Chapter 6: Lull them into a false sense of security
I woke up a few hours later feeling well rested and ready to face the rest of the day and the night that would inevitably follow.
I pulled open the glass sliding doors and stepped out onto the balcony. The fresh ocean air that hit my face was amazing and it woke me up instantly. I took some time to sit outside and relax in the cool breeze before I went back inside and got dressed.
I was just finished putting on my shoes when there was a knock on the door. I curiously walked closer and hesitantly pulled the door open. I smiled the instant I saw Nadine, “Good morning!”
She smiled at me hesitantly and looked at me strangely, almost like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing, “Hello.”
“You seem surprised to see me.” I noted casually as she held out a plate of food covered with a plastic holder out to me. I took it from her, “Come in.” I stood out of the way so she could enter. She hesitantly looked around and came in. I shut the door behind her again, “Want to sit on the balcony with me?” I asked.
Nadine nodded eagerly, “Sure.”
We sat at the small plastic table and I ate my lunch slowly while watching Nadine curiously. She wasn’t as talkative as she’d been yesterday, “What’s wrong?” I finally asked her when I couldn’t stand the silence anymore.
She looked at me a long time before she sighed and hung her head, “I kind of thought you were dead.” She admitted quietly.
I stared at her disbelievingly, “What made you think that?”
“The vampire who… you donated to last night, he looked starved and out of control.”
I frowned at her, “He looked fine to me.”
“You haven’t been around vampires for as long as I have so you don’t see the signs. He could probably hardly hold himself back from devouring you.” She said with an angry scowl, “How long were you unconscious?”
“No time at all.”
She looked at me disbelievingly, “Impossible, he was hardly hanging onto sanity.”
I shrugged, “He was fine, I was fine, really,” I assured her. “Don’t worry about me.” I put my hand on her arm across the table reassuringly. My eyes widened a little when I came to realise something, “Yesterday you said you had today off. Did you offer to bring me my food -on your only day off- so you could see if I was dead?”
She looked away from me, embarrassed, “That’s the only reason I would have been allowed here without a direct request from the owner of the room and what can I say,” she awkwardly scratched her cheek, “I was worried.”
I laughed at how adorable she looked and she blushed a deep red, “Thanks for caring enough to come check on me.”
She waved me off, “You’re the only friend I’ve had in years.” I stared at her for a moment in shock and she cleared her throat to break the awkward silence. “So do you want to go to the shops?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed excitedly but my face fell almost instantly, “I don’t have any money…”
“Don’t worry new girl, you don’t need money!”
I hesitated, “I don’t?”
She shook her head. “Because you are one of the chosen ones you get to pick out whatever you like and take it for free!” She sighed sadly. “I remember back when I was that lucky…”
My eyes were wide with excitement, “I get stuff for free? This is amazing!”
She nodded and looked me up and down, “Yesterday I thought our first stop would have to be at a clothing store but you look a lot better today.” She nodded approvingly at me.
I pouted at her in frustration, “Why didn’t anybody tell me how bad I looked yesterday? I walked around like that all day and the only person who said I looked bad was some creepy vampire.”
She laughed again, “My, my, I didn’t think you cared about how you looked that much.”
I crossed my arms, “I didn’t care until someone made a remark about it.”
She stood up, “Come on then, if we go now we can go all the way to the book store on the other side of the ship and make it back before dark.
I stood up as well and carried my empty plate inside. “Actually before we go anywhere, I have someone I have to go find.”
A puzzled look found its way onto Nadine’s face as I marched out of my room and she followed not far behind.
We had knocked on twenty seven doors and greeted people we had never even seen before only to leave again. A stressful moment passed before Rose opened the twenty eighth door.
I threw my arms around her, “Rose!”
She awkwardly patted my back, “Hey Ash. So you finally found me. I’m impressed. How did you know this was my room?”
I pulled away from her and Nadine said, “She really didn’t know. We were just randomly disturbing people as we went along.” She stuck out her hand, “I’m Nadine.”
Rose shook her hand, “I’m Rose.” And I could instantly tell she knew how to break the ice because she said, “I like your eyes.”
Nadine looked down bashfully, “Thanks.”
I clapped my hands together, “We were just going shopping. Want to join us?”
Rose looked at me with questioning eyes, “Why would the two of you be willingly walk around on this infested ship?”
“Boredom.” Nadine said.
“Necessity.” I said and when they both frowned I said, “I need books to cure my boredom.”
“Boredom it is then.” Nadine muttered under her breath.
“So do you want to join us?” I asked Rose again. She hesitated for such a long time had to add, “No vampire except your master can drink from you, you know, so you’ll be safe.”
That seemed to put her at ease, “Ok, let’s do it!”
The three of us made our way through the ship’s confusing halls with Nadine leading the way since she knew the place like the back of her hand. I was immensely impressed and even if Rose didn’t say so I knew she was just as impressed- if not more so- as I was.
Nadine led us past the casino that she said they never used anymore and past theatres that only showed films at night. It was amazing how much entertainment there was, it was just a shame most only entertained at night.
The conversation between the three of us flowed easily and it was hard to believe that I’d only met then both yesterday. They were the closest friends I’d had in years. Paul being the exception of course.
Humans were everywhere we went and they all seemed in high spirits and greeted us happily. I recognised one smiling woman from this morning. Except then she’d been passed out on the deck and now she was bubbly and talkative.
Nadine told us that they purified the water on ship and that even some of the food was grown on a special room on the ship. It just got more impressive the more I heard about it.
We arrived at the book store a little while after we’d passed the 4D cinema. I could only imagine how fun it must have been to be on this ship when it was owned by humans and everything was working.
The book store wasn’t as much as a book store as it was a library. Books lined the walls by the hundreds and Rose and I both almost started crying at the beautiful sight.
We picked out a few books that looked good and all we had to do was tell the human at the counter who our master was and she wrote up what books we took and his name. I hoped it didn’t cost Zaiden anything because I didn’t think he’d be too happy funding my speed reading needs.
After that we hurried back to my room to get there before dark.
Nadine looked sad when she had to say goodbye to us to go back to her room because she needed to work the next day, “So bye, I guess.” She said awkwardly.
I hugged her and so did Rose before she scurried off. “Bye,” we said in union as she disappeared.
It was strange how the staff knew how to bring two plates of food for dinner to my room and I wasn’t sure if I thought it was awesome or disturbing. We scoffed down the mac and cheese and stuffed ourselves since we weren’t used to such nice food in such quantities.
Back home my sister had sometimes made us food that was that nice but since there was no electricity, there was no oven and since there was no oven… there was only fire. None in my family had really mastered cooking on the fire so noodles had been nothing more than a vague memory for years.
Rose and I stayed up all night, reading on my balcony and chatting occasionally. It was good to have a friend who could stay up all night with me.
When the sun rose above the horizon a knock on the door broke me out of the best part of the book and I cursed whoever had knocked on the door.
It was a human who once again brought two plates of food instead of one, “Thanks.” I told the man “How do you know that she’s here as well?” I asked and jabbed my thumb in Rose’s direction.
Rose nodded vigorously, “It’s creepy.” She stated simply.
The man smiled, “The trackers of course.”
“The trackers?” I asked with a raised eyebrow. “And when exactly were these trackers placed on us?” I didn’t remember anyone doing something like that to me.
“The moment the noble chose you.” The man said and with a tip of his cap he continued down the hall with his trolley making eerie squeaking sounds.
Rose and I exchanged a bewildered look, “They’re tracking us now?” she sounded absolutely outraged.
“Jerks.” I muttered under my breath.
We ate slowly while discussing the jerks thoroughly. They would pay for tracking us! We didn’t know how yet, but they would pay!
Both of us fell down onto my bed and slept like rocks until someone brought us lunch.
Honestly it felt like we lived only to eat and be eaten.
We only had three meals a day, just as always, but instead of sleeping between dinner and breakfast we slept between breakfast and lunch.
Only when we were done eating did Rose tell me what had been bothering her since she’d woken up, “Tonight it’s my turn to donate.”
“You’ll be fine.” I assured her, “They’re not going to kill their livestock when we’ll be at sea for a month or more.”
Her eyes were still wide in fear, “I’m scared. I don’t understand why you don’t fear being drank from. They are monsters and yet you are so calm around them.”
“It’s no use fighting them, I’m just accepting the pain instead of fighting the inevitable.” I told her, “I’m afraid too, constantly fearing for my life but some of the jerks are actually very interesting to talk to. They’ve been alive longer than our great grandparents so I’m nice to them and talk to them to get valuable information.”
“Information?” Rose asked uncertainly.
I nodded, “Did you know that the more powerful a vampire is, the less the sun bothers them?”
She shook her head, “That’s cool, I didn’t know that. Who told you that?”
“Zaiden.” I said.
“Who’s Zaiden?” She asked with a frown.
“My master.” I said and her mouth fell open.
“You actually call him by his name?” I didn’t think it was possible for someone’s eyes to go as wide as hers were.
I nodded, “It helps lull them into a false sense of security.”
“Maybe I should do that too…” She said thoughtfully. “What are you doing tonight?”
“Nothing. Why?” I wasn’t sure if I like where this conversation was going. It was heading in a dangerous direction.
She pouted and looked at me with her large doe like eyes, “Will you please come with me tonight?”
“No.” I said simply, “If I don’t have to be around those things I will not. I’d much rather read the night away than put up with their boring company again.”
She frowned, “What do they do the whole night?”
“Absolutely nothing! Zilch, zero!” I exclaimed dramatically as I threw my arms into the air. “It’s very boring.”
“So come join me and I’m sure we can have a lot of fun!”
“No.” I said stubbornly, “I don’t want to.”
“Please!” she cried desperately as she grabbed hold of both my hands, “Please just come with me! I want to see how you are so nice to them and learn from you and I don’t want to go alone.” She looked down. “I’ll never forget what you did for me and I’ll owe you one.”
She’d owe me, I thought about it for a long time. You never knew when you needed someone to help you hide a body… I pursed my lips into a thin line and sighed, “Fine, but you owe me big time girl!” I wagged my index finger at her meaningfully.
Rose excitedly clapped her hands, “Thanks Ash!”
We were sitting on her bed when the sun disappeared behind the horizon a few hours later and promptly there was a knock on her door.
She took a deep breath and hurried to open the door. I trailed behind her and admired the outfit she’d put together for herself. She was wearing flats with jeans and a flowy flowery pink top. She looked cute.
I on the other hand was wearing my comfy boots with blue jeans and a red hoody. I’d never admit it to anyone but I was trying to show as little skin as possible.
She pulled open the door and there stood the bulky vampire himself, “Hello.” She greeted politely with a smile and I felt so proud. She was a great actor.
“Hello.” The vampire replied with a bewildered expression and his eyes landed on me. “Who’s this?”
I stepped forward and extended my hand to him, “Hello. I’m Ash.”
He looked at me like I’d grown horns as he shook my hand with such a weak grip he could have passed for a human, “Fabian.”
“Cool,” I said and then honoured my promise that would put Rose in my debt. “I was wondering if I could tag along tonight.”
“Tag along?” he repeated the words like he’d never heard them before.
“Yeah, I want to keep Rose company. I promise I won’t get in the way.”
He hesitated again, “Sure.” He said so slowly I wasn’t even sure if that’s what he was saying, “You can tag along.”
“Great!” I said enthusiastically.
He gave me a curious look before putting his arm around Rose’s shoulders and steering her away. I tripled after them like a little puppy.
Instead of taking the dreaded elevator like I thought we would we went to the bar and I let out a sigh of relief. My relief, however, was short lived when I saw how crowded it was and the one thing that my mind registered: vampires, vampires, vampires. They were everywhere.
I took a nervous breath. Zaiden wasn’t around to protect me and I wasn’t so sure Fabian cared if I was sucked dry. Rose would try to fight for me, surely, as I would for her, but she wouldn’t do much good against a vampire.
Fabian led us through the bar and through a door. It was much quieter there and only a few vampires casually sat around the table playing cards. There was only one female vampire.
Fabian took the open seat at the table and Rose sat down next to him. The eyes of the nobles lingered on me. I was there alone, unprotected. I awkwardly shuffled and sat down on the last empty seat next to Rose. I didn’t even bother to wonder who was supposed to be sitting there. Fabian joined their card game without a words being said.
The vampires played poker and every time I thought I understood what was going on something happened that proved me completely wrong.
Rose and I didn’t say much, we were both too engrossed by the game to speak to each other. They were playing for poker chips.
When I’d asked why didn’t play with money one of the nobles had very cockily told me, “We don’t have money and things like that don’t matter to us. You should be glad we play with chips and not people.” He’d then given me a sadistic grin and I pitied the poor petrified girl who was sitting next to him.
I started losing interest when the sadistic vampire kept on winning nearly every game and my eyes started wandering around the room. A pool table in the corner of the room grabbed my attention the moment I saw it and I turned to Rose who was carelessly sitting with her head propped up on her hands. “Do you want to play pool?” I questioned.
She lifted up her head, “I’ve never played before.”
“Me neither.” I admitted thoughtfully, “But it can’t be that hard to figure it out.”
All the vampires were watching us curiously, their game seemingly forgotten for a moment. I looked at Fabian and so did Rose, “May I go?” She asked sweetly.
He nodded, “Sure.”
Rose and I jumped up eagerly and headed for the pool table. All the vampires were still watching us but they continued their game when we started ours.
I picked up a stick and pointed it in her direction, “We’re supposed to hit the balls with the tip of this thing right?”
She picked one up as well and inspected it, “I think so. How are we supposed to arrange the balls in the beginning?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at how clueless we were, “I have absolutely no idea.”
“I give up.” Fabian said suddenly from behind us as he threw his cards on the table. He stood up and walked towards us. “You two are hopeless, haven’t you ever seen anyone playing this before?”
“Nope.” I said while popping the ‘p’. “I haven’t even seen one of these things in years.”
“Me neither.” Rose said.
Fabian sighed and he took hold of the plastic triangle I had been holding and trying to wear as a crown. He put it on one side of the table and strategically put all the balls inside it. He took the triangle away and the balls miraculously stayed in their formation. I was impressed. He put the white ball on the other end of the table, “You start.” He told me.
I nodded and looked at the white ball and prepared to hit it like I’d seen baseballs being hit. That game I understood and it only made sense that this was about the same. “The stick is too long.” I muttered and was surprised to hear a few vampires behind me chuckle. One moment it was only Fabian standing with us and the next five vampires were surrounding us. I tried not to flinch away from them.
Fabian took hold of the stick before I could hit the ball, “What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m going to hit the ball with the stick.” I said stubbornly and they chuckled again. Why were they laughing?
“Firstly,” Fabian said and smiled for the first time,, “It’s called a cue and secondly, that isn’t how you hold it.” he waved Rose closer and she came to stand next to me.
He took the stick –I mean the cue- away from me and showed us how to hold it. I nodded understandingly but Rose looked terrified. He handed me the cue back, “Try it.”
I nodded determinedly as I positioned myself like he’d demonstrated. All eyes were on me and I asked, “Why is everyone watching me?”
Mr sadistic was the one who answered my question, “This is so much more interesting than that dull game we were playing before.”
“Oh.” I said awkwardly. Having all their focus on us hadn’t been part of the plan. That had been exactly what I’d been trying to avoid.
I aimed and tried to forget about all the intense gazes on me. The cue went right past the ball when I finally tried to hit it and everyone snickered. Even Rose had to bite back a laugh, “It’s harder than it looks.” I said as I felt my cheeks heat up from embarrassment. I aimed again and this time I actually managed to hit the ball. It was a poor shot that just barely hit the triangle of balls. I shrugged, “It could have been worse. Your turn, Rose.”
Rose was better than I was but I had fun anyway. The vampires didn’t look away from our game once but seemed to find the whole thing extremely amusing.
I knew for a fact that they’d be talking about this for a long time and I started to worry how Zaiden would react when the news of my escapades reached him.
He wouldn’t be mad at me, right?
Or maybe it isn’t his reaction I should be worried about…