Chapter 3: I choose you
A few days later I woke up with a start when a loud wailing siren went off.
Paul’s bewildered eyes met my own and both of us flew out of bed. I grabbed the closest jacket and nearly ripped it while trying to get it on. I stuffed my feet into my boots without socks, there just wasn’t time. I barely had time to run my hand through my hair when Paul opened our bedroom door and gestured for me to come.
The siren stopped abruptly in the middle of its wail and that only managed to make me even more anxious.
The siren wailing could only mean one thing: the vampires wanted all the humans to gather in a huge clearing right outside the city. When that thing rang you had to make haste or be one of the last of the hoard and risk the vampires picking you off even easier.
Something was going to happen, something very, very bad. I just knew it.
Paul and I met the rest of our family in the hall and without speaking a word all four of us ran for the front door. I was the first one out and I dashed down the stairs at full speed.
I broke out into the street and flattened myself against the wall to avoid the people who quickly walked past me.
It was a law that no human was allowed to run outside of their home. Running outside of your house would get you the death penalty. Sure the vampires were faster than us, but they were lazy as hell.
People ran away from the vampires every day and every day they were taken away to never return. Rumour said that that were all put together in a large cage where the vampires would hunt the screaming humans for fun. The rumour was highly likely true. That was just how vampires were, we were game to them.
My heart was racing wildly and I was terribly afraid. The siren had only rung twice before in all the years the vampires been in charge.
The first time they’d hunted the people who ran, just for their fun and amusement. Thousands had died, one of them being my older sister. It had been awful, it was like all the vampires had been starved out and they had needed food and amusement so badly they had to kill off half our population. Some said the whole point had been to make us fear them, others said the vampires didn’t want there to be so many humans left alive. Of course the moment you made it to the clearing we were all supposed to go you would have been safe, but few of us made it.
I’d watched my sister being torn to shreds that day and it was still scarred into my mind. I could still easily see her mangled body lying in the middle of the street with a wild looking male vampire standing over her, daring us to come any closer. I could remember Caleb taking hold of screaming Janessa and pulling her away and dragging me along with him. Paul had gotten lost within the mass of panicking humans and finding that he was alive after the craziness had been a miracle.
The second time the siren had rung they’d made us stand in a line and sniffed at us. Apparently there’d been a virus outbreak that was killing off humans by the dozens. If the vampire smelled the virus on you they ripped your throat out without a second’s hesitation. They didn’t want to risk getting the rest of their livestock infected. Only a few were killed since it hadn’t spread so far in New York yet. The vampires had told us it had been a lot worse in other cities.
What if the vampires were bored again and they only wanted to have fun?
My heart was racing with panic and adrenalin. The moment Paul’s hand closed around my own we started walking with the flow of the crowd. I looked around us cautiously. It didn’t look like people were being targeted and slaughtered mercilessly. Some were just donating a bit of blood, but they didn’t even pass out from the bite so I didn’t think it was dangerous.
I looked up at Paul, “What do you think is going on?”
Paul gave my hand a reassuring squeeze, “I don’t know but I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
I didn’t think so but I kept my mouth shut. Women with wide eyes and men with taunt mouths walked around us. Children clung to their mothers and some were even crying. I pitied each and every one of them, they didn’t know how the world used to be before the vampires came. How good it used to be.
One moment I was tightly clinging to Paul’s hand, thinking that I never wanted to let go and the next I was ripped out of his grasp. I let out a startled sound and Paul spun around with a bewildered expression.
The vampire held me tightly and I stared at his long bloody fangs. I wasn’t his first victim of the day.
My heart was running three thousand miles an hour and I was shaking like a leaf in the wind. Was he going to kill me and stand over my mangled body like I remembered my sister? The vampire narrowed his eyes at me and then glanced at Paul who was watching us with a hesitant expression, almost like he wasn’t sue how to react. My eyes didn’t leave the vampire’s face; I didn’t think he’d ever drank from me before. I always tried to remember their faces, it might be of some use someday. I didn’t know what for, but you never knew.
“I choose you.” The vampire said with a grin before his fangs sung into my neck. The pain was instant but he’d barely drawn a cup of blood before he pushed me away and walked away.
I was stunned, no vampire had ever taken so little blood from me. Ever.
What did he mean by that? He chose me? Chose me for what?
Paul quickly walked over to me and hugged me tightly and a bit possessively while glaring in the direction the vampire had disappeared into, “You alright?”
I nodded and cringed when the stinging started, “I’m fine.”
He took my hand again and watched me carefully, “Let’s go.”
I followed him again but I was in some sort or a daze. I couldn’t get my mind around what had just happened. Chosen, what the hell was that supposed to mean?
We arrived at the clearing a few minutes later and for some stupid reason that made me feel safe. At least the vampires couldn’t hunt us anymore.
The vampires herded us like we were cattle and honestly it was extremely irritating and now that I was feeling less afraid all that adrenalin was making me very mad. I was ready to go and punch someone.
They ushered us into a long line that lead to a female vampire.
She would look at each human and then send them in one of two directions. Some humans joined the group on the left, others the group on the right.
The line was extremely long and moved slowly. After an eternity Paul and I were in the front.
The female looked at me for a moment, her blue eyes burning into my own, “To the right.” She said and pushed me towards the right group.
I slowly walked in the direction she’d pushed me in but kept glancing back to Paul who’d been right behind me.
She looked at him, said something and he turned around. She inspected him and made a thoughtful sound. After a heart wreaking moment she told him to go to the left group.
My heart fell into my shoes as he went the opposite direction and he shot me a panicked look. I waved at him and hoped that I had a reassuring look on my face.
When I reached my group I realised that I was alone. I looked around, I literally didn’t know anyone.
I wrapped my arms around myself for comfort as I drifted closer towards another loner. She looked just as confused and terrified as I felt. I stood next to her but she didn’t even notice me, her eyes were on the hundred or more vampires completely surrounding us and forcing us in an awkward circle.
I scoffed angrily at them. No one knew what was going on and it was making them even more restless to be surrounded like this. I took a calming breath and greeted the girl who looked around my age, “Hello.”
Her terrified eyes looked at me like I was crazy ,”Hello.” The word sounded foreign on her tongue.
I frowned, “Are you not from here?”
She shook her head, “My family was here on vacation when the vampires took ov- I mean saved us.” She looked around nervously, wondering of a vampire had heard her mistake. “Will we be alright?”
I gave her a weak smile, “We’ll be fine.” I sounded like I was trying to reassure myself as well and honestly, I was.
She didn’t speak again but only moved closer to me. We merely stood there for more than an hour as the rest of the humans were slowly divided between the two groups. My legs were starting to ache and I moved around restlessly.
I’d started counting the bored looking vampires that surrounded us. So far I’d counted thirty nine on our right but I couldn’t see past the humans to count the rest.
The girl next to me seemed calmer than she’d been an hour before, “What’s your name?” she asked and I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sudden sound of her voice.
“Um… call me Ash. Ash Carson.” I smiled carefully, surprised by her sudden interest, “What’s yours?”
“Rose Misra. Actually Roshanara, but just Rose please.” She grinned bashfully.
I stuck my hand out to her and she took it. We shook hands, “Pleased to meet you Rose.”
Rose had light brown skin and big brown eyes that made her look super cute. She was of average height and very dainty. I envied her beautifully straight brown hair.
“Pleased to meet you too Ash.” She let go of my hand. The nervous buzzing from the humans had died down a bit and most were standing in a tense silence, “What do you think is going to happen to us?” She asked with a terrified sting to her words.
I pulled my mouth into a thin line, “I don’t know.”
She sighed and made an observation I’d missed, “Our group is smaller than the other one.”
“What?” I looked around feeling a bit bewildered.
“Look.” She pointed towards the other group, “The other group looks a lot bigger than ours.”
I looked to where she was pointing. The other group was indeed a lot bigger than our own. What were they trying to do? Were they just trying to scare us? Was our group going to be hunted while the rest survived or the other way around?
The vampires surrounding us suddenly hissed viciously and everyone immediately kept quiet. We all very much liked living.
There were a few high rocks in the middle of the clearing and the nobles stood there, observing us.
There were twenty four nobles today and I frowned. Each continent only had twelve nobles, so where would the other twelve have come from? Another continent? Why would nobles from another continent be here?
A Royal vampire towered over all off them and power radiated off of him. I recognised him as the leader of all the vampires in North America. I shuddered as my eyes drifted over the rest of them.
I saw the vampire that had drank from me this morning also standing among them carelessly looking around. He was a noble, I realised.
A noble had drank my blood.
I was pretty surprised, he’d seemed so wild an hour ago but now he looked just as perfect as the rest of them. He seemed bored as he stared up at the sky. As If sensing someone looking right at him his head snapped towards me. His eyes met mine and he gave me a terrifying grin. I looked away quickly and I heard him gave a bark of harsh laughter.
All vampires were the same, they loved to see humans terrified.
The other vampires that were standing around us and keeping us from running off could probably be seen as commoners against the nobles and the royal. They were just people.
It was like me standing next to the president of the United States. Well, I suppose the present wasn’t that important anymore. I briefly wondered where he was and if he was still alive or if he was one of the first whose blood was drained.
There were only seven royals in the world, brothers, supposedly. Each brother ‘owned’ a continent over which they ruled. They were the most powerful vampires in the world and all the other vampires listened to them, respected them, because they had been the very first vampires.
No one knew where they came from or how old they were and from what I’d heard their father had been a demon. That statement alone led to a few other questions. An actual demon? Who was the mother? How was it even possible for the mother to carry seven twins?
I chose not to think about that last question too much.
The eldest son got the continent with the most humans, the second eldest the continent with fewer humans than the first and so on and so forth. I strongly suspected the youngest son got Antarctica and that he had to nab a few humans from other continents.
I’d never seen a royal up close before and admittedly, I was staring. The royal was so unbelievably beautiful and perfect, too perfect even. His hair was black and he had a strong and brutal face. At the distance I couldn’t tell what colour his eyes were but I was sure they were something to behold. His eyes roamed over us patiently and he nodded towards one of the female nobles.
The noble bowed deeply before the royal and turned towards us, “Your cooperation is appreciated.” Her voice rang out around us, sweet and alluring, beckoning us into misplaced ease. “We have called you here today, not to harm you, but to give you good news.”
I almost snorted and Rose had a look on her face that didn’t believe a word this crazy female was spouting.
The female smiled at the other, bigger group, “You have not been chosen, and you will remain here while the others participate in the exchange…” she noticeably hesitated, “…program, of some sorts.” She pointed to them, while they all watched her with disbelief. “You are free to leave and go back to your homes.” She smiled a cruel smile, “Anyone of you who are still here in fifteen minutes will be killed.”
Gaps filled the atmosphere but no one dared speak. My heart slammed in my chest. That was what the vampire had meant when he’d said that I’d been chosen. I was confused, where were we going? What was going on? What did she mean with exchange program?
“Go on then.” The female noble insisted threateningly with her sweet voice that begged you to stay a little longer so she could kill you.
The humans from the other group all took off and as they passed us I searched for Paul’s face. I stood on my toes but I couldn’t find him in the mass of people.
I was disappointed, I’d wanted to tell him goodbye. I was going to break my promise, I was going to leave home without him.
And what about my sister and Caleb? Would they wonder what had happened to me? I suddenly felt like crying, I didn’t want to go somewhere alone. I didn’t even know where we were going but the nobles from another continent being here suggested that it would be to their home. Across the sea and far away from my home. The question was just what continent they were from.
When most of the other group were gone the noble spoke again this time with more enthusiasm and less allure, “You have been chosen and it is a great honour. You will leave here, see a new place and find a new home.”
She looked at the royal again and he nodded once, like he was giving her permission. I narrowed my eyes at the two of them, I didn’t like this one bit.
“Well then,” The noble put her hands on her hips happily, “If you will all please move towards the harbour, there is a ship waiting to transport you to your new home! As to where you’ll all be going…” Some evilness filled her eyes once more, “You will be going to Africa for the rest of your lives.”
Outraged cries sounded from the people around me and my mouth dropped open.
I was going to Africa?