”
He shrugged, “I don’t know; there are a lot of things about those demons that we still don’t know.” A bright smile suddenly overtook his features, “Anyway, come on birthday girl, we have to celebrate!”
He put an arm around my shoulders and steered me towards the stairs. I reluctantly let him push me along since my mind was still busy buzzing at the possibility of a vampire having magical healing spit.
We lived in an apartment where the entrance looked so shady no dared come close to it. It was a small door with a narrow dark staircase that lead to our rooms above a few old shops. It wasn’t much, but it was home.I could see the candlelight playing against the wall I let out a sigh of relief.
I was safe and so was my family.
A wonderful smell wafted down to us and I grinned at Paul, “What did you make? It smells divine!”
Paul laughed, “You know I can’t cook to save my own skin.” I pouted unhappily and he chuckled before he added, “But I did tell Janessa what to make.”
I cheered as I entered what might have been classified as our living room. Janessa always cooked us healthy foods and although it was good for our bodies it wasn’t good for our state of being. Whatever the smell was coming from definitely wasn’t healthy and my mouth began to water, “What is it?” I asked Paul eagerly.
My eyes widened, “No way! Where did you get the ingredients?” Paul shrugged nonchalantly. I threw my arms around his neck again, “You really are amazing.”
He bashfully waved me off, “Think nothing of it. Just so you know, I want pizza for my birthday.”
I immediately let go of him, “Oh.” I said, “I see how it is.” I crossed my arms over my chest and turned away from him. That jerk was only thinking of himself.
He was about to say something else when my sister waltzed into the room with a steaming bowl full of meaty goodness.”Oh, Ash! How good of you to show up! We’ve been worried.” She put it down and came to hug me, “Happy birthday little sis!”
I squirmed to get out of her grip, “Didn’t you already wish me a happy birthday this morning?”
She shrugged, “You only have one birthday a year, make good use of it.”
“Yeah, yeah.” I said unenthusiastically.
“Ashira Carson!” My sister boomed, “You will enjoy this day!”
I laughed nervously and I fell down ona chair at the dining table, “Of course. I’m enjoying it already.” The lasagne wasn’t burnt, which was a miracle in itself since she’d had to have cooked it over a fire.
Paul sat down next to me and Janessa sat across from me. She smiled brightly and screamed at her boyfriend to come join us “Caleb! Food’s ready!”
The lanky brunette stumbled into the room a moment later and grinned at us. “Finally birthday girl, we thought you-” he tripped over the potted plant in the corner of the room and went face first into the floor.
We all laughed at him when he quickly pulled himself to his feet with his cheeks tinted pink, “I meant to do that.”
Caleb was Paul’s brother and their parents had been our neighbours before that day. After our parents had been killed- because they’d put up too much of a fight- we kind of just stuck together.
Things got a little more difficult when Janessa fell for Caleb. It was just so different.
Paul was my best friend; he was almost like a brother to me. If Janessa and Caleb were to get married he would be my brother, legally speaking of course. But I wasn’t sure if people still got married…
We’d lived in New York our whole lives and we hadn’t moved away from here after that day, we’d just found ourselves a safer place to live -that being our current home.
The vampires all lived around the humans so we were all forced to live in the middle of the city.
After dinner Janessa and Caleb congratulated me again and gave me a gift from the both of them, “For winter.” Janessa said as she gave me the jersey and scarf. It was beautiful and I hugged both of them tightly.
We all drank tea, using the tea leaves Caleb had been trying to grow for over a year and had finally succeeded with it only a few weeks before.
Janessa and Caleb bid us goodnight shortly after we all finished our tea and went to their shared room.
The apartment only had two rooms so Paul and I had to share as well. At first I’d shared with Janessa but then she and Caleb had started dating and he and I switched. I didn’t mind sharing with Paul, not really. He was a fun person to have as a room mate.
“So?” Paul asked from the other side of the room through the darkness when we were both lying in bed.
“So what?” I asked while trying to read under the dim light the candle cast. It was a real pain. I might only have been eight when the vampires took over but I remembered electricity. I remembered lightbulbs and I missed them. Paul had a theory that the vampires had only taken away those things to cause us grief. I had to agree with him, the vampires did seem like they were mean like that.
His bed creaked as he turned around to look at me, “How does it feel to be seventeen?”
I shrugged, “Still the same as it was to be sixteen.” I tilted the book a bit more towards the candle and found that it cast a lot more light that way.
Paul made a thoughtful sound in the back of his throat.
I sighed and closed my book “What?”
“Nothing.” He said quickly, too quickly.
I raised a brow.
“I’m just wondering if I should give you your gift.”
“Yes!” I said and happily punched the air, I paused when I saw the way he was watching me and asked sweetly, “I mean, please?”
Paul smiled as he got up and crouched down next to his bed. He reached under it and pulled out a small parcel wrapped tightly in old newspaper. He slowly walked to my bed and sat down next to me. He hesitantly held it out towards me “Here,” I tried to snatch it out of his hands but he pulled it away “Promise me you won’t laugh.”
I rolled my eyes, “I promise.”
“What do you promise?” He asked.
I put a hand over my heart and held the other up in the air, “I promise I won’t laugh. Scout’s honour.” I grinned.
“You were never even a scout.” Paul muttered as he gave me the package.
I ripped it open to find a brown cardboard box inside. It was one of those where the one flap held onto the two little ones and was impossible to open without tearing the whole thing apart. I tried to open it, give me credit for trying. I gave a frustrated growl at the box when it refused to open. “Stupid thing!” I shook it like a maniac, like shaking it would actually help open it.
Paul chuckled and took the box away from me while I started sulking. He easily opened it and I stared at him in wonder. My eyes were wide “How on earth did you do that?”
Paul shrugged with a smile and I cursed his natural talent. He handed the opened box back to me.
I turned the small box around and a silver chain fell out “Oh!” I exclaimed in surprise. I put the box down on the bed and picked up the delicate silver thing on my lap. I held it against the light and marvelled at its beauty. The charm hanging from the necklace was themost beautiful crystal I had ever seen. The crystal was a deep blue colour and it shimmered like a thousand diamonds in the candlelight. Silver went around the crystal to keep it in place. It was absolutely stunning.
Paul was measuring my reaction.
I beamed at him, “It’s perfect!” I threw my arms around him for what felt like the thousandth time today. “Thank you.” i said softly.
“It was my mother’s and I’m sure she would have wanted me to find a new owner for it. The colour reminded me of your eyes so… I thought: what the hey! Let’s give it to her.” He looked away from me when I pulled back.
I admired my gift for a moment more before I held it out to him, “Help me put it on?”
He took it and I moved my hair away so he could put it around my neck. He struggled with the clasp for a while but eventually managed.
I let go of my hair and turned to face him. I stood up and twirled once, “What do you think?”
“I think you look absolutely amazing, Ash.” He stated simply and with so much certainty it had heat rushing to my face.
I sat down again, “This is so awesome.”
He looked at me in the dim light. Without warning he blew out the candle on my bedside table.
I felt him jumping off my bed and running towards his own, “Embrace the darkness!” He shouted evilly since he knew I was afraid of the dark. His bed creaked as he got in and silence filled the room.
It took me a moment to pull myself back together and lay down. The darkness terrified me, but there was no other way to sleep.
“You’re not mad at me are you?” Paul’s voice was hesitant. Like he thought that maybe his joke had gone too far.
I smiled and took hold of the crystal that hung around my neck, “No, not at all.”
He let out a relieved sigh, “Good.” His bed creaked again when he turned around, “Good night, Ash.”
My hand tightened around my necklace and I happily closed my eyes, imagining that my new necklace could protect me from whatever lay within the darkness, “Goodnight, Paul.”
The next day Paul and Caleb actually managed to coax me and Janessa into joining them on their little outing to Central Park since none of us had to work on the farm.
They wanted to feed the ducks.
Our argument against going had been based upon the fact that that was where most vampires hung out and waited for prey.
Being the stubborn idiots that they were they’d replied that they ‘wanted to feed the ducks’. Not much room in their heads for logic; was the only think our whole argument had made me realise.
So there we were, dressed and ready to go and risk our lives to feed the ducks, wonderful. Absolutely splendid.
Since all the cars had been banned we had no choice but to walk. Paul was carrying a backpack with some food for us and some grain for the ducks. He hummed happily as we walked until I hit him over the head when he started to bug me.
We arrived at the Central park gates a little before noon and I thought it was a great time since the sun was at its peak and even though vampires could walk in the sun they preferred not to. We were relatively safe and I was unnaturally positive.
We strolled through the park, each lost in our own thoughts.
I was thinking back on how many times we’d come here when I was little. Those memories made my heart ache and I tried to forget them. It was no use being sad about the past.
The one thing I hadn’t taken into consideration in my little thought of us being safe in the middle of the day; was the fact that there were a lot of large, shade giving trees in the park. And so when a male and female vampire dropped from the trees above us I nearly had a heart attack. Janessa let out a yelp of surprise and we all came to an abrupt stop.
They watched us and I grimaced, shooting Paul a pointed glare and mouthed, ‘Your fault.’
He merely shrugged helplessly in response.
The female vampire was first to move and she went right for Paul. She hissed at me threateningly and I stepped away from them. I didn’t want to be in her way when she was looking pissed already. Paul was limp in her arms in a matter of seconds after she’d started feeding.
The male looked from me to Janessa and then back to me again with a little frown between his brows, “Choices, choices.”
I rolled my eyes at him and hoped he didn’t see. The last thing I needed was to taunt another vampire into drinking my blood.
Learn from your experiences, Ashira, I told myself.
The male finally decided on Janessa and I looked down to avoid seeing my sister’s life force leaving her.
Vampires only drank form the opposite gender and I found it highly amusing. I imagined that, to them, drinking from the same gender meant that you were gay.
In the past nine years three females had drank my blood. I was holding the record in our family with Caleb being in last place with no male ever having drunk his blood.
The female pulled away from Paul and let him drop to the ground. He fell with a thump and I rushed to his side. He was out cold and I had a feeling our food was squashed in his backpack. Great, I thought sarcastically, the day just seemed to be getting better and better.
The male vampire looked up from his meal only a second before another vampire landed next to him. His eyes brightened when he saw me, “Ah! How lucky! I thought I smelled blood!”
I didn’t even have time to come up with something snarky to say to him before warmth tickled down my throat and blackness engulfed me.
So much joy.
When I woke up again I wasn’t where I remembered losing consciousness. I was sitting propped up against the tree and had an amazing view of the lake in front of me. My head was spinning and the groaning sound I made got Paul’s attention.
He looked at me with care and helped e to stand up, “You were unconscious for a long time.”
“Don’t blame me!” I snapped as I grabbed my head, the spinning had gotten worse. I looked out across the water, “Did you at least get to feed the ducks?”
Paul looked away from me shamefully, “I’m so sorry Ash! We came here because of me and you got bitten! The animals here… they’re all gone… They must not have been able to find food here and moved on.” His eyes were pleading, “I’m so sorry! You got fed upon for nothing because of me. Please forgive me.”
I chuckled at his theatrics, “Don’t worry, it wasn’t your fault.” I lowered my voice and muttered to myself, “Even if I did tell you this was going to happen.”
Paul didn’t look like he accepted my forgiveness and looked away in a discouraged manner.
“Where did Janessa and Caleb go?” I questioned after a moment’ silence.
“I have no idea.”
“Oh.” I said, feeling a bit disappointed that they were gone. At least we wouldn’t have to share the food with them, “How much of the food survived?”
“Regrettably with my weighing as much as I do…” he hung his head, “None.”
I grimaced, “What a wasted trip. Everything I’d been looking forward to was destroyed by your big butt.”
“Hey!” Paul exclaimed, sounding offended and I laughed.
“I’m kidding! I suppose it’s just good to leave home for some time as well.”
“Just don’t ever leave home without me, ok?” Paul asked so seriously I wondered what was going through his mind.
I nodded and smiled, “Never.”
“Pinkie swear?” Paul asked and held out his pinkie dramatically.
I laughed as I pinkie swore him.”Pinkie swear.”
We were both still laughing when Janessa and Caleb came running towards us. Janessa’s eyes were wide and she held on to Caleb’s hand like it was the only thing keeping her on earth.
I frowned as I looked between them, “What’s wrong?”
“Something strange is going on with the vampires.” Caleb said hurriedly.
Janessa nodded enthusiastically, “You should’ve seen them! They were all gathering like they were part of some cult!”
Paul pulled his mouth into a thin line and muttered to himself, “They probably are part of some cult.”
Janessa frowned at him disapprovingly, “Vampires never fight each other; we all know that, but then suddenly! Bam! A fight breaks out!”
Caleb continued where she’d left off excitedly, “This one guy suddenly slams this other guy into the nearest tower, which I have to add was at least a fifty meters far and that he crossed that distance in less than a second. And you know what happened then?”
“It broke?” I asked plainly while looking at him with the same dull expression Paul had. Caleb was explaining what could have been a very epic fight very poorly and I found it hard to picture the ‘one guy’ fighting the ‘other guy’.
“The tower broke! It cracked in two like it was made of…um…” his excitement died down a bit down as he struggled to find something to compare it to.
“Like porcelain!” Janessa exclaimed.
“Like porcelain!” Caleb echoed her. “The other guy didn’t stand a chance against the one vampire; his head was ripped clean off!” He shook his head sadly, “And to think,” he added with a sly smirk in my direction, “The one who died was the one who had just drank your blood, Ash.”
“He died!?” I was horrified as I wreaked my brain to remember what he’d looked like. I couldn’t even remember the stupid thing’s face! Then something occurred to me and my voice was more even when I spoke again, “He died?” I asked carefully.
Caleb thoughtfully scratched his chin and after thinking for a moment said, “I suppose he did die.”
I was speechless as I exchanged a look with Paul, “Well, I guess we finally found something to kill vampires with.”
“Yeah,” Paul said looking disappointed, “It’s too bad it’s another vampire.”
All four of us nodded thoughtfully.
“Where exactly did all of this take place?” Paul asked.
“We were on our way to the turtlepond-“Janessa said.
“To see if there were any animals there.” Caleb butted in and Janessa shot him a playful glare.
“When we heard all these voices speaking. We went to check it out and there they were. Gathering in front of the castle.” She continued.
“Wait a minute.” I said and turned to Caleb “When you said the tower split in half, did you mean a tower of the Belvedere Castle?”
“Well not really a tower…” Janessa said casually, “More like half of the structure…”
“What!” Paul and I exclaimed at the same time as we traded panicked looks.
“We loved that place! It was so beautiful!” Paul exclaimed dramatically.
I nodded sadly, “May it be remembered.” I cursed the vampire who destroyed it under my breath.
“I think you’re missing the point Ash.” Caleb said.
“What point?” the other three of us chorused.
Caleb sighed, “The vampire who was killed should have been extremely strong since he’d just drank Ash’s blood, but he couldn’t even defend himself against the other vampire! Don’t you all wonder what that means?”
“Are you saying there’s something wrong with my blood?” I asked him accusingly, ready to fight my case. My blood was just as good as anyone else’s.
“Maybe you have anti-vampire blood.” Caleb said with eyes filled with awe.
I snorted, “Not bloody likely.” Pun intended.
Janessa patted his arm lovingly, “You read too many comics, dear.”
Paul and I quickly looked away when our siblings started showing too much affection. It was rather disturbing to watch them coo around each other.
“So vampires can kill other vampires, hu?” Paul asked conversantly.
“Yeah,” I said, “I guess they can.”
Paul frowned, “How hard do you think it’ll be to get one of the demons on our side?”
I pulled my mouth into a thin line, “Impossible.”
But the thought of getting one of them on our side never left my mind after that day.