“I told you it was gonna be a waste of time.”
Rachel’s Aunt sighed. “We don’t know that yet, dear. The test results won’t be in until tomorrow morning at the earliest.”
It had been a miserable day for both of them. Rachel had wanted to come back home and lock herself in her room again after the doctor’s appointment, but Aunt Mae insisted that they try to have a little fun and make the most of the situation. She had taken Rachel to a nice restaurant and even took her to the mall, but Rachel had refused to have a good time; she insisted on being bitter all the while.
“Rachel, come on now,” Aunt Mae sighed. She had been very patient all day, but now her frustration and hurt were showing more. “I’ve done everything I could think of to try and make you happy and give you a good time today. But it feels like you just wanted to come home and be miserable.”
“Yeah well, I need time,” Rachel said.
This time it did not work the way Rachel wanted it to. “Now you look here,” Mae spoke up, gently but firmly, “I know you’ve had it rough these last few weeks. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through because I’ve never been blind. But you need to at least start to do some things for yourself.”
“I thought you wanted me this way,” Rachel scoffed. “To have a kid around the house again to mother over.”
Aunt Mae was taken aback. “I want no such thing!” she exclaimed. “Well, I will admit that it’s nice to have someone to look after again, but I want you to get better more than anything. If nothing else, I want you to accept what’s happened to you and move on with your life.”
“Then why did you keep mothering over me and acting like I can’t do anything for myself?”
Aunt Mae huffed. “You think I’m going to treat you like that for the rest of your life? Heck, no. Rachel, I was doing that because it seemed like you had just given up without even trying to accept your new lot in life. I thought that maybe if I acted like an annoying mother hen, you would insist on doing some things for yourself. Instead, you just continue to act like you don’t care about what’s going on around you one way or another.”
“Well, why should I care?” Rachel snapped. “I can’t see anything. I can’t drive a car, I can’t write stories anymore, and I won’t be able to finish school. My life is already over.”
“Your life is not over!” Aunt Mae stated. “You may not be able to drive a car, but you will still be able to read and write. They have institutions for blind people that can really help you, if you will give them a chance. Not only that, but--”
“What about people and places?” Rachel interrupted. “I’ll never be able to see my friends again, or you again either.”
Aunt Mae took Rachel’s hand, pressing it against her own face. “You still have this,” she said quietly. “You can feel my face; you still have your other senses to rely on. Touch, smell, hearing, and taste. You can learn to live without eyesight.”
Rachel pulled her hand away. “I’m going to my room,” she said, taking a quick step away, followed by a more tentative one. “Which way to my room?” she asked after a moment.
“You’re doing fine,” Aunt Mae informed her. “Just keep going in that direction, carefully, until you feel the stair railing. Go up the stairs and go into the first door on the right.”
“You aren’t gonna help me?” Rachel asked.
“No, you need to start learning to do this for yourself.”
“Fine.” Rachel pressed her lips into a thin line and did as she was instructed, moving forward until her fingertips brushed the edge of the stair rail. She gripped it with both hands for a moment as though it was the only solid landmark in the world to tell her where she was, and then she slowly inched up the stairs. She had no idea if her Aunt was still watching or not because the older woman had not said anything.
When Rachel reached the first door on the right, she heard her Aunt say, “Very well done, you didn’t even stumble. See? You can get around without your sight; imagine what else you’ll be able to do, if you let yourself.”
Rachel’s response was to go into her bedroom and slam the door with as much force as she could muster. She then locked it and when she found her bed in the eternal darkness, she collapsed upon it. She then surrendered to the worst self-pity fest she had had yet.
“You’re late,” Travis said as the shaggy werewolf approached. “I almost thought you weren’t coming.”
Melissa snorted as she looked at the vampire before her. He was sitting casually on the park bench with his arm draped lazily over the back of it. His short black hair ruffled a little in the breeze, making him look even more eerie in the pale moonlight that illuminated his pale skin.
“I snuck out a little later than usual,” she said. “People are starting to get suspicious, and I didn’t want them to notice.”
“Nevertheless, I’m glad to see you,” Travis told her. He glanced at the space beside him on the bench. “I would ask if you wanted to sit, but I’m not sure if your… current mode would allow that.”
“I could always try.” Melissa moved closer to the bench, stood carefully on her hind legs, and then attempted to ease herself into a sitting position. It turned out that her tail was in the way, not to mention the slope of her back and that she was a bit too large for the bench. She quickly abandoned the attempt and plopped herself on the ground beside the bench.
A brief, awkward silence ensued, which Travis broke by saying, “You said you would tell me about you tonight.”
“Yeah, I did,” Melissa nodded. She licked her lips irritably; one annoying factor about her wolf form was that she seemed to have an endless supply of drool that always threatened to dribble out of her mouth whenever she opened it. This made talking a bit awkward and gross, even if Travis did not seem to notice or care. “But there’s not much to tell, really… it’s nowhere near as interesting as your story.”
“My story isn’t interesting, it’s tragic,” Travis said. “As is yours, I am sure. That is why I’d like to hear it.”
“Very well, then.” Melissa straightened and thought for a moment, trying to figure out where to begin. “Well, I haven’t always lived here in Albany New York,” she said. “I actually grew up in Connecticut, until I finished High School. Then I was accepted at a college here, so that’s when I moved here.” She sighed. “About the only thing I am grateful for right now is that I am living so far away from my family, so that they don’t have to see me like this.”
“I hear you there,” Travis nodded. “So… how did you come to be like you are?”
“I was out late one night, with a friend of my friends,” Melissa told him. “It was a night when we decided we would just stay out late and hang out, just because we hadn’t done that for a while. We hung around at the mall until it closed, and then we went to an all-night coffee shop and stayed there for a while. We drank so much coffee that I was certain we’d be up for the rest of the night.” She chuckled at the memory in spite of herself and then quickly sobered.
“It was soon after we left that… it happened,” she went on quietly. Her gravelly voice was now barely above a whisper. “My friend Erin dropped us off in front of the dorms, but then a few of us thought we heard something near the dumpster. Most of the girls went back inside, but Erin and I decided to go check it out. That is when I saw something that looked like a bear, or like a giant dog. Erin ran off to call the police or someone, but I was stupid and stayed behind. I’ve always had a knack for animals and I thought maybe I could be friendly and get a closer look.”
“And that’s when it bit you?” Travis asked.
Melissa nodded. “Yeah. By the time the police arrived, the critter was long gone and I had only a nasty bite on my arm to show for it. I was rushed to the hospital where they cleaned the wound thoroughly and stitched me up. Then they gave me rabies shots, just in case. But… I guess there is no cure for what I actually got from the creature.”
“No, there isn’t,” Travis said. “At least, not that any normal humans know about.”
“Do you know of any cures?” Melissa asked, feeling a little hopeful in spite of herself.
“Not off-hand,” Travis answered thoughtfully. “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. It just means that I don’t know of any.”
“Do you know of any cures for vampirism?”
“Why not? You’ve had plenty of time to check it out, haven’t you?”
“How would you suggest I check it out?” Travis asked wryly. “I can only come out at night, remember. Most libraries and bookstores are closed by this time, not to mention I’m trying to keep a low profile.”
“Oh, that would explain it,” Melissa murmured. Indeed, she realized she was a little fortunate in some ways; at least she could walk around during the daytime with no problem. “Well, tomorrow I’ll cut class and see what I can find out for both of us,” she said.
“I was under the impression that your education meant a lot to you,” Travis mused.
“It is,” Melissa assured him. “But I just know that while this hope exists, I won’t be able to concentrate in class anyway. I have to know one way or another if there is a cure, for either of us.”
“Then why wait for morning?” Travis asked, fingering his chin thoughtfully. “We could see if we could slip into a library or bookstore to see what they have. I’m sure that between the two of us, we could find a way to enter without breaking any windows or damaging anything.”
“That’s a good idea,” Melissa said. “And we won’t steal anything either; we’ll just read, and leave everything exactly where we found it when we’re done.”
Travis nodded, smiling. “Sounds like a plan to me,” he said.
The duo managed to find a rather large library to break into. At first, Travis attempted to jimmy the locks, but in the end, Melissa had used her wolf strength to break down the doors. Travis disapproved, but Melissa was beyond reasoning at this point; she just wanted access to the books, immediately. This was possibly her way of trying to help him as well, since he had pointed out that he could not get books in the daytime. In her own way, she was being nice.
Travis figured he could not blame her either way. When faced with the possibility of curing the curse, one might try anything. In truth, he had not thought much about trying to cure his own vampirism, perhaps because he had already assumed that it was impossible. Nevertheless, Melissa did have a point; it was worth a look.
Both of them looked through several book indexes in an attempt to locate any texts that might have the knowledge they sought. Of course, they did not find anything entitled “How to Get Rid of the Werewolf Curse” or “Overcoming Vampirism”, but they did hope that they could find some obscure myths or legends that could lead them in the right direction of a cure.
In the end, Travis ended up looking through several rows of books that had to do with witchcraft and the occult, as well as a few related subjects. In the meantime, Melissa looked through a variety of other books, including horror stories about monsters and other books that told about the origins of werewolf folklore and vampire legends, and how such monsters have been used in literature over the years.
Eventually, each of them found a book of particular interest and sat down at one of the tables in order to read and compare notes. Unfortunately, they failed to find anything about the curing of the vampire curse, but they did find out some interesting things about the werewolf curse.
Travis found out in the book he would found that most werewolf curses were started by witches or wizards, usually as a form of revenge, among other reasons. The only downside to the werewolf curse was that any person bitten by a werewolf also became werewolves themselves.
“And it also says here,” Travis was saying, “that if there gets to be too many werewolves, a group of witches and wizards would band together to hunt them down with silver bullets, in order to keep society from finding out about them and what they were doing.”
“Well I don’t want that happening to me,” Melissa said. “I want to be cured, not shot by a silver bullet. But why would a witch turn someone into a werewolf around here?”
“Who knows,” Travis said with a little shrug. “But this book also says that the only way to end the curse altogether is to kill the witch or wizard who started it in the first place, because their life essence is tied to it or something like that.”
“So if I kill whoever started the curse, then everybody who has been bitten will be normal again?”
“Seems that way… if this is even true,” Travis said. “The only problem is that you’d have to find the witch or wizard first.”
“What if I can’t find him or her?” Melissa groaned, knowing how difficult it would be to find someone like that in the city; it would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
“I suppose you could always wait for him or her to die of natural means,” Travis suggested. “The book simply says the witch or wizard’s life needs to end; doesn’t say how it needs to end.”
“But if it’s a young person, that could be several decades from now!” Melissa growled in aggravation. “I don’t want to wait that long!”
“Well, I’m open to ideas,” Travis told her. “Does your book say anything useful?”
“As a matter of fact, I believe it does.” Melissa flipped through the pages of the book, finding it rather awkward to do with her cumbersome, furry paws. She had managed to find a way to turn the pages by using the tips of her claws, however. “This is interesting,” she said as she reread a few pages.
“What is it?” Travis asked, intrigued.
“It says here that there is a way to end my curse, at least,” she said. “It involves killing the werewolf who bit me.”
“What good does that do?” Travis asked. Perhaps it was different with werewolves, but killing the vampire who had bitten him did nothing except rid the world of one other vampire. He was still one hundred percent vampire himself.
“Well…” Melissa’s eyes scanned over the page, and suddenly she seemed uncomfortable. “It involves… sacrificing a vampire.”
Travis blinked. “Oh?” He raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“Yeah well… according to this, if a vampire--who is also a cursed, immortal being--drinks the blood of a werewolf, he drains that werewolf of its life essence and of the curse, taking it into himself. This poisons the vampire and allows him to take the taint of the curse into himself, and when he dies… a portion of the curse dies with him.”
“Meaning that anyone who that particular werewolf has bitten will return to normal.” Melissa closed the book and stared at the cover, refusing to meet his eyes.
“So then… in order for you to be cured, all we’d have to do is find this werewolf who bit you and end the curse,” Travis mused.
“That about sums it up.”
The vampire rose and walked a short distance away from the table, thinking deeply. He moved toward one of the windows and leaned forward to rest his elbows on the windowsill as he stared into the glass, losing himself in thought.
It would mean a lot to her to have her life back, he thought. What am I doing anyway? I’m nothing but a murderer and I deserve to die. I should not even be alive right now.
Was this truly what he wanted to do? Part of him wanted to go on living, and he had a natural instinct for survival--the same instinct that drove him to drink the blood of humans. Yet what good would it do to keep on living? He was a danger to everyone around him and he had already taken many innocent lives. The only good thing he had done so far was kill another vampire. If he could assist, a werewolf girl in turning back to normal… it would benefit her greatly.
Besides, if there was a chance he could turn her back to normal, then it was worth his sacrifice. The world would be rid of the monster that had bitten her, and it would turn anyone else he had bitten back to normal. It might not cure everyone of the curse, since it would only cure those who had been bitten by that particular werewolf, but… it would do some good, certainly.
Decision made, he moved away from the window and returned to the table where the werewolf was pawing through that book, almost longingly. She glanced up at him as he approached. “I’ll help you,” he told her sincerely.
“R-really?” she exclaimed, surprised. She clearly had not been expecting that.
“Really,” he confirmed, sitting down across from her. He was able to sit in the chair, though she sat on her haunches on the other side of the table. Regardless, they were both roughly eye-level thanks to her massive bulk in her wolf form.
“I… I don’t know what to say,” Melissa said. “I mean, I never thought… I…”
Travis leaned forward and placed a gentle hand on her paw. It felt very warm against his death-cold hands. “I want to do this,” he assured her, looking into her eyes without blinking, hoping to communicate his sincerity. “I don’t want to spend the rest of my existence killing other people and thirsting for blood. It’s no way for me to live, and this is no way for you to live.” He gave her furry paw a firm squeeze. “If I do this, it will do the world a lot of good.”
The corners of the werewolf eyes glistened with tears, moistening the furry cheeks. “I… I don’t know what to say. This means a lot to me.”
“I’m just glad to be able to do something good,” Travis said.
Melissa rose and moved around to his side of the table, engulfing him in a giant bear hug--or werewolf hug. “Thank you,” she gushed, releasing him after a moment.
Travis took a moment to check himself, to make sure nothing was permanently crushed or flattened, and then he looked at her. “We just need to make sure we find the right werewolf,” he said. “Would you be able to recognize the same werewolf that bit you?”
“I can certainly try,” Melissa said in all seriousness. “And I think I know just the place to start.” In spite of her wolf form, she seemed to grin mischievously.