Chapter 4: There were lights for goodness sakes
My mind was running away from my body.
I was going to Africa?
Africa? As in lions and wilderness and death Africa? Wasn’t that whole place a desert?
I couldn’t go there! I got sunburnt even on rainy days, I’d never survive in permanent sun!
I frowned deeply and noticed that Rose was watching me with a horrified expression, “They’re going to take us away from our families!” She exclaimed in a distraught tone, “Can’t we stay? I don’t want to leave here, I just got used to it.”
“There isn’t much we can do against the vampires; it will be easier for all of us to just go along without making a fuss.” I said thoughtfully. “We can’t fight them and I sure as hell am not going to beg to them.” I turned my head away from her, “Not like that would do any good anyway.” I muttered to myself.
Rose’s eyes were filled with tears that threatened to spill. She let out a sob and before I knew what exactly was happening she had her arms around me.
I awkwardly patted her back while she cried. I’d never really been much of a hugger but I didn’t have the heart to push her away in her time of need, “There, there.” I said, making it even more awkward “At least you already know me so you won’t be completely alone.”
She only cried harder.
Most of the other humans were in the same condition as Rose, having a complete breakdown. Others were shouting at the vampires but shutting up the moment the vampires looked at them.
“Silence!” The female noble shouted. Her perfect voice sounded strangely strained, like she wasn’t used to shouting. Her eyes drifted over us, searching for the single person who’d still been speaking. Once she found the poor guy her eyes flashed and one of the common vampires had him sucked dry before he could even scream.
I edged away from the corpse and shivered.
“Now then,” she said, sounding calm, “Find the noble who you donated to this morning and go stand with them.”
The nobles all jumped down from the rocks like mountain goats. No a single one of them fell face first in the dirt and honestly, I was disappointed. I could have used a good laugh.
Humans went to the vampires who bit them while others stood there not sure what to do and crying.
I sighed as I gently pushed Rose away from me, “You have to go or they’ll kill you.”
She rubbed the tears away and looked around for the vampire who’d bitten her. She found him almost immediately, “There he is.”
I looked at him. He was big and muscular and I pitied poor dainty little Rose, “Best get going then. I’ll find you again somewhere.” I promised and she nodded.
I watched her walk to her vampire and spotted my own, he was watching me. He grinned when he saw me looking and beckoned me closer.
Supressing a sigh I slowly closed the distance between us. I stopped in front of him and watched him expectantly. His hair was a strange light blonde colour and his eyes were blue. In the light I could have sworn his eyes had specks of purple in them but I wrote it off as my imagination. “Hello again.” I said like the loser I was.
The women standing behind him looked at me like I was crazy. She had wildly curling black hair and strikingly beautiful green eyes. She looked like she was in her early twenties.
The vampire was taken back for a moment before he smirked, “What is your name, talkative one?”
“Ash.” I said simply.
“Fascinating.” He said like he truly found it fascinating. “I am Zaiden Lebeau, first noble.”
I had no idea what he meant so I only nodded with a stiff mouth.
“You may join the one who refuses to give me her name now.” Zaiden said and he put an arm around my waist to steer me towards the green eyed woman. I was uncomfortable under his cold touch but I didn’t protest, it wouldn’t have helped anyway, it would just piss him off and he seemed decent enough for a demon. He placed me so I was facing her and without letting go of me said, “Now will you please ask her her name?”
I looked at the woman, “I’m Ash, what’s your name?” She spat at the ground at my feet and I looked down at her spit with an unimpressed expression. “Really? This is what humanity’s come to? A female being this rude?” I hung my head, “I’m ashamed.” Give me some credit, I knew how to taunt her to make her speak.
She snapped completely as she came at me, “How can you treat this thing like it’s just another human when he’s forcing you to leave everything you know behind? He owns you now and he will suck your blood like the leech he is!”
“I only asked for you name.” I said calmly after her little rant.
I smiled sweetly, “Thank you, Maddie. Of course I know he’s going to suck my blood, but yours as well because we have no choice in the matter. So we might as well accept it, become close friends and have a smashing time going somewhere new and leaving old horrors behind.”
She stared at me disbelievingly and cursed under her breath.
Zaiden burst out laughing next to me and hid his laughing face in the nape of my neck. My jaw tensed as I waited for the pain but none came, he just kept on laughing.
He looked at me appreciatively when he stopped laughing and let go of my waist. I instantly relaxed “I’m glad I chose you.” He said while patting my head like I was a dog and I scowled at him. “But you don’t have to say that I’m going to suck your blood; that is such an overused and boring term.”
“You can’t fight the truth.” I said plainly.
Zaiden shrugged, “I suppose you cannot.” He slung his one arm around Maddie’s shoulders but she didn’t run away or scream at him like I’d thought she would. “Nice to meet you Maddie.” He said happily and then frowned, “We’re still missing one little sheep…” His keen eyes roamed over the remaining humans that were still standing unclaimed and having an emotional breakdown. His face lit up, “Ah! There she is!”
Without warning he started walking towards the girl lying in a heap of tears on the ground and dragged Maddie with him. I followed like the obedient livestock I was. Zaiden stood over the girl and looked at her for a long time before he turned to me and lazily pointed toward her with the arm that wasn’t holding Maddie in place and keeping her from running, “Do something about this will you. You seem to have a way with people.”
I avoided telling him that I was only a good actor and that I was probably the most awkward person on earth. I kneeled down next to the girl and put a hand gently on her back.
She stiffened and lashed out at me. I dodged her hand but her foot came out of nowhere and it had no place to go but my gut.
The air was knocked out of me and fury took over, “Control yourself! Don’t just go kicking random people in the stomach! I’m not going to hurt you!” I screamed at her.
She turned to look at my outraged face and slowly stood up while I tried to catch my breath. “I’m sorry.” She said when she really looked at me, “Are you alright?”
I touched the sore spot on my stomach and wheezed a bit more, “I think it’s going to bruise.”
Zaiden, seeing his chance, put his free arm around the girl’s waist and threw her over his shoulder like she weighed nothing. She screamed and hit him but it didn’t even faze him. He turned to me and smiled, still not bothered by the screaming girl on his shoulder and the grumpy one under his firm grip, “Come on.”
I followed him.
Other vampires were also carrying their screaming and fighting livestock, some even had to bind all three of them together to carry them. I stared at all of them, I still found it had to believe that they were truly that strong. Very few humans actually followed their masters and I was proud of their common sense. It didn’t help to fight.
My own thoughts confused me. Was Zaiden my master? I turned to him, “Are you like our master or something?”
“I suppose.” He said with a shrug.
The walk that normally would have taken a vampire about fifteen seconds dragged on for thirty seven minutes.
The harbour didn’t look as run down as the rest of the city, it seemed overly clean and I stared in awe at what vampires could do if they put their minds to it.
They must have cleaned it up because of the nobles from another country visiting.
I snorted and a lot of curious heads turned towards me. The girl who been kicking and screaming in Zaiden’s arms had stopped her tantrum and I strongly suspected she was fast asleep. The reason for her untimely nap was that Zaiden had needed a snack for the road and had thought it wisest to shut her up and restore peace and quiet to the world.
Although I’d been disgusted by him the thought was thoughtful.
Zaiden was walking in the shade as much as possible but each time the cool morning air touched his skin he clenched his teeth and his skin looked like it was blistering. It was barely noticeable though and I wasn’t sure if the sun really bothered him or if my mind was only playing tricks on me.
The ship, I realised the moment I laid eyes on it, wasn’t a piece of crap either. It was a cruise ship. I stared open mouthed as we boarded the ship.
Zaiden visibly relaxed when we stepped into the shade and I frowned again. Maybe if we wanted to defeat the vampires the sun would be our ally. The thought that one of the vampires would side with us was still on my mind but I highly doubted that would ever happen.
We would have to use the sun to kill them.
The inside of the ship was even more impressive than the outside. There were lights. Lights for goodness sake!
Those stupid vampires made us go back into the dark Stone Age, but they could have luxury like this? Bastards!
Zaiden turned around and frowned at me, “What’s wrong?”
“Why would anything be wrong?” I asked innocently.
“Your temperature picked up and your heart rate soared. Are you afraid of the water?”
I scoffed, “No, of course not. Not that I’d know, since I’d never been on a boat before.”
Zaiden smiled at me reassuringly, “You’ll love it.”
Well, at least I was sure to enjoy the wonder of their electricity.
Zaiden put the girl who’d woken up by now on her feet and dragged her along when the halls became too narrow to carry her.
He led us through the confusing halls of the ship. We turned and turned again and everywhere I looked everything looked exactly the same. My brain was throbbing by the time Zaiden stopped in front of a room numbered 209 and told Maddie, “This is you.”
Maddie looked at the door and crossed her arms, “No.”
Zaiden let go of the other girl for and opened the door for Maddie, “Please step inside.
I peeked inside. It was bigger than my room back in New York. The bed was extremely large and the closets had mirrors on them to make the room look even bigger. There was even a shower and a stereo. The bed looked extremely comfy, but what really begged for my attention was the glass sliding doors that I could see the blue sky though and balcony that looked like the ideal place to read. “Cool.” I awed absentmindedly as I looked at the spacious and luxurious room.
Maddie reluctantly looked inside as well and went in. Suddenly the crying girl took off running past me and knocked me out of the way. I fell backwards and hit my behind on the wall on my way down.
Zaiden looked on after the running girl and sighed. He rubbed his temples and offered me a hand, “Are you alright?”
I took his hand and he pulled me up. I rubbed the sore spot on my butt, “Yeah, I’m fine.”
He looked into Maddie’s room, “Don’t try to run, I’ll easily find you again. You are free to do what you like for now just make sure you always come back to this room at night.” He shut the door without waiting for a reply.
He looked down at me, “I have to go get her, wait here.” He instructed and like a passing breeze he was gone.
I gave a frustrated huff as I looked down the halls. I wasn’t even going to try to make a run for it; I would just end up getting lost so I decided to sit down on the floor.
I traced the patterns on the red carpet. No more than a half a minute later Zaiden made his reappearance and the girl followed after him looking scared stiff. I stood up as they neared.
What had he done to the girl to make her follow him so obediently?
Zaiden waved me closer when he stopped at the door next to Maddie’s room. “Two hundred and ten, this is you Clare.” He said and I realised that that was the crying girl’s name.
She entered the room without saying anything and shut the door behind her with a thud.
I stared at Zaiden with wide eyes and he grinned, “I got her to see my way.” He said simply and I knew better than to say anything. I was sure that if I were to speak the words that wanted to come out of my mouth, I would be killed on the spot.
I went to the next room, the neat steal plate said: 211. I pointed towards the door questioningly, still not trusting myself to speak. I was sure I was ready to attack him with my bare hands.
Zaiden nodded encouragingly and I pushed the door open.
The spacious suite was just like Maddie’s room. I couldn’t wait to pull open the sliding doors and smell fresh air. I was about to close the door behind me and enjoy being away from Zaiden for some time when he stopped me and I raised a questioning brow.
“Come with me.” He said and strode away.
I supressed a loud groan and followed after him. He waited for me to catch up to him and froze when he saw I wasn’t right behind him anymore.
I was staring at a map of the ship and trying to figure out where on earth I was. Or where on ship I was, I suppose was more fitting. Zaiden slowly walked back to me and leaned against the wall next to the map with his arms crossed.
“Where are we?” I finally asked when he didn’t say anything.
He leisurely pulled himself back into a standing position and observed the map for a moment before he pointed, “There, I think.”
I felt a bit unsure, “You think?”
He shrugged, “I’ve never needed to use the map before; I use my sense of smell to navigate.”
“That sounds convenient.” I stated grimly.
He smiled a bit, “I definitely know that we are on the highest floor at the moment and I would advise you not to go the floors that don’t have windows and that are beneath the water.”
I tilted my head to the side enquiringly, “Why?”
“This,” he said with a gesture, “and most of the floors above water level are the human floors.”
I swallowed and a shiver pulled down my spine, “How many vampires are under us?”
“Give or take five hundred.”
My heart missed a beat, “Five hundred vampires on one ship? Are there even enough people to feed them?” I had no idea why that question slipped out of my mouth and I regretted it instantly.
Zaiden continued to grin at me, “Of course. There are a lot more humans on this ship than there are vampires since they do all the cleaning and other things like that as well. You of course, being chosen by a noble, won’t have to do anything but sustain me.”
“Lucky me.” I said sarcastically and he chuckled.
He took my hand and dragged me after him, “Come on, I want to be on deck when we cast off.”
Once again we took hallway after hallway and I was lost in seconds.
When I saw the elevator we were heading to I froze, “Aren’t there stairs we can take?” I asked nervously.
“Afraid of enclosed spaces?” Zaiden asked and didn’t change course.
“Yes.” I admitted softly in shame.
“Don’t worry, I’ll hold you tightly.”
That was the last thing I wanted. Vampires were the reason I hated elevators.
On that day my father had taken me and my sisters and shoved us away from the vampires that had attacked our apartment and told us to run.
We ran like the devil was chasing us, not caring where we were going. My oldest sister wanted us to go to a more populated area where she thought other people could protect us. We ran to the elevator that could take us down to the parking garage, not bothering to wonder why the doors were standing wide open and pressed the button. The door didn’t close because a hand kept it open. The vampire smiled at us cruelly and stepped inside. The door closed behind him.
We had nowhere to run to and that vampire had been the first to drink my blood, there, in the small crammed elevator while my sisters screamed.
Was it so wrong that I hated elevators and the vampires who used them? There was no place to run and no one could hear you while you screamed.
Zaiden pressed the button next to the elevator and the doors sild open. I took a step backwards and his grip on me tightened. “You don’t fear me but you fear a metal box?” he questioned amusedly.
“I can’t go in there.” I said with a shaky voice.
“Don’t you want to say good bye to your family?” he questioned.
“What is my family doing up there?” I asked, momentarily distracted.
“They might be on the docks; you can at least wave to them.” Zaiden said and elbowed me in the ribs “Come on scaredy-cat. For them?”
I took a deep breath as I uncertainly stared at the open doors, “All right. For my family.” I tried to walk forward but my legs wouldn’t move.
I let out a relieved breath when I finally managed to take the first step and the rest were easier than the first. I went to stand in the corner of the elevator and watched the doors close.
My heart raced in my chest and my breathing became uneven and huffed. I swallowed to wet my dry throat, but it didn’t feel like it worked.
Zaiden stood far away from me and watched me with a confused expression, like he couldn’t understand.
Air didn’t want to enter my lungs and I grabbed hold of my throat just as the door opened. I ran outside and gasped for air. I instantly felt better when I could see the blue sky around me. I came to a standstill and stood with my hands on my knees, like I’d run a marathon.
An arm snaked around my waist and pulled me closer. Zaiden held me tightly against him, “Are you alright?”
I nodded and a whimper escaped my lips.
He smiled carefully, “Al right, come see if your family came to see you off.” He picked me up and carried me to the railing.
I was embarrassed as I wondered if I was heavy to him. He put me down and I was surprised to see all the people who’d gathered in the harbour in the short time I’d been inside. I frowned. How long had passed since we’d boarded?
The siren had rung at about six in the morning and the sun was now directly above us. Had it really been this long?
The sun was beating down on us and I couldn’t control my curiosity, “Doesn’t the sun bother you?”
Zaiden shrugged, “The lower ranking you are the more it hurts, but since I’m pretty important it’s bearable.”
I nodded thoughtfully as my eyes scanned the crowd of upset humans that looked up at us to see their family.
Only a few humans stood on deck and as if reading my mind Zaiden said, “Only the obedient humans get to say goodbye.” His grip around my waist tightened even more and he pointed down, “There’s that boy you were with this morning.”
I gripped the railing tightly and leaned over it to see Paul. Paul’s eyes met mine and I waved at him. He smiled a sad smile and patted the spot right under his neck. I was confused for a moment as I touched my own neck. When my hand closed around my necklace I understood and tears welled up in my eyes.
Janessa was a crying mess in Caleb’s arms as she screamed incomprehensible words at the vampires. Caleb waved at me and I waved back. I looked up at Zaiden and was momentarily shocked to see how close he was standing next to me and I could only stare at his perfect face. He turned to look at me and I averted my gaze, “Can I scream something at them?”
He moved his arm from around my waist to around my shoulders, “Go ahead.”
Paul looked like he was about to attack Zaiden so I took a deep breath and shouted, “Bye! I’ll miss you guys!” Many heads turned towards me but I paid them no heed.
Janessa stopped crying for a moment to look at me before she started to sob again.
I sighed heavily as I shook my head, “I thought that would make her stop.”
“Your brothers and sister?” Zaiden guessed.
I shook my head and my eyes locked with Paul’s once again “My sister, her boyfriend and… Paul.”
“Your boyfriend?” He asked sounding curious.
I hesitated but told the truth, “No.”
A loud horn interrupted whatever he was about to reply and we started moving. I patted my chest to let Paul know I had my necklace and I looked away from them to the horizon.
I was going to Africa.